Now that Thanksgiving is a wrap, we’re turning our attention to Christmas, which immediately brings to mind the subject of advent calendars. While I love the way advent calendars weave holiday excitement into the month of December, I’ve never been a big fan of giving our children extra gifts leading up to a day full of even more gifts.
When I wrapped up this project for my recent guest post on Modern Parents, Messy Kids, I was feeling well ahead of the Thanksgiving curve. Our linens were hand-stamped, our turkey napkin holders were created, and we still had several weeks to wrap up any outstanding details.
Now we’re less than 2 days from Thanksgiving, and the possibility of my daughter creating place cards using post-it notes is becoming more likely. Sadly, it wouldn’t be the first time she made impromptu name cards with post-it notes.
To avoid this fate, I’ve assembled a few ideas for super simple place cards, all of which use easy-to-find materials. Now I just have to choose a favorite.
I read quite a bit about children and technology. As someone who works in the tech industry, the contradiction between being a designer who is constantly seeking out ‘the latest’ and being a parent who is simultaneously sheltering my kids from this same tendency is something I think about almost daily.
While we have boundaries in place like most parents (though I’ve read that parents in the tech industry tend to be stricter about screen time and device usage), we still struggle with creating a balance between ‘real’ and digital experiences. And as my kids made me realize last weekend when I looked out my window and saw the scene above, they don’t seem aware of a difference between real and digital. (more…)
Last weekend we hosted Jason’s Pokemon Birthday Party. Prior to planning this party, I knew very little about Pokemon, but I think my research paid off and I pulled together the theme pretty well. Based solely on the fact that my daughter is now requesting a Pokemon party for her next birthday, I’m concluding that the party was a success by the kids’ measures as well. But that might have been the pinata envy talking. (more…)
Last weekend we made our annual trek to the Dallas Arboretum’s Pumpkin Village, something we’ve done nearly every year since moving to the DFW area 7 years ago. The pumpkin patch features over 65,000 pumpkins, or as my children describe it, “millions of pumpkins.”
It is definitely an amazing sight, but, this year, (more…)
Last weekend we made slime – slippery, stretchy, silky slime. Jason and Jenna loved it, and I realized it would make a great classroom gift or party activity for Halloween. I was thinking about packaging small samples into bags or clear jars and using Halloween labels like these or these. What child wouldn’t want some chopped bat brain or fresh rat heart specimens for Halloween? (more…)
It’s not even October yet, but we’re in full-on Halloween mode at our house. This weekend we set up a small cemetery in our front yard … more on that soon. In the meantime, here are some lanterns that Jenna and I made recently using a simple melted crayon technique. You can read the full tutorial on Modern Parents, Messy Kids today.
Jason and Jenna headed back to school last week, and, today, I’m sharing some ideas for getting a handle on all of the papers, projects and artwork that come home in those backpacks each day. Read more on Modern Parents, Messy Kids.
Earlier this summer, we attended a birthday party that had all of the stuff that makes children’s parties awesome – face painting, balloon animals, pinatas and even a hair-coloring station. Jenna was especially excited to get her hair colored, and, while I secretly cringed at the thought of spraying her already tangled hair with sticky spray, I let her join in the fun. She, of course, was thrilled with the results:
This weekend, we came across Alex’s Hair Chalk at the store and I immediately recognized the appeal. All of the fun of temporary hair coloring without the mess and chemicals of aerosol sprays.
The hair chalk is really easy to use and the results can vary based on how you apply it. I applied it to Jenna’s dry hair (and Jason even applied a few streaks to his own) for a more subtle effect, but I’ve also read that you can apply it to damp hair and spray it with hairspray for a more intense color.
We returned from our vacation with quite a few seashells that we collected on the beach. Today on Modern Parents, Messy Kids, I’m sharing a project for remembering your vacation while also storing your souvenir treasures.
Cooking with Jason and Jenna is something I wish I did more often. They’re getting older, but I don’t always recognize how much they can handle these days – especially Jenna who loves to help out in the kitchen. This weekend was a serious reminder of just how much that little girl can do.
On Friday night, I made a batch of pasta and saved some dough so that Jenna could make her own noodles the next day. I thought it would mostly be for fun and didn’t really think we’d end up with an edible batch. But the fettuccine noodles for lunch, shown above, were almost entirely Jenna’s creation.
The dough was already prepared, a step I’ll likely do in advance next time too since I used a semolina pasta recipe, which is a little hard to knead. Once I showed her how to flatten a piece of the dough and guide it through the KitchenAid attachment, she worked through the entire batch. My only role was adjusting the levels during the flattening step and turning off the power between each piece.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made fresh pasta, but now that I have a helper, I’ll be making it more often!
Ever since volunteering at the art table during a Real School Gardens event, I’ve wanted to do this craft with Jason and Jenna. It’s messy, but the results are awesome and I love how these stepping stones look in our yard.
We started by letting the kids select their favorite materials from a huge batch of stones, beads, marbles, buttons, glass rocks and other leftover craft materials I had on hand. We didn’t use any Legos (because I didn’t think of that), but my son commented that we should use Legos next time … as if we don’t already step on enough Legos around here.
Mixing the concrete is the hard part. We used Quikrete and mixed it into a bucket without wearing any gloves. FYI, I highly recommend using gloves if you’re going to mix the concrete by hand. Once the concrete was mixed, we poured it into shoe boxes and other similarly-sized boxes that we saved.
We let Jason and Jenna decorate the stones by pressing the materials they had selected into the wet concrete. You don’t need to press it in very far for it to stick, so this part isn’t messy and can be done without gloves.
We let our stones dry overnight, but it seemed like they were fairly dry within a few hours. Once they were completely dry, we placed them in the yard and let the kids start stepping, jumping and running on them.
Like every six-year-old girl at the moment, Jenna loves the movie Frozen. When I saw this ice sculpture idea recently, I knew we had to try it out.
It takes a bit of advance preparation, but it was well worth the effort. We started on Saturday by mixing water and food coloring to create different shades of blue, pink and purple – something that turned out to be great fun in itself. We poured the water into a variety of containers, added a sprinkle of glitter and placed the containers in the freezer to create a large batch of ice crystals – or, as Jenna calls them, fractals.
On Sunday, we took all of our ice outside and started stacking the pieces together to create a castle. We used a little bit of water to help the cubes stick together. It had rained most of the day and the temperature had cooled to the 70s, making this the perfect summer day for building an ice castle.