The Chirping Moms

May 26, 2016

Whooo's Ready to Read? A Summer Reading Kickoff Party

I've heard a lot of talk lately about how to get kids excited about reading over the summer. I've seen lots of ways to keep track of summer reading, keep the kids engaged. Here are a few of my favorite:
But I figured what better way to kick off summer reading than a fun reading themed party? So, Whooo's ready to read? 
Ideas for a summer reading kick off party: 


Decorations: 
We made a reading area in one room in our house. We set up a book shelf and decorated with awesome owl wall decals from Birthday Express. These decals were easy to put up and came off the wall easily too. They were actually in perfect condition when we took them down, and we were able to reuse them in our playroom as some permanent decor! 
For the plates, napkins, flatware and cups, we used the Owl Blossom party supplies from Birthday Express. The reusable owl cups looked so cute on the table and were a nice treat for the kids to take home. 


Activities:

Book Exchange
We asked each guest, in their invitation, to bring a few books they were done with. When they arrived, they added the book to the bookshelf. During the party, the children had a chance to visit the bookshelf and select new books to take home. It was a fun activity and a great way for all the kids to "trade" books. 

Paper Bag Owls
How to: Ahead of time I pre cut out the circles for the eyes, the beaks, and the different colors to add to the "belly". The children at our party were 5 & under. If you have older kids attending, they could easily cut everything out themselves. 
All of the kids got a brown lunch bag to start. We filled the bag with a few pieces of paper towels/napkins to make it look stuffed. Then we folded and glued down the top of the bag to make the shape of the face. Then the kids glued all the cut-out pieces onto the owl. This was a fun craft! 

Scratch Art Bookmarks 
We love scratch art, and I was thrilled to find a kit with pre cut bookmarks. The kids scratched off their bookmarks to make pretty designs and then I helped tie a ribbon on top. 


Summer Reading Trees
For this simple craft, I found foam tree shapes, bought fuzzy owl stickers and then cut out a bunch of green leaves from construction paper. You can also just cut trees out of brown construction paper. The kids get to glue on a leaf each time they read a book (and write the title of the book on the leaf). 
The kids had fun glueing on the leaves for the books we read at the party.  Then they each got an envelope  of leaves to take home to add to the tree as they continued reading. 


Dessert: 

Owl Cupcakes
How to: Bake and ice cupcakes. Separate chocolate sandwich cookies (we used Oreos). Use the sides with the frosting for the eyes. Use the sides without the frosting to make "eye brows" by breaking them in half. Using a bit of cupcake frosting, stick M&Ms in the center of the eyes. Make the owl's nose with a jelly bean. The kids thought these cupcakes were a "real hoot"!


Favors: 
For the favors, I used brown gift bags that I decorate with a tag I made saying "Whoo's Ready to Read". Inside was a new book (searched Amazon for a great deal!), a pencil and stickers. Then we used the bag as a place to put all of the crafts they made and their books from the book exchange. 
This party was a lot of fun and it was a great way to encourage summer reading. Happy reading everyone! 


May 25, 2016

Summer Wine & Recipe Pairings

Happy National Wine Day! Did you know that was a thing? Well if you ever needed an excuse to pour a glass of wine, today is the day! While you're celebrating National Wine Day check out some of our favorite ways to pair wine with the summer recipes below. We recently tried out a few of the Noble Vines wines and really enjoyed them. I listed the ones we tried along with the recipes. Enjoy! 


Summer Wine & Recipe Pairings:
Chardonnay & Apple BBQ Chicken Over Arugula Salad 
For a Chardonnay, try the Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay. It's a creamy, medium-bodied wine with  tropical fruit flavors, including pineapple and coconut.
Apple BBQ Chicken Over Arugula Salad 

Ingredients:
Boneless chicken breast
1 bottle of your favorite bbq sauce
1 cup of apple sauce
Pepper 
Arugula 

Directions:
Mix bbq sauce, cup of apple sauce and pepper in a bowl. Coat the chicken and grill. Dice the chicken and serve over arugula salad. 


Merlot & Mushroom Kale Burgers 
We grill a lot of different burgers throughout the summer. Below is one we like that adds in some kale. They pair well with Merlot. 

For a Merlot, try the Noble Vines 181 Merlot. It's supple in texture, full bodied, long and well-balanced on the palate. 

Mushroom & Kale Burgers With Sweet Potato Fries
Ingredients:
Ground beef patties or turkey patties
Hamburger buns
Kale
Mushrooms
Frozen sweet potato fries (fries pictured are our favorite!)

Directions: Cook burgers on the grill. While they are cooking, cook sweet potato fries according to the directions on that package. Saute mushrooms. When burgers are cooked, top with raw kale and cooked mushrooms. Serve with sweet potato fries. 

Sauvignon Blanc  & Grilled Shrimp 
My favorite summer grilled shrimp recipe is Grilled Shrimp Served Over Lemon Tomato Pasta (see below). The grilled shrimp pairs perfectly with Sauvignon Blanc. 

For a Sauvignon Blanc, try the Noble Vines  242 Sauvignon Blanc. It exhibits aromas of peach, honeydew and citrus, making it nicely acidic while accenting the flavors of grilled shrimp.


