Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chocolate Day

This may have been my favorite daycare theme day to date. Partly because my house smelled like cocoa all day long, but mostly because I got to end my day eating chocolate covered strawberries. Yum!

Chocolate Day was the perfect theme day to have as we began our Valentine Day crafts and activities. I took many of our chocolate sensory activities from last year ( and created a yummy activity filled day.

We started our day with chocolate chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate syrup. Obviously the kids loved them. Find the simple recipe here:

The kids painted hearts with chocolate paint. This time I used flour, water, and cocoa.
Snack: plain yogurt with cocoa and topped with chocolate chips.

The kids had a blast with the chocolate pasta! Most of it was eaten (I can't imagine it was good, but they seemed to love it) and the other part of it seemed to be ground into my carpet. Next time we'll move the noodle play back into the kitchen!

Chocolate play dough.This round of play dough I used our favorite salt dough recipe (1 cup of flour, 1 cup of salt, and up to 1 cup of water) and added cocoa to it. It was perfect because at the end of the week we made chocolate salt dough heart shapes (much like our salt dough ornaments at Christmas:

Everyone's favorite part of the day: making and decorating chocolate covered strawberries. We had white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate to dip the strawberries in and a variety of sprinkles. I wound up taking over dipping the strawberries and the kids used A LOT of sprinkles to decorate. The kids got to take a plate of them home to share with their families.
Each child got to take home a small box of chocolates at the end of the day.

I failed to get pictures of the chocolate slime the kids played with, but that was their least favorite activity of the day.

The kids requested that next we have a chocolate fountain for Chocolate Day....I can't say I'd be against that!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Semi-Lazy Weekend of Firsts


Much like the title says, we had a semi-lazy weekend with a couple of new experiences for the minis. We went to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese's Saturday evening. It was the minis first time there and they had a blast! Sunday afternoon we took the minis to their first Iowa Energy game. Both were great winter time activities and made the weekend great.
I haven't been the best about remembering to take pictures lately, but here's what I got from the weekend:

Friday nights are usually my working nights: I write, do book work, work on promotions for my book, etc. Friday night I wrote my most successful blog post yet and got fantastic feedback on my writing. I love writing posts like this.

Read the post here:

A chocolate donut doesn't require hand washing, it requires hand licking! According to the two year old at least.

The kids burned some energy at Chuck E Cheese's!

The minis had a hard time rolling the ball and not throwing it while playing Skeeball. I took over Skeeball playing for the rest of the night.

The craziest racing driver is a curly haired two year old, 26 lb. girl!
One of my favorite moments from the weekend: we were all helping Max with his 100th day of school project when Elizabeth reminded us all "no throw up on Max's stuff." Apparently Elizabeth feels we all have a problem with "throw up everywhere." Thankfully the project got completed with no one getting sick.
This is what happens when Elizabeth doesn't take a nap before heading out for afternoon fun: she tries to sleep while daddy carries her through the skywalk. She's trying her hardest to close her eyes and rest.
At the Iowa Energy basketball game! This is the first time we've been to an Energy basketball game. The kids didn't have quite as much fun at the basketball game as they did at the Iowa Wild hockey game ( ) but concession stand treats kept them busy for most of the game.
Elizabeth's favorite parts of the game: mascot Surge and clapping for the players as they came out onto the court.

Des Moines friends: if you haven't checked out an Iowa Energy and/or an Iowa Wild game this year, I recommend putting it on your To Do List! It was a great winter time activity for the minis and they were able to run around the skywalk before and after the game.

Next weekend we'll be doing quite a bit of cleaning and purging since it hasn't been done since before Christmas. The minis's rooms are looking rather scary....that is if you can even manage to get past the door!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week In Review: January 21 - January 23

Another short daycare week (due to my Arizona Mom Break: full of activities. Take a look at our Wednesday - Friday week:

We had a "Frozen" Day: "Frozen" coloring pages, figurines, dolls, dress up clothes, play dough, Jelly Beans, and of course watching the movie and dancing to the music. Even the boys had a lot of fun with it!
We used up the last of the snowflake cut outs and painted them.
Blue and clear water beads. In the morning we played with them regularly and we froze them in the afternoon. The kids had a blast breaking through the "ice" (frozen water beads) with the "Frozen" figurines. They loved this so much that we did this activity the rest of the week.

I'm usually not a big fan of the Play Doh sets that can be quite costly, but this Play-Doh Disney Frozen Sparkle Snow Dome Set with Elsa and Anna was played with enough that I got my money's worth! I did make my own play dough to go with it so the kids had lots of options.

