The Chirping Moms

August 28, 2015

Our Special "Move In" Picnic

This summer I've learned that whether you are moving down the street or cross country, it's not an easy feat with kids. In addition to spending a lot of our summer on cleaning, packing and unpacking, emotionally it's not easy for a family. As we got close to the big moving day, the girls started to get nervous and anxious. They were asking a lot of questions, mainly about why they could not come back into their old bedroom and yard. I promised we'd make the new house and yard just as special. 
Also, since we didn't get to do as many day trips or vacations this summer, due to moving, I wanted to plan a fun little "staycation" in the new yard one day. I figured we could do some fun activities and have new snacks and a picnic. It would be a special day and a great way to start new memories in the new yard for the kids. 
To prepare for the "Move in Picnic" I planned a craft that would be a great way to personalize the new yard. I let the girls paint and decorate their own flower pots. Then, when they dried, we planted flowers in them. Maggie and Alex helped find places around the new yard for their flower pots. They were so proud of how the flower pots turned out. We used clay pots, paint, glue and large plastic jewels. 
We played hide and seek to find all the new hiding spots in the new yard and found the perfect spots for all our favorite outdoor toys. 
To prepare for the snacks and special picnic lunch, I went to Walmart. Walmart is this summer's SNACKATION destination. It was the perfect place to stock up on go-to summer snacks for the picnic as well as the ingredients for some of the special lunch ideas I had. 

For a snack, we have the new Jif Whips with pretzel sticks for dipping. For lunch we enjoyed Smucker's Strawberry Jam heart shaped sandwiches!

We really enjoyed our backyard "staycation". It was the perfect way to kick off years of memories in our new backyard! 

August 27, 2015

A Fun Way to Practice Cutting and Counting

 School starts in just a few weeks. Like most summers, I start out with high hopes of getting the kids to do school work frequently. Then, after about the first 2 weeks of summer, we quickly get into a routine of pool time and playing in the yard. My "school work in the summer" routine quickly loses steam. I decided with a few weeks left of summer it was time to get the girls practicing a few of their preschool skills. I wanted to give them a refresher and to get them excited for the year of learning ahead. After taking off 2 months from school work, they were not nearly as eager to get back into it as I thought they would be. The first attempt was filled with a lot of whining. One skill that both of their  preschool teachers told me they had to work on was cutting with scissors. I decided to try and come up with a fun cutting activity for them to do to get ready for "back to school". 
Our new activity is a fun way to practice cutting and counting! Here's what we do:
I put together a pile or zip lock filled with things the kids can cut: scraps of paper, junk mail, string, yarn, foam sheets, tissue paper, etc. 
Then I label a jar or cup with a number. The kids then have to cut up the items and count the pieces they've cut to accurately fill the jars. We have gone as high as 100! 
We now alternate between "free cutting” activities that get them to work on basic control and on activities using actual cutting pages (see Julie's post next week for great, free printable cutting sheets). It's been going really well and after just 2 weeks, I have seen a big improvement.  
Now, of all of her school supplies, Maggie is most excited about her new scissors. She loves these pink Fiskars scissors! If you are looking for great scissors for school, I highly recommend Fiskars Kids Scissors since they are the #1 teacher recommended brand for scissors.  Fiskars Kids Scissors  are really easy for little hands to use and also come in really cool new colors and patterns. My girls call them "fancy scissors" because they are pink and purple and have flowers on them!  Fiskars Kids Scissors also feature an innovative safety edge blade to help protect kids while cutting and a non-stick blade coating for cutting through materials with sticky adhesives, such as glue and tape. We use a lot of sticky back foam sheets for crafts, and Fiskars Kids Scissors make it so much easier to do!  
We are getting back into the groove of school work, slowly but surely. We'll be ready to head to school in a few weeks, and for now we'll enjoy some cutting and counting on the front porch! 

To learn more about Fiskars Kids Scissors, visit their website or follow Fiskars on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

August 26, 2015

A Candy Land Party for Kids

If you're looking for a "sweet" party idea, we've got you covered! My kids love playing Candy Land and we decided to take the classic board game outdoors, for a fun morning with friends. The party included bright colors, games and of course, lots of candy.

Here's what we did: 

For Fun
We had some fun Candy Land themed activities to go  along with the characters on the game board. Then, when guests completed all of the activities and made it to the “castle” they could fill their favor box at the “Castle Candy Bar”. We had tons of fun candy as well as Candy Land stickers and bounce balls, all from Birthday Express. 

The activities leading up to the Castle Candy Bar included: 
Lollipop Toss

Gumball Guessing Game

Gumdrop Wands 

Make Your Own Chocolate: for this, I got plastic chocolate molds and colorful chocolate at a local candy shop. I melted the chocolate and let the kids fill the molds using spoons. This was a messy, but fun activity. 

To Decorate: 
Lollipop Tree Centerpiece
How To: Start with a flower pot and place something heavy inside to weigh it down. Next place a large styrofoam ball inside the pot. Then you are ready to cover the tree in lollipops by sticking the entire lollipop stick into the styrofoam until the whole styrofoam ball is covered. 

