27 Ways to Get Family Time Outside

This post is brought to you by Trex.

Some people desire to spend their weekends with scenic trips and picnics; others look forward to overnight camping adventures; and some want to be outside as much as possible.  Something we can all agree on though, is that the feeling of sunshine on your face, a breeze blowing through your hair, and how your lungs feel full with sweet fresh air can make you a little bit happier.  Maybe it’s because if we weren’t outside we would be inside working in a small cubicle under fluorescent lighting.  Maybe.  I tend to think it’s a bit more than that.  We don’t need studies to tell us that getting outside is a surefire way to feel better and bring a smile to our face, do we?  Just being in nature and having our senses flooded with our surroundings helps bring calm to even the busiest of minds.  It does me anyway!

If you’re looking to get outside more with your family here are a few personal tips of mine to do so.

    • 1.  Start a nature collection.  Whenever you’re outside going for a walk or just watering the flowers, take notice of what’s around you and gather new leaves, rocks, or snail shells you find.  You could take photos to save or save the real item to put on display.  (Don’t save acorns without boiling them first….I learned the hard way that little bitty bugs live inside and grow to be disgusting bugs in your vases.)
    • 2.  When time allows, grab your meal and take it outside.  Chinese take out works great for this but even a breakfast bowl or dinner plate works too.  Have a designated table to eat on or spread out a blanket to enjoy your yard.
    • 3.  Plan birthday parties and play dates outside if whether allows.  Outdoor games are always more fun and the kids won’t constantly be told to use their “indoor voices.”  Win-win!
    • 4.  Spend evenings together and instead of sitting with electronic devices after dinner head outside.  Start a tradition of going for a walk after dinner or maybe even go on a family bike ride.
    • 5.  In the summer catch fireflies together.  We bought butterfly nets for this purpose and have had such a blast with it this summer!
    • 6.  Learn about the animals around you.  Study the types of bunnies you have running through your yard.  Observe their behaviors.  Our family has a lot of deer, squirrels, and birds.  My kids have even named our squirrels.  (Chicco and Dale have red tails and Chip and Cheesy have brown tails. Ha!)

