Free Activity for Kids-Homemade Bird Feeders

6/27/2012 02:27:00 PM Posted by mommy2twincesses

The dog days of summer have just begun and we’re beginning to check things off our Summer Family Fun Plan.  The intense heat have us trapped indoors the majority of the day so I’m really glad I have this crazy long list to find activities from-and even more so since most of them are free!
I found myself needing to busy the girls the other day so I could get some things done so I whipped out my list and randomly chose an activity. I didn’t want something to make a big mess and having everything I’d need was a must. After a few minutes of thought, I decided we’d make homemade bird feeders!
To make your own you’ll need:
A large plastic garbage bag
Empty toilet paper rolls
Peanut butter
Bird seed
Hole punch
This is basically self explanatory, but just in case I’ll walk you through what we did.
I started by gathering the supplies and then spreading the garbage bag over the table we were working at.
Next, I used the hole punch to make two holes in the end, on either side of the toilet paper rolls, to tie the yarn for hanging.
Using a spoon, I spread a thin layer of inexpensive peanut butter around the paper tube.
I then poured a small mound of bird seed on a plate and rolled the tube around in the seed until it was fully covered.
To finish off the feeder, I tied a piece of yarn to each of the previously punched holes.
After my brief demonstration, I left the girls at it to make their own bird feeders! It bought me between 30-45 minutes! YES! Score 1 for mommy!
When they finished smearing and rolling, I did the tying and out we went to hang our bird feeders in a tree! I used this opportunity to talk to them about how happy Jesus would be that we were feeding his animals because the Bible tells us that it’s our place to care for them. Their honest and pure enthusiasm made my heart sing and has led to further discussions of showing our love to animals-we even got pet Sea Monkeys to care for!
LOL, this was the best I could do since I’m so anti-pet :o)

Disciplining Children-Why Bother

6/27/2012 01:42:00 PM Posted by mommy2twincesses

While I’m still on my “child discipline” soapbox I figured I may as well finish what I started, so here it goes.
In my last post on disciplining children I told you about the Facebook incident that sparked this very conversation. I gave a brief rundown of the discipline methods we use and hopefully some of you will stop by there and share what works for you as well. And because I just can’t get the subject off my mind, I’ll continue with my views here. Please save all stones until the end ;)
In case you missed it, I shared a behavior we’d been struggling with, how I was handling it, and asked for further suggestions. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked that the majority of my readers agreed that I should simply ignore the behavior (which was swearing by the way). Really? Ignore my 3 year olds dropping curse words? Not in this lifetime, not in this family!
I’m all for ignoring some things, picking my battles, and all that jazz, but in my humble opinion it is simply unacceptable for a child to use swear words. (And if you don’t have a problem with your child swearing, then by no means do I intend to put down your parenting, this is just the subject on which the topic started so choose something you feel strongly about and think about it in those terms!)
Ignoring worked well for nose picking, tantrums, and minor “every child does that at some point” misdemeanors, but I won’t even entertain the idea of ignoring something as repulsive as swearing like a sailor.
All of these kinds of responses, as well as the overall drastic change of environment in classroom settings, and civility in general, has me thinking, “Is this what’s wrong with “kids today”? Is this why we can’t visit public spaces without my children being hit or pushed? Is this “the problem with the world today”?”
Disciplining children is difficult. It’s a hassle and a headache and is just plain no fun, but the bottom line is “someone’s got to do it or we’re all going to hell in a hand basket”. Our world, our lives in general depend a great deal on knowing boundaries. The thought of parenting with the general philosophy of “ignore” or “solely focus on the positive” concerns me a great deal. (I should note that I’m in NO way suggesting that the lovely ladies that commented on this topic meant that they SOLELY ignore or whatnot, the overwhelming consensus in general, got me thinking-that’s all.)
It is said that “change is good”, but I’m not seeing a whole lot of “good” coming out of the newer parenting philosophies. When I was growing up I knew without a doubt what was allowed, what wasn’t, and what would happen if I tested the waters too far. I knew that there were different rules at home and in public, and that acting like a crazy person in public was a sure fire way to get my backside lit up.
Someone posted a lengthy quote from Dr. Dorothy Law Nolte and in it she talks about children learning what they live with. I fully agree with what she had to say and added my own: “If children live with parents who ignore all wrong they do, they’ll learn they’re never wrong and can act any way they wish.”
The media smears parents, weekly it seems, for crossing the lines of appropriate discipline and I believe that scares some into thinking that it’s better to just skip discipline altogether. In contrast I think it would be doing the world a much bigger favor if they would smear the parents who do their children the injustice of NOT disciplining them when needed.
Yes, you heard me right! Instead of publicly humiliating mothers who use child harnesses to TRY and control their children, why don’t they showcase the one who shops leisurely while her little “angel” dismantles racks of clothing or runs amok through the store?!
It is my honest opinion that more people “abuse” their children by pure lack of discipline than those who “abuse” through discipline. Not teaching a child social norms is neglect and therefore abuse, in my opinion. Very little to no discipline is setting your child up for failure and will undoubtedly cause you both more grief and heartache in the long run than fighting a couple of relatively simple battles while they’re still young.
There is no definite “right or wrong”, “black or white”, “this way or that” that will apply in every situation. The rules will be different in every household, but every household should have rules and breaking said rules should lead to consequence.
What is your take on discipline? Do you think that the shift in parenting away from traditional forms of discipline is affecting our society?

