I feel so blessed to be able to use exclusively cloth diapers with baby number three. It may sound silly to some, but I love the fact that I don’t have to add disposable diapers and wipes to our regular shopping list! We’ve saved so much money already. Not to mention elimination communication goes way smoother with cloth! We keep a mini potty (see it there in the left hand corner?) right by the changing table and I rarely have to change a stinky diaper. I prefer to catch it!
With Raspberry Bug we used cloth training pants and cheap vinyl covers after she learned to walk, but I love that I actually have a “cloth diaper stash” with my new little guy. Most of the diaper stash I started with was given to me by either my sister in law one of my friends from church. The only exception is the Chinese cheapies I got from Ali Express (Qianqunui). I definitely love the one size pocket diapers. They are easier to customize, wash, and dry. One size means that I don’t have to keep buying them.
I was able to make some of my own using the Rita’s Rump Pocket Diaper Pattern.
There are many different types of diaper patterns you can find for free or cheap online, but I never found a need to try another one. I can customize this one however I need to. I made a couple of flannel ones first, which were surprisingly absorbent. I also made some out of the prefold diapers I was given at my baby shower:
These work well with the Thirsties covers my sister in law gave me:
Then I took the same pattern and made a waterproof version with this cute sailboat fabric I had in my stash. I made a waterproof pocket diaper and a waterproof cover:
I made them entirely out of materials I already had. My husband purchased the snap setter for my birthday, and I mimicked the Fuzzi Bunz snaps, because I like them the best. It’s not a separate rise, but a set of three snaps on each size. This way, I can adjust the waist and the leg holes all at the same time.
The waterproof material came from a crib mattress protector that was starting to tear around the edges.
I used the waterproof part for the diaper itself and then I converted the pillow top layer into extra inserts. I also saved the elastic for later projects, so the only thing I didn’t end up using was the thin layer around the sides.
I like that I was able to repurpose something I already had. And I knew it was safe for baby, because it was designed to be used in baby’s bed anyway.
7 pounds 14 ounces. 21 inches long. Healthy, calm, quiet, and easy all describe our new addition well. He’s growing well, sleeping well, and has hit every milestone that’s come his way with stride.
I can’t wait to see the many beautiful ways he transforms our family and what God has in store for his future.
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
The Lord has brought our family through very unique circumstances and living situations in the past decade. I would be outright lying to say that it has all been easy sunshine and roses. We have had our fair share of trials. We have struggled in ways that the average middle-class American has not had to deal with. We’ve struggled through difficult living situations, problems with family members and so-called friends, outright poverty, and more. However, I wouldn’t have changed a bit of it given the choice.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Each trial, each challenge, journey, and chapter in our lives has brought us to where we are today. And, most importantly, they have brought us to who we are in Christ.
Divine circumstances beyond our control had led us to living on our 29′ sailing vessel in Hawaii. I had a strange contentment about this sudden and drastic change in our lives. From the outside looking in, no one was able to understand. God had led us through enough in our married life together for me to have an assuring certainty of God’s sovereign will over our lives.
As it turned out, He used that time in our lives to yet again draw closer to Him. Furthermore, He used that time to help us to grow closer together as a family and to minister to those in need around us (both physically and spiritually). We were able to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and show the love of Christ through prayer, Bible studies, and fellowship. God used that time in our lives as a way to teach us how to become more powerful disciples for His glory. It seemed that when we didn’t know how we would take care of our own family, the inexplicable answer was to feed His sheep first. The more we poured out to others, the more poured into that tiny vessel.
Which brings me to my main point: our plans for the future. My husband and I firmly believe that we were brought through that unique time in our lives to prepare us for what is to come. The idea came to him quite some time ago and has slowly been forming into solid plans as God opens doors and introduces us to friends who love the Lord and even more unique possibilities.
The concept is simple:
God has given us a passion for the sea. And our passion is His passion.
- There are many persecuted Christians throughout the world who could benefit from a sailing vessel that could transport them to safety.
- There are many countries who could benefit from transportation of goods across waters to provide relief from natural disasters.
- There are various places where Bibles are illegal, but docking a boat would not require a customs search.
