Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Savvy Tips and Tricks

As most of you know if I can get away with making something at home rather than buying it, that's the route I am going to go. It's healthier, cheaper and just all around better for everybody. I was reading through some of my favorite blogs this morning and realized I have a lot of go-to things that I do that I have never shared before. So for those of you that are interested. Here is a little list of home-remedies/homemade things that I do on a regular basis:

1. Homemade vapor rub - The store bought stuff is not safe for little ones so I came up with my own about a year ago and everytime someone is congested or stuffy I make a small batch and rub, rub, rub! A lot of recipes call for beeswax etc. But I wanted to do something that I could just whip up with what I had on hand. So I use about 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil (great for your skin) and then 10 - 15 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint oil. Avoid rubbing this on the face because of the peppermint oil. It will smell very potent but trust me, once you put it on it is not that strong. If it's in the middle of the night and they wake up stuffy I'll just put a few drops of Eucalyptus on a cloth diaper and put it in front of their fan. The whole room smells soothing and you'll see a great difference in their coughing. I even do it for myself too and put a cloth under my pillow. Sleep like a baby when I'm sick!

2. Homemade Apple Sauce - Ok organic applesauce is ridiculously expensive but I won't compromise on it because apples are one of the worst for pesticides, over 50 different pesticides are found on apples EEk! So I've found a way to do it for even cheaper than regular applesauce and it's pretty easy too. I keep a lookout for clearance organic apples at my local health food store. I can get apples for about 85 cents a pound. Not bad for organic apples. They just need to be eaten soon orrrrrrr made into applesauce :) So break out your apple slicer (love this thing! Saves my life on a regular basis... quick healthy snacks BAM) core/slice about 2 to 3 large apples and then chop them into chunks into your blender. That's right... don't peel them... trust me. Put them in with skin on... the skin has the most nutrients, why rob your applesauce of those nutrients? Add a little water and a tablespoon or so of lime juice (you could use lemon but I like lime... it's a little smoother). Blend until you get a smooth consistency, turn your blender off and then taste a little... YUM! Tastes like you are biting into a fresh apple and it's so sweet! No need for any sweeteners! Try it... you'll see. Put your applesauce in a clean empty applesauce jar and voila. And what do the taste testers say? "Mom I like this applesauce, it's yummy."

3. Another sick little one remedy - Garlic is a great natural antibiotic and honey is great to sooth a cough in a pinch. So why not grate up some garlic in some honey and give them a spoonful. Fresh garlic by itself is AWFUL. Yes I've tried it. Hey when you are sick and don't have time to be... you'll try anything!! But this way is not so bad, the honey covers the taste pretty well and it coats your throat.

That's all I've got for now. I'll think of more savvy ways to do things and share!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Preschool Beginnings: Making it fit your budget

Preschool is a very supply intense age. At least the way I like to do preschool :) Lots of crafts and hands-on activities. Tracing, sorting, counting - all these concepts could run you a pretty penny if you buy those supply sets out there but there are a lot of ways to cut down on the cost by just being a little creative.

One of my preschoolers favorite things to do is glue. There are lots of fun crafty things you can buy like pom-poms and googly eyes to make things super cute and fun but you can still make things fun with the basics. Their favorite so far is beans! They love glueing beans on their numbers of the week sheets. And after they glue their beans on their numbers we take the time to count the number of beans they put on their sheet. Number recognition and math with dry pinto beans :) If you want to add sorting to your activities then add in some black beans and have them separate the two types of beans. You can find lots of fun sensory activities to do with beans/rice etc on the web. Just google things you have on hand and the word "craft." You'll be amazed what people have come up with. I just scored 1000 colorful paper clips at target for 1.24 and I found some fun things we can make with them. Can't wait!

If you are a coupon-er like me don't forget to use your scraps! I keep a lot of my good scrap pieces of the print-out coupons I cut. The large pieces can be used to draw on and the other strips can be cut up and used to glue on your letter of the week sheets that you make on colored construction paper. Eco-friendly and budget friendly.

Play-dough is cheap to make and makes for hours of fun. I recently made a batch for the first time and love it!! It's perfect and has lasted for about a month. I'm right on the edge of having to make another batch. Use playdough to make shapes of things that start with your letter of the week. Get their imaginations going and see where it takes you. If you want a great recipe for playdough here is the one I used: Playdough tutorial

Hope that got your creative wheels going. I'll share more on my preschool adventures here and you can learn along with me! :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Preschool Beginnings

Preschool is just ABC's and 123's right? When did it get complicated? Ok, I know it's probably me that's complicating things because, of course, I want to make sure I am "in the know" about every different way preschool can be taught. Did you know there are even different schools of thought on whether or not you should teach the alphabet in sequential order or should you teach capitals or lowercase first etc etc.

A few weeks back I decided it was time to get serious about doing a more structured preschool. Corben is three now and is ready to take on a little more structure. It helps him a lot to be engaged in different activities throughout the day. We have been doing a little bit of letters/counting throughout the past year but nothing really structured or consistent.

So I figured out a way to get myself into a routine and get organized about it. Accountability. You know that fascinating concept that God came up with to make sure we keep each other in check. Our friends live a few doors down from us and have two munchkins that are close in age with ours. Corben loves playing with his best friend Joe and Devlin is just enamored with little Jetta. So why not have a class and teach everybody? It would give Corben some classmates and give Lanie a little break throughout the week and a chance to get in some intense schoolwork with the older boys. So that's what I did. Twice a week my four students get together to have class from 10 AM - 1 PM.

I didn't really know what to expect at first. I was just going to go "all in" and see what happened. I was so surprised at how anxious they were to learn. Their little faces just lit up whenever we switched to a new activity. Wow! I thought it would be so hard to keep their attention but it's been great. I switch up activities often and make sure we have some free play in there too. So we can get all of those wiggles out.

I'm learning a lot and enjoying it! I like reading about all the different philosophies on education. Now the hard part is trying to decided which ones I think will be the most beneficial.

Here are some websites that I have enjoyed visiting so far. They have great hands-on ideas for little ones:

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