Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tinker Toy Building

When my oldest struggles falling asleep for naps she has quiet time in her room playing. Most of the time she wants building blocks or tinker toys to play with. I love seeing what she creates.
This particular day she asked me to take pictures of what she created and she posed for the pictures. Melts my heart to see her so excited about her creations. And I am blown away at what she creates on her own. She is such a creative little girl. And what an amazing imagination she has! I love you sweetie pie.

New Drawing Stages

My oldest asked that I draw Buzz Lightyear. She colored it in and started writing letters. She wrote TOT. She told me she was writing "TOY story." How fun that she's wanting to learn how to write her letters. We'll spend some time this next month on drawing letters.

A C creation that I thought was funny. I came upstairs and she had created it. It's a bunch of black smiley faces.
And recently C started drawing people. Here is her first set. They are adorable.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Book Tradition

Image found here

My sister has a great advent tradition in her family. Her in-law family exchange children's christmas books each christmas. This tradition has happened for many years and so they have quite the collection of christmas stories.

At the end of each christmas season my sister wraps all of the christmas books and puts them away for next season. Each season she pulls them out (so easy...already wrapped) and places them under her tree. They do a countdown to christmas with books. So each child takes a turn each night unwrapping a book and reading it as a family. What a fun family activity.

If you don't have a lot of christmas books (like us) you can put several on hold at your local library. Pick them up, wrap them (or not) and have plenty of holiday books to read this season.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Favorite Christmas Book

Christmas in the Barn
By Margaret Wise Brown
Pictures by Barbara Cooney
This book was written in 1952. The illustrations are some of my very favorite. But you have to make sure it's illustrated by Barbara Cooney, there are other illustrators of the same book.

My youngest daughter (2.5) had me read this book 5 times in a row for her. And I just read it to my oldest (3.5) in her bed tonight. The illustrations and story were so captivating to her. We had read some of Luke 2 earlier this evening and this children's story helped the scriptures to make more sense to her.

She was very interested in the story and so I took her downstairs to look at each of our nativities. I pointed out how baby Jesus was in a basket with straw. No bed. And there was Mary (who she calls married) and Jesus' earthly father Joseph. And the wisemen each holding a present for Jesus. She loved all of the animals too. It was such a great teaching moment and for the first time this christmas season we really caught the true christmas spirit together.

The very sad thing is that this book (with Barbara Cooney as illustrator) is being sold from $250-$40. So we'll read it as much as we can until we have to give it back to the library :)

***UPDATE*** I tracked down a copy on amazon from a seller for around five dollars. WEWW HEWW!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Simple Christmas

A friend of mine shared this phrase with me. I loved it! I try to do homemade Christmas for my kids and family but it's hard to do just homemade. I liked this idea even more.

"Something to wear, something to read, something you want, something you need."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Indians

M enjoyed creating and wearing her indian hat. C didn't like wearing hers :) Maybe in a few years.
We made little indian vests too. Buttons, feathers, paint.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Apple Print Wreaths

Apples, cut in half
Paper plate, with the center cut out
We cut apples in half. When you cut through the core it leaves a star design from the seeds. Great for apple printing. So pretty.

Once dried, we cut each apple out. And cut a hole in the center of a paper plate to make a wreath. The girls then glued the apples onto the paper plate to make the wreath (didn't get a picture).

My oldest really likes to be creative with whatever project she is working on. So when we were glueing the apples onto the wreath she made a sheep out of glue instead. Silly girl. Here is her glue sheep.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dehydrating Fruit

My good friend, Rachael, teaches me so much about food. Her passion is preparing and eating whole foods. Last year she taught me to can and together we canned fruit like crazy women! This year I decided to try to dehydrate some apples and pears I received from my parents and a neighbor.
What a healthy, yummy snack. It's totally helping me to not eat all the leftover halloween candy!
It's so easy. My oldest dipped the pear slices in a honey water mixture and placed them on the dehydrator racks. They took about 6 hours to dry and taste great.

