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Grocery Shopping: Fun and Learning With Kids

When I have enough time I actually really enjoy going grocery shopping with the my girls aged 3.5 and 5.5.  We turn it into an fun experience filled with math and decision making.  I’d love to say that each shopping trip is this awesome.  It’s not.  Sometimes I’m in a hurry and I don’t have time to spend playing in the grocery store, but when we do, it’s so much more enjoyable for all of us!

A Dream for a Family Friendly Workplace

As a SAHM (work very part-time from home) mom and talking to other SAHMs I’ve really started to build a Village. We swap childcare, war stories and dream about how we can make ourselves happier and our lives more fulfilled.

During a conversation a few months back a girlfriend and I were talking and I remarked on what a great life balance it would be if you could have a good (well paying), fun and interesting career by way of job sharing.

 

Turn Cardboard Boxes Into Castles

Every week I end up with about five of these pretty heavy duty large cardboard boxes from my weekly Farmigo fundraiser I do with the school. I try to reuse them if I can, but sometimes, they just end up soggy and wet from the rain. Today, I saved four of them and decided to surprise the girls each with their own castle to decorate however they like. This was a super special treat.

Two Creative, Easy and Different DIY Valentine's Day Gifts

Now we have two girls in school settings who are able to show their love to their pals through Valentine’s Day (or Friendship Day- as it’s called here in Berkeley) offerings.  I had planned on both girls making little handmade books to pass as their gifts.  Maren did, but of course, Maisy had a different (and BETTER plan).  She wanted to give out her homemade rubber band bracelets.  I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven.  

100th Day of School- Kindergarten Project

I honestly had not thought much about the 100th day of school project, knowing it could be pretty easily thrown together (100 pennies, crackers, paper clips, rainbow loom rubber band thingies) then Maisy came upon an idea all on her own.

The Starry Plough- Children's Music Night

I’ve been sitting on this secret for a while.  The big secret is the Starry Plough in Berkeley. Each second Saturday of the month from 3:30- 6pm Leo Mascarenhas leads his band, SaravaZamba, in world music for children. You can bring your kid instruments, let your children dance and socialize.  You, yourself, can sit down, relax, socialize, have a drink and get dinner.  It’s really the best way to end a Saturday.

Village Craft: Learning and Growing Together in Our Community

I’ve been inspired again!  I can’t believe it’s been over 2 and a half weeks since I’ve blogged.  I went on a work trip and got caught up in life and blogging fell by the wayside, but I’ve been re-engaged by my village!  If you haven’t yet heard of Villagecraft.org (and you live in the East Bay) you need to check this out.  I came across it on my neighborhood board from Nextdoor.com (and if you don’t know about that it’s pretty cool too, check THAT out). Anyway, on the listing of posts from my neighborhood I came across this awesome resource, Village Craft.  

Mad Libs: Kindergarten Sight Words Edition

Over winter break we played our fair share of Mad Libs. It got me thinking we could do the same thing with our kindergarten sight words. Maisy is quickly picking up the art of reading and writing, so this seemed like a natural and fun way to encourage learning sight words, reading and fun!

The Gift of Winter Break

This two-week winter break has given my girls the gift of friendship.  Sure, there were a few instances where I longed for school to be in again and moments where I sent them to their separate rooms because the bickering or the tom-foolery became too much, but mostly I really enjoyed watching the girls deepen their friendship.  Having no schedule, sleeping in and no commitments was also a nice benefit.

Play games.  It's Your Move! in Temescal

Our family was strolling the Temescal area of Oakland after an always delightful lunch at Bakesale Betty’s, when we came upon the gaming store, It’s Your Move Games and Hobbies. It’s a locally owned business that has been in the neighborhood for 10 years now. I’d remembered passing the store previously, but I felt intimidated to go in. I mistakenly thought you had to be an expert gamer at something to truly appreciate the store.  I was wrong.  My 5 year old, Maisy, urged us to go in.  They were so kind and even allowed our puppy into their store.  There was a mother and son playing a game at one of the available open gaming tables in front as we entered. We cruised back to the shelves of games for purchase. They had them nicely organized by age and type of game. There was a good selection and they can special order anything you want.

