Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gingerbread Crazy

Call me crazy, but I thought it would be fun to host a gingerbread house workshop with my playgroup. The response was overwhelming and I soon found myself adding a second workshop, then a third and yes, a fourth. We needed 15 houses for the first two workshops...

The first step is to trim the graham crackers to make the pieces for the front and back of each house. Use the short end of a graham cracker as your template when cutting the crackers. I used Honey Maid brand and found that I also needed to trim off the bottom "row" of each cracker so they weren't too tall when constructing the hosues.

Next, I trimmed large rectangular cake boards (cut each into 4 smaller rectangles) to act as the bases for each house, prepped my pastry bag and dug out my Wilton spreader. Make sure you have a Venti Mocha from Starbucks on hand as it takes up to 4-6 hours to construct 15 houses when you have a 3 and 4-year-old to tend to during the whole process.

Be sure to place a damp kitchen towel over your mixer as you begin to make the royal icing. The last thing that you want is powdered sugar ALL over your kitchen! I use Wilton's Royal Icing recipe.

We used tons of candy--M & M's, Skittles, Dots, gumdrops, sugar cones for trees, etc., to decorate the houses. The kids had a wonderful time and were all on a sugar high after they finished decorating their houses. Surprisingly, only a few kids were more interested in eating the treats than decorating.

Here is Ian's second gingerbread house:

And here he is proudly sitting in front of his house waiting for the fourth and final gingerbread house workshop/playdate to begin.

Nathan's second gingerbread house:

Nathan LOVED decorating the houses and couldn't wait to take this picture so that we could show it to Daddy when he returned home.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Photo with Santa

The boys were more than excited to go visit Santa this year. Can you believe it? Nathan was forced to toss his Lightening McQueen car in the garbage a week or two ago after breaking the wheels off. That was his motivating factor. He just could not wait to ask Santa for a new Lightening McQueen. In fact, he didn't even wait for Ian to make it up on Santa's lap before asking for his new toy. Ian asked for a reindeer with wheels...let's hope he doesn't remember that come Christmas morning. All day Ian talked about asking for a race car and then he changed his mind at the very last second.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Coupon Crazy

This is a picture of my most recent (and hopefully final) attempt at coupon organization. So far it is working really well for me AND even Ryan finds it easy to locate coupons for the things that he needs. I have over 20 categories right now and every time I clip and sort coupons I find that I need to add one or two new ones. Every little bit of savings help!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Playgroup Party

I am behind on everything these days so I apologize for just now uploading more of our Halloween photos. Oh, well, that's my life!

The kids were all so excited to see each other in their costumes. Ian was most excited when he saw the two tables covered in food. I was relieved that Ryan was able to attend the party because he kept an eye on Ian who was very determined to steal food before it was time to eat.

I saw this hummus graveyard in Family Fun magazine and just knew that it would be perfect for the party. We attempted a spooky food theme, but only a handful of us seemed up to the challenge. I just love that Wilton manufacturers the food safe pens which I used to write on crackers to create the headstones.

We requested that the kids allow us to take one group shot before eating. This worked well to convince my two boys to sit patiently for the picture. Ian never took his eyes off the food. Seriously. I promise that we do feed this boy 3 large meals plus snacks every day!

Before I even placed the lens cap on the camera, I swung around to see that Ian had taken a mummy dog for himself. Oh, my, goodness.

Nathan was a bit overwhelmed at the party and chose to sit safely at the table and nibble on food for 1 1/2 hours instead of joining in all the fun. He eventually played all the games and ran around, but he waited until half of the guests had left the party. Ian, on the other hand, was in good spirits (despite the too-small costume) and was more than happy to pose for a picture with dad.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Spiders & Ghosts

Let the Halloween crafts and events begin! This particular craft has been one of the most popular crafts that I've hosted in our local playgroup. These pictures are from a park playdate, but we completed this craft again at today's Halloween party since many members missed out the first time.

This is such a simple craft! All you need is construction paper or cardstock, washable or acrylic paint, a paint brush and some wiggle eyes. When making the spider, only paint your child's 4 fingers and half way down his or her palm. You don't need any paint on the thumb. Paint one hand, press down and then paint the second hand and press down. Perfect spider! The ghost is super easy--just paint the bottom of your child's foot and press down.

Here's Ian showing off his spider handprint.

Don't forget Nathan! He was also very proud of his completed projects.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Best Snack Ever

...according to my 3-year-old.

By now everyone knows that we rarely have a difficult time getting our little ones to eat healthy food. Nevertheless, I get bored serving food the same way day after day. To make our afternoon snack just a bit more interesting, we decided to mix things up. Literally.

Ian is more than happy to help prepare his "special" snack. Here he is dumping some cinnamon into a ziploc baggy filled with chopped apple squares.

An up-close shot just for fun!