Drawings, My oldest Sept. 2010

Loved these cute people my oldest daughter drew (3). But I don't keep artwork for very long so it's nice to have a little record her on the bloggity blog so she can see and remember it someday :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

Hope your Halloween was

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sink Vs. Float

Sink vs. Float bottle
Don't let my ridiculous picture fool you. These bottles are easy to make and are great in teaching sink and float.

2-liter clear bottle
water-fill it 3/4 way full
small objects that sink and float. We used: paper clip, screw, small wood block, shell, clothes pin, pick-up stick, foam letters, coins, key, pom-pom.

There are so many great ideas of toys/educational toys to make with bottles. Here is one that would be great for halloween.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Here are some activities we did last year for Halloween. My oldest daughter was almost 29mo. and my youngest was almost 16mo. when we did these. Hopefully that gives a helpful age range for those that want to try these. We are doing some of the same crafts this year. And just looking at these pictures brings back fun memories. I love halloween.
This guy is made up of rectangles, squares, triangles, and circles.
Great for teaching kids about shapes in a fun way

Last years:


Frankenstein, mummy, and pumpkin.
I remember that this was a great age to start my youngest with painting. She sat for 30min. concentrating on getting that pumpkin completely orange. It was amazing.

And a close up of Mr. Mummy. He was my favorite. (toilet paper glued on a toilet paper roll)

I cut out a ghost shape and taped it onto white paper. The girls then painted with black everywhere. When dry, remove the ghost and the print is left.

These cuties were filled with fresh cut fruit.

Cut out child's handprint, a circle and viola a BAT!

Filth Wizadry Pancakes
I got smart this year and bought the ketchup/mustard containers she talked about. Ours will hopefully look much better this year. But still, these were fun to eat.

Of course! Curious George, Jack-o-lantern, and Nemo


Thanks to daddy :)


Apples are a big part of our family's lives in October. There are few things more beautiful to me than fresh food from the garden and fruit from trees. I'm so lucky to have a dad who shares his harvest with me each year.

This year we've canned lots of diced tomatoes, italian diced tomatoes, and applesauce. We've made many apple pies and I look forward to dehydrating apples and pears in the next week or two.

I know a lot of people are heading to apple orchards right now. This is my very favorite apple pie. It's SO easy to make and so good.

1 pie crust (I just buy these at the store)
1 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. unsifted flour
1/4 c. oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. butter
6 med. apples
1 tbsp. lemon juice (I omit this)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl combine first five
ingredients. With two knives cut in butter until well
dispersed. Peel and cut apples. Place apples in pie crust. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Scatter sugar mixture over top. Press down evenly.

Bake for 50 minutes or until nicely

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wall E Pumpkin

For a church activity the Young Women were painting and decorating pumpkins. So I painted this one for my wall-e loving girls. The next day my youngest daughter painted Eve and my oldest painted the boot with the plant in it. But due to lack of camera's around here I don't have a picture.

I brought the dvd cover to look at. I then drew Wall-e with a pen and painted with acrylic paints.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Posts

Starting Next week I'll have some posts on some of the projects and activities we've been up to. I haven't been able to find my camera for weeks now so I might have to use our ancient digital camera to take some pictures :) But that's why this blog has not seen very many posts for quite a while. I appologize to those who keep checking back to see no updates....soon, soon!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Treasure Box

One of my very favorite "toys" for babies is the sensory treasure box.

A treasure basket is filled with lots of interesting household objects and things from nature. We place ours on a low shelf so that our babies can easily reach the objects. Keep in mind when choosing objects that they will probably be mouthed by your infant. So they should be big enough and not sharp. You can also keep a basket of treasures in all of the main areas of your home. We did this with our youngest and he loved his treasure boxes.

From my experience (I'm no expert) the best time to introduce treasures is 3 to 6 months old. My children loved exploring their treasures around 5 and 6 months, when they could sit on their own and play. "When they are first exploring the basket it is best not to say a word--just select an object, carefully examine it, and put it back in the basket. your child may reach for it as soon as you put it down, or she may choose something altogether different. Allow her to explore things on her own. Children like us to be nearby, but they do not always want us to interfere." Tim Seldin

It is best to offer the treasure box when they are well rested due to how stimulating it is.

