Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Christmas in September???

For those that know me well or even kind of know me, know I LOVE the holidays from Halloween thru Christmas. My husband and I share this love and enjoy shopping year round for Christmas. I don't like feeling overwhelmed when the holidays actually get here, so we make a point to start early. The challenge becomes where to store the gifts. They are usually just thrown in the top of our closet, and we cross our fingers that something doesn't get crushed or lost up there. In years past, I have purchased something and totally forgot about it. I would usually find it the next holiday. I can't be the only one?!?! Well, today I began working on a solution. My first step this year was to create an ongoing Christmas list on my computer. Every time I purchase something, I add it to the list with the name of the person and cost of the gift. I am curious to know how much we end up spending on Christmas every year. With a newborn in the house, we have lots of diaper boxes. I decided to use those to help with storage and organization. You can't beat free. In order to dress them up, I cut off the top flaps and wrapped them in wrapping paper. I then used some chalkboard clothespins I found in the dollar section at Michaels to label each box. I can easily see the labels even when they are in the top of my closet. So far, I have created one for kids that are not my own and one for the fabulous ladies in my life. I plan to make one for each of my boys and a family box for aunts, uncles and grandparents. Check out the finished product below. How do you organize Christmas?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

Well, it is hard to believe it has been a little over a month since we welcomed our third son into the world. We have all enjoyed soaking up every minute of this little guy. He is already such a blessing and has completed our family.

Our newest addition has made me start thinking about how different you are as a parent to your first than you are to your third. For our oldest, we registered for everything under the sun and quickly realized we didn't need most of it. Our third, who is just as loved, is wearing all his brothers' old clothes. However, there is one item we bought for Walter that we didn't have for my other boys, and it has been a game changer. My husband and I chose to co-sleep with all of our children while they are little. It's not for everyone, but it feels so natural to me to have your baby within arms reach. Not to mention, it makes middle of the night nursing sessions so much easier. We all know one of the biggest newborn challenges can be getting them to sleep without someone holding them, but Fisher Price now has a solution. The Fisher Price Deluxe Newborn Rock 'n Sleeper is amazing! It perfectly cradles a baby, so they feel as if they are being held. The slight incline is great for helping with any tummy issues baby may have, and the vibration provides the perfect amount of movement. When I first put Walter in it, I will make it rock slightly until I know he is good and asleep. He absolutely loves it and sleeps so well in it. Plus, it makes me rest easier too because I can put it right beside the bed and check on him often. I position it so his head is the opposite direction of mine, so I can easily see his face. I wish this was around for my other boys, but I am thankful to have it now. Trust me, it is $60 well spent!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Money, Money, Money

Some good friends of ours introduced us to Dave Ramsey. After listening to the cd's, we were hooked. Being the "nerd" of our finances, I love every minute of creating our budget and putting cash in our envelopes. We began our adventure in February, so I made some cute heart envelopes out of scrapbook paper, and I was going to change them out every month. Well, things don't always go as planned. I just threw out those heart envelopes yesterday because they were finally falling apart. I decided to be more practical and focus on durability instead of cute. Therefore, I used plain envelopes and made some labels for them. Click on the links, and you can download the labels for free: Cash Envelope Labels 1Cash Envelope Labels 2  Keep in mind that we do not use all of these. I just wanted to provide some variety. You have to figure out what works best for your family. Once I put my labels on the envelopes, I laminated each envelope using my laminator that I have for my classroom. I cannot tell you enough how much I love this thing. You can purchase your own here: Scotch Thermal Laminator I was able to fit three envelopes per page. Those laminating sheets are like gold, so it is important to fit as much as you can on each one. After laminating, I cut each envelope out. I then used a razor blade to follow along the seal of each envelope. That was the hardest part. You have to press down hard enough to break the seal, but if you press too hard it will go through to the front. Check out the pics below to see the process and the final product.
These are the envelopes after they have gone through the laminator.
Carefully cutting the seal.

The final product. Not as cute, but will withstand the wear and tear of "lots of cash."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Until we meet again...

It is hard to believe that there are still some schools in session! We got out about a week earlier this year, so I am on week number 5 of summer vacation. Of course, I have already been thinking about and working on my classroom for next year, but I wanted to share some end of the year ideas before I moved on too much. Two years ago, I gave each of my students a sand bucket with their name on it. I got the sand buckets from Michael's for less than a $1 each. Michael's ends up being a better deal than the Dollar Store because I can use my teacher discount.  In each bucket, I included an end of the year letter, their report card, a summer reading list, some sumer activities, a dvd of our class photos from the year and a compliment book. The compliment book is my favorite thing we do at the end of the year. I got the idea from TPT: The kids love reading all the nice things their classmates say about them, and it makes for a positive way to end the school year. I also did the candy bar awards, so their candy was in their bucket as well.
Since I have the same students for two years, I had to do something different for this school year. I had been wanting to try my hand at tie-dying, so each child got to tie-dye a shirt for their end of the year gift. It was definitely more intense than I thought it would be, but it was well worth it. They loved their shirts and enjoyed getting to wear them to our end of the year party. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Everything is Awesome!!!

