Clip Reward Chart

I was feeling that we needed to start a new rewards chart as Dylan's behavior has been in need of turning around with his younger brothers first birthday, the full of fun and yet sometime boring summer time vacation and the excitement and nervousness of kindergarten right around the corner.  There is so much going on with him right now that he acts off the wall at times -- okay, he acts his age but there are times when I'm pretty sure he can tone it down a bit.  Dylan loves reward charts.  I was in search of something different so I turned to Pinterest and did a few searches on behavior charts.  The Clip Reward chart is what caught my attention and I decided to make one for us to use.

Our Clip Chart


How to make it: To make our chart, I headed to Michael's Craft store for supplies.  I got a large piece of foam core board,  primary color card stock, a bag of clothespins and a bottle of glue.  I also picked up a small container and a bag of glass stones and finally I also checked out their dollar aisle and found a few prizes.  I started by gluing five pieces of the card stock to the foam board and wrote the following from top to bottom "Awesome, Great day, Good Job, Ready, Need Improvement, Oh No! and Lose Privilege."  I also wrote in numbers from 1 to 7 next to each piece of card stock. That's all I needed to do to make the chart.  So easy!   

How it works:  Each day, when Dylan awakes the clothes pin clip will be on the green 'Ready' spot.  For us, this means we are ready to start the day.  When Dylan has negative behavior it will result in a 'clip down' .  If he clips down to the lose privilege spot than I will take something away such as a toy, xbox or something similar for the remainder of the day.  Good behavior will result in being told to 'clip up'.   

As mentioned previously, I picked up a small canister with lid and glass beads.  At the beginning of the next day, we will look at the chart to see what number his clip is on and put that number of beads into the canister.

Our small canister 


Rewards:  To earn a prize, there are a couple of ways to do it.  If he is on the Awesome spot and he clips up past Awesome, it is considered off the chart and I will reward him by letting him pick a prize out of my prize bucket.

The 2nd way to earn a prize is at every 20 beads.  I figured giving him a dollar prize every few days is definitely worth his good behavior.

And the last way is to fill the canister up!   The canister holds 80 glass beads (yes I counted!)   When the canister is filled up, it will result in a larger bigger prize than the $1 dollar prizes.

Some examples of prizes that I got are a paddle ball, a slap on watch, punching balloon, large bubbles, pez candy, a bag of M&Ms.  You get the idea.

Some of the $1 prizes
We are on day three; so far he has gotten a 3 Need Improvement, an off the chart (8 beads) and today a 5 - Good Day.  This morning he was so excited to pick out his prize.  He picked the big bubbles and at 7:00 am this morning, he was outside blowing bubbles.  Definitely fun way to earn a reward!







Vegetable, Ham, Cheese Quiche

Quiche is such a fantastic way to get vegetables into your kids! My five year old, won't eat spinach if it's just sitting on his plate but bake it in eggs with cheese, well we then will have a winner!  The fun thing about quiche is that you can make it with whatever you have on hand.  I picked up some fresh vegetables at our farmer's stand.  Frozen can be used as well, just be sure to have everything cooked so the frozen won't defrost and add unnecessary water into your quiche.

Today, we made a ham, cheese, spinach, broccoli and green onion quiche.  I used the recipe from the magazine "Clean Eating" with some modifications.  Here is how I made my quiche:

1 cup fresh broccoli florets (steamed until tender)
1 bunch of fresh spinach (sweat until cooked) 
1 cup of ham (diced)
1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
4 oz shredded mild cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded monetary jack cheese
5-6 eggs
1 cup milk
3 slices of bread 
Pie plate
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a pie pan with cooking spray to keep the crust from sticking.  

Break/Cube the bread into smaller pieces.  Use a food processor or blender to crush the cubes of bread. I used my Magic Bullet as I don't have a food processor right now. 

Press the bread crumbs into the pie plate on top of the cooking spray and bake in oven for 10 minutes.

