Food Fun Friday: Muddy Buddy Recipe

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Muddy Buddy Recipe, #recipe

Today's fun kids snack is easy to prepare. How easy? Prep time is 15 minutes and then cooling time is another 15 minutes. The best part about this Muddy Buddy recipe is that kids can help with many of the steps. So get those kids in the kitchen and lets make some Muddy Buddies!


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Handwriting Practice with a Dry Erase Board

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Handwriting Practice, Fine motor skills

Last week I was at Toys R Us and noticed they sold dry erase crayons. I didn't even know they made such a thing. I have wanted to do dry erase activities with my kids, but most markers I have found had a strong odor. The best part was there was a sale and they were buy 1 get 2 free which is perfect when you have three kids. The cashier said they have sales like every year before school starts so you might want to check you local Toys R Us to see if the sale is still going on. It was good for all kinds of crayons, markers and other Crayola items. 

When I was at the Dollar Store the other day I discovered that they sold dry erase boards. They come with a  marker that you can just remove. For $3 I now have dry erase boards for all the kids. How did we use our new items? Read on to find out...

dry erase board and crayons

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Back to School - Healthy School Lunch Ideas

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It's back to school time, perhaps the most exciting time of the year for parents. Kids are excited too as they get ready to meet new teachers and friends. But along with excitement, back to school time comes with lots of preparation. By now you've probably been shopping for school supplies. I have always loved the new supplies associated with the start of a school year. Empty notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and unused crayons all full of possibilities for the year ahead. If you're sending your kid back to school with new clothes and supplies, don't send them back with the same old lunches. Here are some healthy school lunch ideas that will start the year off right.

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Is There Something Wrong With My Child?

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Is There Something Wrong With My Child, #kids, #parenting, #special-needs
I think every mom at some point has asked herself "is there something wrong with my child?" It may be as an infant when the child is crying and you cannot console them - "Is there something wrong with her? Why won't she stop crying?" It may be when you noticed that your friend's similar aged baby started walking, but your shows no signs of being ready - "Is there something wrong with him? Should he be walking already?" It can be in school, when the majority of the class is reading but your child is not - "Is there something wrong with her? Why is this giving her trouble?"
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Review and Giveaway: Hide and Seek Devotional book

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My kids recently received a copy of Hide and Seek Devotional which was created by Stephen Elkins and published by Tommy Nelson
Hide and Seek Devotional, Stephen Elkins
This book is just full of surprises. First there is the 3D lenticular cover. When you look at it straight on the cover art shows Noah and some animals on the ark. But tilt the book a little and Noah releases a dove and the animals rejoice. My kids got such a kick out of this. They just kept tilting the book to see it happen again.
Read on to see how to enter to win your own copy...
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Food Fun Friday: Making Butter With Kids

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Making Butter with Kids, #recipe, #kids

I am always trying to find food that my kids will eat consistently. They are very hit or miss with things. One day they will clean something off their plates and the next day they won't touch it. Lately, I have a had a hard time getting to eat bread whether in a sandwich or as a piece of toast with breakfast. When I was grocery shopping the other day I noticed the cream in the dairy section and had the idea to get some and try my hand at making butter with kids. I have made butter in the past when I was teaching. My students always enjoyed the process and the results. I was hoping my kids would too.
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Review and Giveaway: Really Woolly Bedtime Bible Promises book

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Really Woolly Bedtime Bible Promises, DaySpring
Like many kids, my girls enjoy a hearing a story before bed. I am always careful in choosing these stories because I don't want something that will be frightening to the kids or leave them with a scary image in their heads. I was so pleased to receive the Really Woolly Bedtime Bible Promises book since it seemed like a perfect book to read at the end of the day. 
Learn more about how you can win a copy.
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Surviving a Road trip with Young Children

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We just got back from a road trip to San Diego where my kids were flower girls in their uncle's wedding. San Diego is about an 8 1/2 hour drive (without traffic) from where we live. We would have flown, but airfare for the 5 of us was too pricey. So we decided to drive. This was not an easy choice for us. Our kids do not do well on long car trips. If you have ever been passed by a minivan with three screaming kids (and possibly parents) then that was probably us. 

