Two weeks ago Quinn and I enjoyed making these pizzas into different type of Spring-themed shapes. Unfortunately, 5 minutes after I pulled them out of the oven and called "Time for dinner!"
Quinn decided to make one last flying leap from our coffee table to the couch only to misjudge his landing, fall backwards, and crack his head open on the table. It wasn't a pretty sight! Sadly our dinner that night ended up being apple juice and cookies from the ER vending machine and six stitches. Quinn's head is healing nicely, and I'm finally ready to share our yummy pizzas (confirmed delicious by my husband and daughters who actually had dinner that night!) YOU WILL NEED: pizza dough (either buy or use this recipe
), favorite marinara sauce (we use Rozanno or Rao's), mozarella cheese, favorite toppings Shape dough into Spring-themed shapes. We made a butterfly, a flower and Quinn thought a lovely house fit the theme too!
Add sauce, cheese and any other choice toppings. We kept it simple that night with plain cheese.
Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Voila! Yummy Spring pizzas for all!
When I originally started Homegrown Friends as a playgroup matching business it was important to me that it be LGBT friendly. Even though I have stopped that aspect of this business
the inclusive message remains essential.
As my final project in grad school I created a Family Study for 4 and 5 year olds that would combat heterosexism (institutionalized homophobia). Out of any curriculum I designed this Family Study remains closest to my heart. A large piece of the curriculum was introducing young children to gay relationships through children's literature. Whether you are a gay couple looking for children's literature that reflects your family, a heterosexual parent understanding the importance of educating your children on all types of families or just a person who loves literature, I hope you will enjoy the following books.
ABC A Family Alphabet Book Bobbie Combs
King and King Linda de Haan
Molly's Family Nancy Garden
Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman
Mommy, Mama and Me Leslea Newman
Daddy, Papa and Me Leslea Newman
The Family Book Todd Parr
And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Who's in a Family? Robery Skutch
One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads Johnny Valentine
The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans Johnny Valentine
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Children's books are a passion of mine. I could spend hours in a library sitting in an aisle searching through the titles. Besides bedtime stories children's literature offers the perfect opportunity to explore your child's interests, delve into topic of study or simply spend a morning on the couch enjoying the bountiful amount of great reads your library has to offer. Every other week I will be providing a list of books that you can check out from your local library. Because these books are based on the actual books I borrow for my children they will be geared for the ages 2-6. I hope this new series, Books to Check Out, will help guide your library experience. Click here for a printer-friendly version
. Happy reading!
Peekaboo Morning Rachel Isadora 1 and up
Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball Vicki Churchill 2 and up
Llama Llama Misses Mama Anna Dewdney 2 and up
Monkey and Me Emily Gravett 2 and up
Is Your Mama a Llama? Deborah Guarino 2 and up
Little White Rabbit Kevin Henkes 2 and up
Owl Babies Martin Waddell 2 and up
Stellaluna Janell Cannon 3 and up
Today I Feel Silly Jamie Lee Curtis 3 and up
A Good Day Kevin Henkes 2 and up
The OK Book Amy Krouse Rosenthal 3 and up
Elmer David McKee 3 and up
G is for Goat Patricia Polacco 3 and up
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat Simms Tabak 3 and up
Bear's Loose Tooth Karma Wilson 3 and up
While taking a walk with my children we finally saw the first signs of Spring. Little bits of green plants popping up. We were all very excited! It will be weeks before the beautiful colors of Spring blossom in our neighborhood s0 today we are Celebrating Spring by making Melted Crayon Flowers.
YOU WILL NEED: crayons, wax paper, iron (or oven), kitchen towel, pipe cleaners, buttons or beads
Begin by peeling the paper off of the crayons (perfect opportunity to use old crayons). Chop up crayons into little pieces. I used about 10 crayons.
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photo courtesy of Quinn Donnelly, age 4
Place a large piece of wax paper on the table with a kitchen towel underneath for protection. Have your child sprinkle the crayon pieces on to the wax paper. Cover with another piece of wax paper.
To melt the crayons you can either use an iron or place in a 200 degree oven for 2 minutes or until melted. When using an iron make sure you are moving the iron in circular motions. If you are concerned about protecting your iron place a kitchen towel on top of the wax paper.
