The Best Easter Egg Hunts

 

Easter Collage

This year is totally different from last year – after a fake-out warm week, we’re back down to below freezing!!! The good thing about Easter Egg Hunts though, although they’re usually outside, is that they’re over in about 2 minutes (if you’re not organizing it yourself, of course). But, that same pro can turn into a con if the hunt is not handled correctly. Nobody wants to see older kids with brimming baskets and tiny toddlers in tears who weren’t even able to grab a single egg. And I cannot believe we hear stories every year of kids getting hurt or trampled when parents go crazy.

This year we got 2 egg hunts due to interstate travel visiting the grandparents that weekend. But since I have a 5 year old, we’ve got a few years experience. Let me share what we’ve found works best:

  1. Completely separate egg hunt areas by age group. Preschoolers hunt in one spot, bigger kids in another (and if you can break it down even further to 3 or 4 different areas by age group – even better!). The bonus here is that you can lay all the eggs in plain sight for the little ones without worrying the bigger kids will scoop them up first. And you can make the hunt a nice challenge for the older kids.
  2. Sometimes you just don’t have an easy way to create separate areas. For example, we went to a hunt in one small town that was using their large village green. However, they helped solve the problem by having the big kids go to the far end of the field, while the little ones stayed close, with the goal of meeting in the middle.
  3. An egg limit! If the eggs are filled, post a rule of no more than, say, 10 eggs per person to ensure all kids get some. Repeat, repeat, have the kids repeat, repeat again, and make signs. That should ensure at least 60% follow the rule…
  4. Even better than an egg limit? Empty eggs!! If you take away the greed factor – where it doesn’t really matter how many eggs you pick up – kids are generally better behaved and more likely to let a little one take that last egg. Have all the kids turn in their eggs at the end of the hunt by dumping them in a big box, and then hand out pre-packed, identical goodie bags to everyone!

Remember: your local Easter egg hunt is not The Hunger Games.

 

 

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Our DIY Frozen Halloween – Family Costume How To

Disney Frozen Halloween Costumes How To - Olaf and Anna

My daughter (along with half the kids in the US) decided she wanted to be a character from Disney’s Frozen movie this Halloween. After she made the big decision of which character (Anna) and we negotiated how the rest of the family would fit in (“Nobody is Hans because he’s a bad guy.”), I got down to the business of assembling our costumes as a mixture of bought (mostly at Old Navy with coupons!) and DIY pieces (because I do not have time to learn to sew dresses!).

Here is my do it yourself process:

How to DIY your own Frozen Anna Coronation Hair Ribbon

I fell in love with Anna’s Coronation outfit (which I found cheap on eBay direct from China) and convinced O to go along with the green instead of Anna’s typical snow travel ensemble (which involves a dress AND a cape). The hairpiece was the easiest part and I think it allowed us to not have to totally copy Anna’s intricate ceremony hairstyle (we just slicked her hair up in a bun instead).

HOW TO: For her hairpiece we picked out 3 sparkly ribbons: a light green, a dark green and gold. I cut pieces of equal length from each and hot glued them to a barrette (from A.C. Moore). Then I tied another piece of gold into a bow and hot glued just the back of it to the barrette (tip: put your fingers in the bow loops as you glue so the tops don’t get stuck  or your clip will look smooshed). Easy!

How to DIY your own Frozen Anna Boots
Although technically Anna wore more formal shoes to the coronation, it’s getting pretty cold over here, so function won out (plus my daughter needed some fall/winter transition shoes). Luckily, she was okay with it because these boots are clearly featured in the movie during Anna’s visit to Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Sauna. I picked out The Children’s Place Ryder Boots to decorate.

HOW TO: I printed a picture of the costume boots from The Disney Store to use as a guide. Then I sketched out my design in chalk (you can easily wipe chalk mistakes off faux leather like this with a damp cloth or finger). I started out with Fun Paint Glitter Glue in gold but the applicator tube was too big and I knew all my lines were going to run together. Then I tried Martha Stewart’s brand glitter glue in lemon drop (pack of 16 assorted colors on clearance at A.C. Moore!) which had a perfect, long thin applicator but the yellow turned green on the black boots. I had to empty the Martha Stuart glue and replace it with the gold in her small tube but then I just traced my design and let the boots dry overnight.

How to DIY your own Frozen Elsa Hair Crown Braid
If my daughter is Anna, you know Mommy has to be Elsa. Since I have a pixie, I knew I’d need faux hair for Elsa’s signature over the shoulder single braid. Doing just a braid crown took less time than crocheting an entire hat and attaching the braid and I think it turned out pretty good!

