Category Archives: Toddler Magic

Homemade “Ice Princess” Twirly dress

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So, this photo is actually from a year-and-a-half ago…when I made this little dress-up number from pretty fabrics and pieces that I was slowly collecting. It worked out, with the colors that happened to be a theme, that I could call it a princess dress or an “Elsa” dress and get Pen Elaine really excited about wearing it!

I think it all started when my Honey and I were checking out a random antique shop out of town and found a huge collection of vintage ribbon, trim, etc. from an old fabric store that had gone under and sold this antique shop all the remaining merchandise. One of the items I couldn’t resist was this wide, lacey-looking elastic trim. It’s stretchy! So, I sewed it into a double circle, with two layers for the front of the dress, to be the top/bodice for a 3-year-old’s twirly dress.

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Next, found this dreamy, ethereal fabric with little rosettes covering it, in this pale bluish-greyish color that I knew could be magical for something…and when I finally sat down to make a little dress, I gathered the to of the fabric and sewed it onto an elastic band, to be the twirly, poofy skirt of the dress.

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After roughly sewing the top to the bottom, I covered the seam with another ribbon I had bought – it’s grey velvet. Finally, for little adjustable straps, I sewed intricate ribbon going up from each side, front and back, as seen below, to be tied over the shoulders to fit. These gave it a bit of an Nordic princess or Czech look…

 

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I whipped this out as fast as I could, since it’s just for a fun dress-up clothing. She ended up getting to wear it for her first dance recital at the end of a little dance camp, since they got to dress up like princesses. For a while, she wore this over outfits all the time 🙂 Aside from this, though, I mainly limit myself to one dress a year for Easter or something, ha!

I am so thankful to have a little girl for whom to sew! For me, the fun in creating is sharing it with someone you love. As I enjoy sharing the beauty of creativity and art and God’s creation with my littles, I think how God must find pleasure in sharing the wonderful world that He created with each of us, His children.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

 

 

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Toddler Routines with Photos

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Depending on our current “phase,” we have certain times of day that somehow make me crazy. Kids are kids, and it’s my own fault, but I let the little frustrations or little moments of resistance eat away at my patience instead of embracing the slow pace and “inconvenience” of motherhood to littles. It’s in those moments that God is trying to teach me and refine me. However, there are also times when we really need to get somewhere at a certain time. In those cases, we were inspired by ideas from Training A Treasure to establish a routine, and to implement that routine, take photos of our kids actually going through each step of the routine to make a chart.

First, I used this strategy for getting out the door. When Pen Elaine was younger and Snuggly Man was a tiny baby, getting out of the house in a reasonable amount of time and without losing my patience was a major challenge. This time of day was apt to chaos and far from peaceful, and the routine really helped cross that hurdle. Over time, the routine changed and the need for a specific routine waned, but at some point, we’ll probably make a new one for a refresher when Snuggly Man needs to have “jobs” for getting out the door.

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By the way, to make my little photo chart, I used my smart phone! I simply took the photos, used picstitch (app) to organize them into a collage/order, then added title and artwork with Overgram (app), and printed them straight to my wireless printer! Good luck!

More recently, we have established a morning routine for after my Honey leaves the house. This had become a time of frustration for getting Pen Elaine to help clean up after breakfast and get ready for the day. I especially wanted to change our morning ritual so that we had moments of connecting in a close, positive way before leaving the house for morning commitments that would start up this fall. I found myself losing patience and getting irritable because Pen Elaine was fighting me on her morning jobs of cleaning under the table and making her bed, but I knew I needed to make time for close connection with her in the midst of getting required chores done. I wanted to start the day well with her and Snuggly Man, with servings of grace, love, and responsibility. So, Pen Elaine and I worked together to decide what our morning routine would include. We made our kitchen cleanup time more fun by putting on music before we started, then we took time to read a book together before starting on our next set of responsibilities: getting dressed and making beds. Finally, we ended our routine with a game of hide-and-seek, one of our favorite activities 🙂 Now, we actually get through our morning chores faster than before and with a LOT less grumbling and arguing. Plus, we feel like a team on a mission together with lots of room for fun and love along the way.

Philippians 2:12-15

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

Painting with Yogurt: the sequel

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When Snuggly Man wakes up from his afternoon nap, he is in a bit of a cuddly funk until he has had a snack and finished waking up. During one of these late afternoon slumps, Pen Elaine and I decided it was the perfect time for some messy color and tactile exploration! We had a throwback activity: yogurt painting. This was one of Pen Elaine’s favorite activities when she was this age, so check out the old pics to see how much my kids look alike 🙂 All you need is a muffin tin, yogurt, and food coloring – plus a spoon and/or a paintbrush if you want! This is a fun activity, great for practice with fingers and fine motor skills, plus exploration with textures and colors.

