Neon Trees for Tu B’Shevat Using Art Materials From Around the Home

One of my favorite art subjects to paint are trees. I love Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt and I used that curvy, linear tree he depicted to influence these three simple trees my two year old and I made this morning using materials found around the home.

For these trees I used Crayola neon tempera paint, cotton balls, white card stock, a toilet paper roll, a Sharpie marker, and a household sponge.

To start I drew simple curvy, linear trees using Sharpie marker on 9″ x 11″ card stock. I copied the tree 3 times. Permanent marker is a must as it won’t smear when paint is applied on top.

For the first tree I used a cardboard toilet paper roll and cut slits all the way around using scissors, folding the ends outward to create a brush. Then my son dipped his brush into the paint which I laid out on a plastic lid. Then he stamped the tree with it.

For the next painting he used cotton balls to “dot” paint onto the trees and for the third a piece I cut from household sponge. It’s important to dampen the sponge before painting with it.

We did these paintings in conjunction with the Jewish birthday of the trees-Tu B’Shevat. The boys have been learning about this holiday in school. I like to support their learning with books and crafts at home.

Tu B’Shevat is January 30th this year, and it’s the first of several Jewish springtime holidays. In Israel it is celebrated as also a day of ecological awareness.

Going along with that theme of caring for our planet, incorporating the concept of recycling in art, we used simple household materials for these projects. Whether you’re a mom on a budget or an art teacher trying to create an art program on limited funds-art can be an affordable, meaningful activity. You don’t need expensive materials to have fun and be creative!

Tips on Traveling with Jet Lagged Toddlers

This post is completely about what’s happening in my life right now.  We travelled by plane, train, and automobile to Israel this week in a trip that took 20 hours total.  That’s enough to throw off an adults internal clock-so for sure it’s enough to throw off a toddler’s internal clock.

Honestly, last year our trip was easier when it came to jetlagged. I was traveling with a nine month old baby who still slept quite a bit during the day, and my two-year-old was a terrific sleeper.  The good news is that two-year-old is now still a great sleeper at three years old. However that nine-month-old who used to sleep all the time, he is not doing so great this time around.  Leading up to our trip there were often times he would wake up for a couple hours at home in the middle of the night, wanting something to eat and drink. Now, it’s been five nights in Israel and he is still waking up for five hours at night!  So how do we cope?

1. Take turns napping with your partner.  Right now my husband is taking a much needed power nap, and my 20 month old is taking a mini nap.  He’s exhausted but I want him to sleep through the night so I will wake him up for dinner.  Then he and his father can hang out together until they get tired later on.  I can rest until they need me to help with bedtime later on.

2. Consider children’s melatonin for toddlers and kids.  My friend recently moved with her daughter to the other side of the world and recommended the Zarbee’s brand.  I didn’t bring melatonin with me, and I doubt they have it for children in the pharmacy here (which is something to consider when you travel to other countries-medicines are different). I have second guessed my decision not to purchase some for our trip.

3. Try to keep the first few days easy on your trip so you can get ample sleep.  We travel for a month at a time so it makes it easier for us to take our time to transition. Nap during the day as needed.

4.  Set up your child for sleep success.  Cut day napping shorter, bring favorite blankets and lovies, and play light music when it’s sleepy time.

5.  Allow a couple of days to adjust back after your trip.  Yes we had jet lag both ways on our trip last year.  It took 3 days to catch up.

Remember that no matter what the age traveling opens our eyes and senses to the world. Your child will be so lucky to see and experience the world with you, and you will treasure these memories for a lifetime! Don’t let fear of flying with your child or jet lag keep you from making memories.

Tie-Dyeing Tips for Large Groups


This week at camp my boys tie-dyed for the first time. Growing up this was one of my favorite camp activities! I attended summer camp from the time I was five until I was 15, and even after that I was a counselor.  So seeing my little boys making their tie-dyed napkins at camp was definitely nostalgic for me.

In the past as an art teacher I have done tie-dying for field day. I did it with all 850 of my students! So this advice is for teachers or group leaders that are doing a tie-dye project with a large amount of kids.  I hope these tips and tricks make it easier for you!

