Big news in our house. After a four year break from air travel we're ready to give it another shot. When Quinn was four months old we flew to the Dominican Republic. It was a disastrous trip full of non-stop crying, explosive diarrhea all over my pants mid-flight and an abundance of chain-smoking resort guests. We're putting it all behind us and heading to sunny Jamaica. We are all excited to leave behind the freezing weather of New England for sunshine and bathing suits.
My children are especially excited for the airplane trip. I decided to focus our play on airplanes.
Children's literature is an important aspect of learning through play. Look no further than your local library. I am always the lady balancing the enormous pile of books on my stroller as I walk out with three kids. Here are some great airplane/airport themed books:
Airport Byron Barton
Planes Byron Barton
A Day at the Airport Richard Scarry
Airplanes: Soaring! Diving! Turning! Patricia Hubbell
Airplane Flight! Susanna Leonard Hill
Planes Anne Rockwell
Flying Donald Crews
Going on a Plane Anne Civardi
We transformed our block area into an airport complete with runways, gates and seating areas. In addition to our wooden blocks I added little people and a few airplanes. Creating the airport and then acting out the different roles of passengers, pilots and flight attendants was a wonderful way for my children to become acquainted with airports.
Wanting to give our children a chance to experience the inside of an airplane before the actual trip we took advantage of a snow day and created an airplane using large cardboard boxes. I am a huge fan of creating structures out of cardboard. I keep a stash in our basement for our creations. Looking for boxes? Ask friends, neighbors and stores if you can take any unwanted cardboard. People are usually more than willing.
We began by looking at one of our toy airplanes in order to decide what shape we needed to make. I used clear packing tape to secure the cradboard pieces together (masking tape works well too). You can create windows and a door using a sharp kitchen knife or x-acto blade.
My children were amazed by the concept that we would be flying as high as the clouds! We drew a mural of the fluffy clouds and sky on large mural paper then placed it under the airplane. (Pardon my daughter Charlotte. She is going through a naked phase.)
We created cardboard chairs on the inside including a spot for the pilot.
Such a successful project! We are ready for the friendly skies!
Come back and visit for Part Two: Tips for Traveling with Kids.
I know I am not the first parent in history to have a hellish week leading up to an event. Between my husband's crazy work schedule and two teething little birthday girls who were up at all hours of the night making one tired mama I was struggling to find the energy and time to create my daughters' Barney Birthday Party. I tried to take the easy way out and get Barney themed decorations at our local party store, but would you believe Barney was no where to be found? The teenager at checkout looked at me like I was the biggest loser and said "Is Barney even on the air anymore?" So, it was time to get creative! As I looked around my house the night before the party with 15 hours until guests were due to arrive this is what I saw. Admit it, it looks like we've been robbed and... you feel a little better about your own house!
After a good hour or so of cleaning it was time to start decorating. For the table I focused on a purple and green theme. A purple table cloth was topped with a green stripe down the middle, purple plates and utensils and green napkins.
What party would be complete without balloons. Each corner of the dining room centered one of the Barney characters. Baby Bop, Barney, Riff and BJ had corresponding balloons and pictures I printed out from the internet. I was astonished by how excited my kids were by the little printed out pictures.
While not exactly Barney themed I channeled the warm and fuzzy feeling of the Barney show by creating a huge rainbow on our wall simply using colored computer paper. Mr. Sun popped his head out the top. Charlotte loved this!
One of the traditions I continue from my childhood is creating birthday signs. On long white butcher paper we draw bubble letters and then transform the letters into different animals, creatures and things from our imaginations.
Because this was a family party that my preteen nieces were attending I wanted an activity that would span many ages. Barney and Baby Bop's Nail Salon seemed perfect. I purchased fast drying nail polish in bright green and purple. This was a hit! All three of my kids were delighted to try out the novelty of nail polish.
Well, that's it! Just kidding, what party would be complete without cake? We were also celebrating my dad's birthday. I made three separate mini-cakes. We enjoyed a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting (my favorite!).
Make a wish. Dream big my special girls. So much joy awaits you.
Hard to believe my tiny babies born three and four pounds are now healthy, happy two year olds!
What was your favorite birthday party as a child?
