Friday, April 21, 2017

Flower Gardens for Kids: Plant & Craft {A Year Of Color Pastels}

Now that Spring is in full swing, my entire family wants to stay outdoors 24/7! Outdoor projects are being planned, gardens are being planted, and we're preparing our yard for the months of warm weather ahead of us. The countdown to Summer has officially begun!


Earth Day is on Saturday, so Lily and I have been talking about all the ways we can make our world more beautiful, and brainstorming ideas on how to help save the Earth. She was full of questions and had some great ideas to share. I told her she could pick something to do in honor of Earth Day, and she said she wanted to plant a little flower garden to put in front of her playhouse.

Yesterday afternoon, we headed to Lowe's and her eyes widened at the sight of the rows and rows of beautiful flowers and plants. She excitedly chose the prettiest flowers, then we added a bunch of supplies for a fun DIY play area that I will be sharing next week.

Lowe's

She said she loved shopping at that place...that is, until she had an encounter with a cactus. She spotted the bright flowers on the blooming cacti, and asked to take one home. I let her choose her favorite one, but after a jab on the hand, she declared that she HATES mean cacti and promptly put it back on the shelf.  Although this incident caused Lily's lifelong hatred of cacti, our trip was mostly a success!

After we got home, and the drama of the cactus incident subsided, we gathered our supplies so Lily could plant a little flower garden. We then continued the fun indoors while it rained, by creating a puffy paint flower garden!

Our simple Earth Day activities were well timed! It just so happens that today is our monthly A Year of Color link party, hosted by me, Little DoveMacke Monologues, and Work It Mommy. Each month focuses on one color and you can link up any post that revolves around that particular color: Fashion, Recipes, Activities for Kids, Crafts...ANYTHING is welcome! The link will be open for a month, so you can link up any time. We hope you will join us!



A Year of Color

This month's theme is:

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I had originally planned to share my favorite PASTEL items for today's post, but a pastel flower garden for kids and a pastel puffy paint flower garden craft seemed more fun!

Mini Flower Garden For Kids


Supplies:

  • Small container for planting 
  • Potting soil
  • Flowers
  • Shovel 
  • Watering Can


Procedure:

  1. Fill the container 3/4 of the way full with soil. 
  2. Have your child arrange the flowers in the container. 
  3. Help your child fill in the holes between the flowers with potting soil. 
  4. Let your child choose the perfect spot for their mini flower garden, then give it a good watering.
  5. Add some worms for good measure. (Lexie did this and it disgusted me. Did I ever mention that I despise worms?)
  6. Have your child water their mini flower garden on the days it doesn't rain!


Lily and Lexie loved making their own mini flower gardens! We used our plastic Easter basket containers left over from our Lollipop Gardens and they worked perfectly!

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Puffy Paint Flower Garden Craft


Supplies:

  • Construction Paper
  • Green Marker
  • 1 large bottle of white school glue
  • 1 can of white shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • 1 Bowl for each color of puffy paint
  • Large paintbrushes


Make The Paint:

  1. Fill each bowl with a mixture of an equal amount of white school glue and shaving cream. (We used 1/4 cup of each.)
  2. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring to each bowl and stir. Add more if necessary. (We prefer neon food coloring!)


Craft:

  1. Draw stems and leaves on the construction paper.
  2. Paint a flower onto each stem.
  3. Allow to dry for 12 hours before touching the puffy paint.
  4. Bonus: Add grass, trees, bugs, clouds and animals to your picture, too!


Lily and Lexie love painting with puffy paint. It's truly their favorite craft! If you haven't tried it with your kids, you need to. The texture after it dries is awesome!

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What activities do you have planned to celebrate Earth Day?

Link up your "pastel" posts below and start planning your A Year of Color posts for the next few months!



May 19th

A Year of Color

June 16th

A Year of Color



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad {Bruegger's Bunch}

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Bruegger's Bagels

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad #BrueggersBunch

My entire family loves bagels! I have to purchase them every week, and my kids ask for them for breakfast every day. Bagels and cream cheese just have a universal appeal!


I can't really blame my kids. Bagels are delicious and they make such a quick and easy meal! There are so many toppings, and they are perfect for on the go. And my family is ALWAYS on the go!

So many people love bagels, but tend to overlook the fact that there is so much more that you can do with them. Bagels are a great addition to many recipes!

