Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tub Fun Tuesdays-Do it Yourself Foam Shapes

Today's idea involves a package of craft foam, some scissors and a little creativity.  My tub fun idea today is all about making foam shapes that your child can wet and then hang on the bath/shower wall.  My favorite things to make are clothing outfits (pants and shirts, skirts and blouses, dresses) and flowers/landscape scenes.  However, the possibilities are endless...abc's, numbers, shapes, rainbows......  Your kids can hang the shapes on the tub wall and then use bath tub crayons to complete their wall art.   You don't have to be an artist to create these fun shapes either.  Kids have fun regardless of your Picasso quotient.  Older children enjoy creating their own shapes as well.  It is also fun to hang your foam shapes on windows.  I can see this being a fun activity for my 2 year old when it is nasty outside!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Granola for Breakfast--Easy Recipe

I have been making granola for a while now and it is so easy to do you will wonder why you ever bought it at the store.  Granola is a perfect breakfast food.  It is healthy, convenient and kids love it!  Here is my recipe:


You need:  3 cups dry oatmeal
                   1/2 cup butter
                   1/2 cup honey
                   a dash of salt
                   a splash of vanilla
                   several shakes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
                   1/2---3/4 cup sliced almonds

Start out by melting the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the honey, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Stir together.  Turn off the heat and take pan off the burner.  Add your oatmeal and almonds then toss all together to coat.  Spread mixture evenly onto a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for ten minutes.  Stir so untoasted oatmeal is on top and then bake for 5 more minutes. 
Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container. 
Enjoy with yogurt, fruit or pour it in a bowl and add milk.  Feel free to experiment and add the ingredients and flavors that are tasty to your family.  Yum!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tub Fun Tuesday-Glow Sticks in the Bathtub

 It is Tub Fun Tuesday time again
and here is an idea which, although simple, is guaranteed to put a smile on your child's face.  Simply plop a few glow sticks into the bathtub with your kiddos, turn off the lights and watch the magic begin. Curve a glow stick and hold it by your mouth to imitate a smile or a frown...grow horns from your head....drip a small puddle onto the side of your tub and place a glow stick in it to see the way the water turns color...or simply wave a couple of glow sticks really fast and watch how the color blurs in the darkness.  The options are endless and kids will really have fun being creative. 

A word of warning:  Do not take an overtired two year old into the tub on glow stick night.  He/she will not want to get out, will insist on sleeping in the tub with his/her glow sticks, and upon finding out sleeping in the tub is not an option will splash enough water around the bathroom that you will think about having a drain installed in the floor.   The upside is that your bathroom floor will get a thorough mopping!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Muffins

Today, because for the last two weeks I have been rushing around enjoying every last minute of summer fun. And since I feel like I have hardly been home, I decided to take a breath and do a little baking.  I was perusing the Pioneer Woman's website www.thepioneerwoman.com when I spotted just the thing to satisfy my urge to bake......Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Muffins!  I mean, come on, grahm crackers!  chocolate chips! all baked together in a warm, gooey muffin!  So I dusted off my KitchenAid mixer (which I just got this year, is cherry red and I LOVE ...thanks hon!) and set to work.  45 minutes later these little beauties were cooling off on the counter.  They have been kid-tested, mom-tested and thoroughly approved of.  Soooo if you are feeling the urge to come in from all the glorious summer fun and indulge in a little domesticity, I highly recommend making and baking this recipe.  Enjoy!!!!  And thank you Michelle of the Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen blog for sharing this recipe  :)                http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/graham-cracker-chocolate-chip-muffins/ 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fun in the Car

I have developed a few tricks to keep the kids entertained and me sane on drives.  We do have a dvd player and they enjoy watching movies while on longer trips but I don't want that to be the only thing they do when in the car.  I have found that the best conversations can happen while driving.  My kids are young now so the focus is more on play but I want them to be in the habit of talking to ME while riding in the car instead of plugged into their mp3 player, handheld gaming device, phone etc. when they are older.  Here is a sample of games that we play while I am driving.  There are some old tried and true stand-bys and some that we have come up with over the years.

1.  I Spy: you all know this one.."I spy with my little eye....and then give a clue as to what you spy and everyone has to guess what you are looking at.

2.  Counting Cars:   (we all pick a color of vehicle and count that color of car/truck as our color drives by--this can get surprisingly competitive and makes a 15-20 minute trip go pretty quickly..also good for kids to practice using their memory (who am I kidding it is good for my memory too).  It can be hard to keep track of 3 or 4 people and their vehicle counts.

