Friday, June 15, 2018

Summer Stem Challenge {Foil Boats}


 We are one week into summer and I am loving it.  I have stayed up way too late, slept in, read books, watched tv, and enjoying my kids.  I have high hopes that this just might be the best summer yet.  So, sweet mom friends who still have littles running around you in circles, I promise that in just a few short years, you will hit a sweet spot.

Last year, we spent the summer conquering Pinterest Pins each week!  Some of them were science related, others, just fun.  We had so much fun that we decided to challenge ourselves to a Summer of Stem activities.  Each week, we will do some sort of STEM activity and then I will blog about it.  I will share what we did, how we did it, what I would change. We did our first challenge this week, and it is was so much fun getting a little wet in the process. 
This week, we took advantage of the cool of the morning on one of our hottest days this week, and brought out the baby pool and picked a STEM activity that would result in getting a little wet.  Nothing like a little science and engineering in the water to start out day and cool off!  Weston even gave his boat a little pirate he had made from his quixels the day before. 
All you need is some aluminum foil, some pennies, water, and maybe you're own pirate.  Have your kids crunch up a a couple pieces of foil and shape into the boat of their liking.  Ethan's resembled a bowl and Weston's was more rectangular in shape. 
 Test to see if they float.  We didn't have any problems with them floating the first time, but if your's don't float, they might need to be lighter, so fewer pieces of foil or the shape might need some change.  But, foil is pretty light, so I don't think this will be a problem. 
 Have the kids slowly start adding coins until they float.  I just grabbed our penny jar, which was a hodge podge of coins and maybe a few medals from my high school cross country days may have surfaced.  The kids thought that was super cool. 
 Keep filling it up until they sink. 
 Then take it out, and count out the coins.  We put ours on a paper towel covered paper plate so they could dry quicker.  Both boys boats were super strong and held over a hundred coins each.  I should have had them try building a weaker boat so they could compare, but that's something I just thought of as I was typing.
Then get into the water and cool off!  Even I sunk my toes into the cool water.  Plus, these smiles get me all the time! I just want to enjoy every minute of it over the summer!

Want to join us this summer?  Pick a STEM activity to try at home or try out the ones we do.  Take a little picture and post it to Instagram using the hashtag #OOTRBsummerstemchallenge.  I can't wait to see what you all come up with!   

If you want to see what Pinterest activities we did last summer.  Click here to the link that has them all. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Summer is Here! {How we deal with video games}

 Ahhh, Summer is officially here! We are in our third day of our Summer Vacation routine and it is just awesome.  I don't know if it has something to do with this mom gets to sleep in every morning while the kids watch TV and help themselves to a easy breakfast or that we are just in a sweet spot with the stage of parenting we are in.  Actually, it might be a little of both.

We are making every intention of ditching our busy schedules for the quiet, lazy days of summer.  Which is great, because I don't know about my kids, but I am exhausted.  I even took a bit of a nap this afternoon while my kids rested up for another night of Vacation Bible School.  The school year always packed with sports and school activities, homework, and more so, I really push to make sure our summer is not overly packed. I want to enjoy my kids.

 If you've visited this blog last summer, I have a lot of ideas for surviving summer and while we are still following a routine, there is a large chunk of time where the kids have to figure out for themselves what to do.  I really do think it's good for them to solve their own problems of being bored. However, we had to solve the problem of video games. 
Both of our boys LOVE to play video games, computer games, and games on their handheld devices.  We have found that too much time spent zoning on these devices creates a sort of monster, if you will.  I know that I can't be alone, because there are a ton of research articles out there on the impacts of screen time on our kids.  (Also, note that I didn't lump TV into that because i feel a little differently about that).  The general rule at our house has been screen time is a weekend only thing and that has worked out nicely.  But, during the summer, there is more time and it's okay.  So, this year we implemented the screen time checklist.  We are in day 3 of it and it is working amazingly!  So amazing, that no one has felt the need to earn extra time.  30 minutes is working.
 Basically, they have to do their daily chores, read, some summer review (we use the Brain quest books and I pulled out some of my file folder games I made way back when I actually taught!), they have to play, build or craft something (this has been fun to watch!), spend some time in God's Word (they have devotionals that come home each week from church, but also some neat books that work really well), and they have to write in their journal that we are working on this summer. 

