Sunday, December 8, 2013

Toddler Chrismas Snowy Day Energy Busters

I recently came across a wonderful blog post about getting some energy out of cabin-fever toddlers with some fun Christmas themed activities.  On the post there is a PDF file to download of all the signs for the activities.  I printed them off, glued them to some construction paper and tacked them around the room to make different dance stations.  My girls LOVED this.  I found some song on YouTube for each activity, and since I wanted a nice tidy place to keep them all stashed, I thought I would dust off the blog a bit and put them here.  I'll try to take some pictures of what these all look like, but we were having so much fun, I didn't want to spoil any fun by dragging the camera out (plus I was holding my 2 month old for most of it.)      

Image from Toddler Approved

 Run Like a Gingerbread Man
Run, Run Rudolph by Bryan Adams
 Run run run around the house (as fast as you can't catch me!)  

Tip toe like elves
from the Nutcracker
(shhhhh!  You don't want any creatures stirring!)

Slide down the chimney like Santa
Santa Clause is Coming to Town by Mariah Carey
Climb up the stairs and slide down on the steps on your bottom (just like Santa slides down the chimney).  

Reindeer kicks
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
This was supposed to be kicking, but for us it turned into crawling, eating, sleeping, dancing, etc. like reindeer.  

March like a Nutcracker
from the Nutcracker
March to the beat! 

 Hop over Candy Canes 
Candy Cane Lane by Point of Grace
I used a couple of scarves and put them on the floor in the shape of candy canes and had the girls hop over them.  SOOO fun! 

Christmas Tree Jumping Jacks
Sorry for the Zumba video, but I liked the music :)  
Make your arms pointy like a Christmas tree and do jumping jacks. Watching a 2 year old do this was quite entertaining. 

Teddy Bear Crawl
The Grinch
Was supposed to be crawling like a bear and again, ended up eating, sleeping, playing, roaring, etc. like a bear.  

Glide Like a Penguin
Snowflake (this video is so cute!)
Get some socks on a slide on the hardwood.  Our penguin excursion turned into some waddling with some arm flapping.  Fun times.  

Choo-Choo Train
We Need a Little Christmas by Glee
This includes some marching and arm pumping like a conductor.

I hope this inspires you to get moving and have some quality time with the littles.  Thank you Toddler Approved for the great post!  I can't wait to do this again tomorrow!  (and hopefully get some pictures!) 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Random Sheepish Things

The two new sheep, patiently waiting for breakfast (and their names)
As you probably know,  I purchased two new sheep last month and there is a contest going on right now to name these most unusual sheep.  I have spent the last month trying to get to know them a little bit better and to make them part of the flock, but they  seem to resist my attempts to bring them into the fold.

     Every morning I go out to feed the sheep.  I beckon them in by saying "Little Shee-eep".  They all come running in from the pasture but the two new sheep run to a different place from the rest of the sheep everyday and wait patiently for their portion of the food.
This is all of the sheep eating breakfast, minus the new sheep.

Here are the two new sheep eating in peace (breakfast for two)

The new sheep are waiting the the background, with a fence in between.
Everyday the wool continues to grow.  I just can't wait for sheering time in April.  I have been having so much fun dyeing wool and making things out of my other Wenslydale sheep, Marshmallow.

There are just not enough hours in the day to do all that I would like to do with all this wonderful wool.  I know I am weird. 
These Wenslydale locks will make some great elf beards.

Wool Felted silk scarves.  How fun is this?

