Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy 3rd Birthday Clara Louise!!

I really can not believe that we are already celebrating Clara’s 3rd Birthday!!

She is so grown up and her own little person now. She of course looks up to and loves doing everything her big sisters are doing. Most of all she always makes us laugh, whether it is one of her cute facial expressions or something funny that she is telling us. I can’t wait to see what new adventures are in store for us this year!!

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Helping Others ~ Making Goody Bags for Birthday Wishes

In honor of Clara’s third birthday, which we are celebrating this week we deciede to make goody bags to donate to Birthday Wishes. Birthday Wishes is an amazing organization that plans birthday parties for children that are living in homeless shelters.

We have been baking cupcakes to donate for the parties for the past 6 months and the girls are always excited to help me make them and decoreate them. They also collect goody bags which they give out at the parties. I have been wanting to have the girls make them, but haven’t had a chance until now. Since we are not haveing a friends birthday party for Clara I thought this would be a great activity to do together and we were able to spend the money we would have spent on goody bags for her friends on these goody bags.

We went to Walmart and Dollar Tree to pick up all the things we would need to fill the bags. The girls worked together to decide what would be fun to include in each bag. It was cute to hear them talking about the things they like getting.
In the end we decided to fill each goody bag with:

  • Silly Straws
  • Bouncy Balls
  • Mini Slinkys
  • Stickers
  • Play Dough
  • Spiny Balls
  • Pencils
  • Bubbles

I set everything up on our low folding table, which was the perfect height for clara to be able to take a bag and then walk around the table and pick one thing from each container to put into the bag.

The girls worked together to put all of the bags together. They were careful to check when they were finished that each bag had everything because they didn’t want anyone to miss out on anything.

Clara was so proud of her finished goody bag, she was actually able to put them all together on her own. I just helped her tie the twist tie to close it.

Together we made 25 goody bags to donate to Birthday Wishes. I can’t wait to bring Clara to drop them off.

We actually had so much fun picking out the items to go into the goody bags and putting them together that the girls said they want this to be one of our new birthday traditions. I couldn’t be prouder of them for wanting to give back to others as part of their birthday celebration.

If you would like to find out how you could help out Birthday wishes be sure to visit their website and their Facebook page.

Check out some of the other ways our family is helping others and volunteering in our community.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Family Field Trip Fun ~ The Holtsville Ecology Center

The girls and I had so much fun visiting the Holtsville Ecology Center today.  We have been coming here since Emily was probably about 2 1/2 years old and always enjoy seeing and learning about the different animals.  I have to admit, we probably haven’t visited in at least a year, so when I saw a friend post pictures of their recent trip on Facebook, I knew we had to visit during our Spring Break from school.  It is about a 40 minute drive from our house, but it is totally worth it.  The girls always have a great time checking out the animals and then there is also a playground and a picnic area, so you can really make a nice day trip out of it.  Plus, since it is still an off season it was free to get in. (Although starting May 1st it is only $5.oo a car, which is totally worth it!!)

All ready to check out the animals!!

Emily and Clara really enjoyed feeding the goats, so I made sure I had a handful of quarters with me to buy the pellets to feed them.

A great view of the foxes.

Emily and Juliette really liked reading the information about each animal. They were very interested in their lifespan and how the different animals got here. The ecology center is a place for animals to live that can not be released back into the wild. The two bald eagles that live here have wing injuries and are unable to fly. We also found out that one of the foxes never learned to hunt and relies completely on humans to be fed.
I love that Emily and Juliette are at the point where they can read on their own and are actually looking to find out more information by reading the signs and plaques at the different places we go to.
It’s hard to pick a favorite animal to visit.
The farm section has chickens, cows, goats and a pig.
Inside the education building we found an Iguana
There was also an exhibit of stuffed animals, owl pellets and other interesting things.

Check out some of our other family field trips.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Helping Others ~ Bookmark Making

Emily is participating in the Presidential Service Club at her school, which provides the students with some opportunities to participate in community service projects. So far they have made pillows and blankets for a nursing home and helped clean up litter around the school.
Most of the hours are meant to be earned on their own. I really had no idea where to start, since most volunteer oportunities are for children that are older. I was very encouraged as I was looking on the internet for projects that we could do together to earn the service hours and have found a few local organizations that we have really enjoyed working with.

One of the organizations I found to work with is The Book Faries. They are an organization which provides books to teachers and students in underprivliged areas. Emily and I were able to go to their warehouse and help sort the many boxes of book donations one Saturday afternoon. There were many teachers that came in to pick out books for their classroom libraries and it was so awesome to see them getting excited about the books they were able to take for free! It was also cute for me to see Emily finding books that we were sorting that we own or have borrowed from the library. She would say “ooh I loved this one” or “Mommy we have this one too!”

Bookmark Making

I found out that when they have free book fairs for the children at these schools to pick out a book to owen they also give each child a bookmark. I thought this would be a great project for all of us to work on together. My sister was kind enough to provide us with lots of different scrappaper, punches and stickers from her huge collection of scrappbooking supplies and we went to work.

After we finished designing the bookmarks I laminated them and the girls helped me cut them all out. I like that they are laminated becasue they feel more sturdy and will last much longer!

Even Clara got in on the fun and colored these bookmark pages that I printed for her from Stories by Storie .

