No-Stress Resting Time

I don’t know about your family, but my minions do not nap anymore. I’m not certain when the Sandman went from putting my children to sleep at 1:30 p.m. each day to being a villain in the Spider-Man comics, but it has happened. I, for one, was not about to give up my Mom{Me} time each day, however. This mama NEEDS her me time to recharge, clean up and plan for the next day.

Since boycotting naps, we have tried various methods and, luckily, my kids are very good about staying in their rooms and entertaining themselves. My most favorite – and my minions as well – has been the introduction of audio books.

It sounds so simple, and it really is. {My minions are now 7, 6, and 4 – my 4 year old absolutely loves it!}

Audio books have been a staple for us as we have family out of state and my family is accustomed to ten hour car rides – something made very smoothly through the help of audio books. We aren’t anti-media, but find this to be a way we can all listen to a book together and talk about it.

We have listened to various books from The Wizard of Oz to The Chronicles of Narnia to Darth Paper Strikes Back {I highly recommend the Origami Yoda book series to any young Star Wars fans 😊}.

We invested in a set of headphones for each minion and simply check the audio books out from the Westerville Library; their selection of audio books in both CD and Playaways is phenomenal!!!

iHeartRadioFamily also has some great channels that play nothing but stories. We just discovered this and the kids have been requesting that this week. Aesop’s fables, 1001 Tales, and many more! I simply place my iPad/iPhone in a central location and turn on the stories.

We have discovered some wonderful book series this way. The Whatever After book series tells the real stories of Disney Princesses in a fun way and, as mentioned earlier, Origami Yoda is a family hit! Many weekend mornings, the minions all meet in the eldest’s room and let us sleep in!!! {Bonus!!!}

Now, I know that all kids do not have the book obsession as mine do, but this may be something to consider if you are looking for a way to have some added “quiet time” to your schedule.

Enjoy your quiet!

Andrea-sig

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Hidden Treasure: Olde Town Park in Westerville

#HiddenTreasure: If you have not been to Olde Town Park on Old County Line Rd in Westerville, I highly recommend it. It is sort of hidden which means few people {sorry if I am sharing a secret treasure}.

Just north of Uptown Westerville, as you drive north on State St., turn Right onto Old County Line Rd. and you will see the park on the left in a couple hundred feet.

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The play park is designed for ages 2-12 and my kids all had a great time! There is a musical wall that the children quite enjoyed, even though the drums aren’t working 😦 oldtown

The rain wheel was a hit from ages 2-6!      oldtown4

There is an entry to a creek walk, but we were not dressed right for the occasion. There is also a shelter for picnics.

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Put this on your bucket list for little ones this summer! They all agreed that they would like to return to this park.

So, while this may not be a park to go to for a lot of interaction with other moms or kids, it is a nice one to keep in your pocket for those days when you feel a little more introverted 🙂

Enjoy!
Andrea-sig

Lego Party

My littliest minion turned 4 last month. For his 3rd birthday, we had a pretty amazing Super Hero Party. When we asked what he wanted for his 4th birthday, he said… Super Heroes! Hmm…

OK, well, let’s see how we might be able to incorporate this obsession love of Super Heroes into something else that he loves. Ah-ha! Legos!!!

Super Hero Legos to be exact. 🙂

There is so much that you can do with a Lego Birthday Party that one quick trip to Pinterest had our party pretty planned out. {Check out my Lego Party Board here.}

We like to let our minions join us on Pinterest when doing things for them. For example, birthday parties. From invitations, to cakes, to games, we had it all – and they were all kid-approved!

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Decorations

Little touches totally made this party! The kids helped make this silverware/napkin caddy out of mega-blocks. They also helped decide what moods the Lego cups and balloons were {both purchased at Dollar Tree}. Just grab a Sharpie and start drawing! {I did not realize before drawing these that Lego people have no noses. Why is that?!?}

 
 

Game time!

Using white poster board {2/$1.00 at Dollar Tree} and Construction paper, this “Build Your Own Lego Man” was pretty easy and fun to make. {Don’t make fun of the hands!} I simply used painters tape to put the back drop on the wall and put mounting putty {like this} on the back of the paper so the kids could build and rebuild.

{Note: Since ours was simply a family party, I did not laminate these. However, if you plan to have a lot of children or use this multiple times, I highly recommend laminating your final products.}


  
  

A fun project I had been planning was to create a Lego table for my children and their love of all things Lego. We debuted it for his birthday. We bought two sets of baseplates off of Amazon. I had the perfect coffee table in our basement that is actually my parents from before I was born! That baby has held up VERY WELL! It has lipped edges, so no sliding off. {My original idea was to hot glue the baseplates to a piece of plywood, but this has worked very nicely for our family, so at the moment, this will remain.}

The kids used the Lego table for literally HOURS!
  

Thanks to One Mamas Daily Drama, I printed Lego Activity books. We each got to create ourselves as a Lego Person. Just look at those proud faces!

 
  

Cake Time!

