Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekend Wish List: June 1-2, 2013

For my St. Louis friends....

It seems like you all like to read about family friendly activities so I thought I'd try to do a weekly recap of the weekend's activities in and around St. Louis.  I meant to post this on Thursday (and include Friday evening activities), but I didn't have the time this week.  Instead I got to volunteer at Ava's Vacation Bible School!  Super fun and exhausting!

Check back on Thursdays for my Weekend Wish List and I'll try my best to be on top this each week.


Strawberry Festival in Kimmswick, MO @ 10am - 5pm

Ballwin Days @ 11am - 11pm

Clydesdale Camera Day @ Anheuser-Busch Tour Center @ 11am - 1pm

Disney's The Little Mermaid performance at LifeLight Youth Theatre @ 12pm, 3:30pm and 7:30pm

Family Food Saturdays @ the Botanical Garden @ 1pm - 3pm

St. Louis Cardinals Kick Off to Summer WeekendCardinals vs. SF Giants @ 6:15pm
- Kids ages 15 and younger will receive a free ticket to a future home game compliments of Ritz!  
- Kids will receive a replica Yadier Molina Batting Practice jersey.

Innsbrook Summer Breeze Concert: Soulard Blues Band @ 7:30pm

Eckert's (Belleville) Strawberry Festival @ 9am - 5pm

Big Truck Day @ Kemp Auto Museum @ 10am - 3pm

Strawberry Festival in Kimmswick, MO @ 10am - 5pm

Friends of the St. Charles City-County Library Book Fair @ 10am - 3pm

Ballwin Days @ 11am - 7pm

Taste of Clayton @ 12pm - 9:30pm

Family Sundays @ the St. Louis Art Museum @ 1pm - 4pm

St. Louis Cardinals Kick Off to Summer WeekendCardinals vs. SF Giants @ 1:15pm
- Starting two hours prior the game, enjoy games, prizes and free North Star ice cream in the Ford Plaza.
- Kids ages 15 and under will receive a free ticket to a future home game compliments of Ritz!
- Kids, 48" and under, receive a free ticket to Six Flags valid Monday - Friday (through 7/5/13).  
- Kids 15 and under will be allowed to run the bases after the game.  

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dollar Crafts: World Bird Sanctuary Bird Houses

I took the girls to Lone Elk Park and the World Bird Sanctuary a while back.  It was a fun little "field trip-y" outing.  Ava and Sidney hopped in the front seat and got to see some wild life up-close and in person.

I am told this is an elk.  It was enjoying lunch about 3 feet from my car!

The World Bird Sanctuary is right next door to Lone Elk Park so we headed over there next.

There were lots of birds in and out of cages for the girls to run around and see, but the highlight was finding new bird houses!!

I bought the girls wooden bird houses last year because they love painting anything wooden. 

I never expected that these cheap little bird houses would actually house a family of birds.

The bottom was falling off the bird house and when we took it down to hot glue gun it back together we discovered a birds nest with EGGS!  We literally duct taped it back together so that it would hold up until the baby birds were born and could fly.  The duct tape worked but that's when we knew it was time to buy a legitimate bird house for our new feathered friends.

I didn't know this until our visit but you can buy legitimate bird houses for a $2 donation (or more if you're feeling generous!) at the World Bird Sanctuary!  The girls saw them and immediately asked if we could buy some for the bird family in our back yard.  How could I say no to that??!!

We used our left over outdoor "Patio" paint from our Flower Pots and got to work on the bird houses.  I prefer to use outdoor paint outside because it doesn't wash out very easily.  Wouldn't you know that as soon as we set up outside, it started to rain (!) which is why all my pictures are in my garage.

Ava did some color blocking.
Sidney really wanted her name on her bird house.
Clara sat patiently in her stroller looking cute as always.

I wanted to post pictures of the finished bird houses hanging in our trees, but the fun ended abruptly when I discovered that Ava had accidentally locked us out of the house!  Uh oh!  I'll get the pictures up another time.  Hopefully we'll have some new feathery tenants by then!

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Homemade Granola

Do you know someone who has trouble rationing things?  For example, if Tim and I are sharing a brownie and ice cream dessert, I like to have a bite of ice cream with each bite of brownie up to the last bite.  Is that so wrong?  Tim on the other hand will take a HUGE scoop of ice cream with his brownie bite, therefore making me take LESS ice cream with each of my bites if I want to continue rationing the ice cream.  He does this ALL the time.  Lesson learned: No sharing with Tim.

Our neighbor always makes this AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS granola for us and Tim hoards it.  At first I tried to ration it over several days, but I've now learned that if I want to get in while the gettin's good, I've got to go all out.  Granola for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it's gone!  Just kidding {...not really}.  I've tried to get my neighbor's recipe, but she's very secretive about it.  I think I've finally found a recipe that comes close to hers...and I'm going to share it with you!

6 cups of whole oats
1/4-1/2 cup of flax seed
1-1.5 cups of dried fruit {I prefer raisins, dried blueberries and dried cranberries}
1 cup of sliced or chopped nuts {I used sliced almonds and chopped pecans}
1/2 cup of canola oil
2/3 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2-3 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tsp of cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg {optional} 
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Preheat oven 325 degrees.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well. 

3.  Add oats, nuts, flax seed, dried fruit and mix.  {I add the dried fruit to the mixture, but some people prefer to mix it in after baking is complete.}

4.  Coat a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick spray. Pour oat mixture in and level but don't flatten it.

5.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Set a timer so you don't burn it! Use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently rotate the oat mixture.  Put it back in the oven for 10 minutes increments. Repeat stirring every 10 minutes until golden brown and crispy. You'll be able to tell when it's done because the oats will be dried out and crunchy! This usually takes about 50-60 minutes total for me.

6.  Remove from oven mix in dried fruit and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks!

This tastes great on yogurt.  It also makes a great gift!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last Day of School Car Decorations

As the oldest child in our family, Ava has to do everything first which can be hard for her at times.  I remember Ava's first day of preschool and how nervous I was for her.
Ava - January 2011 (2 years old)

She may not seem nervous in this picture, but it took her several months to feel comfortable at school.  She's come a long way over the past 2.5 years and I'm so proud of all that she's accomplished. 

Ava was so excited when she saw our car all decorated.  She said, "Mom, I think we are going to have the most beautiful car of all."  It was totally worth it.  I bought the Window Markers at Dollar Tree (you can also buy them at Deals) and they only cost $1 each!  I'm also planning to give her a preschool diploma.  Click here for a link my PDF diploma file.

Have a great summer!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Clara's Nursery

Clara was my only baby to have her own bedroom waiting for her upon arrival.  When Ava was born, Tim and I were living in a small one-bedroom apartment in NYC so her crib stayed in the family room/kitchen.  When Sidney was born, Tim and Ava and I were living in a slightly larger (but still small) two-bedroom apartment outside Chicago so Sidney's crib stayed in the family room/kitchen.  We moved into our first (and current) home when Sidney was 4 months old and we finally acquired some much needed SPACE!  

While we were preparing for Clara's arrival, I felt like the nursery needed to be 100% ready.  I never had the chance before to pick out paint colors and drapes.  I never even bought a proper crib for Ava or Sidney or any other furniture for that matter.  We just didn't have the space.  Now that I had a space for Clara, I felt like I needed to "ready" it.  I tried my best, but it wasn't 100% ready.  Closer to 50% at best.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have cut myself some slack.  As it turned out, for the first 3 months Clara slept in the family room (which is outside our master bedroom) in Ava's old mini-crib that we bought in NYC when Ava was born!  No one set foot in Clara's bedroom for MONTHS!  It was just easier to have her on the first floor with me all day and night.  It's funny how you fall into your old routines.  I still have never changed Clara's diaper in her bedroom.  I always change her in the family room.  I guess we didn't really need as much space as I thought.

Clara is almost 7 months old now and sleeps in her bedroom so I decided it was time to finish it.  It's come a long way - about 85% complete!  I did a lot of Pinterest searching to get ideas. Here are some pictures.

Tree Decal
I bought the tree decal online at Dali Decals.  They have the largest selection and the decals are very easy to apply.

Drapes and Drape Rod
I bought linen drapes from Pottery Barn.  They have good sales on their drapes if you can hold out!
 I bought the trim at Joann's and used fabric glue to adhere it to the drapes.  It was super easy and I haven't had any problems.
 I bought the drape rod at Lowes.

ABC Frames
The frames and matte came from Pottery Barn Kids (a long time ago) and I bought the ABC flash cards from Land of Nod (also a long time ago).  I taped the flash cards to yellow paper before taping them to the matte.  I had one extra space so I typed up the last line of the ABC song lyrics in a fun font and printed it on yellow paper.

Footprint Frame
When my girls were born, I brought card stock to the hospital and had the nurses make some extra footprints for me when they did the hospital footprints.  I found the cute frame at Hobby Lobby.  They have the best frames and they're always 50% off! 

Wall Decorations
 I bought the Shakespeare quote painted on the wood pallet on Etsy.  I love this quote.  It's perfect for my little girls.  The green cross frame came from Hobby Lobby.

