Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Max and Ellie Give-Away!

I recently signed up for a fun Shop Swap and Blog event. Everyone involved has an online store. We exchanged items from our shop with our partner, and then they write up a little post about our store on their blog and we do the same for them in return. While I haven't had the chance to write up my posts about my two fabulous partners yet, they've both posted about my shop already! And one of my partners is having a Max and Ellie give-away this week! The prize is a Max and Ellie Itty Bitty Boo-Boo Kit of your choosing! Click here to read the details.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brown Paper Package Exchange Update

Thanks to everyone who signed up! We have just under 40 participants from all over the US, England, Canada, and Australia!! I will be sending out partner assignments before Halloween, so watch your email inbox over the next few days.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Preschool Enrichment Program 2009

My oldest is a sweet, funny, precocious child who has known her alphabet for at least two years now, knows most of the letter sounds, knows all of the primary colors and what colors they combine to make AND what colors those colors combine to make, and can count as high as 100--although for some reason she forgets 14! And, because of a fall birthday, she is just now starting her first of two years of preschool! When I signed her up for preschool at the end of the last school year, I took a glance at the curriculum: social skills, sharing, colors, shapes, etc. They don't even get to letters until next year; I'm pretty sure she'll be reading before next year! So I decided that a little preschool enrichment will be needed. It's actually an idea I had at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, but it always sounded like too much work, so I ignored it. A few weeks ago, I grabbed a piece of notebook paper and a pen, and spent all of 10 minutes planning out basically the entire year. It was a breeze!

When planning, I thought of several categories we could focus on: counting, reading, and writing numbers; art; nature; literacy; and writing. Since she has preschool 3 days a week, we'll do short activities on school days (workbooks, going to the library, etc.) and longer activities (nature walks, art projects, etc.) on her free days.

It hasn't gone like clockwork yet. I've actually met with some resistance (Who doesn't want to go for a walk? My kids, apparently!) and a little bit of short attention span-itis. And some days it just doesn't happen at all. But it's been fun, and I feel like she's learning and having a good time.

Here are some highlights so far:
  • We got the book Time to Get Up, Time to Go by David Milgram from the library. It is adorable and everyone should go check it out from their library right now! To go along with the book, we made our own version! I folded 3 pieces of white computer paper and 1 sheet of red construction paper in half, and stapled them together like a book. Then I let me daughter choose what activity went on each page. Our book includes time to eat breakfast, time to get dressed, time to do something fun, time to take a walk, time to eat lunch, and time to take a nap. I wrote the "Time to ___________" at the top and she was supposed to draw a corresponding picture. This is one of the times that it didn't quite happen. Oh well!

  • Wiki Stix letters from Let's Explore
  • We were supposed to take a walk and do a "Colors of Nature" scavenger hunt. Neither child would cooperate, so we did it in the backyard instead. For 5 minutes. And then it started raining. But, it was a good idea! I took a plain white gift bag with handles and colored a spot on it in each of 8 colors (I just did the standard crayola marker colors). Then I wrote the name of each color next to it. The goal was to find at least one object in each color. We managed to find green, yellow, brown, and black. We took all of the objects out of the bag and set them next to the right color spot and name.

Can't really be annoyed about this outcome!
  • Uppercase letter tracing and writing from a workbook. If you don't have a workbook, here's a link to some you can print out.
There's more to come! I actually find projects faster than we can do them!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brown Paper Package Exchange, Holiday 2009

Sign-Ups for the 2009 Holiday edition of the Brown Paper Package Exchange are now closed!

"And none will hear the postman's knock Without a quickening of the heart." --W.H. Auden

I love and appreciate the conveniences of our modern world that allow us such instant gratification. I honestly don't remember how anyone did any research on any subject before the likes of Google and Yahoo. I love communicating with my sisters who live hundreds of miles away through funny text messages and emails. I watch entirely too much TV thanks to our DVR, and wonder how we ever got along without it.

