Monday, January 30, 2012

Great Valentines Idea to do for your kids!

What is Valentine's Day all about? Love, Right! This year I wanted to write Love letters to my kids! I thought it would be great to start February 1st and go all the way to Valentine's Day! They need to know that we LOVE them all the time and why not use this Holiday to deliberately tell them! 

Here is my idea! I found these GREAT mailboxes in the dollar section at Target. You don't have to buy these, you can make your own mailbox out of any small box and have your child decorate it.

I had my babies decorate theirs with puffy paints. They had SO MUCH fun doing this!

They got really creative!

Here is the finished product!
Now this is what I had in mind! Everyday in February (from the 1-14th) their father or I will write them a special love letter. Something personal about them, not generic! Maybe we will add ONE small piece of candy to sweeten up the letter or a cute trinket. Every morning when they wake up, their mailbox will be hidden. So it's also a fun search at the same time! My kids are so excited about this idea! I am letting you guys know about it early too if you want to join me in writing your kids love letters for 14 days! Or if that's too much, do it the whole week of Valentines day! Even if your child is older, I'm sure they will get a kick out of this!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How To: Spice Up Package Waffle Mix! (EXPERIMENT)

I had an experiment last night! I was happy and sad at the findings! I made waffles for a group of friends... There were two particular people that I was hoping would try them! First let me show you what I did! 
Look at this BEAUTIFUL picture below! It is of my food processor with raw carrots, baby spinach, Bok Choy and eggplant! I blended up these veggies, added a 1/2 cup of water to help the consistency, because we don't want chunks, and it only took a minute!

Before I move on, a friend of mine asked about my food processor. I own the Cuisinart 11-cup Pro. It works wonders for how I cook. I do have to say that there are MANY attachments that I rarely use and it is heavy to move around but it's wonderful! I've already gotten 9 years of use out of mine and the blade is as sharp as ever! Here is a website that will give you some info if you re looking for a good food processor!      
http://best-foodprocessor-reviews.org/ 

Ok, moving on, here is a picture of my raw veggies after I blended them all together.... I was NOT shy with these veggies! I think it made over a cup of puree! I got my trusty box pumpkin waffle mix out and prepared the mix as directed on the box. You will not be able to find this particular waffle mix at Trader Joes right now because it's seasonal... =( However, use any waffle mix you have on hand! Let me point out that I added OVER a cup of pureed vegetables to a DOUBLED box recipe.

Here is my beautiful mix with my veggies added AND you can't even tell they are in there! I just wanted to add one thing.... my box calls for water (remember I added 1/2 cup of water to my veggies?) so I subtracted 1/2 cup of water from my box recipe.

Then it's as easy as pouring your mix in your waffle maker and letting it cook! BUT, don't forget the mini chocolate chips! This is my favorite ingredient, it makes you feel like you are eating a warm chocolate chip cookie! *Another tip on what I do with these, double your batch and freeze your leftovers. These are great to pull out of the freezer and pop into the toaster when you are craving something sweet!

YUMMY! The finished product and no one can tell there are veggies in there RIGHT? Well, lets take it to some picky eaters to find out!
Now I will tell you about my little experiment! I know a 15 year old girl who hates veggies....We asked her one time what her favorite veggie was and she thought VERY hard and said..."corn?". Also, I have  an adult friend who is picky when it comes to veggies and he actually told me that if I put veggies in my waffles he would be able to taste them. So I brought these "Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles" over to a get together and said nothing about the veggies.... Right away the 15 year old took one, ate it and said "these are good" and walked away! Later the adult that I singled out tried them and had no idea! So I was VERY HAPPY that they liked my waffles.... Now here comes the part where I showed them the picture of my food processor.... I'll show you again!

They both were DISGUSTED and said if they knew this was in the waffles they wouldn't have eaten them!!!!! So my husband and I were talking about this, It's not the taste buds that HATE the veggies, it's something in your brain that tells you "THIS IS DISGUSTING BECAUSE VEGETABLES ARE NASTY!" Why is this? I know I singled out two people in this blog but they are like MOST Americans.... We need to start thinking about what we are teaching our children from a young age. How do WE as parents react to vegetables and fruits? Do we provide a wide variety of them in our home? Do we eat them even if our kids protest? Do we still try to feed them to our kids even if we know they have protested in the past? Do we educate them on what these foods really do for our bodies? I am not asking these questions to make anyone upset....it's just something to think about.... Why would our taste buds like the taste of something and then our brain overrides, tell us it's NASTY, so we won't eat it anymore? PLEASE COMMENT!!!! This is a wonderful discussion!!!!

