Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our Last "Princess Day"

Today was our final day of our A Royal Summer Week. Molly was even asking if it was a "princess day." It's been a fun week and I had one last craft: decorating a jewelry box.

I got a small jewelry box on sale at Michaels for Molly to decorate with some stickers and rhinestones. We'll use this to store all her special jewels from this week, along with her regular jewelry. She loves anything with glue and stickers so she really enjoyed this project.

Later we played with water balloons (all pink, of course) and went swimming. At least Molly wore her princess swim suit! She also picked out princess slippers from the Dollar Tree this morning... not every day can be a planned outing!

A few smaller things we did throughout the week were to play with her Disney Princess dolls, watch The Princess and the Frog, and ate Disney Princess Campbell's soup for lunch one day. Other ideas I had but never got around to (basically because the weather was beautiful and we opted to be outside instead!) was to have a tea party; hold a dress-up relay race; and make edible bracelets with licorice ropes and hoop cereal like Apple Jacks. We never got around to the grocery store so we'll save that idea for another day!

The Road Less Traveled

We are going on a road trip to Colorado later this week for a family wedding, so our theme this week is called "Are We There Yet?" It's a week all about travel and cars.

I've ordered several items from the library this week that we picked up today, including several read-along books with CD's for the road and some books with travel games.

The weather was awesome so we headed outside to play and I used sidewalk chalk to create a road for my daughter (4) to "drive" on. She rode her scooter and a small ride-on car around the driveway. It wasn't quite big enough for her bike, but I could only use the top portion of our driveway because it turns into a huge, treacherous (says me) hill after that! It was also an easy way to keep her off the steep part with her wheeled toys! Ben (1) pushed a walker toy along the road too! Unfortunately, he got pretty mad at me when I tried to help guide him along the curves so I'll try it again on a sidewalk somewhere with a straighter road next time!

As a special snack today, we made Rocky ROAD Fudge! I found the recipe in a fun book called Indoor S'Mores and Other Tasty Treats For Special Occasions by Nick Fauchald. I tweaked it a bit to accommodate the ingredients we had on hand. Here's how we did it:

We melted 12 ounces of Almond Bark, then mixed in about a half cup of unsweetened baking cocoa. Molly (4) stirred in a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I didn't have mini marshmallows so I cut some large ones into quarters and mixed those in, but we opted out of the walnuts. We poured the mixture into a greased pan and let it cool in the fridge for over an hour. The result wasn't quite the right texture, but it tasted just fine!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Princess's Jewels

It was another beautiful day so we headed to Blackbob Park in Olathe, KS because the playground looks like a castle! We met some friends there and the kids dressed up as knights and princesses: my own daughter dressed as a "princess knight" so she had the best of both worlds. There was an epic [foam] sword battle and together they slayed the dragon.

Meanwhile, my friend had the best idea and brought along some glass "jewels" (flat decorator marbles). While the kids were busy with their swords, my 1-yr old and I sneaked off to hide the jewels in small piles around some trees and grass in the park. Then I told them the story about an evil wizard who stole the princess's jewels! He flew away on his magic broom but Ben (my 1-yr old!) had reached up and scratched a hole in his bag so the jewels all fell out as he flew over the trees. The hunt was on and the kids loved it.

They collected the jewels in small satchels my friend had helped them make. She snipped small holes all around a 12" circle of fabric then weaved a strip of gold fabric through that and tied the ends together. When you pull the strip tight, it closes the ends of the circle together and makes a perfect little bag! You could also use some yarn or cord for that part and it forms a handle. The kids each got to decorate their own bag with fabric markers before the "handle" was weaved in.

As a final treat, she brought ring pops! It a was a really fun afternoon and my daughter was so excited about her jewels and the wizard, that's the first thing she told her grandparents about when she visited them that evening!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rubies and Emeralds

Yesterday we began making our own jewelry: paper beads! This idea came from an old Family Fun Magazine I had kept, but here is a link to the instructions online:

I used strips of magazine pages that were very colorful and rolled our beads around Crayola markers for a good width. Molly (4) had fun making these, but got distracted by sorting her gems partway through. I finished making a few extra rolls and they dried overnight. Unfortunately Molly hasn't felt like finishing them yet, but when she does we'll cut them into small beads and string them on some yarn.

