mealtime fun

Here are 2 dinner games that will keep your children... if they are anything like mine, hysterically amused from beginning to end!

The "what's for dinner?" game
I found these satin-sleep masks on sale at Walgreens for $1.75 today. They are adult masks but have an adjustable strap fitting my boys perfectly. We talked about the smells and tastes of food, as I blindfolded them and placed the plates on the dinner table. I fed each food from their plate as they described its smell and taste. They then had to tell me what they thought the food was using their sensory processes. What a great way to build excitement during an ordinary meal.
Don't Eat Pete!
We played this game as a dessert game.
I placed a chunk of apple on the game board I slid into a plastic sleeve. Don't Eat Pete is commonly used as an M&M game, but I found this cute-hand drawn version at
I had one boy put on a blindfold, and the other brother had to choose a character on the board to be "Pete". Then the player had to eat one apple chunk at a time until eating the one on "Pete". As soon as they picked up the apple on "Pete" we yelled "Don't eat Pete!" They thought this was intensely hilarious! It was very funny to watch them play! Oh and my oldest somehow forgot that he didn't like apples as he gobbled them up one by one! Brilliant!

duct tape to the rescue

Do your child's mittens ever fall off while playing in the snow...leading to cries of mommy my hands are FREEZING? Here's a great tip I got from a brilliant mother of 4 (thanks Kate!).
S-I-M-P-L-E fix...duct tape them on!!! It worked perfectly on our trip to Northern Michigan this weekend. Try it...you'll be hooked on duct tape for winter play.


jell-O oranges

Here's a cool snack idea I found at
It's easy to make, and my boys LOVED them. I think this will become a tradition in our house. Just scoop out the inside of a halved orange.
(I used a grapefruit spoon to scrape cleanly)
Pour in prepared Jell-O. First place halved oranges in a muffin tin to prevent tipping!
Chill for 4 hours, and slice just like an orange!
Yum Fun!

be mine

To help add festive "love" to our decor the boys and I spent a morning making 3-D hearts. We attached them to white yarn, which I tied to the light fixture above our eating table. I was quite surprised that this display stayed up for a week before L decided to climb the table and rip it down string by string. I wasn't upset because it was time to take them down anyway. It was a little claustrophobic in my tiny house to have so many hearts hanging around...just helping mommy out.

The boys' Valentine gifts. (lots and lots of chocolate)

This was the surprise upon wakening Valentines Day morning for the boys. They were thrilled with a giant chocolate trout, a giant Reeses peanut butter heart for N, M&M's for L and some weird bouncing faces with fuzzy hair I picked up at Walgreens for both. My gift was a new digital-baby camcorder that E gave me a few days before Valentine's Day. It's so small and cute compared to my industrial sized camcorder from the 90's that I've been lugging around and collecting years of mini video tapes. (What am I going to to with those?)

The boys' LOVE breakfast.

Ham and pita anyone? (L's dairy/egg free breakfast...notice the leftover pasta from the night before? The slice of ham and flat bread wasn't his favorite breakfast.)

Scrambled Love eggs for N.



The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.
~Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973

I'd like my boys to associated certain smells with their childhood. What better way to foster this memory maker than the smell of baking banana bread? It's beginning to become a tradition here. As soon as our bananas turn soft and brown... off we are baking again, and I never have a lack of baking assistants!

The Best Banana Bread
3/4 C butter softened
1.5 C sugar
3 bananas, blackened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2 C flour
3/4 tsp salt
1.5 C buttermilk
(if you don't have buttermilk you can use 1 tsp vinegar in a 1/2 cup measuring cup
and fill to the top with milk. Let this mixture set for 5 minutes before adding to the recipe)
1.5 C mini-chocolate chips (optional of course)
Cream butter and sugar (by hand or with a mixer). Mash bananas and add by hand to creamed mixture. By hand add eggs, vanilla, baking soda, flour and salt. Gently stir in buttermilk and chocolate chips. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 1.25 hours or until it tests done with a toothpick. Coarsely mashing bananas is best, and make sure they are over ripe for best flavor. If you do the majority of mixing by hand it makes for a better texture in the end. You can make one large loaf with this recipe or 2-3 smaller loafs. I find making 2 smaller loafs cuts down the baking time considerably. Adjust baking time accordingly. Let rest before slicing.

when elmo grows up

A 12 ft. big bird in real life!...the wonder...the awe... the mesmerization of Sesame Street Live!