Bread crumb crust

Place in a bowl, the steamed broccoli florets, the cooked spinach, the diced ham, the chopped green onions and the shredded cheese.  Mix and season to taste.

In another bowl, beat eggs together and pour in milk.  Pour egg mix into the vegetable/meat/cheese mixture. 

Quiche before it was cooked

When the crust is done after 10 minutes, pour your quiche mixture into the pie plate on top of the baked crust.  Bake for approximately 40 minutes until it's set.  A knife put into it should come out clean. 

Our finished quiche!
Now you have dinner and tomorrow's breakfast!  My 5 year old at two pieces and my soon to be 1 year old ate half a piece!  Enjoy!



Veggie & Feta Quinoa


Quinoa.  It's pronounced 'Keen-wah' and NOT Quin-O-ah as I had originally thought when I first saw it at Trader Joe's.  I was looking for a side item and thought it sounded different.  Quinoa is cooked like rice and can be used in a variety of dishes from a simple side or pair it with veggies to create a full meal.   

Here's a great recipe for Veggie & Feta Quinoa that I am sure you will enjoy.  I made the recipe for two adults and 1 child and we had plenty leftover.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 chopped red onion
1 bag frozen vegetables
1 cup of cooked Quinoa (follow instructions on package)
2 - 3 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup of pesto
Feta Cheese

Directions:
In a skillet, sauté the red onion in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the bag of frozen veggies.  Stir as needed.  I also added a couple tablespoons of water while the vegetables cooked.  The water will evaporate as it cooks.  Add quinoa, spinach and pesto.  Continue stirring as it cooks. Once throughly heated, remove from stove and serve with a little feta cheese on top. 

We served ours with a fresh green salad.  It's a great tasting meatless meal.  Enjoy!



New Block Game

Dylan and I invented a new game last night while building block towers together.  We took turns putting one block on top of the other building up a tower.   We decided that we could only build up.  We carefully placed each block up higher and higher.  Our towers were very unstable but that was the fun part; seeing who would be the one to knock the tower down.  Whoever did not knock it down, won that round.  We played to whomever had won five rounds.  It was actually getting to the point where we would try to make it tricky for each other. It was a very quick game and lots of fun.  Try it with your kids!



Blueberries!

Last week we went blueberry picking.  It was a last minute decision on a hot day but worth it to get these little morsels of juiciness.  Blueberries are early this season due to the warmer weather.  The blueberries look great this year.  

Blueberries!
Hubby and I took both kids up to the orchard. I wasn't sure how Ty was going to do out in the heat but he did well and caught on quickly!  I was holding him and he watched how I pulled the berries off.  Most went into the bucket but some went into his mouth. I'm sure you can guess which he preferred to do!  Soon he wanted to get down and started to pull the berries, the stems, the unripened berries right off and stick it all into his mouth.


Dylan posing for a picture 
Tyler helping himself to the blueberries

For the past week, we've been eating blueberries.  Hubby requested blueberry muffins this morning for breakfast.  I love checking Pinterest for cooking ideas.  I found a great quick recipe from Blueberry Octopie Blog and I added a streusel topping with a mix of white sugar, brown sugar, flour and melted butter.  This recipe made 6 large muffins and I baked them without using muffin papers; I just sprayed the tin with cooking spray.  Larger muffins usually take about 5 minutes longer than what the recipe instructs.  Just be sure to keep an eye on them.  After all your hard work, you don't want to burn your muffins!  

Blueberry muffins before they are cooked
I encourage you all to get out there and find a local place to pick blueberries!  Now is the time!  Not sure where to go?  Check Pick Your Own's Website

Blueberry muffins with streusel topping





















Sidewalk Chalk Paint

I've been looking forward to making homemade chalk paint with Dylan this summer and today was the day we did it!  I got this idea from Come Together Kids.  Simple, inexpensive and a bit messy but that's what summer time activities are about for us!

