Back to School with Fellowes

Do you have a laminator? I do…well I have two now. I bought a cheap one a couple years ago when Big Sis started Tot School, I had big plans for that laminator. I got it for a  great deal on Amazon for $20. It came with two laminating sleeves and both got jammed while I was trying to work with it, I never bought any more sleeves for it and it’s just sat in my cupboard collecting dust.

When I was contacted by Fellowes to try out and review the Saturn2 95 laminator AND do a giveaway  (!!!!!) I jumped at the chance. I get quite a few opportunities to review products, but that’s not what this site is about so I tend to turn them down but this was a great opportunity to share a great product and give back to you, my readers!

Fellowes Laminator Giveaway | Motherhood in the Trenches

Okay, so lets get down to it! I opened the box and was totally excited to find 10 laminator sleeves, my mind started reeling about all of the things I could laminate. I’ve been wanting to make some playdough mats so that was the first thing we did.

Fellowes Laminator Giveaway | Motherhood in the Trenches

I printed out these People Play Dough mats from the Picklebums blog. So fun!

Fellowes Laminator Giveaway | Motherhood in the Trenches


It took about 5 minutes for the laminator to heat up and then it was ready to go. I placed the paper in the laminator sheet, and fed it through the machine. The machine immediately took the sheet and fed it through, no jams, no issues and the laminating is thick. Perfect! Big Sis was so fascinated by watching the machine.

Next, I laminated a paper doll from the Fellowes Idea Center.

The idea center has some great ideas for moms and teachers. Along with this printable paper doll there are meal plans, chore charts, menu planners, to-do lists, and more. You can laminate any number of those things and use a dry erase marker or overhead wet erase pen to write on them week after week. I also laminated some writing paper for Big Sis to practice writing her letters. This will save money and trees, it’s a win-win!

The laminating possibilities are endless!

Some of the benefits of this particular model are:

  • HeatGuard™ Technology: Double-walled insulation keeps heat inside so laminator is comfortable to touch, making it safe for homes with children
  • Advanced Temperature Control: Hot and cold laminating capabilities for high quality, smooth results every time.
  • Jam Release Lever – Permits easy removal or re-centering of stalled pouches.
  • Laminates 3mil – 5mil thermal pouches and cold self-adhesive pouches

So does owning a Fellowes laminator sound like a good idea to you? Of course it does! :) Enter below and I’ll choose a random winner on Saturday, August 30th. The winner will receive a free Fellowes laminator. Giveaway is open for US only and ends August 29th, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* I was given the product by Fellowes but the thoughts and review are my own.

Handmade Toys: Velcro Board for Baby

Are my kids the only ones who don’t like to play with toys? I’ve heard the popular saying that kids would rather play with the boxes than the toy that comes in the box. That’s so my girls.

Little E loves our LeapFrog Magnetic Letters. She loves to put them on and take them off and of course to throw them all over the floor. I wanted to find something else that might keep her attention for more than 5 seconds so I came up with a velcro board. I knew I wanted to do something with velcro and a board so I headed over to Pinterest and found quite a few different options. I combined a few of the ideas and came up with this baby velcro board.

DIY Baby Velcro Board | Motherhood in the Trenches

This was super easy, inexpensive and can be used with so many different objects.

Here’s what you need:

DIY Baby Velcro Board | Motherhood in the Trenches

  • Velcro (I bought “one-wrap roll” because it wasn’t very pokey. It was a bit more expensive but I felt like it might be a bit more baby friendly)
  • Hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Wooden Plaque
  • Objects to glue velcro to: Extra Large Pompoms, Giant Buttons, Blocks, the general rule is anything that can fit through a toilet paper roll is too small and poses a choking hazard.

All you need to do is cut out strips of velcro long enough to cover the board (I saw some where they put several strips of velcro on the board rather than covering the whole board, that is a great option as well). Hot glue the velcro onto the board. Cut pieces of velcro to fit onto your objects and hot glue the other side of the velcro to the objects for play. If you’re using pompoms make sure to really push the velcro deep into it otherwise it will just stick to the end fibers and the velcro will come off. You can switch out the objects as often as you’d like to keep things fresh and fun. So far I’ve found that the hot glue peels off of the objects well with no damage to the toys.

Disclaimer: This is not a toy to be played with without supervision. It is homemade and therefore could end up with loose ends. So far it’s been well played with at our house and is holding up well but I still make sure to keep a close eye on Little E when she’s playing with it.