I was thrilled when Bruegger's Bagels invited me to join the Bruegger's Bunch! Over the next year, I will be creating delicious recipes using Bruegger's Bagels limited time offerings, and sharing the fun ways Bruegger's Bagels catering can fit into your life. I'm so excited about this amazing opportunity!

I love to prepare delicious meals for my family, but with four busy kids (and a blog), I don't have much time to spend on recipes. Recipes that are quick and easy to make are my jam! This Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad uses simple ingredients, only takes ten minutes to make and is absolutely delicious!


Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad

CREAMY RANCH BAGEL CHICKEN SALAD


Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

2 Bruegger's Bagels Ranch Bagels
2 Tbsp softened Bruegger's Bagels Cucumber Dill Cream Cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1 Qt fully cooked white chicken
1 cup celery, chopped finely
1 head Iceberg Lettuce

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad Ingredients - Bruegger's Bagels

Procedure:

1. Slice the two Bruegger's Bagels ranch bagels in half, then cut into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.

2. Finely chop the celery until you have 1 cup, and set aside.

3. Shred the Iceberg lettuce, then set aside. I enlisted a little bit of help with this step!

Cooking
Cooking with kids
The Lucky Few

4. Pour 2 Tbsp of softened Cucumber Dill Cream Cheese and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise into a large bowl and stir until blended. 

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad

5. Cut 1 Qt of fully cooked white chicken into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch pieces.

6. Pour cut chicken into the cream cheese and mayo mixture, and stir until the chicken is fully coated. 

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad

7. Mix in the Bruegger's Bagels ranch bagels pieces and the celery, and stir until everything is coated.

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad
Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad
Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad

8. Line bowls with the shredded Iceberg lettuce, and spoon the chicken salad over top.

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad
Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad

9. Enjoy!

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad


I created a recipe card for you to pin or print!


Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad #BrueggersBunch

Ranch Bagels and Cucumber Dill Cream Cheese are the Spring Specials at Bruegger's Bagels  right now. You can only purchase them for a limited time, so grab some before they're gone! I got a dozen so we could enjoy them outside the chicken salad, too. I also highly recommend another Spring Special: Sea Salt & Caramel Coffee, available hot or iced! Delicious!

Bruegger's Bagels

Adding bagels to my favorite chicken salad recipe is now my preferred method. I love bagels and I love chicken salad, so combining the two was the perfect decision! 


Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Creamy Ranch Bagel Chicken Salad #BrueggersBunch

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Love: Raising Readers One Book At A Time {What We Read}

I absolutely love to read! For as long as I can remember, I always had a book in my hand. Although the time I am able to spend reading these days is limited, I still try to set a good example. Raising readers is my priority!


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My parents and siblings loved to read, so it was only natural that I would, too. Walking into the kitchen to see my mom hunched over a pot of soup with a book was something I saw every day. My parents took me to the library once a week, and I eagerly browsed the bookshelves and chose what I wanted to read that week. One of my favorite childhood memories was going to the bookstore every other week with my parents, and being able to choose one new book. (I saved every single book and passed them on to my own children!)

I fondly remember all the evenings my dad would take me to dinner while my mom was at work. I would pull a book out of my bag the moment we sat down, only pause to order, and then I read through dinner. Never once did he tell me to put my book down. (Sorry for all those silent dinners, Dad!)

My love of reading stayed with me into adulthood. Prior to having kids, I could easily read a book in a day or two. During bed rest with Dylan, I was cranking out two each day. Four kids later, that just doesn't happen anymore. I'm lucky if I can read two books a month! But I make it a point to read and I make sure my kids SEE me reading.

As for my own children, I started reading to them on their first night home from the hospital and never stopped. I try to say yes every time they ask me to read to them and I never say no to a request for a new book. I now have four kids who love to read every bit as much as I do! (Well, let's be honest here...Dylan loves to read, but he also loves other things more...like basketball and girls!)

One of my blogging goals for the year was to share more of what we're reading, but that always gets pushed aside and placed in my Friday Favorites posts. I really want to make an effort to start sharing what we read and loved, so now is the perfect time to start!


BOOK LOVE


STEF'S PICK: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline


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I started this book while Lexie was getting her wrist set under anesthesia. Obviously, it wasn't the best time to start because I was too worried to concentrate! We were thrown into a whirlwind of appointments after that, so I didn't pick it up again for another week. And when I did, I literally could not put it down. I finished it in just a few days, which is rare for me right now!

