Monday, March 31, 2014

Raising Kate: A Fundraiser for NFP Training {And Giveaway}

One thing I never thought I'd be able to do with a direct sales company is help earn money for other people.  In my first couple months I've signed up to help out two friends.  One was a fundraiser to help a friend fulfill her goals of producing a quality children's television program.  This week I'm linking up with Michaela, Mandi and others to raise money for our friend Kate.

Kate is raising money so she can become a certified Creighton Method Instructor.  Creighton is a type of Natural Family Planning that gives couple the tools they need to achieve or postpone pregnancy naturally without the use of chemicals, hormones or invasive procedures.  It is an amazing tool that can help pinpoint infertility issues giving struggling couples the answers they need.

In her own words:

"There is an extensive need in the Portland/Vancouver area for natural family planning (also known as fertility awareness methods) classes and instruction! I hope to help women and couples learn how to understand and chart the Creighton Model of family planning. 

Creighton is a scientifically proven way of monitoring a woman's fertile pattern to help in the diagnosis and treatment of health problems that contribute to infertility and illnesses, as well as achieve AND avoid pregnancy with 99% method effectiveness."
This week a number of us will be donating a portion of our profits to help Kate fund her Creighton training.  I will be donating my entire commission (after the first $20) and giving away a book.

Paperback version
You get an entry into the giveaways for every $10 you spend.  There will also be giveaways of Lila Rose Hair Accessories, Mary Kay Cosmetics, 31 Gifts Bags and a number of other small business offerings.

This is a great time to get your Easter book order in and help someone out at the same time.  Here are a few Easter and Spring inspired books:



You can shop through this link until April 10th to support Kate's Fundraiser:

We'll be hosting a multivendor Facebook Party on Saturday.  RSVP here:



Friday, March 28, 2014

Money Tight Montessori: Homemade Color Activities.

Thank goodness for Kathleen's post this week to remind me that I had a couple half-finished Montessori projects waiting for me to get back to them!


These projects were quick and easy to make (even if I got a little lazy in the middle because my craft store only keep two packages of the wood rectangles on the shelf at a time).

Color Clips-

Simply just identical Pantone paint swatches (the biggest at our Lowes) cut out.  The smaller of the cut-outs were glued on to the top of clothespins we already had.




 Homemade Montessori Color Tablets:
Will eventually be a full set like this

Paint swatches from the hardware store (free), cut and Modge-Podged to wood rectangles.




We'll be using these at home along with this book for some basic ideas.  Have you done in any fun Montessori projects lately?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This is Love

I swear I haven't given up blogging, and no lovely friends as much as I wish I was withholding a fantastic baby related secret.... there is nothing (other than good, normal health) to report.  I've been taking a lot of time this month to do a number of things.  One has been my little Usborne "business" which is actually doing nicely - I've had 1-2 Facebook "parties" a week to manage and that takes a nice chunk of time.  I'll be doing a really fun fundraiser next week that I can't wait to tell you about.

Apart from that I've been doing a lot of thinking.

I don't have his awesome hair... but I do break into song on a regular basis...
I've been thinking a lot about goals and priorities and comfort.  I have a very comfortable life, and many of the things I know I want will require me to step out of the comfortable place and that's scary.

I don't do scary very well.  Those who've known me for a few years know that pattern and comfort help keep my anxiety in check and there's a certain level of comfort and stability that I need to function, but lately I've felt that I've crossed a line.

So my goals during Lent have been to really reflect and challenge myself in certain areas of comfort - I've been looking at our spending, our food, our lifestyle and general and trying to figure out how to get things back to the simple living equilibrium that I love.

Another portion of my goals have been to find a way or at least formulate a plan in regards to certain aspects of my vocation.  After careful consideration and a lot of prayer I'm currently at peace with the idea that I will probably never be a full-time stay at home mother.  I'm still sad about this, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel in regards to how long I need to remain a full time employee outside of the home.  It's not right around the corner, but it's on the horizon and if I can get the first part of the equation balanced out I know we can get there.

