Archive for July 2013

Wedding Bags for Toddlers- Keeping Busy As Wedding Guests

Monday, July 29, 2013

Last weekend we attended a beautiful wedding for my husband's cousin.

I was a bit nervous bringing 18 month old twins to such a formal event. I knew I had to keep the girls entertained.  That's where the wedding bags came in to play.  I put together an activity bag for each girl.
Everything in the bag had to meet certain requirements..
1) new or haven't seen in a while toys that could keep the girls entertained
2) could be played with quietly at the church
3) easy to transport and clean up
4) relatively mess free

Below is an example of one wedding bag (the other was exactly the same):

flower " purse"- gift from Aunt used to hold items
necklaces and bracelets- Dollar Store
Ocean Foam Stickers- Michael's Arts and Crafts
Mini Slinky- Michael's Arts and Crafts
Ice cream cone bubbles- from Cousin's birthday party
The cocktail hour was outside, so the bubbles worked out great! Even their older cousins had a fun time blowing and popping them.

Overall, everything went smoothly! The girls had such a great time playing with their new toys, listening to the musicians, and clapping for everything.  So even though after the bride walked down the aisle, the pianist and singers would finish a song, or a reading came to an end and a pair of "yays" and claps would rise up in the crowd from the back, I think everything went wonderfully!

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Make Your Own Felt Board

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

We try to go to Storytime at our local library once a week.
My girls love when the librarian tells stories and rhymes using the felt board. I thought I would try making my own.

Turned out to be way easier then I thought. All you need to get started is a 20" x 30" foam board, 24" x 34" piece of felt, a staple gun, and extra pieces of felt to make the shapes.





I laid the board on top of the felt and used my staple gun to attach.  I started at the top of the board folding the felt tightly over and continued stapling until all four sides were complete.  I went back and added a few more staples. I tried to place a staple every 3-4 inches.  I wanted to make sure the felt couldn't easily be ripped off. A few minutes later and we had our very own portable felt board.

I used individual felt pieces in different colors to cut out some basic shapes.  You can buy felt squares at most craft stores.
The girls have been loving the DK Baby Touch and Feel Color and Shape book recently, so I thought we could practice shapes and colors on our new felt board. Plus, this was an easy place for me to start. I am working on some monkeys to use to tell "Five Little Monkeys", but it's slow going. I'll have to post when I'm finished:)

Looks like we have a new favorite toy! Even with all the awesome technology our little ones get to use, who knew an old fashioned felt board could still be this much fun!

Photographing the two of them together at the same time, is so challenging right now:)

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How to Make the Easiest Hair Bows Ever

Monday, July 22, 2013

The girls' hair is growing so quickly. I am hoping their bangs will grow out soon. But for now, I find myself putting bows in their hair to pull back their bangs.  Unfortunately, they don't like to keep the bows in their hair. So we are constantly losing bows at the store, in the car, around the house, everywhere.   I decided against continuing to spend a small fortune in hair bows and learn how to make my own. 

There are a ton of sites that show you how to make all sorts of cute bows, but I needed something super easy. So armed with a few store bought bows to use as samples, ribbon, scissors, and a hot glue gun I took to making my own.  

Here's how...

1. You will need scissors, a hot glue gun, alligator clips (the ones below are from Michael's Arts and Crafts), and ribbon. I like to make my bows using two different ribbons, but you can use one color, if you prefer. The black ribbon is 1/4" thick and the black polka dot ribbon is 3/8" thick (both from JoAnn Fabrics).  The ribbon needs to be wide enough to cover the alligator clip.











2.  Chose the ribbon you would like to use to cover the alligator clip and make the bow. Note: For demonstration purposes I am using different ribbon. It's a 3/8" strawberry ribbon from JoAnn's. My other photos were too blurry.  Add a small dab of hot glue to the inside bottom of the clip and holding the ribbon face up stick the ribbon on the glue. Wait for about 10 seconds and close clip.  

3.Then, add a strip of hot glue on the outside bottom of the clip. wrap the ribbon around and hold in place for a few seconds. 

4. Continue adding hot glue on the clip and wrapping the ribbon around as you go. 

5. Finally, finish off covering the clip by cutting off just a little extra ribbon long enough to wrap it around the inside top of the clip. Add a dab of hot glue inside the clip. Attach the ribbon. Hold a few seconds to make sure glue is dry.  I don't cover the clips completely with ribbon because the alligator teeth help to hold it in place. My girls have very fine hair. 

6. Once you have the clip covered with ribbon, you can move on to making the bow. 

7. Begin by cutting two strips of ribbon each about 4 1/2" long. 








8.   Add a dab of hot glue to one end of the ribbon. Attach the opposite end to make a loop. Do this with both 4 1/2" pieces of ribbon. 

