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Looking for something new to keep your little leprechauns busy this St. Patrick’s Day? With a little luck, you can put together a fun activity in just a few minutes. Play-Doh gets a bad rap at times, because we’ve all had moments where we find it crusted onto something it shouldn’t be. However, it’s fantastic for little hands and motor skill development. These easy-to-use Play-Doh mats are great for kids of all ages. You can even squeeze in a few teaching moments while they’re playing.

Free Printable St. Patrick's Day Play-Doh Mats

What you need to get started

Simply download our Rainbow and Shamrock Play-Doh mat PDFs, print them off, slip each into a gallon size plastic bag, and get rolling.

Free printables for St. Patrick's Day crafts

Using your Play-Doh mats

Remember ROY-G-BIV? For “My Lucky Leprechaun Rainbow,” roll out ropes of Play-Doh for each corresponding color of the rainbow. Use the mat as a guide to create your very own rainbow arch! This mat helps you work with little ones on colors, and rolling the pieces can be done by even very young children.

My Lucky Leprechaun Rainbow Play-Doh MatDon’t leave it to luck! For “What Shapes Make a Shamrock,” use the circle and rectangle patterns at the top of the mat to help shape the pieces you need to assemble your very own four-leaf clover. Kids can learn about shapes while making their shamrocks and maybe even craft a few gold coins for the pot o’ gold.

What Shapes Make a Shamrock Play-Doh Mat - free printable

Reuse these mats time and again for extra fun

You can use these handy, little Play-Doh mats over and over again. During clean up time, just wipe down the outside of the bag with a damp cloth, so you’ll be all set for your next creation. Toss these in your diaper or tote bag the next time you need to keep kids busy at a restaurant, or pull them out while waiting for an appointment. The Play-Doh should stay home, but if you stash a few dry erase markers in your bag they’ll work just fine on the plastic bag.

Grab your free downloads

My Lucky Leprechaun Rainbow
What Shapes Make a Shamrock

What’s the rule on mixing Play-Doh in your house? (Ours always turns brown over here.)

Joanna Murnan contributed this post. You can find more from Joanna on her blog, Makingmine.

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There’s no better way to say “I love you” than with a handmade gift and this DIY silhouette project is even sweeter with the memories you’ll make creating it with your little one.

With this step-by-step guide, creating a unique, personalized Valentine’s Day gift couldn’t be easier!
DIY Silhouette for Valentine's Day

What you need to get started

Supplies:
White background
Camera phone
Printer
Watercolors and paper
Glue
Frame

Creating the silhouette

Set up a white background — a wall, sheet or poster board work great — and take a photo of your child’s profile.

Load the photo onto your computer and use PicMonkey to edit your photo into a silhouette using these easy steps:

1. Under “Basic Edits,” crop your photo to the appropriate size
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2. Use the neutral picker to fix any discoloration and whiten the background

silhouetteneutralpicker

3. Set the saturation to 0

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4. Set the contrast to 100

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5. Under “Effects,” convert the photo to Super B&W

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6. Using the “Draw” feature, fill in any white space remaining on your child’s portrait

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Save your creation and print at home or at a local printer, such as FedEx. I recommend using a light card stock to prevent wrinkling. The final step for the silhouette piece is to simply cut around your little one’s sweet profile!

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Creating the background

Now it’s your kiddos’ turn to get in on the action by creating a one-of-a-kind background to make their silhouettes really pop!

Simply grab a piece of watercolor paper and paints, and let their creativity flow! There’s no right or wrong way to do this part — have fun!

DIY Valentine's Day Gifts for Grandparents

The finishing touch

Once your watercolor art is dry, cut it to the size of frame you plan to use (8×10 shown here) and glue the silhouette in the middle. Place it in your frame and enjoy!

DIY Silhouette for Valentine's Day Gifts

This heartfelt craft makes a great Valentine’s Day gift for grandparents, but as a sentimental mama myself, I suggest making one to keep as well. 

Who would you make this watercolor silhouette craft for?

This post was contributed by Joanna Murnan. You can find more from Joanna on her blog, Makingmine.

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If you are anything like me, then you take way too many pictures of your kids. I believe that you can’t possibly take enough because they change so fast. Even though we swear we are going to remember every special moment forever, I promise your memory will fail you once or twice as the years go by. While you probably don’t have your camera on you every second of the day, you most definitely have your phone… and I’ve found the perfect app to go with those pictures you take on the go!