For a special princess snack one day, we had "strawberry jewels". After washing off whole strawberries, I dipped them in colored sugar while they were still a little wet so the sugar would stick. You could also dip them in melted white chocolate first. The only colors I had available were red and green (guess which holiday??) so we had rubies and emeralds for our snack! We also saw some jewelry with those real gem stones on a shopping channel on TV. The strawberry ones were much more tasty, though!

Here is a link to a much fancier and probably even more delicious "Strawberry Sparkles Recipe". I originally saw this recipe in a Family Fun magazine, but didn't have it with me when I created my simpler version.

Mining for Jewels

This morning we had a second kind of princess breakfast: royal crown pancakes! I actually have a set of princess molds especially for pancakes, but they leaked out a little so I shaped my own. As the first side was cooking, I decorated the crowns with chocolate chips and white chocolate chips for "jewels". Mini M&M's would work really well for this! My daughter (4) really liked them, and my son (1) liked eating them!

It was another beautiful day so we spent the morning outside at Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, KS. We had a great time with friends and loved the perfect 70 degree weather! This is free most days, with various activities like pony rides that cost a small fee. One activity they offer that went perfect with our jewel theme was mining! We got a pretty large bag of tiny gravel and sand to sift through in their mining trough which is really fun for any age. There were actually small (and some quite large) pieces of precious gems like quartz and emerald. They even gave us a colorful chart so we could decipher which was which!

Later at home, we looked through a large book on gems to compare them with our new mini gems. The book, Crystal & Gem by R.F. Symes, was much too mature to read with my four year old, but the photos were great! We used a small candy egg carton to sort our gems as we researched them. A regular size egg carton would work just as well. Here is a picture of Molly using the chart to determine what gem she has.

Princess Puppets

Yesterday was beautiful so we ended up at the zoo with friends, but we still found time for a princess craft and activity during Ben's nap. We made princess puppets using templates I printed off from the internet here:

I colored most of them per Molly's request, but she did a few, mostly in pink! Then she got behind her pink arm chair and put on a puppet show for me!

Later we got a chance for sidewalk chalk and I drew a huge princess on our driveway. Molly (4) drew her a prince and then together we drew a really big crown filled with jewels! Then I used the chalk to draw various shapes that a jewel might be carved into and had Molly tell me the name of each shape. I started off easy with a circle and square, then moved to diamonds, pentagons, and octagons. We talked about how precious gems start out rough, like rocks, then get polished smooth and cut into these shapes. Finally, she drew some shapes for me to guess, including an oval and my personal favorite, a unicorn shape! Things got a little silly after that....

By bedtime we were calm again and reading another great princess book, Princess and Fairy by Anna Pignataro. This book took a while to get through, but it was really sweet and fun. The artwork is very whimsical and pretty, and on most pages you are searching for two or three items on their "shopping list", including a ring, a purse, and a Leprechaun's belt buckle!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Royal Summer

Yesterday began a new theme for my MOMS Camp! "A Royal Summer": a week of princesses, princes, and jewels. If it's a little too girlie for your taste, I'll try to include some knightly activities too! My daughter(4) enjoys dressing up as a knight just as much as being a princess.

We started the morning with a princess's breakfast: pink scrambled eggs and diamond toast. I simply cut the toast into diamonds and sprinkled on cinnamon and sugar to make it sparkle.

Two books I've checked out from the library for this week include The Princess Knight by Cornelia Caroline Funke and The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury. They are both equally fantastic stories with wonderful morals. The latter has beautiful artwork!

We spent our usual quiet time during Ben's nap outside in the pool so we didn't get around to a craft yesterday, but we did get a chance to watch a new DVD I checked out from the library: Franny's Feet: Princess Franny! This was a very cute collection of episodes of Franny's Feet, which I'd never heard of before but am so glad I discovered. The basis of it is a little girl whose grandfather works in a shoe repair shop and with every new pair of shoes she tries on, she imagines a new story and learns a new lesson (usually manners of some sort). Molly really enjoyed it and we actually watched the whole thing about 2.5 times!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Super Healthy

We went blueberry picking for our final weekend of "A Healthier You!" Blueberries are of course healthy, but they're actually labeled as a "super food" so they're really really good for you! We headed to The Berry Patch in Missouri ( with some friends and the kids had a fun time picking their own berries. We actually got there a little late in the day so the bushes were getting sparse, but we got just enough and they were delicious!

