DIY Magnetic Travel Puzzle


As you’ve probably already noticed, I love making travel games and toys for the kids. Between my felt funny faces, lap tray, and travel Lego tray (which always gets compliments while on airplanes), I really enjoy coming up with new ways to keep the kids occupied during long trips.

For our most recent trip, I wanted to figure out a way to make a travel puzzle. I knew they needed to be magnetic, but couldn’t figure out an easy way to make it happen. I happened to be wandering around Lakeshore, and saw magnetic dots–I knew those would be perfect. I found a puzzle on clearance at Target for $4.99 (it was a 48 piece and just barely fit on the magnetic cookie sheet I purchased at the dollar store so I would make sure to measure before you choose your puzzle), and got to work.

I put one magnetic dot on the back of each puzzle piece, and that was it. Like seriously folks, this could not have been any easier. I kept all the pieces in a zipper bag, and the kids were able to use the magnetic cookie sheet to keep the pieces secure and put together. This travel game was definitely a hit, and cheap and simple to boot!

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DIY Valentine’s Day Glitter Crayons

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Hi, my name is Sara, and I’m addicted to crayons.

Two years ago, my mother gifted me a 64-pack of Crayola crayons in my stocking. I still hoard them in my dresser, don’t allow my children to touch them, and open them to smell their crayon-y goodness after a long day. Few things in this world are as pure and delightful as a box of brand new pointy crayons. Who wants to give me an “amen sister”?

Okay, so now that we’ve established that I have an unnatural love for school supplies, I’m going to show you how to make your own homemade heart shaped crayons. Because it’s Valentine’s Day. Who doesn’t want heart shaped crayons for Valentine’s Day?? And, they’re super duper easy.

You only need two things. A heart shaped silicone mold and crayons. The heart shaped mold was at Michael’s for $9.99, but I found a 50% off coupon, so it was only $4.99. The crayon bag is filled with all the broken/partially melted/restaurant freebie/Dollar Store crayons I hold onto for this very reason.

First thing you want to do is heat your oven to 325 degrees. Then, sort out your crayons. For this project, I used all shades of red, pink, purple, and white.

Next, you have to get those pesky little papers off. Either you can be smart and use a knife to slice the papers off, or you can be like me. It’s possible I have purple crayon permanently lodged under my fingernail. It was a labor of love. How fitting.

Once all the pesky papers are off, snap your crayons into pieces and place inside the molds randomly.

Now comes the glitter. Glitter, glitter everywhere, on my floor and in my hair. True Story. Sprinkle your desired color (or colors) onto the broken crayon pieces. Tater chose the glitter, and she chose pink, purple, silver, white, and red.

Now, it’s time to melt these babies! Stick them into the 325 degree oven (put the mold on a cookie sheet so it doesn’t bend on the rack and give you uneven crayons), and allow to melt, about 15 minutes.

After about 15 minutes, they’ll look like this…hot liquid.

Pull the cookie sheet with the mold on top out of the oven and let sit, undisturbed, until completely cool. This is crucial! Completely cooled I tell you…you can’t rush love.

Or else you’ll end up with a broken heart

So please, for the love of the crayons, don’t release them from their heart shaped home until they’re completely cooled. It should take about an hour.

Slip them out of the molds once cooled, and feel the love.

These are going to make a great Valentine’s treat for Tater’s friends. If she weren’t homeschooled, I would totally make them for her class instead of giving candy. I’d tape them to pink card stock and write something witty like:

“I’m drawn to be your Valentine”
“I’m Cray-zy for you”
“You’re Crayontastic”

So, that’s it. That’s how you make crayons…Cray-zy easy, right? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Think of the possibilities for other holidays (I have a Christmas tree mold for Christmas, and a Star mold for 4th of July), and inexpensive party favors…you may become a crayon addict too. Not that that’s a bad thing, though…

Dear Lady Who Told My Deaf Son to Be Quiet

I’m sorry he’s loud. I know. We’re working on it. He may not have heard your words of venom, but the glare on your face said it all. Even though you didn’t know his story, you rushed to judge. Let me tell you Junior’s story.

After my son was born I had sadly resigned him to a life of silence. I heard the word “deaf” and my world was crushed. Hope was lost. My precious baby boy was a birth defect statistic. The world I had envisioned for him was gone, and he would forever be labeled with a disability.

