Tuesday, September 25




WELL I DO!!!!!!


Needless to say I will be under construction for a bit...


Monday, September 24

sit tight

Just popping in to let you all know I'm still here! I know I am behind with a school update, as well as other things, & they're coming, I promise!
We have been so busy that I feel like we've hardly been home. It's starting to show a little in the kids behavior, so I'm hoping to bring things to a halt after our planned playdate tomorrow. And with time home will come time to sit & update this here blog.

So stayed tuned & sit tight....I'll be back.

(Ugh, typing that made me gag a little. Seriously, I apologize....that was horrible. As you can see I'm a little rusty...)

Thursday, September 20

The change....

Without a doubt, 
Hands down,
My absolute favorite time of year.
I am so pleased with my Fall Mantle. In the three years we have been here this is the first time I have really done my mantle up. I have put up stockings for the holidays, & changed out some candles for spring/summer. Last fall I had a few leaves & mini gourds. But this, this is a real mantle. 
I'm even more pleased with the cost! I did this all for less than $30!! Bunting & giant photo included! I found some fab bargains at Hobby Lobby (it was my first time!), reused/upcycled some stuff from around the house & got those Dollar Store leaves/mini gourds back out from last year. Just under $20 at Hobby Lobby covered the fake flowers, fabric & binding, wooden acorns, pumpkin & little black crow. The 20x30 print was less than $10 at Costco!
Then I whipped up a little felt garland for the china hutch so it didn't feel left out of the festivities. And I will enjoy every day that I get to look at it, up until December 1st. Then we'll sweep up the leaves & celebrate the snow. 
Next on the Fall To-Do list... try my hand at Pumpkin Soup....

Do you go all out on your mantle? If you don't have a mantle, is there a special room or area you tend to focus on? Any tips for low cost decor you wanna pass this way?

Tuesday, September 18

Little Learn & Play Academy {Week 2}

Welcome back, boys & girls :)
Week #2 in our little Learn & Play room went really well & was spent with
 the Letter Bb, the Number 2 & the color ORANGE

Wanna take a peek?
Monday's craft was ORANGE Painted Wax Leaves :) 'J' painted a piece of wax paper & we pressed a second sheet on top. After it dried a little we traced leaf cookie cutters on it & I cut them out. We taped them on the window to admire them in the shining sun.
We've been working on our B's....I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty good for a 2 yr old!
 Wednesday we headed to the Library for Story Time. I was happy to hear that the topic for the week was "Ones & Twos", how perfect for us! Later that evening for dinner we made homemade Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Leaves :) The perfect dinner to cover our lessons so far, Two Fall Leaves, One bowl of Red Soup , & Orange Cheese :)
Thursday we took our craft with us to my sister's for a Playdate :) My SIL & nephew joined us & we helped the kids make Fall Placemats! They decorated sheets of construction paper with foam fall leaves & pretty crayon doodles, then I used our heat-less laminator to seal them. Such a fun & simple project. 
In Kitchen Class friday we learned how to make pie crust (using this simple recipe). While it chilled in the fridge we enjoyed a tasty lunch of Cheesy Leaf Melts :) Cheese, turkey slices & pepperoni sandwiched between tortillas & heated in the skillet. They were a BIG hit. Later in the afternoon we rolled out our dough & made mini fruit pies! 
(press dough into cupcake pan, fill with fruit filling, top with dough rounds, bake in 375* oven for 15-17 mins)

It is so satisfying every time I notice him repeating something we have covered in our lessons. Knowing that he is not only learning, but that I am teaching him valuable knowledge. 

Know what else is satisfying? Those tasty fruit pies ;)

Friday, September 14

Cookin' in the Kitch {Mason Jar Ice Cream Cakes}

Last weekend was my Hubby's 31st Anniversary of his Birthing Day.
AKA- he turned 31.
I had originally planned to make some cupcakes, because I hate standing there with everyone staring at me impatiently while I try to cut the cake into a bazillion pieces, some "just a sliver" some "a tad bigger then hers" & some "with not too much frosting". Cupcakes solve all of life's problems. At least problems related to Birthday cake size.

