Archive for February, 2012

Daddy’s Helper – Raking Leaves

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

I love it!  My two men working hard out back.  Oliver likes helping out, especially when it involves his daddy, the outdoors, and a shovel.

Kids want to feel useful and contribute to their families.  If you give them the “tools” to succeed, it’s amazing what they will accomplish.  In this case, we gave Oliver a real short-handled shovel and a milk crate to fill with leaves.

He worked hard, until his face was red and his nose was runny, and he filled his milk crate to the brim.  He was so proud.

He was busy for a long time and enjoyed himself.  Even better, it didn’t cost anything for all this fun and the yard got cleaned up!

Fun Blowing Bubbles

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

 Can’t figure out what to do with the kids on a Saturday afternoon?  Grab a 99 cent bottle of bubbles and head outside for over an hour of fun!

 Evelyn was pretty good blowing bubbles when she wasn’t trying to eat the wand.

 Oliver had so much fun chasing the bubbles down.  When the wind took them over the fence he would wave, “Buh bye bubba.”


The first few bubbles he blew with his eyes open, until they popped in his face.

Evelyn is such a ham!  She had a blast watching her brother run his little legs off.  We spent a good hour and a half with the little ones, blowing bubbles and running around.  Great way to spend a day.

The hubby thinks we can make our own formula and use string to make gigantic bubbles.  I can’t wait to see how that works!

Fun at Play! Activity Center for Kids

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

 These pictures were taken in Dec 2011.  The kids are a few months older now and you might notice that they look different than those in the last post. Not trying to confuse anybody.

I thank my lucky stars to have found a place called Play!.  It is sort of a discovery center and mini-gymnasium all bundled up into one. 

In the gym, they have trampolines, a crash-pit, inflatable tumbling/bounce pads, slides, ramps, balance beams, monkey bars, etc…   

 We are usually one of the first ones in the door in the morning and the kids get the run of the gym.  The place fills up quickly though.  Oliver loves playing with the other kids and has blossomed from all the activity.

In the discovery center, they have different areas for kids to play and explore filled with things like books, puzzles, gears, chalkboards, trains, legos, blocks, etc…

Looks like someone else thought playing with rice  is good for little kids too!

The kids visit about twice a week.  I either bring them and play, or I can drop them off at their care center.  The kids love, love, love this place and are well taken care of.  They have gym time, arts and craft time, free play, snacks, and lunch.   Drop-off care is $11/hr for the both of them and we can do a max of 4 hours at a time. Their drop-off child care has been a blessing for me.  I’ve been able to go grocery shopping, run errands, go to the library, and swing by the doctor’s without worrying about them. 

The best part?  The days they go to Play!, they sleep like rocks at night – not a peep.

Easy Crown Craft for Kids

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Happy Fat Tuesday everyone!  In honor of Mardi Gras, one of my favorite “holidays”, we made crowns for the kids.

You need one cereal box, some construction paper, glue, and decorating supplies (ie. crayons, markers, etc…).   Slip the box over your kid’s head to see how it will fit.  If it is too big or too small you can adjust it later on, but make a note of it now.


Remove the box from their head and flatten it out.  Cut the box in half, across the middle, so you end up with 2 headbands.

With the box flattened out, draw a crown design and cut out with a pair of scissors.  You will be cutting through 2 layers of cardboard at once.  Using a glue stick, paste construction paper over the crown and trim to the design. 

Note: If you need a smaller crown, cut your crown at a seam and remove excess cardboard.  Tape the new seam together and then proceed to cover with paper.  If you need a bigger crown, cut your crown at the seam and add cardboard for the size you need.  Tape the seams well and then cover with glue and paper.

I let the kids decorate their own crowns.  I helped Evelyn paste some jewels on, but she did all the artwork herself.

Oliver is mighty handy with a glue stick.  He makes his crafty mama so proud!  He pasted on a variety of green and purple “jewels”.  I then outlined the jewels with a black crayon so they would PoP.

And may I present King Oliver and Queen Evelyn of the Krewe of Norton to preside over the festivities in our house.  True to Mardi Gras colors, we have gold in the crowns and jems of purple and green.  Bring on the beads!

Learning the Alphabet with Sidewalk Chalk

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

For 99 cents, I bought the kiddos a box of sidewalk chalk.  The chalk worked great on our patio, but even better on our wood fence!

 Oliver has been learning his ABC’s and 123’s.  He loved having it up on the fence to reference.  Every time he goes outside he spends time at the fence going over his letters and numbers.  I wrote his name farther down the fence and he can now spell his name from memory.

Evelyn didn’t have as much fun though.  She thought the green one tasted a bit “chalky”… :-)

Fun at Monkey Joe’s

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Another place we like taking the kids when it’s cold outside is Monkey Joe’s.  I had seen Monkey Joe’s around before, but never tried one out until we moved to Atlanta.   Monkey Joe’s is basically bounce-house central.  Ours has 6 different air inflatable play “houses”.  There’s also a section full of toys for toddlers.

