Friday, June 29, 2012

Photography Challenge - Week Four

I have a little bit of a love for photography, but I don't do it professionally or anything. I just love to take pictures - mainly of my kids! I found this Photography Challenge on Pinterest and I just had to try it. So bear with me as I attempt to take a picture every day for a month. I will post all the pictures that I have taken on Fridays with a small description of each.  This is the last Friday of the challenge and I'm kind of glad that it's over.  I was really struggling.  Maybe this was a bad month to do it in because we are so darn busy around here - or maybe I don't like being forced to take pictures.  I don't know.  But what I do know is that I like being challenged.  So I am going to attempt another monthly challenge in July and I will post about it on Saturdays - starting NEXT week.  So stay tuned to see what I have signed myself up for this time . . . I hope I can make it!

Day Twenty Two: "From a High Angle"
Today I took the kids back to where I grew up to watch the annual parade.  Here they are, sitting on the street waiting for all the floats to start moving.

Day Twenty Three: "Movement"
Jumping in the bouncers is great fun.  What is NOT great fun is trying to get the kids OUT when their time is up and they cry and scream because they want to go back in.
Day Twenty Four: "On Your Mind"
What's on my mind every day?  Whether I'm home or not?  My kids.  The biggest questions.  What are they going to be like when they turn into teenagers?  Are they happy?  Do I spend enough time with them?  Are they learning enough?  This picture answers all those questions!
Day Twenty Five: "Something Cute"
Nothing cuter than a picture of the kids looking in the pond to try and find the fish.  I love these pictures and I have a LOT of them!
Day Twenty Six: "Where You Shop"
This is NOT where I shop all the time, this was where I was shopping on this day when I was waiting for my mom.  No better way to kick of summer holidays than shopping, manicure & pedicure and supper with your mom!  What an awesome day this was!

Day Twenty Seven: "Bathroom"
I never thought it was necessary to decorate a bathroom - and my husband STILL doesn't think it's necessary - but I really like this little put together in the corner.  It adds some colour to the room and makes it feel more like a room!
Day Twenty Eight: "On the Shelf"
Schools out for the summer and on the last day, one of the kids gave me these vases as a gift.  They  go perfect in our living room!  Thanks little man!
Day Twenty Nine: "Soft"
I don't know for sure if they are soft, but they sure looked soft.  We had some pretty severe weather earlier this week and these clouds - called Mammatus Clouds - boy did they ever look beautiful!  I have never seen anything like them before!  The pictures do NOT do these clouds justice, that is for sure!
Day Thirty: "A Friend"
This is my dear friend, Jax.  He drives me crazy most days/nights, but I still love him.  He looks gentle and kind, but if you know him, you know that is NOT true!  To us, he is just our pet, but to him, we are EVERYTHING!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Counting Backwards

In Kindgerarten, children should be able to state whole numbers from one given number to another.  There were three different parts to this activity, although I only have pictures from two.

Step One: Read books together.  Our favourite are "Ten Little Fish" and "Ten Little Bears".  The rhyming in the "10 Little Fish" helped my daughter predict what number was going to come next.  She could also count the characters in both books to help her even more.

Step Two: Popsicle Stick Numbers: I wrote the numbers from 0-10 on the popsicle sticks and then mixed them up and turned them over.  My daughter would pick one and I would pick the other and she would have to count up or down from one number to the other.  We would take turns going back and forth and I would make mistakes sometimes but she corrected me!  The cat wanted to be involved to (as per usual) so he would reach out his paw and pick sticks for us every now and again.

Step Three: Traffic Light Countdown.  This was fun and kept her busy on a trip to the other side of the city one day.  We would get to a red light and she had to countdown from 10-0 and see when the light would change green.  No mistakes, she did great and sometimes it even changed when she said zero!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home Management Binder

This idea is all over Pinterest.  I have pinned many different ones in the past and finally about a month ago, I sat down and printed/put together a binder that would work for OUR family.

