Joanna Anastasia

toddler

Valentines salt dough craft two ways

Valentines day salt dough

You might not know it, but making a valentines salt dough craft is a very satisfying activity. First, the pleasure of making a toy from scratch ( littearaly ), second, playing with it’s soft texture, and third creating vimiscal valentines craft that’ll decorate you or your place :).

You see, I love to show to my daughter that we can make something lovely from nothing. I believe that it teaches her creativity and it gives her the feeling that anything is possible!

But coming back to our salt dought: it’s really fast to prepare, and so versatile! We didn’t make a big quantity, just enough for one kid to play with, so if you have more kids, or if you’d like to make a longer garland, just double this recipe.

And as you see, the creative process took us in two directions: we made one garland, and one small neckless :). I’m not saying I’ll wear it every day, but it’s a great accessory for our dressing out sessions 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons warm water
3 drops of red food colouring

Mix all the dry ingredients, then add water and food colouring, and mix it really well together. Now it’s ready for your imagination 🙂

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Start by cutting your shapes with a cookie cutter. This is a great toddler / kid activity, Lili was all concentrated and amused and it made her calm for more than 30 minutes (bliss).

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Place your shapes on a cooking sheet , and if like me you’re planning to make a neckless or a garland, than poke little holes with a chopstick. Then bake on 350F for around 20 to 25 minutes.

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Now put them on a string, hang on a window, in your kids room, or make a valentines neckless with it! You could also use them as valentines day gift tags ! Have fun :).

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Easy Christmas cards

Easy Christmas cards

I’ll be honest here with you : I never made Christmas cards before, but I got this amazing package of goodies from Scrapbook Adhhesives, and it totally motivated be to make these easy Christmas cards.

You see, I’m not really in to scrap booking, and I used to forget, to even send a Christmas card. But it seems that while I’m getting older I tend to be more attached to tradition, and preparing for Christmas is one of these things that I love more and more. And what I enjoy the most is introducing Lili to all of the Christmas preparation. So that’s way I started making my own Christmas cards. Actually we crafted these hand in hand, you’ll see in the end of this post what did she made :).

Also, for me, Christmas is a way to turn a cold and dark season in to a glittery magical time. (Or that’s how I try to see it,) and while I know people, who start to think about Christmas only in the end of December, I look forvward to it all fall. And now, when the weather gets more and more ugly cold, I start planning for gifts and decoration.

So I wanted to make bright, cheerful and glittery Christmas cards that I could attach to a hand made gift, or send with a small package of cookies. Since I’m not a scrapbooker I used all sorts of materials other than paper : pom-poms, twine, ribbons, stickers and lots of glitter ! And some cool adhesives from Scrapbook Adhesives that helped me glue it all.

I started easy, with a pretty Christmas ribbon and this great crafty power tape.

Easy Christmas card

Than I decided to make a textural card with some pom-poms and glitter. Honestly these little adhesive dots are amazing! They literally glue everything !

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Adding a glittery strap was really easy with this foam sheet:

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And then I decided that these dots are made to hold glitter so I went wild with it :

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Then I used some more ribbon and glitter. I glued the ribbon with the crafty power tape, and than I glued a stripe of this tape in the middle of the ribbon and sprinkled it with glitter. It took less than 5 minutes 🙂

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And here is the card I made with twine and glitter: a simple glittery Christmas tree :

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And when I was ready to add some fun Christmas stickers to finish it all, my baby started to cry and refused to sit and chew on that rubber giraffe anymore.
So as you see I finished it all later in the evening :

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And here are the finished cards:

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Christmas card

And a bonus , a 100% toddler made, modern intake on a Christmas card ! Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, I did help her to cut the triangles, but then she glued them, she added more of these amazing adhesive dots, and she had fun with glitter. No, there are no pictures, you nedd to take my word for that.

Christmas card

So, now when you’ve seen my simple Christmas cards, do you feel like you’d like to make some too?

