Teddy Bear Picnic

Yesterday, we "checked" one more item off our Summer Checklist... "Have a Teddy Bear Picnic". All you need for a perfect afternoon with your little one is: a teddy bear, a blanket, and the perfect snacks!

Seriously... what is more fun than eating outside with your teddy bear?

For the main course {wink}, we had peanut butter sandwiches.

And for dessert, we made peanut butter teddy bear cookies.  They are easy, cute and super-fun!
To make these adorable cookies:

Cream together: 
  • 1 cup butter 
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
Then, beat in two eggs.

In a separate bowl, mix:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Mix wet and dry ingredients together. Then, let the kids roll a 1-inch ball (for the face) and two smaller balls (for the ears). Flatten slightly.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 10 - 11 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake. 

Have you ever had a Teddy Bear Picnic with your little ones?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

{Easy} Outdoor Play

It's summer, and the boys and I are all about taking advantage of the wonderful summer weatherHere are a couple of the easy and inexpensive outdoor actitivities we have been doing. 

DIY Target Practice {made from a Dollar Store Tarp}:

Earlier in the summer, I saw a fun target practice at Family Fun.  {You can see their version here.}  I knew my boys would love it, so I got out my twine, scissors, duct tape, pizza pans, and a dollar store tarp and went to work.  It took about 10 minutes to put together, and the boys love it.  Such a simple and fun idea.

Water Play:

My boys love playing with water in the summer.  {I considered buying a water table but decided against it because of limited storage space.}  So... on hot afternoons we get out our spray bottles, measuring cups, and plastic dishes and we make our own "water fun".  A bowl of soapy water and some sponges make a great "kid car wash" too.

The boys also like to get out their paint brushes and "paint with water".  Such a fun, refreshing, and "no mess" activity. 

I hope you are enjoying your summer.  What is your favorite "simple" outdoor play idea? 


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

ECM Kids' Craft Club {4 month membership}

The launch of the East Coast Mommy Kids' Craft Club {four months ago} was a huge success, and I am now ready to launch the next four months.  If you know someone who enjoys getting mail and likes to make crafts, now is the time to join!  {The deadline for signing up for this round is Wednesday, August 15.}

The price for a four month membership remains {unchanged} at $25 {including Canadian Shipping}

The themes for the next four months are:
August 20 mailing - Playing with Puppets
September 20 mailing - Fall Fun
October 20 mailing - Happy Halloween
November 20 mailing - Christmas is Coming

Need a little more info....

1)  As a member of the club, each month (for four months) your child will receive:
  •  mail addressed to him/her
  • a personalized letter with fun info/ideas
  • all the supplies he/she will need to make the "craft of the month"
  • a little surprise
Note:  The craft will always be simple (taking less than 30 minutes to complete), the craft will be designed for ages 3-8 (with assistance required in the younger age categories), a link to an online step by step tutorial will be provided, and the kit will contain everything you need to complete the project (with the exception of scissors, glue, tape and crayons).

2)  The cost for a four month membership is $25 (including Canadian shipping).  Payment (via Cash, Cheque made payable to Gina Bell or email money transfer) must be received before a kit is sent out.  Payments can be sent to EastCoastMommy@gmail.com.

3)  The kits will be sent out on the 20th of each month, and I will post a full tutorial on the blog at that time.
Along with payment, I will also need your child's name, age, and full mailing address.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Birthday Letter {to my five year old}

Today my "middle" son turns five.  It sounds so old... more like a little boy than a preschooler.  {big sigh}  I am amazed at how fast my boys are growing up, and so grateful for the opportunity to be part of their journey.

As you probably already know, I have a tradition of writing the boys a "Birthday Letter" each year on their birthdays.  It is my way of documenting and remembering the little details of my boys' personalities at different ages.  Here is a snapshot of my sweet "second born" son at five. 
To my sweet five year old boy,

Here are a few of the reasons why you are the most special five year old in the whole world...

