Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  


The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  


I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

My baby is 9. Yep, NINE!

Last week my baby turned 9.  She may be my oldest but she’ll always be my baby!  Try as I might, I couldn’t keep her from growing up.  I cannot wrap my head around the fact that a whole 9 years have passed since I brought this little miracle home from the hospital!  I’m so proud of the little person she is becoming.  She’s smart, beautiful, helpful, kind, and loves Jesus.  I couldn’t ask for more in a daughter.  I had her tag along on a session last week in the outfit she picked for her party because A.  She’s amazing with babies and I knew the sweet 1 year old I was working with that night would love her B.  It was a lovely wooded looking area that I though would compliment her outfit well.  She took one of her favorite American Girl Doll’s along too!


Several weeks ago we had 12 of her favorite little ladies spend the night for a back to school bash.  Everyone had a blast but I told her right then and there that we wouldn’t be having a huge party for her birthday this year since she got to do that.  Her birthday weekend also fell sandwiched in between 2 trips to Dallas for the American Girl Fashion Show & rehearsal, and a Bitty Baby tea party we won through House Party.  All this traveling and partying combined with school and soccer didn’t leave me much energy for another big bash.  Besides, when you have 5 girl nieces and 3 daughters, you have a built in party at every family gathering!  lol  I told P she could invite 4 friends to join her and her cousins for a camping themed party. Poor child had such a tough time narrowing down her list.  We’re so fortunate to have so many sweet girls in our lives!  When all was settled, she selected 3 school friends and 1 soccer pal and we got to work on hand delivering invitations.  We dipped oversized marshmallows in chocolate and sprinkles on skewers and drove around to present the invitations, pre-party snack, and a tiny little compass to all our cousins and 4 friends.


When our guests arrived, they were asked to “Register” at the camp welcome center.  Here they would grab their “welcome packs” (goody bags), sign a frame for P to keep as a memory, and pay their “camp dues”.  P has so much of what she wants and much more than she could ever need so instead of gifts, she asked her guests to bring their spare change to donate to one of our favorite charities.  We printed out little name labels for each of our guests and used ribbon to tie them to canvas tote bags we got 2/$1 at Dollar tree.  They also had a “camp journal”, mini deco tape, a cool wooden pencil, flashlight keychain, scratch off ticket, a little thank you note, and camping sticker scene activity.  We got the mini flashlight keychains and sticker sheets from oriental trading.  The flashlight and tape are “doll sized” which is perfect for my little AG lovers.


The girls snacked on mini pretzel dogs and cheeto puffs and drank their “bug juice”.  It was lemonade that I added strawberry flavoring and green food coloring too.  Then we froze plastic bugs in muffin tins to use as ice.



I had cute little chevron printed paper treat bags set up near a pink tackle box full of candy “bait”  and cups full of different flavored teddy grahams and gummy bears for the girls to make their own sweet trail mixes.


Then we moved on to our table to do a few crafts and the scratch off tickets.  We passed out lucky pennies and the girls got a kick out of them.  The winner got a bigger backpack style “camping pack” filled with a nifty journal, flashlight, sports bottle, stickers, etc.  I got all of this stuff at Michael’s in the fun finds section.  Nothing I bought including the bag were over $1!  After the winner got her goodies, we moved on to arts and crafts.  I got these cute little peace, love, and s’mores kits at oriental trading  ($6/12pk) and they were the perfect addition to a girly camping party.  We also made s’more necklaces out of polymer clay.  We LOVE polymer clay!


The kids also enjoyed the “fishing hole” and visited it on and off throughout the party.  We got a few packages of ping pong balls at dollar tree and hot glued foam tails and magnets on them.  We used dowel rods with fishing wire and a large washer on the end for fishing poles and a plastic kiddie pool I borrowed from my bestie for the pond.  The girls paired up and raced to see who could catch the most fish in 1 minute.  The winners got to pick a prize from the prize box (sticker sheets and more Michael’s fun finds).


After fishing, the girls all climbed into the tent we had set up with their dolls and played with the doll sized s’mores and campfire we had made before the party.  We made the s’mores using polymer clay and toothpicks for doll sized skewers.  The fire we made using a scrap piece of cardboard for the base.  We traced LED tea lights we got at the dollar tree and cut a space out on the cardboard for them.  I sent my kiddos on a scavenger hunt for small rocks and twigs and used hot glue to secure them.  It was a hit!  We set up the doll tent inside the real tent with some adorable doll sized sleeping bags my mother made.  P had one of her dolls giving horseback riding lessons to the other dolls too!  hahahaha  She might be my kid!


While the girls played in the tent, Dave and I hid plastic bugs I got at dollar tree around the yard.  I used a sharpie to write “winner” on 4 or 5 of the bugs before we hid them.  When we were done, the girls had to find 3 bugs each.  Those who found winning bugs got a prize from the prize box.

After all the fun, Dave lit the fire pit while we finished our remaining crafts and the girls got to enjoy their s’mores.  We had 2 different kinds of chocolate, 2 different kinds of graham crackers, and 4 different kinds of marshmallows to choose from!  It was fun watching the girls make different s’more creations.  They grabbed their skewers and had a great time laughing and roasting marshmallows together.  We had cupcakes earlier in the evening so I limited the girls to 2 s’mores each so they wouldn’t be bouncing off the walls for their mothers later!  lol



When the s’mores were done and the moon was out we handed out glow sticks and let the girls run free in the yard with their flashlights and lanterns before it was time to go home. I have to say it was nothing super fancy, but it was by far one of my favorite parties we’ve hosted!  I kinda wanna do it all over again!  Hope all the girls had fun too!  On top of all that, our generous friends and family raised about $100 for charity and brought P some goodies too!  She got some great books, a guitar, the rainbow loom thingy she’s been dying for, and her first bow and arrow set from her grandparents.  She’s dying to get to the ranch and get some lessons from Grandpa!  Love my sweet girl and hope she had a great birthday!  Have lots of camping themed printables I will probably upload later in case anyone is interested :)

In the perfect ending to a great weekend, we participated in the baby dedication at church the next morning and even better, P got baptized!  What an incredible moment it was watching my Daddy baptize my daughter!