Monday, July 6, 2015

Breakfast Smoothie Kids Will Love!

We're back! I have been away for a while, but I have plenty of fun posts planned for summer.

My four year old saw a smoothie at a restaurant one day, and was immediately hooked. My blender had been sitting in the cabinet for the past four years, but I took it out the next morning, and we have been making smoothies every day since! It took a few days to find a good recipe that gave a good consistency, but we have settled on the recipe below which everyone loves. I am so happy that they are getting some nutrition at breakfast time, and I love that I can hide things in the smoothie like flax seeds and probiotics.

Here is our go to recipe:

  • 1 cup of skim or 2% milk
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 4-5 strawberries
  • Half a banana 
  • Handful of frozen mango and/or peaches
  • Small handful of frozen blueberries
  • 2-3 spoonfuls of canned pineapple tidbits 
  • Sprinkle of flax seeds on top

On my KitchenAid blender, I use the crush ice feature for 20-30 seconds, followed by the puree setting, and then finally the liquify setting for a minute or two.

I have substituted other random fruits when we were running low, and the smoothie still tastes delicious.

Smoothie Time!

We love starting our mornings with smoothies! What's your favorite smoothie recipe?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Great Toys for Little Engineers

     In this post, I will talk about some amazing toys for kids who love to think, build, and create. We have been struggling with boredom at home with our newly 4 year old. With the cold winter upon us, I was looking to add a few toys to the playroom that would hopefully engage my son, and let him build and create to his hearts content. The list below includes some old favorites, along with some fantastic new additions:

     Both of the kids LOVE puzzles. Sometimes my 4 year old likes to work on his own, and other times, he wants the whole family to help. The cardboard floor puzzles are definitely the favorites at the moment. I love the Melissa and Doug puzzles, and the Crocodile Creek brand also has some unique and fantastic puzzles.

    You can read my previous review on MagnaTiles here. These are still a huge favorite with both my boys. Two year old Baby E is very into the tiles now, and my older son constantly comes back to them with new ideas and ways to use the pieces. I love that they really grow with the child, and each child can find something creative to do that matches his development.

     I really thought that these would be redundant since we already had MagnaTiles. Around the holidays however, there was a sale that was just too great to pass up. We got a 62 piece set to start off, and I have been thrilled with them. Magformers allow the kids to build different types of structures, and my older son has really enjoyed playing with them. Magformers have much stronger magnets, and my son really enjoys that he can pick up and work on his 3D creations.

     Clics are much more affordable than any of the magnetic toys, but are great for endless hours of building and constructing. These are a little bit harder to manipulate, and my 4 year old definitely still needs help when building with these. It's a great quiet activity though, and I can see the clics having great play value even as the kids get older.

    I felt that I could not have a list like this without Lego. My kids have never really been into legos, but they would definitely be on my list of toys to try if your kids love to build and create.

What are your kids favorite building toys? 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hand Print Turkey Puppets!

I have always wanted to try this Thanksgiving project, and this afternoon was the perfect opportunity. I used an image from Google Images as my starting point:

These were the materials we used:

  • brown and pink construction paper
  • glue sticks
  • hot glue or regular glue
  • popsicle sticks 
  • crayons
  • laminator and laminating sheets (optional)

I was too distracted to take pictures during the actual process of making these, but I have some of the finished product. It was a really simple activity that even Baby E (newly two) really enjoyed. I traced each child's hand on a piece of brown construction paper. They colored the hand prints, and then I cut them out. I cut out little pink construction paper feet, and the kids glued them on with glue sticks. Next was the kids favorite part - laminating! We laminated the Turkeys, and then glued them onto large popsicle sticks. The hardest part was waiting for the glue to dry!

Here is the finished Turkey puppet:

You could also make these into cute cards or centerpieces.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: KidKraft Aspen Table and Chair Set

It's review time! The boys both have birthdays coming up, and with the holidays around the corner, I hope to be reviewing some awesome gear in the next few months. First up is the Aspen table and chair set from KidKraft. Baby E turns two this week! He has recently decided that he will no longer sit in any kind of booster seat or high chair, but will happily eat at a regular kids sized table. I wanted to upgrade our secondhand plastic set to a nice wooden set that will hopefully last a long time. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, Baby E has eaten his last few meals at our brand new KidKraft table.

