Friday, October 29, 2010

Egg Carton Spiders + Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Another easy craft - this we did last year and the spiders are hanging up again this year!

You'll need an egg carton, black paint, black pipe cleaner, googly eyes, glue, scissors, and some string.

This is a great craft to do even with little ones - Little Miss was only 18 months old at the time and was practicing her fine motor skills while painting. But just to be sure things didn't get too crazy, she was only in a diaper.

And lastly - roasted pumpkin seeds. Delicious! I tried a couple of different recipes this year, but only one of them is worth passing on...

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • 3 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, coat evenly. Spread into even layer on baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

I love easy recipes like this because Little Miss can stand on a chair next to me and dump in ingredients as I give them to her. Can't really mess it up too bad. Super fast and yummy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween - Something Old, Something New

The other night I had a trip down memory lane as I served my Little Miss a Cup of Worms...

I hadn't had one of these since elementary school. So easy and fun. Just chocolate pudding, gummy worms, and a little cocoa powder or cookie crumbs to dust the top of your "dirt".

Be could start out nice, and end really messy. Luckily she "painted" herself with pudding right before tubby time. But it was totally worth it to watch her have so much fun exploring the texture of pudding. She is one silly girl!

And the something new, hand-print spiders. This was a simple easy craft - didn't take much time and Little Miss loved it.

You'll need - some paint, paintbrush, paper, googly eyes, scissors, and glue. A painting smock and wet wipes were very handy as well! Just paint your hand, all but the thumb and make a print. Then do the same to your other hand overlapping the palms. Then your spider will have 8 (finger) legs.

She loves painting so much we also did foot prints and then of course she had to cut a little with her special scissors. You can glue googly eyes on - or just go cheap and make your own with paper, which is what we did.

The holidays are so much more fun with a little one around!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Folic Acid: A Key to Healthy Babies

I read the following post the other day and just had to pass it on. I am a firm believer in the importance of folic acid for a developing fetus. I have a seizure disorder, so I'm on meds that cause nueral tube defects (spina bifida, etc), and I take 5x the normal dose everyday just to combat the possible defects to my babies. And I will continue to take 5x the normal dose throughout my child bearing years.

Thanks to folic acid and a prenatal vitamin my Little Miss is perfectly healthy. She was born with a dimple at the top of her bum, almost went to the bone. The doc even ordered an MRI in the first 24 hours of her life to make sure it wasn't anything bad. Luckily it wasn't. And with baby #2 - everything is looking good so far. So...moral of the story - meds, or not, take your folic acid ladies! Not convinced? Read on....

When I saw this headline on the cover of yesterday's paper, I was a little surprised, I mean research proved this in the 1980's. The problem is that health care officials and educators assume that people know this and they stop harping on the matter, but every year a new group of women enter their child bearing years and need to hear this information.

And even though I have gotten on this soapbox before, I am going to share a few important facts about folic acid and urge moms everywhere to share this with their friends and with their daughters.
  • Folic acid occurs naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables, but our bodies absorb it best in it's synthetic form. To get your daily RDA of folic acid from your diet you would have to eat 200 red apples.
  • Insufficient folic acid can lead to birth defects (or defects that result in miscarriage) including defects of the brain, skull, spine, heart, arms, legs, face, hard palate (cleft lip and/or palate) and urinary tract. A mother can reduce the risk of her child having these defects by 50-70% by taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.
  • The most crucial time for you to be getting folic acid is in the first 28 days of pregnancy. Most women don't even know that they're pregnant in the first 28 days.
  • Hence why, EVERY woman in her child bearing years should take a folic acid supplement.
  • Folic acid is used to create and repair DNA (necessary for cell production), which is why it is so vital during early pregnancy. The first 28 days are when your little bundle of joy goes from 2 microscopic cells to a something with a heart beat. Isn't that just phenomenal to think about?
  • Folic acid is crucial not just for the growing baby, but mom too. During pregnancy folic acid demands increase because it is needed to produce the new cells that are making up the increased blood volume, and general increased everything that comes with pregnancy.
  • According to a March of Dimes survey in 2009, only 11% of women took folic acid before pregnancy.
  • Apparently there is a myth going around that multi-vitamins will make you fat. This is false. However, if your multi-vitamin has iron in it and you're not drinking enough water, it can make you constipated which can lead to bloating and discomfort. Stay well hydrated and you should be fine.
  • Since 1998 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated that folic acid be added to white flour, bread and pasta, which has resulted in about 1000 fewer children born with neural tube defects each year.
  • Many Hispanic women have genetic deficiency that interferes with the metabolism of folic acid. Which means that they should be taking even more folic acid.
  • The average life-time cost of spina bifida per person in the United States is $532,000.
  • Currently the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the March of Dimes, and the Spina Bifida Association along with corn and flour tortilla manufacturers are working with the FDA to supplement corn tortillas, a staple for many Hispanic diets. It is estimated to cost $3 million per year, but will save $145 million in direct medical costs for defects.

