Being Brothers

When we are out and about at stores and such, I find that I am 'that mom' that is constantly telling my kids how to behave.  It goes something like this;  "No! Don't touch that"  "Dylan get off the floor"   "Tyler stay with mommy"  "Dylan don't grab that"  "Tyler don't grab that"  "Please put that back"  "Can you please listen to me?"  "Tyler the floor is dirty, please get up"  "No, don't put that in your mouth"   And it goes on and on and on.....   I find other parents giving me either the sympathetic  smile or laughing at my comments.  I have had a few nasty looks from older adults as if I can't control my children.   I tell myself, I need to bring them with me well I do that is what I stay at home mom does and they need to learn how to behave in public.   How will they learn, if we don't go out and do it?  

And then there are times when my kids are actually behaving properly or at the very least not as distracting to me and others.   Perhaps those days when I am better at blocking the misbehavior from my mind and the looks from others as there is only so much I can say or do.   I have witnessed my older son, Dylan holding Tyler's hand while he leads him back to me.  I have seen them sharing a bag of chips.  I have heard them both say to the other "Hey Dylan (or hey Tyler)  watch this!"   I have heard them giggling as the conspired under the clothes rack as if they are in a secret fort. There are times when we go out that they are perfect angles, listening to what I say and abiding their time when they can act crazy again knowing that mommy has had enough and by being good there will be good things to come. 

In the back of my mind, I am happy.  Happy that my kids are enjoying life and each other.  It is me that has to learn to let things roll easier.  Perhaps it is me that should stop criticizing everything they do and let them be.  For it is those moments, that we are all much happier. It is my hope and dream that my boys can love each other as children as well as adults.  It starts with giggling under clothes rack where mom can't see you.   Its times like these that I know they are learning what it means to be brothers.  

Me & my little boys 


Happy First Day of Christmas!

Happy First Day of Christmas is what my oldest son said this morning when he got up.   Apparently the month of December is nothing but Christmas in his eyes.  Feels right to me too.  And I think its great that he is super excited for Santa in 25 days, however, it's important for him to know about God and the birth of Jesus.   So this morning, I got everything together to make our Jesse Tree.  We have done this in previous years but each year brings new questions and a new understanding.  We all enjoy reading the bible verses together and learning more about Jesus.

If you search Google or Pinterest for "Jesse Tree" you will get a ton of ideas on how to make your own Jesse Tree;  whether it be using a branch, a small artificial tree, a plant or another method, pick the one that works for your family.   For our tree, I painted a picture of a Christmas tree on a piece of poster board.  Dylan thought it would look better with some red gift bows so he added those.

Then, we found Jesse Tree Ornaments here to print out along with a list of the bible verses to be read.   Tonight, for day one, we read about the Jesse Tree and Dylan glued the ornament he colored to our tree.

It's a small activity that I feel opens up our heart more for God.


Pipe Cleaners and a Colander!

Have you seen this interesting idea on Pinterest?   Get out a few pipe cleaners and a colander and you've got a fun activity for your little one!  Now, if you are my age, you may not be thinking this is fun but I will tell you it was a hit not only with my two year old, but with my seven year old as well!   They both had to give it a try and I was able to focus my attention on cooking dinner.  Ohhh and no mess!  Give it a try!



Frankenstein Monster Cake

Happy Birthday Dylan!   This year he asked for a Frankenstein monster cake.  "Of course I can make a Frankenstein cake!"  I told him.  I really didn't know how to procede so I went to Pinterest!   There were many different ideas but nothing that stood out until I searched on the words "monster cake".   I found a great monster cake that not only resembled Frankenstein to us but looked like it would be a lot of fun to make.   Here is the original idea on the cake and this is how we made ours.  There aren't really any directions, so we had to come up with how to do things by both looking at the original cake and getting creative!

I baked up a 13 x 9 cake twice as the first layer looked small but then after we added the 2nd layer, it looked a little tall.  I used white frosting dyed green for the entire cake.  Marshmallows with red food gel created the eyes along with some edible eyes we found at Michael's craft store.  We used black frosting that sprayed out for the hair and black food gel for the scars.  We were stuck on how to make a lip under the mini-marshmallows but my brilliant son came up with the idea of using a fruit roll up!
The monster's nose and eyebrows are also marshmallows and then we added color to it.  Finally, we added some M&M moles.

I love the time spent with Dylan creating his cake and all the kids enjoyed eating it and yelling out what part of the monster they wanted to eat.


