our life | the hard days

Today was one of those days.  I’m sure many of you know the type of day I’m talking about.

The day when you put your kids to bed, close the door, take a deep breath and finally let the tears fall down your cheeks.  The ones that you have been holding back all day because Lordy knows your kids have cried enough for all of you in the last twelve hours.

We’ve been out of town the majority of the past two weeks, and will be out of town again this week… and I’m just plain ole worn out.  The house is a mess as I’m trying to organize new toys, throw out old toys, put up Christmas decorations, do laundry, dishes, unpack and repack, keep the kids alive, and somehow keep my sanity.

I’m afraid I’m losing the battle.

Crying Eisley

My daughter may or may not have gotten her drama from her momma.  Let’s just not let her Daddy answer that one.

Some days I live for the moments when the babes are confined to their beds for some much needed R&R.  Ok, who am I kidding? Most days I live for it.  I feel like I’ve run some sort of marathon and the finish line is nap time or bedtime.  The closer the time comes to putting them to bed, the harder parenting seems to get.  It’s like they know they are running on borrowed time, so they need to be as needy/whiney/emotional/naughty as they can be.

And then this magical thing happens.

They fall asleep, and I miss them.

Somehow, even in the moments of despair and exhaustion, the desire to be with them creeps back in.

I long to kiss their cheeks, hear the silly things they say, feel them hug my neck.  I look forward to a new day with new memories and slowly feel the sadness of a long day with too many tears disappear.

…and I praise God, as I know that it must only come from Him,  that I long for them again instead of running for the hills.

So for now, as I make room on my bed to lay down, I dream of seeing these smiles tomorrow and thank God that He made me for this, for them.  Even on the hard days.

Happy Copeland

Happy Eisley

P.S.  This is my home right now.  There is chaos everywhere I turn and I literally feel like I might explode if there isn’t order soon.

the hard days | www.ponytailsandpajamas.comP.P.S.  Why do I always think that if I cover my bed in things that must be put away before I can go to sleep, that I will actually put them away?  Instead, I move them off of the bed and onto the floor when it is time for sleep, only to begin the process all over again tomorrow.  Oh, when will I learn?

Goodnight my friends.

May tomorrow be filled with much laughter instead of tears.

 

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Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

diy | christmas fabric banner

Isn’t it amazing just how quickly Christmas sneaks up on us year after year?  I am a little in shock that we are only 4 days away from waking up on Christmas morn, full of excitement (and exhaustion) for the day ahead.

I am a little behind on the fabric banner trend, but I knew that I wanted to make a Christmas fabric banner this year to go above our fireplace. We don’t currently have a mantel in our home so every year I cringe when I think about hanging up our stockings.

This year my solution came in fabric strips wrapped around twine.  And I am very pleased with the results!  Therefore, I wanted to share with you (in case you were in the dark ages like myself) a little DIY “how-to” if you are interested in making one for yourself.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

First, you will need some fabric.  I picked these Fat Quarter Bundles from Hobby Lobby.  You can choose your own fabric to have quarter yards cut for yourself, but these were the exact colors I wanted so I let Hobby Lobby do the work for me.  Also, I checked out using the 40% off coupon and made Jonathan go to the next cash register and do the same, so we got both of the buddles for $6 a piece.

The bundles have a quarter yard each of six different prints, so 12 different prints total.  Of course, you do not have to do that many prints (it could be a little too busy) but it worked for what I needed simply because the colors matched so exactly.

The only other material you will need is twine.  Since I already had that at home, this project cost me a grand total of $12!

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

For ease, I used a cutting board and a rotary cutter.  It makes the project much faster.  However, you do not have to have either of these!  If you have scissors, you can eye-ball your measurements and make the cuts free handed.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

I chose to fold my quarter inch fabric in half and then made one inch cuts. This made each strip 1 inch wide by 18 inches long.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

The wonderful thing about this project is that it doesn’t have to be perfect!  In fact, you can play on imperfection and make each strip a little bit different (wider/thinner, longer/shorter) and come up with a great whimsical look as well!

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Keep cutting until your fabric is gone.  I think my piles ranged from 18-20 strips of each fabric pattern.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

In the end, I kept all of my fabric bundled together so that when it came to tying it onto the twine I could follow the same pattern each time.  Red, green, red, green, red green.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Now that you have all of your fabric cut, it is time to tie it onto the twine.  When looking up tutorials to do this myself, this was the most confusing part.

There are various tying options, but this is what I chose to go with.  Hopefully the step by step pictures will help explain how to tie each piece of fabric onto the twine.