DIY Baby Velcro Board | Motherhood in the Trenches

DIY Baby Velcro Board | Motherhood in the Trenches

DIY Baby Velcro Board | Motherhood in the Trenches

What would you put on your velcro board?

So They Like Me…

She stood up tall on her pink step stool, looking at her face through the toothpaste spatters on the mirror. With the usual spunk in her voice, she pulled at her blonde hair and said, “I’ll have two braids today. Everyone will like me if I have two braids today.”

So They Like Me... | Motherhood in the Trenches

My heart sunk, in the half a second I had to think before replying, my mind was whirling. How did we get to this point? I have tried to be so careful to not let our outward appearance be “a thing.” How is my four year old daughter equating approval with her looks. How did we get here?

I looked at her sweet face in the reflection of the mirror. “Big Sis, nobody should ever like you or not like you for how you look and you should never judge someone by how they look either. Whether they are the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen or are dirty and smelly, Jesus tells us to love all people, and even more than loving everyone, He specifically tells us to love the least of these. That means that we should show people the love of Jesus by caring for them, loving them and serving them, even those who maybe don’t look the prettiest or aren’t the cleanest.”

“Oh.” She replied

“Am I even getting through to her? I mean, she is only four but then again, she is ONLY FOUR! How are we dealing with these worldly ideals already?”

My heart breaks and my mind keeps whirling as she jabbers on about a ladybug and a frog who were having tea.

“It’s those Disney princesses! I knew I should’ve banned those ladies in their fancy garb and high heels from ever stepping foot in my home. For goodness sakes, Big Sis was Cinderella for Halloween last year. Great, she totally has the wrong idea now because she was CINDERELLA for Halloween! Cinderella was never liked or even noticed until she put on that fancy dress, hair all piled on top of her head in the most perfect way. What have I done?!”

Does any of this sound familiar? Even if it’s on a totally different topic, isn’t it so easy to blame ourselves for our children’s sinful hearts? There are times where I feel like I’m troubleshooting non-stop trying to figure out what is causing Big Sis’ behavior issues. And then God whispers to me, “My grace is sufficient for you. My grace is sufficient for her too. My power is made strong in your weakness. All have sinned and fallen short of my glory, but I have sent my Son, to die in your place, for your sins, for her sins, for the sins of the whole world. You are not in charge of her actions, she must surrender her life to me.”

Am I so powerful that I have the ability to make my children listen and obey? Are their hearts in my hands? Absolutely not. I have read so many parenting books with so many tips and tricks. Each method sounds like a promising method full of all godliness and I do implement some of the tools that I have learned in these books but at the end of the day, I have learned that I cannot make Big Sis do anything. I cannot change her heart, I cannot make her want to obey, I am not in control. Oh yes, I should be training her in the ways of the Lord and sharing the truths of God’s Word. I will discipline her and love her, but her heart is not in my hands. If I think just of that fact I am scared, I cannot make her love Jesus, I cannot make her go to heaven. I want only the best for my children and that is not just best, it’s the only way! But then I remember that while her life is not in my hands, it is in God’s hands, and those hands are obviously more capable than my hands ever will be.

So tonight, I will stand outside of Big Sis’ door as she breathes deeply in her sleep, and I will earnestly pray, surrendered to my God, knowing that He loves her far more than I ever could and that her little heart is in the hands of the One who created this world and you sure can’t beat that.

Summer Reading Fun: Charlotte’s Web Handmade Toys & More

A few months ago Big Sis and I read “Charlotte’s Web” which was Big Sis’ very first chapter book. She was in the middle of taking a Farm Class and I knew that the themes in the book would correlate wonderfully with her class, and besides, who doesn’t LOVE Charlotte’s Web??? It’s one of my favorites!

Each day before her nap we sat in her bed and read a chapter of Charlotte’s Web. Sometimes it’s crazy and Little E is screaming or Big Sis is being easily distracted but most days we cuddle up and take a 10 minute break, just the two of us.

We had so much fun with this story that we decided to do a few activities, her favorite being the handmade Charlotte’s Web toys. Of course we had to share. :)

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

These are all super easy crafts that allow you to repurpose stuff you have around your house! These toys provided opportunities for retelling and summarizing through play. We had a lot of fun with these.

To make Wilbur:

approx. 32 oz. juice bottle, emptied
2 toilet paper rolls
pink pipe cleaner
pink construction paper
pink acrylic craft paint
black sharpie
hot glue

Use the pink paint to paint the juice bottle, with the cap on. Let the bottle dry and give it a second coat. Paint the toilet paper rolls with the pink paint after you give the bottle a second coat, they should be fine with just one coat.

