Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Calendar Idea

Every year we get an advent calendar and it's usually a simple flip the little card open and read a snippet of the Christmas story. My oldest daughter looked forward to the Advent Calendar even as she got older.

A few years back, I got the idea to  make the countdown to Christmas a little more fun and decorative at the same time. We still got the Advent Calendar for the story, but I made simple construction paper trees in different sizes. Then I cut out small circles and wrote the numbers 1-25 on each circle. I attached the circle to the top of the tree and randomly placed these paper trees all over the living room and dining room. Under each tree was a small treat or coins or a strip of paper with something written on it.

The kids loved the idea and couldn't wait each day to flip over a tree to see what was underneath. The rule always was that both kids had to do it together so one wouldn't find out before the other.

I did that for a few years but this year I wanted something different. After tons of research and seeing so many great ideas out there, I came up with my own version of an Advent Calendar/Countdown to Christmas.

I wanted to incorporate the religious aspect with the fun part of Christmas and have some nice decorations for my house!

I bought gift card holders that look like a tiny purse with a ribbon handle. I got them for .99 cents for a pair. I chose different styles and colors but all are Christmas themed.

Then I made the number stickers and printed them on label paper so I could easily peel and stick them on my envelopes.

I typed out a simple, easy to understand, kid-friendly version of the Advent story and printed it on 25 pieces of paper. I attached those to the back of  the gift card holders.

Then I filled each envelope with treats, coins, or paper with an activity written on each. The activity papers are the kids' favorites because they know they'll get to order pizza, go see a Christmas display or get hot chocolate.

This year I also added a few "service" activities; things they would have to do for others.

I used twine clothespins to hang the envelopes. We had so much fun with this project and now we get to look at it everyday. And until December 1, the anticipation builds as to what's inside each little envelope!

Here's my list of activities:

  • Pick a name from the church tree and buy a gift for the person
  • Go see the Christmas tree in (name of town)
  • Go for hot chocolate
  • Read a Christmas book
  • Drive around to see the lights
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Bring cans to the food pantry
  • Decorate cookies
  • Order pizza
  • Take a treat to a neighbor
  • Make a card for a friend and mail it
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Find and read a Christmas story from another culture
  • Go to New York City
  • Have a sleepover in the living room
  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Make reindeer food

 I wish I had better pictures...these really just don't cut it. Oh well...

Happy Decorating Adventures!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Original Lap Desk Review and Giveaway!

I was recently approached by the people at The Original Lap Desk Company to do a review of one of their lap desks. As a homeschool parent, I know that my kids love to do computer work or school work any which way they find comfortable. They rarely use an actual table and with today's laptops and other mobile electronics, there is really no reason that kids and adults can't do their work where they are most comfortable.

This is where the lap desk comes in. It gives the user a cushy area that will rest on their lap and a nice sturdy work area. The lap desk that I used and my kids used is large enough for a laptop or a text book.

We tried out the Platinum series lap desk and loved it! The beautiful color is perfect for the teens and young adults. The lap desk is contoured to sit comfortably on you lap and fit nicely around your waist. The cushion underneath is made from a very soft material that feels great.

Why you'll love the lap desk:
  •  Sturdy material
  • Soft cushion
  • Perfect workspace solution
  • Comfortable anywhere
  • Perfect for writing and drawing
  • Ideal for laptop computers
My oldest daughter used the lap desk to do homework and use her computer. I like to do my online banking at night in bed, so I used the lap desk to pay the bills!

The lap desk is the perfect accessory to have at home. The Platinum Series comes in four bright colors, royal blue, purple, pink and lime green! So you can have more than one! Everyone gets to choose their own color!

The best part is that the folks at The Original Lap Desk are offering one lucky Adventures of a Homeschool Mom reader their very own Platinum Series lap desk.

Here's how this contest works:
  • This contest is open to US residents only.
  • You must be 18 or older.
  • Use the Rafflecopter entry form below. (Wait a few minutes for the form to load)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Playroom storage DIY!

I've had this white cabinet for years and it is very utilitarian, albeit ugly, so we've kept it through several moves. Originally, it was a cheap bookshelf. I wanted to be able to hide the mess, so we put doors on it. And that's how it's been ever since. As Buttercup grew, she decorated the cabinet with random stickers she would get in books or at the doctor's office.

It really became an eye sore that I just kinda ignored. It currently sits in our kitchen and a couple of weeks ago, the kitchen got a fresh coat of paint and the ugly cabinet became more of an eye sore.

On a whim, I decided to spruce it up. I figured I really couldn't make it worse. So I started by peeling all of the stickers off.

Since I had a little bit of paint left over from the kitchen, I decide to use that so the cabinet would at least blend in. So I painted it yellow. Well, once it was done, it was too yellow and it just didn't look quite right.

I remembered I had these old drawer knobs from when 1D was little. They were butterflies and ladybugs and one day she just outgrew them but I never threw them out.

