Thursday, 9 August 2012

Back to school

Yikes, it's almost the middle of August and before we know it, the summer is gone and we all have to get back into the school groove.  Last year I started a Special Breakfast Mondays with my kids; something to look forward to after the weekend and a new start of the week.

I just saw this blog post from the Tip Junkie and I love the idea of creating first day of school traditions.  If you have any of your own, please share in the comments portion.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Celebrating dad this year.

Happy Dads Day!
For me this year is especially important for Father's Day because Steve is thousands of miles away from us - in Japan.  BBQ accessories and golf tees are nice and safe, but I think dads would really appreciate something homemade from your kids.  I have a good friend who makes a scrapbook page for her husband each year with a special note from each kid with a picture.  I love that idea!

This year we put together a care package of dad's favorite magazines, personalized "all about my dad" worksheets and drew homemade pictures.  Another cute idea is this Dad and I book kids can make.

We always think of making special meals for mom or breakfast in bed but what about preparing something special for dad or making him his own special treat basket.  Decorate a recycled container to make a pen and pencil holder for his desk.  Make a coupon book and relieve him of taking out the trash for a week or other daddy type chores.  Check out these 10 Father's Day Activities for spending quality time with dad.

Have a wonderful and meaningful Father's Day!

Enjoy these daddy quotes: authors unknown

Someday i will find my prince but my Daddy will always be my King

Dad - Ask him when Mom says no.

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Heading To The Farmer's Market

This is the time of year most of your local farmers' markets are opening up.  This is an excellent opportunity for a family outing.  Kids can sample fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, explore different herbs and plants, learn about eggs, see local artisans' work and bring home some delicious produce.

 Local Harvest can help you locate the farmers' markets in your area.

More reasons to shop your farmers' markets: 
(by Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian)
Shopping at local farmer's markets strengthens your communities.
Experiencing food at its finest can encourage even the pickiest eater to try a few bites.  
Since the produce is picked at the peak of the season, nutrients, and phytochemicals will be more abundant. 

Farmers Market Fun (by Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian)
Try a new fruit or vegetable, or prepare your produce in a new way.
Ask the vendor his favorite way to prepare a particular type of produce.
  Many have recipes to share.  
Check if there are any special events being planned at the Farmers Market.  Many have cooking demonstrations, tastings, and fun activities for the kids.

Give your children each $2.00.
  Let them explore the world of produce and make a new selection.  There is a much greater chance your child will try this new food since it belongs to them.  (When my daughter was 3-years old, she loved the color purple and selected a purple turnip.  To this day, she still enjoys eating raw purple turnips with ranch dip!) 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Happy Mother's Day

If you have a non-traditional family like I do, Mother's Day can get quite expensive.  I have my mom, step-mom and mother-in-law to all think about.  I'm not really one to relish a breakfast in bed type of day.  My family has always enjoyed strawberry picking on Mother's Day.  Having a special tradition to look forward to every year can be really nice for the entire family.  

There are some really nice gifts you can give mom that won't take a lot of time or money to make.  Here's a few ideas:

Homemade sugar or salt body scrubs
Homemade soaps
Tea cup card with tea bag attached
Chocolate dipped strawberries
Small album with pictures and special memories written out beside them
DIY jewelry stand (tutorial)
Acrostic poem with your mom's name or use Nana, Grandma, Mommy
Help another mom in need. 

And one of my favorites!- the William Tell Overture Mom Song video

Sunday, 22 April 2012

For the night stand... No Regrets Parenting

I think I'm going to have to purchase this book, No Regrets Parenting by Dr Harley Rotbart.

To learn more, check out the website

Friday, 20 April 2012

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day 2012 is this
Sunday, April 22.

It's a great opportunity to teach little ones about conservation and protecting the earth's resources.  Even preschoolers and toddlers can participate.  Many local libraries even hold Earth Day Fairs; you can check for schedules on their web pages.

This week in my enrichment science class, I taught the four year olds what biodegradable means.  We discussed how our trash goes into the ground and can either harm or help the soil and earth.  We walked around and collected items in the school that can be recycled.  Then we took a nature treasure hunt outside.  We saw the trees' branches swaying in the wind as if they were waving to us and we waved back saying, "hi trees, we're going to help take care of you."

A great earth day craft is just emptying out the recycle bin and seeing what items can be used to create all sorts of things, even building cardboard box towers or cutting open a cereal box and using the inside of the cardboard to decorate, gluing on lids of cans to other materials, turning tp rolls into binoculars to spot the birds.

For more Earth Day craft ideas and activities check out Family Fun's page.

You can really get into the spirit be singing some of these Earth Day songs.

Pick an area around your community or neighborhood and help clean up any litter.

Have a picnic outside.

Plant some seeds.

Learn about the history of Earth Day and meet the Planet Pals.

It's important that we don't take our precious resources for granted and that we teach our children little ways to respect our planet.   Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Spring Breaking

Ahhh, spring is here. Such a great time to renew ourselves and recharge our spirits. The days are getting longer, the grass is turning greener. I love hearing my resident woodpecker every morning and having that feeling that we are all coming out of our own hibernation period.

If you're out shopping, this handy wallet sized spring seasonal produce list is a great resource.

For a little mommyhood inspiration check out these tips on becoming a "happier mom"

Spring is a great time to get our kids outdoors, exploring and enjoying nature. is a great site to give you activity ideas by age, treasure hunts, nature games, plus all kinds of fun ways to connect to nature.

And we can't leave out spring cleaning. Nobody likes to do it but at least we can get some humor out of it with these quotes:

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the
walk before it stops snowing. ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, 1966

Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy. ~Author Unknown

I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on. ~Roseanne Barr

I like hugs and I like kisses,
But what I really love is help with the dishes!
~Author Unknown

Please don't feed the dust bunnies. ~Author Unknown

Dull women have immaculate homes. ~Author Unknown

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Do you need a screen time savior?