The kids got creative with Legos.
We started in on some of our Valentine crafts. First up was heart popsicle sticks.
The kids created their own movie theater, then requested a movie on to get the full effect.
Elizabeth held her own storytime for the kids. No one seemed to notice she wasn't actually reading the books.
Valentine painting pages.
The kids painted paper plates and turned them into heart hats.
Decorate your own pop star. Found at Michael's. I could have done without these, but the kids loved them.
The kids absolutely love these things. We ran out of time to use them for sponge painting once they were grown and dried, but that went on the schedule for next week.

I could really get use to these three day daycare weeks, but we get right back into our regular schedule. We'll be continuing with our Valentine's Day theme for the next couple of weeks and finishing up our winter themes by the end of February.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Notes From A Daycare Provider: Finding The Right Activities

When dealing with a wide age range of kids, finding appropriate activities, crafts, and games can be challenging. Thankfully for me, there's this wonderful thing called Pinterest that I get quite a few of my ideas from. My other ideas come from me knowing each child, their capabilities, and finding ways to grow their capabilities.

Many times, if I find an activity I think would be great, I tweak it to fit each child's age. For example, the kids recently got into learning how to use glue on their own thanks to a lot of the kids being in preschool (where their teacher's are brave enough to let them have free reign to glue, glue sticks, and tape.....these teachers are angels). A few of the kids can do it on their own, but need to be watched so they don't use too much, other's need help controlling it so I hold the bottle too while in use, and still other's are too young for glue using to be acceptable so I do it for them while they watch me (in hopes that they can learn how to do it themselves sooner rather than later).

I figured out last summer that sensory activities are great for any age and all kids seem to love them. Food such as noodles, dried pasta, rice, and homemade play doughs are great because older kids like to pretend they're cooking, set up a restaurant, or a shop (example: and younger kids are in no danger when they want to sample some of said sensory activities. Another one of my fave go-to's for ages 1+, any experiment/activity involving baking soda and vinegar. All kids go crazy for it!

When I find an activity I really want to do, but it only fits the younger crowd, I put the older kids "in charge" of helping the younger kids. This gives the older kids a chance to grow their leadership skills, listening skills, and how to work with others. For the younger kids, it often helps with hand eye coordination, language skills, learning letters and numbers, etc. A great game I came up with involves our number rug ( The number rug is set up a lot like hop scotch. Each child takes turns as I call out what number(s) to jump too. This helps younger kids learn to identify their numbers. For the older kids, I have them jump to numbers and add or subtract them together (example: jump to the 3 then to the 5. What's 3+5? Jump to the answer). It also gives them physical activity, which is much needed right now during the winter!

Activities that involve a lot of cutting, gluing, precise instructions, or rules are usually out for us. I've found the kids don't enjoy these activities quite as much and it's usually me that winds up doing their project(s) for them! We stick with basic coloring, painting with many different tools (tooth brushes are a favorite, while their fingers are their least favorite), chalk....pretty much anything Crayola makes is a safe bet. Using food in crafts can be dangerous unless the craft is edible (I've learned how to make my own edible glue using powdered sugar and water).

Before the children reach the age of 1, I don't do a lot craft-wise with them. After age 1, I find activities for them to participate in based on their development and capabilities. I've had kids as old as 2 1/2 still have issues with attempting to eat crayons, markers, and paint, which meant activities were either incredibly monitored or the child(ren) missed out on the activities. I once had a child attempt to eat the paint brush they were using. It was quite a while before that child tried out painting again!

Planning for a wide age range (ages 1 to 7) can be tough and often times requires a lot of tweaking on my part. As I've said before, activity planning can be the most time consuming part of the job because of all of the research and thinking that can go into it. My biggest concerns when planning new activities are safety and if it will be entertaining for all ages. If I get yes's to those two, then it's a go....despite how messy some of these activities can get!

Here's a few of our favorite daycare craft items we use A LOT:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Beauty Has Nothing To Do With Your Body

My body is not perfect by any means. My fingernails are uneven and haven't had a good manicure in a LONG time. My toenails need trimmed. I currently need a shower. My graying hair needs to be redyed sometime soon--the three grown out inches do not blend well with the rest of my chestnut brown hair. It also needs a trim. When I fail to put mousse into my curly hair, it's the frizziest mess you'll ever see. My thighs touch (gasp!). My belly is the furthest thing from flat. My arms could give someone a black eye when I wave at people. I have no eyebrows or eyelashes unless I draw them on. I rarely wear make up. I've got a black chin hair that grows back more rapidly the older I get. I've got wrinkles around my eyes. I've got stretch marks and dry skin on my body. I've got a double chin in pictures.