So off to the basement I go in search of these cute little doorknobs. I changed out the old boring knobs for the ladybugs and 1D painted red spots randomly on the cabinet.

Not a good picture!
I am so glad with the outcome. It looks almost new and it's perfect for a playroom or kid's room. And I still get to hide all of our art supplies in there!!

I really love being able to upcycle things I already own. I am frugal and hate to waste money. Plus, I love these little projects. I get to do something creative and it doesn't take very long (I have no patience for things that take days to make).
I'm already cooking up my next DIY project. I can't wait to post pictures! Enjoy!

Fall Arts and Crafts Project

If you live in the northeast, you know that this time of year we start spending lots of time indoors. Well, I do anyway. I am originally from Brazil. Need I say more? Seriously, even though I've lived in this beautiful country for a very, very long time, I just cannot get used to the cold weather. So I do "hole up" during the late fall and winter.

As a result, we do a lot of projects during this time. I've been searching for fun Fall projects, and we've been trying out different things.  Can I just say "Halleluiah for Pinterest"!!

Here are a couple of things we've done this Fall!!

Leaf Art

We started by dividing a white sheet of paper (we used computer paper) into six squares. We made the lines to separate the squares using a Sharpie. Next, using a pencil, Buttercup drew the leaves. I taught her to draw the veins first and then make the leaf around. It was hard at first, because she was used to drawing leaves the other way around (making the outline then filling in the leaf). But she got the hang of it and I can see an improvement in her drawing.

We outlined the leaves with Sharpie, then Buttercup painted each leaf in warm, Fall colors.

Finally, she painted the background of each square in a pattern of blue, green.

Falling Leaves on Wood

I thought this project was super cute and pretty easy to make.

  • 8" x 14" piece of wood, 1/2" thick. This was what I had lying around. You could use a different size.
  • Wood stain.
  • Paper or plastic leaves.
  • Make sure the wood is sanded (we don't want to get splinters!)
  • We glued the fall colored leaves on the wood in a "falling pattern"
  • Once the glue dried, we covered everything with a coat of wood stain
  • We let it dry for 24 hours.
That's it. How can you not do this. Oh, and I got the inspiration from Pinterest.The project came from Craftiments, And, can I just say that hers is much nicer than mine. I actually didn't follow any instructions. I simply looked at the picture and came up with my own version of it.

Fall Door Hanging

This one came from searching the internet for ideas. A lot of what I found is really geared toward very young children. Well, Buttercup is seven so most of those projects would be boring for her. But this one was so perfect. The added benefits were practicing using scissors and tracing.

  • Leaf foam cutouts (the writer used pre cut leaves and letters, but I didn't have that, so I used the templates from her site. I must say it worked out very well.) We used red, yellow, orange and purple (didn't have brown)
  • Letter foam cutouts (used the template from All Kids Network
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • String
  • I printed and cut out the leaf template and the letters.
  • I taped the leaf to a piece of foam and let Buttercup trace and cut 4 leaves.
  • I used the letter template to cut out foam letters.
  • Cut out a 4" x 8" foam rectangle.
  • Glue the letters HAPPY onto the rectangle.
  • Glue a letter on each foam leaf (FALL).
  • We hole punched the foam and tied string to each component to hold it all together.
What are some Fall projects you and your family are working on? I'd love to hear some ideas.

Happy Homeschooling Adventure!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project

I am very pleased to be reviewing  Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project. The book and CD were conceived by Kate Dawson and Jodi Gluckman. Kate is a writer, singer, and actor. Jodi is a producer, dramaturg, and educator. Their inspiration came from personal experience of losing loved ones to breast cancer and a desire to pay tribute to those who survived cancer.

Before I read this book to my child, I read the prefaces written by both Kate and Jodi. Their stories are so heartbreaking, sad, and inspiring. I was moved to tears. This very personal aspect made the book all the more special.

From the book sleeve: Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project is both a timeless benefit effort and a uniquely compelling multimedia experience. The ambitious project-which incorporates a 2 CD, 26 song set; this lavishly illustrated hardcover book of 17 songs from the album; a corresponding ebook encompassing the entire collection; and a documentary film-gathers many of contemporary musical theatre's greatest composers and vocalists, as well as visual artists, all of whom have donated their talent to deliver an emotionally affecting set of new lullabies, some written specifically for this project. The project will raise money for such respected breast cancer charities as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Young Survival Coalition.

I love the idea that by buying this book, you are also doing some good. It's a win-win for all. If you know anyone who's ever been affected in any way by breast cancer, I encourage you to take a look at this book.

You can learn more about the book, CD and the whole Broadway Lullaby Project here.

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection

I absolutely love Christmas! I am itching to put up decorations, light a Christmas tree, watch holiday movies and listen to Christmas music. This year, I am especially excited because we've added VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection to our list!

I'm happy to share with you this very, very cute and fun 2 disc set which includes 6 episodes and more than 25 songs! How great is that!!

VeggieTales is perfect for this time of year because it reminds us and our kids of what Christmas is really all about. Share the true meaning of Christmas and what really  matters with this collection.