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Handwriting Practice by Tracing With Yarn

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Handwriting Practice by Tracing With Yarn, #kids, #fine-motor
My kids have started to get interested in writing. They are still working at it and I try to find opportunities for them to engage in handwriting practice. Here is an easy and inexpensive way to do that without using a pencil or paper.
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Food fun Friday: Helping Picky Eaters - Review and Giveaway of Copy-Kids DVD

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If you have been reading Mess For Less for any period of time, then you know that my three kids are notoriously picky eaters. Not just your run of the mill picky either. They will even turn up their noses at  foods most kids like. In the past, I have made them their own meal while my husband and I ate our dinner. My kids are on the thin side and I was worried that they would lose more weight if presented with food they did not like. 
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LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar

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My kids love to make music. So much so that we have an entire bin in our playroom dedicated to their instruments. They were very excited to add a new instrument to their collection when they received the LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar (retails for $24.99).
We have had other toy guitars in the past, but the kids quickly grew tired of them since most have just a few buttons the kids could press to play some songs. The LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar is unique in many aspects. First, it contains the intuitive touch technology that can recognize every touch, tap and swipe your child makes. In addition to encouraging your budding musician, the LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar helps to develop important preschool skills such as motor skills, social play and role play. 

The LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar made my littlest one feel like a true rock star. Using the guitar she can create over 100 musical combinations. This helps to explain why she plays with the guitar again and again. Every time is a like a new experience as she experiments playing solo or with a band. She also has the option of playing acoustic or electric guitar. When all her hard work is done there is even an applause sound to show her some love. I think she is just about ready for the big time, what do you think?



The guitar contains 10 songs, many of which are already familiar to children. My younger daughter's favorites were If You're Happy and You Know It and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Children can add in their own sounds and music using the other buttons on the guitar. This truly makes every song unique. My older daughter had such fun playing the guitar faster and faster. The faster you strum the "touch strings" the fast the tune will play. As a mom I love any to that can encourage my children to play together. This guitar is one such toy. I have found it really brings my kids together. One will play the music while the others dance and clap. It truly makes playtime a group effort as you can see below.

Why should my kids be the only ones having fun? To join in on the good times, enter the LeapFrog Touch Magic Rockin' Guitar Contest. It is so easy to enter! Just submit a video here of your child rocking out and learning with the Touch Magic or their own play guitar that you made at home. Then promote your video using Facebook and other social outlets so your friends and family can watch it and vote. Five videos that have the highest number of votes and panel selections will have a chance to win $500! The contest runs through November 30th. So what are you waiting for? Enter today! Vote daily for your favorites and you are eligable to win the weekly drawing for Touch Magic toys valued at $100. For more infomation and official rules, click here.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and was given free product by LeapFrog.  The content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Vicky
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DIY Rainbow Party Ideas

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rainbow party ideas, rainbow birthday #rainbow #birthday

So, you are thinking about throwing a rainbow birthday party for your child. Don't do it! OK, I am kidding. It can be a lot of work to put together but you don't have to use all the rainbow party ideas presented here. You can just pick one or two that seem more doable. Or you could do everything. Whether you stay simple or go elaborate, one thing is for sure: the bright colors will automatically bring a smile to your child's face. And that's really what it's all about isn't it?
Here are some of the different things we did for our rainbow party.  If there is a link then it means I also have a blog post that explains the how-to aspect.
Decor:
Tissue Paper Pom Poms
party decor, tissue paper balls

Streamer Curtain

I attached streamers of various colors to some packing tape and hung it up using thumbtacks.

