Wednesday, May 28, 2014

12 Recycle Arts, Crafts and Play Ideas from The Weekly Kid's Co-Op

Confession #1: We have a tight budget. 

Confession #2: I love creating sensory bins and other creative learning activities for my sons. 

Confession #3: I no longer go to the Dollar Store, glance through the Target Dollar Spot or go to crafting stores. 

I've discovered that I often spend more money when I'm trying to save money because it's so easy to buy things I really don't need at a dollar store or the dollar spot or sale area of a crafting store. Instead, I look at what I have (like milk caps, cardboard, toilet paper rolls, etc.) and then I find ways to make it work. 

During the Summer, finding ways to save money can make a big difference. Food costs often increase, gas prices go up, and there can be expenses for summer camps, vacation, etc. So why not highlight some fabulously fun art, craft and play ideas that you can do with things you most likely already have? Plus, you reduce waste and environmental impact as well, so it is really a win-win. Oh - and if you get your kids in on the creation part of it, you ignite their imaginations as they begin re-purposing common household items or recycled materials too. What's not to love about all of that? 
From the Recycle Box

From the Kitchen

From Nature

Using Old Crayons

Top Picks of the Week

What's your favorite item to repurpose/reuse/recycle? 
How do you save money on activities with your kids? 
Share your tips and link up and play!! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Awesome Acts of Kindness for Kids Served with a Side of Gratitude

12 Days of Gratitude: Someone Who Inspires Me

Today I extend gratitude to Sheila of Pennies of Time, who inspires me in so many ways. 

She gave me the courage to push even further in using my voice and words to inspire kindness and courage. 

She helped me understand that I have a unique voice. She does this for others as well and encourages them to share their voices.

She brings people together to build a movement that values using one's time and talents to serve others. 

She has shown me that giving is not about money as I've seen through her that there are so many ways to serve and spread kindness.

She inspires me through her unwavering commitment to serving with her family, daily, and with the creative ways she does so. 

So, in honor of Sheila, I wanted to share my 5 favorite posts from Pennies highlighting the amazing ways she serves with her family. Plus, Caterpillar, Wild Thing and I are making Homeless Care Kits as a demonstration of our gratitude.  

Help me thank her by checking out her sight and/or following Pennies on Facebook. You'll be glad you did! 
I hope Sheila inspires you too! You can also find more ideas on my Celebrate Acts of Kindness Week Pinboard and Be the Change Pinboard -- and definitely make sure you're following Sheila on Pinterest. Oh, and why not peek over and see who inspires Sheila

Sharing this at Make A Difference Monday and Mom's Library.

You might also like:
Coffee Can Challenge - Change for Change
Fire Safety Tips
Best of 2013: Inspired Giving

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Meal Plan Inspiration: Top Recipe Picks

For this week's Meal Planning Post, I'm highlighting some of our favorite recipes to get you inspired to get in the kitchen and eat at home this week. We save so much money and enjoy more quality family time by focusing on dinner at home. We hope you enjoy checking out our favorite recipes as much as we enjoy eating them! 


We'll start with breakfast, of course. My carb-craving boys love French Toast and pancakes, and we like to make it fun...

We'll sometimes integrate a Pancake Topper Taste Test into the mix (which is also a great idea when you're doing breakfast for dinner), and we LOVE to make French Toast. The boys are great at helping, and we often integrate one of our newest favorite books into the mix, The Cow in Patrick O'Shanahan's Kitchen. Our favorite French Toast recipe and 3 other breakfasts we love are here

As for me, I love frittatas and this Swiss Chard Frittata from Kalyn's Kitchen is one of my favorites. I often make it on Sunday and then have it on hand to re-heat for quick breakfast or lunch for me all week. 

Lunch and/or Snack Time

We're not traditional "lunch" eaters at our house, but go more the route of grazing through the day. I draw lots of inspiration from Conveying Awareness with Jessica David, who is a major grazing advocate. I absolutely love her grazing trays. We also love to use lunch and/or snack time as an opportunity to extend learning and play experiences. 

I taught Wild Thing how to play checkers using Goldfish recently and plan to do this again soon using cucumber circle slices and carrots circle slices to make it healthier. Caterpillar loved our Apple Invitation to Taste, and we love using snack/lunch time as opportunities to cook together in the kitchen. 