You will need cornstarch, water,  various paint brushes, food coloring and something to mix the paints in.  I used our large muffin tin container.   Mix in equal parts water and cornstarch into each tin.  Mix in a few drops of food coloring.  We used our fingers as then we could feel the cornstarch on the bottom and this would ensure it was well mixed.

Getting everything ready
Pouring in the water
Take your paints, to the sidewalk or driveway and get painting.  The painting goes on kind of watery but when it was drying, the colors got brighter.  I have an eleven month old and a 5 year old and both had a fantastic fun time with this project.  I couldn't decide on which picture to add, so I added a bunch! Dylan has already asked me when we would make this again!


















Carrot Recipes

We've been getting lots of carrots with our CSA this past month.  Here are some ideas that we've been doing with our carrots.

Maple Glazed Carrots
Wash, peel and chop up the carrots.  Add a little water to cook the carrots.  When tender, add in a tablespoon of butter and a swirl of maple syrup.  (I know swirl isn't an exact measurement but it all depends on taste and the number of carrots you have cooking up!).  Cook until throughly heated and serve!

Dill Carrots
Wash, peel and chop up the carrots.  Add a little water to cook the carrots.  When tender, add in a tablespoon of butter and a handful of fresh dill.  (We used dill from our garden!).  Cook until throughly heated and serve!


Carrot, Apple, Raisin Muffins
This recipe made 10 large muffins.  I recently purchased a large 6 muffin tin pan since I was getting tired of small muffins.  This original recipe said it made 18 muffins - not sure what size muffins they were making but here is the recipe as I made it.

     1 cup whole wheat flour
     1 cup all-purpose flour
     2 teaspoons baking powder
     2 teaspoons cinnamon
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     3/4 cup white sugar
     1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
     2 cups shredded carrots (about 6 medium)
     1 1/4 cup raisins
     3 large eggs
     1 cup vegetable oil
     2 teaspoons vanilla
     1 large granny smith apple

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.  (If you are making less muffins, as my 2nd time I only had 4 muffin tins filled, be sure to fill the empty spots with water for even cooking). 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, then add in both sugars.
  4. Shred carrots to measure 2 cups packed.
  5. Add the carrots and raisins to the flour mixture; toss well to combine.
  6. In a bowl whisk together eggs, oil and vanilla. 
  7. Peel, core and shred the apple.  Add the shredded apple to the egg mixture.
  8. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture; stir.
  9. Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin tins filling about three-quarters full.
  10. Bake for about 15-20* minutes, or until muffins test done.
*I used a large 6 muffin tin pan twice and each time it took 25 minutes to cook through.  

Serve warm with butter.  Enjoy!  


I changed the recipe slightly but here is the original recipe from Food.com Carrot Raisin Muffins.

About to go into the oven!

Ready to enjoy! Yum!



CSA

This year we signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  We pay upfront to get about a variety of vegetables and sometimes fruit for the next ten weeks.  By paying in the beginning of the season, it helps the farm out to get equipment, seeds and whatever else is needed for the growing season.  We signed on with Stanley Farms in Boxborough, MA.   As an added bonus, Stanley Farms delivers and at the end of the season, 50lbs of beef and 25lbs of pork all locally raised will be delivered.  

I'll be sharing some of the recipes that will be making with our CSA share over the next few months!

Make Butter!

I've made whipped cream plenty of times but never butter.  It was quite amazing to watch the transformation of cream into whipped cream and then into butter right before our eyes.  This is such a super easy activity, you have to try it!    

What you will need:

1 jar with a lid 
Heavy Cream
1 glass marble
Strainer
Rubber spatula


I used a glass milk bottle and 16oz of Heavy Cream.  I didn't take into consideration of how heavy the glass was to keep shaking; next time I will try to find a plastic lighter container.  

