Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bath time fun!

If your kids are anything like mine, then they LOVE baths! Like, could spend hours in the bath tub or shower if I let them. There was one winter that Max took two baths/showers a day to keep entertained! I was pregnant and horribly sick with Harrison plus it was sooo cold and snowy out, we hardly left the house. That's when I discovered his love for water, bath crayons, and experimenting with turning the water different colors. Here are a few of my kid's favorite bath time toys and activities:

Crayola Jumbo Bath Dropz (Crayola Jumbo Bath Dropz Scented, 3-color Bath Fizzie): The kids just tried this the other day and it was very cool! Just as it sounds, it's a huge bath fizz ball, that changes into 3 different colors as it dissolves. Max has very sensitive skin, but I've never had an issue using any kind of fizz colors and water coloring items. Harrison of course touched it as it was changing colors and it did stain his hand. Even after washing the color was faintly there, but it had completely faded away by morning.

Sesame Street Fizzy Tub Colors (Sesame Street Fizzy Tub Colors 50 Count): We've used these on and off for years and they are fantastic.
The fizzy's dissolve quickly with bright colors. No issues with staining skin, tub, or floor (yes, water ALWAYS winds up on the floor with my kids!).

Bath "paint": I have bought the Crayola bath paint (Crayola Bathtub Fingerpaint Soap by Play Visions) before and it was great, but my kids go through it very quickly so the cost adds up. That's when I started making my own. Put baby soap (we use Johnson's hypoallergenic Body Wash) in muffin tins and mix in food coloring. Sit back and let the kids paint the tub/shower walls! You can always put a cloth in their hands and tell them to scrub the "paint" off when they're done. Keeps them busy longer and I'm getting the shower cleaned mid-week. Double bonus.

Ice cubes w/ food coloring: All of those products that change the bath water different colors can get expensive if you're kids are like mine and go through those things fast. That's when I resort to making ice cubes and dying them with food coloring. Once they're frozen, pop those babies out, and put them in the warm bath. My kids get into watching the cubes melt and change the water colors. This won't (or at least it hasn't for us) stain skin, towels, or the tub, but just a warning, these only tint the water. It won't be the vibrant colors you get with the fizzy tub colors, but still fun and cheap.

Bath Stickers and Letters (Rub a Dub Stickers for the Tub - Colors May Vary and Little Tikes Bath Letters and Numbers: I found the bath "stickers" on Amazon months ago and bought a set at Target for the kids. Only $4.99 for a package, they make different varieties (I went with zoo animals, but ALEX tub brand has a transportation set that looks cool), and once they're wet, they actually stick really well to the sides of the tub. I buy the Munchkin brand of sets of letters and numbers from Target. The only bad thing about the foam letters and bath stickers: they seem to be one of Elizabeth's favorite teething toy, so ours got chewed up fairly quickly. Would be great for kids old enough to know not to bite.

Bath Crayons (Munchkin 5 Piece Bath Crayons Set): My kids LOVE these, I do not, so I don't buy them often. We have tried the Crayola and ALEX brand bath crayons. Both scrub off of the tub surfaces (and the floors and walls, fyi) easily and they do provide lots of fun for the kids. However, my kids go through these fast and they're on the expensive side when I would need to replace them every week or more. So, these are a "special item" in our house. I've seen several things on Pinterest for make your own bath crayons, I just have yet to try it out.

Bath Squirters (Fisher-Price Thomas Bath Squirters): Of course, any toy that squirts water is a favorite of any child's. Just be sure to check for mold regularly. I've thrown many out and expect too if you have any. I continually check Target's dollar section and other cheap place for squirters, so I can replace the moldy ones without the kids noticing.

Hopefully these can add a bit of fun to your child's bath routine!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Recipe Created on a Whim: Oatmeal Pancakes

I had no real plans for dinner Tuesday evening, except for leftovers from our weekend dinners, paired with fresh veggies and fresh fruit of course. The kids begged me for pancakes, I had a box mix of pancakes, so I got creative. I wanted something a bit more filling than just pancakes with syrup so I decided to try out oatmeal pancakes.

 I looked through recipes online but didn't find any I was totally satisfied with. So I created my own. I didn't keep exact measurements of anything since I just kind of threw things into the mix, but I did keep track of everything I used.

While these aren't the healthiest (they contain sugar and brown sugar) they are a bit more filling than just a regular pancake, Plus I served with grapes, raspberries, and sausage on the side for a well rounded meal.

