Chase Fireflies


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Melting Crayons Canvas: Back to School Art for Kids

Have you all been on Pinterest yet?  The first time I started searching around, I was on for… um, way too long.  It’s the best thing ever for ideas and the worst thing ever for time management. 

Anyway, I first saw this Melting Crayons Canvas Art idea there and knew it would be a perfect addition to our schoolroom (in process.)  We got the crayons at Toys R Us last week (it was a buy one 64 pack, get two free deal -whoohoo!) and the canvas was purchased from a discounted Michael’s bin for $1.94.  Altogether, our artwork cost $4.00. 

Selah organized the crayons just how she wanted them and I hot glued them to the canvas.  Then we sat on a towel with a hairdryer and melted and melted away.  It was so much fun to see the colors melt, mix, and mingle.  Selah thought this was the coolest thing ever, but Adden wasn’t impressed for long.  That’s okay, it was probably safer that way. 

I really love the way our art turned out and I can’t wait to see it hung in our schoolroom.  However, if we do another Melted Crayons Canvas, I would experiment a bit more.  I think crayons glued in the shape of a sun would look cool;  with the rays being the melty stuff;  like a sunburst of sorts. 

Anyway, this is a simple art project for kids that turns out pretty sweet.  Let me know if you give it a try.


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Back to School Countdown Activity

I’m sure school has started for most already, so this idea may be completely useless, but I absolutely love it!  It’s such a great way for kids to get excited about a new school year.  And it can be adapted as a First Week Survival Kit. 

Since our kids were disappointed in the end of their summer escapades, we employed a fun Back to School Countdown.  Using paper towel rolls and scrapbook materials that we had on hand, I decorated and filled the rolls with necessary school supplies and tiny treats. 

School starts for us after Labor Day, so we have seven days left.  Each day, the kids will empty one of the rolls to find an assortment of goodies:  new markers, crayons, colored pencils, fun erasers, assorted bookmarks, Smarties candy (because I’m corny like that), and a sweet treat (in the form of an ice cream gift card) for the first day of school. 

I created these little ditties a few days ago and so far they have done the trick.  The kids cannot wait to see what’s inside.  It’s creating a lot of anticipation for the big first day, which is what we were going for.  I’ll take excitement about learning over back to school dread any day.


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Rainbow Pancakes: Kids in the Kitchen

Selah has a thing for rainbows.  I have a thing for color on my plate.  And though these pancakes don’t hold water nutritionally, they’re too fun to pass up. 

My mom was one of those moms who made balloon pancakes for our birthdays, Mickey Mouse pancakes for a trip to Disney, and heart pancakes for Valentine’s Day.  It’s funny how the shape of a pancake can bring back the best of memories. 

It’s just a pancake, after all, right?  But sometimes the simplest of acts give the greatest joy.  Selah ADORED making these pancakes and Adden ADORED eating them.  To make rainbow pancakes, add a drop of food coloring to your favorite pancake recipe.  Super easy and super fun.  Enjoy!


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Summer Memory Books for Kids

With school inching its way up on us, I wanted a way to treasure the memories that we made this summer. 

I am horrible at scrapbooking.  Not that I don’t love it;  I just don’t ever do it.   I am a perfectionist, which often means that I never get anything done without sacrificing a few limbs of my time. 

But I wanted the kids to remember their summer, so we’ve spent time printing pictures, throwing them in an album, and dialoguing their memories. 

There is nothing unique about these books, except that the kids had much ownership in the process.  These books are theirs.  With Selah’s love for artsy things, she adored creating and the time spent together (with both my mom and I.)

We made Adden’s book significantly easier.  He picked his pictures, put them in the sleeves, and then told me what he wanted to say.  Mostly he said, “I love my Dad;  I love the Pirates;  I love  baseball;  I love the Red Sox.”  (For the record, baseball superceded me.)   

I love how their memories are now my memories of a four and five year old summer in the sun.


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Make Your Own Kool-Aid Play-Dough: An Activity for Kids

Kool-Aid Play-Dough is one of those tried and true early childhood recipes.  It’s easy to make, it smells awesome, and it has great play value.  Plus it’s good for developing fine motor skills and for creative play. 

To make it, you will need simple supplies:  flour, salt, water, Cream of Tartar, Kool-Aid, and oil.  You’ll mix, heat, and cool.  Children can be involved with each aspect of the process.  (I’m not certain why I chanced Adden anywhere near the stove, but he did great.  No trips to the ER necessary.)

