Toddler Tutu Dresses 35-50% Off!

Tutus and toddlers seem to go hand in hand these days … why not choose a beautiful Sarah Louise Tutu Dress for her this holiday season? Rosey Bear Boutique has these gorgeous designer tutu dresses on sale now for 35-50% off! The impeccable quality of these brand name dresses makes this deal one you don’t want to miss.

Perhaps she’s a girly girl who loves pink and a little bit of sparkle or maybe she loves bold colors with bounce and bling. Either way, one of these tutu dresses is sure to fit her style.

Sarah Louise Tutu Dress

Sequined Tutu Dress for Toddlers

This all pink sequined tutu dress from Sarah Louise is sleeveless with a ribbed knit bodice. Ruffles around the neckline and down the front are accented with sequins. Ruffled rosettes around the waist frame the tiered tutu skirt. More ruffles on the skirt and lots of layers give it great fullness. A heavier sprinkling of sequins covers the skirt and rosettes. This tutu dress is available in sizes from 2 yrs. to 4 yrs. and is currently 35% off!

Sarah Louise Ballerina Tutu

Ballerina Tutu Skirt Set for Toddlers

If bold color is her passion, check out our ballerina tutu skirt set. A dancing ballerina graces the bodice of the long sleeved knit top and she even has her own little tutu skirt! The pettiskirt is burgundy under layers of sheer black. The elastic waist skirt has a burgundy accent bow at the waist and is dotted with sequins. The tiered skirt is nice and full for twirling! This ballerina tutu skirt set is available in sizes 2 yrs. to 4 yrs. and we’ve got it clearance priced at 50% off!

Top her gift with a Rosey Bear Boutique Hair Bow for a complete outfit she will just love! Browse our wide selection of RoseyBow® Hair Bows or contact us to place your custom order.

Both of these fabulous toddler pettiskirt dresses are available for purchase on our website. Just click one of the dress photos to jump to the dress you love or browse all of our items that are currently on sale.

Posted in Birthday, Boutique Hair Bows, Christmas, Clearance, Gifts, Petticoats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holiday Pumpkin Pancakes

Fall Gourd CandlesI woke up early the morning after Thanksgiving. Since everyone was home and I was still in ‘cooking mode’, I decided to surprise the kids with my VERY popular applesauce pancakes. I headed into the kitchen and started pulling together the ingredients and unfortunately, I quickly realized that we were missing the key ingredient — the applesauce!

Being the day after Thanksgiving, the first substitute that came to mind was pumpkin. Though the applesauce was gone, there were a couple of cans of pumpkin in the cupboard, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to create! I’ll spoil the surprise and say that these pumpkin pancakes were a hit! The kids were certainly a little apprehensive even though they like pumpkin, but they can’t resist pancakes, so they didn’t require much coaxing.

I started with a buttermilk pancake mix, but this recipe can easily be adapted for your own scratch pancakes. With 4 hungry kids on hand and having lost time planning the new recipe, I wanted to get breakfast on the table as quickly as possible. Hence, the shortcut with the mix. I’ve had some ideas along the way for variations and you can find those at the bottom of the post.

Assuming that the reader has experience making pancakes, here are the ingredients. This is for a large family, equivalent to a double batch, so you may need to scale it back a bit for what you need. The advantage of this size batch is that you will use the entire can of pumpkin. Otherwise, you’ll need to have another use for the half can of pumpkin or it will go to waste.

I have always found that pancakes freeze well, so I never worry about left overs. I just cook a ton and freeze what’s left. I layer them between pieces of wax paper and then wrap the stack in aluminum foil, label and pop them in the freezer. The frozen pancakes thaw fast and with the wax paper in between, it’s easy to take out just what you need and put the rest back in the freezer. Just microwave for a quick and yummy breakfast. You can even toast them in the toaster if you thaw them first.

Pumpkin Pancake Ingredients

Wax Pumpkin4 c. dry buttermilk pancake mix
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 tsp. lemon juice
4 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. white sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground allspice
dash of mace (optional)
4 eggs
2½ c. milk

NOTE: You will most likely need to adjust the milk component to get the consistency that you prefer. The reason is that the other ingredients may add more or less liquid. Larger eggs will add more. Some pumpkin puree is thicker, some thinner. The fat % of your milk may also affect the thickness of your batter. So, the amount of milk listed is most likely the minimum that you will need – add as much milk as you need to achieve the thickness you desire.

Cook them just as you would any other standard pancake recipe. These pancakes have such fantastic flavor that syrup is unnecessary. In fact, it can take away from the flavor of the pancakes themselves. Serve hot with butter and enjoy! Pair them with fresh fruit on the side and some eggs (or your favorite egg substitute) for a balanced breakfast.

Variations:
Next time I think I will use honey instead of the white sugar and add some pecans. We love nuts and they go so well with pumpkin! I might even hide some wheat germ in there too 😉 If you make a scratch pancake base, you can use whole wheat flour.

We welcome your comments and suggestions!

Posted in Christmas, Recipes, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Thanksgiving Project: Garland of Thanks

A Thanksgiving project that is truly from the heart! Kick off your family’s holiday season with an activity that will get them thinking about the most treasured gifts of life.

Thanksgiving Turkey Die Cuts

Die Cut Turkey Shapes from Paper Source

I found this great post about making a garland of thanks decoration for Thanksgiving. It’s a great little project to do with the kids and is a festive addition for the holiday. But I wanted to make it extra special. With a house full of little kids, I was looking for a simple project that we could all do together. I also wanted something that would help us all focus on life’s most important gifts since we were about to be inundated with all of the hype and retail madness of the winter holidays.