This is the treasure box I made for my oldest daughter. I used an old sturdy boot box. I loved that it was easy for her to open and close. I also bought different textures of fabric for her to feel and placed those on the inside top cover.

In the words of Tim Seldin: "A treasure basket should create a sense of wonder, surprise, and discovery. Gather between 50 to 100 objects, each of which has distinctly different characteristics: shape, color, texture, weight, and smell."

Some ideas to include: a large walnut shell, pine cone, brush, feather, silver bell, a large smooth stone, plug and chain, measure spoons, small whisk, sponge, shell, wooden spoon, wooden egg, pastry brush, block, glass egg cup, glass spice jar, string of beads, satin and velvet ribbons, ball of knitting wool, small purse, silk scarf, pompoms and spatulas.

"Infants and toddlers use all of their senses, whereas adults tend to rely on sight. Objects that have a distinct visual pattern or texture on their surface, a distinct aroma, that are cool to the touch, or which make a noise when moved are especially intriguing. To a young child, everything is a new and exciting discovery. Tim Seldin. How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way"
This is one of my very favorite thing about raising children. I get to rediscover the world through their eyes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On Being a Stay-At-Home-MOM

Making Your Home a Little Piece of Heaven

On days like today when I've reached my limit of messes, whining, yelling, and disobedience I am inspired and thankful for others wise words. Whether its found in the scriptures (like last night), general conference, personal revelation or others wise words, I need inspiration everyday. My testimony of the sacredness and importance of motherhood is growing bit by bit everyday. My wish is to become a better mother everyday. Each day I hope to get a little less frustrated, slow down more and more and have the spirit in more abundance in our home.

I felt like these words from Clover Lane on "Making Your Home a Little Piece of Heaven" were wonderful bits of wisdom and I wanted to share.

Here are some excerpts that really resonate with me:

"Babies don't keep and children grow too quickly, so try to enjoy being home with them now. They will only be content to stay at home for so long, so I, for one, am drinking it up and soaking it in."

"Become a firm believer in doing nothing.
I think kids need their own space and time to do what they want to do. At our house, "doing nothing" includes, but is not limited to: playing, coloring, reading, writing stories, building forts, having "quiet time" (code word for naps), or running around the backyard. Doing nothing is unstructured time where my kids get to choose want they do, and I don't bug them. I am lucky that my two oldest are the best of friends. They are more than capable of keeping themselves entertained, which is a great skill for all kids to learn, even babies like my Stella."

I am a firm believer in doing "nothing" as she states. I know I post projects that the kids and I do (which is a treat for both mom and the kids) but that only happens once a day...if at all. The rest of our days are often spent doing "nothing" as she calls it. I do find joy in "nothing."

Limit outside activities.
"I think we all know how important family time is. Call me crazy, but I really believe that quantity is more important than quality. My kids are not currently enrolled in any extra-curricular activities. But they are still young, so I know this won't last forever. When they are older, and show an interest in things, I will try to limit their involvement a bit so that it doesn't interfere with family time."

This has weighed on me heavily. And I don't believe it's right for everyone but it has been right for our family. I don't have my kids enrolled in anything. Not preschool, gymnastics, dance, soccer, etc. At least not yet. This has honestly been hard for me. I have felt a lot of pressure (mostly from myself) to enroll the kids in an extra-curricular activity but have thus far felt that it's not the right thing for our family right now. Having others believe the same thing is comforting and helpful to me.

And loved this "Why I Stay At Home". Another great read and reminder.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Positive Reinforcement, Not so Positive?

There are a few articles that I've read on praise vs. encouragement. This particular article was a paradigm shift for me. I read it a year ago and was so determined to encourage rather than praise. But yet, a year has passed, and I came upon a similar article only to realize I haven't changed. I'm a "praise-er" and I want to be an encourager.

