Pumpkin Patch at McKee Ranch

This past weekend we had good old fashioned family fun at McKee Ranch in Las Vegas.  They have an annual​​ pumpkin patch where family’s pay $20-which goes to the care of the rescued farm animals, and in return receive entry to the ranch, carrots to feed the animals, a free pumpkin, and a free hayride.

Pumpkin Patch Fun at McKee Ranch with My Petite Picassos!

McKee Ranch has horses to feed, pony rides, face painting, a train ride, pumpkin painting, cookie decorating and an area for LaLa Photography to take photos of your littles on the ranch.

My boys loved riding the rocking horses like cowboys, doing the corn maze, and taking the train ride.  I had fun taking photos on my own, however last year I did do the LaLa Photography Photos and I’ll share them below-they are gorgeous!  It’s a great way to spend a fall day with your family in Las Vegas.

 

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Here are my photos from last year with La La Photography.

 

McKee Ranch is located at: 8982 Dean Martin Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89139.  They have Christmas at the ranch coming up after Thanksgiving so be sure to check it out!

 

Dealing with Daycare Separation Anxiety

daycare
This past spring I felt that my home business was growing to the extent that it was taking a lot of time away from my children and my personal time. If I wanted to go even further with the business I would need either a nanny or daycare to free up time for me to grow. Over the summer we started sending our boys to our synagogue’s day care program. My older son, Ben, attends services with my husband every week there. So for Ben it wasn’t a new place or new people. For Adam who stays home with me – this was a totally new experience for him.

While I stayed home last year the boys went a couple hours here and there to the day care center at our gym.  So they have experienced a small amount of separation from me. An hour or two a few days a week was the standard amount time away from each other.  I recommend if you are nervous about starting day care with either a baby or a toddler who has never been before start them slowly.  When I was teaching full-time I would typically drop Ben off at the daycare or nanny for a couple hours 2 weeks before the school year started. This way it was not an unfamiliar place when he started going full-time.  This short amount of time that the child spends at the daycare or nanny can also alleviate any separation anxiety for the parents as they transition back into full-time work.  The parent gets to know the teachers or the nanny better, they get used to saying goodbye, and having time without their child.

As we started daycare the first two weeks this summer Ben was really excited, but then separation anxiety did start setting in.  What helped Ben was having some time with Adam in the morning to play and get settled then. So the teachers at the daycare center coordinated a time first thing for the boys to play outside together. This 20 to 30 minutes helped Ben get over his separation anxiety very quickly. This works well if you have siblings or a friend who’s child your child is already friends with.

For Adam, he has always had separation anxiety.  He doesn’t even want to walk into the door in the morning. I simply pick him up and have a routine with the classroom teacher to get him settled in quickly. I lift him into the classroom, hug and kiss him, give him to the teacher, and she takes him over to his favorite toy to distract him immediately, calming him.

I don’t recommend elongating the goodbye, or feeling guilty. If your child sees you feel badly dropping them off at daycare then they will feel that there’s something bad about dropping them off at daycare. If you just keep it quick, happy, and set up a routine they will transition into their day better.  Stick to this transition routine, and stay positive. For a young child like Adam who is only 18 months old and has been home his entire life up until now, a short daycare day is a huge change in his life.

In the morning after I drop off Adam I go to I drop off Ben. I simply give him a kiss goodbye and he starts  playing with his friends. When I walk back past the baby room I peek into Adams classroom and he’s busy happily playing.  Daycare and preschool give parents a chance to teach their child that school is cool from a young age. If you keep it upbeat and positive, they will come around to it being an upbeat and positive experience.  As a teacher, I will tell you that separation anxiety as at its highest during drop off in the morning. Most kids settle into school and have a great day. The following morning the separation anxiety returns. I know that Adam is having a great time playing with his friends, helping his teachers and his room, and is being taken care of while I’m out with him. I don’t feel guilty dropping him off because he cries in the morning. I know he’s going to be okay.  I have seen kids of ages  five or six have terrible separation anxiety in the morning and later during the school day are happily playing with their friends.  The worst separation anxiety I ever saw was from a six-year-old who when I taught her in the afternoon was a complete joy to have in my classroom.  Try to set up a plan with the classroom teacher every day to get your child settled in and comfortable. Work with your classroom teacher or the school counselor if the separation anxiety is extreme.

Another tip I have for older toddlers joining daycare for the first time is when you are home with your child talk positively about the teacher and their friends are making. Our daycare put out a newsletter with photos of what’s happening in the classroom each week, so I gave the photos to Ben and talked about his friends with him when we got home. We talked about how much fun he has playing with them every day. We talked about the fun things he’s learning in school.  Now he loves going to school! In fact,  yesterday he left the school building crying because he had to leave school!