When the toilet paper rolls and bottle are dry, cut the rolls in half and hot glue them on one side of the bottle.

Cut the pipe cleaner (keep the rest of the pipe cleaner to make Templeton) to about two inches and curl it around a pencil or even your finger, this is the tail. Hot glue the pipe cleaner on the bottom of the bottle, on the opposite side that you’ve glued the legs (if you look at the picture this will be easier to understand).

Use the black Sharpie to draw two eyes, two nostrils and a mouth (again see the pic).

Cut two triangles from the pink construction paper  (save this paper for Templeton) and hot glue them onto the top area near the face to create the ears.

To make Templeton:

Grey fun foam or construction paper
small pink pompom (if you don’t have one, just use a rolled up piece of paper and paint pink or take a small piece of cotton ball and paint that pink)
googly eyes
pink pipe cleaner (use the unused portion from making Wilbur)
pink construction paper (use the unused portion from making Wilbur)
hot glue

Cut a half circle on the grey fun foam (I failed to take a pic of this) from one end to the other end, look at this link for an idea on how to make the cone. Cut it out, glue one end to the other end. Glue on the googly eyes, pink pompom and pipe cleaner as the tail.

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

To make Charlotte:

Two brown pompoms
2 googly eyes
2 pipe cleaners, cut in half
hot glue

Glue the two pompoms together. Glue the pipe cleaners across the body and bend for the arms. Glue the googly eyes on.

For Charlotte’s Web (from Modern Parents Messy Kids):

White yarn
White glue, such as Elmer’s
Wax paper
Medium bowl

Cut white yarn into lengths of 1-2 feet, depending on the desired diameter of the finished spiderweb. Pour the glue into a medium bowl. Thin it with water (about 3 parts glue to 1 part water). Cover your work surface with wax paper. Dip the yarn in the glue and then spread out on the wax paper. Continue with several more lengths of yarn, crossing them over the first at the center like spokes in a wheel, to create the base of the spiderweb.  Once the base is complete, connect the radiating yarn pieces with additional lengths of glue-soaked yarn spiraling around and around to create a spider web design. Let dry (this may take a couple of days) then turn over and pull off the wax paper. You’ll have a yarn spiderweb that holds its shape.

As we were reading Charlotte’s Web I had Big Sis make a Charlotte’s Web journal. I would say a portion of a sentence, in this case, “My favorite character is…” and I would write her answer down and then have her draw a picture. The picture is Charlotte and the big swirly scribbles are the web, this was during a phase when everything she drew was monochromatic, heh.


Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

Other questions I asked were,  ”If you were Charlotte what would you have written in your web?” “If you had your very own pig just like Fern did, what would you name it?”  ”What is your favorite part of the story?” “What do you think Templeton is going to do with the goose’s egg?

These questions aid in comprehension and make the book discussion so rich.

We also read some books, mostly about spiders, to go with the story. We read:

The Very Busy Spider: This was Big Sis’ favorite book. A spider lands on a fence post near a farm and a handful of farm animals ask her to do some activity with her but she is too busy spinning her web.

Are You a Spider? : A great non-fiction book for young kiddos. Information is presented in questions and reads like a storybook but it’s full of information about spiders.


Sophie’s Masterpiece: A sweet story about a spider who wants to spin beautiful creations all day but isn’t welcome anywhere, until she finds a special guest to stay with and creates a masterpiece for the guest. This was my favorite.


The Year at Maple Hill Farm: This book goes through all of the different aspects of the farm that change with each season. It’s a long book but even just looking through the pictures and talking about the book is a lot of fun.

Lastly, we took an 8 week farm class but if you’re not interested in a full farm class many farms have tours that you can go on.

Explore a Local Farm | Motherhood in the Trenches


Explore a Local Farm | Motherhood in the Trenches

It was so fun to talk about the animals on the farm in relation to “Charlotte’s Web.” If you’re in the Inland Empire check out Amy’s Farm which I wrote about here.

Do you have a favorite Children’s chapter book to read with your little ones? I’d love to hear about it!

Risking My Child’s Life and Why I’m Angry

So earlier this week, this blog post was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook and I was mad, livid! You see, Big Sis is a 4 year old who weighs about 32 pounds. When it was time for Little E to move to a different car seat it was decided that she would go into Big Sis’ carseat since it is a convertible and can be used facing backwards and we would buy Big Sis a new booster car seat. I researched all of the “big name” brands and decided on this Graco Highback TurboBooster.

81FLHjXkeYL._SL1500_The recommended use, taken from the Graco website?