These healthy "cookies" 3 Ingredient, No Bake Cookies are a top cooking together pick, and we also had fun making these Homemade Roasted Nuts from True Aim Education. Another fun snack/lunch the boys loved were our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom-Inspired goodies shared during our National Library Week Meal Plan full of snack and dinner ideas inspired by our favorite books.

For more lunch ideas, check out What to Have for Lunch: A Collection of Meal Ideas from the Kids Activities Blog.


Pizzas! -- Of course, at the top of the list of our favorite dinners is definitely pizza, but we make it ourselves which makes it healthier and much more fun. Here's our three favorite pizzas to make. Though, another pizza is gaining ground on these more traditional approaches. Last week's meal plan featured a Mexican Pizza inspired by this Good Housekeeping recipe. My husband and I love it! 

We also love Jamie Oliver's Proper Chicken Caesar Salad (though I confess that I use store-bought dressing).

Two more easy dinner favorites: Honey Garlic Chicken Drumsticks from Living Lou,which I make with roasted potatoes so that everything cooks on the same baking sheet (I featured this in my Weekly Meal Plans Made Easy post), and Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus from Conveying Awareness with Jessica David (a fave of mine that pairs well with any of your favorite sides). 

Last, but definitely not least, is our latest new fave -- a vegetarian dinner idea that even my meat-loving husband enjoys: Portobello Mushroom Philly Cheese "Steak" Sandiches from A Hint of Honey. (Confession: the boys don't eat mushrooms, so they'll eat a cheese sandwich instead and whatever veggies we cooked up on the side).


I have to wrap everything up with with our top dessert choice -- Gigi's Carrot Cake, a recipe from Emeril Lagasse. This is our go-to birthday cake. It's so good that we don't even bother to make the frosting!

For even more Family Meal Ideas and to share YOUR favorites pop over to the Kids Activities Blog Family Meal Ideas Link-Up! What's for dinner at your house this week?

Sharing at: Good Tips TuesdayTuesday Tutorials and Mom's Library.

You might also like:
How (and Why) We Eat Local
Birds, Nests and Spring Play
Ice Cream Taste Test and More!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

{Summer Fun} 200+ Summer Activities from the Weekly Kid's Co-Op

Our countdown to summer has begun with the final day of school just one week away for us. I've had summer fever for awhile anticipating all of the fun activities we'll do this summer and now I'm even more excited reading through all of the fabulous summer fun ideas shared at the Weekly Kid's Co-Op last week -- I'm sharing over 200 fabulous summer activities, including many summer activities that are completely free! 

Summer Activity Round-Ups

Outdoor Play

Scavenger Hunts

Music-Inspired Summer Fun

both from Let's Play Kids Music

Traveling with Kids

Ice Play for Hot Days

Water Play

Summer Service Ideas (Acts of Kindness for Kids)

What's your favorite summer activity? Do you have a summer bucket list or annual family vacation? Whatever you do this summer, I hope you enjoy some quality family time...and now I hope you'll link up and play! I'm sharing this at the Outdoor Play Party, Montessori Monday, and Sharing Saturday!

Monday, May 19, 2014

5 Non-Parenting Books for Mindful Parenting

12 Days of Gratitude: Someone who has changed my life, even though I don't know them. 

Authors often reach through the pages of their books and move us, make us think, inspire us, and more. So, when I considered this gratitude prompt -- someone who has changed my life, even though I don't know them -- I suspected my choice would be an author. 

Years ago, a good friend was graduating from college and Thich Nhat Hanh (whom I had not heard of at the time) was speaking at her graduation. His presence and his words impressed me. His aura was one of peace, mindfulness and wisdom. That friend could tell, and she gave me a copy of one of his books: Being Peace. It would be the first of many that I would read -- all of which would have an impact. I am grateful for his words and am highlighting three of his books today as I share 5 non-parenting books that have helped me be a more mindful parent. 

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh

When I first read Being Peace (which I revisit often), I was struggling with "the big question" -- what to do with my life, working to untangle what my "purpose" was. I had passion for creating peace in the Middle East (youthful zest and optimism), yet also felt a bit out of place with that quest as I had no personal connection to the region other than a semester abroad in Egypt. I felt uncomfortable finding my place as a peacemaker, which I felt drawn toward being. 