9.  Add a drop of hot glue to the inside bottom of one loop. Press the top of the loop down onto the glue. Repeat with the other loop. 









10.  Add a drop of hot glue on the top center of one loop. Press the second loop on top and hold into place to form a bow. 





11. Now to wrap the bow. Start by using hot glue to attach the other ribbon to the back of your bow. Wrap the ribbon around the front and back under.  Then, cut so that the ribbon slightly overlaps. Use another drop of hot glue to firmly attach the ribbon to the back of the bow. 

12. Once your bow is complete put a drop of hot glue in the center of your wrapped clip. Attach the bow to the clip. 

13.  That's it! Enjoy your new hair bow! 

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Friday Review: The Diaper Bag What's A Twin Mama To Do?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Having twins means having double the things to stuff in a diaper bag.  When I was pregnant and first began shopping around for a diaper bag I knew I wanted something large and roomy with multiple pockets. I also knew I wanted an easy access pocket for my cell phone.

Take 1


After many, many weeks of searching, I finally settled on this bag from Skip Hop.

It's lightweight, has eleven pockets and a zip top closure (also important to me as I am forever dropping my purse and spilling things).

I loved the colors and the style.  I tried to pick something that wasn't too girly so my husband wouldn't feel embarrassed if he needed to tote it around.

It has two pockets on the front to store bottles.  However, I found that my bag was so stuffed that bottles wouldn't fit in those front pockets. I instead used those pockets for quick reach items like hand sanitizer and tissues. Although this meant also carrying around a little black lunchbox that I would pack with bottles and and an ice-pack. Thank goodness for Mommy Hooks.

The back of the bag has a pocket for a changing pad that comes with it. I would also use this pocket to store wipes and diapers. I needed that quick access when trying to change two diapers smooched in a stall with a double stroller in a crowded restroom.  I found that I needed to carry four-six diapers in the bag with an extra four stored in my car.

This bag served me well through the first year. But as my girls grew, so did the size of their items.  I quickly realized I needed something different.

Take 2

I started keeping a small tote bag in the car that housed essentials that I didn't necessarily need to lug around all the time. In that bag I keep...
extra diapers
wipes
plastic bags (to use as trash bags for diapers and such)
tissues
books
toys
disposable bibs and place mats
2 light jackets/sweaters
2 extra complete outfits
2 hats/ sunhats
2 sunglasses
2 light blankets
2 pairs of socks

Take 3

Even with the "car tote bag", I found that I still needed a new diaper bag.  I can't carry around 40+pounds of babies, a bag, and a purse, so my diaper bag needs to serve double duty.  I wanted a bag that could be used as a backpack. Since the girls are older and can sit in a shopping cart, I often find myself quickly carrying them both across the parking lot and into the store where they keep the shopping carts with the double seats. Having the option to wear the diaper bag as a backpack is a lifesaver.

My husband came across this diaper bag on kids.woot.com one morning and I was sold.  It's a Ju Ju Be Convertible Backpack. You can use it as a backpack or a messenger bag.  I love it!

It's lightweight, padded, and comfy.

There are two Thinsulate insulated drink holders on the side of the bag (much better than the front for us).

It has two large pockets with strong magnetic closures on the front and one pocket for storing the memory foam changing pad on the back. The front pockets each have a few mini pockets to make finding items even easier. There is also a clip to attach your keys. No more searching!

The inside has an antimicrobial lining and the whole thing is Teflon to prevent stains from sticking.

I've been very happy with my new bag. Unfortunately, I don't think they carry this style anymore. But, their website shows some pretty great updated similar bags. http://shop.ju-ju-be.com/Be-Right-Back-at-PID12061-12BP01A.aspx

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Sensory Egg Carton

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yesterday, I posted a color sorting activity that was made from an old egg carton.  That reminded me of a sensory activity that I had made for the girls when they were probably about 9 months old. Sensory activities help to stimulate infants or young children's senses. In this case I focused on seeing, touching, and hearing.


I found objects that I had around the house that moved, sparkled, made noises, and had various textures.  I hot glued them firmly into place into an empty egg carton.
The girls would try and try to tug the objects out of the carton, but the hot glue held firmly in place. They loved to touch the  objects as I would use words to describe them.  For example, there is the rough, blue sponge; the furry, red pipe cleaner; the squishy, blue sponge; the bumpy red and white beads; the soft feather; the smooth pink ribbon; and the sparkly, silver ribbon. They especially loved shaking the carton to move the googly eyes.  We would also sit quietly and listen to the different sounds. I would hold the carton close to their little ear and make sounds like the rattling of the eyes or the scratching sound of the fabric as I rubbed it between my fingers.

