Food Fun Friday - Our Favorite Halloween Treat: Pumpkin Pops

Here is a super easy idea for a kids Halloween treat that gets rave reviews at our house. These pumpkin pops would be great for a Halloween party or to share with neighbors. We just made some for a Halloween snack at home, so you don't really need a special reason. These would be perfect for a Halloween party along with our Candy Corn Lollipops.

Review: 3-2-1 Penguins - The Complete Series

My family recently had the chance to review "3-2-1 Penguins-The Complete Series Season One” DVD. You may have seen episodes of 3-2-1 Penguins on NBC. Now you can catch up on the ones you've missed or discover these episodes for the first time. The 2 DVD set includes 13 episodes plus bonus  features and contains almost 5 hours of entertainment!

This DVD features lovable space penguin pals - Zidgel, Fidgel, Midgel and Kevin and their human friends Michelle and Jason. I love the fact that Michelle and Jason both wear glasses, something that was not lost on my bespectacled daughter, "look Mommy, they wear glasses like me!" The penguins and kids get into all sorts of adventures and teach important lessons about faith along the way.

My kids liked seeing how at the end of the episode, the kids prayed before going to sleep. "Hey, we do that too!" my little girl exclaimed. I liked how the episodes really contain something for the entire family. You can feel safe knowing your kids are watching because the content is produced by Big Idea, the same folks responsible for the Veggie Tales.

You can buy your own copy of 3,2,1 Penguins - The Complete Series for $14.99 by clicking here.

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Pumpkin Activities - Guest Post From Learning to be a Mom

Today we have some fun pumpkin themed activities from Michelle who blogs over at Learning to be a Mom. With October right around the corner, Halloween preparations have begun. Even if you haven't thought about Halloween yet, Michelle will show you how easy it is to add some pumpkin fun to your play.

I am so excited to be guest posting today on Mess for Less! Thanks Vicky for this opportunity. One of my favorite things to blog about is learning activities with my little Sweet Girl. She is almost 20 months, and we have so much fun playing and learning together. I am getting super excited for fall. It is only just starting to feel like fall here. So, I decided to do a couple pumpkin themed activities. 

First of all I made a pumpkin patch. I painted an egg carton green, filled some orange balloons with flour and drew on a jack-o-lantern face. We used the pumpkin patch for one to one matching. This is an important skill for learning to count and use numbers. Sweet Girl learned to place one pumpkin in one hole. Plus it was a great sensory activity! Sweet Girl had so much fun squeezing them. At one point she started picking them up with her toes, and I thought "She truly is my daughter." My family has been blessed with long toes for picking things up. It comes in handy sometimes.

Later we painted some small gourds I bought at the store. When we paint we have to use Q-Tips because Sweet Girl HATES having paint on her hands. I always have to sit by her with a paper towel to wipe off any paint that gets on her. She is wearing one of my pajama shirts over her clothes, because I don't really believe the bottle when it tells me it is washable paint.

We used this time to talk about pumpkins and about the colors she was painting with. At first she would only paint the stems, but she did eventually branch out and paint some of the rest of the pumpkin. This is such a great way to practice fine motor skills and get her fingers ready to hold a pencil. You can see in the last picture what happens when she finds paint on her hands. Sweet Girl just cracks me up sometimes!

Neither of these activities were anything super fancy or over the top, and that's why I love them. I love getting to be a mom and have fun with my crazy Sweet Girl.

Thank you Michelle! That balloon pumpkin patch is just too cute. My twins are 4 and I think they would enjoy that! 

Here are some of my favorite posts from Learning to be a Mom:

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The 10 Most Influential Kid Bloggers Out There

I thought I would take a break from my usual sharing of budget friendly kids crafts, to highlight who I feel are are the 10 most influential kid bloggers out there today. Before I get to my list, I thought I should define what an influential kid blogger is, and why you should be reading them.

What: An influential kid blogger is, firstly, a blogger who writes about kid related topics and issues. They provide new and exciting ideas for activities, crafts and play. They offer parenting advice and inspire readers to take action. They have a large following they have acquired over the years (both their blogs and social media sites) and a devoted readership who comment and interact frequently on their posts.

Why you should be reading them: Simply put, ideas and inspiration. I feel like I have become a more engaged, intentional mom thanks in large part to these women here and those who write the numerous kid blogs I read each day. Also, these ladies are real. They are moms. And they get it.

There are tons of great kid bloggers out there. I like to think that I do okay. But when I looked at the above criteria, these 10 bloggers jumped into my head. Not every kid blogger aspires to be an influential blogger, but it's hard not to be inspired or impressed by what these ladies have done.

So without further ado, here is my list, in alphabetical order, just to be fair:

Hands On: As We Grow

One of my favorite thing about Jamie's blog is the way it is organized. Activities and ideas are easy to find with collections organized by objective, theme and materials. She also has activities organized by age level so whether are looking for an activity for an infant or a 3 years old, you will know where to look. Also, Jamie uses a lot of items you already have around the house (coffee filters, pillowcases, straws..) which makes this thrifty mama very happy!

Imagination Soup

Melissa blogs over at Imagination Soup and in addition to kids activities, she blogs about writing, books and tech for kids. She even throws in some parenting wisdom -- and who can't use that? This blog is designed to make parents lives easier and it certainly does. Imagination Soup is easy to read, partly due to Melissa's vast experiences as a writer. She has over 800,000 Pinterest followers. That was not a typo!

Inner Child Fun 

Before I started Mess For Less, I would read Valerie's blog each day looking for fun ideas to do with my kids. I was a stressed out mama who realized that my kids were a happier and easier to be around when engaged in an activity.

Inner Child Fun is a feast for the eyes. Valerie's beautiful photos and original activities make you want to live at her house. I don't know how she keeps coming up with the great ideas. She does TV appearances and even has her own YouTube Channel. She is a rock star in the world of kid blogging.

Kids Activities Blog

Rachel and Holly are the driving forces behind this blog. Over the years, they have added a few other mom contributors which has only served to increase the number of great ideas you will find there. I visit Kids Activities Blog at least 3 times a week because they are constantly updating and adding to their content. The blog contains what the name promises - Kids Activities. They also have fun activities for families and school age children. Their readers are engaged and there is a really nice sense of community here. Rachel and Holly have a large following both on the blog and on their social media sites.

Kids Stuff World

Stacy's blog has something for every mom. Looking for a creative activity? She's got that. A dinner recipe for the entire family? She's got that too. Tips for de-cluttering your house? You guessed it, she has it. Stacy also really shines in the World part of her blog. She has causes and messages that are close to her heart and she works to get her readers involved in making a difference. Oh and this mama rocks it on social media too.

Let's Lasso the Moon

I'm not going to lie, I feel smarter when I read this blog. The layout is so understated that it really allows the rich content to take a front seat. Zina is the founder of Let's Lasso the Moon and I love her philosophy of looking for the memorable in everyday moments. She is a modern mom and gets what that means. Her kids crafts are not overly complicated and but always developmentally appropriate. I am also a big fan of the Modern Parenting page where Zina shares ideas for the struggles modern moms face. To top it all off, Zina rocks Pinterest with over 800,000 followers.

Living Montessori Now

Deb's blog is one of the authorities for all things Montessori. It's quite a testament to Living Montessori Now that while I do not specifically use the Montessori method in teaching and working with my kids,  I still read it all the time. Why? So many of the activities are ones you are going to want to do with kids even if you have no idea what Montessori is. Deb has a huge sphere of influence online between her blog and her huge following on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

Modern Parents Messy Kids

First, I just love the design and look of Modern Parents Messy Kids. It's got bright colors, eye catching photos and just generally makes me feel good. Steph is the founder and editor, and along with a team of contributors they cover a multitude of topics important to moms such as creative activities for kids, DIY tutorials, home organization and even style tips. You would be hard pressed to find something that you weren't interested in. Modern Parents Messy Kids has been featured on a number of popular websites like Rachel Ray and the Huffington Post. They even won an award from Parents Magazine. I'd say that is pretty influential.

No Time For Flashcards

This is another blog that was one of the first I discovered when I started doing activities with my kids. Allison, who is the founder and editor, started No Time For Flashcards in 2008. One of the things I really enjoy about her craft ideas is that many times there is a tie-in to a book. This is great for teachers and parents who are looking to extend the learning. Allison also has a good number of posts designed to get your child active. So whether you are looking for something crafty, educational or play based, this blog has it all.

Teach Preschool

I have a special place in my heart for this blog. Maybe it's because I used to teach preschool and now I live vicariously through Deborah and her classes. Every time I read it, I am left wishing my kids could be in her class. Having taught for a number of years, I know lots about what makes a great classroom. Let me just tell you, Deborah's is one of the best I've seen. Lucky for us she doesn't keep her knowledge and ideas to herself. She shares them all on Teach Preschool. I have used countless activities from her and they are always simple to prepare and magical for children. You don't have to be a teacher to get something from this blog. I have used it with my kids at home and we've loved it!