If you’re returning to work immediately after your maternity leave and leaving your child to day care or with a nanny as I did when I left Ben at 4 1/2 months- there was no separation anxiety. Babies don’t understand that we can actually get up and be somewhere else. He went to school every single day for half a year with not a tear in his eye.  He was too little to understand. The older they get, closer to nine months to a year old they start to understand that mommy goes away. Remind them that mommy always comes back. Start with leaving them with dad while you go for groceries show them mommy goes bye-bye and comes back. Take a date with your husband or start daycare in small increments like I recommend. Small amounts of separation can ease a later larger transition.  I believe that consistently separating this past year from Ben helped him get over his separation anxiety quickly, he knows mommy always comes back. As I said that out loud just now he replied “yes.”

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.

Father’s Day with My Petite Picassos

Father's DaySo yes I am slowing down on the blog but when something relevant happens I do want to share and we just had an epic Father’s Day!  It started off with Ben making this cute framed photo craft at summer camp. In fact, if you follow me on Pinterest you’ll see that there are a lot of cute ideas posted for making photo presents for dad. 

Prior to Father’s Day, about two weeks ago, I made with the boys Father’s Day gifts for my dad and for my husband. We used acrylic paint and paint markers that I purchased at Target to make handprint and footprint art pottery. My dad is an avid golfer, so we made his around the theme of golf. My husband just adores his children so we made his with the theme of hearts and a little Hebrew rhyme (my husband is from Israel).


This project just took one afternoon. I recommend if you get into multiple footprints like I did that you do first the lighter color of paint.I did my dad’s plates first with the boys using the silver paint. Then we did my husband’s plates with the red paint.

I glazed the plates and cups with dishwasher safe Mod Podge which takes a month to cure. On Father’s Day I made my husband breakfast and surprised him with the play and the coffee cup.


After breakfast we went to swim class for Ben. He’s been working really hard on swimming for the last few months and has moved up a level and this week he moved up again! It’s actually funny that on Mother’s Day he moved up, then on Father’s Day he moved up again!  When he goes up a level they give him a ribbon and he can pick a toy from the treasure chest. He picked bubbles. He carried his ribbon and bubbles around for the rest of the day, he was so proud! The swimming skills came in handy later on when we went over to our friends’ house for a pool party. We  had a great time swimming and afterwards finished the day with ice cream at dusk. It was a long and fun Father’s Day! It was great to spend time with friends and enjoy the outdoors in the Las Vegas heat! The boys slept in this morning because they were so tired from all of yesterday’s events!

What did you do on Father’s Day? Did your child make some DIY art projects for their dad? If they did please share them in the comments below.

Ben showing off his ribbon.

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!

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! 

Floral May Crafts for Toddlers

may flowers
April showers bring May flowers right? So this month I’ve been doing a lot of floral crafts with my boys. The first one I shared on Instagram and in a previous post which is a Monet Waterlilies craft.  Monet was a French impressionist painter in the 19 century who built an incredible garden in his home complete with a Japanese bridge and water lily pond which he painted over and over again. This is a simple process art project that then gets turned into a craft.  For more information on how to make it you can check out my previous post here.

monet 2Later on for Mother’s Day we made paper plate flowers which are also a simple process art activity. The boys use bright colors and painted paper plates. Afterwards we practiced cutting with our safety scissors little slips along the side of both plates. Then we bent the tabs that we created to resemble petals on a flower. To finish we added a green construction paper stem and leaf.  Both boys painted a paper plates, Ben helped with the cutting, and Adam helped with the gluing.

flower cardWe created some friends willows based off of a Pinterest pan I found last month. We did this project in play group along with the water lilies. For this project I pre-drew the willows on white card stock sized 9″ x 11″. Are used a sharpie marker, but any permanent marker will do. You don’t want to use Crayola markers because they will smear when the paint is applied. We then dipped hour some into different colors of paint and pressed around the flower. It’s a simple cute process project that could then be turned into a card or framed.

I did a willow, but on Pinterest it initially came to me as a dandelion.  There are so many cute thumbprint flowers on Pinterest.  I’ll share some pins below.  Let me know if you try any in the comments below.  Happy May!

Thumbprint Dandelion - Kid Craft - this idea would be a great gift for a teacher or a DIY project for grandparents!:

Thumbprint Art Project For Kids - Easy craft idea! Painted flower pots make cute homemade Mother's Day Gifts. Crafts:

Mother's day gift idea from thebubblegumtree.blogspot.com:

 

My Favorite Books on Art for Toddlers Right Now

As I’ve mentioned before I read A LOT to my boys. We are working towards 1000 books by kindergarten. I keep a log and every time they read another hundred books they get to put their names up on the board at our local library. Of course I love to read to my boys about art.  I am sharing with you some of my favorite books that we are currently reading about art. Many of them are not just for babies or toddlers but could also be appropriate for elementary school age children as well.