Then when you add ice cream to the mix you get this....
"Who want's cake AND ice cream?"
"Who want's just cake?"
"Who wants just ice cream?"
"What flavor"
"How big of a scoop?"
"Who is willing to bludgeon me in the head with this brick of ice cream that hasn't really thawed yet & is so hard I fractured my wrist when the scooper snapped in half?"

SOLUTION: I stumbled upon this *pin* a while back & saved it in my memory banks (& on Pinterest, duh!). This trick of scooping ice cream AHEAD OF TIME is genius! PLUS, I wanted to make it all beforehand anyway because I have 2 kids & 2 arms...you do the math...

So I was all set to do this, the whole cupcake & pre-scooped ice cream bit, until I had a vision during a middle-of-the-night-nursing-session two days before the party.

What If...

What if I combined the TWO in ONE container, Hmm....that just may work...

  • One prepared box of cake mix (per the box directions) in a 12x12 cake pan, cooled
  • Two flavors of ice cream, slightly thawed
  • One jar of Hot Fudge topping, at room temperature
  • 16 mason jars, clean & dry
  • an extra set of hands to help with the assembly line so these things don't melt all over the freaking place, optional
  • the pretty cupcake liners you bought when you thought you were making "cupped" desserts (i.e. cupcakes & ice cream cups), optional
  1. Use a mason jar as a 'cookie cake cutter' & cut out 16 cake rounds from your pan. Gently tear the leftover bits into smaller pieces.
  2. Scoop ice cream flavor #1 into every jar.
  3. Top with a dollop of hot fudge topping.
  4. Plop a cake round in the jars next.
  5. Scoop ice cream flavor #2 on top of the cake.
  6. Top with fudge topping again.
  7. Lastly, throw some of the leftover cake crumble on top.
  8. Put on the lid disc.
  9. Next, place a cupcake liner on TOP of the disc.
  10. Finally, screw the lid ring in place to seal the yummy goodness in.
  11. Shove those bad boys back in the freezer, NOW! 
  12. When its time for Cake & Ice Cream unveil your Mason Jar Ice Cream Cakes & watch the jaws hit the floor...

Wednesday, September 12

Cookin' in the Kitch {Marshmallow Cripsy Treats}

I don't know if you can even call this a recipe.

There isn't much to it:
1-2-3 EAT. or in this case melt-mix-press-EAT
So simple a 2 year old can do it, well, everything minus the stove part.
Don't believe me?
I'll prove it...
Melt in pan
 Add marshmallows to pan, stir until melted
 Pour melted mix over cereal, stir 
 Press into pan
Eat & Enjoy!

-I used Marshmallow Mateys in place of Lucky Charms Cereal.
-The size of your pan will determine the thickness of your bars. I used a 12x12 cake pan & they were about one inch high. Next time I'll make a double batch so they are thicker.
-You could also add multi-color sprinkles on top...that wouldn't be a bad thing, that's for sure.
-Stop reading the fine print & go make these already! You know you want to....

Tuesday, September 11

Little Learn & Play Academy {Week 1}

We finished our first week of 'school'!
This week is brought to you by the Letter : Aa, the Number : ONE & the Color : Red.

Here's a little re-cap of how our week went-
Our Science Exploration took us outside during a downpour :)
We filled different sized containers from different sources to see how
fast they filled & talked about where rain comes from.
My Sister & Niece joined us for a visit to our library to help us pick out
some new books for the week. The obvious favorites were Big Fire Engine
& TRUCKS, but I was delighted to hear Amelia Bedelia requested everyday.
We also wrote a note to my parents to mail. The kids dictated, I wrote.
It is sure to bring a smile to their faces :)
Our craft for Thursday was to make an Apple Tree. I had cut out & assembled
the tree beforehand, then 'J' glued all the embellishments on himself. He was
eager to put it on the wall for all to see. Later in the evening we took a walk
to the corner to mail our special note. On the way home we made sure to
take our time & look at all the leaves falling in our neighborhood :)
In Kitchen Class we made Lucky Charm Treats (click here for recipe)!
'J' helped measure/pour the cereal, cut the butter & count marshmallows. After I melted/poured the hot ingredients he helped to press the mix into a greased pan.
As part of our Life Skills for the day he helped wash the dirty dishes & dust the tables
before a family party we were hosting. What a great way to end the week :)
Even with all the 'extras' we had going on this past week (teething baby, potty learning, family party at our house, over night at Nana & Granddads & the hubby's birthday) we still had a great week of learning. Now that I got my feet wet a little, I'm feeling much more confident for the weeks to come. You know what they say, "It can only go up from here"!

