Candy Cane Lollipop Hearts

Do you have candy canes left over from the Christmas season? I did. And this was the perfect treat to make with them for Valentine’s Day. They were so simple and fun to make!
Ingredients:
  • mini or regular sized candy canes
  • lollipop sticks
  • white candy coating (pink would be pretty, too!)
  • sprinkles (optional)
Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. On a parchment lined baking sheet, arrange the candy canes as hearts with the lollipop stick centered in between the two candy canes. Bake for about 3 minutes. Watch your candy canes- you want them to be malleable, but not melted.

2015-01-18 0022. Remove from oven and shape the candy canes into hearts by pinching the the bottom of the heart into the stick and pinching the top ends together. I also pulled the edges out to make my hearts more round and full. They will be hot and you need to work fairly quickly. If the candy canes harden before you have them shaped, just stick them back in the oven for a couple of minutes.

2015-01-18 0043. Melt candy coating in the microwave at 30 second intervals on medium power, stirring between heatings, until smooth.

4. Spoon the melted candy coating into the center of each heart, then top with sprinkles if desired. Cool the pops to allow the candy coating to harden.

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My three year old’s eyes lit up when he saw these cooling on the top of the oven. I’m not sure they’ll last until Valentine’s Day.

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14 Valentine’s Day Crafts to Make with Your Kids

I love Valentine’s Day. And now that my oldest is three, I can finally start making some Valentine’s Day themed crafts with him. I’ve gathered together 14 adorable, simple and inexpensive Valentine’s Day crafts to make with your little ones. Just scroll down for some inspiration!

1. Lacing cards are such an engaging activity to keep kids’ little hands busy. The Artful Parent shows you how to easily make your own lacing hearts.

2. Crafty Morning shares inspiration to make the most adorable heart-shaped Valentine’s animals. I absolutely love her ideas! Two of my favorites are the bumble bee and puppy dog. My kids adore animals and these  will be so much fun to make.

3. Homeketeers shows you how to make love bug magnets out of pom poms. I call my little Vera ‘love bug’ all the time!

4. Do your kids love ripping and cutting paper as much as mine do? Turn this ever popular toddler activity into something pretty with this tissue paper heart craft from Sweet and Simple Living.

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5. Sweet and Simple Living also shares a tutorial for these cute and colorful Fruit Loop heart bird feeders.

6. My oldest loves to bake. Daisy Pickers came up with a simple way to make a heart-shaped cake from two smaller cakes. We’ll have to give this one a try.

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7. I love these Valentine’s Day sun catchers shared over at Fun at Home With Kids. How lovely! These are sure to brighten even the most dreary of February days.

8. Who doesn’t have lots of broken crayon pieces lying around the house? Turn them into something beautiful and fun to use with this tutorial for heart-shaped crayons from Fun at Home With Kids.

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9. Stamps! My little ones love to use stamps to paint and these are super cute! Check out these homemade heart sponges from Learn Create Love. What could be more simple and fun?

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10. Learn Create Love also shares her tree of love craft using tissue paper hearts, lots of glue  and your child’s handprint. This would be such a great keepsake, don’t you think?

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11. Here’s a simple idea from Teach With Me to make a paper heart chain. It’s a great way to practice patterns with your little ones, too!

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12. Crafty Morning shares a great use for those cardboard toilet paper tubes we all toss out. How creative is this idea?

13. I love these pom pom love monsters from Made to Be A Momma! I actually have some pink pom poms left over from another craft- now I know what to do with them!

14. This one is probably not for the very little ones but it’s still a great craft for kids! Today’s Every Mom gives us a tutorial to make a paper heart garland.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my collection of ideas! I can’t wait to start getting my hands messy with the kids with these crafts.

The Liebster Award

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I feel very fortunate to have been nominated for the Liebster Award by the very lovely Betsy Smith over at Happily Ever After, Etc. She nominated me awhile ago but I’m just now getting around to sharing this post.

How rewarding it is to know that other people are not only reading my blog, but actually like it, too- at least one other person (who isn’t my mother) thinks I show promise as a new blogger! I’ve been blogging for about 8 months now but have only recently begun to put some real effort into my blog. A husband on deployment, two little ones, another pregnancy and a cross country move really have a way of keeping one occupied!

For those that have never heard of the Liebster Award, it is an award for bloggers given by other bloggers. One blogger awards the Liebster Award to a new blog that they find potential in. Liebster, a German word, means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. What a nice gesture it is to nominate another blogger for this award! Once presented with the award you have the ability to accept or refuse… but why would you refuse? It’s a great way to discover new blogs and connect! In accepting the award, the nominated blogger has to agree to do a few simple things.

