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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Road Activities for Kids

Road Activities
Raising your children out on the road gives them an education like nothing else can. Travel broadens the mind and brings new experiences every day. School is definitely still important and it can be a real challenge to make sure your kids are learning what they need to learn.
Some things are easier to teach than others. Math is pretty easy to teach while you're out on the road. There are numbers everywhere! Here are just a few activities you can do with your kids to teach them basic math skills while you're out traveling.
If they need to learn the absolute basics, the odometer is a great teaching tool. You can teach the numerals and place value very easily just by having them observe the odometer as it climbs up. You can even get a little decimal work in there too if they're up for it.
Another game that can be played for the basics is math bingo. This is a type of bingo that uses math problems to generate the numbers. You can make it as simple or as hard as necessary for your kids by just changing the bingo cards around. Try scattering the numbers one through 12 over a card. It's okay to double up! Let the kids decide which one to cover for each problem. You can find a lot more about math bingo and how to play it by following the instructions on this page. 
As they master the basics, you can start adding in calculations about money, like when you purchase snacks at the convenience store. Counting money is a skill people use all their lives. The sooner it can be learned, the better! Go from there up to calculating deals on gasoline. For instance, you could ask them something like the following. If the gas at station A is 2.75 a gallon, and the gas at station B is 2.85 a gallon, and we need to add 10 gallons, how much money would we save going to station A? You may have a bit of a shiver thinking about word problems, but this is a real-world example.
From there you can branch out into all sorts of math. Miles per gallon calculations is another good one to teach. Map skills also have a lot of math involved, like reading a scale to find out how far apart two locations are. Estimating how much time it will take to reach a destination at a certain speed is another useful math skill.

In short, with a little creativity there are many ways to teach basic math skills while driving. In fact, I was a little surprised myself while writing this by just how much math we use every day on the road!
Visit the BingoMania math bingo page for additional resources and information.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How To Make Your Kids Halloween Costumes From Scratch

If you want to save a little money this Halloween, making your kid’s costumes can be a great way to do it.  Not only that, it’s a nice little creative project for you to have! Here are some tips to help you:


Decide What to Make


Decide with your kids what costumes to make. Try to come up with something creative, but something you’ll definitely be able to make from scratch. Some things might not be possible, but then again, where there’s a will there’s a way. You might just have to think outside of the box!
Here Are Some Ideas:
  • A transformer.
  • Dracula.
  • A pirate.
  • A Fairy.
  • A wookie.
  • A princess.
  • A Disney character.
  • A clown.
  • An animal or imaginary creature like a unicorn.


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Check Out Tutorials


There are all kinds of tutorials online, from regular blogs to video blogs. Look at multiple tutorials so you have lots of different ways to create the costume and pick a way that suits you. Make sure you do this before you get your materials together so you have everything you need.


Gather Materials


Find a reliable supplier to get your materials. Make sure you shop around to get the best deal so you don’t spend more than you’d like to. You don’t want it to end up more cost effective to buy a costume ready made! Set a budget for your materials. You might need cardboard, faux fur, silky materials, cotton, and more. You might even need a sewing machine if you don’t want to do things like that by hand. If you can think of materials that will really enhance the costume, do that too. Don’t be afraid to put your own spin on the tutorials you’ve watched to make this costume your own.


Practice Halloween Makeup


Halloween makeup will help to enhance your costumes, so start practicing. You could use regular makeup or specially made Halloween makeup. Some is more expensive than others; if you really want to go all out, you can buy prosthetics and things to put on. Make sure you don’t just leave it to chance on the day, in case it doesn’t turn out perfectly. Practice first. You can even use things like temporary tattoos to enhance the look.  


Start As Early as You Can


Try to be organized and begin making these costumes as early as you can. Then you can have a trial run in them, make sure they fit your kids and that they are comfortable. Don’t leave it until the last minute unless you’re doing something fairly easy, like a robot costume made with cardboard boxes.


Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for children, so make sure you make it special for them by making them a costume and taking them out. They might also get invited to parties and things like that. You could even let them help you make the costume if they are old enough and able! Have a great Halloween with your kids!

Monday, September 21, 2015

DIY Blanket Box

I had this really great box. I had been holding on to it for several months because I have a cardboard hoarding problem. Ha! It is true, I will say "Ohhh! I am going to make a cardboard bed with that box..." and my husband will nod his head and say "Great idea!" or maybe "Interesting." He is patient and will give me a few days. If the box remains untouched, he sweetly breaks it down and recycles it to keep my hoarding to a minimum.

This box however I had managed to keep stashed out of the way in a closet used for coats. We haven't needed jackets in months now, so no one has been in that closet. Until one day. I saw him open the door. His eyes locked on the box.

He asked "What are you doing with this box?"
I knew my time was limited. It was a great box... I couldn't lose it! My mind went to work and I came up with a great way to use it and make it look pretty too!

From a swifter box to a blanket box in under 5 minutes. This project cost me about 50 cents to complete which makes this not only an upcycle, but also a frugal organization project in one.


I purchased my contact paper for $1 at Dollar General. I have enough to do another box about the same size.

First I unrolled enough paper to cover the top.


I peeled a small section of the paper off of the contact paper to carefully begin applying it to the lid of the box.

Then I did the same for the sides and the bottom.


I took a hard plastic case and smoothed out the bubbles and wrinkles in the contact paper the best I could.

My edges were a touch uneven, but that is okay. I highly doubt anyone is going to inspect my blanket box for perfection.





This box is great for storing baby blankets and it fits perfectly under Harp's crib.

This project only took a few minutes (5) and it created a really useful organizational tool for my daughters room!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Pizza Craft for Kids

My kids love to eat, they love to play with pretend food and they love to craft. Hmmm. I wonder where they get this from? I love to eat, pretend to eat play food and I love to craft. These are my kind of kids!

Every day Roo asks me these 3 questions:
"Mom, are you making lunch?"
"Mom, are you making dinner?"
"Mom, can we make a craft?"
Miss Thang always offers her 2 cents with "Eat Mom?" "Craft Mom?"

A few weeks ago I had a package with the cute little crinkly pieces of paper inside it, like the stuff you fill a gift bag with. I was just about to toss it in the trash when inspiration hit. This would be the perfect base for a craft my kids would want to gobble up!

To start off, I grabbed yellow, white, green and red paper that was left over from another craft we made, I cut simple strips of yellow for cheese. Simple circles for pepperoni, I made little curved green peppers and the hardest shapes was the white mushrooms.

I cut out quite a few of each. I knew the kids were going to LOVE this craft and I want to be able to repeat it again this winter. The extras I placed in baggies and stashed away for later.


I offered the kids some of each topping, including those crinkly little strips of red paper. They each got a paper plate.

To begin we generously applied glue to the plate, then we added our sauce.


Plate with sauce

Next we added cheese.

Cheese Please!

Then we started to add our toppings. This was a ton of fun for everyone, including me.

Green Peppers

The works! See how cute my mushrooms are!



And there you have it! We made fun pizzas from recycled materials. This was really a simple craft that both the almost 2 year old and the 5 year old enjoyed. You will have to stay tuned as this idea has spawned other pretend food crafts!
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Traveling With Little Ones: Planning A Break To London

As you will know if you read my blog on a regular basis, I am a mommy who is passionate about travel. I believe that it’s important to travel as a family, so that your little ones can get out there and see everything that the world has to offer.


There’s one place that I have been wanting to take my family to visit for a while, and that’s London. As one of the world’s most famous cities, it’s a place that I think it’s important for my children to see. While I am not planning a trip at the moment, hopefully, within the next couple of years, I will be.


tower bridge.jpg


Although we won’t be jetting off to the UK just yet, I thought that I would create a guide to planning a family trip to London. So that when I do start getting organized for it, I have everything that I need.


If you’re thinking of taking your kids to London soon, make sure to have a read of this:


Don’t stay in a hotel


The hotels in London are amazing, from The Hilton to The Ritz, there are lots of beautiful places. However, with little ones in tow, staying in a hotel isn’t a good option. You won’t have enough space. You won’t have an area to cook food, should you want to. And, if your children are too loud, they’ll upset the other guests.


The best option for staying in London with children is getting a short let on an apartment or house. This will give you and your family all the space that you need, including a kitchen for cooking in. Lots of kids are fussy when it comes to food, which is why being able to cook for them, yourself is important.


Choose the location of your accommodation carefully


If you plan on spending a lot of your trip in central London, stay near the center or a tube or bus station. Taxis can be incredibly expensive, so the best way to get around is by tube - aka, subway, or by bus.


Although you want to be near the city center, you don’t want to be staying somewhere that has bars close by. As this could mean that you and your children are woken up late at night.


Book a tour of the city


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You will no doubt want to see and do everything, but as with any location, you will need to be choosy about what you do. Start your trip with a tour of the city. So that even if you don’t explore every sight and attraction, you get to see many of the most famous ones. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament, The Gherkin, and Westminster Cathedral are just a few of the many sights you will see.


While you might like the idea of going on an old-fashioned red bus tour of the city, for the kids, a London Duck Tour is the best option. These amphibious tours are fun and a little bit different to your average bus tour. It’s worth noting that as these tours are super popular, they can sell out weeks in advance, so booking before is important.


Pick age-appropriate attractions


London has so many fantastic attractions. However, they are not all suitable for children of all ages. So before booking tickets to attractions, make sure to check whether they are suitable for your little ones.


For younger children, exploring the city’s many parks, including Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens is a great day out. For older children, Madame Tussauds and London Dungeons are exciting days out.


Activities that the whole family will enjoy include taking a trip to the National History Museum, the Science Museum, and a ride on the London Eye. There are also lots of family friendly restaurants that the whole family will love. These include Spaghetti House and Planet Hollywood.


There are so many amazing things to see and do in London, that I couldn’t pack everything into this guide. Hopefully, the tips and ideas above will help to get you started planning an amazing family trip to London.









Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fryer Park Offers Kids An Out Of This World Adventure

A few weeks ago, we set out on a mission! Last winter we saw this great park in the Columbus, Ohio area. I was sure I would recall the park! But then 8 months time passed, and I could only remember that there was electronic games on the playground....

Well I knew it existed, but I couldn't remember what part of town it was in, of course I had no clue about the name of the park either. Hubby turned to google and found a park that sounded like it could be it. Fryer Park in Grove City. So, we hopped in the car and headed south to the capital, then off to Grove City.

When we arrived at the park, we walked around the pond, enjoyed the sight of the ducks and made our way over to the park.


The ducks ready for a swim


My kids were amazed with the park. They thought everything from the cave to the playground equipment was fantastic. They were hoping other kids would be there, but that wasn't the case. We had the place to ourselves.

My kids loved the cave!


The park was large, spacious and perfect for kids of a variety of ages!

I loved the plaques for the planets!

I loved being able to set the kids free. They ran, they played, they had a lot of fun!

"The Moon"

There were so many things for the kids to do! They loved exploring the moon, they delighted in climbing thru the cave.

This part of the park is perfect for bigger kids looking for a thrill!


While Fryer Park was not the park we were looking for, it was a great park in the Columbus Ohio area to visit. It was well worth the drive down and we will certainly be hitting this park up again! We visit a lot of parks, it is kind of our thing these days. With that in mind, I will be as bold as to say, Fryer Park is on our top 5 list of Ohio parks and playgrounds, which is quite impressive!

Grove City in general is a charming place. It is a great place to visit with your family for shopping, dining or playing!
Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Heartbreak That Looms In My Future

Why do they have to grow up so fast?

My kids are growing by the second, before my eyes.

At the end of the school year my cute little boy was wearing a 5 t perfectly. Today we tried on one of his favorite shirts from last year and guess what? It wouldn't even fit over his head. I spent an hour sorting out his clothes, making a pile of things he has outgrown. I spent about another hour crying into his cute little t shirts. Sobbing on his pants that are now several inches too short to wear.



