Make-It Monday: Pumpkins at Bath Time

Before I show you anything I first have to say that this was 100% not my own idea. I got it right here from a blog called Growing a Jeweled Rose. If you have never been there, you should go there. It has awesome activities to do with your children. I love it!

We have done this for a couple of years now and it continues to be a hit, so I thought it was worth spreading around. You just cut shapes out of black, green, and orange craft foam sheets. You can get these at Wal Mart, Target, or pretty much any craft store. Once they get wet they stick to the bath walls and each other.

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My kids also love it when I dye the bath water with food coloring for some extra Halloween fun.

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My toddler likes to make faces on the pumpkins. My 18-month-olds like sticking the pieces all over the tub, or just squishing them in the water. In fact, Jack and Ben were going through a very anti-bath phase until I busted these pumpkins back out and now I can’t keep them out.

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Here’s a whole collection ideas from Growing A Jeweled Rose for Halloween themed baths.

Enjoy!

Toddler Thursday: Gardening with Twins

Fall has finally arrived here in Central Texas, though you’d hardly know it by the hot, dry weather we’ve had lately.  Still, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel as we approach the middle of October. My twins turn three this month, and they are very interested in playing outside and being involved in everything I’m doing. It’s put me in the mindset of starting a garden with my kids this fall – a goal I’ve had since before I even had kids. (In the northern climes, most gardening happens in the spring, but here in Texas, where are summers are far more extreme than our winters, the best gardening happens in October and November.)

Gardening is a great activity to do with toddlers as they start to develop their gross motor skills. It allows them to get fresh air and some sunshine, it’s physical, and, with a bit of luck, they can watch their work blossom into fruition! (See what I did there?)

It’s a good idea to consider a plan for your garden before you break ground. First, it might be helpful to choose a theme that appeals to you and your kids. You could choose edible plants, like herbs and veggies, to encourage your kids to try new flavors and eat more plant-based foods. You could decide on a garden full of plants that attract beautiful butterflies or hummingbirds. You could choose all the purple plants you can lay your hands on.  In our case, the garden we’ve been working on is inspired by the sense of touch – plants with interesting textures, herbs that emit lovely smells when the leaves are rubbed, and generally anything that allows kids to get hands-on with the garden.

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

You’ll also need to think about the conditions of the area in which you’re planting. We’re working in an existing bed which happens to be located in a shady part of my yard. I’ve done some research to determine which plants with interesting textures would grow well in that environment in my region, and when I went shopping, I took a list with me. Herbs are great for a touch garden, but most herbs require lots of sun, so I had to adjust my list accordingly. Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantia) is a great choice, and one that I have experience growing. It has thick, velvety leaves and spreads into an attractive ground cover. It even has a pretty purple bloom! I also chose Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), which blooms feather-soft in the fall,  globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), which has a bright papery bloom, and a few mint plants, which give off a lovely smell and flavor when touched. (Note: mint is inclined to go wild under favorable conditions. I planted mine in a pot which I submerged in the ground to reduce those tendencies.) Leave a little room open in the budget for getting new ideas once you get to the nursery, and consider a few inexpensive annuals to fill out your garden with colorful blooms. Your kids can help you pick out some plants that they find interesting, as well – however, you’ll want to be mindful not to buy anything overly toxic. This is often noted on the plant’s information tag.

Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima)

Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima)

Plants grow best in soil that has organic matter mixed in. The easiest way to achieve this is to dig your bed and mix the dirt with compost. Your children can help by using a scoop or a pot to pour compost onto the dirt as you turn it, or by using a trowel or small shovel to turn one corner of the bed. Once your dirt is prepared, you and your kids can dig holes for the new plants, pre-watering the holes, spreading the roots a bit as you pull them out of the pot, and depositing them in their new homes. Watering in the plants is also, not surprisingly, a very popular pastime in my garden.

fairy furniture

Fairies throw parties in our little garden every night after bedtime.

If you have some space and are interested in adding a visual element to your garden, you might consider adding a fairy garden. I found a local nursery that sells inexpensive fairy furniture, but you and your kids can make your own fairy decorations, as well. Consider painting a rock or a pinecone and leaving it as art for your garden’s faeries to enjoy! Place a marble in the ground as a gazing ball. If you have older kids, they might enjoy building and painting small wooden structures (like you might find at a craft store), or even making their own with twigs and bark. You’re limited only by your imagination!

