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?