Next, the cake. Lucas LOVED picking out the cake and was surprisingly particular about it! He found his four favorite Lego men and asked if they could hold the candles. Who can say no to that? {Note: to do this, you will either need to buy thin candles or force the candles into the hands of the Lego men. I thought the candles might have broken, but they withheld pretty well and did a wonderful job!}

Chocolate fudge cake with vanilla icing. Mmm… Add a little fondant and some Lego molds and you have a pretty fun cake!

 

I hope this helps in your Lego Party planning or just gives you some ideas for a Lego Lesson Week {Check out this HUGE list of Lego lessons from Teaching Ideas!}

Have a great day!
Andrea-sig

This Damn Blanket…

Since my little girls are showing strong desire in all things domestic {sewing, scrapbooking, knitting, etc…} we decided to take part of our unfinished basement and turn it into a craft room. In this, I rounded up all my craft collections through the years and moved to the desired section. One of the items I found was a blanket that I started knitting for my husband before we were married. We’ve been married almost 9 years!

I had taught myself to knit in college and knitted scarves here and there. For some strange reason, I decided, hey, let’s try a blanket.

To knit this blanket, I allowed my {then} boyfriend to pick out the yarn he liked in the colors he liked. The plan was for stripes of blue and grey Chanel.  All started out well, but I soon realized that I was a little over-ambitious on the size of the blanket. The width alone covers a twin bed easily – not easy to keep on a knitting needle. But, I kept at it. I would get lost sometimes in the knitting, but I would keep moving on.

Lo and behold… I ran out of yarn. 😦

I went to the store to get some more to find that they did not have any more of the blue! Well, by this time, we were probably already married and in our first house. So priorities shifted and this blanket lay unfinished in my knitting bag.

——> Fast-forward to now. <—–

My eldest minion saw me laugh when I opened the knitting bag and came over to look. There lies the blanket, knitting needles still attached longing for the day that there will be more navy blue Chanel yarn to complete it.

Then it dawns on me. While this blanket is not the height of my husband, it is certainly long enough to keep all three minions warm on the couch during a cozy movie night.

So I start knitting right then and there. I simply closed off {knitters don’t hate… I obviously don’t do it much!} the final line with the remaining blue yarn and the blanket was deemed completed.

Now, here’s the thing: I held up the blanket and laughed to myself about all the noticeable mistakes and imperfections that lie in this blanket. But my children were simply amazed that I was able to make something so useful and beautiful.

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My parenting is like this damn blanket.

When I look back on the day, I see my mistakes and how I should have handled certain situations differently with my kids. I see the holes. I notice the imperfections from my work. The crumbs on the floor… The lost temper… The burnt cookies…

But all my children see is the love that I put in to the day and they think it is absolutely beautiful. They see the warmth, the care, and the effort put in. They aren’t even looking past my mistakes, but rather to them, the mistakes do not exist.

I feel it is so important to always try to improve upon yourself. But this blanket – for whatever reason – really struck a chord with me to realize that to my kids, I am already the best.

So while it can be easy to beat yourself up focusing on your imperfections, sometimes we need to be reminded that we are the only ones who can see these mistakes. To our kids, we are simply a beautifully warm blanket.

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Have a great day!
Andrea-sig

Grinch Activities

Christmas Season without the Grinch, I think not! There are plenty of activities that you can do with your minions, if you know where to look. {Those darn copyright laws!} Here is what we enjoyed.

First and foremost, you have to get in the mood.

After the song, read the book to your little ones. We pack ours with our Christmas decorations so that it is readily available upon Christmas season. If you don’t have a book, I recommend reserving early at your library – this baby goes FAST this season. {I recommend starting each Grinch Day with the song & book then ending with the cartoon :)}

There. Now that you are properly Grinched, we can begin.

Thanks to Seussville.com, there are some fun activities that you can do with your little ones and turn them into lessons.  The site offers coloring sheets and activities that we used throughout the day. I placed the mazes, crossword puzzles, and connect-the-dot sheets into binder covers so they could be used again and again {learn how you can make your own DIY Dry-Erase Board here}.

Now, to turn these minions into Grinches!

I was able to find Grinch Masks template at EarlyMoments.com {along with some other fun printables!}. The kids got to color and cut them out {I helped with the eyes} and then they acted out the Grinch story. It was fun to watch!

We like to incorporate a little art into our lessons each week and Rob at ArtForKidsHub.com is our go to place! I love how he goes through each step with his kids. Here is the link to the video tutorial and the step-by-step drawing instructions. This encourages our children as well. I will admit, the Grinch Lesson is one of his earlier ones {so out-dated from like 2013!} so he goes at a quicker pace. The great thing is the lovely pause button allows your little ones to keep up easily.


Grinchly Snack:

The kids had fun with this! Using grapes, bananas, strawberries, marshmallows and toothpicks, they got to create {and then eat} their own Grinches! Using plastic serving wear from Dollar Tree, I made one sample and showed them the steps. From there, they went to work! They did a great job of following directions and creating some yummy {and mostly healthy} treats.

