Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Scissor Skills for Preschoolers

Andrew recently finished a week of Nature Camp at the Irvine Nature Centre. This is where he attends preschool throughout the school year and I love that he is able to go and meet up with his friends and teachers and stay familiar with his school routine for a week or two throughout the summer. When I was picking Andrew up from his first day of camp I noticed all of the other little campers proudly showing their parents a snake craft that they had made from a paper plate. Andrew's wasn't in his cubby and when I asked about it he pulled it out of his back pack, only partially complete. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not happy about the project. Once we were home, I asked about the snake and he told me he didn't finish it because he "is no good at cutting". To make matters worse he said that the other kids brought their snakes out on the hike that morning but he left his in his backpack because "it kept reminding him that he can't cut". My heart was broken, and to add to the mommy guilt was the fact that his teachers even told me that some extra practice with scissors would be a good idea for Andrew over the summer. I think we had only sat down to work on cutting once, maybe twice.

Here is the photo I sent to Rob to tell him the story.

Looking at his cutting you can see that he is meticulous about staying on the line his teacher drew. I have taught many children with this approach to perfection, and it completely paralyzes their ability to complete a learning task. They're the ones that rub a hole clear through the page in an attempt to print their name the "right way". I really don't want Andrew to feel this kind of pressure when he enters school.

Anyway, once the Mommy guilt subsided I decided to take a more productive approach to the situation and prepare a few activities that would help Andrew with his scissor skills without the pressure of "staying on the line".... especially not a spiralled one! I read some great articles, pinned some fun activities and we have been spending lots of time cutting paper, and grass and leaves and just about anything we can find in the backyard. Andrew loves my collection of scrap booking scissors and really enjoys punching holes in leaves while we read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".  I'm happy that he is working on his hand strength and I've kept the snake to try again before the summer is out.

Here is a collection of my favourite activity ideas. The links to each website is listed underneath, they are all chalked full of amazing learning ideas!

scissor skills for preschoolers

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Weekend in NYC!!!

This weekend found the Leepers on an impromptu trip to New York City! We realized midweek that Rob had an entire weekend off and we had no prior commitments... a rare thing around here! Our amazing friends have just moved to NYC and we had been hoping to find some time this summer to visit, so away we went!

The boys were amazed with our hotel. Andrew couldn't believe the "beautiful stuff" outside (NY construction) and was amazed at how high up we were (6th floor)... doesn't take much to impress this guy!

We spent all day Saturday travelling around Manhattan, and were impressed with how much we were able to fit in! Brunch with Friends in Tribeca, the World Trade Centre Memorial, a trip around Staten Island, a tour of Central Park, the beautiful view from "Top of the Rock" and a quick trip to the Lego Store. I have so much respect for moms who schlep their kids around this city everyday!

On Sunday we took things much slower and spent the day exploring Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Drummer's Grove was incredible, the kids had so much fun showing off their moves. The parks new splash pad and roller skating rink is also pretty impressive!

It was an incredible weekend. I was thrilled to spend time with a great friend that I have been missing here in Baltimore and loved watching how excited our kids were to be reunited. Getting to spend some "pager free" time with this guy was pretty awesome too!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

a great summer treat {prego cocktail}...

Summer in Baltimore is thick... hot and super humid. This fun summer drink is very refreshing and doesn't leave me drooling over Rob's nice cold beer! The ingredients are simple. I found mine at Trader Joe's, but I am sure most grocery stores carry them.


Since this is a carbonated beverage, you'll want to just mix it up in the glass. I added one part 100% Cherry Juice and 2 parts Sparkling Lemonade to a glass with a few fun ice cubes (frozen with fresh mint and lemon). 

I also added a couple of pitted cherries to some cute straws that I had leftover from a recent birthday party... completely unnecessary for a Wednesday afternoon in the backyard with a 4 year old.

Andrew was excited that I let him try a "fancy drink" but after a few sips he decided that this drink was "more for mommies"... a little tart and super fizzy!

Linkin' Up...

On Neutral Ground

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

a new look!!