  • You are very clever, and extremely funny.  {Daddy and I are always amazed and amused by the things that come out of your mouth.}
  • You are so excited about starting "Big School", and you were a superstar at your Preschool graduation.
  • When you grow up, you want to be a hockey player, a race car driver, and "parachuter".  {I think you might be trying to give me a heart attack!  lol}
  • You love playing with dogs, watching for birds, and picking up worms.  :-)
  • Your favorite shows are "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" and "Wild Kratts", and your favorite color is "red".
  • You are very kind and generous.  If you have a special treat, you always give me a bite without me even having to ask.  {You also give sweet and gentle hugs and kisses.}
  • You are fun, full of personality, and people are drawn to you.  {I can totally see why!}
  • You still love your special "blankie", suck your thumb, and twirl your hair when you are tired.
  • You love to sing and dance, and you put all your emotions into every word and step.
You are a very special little boy.  Happy Birthday my kind-hearted sweetie!



ECM Kid's Craft Club - #5 {Silly Fan and Glasses}

Welcome to the 5th edition of the {East Coast Mommy} Kid's Craft Club {an easy and inexpensive way for kids to have fun crafting and experience the excitement of getting their very own mail}.  If you want to join the club, you can find more info here, or email EastCoastMommy@gmail.com, and I will send you the details.

For everyone who is already a member... let's get started on this month's craft.  This month we are making a fan and silly glasses!

Ready with all your supplies?

Let's make the fan first.  All you have to do is color the "smiley face".  Then, have an adult help you make accordian folds until you have a fan.  Fun, right?

Now, let's make the glasses.

  1. Cut out the glasses.  {An adult will probably need to help cut out the centres.}
  2. Decorate the glasses with the fun "summer" stickers in your kit.  {Use as many as you like.}
  3. Use tape to secure the clear cellophane over the holes.  Trim as needed.
  4. Twist the pipe cleaner onto the glasses, try them on, and bend the ends around your ears.
That's it!  I hope you enjoyed these crafts, and I hope you are enjoying your summer!  {Don't forget to leave me a comment, or send me an email.  Your comments help me improve the club, and I love hearing from you.} 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Don't forget... Assist young children when using scissors, and be careful of the small parts included with this kit, as they can be a choking hazard for children under three".)

DIY Race Car Party

My two youngest boys just turned three and five, and they celebrated with a joint DIY Race Car party.  The boys had a great time, and the party was full of easy and fun DIY details.  I am so excited to share it all with you!

Here are some of my favourite race car party details:

The Pit Passes:

As the guests arrived, the birthday boys passed out personalized "pit crew" passes.  I used a photo of the boys and added the names using a free photo editing software (picmonkey.com).  I had the pictures printed (for $.15 each), punched a couple of holes in the top, and added some inexpensive ribbon.  Cute, right? 

The Decor:

To get the "race car" feel, I used a lot of black and white "checks"... with some red accents.  I accented a dollar store frame with "duck tape", and I used foam core {from the dollar store} accented with "duck tape" to make signage.

The Games:

To keep the guest entertained, we had a variety of activities:
  1. There were lots of race cars and a large mat I made from "duck tape" and a sheet of plastic {used to cover tablecloths}.
  2. There was a box "car" covered in brown paper for the kids to decorate with crayons and stickers.
  3. There was a tattoo station.
  4. There was a homemade bean bag toss... which was a box covered in race car wrapping paper and embellished with a dollar store decal of Lightening McQueen.  :-)
  5. There were plenty of car-shaped race car cookies for the guests to decorate.

The Food:

I created a table of "Grand Stand Snacks", and it was a definite highlight for the kids.  I made a backdrop using dollar store foam core and decals, some "duck tape", and letters printed on my computer.

