A Project in Print!

I am so excited to share with you that one of my projects was featured in the July issue of Parents Magazine!  In February, I was contacted by one of the editors, asking if they could use some of my garage storage projects for an upcoming issue on organization.  Um...yes!  The July 2015 issue of Parents Magazine is on newsstands now!


If you are visiting as a result of the article, welcome!  You can find the full garage storage posts here and here.  I would love for you to stick around!  You can read my latest posts by subscribing via email (below my picture on the right side) or through your favorite blog reading service.

While I'm on the topic of garage features, I would also like to thank the following websites for featuring parts of our garage as well:


Thanks for reading!  I hope your week is off to a great start!





Summer Learning Challenge

Several years ago, I tried with no success to have my kids do school work over the summer.  I bought some of those grade level workbooks & planned on having my son do a few pages a day plus some reading.  I wasn't the greatest at following through with this plan & gave up a week or so into summer!

Then, I got lucky!  The summer after my son's third grade year, the school put out a summer reading & math challenge.  Although it was voluntary, it was much easier to get my kids to do it, since it was coming from their teachers, & the school was offering prizes for everyone that completed the work. My kids didn't exactly love doing the work, but they did it without much arguing, which is a win in my books!

After a summer of keeping up his math & reading skills, my son returned to fourth grade & no longer needed reading tutoring.  Not only that, but his grades & test scores improved tremendously!  I give all the credit for his educational gains to the summer reading & math challenge.

Since I am now a big proponent for preventing the "summer slide" through reading & math programs, I was disappointed when I found out his school was ending these programs after two summers.  Wanting to continue what we had been doing the last few summers, I decided to create my own "Summer Learning Challenge".
 

This past school year, my kids had been given math homework through the online program, TenMarks.  Since they were used to doing this, I was excited to see they were offering a FREE summer math program.  Once you sign your child up, the computer creates an assesment for them for the grade level they just completed.  Then, it will create assignments customized for them, based on the results.  Parents can create prizes that appear when they complete a certain amount of assignments (determined by the parent).  I set my kids rewards for every 5 assignments they complete scoring a 70% or higher.  Since my kids only get 2 hours of screen time per week, I made the rewards 30 extra minutes of screen time, plus ice cream after completing about half of the assignments.  (The kids can also unlock math games after completing 6 assignments.)



In addition to the online math program, I am also having the kids read for at least 15 minutes per day.  I have signed them up for free reading programs through the local library, Barnes & Noble, & Half Price Books, which will hopefully earn them a few rewards once they fill out the reading logs.  Then, once a week, I have them write for about 15 minutes.  I have come up with twelve writing prompts that should last the summer:

Week 1- What do you want to do over summer break?  Tell me all your plans!
Week 2- If you could have any pet (even a giraffe) what would it be?  Why would you choose it?
Week 3- Write a letter to your grandparents.
Week 4- If you could wish for anything, what would it be? Why?
Week 5- Write a review of the last book you finished.  How many stars would you rate it? (5 stars = a great book)
Week 6- Write a letter to your aunt.
Week 7- What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?
Week 8- Write a story about finding a buried treasure in our backyard.  Where was it? What was it? Did you tell anyone or keep it a secret?
Week 9- If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why would you choose it? What would you use it for?
Week 10- We watched several movies this summer.  Which one was your favorite? Why? How many stars would you rate it? (5 stars= a great movie)
Week 11- Write a letter to your cousins.
Week 12- What was your favorite part of summer break? Tell me about it.

Once they finish their reading, math, & writing they check it off of their summer learning chart (first picture).  We keep these, along with the writing prompts & mystery envelope on the refrigerator.


What is the mystery envelope, you ask?  It contains the big reward my kids get when they check off their daily math & reading & weekly writing for the entire summer!  They don't know what the reward is, which makes it even more exciting.  Since they don't read this blog, I'll share the contents of the envelope!  It is a hotel stay in Dayton, Ohio, about an hour away from us in Cincinnati.  The plan is to go to to several museums & a working 1800's farm.  I think one of the big differences between my first attempt at summer learning & now is that my kids have something special to work towards!



In addition to the above, I tore out the unused pages from their school math workbooks & handwriting books (for my daughter) & put them in a drawer in the kitchen.  Then, they are given 5 minutes of screen time for each page they complete.  

So, have you attempted a summer learning challenge?  I'd love to hear how it went!








