It’s Been Awhile

The summer of the Pokemon invasion.

 

–      Hello! Long time no type.  I am happy to report all is well for the quality gang.  We are enjoying our summer and had a very eventful move across the US.  Going from the South to the North is always an adventure, but I have to say hands down, this was the best thing we could do for our family.  We found our new home, my husband is now working full-time again and I am focused on getting all the services set up for our son.

The July Ivy Kids Kit was amazing!  Perfect for all of those Finding Dory Lovers.  

–      I have fallen off the review wagon a bit.  Not for lack of trying new awesome things with the kids but, more just a timing factor.  I will try to be more present in the future.  As for now, B and I decided to go short with our hair for the summer (huge move for me), we are starting to move into our new home tomorrow, getting ready to go camping this upcoming week and find ourselves surrounded by teenagers and college students regularly.  Life is good.  Oh, and lets just say Pokemon have come to stay and we are walking a lot more, lol.

 

 

DIY Kids Ice Excavation

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–     I don’t know about anyone else, but hot summer nights can get a little chaotic as my kids get more and more stir crazy.  I have been looking for ideas to tame the “I’m Bored” monster.  Usually I just tell them to go clean something up if they are bored; yes I do that, and no it never really works.  I need projects that are inexpensive, educational, and that are exciting enough to engage both a four and nine-year old.  All with the hopes of keeping mom sane as the summer winds down.

–     My kids are obsessed with our ice maker, and my four-year-old is obsessed with Frozen, so I decided to make a huge ice block.  I took out a map and showed the kids the North Pole and we all spelled Antarctica.  B of course wanted to discuss Santa, who she is absolutely obsessed with right now.  We also discussed how temperature changes water, and worked on vocabulary such as melt and melting.  I decided for our first bin, to use our ocean figures and some colorful rice from our last sensory bins.  I did get a request from my nine-year-old for a dinosaur excavation next time.

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To make your own Ice Excavation you will need:

1 Plastic Container to freeze the water
1 Larger container for the excavation
Water and a Freezer
Themed Plastic Figures
A dropper or two
Bowl of warm but not too hot water

 Directionspuff bal ice

–     I just grabbed one of our smaller storage bins and filled it up 3/4 of the way with water.  In our first bin I added, our plastic ocean figures, colored rice, and shells.  The picture to the right is our second bin before freezing.  We focused on circles and working fine motor skills with the kids tweezers.  Really you can theme this any way you want.  I put our bin in the freezer overnight.

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Tip:  One way you can tell if your water has froze is to look for moving ice bubbles.  If you find them, you have more freezing to do.

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–     When you are ready to excavate, I recommend putting a towel underneath your larger bin or dish to catch spill overs.  We used droppers, mini buckets, and tweezers to excavate.  You just need to little by little squeeze or pour hot water (not too hot that it burns you little one) on your ice and then let your little archaeologist emerge.

DIY Slime

SimplySaturday–     It is a laid back kind of day for us,  the weather here is scorching.  We are planing on making the July Raw Spice Bar Ribs and Potato Salad for a picnic type dinner this weekend.  I am also going to put together a fruit tart and will share my recipe with you all.  My husband is painting over the scribbles on our walls and hopefully tomorrow we will be heading to the pool.

–     Last night I wanted to pull the kids away from the television and do something that was more educational.  We decided to make slime. My four-year-old and I discussed texture and different words such as slimy, gooey, squishy, soft and so on.  It was a lot of fun.  My nine-year-old and I worked with fractions and different measuring cups and spoons.  He had fun only because he did not realize I was teaching him.  Nothing like making slime to distract kids.

slime ingredients

DIY Slime Recipe

2 1/2 cups of cornstarch
1/2 cup of clear bath gel or shampoo (we used Attitude Shampoo)
Food Coloring/Liquid Water Colors
Around 12 Tbsp of water (add for texture at end)

Tip:  I am walking around with green hands today. I look like I belong on a Wicked set.  If you use Food Coloring you will find your skin to be stained.  I am going to purchase some Liquid Water Colors and see if that helps at all.

