Sunday, January 31, 2010


I saw these little mailboxes in the Target dollar spot and picked one up for each of my kids. I had some scrapbooking chipboard letters at home so I added their first letter of their name to each of their mailboxes. We have been using them for about a week now and the older two kids are really excited about them. I mean, who doesn't like to get mail?!! So far I have just been putting in a fun little treat for them to enjoy after quiet time in the afternoon. One day it was a little fruit snack pack, the next it was a tiny coloring book, then some stickers. I had grabbed a couple puzzles and little fun things from the dollar section as well. Maybe one day I will put a couple M&M's and a note that says I love you.

While I could just use this as a fun little treat for the kids, which of course it is, I do plan to sneak in a little learning as well. Aidan is showing interest in learning to read, so I want to write a simple note with some easy words included that give him a clue where to look for his surprise that day. The puzzles I got won't fit in the mailbox, so I thought I would try something like "look on mommy's bed". He knows how to spell mommy and the other words he knows how to sound out. So we sneak in a little learning on our way to get the fun surprise.

Ella is just working on learning her letters, so just having their initials on the mailboxes has her learning those letters. I am excited about adding this little piece of fun into our house. I don't put something in their mailbox every day, which adds to the excitement when they notice the flags are up on their mailboxes indicating that a new surprise has arrived.
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Craft Stick Airplanes

My friend Laura just posted these pictures on Facebook of an AWESOME craft she and her son did. I LOVE it and and asked her if she would mind if I shared it with all of you. The simplicity of their little creation is so wonderful, yet I can see it being hours of fun for the little ones.

They took 4 craft sticks (popsicle sticks) and two tiny wooden spools. They colored the craft sticks and added some stickers and the kids names with foam letters. Laura put it all together with her hot glue gun. Ta Da! Little model airplane!

Malachi wanted to make one for each member of his family. Isn't that sweet?!

Such a simple project, but so creative!!!!!!! LOVE IT!!!!!!!!
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Friday Finds

Most of these are awesome crafty things that I am not talented enough to do myself, but that is one of my goals for this year. Learn how to sew! And they were all just too cute not to pass along!

Bean Bag and Printable Bean Bag Games

Hand Sewn Baby Shoes - I emailed this to my friend Nan, who has more craftiness in her pinkie than I have in my whole being, and about a week later she sent these awesome little shoes for Olivia!

Printable Burp Cloth Template - so cute! She got a bib, 8 burp cloths and a set of 3 soft blocks from a set of 4 receiving blankets. What an awesome baby gift this would make!

Valentine's Stuff:

My favorite v-day card idea I have seen: Photo cards

Super cute idea for your hubby: Re-purposed Cream Soda Bottles

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

52 Week Challenge

Week 14 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

Oooops, another week passed and I almost didn't get in a picture! I had my hubby take a picture of me and the kids right before we read our bedtime stories. I love my son's expressions in the pictures - what a goof!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fun websites

I know I have mentioned Starfall before, but in case you have not heard of it you must go check it out. My kids LOVE it! I love how much they are learning through interacting with the website. I love how easy it is for them to use by themselves. It is just an all around great website to help children learn to read with phonics.

Another great computer program that my son has a lot of fun with is Tux Paint. It is a free, open source software drawing program. It has so many fun stamps and tools the children can use to create their own unique drawings. If you haven't seen it before, go try it!
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Monday, January 25, 2010


I decided I should probably start being better at working with Ella and starting to learn letters. She is so interested in everything brother does (she has learned to count just by listening to him count all the time!). So I was excited when I pulled out our letter stamps. I chose two letters so they could each work on a paper. I chose two easy letters to write so that Aidan can really start practicing writing his letters also.

After they were done stamping their letters, I had Aidan try to think of words that start with those letters. I wrote down all the words he came up with.

