Valentine’s Heart Pancakes

Are you ready for Valentine’s Day next week? To celebrate we have been getting a lot of use out of my Kate Spade Pancake Set that I was gifted for Christmas (so cute, right?) Target also has a similar set here.

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For Oliver’s birthday we received the book Pancakes! so it was the perfect excuse to have some friends over for pajama’s and pancakes. My kids love this interactive book, and it comes complete with a yummy recipe you can use.

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Our friends brought some yummy Valentine’s themed toppings to add to the pancakes while my kids “helped” make the recipe from the book.

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*Note: Make sure to pre-measure the salt, or your toddler just might dump the whole bowl in like mine did!

Do you enjoy making pancakes with your kids? We’ve been having fun testing out my new pancakes shapes set although it does take a few times for trial and error, but the end result is always still yummy!

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For more Pancake and Valentine’s fun, I rounded up some of our other favorite books like Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle or If You Give a Pig a Pancake. My kids also love Hug Machine and Besos for Baby, and of course I had to get Ollie’s Valentine for Oliver. Have you read any of these?

I also compiled some of our favorite Valentine’s crafts for some more ideas like this Love Bomb or these Watercolor Valentines. For food-related items, how adorable are these Heart-Shaped Calzones and Emoji Pancakes?

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For more ideas, check out our Eric Carle Inspired Valentine’s Craft (along with a free Valentine’s printable!) or our Pajamas and Donuts Play Date.

 

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Baby Book Club: Eric Carle Inspired Valentine’s Craft

How are we already pulling into the month of February? For this month’s Baby Book Club, we decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day early by reading Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This is a very short and sweet book that almost reads like a Valentine’s Day card, but your kids will love the illustrations and rhymes.

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When I was researching Valentine’s Day crafts, I’ll admit that one can only get so creative with heart activities. I decided to take some of my favorite craft ideas that I’ve been wanting to try and incorporate it with the mixed media art style of Eric Carle. I recently discovered these Neon Kwik Stix Tempura Paint Sticks and I knew they would be a hit with my kids. I also went with the Metallix Set for additional colors. The Tempura Sticks take all the fun of painting without making too much of a mess unless your son is like mine and likes to gather them all together with the lids off and carry them around the house….

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The kids decorated their hearts with the Paint Sticks, as well as with some dot markers and chalk pastels (however the pastels only mix with the dot markers, and not the paint). The best part is that you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry, so we were able to tie our hearts with bakers twine to some sticks I had found after cutting them out. They look great in the window when the light hits just right.

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I mentioned in my last post that we had quite a few cheese balls leftover from Oliver’s birthday, so for a snack I put together these fun Valentine’s treats for the kids. I thought these tags might go cute with some Atomic Fireball candies as well, in case cheese balls aren’t your thing. Then I made a snack mix with teddy grahams, conversation hearts and these Cupid’s Messages M&Ms. I decided to make a fun free printable to go along with the snacks if you’d like to make your own Great Balls of Fire, Valentines!

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Despite the Super Bowl just around the corner in Houston, our original plan was to meet at Discovery Green to check out the Enchanted Promenade installment. However, the park ended up being closed to get ready for their Super Bowl LIVE event. But we made the most of the detour by checking out this Hearts Mural Wall which is part of the Houston Graffiti Building in East Downtown. You can follow the artist, Whaley Fine Art on Instagram and you can find more fun walls around Houston from this list on Wear Where Well.

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Overall we had a great day exploring Houston while getting together with friends and celebrating Valentine’s Day. For more Valentine’s books ideas, check out some of our other favorite books like The Shape of My Heart, The Awesome Book of Love!, Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!, and Huggy Kissy.

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Do you have any favorite Valentine’s books or craft ideas?

Sound The Alarm! Fire Truck Party

I officially have a three-year-old everyone. I’m not sure how this happened, but here we all are. To celebrate my baby’s big day, we had a fire truck party. There are all sorts of fire truck inspiration out there so I pulled together some of my favorite ideas to make this party happen. And while all of these details may seem well put together, of course I had no idea where my real camera was that day, so cell phone pictures it is!

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For the invitations, I found this amazing fire truck font which I also used to make the gift tags and food labels for the party. When I asked Oliver who he wanted to invite to his party, the first thing out of his mouth was “Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy & Pluto” so naturally, I had to send one to them. I don’t know if this address works, but I saw this address online for receiving autographed postcards, so we’ll see if we get anything back in the mail or not!

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Since I had made a digital copy of the invitation, I also sent them out via paperless post to keep track of each RSVP. I have used this just for sending out invitations in the past, but sometimes it’s still fun to send out snail mail!