Yes, I know Valentine's Day is about a month away, but last week we opened up our snow playdough
and it was gross and slimey. Yuck! Time to make new playdough! I figured we might as well spread the love and get a jump start on Valentine's Day. Playdough is one of my favorite children's activities because it's a two for one deal. You get to make the playdough with your kids and then they have something to play with afterward. A full afternoon of fun! Valentine's Day Playdough 2 C flour 1 C salt 2 C water 4 tsp cream of tartar 2 TB vegetable oil red food coloring red and silver glitter heart sequins (optional, can be purchased at a craft shop or sometimes a stationary store)
Pour first five ingredients into a large saucepan and stir together. This is a great opportunity to include your children. Show them how to measure the ingredients and pour them in. More than one child? Have them take turns pouring ingredients and stirring. This is an easy opportunity to practice basic counting, verbal directions and patience. We sing "We stir and we stir and we stop. We stir and we stir and we stop. We stir and we stir and we stir and we stir, we stir and we stir and we stop. Next person!"
It's a simple song that everyone can learn quickly and helps manage turn taking. Have your child add drops of red food coloring and stir.
Let your children decide how much food coloring to add.
Add glitter and heart sequins.
Move the mixture to the stove top and cook on medium heat stirring constantly. In the beginning the playdough mixture will look like very thick pancake batter. Continue to stir until a ball forms. Remove from heat and cool on a counter top. Be careful! The playdough will be very hot. Once warm or cool to the touch your playdough is ready. Rolling pins and heart cookie cutters are a great addition to your Valentine's Day playdough!
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It is no secret I love baking sweet treats with my son. When I was pregnant with my daughters Quinn was my favorite partner in crime for our daily chocolate chip cookies. While we still enjoy a lot of baking I am beginning to teach Quinn how to make simple dinners. At four years old I am finally feeling confident that he won't do something nuts like fling himself on the stove. This may seem like a ridiculous idea but when my crazy boy was 18 months old he looked straight into my eyes as we were sitting on my bed only to turn around and jump head first into my night table. That day ended with 7 stitches and a visit with a pediatric plastic surgeon.
Now with only a faint scar on his chin we are ready to master cooking dinner on the stove. Quinn was so excited when I mentioned the idea. He pulled one of the dining chairs into the kitchen and was eager to begin. A great starter recipe for children is bean burritos.
1 can red kidney beans (black and pinto beans would work too) (Eden Organic cans are BPA-free)
1/2 red pepper, cut into slices
1/2 green pepper, cut into slices
1/2 yellow onion, cut into slices
1 TB olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
brown rice (cook according to package)
1 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
Begin by sauteing the peppers and onion in a tablespoon of olive oil (I cheated and used Whole Foods frozen organic peppers and onion mixture). Cook until onions begin to brown. Add 1 can of kidney beans.
Add cumin, chili powder and garlic. Cook for 2 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Quinn enjoyed tasting the mixture as we cooked and helping decide what we needed more of. Set aside.
Shred cheese. Remind your little ones to keep their fingers and knuckles away from the shredder. Big time ouchie, speaking from experience!
To make the guacamole mash two avocados in a bowl using a fork. Add diced tomatoes, minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
Wrap tortillas in tinfoil and heat in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or microwave for 3o seconds. To assemble place a small amount of bean mixture in the center of a tortilla. Add rice, cheese and guacamole. Roll up sides of tortilla. Serve with your vegetable of choice. This time we choose broccoli and corn. I served this meal two separate ways. My son received a traditional burrito as well as the individual elements on the side. For my daughters I placed the separated parts of the burrito on their plates.
The verdict? With burrito in hand, Quinn sat back in his chair and said "Mmmm, this is the best. thing. I've. ever. had."
I am creating a Celebrating Moms Series. The focus will not be on "moms who can do it all", but rather on what being a mom means to you- your child's birth story, a funny story that still makes you smile, a memory that would be inspirational to other mothers, a series of photographs, etc. If you own a small business or blog I am happy to highlight that as well.
If you are interested in participating please email at email@example.com.
Ready for your kids to think you are the coolest parent ever? Painting on unique surfaces is a great project for children. We have painted on bubble wrap, sandpaper and popsicle sticks. Why not faces? After having face painting at my son's birthday party my children were desperate to try it out themselves. Giving my children the power to paint each other's faces (and their parents!) was such a fun Saturday afternoon. Ready to be brave?
