Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fun "Watermelon" Breakfast

My daughter, Molly (5), got to read The Enormous Watermelon by Brenda Parkes in kindergarten last week. As a fun breakfast to go along with this book, I adapted an idea for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from the June/July 2012 issue of Family Fun magazine.

Start with an English muffin, toasted, and make a couple cuts to create a rounded triangle - just like a slice of watermelon! Spread with butter (optional! I used a non-butter spread) and then cover with a red jelly or jam. I used sugar-free strawberry preserves for a good, bright color.

Slice several grapes in half, lengthwise, and place them along the rounded edge of your English muffin. Now you can place a second grape on top of those to create the watermelon rind. You can use a smidgen of peanut butter to "glue" the grapes together if they start to slide, but I simply sliced a tiny piece off my top layer of grapes to help them lay flat. A double layer of grapes just stands higher but you can certainly place a single layer if you want to go a little quicker.

Finally, top your "watermelon slice" with a few raisins to be the seeds. What a silly and yummy way to start your child's day!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Watermelon Bottle Cap Pin

I wanted to make an easy watermelon project with my daughter, Molly (5), to go along with a book she read in kindergarten called The Enormous Watermelon by Brenda Parkes. I came up with a super cute and easy pin made from a recycled bottle cap! Molly had fun making them with just a little help from me when it came to the hot glue gun. Now she has one on her backpack and made one as a gift for her teacher!

Here's what you'll need:

clean bottle cap
paint and brush
hot glue gun
pin backs
Dimensional Magic by Mod Podge
Construction paper, scissors, markers and glue

Start by painting your bottle cap green. We used washable paint by Crayola.

While that is drying, it's time to make the middle. Trace a bottle cap (preferably NOT the one you just painted! haha!) on a piece of red construction paper to get the right size. Have your child carefully cut out the circle. I made sure Molly practiced making little snips; keeping her elbow by her side; and making only one piece of trash like she learned in class. Use a marker to make several black dots on the circle to be the watermelon seeds.

Once  the green paint is dry, you can use a dab of glue to attach your paper circle to the inside of the bottle cap. Then fill the bottle cap up with Mod Podge Dimensional Magic. Be sure to cover all of the paper and don't worry if it's cloudy - it will dry clear. I LOVE Mod Podge products! Lay it flat to dry and when it's ready, use a hot glue gun to attach a pin back to it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

True Blood drink bottles - For Watch Party OR Halloween!

Tonight is the season finale of True Blood! My husband and I love watching this show after the kiddos are in bed and we treat all our favorite HBO shows as our "Date Nights". For tonight's show, I thought I'd come up with a special drink for us to celebrate. I ended up making authentic looking bottles of Tru Blood!

First, I found what the label looks like by searching for images on Google and found a good one here. Then I drew it out with a pencil on some white paper and outlined it with a black ball point pen. Of course, if you're short on time and actually have ink in your printer, you can simply print it out!! Meanwhile, I colored mine in with markers and cut it out.

Cut out rectangles of red construction paper to fit over the main label as well as the top label of the bottle you've chosen. Be sure to round the corners of your top label to help it wrap around. Use a glue stick to attach your label to the large rectangle, and add a Tru Blood symbol on the smaller rectangle with a black marker.

 The bottle I used for this project was some Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade because A) it's what I already had in the fridge, and B) pink will be easy to turn red! Because the Pink Lemonade was seasonal and might not be available after the summer, you can always use a pink-colored wine cooler. I used Mod Podge brand decoupage to affix my labels to the bottle. Start by covering the original label with a layer of Mod Podge and sticking on your homemade label. Then cover the whole thing with more Mod Podge using a sponge or paint brush.

While my labels were drying, I carefully unscrewed the cap and added about 7 drops of red food coloring. Screw the cap back on and gently shake the bottle to mix it up. Let your labels dry completely and voila! TRU BLOOD! I can't wait to toast our date night with this special drink tonight! I also plan to make more to serve around Halloween this year! Cheers!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

KC Outings for a Farm Theme

One theme we did for my MOMS Camp this summer was all about Farms! Now that it's past, I won't go into crazy detail about everything we did, but here is a list of things we did around town to give you some ideas!

Anyone in Johnson County will tell you to go to Deanna Rose Childrens Farmstead and I won't tell you any different! What a fun outing for many ages - we go several times each year when they're open from April 1st through October 31st. It is free on Monday - Thursday and then just $2 per person over 2 from Friday till Sunday. Deanna Rose has goats, sheep, chickens, ponies, ground hogs, a bison, a bald eagle, pigs, cows and more. They feature a twice daily milking demonstration, mining, pony rides, and fishing. My kids have always loved going and I highly recommend it!