I decided that our Thanksgiving garland would include these great die cut turkeys shown in the inspirational post from Paper Source, some realistic looking fall leaves and something we made ourselves. I went seeking a fairly simple craft project that was suitable for little ones, but would yield great results in a reasonable amount of time. I chose this adorable Turkey Craft Kit from Oriental Trading. A quick search on their site for the word ‘turkey’ brought back lots of options for kids crafts with a Thanksgiving theme. I also found these beautiful decorative fall leaves at the same place.

If you’re worried about cost, don’t be, because that was a concern for me too. The die cut turkeys were just $8 for a pack of 20. The turkey craft was $6 for a pack of 12 kits and the leaves were $4 for a pack of 250! So, supplies ran me just $18 plus some string. I thought this was a great price for a teachable moment with my kids and a decoration that we can use year after year.

Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Turkey Craft Kit for Kids from Oriental Trading

We carved out some time on a Saturday afternoon during the baby’s nap time to make the turkey crafts. Basically, we followed the instructions for the turkey body so that the collar and face were in the right places, but everyone was allowed artistic license on the rest. They had fun putting the legs and wings on in different ways so that they were all posed differently and some of the hats were tipped to one side or the other. I think the most entertaining part was the feathers. We had 2 kits each and then traded feathers with each other to get all the same color or to create patterns. Every turkey was unique!

So, now comes the lesson part! We didn’t put the letters on the turkeys as the post suggests — I decided that each of us would think of things that we were thankful for. We had 20 turkeys split 5 ways since the little one was too little to participate in this part. So, each person had to think of just 4 things — with just 1 rule — no material items were to be referenced!

We each got a sheet of paper and started jotting down our ideas. When everyone had 4 thoughts down, we reviewed them to make sure they answered the question, “What are you thankful for?” and that they adhered to our one basic rule. We helped them do some editing, mostly to pare them down to fit on the turkeys (some of them were almost paragraphs!) I was amazed that we had no duplicates and the kids were able to think of things without our help!

I was appointed to write all of the sentiments on the turkeys. I actually wrote them on white labels that were cut into rectangles to fit nicely on the turkey body. This gave them a nice, uniform look and being on white, I was able to use Sharpie pens in fall colors and each one was readable. I began each with the words, “I am thankful for…” and then one of the 20 items we came up with. Each person’s name was also included so that we knew who wrote what.

Colorful Autumn Leaves

Decorative Fall Leaves from Oriental Trading

We took the leaves and using a ribbon iron, we flattened out any that were creased. We separated them into bunches with a nice random assortment of leaf shapes and then sewed them together into leaf clumps. To be honest, these leaves were a little difficult to work with in this way, but they would have been great just sprinkled on a surface for decoration. A quick search at Oriental Trading brought up several alternatives. With hindsight, I should have selected something thicker or firmer such as die cuts or felt. Felt would have given me the texture variety that I was looking for, since everything else in the project was die cut paper.

We punched holes in the tops of all of the paper items. We then strung everything onto some twine, alternating the clumps of leaves with die cut turkeys and the turkey crafts. We spaced them all wide so that we would be able to see the individual items. With all of these materials, it was a really long Thanksgiving garland, but we planned to hang it all the way around a large room.

I have to say that this turned out better than expected. The children did a great job and seemed to really “get” the point. We spent a long time gazing at our collective accomplishment and reading all of the things we wrote. So many messages were expressing thanks for the people in our lives and the time we have spent together. What a fantastic feeling to read that someone is thankful for YOU!

It took more time than planned, but with results like this, it was definitely worth every moment. We look forward to hanging our Garland of Thanks every year!

Posted in Childhood Development, Crafts, Fun for Kids, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Stocking Stuffer for Girls: RoseyBow® Hair Bows

Brown and Pink Korker Hair Bows

Set of 2 Pink and Brown Korkers

Looking for unique stocking stuffer ideas for little girls? Tired of the same ‘ole thing, year after year? Try our RoseyBow® hair bows this Christmas!

Dressy Velvet Hair Bows

Festive Velvet Hair Bows with Rhinestone Centers - 13 Colors and 3 Center Shapes

She’ll squeal with delight when she sees a brand new RoseyBow peeking out of her stocking on Christmas morning! We love tradition, so if that coloring book or Matchbox car is your tradition, don’t abandon it just yet! You might be surprised at just how much those traditions mean to the kids too! Add some excitement with a unique idea for your little princess.

If you want a truly unique, hand-crafted, quality gift for that special little girl this holiday season, Rosey Bear Boutique has fantastic hair bows at great prices. Hundreds of hair bow styles to choose from in lots of colors and fabrics. Fancy or fun, it’s your choice! Surprise her with just the right Christmas hair bow in velvet, fancy satin hair bow or even plaid hair bow set. Check out our new korker hair bows for a fun twist!

Christmas Plaid Girls Hair Bow

Holiday Hair Bow in Green and Red Plaid

Add a hair bow to the top of her gift too! Guaranteed to be unique, you’ll have custom wrapping and something she’ll treasure all year long. Pick her favorite colors or basic hair bows to match all of her outfits. Our grosgrain hair bows are available in over 100 colors. If we can get the ribbon, we’ll make the bow you’re looking for!

Green and Gold Korkers

Emerald Green and Yellow Gold Korker Hair Bow Set

For your cheerleader or sports enthusiast, check out our new collection of Spirit Hair Bows! We’ve got her favorite team’s colors or her school colors in lots of great hair bow styles. Popular color combos for collegiate or professional teams alike.

Our quality RoseyBow® Hair Bows are hand made in America with love. We don’t mass produce our bows or use cheap components – our bows are meant to last! All ribbon ends are heat sealed to prevent fraying and we hand sew them together for a secure hold.

If you have a large group or event, give us a call to talk about custom or large orders!

Posted in Accessories, Boutique Hair Bows, Christmas, Gifts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Organize Your Kids: School Paper Flood

Do you struggle with managing the piles of papers that come home from school? Do you find it a challenge to sort the schoolwork from the informational memos from the items you need to take action on? Well, so did we. We tried a few methods that just did not work, but eventually, I got a good system going.

