Friday, December 30, 2011

Sleiman Family News Goes Digital

Every year, the Sleiman family sends news of their year in review to hundreds dozens of excited readers. This year, the news has exploded -- and most of the impact hit the Internet.

The Sleiman family newsletter has gone digital.

Inside, you'll enjoy articles covering topics loved by readers: the skinny on what the third child's name is, the career news from grand-poobah Youssef Sleiman and an incisive column from wife Lynné Sleiman titled, "The Dirt on Germophobia."

See what these readers already had to say about Issue 8.
It's changed my life. After reading this, I couldn't stop thinking about how it applied to me, how it changed who I was in my core. Literally, I'll never be the same. Anonymous
What can I say? I didn't know half that stuff was going on. I mean, yeah, I'm friends on Facebook, but it's not like I check their profiles all the time or anything. That's just weird. Former Facebook Friend
I started digesting my printed copy as soon as I could get my hands on it. I just couldn't stop drooling over the news. It's the best newsletter I've ever seen in my life. Natalie Grace Sleiman, 8 months old
Open your copy of The Sleiman Standard now. Print if you like, share if you want, but read it you must.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Magnet dolls

I don't have a pattern for these. They are just little X's out of scrap fabric that I had. I needed a way to house the magnets that I got for the girls (just strong craft magnets about the size each of a penny- only thicker.)
Sew right sides together leaving about an inch open at the "neck" and then flip right side out. Slip the magnets into the "hands and feet" and then top stitch the legs and arms to hold the magnets in place. Stuff just a little bit of stuffing into the body part (I didn't stuff much because I wanted them really flexible.)
Then hand stitch the neck closed and sew up threw a wood bead and up through a colored poof ball. I went up and down and up and down from the "neck" of the body and over the poof ball many many times to get it super secure.
My husband timed me when I did the sewing and it took about 15 minutes to do one whole one (minus the hand work.. that's probably another 10 minutes at least) SO, yeah.. they take a little while if you want 12 like I did, BUT I think the kids will really like them and it wasn't expensive.
Much safer with a baby in the house too. The girls get to play with their magnets, but they are now REALLY easy to see!
You could draw a face on them of course, but I thought they looked nice without any.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pin cushion tree craft

You know how little kids like to move all the pins around on a pin cushion? Well.. why not make them their own little pin cushion tree to decorate and re-decorate?e
You could have them just use pretty pins or do what I did with these bangles. You could also do beads or buttons.

I wasn't very accurate about how I cute the scraps out. Just cut some paper in a triangle and test out the shape and size you want that way.
Right sides together and sew the seams so it's shaped like a little cone. Then stuff it nice and full.
Flip it upright and hold onto cardboard so you can trace around it.

Then pin the cardboard into place like the picture shows. I liked to pin it because then I could set it up and see if it was straight or not and re-pin if I needed to to make it look balanced.
You could use hot glue and glue it all down, but I chose to do this crazy sewing job by hand.
Again, you could use hot glue.. I just used tacky glue and placed this black cardstock paper on the bottom to make it look nice and finished.
Even my three year old thought it was super fun!

Ta da! This one is half done so you can see it well.
And, yes.. these took a little more time than ones made out of paper plates, but we are going to save them to play with every year!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Homeschooling stuff

We've been doing a LOT of decorating and Christmas themed projects lately, but here are a couple that are just school related.

We read the "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" book while the girls had the right magnet letters climb the palm tree (that I'd just quickly cut from construction paper.) I've actually read the book so often over the years that I could recite it while the girls played with the letters and I made lunch. Super handy!Also, earlier in November I'd been looking for a good way to start teaching them about calenders and the passage of time and so on. Every thing I found though was just way too complicated. Lots of great ideas, but I didn't want to put that kind of time into it. So, here's what I came up with. I had a few magnets leftover and so I just cut some paper to glue on them with the words "yesterday" "Today" and "tomorrow" on them. Yesterday is red because it's over (stopped) and Today is yellow because sometimes we have to slow down or speed up through out the day and Tomorrow is green because it's ahead (and you've got to "go" forward to get there.) Anyway, I just put a magnet for each on the back of the paper to move individually. Some day I'll have a full magnet sheet on the back so I don't have to fiddle with each individual one when I move them, but it's not really that big of a deal. Lily likes to cross off the days when I move the magnets.
This is helpful when counting down to a holiday since the kids are always asking me when "such and such" is going to happen. The other thing I did was add the red strip of paper at the top with the names of the week abbreviated and written bigger than the original dollar store calendar's were. I might actually add stickers or other indications for what is going to happen on which days. Wednesday for instance is always when we go to the library and I think it helps the girls to look forward to certain things.
I also made a little flip book (just with cheesy sketches) of different types of weather. Lily likes to change that each day too. Today she flipped it to "foggy"...