I served fun snacks named after characters from the movie "Cars".  We had:
  • Luigi's Tires - chocolate cookies
  • Mater's Dipsticks - chocolate covered lady fingers
  • McQueen Sandwiches - sandwiches cut out with a car-shaped cookie cutter
  • Grand Stand Popcorn
  • Fillmore's Fuel - juice
  • Sally's Specialties - fruit tray and cheese and crackers
  • Finn's Finest - licorice
  • Doc's Pops - marshmallow pops {dipped in red chocolate with black and white sprinkles}
The Cake:

Isn't the cake one of the best parts of a kid's party?  I started with two 8" rounds.  Then, I made a track using chocolate icing tinted with black food coloring.  I filled in the "grass" with green icing, and added some yellow jelly beans for the lines in the road.  I finished with two race car dinkies and a small checkered flag taped to the top of a toothpick.

The Loot Bags:

Each guest received a bag full of goodies from the "Souvenir Stand" as they were leaving.  They were also given their very own "Driver's Licence" (which they all thought was pretty cool).

Do you have a race fan in your house?  I think this a great party theme for boys and girls.  Everyone left smiling and I was exhausted -- both signs that a fantastic time was had by all!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Toonie Parties (an alternative to a mountain of gifts)

Every year, my boys host "toonie" parties for their birthdays. Instead of bringing toys, each guest is asked to bring a card containing a "toonie" {a $2 coin}.  Then, when the party is over, the birthday boy uses his money to pick out one special toy.  

(Last time my two younger boys had a "joint" party, and they received this cute card from one of their friends.  Sweet, right?)

I love the idea of "toonie" parties, don't you?  The birthday boys don't spend a lot of time at their parties opening presents, parents of the guests aren't asked to buy an expensive gift, and my boys don't receive a ton of toys they don't need.  What do you think?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

Birthday Letter {to my three year old}

Today, my baby boy turns three. 

I believe birthdays are big milestones for children, and they always make me pause and think about how special these years are with my little boys.  In an attempt to remember the little details of my boys' personalities at different ages, I came up with the idea of writing each boy a "Birthday Letter" each year.  Here is a snapshot of my "baby" boy at three.  :-)
To my sweet three year old boy,

Here are a few of the reasons why you are the most special three year old in the whole world...
  • You always say, "Do you wonder ...?"  {e.g. I was reading a story and you had a blanket on your head.  You said, "Mommy, do you wonder where this voice is coming from?}
  • You are really funny.  {You are always making Daddy and I laugh.}
  • You are hungry all the time, and you eat like a bird when I give you a meal.  {I think you would live on crackers if I let you.}
  • You are a parrot... and repeat everything your "brudders" say. 
  • You love playing soccer, baseball, and hockey with Daddy and your "brudders".
  • Your favorite show is "The Wiggles", and your favorite color is "green".
  • You give great cuddles, and you love to play with my hair... especially when you are sleepy.
  • You are super proud that you now have a "real bed" and "big boy underwear".  {I am proud of you, but it reminds me that you are no longer a baby, and it makes me a little sad.}
  • You have a special blanket that you call "Big Blanket".  You like to take off your socks so you can feel how soft your blanket is... with your feet.  :-)
  •  You always give Mommy big hugs and gentle kisses, and I treasure every one.
Happy Birthday!  I love you "all the way to the moon" my little angel.



"Duck Tape" {Race Car} Party Decor

I am throwing a "Race Car" themed party for my two youngest boys on Saturday {and, of course, I will be sharing all the fun details here very soon}.  But I couldn't resist giving you a little "sneak peek" at a couple of the fun projects I am working on.  Check out this adorable frame:

All I did was cover a dollar store frame in this fun checkered "Duck Tape" that I found at Walmart.  Isn't it perfect for this picture of my race-car-loving birthday boys?

I also made this sign for the food table at the party.  I used the same tape to frame a piece of foam core from the dollar store.