There you have it. The 10 most influential kids bloggers... according to me. This was a really hard list to compile. There are so many great kid bloggers out there doing amazing work. There are many who I bet will be on this list in a year. If you didn't make this list, it's not because I don't find you fabulous and inspirational. But honestly, looking at the criteria, I would not be on this list, and I don't see myself being on it in a year either. But that's cool, I love what I do and I love being inspired each day by all types of kid bloggers.

If you are looking for a bunch of great kid bloggers in one place, check out my favorite Pinterest board where you can find lots of ideas and inspiration.

Have a favorite kid blogger that is not on this list? Please share their blog in the comments below so we can all pay them a visit.

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Food Fun Friday - Crunchy, Munchy Honeycakes

Things go in cycles with my kids. One month they are really into something and then the next, they have moved on to something new. A while ago my twins were really into The Wiggles. They loved their music and videos and we even took them to a concert. Then all of sudden they lost interest. They never asked for me to play The Wiggles music anymore.

But one day, a few weeks ago, we were driving somewhere, and I found a Wiggles DVD in the car and popped it in. Well ever since then, the kids only want to listen to The Wiggles. Their current favorite song is "Crunchy, Munchy Honeycakes." One of my kids started asking "when can we make Crunchy, Munchy, Honeycakes?" I gave her the standard mom response - "one day we'll do that." That usually satisfies my kids and they forget about it. But this one daughter of mine did not forget. Every day she would say,"maybe we'll make Crunchy, Munchy Honeycakes today." She sounded so hopeful every time she said it, that I finally gave in. Read on for the recipe for this easy kids snack...

FabKids - Adorable 3 Piece Outfits for Girls

As a mom of 3 girls, I see lots of girls clothes. I cannot even imagine the number of clothing items that has passed through my hands since the birth of my twins 4 years ago. Many moms are looking to simplify the way they shop and go through kids clothes. FabKids has come up with a way to do just that.

FabKids sells fun clothes for the stylish girl that are perfect for play and school. When you register on their website, you create a style profile for your daughter so they can get to know what styles would be best for her.

Each month, you will find a perfectly styled 3 piece outfit that you can buy for $39.95 (or you can chose your own). For a limited time, you can get your first outfit for just $25.00.

If the outfit choices aren't your style or you don't want to buy anything, just skip the month altogether. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything. If you do buy, your FabKids outfit ships free and will arrive within a week so your little girl can rock her new style. FabKids currently has girls clothes in sizes 2-8 but they will be offering boys and infant sizes starting in 2013.

This certainly isn't the cheapest way to get clothes for your kids, but if you are looking for an easy way to take the fuss out of clothing shopping and you want the coolest styles for your girl, FabKids is a great alternative. Best of all, the clothes are designed to be playground friendly. To check out their site, click here.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Creative Play With Water Beads

Creative Play with Water Beads

We discovered water beads last year at the county fair. We had never seen anything like them and were very impressed. Basically they are tiny, hard pellets in a small package and they grow when left overnight in water. At the county fair they used the beads to keep flowers alive since the flowers will absorb the water from the beads. We use them a little differently. Read more to see how...

Review: VeggieTales Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too DVD

We were excited to have a chance to preview the new VeggieTales DVD, "Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too!."

Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too

My kids are big VeggieTales fan and if you've never watched a VeggieTales DVD, you are in for a treat. Each one contains charming characters, catchy music and of course valuable Bible based lessons. The lessons are taught in a child friendly way that is engaging without being legalistic.

14 Ways to Teach Children to Enjoy Simple Pleasures

14 Ways to teach Children to Enjoy Simple Pleasures, #parenting

How do you raise a child in today's world who is not consumed with material goods and technology? This is a tough question that many parents face as our culture becomes more about what you have, can have, or should have. One way that we have tried to combat against this mentality is by teaching our children to look for the joy in simple things. I am talking about things that are free or don't require a lot of money, but are fun, engaging and the stuff of memories. Let's be honest, your child probably will not remember the latest toy you bought them, but they will remember those simple experiences that they shared with you.

Recently, we took a trip to a local shopping center although we had no plans for shopping. This particular shopping center has lots of water and ducks that love to be fed. For my girls, just seeing the ducks was exciting enough. There were squeals of glee and jumping up and down. I brought along some duck food and they had a blast feeding the ducks. The above photo is actually of my youngest as we were feeding the ducks. Could she be any happier?

Child feeding duck

Simple Pleasures

Looking for more ideas for simple pleasures you can share with your kids? I hope you'll be as inspired as I am by the following suggestions from some of my favorite bloggers. 