Make sure you seal the ziploc baggy well, unless you like sticky, cinnamon all over your counter. Nathan is ready to shake up his apple snack.

Shake, shake, shake! They just thought this was hysterical.

Yummy cinnamon apples. How easy is that?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

A few weeks ago I hosted another Muffin Tin Monday playdate. These themed playdates are so much fun! The only problem is that now I am obsessed with muffin tins of all shapes and sizes and think that I might need to install another kitchen cabinet to keep them all organized. I'm sure I can come up with some way to justify that, right?

This week we had an ocean themed MTM. Forgive me because I took a photo of Nathan's muffin tin before I served him the shell pasta. Whoops! I was babysitting a 2-year-old girl this day so I was distracted at times. The other fun themed snacks included blue jello, Swedish fish, colored gold fish crackers, starfish rice crispy treats and octopus hot dogs. Too fun!

For the craft, each child painted a paper plate blue to create their very own ocean. They then attached fun foam fish and shell stickers. Our playgroup includes children ages 2-5, but now that school is back in session, we mostly see 2 & 3-year-old children at our playdates. This was a perfect craft. After all, what young child doesn't like to paint?

Monday, October 5, 2009

I rode in an ambulance...

and all I got was this lousy "balloon".

The flu has come and gone in our household. We are so glad it is over and hope that all the other strains stay far away from our family this flu season.

10 days ago I picked Ian up from school and his teacher said that he kept getting chills throughout the morning. They checked his temperature and it was normal. He was perfectly healthy when I dropped him off that morning. Less than 2 hours after we returned home, Ian was shaking and spiked a fever of 104.6. That was the beginning of our crazy flu experience which culminated in a call to 9-1-1 and Ian's ride in an ambulance. Mind you, Ryan was in Fallon, NV for this entire experience. He always misses all of the fun.

Our entire family was ordered to stay home as soon as the flu was diagnosed over the phone. We were told to avoid the doctor's office and hospital unless the symptoms became so severe that they required medical attention. (I didn't know Ian would go from normal to unable to breathe with a 105+ temperature in a span of less than 15 minutes one evening). Anyway, I am grateful for my friends who brought me medicine (and Starbucks--extra thanks to Melanie for that) for my sick child and who volunteered to bring us groceries. I'd like to give a thumbs down to the Navy for the broken transport plane and their lack of desire to send our loved ones home in a timely (read: commercial airlines) fashion. This would have saved Tricare the cost of an ambulance ride...probably the equivalent of flying my husband home 10+ times.

Nathan and I never developed anything more than typical cold symptoms. Poor Ian is still using an inhaler to help him breathe--the flu resulted in an upper respiratory infection (half the reason I had to call an ambulance to help me get him to the hospital safely). The doctors never tested him so we can't be 100% sure what strain of the virus he had, but they said it didn't present like H1N1.

Well, I hope all of you stay healthy this year! Let's hope we can avoid another round of the flu!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Watercolor Initials

I hosted yet another crafty playdate at our local park. The boys and I love this set-up and are not looking forward to the cold weather that will be arriving soon. It's so stress-free to entertain moms and preschoolers at the park as opposed to my house.

Before starting the craft, the kids ran around on the playground. This was the first time Ian and Nathan had been to this particular park. Virginia Beach has so many neighborhood parks!

Ian always jumps right in and has to try out every part of the playground.

Nathan is a bit slower to explore. There was a little bit of water on this frog, so Nathan opted to just pet it and not ride it this particular morning.

For the watercolor initials craft, I cut up lots of strips of contact paper from the Dollar Store. Each mom then taped the contact paper strips to the watercolor paper to form each child's first initial. We then let the kids paint to their little heart's content.

Both boys enjoy painting, but Nathan definitely displays more patience when crafting.

Once the paint had dried completely, I just peeled off the contact paper to reveal their pretty artwork. This was such a simple craft and you could cut any shape out of contact paper to make seasonal art projects with the kids too! Don't be surprised if you see more of these over the next few months.

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Day of School

Today was Ian's first day of preschool. He has been looking forward to this for months! I am pretty sure that it lived up to his expectations. When I asked him what he enjoyed most today at school he proclaimed, "being the caboose!" with enthusiasm. I guess he was "the caboose" in line today to and from the playground. I thought that he would surely choose lunch as his favorite part of the day.

It is pretty shocking how much Ian looks like me on my first day of preschool (am I right Mom & Dad?). I think our expressions are almost identical. He was very excited to show off his new backpack.

He is all ready to go! He absolutely could not wait to run to the van and head off to his first day of school. In fact, when we arrived at his classroom he attempted to charge into the room without even pausing to say goodbye to me. This didn't surprise me a bit.