  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.
  • Write 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 200 followers.
  • Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions.

Here are 11 random facts about me:

I have an identical twin sister. I’ve always felt we’re so much closer than just simply sisters. We were inseparable the first 22 years of our lives and it kills me that we now live 3000 miles apart. Thank goodness for Skype!

I love my red wine. The hardest part about being pregnant is giving it up for 9+ months. And coffee…I love coffee. There’s absolutely no way I could give up coffee while pregnant, especially with two toddlers.

I have a large family- 3 siblings, 13 aunts and uncles and too many cousins to count. I grew up in a family with lots of talk, love and laughter and hope to have a large family of my own (we’re off to a great start)!

I earned a BS in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame and I’m very proud of this accomplishment. I worked for 5 years in the pharmaceutical research field before having my first child and becoming a SAHM. I love being at home with my little ones!

I moved to San Diego the day after my 23rd birthday with one suitcase and some money I had saved. I didn’t know a soul there and I built a nice life for myself in that beautiful city for 6 sun-filled years. It’s the most adventurous and impulsive thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I met my husband on Match.com. We were married 8 days shy of the second anniversary of our first date. I guess you could say we’re a Match.com success story!

I’m a Navy wife. Before I married my husband, I thought the prospect of moving around frequently sounded like an adventure. And it is… with cross country moves and deployments, it’s an often lonely and stressful adventure, but an adventure nonetheless. In our four years of marriage we’ve moved from San Diego, to Rhode Island, to Virginia and now Washington State. I’m very proud of my husband’s sacrifices for our family and country, though.

I’m a huge Notre Dame football fan. Even as a little girl, I remember curling up next to my dad on the couch every fall Saturday afternoon and watching the Irish.

I love cooking Italian food, mostly because I love to eat it 🙂 Pasta, cheese, wine and bread, what could be better?

I started blogging last year when my husband was on his last deployment. Deployments can be long and lonely- I needed a hobby! Now that I’ve started blogging, I really love meeting new bloggers and seeing all of everyone’s great ideas.

I’m afraid of cats. I’m not really sure why but they really give me the creeps. And they ALWAYS KNOW I don’t like them and love to bother me.

Without further adieu, here are the answers to my Liebster questions from Betsy…

How much time do you spend blogging each week?

Oh boy, not nearly enough. I wish I had more time to devote to my blog each week. My toddlers wear me out by the time I put them to bed each night. Spending my evenings blogging makes me feel as though I’m neglecting my poor husband. Each week is different though- this week I probably spent about 3 hours.

You just won a million-gazillion dollars, what do you use it for?

i would share it with my parents and siblings and make the rest of their lives incredibly comfortable for all of them. I would also make a huge donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital- I love what they do! And my crazy/ridiculous/selfish want would be to buy my own island. I don’t think there would be anything more awesome than having my own vacation resort built on my very own island.

If you had time to grab one thing during a fire (not counting people, kids or pets… they’re all safe) what would it be?

Definitely my wedding ring (if I weren’t wearing it). I leave it on my bathroom vanity each night before going to bed. Not only do I absolutely LOVE it, but it obviously carries so much sentimental value.

How many siblings do you have?

I have three siblings. My oldest brother John is living in Chicago and is 4 years older than I am. My brother Brian lives in North Carolina with his wife and son and is 2 years older than I am. My twin sister Bridget lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. She’s 10 whole minutes older than I am 🙂 We’re all very close despite the distance between us.

You just won an all expense paid vacation to anywhere in the world. Where are you going?

Tahiti! I’ve always wanted to visit this beautiful paradise. Someday, maybe.

What do you do each and every day FOR YOUR BLOG? Write posts? Hit up social media?

Honestly I don’t work on it each day. Because I do like to craft, I usually get in a little bit of crafting each day. I take lots of pictures in hopes of working on posts in the future.

If you had a day off, all to yourself… no chores, no work, no kids. What would you do?

A day to my self… Wow. I told my husband the other day that I want a day all to myself before baby #3 gets here. He agreed but we’ll see if it actually happens. My day would start with a nice long walk with some coffee. I’d do some shopping and then get a pedicure and my hair cut and colored. And if I weren’t pregnant I’d have a few glasses of red wine and take a long, hot bubble bath.

What is your earliest memory?

I have very early memories of sitting on the lap of my lovely mother and having her sing to me. I hope my kids have such sweet memories of me some day.

What is your goal for 2015, for your blog?

My goal is to post more regularly and to solidify the focus of my blog. I would also like to become better at finding new blogs to follow and increase my own following.

When do you blog? In the morning? Late at night? When the kids are napping?