Heather is a full-time mom and Pediatric Registered Nurse. She writes about things that make her a better wife and mother, or give her more time and money to spend on her family.

Hopefully these things will help you out too! Find more of her posts at Secrets of a Mom.

Monday, October 25, 2010

E - Day

We did so many fun things for our E Day! I had barely introduced the subject when Little Miss piped up - "I have an E in my room! Come on, I'll show you!"

She was off and running to retrieve the rather large and rather pink E shown in the picture. She kept it out all day to show daddy when he got home.

First, we colored. I know, we color a lot. But Little Miss loves it, and as I've said before - it does promote fine motor skill development. So bring on the coloring! I found an array of images on a google search - and she chose to color the Easter Egg one...

Then we talked about body parts that start with the letter e - eyes, ears, and elbows...accompanied by singing an all-time classic - "Do your ears hang low?", with actions...

For lunch we had egg tortillas - one of our fav's! But really, I think I could put just about anything in a "portiya" and Little Miss would eat it...

After naptime we were going to make an elephant puppet - but sadly I didn't have any brown paper lunch instead we practiced our gluing and scissor skills...

Other E things we did - but failed to take pictures of...
  • Took a ride on an elevator
  • watched Elmo - of course
  • learned about and found a place to hear our echoes
Happy E Day!

Friday, October 22, 2010

4 Easy Homemade Halloween Decorations

Everyone keeps complaining about how Christmas is over-commercialized now, but what about Halloween? It used to be that every kid would make all their own costume, and families would make decorations out of construction paper for the big night.

Now it seems that few children make their costumes anymore, and all the decorations are store-bought, denying kids the fun of making their own decorations with the help of their parents.

Well, let’s get back to basics. If you’re hankering for the old days of making decorations by hand, here are a few easy ideas to get you started.

Egg Carton Bats

All you need is an empty egg carton, some scissors, paint, and some string and you’re set.

  1. Cut the egg carton in to four pieces, each piece containing 3 egg container sections—kind of like three-humped camels.
  2. Now, cut the two side carton pieces so they are like arches branching off the middle piece—these are the wings.
  3. Now you can paint the pieces black, or decorate them however you want.
  4. Finally, for added effect, attach a string to the top of the middle section and hang it from a doorway or the ceiling.
Hanging Ghosts

Ghost are a staple of Halloween, and you can easily make some out of tissues or—for more lasting ghosts—pieces of white scrap cloth.

  1. Take a handful of tissue and wad it up into a tight ball.
  2. Place the tight ball in the middle of another tissue, or piece of white scrap cloth, and gather up the remaining ends, bunching them together with the ball trapped inside.
  3. Tie a string around the cloth or tissue to trap the ball inside then flip it over. The ball is now the head of the ghost and the cloth is the ghost’s dangly waving body.
  4. You can draw a face on the head of the ghost and hang it from the ceiling for maximum effect.

Milk Jug Creatures

If you’re looking for something that will really let your children's creativity go wild, gather up some old milk jugs.

  1. Turn the milk jugs up side down, with the flat side pointing toward you.
  2. Wrap construction paper or tissue paper around the jug.
  3. Use markers, pencils, glitter, and other decorations to make the scariest face you can think of on the front.
  4. You can hang the heads from trees or doorways, or simply stack them next to the pumpkins on your front porch for an eerie effect.
Paper Spider Webs

This one is like a magic trick and almost too hard to try and explain in words, but here is a great video illustrating how to make simple, cool spider webs out of paper. Once you’ve got your spider webs, you and your kids can decorate them however you want and hang them around the house.


Guest Blogger: Gunter Jameson writes about several topics including travel, minimalism and online classes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Green Day

We started our green day by coloring a page with green things...

Then we went on a walk looking for things that were green around our neighborhood and came home with handfuls of green leaves to do leaf rubbings with. Little Miss loved doing leaf rubbings and still talks about it!

For dinner we had a classic "green eggs and ham" meal - but with green pancakes and milk too!

And green day wouldn't have been complete without one of our family favorites - green smoothies for dessert. Little Miss loves these - we have to regulate how much she drinks. They don't look appealing - but they sure are tasty! You can find the recipe here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Drive-In Movie

Looking for something fun to do with your kids this weekend? Just go to a drive-in movie…in your living room! First, you’ll need a large box. Then, decorate it to look like a car (you can paint the box, but I chose a less-messy route…I wrapped it in paper, then we colored on it with crayons). Attach wheels, mirrors, a steering wheel, and a personalized license plate.

To make a working steering wheel, I attached it with a large brad to one bump of an egg carton, then glued the egg carton to the box.

To make it extra special, let your kids choose a new movie to watch (I like Redbox, or the Netflix Instant play options) You can even make admission tickets if you want to add to the atmosphere.

Pop up some popcorn, grab a juice box, and enjoy!

Marie is a stay at home mom of two adorable kiddos who keep her super busy! She has a dual degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and continues to use her degree everyday of her mommy career!

