Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas with Christmas Carols!

The children all wanted to sing Chrismtas carols as their present to our family and friends this year.

Gabriella and Isabella:




Connor (with a song he spontaneously made up for the occasion):

Kayla & Connor (Connor didn't think he culd remember the words without Kayla's help.):

Cameron (He insisted on joining in even though he doesn't really know any songs by heart yet.):


Friday, 23 December 2011

Make Your own Faux Fireplace


When our family moved into this new house of ours, we were pleased to have more space, but one thing we didn't have anymore was a fireplace. With Christmas coming, the children were very concerned about their not being a fireplace for hanging the stockings onto or for Santa to magically appear through.

He rolled the sides of the cardboard to give it edging and to help it stand upright.

He cut the A4 paper in half and glued it on as "bricks" for the fireplace. He used the yellow and orange tissue paper to create the flames of the "fire."

He even created some logs for the fire by rolling up some shorter pieces of cardboard.

He rolled and then flattened the roll of some cardboard to make the mantle above the fireplace.

He says it would have been even better if he had painted it and added a vine-styled garland across the top of it, but I think it turned out pretty great as it is!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Make your Own Popsicle Stick Butterfly Ornament

Popsicle Stick Butterfly

These butterflies can be made in a wide range of styles depending on the talent of the person painting them. The above photo was of a butterfly painted by a seven year old child.

This is really easy to do and all you need is some acrylic paint, popsicle sticks, gitter and a small piece of yarn.

First, you lay four popsicle sticks side by side. You can put a tiny bit of glue between the sticks (on their sides) to help them stay together.

Then you glue four more popsicle sticks, side by side, across the previous four at an angel (forming the two wings of the butterfly).

Next you glue one popsicle stick across both layers down the middle for the body of the butterfly.

When the glue dries, you paint the butterfly, adding colors and glitter to create the look you want. Allow it to dry.

Once your butterfly is dry, add two posts of glue on the backside at the tops of the wings. Affix one end of the yarn to each side and keep in place until the yarn feels firmly glued in place.

Wait a while to give it time to set even further. And then you are finished!

These butterflies make pretty Christmas tree ornaments and also make pretty Spring decorations for hanging around the house. They can also be affixed to gifts as an added personal touch to gifts.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Make Your Own Christmas Tree Ornaments

Some of our most cherished ornaments that we hang on our Christmas tree each year are the ones that the children made themselves. It makes our tree unique and adds a bit of sentimentality to our decorating of it each year. I thought I'd share a couple of the methods we used for the children to make their own Christmas tree ornaments so that you could do the same.




Make your own ornaments out of homemade clay using cookie cutters and acrylic paints. You can make homemade clay using flour, salt and water.

-Roll it out until it is about ½ inch thick. Get out cookie cutters, preferably Christmas-themed, and your child can cut make as many as they can fit onto the surface.

-Using a sharp pencil, poke a small hole through the top of each one.

-Once these are done baking until they are hardened, paint them all white on both sides using white acrylic paint.

-When the paint dries, your child can use different colors of acrylic paints to make each ornament colorful and unique.

-When the ornaments are dried, put a tiny ribbon or string through the holes in the top of each one and tie it into a loop.

Now the ornaments are ready to either be hung on the tree or to be wrapped as presents.

Note, when not hanging on the Christmas tree, these ornaments need to be stored in an airtight and dry environment or the clay can become very crumbly.

Salt Clay

2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
1 to 1 ½ cups cold water
2 tbsp vegetable oil

-Stir ingredients together. Knead it together well until it forms a soft ball.
-Cut out the cookie shapes.
-Bake in the oven at 300F for an hour or until hard.



You can also make tiny bell ornaments out of egg cartons, pipe cleaners, paint and bells.

-Cut the bumps out of the egg cartons.

-Poke a hole through the top of each one.

-Using pipe cleaners, create loops through the “bells” to hang them from your Christmas tree, sliding jingle bells through the loops on the inside of the egg carton “bells.”

-Let your child paint and decorate them.

Now they are ready to hang on your Christmas tree!

This post is part of Get Your Craft On Tuesday at Today's Creative Blog.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

While we are a Christian family, we celebrate Thanksgiving as a time to say what we are thankful for in our lives and to share it with the people around us. We always ask our children to tell us one or two things that they are thankful for. This time, most of our children decided to state their thanks as a prayer. Some of them weren't really too aware of the concept (Cameron), and some of them were a little superficial-sounding (Connor), but they were honest (as children tend to be).

Gabriella (age 9):

Isabella (age 6):

Connor (age 5):

Cameron (age 2, but turning 3 in 4 days):

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Make Your Own Costume For Halloween - Bat Wings

A couple of years ago, Halloween was fast approaching and money was tight. At the time, one of my daughters did not yet have a costume for Halloween. She did, however, have a black leotard and black tights. She did not want to be a black cat. What was I to do?

I had a small amount of black scrap fabric. I spent a couple of £s on some of the seam webbing. Here is what I came up with (modeled by my 6 year old daughter Isabella while wearing a witch costume dress today).

Bella in bat wings

This is the shape you want to cut out, but in this picture, the top is already folded over, so remember to keep two longer pieces (with an opening for the middle) from almost mid-way to the ends of the wings. Those are the bits you will be folding over for your child's arms to slide through.

bat wings

Here is a close up of the seam webbing I used (you place it where you want to "glue" the two bits of fabric together, and then iron it).

Bat wings tape

I did it all by sight, but I have tried to create a sample of the pattern shape I created when I made it. This is close, but actually needs to be deeper where the actual wings are. And I made the points at the bottom larger and less frequent than in my "pattern."

Bat wing pattern

This post is created in collaboration with Creative Costumes.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Is Your Child Evil?


Do you ever wonder, when your child does something really naughty and doesn't appear to care about the consequences, if your child just has a natural "evil" streak? (Evil is probably too strong of a word.) Maybe you wonder if your child will always be a little bit rebellious.

When I ask this question of you, I am thinking about my own son, the youngest of seven. This little tornado of mine is strong-willed, destructive and rough. He regularly dumped all of his toys out of the two big buckets I kept them in within his room. He didn't dump them out because he was looking for a specific toy; he dumped them out just for the sake of it. He would also take the sheets off of his and his brother's beds and empty all of the clothes out of their dressers into a jumbled pile in the middle of the bedroom floor.

He did this several times a day until I removed all of the toys from his room. That's when he started rearranging his furniture. I would find their dressers situated in the corner of the room as if he'd been trying to build a fort out of them there. Later, I would find his dresser and his bed in the middle of the room where I would catch him in the act of jumping from one to the other.

He has broken several expensive items in the house. He loves electronic gadgets, and, no matter how high up out of his reach we place them, he finds a way to climb up to them. Going to the bathroom and having to take my eyes off of him for that minute is risky business in my house.

Yet despite all of this, he is really very sweet. He loves to cuddle up with me on the couch while watching "Dora the Explorer," "Peppa Pig" or "Tomas the Tank Engine." He gives me kisses often. He tells me he loves me. He beams with pride when I praise the scribbles he lovingly draws for me. When he is in his stroller while we ride on the bus, he leans himself as far over as he can to lay his head on my knee and hug my legs.

His eighteen year old sister jokes about his tendency to take things apart and then smile about it. She says he is amazingly clever. She says he is an evil genius who is on his way to becoming an evil overlord. She's right about him being very clever.

I think his intelligence is part of the problem. He is so clever that he bores easily. His curiousity about things gets him into trouble. And he challenges me regularly because, for him, it's fun and it gets my attention.

There is no such thing as an evil child. Some children require more effort than others, but all children are good at heart and just need a combination of rules to live by and the love of their families. Things can happen in a child's life that lead them away from their better nature, but they all start off pure.

I can still remember a day when I was still in preschool. I was (and still am) a chatterbox. My biggest problem in preschool was that I would talk too much and talk when we were supposed to be quiet. I saw everyone as my friend and wanted to chat away with whomever was nearby. One day, I got in trouble for talking when we were supposed to be listening. I was made to stand in the corner and I felt absolutely miserable and ashamed! I can remember the heartbreak of it even to this day. I had not intentionally done anything bad; I had just forgotten that I was supposed to be quiet. And I adored my teachers and was so upset that I had behaved badly enough to get in trouble with them. I cried my eyes out while I stood in that corner.

And I think that is kind of what happens with my son too. He doesn't do any of the bad things he does with any kind of bad intentions. He just forgets that he is not supposed to be doing certain things. He really does want my approval.

And he has it. I love my son, and I believe he is going to do great and awe-inspiring things with his life.

And the answer to the title question is: No, you're child is not evil. And neither is mine.

Friday, 15 July 2011

How To Have A Lovely Day In Ten Easy Steps

There are so many ways to be happy with yourself and to feel like you have had a lovely day. Here are just ten of those ways. (Inspired by Clarice Fox-Hughes Storybook Woods and Pat Brodniak-Carbonaro.


1. Tell the people in your life that you love them.

2. Spend time with your kids and really listen to what they have to say.

3. Go outside and take in the beauty that is all around in nature.

4. Spend time petting your cat or dog. Stroking your pet can be calming for both of you.

5. Turn off your computer and tv for at least one hour and spend that hour talking to someone face to face.

6. Take a little bit of time to do something you love.

7. Complete at least one task on your list of chores for the day so you can feel productive.

8. Do something nice for someone else.

9. Choose to be happy. Smile often and think about the good things in your life.

10. Remember to believe in your dreams and to reaffirm that belief throughout the day.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Free Father's Day Printables!

Here are just some quick and simple printables for Father's Day. They are available to download in letter-sized version for those of you in the US or A4-sized version for those of you in the UK. You can download the full-sized prints and print up a color version to create a card from or a coloring page version for the kids to color in by themselves to give to dad on Father's Day. (Just click on the links and then click "download" which can be found to the right of the page.) Enjoy!

Fathers Day 2011 Printable

Father's Day Printable Page (letter-sized)

Father's Day Printable Page (A4)


Father's Day Coloring Page (letter-sized)

Father's Day Colouring Page(A4)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Taking Care Of Yourself (guest post)

a guest post by Barbara Mack, author and blogger for StocknGo.

As mothers, we often let our needs go and focus all our attention on taking care of others. I’m here to tell you that doing this is not a good idea. If you are not healthy and happy, you can’t properly nurture others. It’s not selfish to make your own needs a priority; it’s good sense.

Let’s take a look at why it’s so important to take care of you:

It is very important to your health and the health of your children to eat a good diet. Eat healthy and try to maintain a healthy weight: This can prevent or control diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. You have more energy and you feel better when your diet is healthy. If you feel ill all the time, it’s harder to deal with everything. I don’t know about you, but if I even get a headache, I get cranky. And not only does eating right improve the way your body works and strengthen your immune system, it provides a good example. ‘Eat your vegetables’ has a lot more weight when we’re eating them as well. We want our kids to grow up healthy, too, and a good diet is part of that.

Getting plenty of exercise is also important to your health, both mental and physical. Have you had a stressful day? Working out or a brisk 30-minute walk can help you calm down. Exercise actually floods your body with natural chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. A happier, relaxed you means happier, more relaxed children. Physical activity also makes you stronger, and can help keep weight under control. Exercise. Really. You’ll feel better, and again you’ll be giving your children a positive example.

Give yourself a treat once in a while. Yes, you should, and yes, you do have time. It’s just as important to have a beauty routine or a ‘spa day’ as it is to eat healthy and exercise. It relieves stress and makes you more confident. The things that make you feel better about yourself also make you look better – bonus! There’s a great product at StocknGo called the Pamper Me Gift Basket, and it’s designed to do just that. It has everything from Kim Kardashian perfume to a sleep mask to an exfoliating glove, and it will make you feel like a new woman.

StocknGo Pamper Yourself Basket

Take care of yourself, and in the process give your children self-confidence. By taking care of your own needs, you prove to your children that you are important. You’re ensuring that your children will learn from your example and always take care of their own needs, as well. That’s important, and it’s necessary. So you see, it’s not really selfish. It’s practical…and fun.

Taking care of you should always be a priority. I know there are times when you can’t go at the top of the list, but you should never be at the bottom, either. You have to strike a balance between the needs of others and your own needs. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself; it’s just good sense.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


This is a picture of Gabby when she was nearly 17 months old. I was not very good at photo manipulation back then (and I'm still not), but this was a picture I created for Saint Patrick's Day 2004.

I forgot to do anything for my kids for St. Patrick's Day today and I always do something to celebrate, so I had to come up with some quick ideas.

My one and only idea was to throw some ingredients together and make the kids some green cookies for St. Paddy's Day. You can find the recipe for my Quick Saint Patrick's Day Cookies on my Kids Creating Cakes blog.

Quick Saint Patricks Day Cookies

While browsing my friends' posts on Facebook, I found a St. Patrick's Day coloring page from my friend Jen Goode on Projects For Preschoolers. So I quickly printed them up for the kids to color.


I didn't have time to go to the bookstore or the library, but if I had, I would have tried to buy something like this book to read to the children.


It can be bought in the US here:

And it can be bought in the UK here:

Fortunately, the kids were so thrilled with the fact that the cookies were green that they didn't even notice that I was unable to find their St. Patrick's Day buttons, and I couldn't find the St. Patrick's Day ribbon that we usually hang on our front door for the day.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentines Hearts Trio

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be just for lovers. It is easy to make Valentine's Day special for children too.

For example, I have a friend who's daughter brought out a scrapbook she had made. In it, she had saved every Valentine she had ever gotten, and she had at least one Valentine for every Valentine's Day since her birth because her daddy gave her a Valentine every Valentine's Day, even when she was a baby. She was so pleased showing me the scrapbook and it was obvious how much those Valentine's from her daddy meant to her; they made her feel special and loved.

Back when I lived in California, the schools had a special take on Valentine's Day. The teachers would bring in white paper lunch bags for the kids todecorat with construction paper hearts and glitter. Each child would have his or her name written across the top of the bag, and then all of the bags were hung in a row along the wall, low enough to make it easy for children to reach into them. On Valentine's Day, all of the children would bring Valentine's for every child in their class.

By the end of the day, the bags were brimming with cute little friend-valentines, Hershey's Kisses, conversation hearts, and other treats. Thechildren's faces lit up as they peered into their Valentine's bags at the end of the day and got to see all of the loot they were getting to take home with them. And every child there felt closer to each other because they had all given each other valentine's. Some of the valentines were homemade, some were store-bought, some included candy, but no matter what, they all implied that the giver liked the person receiving the valentine.

This tradion doesn't happen here in England. So I bought enough heart-decorated party bags for every child in my little ones' classes. (The 4 yea rold, the 5 year odl and the 8 year old are the three I am referring to.) I bought enough party-favor heart-decorated notebooks to go around their classrooms, and I bought enough Valentine postcards for each child in their classrooms. I then bought some chocolate-toffee candies and added one to each bag, and then tied the bags off.

What the bags contained wasn't much. And yet, the children loved them. My children came home full of smiles and stories about hwo happy they had made everyone in their classes. Even the four year old announced loudly to me upon arriving home, with a big smile, that, "Everyone said THANK YOU to me!"

It doesn't take much to make Valentine's Day special for children and to teach them to make it a day to show our love for one another as friends and fellow human beings, not just romantic love.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Blog Design Giveaway!

I have to admit, I haven't put much effort into the design of this blog. Visually, it needs a lot of work. I put effort and heart into the posts I write here, and I should put just as much effort into make sure that this place is also pleasing to the eyes.

I read about a giveaway for a blog design and decided to see if I could win. Unfortunately, I am not very savvy about web design. I can never seem to remember html codes for things and what I do learn about html, java and css just gets read and then forgotten. So I can use all the help I can get!lo

You can have the chance at winning a blog redesign too though!

Visual Serendipity is having a blog design giveaway (worth $250)! Head on over to her site for details of the giveaway.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Reaching For The Stars in 2011

My family's motto last year was "The Courage To Dream." It's still our motto, because it is one that has worked well for us and it is something I believe in, but, just so we don't sound repetitive, I've re-worded it for this year. This year, we are reaching for the stars.

I believe that everything we hope for and wish for is possible, if we are willing to work towards it. I want my children to believe this too. I strive to show them, through my example, that believing in themselves and in their ability to do great things can help them to achieve their dreams.

I also want them to know that it is possible for each of them to have an effect on the world around them. They, individually, each have the power to create change in the world around them and to shape the world more to their liking.

My children all have beautiful, intelligent, creative and loving souls. They constantly amaze me with their kindness, their wit, their hearts, and their unique and powerful imaginations.

If anyone can change the world and make it a better place, these kids will be the ones to do it!

Happy New Year!