Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What We Like Wednesdays: Coloring Fun For Easter

The boys love to color...because of this, I make sure to keep plenty of crayons, paper, and coloring books in the house. There's lots to be learned from coloring. Despite some arguments against it, my background in occupational therapy leads me to believe coloring encourages cognitive development including creativity, as well as physical functional development. I observe this in my kids when they color. I'm able to see their differences in attention and focus as well as their coordination, grip and endurance. These are all important skills for handwriting readiness. So as long as they're interested in coloring, I encourage and indulge them in this favored past time.

We recently enjoyed coloring these great Easter coloring pages I came across over at "make and takes" fabulous blog. So, if your looking for some great Easter activities and you want to encourage your child's development, check them out. Oh and did I mention they were free!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sneaker Hockey Fun

I took the boys to a TBB event today that was held at a local sports and fitness club. The boys had a great time, jumpy houses, obstacle courses, soccer, basketball but best of all was the sneaker hockey. They all truly enjoyed this and stuck to the lesson all the way through. I thought this was especially impressive for my 3 1/2 yr old twins. Liam most of all, demonstrated agility with the stick and perseverance to get that puck where it needed to be. Afterwards they all said they really enjoyed it and Aidan even asked if he could join the team :) I just might have some hockey players on my hands....I love daydreaming about what it is they might actually get into, because of this I delight in indulging them with the opportunities to explore possible interests. You just never know what it might be that truly clicks with them...could it be hockey?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Skipping Friday Food

Well, I skipped Friday Food for good reasons....Max and I had a date night, a long overdue date night. We went out for dinner without the kids. It was wonderful but also felt odd not to have the kids with us. I've gotten to a point where I'm so conditioned to having multiple interruptions during my meals and often not able to get to my food until it's actually cold that it was such a treat to just sit back and enjoy a nice leisurely dinner.

We made sure to enjoy it from beginning to end, yummy cocktails and appetizer, cucumber gimlets and Mexican wild shrimp ceviche, an overall delishhhh dinner ( a few disappointments but still delish) of several small plates, tapas style, that included mouth watering scallops in a Brazilian curry sauce, and ended with dessert, a rum and Kahlua soaked tiramisu topped with Mexican chocolate shavings. Where you ask? Where did we have such a delectable dinner... we enjoyed this dinner at Bocanova.

It's such a treat to go out for a nice dinner. So, if you have kids, don't wait as long as we did for a date night. Treat yourself out for a nice meal, it's such a nice way to decompress, reconnect with your partner, and be refreshed to start the family juggle of tasks all over again until your next date night.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Artful Thursday: Robots Love Birthdays

This Artful Thursday was the perfect opportunity to make some giftwrap decor to add some fun to our friend Xabi's birthday present. Xabi is turning 3 and I know my 3 yr olds love robots, so I decided to make a robot gift tag for Xabi's presents.

I pulled out my little carry all of craft tools and random things (cutting mat, paper cutter and stamps) that I keep handy in my pantry. Pulled out some bright colored (tropicals) cardstock and got to work. With some cutting, drawing with PITT art markers, a few brads, foam tape, a bit of glitter, and a Zoodle font this little robot came to life.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

what we like wednesday: Dinner Parties

It's so easy to hunker down at home and just go through the motions of the ins and outs of our daily lives. I find myself doing this, especially during those dreary winter months. After awhile, you can get lost in this and forget how much fun it is to have friends over for dinner and a bit of social time. Well with Spring here, things are's time for some fun dinner parties and when the weather gets even nicer, we'll move those parties outside.

The boys just love it when we have friends over...and it really does draw out their personalities. Just watching them with their friends really demonstrates what social beings we are and what a positive impact time with friends has on children. We recently had friends over for a little play time and dinner (I was babysitting) and everyone was so excited. Liam was so chatty and it just made me smile to here him say to everyone, with much excitement "Come on guys, let's go play in my room!" Watching Miles bring out his favorite toys to show and share with everyone was just so telling of his kind and caring nature. And Aidan...well he loves to direct the kids and has lots of ideas as to what they should be doing ( yeah some might call it a little bossy).

