Friday, July 30, 2010

Water Bottle Experiment

This science experiment also makes a great water toy!  Add it to your collection from yesterday!

You need:
Empty water or pop bottle

1)  Poke holes with the thumbtack a few inches up from the bottom of the bottle.  I made a line of holes around the bottle.

2)  Fill the bottle with water, place the cap back on, and put in a pan.

3)  Experiment!  What happens when you take the lid off?  When you put it back on?  Twist if off a little bit?

When the lid is on the bottle air pressure cannot push the water through the holes.  Take it off, and the water starts pouring through the holes.  When the lid is on, surface tension (water's "skin") keeps most of the water from leaking out.  For a more detailed explanation, check out Steve Spangler's Science website.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Water Toys: Nylon Soaker Ball

Do you have an old pair of nylons with a run in them?  Use them to make a soaker ball for water play!

You need:
Old pair of nylons

1)  Cut the feet off of the nylons (about eight inches long).  Cut the rest of the legs off!

2)  Stuff the leg into the foot. Knot the end and cut off any excess.  You might be able to get two balls from one pair of hose, but it will depend on the size of nylons and the size you want the ball.

There are many ways to reuse everyday objects as water toys!  An empty dish detergent bottle, strawberry container, or cottage cheese container can all be used in the pool.  What are your ideas?


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grated Chalk and Water Art

Use water and chalk to make a swirled piece of art!

You need:
Pan of water

1)  Fill a pan (large enough to hold a sheet of paper) with water.  Grate a variety of colored-chalk into the water.

2)  Allow the chalk to sit and "swirl" for a few minutes.  Gently place a sheet of paper on top of the water.

3)  Carefully remove from the water and allow to dry.

My oldest remarked that hers looked "all swirly -- kind of like Van Gogh's paintings!"


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tasty Tuesday -- Boiling Water

It seems like a pretty basic idea to start off our "water" theme, doesn't it?  I asked my girls what it meant to boil something, and their answer was "when steam comes out of the pan."  That's when I realized they had never seen water boil!  From their vantage point, all they see when I boil something is steam coming from the top of the pan!!

You need:
Pot with water

1.  Begin by talking about stove safety.  (I am fortunate to have a cooktop lock, but it is still a good idea.  I didn't want them to think they could cook something on their own!)  Put the pan on the stove and turn up the heat.

2.  Have your child observe the water before it is heated.  Make predictions about what will happen.

3.  A watched pot never boils!  Let the little ones play until the water boils, and then have them watch what is happening.  Pour in the noodles to cook.  Keep out a handful of dry noodles to compare with the cooked noodles.
4.  After the desired cook time, strain the water from the noodles.  Keep a few of the cooked noodles out and mix the rest with whatever sauce you like to use!  Make an easy "T" chart to compare what happened to the noodles boiled in water and those not boiled.

I've boiled water so many times, it never even occurred to me that my girls hadn't seen it!  It's a good reminder to look at things from their point of view!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Tips and Ideas for Avoiding (or Overcoming) Postpartum Depression

Before my first child was born, I had not given much thought to postpartum depression (PPD).  I certainly never thought it would be part of my experience.  Yet, it was a defining period in my life (you can read more about my struggle here).  Today, I want to offer some tips and ideas to help pregnant and new moms.  Please remember, the ideas I share are based on my own experiences.  I am not a doctor, so please consult a doctor if you believe you may have postpartum depression.

Be proactive during pregnancy:  Statistics say that up to 70% of women will experience the "Baby Blues" after childbirth while 15% of women will go on to experience postpartum depression.  If you educate yourself before or during pregnancy, you will be in a better position to get the help you need right away.  One of the best things I did while pregnant (the 3rd time) was read a great book by Dean Raffelock entitled A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health.  I learned so much about the role of nutrition, exercise, and hormones during and after pregnancy.  I changed how I was eating and exercising, and I also found and met with a doctor experienced in bio-identical hormone therapy.