3.  Creating a Rainbow:   We look for objects that are the colors of the rainbow in the order that the rainbow is in. ( Remember ROY G BIV).  For example we might use a stop sign for red, a construction cone for orange etc.  This helped my 7 year old learn the rainbow colors and the order they are in at a young age and my two year old is on his way to learning them too.

4.  Back and Forth Story: we take turns telling a story by going back and forth between everyone in the car.  One of us will start it and then the next person adds their part to it and then the next and so on until the story is complete.

5.  Character Story:  we tell stories about familiar characters we have made up.  We have two that we constantly tell.  One is about a mummy named oh so originally, Mummy.  And one is about a character named Sea Monster Mommy.  Over time, we have developed histories and elaborate details about both sets of stories and we tell new stories about them fairly often.  Ex:  Mummy Has a Christmas Party or Sea Monster Mommy is Scared by a Passing Boat.

6.  Math Drills:  This is a relatively new game that we play and it is sometimes rejected by my daughter as to school like!  However, there are times she really likes to play it.  We will try to trip each other up by giving each other math questions (addition and subtraction at this point).  She will ask me to add or subtract numbers that are up to two  3 digits long (she finds it pretty funny when I make a mistake!) and I will ask her to add or subtract  numbers that are up to two digits long.

7.  Scary Story:  My daughter LOVES to play this.  We pretend that we are driving two different vehicles and that we are calling each other back and forth as we see "scary" things.  I have come up with anything from a giant hamburger pursuing her because IT was hungry to a large mob of angry Tic Tacs trying to overtake her car.  What can I say other than I have a weird imagination!

8.  ABC:  We try to find objects that start with each letter of the alphabet in order.  This can be hard as we drive along and can definitely occupy some time!

9.  Milkshakes:  You can always stop and get a smoothy or milkshake...those are always fun.  It is nice to watch their smiles when I pull into a drive-thru and they aren't expecting it.  They know a treat is in store!

10.  Name That Tune:  You take turns humming different songs and see if the other person can guess what tune you are performing.

Those are some games that we play often as we drive to do errands or go on trips.  I would love to hear any games that you all play with your kids as you drive. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Crepe Paper Fun

It is a misty day here on the Oregon Coast, where I live, so I thought I would post about a fun rainy day activity.  I keep a stock pile of crepe paper and it is amazing how it comes in handy!  One thing we do with it is to tape it across all the doorways in our home and the kids take turns running through the streamers and breaking them.  It is amazing how much fun they have doing this!  We also create obstacle courses with the streamers by taping them across chairs at various lengths so they have to either crawl over or under the paper.  They love this.  They also really enjoy creating the doorways and obstacle courses.  It is fun to see how creative they can be.  Soooo if your kids are going crazy being cooped up inside give them some crepe paper and some tape and watch the fun begin. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tub-Fun Tuesday---Melting Dinosaur Ice Cubes!!!


For the next few weeks I am going to dole out some fun ideas for bath time in my Tub-Fun Tuesdays series.  The first idea I thought I would share is Dinosaur Ice Cubes.  Here is how it works...you take a small, sturdy, plastic dinosaur (or any character) figurine and place it in a freezer safe container.  Fill the container with water and freeze!  At bath time, take your frozen character cube out and plop it in the tub with your kiddo.  They will have fun playing with the ice cube and will enjoy watching it thaw out so they can get to their figurine.  If two kids take baths at the same time they can have ice cube melting contests.  Remember the smaller the ice cube the faster it will melt so feel free to freeze your characters in some large containers to stretch the fun out.   Enjoy the smiles on your kids' faces when you break out this bath time activity!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Frog Release Day

A couple of days ago was a big day for our family....it was our annual Frog Release Day.  It was the day we released Lunker the frog to a nearby lake.  Around here, every spring tadpoles start popping up in ponds, streams, puddles, etc.  This year, the third that we have started doing this, we caught several tadpoles in a 5 gallon bucket and brought them home.  Once home, we placed them in an aquarium set up in my daughter's room and frog watch began.  Every day we fed them either small aquatic animal food bought from a local pet store or we boil lettuce and serve that to them (cooled).  We keep the tank reasonably clean and make sure to use either rain water that we collect or water that we gathered from the water source where we caught the tadpoles.  We have learned the hard way not to use tap water!  It is fun and educational to watch your tadpole for the back legs to pop out, then for the front legs and finally for the tail to start to disappear.  It is gratifying to care for a tadpole and then release it back to the wild as a frog. 