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Day (and a Night) in the Life of a Shepherdess

I know it has been a long time since any of us has posted, but this story warrants posting.
The latest additions to Swan Bay Farm

Look at this beautiful wool

Isn't this just a face you want to kiss?
       Last Saturday was the Fire House Roast Beef Dinner night in Port Republic.  It is an important event for everyone in town, so Gary and I knew that when we set out to Salem, NJ, (a 1 1/2 hour drive each way) to buy a new sheep for our flock, we would have to be back in time for our roast beef dinner.  My friend Carol Winchell, has a breed of sheep different from mine called Wenslydale which have curly shiny locks rather than soft wavy wool.  I have been looking forward to adding some of these sheep to my farm and Saturday afternoon seemed to be the best time to go.
     Once we got to Carol's farm, I immediately fell in love with the shimmery gray/brown wool of this full grown female and another beautiful white sheep that was cute enough to kiss on the lips.  We loaded them in the truck and headed back to Port Republic, stopping at the fire house for our takeout roast beef dinner.  By this time it was 6:30 and beginning to get dark.  I told Gary to start eating and I would quickly unload the sheep and be right in.  The little white sheep came out of the truck easily and went right into the pen.  The dark sheep was not as cooperative.  She jumped off the back of the truck and proceeded to run through my yard.  I quickly ran into the house grabbing the only lantern we had and started to follow this sheep, up and down the road (about 2 miles), praying that God had a better plan than I had to catch this elusive sheep.  She would either have to tire out before me, or get caught in something.  I did not care what the plan was, I just did not want her to get hit by a car, or go somewhere where I would not be able to see her or find her.  She was so black and when I shown a light on her, I could really only see her eyes.
     She was faster than me, and weighed more than me.  The sheep from my flock come when they are called.   My sheep come to me if they hear the feed bucket full of food, but this sheep was not used to my ways, and I certainly was not used to hers.  After about one hour of running up and down the road and back and forth through my across the street neighbor's field, the sheep turned into my neighbor's driveway and then turned again into the woods, crashing through limbs and briars until she got stuck and could not move. 
     I was able to get through the briars and start untangling her curly locks from the briars.  As I was untangling her, I was getting tangled too, and knowing that I was not strong enough to pull her out of the woods by myself and no one knew where I was, I just started to pray that some how we would both be get through this.  When you put a sheep on their back they are powerless to run.  I was able to flip her into that position, stamped down about 3 feet of briars, and drag her by her front legs until I got to a spot where I needed to clear out more briars.  All of a sudden, I heard the fire alarm go off echoing through the town.  It immediately occurred to me that the firehouse dinner was still probably going on and that all the firemen had to leave to help someone's house from burning down.   I could here the sirens and then through the trees I could see one fire truck, and then another go down my road, and then a few pick up trucks.  I was hoping and praying that my house or my relatives houses were not burning down.  I continued stamping down briars and dragging the sheep 3 feet at a time, doing this for about 50 feet until I reached my neighbors driveway. 
     I started to yell for Fred or Denise, but they did not hear me so I started to shine the flash light in their windows from a distance, hoping that they would come outside.   They finally came out and I asked them to call Gary to bring the truck down so I would not have to drag her a quarter of a mile back to my house.  He would not answer the phone, so Denise drove Fred down to my house to bring the truck back.  She came back saying that Fred could not get the truck out of my driveway because the fire trucks were at my house.  A few minutes later Gary arrived in the truck, more worried than I had ever seen him.  When he could not find me anywhere, he was afraid that my mean ram, Merlin (the one with the big horns) had gotten me.  He had called the fire company to light up the field to see if I was laying there.  Later I found out that the call went out to the fire company for a "light up"call and a possible goring.  About 20 minutes later the State Police showed up asking where the runaway bull was.  It is funny how stories can change.
     The next day I had been planning to teach my Sunday School class about the story of Abraham, and how God provided a sheep which was stuck in a bush as a sacrifice so he would not have to sacrifice his son.  (Genesis 22)  It is so amazing to me that God used a bush and briars to entangle this sheep too.  I am also so grateful to live in a town where people truly care for each other, and did not seem to be bothered to leave the fire house to help find a lost shepherdess. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday for Kids: Godly Play Easter Playset

After reading Robin's Godly Play post a few weeks ago, I was inspired to make an Easter playset to teach my girls the story!  Here's how to make your own clothespin dolls if you want to make your own set.  All the supplies can be found at any craft store.  The supplies will cost you less than $10 and it took me about 2-3 hours to assemble.  (It went super quick because its so fun!)  You will need:  
  • Clothes pin & stander
  • Flesh-colored pipe cleaner
  • Felt
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie marker/ black paint & paintbrush
  • Paper to make pattern

Cut pipe cleaner to 8 inch length.