But I also love when the doorbell rings and there is a package on the doorstep, or an unexpected letter in the mailbox; things that have traveled miles and miles, sometimes at a snail's pace, to arrive at their new home. It truly does produce a unique joy and excitement that nothing else can quite produce. Even when I know something is on its way, I get positively giddy on my way to the mailbox at the mere possibility that my something might be there.

Last year, I discovered the magic of exchanges and swaps. It was as fun to put together a package as it was to receive a package, and I would excitedly check my partner's blog every day--multiple times!--until she posted the lovelies I had sent her way. It was so thrilling! **If you've never participated in an exchange before, you probably think I'm exaggerating, but I assure you, I am in no way overstating how exciting it is!** But when 2009 began, I found myself with a lot on my plate, including two little ones and a husband opening his own business. So I made my husband make me promise not to do any more swaps. Ah, how it broke my heart. But I think the time is right to jump back in with both feet!

I present to you the Brown Paper Package Exchange,
Holiday 2009 edition!

The Details:
--First and foremost, please do not sign up for this exchange if you are not going to follow through. I know firsthand how disappointing it is to work like crazy on your partner's package, send it off with love and excitement, and then get nothing in return!
--You have until Saturday, October 24th, 2009 to sign up. And spread the word; the more the merrier! I've never hosted an exchange before, so if people start coming out of the woodwork to sign up, I might have to cap it, but let's not be hasty.
--This exchange is open to everyone everywhere, but you have to have a blog or website. Scroll down to see how to sign up.
--When I receive your email, I'll send you a confirmation email and add your name to the "Brown Paper Package Exchange" list in the sidebar.
--After sign-ups have closed, I will do the partnering thing. You will receive an email with your partner's name, address, and important information before Halloween.
--I think it's more exciting if you don't know who's sending you beautiful things until after you have received them, so keep your assignment a secret. Feel free to blog about your package and post pictures, but don't tell anyone who you're sending it to.
--Your partner can tell you what holidays they love and celebrate. You get to choose which one(s) you want to focus on for your package. Please make sure you mail your package in time for your partner to enjoy it! And if you're running late, don't forget New Years!
--When you have received your package, post about it on your blog. Make sure you include lots of pictures so we can all ooohh and aaahh.
--Email me to let me know you have sent your package. Email me again when you have received the package from your partner. I'll keep track and post this info next to your name in the sidebar.
--Thank your partner. You can go the lazy man's route and send an email, but a lovely Thank You note in the mail would probably be appreciated.

What Goes In The Package:
--A little something for the taste buds: a traditional holiday treat and the recipe if you go the homemade route. I am of the opinion that homemade is preferable, but if you don't cook, feel free to buy something special. Also keep in mind that whatever you make/buy has to travel well.
--A little holiday something for the home. Some ideas include decorations, ornaments, candles, soaps, etc. Again, handmade would be awesome; store-bought can be awesome too.
--A little something for your partner. See above for the handmade vs. store-bought scale of awesomeness.
--Anything else you want to include!!
--Wrap the individual items beautifully. Beautiful doesn't have to mean fancy.
--The outside of the whole thing has to be brown paper. Interpret as you will.

How To Sign Up:
--Send an email to including
--Your name
--Your address (trust me, I'll dispose of all of this info when we're done)
--Your blog/website URL
--Whether or not you are willing to ship internationally
--What fall/winter holidays you celebrate and/or especially love. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Solstice, Kwanza, Hanukkah, etc.
--Any other information you feel is pertinent, like you favorite color, your hobbies, etc.

To help spread the word, please grab the button from the sidebar and add it to your blog! The HTML is posted below the picture. Just create a new widget, select HTML/JavaScript, and copy and paste the code.

I'm so excited to be hosting and participating in this exchange. I hope it will be a wonderful experience for everyone involved! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

New In The Store

We have a few new items in the store. They're actually just improved pictures of items we've been carrying for a while, but a good picture is worth 1000 words, or at least $5, right?! We have an adorable assortment of boo boo kits in a lovely array of colors, with a few more popping up over the next few days.