Pizza Pasta

Pizza Pasta

Combine two kid favorites (pizza and pasta!) in this quick meal. I had originally intended to use wagon wheel pasta, but opted for sea-themed shapes instead, like boats and sea horses. Any fun-shaped pasta adds to the dish’s whimsy.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce) package button mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces fun-shaped pasta
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded non-dairy mozzarella
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to the bowl with the mushrooms.
  3. Add the sauce and mozzarella, stirring to combine.

Halloween Countdown Day 5: Giant Chalk Pumpkin

Halloween 5 chalk pumpkin (5)

In today’s run-up to Halloween anticipation, tell your kids they’re about to grow the biggest pumpkin in the world. Yes, bigger than the county fair winners; yes, bigger than the Great Pumpkin. How, you ask?

With chalk!

Head to your driveway or any similar large surface and pull out the orange and green chalk. Really the only limit was how much space we could color in with our one stick of orange. But we got nearly a patio-sized pumpkin.

Halloween 5 chalk pumpkin (3)

Bigger kids can help with the actual pumpkin; younger siblings will love scribbling with chalk alongside you.

Halloween 5 chalk pumpkin (1)

There was a sort of nostalgia to this project, too, since it’s likely a farewell to sidewalk chalk until spring.

Halloween 5 chalk pumpkin (2)

We’ll love looking out at our “pumpkin patch” for the next few days, until rain washes it away.

Fall Squishy Bag

Fall Squishy Bag (3)

This quick sensory bag was very similar to a recent sensory bottle I made for Veronika, except this time it was in squishy form!

To start, fill a large zip-top bag with clear hair gel. I added yellow food coloring for the perfect autumnal hue.

Fall Squishy Bag (1)

Next I added leaves and acorns. You have two choices here: opt for silk leaves and plastic acorns if you have them from the store. And if not, simply use the real thing! We sure have lots of acorns and leaves from recent nature walks, so we went with the real deal.

Fall Squishy Bag (2)

Veronika really seemed to enjoy the contrast between soft leaves, squishy gel, and hard bumpy acorns.

Fall Squishy Bag (4)

She picked it up to see if it made shaky noises, but then realized this one was better suited to squishing around with her fingers.

Fall Squishy Bag (5)

She also tested out standing on it!

Fall Squishy Bag (8)

The bag was gorgeous sparkling in the light when the sun hit it mid-afternoon. In sum, a easy sensory bag, just right for autumn.

Fall Squishy Bag (7)

Monster Headbands

Monster Headbands (4)

Here’s a fun costume craft from Travis’s latest Highlights magazine, perfect for spooky dress-up in October! We made two of the four suggested versions.

To start, wrap craft feather boas around plain headbands from the drugstore. You can simply wrap the boas, or use hot glue or adhesive dots to secure at the ends for more security.

Monster Headbands (2)

Our first monster had three big eyes on top. Glue black felt pupils onto white ping pong balls, and hot glue on top. If you want the eyes further above the head (which we did not do), attach them to the ends of boa-wrapped pipe cleaners instead.

Monster Headbands (3)

For the second monster, we made one big cyclops eye. I glued a large piece of felt onto a thin piece of cardboard, with two pipe cleaners glued in between. Add two more colors of felt, followed by a black felt pupil. Wrap the pipe cleaners around the top of the headband to secure.

Monster Headbands (1)

Note: You could also use this method of felt-glued-onto-thin-cardboard to make horn shapes, too, another version that we skipped.

Monster Headbands (5)

Travis loved making silly monster faces.

Monster Headbands (6)

And we even had an appearance from Baby Monster!

Monster Headbands (7)

Toddler Gymnastics

Toddler Gymnastics (14)

One of the things I lament most about restrictions during coronavirus is that Veronika can no longer attend toddler gym classes in person. But that doesn’t stop us from practicing toddler-style gymnastics at home!

We don’t have giant mats for rolling and climbing, but there are plenty of ways to do gross motor movements without all that. So today we staged a mini gym class right in the living room – starting with just running circles around the room!

Toddler Gymnastics (9)

Next, I encouraged Veronika to gallop (moving sideways with legs open and then shut). She loved to say the word “gallop” as she did so.

Next up were somersaults! Veronika loves to do these other over a big soft chair…

Toddler Gymnastics (11)

…or right on the floor!

Toddler Gymnastics (10)

You can also put down a line of masking tape for an instant balance beam. Veronika loved to take careful steps across this.

Toddler Gymnastics (12)

The one investment I did make for our home gym was a plastic toddler slide. Within five minutes, Veronika had mastered the art of climbing the steps…

Toddler Gymnastics (15)

…getting both feet facing forward at the top…

Toddler Gymnastics (16)

…and zipping down.

Toddler Gymnastics (17)

Then she would run around to do it again! What toddler gymnastics moves do you work on at home? Please share in the comments!

Toddler Gymnastics (13)