–     Grab two bowls.  Put your cornstarch in one and your shampoo or bath gel in the other.  Add your color to the shampoo/bath gel mixture.  Pour your color mixture into the corn starch and stir.  It will be crumbly at first.  Little by little add one tbsp of water at a time.  When your mixture starts to form begin to knead it and keep adding water until you have a slimy consistency.  Enjoy!

ayden slime

–     This was really messy but the kids had a blast.  Make sure to put something down to catch drips.  Clean up was not difficult.  You just pour water on your bowls and utensils until it turns to liquid and washes off.  Get bath water ready for your kids, they will get messy.  In my case, they turned a bit green.

Cheers! –J

DIY Playroom Series Part One: Crayon Wall Art

SimplySaturday–     In the process of putting together our updated playroom, my husband and I wanted wall art that would be playful, colorful and inspirational.  After scouring DIY projects on the internet, we settled on three different projects, rain gutter bookshelves, oil pan dry-erase chalk board and crayon art.  Today I am going to take you through our version of crayon art and how we did each canvas for under $5.

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You will need:
3 Canvases (we used 16X20 from Michaels)
2 Crayola Crayon Boxes 120 Count
Gorilla Glue
Hot Air Gun or Hair Dryer with Diffuser
Wooden words or letters
Spray Paint

Tip:  We found the canvases on sale at Michaels 5 for $19.99.  If you sign up for their coupons and newsletters you can find one item for 50% off coupons bringing your total down to $10.

Tip:  The hot air gun we used was found on Craigslist for free.  My husband just had to pick it up. See what you can find in your local swap listings, Craigslist or garage sales.  As always, stay safe if you go retrieve items, bring someone with you and set up a meeting in a public place.

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Our photos are a little dark since we completed this project after the kids went to bed.

Directions:

1.   Line up your crayons, but do not glue just yet.  Have fun with this and pick the color combinations you would like most.  I found that I really liked the “Dream” canvas the most because the yellow, orange and green really popped.  You don’t have to put your colors in any particular order but  I would recommend at least eight crayons from the same family at a time for the most impact.

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2.  Before you glue your crayons on the board, position your letters.  I used tape to stop the flow right before it hit the letters on our “Love” board.   Or you could just glue your letters on top of the wax.

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3.  Next glue your letters.  Take a step back and look at them before they dry to make sure they are staying even.  I noticed as we progressed with each crayon that they started to move down slightly on the canvas.  It is an easy fix when the glue is still wet.

Tip: Do not use too much glue or it will seep through and show on your final canvas.

spray letters

4.  While you wait for your crayons to dry for about 2 hours, find a box and spray paint your letters.  We had white letters that formed the words we wanted.  These were found at Michaels also for two dollars each word.  We had some black spray paint at home and used it to make the letters pop.

5.    While your letters dry and after the two hour mark, take your canvas and prop against a wall or a chair.  This step can get messy.  We used two boxes, one on the floor, and the other underneath the canvas.  The first canvas was the hardest since we had never done this before.  If you look at my picture below, you can see how the wax was beginning to splatter.  I worked in sections starting towards the middle and moving out. You should go in an up and down direction, gently guiding your wax downward.  I started where the paper on the crayon began on top and then moved down.  The majority of time I was holding the air gun towards the bottom of the crayon and as the wax began to drip, I would blow air downward.  If you splatter, it really is not a big deal since you can go back over and add more wax to get the color you want to achieve.

crayon working twoTip:  The heat will change the color of your crayon wrappers, it really does not take away from the overall effect.

–    At this point just have fun.  No matter how your colors run, you will have your own unique piece of art.

6.  Once your wax has melted.  Remove your tape and glue on your letters.  Once the glue sets you are done and ready to mount.

wall crayon art hung up

I loved the way ours turned out; I hope you will as well. Feel free to leave me any questions in the comments.

