Thursday, February 28, 2013

Word Launch from LeapFrog; Learn letters, spelling and new words!

I bought this game called Word Launch made by LeapFrog at a garage sale for $5. My kids love LeapFrog and it teaches letters and spelling. So I thought, why not? $5 seems cheap. And it was! You can find them on amazon, found here. You might be able to find them on eBay too.
I hooked it up to the TV and set everything up. I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. My eldest is well educated on his letters, but learning sounds and word recognition. My 2 year old is learning his letters. A great balance for the both of them!
One thing that I wasn't expecting for them to learn from this game was taking turns. This is SO hard to teach at home. Along with sitting still! You can always tell who has been in preschool when you go to public events and the kids are all sitting "cris-cross-applsauce" and my children are wandering around. And then to have one child go up for an activity and others have to wait in a line and take turns. My kids don't know what to do! I appreciated how this game would tell each player it was their turn.
My kids were sick with a stomach bug so we were stuck in the house for about 10 days! We stayed in our pajamas (hence, my little Buzz Lightyear child), watched movies and played games. The game will prompt the child with each letter, and where to put it in the word placement. The spaces are color coded as well (lots of learning going on!). 
He said saying "U like Euan!" Aw, love him!

The letters fit into a colored space and each letter has it's own unique code on the back that links with the game. It will tell you if you have the wrong letter or if it's in the wrong space. Also, which each letter the game will also say the sound.

Once the word in complete, hit the big red button and the game does a little victory dance with the word.

What a great buy of only $5! SO MUCH learning in this one game. And it kept them busy for over an hour.

Leap Pad Case

 In the age of technology, kids are so tech savvy at such a young age! Every time we went into the toy section at the store, our oldest son would gravitate towards the Leap Pad (which looks just like an iPad), and he knew EXACTLY how to navigate it! I checked out the games that came with it. Many of them were educational. So we got him a Leap Pad for his 4th birthday.
At first, we got him just one game. Then for Christmas, we bought him a second game. Then we had a problem, what did we do with the little game cartridge when it wasn't in use? It looks like a memory card, and I didn't want it to get stepped on, lost or damaged. I looked up carrying cases online and they were SO expensive (for my taste anyway).
I searched pinterest (LOVE!) for some kind of homemade case and found a tutorial, found here. I was able to use fabric and velcro that I had left over from a blanket I made from a friend. The fabric called for interfacing, and I was like "huh?". But I had some upholstery fabric that I used in placed of it. That was a mistake! It ended up being so thick and stiff. And there'ss many layers to sew through and lots of flipping inside out of fabric. Batting would have sufficed, or a few layers of scrap fabric. The only thing I had to buy was a zipper, .99 cents!
 This turned out adorable! It's the perfect size for his Leap Pad and has a pocket in the front to store his games. Perfect for traveling and storing everything!

Valentine's Cards for Kids

I always call myself cheap, but my friends affectionately call me frugal. Whatever you want to call it, it's caused me to be very creative and crafty. I don't like to waste anything, and I especially dislike spedning money on things that are so disposible.
 Valentine's day was coming up, and we didn't have any big plans. The kids especially enjoy storytime at the library and they were having a Valentine's day party. Ms. Sherrie suggested bringing cards if we wanted. I thought, "no, I really don't want to go and buy cards for like 4 or 5 friends and throw the rest away". Plus, I didn't want to have to make a special trip to the store to buy them.  
Cricut to the rescue! I let the kids pick out their own characters to put on their Valentine's. I looked up some cute Valentine's day phrases and used scrap cardstock that I had in my stash. I have a thick pad of paper for my own scrapbooking endevors, plus all the paper for my etsy store (which can be found here).
 Ethan picked the zebra (which HAD to have the flower because that's the way it was in the picture!) And Euan picked the penguin :) 

Crochet Headphone Covers

SO!!! Last year we went on a trip and took the DVD player for the kids. At some point we looked back and the foam pieces of the headphone covers were missing. Looked at my 2 year old, and the evidence was in his mouth! He ate them! This was our 3rd pair of "cheap" headphones for the kids, and they are NOT cheap! $5 a pop. They get lost, stepped on, etc. But I was not about to replace these AGAIN!
Searched for some covers to buy or make, and voila! Found these on (my favorite knit and crochet site for patterns!). Was able to make these with some yarn I had on hand and just in time for us to go on vacation. Original pattern by Jennifer Ofenstein, and found on her blog here.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt

Baby #3 is going to be The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme. I first saw this nursey theme in Pottery Barn and fell in love! But $200 for a quilt?! Yikes! Plus, you need sheets, bumper, decor, etc. Ugh.  The boys have twin quilt madras quilt from Pottery Barn and I love them! But they are going to use them for a long time, not just as a toddler. So it was worth spending more. Plus, my mom bought them for birthday presents :)
Andover Fabrics sells Eric Carle fabric. But I wasn't able to find it in local stores or from the manufacturer. Back to etsy! I had to price shop (searched eBay too). I wasn't able to find all the fabrics that I wanted from the same seller, so I had to buy them seperately. But depending on what kinds of fabrics you want, you can save on shipping by buying from the same seller.
The border and backing I got from a local fabric store. They had a very cute green Eric Carle fabric I thought about getting for the backing, but thought I had spent enough! So I got a cute earthy green that I thought would do well as the backing.

I did diagonal stitching for the quilting, but didn't like how much it was bunching. And I didn't want to regret the way it looked. Had to use the seam ripper (which took a couple hours!) and removed the quilt from the machine after each line, smoothed everything out, repinned and sewed another line. It took longer, but was much flatter.
I also wanted to do a blind hand stitch on the binding. This also took a couple of hours, but it looks so much better than top stitching the binding. And I didn't have a blind stich options with my machine. I always forget how to do the machine binding and mitering, but finally found this video on youtube, found here. Machine stitch the binding to the quilt, then flip and press and hand stitch the other side. She talks about how to machine stitch the other side as well. I like to have a continuous border on the binding, and always forget how to do the corners. This video is great!
I love this quilt and have a crib bumper in the works as well! I spent about $50 on the fabric, had batting on hand and about 10 hours of labor (some of that was fixing mistakes!). I even tried looking on etsy to see if I could find quilts for under $200. Not easy, but there were some available. I just had a certain quilt in mind, and thought I could do it for cheaper!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Burp Cloths

Got a dozen regular cloth diapers from CottonBabies to use as burp cloths, found here. These are $1.75 each and they ship for free! Retail stores often sell cloth diapers too, like BabiesRUs, WalMart and Target. They are Gerber brand. I've heard that they work well as burp cloths, but I know the ones from CottonBabies are diaper service quality and SUPER SOFT! And they are actually cheaper than the gerber ones! You can buy as many or as little as you need.
Bought some caterpillar ribbon off of etsy and sewed it to each end. I did 13" strips, folded and tucked in the ends of the ribbon, and did a top stitch around the ribbon edges. They turned out so cute and will be perfect for new baby!
This would make a great gift too! I bought an extra 3 diapers and am going to make personalized diapers for a friend. I think she'll love them!