I decided to go with the natural finish, because it fits our kitchen better. The table was extremely easy to assemble, and I was able to put it all together in about half an hour. The directions were clear and easy to follow, and everything fit together as it should. The table feels really solid when built, and I was impressed with the quality of the wood. The finish is beautiful, and so far cleans up easily. The table does slide around a bit on the vinyl tile, so I plan to look for some type of non slip material to put on the legs.

The table is the perfect height for the 2-4 year old set. Baby E is average height, and his feet do not quite reach the floor when sitting. He fits well at the table now, and definitely has some space to grow into it. My 3.5 year old can also sit comfortably at the table, but I would imagine this table would be on the smaller side for a 4-5 year old.

Overall, I love the table, and don't see any major drawbacks. It would be a great addition to any family kitchen or playroom. The surface is also great for puzzles, crafts, building, and all the other fun things the little ones enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We love Fall!

     Fall is such an amazing time to be a little kid. Baby E especially is mesmerized by all the leaves, and must stop to look at each. and. every. leaf when we go on walks. There are so many fun things to do with leaves, and a lot of great learning often happens along the way. Here are a few of my favorite things to do with leaves:

Talk About Them

We love to talk about all the colors of the leaves, why they are falling off, and what happens in Fall and Winter. Big brother A is almost 4, and he loves looking at the different types of leaves and trees.

Crunch, Jump, and Throw

     Jumping and crunching in the leaves is pretty much a dream come true for most kids. It is a great sensory experience, and it is one of the only times Baby E is allowed to throw things to his hearts content. He can stand for a long time jumping in the leaves and throwing them in the air.

Arts and crafts
     Whenever we are outside, my kids collect leaves to bring inside. Most of the time, I throw these out when no one is looking, but I have saved a few for crafts. My kids like gluing the leaves, and decorating them with random art supplies. I am also hoping to experiment with laminating some leaves so we can use them for other things. These leaf place mats look like an awesome activity!

What are your favorite Fall activities?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer of Fun: A Day in the Life of Camp Mommy!

Fun at the Zoo!

I was a little nervous about having both kids home full time this summer. I had gotten used to A going to pre-school three days a week, and I knew it would be an adjustment for the summer. Now that we are more than half-way through the summer, I can say that I am very happy with how things are turning out. The truth is that I am exhausted. Period. But it is a good kind of tired. We have been having so much fun! With no school drop off or pick-up to worry about, and extremely poor napping habits from Baby E, (not for lack of trying) we have larger blocks of  time to fill, which allows us to explore activities we haven't gotten to do as much in the past.

Supermarket adventures...

In the mornings we usually have a short outing to the grocery store, library, or other indoor location.The kids are very early risers, and not interested in lazing around in the morning (as much as I try to convince them). They are usually dressed and itching to get out by 830 or 9am.  We are usually home by 11am for some lunch, playtime, and "nap" time. Baby E (already 20 months!) usually sleeps for a short time, while A just has quiet play time. By 1:30, we are usually ready to head out for the afternoon.

Playing with sand at home

Rock painting!

We have spent our afternoons exploring new parks, visiting the zoo, and having a blast at the local children's museum thanks to an awesome LivingSocial deal. Thankfully, the summer weather has been pretty mild. No one in this family does well in the heat, so I have really been thankful for any cooler days that we have. By 4pm, the kids are melting down, and we head home for...Ices! I'm not sure how I will break this habit at the end of summer, but for now I am enjoying the few minutes of peace and quiet I get while the kids are both happy with their cool treats!

Yumm! Or as Baby E says "mummy!"

What do your summer days look like?

Monday, June 16, 2014

End of Year Gift for Pre-School Teachers

A was in Preschool this past year for three days a week. We had a great experience, and I wanted to find a cute but inexpensive way to acknowledge all the teachers and staff who worked with him.

I ultimately decided just to have A make cards for the teachers, and then I packaged them nicely with a chocolate bar. I'm happy with how it turned out, and it was all done for under $15.

For the cards, I let A go to town with his art supplies on a few pieces of construction paper. I picked two of the pages, and cut them in half, which gave me a half-sheet to use for each card. I typed up a short message, and had A glue them inside the cards. I laminated them as an extra step, just to make them a little bit nicer.

I stuck them in cute bags with the large chocolate bars, and that was it!

How are you planning to thank your child's teachers?