  1. Figure out where your T-shirts are going to come from. They need to be white T-shirts. Either the kids can bring them from home or see if there is a budget for these. The PTA might be able to come up with some money for it especially if it’s going to be a huge order of 500+ T-shirts.
  2. There are all kinds of dyesavailable. I recommend buying dye in large bottles rather than small spray kits.  I used old-fashioned RIT dye from the corner market and it worked perfect!
  3. For sizing T-shirts the P.E. teachers held up T-shirt samples to each student as they did attendance and wrote down the size before ordering. This was a lot more efficient than waiting for a written slip from home.  
  4. Have large buckets, rubber bands, and rubber gloves ready.
  5. You’ll need either a tarp or deep sink to place your buckets of dye.  Another option if the weather is good is to work outside on grass.  
  6. Have samples of different tie-dye techniques ready to show the kids.  This is also really good opportunity to practice these techniques!
  7. Have the kids rubber band and fold their T-shirts on their own or with help from an adult.
  8. Place the T-shirts in the dye bath of their choice and once the dye has settled in put the T-shirts in plastic bags with the kids name on it to take home.
  9. Another option is to have the T-shirts placed in plastic bags per class and give them to the classroom teacher to allow dry or wash.
  10. With our T-shirts we used five colors of dye, however red white and blue works great or school colors is another option.  Having limited colors can simplify and streamline the process. I do not recommend asking students to choose which color of dye they want-if you’re working with a huge group like I did that would take a lot of time!

I hope these ideas will inspire other art teachers and group leaders to have fun tie-dying with their students. My students always looked forward to this every year! They wore the T-shirts throughout the year, and they were always excited leading up to this project.  Below I have included some pins for more tips, techniques, and inspiration!



Tips for Taking Littles to Disneyland

disneyland

It’s been almost a year since Ben turned two. For his second birthday we went to Disneyland. It feels like every day I run into a parent telling me they’re planning their first trip to Disneyland.  I’m going to share with you my tips and advice for your first trip to Disneyland with your children.

  1. Choosing your hotel.  We went for two days. We stayed off property in a nearby hotel that was only half a mile away. The hotel had a free tram to Disneyland. Most hotels nearby have a free tram to Disneyland and are half price compared to the hotels on Disneyland’s property. However, with that being said there is a lot of convenience to staying on property. It does take two trams to get to Disneyland. With two babies under two years old and all of the stuff we had to bring it would’ve been more convenient to stay on property for sure.   If you’re going to Disneyland and trying to keep a budget then I recommend staying off property, but if you’re concerned about handling the two trams then it might be worth it to pay the extra money and stay on property.
  2. Take advantage of stroller rental.  Immediately upon getting through the gates at Disneyland we had to take our second tram. The first day we drove our car and parked at Disneyland. You can purchase a discounted parking pass online when you purchase your tickets. The parking lot is pretty far from the entry into Disneyland. This presented an issue for us, our double stroller, and all of our stuff. We had to collapse the double stroller, put the boys on the bus, and also carried the double stroller on the bus-it took up a lot of room.  The second day that we visited Disneyland I went by myself with my boys. As you enter Disneyland there is stroller rental which is rather affordable. So I simply wore Adam in a baby carrier all day and had the stroller for Ben.  The strollers that they have at Disneyland are large jogger style strollers with a good amount of storage. img_4986
  3. Get your celebration buttons!  For special events there are buttons you can wear as a group that lets the Disney characters know that you are celebrating. We all wore Happy Birthday buttons to celebrate Ben’s birthday and characters spent a little bit more time with my boys because of it. We were given these free buttons as soon as we entered Disneyland.  Just ask at the first kiosk you see.
  4. Dress comfortable. I highly recommend having your kids wear long, light clothing as the Disneyland chairs, rides, and changing tables are heavily trafficked public areas.  Wear sneakers, hats, and bring sweatshirts for the cool California nights!img_5026
  5. Bring supplies from home. Take hand sanitizer and use it repeatedly, take sunscreen, water bottles,and snacks. The food at Disneyland is expensive. You can cut costs a lot by bringing some sandwiches and some water bottles.  Our hotel also had a complimentary breakfast that we took advantage of every morning.
  6. Kids love meeting the characters!  To see and interact with the most characters definitely check out the restaurants. We went to Goofy’s Café and the boys were able to meet Mini Mouse, Chip and Dale, and Goofy.  The boys had a truly magical experience there. We ate there one night and the next night we just ordered pizza to our hotel room. It’s definitely worth a splurge.
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  8. Get a free line hopper app.  I did not plan on standing in line for hours on end with two babies under two years old to go on rides. So I downloaded a line hopper app and used it the whole time. I also recommend bringing a back up battery pack for your phone so you can charge it throughout the day. Between the battery running out for pictures and the line hopper app it’s good to have a back up.
  9. Nap time.  For nap time I did not go back to the hotel. If the boys were tired I would just take a break have a snack some water relax with my phone somewhere shady. Whichever boy was tired I put him in the stroller and let him relax.
  10. Cool off at the shows.  There are so many free entertaining shows on property and it’s one of the best ways to stay cool in the summer sun. We were at Disneyland in the end of June and it was so hot and humid! We went to every single one of the shows and despite my boys being very young, their jaws were on the floor at each show. They sat quietly and paid attention as soon as the characters came onstage. Most shows run about 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
  11. Cool off and shop!  We didn’t do too much shopping but on property there is the world’s largest largest Disney Store. So I had to check that out! They have items there that I’m not gonna find here in Vegas at the mall or online. I definitely think it’s worth splurging on and it’s another way to cool off! 

Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies 

garbanzo bean cookies

I have not been quiet about the fact that my Ben is a picky eater.  He’s a total carbaholic, he eats tofu, and that’s about it.  Getting fruits and veggies into him can be a struggle.  One way I do manage to get veggies in him is baked goods.  I have tried black bean brownie, garbanzo bean cupcakes, and pumpkin loaf made from scratch with shredded carrots.  I find myself baking him healthy treats each week and he seems to love them!

This past week it was Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies. They come out soft, and I do refrigerate them to be on the safe side because they have a lot of egg.  When I need one or two I pop them in the oven or microwave quickly.

These cookies are high in protein as they have 3 sources of protein: eggs, peanut butter, and garbanzo beans.  They’re actually a healthy indulgence for me as I’m trying to lose the last bit of baby weight.

Ingredients:

1 can of garbanzo beans rinsed

3 eggs

1 cup of flour

1 cup of coconut sugar

2 tbs. creamy peanut butter

1/2 tsp. baking powder
Directions:

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend.  Using a tablespoon spoon not a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.  Cool after you take them out and enjoy!

I’ll share some pins below of tried and tested hidden veggie recipes.  It’s amazing how much like the real thing they taste and it’s reassuring that my boys are getting some good nutrition with their treats!

Easy homemade banana zucchini bread, perfect for freezing! Toast a slice and add a pat of butter for an amazing after school snack.:

 

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Muffins - a perfect use for overripe bananas and a great way to sneak some veggies into your child's diet. They're picky toddler approved too!:

These delicious dark chocolate flourless brownie muffins will satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your diet. And they're gluten-free! Click through to get the recipe and find out what the secret ingredient is. // desserts // healthy recipes // cheat clean // gluten free // Beachbody // http://BeachbodyBlog.com:

How My Family Stays Cool in the Summer With Honest Co.

honestSummer is serious in Las Vegas!  With temperatures reaching 125 degrees we take a lot of precautions as parents with our children’s safety in the heat.  No, we don’t stay inside all day in the air conditioning, however, we do choose how and when we go outside!

Most mornings in the summer we get up early to enjoy the outdoors.  The boys have water tables and a sand pit in the backyard.  We go to the park, play in splash pads, and walk the dogs before 10 AM.  By 10 AM the temperature can easily be 95 degrees, so that’s the time we do our indoor play.  When the boys are outside, even though it’s not during the high heat, I put sunscreen and hats on them.  These simple blue hats from Honest Co. go with most of the boys’ summer outfits and have SPF 50 built in! They’re also waterproof for the beach, splash pad, and water table fun my sons’ have every summer!

The hats fold up small and can fit easily in my diaper bag for busy days and trips. When we went to Israel they came in so handy!

Another way we have fun in the summer is swim classes. We actually do swim classes year round at Water Wings Swim School. They have indoor heated pools. Ben just moved up a level and is so proud! We go 1-2 times a week. I still get in the pool with Ben, but next month when he turns 3 I won’t need too I the water with him, so I will start Adam too. While we currently don’t have a pool, we are looking to move to a house with a pool so swim gear is so necessary. Even though Ben is potty trained I do still put a swim diaper on him and I love the swim diapers from Honest Co. They come in many sizes and cute prints, which is Honest Co.’s specialty.

When the boys’ are swimming even though the pool is inside I don’t want them catching cold, so they wear a swim shirt to the pool. It’s also a great cover up for the beach, outdoor pools, and at the splash pad. I don’t want them to get a sunburn!