1. Artsy Babies Wear Paint by Michelle Sinclair Coleman-this is a great all-around art book for a baby to toddler age child. It discusses the concept of creativity, has cute illustrations, and is very colorful. Children at a very young age can start to learn about media as they begin to experiment with it .

2. I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz -a tongue twisting story with incredible illustrations that reference famous works of art by Andy Warhol, Van Gogh, and Andrew Wyeth.  This is my favorite book to read at Hanukkah!

3. Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre -a fun romp through the art room turns into a disastrous mess!  I have a collage project that I do to accompany this story.  I adore this book-great for kids who go to school already.

Patriotic Playgroup Activities  for Presidents’ Day

This week we had our playgroup on Presidents’ Day. I decided to go with the theme of patriotic crafts and I did some research on Pinterest. I found a really cool pasta sensory bin that was cheap and easy to make.  I will attach the pan below in case you’re interested. The century vent was a blast and the children really enjoyed it. It did not take a whole lot of work to make. In fact I made it just in a few extra moments that I had over the weekend. Obviously the pasta is reusable, so I can use this for future crafts to come.  Once the bin was assembled I added in some plastic cups, plastic spoons and forks, and a little car for the kids to play with.



I also did a patriotic star craft. We assembled stars using Elmer’s glue with red and blue popsicle sticks. Then we attached the start to some white card stock. The kids could use glue sticks to collage paper tissue squares in red and blue or red glitter on their star.  This was sort of a problem-solving craft in the fact that the kids had to help their moms put together a star which is not easy to do as far as it coming out symmetrical. The kids also had to learn how to use a glue stick and choose the materials that they wanted in their star.  For a two-year-old that is definitely some higher-level thinking. They are analyzing, synthesizing, and creating.


My last activity was a so-called free painting in red white and blue. This particular project has some art historical significance. The style of Abstract Expressionism  which was made popular by Jackson Pollock in the 1940’s was an exploration of paint itself. No longer was paint being used to depict a person, place or thing – the artist was just creating a painting to depict the paint.  Their style of art marks the transition of the center of the art world from being Paris to it being in New York City. This is a truly American art movement.  So as the kids dripped, swirled, and explored with paint, they were actually creating works of art that tied into an American historical style of art.


When I do my playgroup every month I like to have a variety of activities. I like for there to be something for the kids to craft or collage, something for them to model or experience such as a sensory activity or clay, and of course a drawing or painting material. At this age it’s really important that kids just experience as much as they possibly can. By giving young children art materials and allowing them to create they’re using their higher thinking skills, they are exploring their imagination, and they’re expressing their unique individuality at a very-which is a character builder.  Young children experience a level of confidence in themselves and their artwork and like teenagers who typically are shy about their accomplishments. If we can encourage  young children to to be proud of themselves and build up their confidence at a young age then hopefully they’ll be more confident when they enter their teenage years and adulthood. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and if you have any thoughts about how art builds character in kids please share them in the comments below.

Tips for Painting with a Toddler

img_3744Over the years I have been told repeatedly by classroom teachers how brave I am.  Not because I’m a ninja, but because I can organize groups of fifty elementary school aged children while creating messy masterpieces.  Painting with a 1 year old or 2 year old is very different and presents far more challenges than with a group 20 five year olds-seriously.

1. Cover the chair they’re sitting in with a garbage bag, even if it’s a highchair.  The dyes in the paint could leave a permanent stain on the fabric or plastic.

2. Tiny paintbrushes or Q-tips.  Tiny amounts of paint being splattered and dropped is everywhere is a lot easier to clean than large amounts of drippy paint.

3. Non-toxic only. If the paint is store bought there should be an AP label. I have had a few students taste the paint over the years and even though it’s non-toxic, I sent them to the nurse just to be safe.  She had them gargle with water and sent them back to class.  If you want to be extra safe try my homemade, food safe paint recipe.

4. Make a DIY garbage bag smock.  Turn the garbage  bag upside down, cut a hole at the top for the head and two at the sides for the arms.  It will cover them top to toe and it’s reusable.

5. I recommend putting some kraft paper on the floor for spills and on the table. Or wrap plastic wrap around the highchair table.

6. When they are finished, take away the supplies first and the smock last.

7.  Baby wipes work best for cleaning up the kiddos or a bath.

8.  Stain removers that have worked well for me are Oxyclean, Honest (got out Sharpie), and good old baking soda/vinegar.

9.  Little ones don’t know to cover the whole page, and maybe parts of the page are out of reach for them. Either point out where else on the paper they can paint or turn the painting for them.  You want to do this before they paint over and over in the same spot for so long they wear a hole through their painting.

10.  Turn their paintings into something special: a garland, cut out repetitive shapes and make a Warhol inspired work of art, scrapbook with it, the possibilities are endless!