Disciplining Children is Not a One Size Fits All Subject

6/27/2012 12:21:00 PM Posted by mommy2twincesses

Recently on my Facebook Fan Page there was a bit of heat stemming from the “Hot Topic” of discipline. (If you’ve not found me there yet, please do @!/mommy2twincesses) I was honestly shocked at some people’s opinions of discipline.
I am fully aware that my opinions on the matter are not the popular ones, so I’m just throwing that out there on the front end.
First of all, as the title of this post states, there isn’t a magic “one size fits all” approach that is going to work for all children and all families. Like with most matters of parenting, finding the perfect fit in terms of discipline is trial and error and needs to be tweaked from time to time to remain effective.
In our house, discipline started from the very beginning when the girls could do simple things like pull hair or pinch. They were so young that they didn’t really understand what they were doing, but that didn’t mean that we just let them hurt us or others, discipline began. We would do things such as pry their fingers away from whatever they were hurting and redirect them by giving another object to grasp, such as a blanket or toy. So, I guess you could say that the first “tool” in our “discipline belt” was redirection.
With age comes all sorts of new abilities and therefore, new ways and things to discover. When they were mobile and were drawn to things that could potentially hurt them, such as the fireplace, we began incorporating distractions into our discipline repertoire. We would be clear and concise about what the wrong behavior was (going near the fireplace for example) and offer a distraction (come to mommy/a toy/or different room instead).
Still, when the girls were a bit older and clearly testing limits, we began to also incorporate the discipline of subtraction. If there was a particular item that was causing an unacceptable behavior, we would simply take that item out of the equation. For instance, after an object had been intentionally dropped for the 12th time (no, we didn’t actually set a number limit, just whenever the game got unbearable and we had given clear warning) it was put away. The same thing happens when an object is being used inappropriately (think hitting with toys or crayons in the mouth). The action is corrected a number of times, a final warning is given, and then the object is taken away, or subtracted from the equation. This is a great method that we still use almost on a daily basis and our girls are 3 years old.
Time Out
When the cords of your sanity are wearing thin and you’ve tried everything else I’ve mentioned so far, it may be time to try a good old fashioned “time out”. Time outs are tried and true, and often times very effective. Separating the child from whatever it is that is causing you stress offers several positive outcomes. First, it signals to the child that you mean business. It gives them the chance to slow down and think about what it is they’re doing, that it produces a negative reaction from their caregiver, and also allows them to calm down. Many times after just a short (1 to 2 minutes-time depending on age and of course escalating with age and/or offense) time out the child will get up and have literally forgotten about whatever it was getting them into trouble and just move on to other activities.
Time outs can occur anytime, anywhere, and simply mean removing a child from a situation and placing them in an environment more calming. I’ve found it to be effective at home to have a designated place for them to spend their time out, for us it’s in a chair by the front door if they’re quiet or in their bed if they’re crying or whining. When we’re out and about and I need to remove them from a situation we “go to the bathroom”. Often times they regroup just on the walk to the loo and then once inside I can look them in the eye and talk calmly but very firmly about whatever infraction was taking place, and our problem is solved.
Here’s where my personal beliefs usually leave others gape mouthed. When all other methods of discipline have failed to correct a behavior that is dangerous to themselves or others I will spat/spank my children.
At very young ages (1-2 years old) I have found that a firm, yet gentle, spat on the hand will work wonders. Most parenting information outlets discourage this greatly by claiming that it teaches children violence and to hit, but I personally think that’s a bunch of hooey. As long as it’s clear to the child that they are being spatted/spanked as discipline to stop or correct a behavior I believe that its highly effective and not in the least confusing.