The 25 songs included give you and your family the perfect excuse to sit around sipping hot cocoa and sharing special moments singing together.

This 2 disc set is an incredible addition to any family's Christmas collection and would make a very thoughtful gift as well!

From the editors:

Plug in the tree, light the fire and get ready for the VeggieTales Christmas extravaganza!! Join Bob, Larry and the entire VeggieTales gang for a very Veggie Christmas marathon. The VeggieTales Ultimate Christmas Collection features the entire Veggie Christmas catalog, including "The Toy that Saved Christmas," "The Star of Christmas," "Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving," "It's a Meaningful Life" and "The Little Drummer Boy!" Plus - this super duper Christmas collection also includes "Christmas Singalong Songs" DVD and a 25 Christmas Favorites CD! Hours and hours of fun for everyone!

You can get this incredible collection directly on their website:

VeggieTales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection

You can also get it from

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lego Challenge

Buttercup is nuts about Legos! I have lost count how many sets we've bought or she's gotten as gifts. It got to the point that there were tiny Lego pieces all over the floor. I've stepped on them, tripped on them, even found those pesky Lego pieces in the laundry. Earlier this year, in a desperate attempt to keep those Legos off the floor, I came up with a Lego organizer for all of Buttercup's Lego pieces.

See the Lego table with drawers here.

But that is not the reason for this post. I'm getting to it. I promise.

We homeschool on a four day week with Fridays as a make up day or flexible day. Since we are pretty free most Fridays, I decided to add an activity that would be fun for Buttercup and at the same time educational. I came up with Lego Challenge Fridays. The idea was simple: give her an object that she would have to build out of Legos. She could be as literal or as creative as she wanted. She loved the idea.

We've been doing Lego Challenge for a while now. I even found a blogger who hosted a monthly Lego Quest. Unfortunately, a couple of months into it, the mom blogger could no longer continue and we were left to our own again. No problem.

So we are back to Lego Challenge Fridays. I'm going to try to share Buttercup's creations as much as possible. We may skip a week here or there, especially around the holidays.

Here's last Friday's challenge...a turtle.

I would love to connect with other moms/dads of kiddos that love Legos too! If you do your own Lego challenge, let me know, maybe we can exchange ideas. That would be awesome!

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Happy Racers Review

We listen to music a lot in my house. In my car, I have "Free To Be" in the CD changer. We know all the words to all the songs. My oldest daughter grew up listen to "Peter and the Wolf". I think these types of CDs are great for kids. They are entertaining and educational; and they keep the kids away from the TV.


So, I was thrilled when I was contacted to review "The Happy Racers". The songs are great! It totally reminded me of "Free to Be" because it is so perfect for a sing along. This is the time I wish I had learned to play the guitar when I was a kid!! I totally envisioned myself playing acoustic guitar and singing these songs with my kids (outside by a campfire, of course!). Oh well, I'll have to settle for the CD!!

The first song on the CD,  "Move Your Body", gets your kids off the couch and dancing around. "I Can Do Anything" is fun and inspirational. Ad there's a great version of The Beatles song, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da".

The CD started as a family affair when Nathan Meckel wrote a song with his two children. I love that the Nathan even used his own kids' voices for some of the songs. It makes this CD so personal.

I have put this CD in my CD changer along with "Free to Be". We will be listening to this for a long time.

Check their website The Happy Racers!  You can also pick up the CD at Amazon!

Happy Homeschooling Adventures!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

beads and Charm Jewelry Giveaway!!

This is not my typical blog post, but I wanted to share something really special with all of you. My oldest daughter (she's 17) opened her very own Etsy shop! I am so proud of her. I don't know if she'll sell anything, but I hope she does. See her creations here!

It all started a few years ago when she decided to try her hand at making jewelry. She absolutely loves jewelry especially earrings. I have lost count of how many pairs of earring she owns. So, as any good mom would do, I took her to Michael's craft store and let her buy some materials. She tried to make necklaces and bracelets, but earrings were what she really loved to make. I still have one of the first pairs of earrings she ever made! One day, I'll be able to say "I knew her when...". Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that everyone loves her jewelry!

This is where Etsy comes in. I hadn't heard of Etsy until fairly recently and I got to thinking that this would be a good place to showcase her jewelry. She made a new line of earrings, we took some pictures and I uploaded them. beads and Charm was born!

The earrings are perfect for young ladies, teen girls, girls in their 20s, 30s and beyond. The reason they appeal to any age group is that they are delicate and classy. These earrings are versatile; they can be worn with jeans or with a dress. One pair of earrings many different ways to wear them. Imagine the savings! See her creations at beads and Charm.

My daughter is hoping that this shop earns her a little college seed money. I hope so too!

In order to get the word out, she has offered me a pair of her hand made original earrings for me to giveaway to one of my readers.

These earrings would make a great gift for any woman who loves jewelry or maybe you want it for yourself.

Just enter below for a chance to win! US residents only please." rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway