Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Get Outside!

My in-laws take my boys for the weekend often; I know I am lucky. It is new since S is potty trained now. It gives my husband and I much overdue alone time.  My in-laws live in the country and have farms around them. The boys love spending time with them.

One time this summer we went the the farm across the street. We meet 2 month old kittens, 2 week old goats, 2 day old pigeons, saw a ton of chickens, horses and more. All these animals are free to roam. We are fortunate enough to get farm fresh eggs for 75 cents a dozen! They are the most beautiful eggs I have seen, but that is another post.

Spending time at the grandparents is a nice way for them to explore outside; since we live in the city we don't get close to nature as much as I want. Both my husband and I grew up in the country and it was nothing for us to go outside for hours and play. Yep, by ourselves. It was a different time when we grew up. We kept our doors unlocked, and everyone knew everyone. Ah, small towns.

I grew up on a lake. In the summer we swam and in the winter we skated. There was no saying I'm bored. My sister and I were always outside exploring. It was so much fun. Now that I look back I realize we really did not have a lot of toys, outside was our playground.

This brings me to my challenge. I want you to gear up and go outside. What do you have to lose?

Exploring Grandpa's forest.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Village

Growing up I had the best paper village. My sister and I would play for hours with it. I have no idea how it lasted so long, being it was only printed on card stock. My mom would let us turn cotton balls into into snow and play with the village for as long as we wanted. I now know it gave her the break she needed!

Are you interested in making a village? I have a great link for you. The blog Toddler Approved has a few ideas on how to make a village of your own. 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wrapping paper

This evening I brought out the large rolls of craft paper in order to make wrapping paper.

I had cookie cutters and paint handy. We also used our fingers. I was trying to make our fingerprints look like a string of Christmas lights.

I wonder if my children think everyone gets to paint on the kitchen floor.

Do you make your own wrapping paper?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scented Play Dough (try #2)

I have been experimenting with scented play dough with a little success. I really enjoy incorporating the scented play dough into class, it allows for more senses to be engaged while at our sensory table. Plus it is so much more fun to play with than store bought. It is softer, and more organic looking. If the kids help, they have a sense of accomplishment to go a long with it.

I believe I am on to something with this recipe I found here. I am making it to play with in our class room and to give away to my friends to play with over the break.

I started with the cherry drink mix and it smells wonderful. I was very happy to see that when I put in the boiling water, it turned red/pink right away! Success. Here is a photo of it after mixing. Nice, right.

The grape drink mix, not so much. It did not disperse as well as the cherry drink mix, as you can see in the picture. It just did not want to mix. I did stick with it and after a long mixing period and letting it rest it turned out. I am thinking if I would have used two drink mix packets it would have turned out better.

After I tried this I decided to go to the store to get more drink mix. I am glad I did.

Here are the mixes prior to adding the oil and water.  The flavors are Lemon Lime and Cherry

After adding boiling water. The color pops. 

My boys helping me mix the dough.

The end result. Not too bad! You can tell which Cherry had two packets instead of one. 

The verdict after my boys saw it; success! They loved the texture and the smell. We played for a long time in the kitchen tonight.

If you are going to try this at home, here are my recommendations: get double the amount of drink mix,  your color will be vibrant and the scent fantastic. Allow for a practice batch. Although I followed the directions to the letter, I had to keep adding flour a teaspoon at a time to get the right consistency.

Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator and it will last for weeks.

Do you make your own play dough? If so, what is your favorite recipe?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little Painting Time

Last night prior to dinner, my boys wanted to paint. I got out our last few paper ornaments and let them paint away.

Supplies: paint, glue, glitter, popsicle sticks and paper ornaments.

As you will see, my youngest decided to paint himself again. My five year old is now very particular about painting things right. Note how he painted the base of the tree brown.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ornaments For Little Hands

I have been dying to try out making ornaments with my friends. The dilemma is which one to do; there are tons! For inspiration I did not have to look any farther than my own Christmas tree.

My son made this rice wreath ornament at his school. I was reminded of this today when I dropped my youngest off at that very school. There they were, the rice wreath ornaments. The light bulb went off.

Supplies: rice, paint, glue, and items to decorate wreath. Today I used only glitter since I had my friends who are 1-2 years old. I had my friends help me measure and mix the rice. They loved it. I was so busy, I forgot to take pictures. I recommend letting your little ones mix it, it is a great way to be included and practice those skills.

I did not use any exact measurements. I just poured the paint and glue, praying it would be enough. It was. Additionally I chose a more vibrant green (my paint was a powder) than a pine green as I wanted it to stand out and not get lost in a tree.

Here are the results:

Sorry about clarity - I need to remember my good camera. 

I am going to do this with my 2-3 year olds next week and will post the process and results. 

At the end of class I wanted to show my friends pine cone painting. I put a piece of paper in a small plastic storage container that securely locks. I added a large pine cone and black paint. They each took turns shaking it; eagerly I might add. 

The first pine cone painting had too much paint. I recommend starting with a little paint and adding more when needed. 

Finally, our sensory was with the sponges! I had star shapes, tree shapes, and ginger bread people shapes. I laid out the aquadoodle mat and let the kids explore. They loved playing in the water and painting the mat.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Creative Christmas

Have you seen the Creative Christmas Countdown? If not, you need to check it out. '

24 different bloggers are sharing creative Christmas ideas and activities for 24 days in December!

Follow along and do with your child, it is guaranteed fun.

Good ahead and post pictures of what you made here or on our Facebook page.

Winter Blahs

I am noticing a trend among my fellow moms; a depression. Repeatedly in our discussions we talk about how we have the winter blahs already and it is only the first week of December. It is going to be a long winter if this is the sentiment already.

I will share what  has worked for me and other moms. I am no way a doctor so go visit your doctor if you suffer from depression or any other ailment. I am not diagnosing you nor telling you a treatment plan. I am simply sharing what has worked for me.

Last year I really noticed an evil mommy coming out of me. I was sleep deprived, and depressed. I started yelling a lot and I felt horrible about it. The day I heard my oldest yell at my youngest the way I was yelling, I knew it had to stop.

I started taking Vitamin D and Fish Oil daily. I am a sunshine girl. I thrive in summer, rarely having a blue day. Winter is an entirely different season of emotions for me. I know I suffer from a seasonal disorder and get depressed. Taking the supplements has helped me tremendously. I know if I don't take them, I feel my self slipping back into that funk.

Do you suffer from a seasonal disorder? How do you cope with having cabin fever? How do you not loose your sanity during the winter months?

That being said, this is a good time to remind everyone that Playaway has a Free open play Friday the last Friday in the month. This starts in January. Come play off the winter blahs.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Ornaments and Globes

I had inspiration this morning and decided to get crafty. I loaded up the kids and off we went to get supplies.

I got foam ribbons, glitter, metallic crinkle shreds, and plastic ornaments. I even got 2 plastic snow globes.

We added the shreds, wrapped the foam ribbons around and viola - ornaments for family.

The globes are still a work in progress. I did not get the right glue, nor did I follow directions. There is a lot to them and I have found simpler instructions online. I will post the instructions and results later. For now, this is what I have.

This is before we realized the glue did not work.

I got mom of the day award from my 5 year old; he had a blast!

Did you get crafty today?

What is Rich?

I was on one of my mom boards this morning and the discussion was about what we considered rich. It had many different responses ranging from $100k, to $1 Million, to being able to pay your bills.

It made me think about our life and how it has changed in the last seven years since we got married. I would say now that I get to stay home with my boys, I have increased my wealth!!! I had to work for the first three years of my oldest child's life; it was horrible. I wished to be home. I got that wish after being laid off six months into my pregnancy with my youngest. It was a blessing in disguise.

While it is no picnic every day, and it is not for everyone, staying home has made me so happy. I noticed my stress was down (no rush hour!), or it was different. I got to watch my kids blossom. I have been able to meet great friends thanks to my local chapter of MOMS Club. I have received support I might not otherwise had, and I got the opportunity to do fun stuff with my boys.

I would not trade my sleepless nights for anything. No money in the world can replace what I have gained, and what my family has gained in the last 3 years. I know my husband will add (because he told me last night) that he is so lucky to have me home.

I am the one lucky.

How about you. What do you consider wealthy or rich?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


What do you do on the second day of rain? Pull out the sponges and have some fun!

Sponge sheets I got at the schools "garage sale" recently.

I cut them into shapes for my class and...
gave my little guy the scraps!

I should note that these are the sponges that are flat, but once you add water they grow. He giggled and giggled. He spent about 20 minutes playing in the sink with them. He put them in the cup, dumped them out, and watched them twirl around in the sink. He did this all while singing and laughing. It was contagious.

Have you played with sponges? If so what did you do?

UPDATE: Big brother has joined in the fun after school. It has been at least 30 minutes of fun!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Animals in the Winter

This week I am discussing animals in winter with my friends. I have a great set of books I purchased from Costco, First Library Animal Picture books. We are focusing on the Polar book.

There are several other books you can use:

Our craft is focused on polar animals as well.
  • Animal Painting. I have several different animals you would find out and about during winter. I enlarge the animals and will have the children paint the pictures with a mixture of white paint and  corn syrup. The corn syrup makes the paint shiny, which to me looks more like snow. 

I also pulled out the infamous purple sand, and yet again it was a huge hit!

Getting Crafty On A Rainy Day

When we woke up today it was raining, and guess what 7 hours later it still is! I declare today a craft day.

We started by putting up our Christmas tree. I have a "treasure chest" of ornaments  that my boys can play with, which I hang on the bottom of the tree. They are either soft plush toys or ornaments my oldest has made in the past.

Next we moved on to making snow people for my class this week. I have a cute poem about Five Little Snowmen, and I needed puppets. I was going to make snow people out of construction paper, but my oldest reminded me we have foam snowmen. He went to town decorating them. I love that he did not use just foam; he used markers for faces (and made them all have different expressions), wiggly eyes, and of course tape. Tape is way over used in our house, but I will let that be another post.

Finally I had him put up the magnet advent calendar my mom gave the boys. It is a great tool to practice counting. They love that it goes on the fridge; it allows for fun time while mommy is making food.

Sorry for quality, it just would not turn out well with my phone. 

By the way, the puppets are a huge success; my oldest is putting on a play right now for me. I cannot wait for little brother to wake up from nap to see the stories they will create. 

I have so many rainy day winter crafts spinning in my brain. What is your favorite winter time craft?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Today I am thankful for so much, but most of all family.

Today we will spend the day at my parent's house with about 25 people. Tomorrow we will go to my husband's Aunt's house and enjoy time with them.

We all have our assigned meal to make; mine being sweet potato casserole. You know the one with the marshmallows. Mmmm.

My mom makes this awesome cranberry jello with banana's and walnuts. It is one of my favorites. I am not a big fan of turkey (sorry) so I fill up on salad, potatoes, veggies and of course pie.

What is your favorite dish on Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I love to cook!

I love food. I love to eat it. I love to cook it. I am not sure which gives me more pleasure. My mom loves to entertain and I got the cooking bug from her. She is Polish and my aunt and her make up the Polish Princess catering company. Not really, but that is the name they gave themselves when they do a big family event. It works, and they are great.

Continuing on in the Polish Princess way, I love to cook. Today I picked up 2 chickens from Costco and made chicken noodle soup, chicken enchiladas, and two chicken casseroles. I keep one for dinner and freeze the rest. The soup is for lunch all week.

My dinner masterpiece.

I love the web site, Skinny Taste. Gina, the blogger, creates recipes that are healthier and assigns the Weight Watchers points to the meals. I use several other sites as well, but this tends to be a go to for me.

What are your favorite web sites for meal planning and recipes? Do you involve your kids? You should, don't be afraid as it is a great learning tool.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We Did It; The Royal Oak Holiday Parade

Well, we did it. We survived our first parade. The Royal Oak parade has come a long way baby. This year there were 79 participants and we were one of them.

If you have never been involved in a parade, it is a hurry up and wait day. We had to be there by 10:15 and the parade started at 11. We were 39th in line! We waited for a bit to start and once we started it was over fast. I hardly got to hand out candy, pencils and coupons.  If I missed you, I apologize.

We got to watch the last few bands, kids, and floats arrive after we finished.

A big shout out to my sister and my nephews for their help; without them we would have been lost. Here are a few pictures. I wish I would have thought of getting some of the crowd.

Arriving at the parade meeting site.

How cool is this? A monster truck in front of us!

The gang; family rocks.

My rock star sister and me.

Did you go? What was your favorite thing about the parade?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I was super excited to roll out my plan for our construction themed class. My boys are into anything that moves dirt, fixes things, blocks; in general anything to do with construction. It was an easy topic for me.

  • Tonka Construction Zone - allows children to press the trucks and buttons that make noise
  • Usborne First Picture Trucks
  • The Home Depot - My Hammer (this is the one I read to class due to simplicity)
  • Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?

Fine Motor: 

My favorite fine motor/sensory thus far! You take dry spaghetti and stand it up in a play dough ball. Then you offer cheerios or other O cereal to thread on the spaghetti. I also offered foam shapes. The kids loved it and spent a good 15 minutes there, which is a good length of time for 2-3 year olds to focus.


Shape construction. I cut out triangles, rectangles, circles, and squares from various colored construction paper. I had the kids glue them on a white piece of paper. It is so simple, yet it got a great response. One of my friends spent about 10 minutes on it and he was very particular on placement.

  • block center - wood, paper and plastic blocks
  • dress up center- I had hard hats, vests and tools available 

It was a popular them. The lesson I learned; every child loved hammers and two hammers was not enough for a class of 8! Mental note to get more hammers. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feather Rubbing Craft

I know it sounds weird, right? 
I was on my way to meet my in-laws, who graciously took my boys all weekend (big smile), and was browsing all my favorite preschool blogs. I found a great craft - I am searching for the blog now to give it credit. 

You take glue and make a feather outline. Let it dry. Then have the children place the paper over it and rub it with crayons. I made 6 of them on heavy duty file folder paper. Of course since I was gluing, both my boys had to get into the act. Thank goodness they woke up at 6:30, that way we got a craft in before the oldest goes to school. 

Sorry about quality - trying to get boys to school!

We will be doing this craft with my 2-3 year olds this week. We will take the feather rubbings, cut them out and glue to a brown circle (the turkey body). My friends will then add a face to their turkey. 

My 1-2 year olds will be doing the handprint turkey, with the help of their parents of course. I will post the finished results after class. I am super excited.

Drum are the results.

A work in progress; Turkey with the feather rubbings

Suggested books: 
Thank You Thanksgiving is a simple book with a great message.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh What a Week!

It was one of those weeks. A week that reminds you that you have to go with the flow that life brings you. My oldest son had no school on Tuesday and a half day on Friday. It threw me way of schedule. I thought Wednesday was Monday, and it went down hill from there. 

On a good note:

The Robot Garage was a huge hit; score points for mom. 

We scored some awesome deals at the Royal Oak Schools Garage sale! If you missed it, they plan on having another one. The schools are getting rid of items from storage; filing cabinets, desks, chairs, chalkboards and more. We scored 2 cabinets and a ton of construction paper for only $13. Wow. 

The Holiday Parade is Saturday! Come see us and score some treats and a lucky few will get 10% off coupons! *New families to register for one of our 6 week classes. 

and the best for last...

My husband and I had a no kid weekend! My in-laws called and asked to take the boys. We have had the best time together. It has been much needed. We really need the time to reconnect and remember why we fell in love. Marriage is work, kids are work, and life is a work in progress. I am typing this while enjoying coffee, baking french toast, and peace and quiet. ahhhh. 

That's all this week. I will try to get some cool links up for the fabulous crafts I found.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Robot Garage

Today, since my oldest did not have school, I made a trip to the ultra cool Robot Garage in Birmingham. If you have not been, I highly recommend it. They have Lego's® galore, for all ages. 

Today we were lucky enough to attend one of their free open play sessions. Normally there is a small fee to play, design and explore. They had Lego® Duplo's for the younger ones and the smaller Lego's® for the older kids. Rows and rows of Lego's®, as modeled by my oldest son.

The staff was great; always asking how we were doing and if we needed help. They also supplied the Hex Bugs, and the kids went nuts. 

We stayed for about an hour and a half, when my little engineer declared he was done. All in all, it was wonderful and I cannot recommend it enough for your little (or older) builder, engineer, or future robotic builder child. 

Where do I start?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Family Craft

I am a huge fan of any craft or art activity that involves the entire family; often dad gets left out. This project is easy to do and I am glad I came across it on Creative Carmella. I search for inspiration daily on blogs that I follow. Many times I take a craft and make a few changes, but not this one. 

What is your favorite hand print art work?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Santa Wreath

When I went to Genesis Church last night for our Moms Night In, we had a craft. Make a wreath with felt, buttons, and ribbon. I knew Aidan would have a blast doing this, therefore I brought it home. 

I wanted to do a fall theme, but he had other plans. He instantly saw Santa and his beard. We worked as a team. 

This is the result.

Santa in all his glory.