With the Lego Movie coming out this week (and yes, it is awesome), I thought a Lego post would be most appropriate. My husband, who sometimes reminds of President Business with his love and need to preserve toys, loves to incorporate Legos into his art classes. Those lessons tend to be his most popular with boys and girls alike. I know our house is busting at the seams with Legos and everything is awesome until you step on one. For our children, Lego creations are works of art that need to be on display, but they are also hard to store. Check out a couple of the solutions we came up with.

My mom had some old Pepsi crates, so we decided to use one to store some Lego figures. I hot glued one or two yellow blocks into each compartment. Some of the slots were broken, so I had to improvise. Then, Quintin got to pick the figures he wanted to put on display. For our many Lego pieces and instruction guides, we also found this cool storage at my mom's house. She had it in her carport, so it was in pretty bad shape. Let's just say lots of spiders and rust were involved. However, it looked brand new after a good cleaning, sanding, and an awesome Lego yellow paint job!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Pinwheel Spinning Around

With some inspiration from Pinterest, I created some pinwheel centerpieces this school year. Our school colors are blue and gray, so that determined my color scheme. I was able to find the perfect scrapbook paper patterns at Hobby Lobby. Then, I used the tutorial I found here:  My pinwheels did not need to spin, so I stapled the center and hot glued a button over the staple. After my pinwheels were done, I hot glued each pinwheel to a wooden dowel. I had my husband use his saw to cut off some of the dowels, so the pinwheels would not all be the same hight. I then used plain mason jars to hold the pinwheels. A beautiful wedding I was lucky to be a part of used white beans in their centerpieces, so I borrowed their great idea. I also wrapped the mason jars with some twine using hot glue. For a finishing touch, I placed each centerpiece on a woodgrain piece of scrapbook paper to keep the rustic look going. I also made a thank you banner using a pre-made burlap banner I purchased from Hobby Lobby for around $5. I then took some letters I already had in my classroom and added them to the banner. First, I laminated each letter and then hot glued them to the banner. I really liked the way it turned out! Check out the pics below.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

For the love of trees...

We love trees in the Miller house, but apparently we love making art more. Finding a nice balance is hard when our oldest son can go through an entire ream of paper in 1 week. Nothing makes him happier than when I bring him home a fresh pack. However, figuring out how to store all these masterpieces has been a challenge. He is his biggest critic, so he has no trouble figuring out which pieces to keep. The picture below shows about an hours worth of work. In order to save on space, the majority of his artwork I store online using ARTKIVE, I downloaded the app for free, and all I have to do is take pictures of his work. You can also make books of their work, but they are pricey.  

Finding a solution for his artwork was only half our battle. We all know how much paperwork comes home from school as well. You feel guilty when you throw any of their cute work away, but I try to only save the best of the best or work that shows a major milestone in his development. Of course, you want to keep any awards or special recognitions. At first, I tried using a binder, but that got a little tedious and not everything I wanted to save would fit. Then, I decided to use the same technique I use for my students' work in my classroom. I purchased a hanging file folder box for each of my boys. I then labeled the files for each grade. So far, it works great. I just open the box and drop in anything we want to keep. I store the boxes in their closet, so they are out of the way. I made a cover for each of their boxes using a laminated sheet of card stock. The font I used is elise from Kevin and Amanda. If you have not stopped by and downloaded their free fonts, you need to now: Check out the pics below to see how they turned out. I would love your feedback, so leave me a comment:)

Labeled files starting with preschool 

Work samples 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Finding Sunshine

This year I created a box of sunshine for an end of the year teacher gift. I got the idea and free printable off of Pinterest from this website: The basic idea is you fill the box with yellow items. I was able to find most of my items at Michael's, Target and The Dollar Store. I did venture to Bath and Body Works for their Kitchen Lemon hand soap. For the box, I used a cake box from Michael's. Check out the pics below to see how it turned out.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Making room for a party of 5...

Baby boy number 3 will be here in a little over a month. Unfortunately, our house we bought almost 9 years ago has not grown like our family has. So my response to, "Do you have his nursery ready?" is "Yes, his corner is all done!" We co-slept with our other 2 boys when they were little, so that part will not be that different. The part that is becoming a challenge is figuring out where to store all of his stuff. Even though Quintin and Emmitt slept with us, they still had their own room. Our master bedroom is 12 by 12, so space has always been an issue. With a little help from Pinterest, I think we came up with some creative solutions. Check out the pics below. Here's to making the most out of small spaces!
For his wall, we included a picture of his big brothers and his
 namesake's Navy retirement plaque. 

For clothing storage, we found some drawers on a Facebook resale
page. The drawers fit nicely under our bed. We are hoping to add
some sort of wheels to the bottom of the drawers. 

We used the top of our dresser as a changing table.

I was able to move my out of season clothes
to our hall closet to make some room for hanging storage.
Our closet is already pretty small.
I added some baskets to our console table in the living room for
some toy and book storage.

I also put some baskets under our coffee table for more diaper
and wipe storage. On a side note, I am glad I got one last picture
of this bowl. Emmitt broke it about 5 minutes after I took this picture:(