–J

DIY Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin

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–     Happy dance here!  We had no problems getting my son to love this dry rice bin.  His Occupational Therapist recommended dry play so we decided to  put together a rainbow rice sensory bin.  I figured I could go over colors with my two year-old, but then discuss rainbow formation and color order with my four-year old.  Sensory bin recipes are all over the internet.  My recipe is slightly tweaked to make more vibrant colors.

full rainbow sensory bin

You will need:

Bin

25 Lbs of Rice (This is for the 70 Qt Under Bed Bin)

2 Boxes of Food Coloring (one Neon Gel and One Liquid)

A Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol

Freezer Bags

Items for Play

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We made one bag for each color of the rainbow and just divided the 25 lb bag by six.

 

TIP 1:  Check that your rice is truly dry before letting little ones play.  If it is not, you will have color on your palms.

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Green hands and rice mess….mom could not care less 🙂

TIP 2:  I will show you below, but I do wish I would have put a sheet down before we began.  A loved moving the rice out of the bin, which makes clean up harder.  I was also afraid dirt would get in the bin.  The bin can last for weeks with a cover.

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Directions: 

–       Divide your rice into your freezer bags and add two full bottles of food coloring to each bag of rice; for example, one blue neon with one blue liquid.  Next add rubbing alcohol to seal it in place.  The rubbing alcohol does have a strong odor and I have seen others use vinegar.  The smell goes away after a day or two. It is unnecessary to measure the rubbing alcohol, you can eye ball it to make sure that the liquid is moving around the whole bag, just make sure that there is no excess liquid swishing around your bag, it is not needed.  I would start out with about 4 tbsp and go from there.  When you have the coloring and alcohol added, close your bag but make sure to leave air in the bag.  Double check the seal then use your hands to gently knead in the liquid.  When you have the color you desire, put your bags in a warm place with the bag open.  I put the bags in my garage for 12 hours to dry and then poured into the bin. I probably should have waited 24 hours.   Choose your favorite toys and enjoy!

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I had no sooner rolled this outside to take a picture when A came running out to put his foot in the bin. This was a huge victory since it normally takes hours for him to even come near the bin. I had to snap a shot.

–     I see many more rice bins in our future.  I spent $8.75 on this bin and it will last for several weeks.  Well worth the money.

–J

DIY Kids: Ocean Life Sensory Bin

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–     In May my 2-Year-Old was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism.  At first my husband and I were a bit scared, but it did not take us long to realize it would be fine.  Our son is wonderful, he just thinks differently. Despite my optimism,  I recognize that all of my years as an educator and mom really have not prepared me for the lack of stability and understanding that comes with dealing with an autistic child.  As I try to navigate our days, it becomes clear that routines individuals normally take for granted, such as taking a bath or brushing ones teeth, are a daily struggle for my son.

Angel and whole ocean bin

–     After his initial diagnosis I began a hunt to find anything to help him with his learning journey.  In a strange way I was helping myself too.  Entering his early stages of  Speech and Occupational therapy I wanted to provide him with some activities at home that would be supportive.  For years, with different children I have created sensory bins and bottles.  One of our family favorites are bins that contain water beads. Water Beads are soothing, a little slimy and a lot of fun.

–     For my son, this type of bin is perfect to get him adjusted to not only water but different textures.  With our ocean bin we also worked on words and colors.  You can create themed sensory bins for almost anything.  I also purchased some special tools called Handy Scoopers (pictured below) to help with fine motor skills.  They are shaped liked scissors which will be a great way to teach my four-year-old the correct way to hold scissors since she starts preschool in the fall.

Learning Resources Handy Scoopers available at Amazon.com
Angel and Ocean Bin
Tip: Be patient. It took my son almost two hours before he would even go near the bin. Once he did he enjoyed playing and I was overjoyed.
baileigh ocean bin tools
Notice her hands holding the scissors correctly. We had to come inside because of rain so my lighting is a bit off.

To create your own Ocean Water Sensory Bin you will need the following:

1.  One Under Bed Tote

  • I recommend purchasing your tote with wheels in order to make moving your bins easier.  We often go from indoor to outdoor. We purchased our bin from Lowe’s for $19.99 but Home Depot also carries them, they were sold out when we looked.    I like the bigger tote since I have multiple kids playing with the bins at once and it gives us more room.