What You'll Need:
3-Ring Binder (probably just a 1 or 1 1/2 inch will do)
**OPTIONAL** Page Protectors

Everybody will make their binder differently.  Go look at different binders (Miss.Poppins, Mom of 3Craft a Day).  There are so many different ideas.  The first thing I did was sit down, look at all of the different ideas and made a list of what would work for me - and unique ideas that I wanted to add.  This is what I came up with.

I wanted to start with a calendar section.  This section has a yearly calendar (you can print those off the internet anywhere) and a list of all the birthdays I have to keep track of.

The next section I put in was gift information.  We often buy presents when it's not Christmas/Birthday time - not just for our kids, but for family members and friends as well.  We can't pass up a good deal!  So this section has a place where we can write down what we have, a list of stocking stuffers (again, we get those year round) plus it has wish lists for myself and the kids (each of has a WHOLE page).

Next was the monthly holidays and traditions.  Every year I have the same problem.  I don't remember traditions until it is too late.  Not holidays, but events that are taking place in the city or traditions that I want to create with the kids.  For example: Mid October rolls around and we have forgot to get to the pumpkin patch.  By the time we find a day that works with my husbands schedule, the corn maze is no longer green and beautiful and the weather is starting to get cold.  This section allows me to write down ideas and traditions to do with the kids/my husband every month so that I don't forget.

School information was next.  Currently, I don't have to worry about this, but come September when my daughter starts Kindergarten I will have to start keeping track of what is going on in the lives of my kids PLUS myself and my husband.  Right now it's easy.  I don't want to think about what it will be like in 4 years when my son starts kindergarten as well.  In this section I have two basic school information pages where I can keep track of phone numbers, teacher names, bussing information and schedules.  These two pages (one for each child) are in page protectors so that I can reuse them every year.  It also includes monthly calendars (just google "monthly calendar") that I can write important field trips/events/special days on.  And at the end, I have a great list of Lunch Box ideas.  I created this list by myself, so if you want to print if off, here it is!

Next up was Phone Directory and Address Book.  I just googled for some printable address book pages and found what I needed.  Specifically for sending out Christmas Cards in December.  I never remember who to send them to!

The next section, packing, is one of my favourite.  Every time that we go on a trip, I print off this page and it has EVERYTHING we need - in sections, so I can scratch off what we don't need - but that wastes paper.  So I printed off this list and put it in a page protector so that I can wipe off the checks when I'm done.  I also created this myself, so if you want to print it off, here it is!  Keep in mind the ages of my children.  Some of the items have had to be adapted as they got older (we no longer need formula, playpens or diapers)

Blogging, of course, is not something that everyone is going to need in their binder.  I use a planner from this website - but it's more directed to homeschooling than anything else.  So if you are a homeschooler, check out this website, it has lots of great forms!  Here I write down the following:
An activity from each strand so that when my daughter shows an interest in say, Science, I have an activity ready to go.
Projects that I want to complete from Pinterest that have nothing to do with the kids, just ideas that I want to complete.
Monthly traditions that we will be participating in during the month.  Holidays, special events and city run events like the festivals that we took part in during the month of May.

And the last section is not QUITE complete.  It's a section of "other" stuff.  I want to start taking more pictures, so I have pinned some great challenges to get me going.  This section has these challenges.  It also WILL have our coupon/gift card information.  I don't mind if a coupon that I clipped expires, but I DO mind when a Groupon or other type gift card that I PAID for expires.  So we are trying to come up with a system to keep track of those items.  When I figure it out, I will let you know.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Puzzles are a great part of every day learning!  They are great for that cognitive development and they really help develop the muscles in the hands, making it easier for other activities (like printing, drawing and using scissors).

Sitting down with your child and listening to the learning that is happening while they put together the pieces is such a great treasure!

