Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tying One On...No, It's Not What You Think!

Don'tcha just love play scarves? Our little SuperKIDs sure do!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Favorite Storybook Characters

We love Frog and Toad around here! In fact, the minute I heard that a local shop was selling miniature plush Frogs and Toads, I went right out and got one of each. We love these little guys.

The kids each get to hold one as we read, and when their character has a line, they hold him up high and bobble him around to make him "talk."

I'm always on the lookout for recreations of our favorite story characters. I find puppets, stuffed/plush dolls, and even china dolls (I have Anne of Green Gables, thanks to my mom's eBay addiction!). My kids love it! It really makes storytime come to life!

I do whatever works to make reading fun around here! For more great ideas and tips, check out Works-For-Me-Wednesday!

Brrrrr...Break Out Your Warm Neck Ties!

So it's actually 39 degrees outside this morning! We can't believe it! I don't remember it getting this cold this early in my lifetime...I think I heard the newscasters say last night (as I struggled to keep my eyes open) that we haven't had a cold snap like this in October since the late 1800's! This is sub-tropical Central Florida...crazy!

Cold weather is so unusual that my almost-5-year-old asked me excitedly this morning, "Mommy, do I have a neck tie?!!!"

Bleary-eyed and still rumpled from bed, I shuffled into the room and responded, "You don't like the clip-on ties you had, so we got rid of them."

"NOOooooo, I mean, warm neck I have warm neck ties?"

"Warm neck ties?"

I'm pretty sure he was asking if he owns a scarf...which he does not. I think I finally may have to learn to knit...something I've never felt necessary, since we barely get sweater weather here, never mind scarf-and-mitten weather. Or maybe I'll just wander over to Etsy and see what I can find over there!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mmm, Mmmm, Good!

My friend Rachel recently loaned me a great cookbook titled Toddler Cafe, by Jennifer Carden, and I have to tell you, it's been fun trying some of her recipes! She even shares some recipes on her blog. Her book has beautiful, full-color pictures of many of her recipes, so it's fun just to look through it...I love picture cookbooks!

One cool idea was to use your waffle iron at lunchtime to make your own paninis. The kids LOVED this! The cheese melted inside and the bread got all textured like a waffle! I even sauteed some sliced apples in butter to go in them with the cheese...mmmmmm, so good!

Yesterday, we made "Peanut Butter Globe Globs" for our afternoon snack. The kids loved rolling this squishy stuff into balls and then coating them in crushed cereal. And they were tasty!

Today I think we'll try the "Toddler Truffles," which look like real chocolate truffles, but are actually made with black beans (and some other stuff!). I've had a sweet treat like this in Asian restaurants and they are GOOD!

If you have an opportunity to pick up Jennifer's cookbook, you won't regret it! I think I need to get myself a copy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Very Hairy Pair

The Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday bash is coming up! Here's how our little party favor experiment is going:

KID 1 filled each section of a knee high with grass seeds and soil from our compost heap, layering them in and then tying each section off to form a caterpillar (I did the tying). He then soaked it in a bucket of water and set it on a clay tray filled with water. After just 4 days, we had grass shoots! He can't wait to give his caterpillar a trim! Here it is:

For KID 2, we tried filling the nylon with soil, tying each section off, soaking it in a bucket of water, and then rubbing the grass seeds on top. Hers is pictured below on the right.

Both ways worked, but I think putting them inside the nylon with the soil is safest. Some of her seeds blew off as they dried. We tried sticking them back on, but only the ones on top stayed put.

If and WHEN her little birthday bash happens, each guest will make a Very Hairy Caterpillar and then we'll slip it into a plastic goody bag for them to take home. They will soak it in water at home and find a plate or tray to set it on and watch it sprout!

I'm thrilled that my idea worked! This will be a great hands-on activity at the party!

Materials required:
  • old pantihose, cut into 2 foot sections and tied at the bottom
  • rye grass seed (a 5 lb. bag cost us $3.75)
  • some colorful pipe cleaners for the legs and antennae
  • A bucket of water
  • As take-home party favors, we got 12 goody bags for $1

This was so much fun and cheap and EASY!!! See more of my Very Hungry Party ideas here.

For more frugal ideas, check out this site...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The EXTREMELY Hungry, On the Brink of Starvation, Shriveled Up Little Caterpillar Saga

Remember all my great ideas for the Very Hungry Caterpillar party for KID 2's 2nd birthday bash? And this cute little concoction for the birthday girl to wear? I would love to say the party was a hit and my brilliant visions of caterpillars and butterflies became a reality in my backyard. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

TWICE we have had to postpone this party due to illness. And TWICE I have had to deal with our older son's wrath upon learning the party was cancelled. On Friday night, as I made the cancellation phone calls, several friends heard screaming and crying in the background of my home. That was not the 2-year-old girl whose party was cancelled, was her older, bitterly disappointed, social butterfly brother. First he screamed, then he cried, then he subjected us to stony silence (that part was kinda nice after the first two rounds).

The bright side: Saturday ended up being a rainy day, so we couldn't have had the party outside anyway.

We're pretty much all sick right now. Ugh! Maybe we should just put the starving little caterpillar out of its misery...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

One More Way to Attack Germs

Did you know you can microwave your toothbrush to sanitize it? And you should throw it away after you've been sick?

I wash mine pretty often, but I never knew you could microwave it! I'm totally gonna start doing this from now on with all of our toothbrushes. The kids' toothbrushes are usually very questionable looking...even when they're new. Maybe microwaving them will help us fend off more germies!

Click here to read the entire article at FitSugar. The comments below the article question the safety of microwaving the plastic, so read and decide for yourself if this is something you think might help you and your family through this cold and flu season!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Having a "Tt" Party!

