Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DIY Children's Book Bin

In June, The American Academy of Pediatrics released an article about reading to your children in infancy. Until recently, the Reach Out and Read program was focused on early literacy and school readiness, preparing school-age children to read.  While that remains important, the focus now is on helping parents nurture reading skills at home starting in infancy.  Right as they are born! This not only encourages a love of reading and incorporates reading into their daily routine, but also strengthen emotional relationships -- a lesser thought of advantage when it comes to reading to your children.  Of course, reading to your children also strengthens brain development, language skills, and cognitive development. So no matter which way you slice it, reading is good. Start early and read often.

Krissy at B-Inspired Mama used our PSA Essentials stamps in a fun project for her children's rooms to encourage reading. She got a magazine rack at Michael's, painted it the color she wanted, and then stamped "READ" using PSA Essentials Vanilla Peel & Stick stamps.  You can customize this project any way you choose. Have your children decorate the book bin, use markers, use paint, use stickers. Stamp their name on the bin!

What are your favorite children's books?  Here are our current favorites in The O'Regan household. 
  • Emily's Balloon.  If your children love balloons, this one is for you! 
  • The Girl and The Bicycle.  Though we aren't usually fans of all pictures (and no words), this one is by far the best picture book out there. 
  • Library Lion -- perhaps the best book ever written for children. I am just going to through that out there. 
  • The Day The Crayons Quit.  Since I am obsessed with the uber talented, Oliver Jeffers (I love all of his books and illustrations!) and this one is incredibly clever, be sure to check out The Day The Crayons Quit.  There's a reason it's #1 on the Times best seller list! 

If you have a moment, hop on over to another blog that I write for The Storybook Shoppe in Bluffton, South Carolina.  I provide weekly recommendations to our readers. You can even shop the titles right there online and have them shipped to your door! Happy reading and crafting. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Mermaid Birthday Party

This weekend we celebrated my daughter, Molly's, 5th birthday party! It was a beautiful day on Hilton Head Island, perfect for our mermaid pool party theme at my parents beach house. (Who I cannot thank enough for allowing 16 kids and 20+ adults to enjoy!)  They are beyond generous to host a party, my Mom especially who thinks about all the food and logistics, while I get to enjoy focusing on all the pretty party details!

There are plenty of fun party details to share.  Of course, I had a PSA Essentials stamp made to match the theme of the party.  Lesley (one of our talented graphic designers) created an adorable mermaid that turned out great as a stamp. (We do custom artwork! Just ask our customer service team or your local retailer.)  I made party hats, cupcake toppers, a DIY photo booth, juice bottle labels & CD party favors with my stamp.  I also scored a cute invitation from Swanky Press and lots of decor from Shop Sweet Lulu.

Swanky Press allows you to customize your invitation.  I saw two that I like so I asked to make a hybrid of these both. I used my Wallace personalized address stamp to stamp the return address on all the invites.

mermaid party invitation in aqua with pink accent
Under the sea birthday party invitation

Here's a look at all the fun details and adorable kid photos!

Using banner paper found at Michael's, I created a "photo booth backdrop" using my PSA Essentials stamps and some paint.  I found these really cute DIY photo props from Paper Source. Shop these photo booth prop kits (how cute is that Christmas one?) 

I made CD's with our favorite kids music and also some adult classics.  The sticker "Thank you for coming to Molly's Birthday Party" is from Swanky Press and coordinated with the invitation. The cupcake stamps are from PSA Whimsy Cake Peel & Stick pack. 

I always make canvases with a collection of my favorite photos from the year for my kids. This one turned out more like an "S" than a "5" but I am over it... still fun!

(Connor is still working on his photo smile.....HA!) Cupcakes came from Ronnie's Bakery, Cakes by Lou -- as always! 

Found these flamingo straws at Oriental Trading Company! They seemed perfect for my DIY juice bottles (from Shop Sweet Lulu.) 

A trip to the beach was just what all the kiddos needed! They ran! 

Little fish in the pool!

Happy Birthday to my (almost) 5 year old daughter! Her actual birthday is the 30th and we will be in at "the happiest place on Earth" for a family vacation.  One lucky kid wouldn't you say? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Story Stones

In honor of back to school week here in the Lowcountry, I am sharing great projects to do with your kids by our design team member, Krissy at B-Inspired Mama.  Have you seen her blog? I absolutely adore seeing her three adorable children grow up and all the exciting, educational projects she does with them.  She's a former art teacher who comes up with clever and creative projects to do on a regular basis.  She recently wrote a great post about simple ways to connect with your children after school.  I think the most important one is number 14, just BE there.  It's something that I am working on as a mother -- to be fully present in the moment with my children (no email checking, no folding laundry, no cleaning up. Just sitting down and enjoying them. It sounds easier than it actually is but is such a great goal.)  

Today I am sharing a project that Krissy created for us: DIY Story Stones.  Story Stones are a great way to get your children's imagination to run wild.  Depending on their age, ask your child to pick up two, three, four or more story stones from the basket.  Arrange them on the table and ask them to tell a story based on the pictures they see. Take turns around the table, each story will be completely unique.

Krissy first painted dozens of rocks she found in her back yard in yellow, blue, and red.  When they were dry, she used a variety of stamps by PSA Essentials and stamped onto the rocks.  She  used a crab and sailboat stamp from from Anchor's Aweigh Peel & Stick pack, a cupcake from Whimsy Cakes Peel & Stick pack, a bee from Country Home Peel & Stick pack, and many more!

I just love this idea! A fun project that you can even get the kids help on. Have them paint the rocks and help you stamp. It may just even make story telling that much more special.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cute Back to School Photo Idea

Today marked the official "back to school" day for May River Montessori here in Bluffton, South Carolina, though it's a strange schedule until September 2nd.  Because of orientation for new students, we have school this week, but not next and they are half days for Molly and only 1 hour and 1 1/2 hours for Connor.  They both loved their first day, Connor was particularly thrilled with his new bag with his name on it.

I took more than enough "first day" photos of them this morning. I found these chalkboard/burlap stakes that were already made up and I wrote their class/year for easy reference years from now. The stakes were $5.99 each at Michael's and well worth my time not to have to do any DIY.  Photos turned out cute! Here they are:

We're practicing our smile. Clearly... 

Snapped this from the car.... right before meltdown (which I am told only lasted seconds.) 

Happy first day of school! Be sure to share your photos with us on our Facebook page. We'd love to see the creative ways you are taking back to school and first day photos of your kids.