featured, kids, my favs

My Favs – Pre-School Books

 

 

My lil’ guys LOVE reading – which makes me a very happy  book-loving Mommy.

We take weekly trips to the library and I always hit up the book section at Savers & Goodwill for cheap books.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite recent finds:

 

We love Oliver Jeffers…especially these two:

How to Catch a Star

 

Stuck

My 3-year-old can quote every word of this book…

 I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

 

We’ve read this one so many times, even I can quote every word…

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
(we love all of the ‘How do Dinosaurs’ books)

This one is especially great with the Tickle Monster mitts…

Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett 

What books do your pre-schoolers love? I am always looking to add more to our library!

 

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com – if you choose to purchase books using these links – I will receive a small portion of the purchase price.

crafty, kids, printables

“No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” Birthday Party

Yes, it’s a mouthful.

I know.

It’s not the shortest birthday party theme in history, but it’s cute, right?

I found this canvas art at Home Goods a few months ago and bought it to go in my boys’ playroom. As I was deciding what to do for my one year old’s party, I saw the art propped up against the wall (that’s how I throw hints to my husband that I want something hung) and thought it would be great decor for the party.

 

{decor}

I used the colors from the art: red, blue and yellow. I cut out simple monkeys using my Silhouetted SD and hung them on the wall with a simple pennant banner. I was focused on keeping it simple, because we have only been living in this house 3 weeks, so my birthday party crafting time was limited.

 

{food}

We have a huge family and it costs a bundle to do a full meal, so we went with just cake and ice cream.

I made my standby Double Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (from Our Family Favorites), but iced them with a banana cream cheese frosting. My tip for this kind of frosting – it won’t be pretty. The banana turns the frosting into a kind of goopy, ugliness, but it tastes delicious. Stick with real bananas, not some weird artificial banana flavoring…grody.  Add a little yellow gel coloring and it looks and tastes great.

We also had a banana split bar (get it…bananas?). I pre-dished vanilla ice cream into plastic cups before the party and kept them in the freezer. Then I just let everyone go wild making their banana splits – bananas, hot fudge, chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, pineapple, nuts, whipped cream and cherries. It was a big hit and took very little work. To doll it up, I covered up the commercial labels with scrapbooking paper and labels I designed so that everything would match the theme.

For drinks, I just made up my own punch out of blue hawaiian punch, lemonade and club soda – it makes a pretty blue color and tastes yummy.

 

{fun}

Since it was just a one-year-old’s party, I didn’t plan any games. The only activity we really had was a board for voting if Pax looks more like me or his daddy (inspired by Pinterest).

I got a photo of each of us at the age of one and put them on a white board for everyone to mark their vote. My hubby won by a landslide…and seeing the pics next to each other I had to agree. He looks like his Daddy!

Happy Birthday to our lil’ monkey – Pax!

{printables}

Enjoy these Banana Split Bar printables you can use for your next party –

Banana Split food labels

Banana Split Bar sign

crafty, kids, printables

“Zander be 3” – A pirate-themed 3rd birthday!

As evidence of how far behind I am on blogging…this party happened in November and I am just getting to blogging about it!

First of all, I love planning Zander’s birthday parties. You can see his first birthday (a Dr. Seuss party) and his second birthday (a car-themed party) in my previous posts.

As I picked the theme for this year’s party, I tried to find something I knew Zander would love. He loves the movie “Peter Pan,” but I’m not the hugest fan of doing a cartoon-themed party, so we went with a general pirate theme.

I didn’t want it to get too dark or scary, so we stuck with really fun colors and cute pirate decorations.We had also just moved back to the States two weeks before his birthday, so I had plan quick and cheap.

Food

We did a mid-morning party because that is when Zander is at his happiest. Because of this, we didn’t need to serve a full meal, so we did brunch-y snacks.

  • Cannonballs (grapes)
  • Chocolate donuts
  • Salty Sea Water (blue punch)
  • Orange Slice Pirate ships (found this awesome idea here)
  • Cupcakes – Pumpkin w/Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Chocolate Chip (Nothing Bundt Cake knockoff – a.k.a. the best cake recipe ever…found here)

Pirate Gear

  • Hats from Meri Meri
  • Hooks & Eye Patches from Dollar Tree
  • Tattoos from Hobby Lobby

Activities

 

The treasure hunt was definitely the highlight of the party – the kids had a blast swinging on the rope, walking the plank and searching for the treasure chest. Luckily, my parents have 4 acres of land for the kids to run around on.

I got the hanging banner and cupcake wrappers/toppers from Meri Meri using a 50% off deal – the quality was awesome and everything was super cute.

I had a whole pinterest board for his party, but with the lack of time, I had to pick and choose what I wanted to do – to check out my inspiration board – click here.