2.  Jelly BeadZ® 4 COLOR- MAKE YOUR OWN OCEAN -Water Bead gel 4 PACKS of 5 grams per pack

  • I purchased 2 packs of the Jelly BeadZ HERE for our 70 qt tote but you could get away with one if you purchase the 41qt tote.

3.  Assorted Ocean Sea Animals and Shells

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4.  Water

Directions:

–     Place your beads in the bin.  They will be hard, small, and you will not believe there are enough…there are.  Add enough water to fill up a little over 1/4 of the bin.  All of your beads should be immersed in water.

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When we first put the beads in water.
2 hours in
Two Hours in and the size had already quadrupled.
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Eight Hours Later

– Wait six to eight hours for your beads to grown, add your ocean animals and shells.  Have Fun!

Baileigh Ocean bin

DIY Kids: Big Hero Six Family Movie Night

Film:  Big Hero Six

–     In honor of our nine-year-old returning home, we had a welcome back family movie night.  Since we had so much fun, we are going to do two more over the summer.  Next month is Frozen in July.

Centerpiece:  DIY Baymax Baloons and Clay Holder

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Extras:  Baymax Tees and Waterbottles

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My 2-year-old rocking his Baymax T-shirt

Food: Baymax Pizza, Popcorn and Your Health Companion Salad!

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Special thanks to Endlessly Inspired for providing the template for our Baymax Bags.

Tip: Use card stock, we used printer paper and lined the bags with zip lock sandwich bags but they were not very sturdy.

Special thanks also to dimple Prints for her Big Hero Six Popcorn recipe.

Tip:  You can also make sushi instead of pizza.  I had considered PBJ sushi since my kids do not like regular but I was out voted.

Activity:  Make Your Own Baymax

Fun with clay IMG_1928 (2)IMG_1938 (2)

Even the teens had fun….

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Plan Ahead-Items Purchased:

Big-Hero-6-Gray-Cotton-Baymax-T-shirt-Short-Sleeved-Kids-Boy-Shirt-Modern
Baymax Tee (eBay)
Zak Designs Disney's Big Hero 6 Tritan Water Bottle by Zak Designs, 25-Ounce, Clear
Zac Designs Water bottles
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Crayola Air-Dry Clay 5 LBS

–   We had enough for three fairly large Baymax sculptures.

Kenny's Black Licorice Laces 1LB Bag
Kenny’s Black Licorice Laces

Tip:  We used these for Baymax eyes on the sculptures and on the pizza.  They also made a great snack.

Popcorn Items (refer to recipe link above, if item not included you can find it in your grocery store without hassle):

Wilton Edible Pens (you need black for the eyes on the Jordan Almonds in the popcorn).
Wilton Red Candy Melts, 12-Ounce
Red Chocolate Candy Melts

The Jordan Almonds were purchased at a local grocery store in the bulk department.  It was much more cost effective that way.

–     Kids grow up way too fast and a Family Movie Night is a great way to get the them together, spend quality time as a family, and make memories. We had a great night and the hug I received from our nine-year-old was priceless.

–  J

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DIY Coffee and a Soak Father’s Day Gifts

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Disclosure:  This post contains referral or affiliate links.

–    It is summer and that means I have time to complete several DIY projects.  Today I am hooking up with Jen over at Subscription Box Ramblings to share a special gift for the special men in our lives on Father’s Day.  Shortly, I am going to add a DIY Home and a DIY Kids section at the top of my webpage and start linking my recipes and crafts.  I especially enjoyed creating these homemade “Man Soaps” with my daughter B.  Little ones love to feel like they are giving a gift, and she is very proud of these boxes.

–     My Coffee and a Soak Father’s Day Box includes a bag of Starbucks Espresso Roast, some type of manly sponge or loofah, a gift card, a Father’s Day Card and of course our homemade Man Soap-  Chocolate Peppermint Mocha and Almond Latte with a Kick (of Ginger).  This recipe will make twelve square shape soaps, but I am sure you can adapt it to fit any mold.IMG_0211 (2)

–     For this project I went to Amazon.com and purchased:
2lb Shea Butter Stephenson Melt and Pour Soap Base ($11.75)
Allforhome 6 Cavities Square Silicone Soap/Cake Mold ($6.88).