Pour the heavy cream into the bottle.  Drop in your glass marble.  Make sure the lid is on tight and start shaking!  Shake, shake shake and don't stop!  


Here is Dylan shaking our container.  


After 10 minutes of shaking, it still looks the same!  Keep Shaking! 


About 25 minutes of shaking, we have whipped cream! Boy my arms getting tired now!
This is the amazing part!  I'm shaking and shaking it and feeling like it's not doing anything because well it's whipped cream, it's a strange thing to shake whipped cream around.  Doesn't feel like it's doing much in there and then it happens!  Ta-Dah!  See Below!


Ta-Dah! All of a sudden the creamiest whipped cream that is difficult to shake, has turned to liquid and I immediately think, 'Oh man, I did something wrong, its back to its original form.'  Nope, I look and I see butter in there!  

Get your strainer and pour the entire contents into it.  Make sure you have a bowl underneath to catch the buttermilk.  (Save this to make buttermilk pancakes tomorrow!)  Using a spoon or rubber spatula, push lightly to make sure all the liquid is out of the butter.  Scoop the butter up and make sure to take out the marble.  If you like salted butter, than mix in one teaspoon of salt.  You can shape it into rolls and wrap it in plastic or just put it in a bowl until your ready to enjoy it! Yum! 


Here is what I used my butter on:  


The recipe can be found here at Sweet Pea's Kitchen





Glow Stick Party - Summer Kick off!

It may not quite be summer yet but we decided to kick off our summer by having a glow stick party.  I had never heard of a glow stick party until I found it on Happy Home Fairy's website via The Confident Mom.  What a fun way to get summer started! I purchased a few different glow sticks at our local dollar store.  While dad gave the boys their baths, I unwrapped, snapped and shook all the glow sticks.  When Dylan saw all the glow sticks, he was really excited.  I placed them on the floor and the boys had a great time exploring, waving and dancing with the sticks.  Dylan was very creative making a head band and bracelet out of them.

Tyler watching his big brother

Look Mom - a figure eight!

Head band and necklace

It was an inexpensive way to have fun with the kids and they throughly enjoyed it. Let the summer begin!

Visit The Confident Mom here and Happy Home Fairy by following these links!

Summer Bucket List

In my mind, summer is nearly here.  Although, Dylan isn't out of school until mid-June, June feels like summer and that is when we'll be kicking off our summer fun together.  I've been working on putting together a list of things that I want to do with the kids (and hubby) in the next three months as well as marking them in our calendar.  Dylan is curious, creative, fun, messy and so many other wonderful qualities but mostly he has so much energy and I find that on the days that I plan out, it not only goes much smoother but it can be a whole lot of fun.

I could list out the 50 items on my bucket list but you could also just do an internet search for 'Summer bucket list' to get a ton of ideas.  So instead, I will tell you how I am organizing it all and some of the activities to come which I will be blogging about this summer.

I came across a link to The Confident Mom in an advertisement in an email newsletter from  Money Saving Mom.  Curious, I purchased and downloaded Susan's (aka The Confident Mom) calendar packed filled with ideas for the summer.  She has some fantastic ideas for staying organized, links to some fantastic blogs (some that I have been to before) as well as three and a half months packed of things to do during the summer.  I'm the type of person who loves my google calendar so that is where I keep all my activity ideas. I have been combing through Susan's ideas as well as many other blogs, Pineterst, Chamber of Commerce for our area and other websites that I frequent to come with lots of fun for our summer.

When I use an idea that I got elsewhere, I will be linking back to their site (as I hope you will you enjoy one of my ideas!)  With that being said, we will be kicking off summer this week, so please check back to see what fun activities we will be doing this summer!


Sensory Activities

I love setting up different Sensory bins and activities for my boys.  Now that Ty is at the age where he can join in on the fun, I've been setting up activities geared towards both a 10 month old and a 5 year old.  I have a large clean plastic container that I dumped in a bunch of Cheerios.  Both boys had a great time putting their hands in the Cheerios, digging them around, swirling their fingers in it and of course eating them! Once Dylan got bored, I let the smaller one sit in the container of Cheerios.