Pamper yourself nutritionally:  Often, as soon as the baby is born, moms stop eating as healthfully as they did during pregnancy.  It is hard to meet all the needs of a newborn and cook nutritious meals, but it is essential!  One idea is to prepare and stock your freezer with healthy meals before the baby is born.  Also, keep many whole foods on hand for snacking (apples, carrots, almonds, etc.).  Try to avoid refined sugars and flour, as these may cause you to feel even more fatigued and have mood swings.  Add an omega 3 supplement or eat wild-caught salmon a few times a week.  Drink lots of water and continue taking your prenatal vitamin.

Pamper yourself emotionally and spiritually:  If you get a free moment or someone is watching the baby, do not do housework!  As a friend told me, "Housework can be done in the midst of chaos, but nourishing your soul needs a protected time."  Instead of chores, do something to "fill your cup."  Read a magazine or book, work on an art project or hobby, listen to music, enjoy a nice hot bath, pray, sleep, etc.  The point is to take time for you and do something special for yourself.

Get some exercise (and some sun):  There is no doubt it is difficult to squeeze in exercise when you have a new baby.  Especially after sleepless nights, the thought of exercising can be daunting.  A simple idea is to put the baby in a stroller and take a walk.  I would put my two older daughters in a stroller, strap the baby in a front carrier, and walk around the neighborhood.  Even though I received many stares and comments, it did wonders in elevating my mood!  Enlisting a friend to walk with can also be motivating.  An added benefit to walking outside is that you'll fulfill your need for sunlight (to soak up some vitamin D) and exercise at the same time! 

Find support:  A risk factor for postpartum depression is having a poor or non-existent support system.  Having a baby is challenging and it changes your life in so many ways.  If your baby has sleep issues or is colicky, you also have a greater chance to suffer.  Surround yourself with people who can help and don't be afraid to ask for help.  If someone offers to do something, say "thank you" and let them!  You don't have to make others think you have it all together.  If you're human, you don't!  Churches, MOPS groups, and other mother's groups are great places to find support.

Speak out:  Please, please, please do not suffer silently.  It will take courage, but you must speak out to get the help you need.  I wasted so much time and missed so many sweet experiences because I hid in fear and shame. Your child is only a baby once!  Don't miss this special time when there are conventional and alternative treatments that can help.  Seek out a doctor who will listen to you and consider finding a counselor, a pastor, or a women who has experienced PPD to help you navigate through the experience.

Excellent resources to help you include:

Postpartum Support International is an excellent website about postpartum depression.  It can connect you with helpful people and resources.

The Happiest Baby on the Block - The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer (DVD)The Happiest Baby on The Block DVD by Dr. Harvey Karp has an amazing method for soothing newborns.  I had the book, but found the DVD more helpful because I could actually see Dr. Karp's technique.  I don't want to be overdramatic, but it changed my life!  I often give it as a gift or share it with pregnant and new moms.

A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health by Dean Raffelock, Robert Rountree, and Virginia Hopkins was also a lifechanging book for me.  This book is devoted to showing you how to care for yourself during and after pregnancy.  I can't recommend it enough!

The Mother-to-Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book
The Mother-to-Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book by Sandra Poulin is a collection of stories from women who have experienced PPD.  In my experience, there is a stigma attached to postartum depression and people want to hide it or not talk about it (myself included).  This is an excellent resource to help you know you are not alone.

Living Beyond Postpartum Depression: Help and Hope for the Hurting Mom and Those Around HerLiving Beyond Postpartum Depression: Help and Hope for the Hurting Mom and Those Around Her by Jerusha Clark shares the author's experience of PPD.  It also explores the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of the illness from a Christian perspective.