Grilled Shrimp Served Over Lemon Tomato Pasta
Ingredients: 
Shrimp
Can of diced tomatoes
Box of spaghetti or linguini
4 cloves Garlic, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon Juice
3/4 stick of Butter
1 Lemon
Pepper

Directions:
Cook pasta according to directions. Season the shrimp with pepper and cook on the grill. Making the sauce: Melt 1/2-3/4 stick butter in a small saucepan. Add about 1/4 cup lemon juice. In a pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Sprinkle some pepper in the pan. Add the can of diced tomatoes and cook for 3 min. Add the shrimp, butter/lemon mix and cook for a few minutes. Pour the sauce & shrimp over the cooked pasta and garnish with sliced lemons. 


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Where to Wednesday: The Biggest Baby Shower


A few years ago Julie and I attended The Biggest Baby Shower in New York City. At the time I was pregnant with Tommy and couldn't believe how many new items there were and how much I could learn after just a few years between babies. I attended the event again earlier this month and again I couldn't believe how many awesome new things there were to see in less than 2 years. If you've never been to the event, I highly recommend attending. 




If you are pregnant and looking to register, I really can't think of a better way to prepare yourself. It's so hands on and the perfect place to ask lots of questions. Even if you're not pregnant but have a baby or toddler at home, the event is awesome. Plus the bag you get to take home is jam packed with things you can really use. I've been to many events like this and the bag they send you home with is by far the best. In the two weeks since the show, I've used so many of the products (Earth's Best diapers, nursing pads, snacks, baby clothes, etc). 




The Biggest Baby Shower is put on by Big City Moms and they always do a fabulous job. There's so much to learn at the event and it's really well organized. 




A few of my favorite things I spotted at the show: 


1. The Doona carseat that turns into a stroller with built in wheels. This was awesome! I had heard about it but never saw it in person. I was surprised at a lot of the features, how light it was and how easy to use. 
2. The Thule bike options. It was fun seeing all of the options Thule has now for riding with the kids. Plus with the setup they had at the show, I discovered I could ride a bike with all 4 kids in tow! 
3. Babybjorn has a beautiful new watercolor line. It was cool to see it all on display together because the new colors are really beautiful. Plus, they had their new carrier on display. Babybjorn has come out with so many awesome carriers since I got my first one almost 7 years ago. 
4. Strollers! I love seeing strollers (don't even ask how many we currently own). So getting to see the newest stroller each brand had to offer was a lot of fun. It's so helpful to see them in person and have someone who knows a lot about them show you all of the features.


Check the Big City Moms site for event dates. If you attend a Biggest Baby Shower you'll have a lot of fun and learn a lot too! 
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May 24, 2016

A Thank You Letter for Teachers {Free Printable}

Can you believe the end of the school year is here already? It feels like we were just posting free printables to use as first day of school signs! I have one child finishing preschool and one kindergarten. I was trying to think of a nice card/ letter for them to give their teachers and came up with this:
They both enjoyed filling it out and can't wait to present them to their teachers on the last day of school. It would be cute to pair it with a plant to go with the "helping me grow" theme. You can download the letter by clicking here. Then just print and enjoy filling it out! 
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Frozen Strawberry Lemonade and a Fun Lemon Craft


Lots of lemons and lemonade - summer staples! On the first warm weekend this spring, we got in the "summer spirit" and had some fun with lemons. We made some bright summery paintings with lemons and then made a delicious lemon treat. My girls had never made their own lemonade and asked if they could "squeeze some lemons". This turned into them asking how you can make the lemonade pink. So next we added strawberries. The ice made it a delicious frozen treat. Here's how we made our frozen strawberry lemonade and our fun lemon craft: 

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade:
Ingredients: lemons, fresh strawberries, ice and sugar

Directions: Wash and chop the strawberries. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze into a blender. Put cut strawberries into the blender along with ice. Add in sugar to taste. Add ice until it's the consistency to like. Enjoy your frozen treat! 

Lemon Stamping: 
Supplies: 1 lemon, paper and shades of yellow and orange paint
Directions: Cut the lemon in half and allow to dry out a bit. Use the lemon and a stamp, dipping it in the paint and stamping the paper. 
My girls ended up using our lemon stamped painting to make Lemonade Sale signs!

As lovers of lemons, the lemon print from Tea Collection this season was a must. Tea Collection's line is Italy inspired this Spring/Summer.  When I saw the print, the first thing I thought of were all of the lemons I've see all over Italy. The girls dresses remind me of this photo I snapped on my most recent trip to the Italian coast:
You can snag the Tea Collection lemons and tons of other awesome kids clothes during their Memorial Day Sale this week (5/24-5/30). Starting today, there is site wide sale! Save 20% and receive totally free shipping (6-10 business day) on all orders. The coupon code is SUNNYSEASON

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May 23, 2016

Crunchkins: A Treat the Family Can Enjoy and Share!