I know a lot of people might argue that reading shouldn't be put on there, but my kids love to read, and I want to teach them that those things are priorities over video game usage.  They area working on two reading programs this summer and need that motivation to finish so they can earn free books! 
 One of my favorite things is that when we upgrade our Xbox last fall, we put the old one in the office, so now if they don't want to play together, they can play on two separate devices.  So far, they both have been playing the older games and just waiting til the other one's time  is up and it's been great. 

The checklist is available here if you would like to download and use it. 
Please remember that it is for personal use only. 

How are you handling screen time at your house this summer? 

Oh and before I forget, let me explain why I don't lump TV into the screen time category.  First of all, it doesn't effect them like playing a game does.  I love watching TV and while we only watch it during certain parts of the day, there might be a day or two this summer where that's all we do.  I'm okay with that. 

And I better get going, the kids need to eat some dinner before heading off to church.  Have a great day!

Friday, June 08, 2018

Finding Time For God's Word in the summer

 We made it.  Summer has officially began at our house and I am jumping up and down with joy.    It has been a wild and crazy month with a full calendar and  I think we are all done.  I know I am not the only one because I see your posts, sweet friends. I know you are tired of getting up and and going through the morning routine and hoping and praying that you make it to school on time. . . with shoes on. Everyone is tired.  Teachers, students, parents.  Summer is here.  (If you are already on vacation. . . Congratulations, you made it!). 

With summer here, so many things come to an end.  Whether you are a working mom or not, there is a sweet change of pace once summer vacation hits.  Pool days, late nights, adventures, camps and binge watching tv or cozying up to a good book are a warm welcome change of pace from the hustle of the school year. 

During the normal school year, I love the consistent time in God's word that comes from being involved in a Bible Study.  However, once summer hits and our normal routine and accountability comes to an end, I tend to find it more difficult to take that time to open God's Word up.  I think that's why I love She Reads Truth Bible Studies

The goal of She Reads Truth is to get women into the word every single day.  I love that!  I don't know about you, but I am a much better person and a much better mom when I am in the Word daily.  There is no way I would survive summer without my time in God's Word.  I love that you can pretty much do this Bible Study for free or for a minimal cost through the app.  (the books are a little more, but so worth it if you are doing it in a group!)

It is the simplest thing.  Read some scripture, take some notes and journal, and read a devotional that goes along with the scripture.  It is completely relevant and does not graze the surface which makes it perfect!  The best thing about the summer one is that that you can grab some friends together and talk about what you learned or were challenged by.  Add coffee and it's one of my favorite things about summer. 
This summer, She Reads Truth has put together a wonderful 6 week study through 1st and 2nd Corinthians.  It has technically started already, but since schools are just now getting out around here and we have vbs next week, we are starting in a week.  It's super flexible and I love the opportunity to get together with some of my favorite people and dig into God's word over coffee.  I should also mention that it is beautifully designed and there are even recipes.  All things that make my heart go pitter patter! 

Staying in God's Word during the summer is essential to my sanity.  My attitude is way better and my patience is a lot higher.  I'm pretty sure I am much better person when I am spending time with God.  That being said, I am also a better mom.  Which is good because it's summer vacation and the kids are home all day long. 

Wanna know something cool?  They also have a 1st and 2nd Corinthians study for men and kids!  How cool is that!  You can check it out here.

I know there are lots of other options out there.  Let me know how you are digging into scripture by commenting below.  Let's keep each other accountable, grow closer to God, and keep our sanity over the summer! 

(please note that this opinions are completely my own because I really, REALLY love these studies!)


Thursday, May 24, 2018

20 Odds and Ends


It has been an insane month.  Today is the first day all month that I have found time to sit down and just type.  It's a good feeling.  Things are finally starting to slow down and summer vacation in sight.  So, since it's been a few weeks I thought I would share some odds and ends with you.  So here are 20 odds and ends, maybe even a sneak peak of what's coming this summer.  So, go grab a cup of coffee (I've got mine. . . of course!) and let's get chatting!

