BUTTERFLY SUNCATCHER TOTSCHOOL CRAFT


Kinley is transforming from a snuggly baby caterpillar to an awesome big girl butterfly right before my very eyes. I can't believe how fast she is growing and changing. It seems like she comes up with new tricks every day. This week she has started "singing." 

I already told you about our obsession with the Frozen soundtrack, right? Well, not only does she swing her arms around and twirl the moment she hears the opening bars of Do You Want To Build A Snowman?, but she also clicks her tongue like a ticking clock at the exact perfect time when Anna is singing about "watching the hours tick by." 

She "sings" along with the radio when we run errands and claps her hands and busts a move when she hears any of her favorite tunes--everything from Pharrell to Blake Shelton to the theme song for Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (sing it with me, mommas--RIDE ALO-ONG.) I may be a tad biased, but I'm pretty sure Kinley is the most fun baby in the history of ever. 

And, not only does she sing, but she now knows a whole bunch of animal sounds (including spitting like a camel,) likes her toenails to be painted, can work her play dough tools like a champ, knows how to make her Dora Power Wheels 4-wheeler go, runs like a track star to the nearest muddy puddle when my head is turned, and gives a million hugs and kisses when she's in trouble because she knows I can never stay mad after all of those. She's so rotten these days, and so. Dang. Cute.

Our suncatcher flowers had finally faded to gray (literally) so I broke out the contact paper and tissue paper squares and got to work making a brand-new, beautiful, big-girl-butterfly window project.

SPARKLY FOOTPRINT DRAGONFLIES


Isn't it crazy how quickly we start taking the beautiful spring weather for granted? We made it through the longest, coldest, snowiest winter we've had in a looooong time, and ever since no-coat weather arrived, we've spent every free minute outside and it just feels like back to normal. All it takes is one gloomy, rainy day of being stuck inside, though, to remind you how lucky we are to have the sunny ones. 

A couple of days ago, on our first gloomy day in a couple of weeks, I got tired of putting Kinley's Crocs back in the closet and trying to explain to my whining toddler that I understood that she wanted to head outside, but we couldn't because it was cold and rainy.

I also got tired of playing the jellybean game that she invented. It started out so cute, but has since gotten old and made me feel like a terrible mother. For Easter, we gave her a set of ABC magnets that have matching picture magnets to go with each letter (A/apple, E/elephant, etc.) She also got Starburst Jellybeans for Easter. It just so happens that the J magnet's corresponding picture is a jar of jellybeans, and she figured out the day after Easter that if she brings me the jellybeans magnet, I say the word out loud and when that happens she runs to the kitchen island and points up at her baggie of jellybeans and grunts and dances until I give her one. She plays this game all day long. Thank goodness she is almost out of jellybeans. I know. I'm the mom. I should just take them away or tell her they are all gone, but who wants to be the meanie mom that confiscates her sweet baby's Easter treats? Not me. Especially since she works so hard for them. :)

So, anyway, I was so tired of listening to whining to go outside and grunting for jellybeans that I decided it was time for a happy distraction in the form of an art project. And nothing makes an art project more cheery than a bunch of glitter, right?

WE TOTALLY LOVE YOU, PLANET EARTH!


Is it just me, or do toddlers get more exhausting every single day? You know that book about the cute, smart, busy, all-around awesome pig, Olivia? It's one of Kinley's favorite reads. The second page in that book says, 


Olivia is good at wearing people out. She even wears herself out.


I think Kinley has decided to model herself after Olivia. We run, jump, dance, read, chase, hide, paint, twirl, splash, and wiggle all day long. By 7:00, I'm completely out of gas, but she is whining for more. How can one little person have so much energy? 

Needless to say, I think I'm gonna have to resign myself to the fact that I just can't crank out a blog post every night. As much as I love my creative outlet and sharing fun ideas with you, I love sleep even more some nights. Like last night. I really wanted to tell you all about our Earth Day craft and other adventures, but when I started writing it all up, it was lame and I was too tired to spice it up. 

So, bear with me as we enter the exhausting crazy toddler stage. I'm sorry in advance for the craft ideas that are too late for you to use. Just pin them for next year, and know that when we get over the hump in a few years, I will make it up to you by giving you ideas so far in advance, you will have to pin them because they are too early...like Thanksgiving-ideas-in-May kind of early.