If you've been stopping by here for awhile, you may have noticed that "..and away we go!!" has a pretty new outfit on! After almost two years with my original blog template I decided it was time for a change. I've been in a bit of a "blogging rut" lately and much like a shiny new pair of running shoes, the new style has inspired me to get moving!

In addition to a new overall appearance, I have added a few new features and made some updates. The Project Gallery, located at the top of the page, has been reorganized, A "Latest Pins" feature has been added to the side bar, so you can see what I've been perusing on Pinterest, and  a search option has  been added if you are looking for a particular post. As before, my social media links and a "follow by email option, are located at the top of the sidebar... I'd love for you to follow along!

Thanks to Ello Themes for the beautiful and easy to instal template!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sew Your Own Tote Bag...

A nice sturdy tote bag is a must have for the summer season. They are useful in just about any size and are perfect for gathering the necessities for any outing. In the summer months I often use a tote instead of my everyday purse because there just seems to be more to bring along! This year I made this simple tote for each of Andrew's preschool teachers as a thank you for all of their hard work over the year. They appreciated that the gifts were handmade and Andrew (and I) were proud to give them each a gift that was made just for them!

The tote bags took me about an hour each  to make, but I think I could sew them more efficiently now that I've got the pattern fingered out. I created the pattern by researching a few online and combining a few different ideas to come up with the look that I had in mind. I have included a detailed tutorial at the end of this post if you are interested in making one yourself!

Rather than wrapping the bags up for each teacher, I simply folded the tote and bound it with some pretty ribbon. We also attached a simple card that Andrew added a little message to. 

Simple Tote Bag Tutorial

1. Using approximately 1/2 a yard of two coordinating pieces of fabric, cut out the following sections. 

2. Assemble the "exterior" of the tote by placing one the "fabric A" (6"x14") pieces on top of the "fabric B" (24"x14") piece with right sides together. Sew along the 14" edge. Repeat this step with the second "fabric A" (6"14") piece so that the finished product looks like the diagram above.

3. To make the tote straps, fold and iron the fabric strip in half lengthwise (wrong side together). Open the strip back up and fold each raw edge into the crease created by the iron. Iron again and then fold in half. Sew along the perimeter of the entire strip. Do not worry that the ends are raw, as they will be tucked into the bag, between the interior and exterior sections. 
*for photos of this folding process see this tutorial*

4. Once the "exterior" and each strap have been assembled, place the "exterior" on top of the "interior" with right sides together. Pin along the edge. Then, tuck and pin the straps so that they are in between the two sections of fabric. The ends of the straps should stick out at least one inch. Be sure that the straps are not twisted on themselves and that they are placed in the same location on each end of the tote. Sew along the entire perimeter of the pinned sections, leaving an opening of about 3", along one of the long edges, so that you can turn the entire bag right side out.

5. Turn the tote right side out and iron flat.

6. You should now have a long, double sided strip of fabric with handles on each end. Fold the entire strip in half so that the "interior" is on the outside. Pin and sew along the long sides.

7. To create a boxed bottom for your tote bag, follow these instructions. 

8. Turn your new tote bag right side out and you're ready to go!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

sitting down and catching up...

Hello blogging world! It's been some time and you've always been at the back of my mind, wishing I had an extra hour to sit down and catch up, or the energy to get creative and share a project with the world! There is something so nice about getting a post together and hitting "publish"... makes me feel productive in a way that catching up on laundry or visiting the children's museum can't.  However, when days get busy, blogging is the first to take a back seat, and I always know it's there if and when I get around to it!

Most of my readers (aka my friends and family) are up to date with the latest developments in the Leeper house... baby #3 is on it's way (her way to be exact!!!) and we couldn't be more thrilled! I am now 23 whole weeks pregnant and I have been happily hanging out in that blissful time of pregnancy known as the second trimester. No longer exhausted and nauseous and not yet uncomfortable with my body's new dimensions. Although, the speed at which this belly is growing is making me question how long I will be feeling so spry!

Here are some photos we had taken a few months back, to share the exciting news with our friends and family. I've also included a video that Rob put together when we found out the little "squirt" was a little lady, Andrew's reaction was priceless!

I hope to get around to sharing some of our summer adventures, activities and projects over the next few weeks... but I know better than to make myself any promises!

Thanks for stopping by,