HOW TO TIE ON THE FABRIC TO THE TWINE:

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step ONE | Folding the fabric in half, create a U shape with the ribbon, holding on to the twine behind the ribbon.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step TWO | Start pulling the two tails of the ribbon up to wrap around the twine.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step THREE | Pull the tails of the ribbon through the middle of the ribbon but over the twine.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step FOUR | Keep pulling the tails of the ribbon until they are completely pulled through the opening.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step FIVE | Your knot should now look like a bowtie. Holding firm to the twine and the tails of the ribbon, start pulling tightly.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step SIX | Keep pulling. Your “bowtie” should be getting smaller and smaller.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step SEVEN | Once your ribbon is tightly secured to the twine, push it over to the start of your banner. Depending on the look you are going for will depend on how close you want each knot.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Step EIGHT | Continuing creating knots in alternating fabrics to create your banner until all fabric has been used.

Clear as mud?  Doing something is the best teacher, so if how I tied my ribbon doesn’t work for you, feel free to wing it!  Any knot will work. 😉

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

I am really pleased with how it turned out.  The colors match our stockings PERFECTLY.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Not to mention, the banner hides the ugly nails I used to hang up the stockings to begin with.

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Now you can enjoy your new Christmas fabric banner for years to come!

 

Fabric Christmas Banner DIY | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Questions?  Don’t hesitate to ask!  I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

Merry Christmas, dear friends. May your day be full of joy, love, and laughter.

Create a fun Christmas season with an Advent Calendar | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

advent | calendar two

When I reminisce about my own childhood, many of my favorite memories surround traditions.  Combine traditions with holidays, and you create a magical combination.

Therefore, this year, I wanted to embrace the popular Advent Calendar and create a December to remember!  Many of these activities are ones that we would have done anyway, but this year I want to be a little more purposeful about the holiday season.

Create a fun Christmas season with an Advent Calendar | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

…and with this calendar comes lots of grace.  If I don’t (and I’m sure I won’t) get to every activity, I will let myself off the hook, because mom guilt is the worst.  And my babies won’t know the difference anyway!

Great ideas for a FREE advent calendar 2015 | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

For a FREE downloadable PDF, click HERE.

Great ideas for a FREE advent calendar 2015 | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

For a FREE downloadable PDF, click HERE.

 

  1. Read about the birth of Jesus, watch THE NATIVITY (found on YouTUBE: 48 mins), make & eat haystacks.
  2. Watch THE SANTA CLAUSE and write letters to Santa.
  3. Listen to Christmas music all morning.  Decorate Felt Christmas Tree with Felt Ornaments.
  4. Make Christmas ornaments together.  This year’s ornament: Salt Dough Handprint Ornaments.
  5. Watch A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and decorate the small, kid’s Christmas tree.
  6. Make banana bread (or other baked treats) for friends and deliver.
  7. Go meet SANTA at the mall and get pictures taken.
  8. Watch and read THE POLAR EXPRESS.  Eat cookies and drink hot chocolate while wearing pajamas.
  9. Help put up Christmas decorations at a local retirement center with our Community Group.
  10. Watch RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER and make reindeer treats/reindeer chow.  Play reindeer games (marshmallow toss/pin the nose on the reindeer/candy cane hunt).
  11. Go to the Fayetteville Square to look at the Christmas lights and take pictures.
  12. Make fingerprint/footprint/handprint Christmas cards to mail to Grandparents.
  13. Watch ELF and eat spaghetti for dinner.
  14. Watch MICKEY’S ONCE/TWICE UPON A CHRISTMAS and eat puppy chow (in honor of pluto).
  15. Make small THANK YOU gifts (mason jar gifts) for our Church staff and deliver.  Give M&M thank you to our mailman.
  16. Watch and read FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, eat popcorn out of snowman cups (sharpie on a clear plastic cup) and make snowman cloud dough (Pinterest).
  17. Read THE GINGERBREAD MAN stories and make a gingerbread house or cookies.
  18. Attend a CHRISTMAS PARTY with friends.
  19. Drive around our city, look at Christmas lights, listen to Christmas music, and end the night with an ice-cream family date.
  20. Watch and read HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (original cartoon) and make GRINCH slime!  Grinch Kabobs for a snack (grapes/bananas/strawberries)
  21. Watch HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS ( Jim Carey) and make breakfast for dinner (green eggs, green pancakes, and green milk).
  22. Throw a BIRTHDAY PARTY for Jesus.  Bake a cake, sing Happy Birthday, and read the Nativity Story again.
  23. Attend our church’s Christmas Eve Eve services.
  24. Open Christmas Eve Box (new pajamas to wear that night, and a new Christmas book/movie), make cookies, drink hot chocolate.  Put out Santa’s Christmas plate full of cookies/milk/carrots/and THANK YOU note to Santa.
  25. Eat a large breakfast, open gifts, take naps, play games — ENJOY every moment!