You will also need:

Almond Latte with a Kick (of Ginger)
Almond Extract (1/2 tsp or a little more for scent)
Ginger (1 TBSP)
Any 1/2 cup of non-used coffee grounds.  I used the Starbucks Espresso featured above.

Chocolate Peppermint Mocha
Peppermint Extract 1 tsp or more
Ginger (1 TBSP)
After Eight Chocolate Mint Coffee 1/3 cup

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Prepare your ingredients ahead of time.  I started with the Almond Latte Soap Recipe.  I want to give credit to the author of A Cultivated Nest, the almond ginger soap is adapted from her recipe that I found on Pinterest.

–     Use 1lb of Shea butter for each recipe.  Cut the butter into 1inch by 1 inch cubes.  I just cut them down for size and actually forgot on the second recipe.  As long as you keep stirring it does not really matter, Stephenson’s Shea Butter melts nicely.  I peeled off the ginger skin and placed it in my Cuisinart Food Processor.  I then went ahead and measured out (2) 1/4 cups of coffee grounds so I did not add it all at once and 1 TBSP of minced ginger.

TIP:  Practice pouring into your molds ahead of time using whatever pan will use to melt down your butter.  Get used to how it feels and how off center it is when you pour.  I ran into a bit of a problem with my first batch as it went too fast or missed the squares.  I fixed it by using a knife but you will notice my second batch came out much more even.

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My first batch without practicing pouring. The second photo shows what it looked like after I used a knife to gently get rid of the access.

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–     To melt the Shea Butter, put the blocks in a stove top pan over medium high heat.  Stir regularly, especially the more it is melted.

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–     Once the butter had melted, wait 4-5 minutes and let it cool.  If you do not wait, you run the risk of melting your coffee grounds.  Add extract, ginger and slowly add your coffee.  Pour into your molds and let sit for 2 hours before you remove.

IMG_0235–     Once your mold is free, repeat again with the second recipe using the different ingredients.

IMG_0270 (2)–     The first soap as you can see did not come out as even because I did not practice pouring.  It also is darker because more coffee was used and it was a dark espresso.  I love how the Chocolate Peppermint Mocha had a dark layer on the bottom.  I think the color contrasts are nice.

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The finished product.

–     I recycled subscription boxes and packaging for presentation.  I really am happy with the final result. I shared this on Face Book and a friend even offered to purchase some boxes if I was selling (that made my night).  Hopefully the men in my life will be as pleased.

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What do you think of our Coffee and a Soak Father’s Day Gift Box?

–J

Sunny Simple Sunday- Rainbow Bubble Sensory Bin

–     We were a bit messy on this rainy Sunday.  This is our Rainbow Bubble Sensory Bin.  So glad I put B in a bathing suit because she jumped in before I even was fully out the door. This project took about fifteen minutes to make and cost $2.99 (if you have dish soap and bin on hand). B’s face the whole time we were making the bubble foam was priceless.

 

Recipe

For each color you will need:

4 tbsp of dish soap (24)
1/2 Cup of water (3 cups)
1 whole tube of washable paint color (6)

Directions

–     Put the ingredients in a mixer for 2-3 minutes until foamy them pour in bin. Rinse and repeat until all colors are made.

This was the recipe in half. It was so small I doubled the original recipe above and used the increased measurements for the rest of the bin.

–      I have seen several recipe variations but, I wanted to be as cost effective as possible.  I found these washable glitter paints at Michael’s for $2.99.  The bin was from Lowe’s and it is an under the bed bin.  At the time we originally purchased the bin it was $19.98.  I use this bin for all of our sensory projects.

B really had a blast and the clean up was so easy.

–     This was a fun first summer project.  We are going to complete our second project this week, homemade coffee-ginger soap for Father’s Day.

Happy Sunday!

-J