Fall & Halloween Round-Up of Events: 2012

I want to start off this post with a status my sister Diana posted on her Facebook page: "Yup! Celebrated Halloween by allowing my child to live his childhood and I loved every moment to see him live out being a ninja. He will continue to dream and I will continue to love and nurture him. Happy Halloween to all who celebrate. ;)"

I share her sentiment, and love to see my son enjoy his childhood.  This year he was Spider man!  October is such a fun month, so many things to do, places to go! The leaves are changing, and the weather is getting cooler! We've also been celebrating Halloween all month long, and we kicked off the month with our 1st ever "Jumping into Fall Kiddie Party."

Here's a picture round-up of our Halloween events: 

Trick or Treating Fair Grounds

Trick or Treating S-Book-Tacular at the Library


Halloween Party at the State Museum


Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch Fun

School Treasure Hunt

We had a great time!!! Until next year! How did you celebrate the Fall season and Halloween? Please comment, like or share! :) 

Taste from Puerto Rico: Arroz Blanco, Pollo Guisado & Flan

This past weekend I decided to cook a Puerto Rican meal. The menu: pollo guisado (stewed chicken) with white rice. For dessert: flan. 

There was something special about that day, I was nostalgic. I was cooking, hubby was watching football, and little one was playing. The aroma of pollo guisado filled my kitchen and house. For a few minutes, I was transported into Mami's kitchen in Puerto Rico. I closed my eyes, and breathed in the delicious aroma of chicken, with sofrito, cilantro, and spices. It made my heart warm; and brought so many precious memories.

Growing up I loved going into Mami's cocina and lifting the lids off the pots to see what she was cooking. Or when she was sofriendo el sofrito (process of putting a little bit of oil in the pot, and putting sofrito on it to simmer) was the best part of coming home. I would peek in the cocina, and she'd say "Bendito mi'ja, ni siquiera he empezado a cocinar" (meaning that all she had in the pot was the sofrito which inundated the house with aromas of ajies dulces, onions, recao, cilantro, and pepper). 

I have so many fond memories of Mami cooking in the kitchen for her family, for her children. I look at my son, and hopefully, I will be the "planting the memory seed" of sights, tastes, textures, and aromas of his Mommy cooking. I want him to remember his Mommy's special dinner, or when he becomes an adult, he can say wow, that brought back memories of my Mom. I truly love cooking for my family, for my husband, and for our son. Especially when it's a recipe that I was brought up with. 

Now, speaking of recipes.  Of course, I don't have a recipe perse of my pollo guisado cause I kind of eye-ball everything. I learned to cook like that from Mami. Haha! But I did look on-line for some similar recipes and the closest one to how I made mine can be found here. Other similar recipes of pollo guisado can be found here, and here

My yummy pollo guisado in the pot. 

Served over rice....... simply delicioso! 

We can't forget dessert. I have become an expert in making this delicious flan.  It has become my go to dessert for events, parties and gatherings. It's so creamy, and delish topped with caramelized sugar....ahh, I tell you, take a bite and you're in heaven!  The original recipe can be found here

¡Buen provecho! Please comment, share and/or like! Love to hear what you have to say. 

Kids on the Go! Zoo (Guest Post on Glittering Muffins)

Everyone knows that I'm all about discovering the world through my son's eyes, and that means visiting fun, kid friendly places.

When I found out that Glittering Muffins has an on-going series called "Kids on the Go!" I quickly jumped on it!  The series helps other parents discover kid friendly outings (around the world) from another parent's personal review and experience.

With that being said, I'm excited to share a my guest post on the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden  on Glittering Muffins' series called "Kids on the Go!"  Until my next review for Kids on the Go!  Later!

Sand and Water Sensory Bin {Lazy Sunday Arts & Crafts}

So what do you do when you have a 4 yr. old eager to play, but the weather is too cold to go outside, and you have gone out of ideas to play indoors? Ah! A sand and water sensory bin!  Luckily we have a sand box out in the yard so I grabbed some of his buckets and filled them with sand. 

Little one wanted to get his rubber toys really dirty (he told me so), and asked for some water. (Uhhhh had to think about that one....oh the mess!). Of course, I gave in! So I got a few towels, put them under the round bin, and let him pour the water at his heart's content.  

He spent a good hour sitting there, playing with his rubber toys. He had them float, then he piled sand on top of them, so he would be able to dig them up afterwards. He even asked for an extra container with clean water so he can wash his toys.  Only to have them cleaned up and dumped back into the sand. 

The best thing about this type of play its that it gives him an opportunity to stimulate his imagination, and creativity. It fosters his ability to play independently and the skills he needs to stimulate, and motivate his own self. 

It also gives us the opportunity to have some quiet time at home. While he was playing, I was cooking in the kitchen. From time to time, I'd ask him what was he doing, and he'd tell me a story he just made up about the rubber toys in the sand (what an imagination!) or he'd explain why he put the rubber toys in the sand, how they got dirty, and what he was going to do clean them up.  

Sensory bins are fun! Check out our Dinosaur Sensory Bin for another indoor play idea.  

Please comment, share and/or like! Would love to hear about any ideas for indoor play that you may have. 

Making British Custard From Our Culture Swap Exchange

During this past summer we participated in a Worldwide Culture Swap Exchange and one of the countries in the group was England. You can read more about our worldwide culture swap here.   

In our wonderful package we received Bird's Instant Custard.  I followed the instructions in the package. It was so easy to make! However, I was a little lost as to how to eat it? Warm? Cold?  It's not a custard in the sense that I'm used to, and it kind of looks and taste like vanilla pudding but with a lighter consistency and flavor.  I had a spoonful of it when it was warm, and it wasn't bad at all. However, little one didn't like it warm. So I put it in the refrigerator, and once cool he seemed to like it. 

Story Time & Craft: "Mouse Count"

Every week at little one's preschool  they go to the library and pick out a book.  He checks out the book, and takes it home for a week (we return it on the following Monday).    This week's book is Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh.    This is a short, simple "suspense" story that teaches counting forward, and backwards of ten mice; and the hungry snake that wanted to eat them. 

To make story time an interactive hands-on experience we made the mice, and the snake out of craft foam. I had tons of craft foam at home, with no clue on what to do with them. Thankfully I was enlightened by a fellow blogger's posts using craft foam

I cut the shapes of the mouse, and the snake. Little one helped by putting on the eyes, and he also helped by drawing the ears, and whiskers. For the tails, and the snake's stripes we used the Bendaroo's wax super string. Finally, I found a plastic jar that was perfect for the story. 

When we were finished with our mice, and snake craft we sat down to read the story. We started off with the mice facing up. Little one had them standing up and pretending they were playing with each other. I had two more standing up, and playing, too. Then when the mice got sleepy little one decided to face them down to sleep (makes sense since they were asleep).

Then came along the very hungry snake and started counting them one by one, and placing them in the jar.   Little one grabs the snake and grabs each mouse counting them until he has all ten.  The snake wraps the jar, and just before he eats them, one of the mouse tells him that there's another one. So off goes the snake to look for the other snake. Little one slithers the snake away from the jar. :) 

Once the snake was gone the ten mice shake back and forth the jar (little one shakes the jar back and forth), and then he starts counting backwards 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 ... 1 until they were all out of the jar!   The snake had been tricked because there was no other mouse! When he returns he finds the jar empty.  

This is such a fun story to read and play out with little one. That we've read and played it a few times before bed time. 

We've really enjoyed this book, and can't wait to see what book he will bring this week. What good children's book have you read lately to your child? Would love to know! Please comment, share and/or like! 

This post has also been linked and shared at Kid Lit Blog Hop #6. 

Mini Chicken Pot Pies {Cooking With My Little Chef}

There is one thing my son loves to eat, and it's chicken pot pie. It's comfort food at it's best.  As I was pinning on Pinterest I came across this recipe on how to make Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes! Wow, I had to check it out. The recipe looked simple enough to have little one make it of course, with my help.  (You can find the recipe here.) 

I gathered all the ingredients, we washed our hands, and we were ready to get started! He did all of the pouring, mixing and stirring. He thoroughly enjoyed this process, and wanted to add some more of everything, but I explained that we had to follow instructions, and make sure we had the correct measurements. 
He was so excited! He was even sporting his own little apron that his Grandma brought from Italy. :)  
After all of the ingredients were mixed together it looked so delicious to little one that he actually grabbed a spoonful of the mixture and ate it! Until he realized the veggies were frozen! {Chuckle!} I told him that we need to bake it first! So the process of spooning the mixture into the biscuits cups began. 
I placed the mini chicken pot pies in the oven, and after 15 mins. Voila! This was the end result. Yummy, delicious mini chicken pot pies! 

This is a great cooking activity to do with your children. It teaches them about measurements (math), the process of following instructions and mixing different ingredients to make a recipe (food process), the different textures from the frozen, hard, cold vegetables, and the sticky uncooked biscuit (sensory), taste from uncooked to cooked, and most importantly the art of being patient (waiting for the mini chicken pot pies to bake, and then cool off to eat).  

He finally sat down to eat his mini chicken pot pie, and he loved it! Though he did mention that chicken pot pies are supposed to be big, and not little. {I chuckled} I told him that these were special just for him.

¡Buen provecho! 

Since we had so much fun in the kitchen, I'm thinking about another recipe to try out with my little chef! Until our next kitchen adventure!  Please, comment, share and/or like! Would love to hear from you. 

Button Fall Tree {Lazy Sunday Arts & Crafts}

This is our second craft of the day (hubby and little one actually made this before the Crazy Sock craft).  Since I don't have much time on my hands, I look for help on Oriental Trading where I found this cute "Button Fall Tree Craft Kit" (no longer available).  
It's a simple craft for little one and Daddy to make together. All they needed was some glue, since the kit already included the buttons, felt tree, top and a short string. (To hang the button fall tree).
Little one had some fun bonding time with his Daddy, and they were excited to show off their Button Fall Tree. 
What do you think? Please comment, like or share! Love to hear your thoughts. :) 

Crazy Socks {Lazy Sunday Arts & Crafts}

Today is Sunday, and it's really the only day of the week that we would have time to make arts and crafts.   

Little one has "Crazy Sock Day" tomorrow at school, and what better way than to make our own crazy socks! 

I found some old black socks, an Elmo book (to use as a guide), red & orange pom poms to make Elmo, blue pom poms to make Cookie Monster, googly eyes, and black & white buttons, 2 empty containers to slide the socks in, and hot glue gun (Keep away from children! I used it to put the hot glue on the sock, and let little one put the pom poms on the glue). 

For the mouths, I used Bendaroos that I purchased on Amazon. It's a flexible wax string, that you can shape and form into anything! For Cookie Monster's eyes, I didn't have big googly eyes, so I used two large white buttons, and glued on smaller googly eyes. Came out pretty cool cause his eyes are not really straight anyways. :) 

Ahh the finished product! A pair of crazy socks with Elmo and Cookie Monster on them. 

Here's little one ready to go to school, and so excited about his crazy socks. He called them silly, and wacky! :) He insisted on having the socks face forward so all his friends can see them.
I have one happy child, with crazy socks! Would love to hear your comments about our crazy creation! Please like, share or comment!

Operation Christmas Child

This is our 2nd year participating in this awesome ministry, and I want to start off my post with this beautiful video from Samaritan's Purse.  Every time I watch it, it brings tears to my face, happy ones! Feeling so blessed that we're able to put smiles on the faces of these children. 

As I mentioned in my first post about Operation Christmas Child.  I have been collecting freebies (from hotels, conferences and festivals), and purchasing items on sales, clearance, and with coupons for this year's shoe boxes.  

I also ordered through Vistaprint  this cute card that I made to include in the shoe boxes. (They were free! I just paid shipping!) 
Samaritan's Purse has this awesome form that children can personalize and add to the shoe boxes. So, we included this About Me form that my son colored himself. I added his picture, filled in the blanks for him and in the back I included our family picture. Since we have 15 boxes I had him color 2 sheets, and then I made 15 color copies to include in the shoe boxes. You can download this form here.

Last year little one helped pack the shoe boxes with things that I had purchased. However, I wanted to teach him the importance of giving to those less fortunate, and have him fully involved in selecting toys for another child. So we set off to shop, and I told him that we weren't shopping for him, and that we were going to fill shoe boxes for poor children. So before going into the store (he's going to pack two shoe boxes ages 2-4) this was our conversation:

Me:  "Do you know what we're doing here?"
Little one:  "Yes, Mommy. We're going to buy gifts for other children."
Me:  "What children?" 
Little one: "For the children that don't have toys, because there mommies and daddies can't get it for them." 
Me:  "True.  OK,  baby. Do you want to buy for boys only or for a boy and a girl?" 
Little one:  "Mommy, I want to buy for one girl, and for one boy!"  

He starts looking around, and picks the toys, some candy, markers, and some other things. Off we go to the cashier, and he wants to pay all by himself so I give him the money.  Sweet!  

This past weekend little one was ready to pack the shoe boxes with his Daddy. He packed shoe boxes for one boy and one girl ages 2-4. He was so proud and excited! Though, we still need to decorate and wrap  some of the shoe boxes before the drop-off date, but at least they are all finished.  


After months of planning, preparing, and praying we have finally tallied up our shoe boxes: 15 in total! What a blessing!  It has been a joy seeing these empty shoe boxes come together. 15 shoe boxes, 15 lives for ever changed! The shoe boxes and the contents of what we packed can be found here

We can't wait for National Collection Week!  We will be joined by my mommy friends, and their children. I'm looking forward to seeing the kids go in and drop-off their shoe boxes! Not only are they making a difference, they are also learning a valuable life lesson: "learning to give to others that are less fortunate."

Make a difference in a child's life, pack a shoe box!  It's still not too late to participate in Operation Christmas Child!  If you have an empty shoe box, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hard candy, and some small toys you can probably pack one! For more ideas and suggestions on how to pack a shoe box go here. National Collection Week is during November. You can check for the drop-off locations here.

While you're here take a look at: 

Simple beaded friendship bracelets for OCC recipients. 
A $10 challenge for the OCC shoe box.
Crafts made by children for children for the OCC shoe box. 
Thank you letter sent to us from a recipient! 
Need more ideas, or inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board:

Follow Frances's board Operation Christmas Child & Shoe Box Ideas on Pinterest.

Please share, like or comment! Love hearing what you have to say!