Making Special Memories on the Last Day of School

A few special memories I have of my childhood were the fun things my parents did to celebrate the last day of school.  One year they put together an entire awards ceremony just for my sister & I!  I remember my sister getting a can of hair mousse & the reward had to do with how much time she spent fixing her hair in the morning!  (I wish I could remember the other awards…)  Other years it was just a silly string fight on the back patio & one year we got new bikes (if your kids need bikes, may as well make it count for something…).  We have started a few traditions on the last day of school that my kids really seem to enjoy.  You know it’s special to them when they start asking about it a few weeks before school gets out for fear of disappointment!   

I always try to make sure my kids look decent on the last day of school, since I like to take pictures to commemorate their last day of ____ grade (fill in the blank) & we usually take pictures of them with their teachers.


Speaking of teachers, the last few years we have made them these candygram letters using mainly school supplies.  We added a Dairy Queen gift card at the bottom this year.


It says:

“Dear Mrs. B,
I just wanted to send a quick (note- we used post-it notes) to say how much you (mint) to me this year!  There are too many things to (highlight- highlighter) from our year, but they made a (permanent mark- permanent marker) on me that can’t be (erased- eraser).  You are an (extra- gum) special teacher & I am a (smartie) because of you!
Love,
Elie
P.S. Celebrate the end of a great school year with some (DQ- gift card)!”

Even though this is a pretty inexpensive gift, the teachers really do seem to get a kick out of it.  My son’s teacher teared up & said she wasn't going to take anything off of it & that she would glue the gift card back on after she used it!

I like to make their lunch extra special on the last day, so I have started wrapping it like a present!  The past couple of years I have just purchased Lunchables, because they are easy to wrap & are also a special treat for the kids on the last day.  I had an epiphany this year & decided this would also be a great idea for when my kids’ birthdays fall on a school day.


The fun celebrations begin once school is out & they return home.  In the past, we have hidden behind the house with water guns, water balloons, & even the hose & soaked them as they come in.  We try to change it up a little each year, so this year we locked the garage door & all the doors to the house.  

We posted this note on the front door:


It reads:

Dear (Zeke) & (Elie),
We are so proud of the (Smarties) you have become this school year & are (bursting- starbursts) with happiness to have some (Extra- gum) time with you over summer break!  We can’t wait to enjoy (popsicles) on the back deck, family (game- You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!) night, (movies- Redbox codes), & relaxing over the (glow- glow sticks) of the fire pit.  There are sure to be lots of (Snickers- candy bar)!  We love you to (pieces- Reese’s Pieces)!
Love,
(Mommy & Daddy)

(I left extra goodies in a gift bag inside, so my kids would each have their own, except for the Redbox codes & the game & the rest of the popsicles were in the freezer so they could enjoy them right away!)


We stood right inside the door & waited for them to come to the front door to read the sign.  Then, we opened the front door & covered them in silly string!  After a few years of getting soaked with water, I definitely don’t think they were expecting that!
  


We also try to take the kids out for some family fun on the last day of school.  We have gone to Kings Island Amusement Park, Laser Tag, & this year we played mini golf.  (Can you believe we have never taken our kids to a legitimate miniature golf place?)


I know some parents dread the last day of school, but I do really enjoy having my kids home for the summer.  Here are our plans for making the most of our time together:


I’ll be back next week to explain how we plan on preventing summer learning loss, while making it fun & rewarding for the kiddos!

Girl’s Bedroom Makeover: The Reveal

Six weeks ago I set out on a mission to completely make-over my eight-year-old daughter’s bedroom, thanks to a linking challenge put out by Linda of Calling It Home.  In the past, the One Room Challenge has been great at motivating me to finish up some spaces in our home.  First, I made over our kids’ bathroom and this past fall, I gave our family room an update.  This time around, my daughter’s formerly cute bedroom had become too much for me to handle!  It was DRIVING ME CRAZY!  It was time to add more storage and make space for all those collections kids seem to hoard. 

Brass Bed

Let’s first take a look at the before so you can truly see how far this room has come:

Girl's Bedroom Before

After coming up with a plan, I set to work painting the walls Cosmic Rays by Olympic.

Tween Girl Bedroom Decor & Ideas

Next, I brought in the furnishings

Parsons Desk & Ghost Chair

I got the Lucite ghost chair from a local auction website for $25.  The parsons desk is from Wayfair.