I spent a good part of my Earth Day sorting and organizing all of our art and sensory project stuff that had turned into a massive heap of paper scraps, ribbon pieces, patterns, and glue sticks. Kinley helped by ripping everything she could reach into small pieces and laying in the middle of my piles and making supply angels (like snow angels, but with carefully sorted piles of stuff instead of snow.)

So, in order to occupy my small daughter and not lose my ever-loving mind, we did an Earth Day craft that was so simple and easy that it's worth sharing even a couple of days late. 

THE YUMMIEST POTATO SALAD EVER & EASTER AT OUR HOUSE


Pshhhew. Preparing for Easter is almost as exhausting as preparing for Christmas, isn't it? I had every intention of writing a post about this killer potato salad last night, but I laid here for five minutes looking at my blank iPad screen and decided it was probably better to just go to sleep since my brain had apparently already shut off. Too much rushing around, and wrapping, and cooking, and cleaning, and activity-ing. ;)

I'm feeling pretty much back to normal today, how bout you? Almost recovered? Good news...we have a couple of months til the next big holiday so we can all relax and take it easy for awhile. HA.

Let's talk about this potato salad. It is seriously so good, it's BA-nanas! Tangy Dill Potato Salad is nothing like traditional potato salad. It's fresh-tasting and super summer-y and a lot less heavy than the yellow stuff. I made it for the Easter Feast and it was a huge hit, as usual, and thought it was only right that I share it with you. 

PUDDING PAINT BUNNIES


What a gorgeous day! Kinley and I headed to the front yard after our gourmet dino nugget and mac & peas lunch, to pick up the plastic eggs that had blown off of our Easter egg bush the night before and I decided, after being out there for all of two minutes, that there was no way we were going back inside.

I loaded the stroller, snacks, water, bubbles, and Kinley's favorite orange sparkly ball into the trunk, lathered SuperBaby up with sunscreen and buckled her up in her car seat, and took us directly to the prettiest park around here--Inniswood Gardens. I'm sure we will be back there every couple of weeks, so I will do a Big Adventure post about it once all of the flowers are blooming and the trees have leaves. It is just gorgeous and it's kind of a hidden gem. :)

It was the perfect park day--could it actually finally be spring?! We ran into a whole bunch of different grammas on walks too, and all of them mentioned how great it felt to be soaking up some sunshine. We couldn't have agreed more! 

ADVENTURES WITH AUNT PEANUT


I met my best friend Miranda (Mir or Peanut, for short) in a mutually detested math class my sophomore year of high school. Our teacher was a complete weirdo who spent most of the year sitting at his desk working on love poems and paper roses for his girlfriend, which left us tons of time to chat and realize just how much we had in common. 

Ever since that fateful first day of class, we have been inseparable. My parents moved to Ohio at the end of our junior year and Mir's mom let me move into her older brother's vacant room for the summer because we just didn't know how we could survive without each other. 

We spent that summer getting into trouble, singing Janet Jackson and DMB at the top of our lungs, turning into lobsters at the public pool, and having the time of our lives. It was life-changing for me, and  it transformed us from best friends into sisters.

We've been through a whole heck of a lot together--boy problems, friend problems, bonfires, hometown drama, concerts, baseball games, my Vegas wedding, backyard Buckeye tailgating, the birth of Kinley, random dance parties, ugly cries, Chinese food eating contests...you name it.

And even though everything has changed since we met, she's still the first one I call when I have big news or need to vent. She's my Peanut. My Mirmaid. My person (in Grey's Anatomy speak.)

SCRIBBLE BUNNY



Well, we went bananas for St. Patrick's Day, and cuckoo for Easter, what am I gonna do after Sunday? Mad for Memorial Day? Hmmm...

How are your Easter crafts going? Is your Cabinet Gallery as full as mine is? We have one last little space left on the drinking glass cabinet after hanging up our scribble bunny...don't worry, that should be filled by tomorrow afternoon. ;)

For the last couple of days, as soon as Kinley wakes up, she wants to head straight outside, but she had a freezing cold surprise this morning when we looked out the window. Snow everywhere.