Monday, September 10

Adventures in PottyLand

Good Afternoon, folks.
As a courtesy, your trip today will include LOTS of drinks & snacks
& plenty of reading material to help pass the time.
Please remember to keep your hands & feet outside the potty at all times.
The weather forecast shows some rough spots ahead, so buckle up...there is bound to be a little turbulence along the way~
We have officially landed in Pottyland.
'J' has been diaper-free for one full week now! There are very few accidents at this point, & they are only happening now when he needs to go but we can't get to one quick enough or he needs to go & I am not around to help. And in those instances he either has the accident in route to the bathroom or IN the bathroom. He is staying dry throughout naps & overnights. We are free to go on outings & run errands, we just take him to the store bathroom. He has even stayed overnight at his Grandparents!

When researching some tips/advice/routes to take before embarking on this journey, I stumbled upon THIS blogpost. By the time I finished I knew we would be using this method. It touched on a lot of points I already agreed with, it just painted a full picture of how to go about it.

Here are the basics of what we did/are doing. These are purely our own thoughts & views. Everyone is entitled to choose what they feel works best for their child/family/household. This is the path we felt was the best fit for us.

  • The most important thing for us is NO diapers & NO pull-ups once we start. I always felt that the back & forth sent mixed messages to a toddler. How can you say "oh no! no pee-pee in your undies! You have to go on the potty like a big boy/girl" one minute, then put them back in a diaper or pull-up because it is more convenient at the time & they can go freely in their diaper when ever, where ever? *We do use the Gerber Training Pants during most naps/night time, but those are just thicker underwear. We did get a 2-pk of the rubber pants to help with sleep times, but only used them on the first 2 days. They just made him really sweaty.  
  • The only solid "sign" we looked for was that he was staying dry after sleeping. That was the only one that we felt was a true sign & most important. He can talk now, but we never anticipated he would walk up to us one day & tell us he wanted to use the potty or anything else some books/articles/websites say to look for. At this stage they have been conditioned since birth (unless you practice Elimination Communication) that they can just go in their diaper whenever the urge strikes. They also know that we (as adults) don't do that. But that doesn't mean anything to them unless we teach them that they, too, can use a toilet. Teach them that they can also learn self control & to recognize what that "urge" feels like. *This is also why I do not call it Potty TRAINING, but Potty LEARNING. My child is not a dog. I'm not training him to be House Broken. He is a small human, learning to use a Toilet.
  • We did the bulk of Potty Learning in one LONG day. We chose Labor Day because the Husband would be home to help with the baby. Looking back it was not the best week to choose, but too late now. There were a lot of other commitments the first week that made it more stressful on me, but at the same time it's rare that we ever have a  FULL day with both of us home & no family event on the calendar so we had to jump on the opportunity. Next time I will clear a full week, because it has taken a full week to get to a really solid place with it. 
  • Although we did use a reward system, we used more than one type of ''reward" & slowly weaned off of them. We are at the point now that we no longer offer it, but if he asks then we give one. The first day he got one small "potty treat" (swedish fish, gummi bear, sour ball or candy blox) &/or a sticker. He also was able to call & talk to someone on the phone to tell them he went on the potty. About 97% of the time he asked to call my parents (Mimi & PopPop) & use FaceTime. (When you FaceTime another iPhone user it uses the camera so you can see each other). I displayed our Potty Treats in mason jars on my craft desk so they were always in view. Kind of like a reminder. There were times he would ask for one, & I gently reminded him they were for going pee or poop on the potty. Then I would ask, "Did you go Pee or Poop on the Potty" "No" "Then we can't get a treat. Would you like to try to go pee or poop on the potty?" "Potty!" <runs to bathroom> And I'll be damned if that kid wouldn't push out some pee to get a treat. lol. But hey, the more times he actually goes on the toilet, the better. 
  • The first day we used an anatomically correct doll that pees to demonstrate what we were going to be doing. We also had the doll pee on the floor to show that we don't want to go on the floor, we want to put our pee/poop in the potty. We were given the doll as a gift from my mum before 'A' was born so that 'J' could practice being a Big Brother. It was perfect for this life lesson too!