A perfect example of when I’ve used this form of discipline is when my children tried touching candles or other sources of fire. After being redirected, distracted, subtracted, and parked beside me (time out implemented), when they continued to reach for flames I lightly smacked the hand that was causing the infraction (and possible harm to my child). Upon receiving the spat on the hand the usual result was: the child yanking the hand away and gazing at me. I would again affirm that fire is hot and would hurt/burn them and that’s much worse than a simple spat from me. 99.9% of the time the problem was solved and the message would finally sink in.
Now that my girls are older, 3 years old, they occasionally receive spankings, or firm yet not painful spanks or swats on the bottom (although there is an “s” on the words, at this point one spank/swat is effective for us). This is always a last ditch effort to correct a behavior and is almost always reserved for possibly dangerous situations (venturing into the street, climbing furniture, etc.). They know that when they get a “spank” as we call it, that I absolutely mean that whatever was being done is over and that it’s final. It hurts their feelings much more than it does their behinds, but I’m positive my message of “no” is made clear.
After a “spank” and after the girls calm themselves, I show them affection, tell them I love them, and again reaffirm that because I love them whatever behavior got them in that situation was absolutely under no circumstances ever allowed and will result in a spank from here on out. I know things are different with different children, but my children respond to and understand the principle.
Other Methods
When I don’t feel that a spat/spank is appropriate, but all other methods of discipline have been implemented to no avail, I have to get creative. I try to tie my discipline methods as closely as possible to the infraction to keep confusion to a minimum, as well as in hopes of retaining effectiveness.
For example, we have several mottos in our family and one of my favorites is “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit”. This is a miracle worker in public settings because I can remind them of this, they can repeat it with me, and if they’re still dissatisfied they simply lose whatever treat it was and will not get another. If taking something away prompts more misbehavior we move directly and swiftly to the restroom for a “time out” of sorts, or if possible (which it’s not very often) we’ll just leave immediately.
Another example (and this is the one that caused such outrage on my Facebook page) is “washing their mouth out” when they say naughty words that are not allowed. After trying everything I could possibly imagine and my daughter still dropping curse words, I finally took her into the bathroom, requested that she stick out her tongue, and I ran a bar of regular bath soap over it to “clean the dirty words out”. It was simple, she understood the concept of “cleaning out her dirty mouth”, and it hasn’t happened since. Though I was called an “abuser” for this, I do not feel guilt nor regret for using this as punishment. At 3 years old, the typical child puts far worse things in their mouths than bath soap, each and every day, and it caused her no harm-as I knew it wouldn’t. In fact, it was effective enough that I’ve heard her tell an adult that used the inappropriate word that got her into trouble that they needed their “mouth washed out” ;o) Can’t say I disagree! LOL
To wrap up this terribly long winded post (my apologies), discipline is not something that can be implemented in the exact same way for every child in every situation. To see what is effective, you’ll have to try some different things and use the strategies that best reach your child where he/she is.

What are your views on this subject? What methods work best for you and what age(s) are you parenting?

Shaving Cream Paint-Crazy Fun!

6/18/2012 09:00:00 AM Posted by mommy2twincesses

While trying to come up with ways to keep my littles entertained this summer I came across this amazingly easy and cool idea on Pinterest. Shaving cream paint!
Paint of any kind is normally messy and makes me cringe just a little, but right now it’s hot outside, the kiddy pool is full, and messes are on the daily menu-as long as they are OUTSIDE.
I grabbed a few items that we already had on hand and quickly mixed up an hour’s worth of fun!
What You’ll Need:
Shaving cream
Muffin Tin
Food Coloring
Paint brushes
What You Do:
Fill each section of the muffin tin with shaving cream.
Add a few drops of food coloring to each pile.
Mix it well.
Give the “paint” and brushes to the kids.
Get done whatever you need to do while they’re painting themselves silly!
Here is what my finished product looked like:
Here is what my painted child looks like:
Can you tell they had a ball?! LOL The great thing was that all they had to do was dive into pool and they were as clean as when they started! This was fabulously easy and fantastically fun……we will DEFINITELY be doing this again-possibly even in the bathtub :o)
Do you have any fun/creative activities that never fail to keep your kiddos busy?