Baby Pics is an app designed for new parents and parents-to-be to document all of the exciting milestones that they’ll never want to forget by adding the cutest artwork to your photos. While I am creative in some ways, I am not in others. (Thank goodness for friends who have Photoshop and put up with my incessant messaging and picture sending to make my photos just right!) The Baby Pics app is completely foolproof and has become my go-to for editing pictures of my kids. And, at less than $5, it’s such a steal!

How to Create Cute Baby Pics in an App

Getting started

Start by downloading the app via iTunes or Google Play.

From there, it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Take your photo with the in-app camera or import a photo you have already taken.
  2. Choose the artwork you want to add and/or add text to personalize.
  3. Save and share!
Let your creativity go wild

The artwork is divided into groups to make your selection easy:

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DATES: Months (1-24), days of the week, due in, birthdays, weeks (1-42), weeks of pregnancy by fruit (Love this!), weeks of pregnancy by junk food (Even better!)

FIRSTS: All the firsts you can imagine from pregnancy firsts to big kid firsts, including first holidays

ON THE DAILY: Cute descriptions of your little ones such as Chubby Cheeks, Bath Time, and Messy Hair Don’t Care… to name a few

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PREGNANCY: The cute sayings and pictures in this section will have you taking pics of your belly just so you can use them!

HUMOR: These are exactly what it says… humorous! Poop Explosion, Party At My Crib, and Daddy’s Drinking Partner are just the beginning of these goodies.

BIG KIDS: This section covers milestones such as moving into a big kid bed, potty training, and the first day of Kindergarten.

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DOODLES: Add a variety of cute art to your photos when there isn’t any other more specific category to fit.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and besties are all taken care of!

Not sure what you are looking for? Browse through all of the options in the “All Artwork” section to find something you love or to get inspired.

More to love

Not only can you save the photos, but you can also print them directly from the app. Choose from two styles — square prints or retro-style prints — and two sizes. You can also print stickers and magnets, which I definitely see in my future!

I have so much fun with Baby Pics and find myself using it on a daily basis. The best part is going back through my pictures and putting artwork on old photos!

Here are a few of my Baby Pics favorites:

Wanna have some fun? Take the Baby Pics Challenge! When you join, you will receive a daily prompt with a new theme for seven days. Create your best pic to match the theme, share it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and tag #BabyPicsChallenge #BabyPicsApp @babypicsapp

Have fun with this app! I certainly do!

What’s your favorite way to take pictures of your baby?
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I take way too many pictures on my phone. You probably have the same problem. Snap a few here. Snap a few there and then forget about them. Them there they sit on your phone for weeks (or more), until one day you scroll through and find a keeper. It’s then that you realize it’s pretty much the best photo you’ll ever get of your kids, and you want to print it. That in itself is a big endeavor, one that moms who are crazy busy like me can forget about as quickly as the original idea came. And getting said printed photo into a frame? Forget about it!

In comes Pictli, a new app that does all the work for you. It’s totally simple and absolutely foolproof, which is exactly what we all need.

Getting starting with Pictli

Start by downloading the app. It’s free and available for on iTunes or you can do it online via the Pictli website.

How to use the Pictli app

But let’s be realistic. You’re gonna do it on your phone, because your phone is basically attached to your arm already, right? From the app, click on the “Let’s Go” button to get started. Next, pick an image that you want to print. You can choose it from your phone’s camera roll, Facebook, or Instagram. Then you choose the size you want. Right now they just offer 7×5 vertically or horizontally, but really a larger picture might be too big.

After that you choose a frame. Right now they have 15 frames and most are very simple – think unfinished wood, different metals, and standard black and white. Like I said, simple, but it allows for your photo to really pop.

I ended up choosing a photo of my boys that was taken on Mother’s Day at Descanso Gardens in La Canada, CA. I had it on my phone for weeks, and was waiting (er, procrastinating) on when to get it printed. I knew I wanted it framed for the mantel, but again, when would I have time to do that (never)!

Pictli Picture Printing and Framing App

So much to love

Pictli made it easy for me to get the job done. I could even edit the photo inside the app to make sure the lighting and color was just right. You also have the option of cropping and changing the print style (black and white, sepia, etc.) but I decided to let the bright colors speak for themselves.

The end result was great and it cost me no more than $25, which when you think about it is pretty great for convenience and the quality of the pic and frame.

Pictli app for printing and framing picturesIt came in the cutest box, wrapped and ready to go. In fact the wrapping was so perfect, that I immediately ordered another for my mother. It makes the perfect gift for grandparents. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see those smiling faces every day!

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Brought to you by Hasbro

Want to start an instant party, anywhere, anytime? Check out Hasbro’s Pass & Party line which includes party games like Catch Phrase Decades, Taboo Buzz’d and Trivial Pursuit Hints. You and your friends will share and create laugh out loud moments in seconds!