After I made this list, I realized I completely left off one of our family favorites — HOME ALONE!  So at some point we will also squeeze in watching Home Alone and buying tooth brushes to put in our stockings.

Having a plan also helps me to be able to keep my eye out for great deals on things to help assist in our Advent Calendar.  For example, while at Hobby Lobby yesterday, I was able to find a magnet Nativity scene kit that we can use on a large baking sheet to help retell the story of Jesus’ birth as well as a couple of great books…all at HALF OFF!  They also have a great Happy Birthday Jesus section that we can go and get some goodies for our Birthday party for Jesus.  Win, win, win.

Advent Calendar 2015 | www.ponytailsandpajamas.com

Hobby Lobby 2015 — half off Christmas sale!

Here is to the best Christmas yet!

*If you missed the inspiration behind this all, be sure and check out my previous post ADVENT | CALENDAR ONE*

Advent Calendar | ponytailsandpajamas.com

advent | calendar one

Today, I want to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine, Megan.  Our story is one that proves just how small this world is.  We once were two wee bloggers on a hosting site called Xanga, who randomly connected, only to realize we shared family, an alma mater, a love for crafting, Jesus, and a whole lot more.

Over the past ten years, our friendship has had its own ebb and flow, as most relationships do, but one thing remains… this woman is a hero of mine and I am a better person for having her in my life.

friendships are so sweet | ponytailsandpajamas.com

My sweet friend, Megan, and I on my wedding day.

I wanted to share with you a tradition that Megan created for her family six years ago, before the popularity of advent calendars or Pinterest to help guide her.  She set out to make the holidays special for her kids — and y’all, she did just that and more.

I’ve sat back and watched her complete her advent calendar throughout these past several Christmas seasons… and this year, I finally get to do it myself!  I am SO EXCITED to start this tradition with my own family.  I’ll post my adapted version of Megan’s Advent Calendar tomorrow but I did not want you to miss out on the original inspiration behind it all!

Advent Calendar | ponytailsandpajamas.com

So without further ado… here is a creative, fun, and totally do-able Christmas Advent Calendar.

For the last 6 years, we have done a different activity for each day. You can do an activity each day through the month of December (we actually start Thanksgiving Night) or the 12 Days Before Christmas.
1: Read about the birth of Jesus, watch THE NATIVITY, make & eat HAYSTACKS*
2: THE SANTA CLAUSE–watch movies & write letters to Santa
3: Watch IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and VT: It’s a Meaningful Life. Eat PASTA (this is a family tradition that we started a few years ago. It has nothing to do with the movie, except George’s “best friend” is Italian. We just like it).
4: Watch CHARLIE BROWN & decorate the small (kids) Christmas tree
5: Make SALT DOUGH ORNAMENTS*
6: Read & watch POLAR EXPRESS. Enjoy HOT CHOCOLATE & COOKIES
7: ELOISE DAY–Read & watch. Eat OATMEAL & RAISINS for breakfast (just like Eloise)
8: RUDOLPH–watch Rudolph & make reindeer treats. Play reindeer games
9: Read ABC Pop-Up book & make pop-up Christmas cards for family/friends
10: MUSIC, LIGHTS & SWEET TREATS–look @ lights while listening to Christmas CDs. Go to Braums/Starbucks/Dairy Queen for holiday ICE CREAM (Shelby Farms Drive Through Display)
11: GRINCH DAY–read & watch Grinch movies. Eat GREEN EGGS & HAM for supper
12: A VERY FROSTY DAY–watch Frosty, have a snowball fight (white socks), make SNOWBALL COOKIES (meringue cookies* with mini chocolate chips for face)
13: MICKEY CHRISTMAS–watch MICKEY’S ONCE & TWICE UPON A CHRISTMAS, eat PUPPY CHOW* (for pluto) & have HOT COCOA (like Donald Duck)
14: A CHRISTMAS CAROL–watch movies & write your own story using people you know
Mickey. Muppets. Musical. Barbie. Jim Carey
15: Watch A CHRISTMAS STORY & eat CHINESE FOOD
16: FIRESIDE–build a fire, roast marshmallows, sleeping in the living room
17: Make cookies & other goodies for friends
18: Caroling & deliver gifts to friends
19: Take turns reading THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER and discuss how YOU would direct the play
20: Jingle Bowling (take 10 clean 2-liter bottles and fill with Christmas items such as wrapping paper strips, jingle bells, cotton ball snowballs, mini ornaments)
21. Shop for siblings gifts (or make gifts) then wrap them (we split up and each adult takes a kid, then we come home and wrap presents for each other)
22. Santa Train
23. Watch ELF! & eat spaghetti
24. Family Game Night with finger foods & apple cider
25. Read THE NIGHT BEFORE THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
26. Bellevue Singing Christmas Tree Christmas Program (or any church program)
27. Candle light church service
28. Peabody Ducks or your Local Square (Fayetteville Lights)
29. Hannukah Party. JELLY DONUTS & LINZER COOKIES
30. Read JUNIE B. JONES. Read in parts
31. Make a gingerbread house/village
CHRISTMAS EVE
Attend Christmas Eve service with N&P. Look at Christmas lights. Watch THE CHRISTMAS STORY. EAT! Open pjs from Nana
*ham, cheese & turkey rolls *sausage balls *sweet & sour sausages *cheese cubes *fruit
*pecan tassies *pumpkin fudge *something CHOCOLATY
CHRISTmas DAY!
Celebrate the birth of our Lord & Saviour, Jesus Christ. Open gifts. breakfast (by the men). PLAY! Lunch. Look at lights. Left-overs. PLAY SOME MORE!
Other holiday “classics” that we like to watch
*Phineas & Ferb Holiday Specials *Elf on a Shelf (Thanksgiving) *Adventures in Odyssey *White Christmas *Holiday Inn *Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (with toast, jelly beans, & popcorn) *Shrek Christmas Special *Blues Clues Holiday Specials *Barbie Nutcracker *Home Alone *A Christmas Child
Isn’t that just AMAZING?!

