The Chirping Moms

June 29, 2015

Simple Summer Craft: Ripped Paper Watermelon

Nothing says summer like a big slice of watermelon. Eating watermelon on a warm sunny day is fun, but if you're stuck inside on a rainy afternoon, here's a fun way to enjoy watermelon: make it out of ripped paper! 
This is a very simple summer craft, but it entertains for a while because the kids have to take the time to rip up all of the paper pieces first. 
Ripped Paper Watermelon
Supplies: white paper, pink or red paper, green paper, black paper, glue 

Directions: Have the child rip up the pieces of green and pink/red paper. Then have them rip up the black paper in even tinier pieces (these pieces will make little seeds). On the white paper, have them draw the shape of a watermelon slice or draw one for them. Have them arrange the ripped pieces of green and pink paper inside the slice to form a watermelon and glue. Then glue the black pieces on top as seeds. 

Happy summer crafting! 

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June 26, 2015

5 Occasions for a Special Dress

With two little girls in our house, we have a lot of dresses. Both girls prefer to wear dresses every day. Maggie asks for "soft dresses" and for Alex, the fancier the better. Then there are many days that they want dresses that match (yes, the matching is their idea). Something I've noticed about little girls and dresses, is that size wise, they tend to fit for a long time. We always get 2 years out of them - the first year they may be a bit long or the second year they may be a bit short, but it works. Sometimes even 3 years. With two girls back to back, that can mean a dress can last 4-5 years for us! That being said, if they are not the best quality, there is no way they are lasting that long. So quality is important to me. In addition to all the dresses they wear to play and to school, there are special occasions that call for special dresses. 

We recently discovered the gorgeous dresses from Strasburg Children. Their dresses are timeless and true heirloom items to pass down in a family. Each of their dresses are made exclusively from either 100% Dupioni Silk or 100% Cotton.  They feature hand embroidery, hand smocking, french seams and covered buttons.  Strasburg Children only works with hand artisans to create their products - they want to know each person who makes their dresses. 
Their dresses are perfect for flower girls, Communions, and other special occasions 

We are loving our dresses from Strasburg Children. We've already worn them a few times, and can't wait for more special occasions to enjoy them. With 3 girls between us, Julie and I came up with a list of 5 occasions to invest in a special dress:

5 Occasions for a Special Dress 
1. Graduation
It may have just been preschool, but Maggie's graduation last month was a big deal in our house! She was so happy to have a fancy dress to wear. Her white dress from Strasburg Children looks just like the dress I wore to graduation when I was 5. We've enjoyed looking at pictures together of me graduating as a little girl and her graduation! 

2. Wedding 
Whether your little girl is going to be a flower girl in a wedding or attending as a guest,  a wedding is definitely a great time to find a special dress. 

3. Big Family Event
When the family is gathering to celebrate an important event, it's nice to have a special dress. I love the pictures of the girls in their dresses with Tommy in his Christening gown. Alex kept asking why he got a special dress, not a suit! Other family events: grandparents birthday, family reunion, etc

4. Time with Mom
A special event or outing with mom, or a day like Mother's Day is a perfect time for a special dress for a little girl. I can still remember getting dressed up to go into New York City with my mom to see a broadway show. I can remember getting all dressed up and loving the special time with my mom. 

5. Family Photos
Family photos are keepsakes and often an investment (we're due for family photos, it's been 5 years!).  Having family photos taken is a special time for a new dress. 

Enjoy all of these special occasions with your special little girls! 
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A Favorite Snack for the Whole Family: Yoplait Yogurt

I have to admit that my kids are picky eaters.  My oldest son could survive on his three favorite foods:  cereal, cherries, & peanut butter crackers.  My four year old tries to avoid meat at all costs.  He likes spaghetti noodles, but no sauce.  He prefers tacos with only lettuce, tomatoes, & cheese in the middle.  He likes sandwiches with only cheese.  My baby girl, age 2, tends to eat smaller meals & a few more healthy snacks throughout the day.  I have learned with three young children at home that there are very few foods that all three will agree on.  But thankfully, there is one food that I know is a go-to both for mealtime & snacks and that is yogurt.  