Cheerios & Pipe Cleaners

What do you get when you combine a handful of Cheerios and a box of pipe cleaners?  

You get time to wash the dishes, or make dinner or just some time to sit and watch your toddler's face light up at the creation they are putting together and then get to eat!

This quick activity was perfect for my two year old working on his fine gross motor skills threading the cheerios onto the pipe cleaners.  He made a bracelet, a necklace and then enjoyed eating his creation.



Salt Painting

I'm sure you've seen this activity on Pinterest as much as I have.  It looks like a lot of fun and I thought my boys would enjoy trying this out as they both love painting.  I set each child up with a tray which I always try to use when we have messy projects as it makes for much easier clean up.  A plain piece of paper went into each tray and I gave my six year old a bottle of glue to begin drawing whatever he wants using the glue.  He loved this part and he wrote in glue at the top of the page "Thanks Mom."  I'm very blessed!

My younger child, wouldn't be able to squeeze out the glue so I asked him what he wanted and we decided on a rainbow.  I thought it looked so much fun so I made a flower.  

Once your glue picture is drawn, pour salt all over the glue, tapping off the excess.  (Good thing we have that tray!)  

Next, using watercolor paints, paint on top of the salt.  You will notice that the salt will pick the color right up and it really looks pretty amazing. 

This whole activity took about 30 minutes and little clean up.  I highly recommend picking up some salt (I got mine at the dollar store) so you and your kid(s) can also try this out!  

Stop Growing!

I keep telling my oldest boy to stop growing.  Why can't he just stay as the little guy who use to want Mommy to hold him and rock him to sleep.  Well, let me clarify, because even at nearly seven years old, he would love for me to hold him in my arms and rock to sleep but he is way bigger than he was as a little one when I would do that.  He use to be the right size to rock in my arms where his little stubby legs would be hanging over my arm.  I use to be able to lift him and rock him standing if more movement was needed.  Now it would be quite a comical scene if I tried standing and rocking him holding his 45lb body with long legs and arms, every which way.

In our home, we've always had an open door policy when it comes to the bathroom.  I knew the day would come when the door would start closing but now? Already?  Really?  I'm not ready for it! He is too young to be closing the door on his Mom.  This is the same boy, that asked me to wipe his butt two days ago.  And the one that will encourage his little brother to dance in their underwear/diaper (or less) around the house.  But to be fair, I will admit that for the past few months now, I do try to cover myself when Dylan is around.  He isn't a baby anymore and although I don't want him to be embarrassed about his body, a little modesty is needed at times.

So today, when I walked past the bathroom door and saw the door close, I immediately grew concerned.  "Are you okay?" I asked him.  "Yes," he told me he was hot so he had to close the door.   Ummm okay then.   I will let that pass because I know he is growing up and although he still needs his Mommy or Daddy to hold him at night or when he falls down, there are other times, when he needs to be on his own.  I always knew he would be ready for it before I was.

Sidewalk Chalk Paint Again!

One of the things I love about blogging is that I can go back and find some of the fun things we've done previously to do again.  One of the rewards on Dylan's Summer Fun Chart is make Sidewalk Chalk Paint as we did last year.  This time around we had a couple of friends over whom helped us decide which colors to mix together.  I love having them pick two colors and we mix them together to see what they make.   

Dylan mixing up a tray of colors

Last year it got quite messy mixing up the paints so I was smarter this year and got a plastic table cloth from Dollar Tree to put under everything.  Once we were done, it was so easy to wipe clean, dry and put it away until we do another activity. 

What you need:  plastic table cloth (optional), cornstarch, water, food colors, muffin tins or other small cups, various paint brushes, measuring cups.   

To make the paints:  Mix equal parts of water and cornstarch in a container.  I used a four cup measuring cup and mixed 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch with 1 1/2 cups of water.  The kids then took turns smooshing the cornstarch up in the water with their fingers until it was dissolved. 

Next, I poured the mixture into clean muffin tins.  I did need to make the cornstarch mixture another 2-3 times so we had plenty of paint for all the kids.  Have the kids decide which colors to mix into each muffin tin.  We were able to make green, red, blue, yellow, purple, orange and then the kids got real creative making brown and lighter and darker colors.  