Feeling like a hot mess, rolling around and wailing into outgrown clothes. Feeling small and helpless. There is no way to stop it, he is going to keep growing until one day he outgrows his need for me. I realize; Yep, there is true heartbreak looming in my future.

Harper is almost 2 now. She is getting so tall, her hair is getting so long. A beautiful child that girl is. Her little giggles send chills up my spine. Like something I have longed to hear, like a bell ringing in my heart. And guess what? She is going to crush me someday. She will keep getting taller. She is prettier every day. Maybe she will crush a handful of other hearts on the way and we can all start a support group?

Summer is winding down in my part of Ohio. The nights are turning cooler and the leaves are showing signs of changing color, and as the seasons turn from summer to fall, I must prepare myself for the changes I will see in my kids. The changes I know are coming but I dread.

Someday, I will sit down to write and Roo will be like 9 and Harp will be like almost 6.... they will be different than they are today. They will be like new people. With new interests, different opinions, and a style of their own. Someday, I might be thrilled to discard some outgrown clothes in favor of something that reflects their increasing maturity.

Growing Up, oh why must they grow so fast? Why can't I keep their hands small, and their need for me strong?

Knowing I can't keep them as babies, I must enjoy these moments while they are small. I must let the toys take over the house during epic play sessions. I must let them need me, and I must embrace their need for me. If we are close now, and I am constantly reinforcing that bond, then maybe I can avoid the heartbreak that looms in my future. Maybe they won't need me when they are grown, but maybe they will still want me around. Maybe, if I can live in the moment with them now, they will never stop wanting to tell me about something fun they did, or about their interests, hobbies and ideas.








Tuesday, September 8, 2015

All About Harper

My cute little daughter is demanding some screen time over at Sweet Silly Sara. She insists her older brother is a spotlight hog over here and I have to agree. He is a spotlight hog, she isn't being represented adequately and it is high time that I devote some screen time to Miss Harper.

Harper is turning 2 in a matter of weeks now. She is a fun little girl. She loves to play, to dance and to wrestle her brother. 

Harper is a chatterbox. Her favorite things to say right now are

"Awww Man!" 
"Do it again!"
"Come here Mom"
"No!"
"Hi Kitty!" 

Speaking of the kitty, Harper adores him, he is like a rock star to her. Kitty enters the room and she loses all control of herself. Self respect goes out the door. She gushes, runs towards him, throws herself at him. If she has gentle hands, kitty is into this worship. If she has the hands of an almost 2 year old, he exits a room at light speed.

You can't keep Harper inside for very long! She loves to ride her cute little Kinderfeets Tiny Tot bike on the porch. She gets into epic riding sessions with her spotlight hogging brother who also has a red bike. They think it is pretty neat that they both ride the same color of bike.


Harper enjoys playing with her baby doll, who she simply calls "Baby". Each day she brings me Baby, I help her put a shirt on Baby. She kisses baby, wipes her face with a baby wipe and hands her over to me with a "Here Mom..." I am to hold Baby and give her kisses until her mommy can come back. My smart little girl has learned about hair color and has made it her mission to use crayons to color the head of this baby doll... so every day we have to clean Baby up when we are finished with her.

Harper is a pro at playing at the Park.

Harper gives some pretty great hugs. She likes to kiss too. She follows a good hug or kiss with an "Mmmm!" Like it is the most delicious thing ever to her. 

I had no idea how much fun having a daughter would be. It seems like only yesterday she was a sleepy little baby, but look out world, this girl is a mover and a shaker. She is breaking hearts, blowing kisses and dancing along the way!

I hope you enjoyed catching up with the blondie! She wants you to know she will be making more frequent appearances on Sweet Silly Sara.




