Thank you for stopping by! Here you will find a variety of things as I post whatever happens to be going on in our home - recipes, crafts, homeschool, birthday parties, travels, meals in muffin tins and more! I'd love to know what you think so please feel free to leave comments!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Last Year's Muffin Tin Meal - Circus Theme

I was browsing the MTM post concerning last year's circus theme and clicked on my own link only to find that it linked to my blog and not the particular post. So here is the link to that post and sorry for the onconvenience if you clicked here from MTM.

Our 1st Muffin Tin Monday
I came across the cutest idea on another blog and had to investigate further. Muffin Tin Monday - you put lunch or snacks in muffin tins. I went to the Her Cup Overfloweth blog and after looking at all of the links of pics of other mom's MTM creations, I decided I had to do it. So, today we did our first MTM. Laural absolutely loved it. She said it was "the best lunch I ever had!" and "you are the best mommy for making me this wonderful lunch." She is so sweet! Micah was more interested in getting the food into his belly rather than looking at it. LOLThe cups contain: Green pepper strips; an apple head clown with raisins for eyes, red grape nose, blueberry mouth, carrot hair and strawberry hat; drink; lion shaped pb&j; popcorn and vanilla yogurt with colorful sprinkles. This was fun to make and even more fun to see Laural's face light up when she saw it.Please ignore the mess in my kitchen in the pics. LOL I've been reaaranging the kitchen and everything is out of sorts during this process. I hope to have it back to "normal" sometime next week. :)
I almost forgot to add the button for MTM!

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

** I decided to copy past the contents as well. **

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sensory Tub, Play Dough & A Giveaway!

I recently fell in love with sensory tubs while perusing a blog called Counting Coconuts, "a place where you'll find lots of learning activities and ideas for toddlers and preschoolers inspired mostly by the Montessori method." This has quickly become one of my new favorite blogs! After spending quite a bit of time there, I decided that we would incorporate the sensory tubs and also play dough play into our learning routine. So, yesterday and today, I've been doing a little shopping and today, we created our first sensory tub!

I decided to go with a fall/apple theme.
Items in the tub:
small silk leaves
foam pumpkin
foam squash
2 medium and 2 small foam apples
3 yarn apples
a small basket
2 small wood bowls
3 silk sunflowers
2 wooden mushrooms
9 plastic "crystal" acorns
an apple shaped mini chalk board
a rubber cricket
little pieces of brown & green chenille stems

Everything was purchased at either Walmart, Dollar Tree or Pat Catan's except for the yarn apples which I made myself.

Micah immediately went for the acorns. He loves stuff like that.

Laural enjoyed playing with the silk leaves, sprinkling them down like leaves falling from the trees.

Next up was play dough. I made a double batch. Now, I have made play dough before, in lots of colors, but I have never before thought of or heard of scenting the play dough. I really liked the idea though. I also really liked the apple pie scented play dough idea at Counting Coconuts. I divided my dough into 2 balls. The first ball I left natural color for the pie crust and scented it with cinnamon, vanilla extract, a little almond extract and butter flavor (like you would use to make butter cream frosting for wedding cakes). It smelled divine all mixed up. My mouth was actually watering. For the 2nd ball, I mixed in a lot of red gel food color, cinnamon and a little bit of tropical punch candy flavoring to give it a fruity smell. Again, it smelled good enough to eat. When Steve got home from work in the morning, I took the lid off the container and asked him to smell it. I asked what he thought it smelled like and he said apple pie! Bingo!

I gave each kid a ball of each dough, an apple or star cookie cutter, a small shallow bowl to use like a pie tin, a plastic knife and the rolling pin. I don't have a little one, so they had to use my big one.

They had a blast playing with it. I told Laural how to make a pie and she made me a very nice pie.

Micah isn't quite to the point of making things like that but he had quite the time using the rolling pin, cookie cutter and knife in the dough.

Most of the time though, he just wanted to smell it.

Now for the really good part - a giveaway! My first giveaway, actually. I had such a fun time planning for and shopping for things in the sensory tub that I want to share the fun! So, here is what I will be giving away to one lucky winner - some fall/apple theme sensory tub fillers!
2 small wood bowls, 2 wood mushrooms, a wood jug, an apple shaped mini chalk board, 4 medium apples, 1 small apple, 2 yarn apples (hand made by me), 3 silk sunflowers, a fall themed cube (like a rubik's cube - see pic below), 9 or 10 "jewel" acorns and a rubber spider.

(I may throw a couple other things in there too that I've picked up since posting this.)

The "rubik's" type cube. I thought it was a cute and clever idea so I grabbed one for my kiddos and a spare for giving away.

The very cute yarn apples that I made. I found this at Make and Takes through Counting Coconuts.

For a chance to win, just leave a comment letting me know that you do and what your experience is with sensory tubs - whether you've tried them before, would like to try them or if you think you'd use the stuff for some other use. Easy peasy!

For bonus entries: share on facebook, tweet and/or blog about the giveaway and leave a separate comment with a link for each thing you do for a total of 4 possible entries per person. Please make sure I have an email address to get in contact with you should you be picked!

Deadline for entries will be October 2nd at 11:59 PM EST.