I started reading "A Story of a Soul" this week.  The whole Martin family has really touched my heart in the past few weeks, but that's for another time.  In "A Story of a Soul" St. Therese speaks of being separated from her beloved sisters and how much pain and sadness it caused her.  I know this all too well as it's becoming harder and harder to leave for work each day and I miss my son fiercely.  She explains how she came to understand that these little separations were a sacrifice she was being asked to make for God.

My child is well cared for, provided for and loved immensely and at this point in his life I have to make sacrifices to accomplish this.  I choose to see it as sacrificing my time with him, not his time with me or our time together, but rather the way I wish I could spend my own time.  I am being asked to sacrifice something I want so dearly - my comfort, my wants, how I'd love to spend my time -  for someone so important to me and that is love.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Better Days or Howerton Holidays Misses the Point

There's this Huff Post piece floating around, as they tend to do, around Facebook and other social media outlets decrying the abundance of "fake" holidays and the people who make a fuss over "phone-it-in" holidays like St. Patrick's Day.  To her St. Patrick's is a day just about wearing green and Easter is a day to get a pre-made Easter basket and maybe a new outfit.

I agree with Ms. Howerton to a point - in the days where family budgets and school budgets are constantly being tightened why are we celebrating these often meaningless days with special craft projects, take home projects, decorations and expectations?  It's one thing for a teacher to say, "It's Dr. Seuss' birthday and we're going to read "The Lorax" and another altogether to ask a student and/or parent to make elaborate truffela trees out of cardboard and imported silk.  Okay, that last part might be a little bit of an exaggeration.  However, it's also wrong for our classrooms (whether they're a public school or Sunday school) to be setting up children from different backgrounds and economic means to be expecting celebrations of things their parents probably don't know about in ways that don't fit their budget, or in the case of the ridiculous "holiday/celebration" candy and treats their nutritional expectations.



However, another thing struck me while reading Ms. Howerton's post - none of the holidays she mentions directly or indirectly seem to have a real significance to her.  No wonder she's annoyed at them all and that's where she misses the point.

It's not about bringing down the holidays "a notch" - it's about celebrating what is important to you, in ways that are meaningful and forgoing the rest.  If this is followed then, yes, the Valentine's Day treat bags would probably decrease, and the 100th Day "celebrations" would not require an extra hour of homework time at night and we could do whatever the heck we wanted to do for St. Patrick's Day.

While I'm the first person to encourage everyone to take the commercialization out of their holidays (it's an ADVENT calendar, not a Christmas Countdown and yes that Elf creeps me out) and I love finding ways to give on our holidays rather than receive, but I don't expect everyone to quietly ring in their celebrations with a small, homemade desert around a candle lit table.  Go big, have a hooley if you want to, but don't do it because the Archbishop of Pinterest demands it, your students are bored with your lesson plan or because the neighbors are doing something that looks really cool.  Celebrate your holidays in the ways that are special to you and your family, but make sure that there is a significance to it all or else, like Ms. Howerton surmises, it's all pretty worthless. 



There's a reason all of these holidays are feeling overblown and insignificant at the same time - they're not about anything and what does society at large fill an empty holiday with?  Stuff.  In fact a holiday used to be a cessation of normal activities.  In order to celebrate something you got some time off to enjoy it.  Now we don't even do that - we pile on "holiday" projects on top of homework and ask people to work so that we can fill our holiday with, you guessed it, stuff.  I can see where Ms. Howerton gets frustrated,  there no deeper lesson to be learned or motive to reflect on in her holidays and because all of the deeper meaning of a holiday is gone and the break from normal activities is not respected all she's left with is an abundance of meaningless stuff on top of an already busy and stuff filled life.

We are still human and we desire days of significance, days that are special, to mark the passage of time and draw us through the often dismal normalcy.  It's not about having fewer holidays or smaller holidays.  It's about having better holidays.  It's about having real holidays.  It's about giving ourselves an allowance to not go all out for a day that has no meaning to us and to go all out on the days that do no matter what box of goodies is being marketed at us.  It's about giving ourselves a day off from all the rest.  It's about celebrating things that give our lives more meaning instead of more stuff.  It's about having the right number of meaningful days so you don't need three hundred and sixty five slightly meaningful or meaningless days that try to fill the void.