This is another one of those things that we put away when we were showing our house, because “your house won’t be attractive to buyers if it looks lived in”. Well, now, isn’t that fun? So, we put it away and that was fine for the summer, but when school started back up, we really noticed how much we needed this system. You never really appreciate something until it’s gone, right?

Basically, it’s just a file system using file slots, but I guess it’s the process and logistics of it that make it work for us. Each child has 4 bins, as follows.

  • In
  • Out
  • Homework
  • Schoolwork

Depending on the grade and the teacher, there are various communication methods. The most popular is the ‘Take Home Folder’. This goes back and forth every day with completed schoolwork, notes to and from home, forms to fill out, project information, etc. The completed schoolwork might need to be signed and sent back or just kept at home. Sometimes we get a weekly envelope with items regarding school wide information and events. As they get older, the kids start using student planners to manage their homework and other things they need to do or bring to our attention. These need a daily signature.

Metal File Slots/Bin

My Choice for My School Organizer Bins

With 3 school age kids and a 4th that will go to school eventually, I opted for the Safco Mesh Desk Organizer with Two Horizontal and Six Upright Sections (3255BL). They have 8 slots each and I got 2 of them, for a total of 16 slots, 4 for each of 4 kids.

There is a narrow edge below the vertical bins where I put labels. Another nice thing about this unit is that it’s two sided, so you can label both when you have them placed with both sides accessible. They also work great up against a wall or cabinet since everything just slides in and out. We use the vertical slots for ‘In’, ‘Out’, and ‘Homework’ since they get used most often. Schoolwork that stays home goes in the horizontal slots since it just piles up until I can decide what gets kept and what gets pitched.

A critical piece of this system is the routine for when the children arrive home from school. First, they wash their hands. Then, they return to the entry to put away their shoes (we don’t wear shoes in the house), empty their backpacks and then stash them. If they have homework to do, they take the books and worksheets to wherever they are going to do their homework. They put the ‘Take Home Folder’, the ‘Student Planner’, the ‘Weekly Envelope’, etc. and any stray papers that are kicking around the back pack into their ‘In’ bin. If they need the planner to do their homework, they will keep that until they have finished.

Our job is to review each of the ‘In’ bins and do some sorting. Completed homework that is to stay home is reviewed by us and then we put it into the ‘Schoolwork’ bin. If there are homework sheets to be done, we take a look just so that we understand what they have to do and then put them into the ‘Homework’ bin. This is typically how the younger kids’ homework comes home, before they advance to the Student Planner method. We can then make sure they are getting to it in a timely fashion.

There are a couple of extra bins for Mom and Dad. One is the ‘To Do’ bin and the other is the ‘Information’ bin. As we are sorting, we put anything that we need to take action on in our ‘To Do’ bin and then anything that is a memo or notice that we need to keep will go into the ‘Information’ bin. Most of the informational things are ‘read and toss’, but some have details that we need for a bit.

The ‘Out’ bins are for anything that needs to go to school. These include notes to teachers, completed forms, checks, signed papers, etc. As we address the things in our ‘To Do’ bin, we move them over to the ‘Out’ slots, to be taken to school the next day. Most items have a little time before they are due, so we review it all right away so we know what’s there and then take action a couple times a week.

In the morning before school, the kids come and pick up anything that’s in their ‘Out’ bin and pack it up with their books. We sign the planners in the morning because then we can check whether or not the homework was completed.

The final important part of this system is the placement of the file sorters. We have placed them in the office, which is right off the entrance, so they are easily accessed by the kids. No excuses for not using them! Also, they are right there for us to see. If they weren’t, we’d forget to do what we need to do!

So, like I said, this system works! The bins aren’t as attractive as say, a flower arrangement, but if we stay on top of things, we do have an effective, organized, family tool. It helps us meet deadlines and not lose important papers. It helps the kids keep up with their homework assignments. This system also keeps the papers in one location, rather than spread all over the house.

If you have a great idea for organizing your kids, we’d love to hear about it! Just post a comment and share it with our readers.

Posted in Back To School, Home Organization, School / Education | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dish Pan Stew Recipe

The Story
First, let me say that this really should be called “Frying Pan Stew”, but I needed a name that would pique the children’s interest and scare them a little at the same time … lol We’ve fallen into this routine where the kids ask, “What’s for dinner?” as they creep around the pots on the stove with scrunched up noses and apprehensive looks on their little faces. So, following their lead, I started saying “poison” occasionally. Well, days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and it became a ritual that they would ask and I would answer the same thing every night, “Poison!”.

When I create new recipes, the kids always want to know what it’s called. Most of my recipes don’t have a name – I just throw stuff together and see how it works out. I have a pretty high success rate, having cooked this way since I was a teenager at home. However, back then, my parents and siblings were far more accepting of my stock answer of, “I dunno, just eat it and tell me if it’s any good!” Today, my kids don’t seem to be able to cope with this kind of answer. So, when asked what this one was called, I wanted a suitably intriguing yet off-putting name for it, just to tease them. Hence, ‘Dish Pan Stew’. (Hey, we have a rather odd sense of humor in my house, but it’s all in fun and the kids don’t know what to do when we aren’t playing with them like this!)

I have a fabulous recipe for brown stew that tastes delicious, but unfortunately, it is too high in sodium. Plus, my kids just absolutely hate stew beef, or any kind of chuck for that matter, regardless of how tender it is. They have this weird texture aversion thing that they inherited from their father. Besides, it takes 2 hrs. 45 min. to cook and I really don’t have that kind of time lately.