Nathan was a bit lonely at times without Ian today. He was quite confused when I arrived home without Ian (I left Ryan home with Nathan for Ian's big day). I asked him why he was sitting at the window and he said, "I am waiting for Ian to come home." So cute...and so quiet. I actually forgot to feed Nathan lunch on time today and this is something that Ian NEVER would have allowed to happen. That kid is always begging for food and asking me what time it is. I'm going to have to set two alarms--one reminding me to feed Nathan and a second to remind me to pick Ian up from school.

Together again! Nathan was waiting at the window when we pulled into the driveway and he ran outside to give Ian a big hug. They continued to give "squeezy hugs" once we were inside. This lasted about 3 minutes and then the bickering resumed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

More Playdate Fun

The weather has been particularly mild this summer...or at least that's how it seems to this Virginia Beach newbie. We have not had to cancel a single outdoor playdate due to excessive heat this season (we won't mention how many have been rained out). The boys and I have kept very busy with all of our crafty park playdates and hope that this will continue through October.

We met up with our playgroup at Princess Anne Park to make craft stick flowers. Such a simple craft and the kids loved it!

Who knew that all I needed to keep Ian in his seat was a plate full of tacky glue and some craft sticks? Trust me, had I known this sooner, our house would already be full of craft stick creations!

Ian made 2 or 3 flowers this day. Had I not dragged him away from the table to go play, he surely would have used up all of our friend's supplies.

Nathan was under the impression that he had created a pinwheel, not a stationary flower. He is trying to blow on the flower to make it spin.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Usborne Children's Books

I just wanted to share with all of you that I have signed on as an Usborne Books consultant. Before you think I'm crazy for taking on another business, let me tell you that I am doing this strictly for the discount. What makes this better is that I'm sharing this discount with all of my family and friends. Shh, don't tell on me.

I absolutely adore children's books, especially quality books that don't talk down to my kids. I speak to them like they are adults (as much as possible) and appreciate books that do the same. I have found that Usborne meets this requirement. They also have tons of those search and find books that Nathan absolutely adores and I am all about buying anything that keeps the boys still and quiet.

So, if you are in need of some children's books, I will be placing orders on the 20th of every month. Let me know if you ever need anything. Also, if you visit my website you can enter to win $50 in free books!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Today I hosted a Muffin Tin Monday playdate for my Meetup playgroup. I chose a rainbow theme--we made rainbow cupcakes and everyone brought a color specific snack. So much fun!

I had to steal someone else's photo so that I could be in one of the pictures. Each child mixed the batter to correspond with their chosen color and they took turns filling the muffin tins.

Since my two muffin tins were in the oven full of yummy, colorful cupcakes, I had to come up with an alternative container for the boys' fun snacks. Thank goodness I have a HUGE stash of silicone baking cups.

Ian loved all of his colorful treats!

Here's Nathan happily showing off his rainbow cupcake. I had frosting available, but none of us moms chose to frost our kid's cupcakes. Surprise, surprise!

Doesn't that just look so adorable!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Big Boy!

This past weekend we decided to finally force Nathan to grow up just a little bit. We took him away from his crib. I'm pretty convinced that he would have happily stayed in his crib through kindergarten. This crazy boy of ours never once attempted to climb in or out of his crib. Ever. Ian was climbing out before he was 18 months old!

We purchased a bunk bed set from Flexa about a year ago for the boys. Ian needed a twin bed and we just figured it made sense to buy a bunk bed set since ultimately they would end up sharing a room. We attempted to move them into a joint room at that time, but they were more interested in goofing off than sleeping. Ian quickly returned to his original room.

We think that they *might* be mature enough to begin sharing a room again. Nathan sleeps so peacefully and Ian likes to get up at the crack of dawn, so I remain unconvinced that this is a good idea. Nevertheless, we set Nathan's new bed up in what is expected to be the boys' shared bedroom. We haven't bothered to paint or replace the baseboard so just ignore the background in these pictures.

Nathan loves his new bed! I had to wake him up for breakfast the first two mornings in his new bed. I think he would have stayed there all day if I had let him (love him!). Today when he woke up he actually stayed in his bed and called for me. How adorable! I'm not going to break the news to him that he can get out of bed on his own and come find me.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Water Play

We have been very busy trying to play outside as much as possible. At times, the heat and humidity is too much for us, but for the most part the weather has been rather pleasant. We've explored some new parks in the area, but more than anything the boys love to play in the water. I love it because I can water the front lawn, read a magazine and the boys are entertained at the same time!

Nathan clearly enjoys this funky little sprinkler that I picked up at Target.

As usual, here the boys are trying to torture each other. No one was yelling at this point.

Nathan was too chicken to ever attempt the water slide. He had fun playing in the built-in sprinkler, but absolutely would not slide down the thing.

Ian tried to slide down a few times, but he preferred just hanging out in the water that pooled at the end of the slide. They can be such strange kids.

All done!