1.  I got to get dressed up this month.  Twice.  I haven't had any reason to buy a dress in years and it was so much fun!  Also, two date nights in a month. . . score! 

2.  It's the end of the school year, which means teacher appreciation came and went (did you spoil your teachers?) Also, I need to come up with a new end of the year gift for my kid's teachers because I don't want to give Weston's teacher the same thing she got when Ethan was in her class.  I've lost all creative steam.  Boo.

3.  Yesterday, my Time Hop app shared a post from last year of the temp outside reading over 100.  So thankful that that was not the case this year!  I will take 88 degrees for as long as I can.
4.  The kids teachers both crammed field trips into the last few weeks of school and they were fun!  Weston's teacher has been having them look for everyday wonders. . . based on a book that I can't find on amazon.  It was so much fun walking through one of our local gardens and listening to these first graders point out colors, shapes, and hummingbird sightings. 

5.  I haven't done much cooking this month.  Well, I have, but nothing super interesting.  I feel like I've been on survival mode.  So, here's a link to a What's for Dinner Post I wrote last year on quick dinner ideas because that's pretty much what's been happening around here!

6.  I haven't even had time to bake (insert super sad face here). . . I'm two months behind the King Arthur Baking Challenge, so I'm going to start getting to work on that as soon as school gets out!

7.  Speaking of cooking, Jon challenged me to not go grocery shopping this week and just deal with what we have.  I've had to grab a bag of salad and some bananas, but other than that I've been kicking butt! Last night, I used up the rest of my AP flour to make this focaccia and it was so worth it!  I heard "Best Dinner Ever" comments and so my job is done.  For the record, nothing was fancy about our dinner. . . just some BBQ chicken thighs on the grill, roasted sweet potatoes (I had two hanging out from a previous dinner), cucumber salad, and some blackberries.  The bread was the real winner, so you should make some, too!

8.  I'm starting to fill our Amazon cart with things for this summer for road trips.  If you need some inspiration for some car/plane friendly inspiration for your kiddos here.  I'm thinking of doing an updated post soon because the kids are getting older and the things I pack are changing.  Anyone interested?

9.  I'm also going to be ordering these Summer Brain Quest books for the kids to work on this summer.  They are super fun and the kids love them!  Plus it keeps the kids brains working.  We only work on them a couple of times a week for about 20-30 minutes at a time.  You can find them at Costco for a really good price, too!

10.  Have I mentioned how much I love summer?  We purposely take the time to slow down and relax.  We travel, explore, and enjoy our time at home.  Over the last few years, I have just really enjoyed the time with them.  We are definitely going to be taking advantage of dollar movies, book clubs, library visits, and sleeping in (who are we kidding, that's the best part!). 

11. Last summer, we picked out one pinterest activity per week to do.  We called it our Summer Pin Challenge.  You can find my posts over here.  This summer, we are focusing on Stem activities and will be using the hashtag: OOTRBsummerStemchallenge.  If all goes well, I will be posting one per week during our vacation. 
12.  I went to a coffee cupping event sponsored by our church's women's ministry and at one of our local coffee roasting companies.  I learned so much.  Also, my taste buds are weird and maybe my smells, because I have no idea what I was doing! 

13.  Our church Bible Studies are finished for the summer and I've been digging into Nehemiah with She Reads Truth and it is sooo good.  You should go check it out on their website and try it out.

14.   I'm making my summer reading list.  Any books that I NEED to read?  Taking suggestions now.

15. I've been saying No more often lately and it feels so good. I've been craving the quiet and desired the not busy so much lately, that I think saying no is a good thing!   This video was hilarious, but so many VERY true points.

16.  I'm thinking of taking on some home improvement projects this summer.  Bring on a can of Annie Sloan and some wax!  Be on the lookout!  (Also, I can't stop giving my house face lifts!)

17.  I'm going to join in the fun of Daisy Yellow Index Card-A-Day challenge this summer!  61 days of some fun quick creations.  I've been pinning some ideas to get me started! Wanna join?  It's not even super complicated.  Just one index card a day.  I think there might even be prompts to help spur the creativity. 

18. I'm making a list of some fun dinners that don't take a bunch of time or heat up the house.  What are some of your favorites?