Monday, November 28, 2011


Wondering what I was going to do with the "Thankful leaves"? Yep, so was I! I had some ideas from "Pinning" but the general idea was to trace everybody's hands and then make our hands a tree. The idea evolved though when Youssef mentioned how he'd like to do a paper folding picture (like the ones I sell.) He'd like to learn how to do it.. and.. well.. what better way to learn then to jump right in!
I did all the tracing and cutting however. I made a place for our faces to go and the date of course. This is the back side of the paper because that's the side I have to work from.

I found some great pictures of the kids doing their gasp face! If you've seen "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" then you'll get the joke. They thought the gasp scene was hilarious and every time I'd make hamburgers (which became quite often because everyone decided that CHeeeeeeese burgers were the bees knees) they'd do the gasp face. I can't remember laughing so hard in a LONG time as I did when Youssef and I were taking pictures of each other and trying to get the right "gasp" face. Some looked pretty terrible and funny. :} But, finally we settled on a couple good shots.
I didn't get any pictures of us actually doing it. It took all weekend between the two of us WHILE we were decorating our trees and the house. Pretty crazy, but we finished it!
I thought Youssef did a pretty good job. It looks a lot like some of my first ones. I little turbulent and perhaps not quite as smooth as the parts that I did, but I like it. It was fun to do together and take turns on..... except when he used my glue stick. ;]
We hung it in the dinning room so we can see it while we eat. For a while now I've been wanting to teach Lily about Christmas and that it's not about things that SHE gets. Well, I kind of had a revelation. Teaching someone to be unselfish really comes form a different point. We need to learn how to be thankful and grateful for what we already have and for what we get. It seemed like (in years past) that it didn't matter how much or little we got for Lily... it always disappointing her for some reason. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to give someone something good and having them complain or fight over it. When I pulled out the Christmas things and let the girls have the little people nativity to play with guess what they did RIGHT away? They FOUGHT over the baby Jesus. *groan* Besides getting really annoyed at them for fighting, it was even more frustrating to be trying to give them something good and fun and that they wanted and have them be dissatisfied over it.

How often do we as adults do that though? The income isn't *quite* enough or we complain about not having enough time in a day. What we really need to do is learn to manage our time and money and things better. God gives us good things and He wants to see us enjoy them and use them well.

So, we will be leaving our Thanksgiving tree up even though we are decorating for winter and Christmas now instead of Autumn. It's not about making it a point to get or enjoy less things so much as keeping an ongoing grateful attitude for what we have.

---When we are dissatisfied with what little we have now then we can never be satisfied with abundance. If we can be thankful for what we have already then we will be equipped to enjoy more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The DIY turkey game for Thanksgiving!

A couple days ago I got an idea (click to see the original) that I "pinned" of course, but it was so cute I had to do it right away! Most of the Thanksgiving project ideas that I've gotten haven't looked this good. I think it's just what it's made out of and how it looks permanent. You CAN do this exact idea and game using drawings on paper plates or clip art or something, but I wanted to make it nice so that I can have it for years down the road too. I'll show you what I did to give you ideas (and of course, click on the original pin to see where I got this idea.) The tin was from the Dollar Tree and was juuuuust big enough to hold all the game pieces!
Let me explain the game first before I tell you how I made it. The object of the game is to get all six colored "feathers" clipped onto your turkey. You do that by rolling a wooden block with a different color on each side. I added the second dice to the game. It has a target painted on three sides and the other three sides of the block are blank. There is only one target clothespin so that gets traded around pretty quickly. The girls liked getting the target so much that we decided that you have to get all the colors AND have the target to win the game. (You could change that and make it so that you CAN'T win with all the colors unless you don't have the target.) The hill billy version is that everyone who wins (with all six feathers and the target) is then "out" of the game till all the players have won (been shot) and by then, Thanksgiving dinner will probably be ready and you can all go eat your turkey. Morbid or realistic? Depends on if you are vegetarian or not. ;] Oh, and when someone wins they are supposed to say "gobble, gobble, gobble!" Which cracks me up because the game is meant to be played while everyone is waiting to GOBBLE the turkey up (that is cooking in the oven of course.)
Cutest game ever? Right now I think it is. Just know that this adorable little "baby turkey" (as my girls called it) is NOT how they look in real life!
Right, so.. here are the pieces that you can cut out of felt (or paper or whatever) yourself!
The two blocks were just wooden blocks from the girls set that they don't play with much anymore. I used mod podge to do the colored dice. A home made version of mod podge can be found by following THESE links and I painted the targets with fingernail polish.
The original pattern for this game was to mod podge the clothes pins as well, but I didn't want to cut out 42 pieces of paper to do it! (My game has seven turkeys in it!) So I used just kids craft paint to paint them all --7 of each color-- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. After the paint was dry I went over them again with sparkly fingernail polish to help seal it.
There is only one "target" clothespin. You could make the target bigger on it, but I was afraid it would get bent up if I made it too big. You can use sturdy cardboard for the round target and glue it on top of the clothespin.
I stuffed the turkeys with plastic grocery bags that I just cut up., and I glued on the pieces with Tacky glue (love that stuff!) .. I decided to hand sew around them while I stuffed them instead of machine sewing just because it was more convenient to do here and there throughout the day. You could just glue the front and back together though of course or do a less fancy hand stitching than the blanket stitch that I did, or use a machine. Hey, it's all about the look you are going for. Looking back I think I might have machine stitched it, but I do like the texture of the blanket stitch on it.. so.. oh well.. it just took a little extra time.
The girls and I tested out the game and they gave it two really big thumbs up! The target was a big hit and it was cracking me up how everyone decided to place the "feathers" on their bird.
Of course, this game is great for helping with fine motor skills and color matching and awareness for little ones.
The ultimate winner! Six feathers and a target right between the eyes. ;]