Here is a developmental checklist that will help you see if your child is on track when it comes to puzzle making!
  • Age 2 - Putting together those single piece puzles is a huge challenge for the little guys.  Turning the pieces JUST right so that they fall into place.
  • Age 3 - Putting together a 5-8 piece puzzle is more of a challenge for the young preschoolers.  I have found them at Walmart (cheap) and teacher stores (expensive) - but sometimes it works out better in the end if you pay more in the beginning
  • Age 4 - The older preschoolers should now be able to handle 12-18 piece puzzles.  My favourite puzzles are not like the one pictured above, but the sturdy wooden puzzles that come with a frame (Melissa and Doug)
  • Age 5 - In Kindergarten, the range is starting to get larger.  Between 18-35 pieces.  Some children like puzzles, others do not.
  • Age 6 - By the time children are in the first grade, they should be able to accomlish a 50-100 piece puzzle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Matching Pitch - Singing in the Car

I'm no music teacher, but I have learned through my own teaching that learning how to match pitch IS possible at a young age - if it's fostered in our children. What do I mean by that? It's as simple as singing with your children. I have no pictures of our experience because my hands were a little busy, but here's something that's simple and you just have to take a couple minutes out of your time to do it.

On the way home from gymnastics one night, instead of listening to the radio or MY music on my IPOD (which I won't lie, my daughter is a master at "Hello" by the Dragonettes or "Rumour has It" by Adele) we listened to my Kids folder on my IPOD. I have hundreds of kids songs on there that never get played because the car is my place and I like to relax and NOT listen to Row, Row, Row Your Boat when I've been singing it all day at work. BUT, I turned on the music and we sang together.

I find (personal choice) that I enjoy/prefer singing with my kids in the vehicle. Sitting around at home in a circle singing together just seems to planned and "schooly". Plus, singing in the vehicle puts my inambitions aside, I can sing loud and silly and no one else will hear me. Plus the kids LOVE it! So it's a win, win, win situation.

So the next time your in the car with the kids - whether you have Kids music on the radio or not - sing with your kids. Teach them songs that YOU used to sing as a kid. Singing with them only makes them more confident in their singing ability. And who doesn't want to provide their kids with confidence?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photography Challenge - Week Three

Sorry for the late post, it's taken my longer than I thought to get these pictures up here.  ENJOY!

I have a little bit of a love for photography, but I don't do it professionally or anything. I just love to take pictures - mainly of my kids! I found this Photography Challenge on Pinterest and I just had to try it. So bear with me as I attempt to take a picture every day for a month. I will post all the pictures that I have taken on Fridays with a small description of each. Maybe you could play along too! Click on the link above to get started!

Day Fifteen: "Yellow"
That beautiful cleanrance tag on that shoe box is my favourite colour when I'm shopping!  My kids even know to watch for the yellow tags!  Not only was it clearance, it was 30% below that!

Day Sixteen: "Out and About"
I went home a week ago and my mom and I took the kids to the park that I grew up playing in.  Some of the equipment was new, but there were some things that were STILL in the park!

Day Seventeen: "In Your Bag"
Day Planner so that I can keep track of my husbands schedule (well, old school way because now I use my IPOD), Mail Key, Rocks from Mexico (not sure why they are still in there . . .), Deoderant and a Tampon - womanly necessaries, mini sewing kit (I won it at a Pampered Chef party that I went to), comb for my daughters crazy hair, notepad to make notes on (but notice no pen), a GPS and of course my sunglasses, wallet and keys.

Day Eighteen: "Something We Don't Know About You"
I don't like to read.  I am part of a book club, but really I'm just there for the socialization (I hope none of them read this . . .) - ah, they know that anyways, because every month, I haven't finished the book.  After saying that, I am reading a really good book right now - and it's not even FOR my book club!  I really recommend it!  It's told from a child's point of view who was born in captivity and has never known anything but the room they are kept in.

Day Twenty: "Fave Photo You've Ever Taken"
My favourite picture.  Hands down.  It was taken last Easter and we were outside playing.  My grandma was going through her chemo at the time, so of course was loosing her hair.  She loved that my son - her great grandson - loved her no matter what.