The Table
The table was set with a roll of red and white zig zag wrapping paper (instead of a table cloth). Then I used our Candy Land game board as decor on the table. We used coordinating Candy Land paper products from Birthday Express to complete the look. 

Candy Bar
We set up a candy bar that was cute for Candy Land decor and then it doubled as how the kids put together their own favors at the end. 

Our Own Candy Land Path
We used colored paper and tape to make our own Candy Land path along our fence. 

To Eat: 
Cartons of popcorn

Rainbow Pudding Jars 
Ingredients: 4 boxes Instant vanilla pudding mix, milk and food coloring. Extras: small glass jar so you can see the colors and wooden spoon
Directions: Mix the boxes of pudding mix 1 at a time according to directions. When adding in the milk, also add in a few drops of food coloring. Pour at the bottom of a clear cup of jar. Let cool for about 5 min in the refrigerator. Repeat the same step 3 more times with different colors. 

Rainbow Marshmallow Pops
Ingredients: paper straws, marshmallows, chocolate to melt, sprinkles
Directions: Stick the paper straws into the marshmallows. Melt the chocolate. Then holing the paper straw, dip the marshmallow halfway into the melted chocolate. Let any excess chocolate drip off and then dip into the rainbow sprinkles. 

This party was so much fun and all the kids enjoyed this sweet Candy Land adventure! 

August 25, 2015

The HGTV Magazine Blogger Block Party

Last week, HGTV Magazine hosted the 2nd Blogger Block Party! The exciting event too place in New York City at the same time as NY NOW, the fashion-forward, design-driven home and lifestyle show in New York City.  This year the Blogger Block Party had over 500 attendees. The day was filled with awesome demonstrations, including:

  • Editor vs. Blogger Flea Market Flips Challenge featuring Brooklyn Craft Company’s Brett Bara and HGTV Magazine’s Lifestyle Editor Jodi Kahn, presented by Benjamin Moore
  • DIY Art as seen in the DIY Network Blog Cabin with lifestyle expert, Laurie March
  • Easy Paint Fixes with licensed contractor Jason Cameron, presented by Wagner
  • Upcycle & You with green lifestyle expert Danny Seo, presented by Wilsonart
  • Designer Downloads with designer Danielle Colding, presented by Stanton Carpet
  • Design Trends for 2016 with designer Genevieve Gorder
  • Throughout the space, attendees were able to engage with:
  • A Chinet Place Setting Challenge
  • Gold Peak Iced Tea throughout the day
  • The Delta “HappiMess” Terrerium Station
  • The sharable shopping board and lounge
  • Wagner Spray Booth
  • The Benjamin Moore Paint Party
  • A chance to win at the Snuggle ‘Guess the Flower’ wheel and Cuisinart giveaway
  • Products directly such as the Tempur-Pedic day bed, Stanton Carpet, Wilsonart countertop samples, Secret samples and the Nutrish ‘Cat Tent’
  • A socially-enabled step-and-repeat with Instaprint social photo booth

People loved the event! A friend and fellow blogger, Destiny of Suburban Wife, City Life said 
"Watching blogger vs. editor in the Flea Market Flip reminded me that the possibilities to create something new from something old are endless".  

Jason Cameron of the DIY Network agreed that it was a great event: “HGTV Magazine’s Blogger Block Party is a great event!  It’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with bloggers who are such an influence today and give them the opportunity to demonstrate some great products and allow the bloggers to get hands on with them.”

Stay tuned for next year's HGTV Magazine's Blogger Block Party and check out more event recaps by following along with #BloggerBlockParty .

Photos courtesy of HGTV Magazine. 

August 24, 2015

Preparing for Our "Move In Picnic" Adventure

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. We were asked by The J.M. Smucker Company to create some unique tips for using new products. As always, all opinions are my own. #Snackation

We love summertime adventures as a family. From trips to the local park to summer vacations, we enjoy being out and about. This summer, we've done far less "adventuring" than usual. We just moved yesterday, so a lot of the summer we had to stay close to home and spent more time than we would have liked packing. The kids were troopers and now that we are in the new house we are all so excited about what was our biggest summer adventure: a move! 
We still got plenty of travel in: some trips to the beach, a boardwalk filled with rides, an amusement park, aquarium and some really neat farm adventures. In between the kids did a great job of helping us prepare for the move, even helping pack boxes. As the move got closer  they got a little nervous about leaving our house and neighbors. Now that we are in the new house they are excited and starting to adjust. We have quite a bit of work to do over the next 2 weeks, which happen to be the last 2 weeks of summer, so I wanted to plan a few more fun things to do. I realized we haven't had a picnic this summer, so I decided to plan a special "move in picnic" for the girls tomorrow. 
It will be our first lunch time as a family in the new house, so I thought it could be a picnic adventure in our backyard. I am trying to make it special, as a special welcome to our new yard. The girls loved our old yard, and this will be an exciting welcome to their new outdoor space. Since the yard is still "brand new" to us, this picnic will be a fun adventure. We can search for a tree we like to sit near, find the best place for a picnic blanket and enjoy a meal together. I have a few fun ideas on how to make the "move in picnic" special, with some new snacks and lovable sandwich idea. 
To prepare for our move in picnic, I went to Walmart to check out their why it's the new SNACKATION destination. It was the perfect place to stock up on go-to summer snacks for the picnic as well as the ingredients for some of the special lunch ideas I had. 
Check back later this week to see how our "move in picnic" turned out and all the delicious snacks and sandwiches served! 

