The Life of Jennifer Dawn: July 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Preschool Activities

As Back to School time nears, I am preparing for my own little ones to return to our Play School/Mommy School routine.  Lydia Grace will be doing preschool and some kindergarten tasks, Eli will be doing some early preschool activities, and Caleb will be enjoying lots of kisses and snuggles from mommy.  The activities I have planned will put a huge emphasis on play which is how children learn best.  Perhaps you too are preparing preschool activities for your own little one(s) to complete during the coming school year.  If so, here are some fun ideas...

Happy planning!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Motherhood: Enjoying the Adventure Even When Things Aren't "Peachy"

Motherhood certainly is an adventure!
It can turn even the simplest of trips in a challenging feat.
I envisioned an outing where we would meet up with friends at a local fruit and berry patch and happily collect berries in our baskets.
Like I said...
Motherhood has a way of turning trips into a challenge though.
Something set Eli off, and he entered into tantrum mode before we even got started.
I think we might be hitting the tantrum two's.  
I know most people call them the terrible two's, but there is more about this stage that is terrific than terrible.
The tantrums hit full force for kids at this age though because they have reached a point in their development where they are very specific and opinionated on what they want but can't always communicate those wants.
Case in point: Eli wanted something and I couldn't understand what it was, so he threw a tantrum.  A few of them...
We were 20 minutes and multiple tantrums and time-outs into our outing when Lydia Grace turned her listening ears off and kept trying to wander off.  Tired of Eli's behavior and not wanting to be given a warning about her own, she suddenly wanted to go home.  Something about not wanting to get dirty was thrown in with her plea too.  Sheesh!  My sweet kiddos obviously need more exposure to nature and perhaps even what life on a farm is like.  So...
one child was crying...
another one wanted to leave...
I could only hope that the baby at home with his daddy made for a happier image than we did at that very second.
What do you do?
Well, I took a deep breath and said,
"No, we are not going to go home yet.  We are here to pick berries and to have fun.  It's an adventure, so let's get started.  This will be fun!"
Lydia Grace picked up her basket, threw some berries in, and Eli followed her example.
That was it!  My little universe suddenly shifted, and they were happily jumping from one vine to another gathering fruit as they went.  When we traveled further to pick grapes and apples, they delighted in the animals we encountered along the way and kept giggling at the sounds they made.
It was as though the first little blip of our outing hadn't even happened.
That's when I heard thunder.  The rain soon followed.  Hot, sweaty, and now wet, we quickly grabbed some grapes and apples and began our trek in the rain back to the front building to pay for our loot.  I told the kids, "Just pretend you are at a water park.  This is an adventure!"
And it certainly was...
That's how motherhood is...
An adventure!
Things don't always go perfectly.
But it isn't about looking for perfection.
It's about embracing the experience and enjoying the moment for what it is.
The perfect days are when we take a deep breath, brush ourselves off, look for the positive, and keep on going.
We can make plans, but when life sets in...
All you can do is love your kids, love the adventure, and love the day!
Happy adventures!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Neighborhood Clip Art

Picmonkey has become my go-to site for photo editing, blog design, collages, and clip art!  Here's how to make your own neighborhood clip art perfect for stationary, invitations, or any other purpose you can dream up...

1. From the PicMonkey site, click "Edit a photo".  Select any photo to edit.  You can resize it to your liking under the basic edits icon.  To create a blank background, stretch a white overlay across the photo.

2. Begin the first building by layering rectangle and ribbon overlays.

3. Smaller, rectangular overlays make perfect windows.

4. Lowercase l's become window panes.  I used the font Didact Gothic since the l's do not have any flourishes.  If you right click on any overlay or text box, you can easily duplicate it.  Overlays and text boxes will also easily resize and pivot as you drag on the outline around the overlay.

5. Rectangles and triangles can be pieced together to create a fence.  The cute little owl is a "Cutimal" overlay on PicMonkey.

6. A rectangle and triangle together can become a house--just like when you drew them as a kid.  To create a flat roof, a white overlay can be used to cover-up the top part of the triangle.

7. Rectangles can be turned into windows, shutters, a door, and chimney.  Circles, ovals, and rectangles can be used to make trees.

8. Continue adding shapes to make the buildings.  All can be colored, flipped, and changed from the edit box that appears when you click on the overlay.

9. PicMonkey has a great assortment of ready-made flowers and animals that I used to add detail to the neighborhood.

10. Banners and labels can serve as the backdrop for your text.

11. Add a text message.

12. Use your PicMonkey creation as a card to announce a move to a new home, housewarming, party, or other event.  Blog design, stationary, cards...
The sky's the limit!

Happy clipping and creating!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mini Sandboxes

Last summer I made mini sandboxes for the kids to play with.  This summer...
we added a couple more to the collection--a farm adventure sandbox and a beach adventure sandbox.

photo storage boxes
foam brush
Mod Podge
stickers and die-cuts
colored sand
minatures (We like to use the ones branded Toob.)
shells or other small items

Easy, fun, and perfect for playtime!  For more box play ideas, visit the links below...
Happy playtime!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013

Interactive Rainforest Box for Kids

*Disclaimer: Thanks to Jo-Ann Stores for providing the materials for this post. All opinions are my own.
Need a great craft idea for you and your kiddos to create together this summer? The Cape Discovery Catalog from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores is a perfect source for crafty inspiration!

I love the Jungle Diorama featured in their catalog, but I wanted my version to be more purposeful and interactive.  Thinking back to the Mini Adventures Sandboxes that I made with the kids last year, I decided to make another interactive box.  Here's how to make a Rainforest Box that the kids can play with...

Interactive Rainforest Box for Kids


  • Photo storage box
  • Toob Animals: Rainforest, Monkeys & Apes
  • Dried mini ferns
  • Large polished river rocks
  • Deluxe moss assortment
  • Smilax leaf spray
  • Leaf spray with bamboo stem
  • Foam brush
  • Acrylic paint: blue and brown
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters


  1. Paint the inside of the box blue and brown to serve as the sky and dirt backdrop for your rainforest. The kids will love helping with this part.
  2. Use the hot glue gun to glue down the rocks and moss. Stack some of the rocks on top of each other even having the moss "creep up" on them.
  3. Use the wire cutters to cut your leaf and bamboo greenery into pieces. I made our pieces a little smaller than the height of the box. Glue ferns and your bamboo and leaf pieces around the rocks and along the inside of the box. Note: Since my kids are little, I operated the hot glue gun and wire cutters. The ferns were thin enough for them to break into smaller pieces. And they were also more than capable of helping me place the items onto the glue. 
  4. Give the kids the Toob Animals to place into their new "home".

We did not glue the animals down, they could be moved around at will. If your kids are like mine, they will love playing with this interactive mini rainforest time and time again. Warning! The teacher in me is about to come out...

Extend the Fun into Learning!
Making and playing with boxes like these aid in sensory, tactile, and fine motor skills. They also foster creativity and imaginative play. Here are a few supplemental websites on the rainforest to implement into this activity.

Rainforest Websites for Kids

Would your kids enjoy this activity? What other kinds of interactive boxes could you make? Let me know your ideas in the comments below!
Happy summer crafting!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Family Photos

My lovely friend Lori worked her photography magic for us again.  She did an excellent job capturing the kids' personalities and boundless energy.  This session was very special in that it was our first one as a family of five although we were doing good to get two out of five of us captured in the same frame.  Our photo sessions are always an adventure!  Take a peek...
Happy memories!