Time to paint: Now the fun really begins!  We have an asphalt driveway that we used our sidewalk chalk paint on.  The paints go on very light and watery.  However, once they dry, the colors become very vibrant and it's a lot of fun to see how the kid's pictures come out.  You can also add a little more cornstarch if the paints seem a little watery.  I found that a little more cornstarch did help make the paint thicker.  

My boys and a friend using their sidewalk chalk paint

Clean up will happen the next time it rains so enjoy it until it is all washed away!   

Foil River

One of the summer activities we have been looking forward to trying out is making a foil river.  I've seen it many times posted on Pinterest, so it was something we had to do!

I got a roll of foil at the dollar store.  I meant to pick up some rubber ducks to send down our river, but had forgotten so I found some plastic caps, small tupperware covers, wine cork and other little trinkets.  As it turned out, part of the fun was trying to figure out what would go down the river smoothly and what needed a little help.

I unrolled the entire 25 foot foil roll and folded it in half the long way to make it sturdier.  We then folded up the edges and the boys took turns getting buckets of water to pour at the top of the foil river.
Overall, it took about 10 minutes to set up and the boys played for about thirty minutes. It was a great way to cool down on a hot day as well as having fun while learning about water and waves.

Dylan pouring water down our river

Tyler trying various trinkets in the river

This boat was too big but with help from Tyler it worked great!

Summer Fun Chart - A Good Behavior Chart

I spent a lot of time one night searching on the Internet for just the right chart for Dylan to help with summer behavior. A new chart is something that Dylan really enjoys.  After quite a bit of looking and not finding exactly what I was wanted, I created my own chart.  This is Dylan's Summer Fun Chart.

On the left side of the page, there are specific behaviors such as: I listened the 1st time, I didn't whine, I played nicely with my brother, I played on my own, I helped and I was good at a store.  Each time I caught her doing one of the above, I would tell him he can have a sticker.  After he gets ten stars on each, he gets a reward.  The rewards are mainly activities that I found on Pinterest and other websites.  I posted the rewards, so he knows exactly what to expect.   Some of the rewards are salt painting, foil river and making sidewalk chalk paint.  I also told him that once he filled in the entire chart, I would take him and his brother to Chuck E Cheese for some games.  He was so excited, he started exhibiting some great behavior and the stars started rolling in!   

Santa's Village Review - Jefferson, NH

Recently we went to visit Santa's Village in Jefferson, NH.  We have done Storyland twice with Dylan in prior years and were looking for something similar but also new and have heard many good things about Santa's Village.  Okay, truth be told, I have been before but it was at least thirty-five years ago so I don't remember too much about it except through family pictures!

Our boys, ages (almost) two and six throughly enjoyed the day, as we did as well.  I wouldn't have thought that the Christmas theme and songs would be so much fun in a hot 85 degree day!

Tyler at the front entrance - wet after drinking a bottle of water.

Dylan as the gingerbread boy!

When we first got there, we rode the carousel and then headed off in a direction not really knowing where we were going.  As it ended up, we were heading towards the splash park.  Although, we were having fun on the rides, we quickly changed into our suits and enjoyed the splash area and water slides as it had just opened and not many were in that area.   Hubby and I took turns; one with the little guy and one of us going down the water slides with our older son.  Boy, did that bring back memories as I haven't been down a water slide in ages!  Fun!  I will caution other moms that if you do not like fast amusement park rides, then you may want to avoid the red water slide!  Oh boy, not only was it in the dark with neon lights, it was so fast, it knocked me backwards banging my head onto the slide and I couldn't sit back up until the ride was done.  My son, the roller coaster ride seeker loved the red slide!

A view of the splash park area

Enjoying the splash park before lunch was a wise ideas as we only hung out for an hour because we were looking forward to seeing more of the park and getting hungry for lunch.  We had a delicious pizza at Nick's Pizza Emporium.   Fueled by being cooled down at the water area and food in our bellies, we were ready to enjoy the rest of the day.

The Sleigh ride and Pixie Mix were our littlest guys favorite rides and our 6 year old pretty much loved everything else!   

Parking and strollers are FREE!  However if you want a stroller for two kids to sit side by side, get there early.  We got there 15 minutes after opening and they were already gone.  I was scouring the internet for a picture of the strollers at Santa's Village but didn't find one, so I am including one here in case anyone else is wondering what they look like.  Easy to stroll and push and a large pocket on the back, made it an ideal stroller for our two year old.  