I bought wooden letters and painted them with some extra paint from Ava's room.  I stuck them to the wall using sticky tack.  The frame collage came from Hobby Lobby.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Dry Erase Fridge Scenes

Wow!  I just saw that my little blog has had over 20,000 views!  That is amazing!  Thanks for all the interest.  We happened upon this next activity by accident but it has proved to be very fun and time consuming ;)

Sidney found some of my dry erase pens and started coloring on the refrigerator (thankfully she didn't color on anything else besides her hands!).  I was not made aware of her artistic expression until she asked me to draw her a flower, which turned into a big outdoor mural for her My Little Pony magnets to play.

My older girls are both at the age (3 and 5) where they love to pretend-play.  That's pretty much all they do these days is make believe.  I love hearing them come up with crazy little stories!

Everything wiped off nicely with a Magic Eraser.  I LOVE those things!  They can clean anything.  Here are a bunch of Magic Eraser Tips and Tricks.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Letter and Number of the Day

When I was a kid I went to summer school.  I'm not sure how young I was when I started, but I was young enough to LOVE stickers.  Every kid got a sticker book at the beginning of the summer and each time you came you got a new sticker (usually a round scratch and sniff sticker).  To this day, sticker books and round scratch and sniff stickers remind me of summer school - but not in a bad way.  Summer school probably wasn't my favorite part of summer but I didn't mind going.

I do not home school but I do appreciate an activity that incorporates a good learning opportunity.  This summer, I wanted to draw our focus to learning letters and numbers to help prepare Ava (5) for Kindergarten and Sidney (3) for Preschool.  My kids can recite the alphabet and count relatively well.  I made "Today's Letter" and "Today's Number" to us build from that.

I wanted to address the skills that both girls are working on.  For "Letters", Ava is working on recognizing and writing lower case letters, recognizing sight words and spelling three to four letter words.  Sidney is working on recognizing and writing upper case letters.

For "Numbers", Ava is working on counting past 25, simple math, and recognizing and writing numbers past 12.  Sidney is working on recognizing and writing numbers up to 12.

To make this, I used poster board, flash cards, clear plastic sleeves, sticky Velcro and dry erase hand writing boards.  I made the letter and number tracing guides.  You can print them here and draw in the arrow guides yourself.

There are TONS of work sheets and activities that you can find online to assist with learning letters and numbers.  Here are a few of my favorite sites:

I Can Teach My Child - Letters
I Can Teach My Child - Numbers
Confessions of a Homeschooler
A Mom With A Lesson Plan - Letters
A Mom With A Lesson Plan - Math
Tactile Alphabet
Letter of the Week

Here are some other letter and number activities I've posted in the past:

Hope you all had a happy Mother's Day!

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

Oh. My. Goodness.  If my family does not start feeling better soon I'm going to go bananas.  Ava and Sidney have been sick every month since Clara was born in October 2012.  Then we had a 4 week streak of good health (with an important event occurring during each of those 4 weeks).  I think the last time we had 4 straight weeks of good health was last summer.  So I knew we were due for something big and bad.  God was good to us for those 4 important weeks of birthdays and baptisms and Easter parties and confirmations.  So I knew we had it coming.  

But this is getting ridiculous now.

Ava got sick first.  Then Sidney got sick.  Then Clara got sick.  And just when I started to think that we were getting better, Ava got sick AGAIN!  And now I'm sick.  I took Clara to the doctor and she has an ear infection and 3 new teeth coming in so she's a real gem right now.  And today Sidney told me that her nose is stuffy.  That means she'll wake up full-on sick tomorrow.  Ugh...

It's bad enough when your kids get sick, but when Momma gets sick, who takes care of Momma!?!?  It's been rough over here.  I'm really ready for summer to start.  Please!

Here is a trick that I found on Pinterest for keeping track of medicine doses:

Clara is taking an antibiotic for her ear infection - her first time on antibiotics.  I have to give it to her twice a day for 10 days so I made this little chart on the medicine bottle to help me keep track of when I gave her medicine.  My mind is in a Robitussin fog so I need all the help I can get right now!

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Monday, May 6, 2013

End of Year Teacher Gifts

I can't believe that Ava is only weeks away from her last day of preschool.  We have a very special place in our hearts for Ava's preschool and the many teachers that have loved and supported her over the past three years.  Thank goodness Sidney will be starting preschool in the fall.  I don't know what we'd do without them!

Thank you Pinterest for this great End of Year Teacher Gift idea!

Front of Card:

Back of Card (with gift card in the envelope):

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