August 21, 2015

Lunch Packing Made Simple

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Rubbermaid. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

With only a few weeks left of summer, I am trying hard to cherish the fun times that we have together with just the kids & I during the day.  This includes hitting up the swimming pool, long afternoons in the backyard, & staying up past bedtime just because we can.  As much as I am soaking up the summer, I am definitely in back to school mode.  We have done our shopping for school supplies, picked out some new back to school shoes, & ordered the new lunchbox.  With school approaching, it's time for me to get ready for another year of packing lunches.  

I have to admit that I am not a super creative lunch packer.  I often make my kids help me fill their lunch boxes & am scrambling at the last minute to get their lunch packed before we are out the door.  I'm not sure if my son envies the kids that may come to school with a bus-shaped sandwich & fruit shapes cut out with cookie cutters, but I'm not sure that will ever happen in this house!  But there is something that makes lunch packing just slightly easier in this house: Rubbermaid LunchBlox.

My oldest son does not eat sandwiches which can make packing lunches everyday difficult.  One of his favorite things to take for lunch is a simple salad topped with carrots, cucumbers, bacon, & croutons.  The Rubbermaid LunchBlox salad kit is perfect.  It stacks & stays organized in his lunch box.    The Blue Ice pack keeps the salads cool & snaps right to the container.  My son likes all the small compartments to hold his toppings & the leakproof small container to hold his dressing so he can mix his salad at lunch.  

Thanks to the Rubbermaid LunchBlox, lunch packing is simple.  No searching for Ziploc bags & different containers, instead you have everything you need to pack the lunch in one simple set.  And since I'm not one to make "cute" with the actual food that goes in the lunch, I decided last year to get creative & try to remember a special lunch note in there from time to time.  Today, I am sharing some fun lunchbox notes that you can print yourself on card stock paper & put in the lunchbox to make your child's lunch just a little more special!  
Free Printable Lunch Notes || The Chirping Moms

Click here to download & print 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!

All Rubbermaid LunchBlox modular food storage containers are BPA free, dishwasher, freezer, & microwave safe.  There are endless possibilities with the Rubbermaid LunchBlox kits and are a great addition to your cabinets if you are packing lunches everyday.

Free Printable Lunch Notes || The Chirping MomsFree Printable Lunch Notes || The Chirping Moms


August 20, 2015

DIY Minion Costume

DIY Minion Costume || The Chirping Moms

It's hard to believe that we are talking Halloween already, but I wanted to share one of my favorite DIY costumes from last year.  All my son wanted to be for Halloween last year was a Minion.  Of course, I thought it was an awesome idea but there was one problem.  I could NOT find a Minion costume in his size that seemed like something that was ever worth buying or wearing.  So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make him his own Minion costume.  The costume we made was perfect for my son because he isn't big into costumes that you put on & this kind of felt like putting on normal clothes but still "dress-up".  It actually was super easy to do & I am sharing our fun costume with you today in case you have a little Minion lover like my son!  
DIY Minion Costume || The Chirping Moms

DIY Minion Costume
Supplies Needed:  
  • Denim Overalls
  • Yellow Shirt (We used a shirt that he already owned & turned it inside out since you don't really see it too much under the overalls)
  • Yellow Construction Hat, similar to this
  • Black Ribbon
  • Mason Jar Lid
  • Computer Printer & Paper
  • Black Pipe Cleaners
  • Glue Gun & Glue
  • Velcro
  • Laminator, Optional
  • Black Gloves

1.  For the Minion body, it was super easy.  Put on the yellow shirt & overalls.
2.  Add the black gloves for the hands.
3.  For the Minion logo on the overalls, I literally searched Google for Minion logo.  I found one I liked, printed it, & laminated it.  I attached to his overalls with a simple piece of velcro.
4.  To make the hat, I started with the yellow construction hat.  I hot glued a piece of black ribbon around the bottom.  I hot glued pieces of black pipe cleaners to look like Minion hair on the top.  To make the eye on the Minion hat, I again searched Google for eyeball.  I printed one, laminated it, cut it to fit inside the rim of the mason jar, & glued it in.  I then glued the lid to the front of the hat.
5.  He just added some black rain boots we had for shoes, nothing fancy!

Here's to a Happy Minion Halloween!
DIY Minion Costume || The Chirping Moms

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