Monday, July 26, 2010

Calories, Shmalories.....

This is a post, giving moms everywhere, the right to indulge when the time feels right...

Say... your kids are napping or watching a DVD...

I say GRAB the moment... get that box of Choc Chip cookie mix, throw it in the oven, wait 12 minutes and stick 2 huge scoops of German Chocolate IceCream on top, followed by whipped cream and chocolate syrup...

If your husband is smart, like mine is, he will always make sure to have these ingredients stored in the house for moments like these-

Then... in your quiet solitude, put your feet up, on the recliner in the room where none of the kids are allowed to eat, and just enjoy every moment:) And make sure no kids are around... this dish is NOT for sharing.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shabbos Helpers, Edible (yes, EDIBLE) Playdo and Charts

I am not too crazy about the entire Montessori approach, but there are definitely some things that really work for our family, such as the practical life activities-

We really encourage the kids to be as independent as possible for their ages, from dressing themselves, cleaning up after themselves, pouring a drink, making a bowl of cereal... and this past Friday, my Little Einstein and Munchkin, who usually go out with daddy or watch a video while I cook, asked if they could help me cook for Shabbos-

So I asked them what they would like to help me make to which they answered, "chicken soup!"

Munchkin got a peeler and Little Einstein got a knife (not too sharp, but sharp enough to cut with) and the fun began! I gave them zucchini and carrots and they had a ball- and YES, I was completey supervising them and guiding them how to do it in a way that they wouldn't cut themselves:) But kids are so much more capable then we expect and it makes them feel so good about themselves that they did such 'adult' activities.

Today we were learning about Tu B'Av and how it is a special day on the Jewish calendar for Jewish boys and Jewish girls to get together and meet for potential marriage... so with that little discussion, we decided to make boys and girls out or Playdo- but not just any playdo... EDIBLE playdo:)

Here's the recipe, and its PER CHILD:

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs wheat germ

I gave each munchkin a paper plate and put all the ingredients on each plate. They then used their hands to 'knead' the dough until it formed a playdo texture. Some kids needed a little more sugar or wheat germ to get the perfect texture, but it is SO easy.

They then made their little people, we went out to play and came back and ate them up for snack:) They didn't each the entire batch, but enjoyed what they did eat!

And last but not least, I made 2 charts today (which I laminated so I can reuse them over and over):

The first one is a "Negel Vasser" (hand washing) and Tooth brushing chart. I put their names on top of each chart and when they wake up in the morning, they know to go straight to the bathroom and wash hands, brush teeth and then they get to put a sticker on their chart. And before bedtime, after they brush teeth, put a sticker. Once they have completed 7 days of all 3 things, they get a prize!

It's a great incentive and they LOVE putting stickers on their charts and counting down the days. I tried uploading a PDF of each chart but couldn't quite figure it out- if anyone has any idea how to do that, please let me know!

Feel free to print this out and personalize it for your munchkins:)

THEN... now this is my magical chart:) our CLEAN UP chart for the playroom. Yes, yes, we are VERY blessed to have a big spacious playroom for our munchkins... but at the end of each day, it looks like a nuclear disaster.

I tried teaching them to put back each toy when finished playing with it, but I ran into 2 problems:

1- The munchkins play with alot of their toys together (Little Einstein will use blocks to build a train shed for his trains on his train tracks and legos to build bridges and Munchkin will put Menchies in cars and take them for rides on the car mat etc.) So they wern't just playing with ONE toy...

2- I found myself telling them to clean up ALL day and was getting a little tired of hearing my own voice:)

So this is my solution, which worked like a CHARM:

I printed out pictures of all their toys. Made a chart and at the end of the day, each munchkin stuck a picture of the toys (I use rubber cement to stick it) that they had played with in the column with their name in. Then they would put back each toy in its designated place and move the picture of that toy to the "All Clean!" column.

It was quick, easy and I didn't have to say a word. I made a "mom/friend" column for if mom played with them or a friend came over and needs to help clean up. I really hope it lasts and doesn't lose its momentum!!!! Feel free to print it for yourself if you think it will be helpful.

Wishing all a wonderful week,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Jewish Atmosphere Always, Down time, MESSY finger paints and a DIY Hotel with a moving elevator

Since we don't live in a Jewish community, we really try to always have a Jewish atmosphere going on all around us... that means that our home is FILLED with Jewish books and DVD's and there is ALWAYS Jewish music playing in the house AND the car... here are a few of our favorites and if you need a review on any music, books or DVD's, we have quite the collection so don't be shy to ask!

I usually only do QUICK and EASY arts' n crafts, but we decided to MAKE our own finger paints- it was definitiely time consuming and messy, but the kids LOVED it and made fabulous pictures and hand prints and foot prints and painted the table and the floor and each other and then I hosed them down and since it is made with dish soap, next thing we knew we had a whole bubble fest! So yes, I only reccomend this activity if you have the time, the patience and the space and the freedom to let your kids get REALLY messy:)

Here is the recipe which I got from the Family Fun book listed in one of the previous posts:

Mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/3 cup of cornstarch in a small pan, then slowly add 2 cups of cold water.

Cook over low heat, stirring until the mixture becomes a smooth, almost clear gel (about 5 minutes).

When it's cool, stir in 1/4 cup clear dishwashing liquid.

Scoop equal amounts of the mixture into containers and stir in food coloring (or, for even more vibrant colors, use food coloring paste).

We had a nice big box and my Little Einstein decided he wants to make a hotel with an elevator... so we cut windows and a door and then made an elevator that he can put his little mentchies into and pull the elevator up and down with a string attached to a hook on the top of the hotel...