If you have any questions or need encouragement, please feel free to contact me here.  Next Sunday, I'll finish my series with ideas on how to offer support to moms struggling with postpartum depression.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spirited Sunday: My Battle with Postpartum Depression

So, I really didn't want to write this post.  I've been struggling with the idea of it for some time.  Most of my posts are general in nature and don't deal much with my personal experience, but I truly believe God has been laying this on my heart.  If you are reading this blog, you probably have friends with new babies, you have a new baby, or you work with children whose moms have new babies.  I have been silent about my experience for six years, but I believe God is calling me to share.  Maybe this "Spirited Sunday" post will reach someone who is struggling!  If you or someone you know is dealing with postpartum depression, feel free to share this.  Here's a small part of my story...

I had heard about women who struggled with postpartum depression, but I never expected to be one of them.  And yet, looking back, all the risk factors were there.  I had an amazing amount of stress in my life:  my dad died (at age 49) when I was five months pregnant, I had to quit my job, my husband finished school and started a new job, we moved to a new town, and then I had my first baby.  She was almost two weeks overdue and born after ten hours of induced labor via emergency c-section.  After my mom saw her, she remarked, "I've never seen a newborn so alert."  What an understatement!  My description of her was hyper-alert.  At her two week appointment, I remember sobbing and sobbing because I thought she didn't seem like other newborns.  Weren't "normal" newborns supposed to sleep a little?  She spent all her time crying.  I remember taking her to my mom's house when she was three weeks old.  It was an agonizing three hour drive -- she cried for almost all of it.

And so the depression began.  I couldn't see an end to the baby's crying (she was quite colicky until about four months).  I barely slept, and the sleep I did get was so fragmented it was almost worthless.  I had thoughts of sending her away until she was older.  I would get in the car and imagine myself driving off the road and wrecking, so I wouldn't have to hear any more crying.  There were terrible moments of panic and fear.  I really thought I was losing my mind.  In the middle of all the night wakings, I would scream and curse (if you know me at all, you know this isn't me and doesn't really fit my personality).  It was so agonizing.  I could not shake it, and I couldn't seem to change it.  I kept crying out to God, but I was in the darkest night of my soul I had ever experienced.  (Writing it down now sounds so terrible, but I promised myself I would be honest.  I believe there is someone out there going through this right now who needs to know someone else has been there.)  Everything was fuzzy, and I really didn't believe I would make it through.  I knew I needed help, but I felt powerless to find it.  I was way too embarrassed.  I mean, I had a beautiful baby -- shouldn't I be happy?

The extremely sad part is I never did get the help I needed, and I suffered through it for almost a year.  We wanted more children, but I was absolutely terrified at the thought of going through that again.  But by the time our oldest was 17 months old, I was pregnant again.  You would think I would've learned, but I suffered silently again.  The depression with my second one wasn't nearly as intense as before.  I had a little better support system, and it didn't last as long.  I was back to myself (well, as "back to myself" as I could be with two little children) when our second child was six months old.  And then guess what?  I found myself expecting again when she was just eight months old.  I was in shock, but I was determined to get help this time.

A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum HealthI was very proactive even before the baby was born.  I was not going to go through it again.  I really think if I had suffered through it a third time, I would've tried to end my life.  It was incredibly devastating for me.  Plus, having three children ages three and under was difficult enough without adding postpartum depression to the mix!  With my third pregnancy, I took a non-conventional approach.  I found an amazing book called A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health by Dean Raffelock.  I followed a lot of the nutritional advice.  I also had my hormone levels tested and took bio-identical hormones after the baby was born.  After the test, my doctor told me I "had the hormone levels of an 80 year old woman.  No wonder you feel terrible."  (If that's what I'll feel like when I'm 80, I'm not convinced I want to get there!)  Anyway, it made all the difference in the world.  I know it is a "controversial" approach, but I truly believe it worked for me.

Postpartum depression has a way of sucking all the life out of you.  I look back with deep regret.  I didn't even get to enjoy my first two babies.  All those sweet little moments I had with Sunshine (my third baby), I don't remember having with my oldest ones.  It makes me wistful, but it also makes me angry.  I can't get those wasted days back, but maybe God can use me to help someone else avoid or make it safely through postpartum depression.  No one should have to suffer silently. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, please check out Part 2 and Part 3 of the series. 