I think these simple touches are really going to add to the fun, "race car" atmosphere of the party.  I can't wait to share them with my little boys and their friends.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

5 {Easy} Science Experiments for Kids

My six year old loves science, so I promised him that we could do a few {easy and fun} experiments during his summer vacation.  I have put together a small collection for you here. 

I am not a science whiz, so I promise you can easily do all five of these simple science experiments with your little ones.  :-)

1)  Exploding Sandwich Bag - Here is a great little experiment that I found at Come Together Kids{Her tutorial has a fun little video that shows the reaction taking place.  You should check it out.}  Want to give it a try? 
  • First, gather your supplies {baking soda, a square of toilet paper, vinegar, water, and a Ziploc sandwich bag}.  
  • Then, take 1 tbsp of baking soda and wrap it in a square of toilet paper.  
  • Next, pour 1/4 water and 1/2 white vinegar into the baggie.  Partially zip the baggie, but leave an opening for the baking soda packet.

  • Finally, head outside {because this part is messy}.  Drop the packet into the water/vinegar mixture, seal the baggie, put the baggie down, and wait for the "pop"!

Be prepared to do it again and again... it is pretty fun.

2)  Balloon Magic - We originally did this experiment last summer, and it is super-easy.  Basically, we used a baking soda and vinegar solution to blow up a balloon.  You can find the full tutorial here.

3)  Playing with Density - This is a fun "will it sink or will it float" experiment we found in a book we got at the library (Kitchen Science by Chris Maynard)

For this one, I put 1/4 colored water, 1/4 oil, and 1/4 corn syrup in three different glasses.  Then, my six year old tried to guess what would happen when he poured each of the liquids into the same glass.

As the liquids started to settle, we talked about how the more "dense" liquids sank and the less "dense" liquids rose.  The boys were all mesmerized by this one.  They even started adding different things to the mixture {like salt} to "see what would happen".

4)  Making Butter - Watching butter transform from a liquid, to fluffy cream, to a yellow blob of butter is a fun science lesson {and a yummy one too}.  You are essentially shaking the droplets of butterfat until they collapse and rejoin into one big blob.  You can find the full tutorial here.

5)  Film Canister Rockets - This is a fun one, but requires close supervision and safety goggles {or swimming goggles if you are the little boys who live in my house}.  lol

For this experiment, you will need an old film canister, some water, and some Alka-Seltzer tablets.  

Half fill the canister with water, add 1/4 of an Alka-Seltzer tablet, quickly replace the lid, and stand back.  It is really fun to watch the lid "popping off" because of all the pressure from the Carbon Dioxide gas.

Do you have a "little scientist" living at your house?  Which one of these experiments do you think he/she would like most?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

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For the Kids Friday

Mommy and Me Journal

I love the idea of encouraging my boys to practice their reading and writing in a "fun" way during the summer. I also like the idea of having a constant open line of comunication with them. So, I decided make Mommy and Me Journals for my boys.  It's a fantastic, easy and inexpensive idea!

The idea of the journal is that we use it to write notes back and forth to each other.  I write notes to my boys, and then I put the journals beside their beds... and they do the same.  They love our little "game", and their little notes make adorable bedtime reading for me.  :-)

This project is super-easy and inexpensive to make.  I bought cheap journals {$2.49 each}, and I used my computer to create a little labels that say, "Mommy and Me {our secret messages to each other}".  Then, I printed the labels onto photo paper and attached them with double sided tape.  Easy peasy!

How do you encourage your kids to read and write over the summer break from school? Don't you love the idea of a "Mommy and Me" journal?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Last Day of School {traditions}

Friday marked the last day of school for my six year old, and our summer is now offically underway!  :-)  Here's a peek at how it went down.

First, we went to get ice cream.  Here are pictures from this year and last year.  {Fun, right?}



Then, my six year old got to run through his "Grade One Finish Line" banner.  He really loved this!

I think traditions are an important part of childhood.  Do you have any "end of year" traditions with your little ones?


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

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