Best of all is when we sat down for dinner. They all were so pleased to be having dinner together. It was taco night, a meal that allows them lots of Independence and choices. They all got to fix their own tacos and decide what they wanted on them. It was such an empowering moment for them all to be able to make choices and share and encourage each other to try different foods. Truth be told, my kids aren't the best eaters, they're picky but with their peers, they ate the best I've seen them eat in a long time. So there's something to be said about dinner time with friends.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We're Ready For a "Food Revolution"

I watched the premiere to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. It was sad to see what is going on here in the U.S. surprise, but sad. Although it was reaffirming that my family is doing ok, it was a nice reminder how important it is to teach our kids good eating habits. It's so very easy to fall into the trap of fast convenient food when your on the go. Even easier is to fall into this trap and believe you're feeding your kids well, as a result of all the trappings of misleading advertisements and marketing. For the most part, I prepare fresh nutritious meals because I enjoy cooking. However, I do find myself looking for the quick fix every Wednesday, our busiest day of the week, a frozen pizza, hot dogs with mac and cheese etc. etc. When I do this, I find myself justifying it to myself " well it is a kosher dog, tomorrow I'll make a healthy meal" and so forth. If I would just organize myself I could prepare something earlier that day, a casserole of some sort and have it ready to toss in the oven as soon as we get home..that would be just as easy as a frozen pizza.

Although we do struggle with getting the kids to eat veggies, we keep offering them at the table and hope in time that they will follow our example, and start making the right food choices. I see this happening already. Most recently, Miles has begun to eat the carrots, peas, and corn that I've been putting out consistently. So he's 3 1/2 now, it's taken some time, right? But that's ok, as long as the choice is there. Hopefully the others will follow along soon.

So really for me, the poor food choices are as a result of the time factor. I should be able to take care of this with a little organization, planning and prep work. The "food revolution" has gotten me, I'm ready to make the change and make sure my kids eat well everyday including Wednesdays. Are you ready for the "Food Revolution"?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Food: Yummy Chops

With 3 young boys who are able to turn a room upside down in the blink of an eye, I'm always looking for quick and easy meals to prepare. Something simple enough that allows me to step away and referee the madness without compromising the meal, and is yet yummy enough for both adult and child discerning taste buds to enjoy. With all that criteria it actually sounds impossible to find, doesn't it? Not impossible.

This week thanks to one of my favorite food magazines, Everyday Food, we had these yummy sage pork chops that made the cut, served with a quick and easy Parmesan rice and some lemony green beans (quickly blanched green beans that were tossed with a bit of butter and lemon juice). This meal took me about half hour to prepare but, even more thrilling than the speedy meal prep was that everyone ate it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Artful Thursday: Happy Spring

Today was a gorgeous day. I think it may have hit 80 degrees here. I picked up the boys from school and we zipped on over to the park to soak up some sunshine and just played for 2 hours. It was such a refreshing moment after all those dreary days of gray skies and rainfall. We definitely were thrilled with the day's warmth. After leaving the park the boys wanted to go for a ride with the windows down and sun roof open to let the warm air just whip through their hair...It was sweet to look in the rear view mirror and see them all with huge grins on their faces, a look of glee. A "Happy Spring" moment for sure.

"Happy Spring" was the theme for today's Artful Thursday project. I pulled out a bunch of items (vintage sheet music, spring themed scrapbook papers, vintage bunny illustrations, German glass glitter, flower shaped chipboard, bright colored inks, felt adhesive letters) that gave me some spring inspiration.

With a bit of glue, a pair of scissors and a black brush tipped PITT artist pen I suddenly had this spring themed collage. I was going to put some grommets on the top corners to hang this with ribbon but,I think I may put it in a 12 x 12 frame. Here's wishing you all a "Happy Spring.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day on What We Like Wednesday

Some leprechauns in my house want to wish you a Happy St.Patrick's Day. We had fun today with this cute leprechaun hat and beard Aidan made. And, we all agreed that Miles and Liam made the perfect leprechauns.