YOU WILL NEED: face paints, q-tips, damp paper towels
Set up a painting station in an area of your house. I recommend using a a room that does not have a rug. Using q-tips will control the amount of paint your children can use at one time and, therefore, control the mess. Keep damp paper towels handy for quick clean ups. Despite giving complete painting control to my kids this was surprisingly not that messy. The giggles and huge grins made any post painting clean up completely worth it!
I am loving sharing my ideas with all of you! The hardest part is not putting all of my activities and recipes up on this blog in order to save some for my book. My hope is to create a book filled with activities and recipes that will be useful for parents, grandparents, homeschoolers and teachers.
As I continue my research I want to hear from you! What activities are you enjoying? What type of activities would you like to read about? My hope is that this blog will become more interactive.
Looking forward to hearing from you! I welcome all questions and comments!
Two years ago I entered a hospital unsure of what the future held for me and my baby girls. On January 14, 2011 my daughters entered the world 6 weeks early weighing 3 and 4 pounds. Luca and Charlotte changed my life.
With a two year old son at home and twin preemies in the hospital life was challenging, rewarding and exhausting. For three weeks I parented under two roofs. At night I would sleep in the NICU feeding my daughters every two hours as the amazing nurses at Hartford Hospital taught me how to take care of my miniature babies. Every day my dad or husband would pick me up at 6am, and I would rush home to be with my son only to return to my girls during his nap time and then back to Quinn until his bedtime. Day in and day out we survived this schedule. When faced with a challenge all you can do is collapse or survive. These tiny souls gave me strength.
On February 4th I finally was given the gift of raising my three little ones under one roof.
Back then life was so crazy I could only think one hour at a time. I would go 5 days without showering (not recommended). We survived. It wasn't always pretty, but we smiled and laughed and celebrated life.
Two years later life if still crazy, but I am amazed at how far we have come as a family. I shower! My children play with each other for 10 minute stretches and my husband and I have gone on four dates in 2 years (okay, there's definitely room for improvement there!).
Next week I am planning a birthday party for my almost two year olds. I love party planning and can't wait to share their party with you. This is definitely a time to celebrate!
My son declared the game, I Spy Playdough
, "the best ever". I think it's pretty fun too. I hope you enjoy! YOU WILL NEED:
large amount of playdough (my recipe here
), small items to hide in playdough (beads, buttons, tiny plastic animals, utensils, shapes, etc.), white paper, colored pencils/crayons/markers Before introducing the game create an I Spy
search sheet. Choose the items you want to hide and draw and label the items on a sheet of paper. Creating pictures with corresponding words is an effortless way to introduce pre-reading skills.
Hide the various items in the playdough making sure they are no longer visible. Place the playdough and I Spy search sheet in front of your child. Before beginning talk about each item your child will be searching for. At 4, my son is not reading but is beginning to grasp the concept that pictures can help decode words. I pointed to each picture and asked him what he thought the word might be. After reading the different items he was excited to get started.
As your child discovers different items in the playdough have him place them next to the word and picture. This act will encourage one to one correspondence. Little hands searching through the playdough will aid your child's fine motor development.
I loved the expressions on Quinn's face as he found the items.
After my little guy was finished he decided he wanted to be the "stuffer" and the finder. He placed all the items back into the playdough and searched again and again! Love this game!
Well, it's been 7 days since you declared your New Year's resolutions, time to break one! Personally, I'm not one to deprive myself of anything. These days I eat mostly vegan and feed my children their fair share of collard greens and lentil soup, but there is always room for a little indulgence. Celebrate your love of sweets with my Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies.
I love cooking with my son, Quinn, and he is growing into quite the little baker. Secretly I think he just wants to lick the batter. Shhh, don't let him know I know! We decided to forgo our normal chocolate chip cookie recipe and toss in a few more ingredients. The result? A completely blissful sugar rush. The best part of this recipe is that you can be creative and sub in whatever you have on hand. Time to bake!
Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, salted
3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 all purpose flour (I like King Arthur's)
1 tsp baking soda
3 C total "extras" (chocolate chips, pretzel sticks, marshmallows, white chocolate chips, hershey's kisses, pecans, raisins, etc.)
Preheat oven 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and then then vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then slowly add to the mixer.
Rough chop the extra items (chocolate, pretzels, nuts).
Add three cups of mixture to cookie dough. Mix until completely combined.
Cover cookie trays with parchment paper or lightly grease. Drop golf ball sized balls on the trays leaving 3 inches between balls. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes.
Cool on tray for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack. These cookies are great with a cold glass of milk.
A satisfied customer!
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