Tuesday, February 11, 2014

20 Indoor activities for kids

I'm sure I don't stand alone when I say this being stuck inside with little ones is quite the challenge. This fall and winter has made for a record breaking amount of yucky days that has kept us inside and  we have been inside more days than we have been out in the last two to maybe three months. Very different from last year!
I have learned a few things over the past few years that I thought I would share with you.
First, I have learned that the tv isn't the enemy. I'm not about letting my kids camp out in front of the tube all day but a little here and there isn't bad in my opinion. I have to remind myself that once the weather is nice there will be days, sometimes weeks go by where the tv goes unnoticed that makes up for the days where it's on a little longer than what I envisioned before I became a parent;)
Second, this too shall pass. It really won't be long before we will all be complaining of the heat and mosquito's and sweating and on and on and on.
Lastly, in order for our kids to let out their energy and explore their creativity we as Mama's have to lose some control over the order of the home. Let me be honest here, this one is really hard for me. I can find myself following the trail of my children and cleaning up their play time because I feel like I'm going to lose my mind, but I have found that when I close my eyes to the mess and open them up to their imagination I don't miss the moment and I witness memories in the making.

 




With that I want to give you a list of activities that keep us busy inside that both the kids and I enjoy.

1. Take the cushions off the couch and let them jump, play and make cushion slides.

2. Take a twin or crib mattress and put it on the floor to use as a "trampoline."

3. Make a fort using kitchen chairs and blankets.

4. Get flashlights and/or headlights from the dollar store and let them play with them in the fort.

5. Pile in the bed for stories.

6. Put on a puppet show

7. Place a blanket on the floor and serve lunch as a picnic. Have the kids pretend they are outside  in a magical land and have them tell stories of what they see and once lunch is over they can act it out.

8. Bring in an outside toy and let them play with it inside. This could be a wagon or small tricycle or even an umbrella stroller. They will feel so special to get to use it inside and love it! Just make sure to clean the wheels first;)

9. Blow bubbles and let them pop them and then give them damp towels to clean the soapy floors afterwards.

10. Give them chores or jobs around the house. Train them young while they are enthusiastic about helping so that they are conditioned to contribute once they are older. Mine love to do the dishes, one cleans and the other loads. Another favorite is folding warm towels fresh from the dryer. Heck, even I love that!

11. Put on story time and music time. Kids love to role play and this is the perfect activity!

12. Find a kid station on Pandora and play the music and have a dance party. This really gets the wiggles out.

13. Get out photo albums for them to look at. They love seeing all of those pictures you're taking of them!

14. Give spa pedicures! We place a thick quilt on the floor and pull chairs up to large mixing bowls that have been filled with bubbles and warm water we then trim and paint toenails.

15. Setup a pretend grocery store and let them shop, checkout and pay. We create produce, meat, dairy and dry goods in different parts of the house and then I tell them specific items to shop for and how much they cost. This extends the activity and creates a learning opportunity. You can also give a list in text to older kiddos or a picture list to younger kiddos.

16. Bath time! My kiddos love to play in the bath and I use that to my advantage when I want to occupy their time without a lot of mess. I will even give them paintbrushes and watercolors to paint on the tiles in the tub. This keeps them busy and washes right off.

17. Setup animals all throughout the house and go on a Safari or Zoo trip. Have them tell you all about the animals.

18. After the kids tell you about the animals you can then pull up YouTube and watch videos about those animals. This has become one of my favorite things to do. I have learned so much doing this!

19. If you are wanting to venture out take a trip to the library or call your local fire station, police station, veterinary office, and hospital to see if they do tours and allow little visitors.

20. Last thing that is my saving grace no matter how much time we spend inside is......TOY ROTATION! Less is best! Have you ever noticed how overwhelmed you feel when you go to a restaurant that has a 20 page menu? I often do best with fewer options and I believe my kids are the same way. I keep three large plastic tubs out of sight that my kids don't have access to. I fill those tubs with books, games and toys, leaving fewer toys in the house to choose from. Every few weeks I bring the new toys out from storage and then pickup current toys to put in the tub. The kids go crazy over their long lost toys and really get wrapped up in play time instead of lost at play time. I also use a similar method for Birthdays and Christmas. Rather than having all the new toys at once I get out one of their gifts each week. They really seem to appreciate them more when I do things this way.























There it is! 20 things to do indoors with your kids! Hopefully I can add more to the list. I would love to know what you do with your little ones!

Friday, January 31, 2014

{Snow, Frozen and Sharing Sisters}

This week started off with a canceled school day for Daddy and the anticipation of some snow. We didn't get much at all and the day cleared up after lunch. There were no complaints from us because we were happy to have Daddy home all day. Well....I say there were no complaints but you will see that Bubby was pretty torn up about not being able to build a snowman like Olaf, he was so prepared...carrot and all. I made sure to come inside and find a snowman type of craft on pinterest that we could incorporate into our day to make up for the misunderstanding and he was just fine.











I have been pulling together more and more of our homeschool curriculum for the next school year and slowly adding it into our current "learning" time. I have to be honest that most days I feel a bit overwhelmed and doubt myself and then there's that perfect moment when I'm teaching them about something and it all just clicks. I rejoice in those moments. I love the discovery of what makes their brains click. I love that I'm getting to know these little people and every little detail about them to help them through this life. I also love me some google and youtube! It helps me to actually answer questions like, "how many eggs do Mama sea tutles lay?" Asked and google answered and then followed up with an incredible youtube video about it all. We all loved watching this video of the baby turtles hatching. Don't you just love how we have access to somewhat experience things that we may never get to see in person? I know I do!







This week we made a big transition and decided to move the two girls into a room together! Junebug has been sleeping in our room up to this point and I have known for some time that being in the same room as me was the culprit of her waking so much through the night. We thought through every setup and this was the one that just seemed right. That and Sissy has been begging for Junebug to be in her room since day one. The first night we went in and checked often and they were both sleeping so peaceful. Matt even came out at one point and put my thoughts into words when he said, " It just feels different in there, like this is the way it's supposed to be, sisters right next to each other." I have to agree with that statement. The room felt like a sweet hug. I would also like to report that Junebug is doing much better and by the second night she only woke for one feeding. She also appears more rested and happy through the day now that she's not up all hours of the night. I have to say I feel the same way! Yay for more sleep!






"Let it go.....Let it go!" over and over, every day all day!

That's our week in a nutshell.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mexican Chili {recipe}

This recipe is a continuation of this Pinto Bean Recipe.


What you will need:

4-5 cups of cooked pinto beans from the above recipe
1-1.5 pounds of ground beef
1 can of Rotel
1 small onion
1 tsp of minced garlic
1/4 cup of taco sauce ( we used Taco Bell HOT sauce purchased at the store). Note this is not salsa but more of a vinegar and tomato based sauce much like tabasco.

 Seasoning for beef
...........................
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tsp salt

 What to do:
1. Brown ground beef until cooked evenly
2. Add in diced onions and garlic until they are translucent
3. Add in all the seasonings for the beef with 1/4 cup of water and mix it through making sure to coat the beef with the seasonings.
4. Transfer the beef and onion mixture to a soup pot and add in rotel, beans and taco sauce.
5. Let simmer on low, stirring often for at least an hour.
6. Serve with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, more taco sauce and tortilla strips or chips.






*The pinto bean recipe makes a LARGE batch. We typically freeze two containers of 4-5 cup quantities and then a few smaller portions of 1-1.5 cups to go with our Mexican meal night. We use the large batches of beans to make this amazing Mexican Chili recipe.