Thank you so very much my friend, for giving us a glimpse into that creative brain of yours, and for allowing me to share it here to inspire others like it inspired me.   I love you, Meg!

our life | a single picture

A picture.

A single picture was all it took to shatter my heart and unleash the tears like a tidal wave.

Selfishly, I had avoided reading about the Feek’s story as best I could.  I vaguely knew of Joey’s diagnoses and that she wasn’t doing well.  And y’all, my heart was just all too aware of the fact that she was a young mom of a sweet baby girl with Down’s Syndrome…and she was dying…

And I just couldn’t.  I couldn’t.

I couldn’t handle reading their story, because the truth is:

I. Hate. Death.

I hate it’s finality.  I hate it’s viciousness.  I hate it’s cruelty.

But do you know what I hate the most about death?  I hate the ones it leaves behind.

Joey Fleek with her step-daughters | www.thislifeilive.com

Joey Feek with her step-daughters | http://www.thislifeilive.com

As a mother, following the story of Joey Feek’s last days are excruciating. It is my greatest fear in life, that God would ask that of me.  Even greater is my fear that He would ask me to say goodbye to my own children.

The fear is actually so deeply rooted in me, that I have to lay it down in front of Him often.  And I have been known to beg of Him to never ask it of me, and I beg it of Him often.

Because I honestly do not know that I would survive it.

Joey Fleek and Indiana | www.thislifeilive.com

Joey Feek and Indiana | http://www.thislifeilive.com

As I type these words, my heart cries out for a woman in a hospital bed that I have never met.  A woman with a small baby girl, that just won’t understand.  A sweet little girl that won’t have her momma there to help her get ready for her first day of school, to kiss her skinned knees when she learns to ride a bicycle, to cry with her over friendships broken, or relationships lost.  A momma that won’t be there to help her put on her wedding dress, or to hold her hand when she has a daughter of her own.

It is a tragedy that I just can’t understand.

But in the midst of such tragedy, I do know that today, today I get to live.  God may ask me to walk that path tomorrow, but today, today I live.

So my task for today is simple.  Today,  I get to pray for that beautiful woman and her family, and I get to make more memories with mine.  Today, I will take my children out into the sunshine and bask in His Glory and Praise Him for this life we live and the days by His grace that we get to live it.

Sunny Fall Day 2015

Today, I live for the ones who can’t.

Even so.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Come quickly.

| To Follow the Feek’s Journey, visit their blog: This Life I Live |

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

#fbf | farmland adventures

When we first had kids, it was my goal to document our family adventures so that we could look back on these years and have real, tangible memories/stories to share together. My memory is less than stellar, so documenting our life is the only hope I have of savoring these moments.

This interesting thing happened, however.  Our first child came at the tail end of my first year of teaching, and only 10 1/2 months into our marriage.  Fast forward seven months, and suddenly I was staring at another positive pregnancy test.  In a blink, we had two in under a year and a half.  I have simply been trying to catch my breath ever since.

Now that Eisley is a year, and Copeland two and a half, I finally feel like I can actually be productive again.  The blinding fog is beginning to lift.  Hallelujah!

Therefore, I have decided to embrace the #FBF (non hashtag users, that stands for flashback fridays) and dedicate the occasional Friday posts to memories of days past.

Because when my babies are no longer babies… I want to remember these hardest days of my life.  Even in living through some hard momma days, I know the saying is oh so true.

These are the best days of my life.