Tween Desk

The lamp was a thrift store purchase that was sitting in the basement.  I gave it a quick coat of “spring green” paint (Elie’s favorite color) & a new lampshade from Wal-Mart.  I made a DIY bulletin board from some purple foam insulation, leftover fabric, & ribbon.  Eliana also loves the peace sign so I thought this peace sign hand from Hobby Lobby would be a great addition to her desk.

White & Gold Shelves

We added some white shelves above the desk to contain more of her collections & as a place to display some printable artwork.  I neatly corralled her jewelry (in the “spring green” wooden box), rocks, weathered glass, books, coins, & Pokemon cards.

Free Printables

I copied this giraffe (Elie’s favorite animal) trinket dish from A Gathered Home

Girl's Bedding Ideas

The headboard has been sitting in my basement for three years, just waiting to be cleaned up & added to Elie’s room.  I love the way it looks in this space after a few coats of gold spray paint.  I grabbed the sheets from Target and the white duvet & pillow covers are from Ikea.  I made the dust ruffle/bed skirt (Which do you prefer to call it???) with the extra curtain panel I dyed.  If you use pinking shears (to prevent fraying) to cut the short end first & then cut up the middle of the long side you can easily make a full-sized bed skirt from a 57” by 98” curtain panel.  I attached it to the box spring with mattress pins & just folded the two unfinished edges inward.

DIY Sunburst Mirror

I made the pink flower/sunburst mirror above the bed using The Nesters tutorial with pink cardboard & a $10 mirror from Hobby Lobby.  I love the way the Braemore Emperor’s Garden Blossom fabric ties the whole room together.  I made the pillow cover using this 36” pillow from Target.

Braemore Emperor's Garden Blossom Fabric

The night stand is an Ikea Rast I painted white.  You can see how I made the handles here.  I made my own version of some “X & 0” artwork I saw at Hobby Lobby using items I already owned.  I really love her white alarm clock too.  It was a cheapie from Target that comes with fun “fashion wraps”.  The kids love the wraps, but I really love the plain white, so I removed them!

Ikea Rast Nightstand

You can learn all about my experience dying Ikea Ritva curtains in this post.

Cheerful Tween Girl's Bedroom

Here is a view of the wall opposite the bed:

Cool Tween Bedroom

Six weeks ago it looked like this:

Girl's Bedroom Before

Elie now has a comfy chair in place of the 1970’s Barbie house. 

Tullsta Chair

My husband made the peace sign marquee & I gave it a coat of spring green paint.  (Remember, peace signs & spring green are two of Elie’s favorites!)  I’m still working on a way to hide the plug/cord situation & will hopefully be able to explain the process of how we created this light up peace sign soon.

DIY Peace Sign Marquee

The water color pillow was another DIY that I will have to explain another day.  Let’s just say there were quite a few failures before this beauty came to be!

DIY Watercolor Pillow

I spotted this mirror (peek-a-boo!) at At Home (the former Garden Ridge) & knew I had to have it for this room.

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I painted the existing dresser (Aqua Bay by Olympic Paints) & added a faux orchid (also from At Home) & a few pictures to top it.

Tween Room Decor

The final wall in Elie’s room has two doors on it.  Since the actual wall space is pretty small, I decided to create a gallery wall using items she has collected & created, as well as some inspiring messages.

Free Printable Gallery Wall

You can find the links to all the free printables I used (yes, they were all FREE!) HERE as well as how I created the rock & shell art.

Fun & Colorful Girl's Bedroom

I have thirty minutes before Eliana gets home.  I think I’ll go revel in her cute & clean bedroom, because I know it won’t look this good tomorrow!

Here is a look at my plan for the space & the links for each week of the One Room Challenge:



Week One- Pictures & a Plan
Week Two- Paint, Paint, Paint
Week Three- Furnishings
Week Four- Gallery Wall of Free Art
Week Five- Third Time’s a Charm: Dying Curtains

I hope you will head over to Linda’s blog to check out all the wonderful room makeovers!  I fully intend to spend the weekend looking at every single one! 



Sharing Your Turn to Shine link party at Joy in Our Home too!

Joining the Pretty Preppy Party

Girl’s Bedroom Makeover: Third Time’s a Charm

They say the third time’s a charm, & it certainly worked for the curtain dilemma I had gotten myself into for the One Room Challenge (although I really wish I could say, “first time’s a charm”).  (Click to catch up on weeks one, two, three, & four.)