Keep your plan a little flexible. Let your kids have as much control as is feasible over the placement of items in your new garden, even if it doesn’t match your mental image. With my three year olds, their attention span runs low before the work runs out, so I can do a little bit of editing to their work, but this is a shared space for us, and I want the final product to reflect that. Ultimately, if you’re gardening with kids, the final garden is secondary to the process of creating it.

Garden in progress.

Our work in progress.

Halloween Costumes for Multiples

Are you seeking inspiration for Halloween costume ideas? Check out our Pinterest board. If you’re already full of ideas, please share them with other parents in the comments!

Follow How Do You Do It? Blog’s board Halloween Costumes for Multiples on Pinterest.

If you’re all set on the costume front but want to check out holiday crafts and activities, we have a board for those too!

Follow How Do You Do It? Blog’s board Halloween Stuff – non-costume (HDYDI) on Pinterest.

Butterfly Morning

My little Robin, from her earliest days, has been a quiet poet. She would wake up before Hailey, as a baby, be happily lifted from her crib into my arms, and look out the window for a long while at the sun rising over the mountains. As she has grown, she has continued to show me that she is always watching, taking in her surroundings with a keen eye. I see what catches her attention; it is the beautiful things. A flower blowing in the breeze, a colourful earring dangling from someone’s ear, a canopy of trees overhead.

butterfly2I have been making more efforts to go on adventures with the girls one-on-one. This past weekend, I brought Robin out on a rainy morning for a donut at Timmie’s and a tour of the biology department’s greenhouse at Carleton U, which was hosting a tropical butterfly exhibit. It was free, not too busy when we arrived, and fulfilled its advertised promises of colourful butterflies landing all around us. I was so happy that I could bring my little Robin to such a beautiful, engaging activity.

Of all my girls, I knew she would like it the best, so we went just us two. She tried holding an orange quarter with a butterfly perched on top, but she quickly grew nervous and dropped it. She told me she preferred to look and not touch, so that’s what we did.

butterfly5We acted as though we were the only two there. I hoisted her up in my arms to get a better view, and together we watched colourful butterflies flutter and land all around us. I watched her delicate hand extend to point out a butterfly quietly eating flower nectar, and met her gaze when she looked at me with amazement. It was a moment I hope I never forget.

We didn’t talk a lot, and I knew she wouldn’t want to. It wasn’t a morning to quiz her, or encourage her to work on her speech. We observed, we found beauty, we shared looks of wonder. We turned our heads up to see the busy cloud of fluttering wings darting around the ceiling, captivated by the flashes of colour.

butterfly4A butterfly was passed onto my hands, so I squatted down to bring it close to her. She stepped back, hesitant in case is flew anywhere near her face, but stood close enough to see its antennae, its legs, its slowly opening and closing wings. For a moment, I saw the essence of childlike wonder erupt over her face, evidenced by her shy smile.

butterfly10It was only a morning, but without anyone else to detract from our moments together, I felt like I learned so much about my younger twin girl. My hope was that she would feel special, attended to, and worthy of my undivided attention. I think she did, as much as I can gather from her limited speech. What I know for sure is that I have a very deep soul in my Robin, and I am the lucky one for being chosen to mother her beautiful little spirit.

 

Sarah is the mother to four girls, two of whom are identical twins Hailey and Robin. They were born in the Yukon in a very small hospital at 35 weeks, and though they were small, they were mighty. She now lives in Ontario, where her high school sweetheart husband works very hard, and she stays home with the girls, freelance reporting on the side. In her past life, she was a journalist who covered everything from fast-paced federal politics to cats stuck in trees. Her writing has appeared in local newspapers and magazines, and in national publications like the Globe and Mail and ParentsCanada Magazine. She is a yogi, a mediocre cook, an awesome Beyonce dance move imitator, and an avid blogger at Cure for Boredom.

Parenting Link Up #39

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Parenting Link Up Party

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party. Here, you have an opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It? and What’s up Fagans?.