On Sunday we had some nice quiet time together and learned about healthy meals. The government has come out with a new nutrition chart to replace the old "food pyramid" that makes so much more sense! It's the "My Plate" and you can learn about it here:

To teach Molly (4) about healthy portions and well-balanced meals, I made a "My Plate" out of paper plates and just stapled on the dairy portion. We used play food to put together several healthy meal options. I had her guess which food group each item went in and of course for fun she pretended to cook it in her play kitchen. We made all three meals, including a breakfast and she really got into this fun lesson! (Don't know why my picture uploaded sideways!)

Lastly, here is one final book I'd like to share. ABC Dentist by Harriet Ziefert. The artwork is amazing and it tells so much. Loved this book!

This concludes my MOMS Camp week all about getting healthy. Tomorrow begins a new theme!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Smoothie Moves

We've been staying healthy all week with our "A Healthier You!" theme for MOMS Camp. Today we got some exercise at a local gymnastics center called Emerald City Gym. They have an open play time for kids up to kindergarten age every Tuesday and Friday this summer from 11-12pm. This was our first time there and I was very pleased with our experience. They have such a fun setup for young kids, even my 1 year old could participate. Here's their website for more information:

Also today we focused on some healthy food choices and made a smoothie for our afternoon snack. Basically I let my daughter (age 4) dump ingredients into the blender until I said "Okay, that's enough." They turned out great and it was a super way to get my picky 1 year old to eat some fresh fruits! After we poured our glasses, we put the rest in a Popsicle mold so we can have a special frozen treat tomorrow.

Here's the estimated recipe we used:

8 oz apple juice
4 oz milk
1 C strawberry yogurt
1 C fresh grapes (because that's what we had in the fridge...)
1 1/2 C frozen strawberries
1 1/2 C ice cubes

A couple books we read that were pretty good, but kind of out-dated were: Eating Right by Mary Elizabeth Salzmann and Healthy Snacks by Mari C. Schuh. Molly was pretty excited when the latter one actually suggested smoothies as a healthy snack since we just made them!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fruity Fruit Salad

Keeping up with my healthy theme this week, we focused a little on healthy food choices today. We started off with "fruity fruit salad"... you know that song from Nick Jr? Molly enjoyed picking out the different fruits to include and singing the song. She even chose lemons, which she actually likes!

Later, Molly and I talked about healthy drinks to choose. I set out several options on the table, including milk, water, Coke, apple juice and 7-up and had her choose the healthy ones. She picked out all the right drinks with no problem.

After the little "lesson", we used three different kinds of water bottles as "stamps" to paint with! My favorite, though, was the 7-up bottle we used. This was an idea I got from an old Family Fun Magazine. Start with a different paper plate for each color of paint. Spread the paint really thin on each plate and dip the bottom of your water bottle in it. Use it like a stamp and it looks like a flower! Add a fingerprint dot in the middle and your garden is complete. We practiced on paper, but then decorated a small fabric bag for her ($1 for three at Target right now) and a reusable fabric grocery bag for me. I used acrylic paint because it works on so many surfaces.

Possible plans for later this week include Bump City ($5 open play at Emerald City Gymnastics) on Friday from 11-12 and maybe blue berry picking on Saturday morning at The Berry Patch in Missouri. Let me know if you're interested in joining us!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Paging Dr. Molly

In an effort to make being healthy more fun, I took the kids to Wonderscope Children's Museum today. There were two specific rooms I wanted to focus on: the "doctor" room and the "market" room, where kids could pretend to plant a garden, gather eggs, then buy and sell the produce. We visited the other rooms as well, including a special room for toddlers. Molly's favorite room was the doctor room, and Ben enjoyed trying to climb on ANYTHING in ANY ROOM! (My picture of Ben isn't loading right, but I promise he was with us!)