This is where Mission Fleet comes in. Our goal is to sell all we have and move on a missionary vessel within the next six months or so and join a small fleet of 1-2 other sail boats in a cause for Christ. Our family desires to live for God and to follow the words of Jesus:
“…go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Until then, we will be doing all we can to help those in need where we are.
If you want to keep up with the latest on the Mission Fleet:
If you would like to follow us in this unique journey God is calling us toward, my husband and I will be coauthors on
I cant wait to see what God brings about in the next chapter!
I’m so happy with the Bible lessons I’ve been doing with my children each morning! I was going for easy planning this year along with something that was budget-friendly (On A Dime, right?). While I really love the A Beka Book Bible series, they were not a cost-effective option for us this school year. I also wanted something that was a little more involved with my children instead of having them sit still and listen to a lesson. I’ve pieced together a few different ideas that seem to be going really well for our little ones (ages 4 and almost 7). By having a few different valid options on hand for us, I can easily hold a study with them with minimal planning and a high interest level.
I keep (almost) everything in a canvas bin that sits near our dining room table. This way, I can easily pull out what I need while they are eating breakfast. By the way, I’ve found that full mouths make for still students! The contents of the basket are as follows:
- memory verse cards in organized booklet
- “treasure” boxes and “treasures” for memory work incentives
- My NASB Bible (on hand, not actually in the bin)
- My First Bible
- The God and Me Bible (for girls ages 2-5)
- My Very First Bible: New Testament Stories for Young Children
- The Kingfisher Children’s Bible
- Nave’s Topical Bible
- The Book of Life series (this is an eight book set, so it sits on our bookshelf)
- Various board books and small stories from the Bible
- Lessons printed from Easy Peasy all in one home school (hole punched and placed into a folder)
This year, I’ve kept the planning to a minimum using my handy Bible bin, but that doesn’t mean I’m going shallow. I try and use my Bible first (sometimes that’s all I use) and only read from the children’s versions if I feel they aren’t understanding or sometimes just to add interest.
We open with a prayer and I begin each morning by going through our current memory verses. I found this AMAZING video on how to keep them all organized. I’m so glad this idea came to me when it did! Our organizer holds the A Beka memory verse cards, their AWANA memory verses, Sunday school verses, and the verses my husband and I are learning in our 2:7 group. This system ensures they are getting the proper amount of time on each of their verses while not overloading them with ALL of them EVERY morning. I encourage you to check out the video here. I made ours using an old pocket planer sleeve. I used larger index cards for the dividers and a rubber band holds it into place.The treasure boxes have helped us so much with our memory verses too. My daughter got a treasure box at the beginning of the month with a little gem in it for completing her memory verse at Sunday school. As soon as I saw it, I knew we would have to continue the tradition! I read Psalm 119:11 to them the next morning, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” They (especially my youngest) are actually working hard each day to earn the “treasures”. I give them a button to hold in their very own treasure chest each time I’m convinced they have really hidden it in their heart. I place their initials on the back of each card to tell me who has already earned their treasure.
Next, I pick a “lesson plan”. Yes, usually I pick it right then and there (unless there is a specific character trait or topic I have planned out specifically for a child or particular situation).
As I stated above, I have the free Easy Peasy lesson plans printed out and placed in a folder for a quick reference. To save on space (and paper and ink), I printed them with four per one side of the page. I can glance at it and know right where to turn in the Bible. When I’m done, I highlight that particular lesson so that I know where we are next time I choose this reading route. I will warn you: If you use this guide by the letter, these are going to be a bit watered down discussions and you will not get the amount of engagement you are seeking. I use this as more of an outline of what to study with them rather than using it as a word-for-word guide.
“The One Inch Bible Study“. I flip through my Bible at random and have one child stop me whenever he/she wants. Then, I hold up about an inch using my thumb and index finger. I scroll through the chosen page until the other child tells me to stop. We read whatever inch we land on! Then, we try and work through these four questions:
- What does it say?
- What does it mean?
- What does it mean to me?
- What am I going to do about it?
I like this especially for days when we’ve gotten up later than usual (or when they’re scarfing down breakfast abnormally fast), because we can get some content and interest flowing without necessarily spending a lot of time on it. Some days I need that. Other days, however, it takes me by surprise. I’ve had days where the one inch really spoke to me. I’ve also experienced times when a child will take it to the next level asking really thought provoking things about it. Gotta love when that happens!
