My New Favorite Birthday Gift for Kids

School is back in full swing and that means lots of Birthday Parties on the weekends.  Sometimes we’re invited to a party of a child that I don’t know that well and I struggle to find a cool gift that will stand the test of time.  I stumbled upon Uncle Milton’s Moon in my Room randomly at Barnes and Noble one day (or more accurately, my daughter did.)  We purchased it and immediately hung it up in her room.

No, that's not Violet!

She loved it – most likely because it comes with a remote control that changes the moon through its different stages.  Click, click, click, click…..

I’ve started buying it for all my kids’ friends Birthday Parties and have received rave reviews from kids and parents alike.  So, if you are looking for a unique, fun, and super cool birthday present, check out Moon in My Room (Amazon seems to have a good price.)

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Preschool Valentines – Paper Airplanes

Last year for Valentine’s Day we made Crayon Resist Valentines – they were really easy and turned out great.  That post is actually one of my most popular on the Mommy FTW Pintrest board!  This year Cameron and I were brainstorming on what to do for Valentines and we came up with making paper airplanes for each of his class mates.  For his birthday Cameron got this really cool paper airplane book which would supply us with all the instructions we needed.  But – if you want to do this craft and you don’t have time to pick up the book – just google for some paper airplane instructions.

This is a great book of easy Paper Airplanes

What you need:


markers / crayons / colored pencils – anything to decorate the paper

That’s it!

What you do:

Have your child decorate the paper on both sides.  We just used computer printer paper.  Then, pick a design and fold it.  It couldn’t be easier!  If your child can write their letters, they might want to address the planes on the wings and sign them.  Have fun!

Get Fall Crafty – Paint Some Leaves!

A few weekends ago we went for a little family hike in Rock Creek Park and the kids collected a bunch of fall leaves off the forest floor.  We brought them home and laid them out flat to dry under a few books.  Although the colors were fading, the shapes were very pretty.  I decided to use them for really easy craft with the kids.

Cameron and Violet get to work painting their leaves

What you’ll need:

Black construction paper (black just makes the colors pop more I think – but it’s not necesary)


Paint brushes

Acrylic paint

What you do:

Glue the leaves to the paper (or let the kids help – but it is easier to pain the leaves when they are already stuck and the glue has dried)

Set out the paint and let the kids go crazy!  I chose mostly fall colors – but you can use whatever colors your kids like.

That’s it – super easy!

The finished products hanging up in our playroom

The Zoo Is Reopening! And the Carousel Is Free!!

I am very excited that the National  Zoo is reopening on Friday, October 18th – the fall is one of our very favorite times to visit the zoo.  It’s generally less crowded and we can have a lot of fun running wild and checking out the animals.

My children will be very excited to get back to the zoo and ride the carousel!

And the cherry on the news sundae?  If you visit the National Zoo between October 18-20 and get a 10% discount on food and merchandise.  Also, children 18 and younger can ride the carousel for FREE.  YES!  FREE CAROUSEL RIDES!  (Sorry for the shouting, it’s just so exciting.)  See you there!

Salt Painting – a Fun Craft for the Preschool Set

Yesterday afternoon we found ourselves trapped inside due to some pretty torrential downpours.  The children had requested that we do some art, so I fired up the computer to search for some inspiration.  I had heard that you could paint with water color and then add salt to create an interesting effect – but I wasn’t sure on the specifics so I started googling.  I came across something that was half craft, half color experiment which looked so cool I thought we should try it (and, by that I mean Cameron saw me watching the how to video and pretty much demanded that we try it.)

Glue - Salt - Paint and Experiment!

Here’s what you need:

liquid water color paints (if you made stained glass windows or crayon resist valentines with us in the past then you have these – if not, you can buy them from Discount School Supply)




dropper (I save the ones from medicine bottles and use them for various crafts and experiments)

sheet pan

Here’s what you do:

Place your paper in the sheet pan.  Let your child put glue all over the paper.  Suggest some lines or spirals – but really in the end it doesn’t matter.  Violet did a lot more blobs than lines.

Shake the salt over the paper.  Tip the paper and tap off the excess salt (it catches in the sheet pan.)

Let your child use the dropper to apply the liquid water color paint to the salted glue.  The color will bleed along the salt – it’s very cool to watch!

The kids at work. It was a little challenging for Violet (2.5) to master the dropper - but she got it after a few tries.

Turn that Skuut Upside Down!

My daughter is 2.5 and is very interested in learning to ride a bike like her big brother does.  In the summer we tried getting her on his hand-me-down Skuut balance bike, but she wasn’t quite tall enough to comfortable sit on the frame and start riding with it.  My husband took the bike apart and flipped the frame of the bike upside down and re attached it (basically the “Skuut” lettering is now facing upside down.)

Violet is ready to face the world on two wheels!

This lowers the seat a good couple of inches and made it so my daughter could start riding.  Now, several months later, we finally flipped the frame right side up and she is well on her way to riding a big kid bike – hopefully this spring!  So if you have a little rider who is anxious to get going but might not seem to fit the Skuut, try a simple hack and turn it upside down.  If you can’t see what I’m talking about from my picture, check out this picture.