No outside time makes for one unhappy baby. She just kept standing by the front door and trying to get her Crocs out of the coat closet. Oh, and shrieking at me at the top of her lungs while pointing out the door.

MONTEREY CHICKEN

Hi guys...we're back! Aunt Peanut came to visit so I took the weekend off from the blog. I'm working on another post about our adventures, but I just couldn't wait to share this chicken recipe with you first. 

We've made it before, but I forgot just how delicious it is! It's definitely one of the best main dishes I've ever pinned. The original recipe is from All Things Simple and I didn't change anything other than not pounding the chicken flat because we grilled it outside instead of George Foreman-ing it. Completely perfect!

WHAT'S IN KINLEY'S EASTER BASKET?


Well, since you promised not to tell Kinley, I will tell you what the Easter Bunny dropped off at our house early to save for The Big Eggstravaganza. He told me that's how this works, he drops off the stuff early for kids who don't know how to snoop around and look for their Easter presents, so if you have a little and you haven't received a package of goodies for him or her, you may want to google "Easter Bunny customer service number" or drop him an email. :)

Let me start by saying, I took SuperBaby to the park and ran her up and down the lacrosse field and helped her climb all over the big toy for an hour and a half hoping to wear her out so she would take a nice long nap and I could take pictures for this post and get started on a grown-up craft I've been thinking about. 

SUNSHINE & SCRAPPY EGGS


When Kinley and I woke up this morning, we did our usual stretch and snuggle and then she shrieked and pointed at the window. She was so happy, I half expected to see Dora The Explorer sitting up there holding out an ice cream cone for her, but nope. Kinley was that excited about the sunshine peeking out from under the blinds! It's about time! The rain finally listened to our song and WENT AWAY. Hallelujah!

We hurried up and ate our chicken nuggets and Mac and Peas (macaroni and cheese with peas mixed in,) put on our shoes and jackets, and raced outside. The yard was super squishy, but since Kinley had her washable Crocs on, I didn't mind her stomping around in it at all. She had a blast and even wound up with her first muddy knees. 

We explored all over the yard, went for a wagon walk, saw her first earthworm, and touched a sticky pinecone and one of those spiky brown gumball things that fall outta trees. Then SuperBaby got brave and decided to walk all the way up into all of our neighbors' lawns and walkways and make their dogs bark. She also refused to come back to the sidewalk when I called her, I guess she was in a visiting mood. Or a rotten mood. Not sure which.

APRIL FLOWERS


Kinley and I are so sick of being stuck inside. The few days of awesome weather we have had have done nothing but made us hate all of the other cold, wet days even more. 

We just had to get out of the house today, so we ran to our favorite random store, Ollie's Bargain Outlet, and picked up a couple of books, a canvas for the permanent Bunny in Negative Space project, and a few more things for Kinley's Easter basket. I'll do a post about that tomorrow in case anyone needs Easter gift ideas for toddlers, as long as you promise not to tell Kinley. :)

She loves shopping and insists on putting everything in the cart herself. It used to be that if we just said, "Put it in, Kin." she would, every time. Now, she is getting choosy and only "puts it in" if she wants it. For example, candy and toys always make it into the cart, but Scotch tape and shampoo don't have a prayer. She just holds them back out to us and grunts until we take them from her. Stinker.

Today, I was dumb and gave her an inch by letting her walk around in Ollie's like a big girl and she took a full mile and then some and ran around like a crazy person, touching everything, knocking stuff over, running in the opposite direction of where we needed to go and standing and giggling at me when I told her to come back. In other words, she had the time of her life. Good thing we were the only ones in the store because I would've been so embarrassed. How come my wonderful one year old is acting like a terrible two all of the sudden?! Must be the weather.

When we got home, and SuperBaby was all rested up from her nap, we finished the art project we started yesterday. Working with cute little felt flower stickers made us both happy and reminded us that sunny spring weather will be here soon.

This project involves shaking and sticking...two classic toddlers faves!

