Chick’n & Udon Noodles

Chicken and Udon Noodles (1)

This recipe will introduce kids to new flavor combos in a familiar way. It’s a great way to mix up a regular chick’n and pasta night!


  • 1 (9-ounce) package Gardein chick’n strips
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 (9-ounce) package udon noodles
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons carrot puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  1. To prepare the chick’n, combine the chick’n strips, teriyaki sauce, and juice from the pineapple can in an 8×8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the udon noodles according to package directions; drain and return to the pot.
  3. While the noodles cook, combine the sunflower seed butter, coconut milk, broth, carrot puree, ginger, garlic, and lime juice in a blender; process until smooth.
  4. Add the sunflower sauce to the noodles, tossing to coat.
  5. To serve, chop the chick’n according to your child’s preference, and serve alongside the noodles and some of the crushed pineapple.

CHicken and Udon Noodles (2)

Halloween Countdown Day 11: Orange Playdough Pumpkins

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (2)

Playdough is always fun, but even more so if you connect it to the season or a holiday for your kids. Today, we specifically decided to have Halloween playdough fun.

First I pulled out only orange and green playdough, and showed Veronika how to roll little balls of the orange into pumpkins.

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (5)

Green made cute stems! We then used craft sticks as our “carving knives” to make features in the pumpkins. Veronika thought this was great fun, even though she was mostly just mashing at them while I carved more deliberate triangles and toothy smiles.

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (1)

We could also roll out long ropes of green playdough to be the pumpkin patch vines.

Next, I pulled out a few Halloween-themed cookie cutters. Now we could make flatter versions of pumpkins and ghosts.

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (6)

Soon we had little ghosts flying through the air.

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (8)

Big brother Travis wanted in on the action!

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (11)

He came over to make lots of pumpkin and ghost shapes, and then used the craft sticks to carve into them.

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (9)

Pretty soon, the kids were just having wild playdough fun. They were so busy with this step in our countdown to Halloween that I could declare it a mission accomplished.

Halloween 11 Playdough Pumpkins (12)


Pom Pom Planets

Pom Pom Planets (7)Here’s a quick and cute way to show the scale of the planets (roughly speaking) for kids who are learning about the solar system. Set out an assortment of pom poms in as many sizes and colors as you have, and find the perfect one to represent each of our 8 planets!

I dumped a big bag of pom poms into a craft tray, which immediately created excitement.

Pom Pom Planets (1)

Travis loved searching through this “universe” for each planet. One by one, he located the following:

A small tan one for Mercury

A small pink one for Venus

A small blue one for Earth

A small orange one for Mars

A large orange one for Jupiter

A large purple one for Saturn

A medium green one for Uranus

A medium blue one for Neptune

Note: Your colors and sizes might be slightly different, depending what you have on hand. Gray works equally well for Mercury, and yellow equally well for Saturn. Obviously we wished we had a red one for Mars, but our pack didn’t contain small red.

Pom Pom Planets (2)

We then wrapped Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune with belts of pipe cleaners to make the rings.

Next we cut 8 pieces of yarn, making sure they were roughly the same length. Tie or glue these onto each pom pom.

Pom Pom Planets (4)

It was time to build the solar system. As I tied each one to a wire hanger, I had Travis tell me which planet should come next, working from Mercury to Neptune. This was great review for a topic we haven’t covered in a while!

Pom Pom Planets (5)

I had originally intended to make a star decoration along the top of the hanger, but Travis was adamant that we couldn’t have a solar system without the sun. He colored in a paper plate with yellow marker, and it was soon proudly affixed atop the hanger.

Pom Pom Planets (6)

It looked perfect against his star lamp!


Drawing on Pumpkins with Markers

Super Simple Pumpkin (2)

Veronika has loved decorating our pumpkins in the run-up to the big carving day, so I needed another version to keep her happy. This one has the added bonus because kids can draw, wipe clean, and then repeat the process as many times as they like!

I set out two of our medium-sized pumpkins, along with lots of washable markers. The naturally waxy surface of a pumpkin is perfect for markers, so your little one can draw as easily as if it’s paper.

Super Simple Pumpkin (1)

Veronika just scribbled of course, but I made a few jack o’ lantern features on the pumpkin next to her.

Super Simple Pumpkin (3)

Then I showed her the secret: one swipe of a wet wipe and her drawings were magically erased!

Super Simple Pumpkin (7)

She loved giving her pumpkins a ‘bath’ in this way. “He’s all clean,” she told me proudly. And then she could start the process again.

Super Simple Pumpkin (5)

Because you don’t have to worry about a mess, this craft is also a perfect toddler solo activity while you get other things done around the house.

Super Simple Pumpkin (9)

Halloween Sensory Bottle

October Sensory Bottle (6)

Veronika recently enjoyed a few autumnal sensory bottles, so today I made another version, this one specifically with a Halloween theme. The items inside include both “tricks” and “treats”!

I first filled an empty bottle about three-quarters of the way with water. Next I added faux candy corn. (Note: In a pinch you can add real candy corn, just be aware that it will dissolve over time). These were the treats of course.

Then I added a few spider rings. These were the tricks!

October Sensory Bottle (2)

A little bit of orange-red glitter topped things off. Because Veronika had attempted to unscrew the caps from her fall sensory bottles, this time I judiciously used hot glue on the cap before handing it over.

Knowing she couldn’t open it, she was much more focused on what was inside. She loved shaking it!

October Sensory Bottle (4)

And rolling it. The candy corn and spiders would sort of float to the surface and then settle back to disappear again. Perfectly Halloween spooky!

October Sensory Bottle (5)

She also thought it was a delight to throw it on the floor, and although I wasn’t as big a fan of this version, she was having so much fun that I let it be.

October Sensory Bottle (8)

This sensory bottle is enjoyable for young toddlers or even for babies doing tummy time. Perfect for a first Halloween, in sum.

October Sensory Bottle (9)