  • Pooping has been a bit of an issue because he doesn't go as regularly as most kids. He also likes to be alone. I managed to see the signs & catch him in time to finish in the toilet the 1st & 2nd day, The hubs was not as lucky when he was solo the 2nd day. lol. By midweek he was yelling "POTTY!" when he felt the urge, 90% of the time the urge was just gas..haha! Still proud that he knows what to do/where to go :)
Here is a break down of our first day. We had equal hits/misses.
-when we woke up I took off his diaper & told him we weren't going to be wearing them anymore. Then I showed him his undies & we put those on.
-I took the babydoll & we gave him a water bottle. I then asked the baby if he needed to go pee-pee. I put him on the toddler seat we got for 'J' & we watched him pee. We got really excited for him.
-Then 'J' tried but didn't go.
-Had the baby have an accident on the floor & told the baby "No pee pee on the floor. We pee pee on the potty" I said this several times.
-I then gave him special snacks we got (corn chips, pretzels, animal crackers) so that he would get very thirsty & want to drink more.
-I offered milk, water or juice constantly. When we hit a wall & he wasn't drinking anything the Hubs went & got him a Slupree. We knew it was ONLY one day & no real 'damage' would be done. We needed him to drink so that he would pee. Bottom Line.
-No tv or movies, they are a distraction. Just one on one time, playing, reading, coloring. Anything that you can get up & leave without issue. We followed this strictly Day one, then got more lax the following days as he got better. Now the only issue has been the baby. When I am nursing or trying to get him down for a nap I am not able to help, therefore accidents will happen. Day One the Hubs took care of 'A' while I worked with 'J', when I needed to nurse we switched. This ensured that there was always one of us with him, watching, waiting to help.
-Each time he went I would set a timer for 15 mins. When it went off we headed to the bathroom. Sometimes it took up to 45 before he would go. Sometimes it was as soon as 10.
-When we did have a success we would get really excited & high-five. Then he got to choose a potty treat & pick whom to call to share our good news. I set the timer for 15 mins & we would play until it went off again. But I would watch him like a hawk & any sign that he needed to go I would ask him.
-When we had an accident we wouldn't get mad or punish him (we want this to be a POSITIVE learning experience), we simply reminded him that we don't pee-pee on the floor (or in our undies), we pee-pee on the potty. And to "Tell Mumma (Dada) when you need to go potty & I'll help you". Then we would give him a rag to help us clean it up.
-I constantly reminded him to tell us when he needed to pee or poop. I would ask "What do we say when we need to pee-pee?" & he would reply, "Pee-pee, potty!!".

-The bulk of our accidents happened within minutes of him peeing on the potty! We realized he wasn't emptying his bladder fully each time & learned to tell him to push the pee pee out into the potty. By the 2nd day this was no longer an issue.
-We also learned not to have him on the toilet longer than 5 mins at a time. There were times the 1st day he sat there for almost an hour! We would reach a point that we just knew he would go as soon as we got off so sat longer. And longer. The 2nd day once we reached 5 mins we got off, set the potty timer for 5 mins & would try again when it went off.
-If he said "No Potty", then no potty. No forcing him. The 1st day there were times he said no, & we tried anyway. Then we were both stressed out.
-He needs to stop drinking 2 hours before bed, & go to the bathroom right after he wakes up. If he really wants a drink, he can have a sip of our water, but no cup of his own.

There you have it. We aren't 100% yet...but we are getting there. At this point he tells us when he needs to go & when he doesn't. Accidents are VERY rare. He is able to hold it 98% of the time when we are rushing to a bathroom. We still have to work with him on going by himself though. We are a little behind on getting a better set up for him to do this. At this moment we have a small stool & toddler seat on the potty downstairs, but no stool or seat upstairs (which means RUNNING downstairs to catch it in time). We also need to work on peeing standing up & pulling down/up his undies & pants solo. I just don't have the time/patience right now to wait FOREVER while he plays around & the baby is sitting outside the door screaming. Did I not mention that he is teething? No? Well he is. Got his first 2 teeth last week. Needless to say I'm a little worn down... potty learning, teething, first week of school, family party at our house friday night, wedding to attend saturday, hubby's bday sunday... I'd say picking the wrong week is an understatement... I need a drink...

Friday, September 7

Saved by the Bell

Welcome back! School is fully in session here at our Little Learn & Play Academy :) It has been a great first week & I plan to give you a re-cap post soon, but first I need to tell you all about our very first day!!
I was able to get the rest of the room ready just in time for our first "official" day! Truth be told most of the book shelf was already organized, but I did go through & weed out some things that we wouldn't be needing right now. I also tried to go through our mini library & separate the books into 'for fun' & 'for learning' to be sure we are doing a little of both during Story Time. This is actually one of FOUR little libraries in the house :)
So I got it all ready...now what?
We woke up Tuesday morning & I grabbed his outfit & hurried us downstairs for our First Day Picture! Sadly the picture I had planned to take was hard to get seeing as how he refused to let me take it... so we headed in for some breakfast. (the picture above was taken later in the day after all the "crazy mum" energy excitement had passed)
Then we headed into the back room & got to "work"! We looked at our new Activity Board to see what was in store for us.

Our schedule for the day was:
Story Time (he chose Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? & ABC Look at Me!)
Letter of the Week (A)
Color of the Week (Red)
Number of the Week (one)
Science Exploration (Our Nature Walk was rained out)
Life Skills (Write a letter to a loved one. Continue Potty Learning)

We also changed the Weather for the Day to stormy...
Since we never got to do our Nature Walk, we decided to take our "classroom" outside & play in the rain!
We talked a lot about where the rain comes from, & experimented with filling different containers up from different sources to see how fast they filled. We had a blast :) Then we headed in for some lunch before nap-time.

Later we talked about how there is a BIG 'A' & little 'a'. We practiced tracing them with our fingers & I demonstrated how to write them. He is pretty solid on his uppercase Alphabet & has been for quite some time, but is completely lost with almost ALL of the lowercase set. So that is what we are working on this year. A new letter each week & reviewing past letters in the following weeks.

And don't forget about the littlest dude, it's never too young to start learning ;)

Over all it was a success! And for those of you wondering, we aren't sitting at the little table for hours doing school work & such. We carry the "work goals" with us through out the day. I try to follow his lead & if he wants to play or do a puzzle, we do it. But when I see an opportunity to discuss the Letter/Color/Number I jump on it. When we play cars I ask for the RED car a lot, or ask him to point to it. When I hand him a treat I say "ONE Animal Cracker. ONE.". And then there are times like doing a craft or such that we sit down & work together. And we are reading SO many books together now. It was easy to get lost in the day with a toddler & infant, but now it's a priority. As time passes & he gets older I'm sure the dynamic will change a bit, but for now this is working out splendidly :) 
I can't wait to update you on not only how the rest of the week has gone, but on how Potty Learning is going! BUT, it is insane how insanely busy we are right now with birthdays & weddings & appointments, so it may be a few days. Don't worry though, I'll get it all up on here eventually, just you wait & see :)

Tuesday, September 4

School House Rock

Well, the day has come!

Today is 'J's first official day at "school". We were able to finish up our new classroom (of sorts) on Labor Day, & we did it together as a family. Here are some snapshots I took & I'll have more to come after today! If you know me by now, then you know I am definitely one of those mums, the one that takes a picture of her kid on his very first day of school...even if they don't leave the house because "school" is in the backroom.
Yea, that's me.
"Crazy Over Enthusiastic Mum?"
<raises hand> "Present!"
Lesson Planning
Weekly & Monthly Plans
 Daily Activity Center
 All Months, Days, Colors, Letters, Numbers & Weather Drawings are secured with Velcro so he can change them daily/weekly/monthly
 Notice those tighty whities? 
We've entered Potty Learning Territory, yikes!
(Dry-Erase Board is by Crayola)
The bar & cups are from Ikea, the supplies are a mixture of Dollar Store & target. My favorite (& his!) are the Crayola No-Drip Watercolors

RRR-IIIIIIIIIINNGGG! That's the bell, gotta get to class!

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