A post shared by Ashley (@embracingbeauty) on

  • 7.  Create a nature journal and doodle some of the things you see.  This can be fun for adults too!
  • 8.  Make a family event calendar and make appointments to visit every park in your area this year.  Don’t forget to search for walking trails, paddle boats, horseback riding, and other activities parks may offer.
  • 9.  Go treasure hunting as a family.  Give letterboxing or it’s techy counterpart geocaching a try!
  • 10.  Teach them simple outdoor activities that we enjoyed as a kid.  Things like skipping stones, making daisy chains, and making a whistle out of a blade of grass.  Simple things can still be fun!
  • 11.  Create and hang homemade bird houses and bird feeders.  Watch what different birds come by and maybe even keep a journal of the different ones you see.  Recently, we were at my in-laws and my daughter stopped what she was doing, stared out the window and pointed with urgency and said, “birds!”  You would have thought she hadn’t seen them in real life before.  It was just fascinating to see them up close.  We already have bird feeders at our home that the kids enjoy helping fill but I think I’m going to add kid binoculars to our bird watching supplies.
  • Leaf Craft
  • 12.  Use the supplies around you to make crafty creations. Whether you make the leaf craft above, or write your names using piles of sticks, or make a Christmas ornament with a pine cone and a whole lot of glitter you’ll have fun gathering your nature supplies as a family.
  • 13. Play games outside.  Hopscotch, badminton, and catch are all super easy and fun.  (We’ve never been good enough to actually use a badminton net but I suppose that would be more of a hassle setting up if you used one.)
  • 14.  Buy rain boots and rain coats for the family and have fun.  Being silly and doing things your kids don’t expect is one of my favorite things about parenting.  I just love to see their little faces light up like a Christmas tree!
  • 15.  Along the same lines as the one above, buy some cheap water guns, fill a bucket with water, and let everyone have a blast shooting each other.  The one rule we have is that you can’t shoot someone when they’re filling up their water gun. 🙂
  • 16.  Plant a garden together.  I have the worst green thumb ever.  Seriously.  We still have fun attempting to get things to grow!  This year we managed to keep two hanging baskets alive for most of the summer.  It was a team effort and I’m proud of our accomplishment.  Maybe next year we’ll keep a vegetable alive or keep the squirrels from eating all the tulip bulbs!
  • 17.  Let them play in the dirt.  I prefer for my kids to play in dry dirt as opposed to wet but they still need a bath either way so I guess it doesn’t matter.  Experiencing the sensory sensations from digging with a spoon in bare earth can’t be duplicated and bought at a store.  Plus, all the little critters you find are just fun!
  • 18.  Go outside at night.  Lie on your back and watch the stars or maybe if it’s bright go for a moonlit walk.  One thing I want to do with my daughter this year is to track the phases of the moon.  She’s seen the markings on the calendar and I want to show her step by step what that looks like in real life.
  • 19.  Use a magnifying glass.  They are such great tools for kids to look at creepy crawlers up close or my favorite, the underneath part of a mushroom!  Plus they’re also fun for burning leaves…notice I didn’t say ants. 🙂 (with adult supervision of course!).
  • 20.  Have your children make a map of their neighborhood (or yard).  This is another activity I want to do this fall.  It seems like one that will get their minds working to observe and track the things around them.
  • 21.  Build a fort.  Inside forts are great for rainy days but what about sunny ones?  A few spare bedroom sheets, string, sticks, and some imagination are all it takes. ….and maybe some adult assistance.
  • 22.  Learn about clouds and then go outside and observe them.
  • 23.  Read to them outside.  Because we homeschool we have more opportunities for this than some do but if you’re already reading to your child why not do it on a quilt outside together?  Reading and drawing outside are some of my favorite things to do alone and with my family.
  • 24. Paint with nature.  As a child I used to find light colored rocks and red berries or flower petals and color the rocks with them.  Sometimes I would write words and sometimes I would color the rock completely pink.
  • 25.  Painting with fingernail polish (preferably old bottles) is also a great way to color some rocks around your house.  Why not make a rock garden with them or make little pretend fairy homes out of them?
  • 26.  Rocks rock!  Gather shimmering quartz crystals, smooth pebbles, and strangely shaped rocks.  Then research them and learn all you can about them.
  • 27.  Have a hula hooping contest to see who can hula hoop the longest.  Or maybe jump rope.

Trex Decking

I hope these ideas have inspired you to get your family together and get outdoors for some quality bonding time.  If your looking to spruce up your outdoor area to make those spontaneous reading sessions or dinners outside more doable you should look into our sponsor Trex.  It’s made of 95% recycled materials and it won’t splinter, crack, or stain.  It’s low maintenance as it easily cleans up with soap and water.  We’re constantly expanding our outdoor area.  We have a new swingset (new to us), and a porch swing.  We’re hoping in the future to create a separate deck space just below our house where we can grill out and chill out outdoors.  We don’t have all the plans laid out but one thing for sure is that we want to go with Trex composite deck and railing.  

Lowe's HardwareTrex

To learn more about Trex visit https://lowes.trex.com.

 

Demand Feeding Vs. Scheduled Feeding

This post is sponsored by Mirum. All opinions are my own.

When you find out you’re going to be a mom your world is rocked!  Not just in the “Outta my way, I’m going to puke” sense or the way you get lightheaded with all of the nursery decor themes in the big box stores.  I’m talking about the 101 decisions you have to make about how you will parent before your child is even born.  Not only do you have to have all of these decisions made but you also have to have five bullet points for each one, at least one unbiased clinical trial to support your choice, and a handful of witty comebacks for those who dare challenge your decision.  Ahh, motherhood.  It’s the most wonderful thing in the world and definitely the hardest for a myriad of reasons.

Let’s lay aside cloth diapers vs. plastic, home birth vs. hospital, epidural vs. natural, sleep training vs. attachment parenting, spanking vs. gentle parenting, to vaccinate or not, to cosleep or not, homemade baby food vs. store bought, baby-wearing vs. a stroller, aaaaand today we’ll talk about on demand feeding verses scheduled feeding.