I took a new perspective on blogging recently: I only do it when I am not completely stressed, or sick, or have a sick get the idea. When I have a great idea to share, I will share it (as long as I can do it without detracting from my time with the kids).

Anyway, two weeks ago when I wasn't posting, the kids and I spent the morning spontaneously preparing a "Tt" party luncheon to surprise Paul when he came home for lunch. I had recently acquired a train cake pan at a terrific yard sale, so the kids helped make pumpkin muffins shaped like a train (our table centerpiece).

I cut up some leftover seasoned chicken breasts, mixed in some chopped celery and mayo and voila! Chicken salad "Tt" sandwiches were born! I just cut off the crusts of the bread, cut the sandwiches into 4 sections, and arranged them in an Uppercase T on their plates.

The kids helped wash and set the table, and we were ready to go! Lunch never looked so good here!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hungry for a Party!

These little guys are hungry for a fun birthday party!

KID 1 and KID 2 helped decorate these little egg carton caterpillars with permanent markers (I helped with the eyes). We'll hide them on the day of the party (and probably every day after that) and let the kids hunt for the caterpillars to win a prize.

I have a caterpillar party favor idea involving knee highs, potting soil, pipe cleaners, and grass seed, but I'm not sure this will work yet. It would need some sort of bottom container, I think. Maybe it could go into a cellophane baggie and parents can find something to set it in at home before they water it...I have an annoying jingle in my head now: Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Using my pinking shears, I cut each piece of junk food from the Hungry Caterpillar fabric I ordered from The Carle museum. Then I sewed one piece of food on each side of these denim bean bags. These will be the "food" for the "Feed the Hungry Caterpillar" game. We'll draw or paint a big caterpillar with a red face (like Eric Carle's caterpillar) on the paved driveway for the kids to toss the food into. The number of feet they need to stand from the line will correspond to their ages. Gotta keep it challenging!

I've got to find swirly lollipops like the one the caterpillar eats through in the book. I just don't want the HUGE kind that are bigger than the kids' heads! I may have to go with regular boring.
Check out these cute butterfly cupcakes...they are just darling. I can't decide whether I want a caterpillar cake/mini cupcakes or a butterfly cake/cupcakes. I have several ideas. But I really like these cupcakes! And they look easy!

Can you tell I LOVE planning kids' parties? The fun is in the details!

A Good Day

Yesterday was KID 2's birthday. She turned 2. Unfortunately, she and I have both been sick. Her party should have been Saturday, but we had to postpone it.

Monday was her official day, and so in honor of her birthday and Letter Dd week, we walked to the park by the lake and read Make Way for Ducklings (a Caldecott classic). Then we loaded those little ducklings up with stale homemade bread.

This one was not my idea: I was inspired by the leader of our Children's Lit. forum who just loves book adventures, or turning a beloved book into an activity/adventure.

A few friends met us there, and afterwards we played......Duck, Duck, Goose! Of course!

Happy Birthday, Little One!
You're beautiful, inside and out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hansel! Gretel! Say "CHEESE!"

Hansel and Gretel appeared today for their final fitting. The lederhosen bribe worked!
I love 4-year-olds!

Gretel was not cooperating for this photo shoot. Hansel's patience is running thin.

Hansel and Gretel find their path and they both make their escape.

See you little urchins at the Fall Festival!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Very Hungry Little Dress

A Pretty Little Package!

This is the birthday dress for KID 2's Very Hungry Caterpillar party. I think it turned out so sweet!

This is a very simple, comfy design, made from a borrowed pattern. I have some talented friends who sew beautiful dresses for their girls...and they love to share!
This dress is roomy enough to grow with her. When it gets too short to wear as a dress, it will be adorable with leggings or bloomers. I'm proud of myself...sewing is not my forte! Thankfully, this mostly required sewing straight lines. I can sew a mean straight line!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A New Tradition

Here is one of my happy fall projects, inspired by a recent Girls' Nite Out event. A very artistic friend led the evening with lots of designer fabric giveaways and cute banner ideas. Her blog is called Pretty With Ribbons.

I plan to make one for each month so the kids can help me put the banner of the month up on the first of every month...they love being involved in traditions!

I found some inexpensive fabric and cut it into diamonds with my pinking shears. I made it double-sided, but it didn't need to be for the mantle. I think I like it there. I sewed each one with a zig-zag stitch onto some thick hemp jewelry cording.

The letters are cut from a remnant of felt I picked up in the fabric department for less than a dollar. The black tulle is leftover from the birthday tutu I made for KID 2 last year. I think it's a bit reminiscent of black bats, don't you?

Birthday Season

This is the birthday tutu I made for KID 2 last year. The pink cow fabric was marked down to $1/yd. That inspired me to make a cow cake, which turned out adorable! The body was a round cake pan, the head was baked in an oven-safe bowl, and the feet and ears were cupcakes (I cut one in half for the ears).

Birthdays are on my mind now as KID 2's birthday draws near (she'll be 2!). The theme this year is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which offers all sorts of possibilities. I'm thinking a pull-apart cupcake cake shaped like the butterfly, and maybe a small caterpillar cake for her made of mini muffins.

I'm not sure what I will do with it yet, but I found The Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric at The Carle museum online. I got a yard of the food fabric and a yard of the dots, plus the panel with the caterpillar, the butterfly, and the leaf. So cute! The proceeds actually benefit The Carle.

Our activity for the party will be decorating butterfly crowns with colored tissue paper and glue. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

As High as an Elephant's Eye

We planted our corn last week and it's already as high as an elephant's eye! Impressive, eh?