As I also mentioned above, we have a series of eight hardcover books entitled “The Book of Life”. It’s an older series created using the unabridged King James version of the Bible categorized and in the form of classical picture books. I found the set at a flea market I recently attended and I talked the vendor down to just $36! I just finished the teacher’s guide and it is AMAZING! It’s a great outline of how to engage your child in bible study. It has fun activities, ideal verses for memorization, beautiful art, timelines, and it even has a full list of positive and negative character traits emphasized in individual Bible stories. It is a book set that I will use for probably the next decade or so. This series really made me rethink the way that we educate children (in general and in the Bible) today compared to how wholesome, in-depth, and quality it used to be. I HIGHLY recommend this book set. If you can’t find the whole set, get AT LEAST volume 8. You won’t regret it!
I don’t intend on using this the as my most frequent of choices right away, but more as a way to expose them to the King James language a little bit through needed character studies. I will also be using it for referencing in art, timelines, and more.
Nave’s Topical Bible will also help me with character traits. It’s useful for when I want to into greater detail on a topic we are already in the process of talking about too.
We almost always read something from one of the picture Bibles just for fun. And sometimes I’ll throw in a free printable I find online. Once in a while, I’m even able to sneak a memory verse into copy work later in the day. What home school mom doesn’t love a two-for-one deal?!
What do you do for your quiet time? Any suggestions for our family on a no-to-low budget and minimal planning? I’d love to hear from you!
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Most of us have started school by now. I hope it’s smooth sailing for my readers out there! For our family, we struggle after each break we take to stay on task. It’s especially hard because Blueberry Ball doesn’t like to sit still. He’s the oldest, and as such, he’s required to do a lot more of the work I give him independently. In first grade, he is capable of quite a bit of seat work. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned and used along our homeschooling journey to help him stay motivated, engaged, and focused.
First Things First
I’ve tried many different methods of scheduling in the past, but the one thing I’ve always gone back to when ordering our day is that if he does the fun (in his case the easier) subjects first, the rest gets lost in the shuffle. Having him do his English practice first is key for us completing the day’s tasks. You can’t make the hardest items all you do for the beginning of the day either though. He has handwriting/ copy work that corresponds with the week’s language practice and spelling words, but it is just not feasible at all for him to be expected to complete that when he just completed another subject he hates. We do that after he’s completed his math (he LOVES math).
Find a system that works for your child, then stick with it. He thrives on structure, so I do try to remain consistent, but I’m not afraid to change things up if they just aren’t working.
Of course, I always allow time in the schedule for us to go over things together. New concepts are always taught by me before going to seat work, and I always give him the opportunity to play a game or have fun activities to break up the boredom. I’ve found that one of the most valuable things I’ve purchased by far for our home school walk has been the Abeka K5 charts and games. We pull at least one out each day to help him with flashcard facts and other reviews needed. We also have many versions of Bingo, lapbooks, using toys for counters, and even simple board games and card games.
“Sparky The Dog Topper” from Abeka was also a great tool for both my children. You could use any fun animal on the end of a pencil, ruler, or chopstick to help their eyes follow along on the page or whiteboard as you teach new concepts or as they complete a reading assignment.
Another trick for engagement would be to simply ask him questions and make conversation starters.
It may be an obvious one for a lot of home school parents out there (after all, why home school if you can’t have fun), but it’s a “task” that I can all too easily overlook when I focus too much on the weekly/ monthly goals.
Break It Up
I feel like this one should have been a no-brainer for me, but this was actually my husband’s recent suggestion. Between each subject/ assignment I’ve started giving him a small break. 5-15 minutes is all it takes. It encourages him with a sort of reward and it keeps his mind fresh with each new topic. Again, this one may be obvious, but it turned out to be a total game-changer for us.
Give Me Some More Ideas!
I am quite honestly looking constantly for new ideas to keep my children engaged, encouraged, excited, and focused. What has worked in your classroom? I read every comment and would love to hear from you below.