It seems like most parents' dilemma these days; how to control screen time. And where does is end - from built-in dvd players in cars, games on the cell phones, and portable lap tops. Apparently never because the culture seems to want to keep our kids entertained 24/7. Can you believe that children are spending on average 7 hours a day in front of some type of screen/gadget?

Creativity and conversation seems to be lost, and what about just being okay with being bored some times. Isn't that okay?

I thought this article written by Jenn Savedge had some very good ideas for controlling the use of gadgets. There is also a huge impact on our children's health. Some of these facts are outlined on Disney's site. If I had enough courage, I'd love to just say the heck with the tv and get rid of the two dinosaur televisions we currently own, but until that happens the least I can do is follow some of these tips and motivate my children to be active, creative and occasionally bored.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Little Note Goes A Long Way

I used to be so good about putting a little note into Benjamin's lunch box with encouraging words or just a heartfelt sentiment. This site called Positively Proud has inspired me to start doing this again for both of my kids so that in the middle of their day they they get a little special love boost from mom.

You can also make your own from a sticky note or recycled greeting card front.

Here are some wording suggestions:

Have a great day!
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Keep up the great work!
You are special to me!
Do something nice for a friend today.
You put a smile on my face.
Roses are red...
I love you more than...
Inside is an extra special treat for you. (Attach a little candy)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Make your own sticky board

This activity kept my two and three year olds VERY busy today. It is soooooo simple.
Thanks to the awesome blog by make do and friend, all you have to do is apply some contact paper over any flat surface. I used the tops of plastic containers, sticky side up and used painters tape to tape the edges down. Then I gave the students bowls of plastic and rubber animals, legos, rubber pom-poms, plastic bugs and spiders - and they had a blast arranging them on the sticky board. I was really surprised at how long each student would stay at the activity.

Next time I'm going to use cut up colored plastic straws to build designs with.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Totally Cool Roller Painting

I fell in love with this painting idea using paint rollers and toilet paper rolls. I found it at The Artful Child blog. Just in time for Valentine's Day or any occasion.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Positive Parenting And Using Incentive Programs

I'm a big believer in reasonably rewarding your child or children with incentives. It's worked in my house for years. However, it is not a one size fits all process. You will have to find out what leverage or incentive works best for your child.

With my son, his leverage is using tv or video games. My daughter can be more complicated. Usually a small treat or dollar store type toy works best. But there are many ideas you can use. I've also used a bag with "coupon" type of rewards that worked really well. A coupon or ticket might say "bake with mom" or "pick a game of your choice."

There are all types of sites that offer free printables for incentive charts. I found this Kidz Pointz website that offers a ton of great incentive charts and other resources. Some other great home reward suggestions listed by age group are listed on this site.
Whatever task or behavior change you are trying to bring forth, make sure to be consistent, pick an incentive program that your child gets excited about, and make a big deal about praising the positive behavior.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Coping with Child Anxiety

If you are a parent with a child who suffers from anxiety, you know how frustrating it can be. You want to help your child but you don't know how and it leaves you feeling desperate while your heart is aching for them.

This is how I felt nearly a year ago when my son began having panic attacks and severe anxiety around bedtime. The one thing I did know was that I was going to find the resources to get him help. A good place to start is your pediatrician. Our pediatrician was very helpful in referring child psychologists to contact. Even before our initial appointment the psychologist recommended some very useful books and workbooks.

A wonderful book is called Freeing Your Child From Anxiety by Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D. And there are two workbooks that my son and I did together from "What-to-Do Guides for Kids." We used What to Do When You Worry Too Much and What to Do When You Dread You Bed. These are great tools for kids in overcoming anxiety using cognitive-behavioral techniques in a very child friendly way.

They are illustrated and interactive. In the "worry" guide, it compares the worry thoughts to a tomato plant that keeps growing and growing because you are tending to it. Just like worries will grow if you pay too much attention to them.

No matter what the anxiety is, know that it will be a process, and you will need to take little steps, and be VERY patient in helping your child deal with his or her fears. The resources along with the therapy have been completely helpful! No more panic attacks and sleeping soundly back in bed - hooray!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Owls Are Back

Owls are so popular these days. I don't know if it's a cyclical thing or not - remember those macrame owls from the seventies?

One of my very favorite hobbies is rubber stamping and making my own greeting cards. I have to say that I think Stampin' Up products are the very best for their card stock, inks, stamps, punches and accessories. Everything color coordinates so nicely. They even sell fabric now.

My friend and neighbor, Rachel is my Stampin' Up demonstrator and I'm in her stamp club that meets once a month. At the last stamp club we made these adorable owl calendars (magnet on back). I was soooo excited about these owl calendars I got a little over zealous and decided to make 8 of them as holiday gifts. Well, the holidays are over and I've only made 4 so far. There is no stamping involved but it's a bit tedious putting that cute little owl together. I still love how they turned out!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Instant Snow!

This week my preschool class is learning all about winter. Living in Richmond, VA you don't get to experience a lot of snow. And even if we did, the fun would be mostly limited to outside, but instant snow making kits are excellent for inside winter fun in sensory tables, tubs or buckets.

You just add water to the snow polymer and like magic it puffs up into play snow. It has a soft texture and even feels a bit cold like real snow. If you put it in the freezer for several hours it will feel even more like real snow. It's super easy and the kids love to watch the "magic" happen. You can buy "blizzard" kits online or you can just buy the instant snow powder. Here is an example of the blizzard kit we have for our classroom. I know I sound like an infomercial, but even adults have a hard time not playing with it.