Whenever I can. I do sometimes have the luxury of both kids napping at the same time and I try to blog during these quiet moments. Otherwise it’s in the evenings after the kids are asleep.

What’s the funniest joke you’ve heard this week?

Hmmm…it’s not really a joke, but all the cute stuff my 3 year old says each day. He makes me laugh each and every day.

Here are my nominations (in no particular order) for the Liebster Award:

Tiffany @ Spark and Pook

Nancy @ Mimi and the Grands

Debbie @ Simple Joys of Home

Rebekah @ Charming Imperfections

Sticky Boogers

Meaghan @ Cook Craft Love

Disguised as a Supermom

Tidbits In Time

Yanic @ Family, Faith, Food and Fabric

Erin @ The Everyday Mom

Kelly @ So Much To Make

Here are your 11 questions:

Who is your favorite author or what is your favorite book?

What is your best childhood memory?

What is your guilty pleasure?

If you could have coffee (or a drink) with one famous person, who would it be?

Why do you blog and what do you get out of blogging?

What is taking up space on your DVR these days?

What is the one food that you could never, ever give up for the rest of your life?

if you could go back to high school/your teenage years, would you? Why or why not?

Who is your biggest supporter as a blogger?

Do you have any goals for your blog?

What’s one thing you do or like that most people might consider a bit odd?

Thanks again to Betsy for the nomination. Let’s keep the Liebster love going, everyone! I look forward to reading the responses from the blogs I nominated.

Green Eggs and Ham Rhyming Word Puzzles

Reading simple rhyming books with your little ones is a great way to introduce rhyming to them. Rhyming books expose young children to how rhymes sound in a meaningful, engaging manner. In my opinion, Dr. Suess’ classic books are great choices for introducing rhyming.

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Timmy (38 months) and I love reading these silly, rhyming tongue twisters together!  His favorite these days is Green Eggs and Ham. While reading this book with Timmy, I love to point out the rhyming words by saying, “I hear rhyming words! Rain rhymes with train!” Once he better understands the concept of rhyming, I will ask him to come up with his own words that rhyme with ones in the book.

I combined Timmy’s love of puzzles with the rhyming words from Green Eggs and Ham and came up with this simple activity. I cut green paper eggs from some scrap cardstock I had lying around the house. I made the eggs into simple 2 piece puzzles and attached some magnetic tape to the backs of the pieces.

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Timmy loved putting together his rhyming word puzzles. After putting together each puzzle, we went over the rhyming pair. “Train rhymes with rain”, I would say. After going over all the rhyming pairs, he was able to repeat each one back to me. He enjoyed this activity, and as an added bonus, Timmy has learned some new sight words!

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I hope you can give this a try with your pre-readers and Dr. Suess lovers! I’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

Our At-Home Preschool: Week 6

It’s a new year and a new start for our at-home preschool. I have so many ideas for our learning together thanks to Pinterest and all the great blogs out there! I could spend an entire weekend pinning and scanning new blogs. My children have other ideas about how I should spend my time. I plan to start introducing some theme weeks this year. I already have some in the works: time, maps, land forms, outer space, dinosaurs, city life, winter and Valentine’s Day would be fun themes over the next few months..

Puzzles and Building:

Puzzles are such wonderful teaching tools for little ones. They develop visual perceptual, fine motor, critical thinking, memory, reasoning, sequencing, planning and logic skills. Timmy has done really well with puzzles from a young age (he was putting together 24-30 piece floor puzzles by himself at 26 months) and so I’m always looking for new types of puzzles and building toys for my little boy. This magnetic vehicle set was a birthday gift for Timmy from his Aunt.

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I can’t say enough about this toy. It’s really a wonderful, well-made toy for any child who loves things that go, magnets or putting stuff together. My son happens to love all three of these things and plays with these magnets often. It’s also a great alternative to Timmy putting together his floor puzzles. By the time I had come over to him to help him put some vehicles together, he had already correctly pieced together a race car, a fire truck and an airplane on his magnetic board. He was so proud of himself!

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You can find this toy on Amazon here.

Tim started playing with actual Legos recently- no more little baby blocks for him. He’s been very interested in building houses lately. He had a lot of help from his daddy building his latest creation. I’m not sure which one of them had more fun. Legos are such wonderful toys, aren’t they? And it makes me so happy that he has started playing with them!

legos

Pre-Reading:

We continued working on Timmy’s cvc word families. He’s mastered all of the -AT, -ET and -IT words and we’ve begun to work on the -OT words. I made Timmy this word index card flip book last week. On the left side cards I printed each letter of the alphabet. On the right side cards I wrote the word families we’ve been working on.