19.  Have you heard this song yet?  It's kind of my favorite right now!   You should watch the video. . . there's a DJ Tanner sighting!

20.  last one.  Honestly, it took me longer than I thought to come up with 20 odds and ends to write about today.  I even almost forgot about a volunteer appreciation lunch at school.   Yay for lunch!  Anyways, I just wanted to end by saying how thankful I am that you read my blog!  Don't forget you can follow me over on instagram and over on facebook land here.  If you feel brave, feel free to leave me a comment. . . I love hearing from you! 

Also, I have a long list of blog posts that should keep me busy for the next few weeks.  Is there something you want to hear about or learn this summer?  Message me at jolieklassen@gmail.com or even comment below.  I want to make this blog a place you would like to come back to. 



Thursday, May 03, 2018

Library Tote Bag {A Tutorial}

The end of the school year is coming and while I have no idea the actual number of days we have left, I know it's coming.  I am ready.  There is an excitement that comes with wrapping up things and knowing a 2 month break is approaching.  Also, it's just really busy.  And despite that business, I knew that I needed to break out my sewing machine.  Fabric was calling.  There was a desire to create something and I knew I needed to carve out that time.  So, a few weeks ago, I took a Sunday afternoon and sewed.  It was only about an hour, but it felt so good.

This project took less than an hour per bag, which made it a very quick project that had an end result.  That feeling of finishing something feels oh, so good!  This also, was a really easy project that if you are just starting out on the sewing machine, this is a great bag for you!  Also, it has completely solved the problem of library books everywhere!  I love it! 

I've been wanting to make the kids their own library bags for a few years now.  I started them last year, using a different method for the handles and the result ended up in a non usable bag.  Super sad face.  So, I am super excited that I finally finished them.  Especially after I found the cutest Pete the Cat fabric at Hobby Lobby! 

 
 Step 1:
Find your fabric and cut out your fabric.  You will need 2 coordinating fabrics.  Weston's Pete the Cat bag used regular cotton weighted fabric.  It is way more flexible, but still very functional.  Ethan's blue and white bag (leftovers from my dining room chair and some star wars fabric from JoAnns) and my bag both used heavier home decor weight for the outside fabric.  This made it way more sturdy. My fabric came from Hobby Lobby and was on clearance for $5 a  yard.  You only need a half a yard of each fabric to make this project. 
 Step 2:
(Skip this if you don't want an inside pocket)
Take your two 5x5inch squares and place them right sides facing each other.  Sew all the way around leaving a 11/2 inch gap so you can flip in right side out.  Before flipping it right side out clip the corners.  After you flip it out, take the iron and iron it flat.  Since you are going to sew a top stitch on the next step, you don't have to do an invisible stitch in your gap from flipping it out.
Step 3: 
Sew the pocket onto one of your rectangles that you want for the inside of the bag.  Start at one of the top corners and sew around to the facing top corner.  Don't sew all around or else it won't be a pocket.  (I've done this on accident. . . oops!).
Step 4:
Take the two pieces of inside fabric (the ones that you sewed your pocket to, and place right sides together.  Sew starting in the top corner around to the other top corner.  Don't sew all the way around. 

Step 5:
Take your inside fabric and flatten out the bottom.  Measure down the seam 2 inches and draw a line.  I used a disappearing ink pen made for sewing, but a regular pen will do.  Sew down that line and snip off the edge.  Do the same thing on the other side.  This is technique gives the bottom of your bag dimension, you you can hold more books.

Step 6:
Do the same thing to the coordinating fabric.

Step 7: 
Take your handle fabrics and fold in half, with the right side of the fabric on the inside. Sew down the side and flip right so right side is facing out.
Step 8:
Take your outside fabric and turn inside.  Take the inside fabric and place inside the fabric so that the right sides are facing.  Tuck your handles in side leaving a little bit outside.  Pin them in place.  Then sew around leaving a 2 inch opening to flip the bag right side out.  Flip right side out and do an invisible stitch to close your opening.  Then top stitch around the top. 
I am so excited about how these came out and how useful they have been!  We spend a lot more time at our local library during summer vacation and I am excited that the kids have something to carry their books with out spending a ton of money.  