What we like this Wednesday is, dressing up and pretend play. The kids had so much fun pretending they were leprechauns looking for a pot of gold. Our home was full of giggles and squeals. I wish I had planned in advance and had bought some chocolate gold coins (note to self, will do this next year) and hidden them somewhere for the kids to find, instead I improvised with some chocolate eggs. Even without the gold coins they enjoyed themselves. I really love watching them and seeing how their imagination works and where it takes them. It's amazing to watch it's progression.

All the boys demonstrate a good sense of creativity and are able to engage in pretend play. We've had firefighters, doctors, scientists, dinosaurs, Pascal (from The Red Balloon) plus much much more come in to our home through the imagination of our boys. Miles and Liam (3 yrs old) are really just starting to truly develop this skill. But, Aidan's (5 1/2 yrs old) imagination has really evolved tremendously. The stories he can weave are just magical and he can really get lost in playing a character. I'm starting to wonder if there isn't just a bit of theater in him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What We Like Wednesdays: The Magic Schoolbus

Screen time, yes, I know a hot topic in many households. But I must say this, prior to screen time, there were many a burned dinners in this home. Many times I stepped away from my cooking to see what the ruckus was about, break up a scuffle, wipe away some tears, to return to a blackened meal, no I wasn't cooking Cajun. What I've found is that screen time is best while I do dinner prep unless of course they are engrossed in some sort of play before hand then I just don't interrupt and hope that it carries through til dinner is completed.

You're probably asking yourself right about now, "Why all this talk about screen time?" Well it's just that we have discovered, The Magic School Bus. We absolutely love them. I've always monitored what the kids watch and have tried to stick to educational, age appropriate DVDs. Well, The Magic School Bus is just that. The Magic School Bus revolves around a classroom of children who explore different subjects while in magic school bus. You can watch some videos here. Our favorite is the episode about the human body. Days after watching, while on our way to school, Aidan (5 yrs old) began to tell me about the function of white blood cells and differentiate red vs. white blood cells. When I asked him about where he had learned this, he responded with, "The Magic School Bus" I was amazed. So if my kids are going to have screen time so I can prepare dinner or sometimes take a shower, then I definitely want it to be of some educational value.

The other thing that's great about The Magic School Bus is they have books too. I was lucky enough to score a whole collection of these on EBay at a fabulous price. Although I was thrilled about the EBay score, Aidan was most thrilled about his new books. So if you're looking for some new reading material or videos for your kids, you may want to check these out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Food: Lip Smacking N' Finger Licking Good Ribs

We all have that item that's been sitting in the freezer for awhile, right? You know the one that haunts you every time you open the freezer, the one you wonder when you're ever going to cook...or you may even start to wonder "how long has that been in there?" Mine was this rack of ribs. I'm not sure why I had them...I mean there was a time I got into making ribs (yes I go through these food phases) but that seemed so long ago. I had moved on from that rib phase, so I'm not sure why I still had these in there and really no longer had any desire to cook them. I lost track of how long this haunting had been going on for so I finally decided to put an end to it.

I baked them. I would have grilled them but the weather just hasn't been nice enough. Boy, am I glad I decided to put an end to those ribs, because it just reminded me how much I love them. I marinated these ribs in a yummy concoction I threw together myself.

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 garlic cloves minced
and 3 tsp of chili powder

I baked them at a low temp, 350 degrees for an 1 hour 1/2 while covered with foil. Then baked them for another 1/2 hour without foil.

MMMmmmm these were finger licking, lip smacking good. Even ask Liam, he'll say "Yummy!" They were sweet with a bit of a bite. I know the photos just don't do them justice, take my word for it, deliciousssss.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Artful Thursday - Vintage Inspired Easter Tags; A Tutorial

It's true that I've had the winter blues, I've not quite been feeling myself. So, I'm really looking forward to Spring and all it's beauty that comes with it. Chirping birds, blue skies, the greenness and blooming of flowers, all of this beauty lifts my spirits and brings a smile to my face. Today is Artful Thursday...and I'm dreaming of Spring and Easter. So, I've made some vintage inspired Easter Tags.