We buy Yoplait yogurt in about every option that they have at the grocery store.  Of course, one of their favorites is the Yoplait Gogurt tubes.  It's pretty hard for my four year old to pass the "superhero yogurt" without a pretty please beg to his mom to add into my cart.  Go-gurts are great for summer snacking.  Throw a box of Yoplait Gogurts into the freezer when you get back from the grocery store.  Grab a frozen yogurt tube before you head out & by the time the kids are ready to eat out and about during a summer adventure, it will be thawed and chilled ready to eat.  


Another yogurt favorite in this household are the character Yoplait yogurt cups for kids.  Each of my kids have their favorite character cup:  minions, ninja turtles, & the Trix rabbit make for happy faces at snack time.  We often have these for afternoon snack, served with fresh fruit or a granola bar.  Sometimes for dessert, the kids will top their favorite Yoplait yogurt cup with a small handful of mini M & M's.  


Not only do my kids eat a lot of yogurt, but so does this mom.  I am always looking for simple & healthy snack ideas, especially in the afternoon.  One of my favorite snacks is a simple cup of Yoplait yogurt with granola & a little honey on top.  I also love the strawberry Yoplait Greek Whips! cups for a refreshing snack in the hot summer days.


Having simple & healthy snack options, such as Yoplait yogurt, is important for me to have on hand in our house especially during the busy summer months.  Yogurt is one snack that all in the household love & it's a great wholesome choice for both the kids and me.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Yoplait®. The opinions and text are all mine.

June 25, 2015

Summer Reading Bingo Challenge for Kids (Free Printables)

With summer here, I needed something to inspire & motivate my little reader (and readers to be)!  I created these fun Summer Reading BINGO charts and am excited to share with you as well.  So here's how it works:

1.  Set a reading time goal for each individual child.
2.  Decide on one or several prizes.  These could be a special trip for ice cream, a new toy, a trip to the water park, or really anything.  Just make sure the prizes are something that the kids really want to earn.
3.  Start reading, reading, & reading.  As they read, the child gets to cross off the chart.
4.  Then comes the prizes.  You could give a small prize for getting BINGO (5 across or 5 down) & a really awesome prize for finishing the whole chart and getting blackout, it's really whatever you decide.  
5.  Celebrate your little reader!

I hope these free & fun printables keep your little ones inspired to read, read, & read!

Click here to download & print the following three BINGO cards or Right click on the image to open it in a new window.  You can save it or print from there.  Make sure to scale it to size when printing!
Summer Reading Bingo Challenge for Kids || The Chirping Moms

Summer Reading Bingo Challenge for Kids || The Chirping Moms

Summer Reading Bingo Challenge for Kids || The Chirping Moms

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June 24, 2015

Family Fun in the Sun

Summer has finally arrived & I couldn't be more excited.  Summer means afternoons at the pool, hamburgers on the grill, & late summer nights in the backyard with pajamas catching lightening bugs.  And for me and my family, there is one vacation that we look forward to every single year:  our trip to Emerald Isle, North Carolina.


Since I was a young child, I have looked forward to my family trip to Emerald Isle.  Growing up in the Midwest, we didn't have easy access to the ocean so we were excited to spend one week a year in Emerald Isle at my grandma's beach house together as a family.  A week of vacation was mostly spent playing in the sand & swimming in the ocean with my siblings and parents.  


I am excited to pass on this tradition with my own children & love watching their excitement as we talk about our yearly trip to Emerald Isle.  It's a chance to unplug from the busyness of today's world & spend some time in the summer together.  My kids are already talking about the sandcastles that they want to build and how they can't wait to jump in the waves.


I can still remember getting ready to hit the beach with my own family.  We would gather all the towels, race to put on our swimsuits, & line up for my mom to apply Banana Boat® sunscreen onto our arms and legs.  It's funny how a certain smell will stick with you for a lifetime.  Now when I apply Banana Boat® sunscreen onto my own children, I am reminded of the same experience in my own childhood as they are experiencing now.  


Banana Boat® sunscreen was a favorite in my childhood & continues to be a brand that we use now.  We prepare just like my parents did:  grab the towels & beach toys, the kids race to get their swimsuits on, & everyone lines up for their sunscreen.  It's not always easy to get my eager kids to stop and get covered in sunscreen, but we try to make the process fun.  We often do a silly dance while applying sunscreen or let them help in the rubbing in process on their bellies or faces. 