Day Twenty One: "Where You Slept"
We don't make our bed, just roll out and get moving.  We recently moved the bed to in front of the window - I like it mostly except the sun has been waking me up too early in the morning.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fast Movements, Fast Heart

In Kindergarten, children can start understanding how their bodies are feeling before and after cardio activities.  They should also be able to participate in vigorous activities for 4 consecutive minutes.

It was really nice on the weekend, so the kids and I decided to take a walk to the park.  Just behind the park is a large grassy area with trees and it's beautiful!  So to take advantage of this area, we took the soccer ball with us and played a quick game of soccer (about 5 minutes) on the grass.  Everyone was running and getting exercise and it was a lot of fun!  I will admit that I have never thought to take the soccer ball to the park like this.  But what a great idea?  I think it will come with us more often!

There was two different parts to this activity.  Before and after.  Before we started playing, I talked to my daughter about how she was feeling.  I was very specific.  How does your heart feel?  How are you breathing?  Are you warm or cool?  After we played soccer, I asked her the same questions and these were her answers.

"My heart is goin' fast.  So is my breath.  It's fast cause I was exercising.  And now I'm hot.  I'm not cool anymore.  Can I take off my sweater?"

Here are some quick numbers on how active our children SHOULD be.  How active are your children?
  • Children UNDER 4 should be moving at least 180 minutes every day
  • Children between the ages of 5-11 should be active for 60 minutes every day
  • Teens between the ages of 12-17 should be active for 60 minutes every day

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Organization on the Run

Am I organized?  Yep!  Most of the time.  Don't get me wrong, there are times when I leave the house without everything that I need, but if I have my system in place, that usually doesn't happen.  Here are three quick and easy "on the go" solutions that we use around here to keep us de-stressed, on time and happy!

Restaurant Bags
These are simply bags of toys/books/art supplies that the kids can take into a restaurant and we can play with them while we wait for our food.  A personal pet peeve of mine is watching families at the booth next to us all play on their personal electronics (IPOD, IPAD and the DS) and they don't interact with each other at ALL!  They play, the food comes, they eat, the fast eaters play some more, they pay and they leave.  Social interactions are too important to give up in our lives.  Right now we are trying to find our son a small backpack (similar to our daughters) so that the bags aren't as large.  We just want to wait for a great deal!

Summer Bag
This was an idea I came up with the summer that my boy was an infant.  My boy would not sleep unless he was in his crib.  Not in the car, not in the stroller, not in my arms - ONLY if he was in a crib.  So getting out of the house fast as SOON as he woke up was REALLY important.  All we have to do for that spur of the minute trip to the park is grab this bag and we're ready to go!  No more searching all over for each little item!  There is sunscreen and bugspray (both for the kids AND myself), sunglasses, a first aid kit, comb and Tylenol (just in case!)

Car Baskets
Last September when all the back to school supplies were out at Walmart, I saw these and had a great idea.  Each kid would get a basket and it would stay in the van so that we always had what we needed.  The baskets include books (my kids love to read while we drive), sunglasses and most importantly a change of clothes for those unforeseen accidents.  Every six months or so we take the baskets out and change the clothes (new sizes, new season) and the books (so that they don't get old and boring) and take out what we no longer need (diapers!  YAY!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Broccoli Salad

Mmmm!  I had this salad first at Easter with my family.  An auntie brought it and I got her to write out the recipe for me.  Then when I was writing down recipes for my Menu Board, I came across pretty much the same recipe from one of my Pins.  So I combined both of those recipes and I created something that was a little bit more of my own.  I served it at a family BBQ that we had a couple weeks ago and it got RAVE reviews!

Here's my recipe for Broccoli Salad!

