Tag Archives: Books

Thrift Store Gems

We’ve been thrifting a lot, as usual. It just works out so well to get books and toys used and then pass them on when Jax outgrows them. We’ve also been getting a great deal of wall frames and decor items for Jax’s big boy room makeover. I’ll be featuring a lot of projects from that room as I get closer to completion.

I’m really bummer that our beloved children’s thrift store is now closed. They moved some of the things they were selling in to two tiny rooms of the regular thrift store. It won’t be the same, though. There just isn’t room to have the same stock.

Today was the first day of the official change, so we swung by the store to check it out. The main room was SO STUFFED with clothes racks now that Jax freaked out and needed me to carry him. I found a pair of 3T Children’s Place jeans for him to grow into. In the two kids rooms there was mostly books at this point. I let Jax pick out a $0.50 train toy while I went through them.

I’m in the process of switching Jax’s library over from baby board books to hardback story books. He finally understands not to rip the paper pages and will hold still and listen while I read to him.

Here is what I got today: Tabu and the Dancing Elephants, The Tiny Seed (World of Eric Carle), Giraffes Can’t Dance, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Press Here and two board books he was interested in, Dinos To Go : 7 Nifty Dinosaurs in 1 Swell Book and Curious George’s Are You Curious?.

Looking forward to all the new stories to read together!

Here are some more recent thrift store finds…

Preschool Fun – Letter A for Apple

This post has been updated to feature our whole week of activities.

This week I started homeschooling Jax. He will be 3 in February, so we are starting with very basic preschool lessons. He knows his alphabet, can count to 20 (and sometimes 35) and knows colors and shapes. I want to focus a lot on pre-writing skills, crafts for dexterity, music, science and tasks that increase attention span.

After asking on the Facebook page, I decided I’d share what we do here. I only expect to post once a week about his lessons. I have to work in the afternoons, and some mornings are taken up running errands (that pesky grocery shopping!) But I’ll try to stay on top of it and share where I get my resources.

This week we are focusing on the letter A is for apples.

We started our school week with A-shaped apple pancakes. To make them, I used a pancake mix that only needs water. I replaced half the water with unsweetened applesauce and added cinnamon, ginger and all spice. I used a spoon to drip the batter into the shapes. Then I peeled and chopped an apple and put it in a bowl with a tablespoon of brown sugar and some cinnamon. I stirred it up and microwaved it 2 minutes for yummy cinnamon apple topping.


We started at the chalkboard to take a weekly photo for our alphabet book. Jax held up a mini apple (and couldn’t resist sneaking a bite.) After the photo, I helped him trace a large uppercase and lowercase A on the chalkboard in pink, then had him do it himself in blue. He did great!

We moved to the table and worked on tracing the number 1 with dry erase markers. (I got our number tracing sheets here and laminated them.) Jax has been excited about his new dry erase markers since we got them Sunday night. I had to guide him in tracing all the 1s. He just wanted to scribble.

We moved on to craft time.

Color Sorting Apple Trees
The first craft is a color sorting with an A is for Apples theme. Start with a blue background paper. Cut out 3 brown As to use as tree trunks. Cut out three green treetops. Make the labels, one for each color: red, yellow and green. You’ll need about 6 pom poms of each color, a glue stick and a plate with some glue to dip in. I glued down the treetops and A trunks with Jax’s guidance, then added a color label to each tree. I had Jax pick a pom pom, dunk it in the glue and stick it on the right tree. He really loved it!


a is for apple
I wanted to do a lowercase A as well, so I pre-cut a red lowercase A, a white circle for the apple flesh and a green leaf. I guided Jax in putting glue on the backs of the shapes, then he put them on the paper (following my instructions.) I showed him how to make an apple seed, then he made the rest. (You could glue real seeds down with an older child.) We drew one lowercase A together, then I had him do one. (I told him to make a circle, then add a line. He did better than I thought he would!)

I will be putting all of his creations (except for lumpy things like the pom poms) into a hard bound sketch book (14″ x 11″) with an alphabet theme. I’ll show what we have at the end of the week.

We moved on to an alphabet matching game I printed out. I had a set one upper and lowercase letter cards that were cut in half, plus a set I didn’t cut out at all. I had him take each half card and put it where it belonged on the uncut sheets. He was very proud when he finished, but I had to work to keep him focused. I got the printables here.

We did story time next. I choose Pepo and Lolo and the Red Apple (Jax loves it because we act it out), How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? and Planes. Jax chose a couple other books as well.