Upon asking Raspberry Bug which theme she wanted for her party she wasn’t quite sure. I couldn’t get her to be decisive this year at all. Until only a month or so ago when she saw my pinterest page. I was putting together a Summer Learning Board to give me some ideas. I wanted to keep the kids busy with a small amount of effort over the summer moving time while still stimulating their brains. It was there that Red fell in love with this picture (I couldn’t find a link to go along with it):
She immediately said: “I want a caterpillar birthday!” This is one thing I love (and sometimes not so much 😉 ) about Raspberry Bug. She never picks your average Disney princess theme. It has turned out to make some very cute, original, and memorable parties. We’ve had a Hello Kitty party, a ” Hawaii flowers” party, and now a Very Hungry Caterpillar party. Luckily, I was on Pinterest and was able to find plenty more ideas where that came from! We even created a Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday board together and had a sweet unplanned mother-daughter time that morning <3.
I didn’t do everything on the Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday board, nor did I stick to very many specifics, but I’ve found Pinterest to be extremely helpful in creating a vision for events like this.
Here’s what I came up with for her feed the caterpillar game:
They were a bit mangled by the end of the night when I took the pictures, but for a paper bag, they worked for exactly what we’d planned. I placed a bowl full of play foods found in The Very Hungry Caterpillar story in between the two of them and it was that simple. The younger kids kept coming back to this activity throughout the duration of the caterpillar party.
We had an AMAZING spread! I went from worrying that there wouldn’t be enough food the night before to wondering how I would fit it all on the table thirty minutes before the start:
I have a special thing going with my children’s birthdays. They get to pick any cake they want with any theme, and I create it . This was actually one of the easiest ones I’ve had to create. Just a circle cake and some cupcakes. Compare that to Master Yoda or to a pirate ship! She did ask me to do a cherry pie, too. It was, after all one of the hungry caterpillar’s favorite snacks. I don’t know if you can see from the picture, but the vent holes in the top were actually cut from a butterfly shaped play dough cutter! The jello jigglers were also cut in the shape of butterflies.
Luckily, I had some fabric from Eric Carle’s line already in my stash. I used the polka dot fabric and the food trim fabric for a make-shift table runner:
I also hung the blocked quilting fabric on the door as a welcome sign of sorts:
We used our window seat as a space for people to place their gifts and I hung handmade Very Hungry Caterpillar banners above the area:
Unfortunately, the lighting was not in our favor for photos. I initially wanted to hold the Very Hungry Caterpillar party outside, but it was just too hot for everyone. In case you can’t tell the caterpillars were made from construction paper circles. I put a letter on each section of the caterpillar’s body and punched a hole on opposite sides of each circle. I then strung fuzzy yarn through and tied that to the blinds to create the long, draped caterpillar effect you see here.
I also had an adorable Very Hungry Caterpillar sign on our mailbox to tell people where to turn in. Since we just moved I thought it would be a good idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of that.Too bad, really. It was one of my favorite features. It was similar to this:
But our caterpillar was scaled to fit the mailbox and I used large sticky foam cutouts for the letters. That one touch made it very bright and cheery. It also made the letters more visible to the passerby. I’m still kicking myself for not getting pictures.
When I asked the Birthday girl what her favorite part of the day was she said without hesitation that it was pin the head on the caterpillar.
I love it when they’re still young enough to view presents as a secondary bonus! This was a bit more time-consuming than some of the others (mainly because I was out of color ink and had to grab the markers instead), but this caterpillar activity was definitely worth it.
I just found a Very Hungry Caterpillar I liked from Google Images and then printed it in a 2×6 scale. Then, I pasted it into my paint program, erased the caterpillar’s body, and played with his very hungry head until it was around the same size as the whole caterpillar I made. I then proceeded to color a giant caterpillar and seven more heads… yeah.
At least they were all one of a kind. On A Dime right?
She loved present opening time (of course). However, I didn’t capture much of that either. Next year I will certainly pull one present down at a time for her. She ripped through them in no time! I mean, she must hold a record or something now.
One of my favorite parts of The Very Hungry Caterpillar party was the dress she wore. A close family friend had one sent over here the night before the party so she could wear it and wrapped a whole other one for her to open at the party. SO PRECIOUS!
And it twirls beautifully on my four year old!
Another successful DIY party. Who knew The Very Hungry Caterpillar could be so fun!