Broccoli - 1/2 head
Cauliflower - 1/2 head
Crumbled Bacon - 1/4 cup
Red Onion - 1/4 cup (even if you don't like red onions - put this in, because I don't like onions but this made the salad!)
Cranberries - 1/3 cup

Roasted Garlic and Chili Aioli - 3/4 cup (Mayonaise will also work)
White Vinegar - 2tbsp
Honey -  2tsp
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix together the first 5 ingredients.  The measurements that I gave are a guideline.  If you like more of one thing and less of another, then do it that way.  In a SEPARATE bowl, mix together the next 5 ingredients.  If you are using a flavoured mayo/sandwich spread, you won't need the salt and pepper.  Mix well with a whisk.  Once the liquids are mixed well, pour them onto the broccoli/cauliflower mixture and serve right away.  If you wanted to/have them on hand you can add sunflower seeds right before you serve. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day 2012

Every year Father's Day is a big celebration because in our family there are many birthday around the same time.  So we celebrate Fathers Day for all the dad's, as well as my brother's, grandmother's and uncle's birthday.
As you know, my husband is frugal cheap.  I am frugal, he is cheap.  So he is always hard to buy for because I want him to LOVE his presents, but I don't want to spend a lot of money because that also makes him happy.  This year I decided to get a gift certificate for him.  Something he could use and LOVE.  So while he was at work, I took the kids to Walmart and bought him a gift card.  I love this idea of buying other stores/restaurants gift cards at Walmart because it means I have to drive to one less place with my kids in tow.  So we bought the gift card, a couple other things and went home.  That afternoon, my husband took our daughter to buy some flowers for the yard.  While they were out, they talked and my husband swears that all he asked was "What did you do today?" and she told him "We bought you a card so you can go and buy pizza."  Ya, thanks kiddo! 
But on top of the pizza card I wanted to make him something personal from the kids.  Last year, I made this frame, and he loved it!
This year, I sat down with my daughter and asked her a few questions.  I found some different interviews on Pinterest and took my favourite questions, typed them up and hand wrote in the answers.  If you want the interview sheet, click here!
And that was our Father's Day.  No, we don't go out and buy each other HUGE gifts like IPAD's or other $500 gifts.  BUT, we spend the time together, laugh, make gifts that become memories and love each other with all our hearts.  And that, my friends, is better than anything money can buy!
On top of my husbands little gift, we made mugs for the Grandfather's (not to drink from, just to put their pens in on their desks) and I had some pictures leftover from our trip to Mexico, so I bought a four-picture frame and put the pictures in for my dad because that was who we went with.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photography Challenge - Week Two

I have a little bit of a love for photography, but I don't do it professionally or anything. I just love to take pictures - mainly of my kids! I found this Photography Challenge on Pinterest and I just had to try it. So bear with me as I attempt to take a picture every day for a month. I will post all the pictures that I have taken on Fridays with a small description of each. Maybe you could play along too! Click on the link above to get started!

"Day Eight": 6 o'clock
This is what we were doing at 6:00pm at out house - jumping from the couch onto a pile of blankets and pillows trying to waste some energy.  This after we tried making them tired by taking them to public swim.  I wish I had as much energy as these guys!

"Day Nine": Your View Today
Ahh, two loves of my life tonight.  PVR to tape the shows that I wouldn't be able to watch because of our crazy busy lives and Hell's Kitchen.  I love that show!

"Day Ten": Best Bit of Your Weekend
Planting flowers with the kids.  It was a last minute thing.  My husband and daughter went to the store and bought the plants while my son finished napping.  When they got back, the three of them planted the flowers together.  I <3 my life!

"Day Eleven": Door
This is our front door.  It has lots of marks on it, lots of fingerprints, but that's because it's so busy.  We no longer have room on our fridge for all of these fun magnets, so we moved them to the door instead.  Double win situation.  We get to keep the magnets and all of their learning power PLUS it keeps the kids busy and at the door while we are getting ready to leave.

"Day Twelve": Low Angle
Eating is a favourite time in our house.  There is laughter and talking - sometimes a little TOO much laughter and talking - but laughter and talking none the less.