I offered Jax the chose of music time or math, and he chose math. We used our abacus to do some simple addition. He doesn’t get it yet, but we are getting closer.

Number Tracing Pack – Confessions of a Homeschooler
Alphabet Flash Cards – Homeschool Creations


Tuesday Jax woke up with a cold, so it was tough having him stay focused. We kept our activities short and I followed his lead as to what he was interested in doing that day.

He requested the “ABC cards” game (Alphabet Flash Cards) we did Monday, so we played that again. When he had them all matched up, I added a twist for cleaning them up. I asked him to find different groups of items, such as “things you can eat”, “toys”, “animals” or “things that are blue”. I’m really happy we had these printed these out. I think we’ll get a lot of use out of them.

We did the same number tracing page that we did on Monday. I stuck a laminating sheet to the front of it so we could reuse it. Jax has trouble making the 1’s because I think he finds them boring. It is much more fun to scribble wildly and make big swooshes.

We did a worksheet for tracing uppercase As to put in Jax’s alphabet book. We counted the steps to remember how to write it: one, two, three! The worksheet was from Oopsey Daisy. Jax did really well and did the last three As on his own, with me just setting his hand at the starting point for each A.

We did some dancing to music after that, with me having him follow my movements the best he could. I’m going to try to do music and movement once a week at least. Since we wasn’t feeling well, we ended on storytime. We read Dr. Seuss’s ABC and My Nursery Rhymes Collection.


Number Tracing Pack – Confessions of a Homeschooler
Alphabet Flash Cards – Homeschool Creations
A is for Apple – Oopsey Daisy


We had errands to run, so we did school in Starbucks on the iPad. We made a picture book with sounds with My Story – Book Maker for Kids. We practiced writing with Write My Name. I really love that app. We stopped by the playground to play with other kids, but Jax managed to hit his head hard, cutting our playtime short.



Jax was interested in playing with his new supermarket set. I recently bought this for him from MYHABIT, and I love it! (You have to sign up to see the sales they have there, but it is free.) It is a great toy! It doesn’t come with food, but you get a cash register with money, a scanner and a card swiper, plus a produce scale. Mine arrived with a crack in the card swiper, but they sent me a whole new cash register set to replace it. The set isn’t on MYHABIT any longer, but Amazon has a decent price. Zulily has a different one that I like a lot, too.

I already had a magnetic chalkboard up on the wall and wooden number magnets, so I drew some of the food items we had and Jax and I did number recognition games for each one.


I wasn’t feeling well Thursday, so we repeated a lot of the activities we had done that week, including rereading the same books. He enjoys the repetition so he can start saying the words along with me.


First page in Jax’s alphabet book.

We focused on alphabet crafts for Jax’s alphabet book on Friday. I have been cutting out letters and pictures from old magazines and ads, so we glued them down to a page with the letter A on it.

We did a lot of practice writing upper and lowercase As, first on the chalkboard, then on colored paper. We said “one, two, three” to make the big As, and “circle and a line!” for the lowercase As. He did very well and was excited by my cheering him on and high-fives. I cut some out to glue down around a large A he wrote.

We did some quick letter puzzle crafts with construction paper. I drew the letters with dotted lines and cut out paper strips to match. Jax put the puzzles together, then we glued them down.

Alphabet Cut & Paste Sheets – Homeschool Creations
Alphabet Beginning Sounds Poster – Homeschool Creations

Loving It – Sewing With Felt

I’ve totally fallen in love with sewing with felt since starting my quiet book project. You know that feeling when you try out a new craft and it just feels right? That.


Our current budget only allows me to get cheapy ¢25 felt sheets from the craft store and design my own patterns, but I love to drool over gorgeous felt craft books! Big Little Felt Universe has a felt s’mores set. I *need* to make that! At least we can get a taste of that book. Click the banana split below for a free sample pattern! I really need this book…

image via Lark Crafts

Do you have any felt craft books you’ve enjoyed? I’d love to add more to my wishlist…

Thrift Store Gems

This week’s thrift store gems were mostly books, but I did get a cute olive green flannel for Jax.

For $6.25 we got: the shirt, Waddle! (which is super neat because the pictures move on each page), Goodnight Moon 123 Board Book: A Counting Book (Jax loves the balloon page), Who Am I? In the Dark (which is out of print), Counting (Touch, Look and Learn!) and All Asleep.

