Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cooking 4th Birthday Party

Today we had friends over for Mady and Cooper’s 4th Birthday party. It was cooking themed!

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Our cooking themed party included some crafts, a giant cake to bounce in, and our little chefs would be making their own pizzas, salad, and decorating their own cupcakes.

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We had 2 tables set up to color their cakes and make their chef hats.

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The kids all had fun making their own chef hats too.

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We had snacks and drinks, but the “pizza parlor” stayed closed until it was time to make pizzas.

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Our little chefs had lots of energy so they mixed it up inside the giant cake out front.

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When it was time, all of our little chefs washed their hands and lined up to make pizzas in our “pizza parlor.”

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Each friend put on an apron with their initial and then found a seat at the table.

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We passed out pre-labeled (with names) foil lined plates and a plate of toppings for our friends to make their own pizzas.

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We collected the pizzas and popped them in the oven. Meanwhile everyone got to put together their own salads.

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After salads, our pizzas were done and everyone got to eat their own crafted pizzas. For dessert, each friend got to decorate their own mini cupcakes!

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The birthday boy and birthday girl had to blow out their candles before the decorating began.

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Each friend took home some Madylin & Cooper (homemade) cookie mix in a mixing bowl with spoon, and some cooking related stickers.

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Cute 4 cupcake shirts!

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Banner by Chickabug

Shirts by EMTCreations

Paper cakes by PaperGlitter

Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Toddler Library

We have a lot of children’s books (thanks to many of our family and friends)! But the (lack of) organization was getting out of control. Stacks in the family room, and overflowing shelf in their bedroom, and random piles throughout the house. We decided to move and organize all the books to one central location so the kids can access them all without reading the same stack over and over.

First we cleared a space in the living room and measured for bookshelves. We ended up getting the Ikea Expedit Shelf (3 of them in this setup).

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For the ages of our kids (3.5, 3.5, almost 2), it made sense to order them based on the bind type. So board books went on top, and books with paper pages went on the bottom. And then they are sorted by size after that. I like this separation because then we can say “mommy and daddy need to help read you the books from the bottom”.

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The next thing I wanted to do was somehow keep them from just shoving books wherever they fit, so I introduced the kids to the idea of marking the book they “borrow” with a tail. They think it’s fun! They pick a tail, then put it in place of the book they want to read, and after reading return the book to where it was before marked by the tail.

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I put up a few rules because kids love rules, right? Ha! But it does help remind the responsible adult in the room because my kids WILL try and convince the babysitter that it’s ok to stack the books to climb into the attic. Here’s the printable.

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And that completes our family library.

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Finding a bookworm curled up on the couch with a book brings a smile to every mom’s face!

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Toy Rotation System

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I have several topics I’d like to update on, but I’ve been distracted, and growing a baby in my belly, and stuff. But this is important: a few weeks ago I decided we were in desperate need of better toy/cleanup policies. I hate stepping on a Barbie shoe or crawling around on my hands and knees cleaning up knex. And I hate even more when my kids are whining/fighting (usually over a toy).

I’m sure most moms have put this little equation together…

too many toys = they all become boring = bored kids = whiney kids = frustrated mom

…and none of us can afford to be frustrated. So I implemented a little toy rotation system now that the kids are older (3, 3, 1.5) and can handle a moderate amount of responsibility. The idea is that they only have access to certain toys, and then they actually play with the toys that are given to them. Here are the general guidelines.

  • No toys in their rooms (we’ve always had this rule and it makes bed/nap times at this age much easier). They do have lots and lots of books since reading in bed is ok by us.
  • No toys in the living areas accept the toys in the rotation tubs. We keep our rotation tubs on a bookshelf in the family room. They know exactly where they are and the rules (clean one up before getting out a new tub). All non-accessible toys are kept in the guest/toy room.
  • I circulate the contents of the tubs every 4 days – week, depending on the interests of the toys. I always do this the night before when they’re asleep.
  • Each tub gets one toy. Examples of tubs contents include; stacking cups, Legos, Barbies, etch-a-sketch, etc. Just because the tub is big, does NOT mean it needs to be full.
  • I actually went to the extent of cataloguing all of our toys and each one is categorized as either; moving (pull toys, chasing toys, tunnels), building (wooden blocks, connecting tubes, wooden train sets), social (dress up, babies, Mr. Potato Head), or a logic toy (puzzle, game, magnets). I aim for setting out 2 from each category, but that can of course vary. You could also do more or less tubs depending on the number of children and their ages.

