DIY Flower Pressed Art

Whether it’s a beautiful bloom from your garden, a special rose or sunflower from a certain someone, or a beautiful flower you found on a nature trail, flower pressing is such a great way to preserve that special flower. They also make great sentimental gifts!

Framed Cardinal RoseArt CardinalDried Flower ArtWe were each given roses to throw onto my fathers casket at his funeral. Something made me take an extra one. When we got home, my husband took the rose, separated the petals and pressed them in between a book, put a piece of wax paper over the petals and closed the book. He then placed a huge change jar over it and left it there for a couple of weeks. You can find exact instructions from here. The days after my fathers funeral I couldn’t help but notice a cardinal coming to visit my feeder every single day! They say that a visit from a Cardinal is a visitor from heaven. So whenever I see the Cardinal I yell out “Hi dad!.”

I wanted to make something special with the flower, at first I was just going to frame each petal, but then my daughter Melina said “mom you should cut them!” As soon as she said “cut”, it gave me the idea to cut them into the shape of little cardinals. Since my brother and sister have also experienced a cardinal visit as well, I thought this would be a great little gift to share with them. So, I carefully cut each rose into the shape of a cardinal and used a felt tip black marker to add little bird legs and a beak. I bought small little frames from Michael’s Craft store for like a dollar each and framed each little bird.SunflowerLast year, my husband noticed a sunflower in our garden with 14 petals. That number was his moms favorite number. So we took the flower, pressed it and framed it. It’s a beautiful reminder of his mom. This is also a great idea if you’re moving and you want to have a piece of your garden with you, or a family or friend is moving, this makes a great little gift!

Summer Fun: Shell Art

Cardinal SHellWe have about 4 huge Mason jars filled with shells! Living on Long Island it’s impossible to not collect shells! My girls literally collect buckets of them throughout the summer and of course every single one of them is special so how dare I ask them to leave some behind! Well, the other day I was very thankful that we did have many on hand as Mothers day and my fathers birthday was approaching and I wanted to leave something thoughtful on their graves to let them know we were there visiting. Every time we visit my mother- in- law the kids love leaving little rocks so this time they were excited to make something special to leave with her. I of course enjoyed painting some myself! My dad passed away very recently and his birthday was a perfect reason to decorate one for him too. Since his passing, a cardinal family visits us every day! And we know in our hearts that the male one represents my father,  the female represents my mother-in-law and the baby male cardinal represents our little Gabriel. You gotta have some kind of hope that it’s true! And I smile and say hello every day that I see them! Of course you can decorate these shells and place in your garden, or give it away as a gift. You can use them as a paper weight, or display them on a shell or in a jar.

Here’s what I used to make them:

  1. Shells
  2. Nail Polish. (I loved using this because it drys very fast and won’t get washed off in the rain, brushes were nice and small and no one fought over the brushes because each color had it’s own). I also had several Nail Art nail polish that I used to outline and add detail. You can also use permanent markers or any type of ink/paint that will not wash off.
  3. Pencil (you can draw on the shell before you paint it
  4. plastic table cloth to protect surfaceListening ShellShellsNail PolishDrawing ShellShell ArtLias ShellSunflower shell

When the shells were all painted, the kids wrote on them with permanent black markers. On the sunflower shell I wrote all of my mother- in- laws 9 grand children! As soon as we got to her grave the clouds opened and the sun stood over us!

3 Tips for a Successful Summer with kids!

SuccessfulSummer3 Tips For a Successful Summer with kids! I take my job as a stay at home mom very seriously. You gotta be kinda like a teacher! My dad always told me that I should have been a teacher, and in a way I think I did become one.  Aren’t we all our children’s first teacher? In order for a teacher to have a successful year he/she needs to have a curriculum, a plan, more than just an idea about what they will be doing with their class for an entire 9 months. Any plan for success requires lots of advanced preparation. Preparation for anything you do in life is always the most important step. After the preparation is done, everything else goes smoothly, maybe a little bumpy but at least you know where you are going and you don’t have to waste time figuring it out last minute. Since the girls were babies I always had a plan, I think working part time with the older girls helped me stick to a morning routine of having everyone dressed and ready to go in the early morning. I’ve stuck to that routine soon after I had my third and retired (as my husband would put it) to be a stay at home mom. Part of my job is being ready for it every single day! My girls are used to our morning routine and they too have had an easy time getting ready for school, early outings, etc. So above all things, I believe encouraging everyone to be ready by a certain time each day will make life so, so, so much easier and I’d say stick to that during the summer too. It’s KEY for enjoying every single day of the short summer months! Below I’ve listed three more helpful tips to having a successful summer with your kids. This helps to organize part of the days and you can fill the rest with whatever your heart desires!

1.WORKBOOKS: The summer time is not just for lazy days in the sun and floating around in the pool! We want our children to remember the skills they worked so hard to learn all year long. We want to feed their brains and challenge them so that when September comes around again they are ready! Here’s an incredibly simple way to keep our children’s mind stimulated every morning and it doesn’t take more that 10-20 minutes each day. If you start preparing now, I promise it will be something you and your kids will follow through on all summer long. First, think about what you would like for each child to practice or review. Is it reading comprehension, telling time, learning money, math or is it a little bit of everything?  You can keep it simple and purchase a workbook geared for each child’s level. Or you can spend some time online searching different activities, dittos that you can print out. There are so many FREE resources out there and I will list some of my favorites at the end of this post. After you’ve collected your dittos for morning work, separate them for each child. I keep a binder divided into three for each child, hole punch each ditto and that first morning of summer vacation after breakfast and a little morning TV they all get one sheet to work on. That’s all! If they ask for more go ahead and go into your prepared dittos and give them more work! I keep a pencil case in each binder with pencils, dry erase markers, etc. so they have everything they need. Below is a glimpse of what you’d find in their binders. I’m also going to add dittos into their binders from work books. For my youngest entering Kindergarten I purchased scholastic 100 words kids need to read by 1st grade. For my two eldest I ordered a level 2 and level 4 scholastic success with grammar.

morning workmorning workmorning workmorning workmorning workmorning workmorning workmorning workmorning work

If the kids do 50 Minutes of work or more a week, you can reward them with a little treat, trinket or special outing!

2. PROJECTS: I have created a list of projects/crafts I’d like to actually do with the girls this summer. So, if I want that to happen I need to start planning them now. My goal is to have one to two projects prepared each week. Of course aside from these projects they can always paint, play with play-dough, make a collage etc. You can also find more ideas here. And links to fun projects below. You can come up with a list of your own as well, the sooner you make the list the better. This will help you to gather all the materials you will need for each project.

  • Paint and wrap a twig Do you know any kid that doesn’t look for the perfect twig to use as a walking stick or treasure finder? Let them take that perfect twig or stick home and have them decorate it to keep as a walking stick for your next hike!
  • Create a Sailboat I have an idea for my own sail0boat but this one over at www.creativejewishmom.com is definitely one that we are going to make too!
  • Popsicle Stick Tents  This is a cute and simple little Popsicle project I can see the kids enjoying and then playing with it with their little nature center.
  • Vacation Souvenir Jars  All kids are natural collectors, so I’m positive your kids are also shell and rock collectors! This is a great little way to turn those special ones into a keepsake.
  • Fairy Bells I love this project because there are several aspects to it. First the kids can go out and look for the perfect twigs, then they get to wrap the twigs with embroidery string and add beads. I can see putting on some classical music in the background or soundscapes while doing this one!
  • Nature Journal The girls love writing and drawing and have so many journals already but I figured it would be nice to keep a nature journal for the summer. We spend many days outdoors so it can be something they carry around with them for the whole summer. This might be a fun project to start on their first week off. You can make your own or use a simple composition book or sketch book and have the kids decorate it with duct tape and magazine cut outs. Inside the journal, the kids can draw, write poems, tape or glue in leaves or flowers that they find around them. The possibilities are endless.
  • Bird Feeder I love this bird feeder! I have an idea to make a different one with the girls and will post when we make it, but we’re definitely making this one too! I love love our bird visits!
  • A treasure Box The kids made treasure boxes a few years ago and they are still using them to store any little treasures that they find! They can definitely use another one!
  • Shell Art I have a feeling we’ll be doing this throughout the summer

3. TRIPS: Of course lazy days and floating around in the pool are a big part of summer, I like to plan at least two outing a week. My girls are home bodies, they love playing at home and they never run out of things to do, but I like going on adventures and seeing new things so we compromise. Some days at home and some days out and about! If you’re a long island local or are visiting for the summer I’ve listed some of our favorite places to visit (in no particular order). There’s so much to discover here, tons of hiking trails, old estates, I wish I could list them all! You could spend the whole summer discovering Sound Ave (Take the LIE to Exit 68N to WIlliam FLoyd Parkway. Go North about seven miles to Route 25A. Go right (east) on 25A for about three miles to the beginning of Sound Avenue. This road continues for about 17 miles before becoming Main Road in Mattituck.) There’s so much to discover along this route. Farms, Museums, Fruit stands, Wineries, beautiful scenery, winding roads, and so much more!

Long Island Childrens Museum Quogue Wildlife Refuge IMG_7678 lighthouserMothers Day Weekend 194 Yaphank Farm Martha Clara Martha CLara Atlantis Marine

 

Visit back as I will continue to add more places to visit and FREE activity resources as well.

My favorite resources for kids Activities and printouts

  • Firstpalette.com Tons of craft ideas and printouts!
  • Education.com Worksheets and activities for grades preschool thru high school. You can pay for a membership and have access to any workbook for the entire year. They also have FREE worksheet available to print.
  • Teacherspayteachers.com I love this site! I find FREE stuff on here all of the time! I’ve had an account with them for several years now and have never had to pay for anything! The FREE stuff is very helpful!
  • janbrett.com If your kids love the Jan Brett books, this is a great site for projects and printouts associated with her fabulous books!

Visit on Long Island: LI Children’s Museum

LICMWe’ve been taking trips to LICM (Long Island Childen’s Museum, Garden City, NY) since our oldest was about two. My sister in law used to take her kids here before I had my little ones and I couldn’t wait to explore it with my own children! It’s a bit of a hike from where we live but it’s a great place to spend the day when you have little ones. I used to have a membership until I realized our library gave free passes for up to four people. We can check them out once a month which is great. Check your local library to see what kind of museum passes are available in your area! The LICM museum has about 15 hands on exhibits. If you had all the time in the world you can definitely spend at least an hour at each exhibit. There’s just so much to do, lots of creativity to be had! Bubbles to blow, sand to play with, wood and blocks to build with, instruments to make music with. The creativity is endless! My kids love the big lunch room! They have plenty of tables and vending machines with drinks, snacks, ice cream and I believe they have sandwiches, I’m not sure though because we always bring our own lunch. I do love getting a cup of coffee there and we usually let the kids pick out a little snack.

There’s a cute Backyard exhibit right outside near the entrance to the museum. I believe they open it in the summer time. They have plants and sand and water play so be sure to bring a change of clothes for the little ones.

LICMLICM LICM cm14   LICM LICMLICMLICMAwww, I found a picture of them when they were little LITTLE!! Oh how I miss those days! We definitely have made many memories here!LICMlicm

 

Toy stragglers find a home

Nature centerYou know all of those little tiny toys you find around the house? The ones you get from kids birthday party favors, or Easter baskets, or the school prize box?
The little rubber duckies from the duck themed baby shower, or the little dinosaur from the neighbors birthday party? Or what about the little spiders from the kids Halloween goodie bags? The plastic fish? Pony? Turtles? Gems? Shells? Rocks? Cars? Are you following me yet? Well, alone they’re just little nic-nacks,  sprinkled around the house, that can drive you insane! But put them all together in a portable container, and you’ve got a Nature Center! A Nature Center that you can take anywhere! That’s what my kids named it since our collection is made up mostly of little animals, shells, and all the things I mentioned above. But you can name your bin anything you want. This bin has been played with over and over again, inside the house, outside of the house, with water, with blocks, the possibilities are endless. And like everything else, setting up their “nature center” is always the most fun! My favorite part? Cleaning up! It’s so easy, because  everything goes in one bin!

Nature CenterNature CenterNature CenterNature CenterNature CenterNature CenterNature Centernature center

One picture. A thousand words.

BeautifulmomI love how a picture can come to life, even if it was taken 38 years ago. Like this picture of my mother in law with my husband (what a cutie). Her smile, her hands locking with her sweet baby boy, I can feel her in the moment. The warmth of the sun on their skin. Her eyes say so much and he just has no clue yet! He’s just happy to have someone holding him up. Helping him to stand. He’s so happy just having his mom close to him. He doesn’t have a care in the world. She probably has so many, but right now all she cares about is keeping him on his two little feet. She seems so casual, so natural. Someone just caught her in the moment. What a beautiful moment.

I didn’t know her as a young mother, but this picture tells me so much. She was a happy mom, a beautiful, sexy mom. She was loving, caring and true.

I did get to know her as the mother of a grown man. She helped him to grow up and stand all by himself. Guiding him, but not controlling him. Loving him, but not smothering him. She held him close but knew how to let go.  She always stood beside him, never in front and never behind him. They were equal. He loved her very much and she the same.