1. NurtureStore shares how to Make a Sailing Boat.

A Simple Request

positive parenting


baby sensory activity

I am encouraged reading about these wonderful ways to enjoy the simple things in life. The fact that the children involved are having so much fun is really good news for us parents. Next time you think you have to spend a lot to have a great time, stop and look around you for the simple pleasures money can't buy. 

Thanks to the bloggers above for the great ideas! Please visit them and say hi!

What are your favorite simple pleasures to share with your children? Leave a comment below.

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Creating a Cozy Playroom - Mohawk Home Rug Giveaway

For more playroom changes check out our DIY Playroom Organizers.

We recently moved into a new home and are finally settled in and unpacked. Part of moving always involves finding spaces for your stuff or figuring out that you need some stuff for your space. At our old house the kids playroom was carpeted. Our new place has wood floors throughout much of the house, including the playroom. My kids started complaining that the floor was cold and uncomfortable and I realized that we needed to put a rug in there in there for their comfort but also so the room wouldn't look so bland. Here is a picture of playroom before we got a rug:

To see how it looks after and enter to win a Mohawk Home rug of your own read on. 

Food Fun Friday: Pão de queijo Recipe -Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão de queijo recipe, Brazilian Cheesy Bread #recipe

In the days before we had kids, my husband and I did a lot of travel. We were fortunate enough to visit Brazil, and that country has always held a special place in our hearts. Brazil has the most amazing people and culture. Part of that culture is the food. We ate a lot of street food while we were there, and one of our favorite treats was a cheesy dough ball called pão de queijo. Recently, I came across a blog Kid World Citizen where they shared a pão de queijo recipe. I was so excited as we have not had this since we were in Brazil. I could not wait to share this treat with my husband and kids. Read on for the recipe.

DIY Playroom Organizers

DIY Playroom Organizers, Home Organization

If you have young kids then you probably have a messy playroom that is difficult to keep organized. Or you have a housekeeper. Or really good kids who keep the playroom tidy at all times. I lack the latter two so I have tried  various things to keep the clutter under control. Despite my best efforts, I still have two bins of dress up clothes that are overflowing. We needed more space for our dress up clothes, but I didn't want to add another bin to our already crowded playroom. When I saw the Bright and Colorful Entry Way created by Tatertots and Jello, I realized it might be a perfect solution for my dress up clothes woes. Read on to see what we came up with.

Preschool Math - Counting Coins

Counting Coins, Preschool Math #preschool

I confess, the idea for this activity came from me trying to get the kids to do some work for me. Yes, I was being lazy and stumbled into a math activity. Let me explain. Like many people, we have loose change at various places in our house. Wherever we happen to empty our pockets or bags is where we will drop a handful of change. Rarely Occasionally, I go through the house and collect all that change in a bag. We then transfer that to piggy banks, and when they are full, we bring them to a change sorting machine or the bank.

I really didn't feel like putting all the change in the piggy banks myself so I asked the kids if they wanted to help by counting coins and placing them in banks. They did! Woo-hoo! We happen to have a number of piggy banks on hand since we are big Disney fans and I've bought a few Disney piggy banks in the past. This activity is pretty simple and only requires a few items. Read on to find out more.

Food Fun Friday - Peach Pie Crescents

Peach Pie Crescents, #crescents, #recipe

I love crescent rolls! Don't believe me? In the past I have made Apple Pie CrescentsCandy Crescents and Pizza Crescents. Today's tasty treat was inspired by the dollar store. Oh dollar store, is there anything you can't do? I came up with the idea for these Peach Pie Crescents as I was strolling the aisles of the dollar store and saw a can of peach pie filling. That got my wheels turning. I already had some crescent rolls at home (I always keep them on hand in case inspiration strikes) and thought Peach Pie Crescents sounded yummy. Read on and see if you agree.

10 MORE Ways to Stop a Tantrum - Tips from the Readers

10 More Ways to Stop a Tantrum, What are tantrums, #parenting

Back in May, I wrote a post called 10 Ways to Stop a Tantrum. In this post I talked about what are tantrums and how we can stop them. This post has been very popular and I believe one of the reasons for its popularity is that all parents can relate to it. We have all been in the position of trying to console a child who is having a tantrum. I offered some tips that have worked for our family and was thrilled that so many readers commented with their own tips that have been helpful for them. I know some readers don't always read all the comments in a post, so I wanted to summarize the great reader advice here. Thanks to all the wonderful readers who commented and shared! Read on for more great ideas...

Open Ended Playdough Games

Has your playdough play gotten stale? Liven it up with these playdough games which use simple props that you have lying around at home. If you don't have any of these items at home, they can all be purchased at the dollar store.

Playdough games, #playdough

You will need:

  • Playdough
  • Feathers
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Forks
  • Cups