Thursday, March 28, 2013

Marble Box Easter Egg Painting

I can't believe that Easter is this Sunday!  I had hoped to do a bunch of Easter art project with the girls but between Sidney's 3rd birthday this past weekend and then planning Ava's 5th birthday and Clara's baptism in April, I ran out of time.

We did manage to squeeze in one simple Easter art project.  All you need is a cardboard box, white card stock (construction paper will do too), marbles and pastel paint.  I used 4 different colors of paint and squeezed them in the four corners of the box.

Then you just shake up the box and color your Easter egg!

Happy Easter!

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Sidney's Painting Birthday Party

We (finally) had Sidney's 3rd birthday party on Saturday - a PAINTING PARTY!!!  This was such a fun day.  I hope one of the girls wants a painting party again!  Here are some of the party details...

I made the invitation using card stock, colored printer paper, circle craft punches and a corner craft punch. To make the paint circles stand out, I taped them with thick foam squares.

I ordered the cake but since Sidney couldn't eat it, I made her egg-free Oreo Cupcakes.  The only change I made from the original recipe that I posted is that I added crushed Oreos (cookie only, not creme) to the cupcake batter.  The more Oreos the better!

Mason Jars and Lemonade
I bought lemonade (just the thought of having to juice all those lemons gave me arthritis) and sliced up lemons to make it pretty.  I bought the mason jars at Hobby Lobby when they had all glass items 50% off, which made them ~$0.75 each!  I found the paper straws and stamped mason jar lids at Shop Sweet Lulu.  I also found cute sticky labels at Michaels for guest to put their name on their cup.

I printed a bunch of photos of Sidney over the past year and arranged them in the shape of a number 3.  I posted the extra photos all around the house.

The Painting Room
I cleared out our sun room and set up a table with all the painting supplies - washable paint, paint brushes, paint pallets, wrapped canvas on easels, wooden objects, ceramic magnets and face painting crayons!  I also decorated the room using pictures that the girls had painted and colored that I glued to construction paper.  I gathered all the art smocks and aprons we have to help protect the kids' party clothes.  The face painting was a big hit!  Even my 16 year old niece drew designs on her arm!

Favorite Gift
Every girl needs a super hero cape!  Upon putting on her cape, Sidney gave me a sweet smile and then ran off around the house like a true super hero!  Thanks Pip and Bean!

This birthday party was definitely one of my favorites!   Happy 3rd to my Super Sidney!

xoxo, Mom & Dad

PS - Did you notice how sunny and warm it looks out the sun room windows in all the pictures?  Two days later, this is what our back yard looks like....

So much for Spring!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Easter Poppers

Every Christmas my mom buys these Poppers (some people call them Crackers) from World Market:
My girls love to pop them open and see the prize inside.

I have been trying to come up with some good non-candy gifts for the girls' Easter baskets.  There is not a lot of candy that Sidney can eat that is milk, egg and nut free so I prefer to do small gifts instead so Sidney doesn't feel left out.  This year, I made my own Easter Poppers!

All you need is an empty paper towel roll, tissue paper, tulle or ribbon and some small toys.

First, I cut my paper towel rolls down to the appropriate size and loaded them with the toys. I found some cute pencils in the dollar section at Target and I used felt heart stickers for confetti.

Once you've filled the paper towel roll, roll it up in the center of a piece of tissue paper.  You only need one piece of tissue paper or else it will be too hard to tear apart.  Tie the ends of the tissue paper using Tulle or Ribbon.

I used a heart-shaped craft punch to make gift tags.

Then I double stick taped the heart to the popper.

To open, the kids just pull on both ends of the tissue paper to pop open their surprise!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Daddy's Home!

My girls are still trying to grasp the concept of time.  I try to put things in perspective by comparing time to the number of Team Umizoomi episodes you'd have to watch if we're discussing hours or the number of bedtimes if we're discussing days.  

Ava's "how long until" questions generally revolve around three things: 1.  How long until dinner?  2.  How long until Dad gets home from work?   3.  How long until I get to wake up in the morning?  This past week was particularly tough because Tim was traveling out of the country for SIX DAYS!  This is the first time Tim has had to travel since Clara was born.  I had no idea how we'd make it six whole days with out Tim.  It was pretty exhausting and chaotic and the house was a mess most of the time and we had breakfast for dinner more times than I'd like to admit.  But we made it (with the help of the grandparents - thank God for grandparents!).

Every day, multiple times a day, Ava confirmed her understanding of the number of days until Tim got home from his "work vacation".  That's what I like to call it because any time you are free of your child responsibilities (feeding, diapering, putting to bed, etc.), you are on vacation.  These days, going to the dentist while my mom watches the girls is a mini-vacation for me.

When Tim finally got home, a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.  The girls were so happy to see him, but no one was happier than me.

Tim traveled to three countries in six days, including Hong Kong where he picked up this cute little kimono for Clara.

We love you Daddy!  So glad you are home safe and sound.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Middle Child Syndrome

Have you heard of Middle Child Syndrome?  I didn't know it was a real thing, but when Clara (my third child) was born, I started to worry about Sidney (my middle child).  I started to notice that when I wasn't caring for Clara, Ava (my oldest child) was constantly clamoring for my attention.  She's older, louder and bigger than Sidney so she often won out.  While I recognized that Ava had needs that she wanted met, it made me sad that Sidney was always the last to have her needs met.