BUNNIES IN NEGATIVE SPACE


What a day! Kinley's molars still haven't busted through, she got her first skinned knees today on our family walk around the block, and all of her favorite foods are suddenly making her gag. On the plus side, she got to pet the neighbor's dogs and they made her so happy, she went around panting and licking stuff for the rest of the day. :)

We started another art project today, but have to do step two tomorrow when the paint is finished drying. So in the meantime, we did this really simple art project that turned out so cool, I think I will buy a canvas tomorrow and have her do it again, permanent style.

All you need for this one is:

Fingerpaint
Bunny (or any other shape) cut out of construction paper
Sheet of construction paper (for the background)
Scotch tape

Yep, that's really it. I told you, super simple.

EASTER SENSORY IDEAS


Kinley and I have been getting super egg-cited for Easter. I bought her Easter basket on sale at Michael's a few weeks ago, and we have been using it and her eggs from last year to practice egg hunting so she will know what to do on the big day. I just hide the empty eggs all over the house, put her basket on her arm like a purse and march around with her clapping and telling her how cool she is every time she finds one. She's getting really good at spotting them, so good luck to all the rookies she may be competing against! Haha.

When I worked at daycare, we had a big Ziplock baggie full of egg shakers that we would only let the kids play with once in awhile so they were a big treat. They were just plastic eggs filled with rice or sunflower seeds that we closed up and sealed with clear packing tape. There was only one problem with that. We didn't think to seal the little holes on the tips of the eggs. Over the years, every baby who came through that room chewed on those eggs, and even though I wiped them down with a bleach-soaked washcloth, I couldn't get down inside the eggs. 

One day, I noticed one of the eggs smelled kinda funny and didn't sound quite right, so I peeled the tape off, popped the egg open, and gagged. It happened to be one of the eggs filled with sunflower seeds and they had melded into a couple of green fuzzy hunks of mold and smelled like death. So sick. And the thought that all of those baby spit germs were in there too...ugh I'm gagging right now.

I knew I wanted to make Kinley some egg shakers, cause they really are fun and the perfect sized instrument for tiny hands, but seeds and rice were out. Even though I plugged all the holes in SuperBaby's eggs, I couldn't bear the thought of seeing and, more importantly, smelling that rotting seed smell ever again. I just figured out a different way to do it a couple of days ago.

Instead of a bunch of teeny tiny things, like rice (which is a giant pain to clean up when the eggs do eventually bust open,) I decided to use Kinley's Mardi Gras beads from Dollar Tree. They make the perfect shaker sound, you don't have to seal the eggs because it's extra fun to pop them open and find a pretty necklace, they are extremely easy to pick up, and best of all, they don't rot

LILA THE LAMBIE


Kinley and I had our very first zoo adventure of 2014 this week and we had so much fun that a whole post is in the works about it. Kin's favorite part of our trip was, hands down, the petting zoo part.

I feel like I need to tell you that I am generally terrified of wild animals, which is why I like the zoo. I can see them, but they can't get me, ya know? I was walking in one of the metro parks by my parent's house with a friend my senior year of high school and we rounded a bend in the trail, and there, staring at us in complete silence, were about 25 deer. I didn't know whether to cry or pee. Who knows what would happen if I saw, say, a wolf or something that is legitimately terrifying. I guess I just don't like the fact that I have no idea what they are gonna do...ram me? Bite me? Start talking, like a Disney movie? 

Obviously I don't want SuperBaby to have the same ridiculous fear, so I faced mine and took her into the petting zoo. They only have Pygmy goats and sheep, no deer or wolves, thank The Lord. I went over to the nearest goat, and gave him a pat and said, "Look at this sweet goat, Kin! You wanna pet him?" And she did. And she laughed and ran around petting every goat she could catch. Needless to say, I was so proud, of both of us! Haha

HATTIE THE HANDPRINT CHICK


On our last trip the the Dollar Tree, I found Kinley one of those classic little wind up chicks that hops and hops and hops 'til he runs out of clicks. We named him Walter. She LOVES him and insists on carrying him and giving him kisses all day long. So, I thought we should probably do another chick craft in his honor.

Kinley and I made this craft last week and I've been so busy with all the other crafts we've done lately and stuff we've got going on, I haven't had time to share it with you. Hattie the Handprint Chick turned out really cute, but nothing like the one in the picture above--Kinley totally did it her own way, as usual. ;)