4 cups pancake mix (any kind, your choice)
1 1/2 - 2 cups Oats (I started with 1 1/2 cups but added more as I stirred)
Amount of water called for on the back of pancake mix box, plus a bit more once oatmeal is added. Consistency should be a bit more watery than a bowl of oatmeal.
1 tsp cinnamon
a light covering over the top of the mix of sugar
a lighter covering over the top of the mix of brown sugar (aka-less than the sugar)
1/2 mashed banana (I couldn't even taste the banana in the pancake, so if you want more, add it. It didn't really add anything to the texture or flavor, just an added fruit serving I guess. Feel free to leave the banana out of the mixture).

Stir together. Cook as you would a regular pancake (I do mine in a skillet on the stove, but it would work fine on a griddle too).

My kids ate theirs with syrup and then another one plain as an after dinner snack. The pancake tasted good either way.

We will definitely be adding these to our breakfast routine from now on!

No Cook Play Dough

If you browse through Pinterest at all, you will see dozens of homemade play dough recipes. I have never attempted any of these because they all take time to cook, boil water, follow numerous steps, and then let cool for 4+ hours. When you've got 9 kids around, or any kids for that matter, the last thing you want is a project that they can't help you with and that takes forever to be done. Tuesday morning we found ourselves inside on a rainy day. Four kids were keeping busy with the indoor sandbox (, my hubby was home to help control things, and the flour was out on the counter from making the sand. So I thought, lets see what I can come up with! This is what I got:

I didn't use exact measurements for anything (sorry!) but the play dough recipe is something like this: flour (around 3-4 cups), water, vegetable oil (keeps it from getting sticky), 1 Kool Aid packet for color and smells (I made green and it turned out great!). Once everything was mixed together and I got the dough to a non-sticky (I had to add more flour and oil at one point) consistency, I put it in the refrigerator for a half hour while the kids were busy playing a game. When I took it out, I had to knead it for a bit to get it nice and soft.

This dough was not exactly like Play Doh, but more of a cross between Play Doh and a cookie dough. The dough was not sticky or messy at all so I didn't have to worry about the kids getting it everywhere and getting clothes messy. While it wasn't quite the dough I was going for, it got the job done and provided over an hour of fun for the kids. I especially like that I didn't have to cook this at all, the kids can help with the preparation next time, it's not messy, can be eaten if a child decides to try it, and another form of cheap entertainment for the kids. I got out some of the Play Doh accessories for the kids to use (scissors, plastic "knives," and shape cutters) and those worked well with this dough as well as cookie cutters.

Another rainy day activity success!

Indoor Sand box

Tuesday was a rainy, wet day and I needed something to keep four kids (ages 1, 3, and two 5 year olds) with lots of energy busy. It was the perfect day to try out an indoor "sandbox." The sand was flour, vegetable oil, and Kool Aid for color.

Mix flour, oil, and Kool Aid (if you want to use it) with hands. Place in a tub for a sensory bin or, as I did, let the kids go crazy with it on the floor. I put down two garage sacks cut open at the sides, folding them out on the floor and placed the piles of "sand" on those to keep it off of the floor. In retrospect, I should have taped the bags to the floor and to each other, but I failed to think of that. As a result, the sand got in between the bags on the floor and the bags folded on the ends whenever the kids moved. However, the bags did manage to keep a good deal of the sand off of the floor and made clean up a breeze. All I had to do was fold up the bags with the sand in it and do a quick sweep of the area. I did not keep our "sand" as the kids walked in it and buried items in it, but feel free to keep yours. It keeps best in a sealed container or large Ziploc bags.

I gave the kids sandbox toys to use with the mixture, but in the end they buried items from around the kitchen (magnets, a juice box, Elizabeth's pacifier, just to name a few of the oddities) and their feet and hands. At one point they pretended they were at the beach. This indoor sand is easy and quick to throw together and provided an hour of fun for the kids. Can't beat that for easy, cheap entertainment! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Cookie Picnic and Other Tales From the Weekend

Another fun weekend in the books for the Sheaffer family! It is becoming more apparent that summer is winding down, especially this weekend with the cool weather and some fall clothes shopping. After a quick clothes modeling session for the kids to determine sizing and what they needed, I spent my Friday night in search of new pants for the boys. I found success at Old Navy of course, only my fav place to go for clothes for our family!

Saturday morning, the kids and I got up and headed to the zoo bright and early. We met a friend and her little boy. I love getting to the zoo early because that's when all of the animals are the most active. Plus, as we learned earlier this summer, you get to see all of the animals being given their morning meal and their trainers working with them and doing tricks. This zoo trip, we spent most of our time on the playground. That was a huge treat for the kids since we usually skip the playground.