Let cool completely. The melted crayon will become hard again. Cut out small flower shapes. Have your child push a pipe cleaner through the middle of the flower. Add a button to the pipe cleaner and bend the top to make sure the button stays on. Repeat with each flower. That's it!
Maybe you want to share your bouquet with a friend?
Or place them in a mason jar or small vase? They look beautiful on a window ledge when the sun shines in.
Want to make something that tastes like crap? Me neither, that is why I am not sharing the cookie recipe I was trying out today. It was pretty bad. Instead I am going to share with you a super fun activity we did on this beautiful sunny day. Recipes for sidewalk paints were all over Pinterest last summer, but I never got around to it. Now with the weather improving and my two youngest past the stage of putting everything in their mouths I was finally ready to give it a try. Verdict? I loved this activity and my kids did too! Everyone was engaged and surprisingly calm (except for the mischievous moment when they tried, okay succeeded, in painting my car). Best part, it will wash off with the next rainstorm!
YOU WILL NEED: cornstarch, water, muffin tin, paint brushes
Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of warm water to each section of the muffin tin.
Add about 8 drops of food coloring to each section. Stir until completely combined.
Take the muffin tin outside and provide your children with paint brushes. That's it! I love an activity that requires almost no prep time. My children loved this activity so much that they requested it again after nap! We made designs, simple pictures and practiced our letters.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... time to make some superhero capes! Quinn had a school friend over a few days ago and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to turn two silly four year olds into superheros. I adapted a fantastic idea I found on Pinterest from The Southern Institute
. Here Jenny describes how to turn an ordinary t-shirt into a superhero cape. So much fun! I purchased large adult sized white t-shirts so that the boys could use fabric markers to put their unique spin on the capes. This was a fun craft project followed by a couple of superheros running around the house saving the world. YOU WILL NEED: white t-shirts size adult large (1 per child), scissors, fabric markers Place shirt on the table and cut off both sleeves.
Cut open both sides of the shirt and lay flat. Cut around the neck and a thick band off the bottom so the cape isn't too long.
Use the band you cut off to make a simple mask by cutting two eye holes.
After protecting your table with newspaper, tape the capes to the table. This will keep them from sliding around while being decorated. Give the children fabric markers to decorate the capes. I helped the boys by adding their initials and lightening bolts.
Once the little artists finished their masterpieces it was time to fly around the house. Our home was definitely safer with these guys around!
When I was 19 I lived in Galway, Ireland for a year as part of a study abroad program. As St. Patrick's Day arrived I learned a few things about us silly Americans. More people in Galway spend the day in church pews versus wearing shamrocks and leprechauns, and the Irish Soda Bread I grew up eating tasted nothing like authentic Irish Soda Bread. But I have a secret. I adore my family's recipe. It is much sweeter than true soda bread. My kids can't get enough of it!
My Family's Irish Soda Bread
makes two loaves
4 C sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C sugar
3/4 C butter
1/4 C buttermilk (can sub milk plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar)
1 C raisins
Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar.
Cut butter into small pieces.
Add butter to flour mixture and combine until mixture resembles course crumbs.
Mix milk and raisins until just combined.
Knead for 1 minute. Split dough in half and form two loaves. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 or until golden brown. Let cool.
Cut into slices and enjoy!
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It is inevitable that parents take on certain roles in the house. My husband is always the one that takes out the trash, and I do the laundry and make dinners. We never assigned each other these jobs it just happened. Now that we have children I think it is important for our children to see us in a variety of roles. I have catches with Quinn and built our sandbox together. Quinn loves baking pancakes and cookies with my husband.
While my daughters were napping last weekend I gave Quinn and Dave the task of making the biscuits for dinner (and future snacks with jam- so good!). This simple recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.
adapted from Better Homes and Garden Cookbook
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup butter, cold
1 cup milk with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
Cut the butter into small pieces and mix together with the flour mixture using your hands or a fork until it resembles course crumbs. Leaving visible pieces of butter will make the biscuits flakey. This is the perfect opportunity to let your kids play with their food!
Mix the milk and vinegar and then add to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until combined.