rainbow party, rainbow streamers, birthday party

Food:
We had a sweets table at our party and I made sure to have plenty of candy on hand. I tried to buy candy that was colorful and then sort it by color to make more of an impact. I found some glass jars (the type pretzel sticks might come in) a few months ago at a yard sale and used those to display the goodies. For the day of the party I added some scoops I found in the kitchen section at Target.
Click here for free rainbow party printables like the ones we used.
rainbow party, rainbow candy, candy table
Candy Balls
chocolate balls, rainbow candy


Sprinkle Marshmallows

These were super easy to make and a big favorite with the kids. Get some lollipop sticks and place a marshmallow on top. Dip the top part of the marshmallow in water and roll in sprinkles. Display in some stryofoam. That's it, you're done!

Marshmallow pops, marshmallows with sprinkles

Rainbow Swirl Lollipops:

I got these at Oriental Trading and tried to dress them up by placing them in styrofoam and covering the stryrofoam with some rainbow party streamers.

rainbow lollipops, party favors

Rainbow Jello
Rainbow jello, rainbow party,
Rainbow Oreos
rainbow oreo cookies, chocolate covered oreos

rainbow cupcakes, rainbow party, birthday cupcakes
Rainbow Cake
rainbow cake, rainbow party, birthday cake
Add caption
rainbow birthday party, inside of rainbow cake

Goodie Bags

I ordered some rainbow colored plastic bags from Oriental Trading and they worked out perfectly especially after we added our stickers. To print out these stickers for yourself click here
goodie bags for rainbow party

For the inside I ordered some rainbow Twizzlers online and got some rainbow pads and crayons from Oriental Trading.

party favors for rainbow party

I hope this helps you in your rainbow party planning! Let me know if you use any of these ideas. I am sure your party will turn out great.

Linking up to some of these great parties.

Vicky
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Food Fun Friday: Easy Rainbow Cake

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Easy Rainbow Cake, Rainbow Cake Recipe #rainbows, #cake, #recipe
I will start off by saying this cake is not as complicated as it looks. I was a little intimidated to make it since it seemed like a lot of work. But as you'll see, this easy rainbow cake is something even a novice baker can make and it is sure to be a hit at your party.
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Review and Giveaway: VeggieTales The Penniless Princess

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My kids are big fans of VeggieTales. They love the funny characters, the catchy music and the great stories. I feel good knowing that my kids are being exposed to God's word and meaningful lessons that they can carry with them. The newest VeggieTales DVD, The Penniless Princess - God's Little Girl, is a DVD you will want to add to your collection, particularly if you have a little princess at home. The Penniless Princess will be released in Christian retailers on August 11th and to all other stores that carry DVDs on August 14th. You can also purchase the DVD on the VeggieTales website here for $14.99.
The Penniless Princess DVD
From the back cover: Sweet Sara Crewe has everything a little girl could want - a loving family, lots of friends and a closet full of frilly dresses! But when life takes a turn and Sara goes from riches to rags, will she realize that her true worth lies not in what she has, but what's in her heart? Find out in this inspiring new story from VeggieTales based on the beloved classic novel "A Little Princess," that reminds kids who they are in God's eyes.

Here is a sneak peek:

There are some wonderful lessons in The Penniless Princess, as Sara learns that her worth is not dependent on circumstances. She is worthy because she is God's princess and that doesn't change like her social status. I like how the DVD managed to teach about the story of Joseph as our kids were recently learning about his life at church.

In addition to the engaging story, The Penniless Princess is packed with extras such as Singalong Songs, a tour of London and a discussion guide. There is also a new Silly Song, Best Friends Forever which you will be singing along to in no time.
The lovable VeggieTales characters really hold a child's attention. 


Even my two year old who is too young to get most of the messages, still enjoys watching and hearing the fun songs.



Thanks to our friends at VeggieTales, you can win your very own copy of The Penniless Princess to share with your little ones. Rules and entry are below. Good luck!  Open only to US residents.