If you make this snap a pic and post it using #outoftherightbrainblog. . . I'd love to see your creations! 

















Friday, April 27, 2018

Teacher Appreciation Week! {Free Printable}

 This week has been insanely crazy!  This has probably been the first time I've sat down and actually opened up my computer all week.  But, It's Friday and the kids told me we made it this morning!  So much truth, when our normal routine is out of whack! Whoo-hoo!  I treated myself to a latte and headed home to get some things done. . . I am such a party animal!  Ha ha!

Anyways, the end of the school year is closely approaching and I am ready!  But, before that happens, I need to get some things done.  Like celebrate my kids current teachers!  The past few years, I have been in charge our our parent club's celebration of the teachers and staff.  Teachers work their butts off teaching our kids all sorts of crazy information and doing fun projects.  They so often go unappreciated for their countless hours of preparation, training, and honestly, there's a stinking lot of pressure put on them.  It's kind of ridiculous! 

So, now's your chance to honor the teachers in your life.  Last year, we did some super simple things that don't cost a ton of money to stick in their boxes each morning.  At the bottom, you can click on a link that takes you to the free printable that I designed.  Here's  how I used them.
 This one was super easy.  Anything yellow works for this to bring a bit of sunshine to their day! We used peanut M&M's. 

 We love Nothing Bundt Cakes and so I created this tag to go with some little mini bundt's that fit perfectly into their boxes! 
 Teachers always need pencils, so this was a quick and easy one.  I just used my paper cutter to make a slit in both sides of the white so that the pencils slipped right through.  This was super low cost, too!





The final day of Teacher Appreciation Week, I picked up a bunch of terra cotta pots and planted some pretty flowers with a tag stake.  I think this one might have been one of my favorites! 

There is another one on the printable that I forgot to get a picture of.  "It's so refreshing to have you as a teacher" was paired with some izze drinks to make this week complete. 

If you use the tags, please post to instagram or Facebook and tag me or use #outoftherightbrainblog so I can see how you are using them! 

Enjoy blessing your child's teacher! 


You can print out the tags here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday favorites: When I just need a laugh

"Always laugh when you can. It's cheap medicine." 
- Lord Byron

There are some days, I just need to take a break and laugh.  I mean, the ins and outs of some days are just downright boring.  And then, you get on Facebook or watch the news and it's just depressing and people are mean.  Plus, laughing is a good ab workout, right?  The Bible even talks about being joyful and laughing quite a few times!  I googled it. . . there were a lot of verses and I didn't feel like counting.  My favorite is, "Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them."" (Psalm 126:2)

I love laughing.  It is good for the soul, it's contagious and wonderful!  We need to do more of it! So because it's Friday, I thought I would share some of my favorite places that give me little laughter pick me up when I need it.


The Bible Binge Podcast:
This podcast is funny!  Knox and Jamie talk about Bible Stories and their commentary and dialogue is both intriguing and funny!  They just finished season 1 - going through some of the men and women who were in Jesus's lineage.

The Holderness Family:
This family takes popular songs and makes them hilarious!  This is a quick way to get a good laugh really quick!

John Crist:
Sometimes you just need a bit of sarcasm!  And sometimes, I think we just take things too seriously. . . and so he makes fun of all things churchy!

The Babylon Bee:
So, seriously, best satire site ever!  It's like the onion but the things about religion that drive you crazy or maybe you chuckle to yourself about it on the way home from church.  Guess what, you probably aren't the only one!  I will say, I can't tell you how many people think that this site is real news and get so angry about fictional satire.

 Funny Blogs:  There are some hilarious and kind of wrong blogs out there that I occasionally frequent, especially when I just need a mental break!  So, if you need a laugh of some horribly wonderful cakes (and on Sundays absolutely stunning ones!) go visit Cake Wreks. Or the Stuff Christians Like blog .  That one's funny!  Both of these bloggers have books based on their blogs, so that's a great idea, too. 

So, those are some places I'm loving for some pick me up and a good laugh.  Laughter is good for our soul (and our abs!), and sometimes we just need to take a break from the serious stuff that happens during the day.  So, this weekend, I hope that you get to laugh a lot. 



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