The weather was so nice, the kids and I spent most of the day Saturday running around the backyard. The kids ended their day with a long bounce house session that lasted until well into late evening while mom and dad relaxed on the patio.

Sunday started with chocolate muffins, a quick glance at the Sunday paper, Lego and peg board playing. My aunt Cindi gave me this peg board when she retired from teaching and it's one of the kid's favorite toys. Max enjoys making patterns with the colors and Harrison puts the pegs in and tells me the color and counts them. Sunday was the first time Elizabeth had played with it (I worry about her putting a peg in her mouth since they're on the smaller size) and she loved it! I was very impressed with her hand eye coordination and fine motor skills as she easily put the pegs into the holes after watching Harrison for a few minutes. Looks like I'll have to get this out later this week for the daycare kids as well!

Sunday's have been deemed Family Fun Day in our house since it's the one day a week we can count on that neither Matt or I have to work (he has to work some Saturday's every month). Every Sunday (or the Saturday's he has off) we try to do something fun with the kids. It's usually something out of the house since the kids and I are home all day every day during the week. With it being summer and a perfectly gorgeous day, we had to be outdoors! After a nap for Elizabeth  and lunch, we headed to Camp Dodge to see the tankers. I can't believe we've never taken the kids to see these! They loved climbing up and pretending they were driving and working on the tankers.

Once the kids had climbed and played, we headed to Jester Park for hiking. We did our usual loop trail because it's perfect for young kids. A quick hike on the usual trail led to our Cookie Picnic. This is something out of the ordinary for them (and myself) but they were so excited about it. I hope when they grow up, it's these simple things that they remember: a family hike and setting up a picnic full of different cookies. The boys and myself played catch until Elizabeth caught a stray ball and wouldn't give it back. She's the smallest one year old I've seen, but she tries so hard to keep up with her big brother's and doesn't take anything from them, including them trying to grab back their ball!

At the boy's request, we found another trail to hike when the cookies had been eaten, their ball stolen, and a stinky diaper from Miss E. We found a trail that was a bit more difficult for the kids (hills and dirt and a bit longer) but discovered some fantastic hidden treasures on the trail. The kids were getting tired after a 1/2 mile, so we turned around, but we can't wait to explore the trail further on our next visit. Matt discovered cabins being built in Jester Park during our drive through the park. I'm hoping these cabins are finished before fall, so we can do an overnight and hike the trails in the gorgeous fall weather and colorful trees!
Hiking on our favorite trail
Our Cookie Picnic
Playing catch with Harrison
A hidden treasure on our hike on the newly discovered trail
Harrison kept trying to pick up tree roots and asking why they were "nail down?"

It was such a fun afternoon. The boys crashed in the car on the drive home from all of the walking and fresh air. We grilled a wonderful family favorite for dinner ( and the kids were in bed extra early, which meant extra cleaning time for Matt and I. Remember when you were a kid and had to go to bed early and dreamed about all of the things you would do when you were an adult and could stay up late?? Well kiddies, this is it: posting and cleaning. I wish I had known then that all of the fun really did happen during the day!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kid Approved Grilled Dinner

It's summertime and that means lots of meals from the grill! My kids love pork chops on the grill. So Sunday night family dinner, found us with a true Iowa summer meal: pork chops, corn on the cob, cheesy potato casserole (totally not healthy but totally delicious!), and raspberries. Pork chops we added salt and pepper and grilled, we skipped grilling the corn and boiled it, the raspberries were on sale at Hy-Vee so we stocked up for the week, and the casserole is a family favorite but I don't make it often because it's not healthy. I found the recipe in an ad in the Sunday paper years ago (you can also find it online). It is easy to make and takes around 45 minutes to cook.

Deliciousness! Keep this meal in mind next time your family decides to grill. For those of you with younger children who have yet to get their molars in, please keep in mind that grilled pork chops can be chewy and may be a choking hazard to a younger child. We replaced Elizabeth's (1 year old) pork with green beans, or broccoli would be good too because it's full of protein and vitamins.

Crockpot Recipe My Kids LOVE: Chicken Taco Mix

Here is a simple and healthy crockpot recipe that's one of my kid's favorites. This is packed with protein and veggies and takes less than 5 minutes of prep. The crockpot does the rest of the work. Perfect for a busy week night dinner (or a weekend dinner at my kids request).

