Hanukkah Collage with Melissa and Doug Dot-A-Dot Markers


As Hanukkah approaches I am trying to think of fun activities that my boys can try this year and we haven’t done before. We have never made a Hanukkah menorah with removable flames. The idea behind this is that each night of Hanukkah the boys can safely “light” their menorah.  My boys can do this in conjunction with us actually lighting our home menorah and feel an active part of the tradition rather than just an observer.

If you are not familiar with the menorah lighting, there are eight candles that are lit during the holiday of Hanukkah. One candle is lit each night for a total of eight nights. There is a helper candle that is often located in the middle of the menorah called a shemash. The shemash is the first candle lit and it is used to like the other candles each night.  During the lighting there is a blessing set of the candles to celebrate specifically the holiday of Hanukkah and the tradition of lighting a candle each night.  Along with the blessing, our family sings many traditional songs in Hebrew or English each night. It’s really a special part of the day that separates regular day today life and the holiday for us. As we continue on going to school, running errands, and working during this holiday we come home each night to light the candles which gives us a feeling of celebration.

To start creating our menorah poster with removable flames I use painter’s tape and taped out the shape of the menorah on white card stock. It’s really important with painter’s tape to use a thick and study paper, so I highly recommend card stock for this project.  Then I had my boys use their Melissa and Doug Dot-A-Dot Markers to add color.  When they were finished I remove the painter’s tape and the shape of the menorah came out white.


Just the painter’s tape menorah was a beautiful project on its own, but to take it another step further I decided to create removable flames.  We cut out from orange and red card stock flame shapes. The red flame was used for the shemash candle, and was a little bit larger in size than the other eight flames. Then I used a Velcro dots on each claim as I attached them to the paper with the boys.  I would recommend if you have a laminating machine available to you to laminate the poster before adding the Velcro flames. You could also use contact paper. This would make the poster reusable for years to come.  I however, do not have these items available to me right now so I did not do that.  I will just have to be careful to remove the flames gently each night and have the boys attach them only.


If you follow me on Instagram, make sure to look out for the boys lighting their menorah posters each night.  Happy Hanukkah!

Process Art Masks for Toddlers


With Halloween coming up there so many cute Halloween craps out there. I wanted to do something with these Do a Dot markers that we received in the mail recently from Melissa and Doug. I also want it to be a process art activity where the boys would have total freedom and creativity.

I settled on the idea of making masks. It could combine collage, paper crafts, wearable art, and the markers.  


I have to say I was really excited about these Do a Dot markers because not only are they easy, non-toxic, and come in a variety of colors -even silver! The green box has fruity smells to the markers! The boys really enjoyed that!

To make the masks I simply cut out a face shape from white card stock. Then I gave the boys the markers to choose colors from and they began making their dots.


After they finished making their dots I gave them red pom-poms and googly eyes to add details to their masks.  For this step I did most of the gluing, however I did allow them to experiment holding onto the glue bottle and trying to squeeze out some glue.


After that they added the hair I cut out of yellow card stock to the back of their mask.

Often times when making crafts and art projects with little kids adults feel the need to steer children in a direction towards a finished product. The great thing about process art is that there is no definitive look to a finished project. The child can create their project however they wish-this gives younger children a lot more self-confidence in their decision-making while creating art. This self-confidence can aide children in continuing to be creative down the road whether it’s in visual arts, music, or writing.

The next time you do a craft or art lesson with your child consider letting them take the reins. Maybe they’re making a self-portrait and their lips are painted on their foreheadand their eyes go on their chin, that’s fine. Pablo Picasso did that after all!

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.

Four Fall Sensory Bags 

It’s definitely not fall here!  It’s been over 100° F for the last few weeks! Frankly, we don’t really get much of a fall in Las Vegas. My kids sure don’t experience the fall that I had growing up in Buffalo, New York!

As a child I remember picking apples, raking colorful leaves from the ground and jumping into the pile, and drinking homemade apple cider!  In Las Vegas we try to have fall by going to a pumpkin patch and farms.  With the excessive heat it makes it difficult to really enjoy the day. So I came up with these four easy sensory bags with the theme of fall in mind to allow my boys to experience fall with all of their senses. The best part is they do not require any special supplies, most likely these are items you have laying around the house!