Most everyone recommends on demand feeding for newborns and that’s what I did as well.  I had the goal of slowly working that into a schedule and that’s just what I did.  Not a strict schedule, but a routine.  As someone who exclusively bottle fed, having a loose schedule helped me tremendously.  I wouldn’t call it strict schedule feeding though, I definitely paid attention to my baby’s cues for the most part and not the clock.  Maybe I should call it semi-schedule feeding.

From the first day my oldest came home from the hospital I used a baby schedule, a blank one!  It was where I wrote what my daughter ate, how much, when, how many wet diapers she had, if she had any tummy drops…everything was written there.  I had a whole binder of them that set next to my daughter’s changing table so my husband and I could document how she was doing.  We could see that she was consuming enough and having enough wet diapers at a glance.  The pediatrician loved us when we brought in the notebook.  I started the notebook because I knew I wouldn’t be able to remember anything and my daughter’s health was too important to risk messing up.  I have narcolepsy and add in new-mama sleep deprivation and well, I just needed the schedule to keep me sane.  I used the free printable one from Get Buttoned Up.  I always swore I would make my own one day for my blog and changed what I didn’t love about this one but that never happened.  I still highly recommend theirs and I used it for my son as well.

After I had a few weeks worth of records, a list of how much my daughter should be drinking at each feeding and for the day’s total, my husband and I worked out a rough schedule.  If my daughter was hungry before the next “scheduled” meal we fed her and adjusted the schedule accordingly.  She never went hungry, in fact, I think having a schedule kept her from being hungry and having to cry for food.

Here’s why semi-scheduling worked for us:

  • – We worked to be able to recognize my daughter’s hunger cues.  She had different cries for different things.  Hunger, tiredness, and gas were all different and recognizable…after a while.
  • – Once we started a repetitive routine of feeding, play time, and then sleep, I was able to better know what my baby needed.  If I knew she just ate at 10:00 and it was 10:30 I know that she has a full tummy so I would check her diaper.  If she was closer to her sleep time and was cranky maybe she wanted an extra cuddle or was ready for her nap.
  • – I didn’t find a cute printable schedule on Pinterest but worked with my daughter to find a schedule that suited her.  Just when we got into a rhythm she changed it on me and had a growth spurt.  It’s important to always be flexible!
  • – Because I bottle fed a trip to the mall was a BIG deal! A trip anywhere was really.  I would envy the moms breastfeeding in public and all they had to bring along with them was a cover, if that.  I had to bring pre-measured and dry formula, room temperature water, very hot water to heat the room temperature water, hand sanitizer so I could prepare the bottle, the bottle, and the mixing lid.  That was just for one feeding out.  If I had to guess when she was hungry (if we didn’t stick to a loose schedule) and try and try again, it wouldn’t be pretty.  She was picky about the temperature and if I guessed wrong and she wasn’t hungry the formula might go bad or the bottle would be too cold before she cried again.  Knowing around the time that she would be hungry saved me so much headache…formula feeding out and about is hard enough, knowing she was ready for the bottle was nice.

While semi-scheduling might not work for your family I wanted to share what worked for mine in case it helped someone else.  Please if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Whatever you do, don’t get so set on a schedule that you don’t learn your baby’s cries.  All babies are a little different when it comes to feeding frequency and how much.  You don’t want to lean on a schedule so much that you neglect your maternal instincts.

Parent's Choice Formula

If you’re wanting to try formula, check out Parent’s Choice® formula that’s available exclusively at Walmart.  Their Sensitivity formula is at least $600 a year cheaper than an alternative formula.  It’s nutritionally comparable to more expensive national brand infant formulas and meets the highest-quality FDA nutritional standards, just like Enfamil, Similac and Gerber.

Parents Choice

Whichever parenting methods and feeding methods you choose I hope you’ll feel confident that you’re making the best choice for your family.  No one knows your family like you do, so rest in that.

The Parent’s Choice Formula Feeding Time Summer 2017 Sweepstakes

DIY Lavender Cloud Dough

I have been compensated by Johnson’s® Baby for this post; however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own.

You may remember me mentioning that my son has eating issues and a lot of that stems from sensory problems.  To help combat that we’ve been intentional about creating sensory experiences.  Sometimes it’s shaving cream in the bathtub, other times writing in salt, and on and on it goes.  Our most recent sensory experience was so fun and relaxing that I had to share it with you.