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I hope that you have as much fun with these activities as we did! And check out all the ways to Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes this Christmas 🙂

Merry Christmas!
Andrea-sig

Frugality Quick Tip: DIY Dry Erase Board

I wanted to share an easy way to get long life out of your preschool printables. For pretend play, I laminate. This allows the kids to use their “menus” and “airplane tickets” multiple times and the paper does not rip. For lessons, however, it is not always cost-effective for me to laminate each piece of paper for multiple uses.

Many lessons I do with my kids utilize the same sheets, and I was finding myself creating duplicate copies throughout the year. A simple way to use and reuse lesson sheets is to slide the paper into a binder with a clear cover. This creates a dry erase board for your little ones. Use dry erase markers and simply erase with a paper towel or dry eraser. It really is that simple.

This tip allows me to file one piece of paper and pull it out when the need arises. (Below is a copy of a numbers sheet that I will go to on “Back to Basics Week” which I do 2-3 times a year with my kids. You can print your own FREE Number Activity Mat from Teaching Ideas.)

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This works great for road trips too! We slip a white piece of paper in and voila! Drawing board!

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A simple cost-saving tip, but every little bit helps. Try this with free printables from any of my favorite home-preschool sites.

I hope this helps you in your planning!

Have a great day!
Andrea-sig

When Kids Ruin Your Day

Most days, we are a fun, happy family who have our little sibling moments, but overall are always smiling. Most days, fits are contained and we move on quickly. Most days, we don’t affect the moods of those around us. Today is not like most days.

The grouchy monster appeared this morning and infected my middle minion! We were doomed from the start.

First, there was too much milk poured into her bowl of cereal, though there truly was not enough at all to cover 1/4 of what was in her bowl. This resulted in immediate tears and my asking her to go upstairs to restart the day. Next, while playing, she couldn’t find her bag that she put toys in and insisted her brother took it though he was in another room playing. Tears again! The madness. Then, school drop-off… {Oh yes, it was this bad before school.}

We have two options in the morning at school: I can drop the kids off at the door or I can park and walk them up. For several days now we have been doing drop-off as 2 out of 3 kids prefer this. Since my middle minion had a rough start to the day, I decided to park as she prefers walk up.

Bad choice.

The moment we got to the door, tears were pouring because she wanted to come with me. We have had this battle at the door before and the result is typically a teacher calling her teacher to escort her to her classroom.

I know that kids have bad days. I know that our routine was busted this week as the kids had a day off yesterday {Tuesday} and they were with me all day. I know that two minutes after being in her class she was fine. But that didn’t stop it from ruining my entire morning.

I was frustrated and could not get out of the funk for several hours. What was worse was that my youngest was with me and saw how sad I looked. He was overly affectionate and a very good listener {byproduct of seeing a sibling misbehave}, and yet I could not get happy. Luckily, we were at the library.

I checked out some books about bad moods – When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry  and The Bad MoodNext, we went to the store. I saw a sale on Pumpkin Spice creamer and promptly placed it in my cart. Ahh… A simple joy that makes me smile.

Now, to pick up my grouchy girl. Time to talk it out and see what we can do to prevent this from happening again. {I don’t like being grouchy – the mood actually makes me angry!}

In our family, we talk a lot about how we can turn our bad mood around. It just so happened that this week is “Monster Week” in our at-home lessons. Last year, I printed these free Emotion Cards and after picking up my middle minion from Kindergarten, we talked some more about them.

She proudly announced, “I know how to get out of a bad mood! I go to my room and listen to music or read a book or play with my baby.” This is great, but what if we are not home? What if you are in a bad mood in public? Silence…

I read When Sophie Gets Angry and the story illustrated how Sophie overcomes her anger in a positive way. The reality is that everyone gets angry, but it is not OK to affect other people’s moods simply because you are in a bad mood. This tied in perfectly with our next story.

     

The Bad Mood tells of a badger who wakes up grumpy and actually insists upon making certain that everyone knows he is in a bad mood. After some time passes, he is no longer in a bad mood but all of his friends are and he can’t for the life of him figure out why. He talks with a different friend and discovers that he must have passed his bad mood onto others and he takes the initiative to apologize for his earlier behavior.

This opened a good discussion for all the kids and me. We talked about how we need to try really hard to recognize that we are in a bad mood and then work to overcome it. If we are out in public, we could try singing or counting as fast as we could {this works best for kids learning to count to 100 and insist upon counting super-fast every chance they get!}.

In all this discussion too, I was able to completely calm down and remind myself of the things that make me get into a better mood.

Here’s a quick list of my sure-fire smiles:

  • Any music playlist including Aqua, Black-Eyed Peas, Shakira, or Spice Girls.
  • Looking at pictures. If I am home, old pictures. If I am out, my phone is filled 🙂
  • Thinking of a smile. I know that might sound silly, but try it. It may work for you too!
  • Simple joys. Remember that Pumpkin Spice creamer? Simple and effective!
  • Being productive! Be it by writing or working on a project, crossing something off my to-do list puts me in a good mood.

Think about yourself. What is on your list of sure-fire smiles? How about your kids?

I know these days happen. That grouchy monster randomly stops by. With the right tools, though, hopefully his stay will be short and he won’t affect others with his grouchiness.

Have a nice great day!!!
Andrea-sig