Monday, January 30, 2012

How well do you know Cohen?

I have been reading all the New Year posts on some of my favorite blogs where they are setting goals for the year. I don't do New Years Resolutions, but I like to look at the beginning of the year as a time when we should reflect and see what lifestyle changes we need to make in order to have a better life (not just year). Something I really want to do is cherish the time I have with my son. I know that in a year and a half he will start kindergarten, then middle school, then high school, then college, then....oh my goodness, I don't want to think about it anymore!!

I've decided that I want to cherish every sweet moment I have with Cohen because I know there will come a day when I don't get to spend everyday with him.

In an effort to do this, I'm trying to create traditions, memory books, and pictures of all our favorite moments. We have also started tweeting some of Cohen's funny sayings, so we can go back in a year or 5 and read them. (If you want to follow Cohen search for @raneyisms).

I saw this really cute project on Oopsey Daisey's website and I thought this would be a great idea to do at the beginning of each year.

Earlier this month, I sat Cohen down and asked him a similar series of questions. I used Publisher to create a cute image and I sent it to Wal-Mart to have it printed on 8x10 photo paper.

Here is the finished product....

I haven't actually framed it and hung it up yet, but it was a lot of fun doing this little questionnaire with him.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where would you like to sit?

As a wedding gift, 8 years ago, we were given 2 nice fluffy floor pillows. One was a cream color, the other green. We like them well enough, the problem is though, with a 3 year old and 2 dogs that sit on anything you throw on the floor, the pillows were starting to look dirty. Realizing that I could not possibly wash the entire pillow, I tossed both pillows in the spare bedroom and there they sat for a while.

The other day, Cohen and I stopped off at Hancock Fabrics to get a seam ripper and I saw this really cute fabric on clearance. I decided that I wanted to recover those pillows!

This is what the pillow looked like before I recovered it.

The first thing I did was measure and measure and then measure again. I'm famous for messing up my sewing projects by cutting the fabric all wrong.

After I had everything measured, I laid out my fabric on my board (I don't know the technical term for this board, but if you do lots of sewing you need one, or something similar. It's basically a huge piece of cardboard with marking on it for inches, yards, and bias lines). This is the material I used for the back and sides of the pillow. It is a bit sturdier than the other material.

This is a shot of where I'm measuring to make sure the sides match the pillow back. These pillows will actually have 6 sides.

Closeup of the material and the board.

Next, I cut the material for the front of the pillow. As you can see, it has a much larger pattern to it. I wanted that big circle piece to be in the center of the front of the pillow, so I had to do some creative cutting. I basically mangled this piece of fabric so bad that I don't know if I will be able to use the scraps for anything ever again.

Instead of having to measure, align the circle, measure, align, then cut...I just used that first piece as a pattern for my second piece. I pinned the center together and cut around the outside. Worked out really well.

I wanted the pillows to open in the back (sort of like an envelope or the shams on my bed), so that I could take the covers off and wash them if they got dirty. This is the reason for the hem (for those that don't sew, you wouldn't typically hem a pillow).

I am terrible at making straight lines. This was the piece of the opening that would go under the other piece, so I don't think anyone will actually see my terrible sewing job. I posted this picture on Facebook, and got a few suggestions on how to fix the problem. I moved my machine to a stable surface and added a piece of painters tape as a guide. Things got much prettier after that.

After I finished the hem on the opening of the back of the pillow, I sewed the sides to the back.

And then I got tired of taking pictures. Ha! I have no idea what really happened, but I don't have any pictures of the cover without a pillow in it.

I'll just sum it up to say, after the sides and back are attached, you get to sew the front to the sides. After all the sides/front/back are attached, you may sew up the corners.

Here is the finished product. To get an idea of how big this is, the front measures about 25 inches across. In this picture you can see that I got that circle on the center of the front.

Here are the two pillows together. If you look really closely, you can see the opening at the top of the pillow on the bottom. That is where it opens to easily slip the pillow in and out for easy cleaning.

I'm excited about how it came out. I'm ready to sew up something else!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What books are you reading?

As you know, Cohen and I have spent a lot of time reading this year. The Sonlight Curriculum that we use is very heavy in reading and we both really enjoy it. I thought I would do a blog today on some of our favorite book collections. Any of these books would make excellent gifts, or they would be a great addition to your own book collection.