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For food, we kept is simple with hot dogs, chili and some Chick-fil-a nuggets. Of course, the “tires” (donuts) and the “fire hoses” (fruit ropes) were a huge hit! I found these Clif Kid ZFruits and Annie’s Fruit Tape on sale and I pretty much bought out the store when I saw this since these fit in perfect with the theme. I also learned the hard way that the only way to buy the “fire balls” were in a giant container, so we’ll be working those into a Valentines craft in the near future somehow…

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For the favors, I found these adorable trucks in the Target Dollar Aisle. Then I saw the idea for the “fire hose” jump ropes from this party, so we ordered those along with some fire hats from Oriental Trading.

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We had a few older and younger guests as well, so I made some specialized favors for them

Someone sent me a tip that most local volunteer fire stations will send out a truck for parties (assuming there is no real emergency at that time). So we owe a huge shout out to The Klein Fire Department and their Station 7 Crew for coming out to make Oliver’s birthday extra special this year! The station also brought out their own hats and favors for the kids to take home. This was obviously the hit of the party!oliver6

All in all it was a great day for Oliver! It’s so neat to see him grow up and learn new things every day. We sure love this little dude! Happy Birthday!oliver9

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As a gift to you all, I have saved the file I made for my Firefighter Hose tags if you would like to use them as a free printable. You can also check out Oliver’s 1st Birthday and 2nd Birthday for more ideas. And for more fire truck party ideas, check out Hostess with the Mostess for this adorable Invitation and Firefighter Kit. Archdays had the cutest table and cake setup and 100 Layer Cakelet had these fun favor and shirt ideas.

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Now on to plan our next big event, a 2nd Birthday for Wes!

 

 

Trains Around Houston

Do you have train lovers like I do? We still have yet to check out all of the fun train activities around Houston, but we have certainly been to our fair share. Of course my boys are just as content playing with their train table at home, however it’s still fun to check out the real thing when time allows.

To go along with our love of trains, Oliver was just gifted Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker as an early birthday present and we are in love with this book. The illustrations are amazing and combines all the things we love about trains as well as fun animals and toys. I can hardly get through the book without him pointing excitedly at all of the things he sees in the pictures.

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As for another famous train we all know and love, last year we made a small trip to check out Day Out With Thomas. While it does tour across the U.S. and Canada, your options in Texas are to visit the Grapevine location in the spring, or the Austin location in the fall. Having two boys who love trains, this was an absolute blast. They were able to go on a real train ride, take photos with Thomas as well as play in the bounce house and check out the different train tables they had set up.

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We brought along some of our favorite Thomas books, like Thomas Saves the Day, Thomas and the Big Big Bridge, and Thomas and the Dinosaur. And of course we got decked out in our train gear and train hats for the event!

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Another great place to check out is Zube Park near Cypress, just outside the Outlet Mall. Not only is it a huge park, but Houston Area Live Steamers have miniature train cars that run every third Saturday of the month starting in March through November.

train2I will say from our experience that the steam cars are a more ideal activity for older kids as there is about an hour wait and many of the months in Houston will be fairly hot and humid out. However, the park is still fun to check out and they also have a miniature model train running the kids can watch.

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We also love to check out the Tomball Train Depot. The city even just got approval to add a new train museum. You can read about the model trains that were donated here and you can also check out our post here featuring the spray grounds nearby.

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On our wishlist:

Can you believe we have yet to ride the Hermann Park Train? This would be such a fun activity after an outing at the zoo. I’ve been wanting to check out Main Street Indoor Park especially for a rainy day or when you just really need some AC during the summer! (photo credit and review from Big Kid Small City). Houston is also home to not one, but two railroad museums nearby. One is the Rosenberg Railroad Museum and the other is the Galveston Railroad Museum. You can also take a real train ride at each one, and while they are both a bit of a drive they both sound worth the trip!

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For more information about trains around Houston, check out Big Kid Small City for more ideas like the City of Katy Play Station or Donovan Park. Have you been to any of these trains or museums around Houston?

 

Wunderlich Farms: A Farm in Houston’s Backyard

Back in October we had the opportunity to visit with some farm animals at Wunderlich Farms for an Animal Meet and Greet. (You can tell I’m playing catch-up from the holidays since it’s taken me awhile to finally  post about this).

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My kids had a blast checking out the horses, chickens, goats, sheep and bunnies. We even got to bring apples to feed them which was their favorite part. The farmer was especially helpful and knowledgeable about the animals and we can’t wait to check them out again at one of their upcoming Farmer’s Markets or their Spring Festival on March 4. You can follow them on their Facebook  page for more up to date info on events as well.