Dishpan Stew Recipe

Kid Friendly Dishpan Stew

The Recipe
Dish Pan Stew is a one pan meal that is kid friendly, fairly low in sodium and super fast! We eat a TON of vegetables in our house, so you’ll notice there are a lot of them in this recipe. Go ahead and adjust up or down to your family’s tastes.

– 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
– 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
– 2 envelopes Lipton Beefy Onion Soup Mix
– 2 cups water (more or less, depending on how much gravy you like)
– 6 medium redskin potatoes, washed and cubed (skins on)
– 8 medium carrots, peeled and sliced (If I’m in a huge rush, I use the whole baby carrots.)
– 4 cups frozen peas
– Arrowroot flour

Calphalon 6 Qt. Soup Pot

Calphalon 6 Qt. Soup Pot

I use my Calphalon 6.5 Qt. Soup Pot, similar to the one shown here, but mine is the non-stick version, which is a must, in my opinion. A 5 Qt. Chili Pot should also work — just pick something that is short and big around, like the bottom of a dutch oven.

A note about your potatoes and carrots: We prefer our potatoes very soft and our carrots quite firm, so I cut the potatoes smaller than the carrots and add them at the same time. You could also cut them to similar sizes, but add the carrots about 6-8 minutes after the potatoes, depending on how well cooked you like everything.

Brown the ground beef in the olive oil, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the soup mix and water and mix thoroughly. Add the potatoes and carrots, cover and simmer until the vegetables are almost done to your liking. This is probably about 15 minutes for the average person. Add the peas.

When the peas are almost done (approx. 3-5 minutes), sprinkle in the Arrowroot flour and whisk it in to the liquid to thicken. I tend to tip my pot to get the liquid to pool and then I can whisk it easier. Add as much Arrowroot flour as you need to thicken to your preference. Gently stir the now thickened liquid with the meat and veggies to distribute evenly.

You can serve with bread or biscuits, but I do not because of the sodium content of bread products. We’ll have some fresh fruit and/or yogurt afterwards to finish it off.

Not only is this quick to make, but it’s quick to eat. You don’t have to cut up everything on the kids’ plates because you’ve already done that work. Also, they don’t have to struggle with chewing like with stew beef. Just sit back and enjoy your own meal. If you need something quick and tasty, this one will get it done!

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Apron Style Bibs For Big Kids

Do your older kids still make a mess of their clothes at meal time? Do you want to protect their special occasion clothes during a meal? Are you tired of trying to get food stains out of everything they wear?

Well, I certainly was! Let’s face it, just because they aren’t babies any more doesn’t mean they aren’t messy eaters. Coordination and dexterity come with time, not the instant they no longer fit those pull-over baby bibs that work so well! Plus, they usually have far more important things to do like playing with the toys they have hiding in their lap, poking the child sitting next to them or carrying on a social hour rather than paying attention to getting the food into their mouths instead of all over them. And trust me, this goes on well into the school-age years.

I figured that if they could still wear bibs, then I could save the kids’ clothes from the worst stains. I’d have to sacrifice the bibs themselves for the greater good. So, the quest began for kids’ aprons that I could get at a fraction of the cost of their good clothes and play clothes, but would fit them for the remainder of their growing years.

Apron Style Bibs

My Apron Style Bibs for Big Kids
(Click to Enlarge)

My Mom had gotten some beautiful, hand-made dishtowel bibs at a local craft fair, and they were just wonderful, but she paid a pretty penny for them. And they are great for Grandma’s house — the kids look forward to using them when we go over there. But I needed several so that all 4 kids would have enough for daily use, so there’s no way I could pay $20 a bib. I might be able to replace the clothes cheaper! Nothing against the artisans because these are beautiful garments, but I needed a more cost-effective solution.

I searched and searched online and in stores, but I could not find the style that I wanted with all of the features that I needed at a price I could even consider. So, I decided to try my hand at my own version of a dishtowel bib.

I used some fairly inexpensive bar mop towels. I purchased them in packs of 5 and I think it worked out to around $1 each, which I thought was reasonable. You can use any kind of towel, such as a dishtowel or hand towel, but I felt that would quickly go over my budget since I wanted to make around a dozen to be used by 4 kids. Bar towels are nice and thick too, which didn’t seem to be the case with any of the cheap dishtowels that I looked at.

Decorative Satin Tag

Satin Loop Tag at Side

I used quilt binding in a variety of colors to make them fun, some sew-on velcro and some ribbons and appliques that I already had for embellishments. The towels were white, but had a colored, rolled edge on top and bottom, so I mixed and matched the towel edge color, the binding and the embellishment so that each bib was unique. For some, I sewed a strip of ribbon across the top and for others I either sewed a ribbon loop into the top corner or I sewed on an applique.

Rather than a fixed size loop on the top to go over the head, I opted for a two part neck strap with a hook and loop closure. I cut the binding and made it open at the top and then added Velcro with two “positions” for an adjustable fit. I wanted the same bib to work for a toddler as well as a 10 year old with just a slight adjustment.

Here is how made them. It’s really straightforward, so I won’t go into great detail. We’ll see how well I do at writing instructions here! If you are using a variety of colors as I did, you should plan out which colors/trims you will be putting together on each bib as this will make it easier to just fly through making the aprons.

Colorful Ribbon Trim

My Favorite Ribbon Trim

First, I cut the colored edge off one end of the bar towel so that it wasn’t too thick to wrap the binding around and I could sew it without killing my machine. Next, I folded the towel in half lengthwise. My towels were 14″W x 16″L to start with, but yours may be different, so you’ll need to determine the right proportions to use based on the size you want and your materials. Then, I measured in 4 inches from the fold and marked. Then I measure up 9 inches from the bottom edge and marked that point on the open side of the folded towel. Next, I cut a straight line from point to point, cutting the top corner off. Make sure you aren’t cutting the corner off the folded edge or you’ll get a v-neck bib. (Hmmm…..there’s a design idea…)

Since I was just winging it, I have some variance in the length of the ties. The tie will go around the waist, so make sure to consider your kids’ shapes when choosing your length. Mine are all thin and my ties are definitely too long. I used one piece to bind the top edge and two long pieces that start at the top at the closure and end as the tie. My top edge was 8″, so I used an 8 inch piece for that. Then, I used 2 48″ pieces down the sides.