We’re two weeks in and it has been magical! They love the responsibility of cleaning up their own toys back in the given tubs, and that the toys are rotated to new things they didn’t even know they had, on a regular basis. It takes me about 10 minutes to set out the toys every few days, and I haven’t cleaned up one toy since starting this new system

Here’s an example of my Toy Rotation list (of our toys). I just print it out and highlight the toys I pick to keep track of the frequency.

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I used the Sterilite Storage Box, 12-Pack, 16-Quart for the tubs (without lids), and they work perfect for our bookcase. But any sort of bin/box/tub will work. I do like the see-through ones though, it makes it easier for the kids to see quickly what the options are.

These tubs are meant for “free play,” which is a couple hours per day for my kids (we do daily out-of-the-house activities, art and table activities, and helping mom around the house to occupy other blocks of time).

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Review: Double & Triple Strollers

I wanted to put my two cents out there on the whole doulbe/triple stroller world. I have a strict policy of getting everyone out of the house at least once a day, and I’m often asked how I do it with two 2 year olds and a 1 year old. So here is my review of the wheels behind my madness:

The first stroller I ever bought was the Graco Duoglider. I bought it because two infant carriers can click in and once the twins outgrew their infant carriers they could sit in the seats with full seat belts. This stroller is a champ. As my kids grew I appreciated the light-weight design and the ample storage space. After my third child was born I learned that the bottom storage space could also be used for a tired kid. We got creative with making this double stroller work as a triple.

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When my twins were a year and a half, my youngest daughter was born. The twins were still not old enough to walk everywhere and everyone having a seatbelt is occasionally priceless (parking lots!). So we bought the Joovy Triple Stroller. We call it our limo, and if you have anything smaller than a Suburban it might not fit in your car. The infant carrier (or two) click in, there is a back seat, and the far back seat is also a standing area for the third child. It is heavy (like all triple strollers), but it definitely does the job!

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As my youngest started walking and everyone wanted in and out of the stroller (and over and over), we wanted something that would give the kids a little more freedom. We got the Choo Choo Wagon. This wagon is great because it is lightweight, can be rinsed out, the kids can get in and out on their own (there are also seatbelts), each “car” has a cup holder, and it just plain looks cool! And let’s face it, a little separation between kids is only a good thing. This is our vehicle of choice for a walk to the park, a trip to the zoo, or trailing down the beach.

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I generally prefer the tandem style strollers because they are easier to maneuver in crowds or store aisles. We do have a favorite side-by-side double stroller though. When the twins were a few weeks old we invested in a Double BOB Stroller. This stroller is great in all weather, all terrain, and is very lightweight and easy to move. I can easily fit 4 kids in this (one on each of the foot rests), and we still regularly use it with our trio.

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And you know what… even when my youngest was just a little thing, even a simple single stroller and letting the older ones “push” was sometimes easiest!

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I hope some of this information was helpful and if you have a favorite triple/double stroller I’d love to hear about it!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lunch Boxes Fit in Diaper Backpack

I’m almost done bragging about my favorite EasyLunchboxes. Almost. Today we took our new Lassig diaper bag for a test spin to the California Academy of Sciences. As I was packing the bag this morning I realized… all THREE of the kids’ lunches fit into this bag with plenty of room for extra clothes, waters, diapers, snacks, etc. Only one bag for the whole day? Hello, efficiency!

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The orange easylunchbox is the top of THREE. Six could fit in there easily. Sometimes a backpack is so much more practical than a shoulder bag (hiking, museums, etc)!

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Have a great weekend!