Thanks to my friends at Kinderfeets for sending us a bike to mention in this post!
Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Muffins

Muffins are generally a hit in my house. They are a nice on the go breakfast, they make a great afternoon snack or a dessert.  The last time I made Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins I wanted to add something to them to make them extra special. I had hazelnuts on hand and decided that they would make a fine addition to a chocolate-y muffin! {Plus doesn't that makes these healthy since they have all that added protein from the nuts?!}


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Muffins




Ingredients:
6 ounces of semi sweet baking chocolate
1/3 cup of sweet cream butter
3/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of mini chocolate chips
1 cup of hazelnuts


Instructions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees

Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the semisweet chocolate with butter. Let stand until cooled, about 10 minutes.

Lightly beat the egg.

In a small bowl, stir together the chocolate-butter mixture with the sugar, egg, lemon, vanilla and milk until blended well.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, soda, and salt.

Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients so that you can pour in the chocolate mixture.

Stir until just combined. Stir in the mini chocolate chips and half of the hazelnuts. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups.

Top with remaining chopped hazelnuts

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Allow muffins to rest in tins for at least 5 minutes before removing from tins to serve.

Do you like muffins? What is your favorite flavor of muffins?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mom: Required for Sleeping

This post was inspired by my dear pal Maggie at Dexters Super Savvy Mommy via a fun status update.


She asked "Do your kids have a special blankie or stuffed animal that they just don't want to sleep without? If so, how old are they?"


At first I thought, no, not really. Harper likes her Teddy Bear, but she doesn't care if it is in her crib or not. Roo, takes different toys to bed if he feels like it. He may grab a book, or his "game ball" from t ball on a day he did really well. But, anyhow. No. Nothing special is required for bedtime.

Then I realized that there is a special something, a favorite something that is required for bedtime. Roo can't sleep without me. 

He is 5.

When Roo was about 7 months old, he stopped sleeping through the night, just as quickly as he started to sleep through the night. Many nights I spent holding him in my arms as we rocked the night away. I would count and lightly tap my foot to stay awake. Once he was asleep, I counted to 200 then I gently slipped him back into his crib. More nights than not, his crib would wake him, as this was when drop side cribs were in use still. As soon as I raised the side, he was awake.

So many nights I held my baby, so he could sleep in my arms. I however lived with fear of holding him too tight or dropping him. So, from the age of 7 months until he was 11 months old. I didn't sleep more than an hour at a time. He was waking up constantly.

When he was 11 months old, I was looking and feeling haggard. Bags that swallowed my face appeared under my eyes. A crazed look took over in my expressions. I gained crazy weight in those 4 months. I was teetering on the edge. If I didn't get some sleep, and soon, things were going to get u-g-l-y.

The last night I sat up with him all night, I nodded off, I couldn't stay awake. I asked my husband to take a turn, he refused as he had to work in the morning. {NO COMMENT...water under the bridge}

I put the kid in the crib. He wailed. I wailed. I picked him up, carried him to my bed, instructed my husband not to roll over on him. Roo fell asleep, I fell asleep. Problem solved.

Well, now here we are . Roo is 5. He still needs his Mama to sleep. So, at bedtime, I lie down with him until he is sleeping. When he awakens several hours later, he says "I can't feel you Mom!" or "I can't hear you Mom!" So I climb the stairs and say "I'm here Roo!" I crawl back in bed with him and he will say something like "Mommy, you will sleep here right?" or "Mommy, I NEED you!" or "Please don't go Mom."

You know... the stuff that makes me feel bad. Makes me promise I will sleep there. Each night, I kiss my husband Good Night, and I go to bed with our son.

I have heard it all. I have heard how I am damaging my marriage, how I am messing up my kid, how I need to put a stop to him needing me to fall asleep....

Well, here is a newsflash. Roo is 5 today and he wants me close to him. I want to be close to him, to smell his hair when he sleeps, to savor the feeling of his little boy breath in my ear. Someday soon he will grow up. He won't want me in his room or his bed. Understandable. But while he is little, if he needs me, it is my duty to be there for him. It is also my pleasure to savor the season of being in high demand.

My husband doesn't mind, because he understands, they are only little once.