Disclosure: I received these products free for review. All opinions remain my own.

10 ways to be a better parent.

Mother hugging daughter, ways to be a better parent
10 ways to be a better parent

There are these days when I tell to myself : you’re doing a great job, Joanna, there is no way you could possibly be a better parent ! It’s usually when I’m drop dead tired and impressed by my resilience. In moments like that, simply feeding them and keeping them safe seems like a great parenting skill to me 😉 .

But most if the times I feel like I could do better. I could be a better parent.
And I ask myself, did I have to get impatient? Why didn’t I play more and is a clean kitchen really important?

But as I try to improve, I see that what makes me a better parent to my kids, is trying to be more present, patient and positive. And since I’ve ditched my hopes for a clean and tidy house, my parenting skills went way up!

So here are my 10 ways to be a better parent. It’s a work in progress, but I’m trying my best. Isn’t that what counts the most?

1. Count to 10 and breathe.
Kids push our buttons. A lot. Ok, one of my children particularly pushes my buttons. But it doesn’t do any good if I get irritated or angry. Actually it usually just aggravates the situation. So practicing my patience is my number one mantra.

2. Read at least 1 book a day.
Back in the days when I had only one child, we used to read books every single day. Now, in between cleaning, baby, tantrums, baby, cooking, baby and cleaning again, it seems like we have no more time for books every day! But I came to realization that reading calms my daughter, helps her concentrate and gives her an opportunity to cuddle. So I’ll just leave that sink dirty, and read to her every day, like we used to.

3. Let it go. Nothing is perfect.
My house doesn’t need to be perfect. Actually there is always a room that looks like a total mess. And I’m fine with that. I’ve read somewhere (on Pinterest I suppose 😉 ) that you can either have a clean house either happy kids. Difficult choice, but after some reflection I opted for happy kids ;).

4. Don’t threaten. Talk consequences.
Oh, the joy of parenting. How many times did you say today : if you don’t stop you’ll ..? Recently I noticed that I’ve been using it way to often. With very poor results. So I try to explain consequences. If you won’t wash your hands, your toys will be all sticky with food, and ants will come to play with them ( I’m not exaggerating here, we did have ants at home this summer, and she didn’t like it at all).

5. Say I love you, and cuddle. Every day.
When my daughter was a baby I would cuddle her all the time. Now, she’s always in movement, and she doesn’t want to stay still. But she still needs cuddles. I think it’s like battery charging for humans. So I take advantage of her being tired and then we cuddle!

6. Set clear rules, and be consistent.
We actually drew our most problematic rules down. And now, when she’s playing with water at the table (read spilling it all over) I just ask her what are the house rules. Most of the time it prevents a disagreement between us (AKA a tantrum).

7. Say: “I’m proud of you because…”
It’s called reinforcing positive behaviour, and it works! So when she’s quiet and calm while I put down the baby to sleep, I tell her how proud of her it makes me feel, to see that she is big, and understands that babies need peace to fall asleep. You should see her smile after that!

8. Pick your battles.
This one is totally new to me. When your kid is a baby you decide. But as soon as they start walking and talking they want to be in control. So I try to give her some control. I won’t even give her choices, because then the answer used to be: no and no. Now I ask her more open question: which shoes you’ll be putting on? And I let her wear whatever she chooses  out of the possible options (that are laying in the entry way).

9. Take time out.
Not kid time out, but adult time out. If it means closing yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes, with your smartphone then be it. I know I need my 10 calm minutes with coffee twice a day. After that I’m ready for life.

10. Don’t take kids seriously. Don’t take anything seriously!
Just laugh at those fake tears, smile when they make a huge mess with Cheerios and remember that it will all pass. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

So, what do you think about my ways to be a better parent? Would they work with you?

And if you’d like to learn some more about communicating better with your kids check out these great books : How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk and Parenting from the Inside Out 10th Anniversary edition: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive.