* I just changed my comment setting to allow anyone to comment... Sorry if you tried and couldn't! I have one more question! If you are a person who cringes at the thought of certain veggies, Why do you think that is? What do you think happened to you growing up that gave you this view?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cowboy Gun and Holster: made from stuff around the house!

My Son gets to dress up like a Cowboy tomorrow for school! He LOVES to dress up and won't miss the chance but he is more of a spy kind of kid, not so much Cowboy! Hence, He had nothing Cowboy and I didn't want to spend money. So I figured we could just whip something up out of the recycling trash! I drew a simple gun on some cardboard and cut it out with and Exacto knife. I actually made four guns, two for each kid!



Then I found two thiner paper boxes and used this to make my holsters! The other side of the box was all white inside.

You basically trace around the shape of your gun on the box and then cut out TWO shapes.... one of just the white shape and one with the brown part on top....This will be how you connect it to your belt!
I put duct tape over the part that was going to be attached to the belt for extra support. Then I held the belt up to it and cut two slits with an Exacto knife, about an inch apart, to weave the belt through.

The next step can be done many ways..... I chose to sew mine with a needle and thread(because I liked the look of it) but you can just hot glue the pieces together to form a pocket. Your cardboard guns will slide right in! 

To add to his costume I picked up a plastic Cowboy hat at US Toy for $1.60! Here is my boy ALL in black with his Guns and Holsters! =) YEEHAW!

"I see you're not from around these parts!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lunch Idea Resource (School or Work)!

 I happened to come across this AWESOME website that I HAD to share with you! I am so excited about this! I was wondering how I was going to give variety, in a healthy & fun way, to my son when I have to start packing his lunches next year! This resource should be bookmarked on your computer!!! It's so cool! I'm sure you have all heard of Bento Boxes.... It's basically different sizes of reusable containers all in a larger lunchbox! I am not telling you to buy this product because you can do it yourself with your own little reusable containers. However, this website has so many recipe ideas to spark yummy new lunches. I would even say look through the photo section with your child and see which pictures of lunches they go for!

The picture below is pretty cool because it explains how we need to balance our diet and the little containers help you do it right!



Below is the illustration on the website that is my favorite section! You click on Menus and get these five boxes to click on....
Spring, summer, fall, winter, and all seasons!
 Get yummy recipes for the season you are in!

Here are a few pictures from the website and examples of different lunch ideas for winter time!
Whatever they put in examples, they also have the recipe for!

Crunch and Munch: Bagel chips and whole wheat pita, cheddar cheese slices, plum tomatoes and sugar snap peas, spinach dip, and green grapes

Breakfast for lunch: Whole grain blueberry pancakes, Yogurt, Orange slices, and granola with dried apricots

Chickpea burgers: Chickpea burgers, cantaloupe, spaghetti squash, and applesauce muffin

I don't know about you but I'm getting HUNGRY!!!!! There are 365 lunch ideas and you can even sign up to get a weekly lunch menu! 
Hope you find something new, interesting, and HEALTHY!
Click HERE to go check it out!

Also I found that Kohls has bento box lunch boxes and they are a GREAT price! You child can open the little containers by themselves and NO WASTE of plastic bags!!! I think I might just buy one of these and mod podge my sons favorite character on the front!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

FUN Writing/Counting Practice Game!