You will need:
6-8 chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can corn (I use 1/2 lb of frozen corn)
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can stewed tomatoes (or any kind of tomatoes work)
1 can low sodium chicken broth
*I also put in chopped red, green, and yellow peppers but it's just as good without

Put thawed, uncooked chicken breasts in crockpot. Drain can of corn, beans (rinse the beans), tomatoes, and add to chicken in Crockpot. Put in chicken broth and seasoning, mix together. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Shred chicken and enjoy.
*The chicken will easily shred, almost falling apart, letting you know it's done and thoroughly cooked. You can also put frozen chicken breasts in, but will take longer to cook.

This chicken taco mix is great to eat in tortillas, a hard shell taco, or just by itself. I like to add lettuce and eat it as a chicken taco salad while the kids just eat it by itself with a tortilla on the side. This makes enough for plenty of leftovers too!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Keeping the Kids Busy!

It has been a busy week here! I've gotten a taste of what "school life" will be like this week with Max
participating in Windsor Elementary's jump start program. Lets just say it entails me waking up even earlier (still not so much a morning person and probably never will be) and requiring even more organization on my part to get him out the door on time. This will take some getting use to, but luckily we'll still have a few weeks left of summer to enjoy before it becomes part of our regular routine. This is also Max's last week of t-ball, so no more rushing to be somewhere on Tuesday's and Thursday's!

While Max has been busy with school and our evenings filled with t-ball, I've kept the kids pretty busy and entertained during the day. On Monday, we got the results of the grow snake from the pool. The kids were very excited by how big it had grown. We also started new grow animals and by Tuesday the zebra and

elephant were twice the size they had started at. I had the kids draw pictures of the grow animals and how they grew. Monday afternoon brought about an impromptu experiment of Kool Aid painting (see previous post for recipe and results). The kids LOVED this activity so much we did it again Wednesday morning.
The kids also painted pictures using Melissa and Doug's paint with water. I bought this booklet at the Science Center several months ago. The first time the kids tried these, they weren't a big fan (something about how "the paint isn't bright enough! I can't see!"), but they've really enjoyed doing it within the last few weeks.
Wednesday morning we gave Kool Aid painting a try outside and painted the driveway. This time around, I was prepared enough to have all different colors of Kool Aid on hand instead of all pinks and red! The kids started with brushes but very quickly turned it into full body Kool Aid painting.

I usually have the kids paint on the patio in the backyard, but I didn't want them to run through it since we were spending the gorgeous July morning (seriously, 70 some degrees with very little humidity in July in Iowa is unheard of!!) outside. So, I tested the kids on their listening abilities and drew  two lines on the driveway, leaving a large rectangle on the driveway with the paints in the middle. They were allowed to paint anywhere within those lines, but could not cross the lines (I didn't want anyone running into the street). I only had to remind them once not to cross the line. I was very pleased with how well they listened to and followed directions with this project.

The kids wound down from Kool Aid painting and playing outside with some foam crafts. My sister in law
picked up the ones on the left from Target for half off. The ones on the right I grabbed from Dollar Tree. I like foam crafts because they're easy and safe for all of the kids to do.

After naps, the kids had lots of energy so I created a game: I took the bean bags and made an oval on the living room floor. I placed each bag a small step (for myself) apart from each other. I then put on music and had the kids hop/jump/step from bean bag to bean bag, stopping when the music stopped. When the music stopped, I had them either count to 10 or say their abc's, then put the music back on. They continued to do this for a good half hour, some of the kids continued this activity longer. Bean Bag Hopping, as I named the game, helps with balance and coordination, listening skills, plus helping with their counting and abc skills. I had kids ages 1-5 that day and they all tried to participate. Most of them followed directions perfectly and all understood the activity. I like to test the kids on their abilities so I know what activities are appropriate and they would enjoy the most. I am continually amazed by what these kids are capable of!

This morning was another gorgeous morning, so we got out the bounce house. Good times had by all of the kids. I love this bounce house (my parents got it for my kids for their birthday's) because it exhausts the kids!
Tomorrow, our plans include: getting out the chalkboard table top, a few coloring pages for the kids, putting the hatching penguin in water so it will be all ready for the kids to see Monday morning, and of course, making our plans for a sure to be fun weekend.