The first step for applying the binding is to attach along the top edge that we cut. The way you attach your embellishments depends on what they are, how they are made and your own personal preference. For trims with an unfinished edge, I tucked them on under the top binding and sewed them on together and then ran another stitch along the bottom edge of the trim. If your trim has 2 finished edges, you can tuck it or add it on later. When I used the ribbon loops, I sewed those in under the side binding. For appliques, I just added them after the bib was finished. So, if you are tucking, now is the time to sew on the top binding with your trim at the same time.

Tie with Knot

Knot for No-Slip Tying

Next, you need to attach your side pieces of binding. Starting at the top, leave 9 inches of binding above the top edge. This will become your neck strap. Pin the binding all the way down the side until you get to the bottom of the bar towel. Tuck the raw edge of the binding inside itself ON BOTH ENDS first so you don’t have to mess with this while sewing. Give it a firm squeeze to make a crease and it should stay fine. I started sewing at the top, first sewing it closed across the top and then down, along the edge of the binding. Keep going when you reach the towel and sew that binding on to the towel all the way down. Keep going when you reach the end of the towel and sew the binding closed all the way to the end. Sew across the bottom end to seal up where you tucked the raw edge. I tied a knot about an inch up the tie to give it a little weight and create a “stop” so that the kids wouldn’t pull the loop all the way through when they were tying them behind their backs. Do the same thing down the other side to attach the second binding.

Velcro Closure

Positioning of Hook and Loop Pieces
(Click to Enlarge)

The next step is to attach the hook and loop closure. I used 2″ hunks of Velcro to make it easier for the kids to get it to catch. For each bib, I used 2 pieces of the loop side and one piece of the hook side. This left me with using more of the loop side, but I did that on purpose so that the second position that gets left empty wasn’t a scratchy hook piece, but a soft, loop piece. I positioned the hook piece right at the end of the first strap. I positioned the first loop piece at the end of the other strap and then positioned the second loop piece starting about 5 inches down the binding. So, my first piece of loop goes from the end to 2″ down and the second piece goes from 5″ to 7″ down the binding. Check out the photo at left to see what this looks like. I sewed them on along all 4 edges for a secure hold.

At this point, you can attach any embellishments that you’ve saved until the end. After that, you’re done! It was really pretty easy once I figured out how I wanted to put them together. Maybe my project will get you started or you can make some awesome improvements of your own!

If you have any ideas, please post a comment and share. We’d love to see photos if you decide to try this yourself!

Posted in Accessories, Crafts, Fun for Kids | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Organize Your Kids: Weekly Extras Calendar

I’m always trying new “systems” to get (and keep) my family organized or on schedule. With 4 kids, and both of us working full-time and then some, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed. Once we fall behind or miss something, we go into catch-up mode and then the snowball effect happens. With our recent move and starting at a new school half way through the year, I think last year was the most disorganized yet, so I really want to get this year solidly under control right from the start!

I’m an organize-a-holic (I prefer that term to OCD!!) and I’m sure that sometimes (lots of times?) it makes my family nuts. But, it’s all in an effort to make them all self-sufficient and teach them some life skills they will hopefully appreciate when they are older. I guess even if they don’t, their spouses and children will!

Although they were very intimidated by it at first, I think my family is warming up to my ‘all in one place’ bulletin board wall that I created. You can read about this here. The latest addition to this wall is what I call the “Extras Calendar”. I think it needs a better name, but this is what it is called for now.

I’ll give you a little bit of background here, and my guess is that you probably have similar struggles in your house. 3 of my kids are school age in the 3rd – 6th grade range and this calendar is for them. Apart from homework, dinnertime chores and standard weekly chores (yes, we have a system for each of those), there are these other things that must get done. However, we struggle with them A LOT! We get a lot of resistance from the kids and sometimes, it turns ugly. Frankly, I’m sick of fighting with them and they are sick of hearing me tell them to do these things. These ‘extras’ are 4 things that we need to work in to our week, but don’t have set due dates and don’t need to be done daily (yet). Perhaps the biggest struggle is showering. As an adult, I really don’t understand this because I love my showers! However, as I have learned, it is common for children to not want to bathe. So, that’s #1. Next are a few things that are a little tough to keep track of with 3 kids who each may or may not need to do them on any given night. These are practicing their instruments, doing a ‘minute math’ exercise for learning their math facts and putting in some time on IXL, a FANTASTIC website/tool for kids to really enhance their math skills.

First, I thought about going with a calendar with set days for each child to do each one, but I wasn’t convinced that would work the best. For dinnertime chores, we have a weekly rotating schedule posted and each child has one of the three jobs assigned to them for any given night. That has been working out fairly well, but I believe it’s best suited for these smallish tasks that are done daily. For the ‘extras’, some of which require longer to complete, I was concerned about how their fluctuating homework loads would impact any schedule that I set. Secondarily, if homework does shift the schedule, it would be difficult to keep track of where we are in the various cycles.

The result? A child-rearing brainstorm! (I hope anyway — it IS only the first week, after all) So, the two biggest obstacles are #1: the kids HATE me telling them to go do these things, especially when they had been thinking of doing something more fun. #2: they have this homework load that varies through the week. So, I needed a solution that would give them a little more control over their own schedule and be flexible.

One of the things that they have been doing at school is giving the students their homework assignments on Mondays and they are due that Friday. This isn’t every class/teacher, but I would estimate that it’s about half, so some are due the next day or in two days, but the rest they have the entire week to complete. So, I took this idea and built it into my calendar.