Father’s Day Memories Make the Best Gifts

6/17/2012 02:40:00 PM Posted by mommy2twincesses

Father’s Day is a bitter sweet day for me. Bitter because I miss my dad every single day, but sweet because I see so much of him in my own husband, the father of our identical twin girls.
This morning I watched the twins and DH roll around and wrestle in the floor and was momentarily transported back to days that my dad and I did the same thing. He always had a great sense of humor and though I didn’t always find him funny then, I can’t help but smile remembering his antics now.
We started the day with loads of morning cuddles, I mean, what else could you do sticking 4 people in a queen size bed?! While daddy went out to check the water on the crops we began working on breakfast for him. The girls insisted on all of us wearing aprons *eye roll* while we cooked. They helped, long enough to drop the first ingredients into the mixing bowl! LOL
I was lucky enough to marry a man that would eat pretty much anything that won’t bite him back and he was sweet enough to not even comment on my pitifully flat homemade biscuits. M cut me no slack as she pouted that she wanted “real biscuits, not pancakes”. Oops! Apparently there is a BIG difference between all purpose and self-rising flour :/
He loved his gifts though! I got something right-score one for mommy. The girls told him about his new boating shoes a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t want to not have him anything on the actual day, so I picked up a toiletry caddy for traveling and packed it full of essentials. He was happy with this and I have no doubt it will come in handy as he always forgets something when we travel.
We went to church and while there the girls made him precious handprint cards with cute little questionnaires inside. These will definitely be put away and saved forever! They also learned this little song:
(Sing to the tune of Bingo)

I love him and he loves me
And daddy is his name-o


And daddy is him name-o!

Beyond the gifts, cards, and songs, it is the memories that made today special; both those made today and also those evoked.
What are your favorite Father’s Day memories?

Vacation Bible School-Great Start to Summer

6/16/2012 04:10:00 PM Posted by mommy2twincesses

I have such fond memories of Vacation Bible School (VBS) growing up! It was one thing that I looked forward to each and every summer and was considered a rite of passage because only the “big kids” got to stay. I can’t believe that just a week ago my precious 3 year old identical twin girls got to go to their first VBS! *tear*
The local Baptist church came around a couple of weeks ago passing out flyers for their upcoming VBS but the allowed grades read Pre-K through 6th grade. I totally dismissed it because they aren’t even close to Pre-K yet, but because we’re such a small community a member of the church told me specifically that the girls were more than welcome to come.
I thought about it and talked about it with the girls and they were super excited and could hardly wait to go!
When the first night rolled around I got them dressed and out we went. They met their teacher and stood in line with their class, but were super shy and didn’t want me to leave right away. I agreed to go in with them and by the time the music started and they warmed up to their new friends they didn’t even notice me sneak out.
The rest of the week was as smooth as butter! I am still in absolute amazement at how well they did, all by themselves! *gasp and gulp* My babies are growing up way too fast!

The highlights of their time in VBS was K finding the “Golden Pinecone” and therefore getting to wear a Ranger hat around all night and be called “Ranger K”, both of them getting suckers for knowing their memory verse (this was only a few children from each class per night), and M winning an overall prize for “Best Behaved”!
The theme song of the week says it all, “It’s gonna be a cool, cool summer!” and what a better way to start it than “learning to trust in Jesus”?!
Do your children attend VBS? If not, I really encourage you to give it a try! It’s fun, it’s free, and most importantly of all, it introduces them to Christ!