I had fun making each turkey just a little different from each other. The original game only had the head of the turkey, and when I showed the picture of the "pin" to Renna (my 3 year old) said she wanted to put the feathers "On the turkey's bum bum, NOT the head! That's silly!" haha, right. So I had to add the body part and just for fun made them each unique.

Well, there you go. Hopefully that will give you some good ideas to make your own "Gobble, gobble, gobble!" game.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Thankful project

I cut out a bunch of paper leaves with my cuddle bug and each day everyone in our family (who can speak) will tell me something they are thankful for so I can write it down on a leaf and put it in the jar!

(Click here to see how I finished this project, but there are many other ways to use them. Have fun with it and play to your strengths. Scan pictures of your family's hands instead of tracing? Paint? Ink? Fabric? What craft floats your boat? Do that and Mod Podge the leaves onto the picture in any way you choose!)

I like doing it this way because we are thinking about thankfulness all month long and every day. More often than not I'm not thankful enough for what God has already blessed us with. It's too easy in our society to see what things we DON'T have and be made to feel like we "need" it. Seriously, it's amazing how many things I find I "need" after looking through a catalog of gadgets that I never knew existed till just then.

So, one or two things that we are thankful for go on each leaf. From toys that the girls already have to food to each other to any little thing that we are glad about.

If you want to do this project and don't have a cuddle bug or other paper shape cutting device you could buy a hand held punch in the shape of a leaf at a crafting store (they aren't too expensive) or perhaps you can find pre-cut leaves at a dollar store or crafting store. OR just use strips of paper and fill up that jar! Even just keeping them in the jar will be a good reminder and something to look through or take out when you feel depressed. But, of course.. if you are interested in doing something MORE with this project, use the leaf shapes and right before Thanksgiving I'll share the next faze of this project.

Friday, October 21, 2011

continuing the saga of cleaning

You know how some people are really great at cleaning and organizing and list making? They make a detailed list of everything that needs to be cleaned and actually DO IT?

When I start to read those lists (even my own ones that aren't as long) I feel like this. OVERWHELMED.
When I do actually make a list even a really really basic one that doesn't make me feel like that, I tend to forget where I put the list or even if I remember where it is I will forget to look at it.

BUT this is the first week (probably ever) where I've actually made a plan for cleaning and house things and actually did it all!
So, for any of you creative types like me who have a hard time being consistent and keeping up with those little cleaning things (that really are easier if we keep on top of) perhaps my new strategy will help you too.

Rather than having a list I thought up some things for each day that will help me remember what to do. The first day MONDAY is just sort of to get caught back up over the weekend. I couldn't really find a picture that fit perfectly, but I call this one "the bad weekend"... and what do you do on Monday?