A Couple of Ideas to Think About as You Care for Your Tadpole/Frog:

Try to gather extra water in a bucket from the water source where you caught your tadpole.  You can use your water to clean the tank as needed.  Tadpoles don't do well in tap water...the chlorine doesn't agree with them

Try to release your frog in the same place that you caught your tadpole---not always possible if you caught your tadpole in a seasonal puddle that drys up.

Not all of your tadpoles will make it to frogs.  This year we had a tadpole that was cannibalistic...something we had never seen before.  No matter how much food we put in the tank Lunker would be caught eating other tadpoles.  He was a large tadpole when we caught him so we will avoid catching extra large tadpoles in the future.

Have fun!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Easy Bird Feeder Idea

Here is a fun, easy way to make a bird feeder.

You Need:  toilet paper tubes or paper towel tubes cut in half, spoon, peanut butter, bird seed

Take a few spoonfuls of peanut butter and put it in a bowl. Pour some bird seed into another bowl.  Have your child use the spoon to smear peanut butter from the bowl all over the paper tube.  Then roll the paper tube that has been smeared with peanut butter into the bird seed until completely covered with the seed.  Slip your bird feeder onto a branch and enjoy watching all the birds that arrive to sample their treat.  We had a blue jay feeding frenzy at our house!  After the birds have finished all of the seed off of their feeder make sure to recycle your paper tubes.   Have fun!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Easy Dinner Idea

My husband works 12 hour shifts so on his work days it is just the kids and I at dinner time.  Here is one of my go to meals for those evenings.  For the kids:  Crisp Cheesy Roll Ups and fresh fruit and for me: Easy Stacked Enchiladas.
Cheesy Roll Ups How To:
You need: white corn tortillas and shredded cheese and sour cream for dipping (optional)  
  Warm a white corn tortilla for 10 seconds in the microwave (this makes it pliable so it won't tear)
   Put some shredded cheese on the warmed tortilla (more or less depending on what your kids like)   Roll up tightly and place seam side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet.                                   
4. Bake for 10 minutes at 350

Easy Stacked Enchiladas How To:
You need: white corn tortillas, one small can diced green chiles, 1/2 can of diced tomatos and shredded cheese, sour cream (optional)

  Combine and warm up one small can of diced green chiles with 1/2 can of diced tomatos
 Lay a  corn tortilla on lightly greased baking sheet and cover tortilla lightly with shredded cheese, then add a spoonful of warmed green chile/tomato mixture
  Lay the next tortilla down on top of mixture and cover that tortilla with shredded cheese and a spoonful of warm green chile/tomato mixture
  Lay the next tortilla down on the stack and cover with shredded cheese and a spoonful of green chile/tomato mixture
I stop at two or three tortilla layers but by all means keep stacking as your apptetite dictates!
Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes until heated through and cheese has melted


Check out this link to The Pioneer Woman's website.  I found the inspiration for my Easy Stacked Enchiladas there.  Her site is a great one and if you haven't checked it out before here is your chance.  It is a great resource for easy, step by step recipes.  Have fun browsing!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chore Calendars Can Be Really Helpful

This year I decided to try something new chore wise.  I am not ashamed to admit that when it is nice outside I tend to let things slide a little inside housekeeping wise.....piles of laundry to fold anyone??  The Motivated Mom Chore Calendar has been a life saver for me. Every day it shows a list of chores to accomplish.  There are your usual daily chores as well as special chores that need to be accomplished each day.   I am a list person and I tend to function best when I have my to do list in front of me and I LOVE crossing things off my list once I have completed the task.  Here is the link you can use to purchase and download your very own chore calendar.  There are different versions to choose from and it is 1/2 off now (priced at $4.00) as we are half way thru the year.   http://www.motivatedmoms.com/products.html 

I am not being paid for this endorsement.  I just really like this product!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We Are Going On A Scavenger Hunt.....