When I posted my plan for my eight-year-old daughter’s room, I mentioned possibly using Ikea Vivan curtains.  I checked them out in the store & thought they would be a great choice since the color was very close to the curtains on my mood board & they matched one of the three shades of pink in the pillow fabric I was using, plus they were only $10 a pair.  Then, I got home, ironed them all, & hung them in the room.

Ikea Vivan Pink Curtains

Once hung, the curtains felt completely wrong for the space.  The color was too bold & I just did not like the way they looked.  I decided to leave them up for a while to see if they grew on me, but after a couple of weeks, I decided they needed to go & made another trip to Ikea, this time to buy Ritva curtains to dye pink.  (Totally copied this idea from Little Green Notebook.)  I picked up a bottle of Cherry Red Rit Dye, poured half of it in 12 gallons of water (I used a plastic storage tub) & put my wet curtains in the water.  I let the curtains soak for about seven minutes before checking them, since the Rit website said to let the fabric soak for 10- 20 minutes or until the desired color was achieved.  I thought the 10 minutes was a minimum time, to allow the color to soak in.  After washing & drying them, I realized they were the exact same color as the curtains I didn’t like!  (Can you tell which is which in the photo below?)

Dyed Curtains

I spent the next 24 hours trying to remove the color from the curtains using Rit Color Remover.  I poured a package in seven gallons of water & soaked one curtain panel.  After a few hours the curtain was a very faint shade of pink.  Wanting to save time, I decided to use the washing machine method for the other two.  After an hour long cycle the curtains were unchanged.  I put them in the plastic tub that I had used for the first panel & after soaking for about 24 hours they looked like this:

Color Remover

Looking at these now I probably should have just tried to dye them again, but instead, I went back to Ikea for the third time & bought two more sets of Ritva curtains.  This time, I used the same mixture 4oz. cherry red rit dye with 12 gallons of water.  We basically  dipped the curtains in & immediately pulled them out of the water, rinsed them, & washed them with detergent. 

DIY Pink Dyed Curtains

It’s not a perfect match, but this shade of pink goes with the room much better.

Pink, Green, & Turquoise

I just have one more project to complete before I am finished with Elie’s room!  Please hop on over to Linda’s blog & check out the other makeovers in progress.



Also sharing at Life on Virginia Street as part of DIY Summer School

Girl’s Bedroom Makeover: Free Art

I am more than halfway through the One Room Challenge, where I am trying to make over my daughter’s bedroom in just six short weeks!  My plan is coming to fruition with paint on the walls & the furnishings installed.  Most of the remaining work is sewing & zhushing.  I am avoiding painting the bedframe getting a little ahead of myself styling the room, but couldn't wait to get started framing some free prints I found while perusing the internet. 

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I thought this “She believed” print was so adorable, I knew I had to find a place for it in my daughter’s room.  It is filling up some vertical space on her bookshelves, along with this knockoff Anthropologie trinket dish I copied from A Gathered Home.  When I originally saw it on Pinterest, I knew I needed to include it in Elie’s room, since giraffes are her favorite animal.

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My husband & I are hoping this quote about “Difficult things” will inspire our daughter to persevere through difficult tasks & circumstances.  The circles print behind it can be found here.

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I chose this “Be lovely” print to hang as part of a gallery wall between the two doors in Elie’s room.  I love the faint colors in it. 

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This floral one is probably my favorite.  I taped it to a piece of black poster board with some gold washi tape.  (Sorry for the crazy angle—it’s hard to photograph these without glares, since they are directly across from windows.)

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I liked the vibrant colors in this butterfly print.

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Just a pretty reminder that being herself is beautiful!  My husband doesn’t get this one, but I think it’s cute & I like the message.

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I saw a print just like this at Hobby Lobby & replicated it for free!  I already had an old white frame, mat, & chartreuse paint at home.  It is the perfect art to sit on Elie’s nightstand & remind her how much her family loves her.

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I framed some of Elie’s polished stones & shells (not pictured) in an acrylic box frame.

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I also framed some of her pretty rocks.  I wrapped some wire around them & poked it through a piece of black poster board for mounting.

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Here is a link to the constellation printable on the bottom row.  I couldn't get a good picture of it on it’s own.

You can find some other cute printables on my board for Elie’s room and my board for printable art

Now, I’m off to check out all the good projects going on at Linda’s for the One Room Challenge!



Also sharing at the Best of the Nest party.

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