I'll start with our favorite collections of stories (these are books that have more than one story in them).

The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury is a great addition to any library. It has some of Cohen's favorite stories (Where the Wild Things Are, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). I love to give this one as a gift, because there are stories for everyone in here!

I also love to give Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Books. I don't own this one, but I would love to. We've checked out just about every book in this collection from the library.

Every child should have a collection of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. I have several copies of Mother Goose Books. Our favorite is the collection by Richard Scarry.

I would also suggest A Treasury of Mother Goose. 

Cohen loves Fairy Tales too!! I love reading them, especially Rumpelstiltskin! We have several Fairy Tales books that were passed down from our families.

We have one called The Grosset Treasury of Nursery Tales (published in the 1970's) and we have one called 100 Classic Stories. I have also read some of the stories from The Random House Book of Fairy Tales, Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, and A First Book of Fairy Tales. I like all of these books.

The important thing to look for in a Fairy Tales book is to make sure they have some of your favorites. I love reading Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel to Cohen and then watching the movie that goes with the story. I also love reading The Emperor's New Clothes, Elves and the Shoemaker, and The Lion and the Mouse.

You also need to introduce your child to some Tall Tales. I love reading about Paul Bunyan, Davey Crockett or Johnny Appleseed. I would suggest you look into getting a copy of American Tall Tales.

I love collections by a particular author, such as Richard Scarry's Best Story Book Ever, The Berenstain Bears Show God's Love, and Make Way for McCloskey. I like books that teach a good lesson, such as The Children's Book of Virtues.

I love to read poetry to Cohen as well. He, however, does not love it. I try to save poetry for while he's eating lunch or taking a bath. That way I kind of have him trapped and he has to listen.

I love to read from A Child's Garden of Verses (we have an older copy of this book), Where the Sidewalk Ends, Poems and Prayers for the Very Young, and Don't Mess with Moses (this one was a gift from Nan and Pops and it is hilarious!).  

I probably should have done this before Christmas, so that you could just buy all the kids on your list some of these great books. There's always next year. I hope that this helps you when you go to select a book from the bookstore.

What are some of your children's favorite story collections?

Monday, January 23, 2012

What do your clothes smell like?

Last week I tried something I've never done before: I made my own laundry detergent. I saw this pin a few weeks ago and decided I wanted to try it out.

Here is a list of what you will need:
1 bar of soap (some folks suggested Fels Naptha, I used Dial)
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda
a big pot (that holds more than 2 gallons)
a grater
a funnel
a long spoon
2 empty gallon jugs/containers

I purchased all of the ingredients at Wal-Mart (they are all on the laundry aisle, except the dial soap). I don't remember exactly what it all costs, but I'm certain it was less than $6 for everything, and I have enough Borax and Washing Soda for a few more batches.

The first step is to grate the soap.

Next you add the soap to 1 gal water, melt soap.

Once the soap has melted add the washing soda and borax. Bring that mixture to a boil. Once it is boiling and all mixed together, turn off the heat and add 1 gal cold water.

Pour your soap mixture into your containers. I had a milk jug and an old fabric softener jug.

When it cools, it gets THICK! I didn't realize it would do this and I had some problems getting it to come out of the container at first. After shaking it up REALLY well, it works great now. I would suggest you just leave the mixture in the pot you used to cook it in, and let it cool completely. It might even separate a little, no big deal. Maybe leave it there overnight. In the morning, use your spoon to mix the laundry soap up really well, then add it to your containers. This way you don't have to try to shake the soap after it's in the container.

Use about 1/2 cup for each load.

My clothes are clean, and they smell good (sort of like the dial soap I used). Next time I will try a different soap scent to see how that works.

This would be great thing to have if you or one of your family members suffers from sensitive skin issues. Just use a cheap bar of bath soap made especially for sensitive skin.

I've never really used fabric softener for anything except our sheets. I know, sounds crazy, but I don't like that heavy perfume smell that most fabric softeners leave on your clothes (and when you start running or sweating, that smell is MAGNIFIED and it gets to be way too much). So this detergent is pretty much the only thing we use on our clothes now.

If you have any questions that I didn't answer, leave a comment. I'll do my best to respond to your questions.

What did you do on Christmas Day?