Of course, this time around, I had a big helper to drop in the food coloring and create colors by mixing different drops. We would put in drops of red and blue and then wait until we swirled in the yogurt to discover what color resulted – it was very exciting. Pen Elaine loved helping make and mix colors – and overseeing the exploration process. Snuggly Man (and Pen Elaine) loved touching and eating the “paints.” The end result was a huge mess, of course, but easily wiped up with a damp cloth!

  

Oh, and here’s this adorable toddler enjoying some attention in his high chair 🙂

This is Snuggly Man showing us the birds outside. Our bird feeder and bird bath outside the kitchen window provide continual entertainment and excitement. Snuggly Man loves being able to copy the rest of us by pointing out the window to direct our attention! It’s so cute!!!

Pen Elaine’s Mommy’s most favorite book…this week

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IMG_0161.PNGThis book is so sweet in an unexpected way. I have unintentionally become a big fan of Jane Yolen, and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? is a delightful picture book written by her and Mark Teague. I discovered it at the library probably a year ago or more, but it is still on my love list for a mom of a toddler. Pen Elaine likes the funny scenarios that feature dinosaurs misbehaving, like a 2-year-old would. There’s a comedy of proportions since a dinosaur is very large to be acting like a toddler. Plus, Pen Elaine, as a 3-and-a-half-year-old, wanted me to read the scientific names of each featured dinosaur, written in small print on each page. The illustrations are completely captivating, for both of us.

The endearing part that makes me love this book, though, is that the authors somehow capture exactly the frustrations of parenting a “terrible two” while also pointing out the sweet vulnerability and moments to treasure and cuddle these pint-sized humans figuring out how to navigate the world and express their feelings. From being a messy eater, overflowing the bathroom sink, to tantrums and moodiness, this book reminds parents to focus on the other moments of unabashed affection, trying to be helpful, and those cute little faces. Reading this book encouraged me to have a little more patience and a little more perspective on handling and loving my toddler/preschooler. When I finish reading it, I have to steal snuggles from my little one every time.

DIY Ball pit (again!)

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I am way behind on posts that I started and let sit in my “drafts” box for months and months…and months. So, this is old, but my kids are so cute in these pics 🙂

We pulled out our old “ball pit” that I put together for Pen Elaine when she was just over a year – and Snuggly Man was so glad that we did! Of course, his experience with it has been completely different from kid #1 since he ended up sharing his space with her. Plus, being the boy that he is, he liked sitting outside of it, figuring out how to open and reach into a side zipper opening of the “pack-and-play”, and pulling out the balls, one by one. Even sitting inside of the ball pit, he liked throwing the balls around, but when Pen Elaine was little, she mostly liked rolling around in them…of course, that could be an age difference thing. I’ll have to pull this out again soon, since he’s a bit older, and see how he likes it this time around.

You can check out my previous post for instructions, but all I did was order $7 dollars worth of plastic balls on Walmart “site to store” and dump them into our pack-and-play!

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Little Kid in the Kitchen: Octopus (Crescent) Rolls

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2015/01/img_3475-0.jpgPen Elaine loves helping in the kitchen – we put on our aprons and pull a chair up to the counter for her to stand on, and I try teaching her that a good cook does not lick her fingers or the bowl when preparing food that everyone will eat…So, I had saved a super cute idea from Family Fun August 2014 about making crescent rolls into octopi. We had recently read a Christmas gift from Aunt Jenny, Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear (illustrated by Julie Morstad) that makes you want to cook with your cute kid, and Pen Elaine had been into “Octonauts,” in which one of the main characters is some sort of octopus. So, the timing was perfect for trying this simple “recipe.”

Crescent roll Octopus:

1. Pull apart a triangle from crescent roll package

2.Taking the shortest side of the triangle, cut 7 slits about 1-2 inches long with kitchen shears or a knife (I used a plastic knife with success)

3. Place cut triangle onto baking sheet to separate and “stage” each “leg” of the octopus

4. Roll down and shape “head” to look more rounded

5. Add eyes – we used mini chocolate chips (Pen Elaine was solely i charge of this step)

6. Bake according to package instructions

They seem wobbly and delicate when shaping the dough into octopus shapes, but they come out of the oven sturdy and stiff and delicious! These were simple and yet so, so much fun. Plus, when Pen Elaine was staging some of the octopus and their tentacles, she told me how certain ones were family members, etc…and then, she made two octopus who were side-by-side to “hold hands” and said they were my Honey and me when we were getting married! It was the sweetest thing…all thanks to those little octopus crescent rolls 🙂

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Get ready for Toddler Activities: Masking Tape Roads & Hopscotch

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When I’m running out of ideas to get a little physical indoors during extra cold weather or a day I’m trying to skip baths…pulling out some masking or painter’s tape is always helpful. Several times, Pen Elaine has enjoyed some indoor hop-scotch on the living room rug, via masking tape squares, and maybe a beanbag or Beanie baby 🙂

Sometimes we turn our hopscotch setup into city blocks for cars – especially now that we actually own more than two cars, including a set of matchbox cars that Snuggly Man received for his birthday! I saw this Masking Tape City idea via Pinterest.