How do you do it? is a community of mothers of multiples. We believe in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in lasting friendships, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not. Here, we invite you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, and your insights with our online community here at HDYDI and What’s up Fagans?.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Plus, ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? is co-hosting our link party on her blog as well. One party on two blogs means double the exposure and community.

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: How do you handle conception, pregnancy, prematurity, birth, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!


This week’s featured posts:

Thanks to everyone linking up every week! We love reading your posts and seeing the connections that bloggers make through this linkup

Last month’s most clicked post was from Lisa at Amateur Nester. She interviewed  Stork Parenting‘s Michelle and Chris Miller about their 4 year rollercoaster of unexplained infertility. Now I really want to read Michelle and Chris’s recent book, Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility.

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I loved Michelle’s post on teaching kids to pack their own lunches over on Sunshine and Hurricanes. One of Michelle’s brilliant ideas is to provide her kids with three snack jars. One contains sweet snacks, another salty, and a third granola bars and fruit. Each child is allowed to pack a snack from each of the jars daily. Seriously, brilliant!

Snack ideas

For the blogger moms out there, Crystal’s post on blogging time management on Tidbits of Experience is a must read! The comments are worth reading too, if you’re looking for ways to fit blogging into your life without taking away from living the life you blog about!

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If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and display it proudly on your blog!

How Do You Do It? Featured Post

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Rules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

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  4. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
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Make-It Monday: Halloween Decorations with the Littles

Since I graduated from elementary school, I haven’t been much of a fan of Halloween.  Having kiddos, though, made me appreciate the holiday in an entirely different light.  (Really, I appreciate every holiday in much more depth…an opportunity for themed crafts?  Sign me up!)

I just decorated our mantle and shelves for Halloween, and I still love the little wreath the girls and I made about three years ago, when they were a little more than 2 1/2.Halloween1  I bought a package of foam pumpkin shapes from the dollar bin at Target. I asked the girls what kind of expressions they would like…a smile or a frown…and I cut some shapes from black felt.  I let the girls sort through my button collection to find three sets of two buttons.  And I cut a green leaf from some scrap foam.  The girls were able to glue the findings in place, and I attached them to a small grapevine wreath I found at the craft store.  I added a little bit of polka-dot ribbon to finish the look, and this little creation has been adorning our den each Halloween since.  I love the different expressions on the pumpkins’ faces!

Even more than our wreath, I love our collection of Halloween family pictures.  I didn’t set out for this to become a tradition…the girls’ first Halloween I just happened to take advantage of a neighbor walking by and I asked her to make a picture of the four of us.  Now, I make special arrangements to have someone take our picture.  I love adding a new photo each year!

I had the idea a couple of years ago to paint wooden frames to display our family pictures.  I bought these unfinished frames at the craft store for $1 each (usually less a 40% off coupon!).  The girls have helped me paint the solid grounds, but the finishing touches I leave for me to enjoy.  I love coming up with a new frame theme each year.

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I guess you can say I’ve gotten into the Halloween spirit over the past five years.  As long as the girls are content to wear adorably cute (not-so-scary) costumes, this might even become one of my favorite holidays.

Do you decorate for Halloween?

MandyE is mom to 5 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Make-it Monday: Cookie Costumes

Last year was my twins’ first Halloween. Big Sis was 3.5, and her brother and sister were 11 months old. It was my first chance to come up with coordinating costumes for my kiddos, and I ran with it! They were dressed as Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2– top hat, white gloves, blue wigs, and all. We went to Picture People for photos, and I now have irrefutable evidence of how cute they were. (To give you an idea, one picture poses Big Sis in an armchair reading The Cat in the Hat to her brother and sister seated on a bench.)

Obviously, I hope to continue these coordinating costumes for as many years as I possibly can.

This year, now that my eldest is almost 4.5, with many ideas of her own, I included her in choosing their Halloween costumes. I gave her some ideas, but ultimately we decided together. I suggested she be a chef, she changed that to baker. She wanted her siblings to be cupcakes, I changed that to chocolate chip cookies.

Baker’s costume was easy. I found a chef jacket and baker’s poofy white hat and ordered them on Amazon. But after scouring etsy and pinterest, I decided to make the chocolate chip cookies myself.