Marie is one of my good friends and someone I look up to very much as a mommy. She has tons of fun ideas for things to do with your kids - so keep an eye out for her future guest posts.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

D - Day

"D Day" sounds horrible...but it's what it is. To learn about the letter D we played with dollies and colored a D page.

Then we fed some leftover bread to ducks with cousins - who knew ducks liked garlic bread so much!?

After lunch we saw Little Miss's cousin, Dianna, whom she loves.

And although Little Miss is allergic - we had to pet her Auntie Carrie's dog, Wally - pretty much the nicest kid friendly dog ever!

Short and simple. But still super fun! Happy D Day planning!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Yellow Day

The other day we celebrated yellow! Of course there was coloring involved - one of Little Miss's favorite things to do, and it's a great activity to develop those fine motor skills. Especially if you're little one is OCD about picking off the paper on all his/her crayons just like mine is. And we both wore yellow!

Next we made yellow vanilla pudding together. She loves to cook, so I knew this would be a hit. Plus we get to practice counting as we put in the milk with a small measuring cup.

While the pudding set up we strung a yellow necklace. This was a fun activity because I gave her yellow noodles, yellow yarn, and a bowl of fruit loops to see if she'd be able to pick out the yellow by herself - and she did! Sweet. Another great fine motor skill activity as well.

And to end our yellow day - we ate a yellow lunch. Quesadilla, bananas, and of course - the pudding!

Are any of you doing "days" with your preschooler? Have any great yellow activities to share?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homemade Halloween Costumes

Welcome to October! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and let’s face it, I had my decorations up 2 weeks ago. With Halloween just around the corner, it’s no surprise that trick-or-treating has been on my mind.

I’ve already got our costumes planned out, and just started making them. You might be exploring your options too, so here are some homemade costume ideas for your viewing pleasure. If you’ve already got your costumes set, these would make great dress-ups!

1 - Minnie Mouse

This is last year’s costume…I just used black tights, shoes, and a pink sweater we already had, and made a skirt by cutting a big circle of fabric, stitching elastic around the waist, and hemming the bottom. I made a matching trick-or-treat bag out of pink and white felt. I was going to make my own mouse ears, but I found these which were too cute too pass up—and they were only $5 at Party City. A year later, she still dresses up in the skirt and ears on a weekly basis. =)

2 - Owl

I got this pattern from Alpha Mom. Begin by cutting an old t-shirt up the back and adding Velcro so it easily slips on and off. Then cut out feathers, sew them on row by row, and voila! Complete with owl mask!

3 - Mail Carrier

This one is easy peasy! I just bout a little boy’s shirt from a local Goodwill for $2 and sewed a felt envelope on the pocket. I bought a plain blue baseball cap from Walmart ($5) and sewed an identical envelope on the front. Then I made a quick mailbag out of some fabric scraps, attached another felt envelope, and the ensemble was complete!

4 - Little Red Riding Hood

Started by folding my fabric in half, then free-handing the shape of the cape. Traced a hood from one of my jackets, attached it to the cape, then added some ribbon to tie around the neck. I would recommend using a small picnic basket to collect candy with.

5 - Doctor

I cut down the sleeves and sides of my husband’s old white shirt to make this doctor’s jacket. Add a Fisher Price medical kit, and it’s ready to go!

6 - Witch

Another cape I free-handed and a simple witch’s hat (I’ve seen some at the dollar section of Target). I would suggest a black skirt and funky striped tights with this costume.

7 - Cowboy/Cowgirl

I found this hat at the same Goodwill for $2, then used a vest of my daughter’s to trace out a basic pattern for this. I used one of my husband’s old shirts for the lining and pockets, and got a horse-on-a-stick from Dollar Tree. Cowboy boots and chaps would complete this look. Yee-haw!

8 - Blue's Clues

Cut out 4 ear shapes, and attach darker blue spots on 2 of them. Sew front and back of ear right sides together (leaving an opening), turn inside out, then stuff with cotton balls or batting. Attach to a headband, then cover headband with ribbon. I would pair this with a blue shirt and jeans. Blue shoes and blue mittens would be a plus. You could even paint a blue nose.

9 - Princess

To make this hat, roll a piece of paper into a cone, then cover with fabric (I used some purple flannel I had). Add some ribbons, jewels, or any other bling you want. Pair this with a pretty dress, necklaces, fancy gloves and a sparkly wand.

Good luck with your costume planning, and happy Halloween!

Marie is a stay at home mom of two adorable kiddos who keep her super busy! She has a dual degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education and continues to use her degree everyday of her mommy career!

Marie is one of my good friends and someone I look up to very much as a mommy. She has tons of fun ideas for things to do with your kids - so keep an eye out for her future guest posts.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Safety Check

Did you hear about all the baby/kid related recalls last month? Here's a quick run down and a link to the entire list (US Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC). Do you have any of these items?

Molenaar LLC Recalls Night Lights Due to Fire and Shock Hazard

For the entire list or more info behind these recalls - click here.
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