DIY Cloud Dough

This sensory dough is often called cloud dough, moon dough, or moon sand.  I like to call it cloud dough because it feels so soft like a cloud.  Not to mention that it smells heavenly because we use lavender scented baby oil!  So cloud dough it is.  Or maybe heavenly cloud dough.

Flour

My son helped me add the flour.

Recipe:

-Add 6 cups of flour to a large bowl.

-Squeeze in one 6.5 bottle of Johnson & Johnson Lavender Baby Oil Gel

Baby Oil

I recommend removing the whole lid before you squeeze any out.  We learned that squeezing it out quickly is challenging and removing the lid once you have greasy fingers is even more so. 🙂

Squeezing baby oil

I had good help though!

Making Cloud Dough

My son loved to help me make it.  He would pretend the oil was rivers and he watched it run as he built mountains.  What would have taken me a few minutes to stir and whisk ended up being 30 minutes spent with him playing while he mixed.  Even though he didn’t touch it with his hands I still think this was a win.  Maybe it was the calming lavender that made him chilled out enough to play with a bowl and oil for so long.

Cloud Dough and Trucks

After the dough was mixed up it was time to play!  I divided the dough into two small sensory bins, one for each kid.  They were less than $3 each at Walmart, which is also where I picked up the baby gel (which is in the baby section, not the lotion section, you know, just in case you are stuck searching for it like I was ha!).Cloud Dough and Dump Truck

These trucks were only about $5 for a handful of them and my son loves them to pieces!  They worked great scooping and dumping the cloud dough.

Cloud Dough Ice Cream

Together my kids pretended they were making ice cream for customers.

Beauty and the Beast Craft

Of course, my Disney loving daughter brought her favorite princess out to the “beach” to play in the sand.  How to Make Cloud Dough

If you’re looking to try a sensory bin, this is a great and inexpensive one to start with.  All the products can be found at Walmart and any cookie cutters, spoons, and little figurines you have already can be added.

For more creative #JohnsonBeautyHacks visit the Johnson Hacks Pinterest board.

Johnson and Johnson

Top Ten Family Friendly Road Trip Songs

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Nissan and contains affiliate links.

Family Road Trip Songs

As a family we love singing in the car. LOVE it!  So of course as I’m planning out every detail of our next vacation you can bet that a play list or 12 will be made.  It’s a long, long drive but these traveling tunes will help put us in the mood for a road trip!  I’ve compiled my list of family friendly road trip songs to help you get your motors running! 🙂

10. I’ve Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash

In four verses, 91 places are quickly listed off.  Destinations big and small are listed and it will be fun to cheer when he sings about a place where we’re from, or headed to, or are currently driving through.  You can’t beat the man in black.

9. On The Road Again by Willie Nelson

This is the perfect road trip song!

8. King of the Road by Roger Miller

I can still remember my parents playing this song on road trips when I was a kid.

7. Riding In My Car by Woodie Guthrie

My husband introduced this song to me recently and it’s one I think my kids will love to sing along with!

6. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers

This twin duo will get everyone singing and bobbing their head along with the tune.  The song may be about walking but it’s still an upbeat song about traveling so I had to include it.

5. Ramblin’ Man by The Allman Brothers Band

This song makes being on the road seem more appealing than ever and hopefully it will keep the kids enjoying the trip for a few more miles.

4. Route 66 by Chuck Berry

Bobby Troup wrote this song in 1946 and it has been covered by many but I’m partial to Chuck Berry’s 1961 rendition.  Not only is this a great one to sing a long to but it gives parents a great opportunity to squeeze in a mini history lesson in between songs.

3. Little Deuce Coupe by The Beach Boys

This song pays tribute to the 1932 Ford Model B…or is it Model 18?  Either way, this bouncy hit will have you dreaming of cars and the iconic life by the beach.  All of The Beach Boys songs remind me of road trips because it was a tape that my family played over and over and over again on our trips. The Beach Boys’ songs will always hold a special place in my vacation memories.

 

2. In the Car by Justin Roberts

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Justin Roberts but these last two songs on my list totally deserve their spot.  They’re catchy, singable, and best of all, kid-friendly without being annoying.

1. Do You Wanna Go? by Justin Roberts

Do you wanna go?  What else needs to be said!  Take a listen, it’s a great song!