Check out this video above to see how quick and easy it is to jump into a party game and turn up the laughter, no matter where you want to start the party! Head over to Hasbro Games to learn more about Hasbro’s Pass & Party games.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post

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Mornings with kids don’t have to be crazy

Even self-proclaimed morning people can struggle when adding little ones to the mix. Being in charge of someone other than yourself in the morning adds a new dimension to starting your day. Whether you’re juggling morning breastfeeding with pre-dawn workouts or getting kids out of the door for school, mornings can be stressful. Try these three mom must-haves to make your morning routines with kids go smoothly.

analog alarm clocks

Wake up without your phone

We’ve written before about keeping your bedroom a tech-free zone. If you want to wake up for some alone time before your little one wakes, try an old-fashioned alarm clock. We love the gentle nudging of the Big Ben Moon Beam Alarm Clock (WestClox, $46). You can set the clock to use increasing light to awake you at a set time. If you need something a little stronger, you can add sound to the alarm. Set it just out of arm’s reach, so you need to at least sit up to turn off the alarm.

Keurig 2.0

Add the Keurig 2.0 Brewer to your morning routine

The Keurig® 2.0 will change your morning coffee — or tea — routine (Keurig, starting at $150). The ability of the Keurig to brew an individual cup of coffee just improved. The 2.0 can different brew settings for different coffee types, ensuring your chosen beverage is made at optimum strength. In addition, the 2.0 can brew the K-Carafe™ Pack, which brews up to 30 ounces of coffee into the included carafe — and some mornings call for every one of those ounces!

alarm clocks for kids

Help kids learn when to get out of bed

The Onaroo Teach Me Time! alarm clock might be one of the most versatile tools in a mom’s morning routine (Amazon, $42). Long before little ones are able to tell time, the alarm clock operates by changing colors at specified times — set by mom or dad — to let kids know when it’s time to stay in bed or an ok time to come out to play. Setting the “ok” time at a reasonable time — after your child wakes, but not too long after! — can buy you a little extra time each morning. Later, the clock can be used to help teach time, and it functions as a typical alarm clock. School-aged kids can help in the morning by taking responsibility for the beginning of their morning routine.

Have a breakfast plan for morning routines with kids

Take a few minutes at the end of each day to think about breakfast for the next morning. Moms of babies generally only have a few options, but once solid foods are introduced, breakfast can be stressful. Hungry tummies are fairly demanding, and having one of our favorite quick and easy breakfast recipes on tap will help the kitchen feel inviting instead of intimidating.

How do you help your morning run smoothly?
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Another holiday, another craft. Amiright, moms? But these easy Easter crafts are going to make you rethink your love hate relationship with the glue gun. These six ideas are fast, and fun. Plus your kids are going to have blast. Check them out!

potatostamps

Potato Stamps

Chances are you already have everything you need for this easy craft. Parents, you wash and cut the potatoes. Kids, you dip the potatoes into the paint and go crazy on some construction paper. The design ideas are endless. Grandma’s gonna love this one hanging on her refrigerator.

Photo and craft courtesy of SassyDealz.com

partycarrots

Carrot Place Settings

Look, you’re gonna need help dressing up the table for Easter. Might as well put the kids to work. Grab some orange napkins, green pipe cleaners, and green plastic silverware. Wrap it all together to look like a carrot. Easy, peasy.

Photo and craft courtesy of Spoonful.com.

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Minion Easter Eggs

Can we just say that 2013 was officially the year of the minion? These Despicable Me 2 Easter Eggs are a cinch to make and are a great way to keep small hands busy.

Photo and craft courtesy of AThriftyMom.com.

peeps

A Little Something for Your Peeps

Wondering what to do with all those peeps laying around your house? Give them away! This craft makes for colorful giveaways either for your child’s classmates or your guests.

Photo and craft courtesy of DetailOrientedDiva.com.

easterhandprintcrafts

Bunny Prints

Small hands make for cute art. Try your luck at these smile-worthy bunny prints. White and pink paint is really all you need. You can do it on construction paper, or if you really want to get fancy you can make it into an ornament with felt.

Photo and craft courtesy of FunHandprintArt.com.

bunnytoiletpapercraft

Rabbit Rolls

Upcycle those toilet paper rolls and use them to make this cute bunny craft. Construction paper, google eyes, and a sense of humor required.
Photo and craft courtesy of Easy-Crafts-for-Kids.com

Moms, what are your favorite springtime crafts?
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Tracking PixelThis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tooth Tunes.