I sat down with the children to discuss what needs to be done. We reviewed each of the 4 items and decided on how frequently they should be done for each child. For showering, we based it on the child’s age and personal needs and arrived at a set number of showers that they need to take in a week. For the others, we decided on the frequency and the length of the sessions. I first let them tell me what they thought and oddly, it was the same as what I had been thinking. I confirmed that they thought we picked the right length for each session, etc. and they were completely in agreement. First positive result — THEY set the schedule, not me.

Sample Calendar

My Weekly Extras Calendar

I created this calendar with first initials (to conserve space) down the left and then tasks across the rows. There are 5 task columns because the most for any task (right now) is 5. I filled in the blocks across, starting at #1 and stopping when I had filled in the set number to be completed for that week. So, for one child, there may be 3 showers, 4 practice sessions, 5 Minute Math, etc. Each task has a little checkbox next to it for them to mark it off when it is complete.

One note about instrument practice — they are supposed to complete a minimum 90 minutes of practice in a week. The kids felt they make the most progress in a 30 minute session rather than 15-20, so that’s the length we choose. However, since that’s just meeting the minimum, I added a practice bonus so that if they can fit another one in, they will be that much better off at the next lesson or band rehearsal. I haven’t decided if there will be a small reward for doing this, but I’m thinking about what I could do there. They didn’t ask, but if they were to get a surprise treat, they would be thrilled.

Ok, so that’s the system in 1,000 words or less. Well, not really, but if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I can’t do that very often :). Now, for the process details. A week starts on Monday so that if they don’t fit much in to the week, they have the weekend to catch up. I printed it out in color just so that it’s more fun — I used colors they like for their row. I printed it on paper, but then I posted it on the bulletin board wall with a transparency sheet over it. This way, we can use dry erase markers each week to tick off the items and then clean it and re-use it. This saves paper since I don’t have to print a new sheet for each week. I thought of laminating it for this same functionality, but that means more cost and if the underlying calendar changes, I’d have to re-laminate and that’s even more cost. And kind of a pain too. This way, I can just print an updated version and post it with the same transparency over the top. So, I save time, money and paper.

Now, you can either have them put a little check or an X in the box when they complete a task, but I thought it better to have them write the day letter so that we have a better idea of when they did what. So, we’re going with M, T, W, Th, F and then Sat and Sun. We may run into space issues, but we’re going to try it and see. And like I said, it’s easy enough for me to modify it. Since I had to post it at eye-level so they can write on it, I could reduce the font a bit. If you make your own, you’ll have varying items and lengths of words, so you’ll have to play with it a bit like I did.

So, what do we gain from this? Well, quite a few things, in fact.
The kids are in control
They get to make their own decisions on when to do what. They understand what needs to be done and they can decide when to do it based on what other things they have for homework or what fun things they want to do. The kids are empowered to set their own schedules without us ‘bossing them around’ all the time. And honestly, they have a better handle on how much work a particular school assignment will be. Only they know what they are thinking they’d like to do for fun that week. So, it’s not surprising that when I tell them to do something at a particular time, it doesn’t fit with what they were thinking.

Less conflict
The kids know what the expectations for the week will be, so they shouldn’t feel like we’re springing something on them at the last minute, which is sure to ignite conflict. I’m trying to move away from running down the laundry list of tasks every day with every kid. If we want to know if something was done, we can check the calendar. The less I mention the tasks, the less the kids are going to get annoyed with me and the less I have to feel like I’m constantly nagging them. Then, if it looks like someone is getting into trouble by say, Wednesday, we can offer a little reminder. I guess I will be doing well if I can move from mentioning it 7 days a week to maybe twice.

The kids learn how to prioritize and plan
Learning how to take a larger task and break it up over a period of time to get it complete by a specific date can be a hard skill to master. Many adults cannot handle it. It’s a skill required to be a leader and a great independent learner and worker. This is a skill that will serve our kids well both now and later in life.

Satisfaction and Motivation
These may seem minor, but they really work. I try to work them in to the various systems that we use because they just work. The kids get satisfaction from checking things off of a list. That’s all there is to it. They like to see, on paper, what they have accomplished. They are also motivated by a little bit of competition. Whether it’s a little rush from being the first to get all of a task completed or from wanting to catch up to the leader, it works. It’s a healthy level of competition and we don’t let things get to the point where anyone is feeling bad, but you’ve got to use the tools you have and sometimes, a competitive environment is that tool.

So, there it is. My new system to diffuse the home turmoil around that gotta-do list of tasks for the kids. Post a comment if you see any improvements or perhaps you have a similar system and can offer some insight.

Next project? A new laundry system. I just cannot wait to get this one going! :)

Posted in Back To School, Childhood Development, Home Organization, School / Education | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Organize Your Kids: School Bulletin Board

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that we recently moved. In a perfect world, we would have done it over the summer, but if you’ve moved in the economy of the last few years, you know that sometimes, you have to make concessions that you don’t love to get the deed done. Moving in the middle of the school year was one of them for us.

We had perhaps the most disorganized school year of them all. The move date change so many times it was hard to know how to handle some things. Planning to go without something for 3 weeks versus 3 months can be quite a different decision, depending on the item. To keep the house in ‘show ready’ condition, we put away several things that were extremely functional but less than pretty.

Cork Wall

School Bulletin Board From Left

One of them was called simply ‘the door’. We had a full sized door to the den that I started posting various things on and it grew over the years to be sort of a ‘command central’ for all things school related. This was far from attractive, but it was what kept us on track with what we needed to know. We hung one of those white board/cork board combos on it and then taped everything else right to the door. It was an old door that had seen better days and we intended to replace, so we weren’t overly concerned with damaging the already bad paint job.