Our kids ADORED this activity.   After making it, Selah proceeded to set up a bakery, with an ottoman for an oven and a little brother as her marketing executive.  (Cookies were free on the first day of business to the first 100 customers.) 

Each color of Play-Dough takes about 4-5 minutes to make.  Once it’s all made, you pretty much have the afternoon to yourself.  I had over two hours of uninterrupted time to do laundry, vacume, dishes, dinner, organize, and of course eat all of the pretend cookies from the new bakery in town.  It was pretty sweet!

Have fun with your kids (and enjoy all of that time to yourself too!)

Kool-Aid Playdough

1 cup flour
2 TBSP cream of tartar
1/4 cup salt
2 pkgs. of sugar free Kool-Aid (use the same flavor/color for each color you make)
1 cup water
1 TBSP oil

1. In a saucepan combine everything but the oil.   Stir well, then add the oil. 
2.Move saucepan to stovetop and cook for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Continually stir. 
3. When a good sized ball starts to form, turn off the heat and remove the pan. The play-dough will be hot, so be careful.
4. Remove the ball of dough from the pan and let cool for a second.
5. Knead well until soft.
6. Store in an airtight container or a ziplock bag.


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Pittsburgh Area Consignment Sales for Kids: Fall 2011

I am obsessed with consignment sales.   I LOVE to simplify and declutter.  It’s a lot of work, but more often than not, it’s worth it.  Participating in four sales a year, we usually make anywhere between $150 and $350 at each sale.  That’s a lot of profit for used children’s clothes, toys, furniture, and books.  Most sales also offer the opportunity to donate any unsold items to charitable organizations. 

Besides allowing you to downsize, consignment sales are great places to purchase great kids’ stuff.  Paul and I do not shop at traditional stores anymore, unless we are looking for something specific.  Instead, we buy everything at yard sales and consignment sales.  Purchasing brand name items for less than a dollar, getting good use out of them, and selling them for a few dollars has kind of worked to our benefit. 

If you’re looking for consignment sales in the Pittsburgh area, here is a complete listing for the Fall of 2011.  Happy selling (and shopping, of course!) 

Pittsburgh Area Consignment Sales for Kids:  Fall 2011

August 30 – September 3: An Angel’s Attic (Butler, PA)

September 15 – September 17:  Little Blessings Dressings (Washington, PA)

September 16 – September 18:  Cents and Sensibility Consignments (Indiana, PA)

September 17 – September 20:  Sunflower Sprouts(Wexford, PA)

September 17 – September 24:  Snuggle Bugs Consignment (Pittsburgh, PA)

September 23 – September 25:  Centsible Moms (Dawson, PA)

September 23 – September 25:  Westmoreland Sale for Kids(Westmoreland County, PA)

September 24 – September 25:  Just Between Friends (Pittsburgh, PA)

September  30 – October 1:  Kids Mania (Washington, PA)

If you are not local to the Pittsburgh Area, there is a Kids’ Consignment Sale site that allows you to search for a local sale near you.


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Rainbow Fruit Skewers: Kids in the Kitchen

I had forgotten my love of all things skewer until now.  I don’t know what the appeal is, but they make food fun.  Since Selah has recently decided to oppose fruit, I decided that it was time to bring out the skewer.  Surely bringing a new variation into the diet would be a good thing? 

The kids helped me wash all of the fruit and arrange it into a rainbow.  Selah had much to do with the rainbow idea.  Otherwise, there would be a kiwi pitching to a strawberry and a collision of blueberries at home plate. 

Both of the kids loved putting the fruit on the skewer.  They started with the rainbow idea and then got hitched on patterning the fruit:  blueberry, grape, grape, blueberry, grape grape…

Of course, Adden’s patterning never got very far.  It was more like strawberry, orange, eat.  Strawberry, orange, eat. 

And though I don’t actually have photographs of Selah eating fruit, I swear that she ate it (all except the kiwi.)  And, still claiming that she was opposed to fruit, she devoured her skewer and went back for more.  I guess I won that battle?  (Or possibly, the skewer did.)

What ideas have you tried to get your kids to eat all the good stuff? 


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Organizing Kids’ Artwork: 4 Ways to Control the Clutter

It’s kind of funny that I’m writing a post about organization.  My way of organizing is having nothing to organize. I was born to be a minimalist.  Alas, with children, you have to learn to organize.  And I haven’t yet….but I’m getting there. 