I’m listing The Wheels on the Bus as an honorable mention.  While it’s a great road trip song for kids, finding a song of it that wasn’t annoying was an impossible task.  Maybe getting an annoying song stuck in your kid’s head probably isn’t the best idea anyway.

What songs are on your family’s road trip playlist?

20 Craft Supplies Every Kid Should Have

Kid Craft Supplies

I believe that everyone approaches crafting time differently. Some may anticipate it and bend over backwards to carve out that time.  Some enjoy crafting spontaneously.  Sometimes like just needs to take a break while you fire up your hot glue gun and go to town.  No matter which category you fit into I bet you feel like crafting is a relaxing affair.  A place where you can sit and let your creativity overflow and you don’t have to think about the worries of life.  I love crafting and enjoyed it since I was a kid.  Now that I have children I want to pass along my love for creating something from little pieces of nothing.  Making something beautiful out of otherwise trash-worthy items thrills my heart.

I know not all mamas feel the joy of crafting that I do but still want to create the bonding moment that is crafting with kids.  To help you out I want to give you a list of my go-to craft supplies.  Sure, you can feel free to add in a cleaned out milk jug lid or a left over twist tie.  Add what you want to the list but to get your creative juices flowing I’m going to share my basic bare bones list.  (Trust me, you don’t want me to lay out all that I have because it’s a lot.  We craft several times a week and would do several crafts a day if the decision was left up to my kids.)  This post contains my affiliate links.

1.  Crayons:  Crayola, crayola, crayola!  I’ve used others and I always come back to Crayola.  Call me a crayon snob if you want! 🙂  I usually stock up on the 24 and 36 packs during the back-to-school season and keep them out of reach of the kiddos until the current box is in nubs.  We’ll then take those numbs and toss them in a bin until we have enough to melt down and make our own crayon molds (they make great birthday party favors!).  I’ve been eyeing this 152 Crayola color set from Amazon and I’ll probably be investing in it soon.  So many colors!!

2.  Glue & Glue Sticks: Glue sticks are great for most things but liquid glue is a must in some situations so it’s a good idea to have both on hand.  This Crayola Washable School Glue is my favorite for little kids because it has a precise applicator and it’s slow flow.  No more gluey messes!  Elmer’s Purple Glue Sticks are my favorite because they’re colored and you can see where the glue is…okay, who am I kidding?  I just love them because they’re purple!  Glue Dots would be great with older kids but I haven’t shown them to my children yet because I’m afraid they would enjoy putting ALL the dots EVERYWHERE! 🙂

3.  Paper:  Construction Paper & Cardstock.  Paper is the foundation of most crafts so stock up on these babies.  I love cardstock because it is thick (which means less messes and it’s easier for little hands to cut) and holds up well to all sorts of paint.  I’m not picky on cardstock brands but I just try to get a heavy weight.  Construction paper seems to be the same colors no matter the brand, with one little exception.  Melissa & Doug’s construction paper has slightly lovelier colors.  I’m still waiting for the day when a company makes really pretty colored construction paper but I’m afraid my kids will be grown by the time that happens.  Hey, maybe I can be the crafting grandma!

4.  Child Scissors:   These Melissa & Doug scissors are great for early beginners and then any child scissors will do.  If your child is left handed do them a favor by getting them a pair of left handed kid scissors for them.  It didn’t dawn on me to do this till I happened to see some in the back-to-school isle one day and the light bulb went off.  My daughter cuts almost as good as I do now!

5.  Washable Paint:  Crayola’s Washable Paint paint is the perfect paint for nearly every project.  It’s thick so it won’t get all over everything (with adult supervision of course).  At our house we also love the Crayola Neon Paint Set and hope to try the Crayola Glitter Paint Set soon!  I don’t mess with the fancy paint cups or pallets, I just get a paper plate and put a glob of each color on it.  No clean up required!

6. Paintbrishes:  Sure, there are a 101 ways that you can paint without a paintbrush but brushes are generally neater and therefore my go-to.  The Crayola Assortment Paintbrush Set is my favorite and we’ve tried quite a few.  The brushes hold up very well and the quality is so nice that I’ve even used them for a few of my adult painting projects.