I'll use random.org to pick a winner sometime in the 24 hours after the close of contest.

Winner should respond within 3 days of being notified or I will pick another winner.

This is a giveaway sponsored by me! Nobody gave me anything or paid me to give anything away. These are things I bought myself - either an extra with the intention of giving it away or part of the contents of a multi pack that I am sharing just because I want to. :)

Well, there were some pretty good odds for the two who commented to win! Random.org says:
Congrats to Frugalhomeschooler! I'll be sending you an email soon!
Thanks to both of you for entering.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a blessed day!

I linked up at Along For the Ride for Crafty Day.
(because I loved those little apples so much!)

Also linked to:
I Could Use a Deal
- a linky listing over a hundred giveaways!

Also linked to:

Monday, September 20, 2010

School Today

A couple highlights from our day today:

Laural did some painting today. We got a sun-catcher at the dollar store which Laural enjoyed painting. It was Ariel - her favorite Disney Princess! Unfortunately, I didn't get any actions shots, just the final product after we hug it in the window.

Micah practiced some fine motor skills today. I gave him a handful of alphabet bead and a shoelace to try his hand at lacing. I think the aglets (yes, I watch Phineas & Ferb) are a bit too short so that made it a tad difficult for him at first. He kept trying though and eventually got the hang of it.

Next, I gave him a pair of easy to use chop sticks and let him try picking up the beads and transfering them to a tray with star and heart shape cups. For the first couple, he had to pick the beads up and put them in the chopsticks. Then he figured it out and was easily picking the beads up with the chopsticks and transferring them like a pro. While we were doing these activities, I would ask him to find a particular letter every now and then which he did great with. He knows almost all of his letters. Then I asked him to tell me what the letters were and as he picked up and placed each bead in a cup, he would shout out the letter. He gets very excited over these things!

This last pic is of Micah getting to play with the colored pasta the other night since he was napping when Laural got to play with them. He immediately took a shine to the wagon wheels so we sorted them all out and he played happily with just those for quite a while. After a bit of playing, I gave him some containers and he really enjoyed transferring the pasta between them. A couple of times, he started to divide them by color but then he seemed unhappy that they were so far apart and gathered all of them together again. It's really quite fun to watch him learn and get so excited over it!

Muffin Tin Monday - Shapes

Our theme today was shapes which is one of the easiest to do do because all I had to do was cut the food into shapes! Today we had:

Top: Carrot Circles, Mango Cubes, Star Fruit
Bottom: Cheese Cylinders for Laural & Cheese Rectangles for Micah (he won't eat the string cheese), Triangle PB&J Sandwiches, Fish Shape Crackers

Micah shows me a fishie once he's eaten most of the stuff he's willing to eat. He refused the mango, star fruit and carrots. No surprise there. Laural was already done by the time I grabbed the camera.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fun With Pasta

After I made the pretty dyed pasta two days ago, Laural and Micah were both looking forward to getting to play with it. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite dry enough after only one night, so I let it sit out to dry last night as well. After coming home from our trip to the fire station today, Laural was anxious to try out the pasta.

Once mixed together, it looked so pretty!

Laural dug right in!

She made a house, a wagon, a person and the 5 shells on the left are a snail parade.

I made a face with funky hair.

Laural found lots of neat things to do with her pasta. She made a house for one of her little dolls and put the rigatoni on her fingers so she could make music. Micah was down for a nap, so he will have to get a chance to play a little later.

New Bento Goodies

Whiel I was oout doing some shopping over the past couple of days, I found a couple of cute containers at a stellar price that I plan to use for bento meals. Yay! New stuff!

I love sandwich boxes for bento boxes! These colorful boxes were on clearance at Walmart for just $.50 each. Since we have been color coordinating our family (everyone has their own color bath items, school supplies, etc.) I thought these would be a great addition. Laural has blue, Micah is green, I'm the pink and Steve is orange. Whenever we have bento picnics, we won't have to open the boxes to see which belongs to who.

While grocery shopping yesterday, I spotted these cuties at Giant Eagle, on clearance for $1.50 each. I'm a sucker for cute coordinating pieces, so I got each kid a set. They had a third design that I considered getting for myself - Tinkerbelle - but I'm not sure I'm young enough anymore to pull off a Tinkerbelle lunch set. Besides, that would have left poor Steve without a set and we can't have that!

A Trip to the Fire Station

Today was an open house at the Pine Township Fire Station (an all volunteer company) so we jumped into the car and headed out for a little fun at the firehouse. We started with a little lunch since they had hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, pop and cake. After eating, one of the firemen showed us around the station. We saw the garage bays where the trucks are usually parked, all the turnout gear hung up so the firefighters can get dressed in a hurry, the "hang out" room, and the radio room. After that, we went outside to look at the trucks. They have 2 tankers, a rescue truck, a brush truck and another truck (large pick-up type truck) that I forgot to ask about.
Laural was super excited to sit in the truck. She wanted to know what everything was.

Micah was quite fearful of the big trucks but he managed to sit long enough for me to snap a quick picture.

Laural made a little friend who was more than happy to show her all around the trucks. His daddy is one of the firefighters.