Mommy Time Out in Nashville Tennessee

6/14/2012 11:15:00 AM Posted by mommy2twincesses

I just got home from a much needed 3 day mommy time out in Nashville, TN. If you’re looking for a girls’ trip destination, this one is perfect!
Monday morning bright and early one of my mommy friends and I headed out towards the Home of Country Music. After a four hour drive we finally arrived at Gaylord Opryland Hotel and quickly and smoothly got checked into our balcony room in the Cascades section.
We immediately threw open the French doors leading to the balcony and took in the relaxing sounds of the indoor waterfalls. Ah, relaxation at last!
Because we had made no plans prior to our arrival (who needs a schedule when you’re on vacation right?!) we lounged around for a few minutes, made phone calls letting our loved ones know we made it safe and sound, and then went for a stroll around the hotel.
Actually, a “stroll” around the hotel is more like a long distance hike since it is the largest hotel without a casino in the world! We had worked up an appetite and chose to enjoy a late lunch in the Fuse Sports Bar.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a burger connoisseur and my discriminative palate gives the Fuse burgers a big “two thumbs up”. The “winkle fries” were actually really good too, even though I’m not a “fry girl”. But, I cannot tell a lie, the Lemon Drop beverage was my favorite part of the meal! LOL, it was 5 o’clock somewhere ;)
After our pig out session we thought it only appropriate to let our food settle and what better place can do that besides the pool?! Yes, we changed into our swim suits and headed to bask in the sun.
After we’d soaked up enough rays to thoroughly consider ourselves well-done, we headed back to the room to shower and figure out plans for the night.
We were all revved up and ready to go paint the town in our killer outfits, but the torrential rain changed our minds. Instead we had a quiet dinner at the Jack Daniels restaurant, changed into our jammies once back in our room, and watched television until we both conked out.
We spent the better part of the next day being pampered like princesses in the Relache’ Spa. I treated myself to a Swedish massage and a vitamin C facial. It was heavenly! Seriously, almost better than chocolate ;) And my girlfriend had a gel mani/pedi and an eyebrow wax-which she loved as well.
We then took our rested, relaxed, and newly pampered selves over to the Opry Mills Mall. We checked out the entire 2 miles of the mall, did a little shopping, and had another late lunch in The Aquarium. That place was way too cool for school! It was like dining under water!
On the way back to the hotel we swung by the Grand Ole Opry just to say that we did. There were tons of people walking toward it, so we parked and figured we’d go check out whatever was going on too. It was a concert! We had no clue that they had concerts on Tuesday nights and figured they’d already sold out since it was clearly about to start, but they had not. We got tickets to the show!
We rushed back to the room to change into something suitable for such an outrageous event and hurried back for the second half of the show-which is the part we actually wanted to see anyway.
It was totally surreal sitting in the church like pews in the Grand Ole Opry and being able to be close enough to Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan to actually see their faces! We danced and yelled like crazy people, earning us countless stank-eyes from those sitting around us, but hey, we paid our money for a good time just like they did! And, the coolest part of all, the show was filmed and will appear on television soon, and we were THERE! Squee!
After the show we were way too hyped up to sleep, so we strolled through the atriums and enjoyed funky flavored gelato. P-E-R-F-E-C-T!
Coming home was bitter sweet. I could really get used to the level of relaxed we both felt through the whole trip, but we missed our rowdy crews like crazy!
It’s hard to believe that we were able to pull into the Opryland complex on Monday and not leave it again until it was time to come home, yet be able to do so much! There are tons of other things to do in Nashville, but they’ll just have to wait until next time-of which I’m sure there will be!