I have a sweet tooth. My husband does too and so do all of children. Well, we're not sure about the baby yet, but if he follows along with his siblings, he'll be asking for chocolate in no time! None of us go crazy with sweets, but we enjoy dessert together all the time. We like to switch it up with what we have, but almost always enjoy something sweet after dinner. Sometimes it's a piece of candy, sometimes ice cream and one of the kids favorites: yogurt with a piece of candy or 2 on top! 
We recently had a chance to try Crunchkins™ dessert-flavored treats. When we heard there was one bag of candy that had three fun flavors to try and share, we knew it would be a fun after dinner treat for the family. Crunchkins™ are dessert-flavored poppers with a creamy coating and a light crunchy center center. There are three yummy flavors in each pack: Birthday Cake, Fudge Brownie and Glazed Donut. 
When we first tried them I had everyone try to guess the flavors. Maggie guessed the brownie flavor, which was no surprise because brownies are her favorite dessert! I was surprised how much each of the poppers'  flavors actually tasted like the dessert they were meant to. We're lucky that each family member seemed to like a different flavor best, so the "share pack" was easy to actually share. 
Crunchkins™ are dessert-flavored poppers with a creamy coating and a light, crunchy center. The Crunchkins™ “Share Packs” are 3 oz and contain an assortment of all three Crunchkins flavors. You can find them at Walmart stores nationwide. Be sure to check out the Crunchkins™  website to learn more about them. 

We all enjoy sweets, but we definitely enjoy them even more when we're spending time as a family. Doing things like "guessing the flavor" of Crunchkins™ made our dessert just a little sweeter! 


I was selected for this opportunity by Crunchkins™ as a member of Clever Girls but the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

May 20, 2016

Friday Favorites: Stride Rite Phibian Sneaker Sandals

Summer is just around the corner & we couldn't be more excited!  It's almost time to store away the backpacks, say good-bye to daily school schedules, & get outside to play.  With summer starting next month, I am on the look out for the perfect summer shoe for the kids this summer.  My kids need shoes that can be worn out to the park, but also worn at home while running through the sprinkler.  My kids need shoes that can get dirty as they jump through mud puddles, but are easy for this mom to clean.  My kids need shoes that are easy to get on and can easily stay on their feet for outdoor play.  I'm excited to say that I have found a great fit for our family, the Stride Rite Phibian shoe.



The Stride Rite Phibian shoe is made2play.  With another month left of school, I love that these shoes are a sneaker-sandal, a mix of both sneakers and sandals!  They have the feel of sandals, but the look of sneakers so they can easily be worn to school on the hot late days of spring before summer arrives. We spend a lot of time in our backyard, so we need sneakers that are great for just old-fashioned play.  The Phibian shoes are just that.  They are perfect for running around the yard, climbing the play structures, & practicing sports with one another.  The kids love that the shoes are lightweight allowing them to run fast!


But once the weather warms up a little more, there is one thing we love to add in our playtime.  Water.  The kids love to run through the sprinkler and jump in puddles.   It will be time to hit the hiking trails, beach, & the pool.  So not only do the kids need a good sneaker, but we also need a sandal that is good for wet ground and water environments.   The Stride Rite Phibian is just that.  The breathable shoe makes it easy for kids to run around in water, but is also created to dry quick so your child doesn't have to waltz around town with wet, soggy shoes!


There is a reason that you need a shoe that is machine washable during summer:)  Every kid loves some good-old fashioned play in mud, but no parent wants to deal with muddy shoes that need to be thrown away.  Courtney's girls recently got out in the mud and boy, did they have some fun.  Thankfully, with a little spray of the hose & throwing the shoes into the washing machine, the shoes turned back to their bright color!  The Stride Rite Phibian shoe can be easily cleaned and is made out of a quick dry material that prevents sogginess and a stinky smell.   


There is one other requirement that I have about summer shoes.  They have to be fun & playful for summertime!  The Stride Rite Phibian shoe is just that.  It comes in a variety of fun, bright colors that are perfect for summer.  Andrew picked out the Spiderman Phibian shoes so he can quickly scale our rock wall on the play set & run fast in his lightweight sneakers, just like Spiderman does.  


The Stride Rite Phibian shoes are not just great for older kids, but also wonderful for young toddlers.  The velcro closure on the top and bungee laces ensure a secure fit for children of all ages.  With the shoe's slip resistant sole, parents don't have to worry about their children slipping while running on wet pavement or other slippery surfaces.  Tommy is able to run, jump, & skip around with his big sisters with his very own Phibian shoes.  The Phibian shoes are also super lightweight which is great if you are planning to travel & want to keep your packed bags light!


The Stride Rite Phibian shoe is perfect for summer.  It allows kids to get outside and really play.  They can run in the yard, play in the sand, & jump in the ocean all with their new Phibian sandal-sneakers.   This shoe is one that your kids can truly wear all summer long.  

You can find the Stride Rite Phibian shoe at StrideRite.com and at all Stride Rite stores.  To learn more about Stride Rite, make sure to visit the following links:
Website  :  Facebook  :  Twitter  :  Instagram  :  Email Sign-Up  :  Rewards Program

 
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Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Stride Rite.  As always, all opinions are of my own.  




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