Tooth Tunes makes brushing fun

Getting kids to brush their teeth before school or at the end of the day doesn’t have to be a chore — for parents or for kids. Tooth Tunes gives kids a fun way to practice good brushing habits by using popular, catchy songs in the brushes. The easy-to-grasp handles and buttons that even the smallest fingers can turn on themselves make Tooth Tunes a great choice for kid-friendly brushing.

Tooth Tunes
Encourage correct brushing

My kids have never needed reminders about brushing their teeth. From a very young age they’ve loved toothbrushes and toothpaste — even after they graduated from the sweet, baby paste to mint flavors. For a long time, though, I needed to do a quick once-over with their brushes when they were finished. Both of them had a tendency to brush for a short amount of time, normally in the front and bottom, and then spend a lot of their brushing time spitting and rinsing.

Tooth Tunes

Tooth Tunes help kids brush the full amount of time recommended by dentists — two minutes per brushing session. The songs play for two minutes, so all the kids have to do is flip the switch immediately before brushing and continue until the music stops. The first few times, they were surprised at how long two minutes seemed, but they’ve gotten used to it.

Start good brushing habits early

Tooth Tunes Junior is for kids ages 3 and up. Kids can brush to the ABCs or to “The Brushing Song,” and it’s a fantastic way to let kids feel more in control of their own hygiene. If you have a younger child who feels a little left out while older brothers and sisters are taking care of their own bedtime routines, Tooth Tunes Junior will help.

Tooth Tunes

serious Tooth Tunes Junior brushing

Turn your bathroom into a dance party

Tooth Tunes help wake up your kids in the morning, and the fun music turns bedtime into a mini dance party. As long as they’re brushing, I don’t mind if the kids press the button an additional time or two. I sometimes have to remind them that the brush isn’t a microphone, but I’ve noticed their actual brushing involves more teeth. They really do pay attention to the two-minute brushing period!
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Tooth Tunes Instagram Sweepstakes!

Tooth Tunes and Radio Disney Music Awards are hosting an Instagram Sweepstakes to WIN a trip for four to the Radio Disney Music Awards!

  • SMILE! Photos should show off your best “Tooth Tunes smile.”
  • You must use the hashtag #RDMAToothTunes to be eligible to win.
  • In order for your Entry to be valid, your Instagram Account must be public and viewable.
  • One winner will be randomly selected on March 31, and will receive a three-day, two night trip to the Radio Disney Music Awards for four people.  (A prize worth $4,000!)
Amy Tooth Tunes

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tooth Tunes.

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Stewie-Mom-Momma

Dear Sassy:

I am having a problem communicating with my spouse and sharing responsibilities. We have two children and have very busy careers. When we talk to one another I think we are listening but we are not.  We are so distracted by so many other things that we are not truly listening at all. I feel like we have started to just tune each other out, kinda like you tune the kids out after the 10th “MOM.”  I don’t want to tune my husband out and I don’t want him to tune me out. How can we really stop and listen to one another?

Dear Tuned Out:

Well, you picked the right person to ask for marital advice, because I’ve been married for a 100 years.To the same guy, even.

Okay, not really, but sometimes it feels like that, especially when he starts farting in his sleep while I am drinking my tea in bed next to him, reading my Nora Roberts novel and waiting for my hair to dry in curlers.

Fine. I’m exaggerating about that, too. At least about the curlers part. Nobody does that.

My point is, I totally get what you’re feeling, and I am willing to bet a new pair of Uggs that there are a few married people reading this who get it, too. When you’re together for a long time, sharing your lives, your cutlery, and childrearing duties, you can start to take each other for granted. Kids tend to be louder and all up in your business, while you expect a little more decency from your grown-up spouse, or at least for him not to be tugging on your shirt while repeating “Wife, wife, wifey, wife, WIFE…” until you finally scream “WHAT?!” in his face.

I often hear women complain that they’re always the ones making the effort in the relationship.

Since your husband has the burden of maturity, you have the burden of actually paying attention to him. He can’t afford to be the squeaky wheel, but he does have the right to fall back on the vows you took when you got married, that you’d listen to each other even when the kids are driving you crazy and taking all the energy that you don’t use for your career. (That was in your vows, right?)

The only person you can change in this situation is yourself.

Recommit your effort to pay attention to your husband. As impossible as it may seem, set aside time for him, even the tiniest bits. Bring him a cup of coffee in the morning, look into his eyes, and say “I love you.” After years of familiarity and a laundry list of things to do, that may seem silly, but try it.