…and I don’t want to miss a blessed thing.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

…and remembering why this sweet little face was so excited is worth the time it takes to document it.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Farmland Adventures 2014

Our first Flashback Friday post is in honor of this beautiful Fall we are having.  I love this time of year.  The cool crisp air feels good in my lungs and does magical things to my soul.

We loved the idea of starting a family tradition of visiting a corn maze/pumpkin patch every year with the kids during the fall and decided 2014 would be the year to start.

We found a local farm that spends a significant amount of time on their amazing corn mazes as well as has a lot of other activities available such as a petting zoo, pig races, wagon ride, pumpkin patch, etc.

Eisley was only three weeks at the time, so she spent her day being worn by Mommy while Copeland explored.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

This animal loving boy was in hog, or maybe goat, heaven. He loved feeding and petting the animals and could not wait to see what was in the next pen.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

And this sweet face that I love so much.  This face was during the pig races.  Y’all, I don’t know a thing about how the races went.  I simply could not get enough of him.  There is something so special about watching the world through a toddler’s eyes.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

The corn box was another favorite.  He loved it so much that I half considered making one for our back yard.  (Let’s be real… I only half considered.  My sanity returned quickly.) We may have picked corn off of him for the next day or so but it was completely worth it.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

We finished up our morning with pony rides.  I know that these pictures don’t show a smiley, happy boy… but oh man.  Copeland cried such huge tears when his turn was over that I am pretty sure I heard my heart break in two.  We immediately let him ride again, but as anyone with a newborn knows… when the baby says it’s time to go, it’s time to go.  With a little Daddy, and a little distraction, our boy did well saying goodbye to his furry friends as we left our first Farmland Adventures outing.

And thus was the beginning of our first fall tradition.

farmland adventures | ponytailsandpajamas.com

As an added perk, the pumpkins we picked from the pumpkin patch made for a pretty cute little photo session later on at our house.  😉

Milk and Cookies Siblings Costumes | ponytailsandpajamas.com

our life | halloween 2015

Halloween.  The wonderful time of year where you are forced, err I mean joyfully blessed, to dress up your children in costumes.

The first year, we sort of cheated.  Copeland was only six months old and Target had these onesie zipper outfits that could easily double as a quick costume.

Superman Infant Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no it’s SUPER COPELAND!

No work and an easy $20 later…  this blue-eyed boy was set for his first Halloween.

Superman Infant Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Those eyes though… swoon.

We even lucked out that my parents had been watching him for a couple of days, and so they took him to his first Fall Festival where we picked him up.  He had a great time loving on his grandparents and we didn’t have to do any work!  Win, Win! =)

Superman Infant Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Fall Festival 2013

The second year, we doubled the size of our family and suddenly we had TWO costumes to prepare.  Going from one to two meant that if we were to purchase two already made costumes, we would be spending twice as much as the previous year (at least!) which immediately made the easy option less appealing.

That meant that this momma would be doing her first DIY costumes.  Eisley was barely a month old at the time, but we had an idea to play on siblings and ran with it.

Luke & Leia Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Meet Luke & Leia

Aren’t they just cutie pies?!  This was our take on the Star Wars siblings, Luke and Leia.

Luke & Leia Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Y’all, that smile! He LOVED his lightsaber.

We were blessed once again to be with family for Halloween. This time we were with Jonathan’s brother, Michael, and his wife, Lindsey.  Their sweet baby boy was born just five short weeks before Eisley so we were able to enjoy both babies’ FIRST Halloween’s together.  Special memories!

Luke & Leia Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Fall Fest 2014

This year, I actually started thinking about Halloween at the end of summer.  I looked at many blogs with matching kids costumes and saw where one mom dressed up her two children as milk and cookies.  I knew immediately that we had found our costumes for this year.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Halloween 2015

There is quite possibly nothing our little boy loves more than milk and cookies.  It was perfect.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Copeland was convinced he was a robot, not milk. By the end of the night we had compromised on “Milk Robot.” =)

His costume was super easy y’all.  I used an old diaper box, an empty paper towel roll, red/white/blue felt, white ribbon, and lots of hot glue!

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Those curls! We can barely handle the cute factor on those things.

And here is our, sweet as a chocolate-chip-cookie, girl.

For her costume, I branched into the sewing world for the FIRST TIME EVER.  No lie, first time ever.  I am still not sure how to start or stop a stitch, or what a real stitch looks like.  But somehow, I managed to throw this thing together in less than an hour. I used about a quarter yard of tan felt.  Found something in my house to use for a circle template and cut out four large circles.  Sewed two of those bad boys together at a time, flipped it inside out, stuffed it, and voila!  Cookies!  Then, I cut out circles from dark brown felt and hot glued them on as well.  The final step was gluing on the straps, and I was D-O-N-E!