"Day Thirteen": Art
This is how I hang the kids artwork in the kitchen.  Just two simple tacks in the wall with a piece of string between them.  Paper clips hold up all of the art work.  If it's really heavy, I actually pull apart the paper clip and poke it through the artwork.

"Day Fourteen": Time
My bedtime.  Yep.  I go to bed early so that I can wake up early the next day and have my quiet time before the kids wake up.  Good night everyone!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer Jar

So if you've been following for a while, you'll remember the I'm Bored Jar Project that I made for the kids a while back.  I also really enjoyed this project for the summer that I found on Pinterest.  So made another jar!

The first thing I did was go through the "I'm Bored Jar" and I took out all the activities that would only work in the summer.  The next thing I did was find "100 Things to do with your kids this summer" websites (from Pinterest and Google) and wrote down ideas that I loved!  And lastly, I went through the Pins that I already had on Pinterest and wrote down those activities as well!  PLUS this list does NOT include our family vacations and planned trips in our community (Art Festivals, Cultural Festivals, Music Festivals, Canada Day and of course the Fair)
Here is our bucket list for the summer!  What's on your bucket list?
  • Play with sidewalk chalk
  • Homemade sprinkler (Pinterest)
  • Ice Cube Treasures (Pinterest)
  • Night walk with flashlights
  • Farmers Market Trip
  • Make and Eat Ice Cream Sundaes
  • Sidewalk Painting (Pinterest)
  • Feed the ducks
  • Run through the sprinklers
  • Have a picnic
  • Blow Bubbles
  • Make a pet rock
  • Make Your own watering can (Pinterest)
  • Jump rope for 20 minutes
  • Play Frisbee
  • Make and eat a popsicle
  • Ice Cube watercolour (Pinterest)
  • Plant something in a lemon (Pinterest)
  • Bike Painting (Pinterest)
  • Go to the park
  • Go to a spraypark
  • Go on a park scavenger hunt (Pinterest)
  • Play hopscotch
  • Lay on the grass and look at the clouds
  • Take a trip to a Nature Preserve
  • Fly a Kite
  • Visit the Bird Sanctuary
  • Water Balloon fight
  • Learn how to play soccer/baseball/basketball
  • Learn how to rollerskate

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crayon Travel Case

These travel wipes containers are another thing that we have a lot of laying around the house.  Now that we don't use as many of them anymore (I don't think anyone gives up wipes with kids, until the kids are at LEAST 10!)  Our current mode of transporting crayons is a plastic ziplock bag.  Great in theory, but can lead to spilling and breaking of the crayons.  So with my kids by my side, we created new crayon holders, in which they were VERY excited about.  These containers went into the restaurant bags (more to come on those another day) and now we have a better, safer way to transport our crayons.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Carrot Muffins

A couple weeks ago we decided to put Muffins on the Menu Board on the weekend so that I could make the muffins with the kids one day and then we could eat the for breakfast the next.  We just made basic carrot muffins - I took ideas from different recipes, made a couple changes of my own and they turned out REALLY good!  I don't like muffins that fall apart - they make too much mess.  These muffins did not fall apart and the kids LOVED them!  My daughter even helped me peel the carrots!

Here's the recipe and instructions!

All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups
Brown Sugar (packed) - 2/3 cups
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Ground Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp

Large Eggs - 2
Soured Milk - 3/4 cup (add 3/4 tbsp vinegar to 3/4 cup milk and let it sit for 1 minute)
Apple Sauce - 1/3 cup (one individual package)
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp

Grated Carrots - 1 1/2 cups

Mix the first 7 ingredients together.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients to the well.  Add the carrots.  Mix with hands, mix well.  This is the key to getting the muffins to not fall apart with the kids.  If you want your muffins more delicate, then mix the wet ingredients in another bowl BEFORE you add them to the well.  Then stir a few times until just wet.  Use an ice cream scoop to fill up 12 muffin tins (I did not use paper, I just sprayed the tins so the muffins wouldn't stick).  Bake at 375F for 20-22 minutes.