I am so excited about this fun and creative way to help other kids, especially since we love reading so much and now can share that with other children!

What kinds of volunteer activities do your participate in with your younger children?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Clara’s Strawberry Sprout

In Tot School last week Clara planted some strawberry seeds. We placed the container on the windowsill and have been waiting for the seeds to sprout. We were all so excited when we checked on it and found this little green sprout!!

We can’t wait to watch it grow. In the meantime we will be working on lots of fun plant art and science projects and reading books all about gardens, seeds and planting.

We have already really enjoyed these great books about plants and gardens:

The Small Seed, by Judith Nicholls ~ We are loving that this is a touch and feel book. It starts out with a small seed being planted and grows, roots a shoot and then a stem. Finallly, there is a beautiful sunflower. All done in a fun rhyiming text. Clara loves finding the touch and feel part on each page and I think the tactile interaction helps her retain the information better too.

The Surprise Garden, by Zoe Hall ~ This is a fun book that shares the journey of 3 children planting a garden that surprises them with all the wonderful food that grows from the plants. I really liked how it talks about the different parts of the plants that we eat. All of the girls have really enjoyed this book which is always nice. We also really enjoyed the collage like illustrations in this book.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner ~ I really love this book because it shows young readers what is going on not only Up in the Garden where the plants are sprouting and growing, but down in the dirt in the hidden world where the roots are growing and insects creating creating tunnels and burrows. This is the story of a garden over the course of a year. We really enjoyed looking at the illustrations and finding all the fun details on each page. At the end of our book was a quick refrence page that gave a few facts about the different animals that were introduced in the garden and explained that some are helpful and others are not. Again I liked that this books was fun for all the girls to read together.

What are some of your favorite planting themed books?

For more planting fun and activities be sure to check out some of the plant and garden projects we have done already!!!

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Muffin Tin Monday Revisited

It has been a LOOOONNNGGG time since we have had a Muffin Tin Monday meal in our house. My older girls used to love them and I was always amazed at how much better they ate when they had a meal in one of our many different types of Muffin Tins. Recently, I was talking to my sister in law about how to get our girls to eat a little better and remembered Muffin Tin Meals. After talking she tried it with her girls and actually texted me a picture of my nieces muffin tins, then I knew I had to start this up again with Clara. Of course the first one we did she said she did not want and that she does not eat muffin tins. This time I just put together her lunch and placed the Muffin Tin infront of her. She loved it and ate every last bit!! I am so excited about bringing Muffin Tin Monday back into our routine and am looking forward to sharing our different meals here.

Clara’s Muffin Tin Lunch
Top Row: Homemade Hummus and Pita Chips
Bottom Row: Grapes and Watermelon Chunks

Also check out our other Muffin Tin Meals

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

A Tie Dye Party for Emily’s 9th Birthday

This year for Emily’s birthday party she decided she wanted to Tie Dye shirts with her friends at her birthday party. My first thought was, that would be great if your birthday was in the summer and not the winter. How was I going to be able to have kids Tie Dy inside my house. Then I remembered seeing a way to tie dye shirts with Sharpie Markers on pinterest. After looking it up and testing it out a few times I decided that this was something we could definitly do and it turned out to be a lot of fun and not very messy either!!
I set up our dinnning room table with a tray for each girl to work on. In the center were all the Permanent Markers and rubber bands we had for the girls to use.
I gave each girl a plain white t-shirt and showed them how to roll and tie up their shirt with the rubber bands. Then they got to work coloring the different sections in with the permanent markers.
When the finished coloring, while they were still tied with the rubber bands I sprayed them I sprayed them with rubbing alcohol enough to saturate them, but not to completly soak them. The rubbing alchohol makes the permanent markers ink run and spread out over the material. It is really cool to watch the colors spread and blend together.
After about 5 minutes the girls took off their rubber bands and I hung the shirts up to dry. Once they were dry they should go into the dryer for about 5-10 minutes to set the ink or be ironed.

I had made Emily a shirt to wear on the day of her party and my husband came up with the idea to have each of her friends sign the back of her shirt. It is a fun keepsake from her birthday party. 
While they were taking turns signing her shirt I gave each girl a rainbow scratch door hanger for them to work on. They really had a good time with this activity and it lasted a lot longer than I anitcipated.

I had fun making these tie dye t-shirt cookies for the girls to have with the cake and I also indivitually wrapped one for each girl to put in their goody bags.
The part that I loved the most about Emily’s birthday party is that she decided that instead of asking for presents for her birthday she asked each girl to bring a pair of pajamas for her to donate to Jake’s Jammies. This is a charity that provides a comfy pair of pajamas for children that are in the hospital. When the lady came to collect all the pajamas that Emily collected I was so proud of her. I started to tear up as she told me how worried she was that there wasn’t going to be that many pajamas and how it made her birthday so special when she saw our coffee table overflowing with pajamas that she knew were going to make children in the hospital SO happy and comfy.
We always like to do a photo booth at the girls party so that we can get pictures of the girls with their guests. I was hoping to find a nice tie dye table cloth, however there really wasn’t that much available. My husband did find really cool tie dye print Duct tape which we used for a picture frame photo prop. With the pictures that I took I turn each one into a photo card and send the personalized card as the thank you for coming to the party.
The girls after the party with their finished tie dyed shirts!

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