Egg Muffins

Lets face it, I am ALWAYS rushing around in the mornings...and I run my daycare from home! I can't imagine trying to get out of the house on time every morning, just the thought makes my heart race. I dare you to find me someone who isn't running around like crazy in the mornings, especially if that someone has kids. Most mornings I feed 2 or more additional kids and my own, so I like to have breakfast options ready to go. All of my kids (my 3 and all of my daycare kids) love eggs but I never seem to have enough time to stand at the stove and scramble them. That was when Pinterest came to my rescue yet again! The recipe I found on Pinterest for egg muffins was for a low carb (think South Beach or Atkins diet) version, but kids need a well balanced diet, so I created my own version of the recipe. My husband and I like these, as do all of the kids, so it's a double win breakfast. I add berries (or any other fruit) and whole wheat toast on the side for a complete breakfast.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12 count muffin tin with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix 12 eggs, 2/3 cup of milk (this is the part of the recipe I changed from the original recipe I found on Pinterest. Any way to get calcium into those growing bodies is always a plus. Feel free to add more or less milk, it will not effect the cooking of the eggs), salt and pepper (I don't measure this, just do as much as you'd like. I actually don't add any salt to these but put quite a bit of pepper in because we all like pepper). At the bottom of each muffin cup, place whatever filling you would like in your eggs. I usually do only cheese (I always use cheddar) but I've tried cheese and sausage or a cheese and turkey bacon. You can also add spinach, peppers, onions, or anything else you'd like. My kids don't like veggies added to their eggs so I only do a protein packed egg muffin with veggies/fruit on the side.

Be sure not to fill the muffin cup too much with these "fillings" as you still have to put the egg mixture in. Yes, I have overfilled the muffin cups and that was not fun to fix or clean up!
After you have your filling in the muffin cups, add the egg mixture on top. Cook for around 20 minutes. For some reason, cook time has varied every single time I've made these, but never less than 17 minutes and no more than 21 minutes in my experience. Let the eggs cool completely before taking out of the muffin tin.

I like to cook these at the beginning of the week, so I can have them on hand throughout the week. They can be kept in zip lock baggies in the refrigerator for up to a week. Egg muffins also freeze wonderfully-they still taste great warmed up in the microwave after being in the freezer. If you are going to freeze them, I recommend freezing them right away after cooking and cooling. I decided to freeze a batch I had in the refrigerator for 3 days and for some reason, these didn't taste quite right after being re-warmed.

I hope this recipe provides some help to those hectic mornings and you enjoy these as much as our family!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kool Aid Painting

Our Monday afternoon, impromptu Kool Aid painting experiment turned out great! The kids had so much fun finger painting with the mixtures and the kitchen smelled yummy! I've seen Kool Aid paint recipes on Pinterest and have wanted to try one out with the kids but those were multi ingredient recipes and I knew it could be done A LOT simpler. So I tried Kool Aid paint 4 ways:  flour + Kool Aid + water, baking soda + Kool Aid + water, flour + baking powder + Kool Aid + water, flour + baking soda + Kool Aid + water. I did not use exact measurements, but I believe I used around 1 cup of flour to every Kool Aid packet, then added water as I stirred to desired consistency. All I had on hand, seemed to be red colored Kool Aid packets of all different scents, so that's why everything is very red and pink! For the record, I did run to the store last to stock up on Kool Aid packets for our art and crafts and experiments. The people at the grocery store must think we drink a lot of Kool Aid!

The baking soda + Kool Aid + water mixture had a surprise effect and began fizzing  and "fuzzing" (as Harrison put it) when the water was poured in. This was a treat for the kids, as well as me because I didn't even think about the Kool Aid and the baking soda having that reaction when mixed together.

All mixtures were the same consistency and all safe if a child decided to try the yummy smelling paint (no one did so that wasn't even an issue). I also tried one of the multi-ingredient recipes I had found on Pinterest and it had the exact same consistency as flour, Kool Aid, and water mixed together. In my opinion, I find it unnecessary to use a more complicated recipe when using only flour works just as well. I had the kids use different colors of construction paper (I would normally use card stock for a project like this but didn't have any other paper besides construction paper) and I think that played a part in how the paint dried.

As soon as the kids began painting and the mixture hit the construction paper, it seemed to melt into the paper. Not in a the color just disappears kind of melt, but in a melting and blending with the paper kind of way. Putting the painted paper in the hot sun seemed to "cook" the paint in a way. After a few minutes in the hot sun (it was 95 degrees that day) the flour, Kool Aid, water mixture started bubbling. The kids put A LOT of paint on each piece of paper yet it only took an hour to completely dry out in the sun. This seems to dry quite quickly compared to the kids usual paintings using Crayola washable tempera paint.