Making sensory cartons is a fun and easy way to expose infants to new objects and concepts, helping to broaden their little worlds.
You could even make a sensory carton based on a theme like the beach or outdoors. Just use objects that would be found in those places.

Have fun being creative by making your own sensory carton!.

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Color Sorting

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kids have a natural desire to make sense of their world.  Sorting objects provides toddlers with excellent learning opportunities and it's fun, too.  

I'm a big fan of reusing the empty egg carton. There are a ton of uses for this versatile little contraption. Here is a really easy one...

I took an empty egg carton and cut off the top. I then cut the bottom half into two separate strips. Perfectly designed for twins:) 
My girls love sorting colors right now, so I used a bit of Crayola Paint and added a different color to each egg holder. I let the paint dry overnight. 

I gave each of my girls a painted egg carton strip and matching pom poms. I loved seeing how they naturally chose to place the matching pom pom on the corresponding color. Well, one of my girls did this right away. She is a big organizer/sorter.  My other daughter placed two poms in the crate randomly and then said, "no, no", picked them out, and put them on the matching color. I love seeing how their little brains function!  

Don't have any spare pom poms laying around the house?  You can sort all sorts of objects. 
Legos, cereal, stickers, balls, etc... Be creative and have fun sorting!



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Who's In My Family? On a Map

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I love looking through the dollar bins at Target. This week I found a map of the United States which reminded me of an activity I read about a few years ago.


We have a large family, my husband has three brothers and I have sisters. Over the years, our families have spread out across the country. My girls don't often get to see many of their aunts, uncles, and cousins. However, I still want them to know their names and faces.  So, by purchasing an inexpensive map I have an easy display to place the photos of our relatives.  My girls are 18 months old, so for now pictures of our loved ones' smiling faces are great. We can orally go over the names together. But, as they get older adding the written names to the pictures and their relationships (ie, cousin, aunt, etc...) and eventually using string and push pins to id exact states will help modify this activity to add new learning concepts.

Tip:  Never know what to do with all those beautiful photo Christmas cards?  Do like I did and recycle them onto this display. 

I still have more pictures to add, I'm sure this will be an ongoing project. But that's the greatness of this display! Hang it up in a visible area in your home and your family might not feel so far away.

Hope you enjoy and have fun making your own family photos map.

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Friday Review: Straw Drinking Cups

Friday, July 12, 2013

When my girls weened from using bottles, I went straight to using straw drinking cups.  I went through a lot of different straw cups before finding my two favorites.  Hopefully, this post will save you some time and money from doing the same.

The first cup is the Zo-li Bot Straw cup. This cup costs about $12 on amazon.

It is awesome to use as baby's first cup because the straw is weighted, Ingenious! Even if she tilts the cup back like she did with her bottles, she will be able to get every last drop of milk or water. This cup also has the double handles which is helpful while young ones are still learning to grasp and carry objects.  It is dishwasher safe, but the straw doesn't come completely out of the cup. So, I feel like it needs a quick hand washing first.  

Unfortunately, at times this cup has a strange suction action where the straw begins to draw up the liquid while sitting on the counter. This can be a bit messy. We have four of these cups and they all occasionally do this.


The second cup is the Thinkbaby No Spill Straw cup. It costs about $10 on amazon.

This cup is taller than the zo-li. It also comes with detachable handles. Now that the girls are older, I often leave the handles off because it's easier to fit the cup in our stroller and car cup holders. The cup is easy to take apart and the straw comes out completely to clean. It is dishwasher safe. The cup rarely leaks, but sometimes water will dribble out the top of the straw. Luckily, it has a top that can be closed to prevent leaking.  Well, as long as your child keeps the lid closed when toting it around:)

Let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations of other good straw cups. I'd love to hear about them!

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Learning and Having Fun With Rice Bags

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What's a rice bag?

A rice bag is a fun, interactive way to introduce new concepts or reinforce previously learned concepts with young children.  

I made this rice bag by adding a few plastic blue and yellow star beads that I picked up at Michael's Arts and Crafts Store  to a sandwich baggie.  I then filled the baggie about halfway full with uncooked rice. I had a bag of bulk brown rice in my pantry, so that's what I used here. I left plenty of extra room  for the rice and objects to move around. The picture above shows the baggie with the top half folded under. Then, I tightly sealed the baggie.  Just to be on the safe side, I reinforced the closure with LOTS of tape. 

Finally, you are ready for the fun part! Let the kids use their hands on the outside of the bag to move around the rice and uncover the hidden treasure.  