The Elevator with passangers ready to ride:)
And then for down time, while the little ones nap, Little Einstein usually watches a DVD, plays a computer game or does a work book which we get from Costco or Borders- here are some of the work books he loves:

Wishing all a Good Shabbos!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Power Chocolate Cupcakes!

Ok- we took a box of Dunkin Heins Devils Food Chocolate Cake mix...

We added:
1 1/3 cup of frozen spinach which I pureed with water (enough water to just cover the spinach and microwaved it for 30 seconds to soften the spinach)
1/2 cup of oil
3 eggs
3 Tbs wheat germ

Mix, pour into cupcake pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350

Kids LOVED them and I didn't feel as guilty as I usually do giving them chocolate cupcakes:)

Monday, July 19, 2010

~~Morning Shopping Spree and Home-made Gas Station~~

A friend of mine gave me a set of "Hooked on Math"- I went through the set and found a set of play money, dollars and cents...

So we made our own money purses and made a toy store and restaurant (for breakfast) and each munchkin "ordered" breakfast and "payed" me for it ($1 for a bowl of cereal, 10c for a cup of juice etc.)

We made the purses out of felt- REALLY easy: Cut a long rectangle. Fold it almost in half leaving a flap to go over and close it. I stapled the sides, stuck a piece of velcro on the flap and the purse so it can close and then we decorated them (custom ordered and designed by each munchkin:) and attached straps so they can carry them around... check them out!

Then we have a book called "Family Fun Crafts" which Little Einstein got a great idea to make a gas station out of an empty Apple Juice container- SO EASY! We just cut 2 squares out of each end of the container and glued on "gas" pumps made out of construction paper on the sides. We used pipe cleaners as the gas pumpers. Then we took a piece of black construction paper and made a "parking lot" using a white crayon to draw the parking spaces.

Lets just say that he played with it for HOURS- also made a little "body shop" inside the "gas station". A GREAT GREAT activity!

Here's a link to the book- LOTS of great idea's using stuff you have in your house already and REALLY kid friendly and easy to make~

Friday, July 16, 2010

Everything needs a HOME

So that is my goal for this summer- that by the time the school year begins (we are starting mid August) our house-okay, MOST of the house will be organized and I will know where ANYTHING is ANYTIME someone needs something.

And how do I accomplish this you ask? By assigning a home to every single object we own. And if it dosn't have a home, either give it away or make a place for it-

But no more stuffed junk drawers, no more playroom chaos!

In fact, this label system has done WONDERS so far, especially for the kids.

I labeled the cubbies in their closets, their drawers, their toy cubbies- EVERYTHING has a home so when it is time to put things back and do clean up, it is a no brainer and QUICK!

Here is one page of labels that I made for part of the playroom. I laminated them and stuck them on each container/drawer/box/basket or whatever is holding each thing.
Wish me luck for the rest of the house! And a really fabulous organizing tip I learned was "you don't have to do everything in one day- even 10 minutes a day can accomplish so much"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We just redid the floors of our house, FORCING me to clean out the ENTIRE playroom and bedrooms and go through all our toys, games, puzzles, books etc. which has been an amazing blessing in disguise.

I say disguise because our house has looked like a nuclear disaster for the past 2 weeks with everything from all the rooms all piled into the living room but slowly but surely we are getting everything in its rightful place:)

Having said that, I have really organized the kids class/playroom and have been greatly inspired by the blog in the process-

I actually printed out labels with the name and picture of almost every toy, game, puzzle and activity in the room and laminated it to stick on each container making it alot more pleasing and easier on the eye to find what you need and then put it back.

I finally found my camera amidst all the chaos and will post photos as soon as I have finished the job, but I am really feeling so good about it.

I even labeled the cubbies in the kids closets (shirts, shorts, PJs etc) with a picture and word so they are very capable of finding what they need as well as put it away in the right place.

I read the book by Julie Morgenstern about home organization and she says her favorite model of organization is a Kindergarten classroom. Why? Because everything has its place and is easily accessible. So slowly but surely I want my home to become like that:)

Homeschooling, means having the kids at home alot more then kids who are out 8 hours a day and so they need to feel that everything is in order, has its place, and it gives them a sense of calm.

I really realized this week, having the house in total chaos, how it affects the kids so much. They acted up a lot more then ever, and I was speaking to my hubby about it and we both really understood how when there is chaos around you, it affects you and the way you act. So too with organization.

So here's to organization, giving the munchkins a fabulous summer and getting the house ready for a fabulous school year!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Since I still can't find my camera:( we will just have to rely on good old amazon to show you the products we are using... (have in mind, there are lots of other places to buy these products for great prices - try TJ MAxx, Ross, Marshalls, Craigslist, ebay etc.)

My little Einstein (4.5) recieved a DVD from a friend of his call "Leap Frog Building Words" or something like that and it completely inspired him to start making words of his own. So we have about 3 sets of the Melissa and Doug Magnetic ABC's and put them all on the fridge where he can sit for quite a while making 3 and sometimes 4 letter words and loves loves loves it...

While he is busy with his words, Munchkin (2.5) will do a shapes puzzle which I have shown at the bottom of the page and Sumo (1.5) will do a stacking puzzle which he loves and can do over and over and over until he starts throwing the pieces around the room then mom puts it away and we move on to a new activity:)

So here are the products we use and I have also included an ABC book which the kids adore, we can read it over and over and over and it really gets them familiar with the letters, even my Munchkin now recognizes certain letters...

Here it is:

~Books we Love~

Here are some of our favorite books we are reading this summer (and all year round:)


I also highly highly recommend these books in regard to learning about the weekly Parshah and Torah personalities... my kids love them!


...and last but not least, (yes, we are a book reading family! Our home is covered with books from wall to wall in almost every room!) for the little toddlers in the house, my little one just can get enough of Rikki Benenfelds series- we read almost all of them every night before bedtime:

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