 I just about had a heart attack the first time Oliver went down this slide.  It reaches all the way to the ceiling (at least 20ft tall)!  He did not hesitate one second before jumping from the top of the slide. 

 There are 2 bouncy areas for kids 3 and under.  Evelyn doesn’t need her daddy’s help to jump anymore.


 Oliver burns off some serious energy at Monkey Joe’s from all the climbing, bouncing, jumping, and running with the other kids.  Evelyn is content to play ball with her momma.

If you have kids under 12, you might want to check out your local bouncey house.  The earlier in the day, the younger the kids are as the older ones will be in school.  That’s good for us, because the older kids are too rough around my babies.  There are also frequent visitor programs or advance ticket discounts.  Be wary of going on a weekend when there are tons of birthday parties and on school holidays. Don’t forget socks.  They won’t let the kids jump without them and they won’t let you retrieve stuck kids without your socks on either. 

All in all, it’s a great place for my kiddos to blow off some steam from time to time.  The kids love it!

Lucky Ladybugs

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Oliver found his first ladybug while playing outside.  He was so excited!  He even let it crawl on his hand.

After freaking out when it crawled on his hand and dropping it, he kept close tabs on it.

Evelyn didn’t like him keeping close tabs on the ladybug.

He found 2 more ladybugs on the back of the chair.  I repeat – he was SO excited!

Evelyn wasn’t happy that we wouldn’t let her eat the ladybugs, but she was happy again when we let her gnaw on the stick.  :-)

Ladybugs are a sign of good luck.  Three in one day!  Powerball here we come…


Easy Valentine’s Wreath for Kids to Make

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

While clipping coupons last Sunday, I noticed quite a bit of red in the ads and flyers. Inspired by all the Valentine’s Day images (flowers, candy, hearts, bears, jewelry, etc…) I came up with an idea to make collage wreaths with the kids.

I cut out images that reminded me of Valentine’s Day, as well as any red space – ads, flyers, paper – to use as the base layer on our wreath.  Macy’s had tons of red paper in their sales ad and JCP had great large photos of jewelry that we used for accent pieces.

The hubby cut out a heart frame from a cardboard box and I spread on some white glue for Oliver.  We started with the big pieces of red paper as a base.  We then layered on the photos from largest to smallest to fill in the gaps.

We had started with glue sticks, but those took too long and we didn’t get the adhesion that we wanted for a mass of little photos.  Instead, I poured some white glue into a bowl and used a spoon to drip, dab, and smear glue everywhere.  Things went much faster after that!

Oliver did such a good job (with a little help from mom).  The wreath turned out great and cost pennies.  We already had the advertisements, a cardboard box, and glue.

Evelyn even had a chance to be creative (with a lot of help from mom).  We spread some glue on the heart that we cut out of the center of the big wreath and let her have at it.  I think she got more glue in her hair than on the heart, but she enjoyed herself!

Potato Stamps for Valentine’s Day

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I’ve read about using potatoes as simple stamps and decided to give it a try for Valentine’s day.  I chose a small potato that would fit in Oliver’s hand easily and cut it in half.  I drew a heart on the potato and used a knife to remove the potato on the outside of my heart shape.

It was hard to get a crisp line around the heart, so I used a spoon to scrape the edges clean.

I put some fingerpaint on a plate and let Oliver stamp away.


The hearts have a rustic homemade feel.  Perfect for wrapping little presents or for making a Valentine for Daddy.

The potato also turned into a great paint brush and hand painter once the novelty of stamping wore off.

Oliver rates this craft a five out of five fingers!

Gotta Love the Mall Trains

Monday, February 6th, 2012

The mall has become one of our favorite cold weather places to take the kids for fun.  Oliver could spend hours pushing every button on the soda machines alone – until he hears the train whistle that is…

In the past few years, I’ve noticed a rising trend of electric trains in malls.  Whoever sells, buys and operates these things are brilliant!!! 

A train ride costs anywhere from $3 – $5 per person and travels either a part of the mall or the entire mall length depending on mall rules.  The train at our local mall travels a short path and costs $4 per person.  I’ve seen it make 4 trips in 1/2 an hour carrying anywhere from 2 – 12 people.  If you averaged 4 people per trip, that’s $64 in 1/2 an hour!

Most trains are stationed near play areas in the malls.  For my train obsessed children, that means we rarely escape without a ride when we go to the mall. 

When you talk bang for your buck, mall trains are not the most frugal forms of entertainment for the family.  However, once you see your child light up and thrill in riding a “for real big boy choo choo train” it’s hard to say no.  (Again, brilliant moneymaker train people.) 

To lessen the cost for frequent riders, many trains offer package ticket deals.  For our train, if we pay $40 for a train card we get 4 free rides for a total of 14.  That averages out to $2.85 per ticket.  Other trains have frequent rider cards where you can earn a free ride after so many purchased ones have been counted.  Depending on who the conductor is, we can sometimes schmooze free rides.  One conductor likes the kids so much that he lets the 3 of us ride for one ticket total when it’s slow.

I am grateful for all the discounts we can get for as much as my kids LOVE these trains!


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