  • Highback Mode: For children 3-10 years old, from 30-100 lbs and 38″-57″ tall
  • Backless Mode: For children 4-10 years old, from 40-100 lbs and 40″-57″ tall

Perfect right? Big Sis is 4 years old and 32 lbs. I don’t remember her height but it was within the range as well. She was so excited to start using the big girl seatbelt and frankly so was I, it’s so much quicker and she can get herself out of the car all on her own.

After I read that blogpost I was pissed. Has my daughter been in an unsafe carseat for the past four months? Could my ignorance have led us into the same situation as the family in the blogpost? The thought makes me shudder.

You guys, I am a researcher, sometimes to a fault. I research EVERY thing. This was no different, except that I just researched the product trusting that the carseat companies would only sell the safest possible products. I can’t believe that I fell for this lie. Did I mention that I’m angry?

So since I am a researcher and made a horrible mistake, I thought I’d share the safest ways to have your kiddos in the car. These are not the law but are the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines to keep your kids as safe as possible.

First of all let’s talk about some general safety rules:

  1. All kids under 13 need to ride in the back seat.
  2. When in a harness, the chest clip should be at the armpit level and the straps should be tight but not too tight to cause pain or trouble breathing. To test if it is tight enough you should try to pinch the strap at the shoulder level. If you can pinch it at all, it’s too loose.
  3. Don’t be anxious to move your kiddo to the next seat! Keep them in the most secure place for as long as they are at the appropriate height and weight.
  4. It is okay if your child’s feet touch the car seat or cannot stretch out in the rear-facing position
  5. If you’re using the LATCH system, make sure you know the maximum weight for your vehicle’s LATCH system. Make sure that your your child’s weight PLUS the weight of the carseat does not exceed the weight limit for your LATCH system.
  6. Never use an expired carseat, a carseat that has been in an accident, even if it’s a small one or a used carseat unless you are absolutely sure of it’s history.
  7. Do not trust the car seat literature! Just because your seat manual says it’s okay for a four year old, 30 pound child to be in the seat, doesn’t mean it is the safest, or really even safe at all!

Okay and with that let’s look at age specific requirements. I think some of you are going to be in for a shock, I know I was.

Step 1: Rear Facing (0 mos to up to 4 years)

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

As of 2011 your child should be rear facing until they are at least 2 years old. This is not a law (the law says 12 months and up) however it is suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the safest practice.

I know, I know, TWO? You guys, this is such a big deal! According to a 2007 study in the journal, “Injury Prevention” children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing. I’m not usually one to throw around studies unless I can read the information in several different reputable journals, articles, etc. BUT in this case one article is enough for me. It is not going to harm my baby to be rear facing and the alternative is WAY too risky! Babies’, toddlers’ and even preschoolers’ heads are disproportionate to their bodies and internal decapitation is much more likely at these ages. Keep your kiddo rear facing until they reach the maximum rear facing weight for their carseat. This means that when your baby outgrows his/her infant seat (usually between 22-35 lbs) you should use a convertible carseat that can continue to face backwards for as long as is possible. Here’s a link from the AAP Journal about keeping your kiddos rear facing.

Step 2: Front Facing with a 5 Point Harness 

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

So once it’s time to be front-facing, your kiddo should remain in a 5 point harness until he/she outgrows the weight and height limit for the carseat. I’m gonna say it again, don’t trust the carseat literature! Keep them in a 5 point harness as long as it is safe! The story I posted above is what woke me up and made me realize that vehicle seat belts can be deadly if used improperly BUT as I did more research I realized Big Sis was not ready for her new car seat anyway. She is still so squirmy and we would often find her in weird positions in the car and tell her that she needed to sit up straight with her legs down.

Now that she’s back in a 5 point harness, she’s less than excited about being pinned down again but I realize all the more now that she was not ready for a “big girl” carseat.

Step 3: Front Facing with a high back booster seat, using the car’s seat belt

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

This should be used ONLY when your child has outgrown the 5 point harness carseat AND meets the height AND weight requirements for using the high back booster.

Step 4: Front Facing using only a booster seat (no high back)

IF, and only IF, your child outgrows the height requirement on your highbacked booster before they are tall enough for the vehicle seat belt you can use a booster seat without the high back.

Step 5: Vehicle Seat Belt

Between the ages of 7 and 12 (yes TWELVE) your child will be ready for the vehicle’s seat belt. Typically when they are 4 feet 9 inches. Here’s a link with some good points on when to know if your kiddo is ready for the vehicles seat belt.