So stand up for your big shindigs and quiet dinners and go small with the Valentines and seriously question your children's teacher when she sends home yet another "holiday" project that your kids probably don't care about at all. Stand up for fewer day, more days, bigger days and small days.  Stand up for better days.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day

 Saint Patrick {from here}
 Corned Beef straight from the crock pot
 Sarah's amazing Guinness Cake {here}
A Simple St. Patrick's Craft

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and near,
Alone or in a multitude.
- Part of the Lorica of St. Patrick

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Year of Books: Cars and Trucks

No, no I haven't forgotten about my little pet project.  I just lucked out that the month I get knocked out by the cold to end all colds I picked two subjects that are very similar.... Cars and Trucks.



Cars and trucks - well basically anything that has an engine - are a big hit at our house.  So I'm surrounded by them more often than not.  So trust me when I say this isn't a complete list!


  https://z3088.myubam.com/p/991/big-book-of-big-machines
https://z3088.myubam.com/p/1565/dan-the-taxi-manhttps://z3088.myubam.com/p/825/duck-in-the-truck

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Fun{draiser} Little Thing

Hey Friends!  I'm doing a fun fundraiser for a friend through my Usborne Books & More Consultant gig right now and wanted to let you in on it!

My friend Pamela is raising money to eventually produce her own children's programming called "Pen Pals". 

"The series follows a playful human and her intellectual best friend, a fox named DANNY, through their world travels where they meet new friends and discover diverse places, experiences, and animals.

Every episode begins with an invitation to visit one of Danny's animal pen pals in a new place around the globe. Through each fun adventure, our characters learn about a new city, a different culture,an exciting career, and an indigenous animal, all through exploration and song.

Pam has recently completed training with the Little Airplane Academy to learn more about creating quality Children's Programming and is that much closer to Pen Pals becoming a reality!"

So right now I have a party going on for Pam in which I am donating my entire commission to help finish funding her trip to the Academy last month and help make Pen Pals a reality.

If you're need to buy a book or two for an upcoming birthday, baby shower or Easter basket I hope you'll consider purchasing through THIS LINK ---------> https://z3088.myubam.com/40696 and help us make this fun project a reality!

Here's a fun look at our Easter themed books!

And we have a giveaway - Everyone who makes a purchase (no matter the $ total) is entered to win a FREE copy of "Stories from Around the World"

 
Thanks everyone for your support!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Candle Window

{sorry for the absence - a nasty head-cold knocked me out for a few days}

I thought I'd show you what we're doing for a Lenten Activity with Henry.  I decided to do something similar to our "Thank You Window" in November, with a cutout to hangup and an activity to go along with it.  When I was taking down our winter decorations I really didn't want to take down our window Candlemas/Birthday candles yet and realized that the symbol of the candle as an aid to prayer would be perfect.



So out came my construction paper hoard and I drew out some votive candle shapes on purple paper - because purple is the color of the Lenten Season.



I wanted a religious themed lesson to start sharing with Henry, but Stations of the Cross or something heavy like that seemed a little too much this year.  Then I remembered that I had these books from when I was a kid called "Big Thoughts for Little People: ABC's to Help You Grow " which is is an ABC book of virtues.


Since I knew we wouldn't get around to a lesson each night I figured that the 26 letters of the alphabet seemed like a good goal for the season.  Each Letter has a two page illustration, a simple lesson attached to the letter and the questions to ask the child about the picture and lesson and a bible verse.  I've found that Henry, at three, can do a pretty good job at understanding and answering these questions.


So every night that we have the time and interest we read a new page, I write the word from the corresponding letter of the alphabet on the construction paper and review the lessons it teaches.  Then Henry gets to put a candle cutout in the window.

We also have "Giant Steps for Little People " which focuses on lessons from the Sermon on the Mount and the 10 Commandments if we actually get through all of "Big Thoughts".

So that's that for now!

(p.s. I have the "classic" versions of these and it looks like "Big Thoughts" has been reprinted with new illustrations so I can't speak to the illustrations in the new version or if anything has changed, but I loved these books growing up).
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