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Milk and Cookies

I was surprised at how easily everything came together, and even more surprised that their costumes actually turned out like I had pictured them in my head.  Phew!  I got lucky.  😉

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Our Family – Halloween 2015

We had made plans to attend a local church’s Fall Festival this year since we wouldn’t be visiting family.  We thought we would be going alone, but in the days prior, and even hours prior, plans fell into place for our friends to join us!  Even Jonathan’s sister was able to come (even though we only phoned her about it the hour before we were to leave!).  She quickly threw together a Cookie Monster Costume that was the perfect addition to our Milk and Cookies.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Halloween Fun with Friends!

The night was rainy and cold and the indoor festival we thought we were attending ended up being outdoors.  After standing in the cold/light rain for far too long, we eventually decided to  come back to our house for some fun and pictures.  The spontaneity made for great memories in the end.

Milk and Cookies Siblings Halloween Costume | ponytailsandpajamas.com

…and seriously.  I don’t think this crew could have been any cuter.  =)

toddler school | word wall

You may be wondering what in the world is a word wall?

“A word wall is a collection of words which are displayed in large visible letters on a wall, bulletin board, or other display surface in a classroom. The word wall is designed to be an interactive tool for students and contains an array of words that can be used during writing and reading.”  www.ReadingRockets.org

The use of word walls is something that most teachers use, whether it be for literature, math, or science.  I have seen firsthand the power of using a word wall and therefore wanted to incorporate one into our homeschooling venture.

Since we are currently studying our colors, our first word wall will consist of color words.

We started with the color RED, so I will feature it here, but we will continue adding to our word wall each week as we study a new color.

To begin, I used block letters and wrote out the word R-E-D on white cardstock with a black marker.  Each week, to mix things up, I will allow Copeland to paint/color the color word using different mediums, but this first week we just used a paint brush and washable paint.

This was the first time that Copeland had ever painted, and he had a grand ole time… and this momma was grateful for how quickly baby wipes clean up paint.  =)

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors and color words! Here is a WORD WALL that you can easily create in your home. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

…and just because she is so gosh darn cute, here is Eisley watching her brother, wishing she could paint too!

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors and color words! Here is a WORD WALL that you can easily create in your home. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Eisley, 9 Months

After Copeland finished painting, we let the paper dry thoroughly overnight and then I cut out our color word and glued it onto a black cardstock (to really help each color pop).

Looking through a magazine we had on hand, we found items that were RED.  Since Copeland is only two, I cut out the pictures and adhered the glue (glue stick) to the back and then let Copeland place the pictures on the cardstock.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors and color words! Here is a WORD WALL that you can easily create in your home. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Red Magazine Picture Hunt

After we completed our magazine picture hunt, I taped our RED color word up onto our children’s bedroom door.  Sadly, we do not have a playroom, otherwise I would have used an actual wall for our Word Wall.  =)

Here is a picture of RED and BLUE on display for continued learning day after day!

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors and color words! Here is a WORD WALL that you can easily create in your home. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Word Wall

Curious how I use a Word Wall with a two year old?  We stop often at the door and practice each word together, and then each letter individually (as I point to them).  Other times, we play a quick game of “I spy” and Copeland has to tell me the color of what I spied.  For example, “Copeland, I spy a vacuum. What color is the vacuum?”  “Great job buddy. It is blue!  Let’s spell blue now!”

Once our Word Wall is complete, I will return to this post and add an updated picture.  =)  In the meantime, don’t forget that singing your color word songs will help tremendously.  After all, “what’s learned in song, is learned long!”

toddler school | blue week

Welcome to BLUE week of our toddler school!  This is Copeland’s favorite color, so he was very excited for anything and everything BLUE.

As I have previously mentioned, I am a planner at heart.  So typing out a lesson plan comes naturally to me, both for my personality as well as my formal training as a teacher.  I’ve once again attached it here for you to view our week at a glance.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Wk2 BLUE Lesson Plans – for a downloadable PDF, click HERE.

We start out each new week wearing the focus color of the week.  Eisley and I even get in on the fun and wear the color of the week as well!

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Photo Credit: My amazing husband

TOY SCAVENGER HUNT:

After we get into our colorful attire and watch some YouTUBE videos on BLUE, we then embark on a toy hunt around the house to see what BLUE toys we can find to play with.  Sometimes we play “I Spy” as Copeland hunts for specific blue toys that I spot. (For example, “Copeland, I spy a blue toy that goes “choo choo!”)  Once you have the blue toys, you can do a number of activities with them.  For this week, Copeland was content just to play, but for RED WEEK we put the toys in a rice sensory bin.  Check out the future color weeks for more ideas.  🙂

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Blue Toy Hunt

FILE FOLDER MATCHING:

As we did with RED, this week we focused on each letter that makes up the word B-L-U-E, locating the letters, and matching them.  We also focus on vocabulary (introducing the pictures) as well as following directions to match each picture to its partner.  At two, I am really trying to get Copeland to listen and follow instructions that are given to him instead of impulsively placing the pictures as he desires.  We work on the file folder together daily, but Copeland is able to play independently throughout the week as well.  We may not work on the inside of the file folder daily, but we do go over the letters each day.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Blue File Folder Game – for a downloadable PDF, click HERE.