Here’s an update on the dollhouse I bought recently from a thrifting trip. It’s barn makeover is underway! I have a couple layers of paint down in most places. The wood is very thirsty so it will need more. I turned the upper floor into a hay loft with real hay I mixed with Mod Podge and then varnished with a clear coat. Once I am done all the painting, I’ll clear coat the whole thing. I’m thinking of sewing a play mat to look like the farm to go under the barn.

Thrift Store Gems

My main goal at the thrift store this week was to find a stuffed animal with black fur to cut up and use on Jax’s Halloween costume. Best I found was black crushed velvet, which is just not furry enough. However, I did find a lime green tee shirt perfect for wearing under his costume coat!

Jax had a full-blown toddler tantrum as we checked out because I wouldn’t let him put toy cars into a box for a karaoke machine toy. Sorry, little dude. We paid and went outside to take some deep breaths in the fresh air. It’s just *so* hard to be a toddler!

Here’s what we got for $7.50:

The green tee shirt I mentioned will save me money I was going to spend at the mall on something for under his costume. If I have time (hah!), I could decorate it. A rock ‘n roll motorcycle raglan tee. It has two small, faint green stains but I decided I didn’t mind. Kids get messy. A plaid button-down with drums and flames screen print. They had some Baby Gap jeans there, but they we skinny jeans. I held them up to Jax and just couldn’t go there!

This coat by Little Rebels was only $2.50 because it was on the Halloween costume rack. I think it’s super cute. Probably too big at this point, but we can try it on later with the baby stops wearing his crankypants.


I didn’t have long in the book section before Jax went all nuclear meltdown on me, but I found two good ones. What’s in Space? has tabs you can pull up. And a Melissa & Doug wooden book with wheels called Push and Go Cars and Trucks. Seems like that one isn’t available anymore.

I also bought two tiny metal cars to use in Jax’s quiet book on a future car/city/road page. They had two big bins of all sorts of Matchbox-style cars, but I just loved these smaller, vintage-looking ones. It’s nice that they have no windows so I can tie them to the book with a string. They are so much more timeless then the cars with all the branding and cheesy decals (though I probably wouldn’t turn down flames on the side of my car, hah!)

Find any thrift store gems lately? Please share!


We have a cross-country trip coming up and I am starting to get into planning mode.

What are your thoughts on leashes/safety tethers for toddlers? While I’ll be using a baby carrier in the airport, Jax will be in his car seat for nearly 6 hours on the plane and I doubt he’ll want to be held while we are getting our luggage and waiting for our ride. How do I safely let him stretch his legs in LAX while still watching our bags, etc? I hope you’ll share your experiences with me!

Some links for you…

  • I may have to make Jax the food from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He loves that book and that is his favorite page.
  • Here’s another mom’s take on extended nursing (with a photo by me).
  • Making a rug like this is on my to-do list this winter!
  • There aren’t many cute sewing projects for boys’ clothes out here, but here’s a great one for simple boy pants.
  • Need some new jewelry? Raid your tool box!
  • Got an iPhone or iPad and a toddler? Hurry out to Starbucks this week for their free app card. It’s this great Sesame Street ebook! Jax loves it!
  • His other favorite app right now is Zoo Train. I was pretty shocked at how good he is at it! Check out the video below and another one here (this one is noisy, sorry! We were waiting for diner at a sports restaurant.)

Thrift Store Gems

We found some good stuff this week at the thrift store for $11.41 total!

I always check the shelf with all the soft books and rattles. You can find factory-made fabric books there and cut them up to use the rattles and mirrors. This time I found two not-so-quiet books that have a lot of flaps and Velcro, and every page has a button to play a sound. One book is about animals and the other is a baby’s day. Jax was cracking up in the car over the sounds but was completely uninterested in holding or playing with the books. Very different from my quiet book pages, which he throws a complete sobfest fit if I take them away from him. So do I leave the books as is, or cut them up and sew all the sound buttons into a fun page with pictures/sounds? (The page would be removable for times when the quiet book needs to be very quiet.

What do you guys think?

We also found a Sandra Boynton (she’s a big deal around our house!) Bath Time! book. I’m thinking of packing this up to take on our trip next month, maybe with a couple new bath squirters.

In the regular book section we did well. Books are sold for 90% off the cover price. We already have a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but it is one of Jax’s all-time favorites. This copy was in mint condition and only $0.99, so I couldn’t pass it up. One copy can now stay down in the playroom. We found another Sandra Boynton: A to Z. Also, Carry-Me – Farm Animals and Feelings : A Baby and Blue Book.