We felt pretty lost without it when we started the new school year and we definitely noticed a difference in how on top of things we WEREN’T! It was just going to be for about a month at first, but that ultimately turned into 5. Eventually, we did start posting our information there again, but felt behind the 8 ball. Then, after we moved, we started in a new school in a new district. We were completely unfamiliar with the district and didn’t have the advantage of the September orientations, so everything was new and we had to learn as we went. The house was far from organized. We had dismantled our ‘command central’ and I didn’t know where to put anything since we didn’t have a routine yet. We muddled through, but it was kind of a mess.

However, the solution for the new house revealed itself this summer and I got to work on the project. There is a hallway that runs along the end of the kitchen. The end kitchen cupboard is a floor to ceiling one with a side wall that is fully exposed to this hallway. It is inset by about 3 inches from the one end of the doorway, so I thought it an excellent place for an informational wall. It’s right there for everyone to see, in an area where we spend a lot of time, increasing the chance that everyone will check it.

What’s On The Cork Wall?
Well, at the top, there is a section for the things that apply to more than one child. The school calendar is posted with all of the different school wide activities. On there I note the letter days since our school works on a 4-Letter-Day schedule rather than a 5-Day-Week. I’ve posted the early bus schedule, the lunch calendars, the instrument lesson schedules and the ‘specials’ schedules. I also posted my new ‘Weekly Extras Calendar’ that i just created. You can read about that new organizational invention later this week. I make sure that any of the items that apply to the shortest kids are posted lower on that top section. Anything that applies only to the bigger kids can go at the top. I’m pretty lucky that the kids are tall, but you might need to adjust things if you don’t think your kids will be able to read things posted too high. You can either start lower on the board, or use a larger font on the items that you create yourself. The lunch calendars are done in a pretty small print, so I put those low enough that we can all read them.

Cork Panel Wall

School Bulletin Board From Right

Lower down, I have a small section for each child. I created artistic name labels for each, catering to their own style preferences, to give them an area to focus on the things that apply just to them. Here, I post things like individual class schedules, templates for weekly assignments, upcoming activities/projects and anything else the teachers share that I think will help. Some of the teachers send weekly newsletters that summarize the coming week’s projects ahead of time, so I highlight anything that’s an action item and post that up there. Some things are short-term and some are long-term. For example, if they will be swimming in P.E., we get a reminder note that includes the dates. I post this to help us remember to have the swimming garb ready and send it in. The bigger kids have planners to manage their day to day homework, but if there is a bigger project that we think we might need to give them friendly reminders on, I post that so we can all remember. Especially if we need to get them components or participate in any other way, it helps ‘ole Mom and Dad remember.

I also have a few dry erase markers with eraser tops for use with the Weekly Extras Calendar, but more on that later. I have a small packet of push pins so that I don’t have to hunt all over the house for them when I need them. Both are in little clear pouches that have holes in the top. This is just the way the packaging was designed, for hanging on the pegs at the store, but it works well for my needs. If they didn’t already have the holes, it would have been easy enough to punch my own.

How Did I Construct the Cork Wall?
Learnings from ‘the door’ helped me choose the best media, which turned out to be cork. Since so many postings where short term and the articles were of varying size and shape, I was always moving things around to make sure things would fit without covering something else up. Tape leaves residue and I really did end up using a lot of it! So, pinning into cork seemed to be the better choice. I also knew I really did need a huge space, rather than just a little cork board.

The other consideration was that the end wall was just that thin board they often use for cupboard sidewalls and nothing substantial. We didn’t think that screwing into it and impacting the inside of the cupboard was a great idea. So, I went seeking an adhesive solution.

Cork Panels

Cork Sheet - 24" X 36" X 1/2"

I decided on these nice, thick panels in a generous 24″x36″ size. I purchased two, so that gave me almost full coverage, from the soffit down, since I used them in portrait orientation. I didn’t really want to go to the floor since I would have had to work around moldings, the cork isn’t very useable that far down the wall and it would be more susceptible to damage at floor level. I had to cut off 3/4″ from one vertical edge of each panel since my cupboard had trim on it that stole that amount. However, this created a nice edge for my cork panel. The color matched the cupboards well, so I got a nice, cohesive look to my wall. Where the wall is empty, it’s pretty inconspicuous.

Now, there are a lot of options out there, but the cork can be very thin and the adhesives not quite the permanent bond we wanted. Customer reviews were a great tool in helping me arrive at my material decision. In fact, they completely changed my original plan, since I first thought I’d use a self-adhesive roll of thin cork material. I hadn’t realized just how thin they were until I measured the length of the needle on a push pin.

To cut the cork, I first measured and marked the boards. I connected the dots and made sure I had a visible line to follow. I didn’t want to eyeball it and get a curvy cut. I used a long, steel edged ruler and a large rotary cutter. Make sure the cutter has a wide enough diameter to cut through the cork in one cut. If you don’t have a rotary cutter, a box cutter will do. I made a clean cut all the way through so I had a smooth, sharp edge. I wanted to put the side with the pencil line against the cupboard, so I didn’t want anything less than a perfect cut coming through to the other side. I was a little worried, but it worked great.

These panels have no adhesive, so I found this great, permanent adhesive that I applied myself. This is a pretty flexible product in that it provides 2 application methods — one for a temporary bond and one for a permanent bond.

High Performance Adhesive

Loctite 13.5 oz. High Performance Spray Adhesive

I followed the instructions on the can to achieve a permanent bond. After NOT doing it this way, I advise applying the adhesive to the panels outdoors. There is considerable overspray that went far beyond the several pieces of paper that we spread on the floor for just this reason. I would say that the paper was about 2-3 feet wider that the cork board on all sides. Then, there is the ventilation issue. I didn’t think it stunk that bad, but my husband did and decided to throw open the windows whilst I was applying the adhesive. That gentle summer breeze just carried the film far and wide! Luckily, my Bissell Steam Mop took care of the mess, but I definitely would do it outside if I had it to do over again.