Twist end to make a hand. 

Twist both sides. 

Hold arms a little off-center before you start wrapping it around the clothes pin. 


Arms secured with glue. 

Make a pattern out of paper by tracing the form and making the desired "dress" shape.  Fold the felt over so that the arms and neck are on the fold.

Cut around the pattern.

Fold in half so that the arms are touching to cut tiny...I mean TINY... hole. 

See?  Tiny.  You can easily force clothespin head through.  (You don't want the hole to be too big!) 

Glue the arms to the dress. 

Glue sides down. 

Cut accessory pieces. 

And glue on.

After some trial and error, this is the best shape to make a wig.  Boys' hair will be a little shorter, so you can make it out of a smaller semi-circle. 

Use glue to secure it down. 

The back can be tucked under.

Add a skinny rectangle for a head cloth.

Use sharpie or black paint to make the clothespin stand black. 

Use hot glue to secure stand.

Use an itty bitty brush or small sharpie to draw a face. 

All done!

Each character is a little different.  You can experiment with different beards, hair, clothes, and accessories to vary your characters. 






Here is the story that I've included with the set, including directions on how to move the pieces and reflection questions to ask your littles after you tell them the story.   

  The Resurrection Story   
                    adapted from Matthew 28:1- 20

Most people think that Easter is about candy, or the Easter bunny, or Easter egg hunts.  While these things are all fun, Easter is really about Jesus and the greatest thing that ever happened.  This story starts off really sad, but it has the best ending of any story EVER!
(Lay out green cloth like a field. Stand Jesus up in the middle.)
There was once a man named Jesus.  He was a good man and a good teacher.  But He wasn't just good.  He was the best man ever.  Because He wasn't just a man.  He was also the Son of God.  Many people loved Him and followed him and listened to His teachings.
(Place Mary and Peter in front of Jesus, listening to Him.)
But some people did not like Jesus.  They didn't believe that He was who He said He was.  So they put Him on a cross to die. After Jesus had died on the cross, friends of Jesus took his body and wrapped it up in linen clothes. 
(Wrap Jesus in cloths.  Place mason jar on its side.)
They placed his body in a tomb.  A tomb is a special place where people are buried.  The one that Jesus was placed in was carved out of a rock in the side of a hill.   
(Put the green felt on top of the jar, and place Jesus inside.)
Once Jesus’ body was inside, they placed a heavy rock to seal the tomb up.  It was so heavy, it took a few men to roll it. 
(Have child help you place the lid on the jar and seal it closed.  Put the green felt on top. )
There were some people that were afraid that someone would come and steal Jesus’ body, so they had a guard come to stand watch in front of the tomb. 
    (Place guard in front of tomb.)  
But the next part of the story is a big surprise.      
(Take jar and put in on your lap or under a table .  Remove Jesus, and place white felt back in the jar.  Seal up the tomb again and place back on the table.  )
When Jesus had been in the tomb for three days, a huge earthquake came and shook the ground.  An angel came and rolled the stone away and the guard was so surprised and scared, he fell over as though he was dead! 
(Open jar lid and move it slightly off to the side.  Lie soldier down on the table.  Place angel in front of the tomb.)
Before the sun came up on Easter morning, one of Jesus’ friends named Mary Magdalene came to visit Jesus’ tomb.  She was so sad that Jesus had died and she wanted to visit his grave.  While she was on her way, she saw that the tomb was open.  She looked inside and saw and that Jesus wasn’t in there any more!  She was afraid that someone had taken Jesus body!  The angel said to her, “Don't be afraid!  Jesus isn't here because He has risen from the dead, just like He said He would!  Go tell His disciples the good news!.”        

Mary Magdalene went from being really sad to really, really happy.  Then she got even happier because Jesus came to her! He said, “Do not be afraid.  Go tell my disciples to go to Galilee and I will see them there.” 
(Have Mary quickly run away from the tomb towards Peter.  Have Mary tell Peter, “Jesus is alive and he told me to tell you and the rest of the disciples to go to Galilee.”   
So Peter and the rest of the disciples went to a mountain top in Galilee.  It was a place that Jesus had told them about before he had died. 
(Turn the tomb around so that it looks like a mountain, and have Peter and Jesus stand on it. )
When Peter saw Jesus, he was so happy to see that he was alive!  And Jesus said to them, “God gave me power over everything in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, I want you to go tell other people about me.  Teach them all the things I taught you to do.  I am with you always and forever.” 

And that's what the disciples did.  They told everyone the good news that Jesus is alive!  And those people told other people.  And people kept sharing the good news because when you have great news like that, you just can't keep it to yourself!  So now, I'm telling you the good news: Jesus is alive!  He loves us and will never leave us.   

Questions to ask:

 What did Jesus’ friend do with Jesus’ body after he had died? (Wrapped it in linen and placed it in a tomb.)
 Why did the guard have to stand in front of the tomb? (They didn’t want anyone to steal Jesus’ body.)
 Who is one person that came to visit Jesus at the tomb? (Mary Magdalene)
 Instead of seeing Jesus, what did she see? (An angel standing in front of the tomb.)
 What did the angel tell her? (Jesus was alive!)
 When Mary Magdalene saw Jesus, what was the message he had her give to the disciples?  (He is alive and to go to Galilee.) 
 Where did the disciples see Jesus?  (On a mountain top in Galilee.) 
 What did Jesus tell the disciples to do?  (Tell other people about him.)

 Who is someone that you could tell this special story to? 
 What does Jesus want us to know when we are afraid?  (He alive and he is with us always.) 

If you're not up for making your own set, visit our Etsy site where you can order one.

We hope you've been inspired to enjoy telling your special little ones the Easter story!  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday for Kids...It's not easy being green

Let's be honest....Kermit is not just for kids.  Hope you enjoy a little green on your Friday...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's not easy being green....when you're too busy being thankful

For me, I know what triggers the ugly green jealousy monster in me.

Going on facebook and seeing photos of adorable children in matching outfits standing in front of Cinderella's castle.  

Seeing new mommies lose baby weight DAYS after giving birth to their little bundles of joy.  

Watching House Hunters on HGTV where everyone can't POSSIBLY live without granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, an on-suite bathroom with double vanities, a finished basement, and walk-in closets that are bigger than my bedroom.

And scouring in Pinterest for ideas and an hour later feeling like a terrible cook, awful mother, bad decorator, and general failure at life.

Why does it always seem like everyone else has it all?!?!  

Jealousy is one of those seemingly "acceptable" sins that appears small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  However, I think if envy is given a foothold, it can destroy relationships, self-esteem, and most importantly- become a stumbling block in our relationship with God.  After all, wasn't the first sin really all about being dissatisfied, claiming, "God, you have left me with less than what I really need?"  When we're too busy looking at others and what they have, we are completely missing out on the blessings that God has given to us.

When you feel jealousy rearing its ugly green head, the best way to combat feeling dissatisfied, is to concentrate on things you are thankful for.  Try keeping a gratitude journal!  For me, keeping an account on my daily blessing has made my life seem fuller, richer, and abounding with so many blessings that it is impossible for me to go moping about my house wishing for trivial things like double sinks and trips to sunny Florida to see Mickey.

God is good.  He gives us what we need because He loves us.  Let's encourage one another to be abounding in gratitude!

  "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."  Col 2:6-7

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's not easy being green - Inspirations

As my Mom stated in Monday's post, we are not a bit Irish.  And, as she also mentioned, not being Irish does not stop us one little bit from celebrating St. Patrick's Day.  Here are some inspirational ideas for your St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

From upper left to right...
1.  Paulette from Beedeebabee crafted this adorable felt shamrock.  So cute!!

2.  Since you can't have corned beef and cabbage without potatoes, check out this awesome way to grow your own potatoes (upwards of 25 lbs per potato tower!) using metal fencing.  (You know I can't write a post about "green" without adding some gardening!)

3.  Kristol has a TON of awesome crafty ideas on her site (The Magic of Ordinary Things) including this St. Patrick's Day rag wreath.

4.  OK....some more gardening....and an awesome cause!  Check out this self- watering and self-fertilizing "keyhole" garden.  Ingenious!  (Plus, the Valhalla Project is an amazing 200-acres in the Ozark Mountains providing a "safe, productive, living and working opportunity" to build, farm, and assist with energy projects for post 9-11 soldiers.)

5.  This is the cutest little shamrock barrette tutorial ever!  Wouldn't these also look cute strung together on some green and white baker's twine?

6.  We have a very strict "no sugary cereal for breakfast" rule around here, but I might actually let my boys eat Lucky Charms for St. Patrick's Day because of this.  The 36th Avenue put together this breakfast treat, with free "You are my lucky charm!" print-outs. 

7.  Jesse is convinced that leprechauns exist for the simple fact that there was "green pee" in the toilets at school after lunch last year on St. Patrick's Day.  (Per Jesse, "Ms. Gump does not pee green pee, Mom!  So leprechauns must be real."  I love that kid!!)  Check out some more great ways to liven up your work or living space.

8.  And if leprechauns do exist, I'm sure they'd live in a place that looks like this.  (This doll house is a gorgeous, intricate labor of love!  Please take a minute to check out how she made it....really incredible!)

9.  This chicken coop/garden idea is so smart!  Chickens help fertilize your garden and eat your garden pests.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's not easy being green....especially when it's snowing outside

I have been chomping at the bit to start planting my spring garden, but up until this weekend the weather here had not been cooperating.  (We're just getting over an unseasonably cold spell here in South Carolina and I know a lot of you have gotten some snow that you were not expecting.)  So, to tide myself over until spring, I've been working on a little indoor gardening. 


These little beauties are easy to find (at your local garden or hardware store for around $3.00 a piece) and are extremely hard to kill (which is good if you forget to water them like I do).  They are very low-maintenance, requiring only a bit of sun and infrequent watering.

This is what succulents should look like.  The plants are usually compact with smooth, swollen leaves.

Aren't they pretty?  This a great deal if you want a large assortment to start your own succulent garden.

And this is what your plant will look like if you forget to put it in a sunny window.  Plants will extend from the dirt and reach up towards the sun if they do not get enough light, especially in winter.
This guy sat in a shady corner of my kitchen for weeks.  Poor little guy!

But not to worry, you have not ruined your succulents if they send off shoots.  In fact, this is the perfect opportunity to start new succulent plants.

Just cut off a leaf at the base of the stalk.

The research I've done on these little guys says you should let them rest 3 days in a sunny spot for a scab to form over the end of the leaf.  I let this batch set out for 2 weeks, until they sprouted roots.  Although, I have also had luck propagating them by putting them directly from cutting into the ground.

Some even started to form new plants.

Micah found this single leaf on the front porch from last spring, where I used to keep my succulents.  A leaf must have fallen off and decided it wanted to live.  I'm telling you, these suckers are resilient!
Then, just press the leaf into a patch of unoccupied soil.  Soak with water, and let it sit in a sunny spot.  In a couple of days a new, compact set of leaves will form on the end of the leaf and eventually blossom into a new, perfect succulent plant.

These plants are approximately 3 months old.  They started as 2 single leaves, and sent off a stalk, that eventually produced a flower.

I planted my succulents in vintage tin molds and a copper bowl I found while thrifting, but any container will do.  I hope this inspires you to start a succulent garden of your own!!!