To give you an idea of what I do with these type of file folder activities, I have uploaded a video that I had my husband take quickly of us one night as we worked together.  This isn’t what I do every time we pull out the file folder, but it is an example of how you can use the activity.  =)

*Also, this was spontaneous, so excuse my diaper only son, my bare feet, our dirty chair, and my sweet girl trying her best to be a part of the activity.  Ha!*

WORD WALL:

As a former teacher, I know the importance of having a WORD WALL for quick reference as well as reinforcement of information learned.  Since in our current home we do not have a playroom (cue the tears!), I am using the door to their bedroom as our word wall.   This week I decided to let him use all the different shades of blue crayon that we could find to color the word BLUE.  (For more information on what a word wall is and how I use it, see my blog post: toddler school | word wall.)

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Blue Magazine Hunt

This activity always reveals some of your child’s personality.  My son is like his momma/daddy and likes everything nice and neat and in its place.  So he doesn’t even attempt to glue things down over the letters.  But trust me… I know my daughter will be the child that has everything glued down all over the place in a completely disorganized fashion! ha!

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Word Wall

B-L-U-E SONG:

One of the resources I made for my Kinder class, I brought home with me when I decided to stay at home and I am so glad I did.  We had songs that we sang almost daily during transitions that helped us learn how to spell our color words.  While I don’t expect Copeland to memorize the spelling of his color words at this age, I do think it is good to start singing these songs for color recognition, letter recognition, and to help him start to understand that letters make up words.  While the books are fun to read together, and will be used in later years as an early reader, for now we focus mostly on the songs.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Blue Song Book

Here is a YouTUBE video of the song so you can get the rhythm.  We sing our color songs in the car, during playtime, and in the bathtub.  They are easy to memorize and even Daddy knows every word to every song! 😉

To see a list of all of the color word songs we use, click HERE.

CAR WASH:

Using some “pin”spirataion, we headed to the bathtub to have some fun with colored shaving cream, toy cars (blue of course), and a bucket of water.   Since he was in the bathtub, this made for a fun pre-bath activity with a super easy clean-up.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Blue Shaving Cream

…and as you can tell.  He loved it!

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Copeland with the Shaving Cream

YOGURT PAINTING:

Our final big activity for the week was to paint with yogurt!  You choose any white yogurt of your choice (I went with the generic vanilla yogurt) and edible food dye.  The yogurt was fun to paint with, and could dual as a snack as well.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Yogurt Paint Recipe: 1 Container Yogurt, Paint Cups, Edible Food Dye

You could easily use a muffin tin to have multiple paint colors.  We decided to just use the two colors we had learned about so far in Toddler School… blue and red.  After our colors were mixed, we headed off to the bathtub again!

Our boy who doesn’t like to get messy, at first only used the paint brushes to paint on the bathroom tub wall.  He eventually braved touching the paint with his fingers, but it took him awhile.  =)

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Yogurt Paint in the Bathtub

After he free-painted for a little while, I brought in my own paint brush and we started working on letters.  I would paint a letter and Copeland would repeat the letter or even try to guess what it was.  We spelled his name and the color BLUE.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Letter Practice with Yogurt Paint

Look at that sweet face.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color BLUE. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Copeland and Yogurt Paint

Blue is in the books.  Next up, Y-E-L-L-O-W!

toddler school | red week

Copeland, our first born, has recently learned his colors and has a deep love for them.  He tells us the color of anything and everything and is so proud of himself when he does so.  I decided to embrace his current interest and start our toddler school with a 10 week color unit!
Keep in mind, our child is two… barely two… so each day consists of activities right now that are a more sensory, hands on, type of learning.  The best kind, honestly, because he doesn’t even realize we are learning.
And y’all… I am a planner.  My fellow teachers made fun of me for this, but yes, I have a lesson plan.  It’s much easier to do lesson planning when you don’t have standards you are having to input for every minute of your day!
So here is week one, all laid out for you.
Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Wk1 RED Lesson Plans – for a downloadable PDF, click HERE.