One of my biggest struggles is knowing what to do with the kids’ artwork.  Selah acquired mass quantities of artistic ability from her Dad.  She is daily creating new sculptures, mosaics, watercolors, you name it. 

I haven’t always known what to do with the art before, but I think that I’ve finally got a good system working.  Here are some ideas for organizing all of those kid creations. 

Organizing Kids’ Artwork: 

1.  Frame and Display:  Take the time to frame those special pieces.  Repurpose old picture frames with a new coat of paint or buy inexpensive frames at a dollar store.  Display artwork on a wall as a gallery collection or on a ribbon or rope with clothespins. 

2.  Send it Away with Love:  Send away the artwork (signed, of course) to a faraway friend or family member.  Write a special note on the back.  Mailing tubes can be used so as not to “compromise” the piece. 

3.  Establish a Portfolio:  Keep smaller, special pieces of art in plastic sleeves in a binder or in a portfolio.   Take pictures of larger or three-dimensional pieces of artwork.  Print out the photographs and include those in the portfolio. 

4.  Toss on the Sly:  This goes without saying.  If you need to get rid of a piece, don’t let your kids see you.  Even if it’s just scribbled greenery on a commercial coloring page;  it’s dear to them.  Respect their hearts as such.  (It’s always good to take preventative tear crying measures.) 

What do you do to organize kids’ artwork?  I would love more ideas! 


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Beautiful Here.

 Walking in lush fields of green.  Towards Light and we go together. 

 Discovering rocks of old.  Walls built up and crumbling down. 

God reflections in mirrored water and hushed woods and Tiger Lillies and each other.

And my soul is fed as with the richest of foods. 

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. 
~John Muir


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August Fun in Pittsburgh for Kids

I think it’s fair to say that Pittsburgh has stolen a piece of my heart.  It is an incredible city for families and offers countless age-appropriate activities for kids. 

Ever since our kids were teeny, we’ve been trapsing them around the city.  It is hard to keep me in my house;  mostly because I am a better mom when I am on the go.  Taking them places allows me to be present with them and fully engaged in learning and exploring (as opposed to manic scrubbing and endless cleaning.) 

Since school is just around the corner, I thought it might be a good idea to research some last summer outings we can take.  If you’re a Pittsburgher, I hope you find the compilation helpful.  Have a great rest of the summer! 

AUGUST EVENTS IN PITTSBURGH FOR KIDS

Animalopolis is a daily Omnimax show at the Carnegie Science Museum for kids 8 and under.  You’ve got a lion belting out opera tunes and dancing bears featured in a whimsical journey into the animal kingdom.  Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for kids. 

Dora’s Pirate Adventure LIVE!  Dora and her friends engage an early childhood crowd with an interactive theatrical performance at the Children’s Museum.  Shows are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2:30 and 4:30 thru September 4th.  Tickets are $12 for members and $20 for nonmembers.  Children are also welcome to explore the set during off hours and participate in a Pirate sing-a-long Monday thru Thursday at 11:00 am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm and Friday and Saturday at 11:00 am and 12:45 pm. 

Kindergarten!…Here I Come! is a FREE kindergarten readiness program held on Saturday, August 13th from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. It is geared toward upcoming kindergarten students and their parents, with the intention of ensuring a healthy transition into school.  This year’s children will take home “Class of 2024” t-shirts, kindergarten story books, and keepsake crafts.  Children will be exploring a schoolbus, participating in a radio broadcast, receiving free screenings, and enjoying live performances.  Admission is free for children entering kindergarten and one parent. 

Kids Day at PNC Park:  Every Sunday Pirates home game is a Kids Day.  Explore a Fun Zone on Federal Street from 11:00 to 1:00, grab a kid-friendly gift at the gates, and hang out after the game to run the bases. 

Kids’ Zoofari:  Head to the Pittsburgh Zoo between August 13th – August 26th from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm for kid-friendly activities.  Watch sea lion training demonstrations, touch stingrays, and ask the experts questions about your favorite animals.  All activities are free with general admission.  Admission is $14 for adults and $12 for kids.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre:  The company offers a FREE ballet performance entitled “Ballet Under the Stars” on Thursday, August 18th from 7:30-9:00 at Hartwood Acres Amphitheatre, as a part of the Allegheny County Summer Concert Series.  Come at 5:00 for FREE activities for kids such as crafts, balloon sculptures, ballerina meet and greets, a ballerina dress up booth, etc. 

What do you and your family have planned for August?