Materials for two cookie costumes:

1 yd light brown felt

2 pcs dark brown felt

1 yd batting

1 spool dark brown thread

2 yd dark brown thin ribbon

1 yd dark brown thick ribbon

I first found a template to use for my circle cutouts. After looking around the house, I found this SuperSeat base that had the diameter I was looking for, about 16.5 in. I traced it with a Sharpie and cut out 4 disks at a time from a 1/2 yard of felt that was folded over twice. I did it again with the other 1/2 yd.photo 1

Then I freehanded the chocolate chips to the dark brown felt. These came in 9×12 sheets. I pinned them together and cut them out 2-ply.photo 2

Next I randomly pinned the chocolate chips to four of the round circles. I could have attached them with a hot glue gun or even spray adhesive, but I chose to actually sew these on. It was time consuming, but felt much more solid.photo 3

In the middle of the other 4 round pieces I sewed on a 1/2 yd length of the thin ribbon, just attached at the center about 6 inches. These are the straps to tie on the sides. On top I sewed in the shoulder straps, about 9 inches of the thick ribbon each. (I heat sealed all the ribbon ends so they don’t fray.)image

Then I pinned the chocolate chip side to the strap side, wrong sides facing out, making sure the side ties line up. I decided to sew all the way around instead of leaving a side open for stuffing. That’s because I’m horrible at hand-sewing, and I knew that with my skill the cookie would turn out lopsided.image_1

Instead, I chose to cut a slit under the strap, and pulled the cookie inside out through it. I did end up hand-sewing these closed, but there would have been no problem leaving them open.image_3

I stuffed it using the batting I cut from the same SuperSeat template, after trimming it about an inch around for seam allowance. I did this four times. My guess is that they took about 4 hours over three separate nights.image_2

The completed cookies consist of four cookie pads, one for the front and back of each twin, attached at the top with ribbon, and tied on the sides with ribbon. Here’s Baby Boy sporting his new Halloween costume. Baby Girl decided not to cooperate. photo 4

How cute are they? I’m just giddy thinking about Big Sis in her baker’s costume, holding the hands of her chocolate chip cookie brother and sister! Next step, booking a photography session.

lunchldyd has her fingers crossed that all her kids cooperate for another set of adorable pictures. She is grateful that her current part-time teaching schedule is allowing her to think creatively and enjoy time for her crafty pursuits.

Toddler Thursday: Easing Fears at the Pediatrician

The holiday just before my girls were three, they got a toy doctor kit.  Immediately, it was a huge hit.  They checked out all their babies, and each of their stuffed animals took a visit to the vet clinic.

Dr kitWith their three-year check-up soon approaching, I decided to get in on the pretend action, admittedly with a bit of an agenda.

I made a big deal, talking about each of the different instruments, what they were used for…and how they were just like the ones Dr. F, our pediatrician, uses.  We took turns being the doctor, the nurse, and the patient, and I made a point to work into the scenario that someone was scared.

“I understand you feel scared, Mr. Bear, but you know Dr. A.  She’s been taking excellent care of you since you were a tiny cub.  First, she’s going to listen to your heart.  What a cool stethoscope!  Ooh…is it cold?  Does it tickle?  I know it does hurt.”

“Now she’s going to take a little peek in your ears.  It’s OK…there’s no need to be scared!  She’s just checking to make sure you didn’t lose any bananas in there.”

“This little band measures your blood pressure, how fast your blood is dancing around inside your body.  Is your arm ready for a hug???”

The girls got very accustomed to the routine, and soon they were repeating it to all their babies.  They were very encouraging, even to the most scared bear cub.

The real key (advice I got from a friend) was the positioning of the shot.  There’s truly nothing to be afraid of as far as the exam goes, right?  But shots hurt…no way around it.  And that’s the approach I took with the girls.

Mr. Bear, it’s time for a shot.  It will hurt, but ONLY for a second!  Then you’ll be ALL DONE and then we’ll go do something fun / get a sticker / have an ice cream [insert reward of choice]!”

My girls are now almost six, and they haven’t cried at the pediatrician — even for shots — since before they were three.  Empowering them with information and perspective has made visits to the pediatrician nothing to sweat.