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shopping Trip -- Part 2 (Our Shoeboxes are Almost Filled)

After two stops without any real bargains, a reader tipped me off to a sale at Walgreens.  I picked up several items this morning!  After I pick up some free toothpaste at Dillons, I'll almost have our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes filled!

$0.09  Pronged Folders
$0.29  Penway Erasers (2 pk)
$0.09  Wooden Ruler
$0.49  Bic Brite Highlighters (5 pk)
$0.19  Pilot G2 Pens (2 pk) -- after $1.00 instant value coupon
$1.99  Expo Washable Dry Erase Markers (6 pk)-- after $3 instant value coupon + $1 coupon from
$0.39  Poly 3 ring binder

Walgreens has a new sale starting tomorrow, but the sale flyer still shows some pretty good bargains for next week:

$0.99  Paper Mate Mechanical Pencils (30 pk) -- Regularly priced $7.99!!  I bet those will go quickly!
$0.09  Pronged Pocket Folder
$0.39  Flexible Ruler or Protractor
$0.99  Scissors
$0.99  Crayola Colored Pencils

You can check out the ad at

I have special posts planned for tomorrow and Monday, and then we'll be back to regular activity posts with a "Water" theme for the week!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shopping Trip!

Someone asked yesterday if I would share the details of my shopping trip for school supplies (for my girls and our Operation Christmas Child boxes) after I got my list together.  I made two stops today at Wal-Mart and Dillons.

I wrote down just a few of my favorite prices at Wal-Mart:

$0.15  Spiral-bound Notebooks (70 pg)
$0.25  Elmer's Gluestick (2 pk)
$1.00  Crayola Colored Pencils (12 pk)
$1.00  Crayola Watercolor Paints
$1.00  Crayola Classic Markers (but check out my deal at Dillons!)
$0.25  Composition Notebooks
$1.50  Fiskar Child Scissors
$1.00  Calculator
$0.84  Clasp Envelope (6ct) - regularly priced at $2.47

I had a great trip at Dillons.  I spent $5.50 and got back a $2.00 catalina, so I spent $3.50 for 3 boxes of Crayola Washable Markers, 6 boxes of Crayola Crayons (24 ct), and 3 packages of Paper-mate pens!

The catalina was $2 off a $10 purchase or $4 off a $20 purchase of Expo, Paper-mate, Mead, Sharpie, Crayola, Avery, Five-Star, or Uniball.  I still haven't quite figured it out, but my guess is that the Crayola Washable Markers added up as regular price for the catalina (even though I still got them for $1). 

I'm heading to Dollar General and Apple Market (IGA) later today, so we'll see what I can find!  Have you found any great buys?!!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back to School - Oh, How I Love New Supplies!!

I know that I'm not typical, but I love this time of year!  I always loved shopping for new school supplies every year before school started, and I still do!  There are so many wonderful bargains, it's easy to stock the craft supply closet again.

Mandie, over at I Heart Coupon Deals, has a post listing some of the best Back-to-School bargains in stores and on the web.  You can find her post here.

I am still making my lists and haven't yet made it out to pick up any new supplies, but Money Saving Mom had a great post about stocking up on supplies for filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child!  We love to fill boxes, and I'll post more about it as the time draws near.  One year, my girls even received a letter and picture back from two little girls who received the shoeboxes we'd packed.  It was so special!

Head on out and get stocked up on supplies for the coming year!  We have a lot of messes to make!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cereal Box "Workbook"

It seems crazy to me, but my girls love workbooks.  One daughter even asked for a workbook for Christmas (she got it and loved it)!  So, I had this idea to reuse packaging to make a special "workbook" for them.

You need:
Packages (from foods, toys, etc.)
Hole punch
Metal rings

1)  Save and cut panels from various packages.  Hole punch and clip together with metal rings.

2)  Use the "workbook" to search for letters, colors, shapes, or words.  We searched for each letter in our names.  The blank sides can be used for writing and drawing.