Materials I used for this project:

  • vintage sheet music
  • white cardstock
  • shipping tags
  • German glass glitter
  • decorative pearls
  • watercolor pencils
  • chalk ink
  • mohair yarn
  • glue, and foam squares

This was a fairly quick and simple project.

  1. Stamp the egg on cardstock and trim the egg out

  2. Color the egg with water color pencils and use a damp q-tip to blend the colors

  3. Using another q-tip edge the egg with glue and then rolled it in glass glitter

  4. Stick a strip of pearls on

  5. Tear some rectangles of sheet music to fit the shipping tags

  6. Crumple the sheet music, smooth it out, then glue it to the shipping tag.
  7. Ink the shipping tag & sheet music by rubbing the ink pad lightly over the front and edges of tag.

  8. Using foam squares, adhere the egg to the shipping tag.

  9. And finally, switch out the tag string with the mohair string/yarn.

Use these to dress up a hostess gift, tie around a bottle of wine, attach it to an Easter many other possibilities. I'm sure you can think of all sorts of other ideas. I have always loved the gift wrap as much as the gift itself.

You'll find these in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Literal Cuteness = Rain

After picking up Aidan (5 1/2 yrs old) at school today we had an exchange that was just cute and funny. We were on our way to our car and it was raining really hard. Our exchange went like this:

Me: Wow Aidan we better hurry, it's raining buckets.
Aidan: I don't see a pail.

What We Like Wednesday: A Hodge Podge Including an Oldie But Goody

We've got some fun stuff going on here which I'm thankful for at the moment. Rainy weather and sick kids makes for a home bound household. It during these times that I'm in search of some good entertainment that helps us make it through the day. I usually keep some goodies in the closet for times like these, or as special prizes for good behavior, last minute gift for someone etc. Actually need to find a new hiding place for these items as the boys have discovered the treasure closet. I digress, let's get back to the main topic, shall we.
This is an oldie but goody. Perfection, I remember playing this at a neighbors house when I was a kid many (yes many) years ago. We rediscovered the joy of it while at a friend's house during Superbowl Sunday and decided this was something worth having. The kids absolutely love it, and what's even better is that this game has some educational value. Playing this game challenges cognitive abilities such as, attention span, spatial relations, and focus/concentration. These are the kind of toys/games I especially love. What's especially great about this is that every one young and old can play this. With my 3 yr olds I initially didn't set the timer, just letting them put the pieces in. After a few times of this we were then able to set the timer for them along with the rest of us.

My kids love trains and they love puzzles so this little goody packed plenty of fun. Ride on Loco, it's a small 9 piece puzzle that forms a 6 inch square with a round track. Wind up toy and watch it go round and round. If your thinking of Easter already, specifically Easter baskets, this is a perfect little gift to add to those baskets.

And finally, thanks to my friend Ebba, who brought these over for the boys, we've been enjoying fuse beads. Ebba put these together in little packages with a small pegboard in each as a party favor for her kids birthday party. What a fabulous idea. So once again, this was a great activity that we all enjoyed, my only caveat is this should be done with close supervision for the little ones. As I stepped away for a minute to refill my coffee mug, Miles ( 3 1/2 yrs old) had stuck a bead up his nose. Thankfully I was able to get it out but it sure had me in a bit of a panic for a moment. Besides that scary moment, this has been fun and it's another one of those great activities that allows for creativity. Aidan was thrilled when he made and "L" in his square, "L for Liam" It's always a sweet experience to watch my kids take such pride in the things they make.

Since it looks like we have a few more days of being home bound I'm certain we'll be enjoying these new goodies for awhile.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Poetic Miles - Insight on Trees

Miles (3 1/2 yrs old) gets poetic again, this time his observation of trees...

"Mama trees are alive..
But trees don't have eyes..
Mama I have eyes..
Actually, I am alive."

Yes Miles you are alive and I so appreciate all your poetic observations.

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