How To Make 20 Busy Bags For Only $5

Moms of toddlers, I feel your pain.  Sometimes you just need your kid to be occupied for 5 minutes so you can brush your teeth/make a phone call/toast a pop-tart/whatever.  My twins were 2 1/2 when my 3rd was born, so we took on the toddler game full force.  Busy bags were always a great way to perk up a kid who was sick of their toys or bored in the checkout line at Target. 

And I have the master plan that you need!  I was able to purchase ALL of these items at Dollar Tree, our local (giant) dollar store, where everything truly is only a dollar.

go buy this stuff!

-colored popsicle sticks

-pom poms

-pipecleaners

-clothes pins

-hook and loop fasteners (aka Velcro)

That’s it.  Five items, $5.  And here are all the links you need to make it happen…

Matching Colored Popsicle Sticks to Clothespins Game

How To Make a Popsicle Stick Puzzle

More Cute Popsicle Puzzles

Alphabet Pom Pom Printables

More Alphabet Pom Pom Printables

Numbers Pom Pom Printables

Counting Pom Pom Printables

Pom Pom Push Bin

Pom Pom Picture Printables

Pom Pom Color Drop

Counting Caterpillar Printable

Making Shapes Activity

Velcro Popsicle Sticks

Clothes Pin Pom Pom Drop

Clothes Pin Counting Printable

More Clothes Pin Counting

Pom Pom Counting Sticks

Velcro Shape Matching Game

Velcro Mr. Potato Head

Pom Pom Tic Tac Toe

And don’t forget to get my very own popsicle puzzles!!! Pinned over 50,000 times!Free Printable Popsicle Puzzles - pineed over 50,000 times!!!

Phew!  You made it!  That was a lot of links… I hope this helps you keep your toddler busy and gives you a few more minutes to come back and check out the rest of my blog. ūüėČ  Now go get busy!

Disclaimer: you may not have enough of one particular item to make ALL the activities including that item at one time, but you can either rotate those activities or if they’re a really huge hit, just go spend another dollar and double your stash.

Before you go, if you liked this post – you’d love my monthly newsletter!  It’s crammed full of tips and freebies.  And just for signing up, you’ll get my 6 free ebooks for early readers which you can load on your iphone for those times when a busy bag is out of reach. ūüėČ

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The Nausea Tip I Wish I’d Known When I Was Pregnant

The Nausea Tip I Wish I'd Known When I Was Pregnant - a tip for easing queasiness of any kind from someone who's tried it all!!!I am, unfortunately, an expert in the feelings of queasiness, nausea, and all things mal de mer (that’s French for seasickness, told you I was an expert!).  I have tried – and been disappointed with – just about every cure for nausea under the sun.  But this year, I stumbled upon the holy grail of stomach settling.  And I was a little surprised at how simple but effective it is! 

My pregnancy days are years behind me, but I have a chronic illness that plagues me with the queasies on a regular basis.  It’s sometimes mild and continuous, sometimes an unrelenting wave, but always unpredictable.  If you’re here – you have my sympathy.  Feeling sick to your stomach for any reason is just the worst. 

But there’s good news!  I found something that really does work and won’t cost you an arm and a leg or harm your unborn baby or require you to trek to the top of a mountain to harvest a rare blossom.

The Nausea Tip I Wish I'd Known When I Was Pregnant - a tip for easing queasiness of any kind from someone who's tried it all!!!

Peppermint oil + lavender oil + small glass roller bottle = INCREDIBLE relief from nausea. 

I carry one of these in my purse at all times.  When the nausea rolls in, I roll a little onto my palms, rub my hands together, then cup my palms over my nose and inhale deeply a few times.

My mom even tried it recently after an out patient surgery when her pain meds where making her queasy – she was amazed at how well it worked! 

I really hope I’m not overselling this.  I hope that you try it and find it to be just as effective as I do.  These little roller bottles can be ordered online or picked up at most stores that carry a good selection of essential oils.  It should only cost a dollar or two. And if you’re skeptical, just buy the peppermint essential oil, you can grab the lavender later.  The peppermint is really what does the bulk of the work here, but adding the lavender helps and makes it a super-multi-purpose oil roller.  The peppermint lavender combo is also great for relieving headaches and soothing scrapes or bug bites.  Plus it smells amazing!!!

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3 Pandora Stations To Brighten Your Day NOW

   3 Pandora Stations to Brighten Your Day NOW - the stations you never knew you'd loveAre you stuck in a Pandora rut?  Listening to old stations that you love but have started to play the same 63 songs over and over again?  Fear not – here are some stations to brighten your day immediately. 

Without further ado, the three stations you never knew you’d love…

3 Pandora Stations to Brighten Your Day NOW - the stations you never knew you'd love“Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny!” Radio – Full of big band classics and swoon-worthy ballads from another time and place

3 Pandora Stations to Brighten Your Day NOW - the stations you never knew you'd love“Let’s Hear It For The Boy” Radio – If you’re a child of the 80’s, play this station right now and spend the next hour just trying not to sing along with all of your old favorites.