thank you very much

Thank you cards are pretty high on my importance list. If kindness is extended without the opportunity of face-to face thank yous, the least one can do is take a few moments to show appreciation for such thoughtfulness via a a phone call, a visit, a hand written note...So I've begun to make sure my boys are aware of this concept and am helping them "learn" gratitude. I spend a lot of time teaching them to think of others. Here's a simple way I had N create a thank you card. I typed the majority and had him write basic parts to make it his own. The card is his traced hand holding a heart. So go ahead and remember to have your children show appreciativeness and generosity!


love day

Last year's preschool recommended that ONLY "healthy" foods be brought for all classroom parties, so we made these using Whole Food's Market's strawberry-fruit strips. This year N's at a new preschool which doesn't put a lot of pressure to only send "healthy" foods for parties...so by popular vote...we went hog-wild and made his Valentines with full-sized Hershey bars! Yum!...N and I hot glued all the parts together. I also hot glued a drinking straw along the back for additional support of the head and Antennae. I think I enjoyed making them as much as happy-little N! He was involved in all steps and even "stamped" his whole name 22 times! (we made extra for cousins!)

A Valentine's Day mailbox N and I made for his Valentine card collection at preschool.

writer's workshop

I don't need to teach anything to children: it is they who, placed in a favorable environment, teach me.
Dr. Maria Montessori

One thing on my list of "to buy someday" has been a child's sized desk for the boys. N is fascinated with writing and receiving letters lately, and I wanted to jump on that enthusiasm and support his pre-writing exploration. After searching online for the perfect desk I realized money didn't need to be spent, because I had 2 child's Ikea tables floating around the house the perfect size. I found the perfect little corner next to my china cabinet to set up as a special place just for the boys. A number line was taped to the wall, and a file folder labeled with each boy's name was placed on top. Inside I neatly printed the D'Nealian alphabet for reference. I also made sure to print their names and taped it to a shallow pencil-like tray. While rummaging through the basement I found packs of unused baby-thank you cards that were no longer needed. I started with each boy getting one pack of cards/envelopes to practice letter writing. I also found 2 pencil organizers in the basement and brought them up to fill with pencils, crayons, a ruler, scissors and a hole punch. Oh and did I mention that I did this all at midnight last night? Who needs sleep when you can set up a writing station for your kids? It was my light-bulb moment of "got to do this now!" The boys woke up and loved their new space. N has been there all day writing "letters" to neighbors and his Nana & Papa, and cutting away at various scraps of paper. We even squeezed in a valentine craft at the station! I'm thinking it'll be the perfect little creative corner in our house. L is another story. He quickly found the pair of scissors I put at his desk, snuck them from me and was walking around the house cutting various things that should not of been cut! Ummm....like plugged in electrical cords!!! Okay so the scissors are up high now and will be given upon supervised request. Bad idea for a 2 year old, Mommy!



This has been a long week. After 5 weeks of strep throat reoccurring in our house we finally put the whole family on antibiotics and am thankful for what seems to be wellness! Needless to say my boys have been watching WAY too many cartoons this winter. Being a former teacher I asked myself why I din't have more structure built into our days with predictable routines??? Why was I letting our days fall to the "mommy I'm bored...mommy what can I do"...demise? I snapped out of my laziness and finally created a routine chart for the little guys. I always said I'd do that when they got older and recently realised they ARE older! Where has time gone? With this management system there is no reason to be bored or wonder what's coming next. We used it for the first time today, and let me say that they LOVED it! Especially my 4 year old N. He craves structure and the ability to be in control of his day. He took the routine chart in his hands with full force and was so engaged and pleasant all day. With his reward stickers in hand he literally walked around telling me what he just accomplished and what he was going to do next. Here's the chart I created for our mornings.

and one for the afternoon. (Two stickers denote that Little L also did the routine along with his big brother)I slid these back-to-back in a 3-ring binder plastic sleeve. The chart is attached to the refridgerator with a magnet. The stickers will be peeled off at the end of each week and ready to begin a new week. I wonder if N's enthusiasm will diminish? Will he be just as excited next week as he was this week? Little L was just his happy- go- lucky self, pleased as pie to be doing whatever his big brother thought was so much fun! I also found out at the end of the day that while I was busy helping N with his routines Little L had a blast sticking reward stickers all over my kitchen chairs! Email me if you'd like the charts for your own personalization. I'm still new to this and am trying to figure out how .pdf links are done on Blogger??? Anyone, anyone??? :-)