We also visited the Overland Park Farmers Market which is surprisingly a favorite hot spot for my five year old! She loves to see all the fruits and vegetables that were grown on a real farm and of course she loves the fresh peaches. It's fun to let your kids choose a new vegetable, or an old favorite, that you can cook for them and they'll eat it because they picked it out! We planned to go on a day when they had a free kids' concert by Funky Mama. There's a small fountain you can play in, too so come prepared with towels and a change of clothes if you come when it's hot out!

A final place to visit for farm week is Wonderscope Children's Museum. This is an old elementary school in Shawnee that has been converted into a fun and educational, hands-on museum for kids. Each room is dedicated to a different theme and one of them has a mini farm and grocery store in it! You can harvest your veggies then sell them in the market. Just a side note here: this museum is pretty pricey and charges admission for adults too! It's pretty run down but my kids still really enjoy it when we go. They've had a Groupon to save on admission a couple times now, though, so be on the lookout to take advantage of that! ;O)

Friday, August 24, 2012

More Lenexa Playgrounds!

Over the summer, I visited several (okay, all) of the Lenexa playgrounds with my kids. Beginning in May 2012, they released a map of all their playgrounds and offered a prize if you could visit at least 24 of them by September. Each playground had a little sign with a number and letter on it, specific to a puzzle on the map you had to complete to earn the prize. I have previously reviewed a few of the playgrounds here and plan to post about all of them as a reference for my readers. Here are a few more!

Matt Taylor Park is an awesome park with two play areas, swings, tennis courts, and covered picnic tables. It's located at 83rd and Rosehill Road, just west of Quivera.  The play structures are really clean and new and my daughter, Molly (5), loves the "modern" shapes to climb on. There is one for big kids and a separate one for little kids, and I mean LITTLE kids! My two-year old loves it but even crawlers can play on the soft astro turf and play on the low, creative structures. There are several benches in good spots for parents to sit and watch. The only downfall is that the playgrounds are both in the sun, though there are great shade trees around them.

Heritage Forest Park is really hidden and you have to walk along a path for a short ways to get to it, maybe a quarter of a mile. Of course, part of the fun is walking the wooded path that follows a creek anyway! Park your car in the parking spaces along 83rd, west of Pflumm Road, and follow the path back east. The playground itself is in the shade so that's a big plus! It's kind of dirty since it's under the trees and so close to the woods, but it's a good one. No swings or picnic tables, but a nice bench in the shade to sit and watch. SIDE NOTE: if you park and then take the path west instead, it winds around for a loooong time through the woods, goes behind neighborhoods, zig zags up a crazy hill and finally you reach an elementary school playground to play on too!

Ad Astra Park also has two great playgrounds! I can't believe we've never been here before because I thought it was great! Ad Astra is located at 83rd and Maurer Road. They have a covered picnic area, swings, and two really unique playgrounds. Not to mention it's right next to an elementary school playground and a public swimming pool. Unfortunately, the equipment is in the sun, but the slides were placed in a way that they were actually shaded by the equipment itself (as seen in the below photo) around noon. There was a whole line up of percussion instruments to play, a couple varieties of rock climbing walls, and the BEST slide of any playground we've been too! (It's pictured in the bottom photo, sticking out from behind the "rock mountain" - it's steep and fast, but not too scary.) There's also ample room to run on the raised platforms so we had some good games of chase.

*Funny story: we almost didn't get out and play at Ad Astra Park that day because right when we pulled in, a couple of  Animal Control officers got out of their vehicle and headed into the park! I rolled down the window to check if there was any problem animals in the area we should be worried about (an injured raccoon or something!?). Turns out, they were literally there to have a picnic!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Recycled School Bus Craft

In the days leading up to the first day of school, we made a really cute school bus craft! School buses was a perfect theme for that week - great for back to school and my two-year old transportation-junky loves them!

The specific craft we made was purchased from Oriental Trading but they appear to be all sold out. As we put ours together though, I realized how easily we could have done it ourselves with just construction paper! On a side note, I thought I was buying just two kits, but instead received TWO SETS OF 12 KITS! Turns out it was on clearance sale.... so if you'd like a set (or four) just email me and I can send you some extras!

This craft was so appealing to me in the first place because it recycles old egg cartons! I save all my egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, plastic sour cream containers, etc just waiting for a craft idea to come along. Happily I could empty out a few cartons from my catch-all cabinet for this one.

The first day (or just early in the day if you want to complete it all in one day) we painted each of our egg cartons yellow. This was a brave and fun activity for my toddler (brave of me, fun for him!) but he did pretty well! My daughter, Molly (5), did a really nice job covering her carton. I even got to do one of my own since we had so many kits!