For sight we had the colors of fall through out all of my bags. We had the sound of fall through my tissue paper leaf bag, it sounds like leaves crunching when you squish it in your hand! With every sensory bag project there’s always the sense of touch being included with different textures the children will feel from our squishier to our crunchier bags. Smell could and taste from the walnut sensory bag that we ate the contents of as we made it!

Shaving Cream Sensory Bag

For this bag I focused on the color red, however you can try a different color such as gold or orange to focus on. I filled the bag halfway with shaving cream then added red food coloring.   I squished the bag around to mix the food coloring and shaving cream together until it was evenly mixed. Then I added red glitter. This bag felt like a stress ball. My oldest child loves squishing it. He would not stop squishing it in fact this was his favorite!


Tissue Paper Fall Leaves Bag


For this bag I used half a bottle of orange hair gel that I got at the Dollar Tree. Then I added in brown, green, yellow, orange, and red tissue paper squares. You can also pick these up at the Dollar Tree. They are a huge time saver! Then I added gold glitter and strings of brown yarn. The brown yarn stuck together creating sort a viney-tree trunk effect. Once I closed up the bag and squished it and made the crunchy sound that leaves make in the fall as you walk across your yard.

Cotton Ball Bag

For this bag I again chose red as the main color. I think if I was going to do this project again I would do an orange or gold bag for the shaving cream and keep this one as my red bag. Red is so synonymous with fall. For this bag I added a full bottle of clear hair gel and I filled up the bag halfway with cotton balls. Then I added in some red Pom Poms and strands of red yarn.  Lastly,  a few drops of red food coloring to swirl as the children played with it.

Walnut and Burlap Bag 

This bag is made of used pieces of burlap that I cut into basic shapes like triangles and rectangles. Then I added in walnut halves from my pantry.  The main ingredient is steel cut oats. They look almost like sand. I gave it a nice grainy texture. With this one the children could see different shades of the same color: brown. My oldest son could tell me the different names of the shapes. My youngest son could feel the different textures from the more flimsy burlap to the very hard, curvy walnut halves.

My three-year-old and I put all of these and three bags together in about an hour one afternoon while my 20 month old slept. Both boys had a great time playing with them. In fact they’re still playing with them! One thing I like to do is use clear tape on the top of all of my sensory bags to make sure they stay shut. Another idea is taping them to a sliding glass door or a big window so the kids can look inside of them better and see all the different variations of colors.
I hope you and your children have as much fun as we did with this project. It’s a great project for kids three years old and younger.  Older kids can even make it for their younger siblings!

Legoland Fun in San Diego

If you follow My Petite Picassos on Instagram you’ll know that we recently went to Legoland, California. We had an amazing vacation and the boys had so much fun!

Compared to other theme parks in SoCal Legoland is really affordable!  We were able to go for $123.99 all together!  We had a Bogo coupon for buy one adult hopper ticket get another one free. Hopper tickets allow you to go in between Legoland and either the aquarium or the splash park. We chose the splash park, however we were only at Legoland one day and we didn’t end up going there.  Kids under three years old are free at Legoland so the boys got in with for free. This was a lot cheaper than last year when I paid $300 a day for myself and my husband at Disneyland. Legoland is not as magical as Disneyland nor as large, but it definitely is a great theme park!

We went on a Saturday in July and while it was crowded it was not overcrowded. We downloaded the Legoland app to find out which rides had the shortest wait time. We only waited a long time for a boat ride. Even though my boys are young toddlers they were able to enjoy a variety of rides and activities. They had several boat rides and cruises through at the same park that the boys could go on, a carousel, a train ride, and little car rides. A lot of the boat rides and such are going past full Lego exhibits such as the Lego towns/monuments or fairytale stories.  I loved seeing Las Vegas made out of Legos, so much detail-they even had a pool party at one of the hotels!

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It was more challenging to find things for Adam to do than Ben. Ben even got to ride some rides by himself! A lot of rides are appropriate for ages three and up however they do have a whole Duplo Town for little guys . Duplo Town is where we rode the train and there was a large playground.  When my husband to take Ben on rides I would walk around with Adam and take him to the area where you can build with large Legos or go in search of characters. One of the favorite places in the theme park for the boys was the area where they could build Lego cars and race them!

Th hands on activities kept the boys busy for at least 45 minutes to an hour and we found ourselves prying them away to check out rides or get something to eat.