I see the difference between my husband and I. He needs no praise. He has an internal locus of control and I admire him in so many ways. I, on the other hand, appreciate and sometimes even "need" praise. It's truly a prideful thing. And I don't like it. I want to raise my children to be proud of what they've accomplished and not need praise from others in order to accomplish it....if that makes sense. I'll stop my rambling now, and let ya'll read these fantastic articles on the matter.

Praise Vs. Encouragement

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

And Practical Life at Home

Here are some thoughts on what "to say" when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses: (Five Reasons to Stop Saying "good job!" by Alfie Kohn)

"* Say nothing.

* Say what you saw. A simple, evaluation-free statement ("You put your shoes on by yourself" or even just "You did it") tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: "This mountain is huge!" "Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!"

If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: "Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack." This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing

* Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking "What was the hardest part to draw?" or "How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?" is likely to nourish his interest in drawing. Saying "Good job!", as we’ve seen, may have exactly the opposite effect.

This doesn’t mean that all compliments, all thank-you’s, all expressions of delight are harmful. We need to consider our motives for what we say (a genuine expression of enthusiasm is better than a desire to manipulate the child’s future behavior) as well as the actual effects of doing so. Are our reactions helping the child to feel a sense of control over her life -- or to constantly look to us for approval? Are they helping her to become more excited about what she’s doing in its own right – or turning it into something she just wants to get through in order to receive a pat on the head."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Polishing Pennies

Helping Out Around the House
"obviously, children do not know how to do everything that we can do, and it often seems easier simply to do things yourself. But by taking the time to prepare the environment and to teach children patiently how to do things step by step, you continue the process of teaching skills as well as attitudes about work." (Tim Seldin, "How to Raise a Child the Montessori Way")

I love the montessori approach to order in the home. Everything should have its place. And children have a sensitive period of learning where they want to learn how to help. I have seen this with you kids and have had fun teaching you how to mop with your child-sized mops, sweep, clean windows, empty the dishwasher, wipe up spills, vacuum, etc.

I saw this polishing activity on The Wonder Years blog and wanted to try it with you girls. This is one step in lerning how to polish and clean other detailed items and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from keeping things clean.

Supplies: pennies (we used other coins just for fun)

Bowl of Vinegar and a little salt

Old Tooth Brushes

Bowl of water

Towel to dry the coins

Dip toothbrush in vinegar solution, and begin scrubbing penny. It will magically change and become very shiny.

Next dip it in water and make sure all solution is off. Place in towel and dry.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Supplies: Jar, paper clips or anything with metal that sinks, strong magnet
We use food coloring in jars almost weekly for lots of simple we added it just for fun this time.
place some paper clips (or in my case push pins) in the jar and then demonstrate how to get them out using a magnet. My 2 year old loved this.

She had to put her hand in to get some of them but once she got the hang of it she could get them out without her hand. She was proud.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Secret Hiding Place: TOYS

The great thing about older homes is there are all sorts of funky things. Like this cabinet in my oldest daughter's room:
Who would have thought that this little cabinet could hold OH SO MUCH! It is super deep and was such a precious peach color (BLEH!) that we just had to paint it white.
My two nieces (age 13 & 14) were here for a few days and they helped me. I bought a large piece of particle board at Lowe's for $13 and had it cut into 3 pieces. We spray painted the edges all black. I found some damask wrapping paper in the dollar bin at Target. We mod podged that to the rest of the particle board (so it looked a little more attractive).
This now fits the majority of the kids' toys. We take out toys each day and put them back after we're done playing with them. My kids don't keep toys in one place, they end up EVERYWHERE. So this system works out great. And they are certainly not deprived from enough play time.

Bottom Shelf: puzzles, large block set, small block set, painted blocks from mom, train set, lincoln logs, bean bags, tool set, large legos, tinker toys, candyland play mat, and little people.

2nd shelf: Dolls, shape sorter, baby toys, piggy sorter, B&D tools
3rd shelf: Musical instrument set, puppets, balls, play felt food, play kitchen pans, rolling pins, plates
4th shelf: play animals, melissa and doug magnetic alphabet, chain toys, cars, puppets, melissa and doug animal train.

Friday, October 1, 2010