There are a few characteristics of a child affected by Middle Child Syndrome:
- Feels like he or she doesn't fit in anywhere in the family, which affects self-esteem 
- Pulls away, becomes a loner
- Distrusting of others
- Feelings of emptiness or inadequacy
- Tendency to be introverted

Time Magazine wrote a very interesting article called The Power of Birth Order.  It points out that "unlike the firstborn, who spends at least some time as the only-child eldest, and the last-born, who hangs around long enough to become the only-child youngest, middlings are never alone and thus never get 100% of the parents' investment of time and money."

I looked around online to find out ways to prevent Middle Child Syndrome.  Here are some good tips that I've summarized:

1. Recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of each child
Don't compare your children to each other.  Each child has her own personality, weaknesses and strengths.  Compliment her and point out the good qualities about your child.  

2.  Avoid playing favorites
Often, a parent will develop a closer relationship with one child more than the other children.  Strive to have a special and unique relationship with each one.

3.  Take notice of how much time you are spending with each child
Be sure each parent has one-on-one time with each child.  Take an interest in your child’s hobbies and activities and give your full support.  Ask questions - this allows your child to know that you are interested in them, and it begins a conversation that leaves room for them to open up and talk.

4.  Try to put yourself in your child's spot
Children do not always tell their parents their problems or worries, so it is important to try to put yourself in your child's position. Try to see things from their point of view.  Children want to feel loved and can become jealous of siblings very easily, especially if they feel their brothers or sisters are being favored over them.

5.  Listen for hints that your child is feeling left out
Sometimes your child may come out and tell you that she is feeling lonely, and other times she will hint at it by saying she wants to play a game or read a book together.  If you're busy, carving out a small amount of time is better than nothing.  Better yet, if you can involve your child in what you are doing, you can take care of your needs and hers at the same time.

My husband, Tim, and I have talked a lot about this lately.  When we can, we split up the girls to have one-on-one time with Sidney.  We try to incorporate something educational but sometimes we just have fun doing what ever Sidney wants to do.  During my afternoon with Sidney one day, we went to the store to buy decorations for her birthday party, then we went to the mall.  I love how little it takes to please this girl.  All she wanted was a lollipop, a smoothie, a ride on the carousel and a balloon.  Oh, and she wanted to wear her "Super Bunny" cape while doing all of this.  I had the best day having Sidney all to myself!



 Tea cup ride on the Carousel


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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sidney's Oreo Cupcakes

I was going to title this post "Vegan Oreo Cupcakes" but I didn't want anyone to think that I used some sort of weird ingredients that would change the taste of the cupcake.  Trust me -these are DELISH and kid approved!

Sidney turned three on Monday.  The poor girl has never had a cupcake because of her egg and dairy allergies :,-(  so I scoured the internet and found a recipe for Vegan Oreo Cupcakes.  It was really well reviewed and {bonus} I had all of the ingredients on hand!  Not because I make a ton of vegan treats, but because the ingredients are very simple.  I love that.

Since I had never made these cupcakes before, I decided to do a trial run now and if they turned out good, I will make them for her big party.  We all know how much Sidney LOVES Oreos so I decided to incorporate them as well.  When I make them for her big party, I think I will try to go even bigger with the Oreos....just you wait and see!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 container of vanilla icing
8-10 Oreos

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
2.  Line a muffin tin with muffin cups.
3.  Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. 
4.  Add the oil, vanilla and water. Mix together until smooth.
5.  Pour into muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes. 
6.  While the cupcakes are baking, separate the Oreos and scrape the cream filling off the cookie.  Throw away the creme filling and place the cookies in a plastic Ziploc baggie.  Crush the cookies with a mallet of some sort.
7.  Remove from oven and allow to cool before icing.
8.  Once the cupcakes have cooled, ice them with the vanilla icing and then sprinkle the Oreo cookie crumbs over the icing.  I topped my cupcakes with a mini Oreo too!

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Now, I'm not trying to burn any bridges or upset the good people at Nabisco (we are BIG supporters of all varieties of your Oreos and very much appreciate that the creme filling contains no dairy), but I did a little experiment.  I iced half of the cupcakes as I described above and the other half I iced with store-bought Oreo Ultimate Icing.  

After a blind taste test (performed by my lab rat hubby), we concluded that my method of crushing the Oreos was much better.  Yeah!

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Monday, March 4, 2013

This is Three

Three …
   Sings and knows all the words to the songs
   Dances like nobody’s watching
   Loves without hesitation
   Insists on doing it herself
   Talks out loud while playing pretend
   Does not want to miss out on anything
   Stands up for herself
   Counts to Eleventeen
   Questions and clarifies and wants recognition
   Talks until she’s blue in the face
   Isn’t ready to give up the “baby of the family” spot
   Wants to be covered in no less than 4 blankets, even in the summer
   Is curious 
   Is gaining confidence
   Creates, colors and paints
   Wonders when it will be Christmas and Halloween and her birthday
   Loves bubble baths and stickers
   Acknowledges others feelings
   Sleeps with her Blanky and takes her everywhere
   Wants to be read to
   Plans great tea parties
   Will swing as long as your arms can push her
   Tells Mom and Dad “Happy Birthday” every night at bedtime
   Loves her grandparents
   Looks up to her big sister and looks out for her little sister

"And though you be but little, you are FIERCE."

Hey Sidney, guess what?  I love you.
Happy Birthday

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Read Across America Day

March 2nd is Read Across America Day.  Tim and I read to the girls before bedtime every night.  While we recognize that reading to your kids is so important, it can be hard to do at the end of a long day.  But, thankfully, the girls love to be read to and won't less us off the hook.  Here are a few of almost-5 Ava and almost-3 Sidney's favorite books:

Stop that Pickle by Peter Armour

Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

Where the Wilds Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss

Sam's First Word Book by Yves Got

Click here for a list of 20 fun ideas to celebrate Read Across America Day with your kids.

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