Happy Birthday Sprout!

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Little man turned TWO on April, 11th. We celebrated him with family, trains, nachos, and cupcakes! He is such a sweet spirit who loves well and plays hard. He is a chatterbox and tries his best to keep up with his big sister. I’ll do a 2 year old post soon! We decided to keep his 2nd birthday party small, to be honest all he cared about was a cupcake so just a family party was the way to go! Thomas the train is his current obsession so a train theme was a foregone conclusion. His Bebe had a train shirt made for him and we decorated with banners, balloons, and giant trains made of poster board. 

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I found this super cute train banner on Etsy in Kelly’s Cottage Shop. We used crepe paper streamers and red and blue balloons from Dollar Tree (who doesn’t love the Dollar Tree!). Lot’s of Choo Choo Sprout’s Two signs were around and another banner that read Sprout Station.

The cupcakes matched the theme of course. Sprout had been saying for weeks that all he wanted for his birthday was a brown cupcake, so we made all his wishes come true! Chocolate cupcakes with green icing. I used Hershey bars and black gel icing to create the tracks and found these mini Thomas, Percy, and James trains at Dollar General.

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We fed everyone lunch at the party with a nacho bar and mixed fruit! Super easy and everyone was able to customize their dish. My favorite ways to eat nachos, are to build them on a baking sheet and broil them for 2-3 minutes to melt everything together. They are DELICIOUS!

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After eating we played outside a lot and the big kids finally convinced Sprout to open presents. It was a great day celebrating our little man. I can’t believe he will be a BIG brother before he turns 3…well in less than three months really :) I have no doubt he will love baby girl fiercely. Happy Birthday sweet boy!

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Cupcake Liner Flowers

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EVERY day Chickadee asks me if we can do an art project. The girl gets her love of crafting honestly and she acts on that love every day! Sometimes we just color, paint, or draw with chalk. Other days we do something elaborate and most days it’s somewhere in the middle. These cupcake liner flowers are definitely something in the middle. Requires more than coloring in a coloring book but SUPER easy.

I happened to have everything on hand, and my guess is you would too. 

Supplies: Empty water bottle, ribbon, straws, mini cupcake liners, pom poms and glue

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As most crafts with 3 year olds are, this one is pretty self explanatory but I’ll still share a little. Chickadee did a lot of cutting which game her some fine motor/scissor skill practice. On the back of each of the liners I drew lines with a crayon where I wanted her to cut and she created the petals.

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I used hot glue to attach both the pom pom and straw. Chickadee has had some practice placing things on dobs of hot glue, but if you aren’t comfortable Elmer’s old faithful will work too! Just make sure you give it plenty of time to dry before placing in your “vase.” The vase is simply an empty water bottle with a ribbon around the top. I cut my straws at different lengths to add some different heights.

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These flowers turned out SUPER cute and we used them to help decorate the plate, cup, utensil table when we had some friends over last weekend for an early Easter brunch and egg hunt. Gotta practice hunting those eggs before the big time church hunt! I made two pretty tasty breakfast casseroles that I’ll share soon!

Boredom Buster: Scavenger Hunt

Boredom Buster DIY Scavenger Hunt Idea

Did Daylight Saving Time hit you like a ton of bricks? I was a little excited because the kids have been waking up a little too early for me the past few weeks and I thought “now when they way up at “6:45″ the clock will now read 7:45.” Nope, Sunday morning they woke when the clock said 7:15. Even earlier! DST is, however the perfect example of short term pain=long term gain. There isn’t much better than daylight lasting until 7:30 and those long after dinner walks before it gets dark! So I will suffer through these early mornings for the reward of evening walks!

It was warm weather around here last week (Thursday hit 76!). We have been spending lots of time outside on the swing set and going on neighborhood walks to wear the kids out in hopes they take great naps! Chickadee usually prefers to ride her “wiggle” (aka plasma car) or balance bike and Sprout likes his Red Flyer tricycle. However, sometimes I have them walk. We are so lucky that our neighborhood had great sidewalks and slow driving neighbors so the kids can run up and down with only the worry of a scraped knee. 