When applying it to the wall, it was a bit different situation. It seemed to be more under control when I was spraying at something directly in front of me, so the overspray wasn’t bad. I did use painter’s tape to define the intended spray area and I taped paper to that all the way around. Because of the location of the area, I was able to get it at about a 45 degree angle, so it contained everything quite nicely.

I pulled off all of the paper and tape BEFORE securing the cork board, otherwise it would have been trapped between the wall and cork. I didn’t want to chance either damaging the cork trying to get it out, or worse, not being able to remove it all.

I enlisted the help of my rather tall husband to help me press the boards into place. You definitely need more that 2 hands to properly position the board because you only get one shot at it! Although my cuts were pretty close to perfect, it was clear that the wall and cupboard were not because there were some slight gaps, even between the wall and the edge of the cork that I didn’t cut. However, we got it in as close as it would go. If anyone feels the need to scrutinize it that closely, they really need something better to do, right? :) It was ready to use immediately, too!

It looks great and is very functional! We’ve been using it for a few weeks now and although they found it intimidating at first, we now have our ‘command central’ back! It’s so simple, yet effective. And the best part is that it can evolve as our family grows and matures. It can flex and change with us and I expect to get many years out of this great tool!

Stay tuned for the story of my Weekly Extras Calendar, later this week!

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Accessorize Your Halloween Costume

Full Petticoat for Girls

Girls Dressy Hat, Petticoat and Footless Tights

Looking for an alternative to spending a small fortune at your local hyped-up Halloween shop? With Halloween 2012 rapidly approaching, we thought we’d remind you of the things you may already have in your closet(s) that you can use for your child’s costume. We have also found that sometimes customers think of us only for their special occasions and dressy functions, but our accessories make great additions to dress-up play and Halloween costumes.

Halloween stores sometimes have the accessories to go with the pre-made costumes they are selling for that year, but it can be hard to find accessories to go with the many other imaginative costumes that kids often want. This is quite a challenge when you are trying to make your child’s costume or accessorize one. Rosey Bear Boutique’s accessory collection is great for Halloween costumes and theme parties as well as school plays and church productions.

Before buying anything, we suggest that you take a look in your closets for items that you may already have from previous years’ costumes or special occasions. In my house, I keep a box just for Halloween garb. I re-use wherever I can, piecing together costumes that may be a combination of 3 other costumes. Next, I check the kids’ dress-up box for anything useable from them. If needed, I can alter items or dress them up to suit. Then, I look through closets for things like veils, headpieces, colored tights, leotards, etc.

Satin Gloves for Girls

Fancy Dress Satin Gloves

One year I doctored up a dance recital costume to turn it into a Minnie Mouse costume for my little one. I added a red petticoat under the skirt, a very inexpensive pair of felt mouse ears and drew little black lines on a pair of white satin gloves to make those classic mouse paws. I had already invested in the costume a few years earlier for another child, so I managed a great looking costume for under $10. I don’t know about you, but my kids love new stuff, so it can be a challenge when I ask them to wear one of their costumes again. However, this daughter hadn’t been in the recital, so she was more than thrilled to wear this costume. In general, doing this kind of overhaul is pretty successful since I’m not making them wear the exact costume they wore before.

Black Crinoline for Girls

Accessorize With a Black Petticoat

If you’re opting for pre-made costumes, remember that these are usually fairly cheaply made, despite the often expensive price tags! This means that hems and seams are often not finished well, leaving raw, scratchy edges. Fabrics may need to be stiff to give the costume the right shape, which can result in comfort issues. Many of the fabrics used can be very thick, such as anything resembling an animal’s fur coat, so the threads used to sew these may be very wiry and prickly. Consider layers under your child’s costume to keep anything uncomfortable from coming in direct contact with your child’s delicate skin. If it’s cooler, long underwear is a great option since it fits closely to the skin and can provide an extra layer of warmth. Leotards make a great smooth layer under those beautiful, but often too revealing, princess dresses. Slips for girls are a great choice for under dresses that are either sheer or scratchy or try camisole slips under tops with similar issues. Bloomers, either long bloomers or short bloomers, help with both warmth and any uncomfortable fabrics. Plus, bloomers may be an important part of the costume altogether, such as for your Little Bo Peep!

A consideration that we probably all share is cost. Sometimes it’s best to spend as little as possible, such as when you are sure that you will only use the item once or when you just don’t have a ton of cash on hand. Very often, you can find fantastic deals on dressy kids clothes in clearance sections and the prices beat the prices at costume shops. Check out our $20 OR LESS section for examples. Grab a fancy dress or a boys suit for the base of your kid’s costume and modify it or accessorize it to turn it into the perfect guise. Genuine articles of clothing are great choices for your wardrobe department too!

Boys Ties for Special Occasions

Ties in a Variety of Colors

As with everything, there has to be balance. Sometimes the low price can indicate low quality, such as with some of the costume specific clothing items we’ve experienced. Let’s face it, we want the items to last through the evening of trick-or-treating, don’t we? You may also have upcoming opportunities to use some of the items again, so in some cases, it might pay to consider choosing a higher quality item that will last. Girls can very often re-use slips and petticoats for wearing under dresses to church or special events more so than a pair of pink polka dot clown shoes, so you may want to invest in a quality undergarment that she will get more use out of and go for homemade faux clown shoes. Another basic accessory that works for many occasions? Boys ties – and not just for boys – girls often wear ties for equestrian events or just for fun!

So, have a look around our shop, even if you’re not buying. Something you see may spark an idea of how to use something you already have! Of course, we’d love to welcome you as a customer too, so check out our many kids’ accessories for your own event.

Posted in Accessories, Clearance, Halloween, Petticoats | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment