X Marks the Spot, Dot Dot Dot to Help Sooth Tantrums

Ok, Mama, tell me if you are with me on this- you have children in your household that tantrum and can’t seem to calm down once they “go there”.  I will be honest here, I do have children that “go there.” To stay sane, I needed to figure out how to steer them back to reality.

I’m very lucky to have active boys in my life who keep me on my feet, both of whom are strong willed and have strong personalities.  They work hard and play harder, which means their emotions are extreme. 

Nolan specifically can be very happy and lovey dovey one minute and the next I’ll see fire in his eyes as his head starts spinning.  Jackson was very similar when he was Nolan’s age so I know to be cautious when Nolan is hungry, has to go to the bathroom or is tired.  But despite my best planning, the 4 year old irrational tantrums still tornado through the house in full swing. 

I wanted, I NEEDED,  to come up with a way to help Nolan turn from poltergeist to his sweet 4 year old self. He responds very well with touch and hugs but the game X Marks the Spot on his back really calms him down…99% of the time. 

The song goes like this:

X marks the spot (draw an X on back)

Dot, dot, dot (make 3 dots on back going up or down)

Spiders crawling up your back, spiders crawling down your back (walk fingers up and down back)

Circle and a dot (draw a circle on back with a dot in the middle)

Dot, dot, dot (make 3 dots on back going up or down)

Snakes crawling up your back, Snacks crawling down your back (make S shapes up and down back)

Circle and a dot (draw a circle on back with a dot in the middle)

Repeat if necessary.  Let me know if it works for you as well as it does for Nolan and me. 

Lay Down Bedtime Game

I don’t know about you, but getting my boys settled for bedtime is not easy.  So, I came up with a game that would require them lying on their belly’s.  They lay on their belly’s and I draw a shape, letter, number or word on their back and they have to guess what it is.  If they get it right we do another one, up to five times.  I also take this time to talk about the day, and/or focus on the letter or word they learned that day.  They also love drawing something on Mommy and Daddy’s back too.  It doesn’t always keep them still, but it does let them rest and enjoy our time together. 

Would you Rather Game?

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Having the kiddos sit down and have a conversation at the dinner table is usually a challenge as they would rather run around with food in their mouth or yell over each other to see who can be heard.  I really wanted to have a conversation at the table so we started playing “Would You Rather?”

“Jackson, would you rather eat shrimp scampi or hamburgers and milk shakes?” “Nolan would you rather build a snowman or build sandcastles?” Not only did they enjoy answering, they also enjoyed asking the questions.  The four of us played throughout dinner and everyone ate their meals while enjoying each other’s company.  I learned a little bit about what the kids liked more and they learned a little bit about Mommy and Daddy too. 

Curious George Birthday Party

As I’ve mentioned in the Pirate Party blog (seen here), I’m very fortune to have the boys’ birthdays so close to each other, therefore every June we can throw one big birthday party.

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For the 4th and 2nd birthday our theme was Curious George.  They both loved the show and I thought it would be great to get ideas from the very Curious George for our very curious kiddos. I started my research on Pintrest and went from there.

The colors were yellow, red and blue.  My first stop was at the fabric store to get some fabric and ribbon to make a banner of Curious George for decorating the back yard. I’m not much of a sewer so my handy mother-in-law made the banner.  I believe it was 50 ft long. I was able to decorate my backyard and cut off a section long enough to drape across their birthday present: a swing set. 

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After collecting bits and pieces from various party stores, I wanted to make some homemade decorations as well.  Those included the Man with the Yellow Hat’s hats, cupcake toppers, customized food signs and custom t-shirts for the kiddos. The Man with the Yellow Hat’s hats where fairly easy.  I bought yellow cups and lined the top of them with electric tape.  Then they were displayed cup down on yellow plates where the food will be served.  Some had sand in them and held the ballon decorations down.

Cupcakes are always a huge treat in my house and these were no different.  Kevin and I made custom cupcake toppers with their ages, 4 and 2, “Happy Birthday Jackson” and “Happy Birthday Nolan” on it as well as Curious George’s face.  I alternated the yellow, red and blue patterns and super glued them on small craft sticks. I called a local candy store and asked them if it was possible to go through their runt supply and grab a bunch of the banana candies. I needed about 4-dozen to add on top of the cupcakes.  This was time consuming, but was definitely worth it when we saw their faces when they saw the cupcakes.

Luckily, my husband worked on the cupcake topper design as well as the custom food signs like Curious George Fruit Cup, Hundley's Hot Dogs and Chef Pisghetti's Pasta Salad. 

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Each kiddo has their own logo and we like to incorporate it on their custom t-shirts for the party.  Because the theme was Curious George, we grabbed an image of Curious George and had that near their age on the body of the t-shirt and their logo on the sleeve. They loved wearing their shirts on the day of the party and throughout the summer.

The Curious George theme and fun started the moment you walked into the yard and were greeted by a picture of Bell Man from Curious George asking you to join us out back.  We had music from the Curious George movie sound track playing and the fun rolled on from there. 

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 During the party, the kiddos enjoyed their new swing set, which took us 12 hours to put together (that’s another story) but they also played games including pin the eyes on Curious George and balloon smash with pool noodles.  I got noodles at the dollar store and cut them in half.  The night before the party I blew up 2 -dozen balloons that I stored in a large trash bag.  When it was time for the game, I gave each kiddo a noodle and dumped the bag of balloons on the lawn.  The object of the game was to hit all the balloons in to the empty kiddy pool.  After they played for a while the next game was to sit on their balloons until they popped and then give me all the broken balloon pieces.  It was a win -win.  Happy Kids, easy clean up.

Although the goodie bags were themed they didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.  I bought Curious George books from Scholastic that were $1 each.  I also added some goodies like pencils, stickers and bouncy balls.  Lastly, I made Curious George flip books that I found on the Internet and added them to the goodie bags.

It was not only a great time for the kiddos but I know their parents also enjoyed being a little curious too. 

Snowy Day Party: Egor’s Birthday Bash

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I’m the type of person that must come up with a plan if I’m going to be the kiddos all day.  I was expecting another snow day, where it was even too cold to play outside and I didn’t want to sit there crying in a corner thinking about sunny days drawing with sidewalk chalk on the driveway.  Therefore, I had to make a plan.  A plan that will keep them busy and out of my husband’s way while he worked at home during the snow storm.  We were going to have a birthday party for Egor, our fish, who apparently turned 1.

After our morning routine, I told the kids to clean up the toys to make room for decorations and games that we will have during Egor’s birthday party.  As they cleaned the floor, anxiously wondering what we will do for the big celebration, I thought that I might be onto something here.  I secretly planned things to do around the birthday party that needed to be done anyway, and was able to keep busy doing things while they were cleaning and decorating for the party. 

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After they “invited” all of Egors friends to join us in the dining room and set up the decorations that they hung up and or made, we made our snacks that we will be serving at the party.  I decide to make one of my favorite snack bites, No-Bake Energy Bites, which I pinned from Gimme Some Oven.  It’s a mixture of Oats, Peanut butter and all things good for you that the kiddos help measure, mix and prepare. 

Next, it was time to get Egor ready for his big party.  We worked together and washed out his tank while we sang Egor some songs.  The boys were very helpful and completely engaged so they weren’t fighting, screaming or whining.  I felt like the real winner so far. 

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We served the snacks and then played some games, which included; Pin the tail on Egor, Bubble drop, and swim like a fish.  Nolan drew a picture of a few fish in a tank.  We then used a fish tail Jackson cut out to pin the tail on Egor.  Bubble Drop was a game where each child had 10 cotton balls.  They used children’s chop sticks and picked up the cotton and drop them into a bowl in the middle of the room.  They raced each other, counted out loud and used their fine motor skills.  Next we threw all the cotton balls on the floor and swam like a fish threw through them while we picked them up and put them back in the bag.  They really enjoyed this part and had fun with it. 

Lastly, I wrapped one of the gifts that I saved from their birthday in June for a “rainy” day.  They opened it and played with it until lunch time. 

Although I was “pooped” after all this, it was a great morning and they were entertained for at least 2 ½ hours.  It was a great way to pass the time, keep them busy and get stuff done all at the same time.  Now, when’s Teddy’s birthday?   

Please Pass the Shaving Cream:

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As the nights are getting longer, we are not playing outside for more than 1 hour. That means it’s time to get creative and not insane.  

Last night I took out the shaving cream and remembered my mom doing the same thing with me.  It was one of my favorite things to do.  Little did I know, it gave my mom some time to get things done and I was hoping for the same result.

I dressed the kiddo’s up in smocks, put a dollop of shaving cream in front of them and they spread all of the shaving cream all over the dark table.  Both kids were enjoying making shapes, animals and letters in the shaving cream.  They also loved getting messy together.  It lasted just enough time for me to get dinner ready and make lunches for the next day.   I would consider that a successful project that we all enjoyed 2gether.

Little Lego People

This Halloween, the costumes were all my husband's idea.  So here's his first blog.  Enjoy.!

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This year for Halloween, the boys and I decided to represent their love for Legos by making Lego men Halloween costumes. The process started by digging through Jackson’s bin of Lego guys to find the perfect inspiration. After finding just the right classic yellow Lego head, and body, we loaded up in the car and headed to Home Depot for supplies.

Once at Home Depot we headed straight for the concrete pier footing tubes. For anyone that doesn’t know what this looks like, picture a huge toilet paper roll that’s just big enough to fit your head in.

After test fitting the boy’s heads in the tubes, we headed for the paint aisle to search for Lego head yellow. Of course we brought a sample Lego head that we held along side the tops of all the yellow spray paint can covers until we found the perfect match.

We then scooted around the store and picked up all the other odds and ends necessary to create our Lego men masterpieces. Once back at home, we started by cutting down the tubes for the heads and cardboard for bodies, and then got right into painting. To finish it off, we printed out the Lego logo and proudly adhered it to their Lego chests.

The costumes turned out great and thankfully the Lego heads were surprising waterproof, which we tested out in the drizzle of Halloween night.  It took several hours to build the costumes, for only about an hour of Trick-or-treating, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, we created a memory 2gether that we’ll have forever. 

Mommy’s Mummies:

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I was looking for a quick and easy Halloween craft for our playgroup and wanted to use some things I had on hand.  This is all you need:

Toilet paper roll

Toilet paper

Googly eyes

Glow in the dark puffy paint

Tape and glue

Nolan and his friends taped the top of the toilet paper to the roll and then wrapped it around down to the bottom.  We taped the toilet paper along the way.  Then, we glued on the googly eyes and decorated with the glow in the dark paint.  They really enjoyed the craft and it broke up the indoor playgroup stir-craziness.

 

Skeletons in the night:

A few months back, we were at our local craft store and picked up some glow in the dark puffy paint.  I was particularly excited about this because I felt like Kevin and I could create things that would help the kids enjoy putting the lights out at night.  We first created treasure boxes, but this time around I wanted to create something to celebrate Halloween, so skeletons it was.

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Kevin drew up a skeleton (but you could also print one out) and then Jackson cut out the skeleton.  Jackson and I worked together to color in the bones with the glow in the dark paint.  It took about 3 hours to completely dry. That night before bed Jackson had fun with his new skeleton buddy in the dark.

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Jackson enjoyed the craft so much that Nolan’s craft today was to make glowing ghosts.  I made today’s letter of the day, which was G.  We traced G’s and then made the ghosts. The circles were actually small letter G’s.  He also enjoyed having a little ghost buddy at night as well.  They were so fun to make and play with. I was actually thinking about making jack-o-lanterns tomorrow.

 

 

Driving in the Car… Beep Beep:

One of our favorite vacation spots is Acadia National Park, which is 3 ½ hours away.  I wanted to make the car ride as fun and relaxing as possible and prevent the restless kiddo meltdowns.  

My first stop was the dollar store.  I picked up 3-4 things per kiddo for the road trip, like workbooks, travel games, Disney themed coloring pages and crayons.  I wrapped each gift with their favorite color tissue paper and saved them for rewards for good behavior to have throughout the car ride.

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I found this great idea on Pintrest from Less than Perfect; Life of Bliss, Kids Clips for Road Trips. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare so I tweaked it a bit. I took 2 clothespins and glued the boys’ favorite color pom-pom on them.  Jackson’s clothespin was green and Nolan’s was blue.  The clothespins were on one side of the passenger’s side visor and if they behaved from one stop to the next the pins would not move.  If they didn’t behave it would get moved.  If it didn’t move to the other side of the visor, they would get a reward, treat or a new game.  The treat was gum or an M&M. The rewards were the gifts that I bought from the dollar store.  The games included, ISpy, a travel bingo that I printed out, I’m thinking of an animal and the color game.

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The color game was created because I wanted to have a game that my 3 yr. old would enjoy.  So, when we were at Home Depot a few weeks before, we went by all the paint color swatches and I grabbed 2 swatches of each primary color.  I put those in an envelope with their name on it. When they received their envelope, they took out the paint swatches and had to call out the things they saw in a specific color. For example, if Nolan saw a car or sign, he had to yell out, “RED car” or “BLUE sign.”  Once they called out the correct color they handed me the swatch.  When the swatches were running out, they would help each other find the last of the remaining colors. The end result was a team effort!

Don’t get me wrong; we had our movies as well.  But as you know, even a 3-hour car ride needs a little more than just movies.  All and all these small things that cost less than $10 were a huge hit and worked throughout the vacation week.   To be honest, it was kind of nice to have all that time 2gether and play 2gether in the car.

 

Hunting and Gathering: An Acorn, Popcorn and Pine Cone Fall Craft:

Lately, I've seen a lot of popcorn kernel decorations for fall. I thought I would use that idea and came up with an inexpensive fall decoration the kids could help with.

It started a few weeks ago when we went on an acorn hunt in our neighborhood. Nolan and Jackson rode their scooters up the street with me and we filled a pail with acorns. We only wanted the perfect acorns with the caps on them. We brought them home and played some counting games with them but they were too perfect not to have for decoration.

The next time we were at the grocery store we bought a $2 bag of popcorn kernels. We had little pinecones from a previous season’s hunting and gathering game. Now we were set to make some fall decorations!

Jackson helped me put together the decorations by adding each layer to the glass vases. Then he walked around the house to find the best spots to place the filled vases. Later that night, Jackson mentioned how much he liked where the decorations were and creating it 2gether. 

Not only do I love bringing nature inside during this time of year, I also got to decorate 2gether with my boys.

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2gether we POP!

Today was a going to be a really hot day and the morning seemed to be longer than normal.  So, let’s do something 2gether and make popsicles so we can enjoy them after nap.   Jackson grabbed the juice bottle, while Nolan and I put out the containers.  Jackson helped pour the juice from a liquid measuring cup and cover the popsicle containers.  Nolan opened the fridge and made room for the popsicles.  Then poof,  the afternoon treat was created 2gether and to enjoy 2gether.

Not only is make popsicles fun to do, it’s so much cheaper and healthier than buying some store bought brands.  One bottle of organic pink lemonade cost $3.50 and makes about 30 popsicles.   Fun, Cheap and 2gether!  What more could you ask for!

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Cheers with Mason Jars!

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A few months back I went to a friend’s house for supper club, where the main attraction is always wine.  She served the wine in different mason jars.  I thought it was a brilliant idea to have mason jars for outside entertaining.  I searched on the web and found a set of four 8-1/2 ounce canning jars for $10. The jars I ordered are durable unlike the few stem glasses that I may have broken in my day. I can use them for entertaining, storage and pickling. They are retro looking, trendy, inexpensive and functional.

2gether we cheers…. with mason jars!

Pirate Party for my Little Mateys

Fortunately, but maybe unfortunately through my boys’ eyes, they are both June babies therefore, I’m able to host one large birthday party for both of them.   I try to pick a theme that will satisfy both personalities and interests, so this year we chose a pirate theme with a hint of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. 

I started researching a few months before to get some ideas on the Internet and, of course, Pinterest.  Once I came up with a few samples of things that would work,, I talked it over with my party consultant (a.k.a. my husband).  2gether we worked on the logo idea and decided to use the Jake and the Neverland Pirate logo but added the boys’ initials to it.  Ok, it was really all Kevin but it went along with what I was thinking.  Let’s give credit where credit is due.

Now that we had the logo it was important for us to keep that consistent throughout the party.  I started with the cupcake toppers.   

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I printed the logo on 2 x 2 thick card stock and trimmed them.  I grabbed my craft sticks and hot glue gun.  I dabbed the top and the middle of the craft stick with the hot glue and adhered the flag to it while pushing the top and bottom together slightly.  This created the bow I was looking for.  After holding it together for 30 seconds or so it was done. 

If you don’t have access to thick cards stock you could go to an office supply store and get the business cards, which will work just as well.

I topped the cupcakes with the sails and a gold treasure coin and, poof they were done.

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We incorporated the logo throughout the party.  We had it on the sails and on their shirts.  After a quick trip to Lowes, or not so quick considering the boys were beating each other up in the middle of the store, we had our supplies for the sails.  The boys were really excited to see how big these sails were going to be.  Jackson was really into helping daddy get the cut out stencil in the right spot for the sail.  Once it was spray painted and dried, with a hint of little footprints on the sail fabric, it came to life.   

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Every year since the boys were born, we have created custom t-shirts for the boys to wear on their birthday.  This year we took the logo, wrote their respective age in a flag and used T-Shirt transfers to make their t-shirts. 

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This year I was over putting together actual goodie bags, so I thought I would incorporate the “treats” throughout the party.  When you walked up to the party there was a pirate costume table with a talking parrot.  The accessories included eye patches, pirate hats, pirate tattoos and, of course, mustaches.  I hung up a solid wood frame right next to the table so guests could take their photo.  There were goodie bags on the table where the guests could put their pirate accessories and future treasures to take home with them.  This table in particular was a huge hit and the focus of lots of laughs, especially for the parents.

Not only do I love throwing parties, I love watching the kids have a great time.  This year themed activities included: digging for treasure, walk the plank and a piñata.

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Even though the party came and went with lots of planning around it, it was all worth it when my Jackson looks at me and says “thank you, Mom, that was the best birthday party”.  At the end of the day, Kevin and I high fived and reviewed all the pictures and saw how many friends and family had a great time, laughed, ate and played.  That day 2gether we played… HARD. 

I have to make note that food planning, cleaning up and threaten bad weather will all be apart of future blogs.  Ohhh a teaser….

 

ABC

It takes about 1 minute to sing the ABCs. So lately, rather than asking my kids to “give me a minute” or “wait one minute”, I've been asking them to sing the ABCs.

Today my youngest had to get some shots, which is never easy. I told him to sing the ABCs. Not only was he thinking about the ABC song, everyone, including the nurse, was singing it. By the time the song was done, he was all done with his shots.

I must confess that sometimes I sing the ABCs to help me get through some stressful times as well. Next time won't you sing with me!

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