ALL ABOUT RED:

To really kick off the week and play up the color RED as much as I could, we started the week off with singing our RED song (I’ll be creating a blog post this week with links to our color word songs!) and wearing RED as much as we could.  Eisley even joined in on the fun, and sported a little RED dress.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

PHOTO CREDIT: My amazing husband! =)

RICE SENSORY BIN:

Copeland loved helping dye the rice!  This is one activity that your toddler can easily help you with.  I used a recipe found in 150+ Screen-Free Activities For Kids.  Once we had our rice and dye in a Ziplock bag, Copeland had a blast swishing around the rice and watching it turn from white to red!  This does have some dry time involved with it… but with the aid of a fan, we were able to create our sensory bin in no time at all.

After the rice was dry, I added in some RED counting bears I had purchased in my graduate school years, as well as some RED shapes.  He loved digging out the bears to ‘count’ them.  We also used a shovel from his play camping set to add to the fun.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Rice Sensory Bin

After he played with the RED bears/shapes, we went on a toy hunt and found RED toys of his own that we could add to the rice.  This was MUCH more exciting for him!  He loved burying his cars/trucks/etc. in the rice and then finding them again.  (And yep… one lone blue toy made it into the bin.  What can I say?  He is two after all.  😉 You pick your battles.)
Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

RED Toy Scavenger Hunt

*Friendly Advice*  Copeland and I discussed that the rice must stay on the blanket.  We had some close calls and had to revisit the conversation often… but in the end, it was an easy clean up as we just folded up the blanket and shook out all the rice in our backyard.  With a quick wash, the blanket was as good as new.  It did not stain in any way.  Also, if stored properly, the rice will keep for a very long time.  That means this activity can be used multiple times for only one simple prep.  Best of all worlds!

FILE FOLDER MATCHING GAME:

File Folder games are something I remember from my school days.  Truth be told, I rarely, if ever, used them in my Kindergarten classroom.  My love for them has not diminished though (nostalgia, maybe?) so I plan to have fun with them in my homeschooling adventures.

I saw this somewhere in the land of Pinterest, and re-created it, adding some of my own spin on it.The outside of the File Folder is the color word RED.  This is important in our journey of learning about RED. My goal for our color unit is not only increasing vocabulary and color recognition, but also letter recognition as well.  On the inside of the file folder, six pictures of red items are glued (and then laminated) so that Copeland can match pictures to their pair.  While we match pairs, he is working on his fine motor skills as well as his vocabulary and sentence structures.  The File Folder stays out all week and is accessible to Copeland at any time.  He likes to do it himself, but I challenge him once a day, and we do it together.

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Click HERE for a PDF of this that you can print/color/laminate for yourself.

*I recorded a video of us doing the File Folder with the letter BLUE, so stay tuned next week to see exactly how I use this resource.  To check out BLUE week – click HERE.

*I laminated the File Folder at our local teacher supply store.  Much cheaper than an office supply store.  Our local store even has a day where all lamination is half off… and no, you don’t have to be a teacher to use their laminator or purchase from the store!*For ease of repeated use, I bought little velcro dots found in the office supply section of Walmart.  They are pretty inexpensive and I have had a love affair with them for many things over the past few years!

HOMEMADE PLAY-DOH:

Ok.  So true confession time.  I decided to try out a home-made EDIBLE play-doh recipe.  There are several recipes in the activity book I am using… and of course, you can find plenty on Pinterest.  Seemed like a great idea, especially for a two year old.  Somehow, somewhere along the way, I failed with the recipe.  It was greasy and overall just not a great consistency.  For the time it took (and major mess I made) I’ll stick with the store-bought stuff in the future.  Live and learn, right?!  Play-doh is a great way to also work on letters.  We made letters out of the dough to spell R-E-D! 🙂

Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

Play-Doh Fun

READING, READING, READING:

Finally, we love books around here.  We read together multiple times a day.  Copeland has a great attention span, and a book lover at heart, so he happily sits in my lap as we read through many books at a time.  Even if you don’t have much time, I encourage everyone to read with their children at least once a day.  You may not think it is making a difference, but woah… does it ever!  If interested, I can point you to many articles and books explaining the science behind and importance of early childhood literacy.
Sometimes it is a stretch, but I find all the books I can that have to do with each color.  This was our stack of RED books.  Again, this is accessible to Copeland every day and at any time.
Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

All of our RED books!

I have more color activities that I will weave throughout the 10 weeks and will post them as they arise.  Some days we get our activities done and some days we double-up because we simply didn’t do it for whatever reason the day before.  Other times it takes us two weeks to do one color, simply because life happens, like a stomach bug that goes through our entire house.  Being flexible is one of the greatest joys of teaching at home.
Teaching your preschooler/toddler all about colors!  This post is all about the color RED. | ponytailsandpajamas.com

So there you go!  Week one of the Color Our World unit.  The Color Red.

Next up… BLUE week!