Sun protection & taking care of our skin is an important lesson to teach my kids.  Before we head out on any outdoor summer adventure, we always try to remember to apply sunscreen and make sure to bring along on longer outings.  I often keep a bottle in the car and in our swim bag, as well as at home.  

Banana Boat® has great products that offer multi-skin benefits, such as water resistance, ease of application, and comfort.  We often apply the lotion version before we head out and bring the spray sunscreen for quick reapplication at the beach.  Banana Boat® advises users to apply one ounce of sunscreen to you and your kids' entire bodies thirty minutes before going outside and reapplying every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.  


So as you head out on your summer adventures, take time to relax, unplug, & be with your kids.  Whatever sun scene you and your family choose, Banana Boat® has you covered.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Banana Boat® . The opinions and text are all mine.

June 23, 2015

Cottage Cheese Fruit Bowl




It's been over two years since I had my last baby & I still find it hard to get on track with eating healthy and taking care of myself.  Fitness has always been a priority in my life and I find it easy to fit in workouts throughout the week, but I have to admit that I am not the healthiest eater.  I am definitely one to skip breakfast, snack on sweet treats, & put my own nutritional goals on the sideline while taking care of my family.  Recently after joining a new gym, I am challenged to set a few nutritional goals which include:  increase my daily water intake, more protein-packed snacks throughout the day, & eating three meals a day.  It sounds simple, but as a busy mom of three it's not always easy to do!  So when I find a snack I love, I have to share & today, I am excited to share a simple cottage cheese fruit bowl.  It's super easy to make, delicious, & full of protein.

Since I don't eat a lot of meat daily, I have to make sure to find protein rich foods for snacks and meals.  Thankfully one of my favorite foods, cottage cheese, is a great source of protein.  Friendship Dairies 1% Lowfat Cottage Cheese has 15 grams of protein per serving, making it an original superfood.  Cottage cheese has always been one of my favorite foods.  I know it sounds a little strange, but in elementary school when I was creating "All About Me" books, I always listed mashed potatoes & cottage cheese as my favorite foods.  Cottage cheese continues to be one of my favorite foods as an adult & I love to keep Friendship Dairies cottage cheese stocked in my refrigerator for a quick simple snack & meal option for myself.

Cottage Cheese Fruit Bowl || The Chirping Moms

I used to eat cottage cheese on its own, but now I often use it in place of salad dressing or in place of shredded cheese on my salads.  I was excited to hear about the newly launched Friendship Dairies Superfood Generator.  It is a great tool where you can mix and match different fruits, vegetables, nuts, & more to see how much protein is in each bowl that you create.  You start the Superfood Generator with the Friendship Dairies cottage cheese that you would like to use.  Add three mix-ins to create your bowl and once you complete your bowl then you will get a superfood summary.

Cottage Cheese Fruit Bowl || The Chirping Moms

 I tried out the Superfood Generator using ingredients that I already had on hand:  fresh strawberries & blueberries and a handful of almonds.  I first picked the 1% Friendship Dairies Cottage Cheese, which has fewer calories and less fat, but is still packed with protein and calcium.  My first two toppings were fresh strawberries and blueberries, which are packed with antioxidants to help boost my immune system.  My last topping was one of my snack favorites, almonds.  The combination of these foods provides a protein rich snack packed with antioxidants & heart healthy fats that are good for my body.
  
Cottage Cheese Fruit Bowl || The Chirping Moms

Cottage Cheese Fruit Bowl Recipe
Ingredients:  
  • Friendship Dairies 1% Cottage Cheese
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Almonds
  • Optional: Honey

Directions:  Scoop cottage cheese into a bowl.  Top with sliced strawberries, blueberries, & almonds.  Optional:  Drizzle honey on top for a sweet touch.

If you are looking for a protein packed snack, make sure to try out this fruit bowl & try the Friendship Dairies Superfood Generator to create your own Superfood unique bowl!