Summer Family Fun Plan-Mostly Free

6/08/2012 11:33:00 AM Posted by mommy2twincesses

I keep seeing all these amazingly adorable summer family fun plans floating around online but I hadn’t found a single one that I thought we could actually complete so I figured I’d just make my own! Unfortunately mine isn’t “101 Summer Fun Ideas”, I didn’t come up with a cool number at all-92. Yeah, I’m making 92 the new 101. Just go with it! Or better yet, make your own summer family fun plan!
We live in the middle of nowhere but our boondocks just so happen to lay smack between two pretty big cities, so we get the best of 3 worlds-the backwoods, the “Home of the Blues”, and the home of the “Red Wolves”. So, you’ll notice that my list includes things to do at home as well as things to go out and about and do.
The first section of my list is the freebies! These are all things we can do for “free” either at home with things we already have or at places we have memberships to so we don’t have to pay admission.
At Home Fun Freebies:
1.    Play Frisbee
2.    Catch lightening bugs
3.    Make and eat homemade popsicles
4.    Camp out (or at least set up a tent and pretend) in the backyard
5.    Make s’mores
6.    Have a movie and popcorn night (or rainy day)
7.    Family game night (or again, rainy day)
8.    Host a sleepover
9.    Play with water balloons
10. Eat huge slices of watermelon -don’t worry about the juice dripping from your chin and elbows
11. Sit on the lawn and watch a firework display
12. Slip-n-slide
13. Take a nature walk nearby and collect interesting things you find
14. Make up and go on a scavenger hunt
15. Fly a kite
16. Play in the rain and/or splash in puddles
17. Make and blow your own giant bubbles
18. Have a pillow fight
19. Karaoke
20. Dig in the dirt-look for worms, rocks, marbles, whatever you can find
21. Plant something and watch it grow
22. Hand wash vehicles and/or bikes
23. Let the kids pick the menu of the day and YOU help THEM prepare it
24. Make puppets and put on a show
25. Go for a family bike ride
26. Take a walk
27. Melt and create with crayons
28. Spread out a blanket and look for shapes in the clouds
29. Star gaze and if you have older children look for constellations (print out a map online)
30. Transform old tees (try cutting, tie dying, and even bleaching!)
32. Make and deliver surprises for loved ones
33. Start a collection
34. Make your own pizza (and a dessert one too!)
35. Make ice cream sundaes
36. Play hopscotch
37. Color/paint a picture
38. Get creative with glow sticks
39. Freeze small toys in ice and let the kids stay busy-and cool-by chipping them out
40. Make instruments and start a band
41. Try baking soda dropper art
42. Have fun with shaving cream paint
43. Make a fairy door/house/garden
44. Make marshmallow poppers and declare war
45. Paint toast
46. Make an alphabet book
47. Have a spa day (paint nails, give facials, do hair and makeup, ect.)
48. Make and fly paper and/or straw airplanes
49. Jump rope
50. Hula hoop
51. Have a water gun fight
52. Microwave ivory soap
53. Make rock candy
54. Make and enjoy snow cones
55. Make frozen fruit and/or yogurt treats
56. Make lava lamps
57. Host (or attend) a family BBQ (keep costs down by doing it “pot luck” style)
58. Schedule a mid-year check-in with your Elf on the Shelf
59. Write messages with “invisible ink”
60. Mesmerize the littles with a jelly fish in a bottle
61. Grill banana s’mores
62. Make” hot dogs with hair” for lunch
63. Finger paint with pudding
64. Mail something fun to family/friends
65. Play flashlight tag in the dark
66. Make mud pies
67. Celebrate a crazy holiday (or make up your own)
68. Clean out closets and/or toy box and donate to charity
69. Bake something sweet
70. Try a new food and/or recipe

Out and About Fun Freebies:
71. Vacation Bible School at a local church
72. Library summer program(s)
73. Go swimming
74. Go to the zoo
75. Go fishing
76. Visit the Farmer’s Market
77. Have a picnic at the park
78. Stay cool at a splash pad
79. Go bowling
80. Enjoy watching or participate in an Independence Day parade
81. Visit a museum (many offer free days and some even free summer passes)
82. Feed the ducks at a pond/park
83. Go on a park hop
84. Visit the Children’s Museum
85. Spend a day at Shelby Farms
86. Go to the movies (look for summer freebies in your area)
87. Build sand castles (you could do this at home or at a park or beach with sand)
88. Go for a boat ride
Other Fun, But Not Necessarily Entirely Free Things:
89. Enjoy an afternoon at the Botanic Garden’s Big Backyard
90. Organize or participate in a town clean up day
91. Volunteer for ANYTHING worthwhile
92. Make a water bag to play on
That’s my list! What do you think? I have to figure out some cute way to display it so we can check things off as we go. I don’t have fancy printing software, so I may just write it on scrapbook paper, frame it, and use a dry erase marker to make the check marks.
Oh, and one more thing-check out my “Fun Stuff for the Girls” board on Pinterest to find instructions for these and other awesome ideas! When we complete an activity I’ll post about it and then add links as I have a habit of tweaking ideas I find online.
Do you have any plans this summer? How are you keeping your little ones busy?