The Montgomery County Recycling Center – Fun, Mezmorizing, and Free!

If you’re looking for someplace cool and interesting to go in these last few days of summer, then consider checking out the Montgomery Country Recycling Center (located at 16105 Frederick Rd Derwood, MD 20855.)  A friend of mine recommended that we go check it out, so we headed over the other morning with high expectations of awesomeness.  We (especially my 4 year old Cameron) were not disappointed!

When you fist enter there is a small room on the first floor that talks about what materials are recyclable and how the sorting room works.  This was interesting to my kids because it really connected the recycling we do at home to what was happening at the center – but this was nothing compared to what awaited us in the sorting room of the center.   Grab some ear plugs (provided by the center and head up the stairs and through the door.  You’ll find a room full of conveyer belts, machines, magnets, employees sorting, and trucks and forklifts moving recyclables around.  There is a catwalk type area which gives a great birds eye view of all the sorting that is going on.  It’s basically like the willy wonka factory for recycling.

Guided tours are available to groups of 10 or more, Monday through Thursday, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Call the recycling center at 301-417-1433 to schedule a time.  Individuals are welcome to visit at any time without an appointment (this is what we did) weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The Recycling Center typically does not operate on Fridays. If you are planning a Friday visit, please call the Center at 301-417-1433

Check Out the New Macomb Rec Center Playground and Spray Park

Today we went to check out the new Macomb Rec Center Playground and spray park (located at 3409 Macomb Street, NW) which was just renovated by DC DPR.  In a word, it’s great.

The new playground exists on the footprint of the old playground – leaving the basketball court and the baseball field still intact.  Also, the mature and very shady trees remain, which is quite nice.  The new renovation features a small sprinkler park, a completely gated off toddler play area with swings, a “big kid” play area (both Cameron, almost 5 and Violet, 2.5 preferred this area), many picnic tables, the existing rec center (which looks like it got a fresh coat of paint,) and several benches .  I’m including a lot of pictures of the playground and spray park so you can see what it looks like.

My only critiques are that in the spray park there isn’t really any where to sit (or even stand) to the side and watch your kids without being somewhat sprayed.   Within the gated toddler area there are also no benches for sitting.  That’s about it – very small quibbles over all!  Maybe in the future more benches could be added – there is certainly room for them (except in the spray park.)  Overall – well done DPR!  It’s a lovely playground and it’s so nice to have an additional spray park to go to in the summer months.

Tie Dye With Sharpie Markers – Your Toddler Will Love It!

My son Cameron is doing summer camp at St Columba’s (for the DC locals, it’s really great and I highly recommend it!)  Some of the older campers tie dyed their camp shirts, and Cameron really wanted to get in on the action.  I told him we could try and do tie dye at home…. but I was secretly thinking, “this could be messy….”  I was talking with one of the teachers at camp and she told me that you could create a tie dye effect with sharpie markers – I immediately started googling!

Indeed, this seemed like a really easy solution.  I found a very helpful video made by Martha Stewart which clearly showed the method.  Cameron and I watched it together, and then we were ready to go.

Cameron decorates his camp t shirt and goes crazy with the rubbing alcohol

Here’s what you need:

a rainbow assortment of sharpie markers (or some kind of permanent marker)

A white cotton t shirt (if it is new, wash it first)

Rubbing alcohol (get the 91% kind, it works better than the 70% kind)

A spray bottle, or dropper to use to apply the rubbing alcohol

A cookie sheet

A piece of cardboard

An iron or a dryer

Here’s what you do:

Put the cardboard in the shirt (this will keep the pen from going through from one side to the other.)  Draw on the t shirt – watch the Martha Video – the shapes she makes seem to work the best.  We made ours bigger and of course, they weren’t as perfect.  In the end it really didn’t matter that much and I was more concerned with Cam having fun than the look of the final project.

Take out the cardboard and insert the cookie sheet instead.  Drop or spray the alcohol on the areas with the marker.  The marker will begin to bleed and take on the tie dye look.  Cameron went a little nuts with the alcohol and eventually the entire shirt was basically soaked.  This was fine… your kids can’t really go wrong and that’s why this works so well with them!

Let the shirt dry (if it is totally soaked like ours was) and then iron it, or put it in the dryer for 20 minutes to set the color.  Enjoy your cool shirt!

Front, back, and showing off!

Fun With Color and Daises

My kids are always up for playing with color and doing mini experiments.  Here’s a really easy one that you can do at home and watch over the course of a few days.

Fill a few small vases (I love re using glass spice jars) with water and add drops of food coloring to each jar.  We chose to do primary colors – but you could do any colors you like.  Then, put some white flowers in them – we used daises because I happen to have tons growing in my garden now.  I’ve actually heard that carnations work very well – but I so rarely see plain white carnations around.

Put the flowers in the color water and watch them change – I even shifted mine after a few days to see what would happen (honestly, not much – it seemed after the first burst of color entered the flowers, that was about it – maybe carnations would be different – find out!)

Find yourself some white flowers and have a little color fun!

Observe the flowers change as the days go by - take pictures so your child can really see what is happening. The change can be subtle, but really fun to observe.