Another day, we needed something to break up the day, so I took a small plastic container and filled it with warm water from the sink.  I didn't say a word as I placed it on a towel on the floor and filled it with a few floating toys.  Both boys were immediately drawn to it.  "Can we put our hands in it?" Dylan asked.  "Yes,"  I replied.  Of course, my ten month old didn't have to ask but made his way over to see what I put on the floor.  Right away, his hands went in and smiles came out.  Dylan, started playing with super heroes in the water and Tyler inspected all the toys that were in the water bin.  It was also fun as I asked Tyler to get the ball or to get the boat, he studied everything and pulled out the items.  



This next idea wasn't a bin at all but what a fun activity for my smaller son to do.  I gave him a ball of yarn on the floor.  He was instantly interested and proceed to bat it with his small hand across the floor.  He soon realized "the ball" was leaving a string behind and enjoyed shaking the string and then starting all over again hitting the yard ball with his hand and chasing behind it.  




Each activity probably took about 5 minutes to set up and a little longer to clean up but definitely worth it for both boys.  As with any activity, adult supervision is required.  I hope you try some of these sensory ideas and let me know what works for you!  For us, it not only breaks up the day, but the boys get to relax and explore while having fun.

Magic Milk Paint

I was trying to make dinner.  I had one child on my left hip and the other at my heels looking for something to do.  I had checked out the Clorox's Recipe for Fun site quite a few times and had the Magic Milk Paint on my mind for something to do.  Why not?  I grabbed a few baby bowls and filled each with a tiny bit of milk.  I told my son he was going to be using a magic wand.  I didn't have any toothpicks on hand, as the recipe suggests so we used the back of baby spoons.  I gave my son the food coloring where he got to add a few drops of the colors to whichever bowls he wanted.

He had no idea what he was about to do but he was having fun already!  I then put a little dish soap in a separate cup and he dipped each spoon handle into the soap.  Now for the fun part!  Put the spoon handle with the dish soap into the colored milk and watch what happens.

The colors seem to "run" from the dish soap.  It happens quick and only happens once but it was fun to watch.  He also enjoyed mixing different food colors to see what colors they created. I didn't like that we had to 'waste' milk but I did only use a tiny bit.  It was, however a great way to give my son a few minutes of fun while I finished getting dinner together.

For the full recipe as well as why this happens check out Clorox's Recipes for Fun website filled with crafts and wacky science ideas.

Handprint Butterfly Craft

We were having one of "those days". I had better find something fun to do to turn our moods around quickly. I was browsing Facebook and thankfully The Activity Mom had a post from No Time For Flashcards called "25 Classic Crafts For Kids". I clicked on the link and loved many of the ideas. I decided the handprint butterflies would be easy to not only because only a few supplies are needed, less mess and Dylan would be able to color, cut and decorate. Perfect!

Here is a direct link to the Handprint Butterfly Craft on No Time For Flashcards. Trace both hands on a piece of construction paper. Cut out each hand print. Dylan is old enough to trace and cut out his own hands, so he enjoyed that part. Now, line up the thumbs and glue them together.

Now the really fun part - decorate! We have a fantastic craft tray, I picked up a couple of years ago at Michael's Craft store. Laying the craft in the tray, makes less mess especially when using glue, glitter, feathers.

Dylan used glitter markers and feathers to decorate his butterfly.  He then glued his butterfly onto another piece of construction paper where he drew in butterfly antennas, flowers, grass and of course, his name and age.   It came out fantastic. I wasn't sure what a butterfly would look like with feathers but I think he made it work and I was proud to hang it up in our kitchen.  What a great keepsake of his hands!