Christmas day was super busy. Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, and our church did not cancel any of the services (due to the fact that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus' birthday...why not go to church and worship Him?). I'm happy they chose not to cancel. It gave us the chance to spend Christmas day with the people we consider our extended family.

In order to get everything done that day, we had to get up really early! Jace had to be at church around 7am, so that means opening presents and breakfast starts at 5am.

Cohen usually wakes up around 8am, so this is REALLY early for us. We don't have problems managing an early wake up time for race day, so why should it be any different on Jesus' birthday.

We are continuing with the tradition of Santa bringing only 3 gifts (want, body, spirit) to match with the gifts Jesus was given. Cohen's "want" for this year was a Mater Bubble Mower. I have no idea what made him want this particular toy so badly, but he did, so he got it.

We had to go outside to test it out!

The next gift Cohen opened was his gift for the "body." Santa brought him his first sleeping bag! I'm a terrible photographer, because if I was any good, I would have been positioned on the other side so you could see his big smile.

Next he moved on to his stocking (yes, he has more gifts to open, but we let him do whatever he wants).

For breakfast, Jace made homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch! They were VERY YUMMY!!

After eating, we all head to church. (Yes, for those still wondering, Cohen did not open all of his gifts. He opened 2. This just goes to show that you don't have to buy your kids hundreds of dollars worth of stuff I guess!).

When we got home from church, we let Lucy and Ella open their stockings. They both got some yummy treats!

Finally, Cohen opens his last gift from Santa. He got a VeggieTales Noah's Ark set (for the spirit).

For his ornament this year, we gave him a little red tricycle.

Then he finally opened our gift to him. He starts with the smaller gifts...and had no idea what it is.

 Still, no clue.

 Then he opens the big gift and figures it out....we got him a wii.

He was so excited, he jumped up to give Jace a hug.

And their heads totally collide! Too funny!!

After lunch, we celebrate Jesus' birthday with some brownies (to replace the burnt birthday cake). These brownies were AWFUL!! They weren't cooked all the way. I let Cohen add the sprinkles. Notice, he spread them out about as well as he did that reindeer food from the night before.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What did you do on Christmas Eve?

Yes...I'm far from done with my Christmas posts. I'm going to do a little catching up today.

Christmas Eve was one of those days I remember vividly as a child. Jace does too. We both have wonderful memories of Christmas Eve celebrations as children. We both spent the evening before Christmas at our Grandparents home, with our cousins, aunts, uncles and many other family members and friends.

Years ago, we decided that we would like to spend Christmas morning at our own home. In order to do this, we can't really go to Cohen's grandparents homes the night before.

In an effort to make this a memorable day for Cohen, we had to create our own traditions. For several years now, we have begun our Christmas Eve celebrations by celebrating the real reason for Christmas. We meet with lots of our friends at our church to hear a Christmas message and take part in the candlelight service.

Last year we began the tradition of baking a birthday cake for Jesus.

You will not see any other pictures of that birthday cake. I burned it. It was bad. I was busy celebrating with our other traditions that I totally forgot I was baking a cake. A friend on facebook said "He's very forgiving...I think you're good." Thanks Micah for that reminder.

One of the traditions I always had as a child was popping fireworks the night before Christmas. We would build a fire near the driveway at my Grandparents house in Marion, LA and all the kids and most of the adults would sit around the fire and enjoy the fireworks. We built a fire in our chiminea.

This year, Cohen got to be more hands on with this than last year.

We also roasted marshmallows. I LOVE roasted marshmallows!! Cohen does too!!

Jace and Cohen made some yummy reindeer food. Cohen carefully sprinkled it in the yard.

We used some of the yummy cookies Missy gave us for Santa's treat. Cohen wrote his own name on the letter to Santa.

As you can see, at our house, Santa does not get a glass of milk. Nope. Cohen told us that Santa needs water to keep him healthy. Guess I say that a lot. Sorry Santa, you will have to enjoy your cookies with water.

Yes. Cohen thanked Santa for Jesus. I'm not sure he's getting the point here. I'm sure I can hear the comments now...."ooh, Jace and Emily are messing up that kid's Christian education." Maybe we are messing it up, but at least we are talking to him about Jesus during this time of year, and he understands that Jesus is the main reason for this holiday. Oh and HE'S 3! Get over it!

I allow Cohen to open one gift (that I select) just before going to bed on Christmas.

Shocking, I know. It's some cute pajamas!