Disclosure:  I was sent this product for review.  All opinions expressed are my own. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

Vicky
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One Year of Messes

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A year ago today (give or take a day) I started Mess For Less. You can read that first post here. I had no idea that it would still be going (and actually thriving) a year later. I started this blog on a whim with no great planning other than sharing ideas of fun things to do with your kids. It has certainly evolved since then and will continue to evolve in the future as my kids grow and our interests change. 
I wanted to share with you some of my favorite posts from the past year. If you want to know the readers' favorites, you can check them out in the right sidebar. I will choose some different ones from a little further back in the archives since our readership has grown quite a bit since we began and new readers may have missed these.
Shaving Cream Greeting Cards and Wrapping Paper
Besides the fun sensory experience, you can make some pretty neat patterns using shaving cream, food coloring and paper.
playing with shaving cream
Color Drop Game
Easy-to-make game using recycled objects. Kids learn color matching while practicing fine motor skills.
color recognition game, color sorting
Food Fun Friday - Fall Scene
kids fun food
I have met some wonderful bloggers this past year and never cease to be amazed at the generosity and   creativity of the blogging community. Thanks to everyone who offered advice, answered questions and simply provided inspiration with your outstanding work.
Finally, Mess For Less would be nowhere without you, the reader. Thank you for your wonderful support this past year. Thank you for trying some of my ideas and sharing your feedback. I appreciate your honesty and the time you take to write comments. I do read each one and aim to be better about responding to them on the blog. I hope to keep bringing you content that will make your lives a little easier in some way. 
Here's to many more years of messy fun!
Vicky
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LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus

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My kids recently had the opportunity to play with the LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus from Leap Frog. We all know how popular tablets are smart phone have become. Like those devices, the   
LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus incorporates touch technology. But that's not the only thing that makes this toy unique.

The first thing you notice when you get it, is how light and streamlined the bus is. This makes it perfect for little hands to carry around the house. The entire interface is flat which helps when it comes to wiping off sticky kid fingerprints.

Another thing parents will love is that the LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus will turn off after a period of inactivity. What a relief for me. We have some musical toys that will keep on playing and wasting the battery long after my kids have left the room. 

LeapFrog Touch Magic Learning Bus

A profile view:


The LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus is recommended for ages 2+ and I used it with my two year old and four year old twins and it was equally fun for both ages.

Leap Frog has packed a lot of learning and fun onto this bus. It reviews letters and letter sounds, teaches vocabulary, and lets kids rock out to some familiar music.There are over 200 musical and learning responses and 40 touch points assuring your child will never get bored. 

The whole bus is so intuitive that my two year old was able to pick it up and figure out how to start playing. I tried to explain to her what she needed to do, but she's two and was having none of my explanation. She wants to do everything herself and thanks to the easy-to-use interface, she was able to do that.

child playing with LeapFrog Learning Bus

The LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus comes with three modes of play: Learn Mode, Game Mode and Music Mode. My older kids love the Game Mode. One game asks them to find a letter or an object. They love being challenged in this way and even work together to find the answers. 

LeapFrog Learning Bus

Kids playing with Leap Frog Learning Bus

My youngest finds the Game Mode a little tricky at this point, but she adores the music mode where she can jam along to three songs including her favorite, If You're Happy and You Know It. There is also a Learn Mode that is great for many ages where children touch a letter and learn all about what it's called and what sound it makes.

Alphabet learning bus

So far my kids favorite thing to do with the LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus is to play the piano keys and dance. They will take turns being the pianist while the others dance either fast or slow depending on the tempo.

Kids, fun, toys, Leap Frog


Look at that dancing!

Kids dancing

Check out my kids in action rocking out to the LeapFrog Touch Magic Alphabet Bus. 



I was shopping at Target the other day and noticed they had a variety of Touch Magic toys. You can also find them at Leap Frog, Toys R Us, Walmart, Kmart and Amazon. Try them out for yourself!

This post is sponsored by LeapFrog. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Vicky
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