Using a large spoon drop biscuit dough into mounds on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-14 minutes or until golden.
We used these little guys on our chicken pot pie and then ate the extras with our favorite jam. So yummy!
Last week my son woke up in the worst mood. It was truly a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mood, and yes, sometimes those happen, even in Australia, but this exhausted Mama just did not feel like enduring an entire day with a very grouchy kid so after dropping Quinn off at school I devised a plan. We were going to have a birthday party for nobody. Yes, you heard me. There would be cake (chocolate of course), candles, singing and more cake. This had to work. Well, I picked him up at school and he was grouchy so pitched the birthday party idea. He was intrigued and honestly I think he thought I was a bit of a weirdo but there was cake on board so he was game. We began by making a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. There is truly no better recipe than this cake by Barefoot Contessa. Don't feel like baking? No worries, pick up a cake or cupcakes at your local store. While the cake was cooling Quinn got to work on our guest list. Only our A-list stuffed animals made the cut.
With the guest list in place we made simple party hats by decorating 8x11 pieces of paper and stapling two sides together to make a cone shape. We wrote the names of the stuffed animals on the hats.
Next we needed a happy birthday sign. I rolled out a long piece of white butcher paper and created bubble letters saying "Happy Birthday Nobody!" My children decorated the sign with crayons and markers.
With the sign up and cake frosted it was party time! Our guests donned their party hats and, though the party was for nobody, I gave each of my children the chance to be sung to and blow out a candle.
Sally Bear and Huge-O Bear look partied out!
Happy Birthday Nobody! Make a wish.
When I was pregnant with my girls I always planned to try to breastfeed my twin daughters for 12 months. I had breastfed my son until he was 13 months and it was a positive experience. I was excited to give my girls the same opportunity. Fast forward to their birth I was wheeled down to the NICU and introduced to my three and four pound babies. Hooked up to machines, tubes in their noses, IVs in their arms, I was terrified. As a mother you are supposed to feel warmth when you first lay eyes on your babies, but I was so scared. And then the nurse put this little creature in my arms and she snuggled against my skin and all my insecurities melted. This little three pound wonder latched on to my breast. She knew I was her mom. The nurses stood in awe of our tiny fighter. And so began my breastfeeding journey with my daughters.
One of the blessings of having my girls live in the NICU for three weeks was that I had an amazing nursing staff ready to help me learn how to breastfeed preemies. It wasn't always easy. During those first initial weeks I remember saying to myself "If I can make it three months I will be proud of myself" and then three months passed and my mantra became "If I can make it to six months..." and then somewhere in the midst of caring for twin babies and a rambunctious two year old breastfeeding became a part of me, a part of our family culture.
I always thought I would wean my girls around 12 months, but then that milestone came and went without much thought. My girls and I were still emotionally invested and it just didn't seem like the right time. As Luca and Charlotte approached 18 months I started to feel other people becoming uncomfortable with the toddler breastfeeding thing. The questions of when was I going to wean grew in number, my pediatrician wanted to make sure I knew I didn't have to breastfeed and while breastfeeding in public I could feel the stares. As a society we still are not completely on board with breastfeeding after 1 year. Every couple of months I would gear up to wean and then I just wouldn't. One day I was talking to my sister-in-law Susanna and she said "Well, do you actually want to wean them?" Funny, I had become so caught up in our society's timetable of when I should stop breastfeeding my daughters that I seriously had never considered the fact that I didn't have to stop. And so I thought about my answer to my sister-in-law's question. Did I want to wean them? I wanted to stop wearing nursing bras. I wanted to be able to have a more flexible schedule. I wanted to wear clothes without thinking if they were nursing friendly. But did I want to wean them? The answer remains No. I'm not ready. It's complicated, and it's emotional.
My daughters, now 25 months old, are my last babies. Knowing that once I stop breastfeeding my daughters I will never again have the unique opportunity to breastfeed is difficult to swallow. My emotions are raw. I am not in a rush. This connection we have together is powerful, more powerful than I ever knew possible. I know at some point in the future it will be time to let go. It will be personal and emotional and when it is time, it will be okay. I'll hold my daughters close and cherish the memories.