Once your paint is dry, we had foam stickers to apply to create our buses. If you are making one without the kit, simply cut out shapes from construction paper or foam to glue on. You'll need a rectangle for the doors; a rectangle for the "School Bus" sign; a red octagon for the stop sign; a couple circles or half circles for the lights and of course circles for the wheels. 

Another step you can add, once you know some of the kids in your child's class, is a photo or drawing of them which you can place on the sides like they're looking out the windows! Molly had a good time making this craft, and Ben actually played with his! He liked being able to actually open it up and put "people" inside... also he put in rice, blocks, and toy cars. What a fun way to recycle!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hickory Dickory Dock Clock Project

Now that summer is over and Molly (5) is in Kindergarten, I no longer have weekly themes like for my annual MOMS Camp. Instead, I will once again have monthly themes, usually revolving around the season or nearest holiday. HOWEVER! I will also include projects and recipes to go along with what Molly is learning in school! In August their lessons revolve around Nursery Rhymes, including Hickory Dickory Dock. I came up with a clock project to make with her, and also created a toddler appropriate variation for Ben (2).

Here's what you'll need:
Paper Plate
Construction Paper
Scissors and Tape

Start by having your child decorate a plain paper plate with markers. I love seeing how well Ben can color now compared to the beginning of the summer even! Meanwhile, draw templates of a minute hand, hour hand, and a mouse on construction paper. Either you or your child can cut these out - we chose the faster route and I did it this time.

For my five-year old's clock, I made lines where the numbers should be and drew a small number under each line for her to copy. Then she went around and wrote each number herself in the right place. I love that she got extra practice writing numbers and didn't even realize she was doing "work!"

For my two-year old's clock, I drew small pictures representing different times of the day for him, such as waking up, taking a nap, and eating lunch. I cut them out and attached them to corresponding places on his paper plate, treating it like a complete day instead of just 12 hours.

Use your brad to attach the hands of your clock right in the middle. Be sure it's loose enough to swivel around! Finally, tape a piece of yarn to the back of your paper mouse for it's tail. Using a separate, longer piece of yarn (we used a different color), attach your mouse to the clock with tape on the back. Now your mouse can run up and down to all the different numbers as you recite the rhyme!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Neighborhood Breakfast

During our Neighborhood Week of MOMS Camp I put together this easy and fun-to-eat breakfast! It only took a moment to construct but I was amazed at how excited Molly (5) and Ben (2) were to eat this cute breakfast.

Start with buttered toast and cut the crust off (if desired - I'm an adult and still cut off my crusts half the time!). To make two houses with trees, I needed just three slices. Keep two as squares for the houses. Cut one diagonally to make two triangles for the roofs. Finally, cut the third piece into rectangles to use for tree trunks. Munch on any left over toast. ;O)

After arranging your toast on the plates as shown above, accessorize with fruit of your choice. I used yellow pineapple squares for windows, green kiwi slices for trees, and blueberries for the doors. I must say: I never liked pineapple before this summer, but Molly has me addicted! One day at the grocery store she asked for a whole pineapple. I never turn down my kids when they ask for healthy items at the store so I bought her one. Luckily it came with a little tag of directions on how to cut it! Turns out, fresh pineapple is DELICIOUS!

NOTE: Now that school has started, don't be intimated by making special breakfasts for your kids just because you have to get ready to go! This breakfast came together so fast!

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Back on Schedule!

What a fun and busy summer! I can't believe it has been so long since my last post!! I kept up with my weekly MOMS Camp themes really well but I just couldn't keep up with blogging about it!

Over the past several weeks I have been busy choreographing color guard work for local (and not so local!) marching bands; then traveling for days at at time to teach that work. I even got to travel by train for the first time to Dodge City! I love doing the work and depend on that money but I sure hate to be gone from my kiddos!!! Every time I was back in town I would spend every moment I could just being with my kids. After they went to bed and before they woke up each day I was doing guard. It was crazy!

But now the shows are mostly complete and my baby girl has officially started KINDERGARTEN! I am so excited for her because I always loved school so much. I am also excited to be on a regular schedule and to get back to blogging! I already have so much to share from this week alone but I also have weeks to catch up on that I've missed, including more reviews of local playgrounds we've visited!

Thank you for sticking with me even through my long hiatus. I hope you are inspired by my values and when you find yourself in a busy moment, you remember what is most important in life! Forget the housework, forget the yard work, and forget the blog - just be with your kids and enjoy every moment! Because moms "Make Our Moments Special!" (too corny? meh. I love my kids!)