Check in with him — really paying attention — every day. Set a daily alarm on your phone or your online calendar. When it goes off, wherever you are, drop everything and call him, or go sit down to have a little chat with him. (Agree in advance on a daily time that works for both of you.) Even if you just talk for a few minutes, make it obvious that you are interested in what he’s saying.

I often hear women complain that they’re always the ones making the effort in the relationship. Yes, that might be true. But you gotta suck it up, honey, and lead by example. We think about these things more than the men do, so it really is up to us.

So take a deep breath, and do what you need to do to muster up the energy to make yourself available for a chat, an extra long hug, or a rejuvenating roll in the hay after the kids go to sleep.

Hint: this might include taking better care of yourself. I KNOW — yet another thing to add to your already busy day. A little nap so you won’t be so sleepy, a shower to refresh you, or some exercise to keep your energy level up — these things are necessary for your own personal well-being. Without it, how can you have any energy left over to give?

You may feel frustrated or resentful at first, but trust me. Your efforts and actions will have an impact on your husband. He’ll feel important, and maybe without even realizing he’s doing it, he’ll start to do the same things for you.

Don’t keep living life tuned out of your marriage. Your worry is a code red alarm that you and your spouse are becoming disconnected, washed to separate shores by the stormy waves of a busy life. As exhausting as it seems to add one more thing to your to-do list (“Reconnect With Husband”) don’t lose sight of your priorities. He is your husband and the father of your kids. He’s got to be up at the top! Treat him with the same respect and love that you want him to show to you.

Before long, instead of tuning each other out, you’ll both be singing the same song. Together. And that’s how it should be.

Send in your problem for Sassy to solve, whether it’s a parenting question, relationship dilemma, or a snafu with social etiquette and it may get answered in a future column. Sassy is here to help! Submit your question for Ask Sassy here! (Or just email me, darling. We can keep it between us. AskSassy@savvysassymoms.com) You can also follow me on Twitter where I share pro tips on life every week.

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Most of the country has been in the grasp of a wicked cold snap. And while this means bundling up and sipping hot cocoa for most people, it means being stuck inside with a bunch of rambunctious kids for us moms. We looked to our friends at Pinterest for a handful of fun indoor activities for kids of all ages. Go ahead and try a few. Looking at the forecast ahead though, you might need to try them all.

foambath

Fun with Foam

Photo courtesy of FilthyWizardry.com

I’m a big fan of this activity because it’s totally self-contained and makes no mess at all. Let little ones stand inside of a dry bathtub. Give them a cup of warm water and paintbrush. Use the water to adhere foam shapes, numbers and letters. Supervision is needed, as are non-skid socks. But I’m guessing any mom will revel in the free time to catch up on magazines while keeping watch on busy kids.

spiderwebcourse

Spider Web Obstacle Course

Photo Courtesy of Confessions of a Wisconsin Housewife

This one looks so fun that I might have to try it myself. Use colored yarn to create a spider-web like obstacle course in your hallway. Kids can practice their balance and dexterity as they maneuver, McGyver style, through their maze. Keep it up until the next day as see how your husband fares on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Just kidding!

maskingtape

Masking Tape Fun

Photo courtesy of WhattoExpect.com

Who knew that your kids could have so much fun with a roll of tape? Use it to create a hopscotch course, a circle for marbles, tic tac toe, or a maze for cars. Caution – only use this if you have carpeted floors. If you have wood floors, try blue painters tape instead. It will not leave a sticky residue on your pretty floors.

butcherpaperartwork

Butcher Paper Art Work

Image courtesy of OhBoyOhBoyOhBoyCrafts.com

Whether they draw a race track or doodle their hearts out, this one will have them busy for hours. Give them a variety of markers, colored pencils, crayons, stickers and more. If you don’t have butcher paper, you can also cut up brown paper grocery bags and tape them together. Now that’s a great way to up-cycle.

nerfgunbattle

Nerf Gun Shooting Range

Photo courtesy of BusyKidsHappyMom.org

Red plastic cups? Check. Action figures? Check. Great targets for shooting practice? Absolutely! Stack the cups as high as they’ll go, strategically placing action figures in between as make shift guards. Then, shoot away. And if you don’t have a Nerf Gun, just use rolled up sock balls! Dad might want to get in on the action with this one.

balloonpingpong

 

Balloon Ping Pong

Photo courtesy of the WeekendHomemaker.com

This is a two-fold activity – one part construction, one part playing the actual game.  Us paper plates and Popsicle sticks to make the paddles. Decorate the plates for added craftiness. Then blow up a few balloons and get ping pong-ing. Best four out of five wins. The kids will love the (hopefully) friendly competition and you’ll love keeping them busy.

Moms, what are your favorite rainy day/winter indoor activities?

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