It's "Make up Monday" ... which almost always means (for me) doing something extra in the kitchen. All the dishes that I didn't keep up with or all the bags of stuff that I didn't unpack from an outing. Essentially, it's anything that you need to clean up that you didn't get around to... it could be the little things you haven't done in forever (like wiping out the fridge or microwave) or it could be something else. Note: whatever you do it's not to do EVERYTHING you haven't done! And do NOT do the things that you've already planned for the other days this week. There are other days to do a little more or extras here and there too... so don't kill yourself. Just catch up enough to make you feel like you aren't drowning from the weekend anymore. The point is to at least do one thing. Obviously you can do more if you feel like it, but this plan is all about doing a little bit at a time.
Tuesday is a triplet -- "Toilet, Tub, Trash Tuesday" .. Clean the toilet and tub and empty out all those little trash cans all over the house. This week I hadn't done the toilets in quite a while so I didn't get to the tub, but that's okay! Next week I'll spend more time on the tub and less on the toilets. It's all about a little bit each day NOT about spending a crazy amount of time on ALL the details ALL the time. Find the balance that works for you.
Wednesday is "Water plants Wash Windows Wednesday" I was always forgetting to water my house plants and just barely keeping them alive with how much I watered them. I'm hoping they will actually grow a bit now. And, if I keep up with this I might even let myself get some orchids that I've wanted for so long! Oh, and the "wash windows" part for me includes mirrors, but again it's not about doing ALL and EVERY window and/or mirror. It's about balance and doing the things that need it the most and spending less time on the things that don't. Next week you can give some extra attention to the things that you skimmed over this week.
Thursday is "Dusty Thursday" or "Thirsty Thursday" .. at least that's how I remember to dust. Again, dust the things that need it. The ceiling fan might really need it one week and the bookshelf might need some extra attention another week, or if you have a lot of rooms in your house you can focus on the main room or big dust catchers and then rotate the other rooms. Depending on how dusty things are you might need to do a quick vacuum or sweep as well to pick up the dust bunnies. I like this feeling of flexibility because if I feel like cleaning more then I will and if I only have time for the very basic things like wiping off the piano and TV then so be it. No guilt. Any progress is going to be better then doing nothing!
Friday is "Floors Friday" -- for me this means mopping and vacuuming. This week I vacuumed on Thursday though (because the dusting had gotten backed up and it needed it) so I focused my attention to mopping. I didn't clean the floors upstairs though since it took so long to do the floors down here, but that's all right because next week I can just do a quick mop and spend some more time cleaning the floors upstairs and in the bathrooms.

My every day cleaning is doing dishes and vacuuming and sweeping the main rooms as needed and laundry is done as needed too. I don't like having one laundry day because I can't get it all done in one day as easily as just doing a load a day for a few days in a row as needed. Just remember to fold and put things away right away and it will be easy. I used to have a big laundry day and it would take SO long to fold and put everything away.. like two hours it seemed. NOT anymore! Now that it's spread out I just have to spend 15 or 20 minutes total on laundry for the day.

I've finally gotten myself to the point where I don't think over and over how much I HATE emptying the dishwasher or folding clothes. I've "owned it" and can do these things with virtually no pain now! That's what habits do, they make something that used to take a lot of thought and attention and turn it into second nature and easiness.

Come up with your own catchy phrases to remember what you want to do each day and the habits you want to work into your life!

Here's mine again to give you a starting point..

"Make-up Monday"
"Toilet, Tub, Trash Tuesday"
"Water plants Wash Windows Wednesday"
"Dusty Thursday"
"Floors Friday"

And you will have a SPECTACULAR Saturday and Sunday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

More organizing!

The new dress up area!!!
...necklaces ready to make any girl look fabulous!
Anyone can add a little rod to their kids room! I needed this so that they could learn to put their clothes away instead of leaving them all over the floor. I will be installing some hooks for them as well for jammies and other clothes that don't go back on the hangers (My girls change their clothes so often throughout the day that it's a bit silly to teach them to put stuff in the laundry when it's not even dirty.)
My lovely unfinished wardrobe/office thing that I found at a thrift store now has shelves! And thus, is organized the way I want it now too. I hope to have it stained before Thanksgiving.
This is a bit random, but our tea wasn't fitting in our cupboard very well so I got a shower thing from the dollar store and turned it into a storage rack for our tea.
Okay, THIS idea was not mine! I got it off of Pinterest (Here are my pins in case anyone wants to check them out.) I am SO excited about Pinterest and all the ideas that I'm getting through other people. It's such a great way to organize my thoughts too. I pinned some of my favorite things and then they were all in a file for me to see (outside of my head) and sort through what I really liked. Great for homeschooling too! I'm going to be going back through my pins for those homeschooling project ideas as well.

All this project entails is clothes pins, hot glue, and bamboo sticks (or any stick.) I got a bunch of four bamboo sticks at the Dollar Tree (along with a big pack of wood clothespins) hot clued them to the bamboo and tied some twin (that I already had) to the ends. For 2 bucks I made a lovely way to display my kids art that is so much better than just taping them to the wall or fridge. It just looks more organized this way and didn't take long to do. When we run out of space I'll simply move their art to their own notebooks and hang more.