Of course we found a cute book to accompany our outing with Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, the classic author of Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. You might also recognize the artist as Felicia Bond who does the illustrations for the If You Give… series as well.

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Here are some fun ideas from Kara’s Party Ideas like this cake or these feed bags for a party or farm get-together, as well as some farm-themed sensory bin ideas from Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls and Life Over C’sfarm10

Do your kids love to visit the farm? Are there any places nearby you? You can also check out our Little Blue Truck Play Date for more farm animal ideas!

Pizza Picnic at Burroughs Park

Before all the holiday bustle came upon us, we met up with a few friends for a Pizza Picnic at Burroughs Park. With winter being fairly mild in Houston this year, a picnic in the park is feasible almost anytime (except the summers of course!) Burroughs Park is a fantastic park to meet at as well. It has multiple playgrounds, a sandbox area, plenty of swings and a lake with ducks. They are also known for having events like Movie Nights and Family Festivals throughout the year. Big Kid, Small City also has a fun write-up on it if you’re looking for more information on the park.

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A picnic outside is a great way to kick of the new year as well (weather permitting of course). The book Picnic by John Burningham was also a fun way to introduce the idea of a picnic to the kids. It has adorable illustrations and fun characters to meet along the way.

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Burroughs Park offers a ton for the kids to go exploring as well as play. It’s a great place to make a day out of visiting and is well worth the drive.

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And of course, we had plenty of pizza leftover afterwards, so we ate pizza for lunch in the boys’ tree house the next day. We also found the book Pizza at Sally’s which my kids loved reading. This would be a fun book to read and then have the kids help make a pizza for a pizza night. It goes over the steps for making a pizza and is another great book with fun illustrations.

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Are you ready to host your own Pizza Picnic? I’m obsessed with this inspiration from Luisa Brimble and how fun would a scenic picnic under the Brooklyn Bridge be like on Love Taza? A Pizza Party like on Holamama is always fun as well as this Picnic Inspiration from Kara’s Party Ideas.

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Happy New Year and thanks for following along!

Baby Book Club: Catch That Cookie!

When we discovered that Tiny’s #5 had opened the new Tiny’s Milk and Cookies walk-up, we HAD to check it out! It just so happened that we found the perfect book to go along with our play date, as well as a park within walking distance!

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We love going to Rice Village, but parking and dealing with toddlers is not always ideal for that area of town. However, Tiny’s Milk and Cookies is just down the street from Little Matt’s, West University Spark Park and West University Public Library. I hadn’t been to this area in awhile, but it’s perfect for spending the day with little ones since it’s not quite in the middle of the hustle and bustle of all the shopping. You do have to be careful about what day of the week and time, as the park is part of a school and is not open during school hours, but it has 3 different play areas including one for those with smaller children with a gate around the area.

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Forget the playground, the kids loved playing in these trees, finding sticks and jumping in the piles of leaves!

The kids had a blast playing at the park, and it was the perfect spot after chowing down on some tasty sugar cookies (and yummy coffee for the mamas!)

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This place makes the perfect photo-op as well!

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For our craft, we kept it simple with a gingerbread man cut-out that I made using a cookie cutter. Then I brought some glitter, glue and googley eyes and let the kids have at it!

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Ah yes, and let’s not forget this adorable book, Catch That Cookie by Hallie Durand . It features the skeptical Marshall, who doesn’t believe that Gingerbread Men Cookies can really run as the famous Gingerbread Man story goes. However a series of clues leads Marshall to change his mind. It’s definitely a cute book for kids and they will love the fun illustrations.

Do you like to decorate gingerbread men this time of year? I had a hard time deciding between decorating gingerbread men cookies or just doing a craft, but I love this Decorate a Gingerbread Man by Mom Inspired Life and this Printable Gingerbread Man Scavenger Hunt that goes perfect with the book (I probably would have used this if our kids had been a little older). And how cute is this Tiny Gingerbread Man to go on top of your hot chocolate or this fun Gingerbread Embroidery Hoop Art?

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Happy week of Christmas everyone, and I hope you all enjoy your holidays!

 

Orion and the Dark Calm Down Jars

At some point or other, all toddlers seem to battle a fear of the dark or monsters. Around the time that my oldest turned 2 1/2, he was waking up from nightmares which can be heartbreaking as a parent. So I did a small round-up of some books to help Oliver conquer his fears. (We also have a new found obsession with flashlights)

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Some of the books we enjoyed were the classic Where the Wild Things Are, Leondardo the Terrible Monster and Flashlight. By far, our favorite book that we found was Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett. This book is about a boy who is afraid of the dark but ends up befriending The Dark and going on an adventure with him.