This book, which was based on the orphan trains which ran for over 70 years in the United States, had me in tears many times. The book bounces back and forth from present day to the past, but the story from the past and the story from the present weave together seamlessly.

I think the impact of this book was so strong because the main character in the past (an orphan searching for a family) was around the same age as Lexie. I kept picturing Lexie in those situations, and it broke my heart. Although it was an emotionally difficult read at times, the ending was beautiful!

I don't like to give too much away in book reviews, so I will just say this: Do yourself a favor and read this book if you haven't already. It's the most recent book I read and I now consider it one of my favorites!

LIAM'S PICK: Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? 

by Brianna Caplan Sayres


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Liam got this book for Christmas from my parents and he reads it every single day! When he was diagnosed with Down syndrome, I immediately worried about all the things he wouldn't be able to do. One of my worries was that he wouldn't be able to read. Although time will tell, I will say that out of all of my kids, Liam loves books the most, and I'm certain he will learn how to read. He spends hours each week looking through his books, and if time wasn't a factor, he would ask me to read to him all day long. I try to say yes as often as possible!

This book is Liam's current favorite, and even though I've read it to him hundreds of times, he never tires of it. And I will say yes to reading to him every possible chance I can! There's just something so special about those moments when he hands me a book and climbs into my lap. He really is the sweetest little boy!

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This sweet book is about the bedtime routines of construction vehicles. If you have a young child, I'm certain they would love it as much as Liam does!

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LEXIE'S PICK: The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook 

by Rosanna Pansino


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Lexie loves to read, cook and bake, so it's no surprise that her current favorite book is a cookbook! She has owned this book for over six months, and she still takes it out several times a week to look at the recipes.

Lexie loved Rosanna Pansino's YouTube cooking show before she got the book, so she was thrilled to find out that it had some of her favorite recipes in it! These recipes are so much fun for kids to make. We tried out quite a few and Lexie was able to make them on her own!

Baking is definitely a good hobby, and let's be honest: our entire family benefits from Lexie's cookbook recipes!

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DYLAN'S PICK: The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier


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Dylan used to read all the time, but when he entered his tween years, his interest waned. He still likes to read, but definitely not as much as he used to. The trick is to find fun books that keep his attention!

Somebody recommended this book to Dylan, and he loved it! I think it helped that he could relate to the main character in the book, who is close to his own age. He loved the fact that it was about a kid just a little bit older than him, living in a tree house, and dealing with a monster apocalypse.

When he told me about it, his eyes lit up and I could hear the excitement in his voice. To a mom of a tween boy, that's a gift!  He loved it so much that he wants to buy the other books, and I am 100% on board with that idea!


LILY'S PICK: The Classic Fairy Tale Treasury


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Did you know we live with a fairy? It's fun AND magical! And according to Lily, 5 year old fairies just love fairy tales!

Hundreds of books are stacked up on Lily's book shelf, but this one is her current favorite book. She doesn't have a favorite fairy tale in the book. She just loves the fact that there's plenty to choose from in this collection of classic fairy tales.

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I love this sweet girl's imagination, and even more so, I love how she can now read some sentences on her own. Watching your child learn to read is an awesome milestone! I will always encourage her creativity and her love of reading!

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As for my husband, Grant used to read a lot, but now he's more of an audio books kind of guy. He reads news articles daily online, but the only time I really see him pick up a book these days is when we're on vacation. He has a long commute to and from work, and listening to audio books makes the time go faster. Last I heard, he was listening to the Game of Thrones books again in preparation for the upcoming season!

It was so much fun sharing our current favorite books. Hopefully I can continue this each month! I would love to hear about what you and your family are currently reading. Book recommendations are always welcome! 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Best Easter Moments of 2017 {Tuesday Talk}

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays! Even though we have the same traditions and do the same thing every year, I just love everything about it. I was really looking forward to it this year, but nothing seems to go exactly as planned these days!


Over the past two weeks, my family has been sick. 5 out of 6 of us came down with a strain of the flu, and it took us down one after the other. Just as one person improved, somebody else got sick. Lily was the only one who escaped it! It was a ROUGH two weeks.

Dylan, Liam and I bounced back quickly. Dylan and Liam had a fever, chills and body aches for 48 hours, then they were fine. I only had it for 24 hours, then it turned into a cold. Grant, however, has been sick for 2 weeks, and Lexie ended up getting it most recently, and was sick with a really high fever from Tuesday until Saturday.