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He loves it. We took a recent road trip and he spent most of our time in the car flipping through his book. I plan to start introducing a couple of sight words each week this year in addition to working our way through more cvc word families.

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I’ve also started introducing rhyming words to Timmy. He was given a beautiful Mother Goose (or as my littlest calls it, “Mama Goose”) Nursery Rhymes book for Christmas by his nana and grandpa.

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He practically begs me to read it each day before “nap time” and bedtime. The truth is that he doesn’t need to beg, I love reading this book with both of my little ones! Timmy already knows most of the rhymes- we take turns reciting the lines of the rhymes and he always has the sweetest little smile on his face as we read together. Because he loves nursery rhymes so much, I’m going to check out some books of children’s poetry for him at the local library and add poetry to our weekly learning this year.

Timmy also loves to have me read Green Eggs and Ham to him. I point out the rhyming words as we read the book together. Combining his love of puzzles with rhyming words, I made this simple activity for him. I cut green egg-shaped puzzles out of cardstock and added some magnetic tape to the back of the pieces. He had a good time piecing the puzzles together and saying “fox rhymes with box, house rhymes with mouse, here rhymes with there, and rain rhymes with train”. I’ll have to make some more rhyming word puzzles for Timmy to piece together.

green eggs and ham

Early Math:

There’s always plenty of counting around the house these days. Timmy loves to count. I came up with another way to reinforce the concept of counting on using a deck of playing cards. We take turns drawing cards and count on from whatever number we draw- sometimes to 10 and sometimes to 20. I plan on playing this game with him a lot over the next few weeks.

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For the last couple of months, Timmy’s been counting backwards while eating his veggies at dinner. “I’m going to eat 30 peas, mommy! 30, 29, 28, 27, etc.”, he says as he shoves the veggies in his mouth. I love this. Not only do I think it’s pretty cool that he learned to count backwards on his own but it’s a fun way for him to eat his veggies.

Games and Other Fun Activities:

Another thing I’ve started doing with Timmy lately is playing board games with him. Playing board games with children is an excellent way for them to learn to share and take turns, cooperate with each other, to increase logical thinking skills, and to learn basic math concepts. It also teaches kids how to lose gracefully. I don’t just let him win and he seems to handle not winning just fine. Candy Land has been a wonderful introduction to board games for Timmy. It’s a great game to play with 3 year olds because the instructions are simple and the game doesn’t depend on reading. (It’s also a helpful game for those toddlers and preschoolers who need more practice with their counting and colors, too). The games are sometimes long (we don’t remove the cards that can send the game pieces backwards) but he’s usually able to focus until the game is over- this kid has a great attention span.

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Cooking and Arts and Crafts:

We spent some time cooking this past week. Timmy made chocolate pudding all by himself. I poured the milk in the measuring cup for him, though. I’m not that brave! He also helped his daddy make a special Filipino cake (my husband is part Filipino).

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And that was our latest week of learning together. I was thinking the other day about how much my little boy has grown and learned in the past year and I’m excited to see what changes this year will bring.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Kids’ Room Update- A Colorful Paper Bunting

I’ve finally begun to make some progress on my 3 year old son and 18 month old daughter’s shared bedroom. We’re renting while my husband is stationed in WA state and because we’re only here for another year or so, painting is definitely not an option. I LOVE color and lots of it when decorating for my kids. My goal for their room was to create a fun and inviting brightly colored room that they would both love to spend time in. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I hope they love their finished room so much that they peacefully play together in there while I nurse the new baby. A girl can dream, right?

I started their room off with some handmade paper lantern hot air balloons.

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that I posted about a couple months ago (yikes, has it been that long since I did anything with their room?). I’ve been meaning to finish their bunting for so long and now I can check that off of my list.

The bunting was so simple to make. I bought some heavy cardstock (to coordinate with the hot air balloons and eventual curtains), some twine and a roll of yellow Washi tape from Michael’s.

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I cut my triangles to be 10 inches in length and 6 inches wide. In all I cut 23 triangles- ten to hang over my little girl’s crib and 13 to hang over my son’s bed. I lined the sides of each triangle with a strip of Washi tape and then glued the back of each triangle to a long string of twine.

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I had some wooden letters left over from a project long ago. I thought their names would look really cute on the buntings.

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What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m in love with these. My kids both adore them, too!

My next project for their room is to finish their aqua colored curtains (made from two inexpensive sheets!) with white pom-pom trim. I’ve purchased some spice racks from Ikea that I plan to paint a vivid yellow and use as book racks. A few accessories, an area rug, a whole lot of organization, some artwork and their room will be done. It’ll be such a good feeling to finish a room for a change. And I can’t wait to show off their completed room- hopefully I can finish it all before the new baby arrives!