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It also worked out that we had a Busy Bag Swap with a friend recently, so I decided to make these calm down jars to trade. I’m not going to lie, these turned out to be more of a pain than I had anticipated, but the end result was a hit! I also tried a few attempts at doing a glow-in-the-dark bottle, first by painting glow in the dark stars on it but the paint didn’t show up very well. I ended up putting in some glow-in-the-dark mini stars for a glow affect instead.

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My two attempts. The first one included glow-in-the-dark paint and the second I traded out the paint for more glitter glue and glow-in-the-dark stars

I followed a couple different tutorials, but this one by Rhythms of Play turned out to work the best for us and this other tutorial by Preschool Inspirations had some good tips as well. You can pre-measure how much water you will need by first measuring the bottles, but leave a little space for adding your sequins and ingredients. Heat the water and then mix everything together in a bowl with a whisk. Here’s what we used to make the bottles:

  1. Voss Water Bottles (these are expensive, but the consensus was that these work the best since it has a wider opening at the top)
  2. 1 tablespoon blue glitter glue
  3. 1 tablespoon black glitter glue
  4. 1 tablespoon blue dawn dish soap
  5. 2 tablespoons glitter
  6. star sequins
  7. glow-in-the-dark stars
  8. 4-5 drops of blue food coloring
  9. Tacky Glue for gluing on the lid at the end

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Here are my tips after many trials and errors with making these. First, you will need hot water to make sure everything mixes together. However, don’t put the hot water in the water bottle right away, or your bottle will melt (whoops!) Some tutorials ended up using glue or oil to help make everything “slow down” but I just stuck with glitter glue and dish soap since some food dyes won’t mix with oil. It really just depends on what kind of effect you are going for and the beauty of these jars is that you have lots of options, just do a little research beforehand. My last tip is to try making these outside if possible because these.are.messy.

The timing also couldn’t have been better for us, because to go along with our flashlight obsession, if you’ve been to Chick-fil-A recently, you may have noticed these awesome Shine-a-Light books with your children’s meal. Once again I was OCD Mom at collecting all the goods!

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Have you ever tried to make a calm down jar before? How did it work out for you?

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

I don’t know about you, but before we became parents we swore we would skip over the whole “Frozen” craze. Somehow along the way, our kids still figured it out and are obsessed! I ended up finding the cutest book, Do You Want to Build a Snowman? by Calliope Glass at our library and my kids love it! It’s interactive, so you have to “tap” and “blow” and “clap” to help bring the snow so that the kids can make Olaf.

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I had seen a few other Invitations to Create with snowman activities, so I put that together with the beloved Olaf design from the book. We used sticks for the arms, black beans for the buttons and then white construction paper and googly eyes for the face. Regular glue sticks will work for the construction paper, but I used tacky glue for the arms and beans just to make sure they would stick properly.

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All of the snowmen turned out great! This was a fun activity to do as we read the book so that the kids could follow along. And of course we had to have snowman snacks to go with it! We had Pirate’s Booty in our snowman cups and marshmallows, pretzels and cocoa puffs for a build-your-own-snowman snack. And as you can see, we’re still trying to get rid of that bag of candy corn around here for his nose!

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I can’t take credit for any of the snack ideas, so be sure to check out these Snowman Snack Cups with a fun snack mix recipe and these Olaf Frozen Invitations for more inspiration. Raspberri Cupcakes also made the cutest Snowman Macaron Cake and Happy Hooligans has another fun twist with her Build a Snowman Activity Tray.

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Are your kids in love with Frozen as well? We’ve found some other great interactive books with a Christmas theme at the library as well, like Dream Snow by Eric Carle, and  Little Blue Truck’s Christmas. Although this last one isn’t interactive, it features another one of our favorite Disney/Pixar characters in Mater Saves Christmas! What are some of your favorite books this time of year?

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Christmas Kindness Countdown 2016

How is it already December? I’ve seen lot’s of cute Advent Calendars out as well as the return of many Elf on the Shelves today. Hopefully I’m not too late in the game, but I created a Christmas Kindness Countdown Calendar you can download here to ring in December. I saw the idea when I was working on my Thankful post and I loved it so much that I wanted to custom one to ideas that would be easy for me to do with two toddlers.

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Will you be joining us in the countdown? How do you celebrate the countdown to Christmas?