Read on to find out how to play or learn a plethora of games in-store, rent games or participate in gaming nights.

Make a New Year Wishing Star

This year we aren’t making resolutions.  They never stick anyway. Even that one year I resolved to get a pedicure at least once a month.  I couldn’t even keep that one! So we are trying out something new this year, a family new year wishing star.


This was a sweet, thoughtful and fun activity where the girls got to cut, write and think about what they wanted for themselves and our family over the next year.  

Use Fabric to Wrap Your Gifts

A few years back, at Todd's urging we started wrapping presents in cloth for Christmas and birthdays.  It took some getting used to. I loved ripping into presents and I thought the girls would miss out. But they still get plenty of paper wrapped gifts from relatives and friends, so they get that shredding joy, but for us, it makes Christmas so much easier in so many ways. We keep a bin of fabric and ribbons from years past in a bin, so we can get at it whenever we like.  We also re-use non photo cards as the gift tags.

Family Christmas Card Coloring Book

Somehow this year our Christmas card rivaled last year’s!  Every year we try to keep it fresh and creative.  My husband is amazingly talented and was able to take the girls’ drawings and lay them out in booklet format.  Each girl got a page and we threw in some fun family stats and our family Christmas card coloring book was born. Super big plus, no need to capture that *perfect* holiday card family photo!

Um, We Dragged a Tree Into Our House... Nuts right?

We did the craziest thing this year.  I mean it’s pretty absurd.  We took the whole family, grandparents and aunts and uncles down to Home Depot.  We shopped for a tree that had been cut down for no reason other than for us to buy it!  And we found the perfect dead tree. 

Perler Bead Christmas Tree Ornaments

I’d seen perler beads turned Christmas ornaments on Pinterest, the problem is that the post is not in English and even translated, it doesn’t make much sense. So, I decided to take on the challenge to figure out exactly how to make these little bits of cuteness so we can all have them on our trees.

MOCHA (Museum of Children's Art) in Oakland

MOCHA has moved to 1625 Clay St. in Downtown Oakland and we made trip to check it out!  The new space is bright, open and airy that really gives off great energy to create.

Hand Stamped Tea Towels (Kid Made Mother Approved)

This printed tea towel idea originally started by me being way too eager to say, “Yes, I can do that too!” I was minding my own business on the school playground as I was handing out my bags of produce from Farmigo (which I do as a weekly fundraiser for my daughter’s school) and a parent I like very much approached me about coordinating a kindergarten class project to sell at the Spring Auction (which I am also on the committee for).  She thought I’d be a logical choice since I’m one of three room mom’s for the class. See? I. CAN’T. SAY. NO. Sound familiar anyone? So yes, it was.  I began thinking up a useful, but cute idea. The kids were studying apples.  I know someone who makes tea towels. I put the two ideas together and we had a project! Apple stamped tea towels.

Easy Photo Ornament

Inspiration struck as we were decorating our tree while trying to fill one of those Hallmark ornament frames with a picture.  I went looking for a photo to put in the frame to commemorate the year when I came across the perfect sized photo taken in a photo booth at a wedding we attended earlier in the year.  By the time I came back with the photo, my oldest had taken it upon herself to draw our family for the photo frame.  Okay.  This is where inspiration hit. Homemade photo Christmas ornaments or gift tags.

I loved the fun photos we’d taken at the wedding.  I wanted them on the tree! So, we made it happen.

Project Night Night: Providing Nighttime Comforts to Homeless Children

A thoughtful reader sent me a message about the program Project Night Night which lends support to homeless children by offering comforts in some very difficult circumstances. I fell in love with the program immediately and wanted to get involved.  

Our Christmas Buying Guide:  Give the Gift of Family Experience

With Christmas fast approaching (I know by all the early birds putting out their Christmas decorations, though it’s not even Thanksgiving yet- thanks for that), I’m starting to get a bit panicky.  Not because I’m behind on shopping, but because we don’t want any more “things”. Sometimes when I’m walking through the house, I feel like Mama Bear in the Berenstain Bears, “Think of Others in Need” where all of their abundance of stuff chases Mama Bear around in her dreams chanting “Too much stuff” at her. We've decided this year to gently request family experiences instead of material gifts.