Marking Our Milestone

 

Ok, he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler.  In the Jewish tradition you are not supposed to cut your son’s hair until 3.  At the 3 year old birthday mark on the Hebrew calendar (it’s a lunar and much older calendar than the Christian calendar) the boy has his haircut and there is a party to honor him coming into more spiritual awareness.  Prior to cutting Ben’s hair we met with my dear friend Maritza Nolasco to get photos of him done.  It was extra special having Maritza take these photos as she and I experienced pregnancy for the first time together down to a couple of days difference!  She has been a great supporter on my path to and through motherhood.  We started with some outdoor photos  in her yard and then followed to the pool to get some photos of his gorgeous hair as he swam!  milestoneIMG_0191IMG_0194IMG_0206IMG_0293IMG_0294

Even Adam got in on the photo fun and we have some incredible shots of the boys together.  If you live in Las Vegas and are looking for a professional photographer, who’s great with kids and very patient I suggest looking up Maritza on Instagram or Facebook!

These photos will mean so much to me in years to come.  It will remind me of this special time I am having with m boys, it marks a change in my firstborn from being a baby to a child.  I love his long waves, wheat blond from time spent in the Israeli never-ending summer sun, but I will love his short hair too.  He will look handsome and more grown up.  No more tangles and knots as I comb through it and no more “she’s so pretty” in the grocery store.  He will be a BIG BOY at last!

 

 

Nutritious Pancakes With Fruit and Oats

Nutritious pancakes
Pancakes are Ben’s favorite breakfast.  He won’t eat anything but pancakes in the morning!  Some mornings he’ll have some apple and carrot sauce or down a bottle of chocolate milk for added nutrients.  Usually I give him Organic Silver Dollar Pancakes from Trader Joe’s which I just heat up in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. On lazy mornings when we’re not rushing out the door I like to make him these nutritious homemade pancakes.

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Adding the oat flour to the egg/fruit mixture

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oat flour (I grind rolled oats in the blender first)

3 eggs

5 oz. applesauce

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 banana

1 apple (cored, skinned, and sliced)

2/3 c. flour

Directions:

Grind up rolled oats in a blender and pour into a bowl.  In the blender add apple, banana, eggs, and applesauce.  Blend.  In a bowl or using a stand alone mixer mix oat flour, flour, and baking powder. Pour in and mix egg and fruit mixture to form a batter.

Using a tablespoon spoon the batter into a warm pan with coconut oil or butter and fry until golden.  Flip over and fry on the other side.  Serve with honey or fruit.

What I really like about this recipe is that you can add a variety of fruits and veggies in.  Zucchini, bananas, crushed pineapple, pumpkin puree, pureed beans, and carrot sauce can all be mixed in and give nutrition to a simple breakfast food!

My Wink Naturals Review

A month ago I saw an ad for a product on Facebook promising to assist in better sleep for babies.  I have not had one full, uninterrupted night of sleep since Adam was born. In fact, I have been waking up 4-6 times a night since he was 8 months old to nurse.  That’s not bad compared to the 8 times a night prior!  

Ben was never a frequent waker.  He would wake 2-3 times a night as an infant and by the time he was 12 months old he was sleeping in his own room and waking once a night. 


So I’ve been trying to night wean the  Dr. Jay Gordon way.  Lay him next to me, massage him, sing to him, etc.  I was awake from 1am-4am when I tried it because he wouldn’t stop crying!


I knew I needed help so I was excited to try Wink Naturals Pure Sleep and Breathe Rub.  It’s an all natural ointment with ingredients like lavender and eucalyptus to help relax your baby and also open up their sinuses so they can breathe better. I think it would be really great when Adam has a cold to help him breathe better at night. Right now, though,  I want to use it just to help him sleep. I want to help take that extra little edge off so he can relax and ease into sleep without a lot of crying.  When the rub arrived I applied it on his chest and he really enjoyed breathing in the smell-he even held the jar in his hands to smell it. I noticed that the first night we used it he did sleep longer than he’s ever slept in one time.  He actually slept seven hours straight! Normally he only sleeps three hours max.

I have now weaned him from daytime feedings except for going down for nap and I also weaned him of his bedtime feeding. He has overall been sleeping better at night-which means fewer night feedings.  Now after a couple weeks of continued use I can say it is a great all natural product to help my baby sleep better.  

Wink Naturals has a whole line of Sleep products for babies and toddlers that can be found at http://winknaturals.com.  Always check with your doctor before using any supplements or holistic products.

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!
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