3 Pandora Stations to Brighten Your Day NOW - the stations you never knew you'd love“Rio (Soundtrack)” Radio – Our kids LOVE this station.  Not only does it play all of the catchy songs from Rio, it plays soundtrack titles from lots of other movies in the same genre – because it’s probably been too long since your last Frozen sing along, right?  You can come back and thank me after you finish singing Fixer Upper for the 2,384,917th time. 

3 Pandora Stations to Brighten Your Day NOW - the stations you never knew you'd love

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5 Thing I Learned From Our First Year of Homeschooling

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Let’s all just pretend that I wrote this in the weeks following the end of our first year of school instead of in the weeks preceding the start of our second… deal? Deal. ¬†Moving on.

While it was messier and more chaotic than I expected, I’m officially calling our first year of school a major success. ¬†I really only had two main goals for the year. ¬†The first was that I would be able to figure out how the heck this homeschooling thing worked for us. ¬†The second was that the kids would have fun and learn that school was something to look forward to and not something to dread. ¬†Mission accomplished on both accounts! ¬†Of course the girls made leaps and bounds of progress in math and reading and other important life skills, but I honestly viewed this first year mostly as prep for making the future years a success.

Here are some of the most important lessons we learned:

1) Things that aren’t flexible will break under pressure.

A valuable science lesson, sure. ¬†But it was one that we learned in the grand experiment of life. ūüėČ If I wasn’t willing to be flexible about where we schooled, we would have missed a lot of days (when we were still getting settled into our new home) just because the dining table was too overwhelming too clean. ¬†If I forced myself to stick to lesson plans even when I realized they were clearly making us miserable, I would have failed completely on goal #2. ¬†We encountered this with our reading curriculum, which worked perfectly for one kiddo but was a huge struggle for the other. ¬†That is, until I started making some simple but significant tweaks to suit her learning style. ¬†Then it was smooth sailing for them both, but if I had just kept pushing, we would have both hated reading by the end of the year.

2) Teachers need to take notes too!

I realized during our second semester that I usually had tons of ideas during school for enrichment activities or general improvements but that I was rarely implementing them. ¬†Mostly it was just because I forgot about them until we were already “in school” again or when I sat down to try and organize my thoughts, I couldn’t remember them all. ¬†So I finally started keeping a notebook with our school supplies and at the end of each lesson, I’d jot a quick note if I thought of something and then right after we finished for the day, I’d sit for a couple of minutes and flesh out those notes. ¬†Once I did that for a few days, I had a lot less to write because I’d actually put the ideas into practice. ¬†But it was a really helpful habit and I definitely plan to keep it up this fall.

3) Be realistic about DIY curriculum.

I’ll be honest. ¬†I’m the person that sees things on Etsy and thinks “I can make that.” Or sees fancy breads at a bakery and thinks “I can make that.” Or sees homeschool curriculum and thinks “I can make that.” ¬†Noticing a pattern here? ¬†And the thing is, I really can. ¬†And you can too. ¬†Let’s face it, kindergarten curriculum is full of material that I mastered a long time ago. ¬†But even though I still like to hand pick our curriculum subject by subject (no boxed sets for us), I learned the value of having a book that tells you exactly what to do next. ¬†Sure, I could have made my own weekly plans for teaching math with manipulatives, but using Math U See meant that I didn’t have to decide the best sequence to teach them in. ¬†We still had the flexibility of adding in our own activities as needed, but it made school so much less overwhelming in the weeks when we were extra busy or recovering from sickness. ¬†There are tons of reasonably priced choices out there for each subject. ¬†Even if you want to go the DIY route, consider buying a cheap resource to use as a framework and fill out with your own activities. ¬†You’ll thank me in the end.

4) Decide on your minimum “survival schedule”. ¬†

As we went along, I noticed that there were a handful of days where a full school day just wasn’t going to happen (usually due to mild illness) but we weren’t necessarily down for the count. ¬†Somewhere along the way, I decided what our bare minimum subjects were, and occasionally we’d have a “survival day”. ¬† Which leads me to my next point…

5) Have a plan in place for sick days and make up days.

Even if your state doesn’t require it, trust me, you need to track attendance for your own sanity. ¬†I mean, maybe you don’t, but if you have an ounce of people-pleasing in you – it’s probably a good idea. ¬†It doesn’t matter what your system is, but decide on your minimum number of days attended, track them, and have a plan for when you’ll make up missed days along the way. ¬†This way, when post-holiday coughs and sniffles arrive, you won’t waste so much energy debating over whether you’ve already taken too many sick days.

…and lots more! ¬†For example, during our first real “summer break”, I realized that I’m shifting our whole calendar for next year so that we school during the hottest and coldest parts of the year and take our longest breaks during the nicest weather possible. ūüėČ

So we did it! ¬†We survived our first year of homeschooling! ¬†I think I’ll buy myself a celebratory laminator…

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