Rainy day toddler activity : paper roll animals

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Even thought it’s summer, we still had couple of rainy days. I know, we could still go outside and look for snails and frogs, but somehow I didn’t really fell like it ;). Instead I took out from recycling some toilet paper rolls, paint and plastic eyes from dollar store.
And we got dirty with paint, our hands got sticky with glue, and we didn’t even notice when lunch time arrived :). If you would like to make one of these creations here is what you’ll need :

Toilet paper rolls
Paint
Glue
Plastic goggly eyes
Scissors

Start by painting paper rolls. I wanted one black, one white and two colourful, but they turned out kind of mixed. And I think it’s just fine :). My daughter wanted me to paint face on to some of them, so I did a squirrel and a dog ( or a rabbit, you choose ).

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Cut stripes of paper roll for ears, and little triangles and half circles – they will make for a nose and paws:

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Let your toddler glue the eyes,ears, nose and paws.

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Now, are you ready for some role play ? Have fun with these ! 🙂

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Why you should go camping with kids

Here are ten important reasons why it's so important to go camping with kids, even if you don't really feel like it !

Believe it or not, I’m no camping lover. I’m a city girl, who loves her comfort and hates bugs and public washrooms. Between you and me, my definition of perfect family vacation is in the hotel by the sea! Why then I state that you should go camping with kids ? Because I believe that sometimes comfort is less important, especially when it comes to raising smart and sensitive children! And going camping will help you achieving that goal, here is how :

1. Reconnecting with each other.
When there is no distraction like house to clean, emails to be checked or a tv show to watch, we can actually concentrate on each other. I think it’s especially important for our children, that are born in the internet era to learn how to slow down and appreciate the presence of the close ones.

2. Respecting the resources.
When you have to get the water for cooking and washing the dishes in a pot that you carry all the way to your camp site, it makes you more careful when you use it. You don’t waste water when you know you need to go get it yourself. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to older kids about how many people in the world live with out fresh water at home, and how many children are responsible for fetching the water every day.

3. Learning to play with anything that’s not a toy.
Honestly I was tempted to buy a bunch of dollar store toys to keep my two and a half year old busy. But I decided to take only 3 of her stuffed animals and see if I can encourage her to play with natural elements found on the camp site. And guess what. On the first day she was turning around not really sure what to do. On the second she was playing alone with sticks pretending that they are her dolls, and that rocks where the food. Success!

4. Understanding the nature.
It’s great to show to kids the real habitat of animals, to watch birds and bugs going on with there lives, to teach your child to respect them all. In national parks you are asked not to pick any branches or flowers, and that’s a great opportunity to explain the delicate balance in nature that we tend too often to break.

5. Fighting your fears.
The fear of the dark woods, the fear of spiders or the fear of bugs. By being exposed to all of the above your children are less likely to develop these fears, as they will consider them as a normal part if everyday life.

6. Learning a healthy lifestyle.
I assume that while at camping you don’t eat fast food, but you cook simple dishes and you walk or bike. There is no TV or video games. I dare you to leave your iPad at home. Hike and enjoy the nature. Let city kids learn to spend all day outside. It will pay back in the future.

7. Being grateful for what we have.
It’s great to realize how comfortable our life is.
At home we have hot water, we have heating, comfortable beds, toilets, toys and many objects that make our lives easier. But in the end we can do without all of the objects that surround us in our everyday lives. Camping is a great reminder of that.

Foam spring flowers

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My two and a half years old daughter really loves this kind of crafts; she gets to glue things and make funny faces. I loved this craft because it was simple and there was no sticky and dirty stuff to clean afterwards :). So it’s a win-win acctivity ! And it makes for a cute kids room spring decoration.

Foam sheets
Pipe cleaners
Plastic eyes
Glue

Start by cutting a flower shape out of a foam sheet, and then pierce the pipe cleaner through the centre of the flower:

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Make a loop, so it holds better :

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Now it’s time to glue eyes and mouth (made from a piece of a pipe cleaner):

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Have fun making yours!

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