Months and months of doctor’s appointments confirming his diagnosis, and buckets of my tears later, he received the most incredible gift any person could ever receive–the gift of sound. Our baby endured a long surgery to have electrodes and magnets placed in his little body, he endured pain and pain medicine and antibiotics. He endured doctors poking and prodding, and appointments and being woken up from naps and being taken away from Curious George. He endured hours in the car and way too many meals of apple slices and chicken nuggets because his momma was just too tired. He’s endured feeling “different” and having people stare. He always offers strangers a smile, but people are rarely kind enough to smile back because they’re too busy staring.

But now, because of the gift he was given, he can finally hear his own voice. He’s only loud because he can hear. His world is no longer silent. We’re working on the volume, we really, really are. And that adds another therapy into his already overscheduled little life. We try to avoid stores and restaurants, but today, while I stood in line to get my children a cookie as a special treat, you felt inconvenienced and saw it your place to reprimand me.

And yet, you didn’t care to ask his story. You just told me to make him quiet. I was hurt and stunned, but what I really should have done was tell you what a blessing it was that you were able to hear his voice. That your ears work, that you were already born with the gift of sound. Because while he can be loud, that little voice is a miracle and I will never take it for granted.

Read Junior’s Story

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Leftover Chili Tortilla Pie

I made Chili this week, and wanted something different than my other ideas for leftover chili, so I came up with this Leftover Chili Tortilla Pie. It was SO easy, and so good. Both kids loved it, and so did I. (My husband likes everything.)

Okay folks, this is seriously simple. I’m a little embarrassed at how easy it comes together, but that’s what makes it beautiful. (And the Frito topping. That makes it beautiful too.)

Leftover Chili Tortilla Pie
Serves 4-6

-4.5 C leftover chili
-4 flour tortillas
-1.5 C shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
-1 C crushed Fritos (I buy the organic Trader Joes variety because they’re less greasy)
-Lime wedges, Avocado slices, and Sour Cream for serving

1. Start by putting 1/2 C leftover chili on the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan (I had to use a 9×9 since my 8×8 was dirty and handwashing is my nemesis.)

2. Add 2 tortillas (I like the double layer so it doesn’t get soggy).

3. Add 2 C of chili on top of the tortillas, and top with 1/2 C shredded cheese.

4. Layer again. 2 tortillas, 2 C chili, 1/2 C shredded cheese.

5. Finish by sprinkling 1 C crushed Fritos on the top.

6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes, cut, and serve with lime wedges, avocado slices, and sour cream.

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An Update on Junior…Summer 2014

We’ve been continuing twice a week speech therapy with auditory verbal therapy with Junior this summer, but have taken a break from occupational therapy until the Fall, and may begin physical therapy when we resume as well. The few OT sessions we’ve had have already helped his balance and his sensory issues, and his speech is really improving!

He’s 25 months, but has been implanted for 16 months, so his speech capabilities are expected to be around that of a typically developing 16 month old. At his last assessment, he understands over a hundred words and phrases, and can say 50 words, including a couple of sentences! “Daddy” is still his favorite word, and “Hi Daddy” is his sentence of choice. Occasionally he’ll mix it up and say “Hi doggy” or “Hi Gramma” when he sees a familiar face, but Daddy is his best buddy.

Some new words he’s started saying recently:
-Apple…this one is super obvious. A stranger could hear it and know he’s saying apple!
-Stuck…“uh oh. Stuck.” is the phrase he uses when he can’t reach a toy or when he can’t get my hidden chocolate stash out of it’s hiding place =)
-Owie…every time someone or something gets hurt, he runs up and gives it a kiss while saying “owie”. I love seeing his caring personality emerging.
-Stink…this comes out sounding like “ning”, but he’s beginning to tell us when he needs a diaper change. I’m thinking potty training may be in the near future!
-Drawing…Junior loves to draw (occasionally on my walls), and proudly announces that he’s daww-eeee” (drawing).

The next step in Junior’s progress will be continuing to strengthen his vocabulary. There are two types of vocabulary we’re aiming to increase…receptive and expressive. Receptive vocabulary are the words and phrases he understands, and it comes along quicker than expressive language which are the words and phrases he can actually associate with something and say out loud. We’re hoping his expressive language hits a major growth spurt soon, and that he starts stringing lots of words together to make sentences.

Besides his therapies, Junior has been enjoying a lot of time in the water this summer. We opted for a waterproof cochlear implant so he can hear while he’s swimming, and he’s definitely a water baby. He never wants to leave the pool, and yells “bahhhhh” when we’re driving by the beach.

Stinker adores her little brother, and is very protective of him. They like to snuggle up on the couch and watch Frozen together. It’s so heartwarming, and I’m so grateful to be at the point where I wouldn’t change anything about Junior’s challenges, since he’s so perfect just the way God made him.

Have you read Junior’s story?

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