Ella got to learn two new letters. Aidan was able to think about the sounds of the letters and think of words that begin with those letters. And they both made some art they were very proud of. We hung them on the fridge so if Aidan thought of some more words to add we could easily.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Dinosaur Counting

The other day we stopped over at Goodwill and found these number mats. I thought they were just going to form a square when put together, but was delighted they were a hopscotch mat! So we used it several different ways the other day. One way was to put the number of dinosaurs on each mat. So 1 dinosaur on the number 1, 2 dinosaurs on the number 2, etc. Aidan and Ella worked together again to get their whole mat full of the correct number of dinosaurs.

And here are a couple of our favorite dinosaur counting books!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Embracing the ice

This is what is looks like outside my house, since an ice storm just went through town yesterday. Downed branches and twigs, too weak to withstand that much ice. A skating rink for a driveway, and front porch. And believe it or not there is an evergreen bush hiding under that snow with the icicles hanging from it.

But instead of worrying about all the ice outside, I decided to embrace the idea of ice and let the kids have a little fun with it inside.

I have been collecting those little silicone shape pans when Target has it in the dollar spot. Actually they are usually $2.50, but I love using them for all kinds of stuff. This time I used the snowflake shaped one, added some water and small animals and put it in the freezer. Once frozen, I put them all in a baggie, put back in the freezer and made some more. I know it probably didn't matter to the kids that the ice cubes were snowflake shaped, but I thought it was cuter that way. :)

I dumped all the ice cubes out in a little tub, poured in a few cups of water, added some spoons, measuring cups, and let the kids go to work trying to set those animals free!

I remembered we had a couple little boats with our bath toys, so I threw those in two. They had fun driving their boats around the "icebergs".

It was fun, SUPER easy, and not too messy at all. It does take a little forethought if you want animals frozen in the ice cubes, and I put two towels under the tub to catch any splashes. The messy factor is really the child and how into it they get!

We were just looking for some entertainment as we were trapped inside, but if you wanted to do a science experiment along with it you could put the ice cubes in different cups. One with no water, one with cold water, one with hot water, and maybe one with salt water. See which animal escapes their ice cube first!
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52 Week Challenge

Week 13 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

See what I mean about being addicted to the Twilight books. My husband has been laughing at me because I usually am not much of a reader. I usually just read right before I go to bed. But these books have me so hooked for some reason that I have been reading during the day during the few quiet times that the children are happily playing without mommy. This picture was taken last weekend. Little Ella crawled up onto the rocking chair to read her book while mommy was reading hers. Obviously she was not a fan of having her picture taken at that moment, but oh well. Here we are!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Busy Making Lines

My son has been very busy the past two days. Very busy. First he made a line of all his dinosaurs. Then he counted them. 79. Then he wanted to add his collection of matchbox cars to the line. And then count them as well, adding to the dinosaur count. 182. I thought that was excellent counting for a 4 year old! He can count to 29 no problem, but then sometimes asks me what the 10's spaces are, so I tell him 30, 40, 50, etc. as he needs help. He started this project all by himself and I was happy he was happy and got some counting practice in! It of course did go a little overboard as you can see in the pictures below.

The line starts in our family room, makes a curve around the coffee table, back around and out of the room, into the hall, into daddy's office, around his office chair, back to the hall and back into the family room. I think we pretty much used all of our little collections. In this line are all the dinosaurs, matchbox cars, animals, peek-a-blocks, ABC blocks, and lacing beads we own! I am surprised he stuck with it for so long, but Ella was helping by deciding which to put in the line next. Team work at its finest!

His venture this afternoon became sorting his matchbox cars by color. I was sitting on the couch reading my book (I have been sucked into the world of Twilight and can't seem to put the books down!) and he would occasionally ask me to clarify a color for him, if it was like a red-orange or something like that. So, as you can see, we had the blue team, the black team, the race car team, and then he assembled the whole army of cars into a big line. If it had not been supper time I should have worked with him to count each "team" and sort them even further according to the size of the team. Or maybe done some sort of graphing. Maybe tomorrow. I am really just impressed he came up with these two activities all on his own and had some learning in the process. Learning through play! Yeah!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sensory Bottles

I have had these empty water bottle sitting on my kitchen counter forever! I am so happy I finally got in gear and made the sensory bottles for the kids. Because really, it takes about 5 minutes total, and they are super fun for the kids. I have no idea why it took me so long to make them. Just a slacker I guess.

I made three sensory bottles. The first is water with a little bit of blue food coloring, then some mineral oil, glitter and a couple of sea shells. The mineral oil doesn't mix with the water so it looks like pretty waves when you turn it on its side and rock it back and forth.

The second is just water, green food coloring and a couple drops of dish soap. Shake it and watch all the bubbles appear!

The third is my favorite. It is corn syrup and some sequins. The corn syrup moves around the bottle slowly as you turn the bottle over. And the sequins floating slowly along add some nice bling.

I of course super glued the lids shut and then put tape around the lids to be sure they are not going to come off.

Here are a couple websites I found with lots of great ideas for sensory bottles:

Child Care Lounge

Sensory Bottles

Quality Kids Crafts

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Make a Rainbow!

So I saw this science experiment on Sesame Street this morning and wanted to try it with the kids. One of the monsters on Sesame Street wanted to see a rainbow, so Gordon showed her this science experiment. He took a flashlight, covered part of it with masking tape so just a slit would shine through. Put some water in a cup, set the cup up on something, and put a white piece of paper next to it.

They shined the flashlight through the water glass and made a rainbow appear on the white paper. Aidan thought that was pretty neat.

You can read more about the experiment at the Sesame Street website.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our Random Acts of Reading

Have you all heard about Our Random Acts of Reading? It is a super awesome idea started by Laura of My Montessori Journey. I have been loving all of her Montessori ideas and want to try to introduce some of those ideas to my kids. But I am absolutely in LOVE with her new venture.

The idea is to get a classic, quality children's book (she has found hers at garage sales and thrift stores but in excellent condition) and then find an activity to go along with it. She puts the book and the activity in a Ziploc bag with a label telling the recipient what they have just found. She drops off the book pack in random places. The hope it to bring joy to the lucky recipient and encourage a love for reading.

At my old center we did a couple of similar ideas. We used the bonus points from our Scholastic book orders to get extra books. We gave a book to each child on their birthday and also used the books to make book packs families could check out and enjoy with their children at home. I thought Our Random Acts of Reading would be another cool thing anyone could do. Laura has a goal of gifting 2,010 books in 2010. I think that is an awesome goal, but obviously she needs help.

Wouldn't it be cool to make a pack with your kids and have them help secretly drop it off. I think they would love it and would be a great lesson in giving to others. Or if your child goes to preschool or child care, perhaps they also have some extra bonus points from Scholastic as I used to and they would like to participate as well. And then the kids could drop off the pack while on a field trip!

Mommies little Artist has an interview with Laura she posted today. If you are interested in this project at all I highly recommend checking out the interview and of course going to the Our Random Acts of Reading site. I had even just pulled out a bunch of books from our stash that were either duplicates or ones we have outgrown (but still in excellent condition). I will have to go back through them all and select a few so we can participate. Sooooo excited - hope this idea really takes off! :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mommy Instinct

This is not a crafty fun kid post, but I really feel strongly that I need to write and remind all my mommy friends to always trust their mommy instinct.

Before my son turned three I started noticing that his right eye sometimes seemed to cross slightly to the middle. I was the ONLY one to notice it though, even when I would try to point it out to others. So I thought I was just imagining it. I mentioned it to his pediatrician when we went for his 3 year check-up, but he didn't seem concerned at all. I have never had any concerns about my son's vision, but the right eye still seemed to cross a little. I should have trusted my mommy instincts and taken him to an eye doctor then. But I didn't. I thought since I was the only one seeing it I must just be imagining it.

Fast forward to his four year check. I tell the doctor my exact same concern as before and THIS year he was like - "Oh you better get that looked at. It could be Amblyopia, where the brain just shuts down messages being sent from that eye and the eye will never work again". Thanks doc - thanks for freaking me out, and thanks for not giving me that info LAST year. So yes, a little sad with my pediatrician, but more sad with myself for not trusting my instincts.

We finally took our son to the eye doctor and discovered that he does have Amblyopia (or lazy eye). As we were watching him do all the vision tests and trying to read all those little letters it became so obvious how bad the right eye was. He could read the smallest print with his left eye, but could not read the largest letter with his right eye.

So our handsome little man is even more handsome now with his awesome new glasses which will help make that right eye strong and send clear messages to his brain on what he is seeing. We go back to the eye doctor in a few weeks to see how well the glasses are working for him. At that point we may have to discuss patching his left eye to really make his right eye start working harder. But we will cross that bridge when we get to it. For right now we thrilled with how well he has taken to his glasses. He is excited to show them to everyone, he treats them well (even reminds daddy of the two hand rule when taking them off), and has not complained about wearing them.

See, isn't he adorable?

I still wish I would have gotten him to the doctor last year so we could have had that eye on the road to recovery earlier. But I am happy we caught it and that his eye is still healthy and should be able to be trained to work properly.

Now I don't want you all to go freak out over nothing and be inspecting your kids eyes. That was not the point of this. I just wanted to maybe help others who needed a little push to trust their mommy instincts. It could be anything else that you have been wondering about for your kid. If it is something you are concerned about at all, it doesn't hurt to go get it checked out.

I saw in the January issue of American Baby that if your child is between 6 and 12 months you can get a free vision assessment through InfantSee.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings!
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Homemade Zoo

I saw the idea for this over at The Activity Mom. I thought it was an awesome idea. So I saved all the cardboard packaging that Ella's dollhouse furniture came in. When we were snowed in again at the end of last week I decided to pull out all the packaging and we went to work making our own little zoo. We started coloring with markers, but Aidan thought we should use paint. This meant we had to wait til the afternoon to play with our zoo while the paint dried, but they didn't seem to mind.

The didn't seem to care for any realism in what colors they should do for the different animal habitats. They were just happy painting something that was 3-D. Aidan worked on his pieces for about 2 hours. It was incredible! Anything that can hold his interest that long has got to be worth talking about!

When everything was dry, I laid out a big beach mat thing I happened to have. I thought it would make a nice designated area for the zoo. We put the animals in their different habitats and then added some little details. We decided the giraffes needed some trees so they could eat. Then Aidan wanted a fence or a gate, so we got out the Lincoln Logs. Then I thought it would be fun if our little wooden family came to visit the zoo. Then the Little People school bus pulled up with some kids there on a field trip.

Just so many possibilities with this creative play scene. We had a ton of fun with it and it really saved the day as we were stuck inside because of -20 degree wind chills!!!!

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cotton Ball Snowman

So first I cheat a little on the 52 week challenge by posting three weeks at once, and now I am sort of cheating again by using the same activity to link up to two blogs!

The book we read was The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler. It is a great little book about a little girl whose mom and two older sisters tell her she is too little to do anything. So she plays with her forest friends and they all work together to build the biggest, best snowman. The little girl gains confidence in herself, and her family sees that she CAN do a lot!

We decided to make our own little snowman out of cotton balls. Instead of using glue to stick them to the paper, I used my little lids (in three different sizes of course) to trace and cut out the circles from contact paper. I used tape to stick the circles sticky side up onto a piece of blue construction paper.

The kids put all their little cotton balls on to the sticky contact paper, making their snowman.

We then cut out stick arms, a scarf, carrot nose and mouth from some scrap felt. They chose some buttons for the eyes. They used glue to add it all to their snowmen. Our snowmen were as big as the paper already otherwise I probably would have made hats for them. Though if I remember correctly the Biggest, Best Snowman wasn't wearing a hat either, so I guess it worked out!

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52 Week Challenge

Week 10, 11, and 12 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans

Okay, so apparently I took a few weeks off from the challenge. Which is funny because over the holidays I was in plenty of pictures. So I am cheating a little and trying to catch up so I am posting three pictures tonight.

The first is Olivia and I at my husband's family Christmas. (Isn't her headband the cutest? Frills and Flowers)

The kids and I tracked Santa on the NORAD website.

And finally, last weekend was my daughter's first hair cut! I used to cut my son's hair, but this was my first time cutting her hair.

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