One of my worries was how the Kool Aid paint mixture would wash out of clothes. Kool Aid has a way of staining things (clothes, kids tables, counters, carpets, just to name a few I've had experience with in my adventures of using it for dying rice and pasta). However, I am pleased to report that it washed out just fine of my kid's clothes, in addition to the kid's table, our floor, and rug. I was very pleased with how this experiment turned out and have plans to do it again later this week. This time we will be trying it with cardstock and as outdoor paints. Hopefully we'll have the same good results!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kid Friendly Recipe: Tortilla Pizza

The kids have a new favorite meal here: tortilla pizzas. It's very kid friendly, healthy, light but filling, and most importantly, super simple (anyone who knows me knows I do not do well in the kitchen!). For comparison, Max said while chewing a huge bite "this is better than Little Caesar's!" Here is how we make ours:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay out tortillas on a baking sheet and put a thin layer of pizza sauce on.

 Your choice of toppings next. For these, some kids wanted pepperoni, others just cheese, but on all of them I put finely chopping peppers and spinach. I put this in with almost every pasta and pizza sauce I use to give it an extra healthy kick and the kids have yet to catch on! Next, put a fine layer of cheese (I used mozzarella or a Colby jack blend is great too).

Then, pop in the oven for 10 mins at the most. This gets the cheese completely melted and the tortilla a perfect crispiness. Now it's time to enjoy!

I have also made an "adult" version of these, skipping the pizza sauce but instead using a bit of olive oil, oregano, and veggies. Cook for the same amount of time as above and it was delish!! I highly recommend these for kids and adults on a hot summer day when you don't want a heavy meal.

Here is a picture of a typical lunch during the weekdays:
 Tortilla pizza (which covers carbs, protein, and veggies with the tortilla, cheese, pepperonis, sauce with peppers and spinach), a helping of mixed veggies, organic broccoli slaw I picked up this weekend at Trader Joe's (the kids called it their "salad" and devoured it), and strawberries. Bellies full of yummy, healthy food means good naps afterward!
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Weekend Play: Farmer's Market, New Shoes, Family, & a Slip n Slide

As usual, our weekend was full of fun and wearing the kids out! Saturday morning the kids and I dropped Matt off at work and headed to the downtown Farmer's Market. This was the first time this season we've been able to make it down to the crowd. We got our typical whole wheat raspberry cinnamon rolls, flavored popcorn, egg rolls, crab rangoons, and the kids took a "train ride." We found a shaded grassy area and ate our goodies while we listened to music. As much as I love going to the farmer's market, it is crazy taking three young kids! We ended our visit with a run through the skywalk (or crawl if you're Elizabeth). This is one of our favorite winter time activities when the kids are absolutely sick of staying at home. It's hardly busy on the weekends and the kids are free to run as fast as they want. Plus it's great exercise for mom and dad!

After naps, we headed to Trader Joe's and then went on a search for new shoes for miss E. Always looking for a bargain, I typically go for Target brand shoes (Circo or Cherokee) for the kid's "extra" shoes (sandals, slip on shoes, pool shoes, etc.) and splurge on a nice pair of tennis shoes (we prefer Nike's in this house). Elizabeth has such slim foot, we were not able to do that at all....and I was not about to spend $50+ on her first pair of tennis shoes that she's sure to grow out of in a matter of months. After getting her feet fitted several times, we were told she needs a size 4 toddler in length but a size 3 toddler for width. Great, thanks for the help. Luckily, we wound up at Trade Home in Jordan Creek mall, where an amazing (and cute!) salesman customized a pair of Toms for our Lily girl. The night was saved!
Tip for those parents whose child has slim, long feet: Nike's run a bit small and fit the feet great (I suggest trying Kohl's as you can typically purchase toddler Nike's for around $35 or less) and Toms can easily be customized. Looks like we'll be sticking with those brands for our already high maintenance girl until her feet grow a bit.

Of course, during this shoe hunt, the boys were less than cooperative. It was one of those times when I was ready to lose it with them! Luckily, the hubs saved my sanity with bribery ("candy anyone???"). We usually don't bribe our kids, but tonight it seemed almost necessary.

As usual, we began our Sunday bright, early, and tired. We opted for breakfast at Hy-Vee.

Naps seemed to be overrated on Sunday, so we had some Duplo fun! Matt helped the kids build a castle and organize all of the Duplos. After a bit of a rest, we headed out to my aunt and uncle's house for some family fun! Who doesn't love a good cook out and slip n' slide??!!? Best end to the weekend ever!