Happy Birthday to Zander!

crafty, kids

Super late Halloween Costumes

Ha…yes, I’m still posting about Halloween…but I promise I have a really good excuse…a few actually:

1. We are moving back to the States (in less than a week), so life is crazy.

2. My 8 month old was crazy sick on Halloween and would freak out if we would try to put on his costume.

Therefore…we put them on yesterday and finally got a family picture!

the viking family and their lil’ dragon
my lil’ dragon – made from an old Christmas sleeper…cut off the feet, made dragon feet and covered up the Christmas puppies
kids

Friday Favorites – Things I’ve loved about living in Mexico

1. Streetside food vendors

Now I have to admit that the results of eating off of the street are not always ideal – I have had my fair share of upset stomach after sampling street food…however, the food is so good and so cheap and most of the time, you don’t get sick. You just can’t beat a homemade tortilla made into a quesadilla over a fire filled with chorizo, mushrooms and delicious cheese. All for less than $2.

 

2. Kid’s Birthday Parties/Pinatas

I’ve done pinatas before in the States, but there’s just something great about everyone standing around in a circle singing this song:

Spanish:
Dale, dale, dale.
No pierdas el tino.
Porque si lo pierdes.
Pierdes el camino.
Ya le diste una.
Ya le diste dos.
Ya le diste tres.
Y tu tiempo se acabó.

English:
Hit it, hit it, hit it.
Don’t lose your aim.
Because if you lose it.
You lose the way.
You hit it once.
You hit it twice.
You hit it three times.
And your time is up.

 

3. Interesting Foods


We’ve definitely been able to try new and different foods. Zander loved trying Dragon fruit – mostly because of the name. He has also developed a love for mango, which I never really bought in the States, but he eats a lot here.

 

4. National Pride


I love the 4th of July – I love being an American, but it is super fun to see how other countries celebrate their independence. We had a great time being here for Mexican Independence Day in September. However, the late-night fireworks (3am) were not my favorite.

5. Hearing my lil’ man speak Spanish

Nothing beats hearing Zander come home from school and start counting in Spanish. He goes to K1 here, so he is learning new things everyday. It sometimes comes as a surprise to me when he asks for “Leche Chocolate” instead of saying Chocolate Milk. I love that he has gotten to be exposed to a new language at such a young age.

 

All that to say that we are going to be leaving Mexico in just a few short weeks! It’s been an incredible experience, but we are excited to be back in the States in time for the Holidays. I apologize in advance if my blog gets a little neglected over the next month as we pack up, sell most of our stuff, head back, find jobs and settle in. I promise I’ll be back stronger than ever once we figure out where we are going to live!  Thanks for you patience!

kids

the “P” word

Ok, so I hate “p” words.

I don’t even want to write them here, but I guess I have to so that you know what I’m talking about. You know…all those gross bodily function words? (poo, pee, pimple, puss, phart…ok that starts with an f)

I am just not one of those people who likes to discuss these things…I think they are private things.

Boy, how does having kids change your life! I think I talk about poo at least 5 times a day! My husband will yell to me, “Honey, come look at Pax’s diaper…it’s a weird color.” And I actually come, look and analyze the color of my son’s poo.

It’s gross, I know. But, you have to understand how far I’ve come as a mother.

However, my two (almost three) year old has entered a new phase. He’s completely potty trained and is a champ at going #2. I’ve gotten over getting grossed out when emptying the little potty and cleaning him up. I can handle it. I cannot, however, handle what my son proceeds to do after pooping.

He has to tell me what shape it looks like! Bleh.

 

“Momma, it looks like a pickle!” He exclaims.

To which (like any other good mother) I reply, “That’s great, Zander, you are such a smart boy.”

You’d think that reply would be enough. But, no.

“Momma, you didn’t look at it.”

“Zander, yes, I did. It looks like a pickle.” I’m lying…I try to avoid actually looking at the poo.

“Momma, you’re not looking at it. You have to see the pickle.”

 

Oy vey. I have to look at it. He won’t relent until I’ve studied the thing and agreed that it does indeed look like a pickle…or an octopus or an “O” or a smiley face or any other object that it remotely resembles.

Yes, each time, it’s something different and I have to examine and agree.

And honestly, he’s pretty smart.

It really did look like a pickle.

How have you changed since you’ve become a mother? I’d love to hear your stories!

kids

Happy 1/2 Birthday!

This lil’ guy is celebrating his 1st half birthday today!

 

I love stopping to really think about the last 6 months. It’s been a whirlwind of changes…moving to Mexico in January and having a baby here in March. I know if I don’t make myself stop and reflect, it’s all going to just zoom by.  This guy has given us 6 months of pure joy. He is cuddly, loving, happy, content and loves to laugh and smile. He definitely embodies his name, Pax (peace in Latin). I joke that he is the perfect baby, but really, it’s no joke. He has been a joy to us and leaves me feeling like I could have more kids. (Everyone says after an easy baby, you get a really hard one…hmmm)

I know this is one of those gushy posts that only family wants to read, but this is what is important to me today and hey, it’s my blog, right?

food, kids, projects

Homemade Baby Food

I’m sure you’ve been there…sitting at a baby shower, eating cookies and drinking fizzy punch. And all of a sudden it’s time to play games…yippee.

I always start wondering, “will I have to smell a Reese’s peanut butter cup poo smashed into a diaper?”

“Will I have to drink something out of a baby bottle?”