Thay (as Hanh is often called) brought things together for me by showing me that being a voice and a presence for peace was an all encompassing role -- something that could be done everyday no matter where I was. He showed me that changing the world begins first with changing myself and that all of my actions matter. Every interaction with another person (and with myself, even) was a moment to be peace or to foster more anger, resentment, frustration or hate. I still revisit this book and this message. Particularly now as a parent, I see how my ability to be peace affects my children. If I can focus each day on being peace, I will model this for my children and will be mindful of my thoughts, actions and attitudes as a parent. 
If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work."

Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

This book further extends the words and message of Being Peace and brought forward, for me, the importance of being present to life. Today, most people find themselves pushed toward multi-tasking. As moms, we often pride ourselves on multitasking (I recall nursing Caterpillar while making cookies with Wild Thing). Peace is Every Step reminds me that less is more and to shift my mindset so that I am present to each moment and focused on the task at hand -- the singular task at hand. Being present for me is the key to mindful parenting. When I am juggling too much or not truly paying attention to my children or my own feelings or needs, I lose my center and can no longer be mindful as a parent. 
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.  
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.” 

True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh

This is the last of Thay's book that I will share here, though he has many, many books, including books for children. My brother gave me this book, and I am deeply grateful to him for doing so. Examining and focusing on love is so important for mindful parenting. This book, particularly, helped me on my journey toward fully loving and accepting myself -- even those traits I am not proud of, or the deep hurts that I can sometimes feel scar me and hold me back. He uses beautiful analogies to foster healing and wholeness in our hearts.

"When the mother hears her baby crying, she puts down whatever she has in her hands, she goes into its room, and takes the baby in her arms...The mother does not know yet what is the matter...but the fact that she has it in her arms already gives her child some relief."
I've written of this book before and am re-sharing a few thoughts related to the passage above: This (comforting my children) is something I do often for them, but Thay uses this example as an analogy of something we must do for ourselves (out of love for ourselves and for those closest to us).

He speaks about treating one's negative feelings in this way. Instead of burying them or pushing them aside, we should pick up our jealousy, our anger, our resentment and hold it, recognize it. This allows us to release it. 

I've benefited as a parent from this idea in helping my sons work through their emotions. When Wild Thing went through a particularly challenging phase (when he was 3), he was full of anger and full of the need to defy me. Often, he was angry at me and would even hit. My initial reaction was to make him stop and to shut down the whole situation. However, when I would tell him he should stop and try to calm him, often the whole situation would escalate. Then, I tried a different approach. I accepted his feelings, but focused on helping him change his mode of expressing those feelings. I helped him to hold his anger and manage it. This worked so much better. Being able to tell me he was angry with me was important to him. We also worked on different options for his angry energy. Rather than hitting, he would run or give me a big bear hug -- both of us embracing his anger until it dissipated. Thank you, Thay, for helping me find a workable, mindful, helpful solution to a major parenting challenge.

When Things Fall Apart by Pedma Chodron

I've written about this book on the blog before as well -- first sharing about it in a post I wrote after the tragedy in Newton about a year and half ago. In the wake of tragedies, the book draws me toward it. The book's focus is those difficult times and the healing (and grieving) process they demand. As a parent, this book resonates well with True Love as both remind me to create space for my emotions and to create space for my children's emotions as well -- to honor our need to feel things, even the painful things, the hurt. So often, we want to shield our children from pain, from sorrow, but this is impossible. We can help them navigate their feelings, help them come together and be there for them when they fall apart -- and we must understand that this will happen to us as well. As a parent, I often feel like I'm falling part or grieving for a world that confounds me and fills me with sorrow, as was the case recently when nearly 300 girls were taken from their families. Chodron also writes of those moments as the moments that wake us up or put us back to sleep. I choose to let them wake me up, to motivate me to foster care and compassion in the world, to be a force for good, to "be peace."
"We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” 

Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to a Good Life by Jamie Oliver -- or your favorite cookbook. I chose a cookbook as my final non-parenting book for mindful parenting because for me mindful eating and regular meals together as a family is key to being engaged with my children and my spouse in a way that promotes mindfulness as a parent and family. By taking time to make meals for my family or to cook together as a family (which we also do), I am awake and present to my family. I am focused on nurturing us physically, which extends to nurturing myself and my family emotionally as well. I don't actually use a ton of the recipes in this Jamie Oliver cookbook, to be honest, but I love its message of growing your own food, being close to your food source and feeding your family good, real, whole food from nature. 

Are there books (parenting or otherwise) that help you to be mindful and present as a parent? What other parenting resources do you appreciate? Is there an author who changed your life? I'd love to add some new books to my reading list and to check out some new cookbooks, so pass your favorites along. I also want to recommend Abundant Mama, a valuable resource I appreciate so much for mindful parenting. Her Facebook shares and writings often pull me back to center. 

...and check out where I'm sharing this post: Good Tips Tuesday, Mom's Library and the Sunday Parenting Party. 

You might also like:

5 Beach Books for Moms
5 Tips for Raising Boys to be Good Men
Compassion + Healing

Sunday, May 18, 2014

{Family Dinners} Weekly Meal Plan

Healthy and Affordable Meals for Your Family

This week I'm sharing healthy and budget-friendly meals with tips on how I make ingredients stretch so that one purchase (like a can of beans or one head of lettuce) gets used for more than one meal -- making the most of your money. All of the recipes are pinned to my Meal Planning Pinboard (and marked by day). There's also lots of other meal ideas on that board, and I have several other recipe pinboards, so I hope you're following me on Pinterest! (I only loosely follow recipes so I'll be sharing my adjustments to the recipes as well). Bon App├ętit! 

I've decided to start sharing my meal plans with you based on what we ate last week, since I realized that I rarely stick to my original meal plans and end up creating meals around what we have, since this is more budget-friendly. So, now all the recipes are tested and you'll be able to see how I spread ingredients across different meals to save shopping time and money. 

Last Monday, my mother was still in town from her Mother's Day visit, and she used to love the Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas, which are not very healthy, so I tried to make a healthier version for her -- and it was a big hit. 

I loosely followed this Good Housekeeping recipe and made my own pizza dough using this great 2 ingredient pizza dough/bread recipe that Lessons Learnt Journal shared.

Monday's Mexican Pizza: I topped half of the pizza with black beans (from a can) and some corn and a small amount of shredded cheese (that we already had), and 1 diced grilled chicken breast (something we had left over from the week before). The other half was the same, except that I left off the beans.

Confession: the boys ate mini cheese pizzas. 

Cooking Tip: I cooked the crust through during the day, so that I could just toss the ingredients on top and warm through when we got home from the gym that evening. I also chopped up a little romaine lettuce to add to the top of the pizza as well and half of an avocado, diced. I served the pizza with salsa and hot sauce on the side so everyone could add as much as they wanted.

(Note: I only used about 1/3 of the beans and 1/4 of the corn so the rest I emptied into a glass container with some more of the chopped romaine and the rest of the avocado so that I could throw together quick taco salads for myself for lunch all week. Thus, the $3.50 I spent on a can of black beans, corn, a head of romaine and avocado became dinner and lunch for a week. All of the other items I used for the pizza were ingredients we already had at home). 

As for Tuesday, it was a bit more ambitious as we're trying to eat more fish, and I'm still learning how to cook fish. We purchased a family pack of frozen salmon the week before (primarily for the Mother's Day dinner my husband made myself and my mom). I decided to try out a very snazzy sounding recipe. 

Tuesday Night: Molasses Stout Glaze on Salmonpaired with quinoa. 

Confession #1: This dinner was inspired by my goal of using up the last of some Unsulphered Molasses we had (which, by the way, is very good for you) -- it's also a great way to use up the last of a dark beer, not that any ever really has dark beer "leftover," but in case you do.... 

This was also the priciest meal we had all week because of the salmon. However, buying the salmon in the family size bag and frozen does help make it more affordable, and the quinoa I got at a great price on a major clearance sale at my local grocery store. 

Confession #2: The boys had peanut butter sandwiches, carrots and apple slices. 

Wednesday's dinner drew completely from ingredients we had on hand and wanted to use up: the romaine from the Mexican pizza (and my taco salads), some pasta noodles cooked up but not eaten yet and the rest of the grilled chicken breast we had left from the previous week -- I pulled it all together to make this:

Wednesday Night: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad (Instead of Caesar Salad Dressing, I drizzled the pasta and romaine with olive oil drizzle and sprinkled in some dried herbs and black pepper -- I also skipped the cucumbers and tomatoes the recipe suggests because we were using up ingredients we already had). I still had some romaine left -- which, you'll see, we used up on Friday night.

The Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is great for kids because it can be deconstructed so easily with pasta on one part of the plate, chicken on another and then their veggie of choice (usually carrots or cauliflower at our house). This is also a perfect meal for a night when you want to cook everything a head of time and just pull it out and eat. 

Thursday was super simple -- Make Your Own Sandwich Night, which we seem to do weekly as the boys love it. I grabbed a veggie tray at the grocery store that was marked down for a quick sale, so I got it for $2.00 (organic veggies already chopped up and dip -- it was quite a steal!) 

Friday Night Skewer Fun: Chicken Sausage and Veggie Skewers. Ours featured chicken-apple sausage, zucchini and mushrooms. (Money saving tip: I only bought those sausages because they were on sale and chose zucchini because it is in season and cheap right now. For the mushrooms, I just selected a handful and bagged them myself rather than buying pre-packaged. This saved me some money as well). 

I paired these skewers with another salad using up the last of the romaine (yep -- I stretched one head of romaine lettuce across about 4-5 meals through some creative cooking -- this also gets my guys to eat the lettuce, since it is mixed in with other items). 

The salad we had is our new favorite. I call it the Awesome Triple A Salad, since we top lettuce or spinach with apples, avocado and almonds. It pairs well with a fruity dressing, but I love it topped simply with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Oh - I also noticed that we had some broccoli left in our veggie tray, so I steamed it as another side for dinner. Pairing a main meat dish with veggies (on the skewer) and then adding the salad and broccoli helps stretch the meat, which was the highest priced of everything I bought all week ($5 for the pack of 4 sausages). 

I used two sausages for the skewers and roasted some slices of sausages and veggies on a tray without skewers -- those I saved and tossed with pasta on Saturday for an easy lunch for myself. 

I did some quick math and discovered that I made all of these dinners for under $35 (for all four of us to eat). Plus, many items (such as the ham and bread for sandwich night, some of the veggies and the beans and corn) were used in several other meals during the week -- breakfasts and lunches. 

(That $35 includes adding in the estimated cost of the 3 grilled chicken breasts I had left from the previous week and used in these meals). 

What's your best tip for eating well on a budget? 

Please share in the comments or over at The Good Long Road on Facebook -- and check out where I'm sharing this post: Good Tips Tuesday, Mom's Library and Thrifty Thursday.

You might also like:

Eating Well On A Budget
Edible Food Play + Healthy Recipes
Breakfast Changes Lives

Thursday, May 15, 2014

{Booking Across the U.S.A.} Exploring South Dakota

We loved participating in Booking Across the U.S.A. last year, coordinated by Growing Book by Book, and looked forward to participating again this year. 

Last year, we had so much fun with our activities inspired by Nebraska. This year's South Dakota discoveries engaged my boys (2.5 and 4.5) with lots of creative play. 

While we do not live in South Dakota and have never traveled there, my father's parents lived there and his sister still does. In fact, our entire extended family has lots of Midwestern roots and connections, so I loved that our featured book this year was Travels with Charlie: Across the Midwest by Miles Backer and illustrated by Chuck Nitberg. 
I was provided a complimentary review copy, but all views and opinions expressed are my own.

I've loved seeing all of the creative ways different Booking Across the U.S.A. participants have explored their states -- the activities are amazing. 

I also love that the book itself is an activity. Wild Thing (my 4.5 year-old) loves I-Spy style books and playing I-Spy when we go on walks and car trips, so this book is perfect for him as every state is highlighted through a map with pictures of special places (landmarks, state parks, etc.) in that state. On the opposite page, is a rhyme asking the reader to find different places highlighted on the map. My son loves it. Of course, also on each map is Charlie (the dog) who readers can also find. 

One evening when my husband was reading it with Wild Thing, he added an early literacy element to the experience for our son. He would encourage my son to look at the word on the text page, for example "corn" for the corn palace in South Dakota. Then, to find that word on the map page. I loved this added literacy element, and Wild Thing did too. 

The boys also loved building their own South Dakota landmarks with their Legos, which also became an activity that reinforced color learning. To create our own Mount Rushmore, we sorted all of the gray Legos and then built our rock formation/mountain. Then, Wild Thing drew pictures of our family to tape on our rock monument! Perfection!! (Unfortunately, recent camera and computer problems mean I can't share a photo yet...hopefully I'll be able to add one soon!)

I'm also planning a family tree mapping activity for the boys where we trace where in the Midwest different family members have lived or do live using this fun book about the Midwest. For the relatives that are still alive, we plan to ask them what monument or landmark in their state is their favorite and then we'll see if it's in the book! 

Have you ever visited Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial or Badlands National Park? Though I visited South Dakota as a child to see my grandparents, I haven't yet been able to see any of these sites, but I'd love to.  I'd also love to check out the other books in the series as Across the Midwest is part of a series of books about the states of the U.S. 

For more details and to enter the giveaway, visit the main Booking Across the USA page.  Be sure to also visit the other participants in the series for fun crafts and activities for all 50 states:

Growing Book by Book, Everyday Snapshots, Teaching in the Fast Lane, The Educators' Spin On It, Crayonbox Learning, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, 3rd Grade Thoughts, Mama Miss, Teaching Stars, Fabulously First, Lemon Lime Adventures, True Aim Education, Guided Math, Primary Inspired, Surviving a Teacher's Salary, Second Grade Smartypants, The Brown Bag Teacher, The Preschool Toolbox, Country Fun, Picture Books & Pirouettes, One Lesson at a Time, The Resource(ful) Room, Creative Family Fun, Peace, Love, and First Grade, Edventures with Kids, Africa to America, Teach Beside Me, Elementary Matters, Inspiring 2 NH Kids, Pink Stripey Socks, Kid World Citizen, iGameMom, Second Grade Math Maniac, Rockin' Teacher Materials, Great Peace Academy, Kathy Griffin's Teaching Strategies, Journey of a Substitute Teacher, My (Not So) Elementary Life, Stir the Wonder, Kidding Around Greenville, The Good Long Road, Kathy's Cluttered Mind, Curls and a Smile, Dilly Dabbles, Mama Smiles, Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts, Sprout's Bookshelf, All Done Monkey, Growing Firsties, ALLternative Learning, Delightful Learning, Kids Yoga Stories, and Where Imagination Grows.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Kid's Co-Op Challenge: Best Gifts for Dads

12 Days of Gratitude: Someone who has taught me something important.

When I thought about today's gratitude prompt, I immediately thought of my husband. He has taught me so many important things. In fact, I probably learn something from him everyday. If I shared everything he's taught me, this blog post would probably never end. Plus, the point is not sharing what he has taught me, but taking the time to thank him and to let him know that I appreciate him. He is patient, kind and thoughtful and much of what I learn from him grows out of these characteristics and strengths -- yes, these are strengths. Often strength in men is defined very differently, and while my husband did play Rugby in college, I hardly count physical "strength" as a top attribute that I value in him or that I seek to have him pass on to our sons as what it means to be a strong man. 

His kindness and thoughtfulness and patience are the roots of the wisdom he shares. He is teaching me to love myself -- just as I am, something that is very important to my year of compassion. He teaches me the value of following my passions and trusting my abilities and instincts, and he teaches me so much more. Gratitude is definitely in order.  

Here's a gift of appreciation that my son and I made for him for his birthday. It's simple, and we made it entirely with things we already had on hand -- a DVD holder and scraps of paper. It would be a fun, creative gift for Father's Day. My husband loves it. In fact, it's sitting on his desk right now. 

To make it, we first sponge painted the outside of the DVD holder (the clear part) and then cut and pasted some hearts on the inside base of the holder. 

Next, we each wrote things we loved about him on scraps of paper. Wild Thing (4) wrote some of his reasons he loves his daddy himself, like "U R Kind." At other times, he asked me to write it for him: "Your smiles makes me smile." "You play Star Wars and lego games." He also decorated some scraps of paper with stickers. We taped the notes all around the center of the pole inside the holder and put the top on. It was fun to watch Daddy open it up and see all of the notes of love unfold. 

Now, it's time for the Weekly Kid's Co-Op. I know this weekend is Mother's Day, but since I'm celebrating Daddy today, I'd love to see your best Father's Day/Daddy Appreciation Gifts shared for me to round-up and highlight next week! Also sharing this at Thrifty Thursday and Mom's Library