HOW TO: First measure loosely around your head and down your shoulder to where you want your braid to fall and then double that length (I probably also added a few extra inches to be safe – better too long than too short). I picked a white yarn with some sparkle and cut about 200 pieces that size. Yes, it will be tedious, but turn on a movie and you’ll get through it before it’s over. Tip: make sure you lay your pieces of yarn out so that the ends on one side are lined up (doesn’t have to be exact) to save time and frustration later. Next, holding all your cut pieces together, tie a knot at the lined up end and stick it under something heavy (I put it under my laptop). Comb through the yarn with your fingers to make sure it’s not tangled (take your time!), divide it into 3 sections and braid. Use a large hairband to hold the end of your braid temporarily.

Find the center of your braid and hold the center up to your forehead. Wrap the ends behind your head so that it feels comfortable but not too loose (remember the yarn will stretch) and tie that permanently. I used two of those tiny rubber band hair ties (since they always break). Now, unbraid your 2 tail ends and re-braid them together into a single braid. Secure the end permanently and trim your ends even.

There are lots of ways to decorate your Elsa hair braid and I thought about getting some sparkly snowflake jewels but when I stumbled across these paper snowflakes in the scrapbooking section of A.C. Moore, I knew I wasn’t going to find a better deal. Put 2 aside for your shoes and hot glue the rest to your braid.

Perfect to DIY your own Frozen Elsa Costume
I already owned a blue skirt and I found this very Elsa-looking top on Amazon for $10!!! I decided to do without the cape (partially because somewhere inside I was convinced my daughter would change her mind at the last second and steal my costume identity) but I did buy some rhinestone stickers for $1.99, also from the scrap-booking section at my local craft store, and my 4 year old had a blast sticking them to me. Yes – they fell off all over the place but she went a little overboard so I had plenty to spare. :)

How to DIY your own Frozen Elsa Costume Shoes
I kept 2 snowflakes leftover from Elsa’s hair and hot glued them onto some teal blue Sueded Pointed Toe Flats from Old Navy. These are another totally different shade, but at least all the pieces of my costume were blue, right?

How to DIY your own Frozen Costumes for a Family - Olaf and Sven
For my son’s Olaf costume, I decided to plan everything around the hat but so many of them were kinda scary looking I was relieved to find this Disney Frozen Flipeez Olaf Hat on Amazon. From there I had planned to put him in just a big, cheap white sweatshirt but I couldn’t find any anywhere! I thought I might have to settle for like 3 layered white shirts for warmth when I noticed a shearling lined brown jacket in the Toddler department. Turned inside out, those unlined brown arms become instant sticks and I have my (off) white snowman. Oh, except there was brown down the center for the zipper too – so I actually had the jacket inside out and backwards. My little guy didn’t seem to mind one bit though. Circles of sticky-back black felt were used as faux buttons and easily covered the interior jacket tag. The best thing about this costume is that I can use all the pieces again later throughout the winter – no waste! :)

Mimi went as Sven the reindeer (a close win over a rock troll). I already had a brown furry cape so she paired that with some brown pants, a black turtleneck and inflatable antlers (the fuzzy ones looked really straggly, plus these were cheaper). Of course her costume wouldn’t be complete without an “Official Arendelle Ice Master and Deliverer” medal, so I found a glittery snowflake and hot glued it to some leftover maroon ribbon from Daddy’s costume to make it a necklace.

How to DIY your own Frozen Kristoff CostumeMy husband’s costume was the only one that required sewing but it was still fairly simple. He used his own gray twill pants an Bogs boots to finish off the look.

HOW TO: I started by pinning the grosgrain ribbon around the collar and v-neck of the shirt/tunic. Then I added a stripe across each shoulder, following the existing seam. I didn’t have a thicker piece of ribbon, so I laid 2 about 6 inch long pieces of my 1.5 inch wide ribbon side by side down the front of the shirt from the point of the v-neck and sewed everything down. Next, I cut out a V shape from the bottom right side of the tunic and pinned faux fur along both sides of the V and around the bottom hem. I pinned and sewed faux fur around both arms and the neckline – but not all the way to the center of the V-neck – leave an inch or 2 free of fur there. I don’t think you can even tell in the picture above that I left that empty space in front, but, trust me, his chin would have been swallowed by fur otherwise (it also helps ensure he can pull the shirt over his head – see below).

Quick tip: I found out that sewing trim onto jersey material is hard; if you pull too much, it’ll bunch and if you pull too little, the sleeves might be too tight to get on. To solve this, I sewed 3/4 of the way around and left the a big tail at the underside of the sleeve. Then I had my husband try on the shirt to make sure his arms fit in and just did a quick tack stitch by hand to connect the fur pieces and cover the empty section. Faux fur is so forgiving, it was completely unnoticeable.

Frozen Anna Boots After Tantrum
P.S. This is what happens to the boots after they’ve been worn during an epic, probably candy-fueled, tantrum. Next time I’ll add some sort of mod podge or sealant or something over the top of the glitter glue. But it was good while it lasted!
How to DIY your own Frozen Costumes for a Family
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I’m a Guest Blogger – E-Time Rules (in both senses)

Creative Geekery is doing a series on Screen Time Rules (how different families manage television and other forms of digital entertainment in their families) and I am so thrilled to be her first guest blogger! Come read how the ThinkerMommy family allots E-time here:

http://creative-geekery.com/family-screen-time-rules-thinkermommy-com-style/

Warning: we do sometimes exceed the AAP’s recommendations for E-time.