Click here to get 20% off your child’s summer sun essentials!
20% Off Sun Care from The Honest Company. Use code: SUPER 20

Packing Tips for Kids on Vacation

packing

I think the biggest challenge of traveling with 2 tots is packing.  For a month in Israel I started packing 2 weeks before.  For our recent trip to Sedona which was 8 days I began packing 1 week prior.  After Israel, which was a long trip in the fall when the weather could turn either way, I learned a lot about packing.

1. Ziplock baggies make great organizers. For the trip to Israel I put each of Adam’s tiny baby outfits in a Ziplock bag.  The whole outfit-onesie, pants, socks, a diaper, and a long sleeve top.  I put all of his pajamas in one bag, all of Ben’s socks in a bag, and all of his sweaters and jackets in another bag.

2.  The rule of halves.  If you’re destination has affordable or free laundry use the rule of halves.  Divide the number of days you’ll be away in half and pack as many shirts, pants, dresses, etc.  Exception to the rule: take seasonal weather changes or frequent outfit changes into account.  For example, I figured for our recent trip to Sedona for 8 days the weather would be cool in the morning and at night, Adam typically needs an outfit change after breakfast-so I packed 4 warm shirts and 4 sets of pants for the morning to wear and 4 t-shirts and 4 shorts for midday.  I did laundry midway through our trip.

3. 2 pairs of shoes is all you need.  A dressy pair and sneakers.  A waterproof sandal and a pair of Toms.  Basically one special pair and an everyday pair of shoes. Don’t forget to pack them in your Ziploc.

4.  Take advantage of 1 piece dressing.  Rompers and dresses are prefect for diaper bags or travel and take up less space than separates.

5. Pack toys in backpacks.  Your toddler can carry on his/her own backpack with small books and manipulatives.  They feel special and grown up while you save space in your bag.

6. Don’t bring the kitchen sink! I had diapers, wipes, toys, bedding, and books waiting for us at my in -laws. They also had car seats and booster seats waiting for us.  My parents in New York had toys and diapers waiting for us at their house.  All of these items were borrowed from neighbors.  In Israel they do have rental baby gear for tourists so consider that when traveling abroad.  In San Francisco we had a rental car and car seats were rented too.

7.  Go light on the baby gear.  Umbrella strollers, sleeping bags, baby wearing are a lot easier than a pack and play or heavy stroller to pack and lug.

8.  Use a backpack diaper bag.  You can easily babywear in front and carry a backpack at the same time.

9.  Minimize your own packing. I gave up make-up since staying and did not pack a stitch of it to take to Israel.  I can use hair conditioner also as an in shower body lotion.  Little tricks like this save space for the kids stuff.

Stroller hooks, stroller carrying bags with straps, and a basic first aid kit are important to have on hand as well.  I always take Tylenol or Ibuprofen, DoTerra oils, and teething toys with us.  I have Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes downloaded on my Ipad and YouTube Kids on my IPhone to entertain.  We do a mix of busy bags and IPad time when we’re flying.

Traveling with babies and toddlers is one of the most brave things I’ve done.  I used to be very nervous about it and dread it, but now my boys are seasoned, world travelers.  I feel much more comfortable now that we have logged some miles and memories taking them on future trips.  What packing tips do you have for a first time traveling mom or dad?  What can’t you live without on trips to keep your kids entertained?  Please share in the comments below.

Tips for the Mommy on the Go

mommy-on-the-goWhen I chose to stay home part of that was so I could create experiences and take classes with my kiddos.  I’m very used to running around with my toddler and baby, for a new mom or a mom just getting used to two the idea of getting out of the house can be daunting.  Trust me I’ve been there.

I remember the first time I went out with both boys on my own.  It was supposed for a doctor’s appointment. I packed the double stroller and the diaper bag and picked out the boys clothes the night before. I made sure my toddler had plenty of snacks and I had my nursing poncho with me. We got up early in the morning and draft the doctors office only to find out that they had a second location and I was supposed to be there. I was crushed!

1. Have a really organized diaper bag.  I use gallon sized Ziploc bags for this.  They’re inexpensive and clear.  I use one for diapers, one for extra clothes, one for snacks, and one for additional items like wipes or Tylenol.

2. Pack your car and diaper bag the night before so you’re ready in the morning.  Put the stroller, baby carrier, a book or toy to occupy the kiddos, etc.

3. Keep an extra stash in your car.  I keep a grocery bag with extra diapers, clothes, wipes, and diaper cream in the backseat under my seat.