Clothes are always hit or miss. Many times, someone arrives just before we do and grabs everything of the exact size/gender we need! That is thrift shopping for you… But, we did good today. Some Koala Baby jeans, a Carters surfer dude tee and a Gymboree go green tee. All that green will look great with a hoodie and Jax’s green sneakers!

What do you think of the sound books? Should I cut them up or leave them alone?

Thrift Store Gems

After a couple weeks of the kids thrift store being closed, we finally were able to get back into our Monday routine and pay a visit after Starbucks!

Jax loves going because he is allowed to be down on his own two feet exploring instead of strapped into the baby carrier or held back. The shopkeeper doesn’t mind him playing wit the toys and nothing is breakable. (Everything is cheap even if he did break or tear something.) I use the thrift store as a place to practice shopping with Jax. He is getting very good at putting things back if I ask. I’ve even started letting him help at the grocery store after all the practice!

There weren’t many clothes in his size today, but we found toys and books. Because I got some toys, I put together a big box of too-young toys for Jax to give away as soon as we got home. When something “new” comes in, something old goes out!

Here’s what we got for $14:

Books: The Laughing Dragon (This book is gorgeous and out of print. A great find!), Baby Faces (Also out of print, this gets great reviews. It shows different emotions.), Way Out in the Desert (I’m putting this one in our bedtime book basket.), Baby Says Peekaboo! (Jax loves books with peekaboo flaps!) and Ten Apples Up on Top! (I handed this to Jax to look at on the drive home and he said “App-Pull! App-Pull!”).


Toys: Little Tikes Wee Waffle Blocks ‘N Bucket (I hadn’t seen this before. I normally avoid sets of plastic blocks, but I like that these are advanced for Jax and will help with his motor skills. For $3.75 they are worth a try! We have a Circo (Target) train like this  Melissa & Doug Stacking Train set with 2 cars that Jax loves. It is his bedroom toy for while I am showering. He has mastered his little train, so I put the one other bedroom toy (a shape sorter he has outgrown) in the donate box and added this train set to his basket.

Clothes: Just a button down I will layer over a thermal. Anything green to match his shoes is good!

Sunday Souvenir – Richard Scarry

When I visited my dad’s house over the summer, I grabbed some of my childhood books from the basement. One of my favorites as a child was Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever! I have a lot of memories about looking through this book again and again.

After opening it again so many years later, I found it hilarious that it wasn’t really my book: I’d crossed out my brother’s name and written my own in crayon! Hah!

Many of the stories and scenes I remembered, but others I didn’t. A notable one I don’t recall shocked me a bit. It was about a bear who was good at hunting and because of that earned himself a happy family. I couldn’t figure out any other morals to that story. It ends with them wearing coats they made out of a seal he killed. Yikes!

I loved any scene that showed the inside of a house/building/nest. I also liked the pages that would label all kinds of foods, clothes, or toys.

Do you have any books from your childhood? Are you sharing them with your children?

Leave a comment if write a Sunday Souvenir and you’d like your link to be added!
Check out Ronalyn’s post at The Adventures of Esa and Zed

Jax’s Book Nook

Jax now has a reading corner in his playroom! My husband hung the two Ikea picture rails we recently bought. There is plenty of room to add a couple more above for even more storage later on. Jax can either have his P’Kolino Little Reader Chair (currently on sale) in there, or some floor pillows to stretch out on. He’s still getting the hang of sitting still in his chair, so I opted for a long pillow for now. Because of the novelty, he is all about clearing the bottom shelf of books at every opportunity. We went through that when we got his playroom shelves. It wears off!

I really love how the books look forward-facing on the wall! He loves to pick out his favorites and bring them to us to read. He says “Buh! Ree!” *signing please* Awww!

Thrift Store Gems

We are making weekly trips to the thrift store to start building a library for Jax. I plan to make some sort of reading corner for him, most likely using picture rails or spice racks from Ikea. (Just need to convince my husband to make the long drive there!)

Here is what we got for $7.50:

Five small Winnie-The-Pooh books, I Spy Little Hearts, Elmer’s Colors, Clarence the Curious Calf (that squeaks!) and You Can Drive an Automobile.

We got lucky with his clothing size this time. We got: an OshKosh train engineer hat and button down, Gymboree t-shirt and Cherokee cords (in gray!)

While I was there, I showed the shopkeeper a photo of how his kitchen turned out. She was shocked at the transformation. She took my contact information in case the oven door should turn up, but it’s unlikely.