Random picture found on my iPhone after O had played with it

Found on my iPhone after O had played with it

Ending Breastfeeding, Weaning Mommy

I read a lot about breastfeeding before having both my babies but I don’t remember seeing much about the weaning period beyond: “Stop when you’re ready to stop,” “Gradually decrease the number of nursing sessions,” or the less helpful, “Just breastfeed as long as possible.” Well, Bugaboo is over a year old and certainly showing no signs of stopping, but mama is ready. So what now?

We’ve been nursing before naps and at bedtime, often (unfortunately) in the middle of the night too. Skipping nursing sessions usually only works if my husband is home. If I’m holding him, Bug literally pulls the neck of my shirt to try to cram his head in, face first. In less desperate moments, he just sticks his (usually cold) hands down the neck of my shirt. I get the message loud and clear: nurse now or your shirts will never be acceptable to wear out in public again! (Yeah, he knows my kryptonite).

Sure, you say, I just need to buck up and let him cry a little. It won’t really last very long and he’ll get over it. But here’s the kicker – when I do give in and nurse my baby, my toddler actually, I always get the same reaction: his eyelids flutter, his eyes roll back a little, and he breathes out a tiny moan of total pleasure along with a deep sigh as though I’d been starving him for days and broke his fast with a 5 star dessert. He is so completely content and it’s the simplest thing I could possibly do – really I just sit there and enjoy a few minutes of uninterrupted reading time. I don’t usually feel the typical “mommy guilt,” but that does it. Why on earth would I take nursing away from him?

Because I want my boobs back, for one. Because I have a bunch of very cute non-nursing bras waiting for me. Because my son very slowly increases the pressure with his teeth so that by the end of many nursing sessions, I have four well-defined marks around my nipple. Because I’m scared he’ll still be nursing years from now (I have no problem with moms who nurse older kids, I just don’t want to do it myself). And because I want to sleep through the night for once!

It turns out none of those reasons are good enough to break the spell my son has on me, though. I still haven’t done much proactively to wean my son. I guess I’m really hoping my son will just decide on his own that he’s done with nursing and it’ll be a nice, peaceful transition. That happens sometimes, right?

How to Bake With A 3-Year-Old

My daughter O loves this Fisher-Price app called the Little People Learning Market. One really cute part asks you what type of treat you would like to bake: an apple pie, cookies or cupcakes, and then has you 1. add items from your shopping list (matching) 2. prepare the treat (drag, tap, tip to pour, etc) and finally 3. put it in the oven to bake. Ever since she started playing this game, she regularly runs into our kitchen, announces it’s “time to bake!”, and grabs the flour and a mixing bowl. It’s adorable and it got me thinking – she’s already doing it in a game, why not in real life?

I decided to turn a simple recipe of ours for banana bread from my hand-written index card into an image-loaded, kid-friendly version. Here’s how:

I went to Google Docs and opened a new Drawing. Google Docs has this handy tool where you can search Google images right from the drawing document page and easily add them. So I just went through my recipe and found a picture of each ingredient. I added large text in a text box for the exact amounts needed of each and put the steps in order. Then, I used the shape option to group the wet and dry ingredients together visually in their own boxes. Last, I just printed it and O was ready to help me bake “all by herself” in less than 5 minutes. Here it is (a downloadable PDF is also at the bottom of this post):

banana bread for kids image

O was so happy to have her own recipe. She took her job of reading me the ingredients very seriously and was pretty good at filling up the cups (using a second cup to fill the first is easiest). Just make sure you’re ready to intercept when your preschooler runs to the fridge and tries to carry out the eggs to you (lesson learned!!).  O can identify numbers but is not getting fractions yet so I’m still trying to think up a way to help her be able to identify and use the correct measuring cup or spoon all on her own. I could just add a picture of the correct measuring device on there next time so then it’ll be more matching. Or maybe color code the measuring cups with a piece of colored tape on the bottom (while still putting the measurement on there so she can see both and still learn it). Let me know if you have any ideas and enjoy!

Banana Bread recipe for kids PDF download

banana bread

So good we couldn’t even wait for the picture to be taken before eating it. We made ours with cinnamon chips.

I Could Not Have Said It Better…

My husband is dyslexic so we knew that our children would automatically have a 50% chance of having dyslexia too. This blog post by Lyn Pollard from the New York Times website, Can A Daughter With Dyslexia Learn to Love Words? (link below), conveys exactly what I’ve been wondering as my daughter gets older and while awaiting the birth of my son. Well written.

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/can-a-daughter-with-dyslexia-learn-to-love-words/?smid=pl-share

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