4. Buy a lightweight stroller.  I’ve had heavy, clunky strollers and truthfully my single umbrella stroller from Chico and my double City Mini GT are my go twos.  Seriously, I sold 3 strollers this past fall and kept just these strollers because they take up the least amount room in my car and they are so light and easy.  The Chico even has a strap to carry it over my shoulder!

5.  Pick a diaper bag that has stroller hooks.  A backpack style is great for the mom on the go!

6. Pack a snack and drink for yourself.  Especially if you’re nursing you need the hydration and nutrition.

7. Be home for nap time. There’s nothing worse than coming home in the car and seeing my toddler falling asleep in the back. I know that when we get home getting him out of the car will wake him up and that nap that he would’ve had is gone. So I try to schedule any classes or errands in the morning and be home before noon so he can get a good nap.

These are my tips for getting out and about with littles.  I’ll be sharing the contents of my diaper bag and how I pack it in a future post, also on Instagram. Be sure to follow me on Instagram. I look forward to reading in the comments any ideas you guys have for making going out easier with littles.

Hump-Day Hype!

How I Hike with Two Littles

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How I Hike with Two LittlesEnter a caption

Upon my quitting my job as a full time as a full time art educator and staying home I searched for local Facebook mommy groups that had similar interests to me.  I stumbled upon a baby wearing hiking group and joined.  I was concerned that I couldn’t hike with both my boys-Ben had just turned 2 and Adam 6 months, but I have hiked a lot with them and here are my tips for success.

 

1. Either get a durable baby carrier or take paved/packed gravel trails. You do not want to take a wrap carrier on a hike!  I have an Ergo 360 which works great and a Beco Butterfly I use on my back when Ben needs a boost (I tandem carry if need be).  A lot of moms in the group have a Tula-and Tula makes a great toddler carrier!

2.  Take water for everyone.  I am nursing so water isn’t super necessary for Adam-but I still bring an extra water bottle for him. Camelback does make a toddler water bottle pack and if you’re hiking with a baby in front, you could have your Camelback on your back and be hands free!

3. If you’re taking a little who you expect to walk do a hike with little to no incline and consider the safety of the area.  You want to be careful about run ins with wildlife, falling on branches that can poke a little guy, and weather can play a role in safety too.  Out here we have to wear and take sunscreen, hats, glasses, and tons of water with the dry desert heat.  Wind, humidity, rain, and snow are all tough for a little on a long walk.  Also, keep in mind your little walker may get tired so bring a carrier in case.  Ben is two and a half and can do about a mile before getting tired.

4.  Do not go hiking with a little in an area that is s remote you won’t see other hikers, stay on well known trails that are also well maintained.

5.  Second hour of a long stroller ride and your kiddo is getting bored?  Snacks, water, and songs will help a lot.

6.  Take a small first aid kit with you.  Ben fell once on a trail and I was able to treat the cut and finish the hike with no worries.

7.  Hike with a friend or two who can help with your littles if you have multiples.  I’ve had friends carry Ben down Mt. Charleston when he got tired and I really appreciated it.

8.  Be sure to talk with your kids about the natural elements they are witnessing such as big mountains, blue sky, green grass, etc.  Use the hike as a chance to build vocabulary by describing the scenery.

9.  Take photos.  I love the photos of my boys exploring and being free in the wilderness.  These are some of my favorite memories of my time as a stay at home mom.

10.  Snacks that travel well: crackers, sandwiches, granola bars that don’t have chocolate, fruit, nuts, and dried fruit.  Bring a lot of snacks.  The kids will want them and it’s important if you’re nursing to stay hydrated and nourished too!

Have fun, be safe, and create great family memories!

Art Teacher Tips for When the Kiln is a Disaster!

kiln

What do you do so when you open the kiln it doesn’t look like a grenade went off and destroyed all of your projects?

1. Do not hollow a closed ceramic object, that’s just asking for it.

2. If something is very thick create a hollow area that comes through one end of the clay object.

3. Let your green ware dry at least five, if not a week before firing.

4. Teach your students how to properly wedge, that means not pounding it into oblivion!

5. Set the first firing for one-two hours so to let the moisture out, the second for an hour, then let it run for the final firing.

 

What if you do have an explosion?

1. Get all the large pieces of pottery shards out with your hands and throw them out.

2. Have a custodian come in and vacuum out the remaining small pieces and dust. The dust is highly toxic.