 If your child is not yet in Elementary, let me fill you in on a little secret.... It is A LOT of work!!!!! From the moment they step into Kindergarten, they are expected to learn a lot and quickly! I don't know where my sons school standards line with yours but by the end of the year he is expected to write the alphabet, upper and lower case, his numbers to 100, and know the beginning foundations of reading. This is a lot if you haven't really practiced much.... so my point is, start as early as possible but try to make it FUN!
My six year old son fights every minute of "BORING SCHOOL WORK". Like his mommy, he is a visual learner which can be tough when you get to school. Every child has to learn how to sit, be quiet, and write BUT they also have to know that learning can be fun as well. We want to start as early as possible making connections in the brain with learning and fun!!
 My son's teacher had a great idea to get him a small chalk or dry erase board. I went with the dry erase, 4 bucks at Target! I also bought a pack of fun small markers. Color is alway better! =) Here is my son being silly and showing off his new board! =) The board REALLY helps to make writing fun and new... not just on a regular piece of paper. Remember, don't let them have this all the time. Let it be only for special occasions when you play writing games! 
My son sparked the idea in my head of this fun writing game we now play. He just had his birthday this past week and he got himself a pack of Squinkies. If you aren't into the world of Squinkies yet, I will tell you what they are. They are just cute mini squishy, rubbery, figures. Of course they have them in your child's FAVORITE characters Princess, Cars, Toy Story, Superheros....etc. 
 My son randomly told me,"Mom, I have 36 Squinkies!" the SAME DAY his teacher gave me the idea of the dry erase board so I put the two ideas together! We put all of his Squinkies into a basket and randomly pull out a handful. Have your child simply count them and write the number down! After this step it is up to you to make it up as it goes. You could have them add more to their pile and then see how many are there, or subtract some from the pile and then count. The important thing is EVERY TIME you say a number, they write it down for practice. You can do this with all sorts of small items other than Squinkies...for example, legos, marbles, or even food (pretzels, goldfish, and cereal). With the food items, when you subtract from a pile, let the child eat them! =)

 At one point I pulled out 10 Squinkies from the basket...then I asked him, "What if we doubled this number or added 10 squinkies to the pile?" "What about 10 more...." He quickly got the pattern I was going for! You can use fraction words like half of and quarter. The more they hear these words, they will start understanding them!
 Here is an awesome hand out Brenden's teacher gave me for using the sides of a small dry erase or chalk board to write out 1 - 9. This is a great resource for younger children! My 3 year old daughter successfully wrote out every number by herself, with me talking her through it! The earlier the better! You see in the illustration that the square the number is in, is the edge of the board! It's hard to make a mistake because you cant draw out of the box! =)

I hope this helps inspire you to think of fun games for your child to play at whatever stage they are at! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Book Review!

Ok, I can't tell you how many women I know who are pregnant RIGHT NOW!!!! So much fun to see couples become parents for the first time and second, and third! =) Since 2005, when I first became pregnant, I was on a mission to find the BEST baby book out there! And I am convinced I did!!! If you are going to have a baby or know someone who is going to have a baby, tell them about this AWESOME baby book/journal! It goes all the way up to the first THREE years!


This book has EVERYTHING!!!
In the beginning it has a section about father and mother where you can write a little something about yourself and what you were like when you were a child. It also has a section for a Family Tree! I love this because EVERY child has to do a Family Tree project sometime in school so all you have to do is pull out the baby book! (Side note: I wrote in my books to great-great grandparents....just add your own lines)
They have the normal sections for feet but they also have a hand section. I got the most PERFECT hand prints of my son in the first baby book we did but when doing my daughters hands, she wouldn't hold still! I was SO UPSET at how the hand page turned out and now when I look at it, I think its the sweetest thing ever! I remember how hard we worked to get her prints at 3 weeks old and look at this and laugh! =) This is an example of how you don't have to be PERFECT!!!

 My FAVORITE part of this book is they have a section of the first year where you write their weight and height every month and there is a page next to it for pictures. I drew lines to break up the page and put a picture of them in on EVERY month birthday! You don't have to be as anal as I was but it is so much fun to see how fast they grow month to month! I covered the stats but here are a page from my books of both of my kids first 6 months!