The single push strollers - free to use at Santa's Village

The entertainment theaters were great for our younger child to take a rest.  Feeding the reindeers, (yes Santa's reindeers are there) a sand craft and decorating gingerbread cookies was an additional cost but worth it in my opinion as it just added to the experience.  Will definitely be going again next year! 

The Pixie Mix - brothers enjoying a ride together

Dylan feeding the Santa's reindeers

Not A Summer Bucket List

Every Summer,  I follow along with other moms and create a bucket list of things they want to do during the days of summer.  It's filled with things like having a picnic, picking strawberries and making mud pies.   But truth be told, I don't always follow the list, nor do I go back and check off my list.  This summer, I would like to focus on the here, the now and share what we just did to hopefully inspire you and your kids to live in the moment as well.

Okay, so anyone that is reading this and knows me, knows that I am a planner.  Will I still be making a daily plan of what we will be doing - hell yes!  But I don't want to feel guilty at the end of the summer because we made strawberry dumplings instead of a blueberry pie with hand picked blueberries.

It's already nearing mid-June and although my oldest isn't out of school yet, I do feel that summer has begun and we've already been doing a lot of fun things.  Playing basketball in the backyard, building sand castles together, sensory bins, balloon fun, crazy fun dancing around the house, a visit to six flags, a visit to Ft Lauderdale, planting flowers and vegetables, finger painting... just to name some of the things we have done since Memorial Day weekend!   This blog is a way for me not only to share ideas but also it's a great way to document the fun (and yes, not so fun) times with my family.

Learning Shapes

A favorite outside game that Dylan loved when he was a toddler to learn about shapes was for me to draw shapes and I would ask him which shape was which.  As I asked, he would jump into the shape . Really a fun way for him to learn his shapes.  On one of our recent sunny days, I brought Tyler outside and drew a circle, square, heart, triangle and star with chalk.  He really enjoyed this learning game and didn't tire of me asking 'where is the circle?'  or 'where is the heart?'   He would jump knowingly in to each shape and look at me for approval with a big smile.  

Masking Tape Painting

During February school vacation, we did lots of different projects.  Here is one of my favorites that I have seen posted on Pineterest both as a wall decoration or as a child's name.  My six year old helped me and taping out his and his brother's names on a piece of poster board.  Once we had the names how we wanted them, I set the boys up with finger paints and various brushes.

 At first Dylan was careful as to where he was putting the paint but after he saw me helping Tyler by just covering the whole paper and tape with all the colors in any direction, he began to relax and really enjoy the carefree feeling one gets when finger painting. 

Fill in every where on the poster board and then put it somewhere safe from little hands to dry.  Once dry, ours took a few hours, carefully pull back the tape to reveal your child's name.  Here is our finished product!

I absolutely love these paintings!  I think during April vacation, we will use masking tape to paint flowers and other spring time items.   

10 Minutes A Day

My 18 month old, loves to sit on our bed and play on my iPad.   He also loves to have me nearby when he wants to play with the iPad which I am more than happy to oblige.  I mean, who wouldn't want to sit back on a pile of pillows with my feet up and a laptop on my lap while my littlest man leans against me and he also has his electronic device on his lap.  A cute picture, right?  Except, we can both sit there for an hour and then I feel lazy and guilty for sitting for so long instead of being up doing something - anything!

I've challenged myself to get 10 minutes of rigorous activity a day for at least five days a week.  It doesn't sound like a lot baby steps is what I need to get moving.  I don't enjoy exercising and would rather relax with Ty toddler playing stationery on the floor.  But, truth be told I need to get moving and I want to like exercising.      

                                                                *******    10 minute  intermission    ******

Writing and thinking about exercising made me feel like I should get up and get it done!  So I reluctantly closed the electronics, put on the music and Ty and I danced and laughed for ten minutes. It felt great!  I danced and jumped and while I was stretching with yoga's downward dog pose, Ty climbed underneath the 'mommy tunnel' with a big smile on his face.

My boys dancing - exercise can be fun!

After dancing, I drank a tall glass of water and reheated last night's Braised Chicken with onions and apples for our lunch.   So do yourself a favor after reading this, take ten minutes and get moving.  Need some ideas?

  • Dance with your children.  You don't need to know how to dance, just move.  Jog in place and wave your arms.   Your kids will love it!
  • Squats!  Tighten your tummy as you go up and down. Great for your middle, thighs, legs.  
  • Jumping Jacks - get your heart pumping with this one!
  • Walk - It's easy and it's good for you!  According to the American Heart Association, "Walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health."