We have a lot of fun walking around our neighborhood and take at least one walk a day (as long as the weather cooperates).  One of my kids' favorite things to do is to have a visual scavenger hunt.  Here is how it works....I draw pictures of all the objects they are to find on our walk.  You can make your list as short or as long as you like. For my youngest (age 2) I draw pictures of cats, dogs, trees, flowers, grass etc.  He needs help finding the objects and marking them off his list but boy is he happy when the list is finished.  For my oldest (age 7) I still draw pictures of the above objects (she and I have been playing this game for years and she isn't quite ready to give up pictures yet!) but I also give her words and 1-3 digit numbers to find.  This is a fun way to spice up a neighborhood walk and our kids enjoy it.  It encourages them to really look around and notice things about the area they live in!

Interactive Chalk Art

Ahhhh the joys of sidewalk chalk.  My family and I have spent plenty of time filling our driveway canvas with pictures of flowers and sunshine (me), cute bugs (my daughter), squiggly lines (my son) and boats, boats and more boats (my husband).  Earlier this summer I spotted a facebook post by Proverbs 31 Ministries which showed a new way (at least to us) to draw your art and a fun way to take pictures of your kids!  Check out this link to see the picture that inspired me.   http://coopetphotography.blogspot.com/search/label/side%20walk%20chalk}  Have fun drawing your own interactive art and be creative!  I would love to see pictures of any creations that you all come up with!

Monday, July 9, 2012


My daughter is a big fan of throwing parties.  Kimber often hosts Tea parties for her brother and various stuffed animals. She has thrown a Horse Party which included some fun games and pony rides on her large horse stuffed animals and recently she threw a Tadpole Day Party for tadpoles we were caring for until they became frogs.  The other evening she came to me and asked if she could throw a surprise breakfast party the next morning for her little brother.  Of course, I said yes and she ran with the idea.  She created a menu of Rj's favorite breakfast foods, Rice Crispies and chocolate chips, (and just to clarify...he doesn't get chocolate chips for breakfast on a regular basis)  :) and his favorite breakfast drink, juice.  She also created a place mat that she drew and colored on a regular piece of copy paper which I laminated.  She was very excited to gift this to Rj in the morning.  The big morning arrived and Kimber hid in the kitchen while I collected her little brother from his crib.  "Surprise" she yelled when we walked out.  She had already prepared his cereal and juice and she handed him his placemat which had a drawing of an excavator on it.  It was incredible to watch how his little face lit up as he took everything in.  It was a beautiful moment for Rj because he felt loved and cared for, a beautiful moment for Kimber because she experienced the special joy that giving to another brings. AND it was a beautiful moment for me because two hopes I have for my kids is that they have a close, loving relationship that they cherish into adulthood and that they truly understand the gift of giving to others.  Kimber just may be surprised one day soon with a surprise that RJ has made her!  How do you help foster a close relationship between your kids and what ways do you encourage giving of themselves to others?

See It Jiggle, See It Wiggle...............

I have recently become a fan of jello molds....something about them makes plain, old jello FUN.  Don't get me wrong, my kids love jello in any form that it comes in....but something about jello in the shape of an egg, flag, or star really makes them smile.  Top their jello with a dab of whipped cream to really make them grin!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

We live on the beautiful Oregon Coast so here is a fun idea for anyone who lives near a beach.....  SAND VOLCANOES.  The kids and I had the best time building two volcanoes out of sand and burying two red, plastic cups to the brim.  We then added 1 Tbsp. of baking soda and a few drops of red food coloring to the cups.  When we were ready for the "lava" we poured in 1/4 cup of vinegar.  The mixture fizzes up and will spew out of the cup and down the sides of your sand volcanoes.  Next time we do this (and it will be soon as my kids really enjoyed this) I am going to bury small, plastic pop bottles instead of plastic cups. Make sure you take your cups/bottles with you and leave your section of the beach cleaner than you found it!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The other day a friend unexpectedly brought me flowers as a thank you which absolutely made my day.  However, the vases I own that are big enough to hold said flowers are being used as rock and shell collectors in my daughter's bedroom.  Soooooo I had to get creative in how I displayed my beautiful bouquet.  I spotted a child's sand bucket and inspiration struck.  I ripped open the envelope of flower food, filled the bucket with water, cut my flowers to fit and voila a summery, beach-themed bouquet was born.  I have also been known to use little glass Coca-Cola bottles as bud vases and the cans vegetables come in (with paper removed) as fun ways to display cut flowers from our backyard or flowers that my kids gift me with on our walks.  I have found that using what we already have in our homes is a fun, frugal and creative way to display flowers or other treasures!