Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Peeps (Easter Marshmallows)

I had been wanting to try my hand at homemade marshmallows for a while, so for Easter; instead of getting my favorite Easter candy, Peeps, I tried out this recipe. It was surprisingly easy! I followed the recipe exactly until the end; I sprinkled on the colored sugar after it had cooled for about an hour. It had to have some of that pretty, sweet sugar coated Peep goodness!
A boys side and a girls side.

Dusted the bottom with powdered sugar

I dipped the cookie cutters in powdered sugar between each cut.
 I only cut five bunnies, to give to my kiddos (one messed up), and the rest were eggs. The egg shape was so much easier. I rolled the cut edges in powdered sugar after each cut, and dipped all the extra bits in powdered sugar at the end. None of this deliciousness was going to waste!
My finished "Peeps" and the extra bits.
They are so pretty!
Sadly I haven't gotten to try them yet! I gave up sweets for Lent, but this Sunday I will have to test them out to make sure they're good. I think PT will need help eating his too...

Strawberry Time!

We went strawberry picking again this year! We went a few weeks ago; I think mid April would have been much better timing, because they were not quite as sweet as I like them, but we still bought a couple pounds to make into jam and, of course, eat!
Out picking with the MOMS Club
Sweet as a strawberry!
Picking with Aunt Cricket

Pretty little Lulu
He loves to be outside!
Homemade Canner
I don't have much storage space, or very big eyes on the stove, so I didn't want to buy a huge pot for boiling my canning jars. Instead, I set five wide-mouth canning rims and a silicone pot holder in the bottom of a tall stock pot, and used this to boil my jars of jam. Worked like a charm! 
(You can see the pot on the stove behind the kids below.)

My big helpers
This was a perfect time for JP and Lulu to help out in the kitchen. They loved cutting the berries, and it was ok that some of them where mangled or had bites, since they were all going to be boiled down anyway.
Lulu and JP
Strawberry pop?
PB&J here we come!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm So Blue

Tired baby after 7hr of running around to doctor's offices.
 Poor little PT, he had an awful fall yesterday and broke his leg. I was absolutely beside myself with worry when he got hurt, I tried all my mommy-tricks and when he didn't calm down I knew something was really wrong. I didn't see him fall, so I was thinking the worst, and in that respect it was a relief to find out it was just his leg. It's so hard to see his cute, chubby little leg all wrapped up in a cast, but I am thankful for all the wonderful care he received. I'm thankful to live in a time with x-rays and water-proof casts; and to know that it's just the next few weeks that will be hard, not the rest of his life. He has been so good about it too, he is one tough cookie. He is already trying to crawl on it, just having trouble sleeping and moving about, because it's so heavy. Hopefully by the end of the week he will be scooting around and pulling up again, I don't think it will keep him down for long.
Still smiley!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

PT: No More Pox and Crawling!

The Chicken Pox are gone! For now. 
JP and Lulu haven't gotten them yet, so that's a waiting game, but PT's are done and gone! 

Here he is about half way through his first week. 
Itching like crazy and still so smiley!

Here he is after the itching was over, but still covered in pox.
Look what I can do!
 You can see it didn't slow him down much, he learned a new trick. He is now pulling up and crawling!

Here he is at two weeks. He has a few light spots left, but other than that he is totally back to normal.
Still smiling!
What a busy two weeks!
He is so happy he can crawl into the playroom now.

St. Patrick's Day Gold Hunt for Preschoolers!

First station of the Gold Hunt
I wanted to teach my kids about the saint behind St Patrick's Day, as well as celebrate all the other fun traditions of this special day, so I rolled them all together in to a fun Gold Hunt! 
Gold Hunt stations: #1 Leprechaun, #2 Boat, #3 Pig, #4 School, #5 Shamrock, #6 Pot of Gold
First I researched a little about the life of St Patrick and the reasons behind the traditions, then I picked out six points that I wanted to use for the clues. (I held the Hunt as a MOMS Club activity, so I kept it secular; however it could have been done with a much more Christian focus.) I tried to pick simple items since our little ones have short attention spans and cannot read. I chose pictures that would work in black and white and color (I will explain that next) and then I wrote a short bit of information to tell the kids about the days significance (sneaking the teaching in there!) followed by the clue telling them what to look for next. 

Little Clue Books with six pages
I needed something to keep the little ones busy before the hunt, while we waited for everyone to show up, and to help keep them focused during the hunt, so I created these Clue Books. I took each of the "clue" pictures and made them black & white then printed them out and turned them into little books. When the kids arrived they got a Clue Book to put their name on and color.
Putting up the stations
We held the hunt at a local park that had a playground, soccer field, and picnic area. I, and some great helpers, arrived early to set up. I took the Gold Hunt Stations and wire-tied them onto the fence going around the soccer field. The first five stations were evenly spaced around the field, and set up so that we would end near the picnic area. We set up the Clue books and food at the picnic area and let the kids color and play on the playground until it was time to hunt. 

My little Good Luck charm!

First Gold Hunt Station
When it was time to hunt I collected up all the Clue Books and walked the kids out to the field. We stopped for a minute and I talked to the kids about what Leprechauns were and how they love to play tricks and had set up this gold hunt for the kids. I don't have that part written down, I just made it up on the spot when I realized most of the kids were so little that they had never heard of them before.
One of the tricks with keeping the attention of this age is asking lots of simple questions as you teach; the kids love to feel smart and show off what they know. There was lots of excitement and yelling as the kids joined in with their answers!
First Station
When we got to the first GH station I passed out the Clue Books and read to them from the page. I read them the first clue and showed them how to look in their Clue Book if they were stumped for the answer. The clues were very simple: "What did the pirates use to sail across the water...". Answer: a boat. This corresponded to the boat picture in their book and on the next Gold Hunt Station they were looking for.


When they had all shouted out the answer I pointed them in the right direction and we all ran to find the next station. All the kids were so excited by all of the finding and running and looking. One of the little girls actually screamed "I am so excited!! This is the most fun ever!!". (That's pretty great coming from a three year old.)
While we were out in the field hunting I had a helper set up the last station and the "gold" at the picnic area.

Fifth Gold Hunt Station
Six stations was perfect, because by the fifth one the littlest kids were starting to wander, and we made one last run to find the Pot of Gold!

Run! Do you see it?
Sixth Gold Hunt Station
The last station was put up over the picnic table with the Pot of Gold (yellow popcorn), Gold Bags, and all the food and goodies!

Pot of Gold and Gold Bags!
The Gold Bags were filled with Werther's and Hershey nuggets
I passed out one Gold Bag to each child, then we had snack and let the kids play.
Which one will I choose?
This hunt took a little planning, but it was so worth it for the children's reaction! Everyone had so much fun, even the moms, and I think the kids enjoyed learning a little bit about this special day!