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I decided to jazz up one of our walks last week, by having Chickadee bring along a scavenger hunt. She LOVES scavenger hunts when we are on long car trips. I usually find them on a blog, print them off, and attach to a clipboard to keep in our car activity bag. Now that she is forward facing she loves spotting all the items on the BINGO board, so I knew she would love hunting on our afternoon walk.

Going on a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

Chickadee helped me come up with the items we were looking for. I wrote both the word and drew a picture so it was easy for her to “read” (she is 3). She grabbed a crayon and checked items off her scavenger hunt list as I pushed Sprout in the stroller. It was fun adding a little extra something to our walk and I have a feeling it will become one of her favorite warm afternoon activities. Afternoon walks are the perfect boredom buster and with the scavenger hunt added on, it’s fun for everyone!

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Necklace

Saint Patrick's Day Rainbow Necklace

Yall, March is here!!! Bring on Spring. I am ready for the flowers to start blooming, flip flops to be my shoe of choice, and long evening walks where it’s still light outside! And St. Patrick’s Day is coming. I’ve never been one to really LOVE the holiday, but it is the day when sparks first flew between III and I almost 11 years ago so I guess it holds a little place in my heart!

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I wanted to share a fun little necklace the kids and I made yesterday. It was raining here (I don’t love that part of March) and so we needed some indoor fun! Well, the kids saw it as fun…I saw it as a great way to work on fine motor skills, color recognition, and patterns. The teacher in me, just never goes away!

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Supplies: Fruit Loops, String (I used baker’s twine), tape, six bowls

First, I had the kids sort the colors to match the coordinating bowl. This was great for Sprout (almost 2) who knows his colors but can always use the reinforcements & the bowl matching aspect was great too! 

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Next, I cut a long piece of baker’s twine and wrapped a piece of packing tape around one end to keep the string from fraying and to make a stiff point for the kids to thread through the center of the Fruit Loop. Tie a couple of knots, making one thick knot on the other end to keep the Fruit Loops from slipping off.

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For Chickadee (who is 3) I drew out a pattern that I wanted her to follow (the rainbow order ROYGBIV = red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) as she strung on the Fruit Loops. We have just started working on patterns, so this was great practice. 

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Once they are finished tie off the end and let them show off their St. Patrick’s Day necklace creations.

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And of course, now it’s time to eat it. They should be rewarded for their hard work, right! My kids loved this activity and are already asking to make another necklace tomorrow! Well, at least Chickadee…Sprout just wants to eat some more Fruit Loops. 

Happy almost Saint Patrick’s Day!

Rice Bin – Toddler Sensory Play

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There have been some colder and rainy days the past few weeks. (Definitely not today..today it’s beautiful, 70 degrees and sunny!) And I have found a great activity that entertains my two toddlers for HOURS! In my personal mom opinion everyone needs a rice bin. 

I’m not sure why I waited so long. We have a sand table, a water table…Chickadee does tons of other sensory activities including finger painting and play-doh. But this was both Sprout and Chickadee’s FIRST rice bin. And it was magic. 

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Materials: a big bag of uncooked rice, a bin/tupperware of some sort, spoons, funnels, tongs, animals, buttons, bowls, etc. 

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There isn’t much too it. Pour in the rice, anything you might want to hide for your little to find, and start playing. Let them explore, dig, pour, use their imagination. Try and stop yourself from freaking out that there may be rice both inside and outside the bin! Our only rule is “No throwing the rice.” It’s easy to clean up. PROMISE. I use a plastic table cloth underneath the kids since we usually play when we can’t take it outside. That along with a little sweeping made clean up easy.

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If you feel the need to add more structure, you could add objects and then include a picture list for you kids to find certain things. Tongs are great when searching because they really strengthen their hands and develop find motor skills. 

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Embrace the magic of the rice bin. Embrace the imagination. Embrace the great sensory play & how it will develop find motor skills. And it doesn’t hurt to also embrace the 30 free minutes of independent play time it give you.

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Want other engaging activities for your toddler? Check out these ideas as well (Click on the picture to be taken to the page)!