Later, I wanted to introduce exercise as something healthy. I had planned on showing Molly some stretches, but instead she showed ME stretches she learned at her acrobat & ballet class! Then we had a dance party! That's my kind of exercise!

After dinner we happened to catch The Toothfairy on HBO with Dwayne Johnson. It is a really cute movie and appropriate for our theme. Finally, at bedtime we did a little science experiment and made our own toothpaste! I found a recipe online and tweaked it:

1/4 cup of baking soda
1/8 cup of water
eh... maybe 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1 drop pink food coloring (or your own color choice, of course)

We didn't exactly like the taste, but it did do the job and our teeth felt really clean! Here's a link to the directions I used, and it includes a sweetener that would probably make it more palatable, but I of course didn't have it on hand.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Show Me Your Smile!

Today began my new theme for MOMS Camp: A Healthier You! A week of doctors, healthy eating, and exercise. (I hope this sounds fun to your kids... lol)

Molly had her first dentist appointment today!! She did so great! We had been reading Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist by Christine Ricci which is such a good book. It's about Dora going to the dentist and it's really right on. Molly was impressed that everything was just like her book. She held her mouth open so good but was pretty shy around the dentist, who was a boy. If you want to know which pediatric dentist we went to and my opinion of them, just ask! I don't feel comfortable "reviewing" them here.

I had ordered a little dental "goody bag" from Oriental Trading for Molly, so she got a few surprises. It included a mini rubber duck holding a toothbrush, a tooth necklace, stickers, a pencil topper, and a sticker activity where she filled a mouth with smiling teeth. Here's a link for it, on sale for a buck!

Also, last week I made a little chart for Molly so she can earn a new "patch" at the end of each week. It's just paper and stamps, but we had a fun time making it one evening together. I might even make some kind of memory book or scrap book and this would be a good first page to that. Maybe just a notebook. We'll see..


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Taking Down The Tent

Today was our last day of The Great Outdoors week so we took down our tent from the back yard. There were several things I had planned for this week that we didn't get around to, but you can find some of them in these articles I wrote:

One snack we made that was really fun and quick was this edible campfire from
Molly enjoyed making it as much as eating it!

Tomorrow begins our next theme: "A Healthier You!" so start making any doctor or dentist appointments you might need this summer 'cause now's the time to do it!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


To get out of the sun one day, we headed to the Great Mall in Olathe. They have a soft indoor playground with a camping theme! There's a tent to crawl through, a camp fire, raft, and more. Before the rain got here, we set up our full size tent in the backyard the next day. The three of us have spent plenty of time inside snacking on more s'mores, pretending to be hamsters in a cage, and of course reading books. Here are a few good camping books we've enjoyed:

Let's Go Camping With Mr. Sillypants by M.K. Brown
Let's Go Camping by Jan Mader
Molly and Emmett's Camping Adventure by Marylin Hafner

During on one of our outings, Molly snagged a smooth rock which she painted as a gift for her grandma. One idea that I had found and liked was to paint lots of rocks, then stack them as a "natural" decoration in your garden so we'll be on the look

Last night we made s'mores pie, which was really gooey and delicious! I got the recipe idea from this blog:

and tweaked it a bit. We used a store-bought graham cracker crust which I baked for five minutes first. Then we only needed one package of pudding to fill the crust, and we didn't use whipped topping, which was just fine. Molly placed large and small marshmallows on top in a design all her own. I loved having a snack that Ben could enjoy, too.

On Thursday night we made it to a great outdoor concert at Park Place (115th & Nall, across from Town Center) with Dino O'Dell and Mr. Stinky Feet. The kids really enjoyed it and I got some cute video of Molly and Ben dancing, along with my nephew who joined us. Park Place was a great location for an outdoor concert: we were in soft grass, in the shade, and a nice breeze! They have a family-friendly concert there every Thursday night all summer starting at 6pm so I expect we'll be there once or twice. The next children's concert is in July, so I'll keep you posted!