Cottage Cheese Fruit Bowl || The Chirping Moms

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Cottage Cheese Fruit Bowl || The Chirping Moms

Thank you to Friendship Dairies for sponsoring this conversation.
 #theoriginalsuperfood #thesuperfoodgenerator #friendshipdairies #spon 

June 22, 2015

The Joy of Everyday Dress Up

Summer has just started & we are nowhere close to thinking about Halloween, but today we are talking all about costumes.  In our households, costumes are not just for that special holiday in October.  Our kids are dressed in costumes all year long, any day of the year.  They wear them in the backyard for hours of summer play.  They wear them in the playroom, to dinner, & sometimes even to bed.  But we don't just keep our costumes on at home, our kids are also known to be dressed up for adventures around town.  So today, we are excited to share more about the joy that can be found in simple costumes & bring a great giveaway today from one of our favorite costume shops, Costume Express.


Costume Express has the best assortment of costumes all year long. From your favorite movie characters to astronauts, they have everything you can imagine for your kids to play dress up. Their costumes are high quality at great prices. They always have awesome coupon codes to make the prices even better. Costume Express also has a cute ideas tab on their site. They provide fun ideas for year-round imaginative creative play.

Andrew, my middle child, is known around town for his costumes.  He wears his costumes everywhere.  He likes to wear his fireman costume to the grocery store because that's where firemen pick up donuts.  He wears his Superman costume on our walk to pick up his brother from school, just in case anyone needs saving on the playground.  And you will often find him riding the neighborhood sidewalks on his balance bike dressed as either Captain America, Batman, or Ironman.  He wears costumes so frequently that we have had simple acquaintances from the school playground hand down their old costumes to us.  Although he wears a variety of costumes, he really is our little "superhero".  He is always changing in and out of his superhero costumes, running around to save something in our house.  He has been wearing his classic Superman costume for quite some time, but when he saw the Light Up Superman Man of Steel costume then he knew that would be the perfect new costume for him.  He loves his new light up "S" which just makes him a little more "super"!


Aiden, my six year old, has recently acquired his brother's love for dress-up & is often found being a sidekick to his brother.  If Andrew is Ironman, then Aiden will dress up as another superhero.  If Andrew decides to be the Ninja Turtle Donatello, then Aiden will be Leonardo.  If Andrew wants to be a fireman, then Aiden will be the policeman.  It's really awesome to watch my boys' imagination develop together & to watch them play together for several hours in their own creative minds.  Since Andrew picked Superman, Aiden picked the Batman Brave & Bold Deluxe costume.  With these two new costumes, the boys are ready to solve all the world's villains (or at least their two "bad guy" dogs!)


Little Abby will do anything her brothers do.  So when the boys put on dress-up clothes, Abby is bound to find something she wants to put on too.  With two older brothers, she has a great variety of superheros, Ninja Turtles, fireman, & other fun costumes to pick from but when it was time to get her own costume, her brothers knew just what she needed.  According to Aiden, she needed hew own Deluxe Elsa costume because every girl needs a princess dress.  So when her brothers have been wearing their new superhero costumes this week, Abby runs over to put on her princess dress and join the fun.  Let's just say she is one cute princess superhero!


My girls dress up everyday. Alex is always a queen, a princess or a "fancy lady". She likes to accessorize and even asks to borrow my shoes. If a dress doesn't seem "puffy enough" she layers multiple dresses until it looks just right. The Little Pink Princess costume from Costume Express is her current favorite. This costume has a hoop at the bottom, making the whole dress pop out perfectly. 


The first time Alex put it on and saw how "big the dress was" she was thrilled. She wears the little jacket when she is being a queen and takes it off when she is being a princess. The only thing better than watching her excitement as she dresses in costume, is hearing all the different voices she comes up with based on who she's being that day.

Maggie is always pretending to be an animal. Typically she is being a dog, cat or cheetah. When she is in the pool, she's being a dolphin. She makes a lot of her own animal costumes and you can find her with a tail taped onto her pants quite often. She loves to pretend to be an animal that helps people and is always involved in some sort of rescue. 

Her favorite show is Paw Patrol and she loves all of the characters. She was beyond excited when she saw this Skye costume from Costume Express. Lately, she lives in it. She loves that she has "real dog ears" and runs around the yard helping to rescue Queen Alex. I love watching my girls dress up, play and pretend each day. Their imaginations are amazing.
Now for the giveaway: One lucky winner will receive a $100 gift card to shop Costume Express. You can enter using the Rafflecopter below. We're excited to host this giveaway with 8 other awesome blogs! Be sure to visit their sites to see the fun ways their children dress up.  By visiting all of the blogs, you'll have a chance to see over 25 of the costumes currently available from Costume Express.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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