Everyone who was still sick was definitely improving, but Grant and Lexie were still very congested and had a lingering cough that just wouldn't quit. On the evening before Easter, we realized that we would have to change our plans for the following day, and miss the Easter service at church for the first time ever.

To say it was a letdown is an understatement. It just didn't feel like Easter Sunday! But these bumps in the road happen, and it's up to us to adapt. So we focused on the positive. No, we didn't make it to church and we had to cancel most of our plans. But the six of us got to celebrate Easter together, and that's all that really matters!

The Lucky Few

Although our Easter didn't go exactly as planned, it was still full of special moments that I will always want to remember!



We followed our usual tradition of dyeing Easter Eggs on the evening before Easter. Dylan, Lexie, Lily, and even Liam participated.

Easter Egg Dyeing
Nothing Down About It
Easter Traditions

Liam TRIED this year. He quickly got the hang of shaking the eggs in the bag, but soon realized that tossing the bag across the room was just as much fun. He ended up with a half dozen of dyed, cracked eggs!

Egg Dyeing with a Toddler

As usual, my girls were the most creative and put the most effort into it!

Easter Eggs

Four dozen eggs later, they were done!

After the kids were in bed, it was time to prepare for Easter morning! I assembled the baskets and hid them, then stuffed all of our plastic eggs for our Egg Hunt. 

Easter Baskets

I fell into bed, completely exhausted, and before I knew it, Lily was in our room asking if they could wake up and search for their baskets!

Easter Sunday started perfectly! I opened my eyes to a bright, warm beautiful Spring Day, and everyone was in a happy mood. Instead of rushing into everything like we typically do, we had the chance to tackle Easter morning calmly for the first time ever. 


Easter

Our four kids ran off in search of their baskets, then went examined each item thoroughly. We weren't rushing out the door for church this year, so we even let the kids enjoy a breakfast of Easter candy!

Easter Morning
Downright Perfect
Down Syndrome Awareness

The Easter Sunday service at church is my favorite service of the year, so I was really bummed that we were missing it. As I cooked Easter brunch, a warm breeze blew into the kitchen from the open window, and I could hear the church bells in the distance, signaling the end of the service.

I could hear all four of my kids laughing in the next room, and it hit me then that in the grand scheme of things, it didn't really matter that we were missing church. We were still celebrating Easter, and we were celebrating together!

That evening, we went to my parent's house for Easter dinner. My mom had been sick, too, and they didn't mind one bit that we were joining them, germs and all!


After we ate a delicious Easter dinner together, Grant and I set up for our annual Egg Hunt in my parent's yard.  We no longer attend public egg hunts because they are too quick and cutthroat, and instead, we do it on our own. The kids love it so much more, and they actually look forward to it!

Liam still wasn't interested in participating. Running around the yard and playing was more appealing! There just might have been an egg incident, too. Somebody might have hidden an egg in the dryer vent only to have a gust of wind blow it completely into the dryer! Oops...luckily I took off the dryer hose, tilted the dryer and rescued the egg!

Dylan, Lexie, Lily and Liam worked together to find every single egg, then had even more fun emptying each egg!

Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter Egg Hunt

After the egg hunt, they all posed willingly (almost) for a quick Easter Sunday photo session!

The Lucky Few
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We had dessert with my parents, then enjoyed the last gorgeous hour of daylight together on their deck. We may not have been able to spend Easter with most of our family like we typically do, but we sure felt blessed to be able to spend it with my parents! It was a perfect evening!

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Easter Style

We reluctantly said our goodbyes, then headed home. Grant and I decided that we had to add some more religion to our day, so we all changed into our pajamas and curled up on the couch to watch The Ten Commandments. Lily and Liam quickly fell asleep, but Dylan and Lexie impressed us. Lexie fell asleep JUST before the end, and Dylan made it the entire way through! It was a great end to our Easter Sunday!

Although our Easter didn't go exactly as planned, we made the most of it, and enjoyed celebrating the holiday together. I will definitely hold many of these memories dear for years to come!


Easter

What was your favorite Easter moment?


The BEST Easter Moments


TUESDAY TALK

It's time for Tuesday Talk! Grab the button, link back to your hosts and add your blog post link on the widget below!

Tuesday Talk


Tuesday Talk

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