(Ben playing at the Great Mall)

(The kids goofing around in the tent)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Twilight Nature Walk

We made the cutest frames today! I ordered them from Oriental Trading at the beginning of the summer. I had to get a dozen kits, but they definitely won't go to waste because they had so many cute stickers and I'm sure we'll be doing them again with cousins down the road. I had gotten them on sale, and paid $2.49 for the whole kit!

I guess the actual one I ordered isn't available any more, but here's the link to another frame kit that's just as cute:

During a very nice quiet time, we watched two special DVDs I had checked out from the library: The Wild and Scooby Doo: Camp Scare. Mostly The Wild ended up in the background as we played in Molly's little tent which I set up in the living room, but it was still cute. We enjoyed playing in her tent, making a pretend camp fire and telling ghost stories.

Finally, this evening the four of us went for a Twilight Nature Walk at Ernie Miller Nature Center. We stayed mostly on the paved paths because Ben was in his stroller, but Molly and I ventured up one really cool "staircase" made with big railroad ties and tree roots. Mike found a great walking stick for Molly, but it took a while for her to warm up to the idea. It made for some really cute pictures, though! We rushed through a bath when we got home and got everyone in bed on time and what do you know? The kids fell asleep in record time! ;O)

**Funny story of the day: at the grocery store earlier I had to back up a few feet to grab something I'd passed, and decided to do the moon walk to get there. I told Molly there was always time for a little moon walk, and she thought I was talking about the "Twilight" walk we were planning for this evening!

Monday, June 6, 2011

More S'mores, Please!

Today started off a new theme for MOMS Camp: The Great Outdoors! A week of camping, exploring, and nature walks.

We kicked it off with a trip to the library to get some new books and movies, then went searching for bugs in the back yard during Ben's nap. Molly really loves bugs and keeping them as pets, so we found something and currently have it in her new bug cage with matching magnifying glass (courtesy of my mom!). Once we got it inside, she pulled out a big book on bugs she checked out from the library and she determined herself that it was a damsel bug!

We fixed up some traditional camping snacks, with a twist! We made baby s'mores at the kitchen table with a candle and mini marshmallows. We sandwiched three of them between Keebler's Deluxe Grahams, which are small sized graham crackers covered in chocolate. We also made regular size s'mores in the oven, by placing graham cracker squares on a cookie sheet, topped with a large marshmallow and a piece of chocolate candy. Try different kinds of candy with these, such as Reece's Peanut Butter Cups or Andes Mints. Broil them on low for about four minutes then stick another graham cracker square on top to make your s'more. Finally, roll the sticky edges in sprinkles for a ridiculously sweet treat!

For bedtime we read a very cute story, Molly and Emmett's Camping Adventure by Marylin Hafner... which gave my Molly the idea to have hot chocolate for breakfast tomorrow.

FYI!! Tomorrow we'll be going to the Twilight Hike at Ernie Miller Nature Center in Olathe at 7pm. Message me if you would like to join us!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rainforest Adventure

Today was our last day for How Does Your Garden Grow. I was hoping to plant the rest of our flowers, but instead we hit the pool for the third time this week. It's been so hot; at least we've kept up with our indoor plants this week.

Molly and I planted some "helicopter seeds" (from a maple tree) in clear plastic cups earlier. We filled the cups with paper towels and slid the seeds between that and the cup so we can see the roots. We also have a small planter that looks like a broken egg shell with a smiley face on it, filled with grass seed so when it grows it looks like hair! Molly gets very excited when she can tell it's grown taller.

As a grand finale for our garden week, all four of us went to Crown Center today to check out the Rainforest Adventure exhibit. In the past, their temporary exhibits have been really great, but this one seemed to be geared more towards school-age kids. We found plenty to do though! Here's a couple pictures of Molly and Ben enjoying the exhibit, and the website for information:

Another idea in the KC area for a garden-themed MOMS week that we didn't get to do is visit Powell Gardens. They have dinosaurs set up throughout the gardens for the summer and lots of paths and bridges for walks. Check out their website for more information just in case!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Watch Me Grow

Today was Molly's first acrobat recital!! I was so proud! She did really well and had a great time. What a wonderful day!

Of course, that meant we didn't have a chance for any MOMS Camp activities, but Molly was really proud to show off what we had done earlier in the week to her dad today! My husband had been out of town all week and flew in just in time for her recital. He was able to keep up with me and the kids while he was gone by reading this blog (cool!) and he knew all the right questions to ask.