I love how this bag lent itself to some early learning concepts of shape (stars) and color (blue, yellow).  As an added bonus, toddlers will really work those fine  motor skills pushing the rice and grabbing for the small stars.  

Safety First

My girls are almost 18 months old, and I still get nervous with choking hazards. Even though the baggie is tightly sealed the entire time, I would strongly encourage adult supervision if you try this activity at home, and I hope you do give it a try! 

You can really have a lot of fun being creative with these bags. Look back for more rice bags in future posts! 

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Rainy Day Fun With the Moon and the Stars

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


The girls and I started out for a run this morning (well I run and they ride in the jogger), but after about six minutes we were running back home to get out of the rain. 

So now what do we do?

Lately, the girls have been very interested in the moon and stars. Which is funny because they are asleep by 7:30, so they haven't actually seen the real moon and stars. However, they love finding them in books, on random objects, and in pictures. They also love singing about them in songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "God Bless the Moon". 

We've been using sign language for almost a year now. Star is one of their favorite signs to make. This is a link to one of their all time favorite asl sign videos of "Twinkle, Twinkle"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Npjh87WWKE (so cute)!

Anyways, I thought rainy day means dark and gray, so why not bring out the flashlights and make shadows.  

I started by cutting out the crescent moon and stars from black construction paper. The former 1st grade teacher in me always wants to throw in those extra geometry words. 


Then, armed with our flash lights, the girls and I went into the darkest part of the living room  to find a place to play with our new celestial shadows. 

After they tired of the moons and stars, they had fun making shadows with found objects like a shoe, a block, and their hands. 

Then of course, we had to explore all sorts of objects with the flashlight. 
The girls even wore their firework shirts today. They call them their "star shirts."

We ended the morning, with a fun stamp painting project. I had gotten this stamp years ago at a craft store. Add a little Crayola washable yellow paint on a paper plate. Stamp the paint on the plate first, then stamp the paint onto the paper and you've got Star painting!
Note: Keep wet wipes handy. Two babies painting is not easy!!! 


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Identifying body parts with the lotion game and body part dice

Tuesday, July 9, 2013



My girls love the lotion game. It's super easy and inexpensive.  All you need is a little lotion.  I put a dab of lotion on their fingertip and then name a body part. They then put the lotion on that body party. It's really that simple. We've also done this using stickers and even bath crayons during bath time.

The body part dice takes a bit more work.  Using Google images I created a word document of several body parts. I then printed, cut out, and taped the body parts to a Kleenex box.  Now roll the dice and name that body part! The girls like to point to their own corresponding body part.

Now that we've mastered all the basics, it's time to move on to elbows, wrists, and forehead :)

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Visiting the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore



As a stay at home mom, I am always looking for things to do. My husband and I decided to become members at the Maryland Zoo. The girls are under two so admission is free. We purchased a membership for two adults.  After the initial membership cost, the trip is relatively free. Always free parking and I usually pack a lunch for me and the girls.

My husband, the girls, and I went to the zoo this past weekend with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their two kids. Despite the 90 degree humid weather, we had a great time. Sure we were hot, but the zoo provides misting fans throughout, and we packed lots of water.  I like to sweat every now and then, makes me think I am getting in an extra workout. The crowd was light, probably becasue of the heat, so we saw everything. Including feeding time for the penguins and gorillas! 

Some of the hills in the zoo are killer, especially when pushing the double jogging stroller.  But, I like to bring the side-by-side stroller to the zoo. The girls get a better view than in our front-to-back double stroller. Although be warned, the last door heading into the Children's section is a very tight squeeze. Take it an angle and find a kind volunteer to hold the door wide open for you. 

Our jogging stroller (picture is from a zoo trip last Sept. I wanted to show you the stroller) 

The zoo is easy to navigate, consisting of two main sections. There's the children's zoo where you can find things like the bog, the barnyard and petting zoo. My girls are especially fond of the otters, the sheep, and the goats. You can even groom the goats! My niece, who is eight, loves jumping on the lily pads in the bog section. Prepare to get your feet wet!   The other main area is the Africa exhibit. There you can see everything from zebras, giraffes, and rhinos, to warthogs, gorillas, and cheetahs. There is a small snack type concession stand and a restroom located just past the current penguin exhibit. But the main concession stand is in the children's section. The polar bears are off in their own area. It's a really cool exhibit for school age kids to check out.  Feels like you are a researcher in the south pole!
The zoo is adding a new and improved penguin exhibit by the main entrance. I am super excited for it to open! I love those little guys. 
  Girls running through the misting fan
                                                 
             

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