(And, as a side note, my girls still play with their doctor kit almost daily.  “Vet” is a huge theme at our house.  That’s what both girlies say they want to be when they grow up, and they make sure to get lots of practice.)

MandyE is mom to 5 1/2-year old twin girls, A and B.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Make-It-Monday: Taking Control of my Life

Or rather, TRYING to take control of my life.  Our oldest daughter just started Kindergarten, the twins are 2, my husband has a 2 hour commute to his work, and when I am not staring in the role of “mom”, I have a job too.  Life was getting (getting?) out of control.  And I an a big fan of control.  Control is good.  Very good.  Oh, and to cap off the madness, we just moved.  So not only are things not quite as under control as I would like, but I can’t find anything!

The kitchen in our new house is great.  I think it is supposed to be a kitchen and family room all in one, but we use another room as a family room, so the kitchen just has a big empty space.  And with 2 year old twins, that is all I need.  The kitchen also has our kindergartener’s desk.  And since the laundry room is right off it and the stairs come into it, this room is truly the heart of the house.  So it is the perfect place for me to set up a command center.

This wall started as a hodge podge – I put up a calendar, took it down, a message board, took it down, until i finally got this.  And I love it!  It is bright and colorful and kid friendly. It has something for everyone, and it can grow up with us.

It was key to me to have something for the twins in the command center.

This is a simple frame from Michael’s Crafts with the gloss popped out. I put in a piece of sheet metal that I covered with some fun scrapbook paper. And voila! We finally have a magnetic surface in the new house! The twins spend a lot of time playing with this magnetic animal thing. When it gets boring, we will swap it out for magnetic letters or something…

I also made a “grown up” version of the same magnetic board, also with no glass, sheet metal and pretty paper. This one is higher up and perfect for notes I need to keep, like birthday party invitations, and messages from school.

Below the grown up magnetic board is a ribbon board I found at a tag sale a few years ago.

This is perfect for storing papers that the kids can have access to. The little guys like seeing their pictures in there too. And that lottery ticket is a winner! We need to turn that in, it has been there a LONG time!  Do lottery tickets expire?

I purposely hung the clock really low. Emily is working on telling time and we use that clock often (little hand on the 7, big hand on the 12, let’s get read to take the kids to day care!) And next to that is my picture frame calendar.  This is one of my favorite projects.  I made it a few years ago.  That is a simple 8 slot picture frame.  Here I left the glass in, but instead of pictures, I put in scrapbook paper with days of the week stickers.  Grass works just like a dry erase board!  So this is our weekly calendar.

And in the small space to the left of the calendar, I have my trains – Emily, Spencer and Sidney Thomas trains!

it is a great little fun happy space for us, and we love it! AND, it is keeping us (me) organized. I know what days Emily has gym (and has to wear sneakers in stead of her beloved high heels), I can keep play dates organized, and I have a place to keep those little things you need and would lose if they were anywhere else! So far, we have taken command of life!

This command center has definitely helped me get and stay more organized.  I am not sure it is makes me more organized or just gives off that illusion, but I love it, the kids love it, and we use it!

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 5 year old kindergartener and boy-girl 2 year old twins.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

Foodie Friday: Oven Pancake

Hot out of the oven

Puffy oven pancake

This has become a staple breakfast in our house over the past month or two!  I love this recipe because it is easy to make, has a decent amount of protein, isn’t overly sweet, and is flexible in that you can use whatever fruit you have on hand. Our almost one year old triplets gobble it up every time!  We’ve made it with peaches, peaches & plums, and bananas.  Here’s the banana version I made today:

Put these ingredients in the blender & blend until smooth:

4 eggs

3/4c milk (we usually use almond)

3/4 flour (works just fine with gluten free flour mixes too!)

1tsp vanilla

dash of salt

1-2tbs of sugar (we usually use coconut sugar or maple syrup)

2tbs melted butter or oil (I typically use coconut oil)

Melt 1-2 T butter in a cast iron skillet and add 2T sugar (this carmelizes the sugar) and add a layer of thinly sliced fruit covering most of the bottom of the pan.

Pour the blender contents over the fruit and bake at 425 for 20-25 min.

I love to serve it with a big scoop of yogurt, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon.  It is also good with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

pancake with yogurt, maple syrup & cinnamon

My favorite way to eat it!