This evening we did still read our special library books at bedtime. Here's two that I checked out for "fun" but one of them ended up being a wonderful lesson. "Oswald's Garden" by Heather Feldman is just simple to read and a cute story. The really good lesson, however, came from "Watch Me Grow! Blue Plants a Seed" by Lauryn Silverhardt, featuring Blues Clues. The wonderful lesson is that seeds take time to grow! I loved reading this one at the beginning of the week to instill some patience into my little gardener.

Finally, here are the links to two articles I've written with instructions and ideas (many NOT in my blog!) for making your own Garden-themed MOMS Camp week:

Thanks for looking!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Garden Gnomes

Yesterday we had friends over and played in the water outside so we skipped our craft. We did, however, get to watch Gnomeo & Juliet finally and it was so incredibly cute! Fun for the whole family: even my parents enjoyed it. It's such a clever movie. One of my new favorites!

Today we spent some time at the pool, but also got a chance to stay cool inside and work on a craft. I started to have Molly make a giant tissue paper flower, but the folding was a little too difficult for her. Instead, I made the flower for her and had her paint a paper towel tube to use as the stem, which of course she loved doing because it was slightly messy. She relished painting my hand my "accident!"

To make the flower, I stacked six sheets of tissue paper (I used solid red, but you can use multiple colors and it turns out really cute), and folded them fan-style the long way. Each fold was about one inch wide. Then I tied the middle with a pipe cleaner, and CAREFULLY unfolded each sheet towards the center to fluff it out. I shaped the middle to fit into the paper towel holder and it stuck pretty well, but I might secure it with some hot glue if it comes loose.

While I folded the tissue paper, I pulled out one of Molly's favorite art supplies: stickers! I had her decorate a foam visor with sparkly flower stickers and she made a pattern all herself! She placed them all the way around going "big, little, big, little..." I am so proud that she made this a teachable moment by herself! She's always going above and beyond my expectations and I'm so proud!

At bedtime we read "Good Night Garden Gnome" by Jamichael Henterly. It's a beautiful picture book that tells a story without words. It was so wonderful to turn the pages and have Molly tell me the story as she saw it. We also read "A Garden Alphabet" by Isabel Wilner, which actually has great information hidden in it's rhymes. It also has wonderful pictures.

I was thinking about visiting Powell Gardens this week (they have giant dinosaurs throughout the gardens this summer!) but Molly has her first acrobat recital tomorrow so I'm not sure if we'll get the chance. Here's the website if anyone is interested though!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Just Peachy!

First thing's first: photos of the kids shopping for flowers and then of Molly planting the flowers on Monday:

Now about today, which was such a busy day! We started off with a bang at a free Funky Mama concert at Matt Ross Community Center. I found out about it from KCParents magazine, which I picked up for free at the Library just yesterday.

Since we were already in down town Overland Park, we headed right over to the Farmer's Market for a look-see. Molly was surprisingly excited to see all the produce and to pick something out. We were given free peaches to try, which she insisted on getting. As of bedtime, Molly has eaten (or partially eaten) four peaches and zero chips or junk food. How's that for healthy eating!?

Near the Farmer's Market, there was a small orchestra playing music, and a few vendors selling food (which we skipped) so it was a pretty festive atmosphere. There was even a small in-ground fountain I didn't know about that the kids got to splash around in. On our walk back to the car, Molly picked out zucchini which she insisted we have for lunch right away. Her first pick was spinach, but everyone was sold out. I think we'll be frequenting the Farmer's Market all summer now!

During Ben's nap time, Molly and I adjusted a craft project I had found online. It was supposed to involve painting a t-shirt, but I opted for making note cards instead so we could use supplies we already had. The design stayed the same though: we made flowers using only finger prints! We used finger paints which is always a favorite of Molly's because it's so messy. I was pleased to see her actually following directions at first, though she did create a rainbow colored flower instead of a solid one. After a bit she got really creative and made silly designs, but it was so cute how she explained to me how to do it, just as I had explained to her how to make the flowers!