Nope, this time I get to eat baby food. Yep, I’m sure you’ve played the game where they take the the labels off of the baby food and you have to guess what kind it is by tasting or smelling it. Now, you don’t have to taste it, but if you’re competitive like me, it’s all about winning and sometimes smelling just isn’t enough. That is until you take a bite of creamed spinach baby food and you almost lose your punch all over the centerpiece. All you can think is, “That does not taste like any veggie I’ve ever had…that doesn’t even taste like food.” It’s the same thing with the carrots and the peas – they vaguely resemble their namesake, but taste so far from the actual veggie.

I figured if I thought the flavor was terrible, why would I want to feed it to my baby? So, I decided to make my own. These are my reasons:

1. It tastes better. The carrots taste like carrots. ‘Nuf said.

2. It’s cheaper. Baby food can get expensive when you are going through jar after jar. Buying bulk vegetables is a lot cheaper and goes a long way.

3. There’s more variety. The sky’s the limit when it comes to making your own baby food – you can use any veggie, any combination and get creative. And I live in Mexico – there are literally 2 kinds of vegetable baby foods for stage 1 – squash and carrots.

I know that this seems like one of those things that only moms who do cloth diapers and baby sign language would do…but really, it’s not that complicated and it takes very little time.

This is how I do it.

I buy whatever veggies I want to use. I plan to use that same vegetable for our dinner and I throw a bunch of them into the oven to roast or steam them on the stove (using my state-of-the art steamer made from a colander over a pot).

I take out about half to serve for our dinner and I take the other half and throw them in the blender.

Add some water (it’s not an exact science) and blend. If it seems too think, keep adding water until you reach the consistency you need.

My lil’ guy is just starting solids so I blend the heck out of it. But you can blend it to the desired consistency of your kiddo. You can also use a food processor for more variety in texture.

Rabbit trail…This is a picture of my backsplash…I like to call it “vintage” instead of ugly. It makes me feel better.

I freeze mine in ice cube trays so that they are ready for individual servings.

So, in about a half an hour, I’ve got a vegetable mostly ready for dinner and a weeks worth of food for the baby.

And when I’m feeding him and get a drop on my hand, I don’t hesitate to lick it off because, it won’t gag me…it just tastes like green beans…without the chewing. 🙂

One great book with recipes for flavor combinations is Tyler Florence’s “Start Fresh – Your Chid’s Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating.”

It has recipes all the way up into childhood as well. My favorite thing is that it shows you how to do double duty with one recipe. For example, Roasted Broccoli with Parmesan and Olive Oil babyfood – you feed it to baby and use the same puree as a sauce for pasta. Genius.

Give it a try, if it doesn’t work for you, give it up and move on – I won’t judge you.

Do you have any good baby food recipes? Anything your kids gobble up? I’d love to hear it so I can try it!

 

crafty, kids, projects

A Race Car 2nd Birthday for Z!

My little boy turns 2 today! Wow, my little boy turns 2 today…

I have to admit I’m a little emotional as I type these words. I know everyone says that kids grow up fast, but you just never really believe them until yours blows through 2 years in the blink of an eye.

I’ve enjoyed these two years of watching my baby grow into a little person.

He’s funny, sweet, tender-hearted and above all, energetic. He keeps me on my toes and belly-laughing every day.

Such a cool kid definitely deserves a cool 2nd birthday party!

Z has a deep love for anything cars, so we went for a car-themed party. I’m not a fan of cartoon-type parties, so we steered away from Disney’s Cars and used more generic hot wheels cars.

First, we borrowed Little Tykes cars from all of our friends, so that the kids would have cars to drive around in. Then, we used rolls of black plastic tablecloth to make a track for them to drive on and added stripes with yellow duct tape.

The kids each received a Driver’s License as they arrived to wear around their neck – they even included their picture!

We set-up stations for the kids to stop at around the track. There were 6 stations:

Gas Station (cardboard box, old hose, water nozzle)

 

Drive-in Movie (TV, Disney’s Cars, Comfy blanket)

 

Auto Shop (tools for the kids to pretend to fix their cars)

 

Rest Area (kiddie pool, plastic balls)

 

Car Wash (pvc pipe, fabric strips)

 

Home (tent, play rug, hot wheels)

The kids had a blast driving, crashing and especially going through the (waterless) Car Wash.

For dinner, we served hot dogs, chili, and for sweets we served “Spare Tires” (mini chocolate donuts) and “Dipsticks” (chocolate dipped pretzels).

The cake I made was a racetrack cake that I found at Punchbowl.com. It’s just 2 round 8” cakes pushed together with a black fondant track. And the cake tasted oh, so good. One was a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake from Favorite Family Recipes (and it was amazing) and the other was a Vanilla Cake w/Raspberry filling from Food.com.

For the goodie bags, I made the car-shaped crayons from Homemade By Jill and they were super easy, but very cute (sorry I don’t have a picture).

The tables had black tableclothes and yellow stripes that matched the road motif.

It was a huge success! It was a lot, lot of work, but totally worth seeing Zander having a wonderful time. And one of the best things about the party was that we didn’t spend a lot of money, because we used lots of things we already had!

If you’re interested in downloading any of the printables (cupcake toppers, signage, driver’s licenses, etc) let me know and I’ll put them up!