After we looked at everything, one of the firemen gave the kids each a fire helmet and a badge. Laural proudly modeled hers while Micah just wanted to get it off his head. On the way home, Laural told me that tonight she is going to be dreaming about being a firefighter. I hope they are good dreams!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pretty Dyed Pasta

Today, I decided to make some colored pasta to use as a manipulative for math, art and sorting. I started by gathering my supplies.
Items needed:
assorted pasta in fun shapes
(I used spirals, mini shells, piccolini bows, piccolini wagon wheels and rigatoni.)
zip top bags
food color
(I used the McCormick Assorted and Neon colors)
paper towels
(You could use a couple sheets of newspaper instead. I was just worried that the newsprint might transfer to the wet pasta)

I didn't measure but put approximately 1/4 cup of vodka in each bag and 10 to 12 drops of food color.

Then I added the pasta - about a cup - and shook the bag to mix the pasta into the liquid, making sure to cover all the pasta.

Then I laid the bags out on the table to soak up the color for about an hour and then I flipped the bags over and let them sit another hour.

Finally, I poured the liquid out of the bags and spread the pasta out on a paper towel lined tray to dry overnight. Don't they look so bright and cheery? I can't wait to use them with the kids tomorrow. Laural can't wait either.

A word of warning though.
Vodka and food coloring don't behave well on a wood table top. I hadn't noticed a little leak in one of the bags until it was too late. There's already a chip in the table from Micah's high chair and little dents where Micah sits from him hitting the table with the blocks he plays with and now a blue and white patch. Oh well, I knew I'd have to refinish the table someday anyhow.

** Just wanted to add that the alcohol in the vodka evaporates as it dries leaving behind just dried pasta. I thought about using vinegar but the smell might linger. I also considered using rubbing alcohol but I wasn't thrilled with the idea of using something that wasn't edible in case Micah puts the pasta in his mouth. The vodka has low odor and any residue left after drying would at least be safe for consumption whereas rubbing alcohol might not be.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Muffin Tin Monday - Movies

I asked Laural what movie she wanted me to do for Muffin Tin Monday and her immediate answer was Nemo! I tried to sway her toward other movies but she wanted Nemo even though it's been over a month since she's seen it. I think she watched it a couple times on our trip to Canada. So, I thought a bit and this is what I came up with:
Top: Cheese Fish with a Nemo cheese fish on top, A School of Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers, Blue Jello Fish Bowl with Swedish Fish
Bottom: Weinerpus, Cheesy Sea Shells, Carrot Sea Stars

Laural was more than thrilled with her tin. She even made shapes like an arrow out of her school of fish, just like the movie. Very cute. Micah liked playing in the jello and he ate all his cheese and crackers. Oh, he ate the 2 Swedish Fish in the jello as well.

Be sure to check out Muffin Tin Mom to see other muffin tin meals from around the world.
Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Also - Michelle has a great giveaway going on at her site - a bunch of "super cute" Wilton products that would be awesome for future Muffin Tin Mondays! Go to her blog to learn more about it.
It ends on Wednesday, so pop over today!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Muffin Tin Tuesday & Week 2 of School

Since I had a lot of energy this morning, I decided to get some big cleaning projects out of the way and put school off until the after lunch. Lunch today was a la muffin tin since yesterday was a holiday and we were out at a family cook out. This week's theme for school is Jungle/Rainforest, so I made our lunch to go with the theme. There was no set theme this week at Muffin Tin Mom.
We had chicken nugget animals (they were actually safari animals but I went with them anyhow), cabbage grass with red pepper flowers (carrot centers), an applesauce nest with grapes as snake eggs (just imagine that the animals are far away and the nest is really close LOL), and broccoli tree tops with carrot flowers. It was a big hit with Laural but Micah only ate some applesauce and some of the nuggets. At least I get veggies in the boy with the V8 V-Fusion juice.

School this week is jungle theme and we have some fun activities planned but no field trips to the jungle. I'd like to go to the Cleveland zoo since they have an awesome rainforest building, but I don't like going that far without Steve and he has to work the next 6 days. Oh well.

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Go see other muffin tins around the blogosphere by clicking the button above!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Homeschool Today

It's hard to believe that the first week of school is already over! What a great week we had! We had a treasure hunt, a muffin tin meal, a field trip to a dairy farm, a field trip to the farmers market, a trip to the fair which turned into a learning experience as we made our way through all of the animal barns and lots of learning! Awesome! I hope each of the coming weeks are as successful. 

Today, we finished up our farm theme. 
Laural: Spent some time sounding out words in Snow White, filled in some lapbook elements, played Match-It math, did adding and subtraction with little marshmallows and started french.

Micah: Learned the number 1 and we counted 1 of various things, he practiced making squares (which were very similar to circles), he tried to recite Hey Diddle Diddle and he correctly identified all of the flashcards: A, 1, cow, calf and square.

Both: We sang farm songs: The Farmer in the Dell, Old McDonald, and BINGO. We colored pages in the USDA coloring books we got from the Stoneboro Fair and we danced around the kitchen for gym. Both kids spent a little time doing the match game in the lapbook.


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