It's not the most beautiful workbook, but it's a fun way to reuse some packages and expose your child to environmental print!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Random Week

This week is going to be a hodgepodge week!  I am going to take a few days off to get organized for the upcoming school year, but I'll share a few random posts I started but never quite fit in the schedule (starting tomorrow)!

Happy Monday to you!



Usborne Books Giveaway Winner

We have a winner!!! generated number 12.  Comment #12 was from Terri H who suggested The Amazing Mess to friends on Facebook! Thanks, Terri (I'll be contacting you via email).

Thanks to all of you who entered the drawing.  I truly appreciate those who follow me!  I hope somehow I am blessing you as much as you bless me!!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ideas for Your Craft Box

I like to think of a craft box as a creative opportunity!  If you allow it to be available to your little ones at all times, you'll be amazed at what they create!

If you're needing some ideas for what to stock in your box, here are a few ideas: 

Items to save and reuse
  • paper bags
  • rubberbands from newspapers
  • paper clips
  • plastic spoons and forks
  • toothpicks
  • string
  • packaging material
  • egg cartons
  • newspapers
  • magazines
  • drink carriers
  • buttons
  • cans
  • plastic jars
  • milk jugs
  • picture frames
  • socks
  • pantyhose
  • drinking straws
  • lids
  • cereal boxes
  • junk magnets (like from the telephone book)
  • scrap paper
  • scrap fabric
  • coat hangers
  • pebbles
  • pinecones
  • leaves

Things to Purchase:
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Gluesticks
  • Paint
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Construction paper


Thursday, July 15, 2010

(More) Craft Stick Puzzles -- Name Puzzle

I shared with you last week how we made a sunflower puzzle using craft sticks, but I wanted to add a few more ideas today.  I made these with the girls last week, but you're stuck looking at mine (sorry, definitely not as cute)!

You need:
Jumbo Craft Sticks
Photo or other picture
Craft knife

1.  Print out a photo or find a picture.  Tape down the craft sticks.  Glue on the photo and allow to dry.  Write each letter of your child's name on a craft stick.

2.  Using a craft knife, cut apart the puzzle.  Store in a baggy or bind together with a rubber band.

Here is another idea:

1.  Tape down enough craft sticks for your child's name.  Write the name on the bottom.

2.  Tape both sides securely.  Let your child draw a picture (of themselves or whatever they want to draw).

The name on the bottom makes it much easier to know which way the craft sticks go in the puzzle.  It is also great practice for learning how to spell a name (or any other word)!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Names, Names, Names!

Today's idea is simply to write your child's name on a piece of paper and use it for all kinds of easy name activities.  We laminated ours, so we could use the same paper over and over again (if you missed my post, it's not too late to check out the great laminator deal at Amazon)!

You need:
Dry erase markers
1.  Write your child's name on a sheet of paper.  Laminate, if possible.

2.  Cut straws into pieces of varying lenth.  Trace the name in straws!

3.  Roll out playdough snakes (easy recipe here) and trace the name.

4.  Trace the name with several colors of dry erase markers.

What are your ideas?

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tactile Alphabet Cards/Name Rubbing

I picked up a set of alphabet flashcards at a garage sale for a quarter a few years ago.  I've had them in the closet, so I thought this activity would be perfect for them.  If you don't have sandpaper or other tactile letter cards yet, this is an easy way to make some.

You need:
A set of alphabet flashcards or
Index cards with the alphabet printed on them
Glue gun

1)  Make a set of alphabet letters on index cards (or use an old set of flashcards).

2.  Trace the letters with the glue gun.  Allow to dry and harden.  I didn't try, but I'm sure you could use school glue.  It will just take a lot longer to dry!

3.  Place the letters of the name you're spelling under a sheet of paper.  Rub with an unwrapped crayon to make a nameprint!

Another quick-and-easy idea for the tactile cards is to trace the letter and make the letter's sound at the same time (great for "imprinting" the letter on the brain!).  Do you have any other ideas?!! 

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