 When you have more than one kid, it is fun to get out the book and look to see what the siblings looked like when they were "the baby's age"! I had so much fun with this section that I added two more pages right after this and went all the way up to age three. Every month I would take at least one picture and print it wallet size and add it to the book. Sometimes I would be printing three months at a time to add to the book.... as long as you take the pictures, they are there to be printed whenever you get around to it! To remember to take a picture, I wrote it on my calendar!
 Here is a few more examples...so fun to look back on! When you can, try to write their weight/height for that month!
They grow SO fast!
I got smart the second time around and added a little more about the "before you were born" stage. I added a page about my cravings and my growing tummy....this is just regular white printing paper that I taped pictures on. 
 So if you are looking for the perfect baby book/journal to keep track of the first three years, I would totally recommend this book!!! There is so much more to the book but you will have to get it to see everything it covers! Another beautiful thing about this book is the quotes throughout.... I will leave you with one from the last pages: "Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs...since the payment is pure love." Mildred B. Vermont
ONE LAST COMMENT: after reading the reviews on Amazon I realized that some people were upset that there were some bible verses as quotes throughout the baby book! They aren't very big to really notice but I thought you should know that before you purchase just so you are informed. =) 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The EASY way to Substitute Scrapbooking!

It's been a while since I last posted! I have been VERY busy! I've decided for the next few posts I will let you know some of my ways of making life easier! New Years come with changes to make life go smoother! Since the New Year I have tried to write down Resolutions and one of them is to keep up on the documentation of my family. This is normally a stressful subject for Moms! There's already SO MUCH to do to take care of your little ones, how can you keep up with pictures and even more stressful SCRAPBOOKS!!! I know there are people out there who LOVE to scrapbook but even those people have many books unfinished in their home....to constantly have that in the back of your mind can be stressful! Some women are reading this saying, "I have NO creative bone in my body so there is NO WAY I can Scrapbook!" I have the answer for ALL of you Moms and Grandmas who want to document but don't really have the time and energy (and/or creativity)! 

Even if you have never Scrapbooked in your life, everyone has a photo album that just sits around getting dusty and cost a mint to print ALL the pictures in it! This is my alternative to both! Make it one of your resolutions to try this!

Go online or to a bookstore and buy a simple lined 8X6 journal. One that you LOVE the cover! This is  small enough to keep by your favorite spot at home, where you sit everyday to have a cup of coffee or tea. Also small enough to carry with you on trips or to the coffee shop! Pictured here is my current Journal, which I have had since October 2009 and I still have A LOT of space left!

I know some of you are thinking, you are just journaling.... I really don't find myself going back and just reading things I've written over the years. I am a visual person and who doesn't love picture along with a story? Especially when its about the kids in your life! 

The other thing you will need is a camera.... which MOST people have and carry with them everywhere. Especially when you have a smartphone, a high quality camera is right in your pocket or purse! If your child says or is doing something really cute, simply take a picture. Later that day write about it in your journal or even more "busy mom" effective....write about it in the notes section of your phone (if you have a smartphone)!
I will tell you how I do it: I take the pictures, write the notes in my phone and sit down with my journal once a week or once every other week! SO SIMPLE!!!! There are options to print pictures in wallet size at most places now! This is what I do for MOST of the pictures in my scrapbook journal and then you can send the extra picture to grandma! Save large prints for extra special photos! Cut into your photos so more of them fit on one page! Alot of times I write in my journal and leave spaces for the pictures because I don't print that often!
Here is a sample page from my Scrapbook Journal. Yes, my writing is MESSY! You don't have time to write your best, as long as YOU can read it, that's all that really matters!

I save cute pictures my kids draw, which are small enough to fit in the journal!

 I also use my journal as a date book/planner when I go on trips! I draw out a calendar and tape it onto the book so it will fold out! I even write down flights just so I have everything in a different spot than my phone incase something happens to it! It helps keep me organized and it's fun to look back on, to see what we did on our trip!

 Lastly, I am going to share with you something really cute which I have waiting in my phone to be added to my scrapbook journal.
Here is the story I have written in my phone:
January 4th, 2012
Before school this morning Brenden says "I need to look fancy today!" I said "why?" He said "Because of Gwen!"(This is a girl in his class he has like for a while and his teacher moved their seats next to each other after the christmas break.) I said "What does FANCY mean to you? What will you wear?" He said "Like black sweats and a black wedding shirt!" 
so here he is looking "FANCY"!  =)

Such a sweet story which could be forgotten in a week by busy mom, but this is something I get to relive everytime I bring out my scrapbook journal! 
Here's to a great 2012 with MANY fun memories!!!!
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