Digital Scrapbooking

Quiet time.  It may seem rare but most nights I do actually get a little quiet time.  Once the boys are asleep, I love to turn on the television in the bedroom, put my feet up and head on over to Hummie's World.  Digital scrapbookers rejoice!  There is a website that is both helpful and supportive and now they have their own design store as well!   Hummie has a plethora of monthly classes that a subscriber can sign up. The classes are worth signing up for as Hummie has created her own how to videos for most of the lessons as well as .pdf files.

I am currently in a designer class, so you may notice the background, layout and header being changed around as I want to design not only my own digital scrapbooking papers and elements but also my own blog.  I will also be posting up some of what I am learning.  

Make A Book!

Looking for a fun craft to do on a whim?  Often times I've wished I could think of something fun for my five-year old to do while I made dinner or put in a load of laundry.  Make a book!  Easy and I bet you have all the materials right at home.

We took an 8 x 11.5 " piece of printer paper and folded it in half and in half again.  Cut on the seams so you have four equal squares.  At this point, you can punch holes to thread ribbon through them or just staple the corner for a flip book.  Add as many pieces of paper that your child wants or just keep it simple and use one piece.  

Get out the crayons, markers and/or colored pencils. If your child can write his/her letters than they can create their own story with your help.  Add some stickers or draw in the pictures.  That's it and you have a fantastic keepsake.  Have them make a story about a family member or whatever stickers you have on hand.  My son loved this activity so much, there has been so many times thereafter he has asked if we could make another book. His creativity blossoms when I give him time and the supplies to do these things on his own.

After your child is done, be sure to have him or her read the book to you! 



Tie Dye T-shirt - update

Here is Dylan with his finished Tie Dye Shirt. His was the spiral shaped shirt that was wrapped as a ball. It came out fantastic! After washing it in hot water as per the instructions, the colors fade quiet a bit. You can use more dye tablets to get a brighter shirt.
I want to also advise that the shirt will shrink. Now I see why the instructions say to wash the shirt first. To avoid disappointment, get a shirt that is larger than you normally wear and before you tie dye it, wash it in hot water. I didn't and now my son has two Tie Dye shirts to wear!

Tie Dye T-Shirts


Here is a super fun activity!  Tie Dye your own T-shirts, apron, canvas bag, whatever you can think of to do!  I bought this kit by Tulip at our local craft store.  This kit used Neon colors such as orange, pink, blue, bright green and yellow.  There were other kits with a different mix of colors such as using Primary colors.



When you open up the box, you will find 5 colors with squeeze bottles, plastic gloves, elastics, extra dyes as well as this detailed idea booklet.  I chose to make the Bullseye design and Dylan chose the spiral. 





Time to get started!  The first step is to dampen your shirt.  The directions advised to wash your shirt in the washer first but we were eager to get started,  so I just wet our shirts under the sink facuet, squeezed out the excess and then wrapped the shirt up as pictured.  Here is a picture of our shirts wrapped and ready to go.


The longer shirt is for the Bullseye and Dylan's is wrapped up tightly in a ball for the Spiral.  Next step, get the dyes ready.  All that's needed to mix the dyes, is to add water, cap the bottle and shake.  So easy!

Let's get to dying those shirts now!  I happen to have two plastic containers that were perfect for pouring the dye onto the shirts.  The idea is to take the tip of the dye bottle and point it at where you want to the dye to go.  We also wanted to make sure to cover the shirt, so we had to make sure we got the tip into all the nooks and crannies.


Dylan is pouring the Blue dye onto his shirt.  Once you feel the shirt is saturated in color, place your shirt into a large ziploc bag overnight for the colors to soak into the t-shirt.


Here are our shirts waiting for the colors to soak in!

We waited until the next morning and here are our shirts fresh out of the ziploc bags! The top shirt is the Bullseye and the other the Spiral.   The next step is to wash the shirts individually in the washing machine using hot water.   I will post our final products up tomorrow!