And yet I am more beautiful than I've ever been.

My finger nails are uneven because I was so busy coloring with my kids that I forgot I only filed one hand. I failed to trim my own toenails because my daughter wanted her toes painted "just like mommy's pretty toes." I didn't shower this morning because I wanted the fifteen extra minutes of sleep after being up until 1:15 a.m. (no I wasn't up with a child, I chose to binge watch "Once Upon A Time." Don't judge).

I haven't made time for a hair appointment because I've been having too much fun living life: an extra busy Christmas season spending time with those closest to us, I published a book, I went on a trip, I've taken my kids to the science center, we baked cookies, I took my kids sledding, I grew my business, I made new friends, I held new babies, I had date nights with my husband.

I often don't put mousse in my hair so my kids can easily play with it. They love seeing how big it can get and I love that something that simple can make them laugh.

I carry the extra weight that comes with having three kids in under four years and not being able to afford a personal trainer and too busy to make time for a 5 a.m. class at the gym. Yet, I hike for miles on a whim with my kids. I haven't worked out my arms in years because, well, I really hate arm exercises. And I'm okay with that because I'm finally aware of all that I truly dislike, what I can stand, and what I love to do.

I hardly notice my lack of eyebrows or eyelashes. I'm just thankful to have not had any other medical issues. It's amazing how little focus others put on your flaws when you yourself no longer notice them.

I can be beautiful without the make up. It's fun to done a full face of make up, a cute outfit, but that's not my day to day attire. I feel just as beautiful and more myself in my yoga pants (which has a growing hole in the thighs from them rubbing together) and an oversize sweat shirt than I do in my new Banana Republic number that I spent too much money on.

The chin hair I could do without, but if anything, it shows my age. An age that I am at ease with. I don't dread becoming older because I can look back on my years and know I've lived them with no regrets.

My wrinkles are from smiling because I'm happy, laughing, and smiling my way through life. This is something my grandma once told me as I danced on her feet around her kitchen and something I've never forgotten. It's something I tell my children to remind them to smile through everything.

My stretch marks and scars tell the story of my last 7 years. The story of my children's births, of my love of dark chocolate, of my surgeries. They show the maturity that I've come to find in my journey through motherhood.

How does any of this accumulate to being beautiful? Because beauty isn't how you look, how much make up you cake on to cover the flaws, and it's most definitely not restricted to a size. Beauty is embracing who you are. It's living your life the way you want to live it. It's embracing your flaws and owning them. It's confidence in yourself and willingness to try the things that you're unsure about.

I may not be the 5'11 size 6 twenty one year old I once was, but now I've got something I didn't have then: I've got the belief that I have the power to do anything I want. I have the power to laugh at myself: at the finger nails being different lengths, my hair being extra frizzy, my stretch mark shaped like an S for our last name (according to our kids), my chin hair that I forgot to pluck away before I left the house, I've got the confidence to simply be me.

Once you learn to love all of yourself and be yourself, true beauty will shine.

What is does beautiful mean to you? My minis answer my question here:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

While Mom Was Away

While I was away in Arizona for 4 1/2 days (, the Hubs was in charge of things. Luckily, he had plenty of things to do to keep the three minis busy while I was gone.

Harrison had his Penguin Olympics at school. Elizabeth threw a typical tantrum.

I asked for pictures of the kids. This is what the Hubs sent me via Facebook. 

 Apparently Max's school Family Movie Night went less than stellar thanks to this Lil handful. Again, typical.
Luckily Grandma Sheaffer was around for a good hair comb through and styling.

When Hubs finally sent me a pic to show everyone was alive and well (otherwise known as a Proof of Life pic), this is what I was treated to.

Meal pictures. Otherwise referred to as proof that Hubs fed them.

They attended their friend's gymnastics birthday party. This was the highlight while I was gone and what I heard about the most upon my return.

The second thing I heard all about: the cupcakes they made for Grandpa Sheaffer's birthday party.
Singing Happy Birthday to Grandpa. They got to take him out to lunch as well on his actual birthday since they didn't have school.
My surprise at the airport: the three minis, alive and happy (although rather tired) with flowers and a card.

I'm pleased there were no emergencies (none that I was made aware of at least), Hubs actually managed to semi-do our daughter's hair, and everyone was happy.....all this means is that I'm able to take more Mom Breaks in the future.