7.  Watercolors:  Watercolors are great when the kids get a little older but can be frustrating for very young children.  I started with a cheap watercolor set from Target’s dollar section and as my daughter’s skills improved we graduated her to the Alex Toys Watercolor Set.  The colors in here are absolutely stunning!

8.  Liquid Watercolors: Liquid watercolors are also AMAZING!  Every adult and kid who likes to play with paint should own this set of Sax liquid watercolors.  The colors are bold and beautiful.  You can dilute them with water if you want and they are washable!  These pipettes help in transferring the paint to a pallet or a small glass cup (as we use) and these watercolor pens are incredible!!  I’ve bought a set for my kids and a set for myself.  They make hand lettering with the watercolors very fun.  I’m not very good yet but I love to practice.  You can fill the pen with the liquid watercolor, leave empty to work with liquid watercolors, or fill with water to use with the dry pods of watercolor.  I just have to mention that this is my favorite book for using liquid watercolors with when I want to save the picture.  The paper is thick and nice and perfect for adult use…and sometimes I let the kiddos use it too.

9. Oil Pastels:  I’m still a tad bitter that no one told me about these until I was an adult!  These are the things creative girls should know about.  These were what I always wished crayons were!  Lovely, thick, mixable colors!  Seriously, these are beautiful!  It’s probably no surprise to you that Crayola Pastels are my favorite.  The Amazon reviews say that they are just as good as the fancy pants artist’s pastels so I’ll take their word for it and stick with these inexpensive gems!

10. Craft Sticks:  These craft sticks, aka popsicle sticks, come in a variety of sizes and are great for letting the kids use their imaginations.  They could transform them into anything! While they do come in a lot of colors and sizes we mainly stick with the regular sized craft sticks and the jumbo craft sticks.

11. Pom Poms:  These are so much fun to hold, build, and craft with.  I’ve even used them as a sensory/fine motor skills game with my little one as he put them in an empty coffee creamer container….over and over and over again.  You can pick these up almost anywhere but this set on Amazon has some truly lovely colors in it and a variety of sizes in one package.  This is one of those craft items that you’ll want to use the liquid glue with.

12. Clothespins & Doll Pins: Doll pins are absolutely perfect for making little people!  When buying clothespins look for ones that are specifically for crafts or double check that they’re smooth and not rough.  Some I’ve bought could have easily given someone a splinter if they weren’t careful and children aren’t careful.

13.  Pipe cleaners:  Pipe cleaners are fun to hold and bend even if that’s all you do.  Plus, you can make our super cool borax snowflakes with them!  Jumbo pipe cleaners are also fun in our house although I don’t think we’ve ever actually made a craft with them. 🙂  They are very fun to play with though!

14.  Googly Eyes:  Googly eyes make me feel like a kid again!  I love these things!!!  They come in all sorts of colors and sizes too.  Just be careful with these around little ones or stick with the jumbo googly eyes till they’re older.

15. Craft Foam:  The sheets are thick, durable, and comes in a lot of fun colors!  We save our left over craft foam pieces in a zip lock baggie to keep the waste and mess down. Foam stickers are also a great addition to your craft supply, especially if you don’t like the hassle of cutting little foam pieces out.

16. Contact Paper:  To be honest, I’m just now finding myself in love with this sticky substance called contact paper.  It makes tremendous sun catchers and fun sticky collages with magazine clippings (all pink things, random letters writing the child’s name, etc.).

17. Washi Tape:  It’s the easiest way to decorate, well, anything and it’s completely mess free.  The glitter washi tape is my favorite!

18. Pony Beads:  Pony beads are fun to glue onto a project but our favorite use of them is to make all sorts of bracelets and necklaces.  They have primary colored beads, neon colored beads, transparent beads, glitter beads, glow in the dark beads, and even beads that change color in the sun!

19.  Letter Beads:  Letter beads are also great for jewelry, not to mention practice with letters and spelling too!  They come in black and white beads and also colored letter beads.

20. Gems & Pearls:  I am a girlie girl and am raising a girlie girl.  We love the gems and the pearls that have flat backs and can be glued on anything.

That’s all that I can think of at the moment.  You’ll notice glitter (as much as I love it, it’s not for your average crafter.  You have to loooove it to make it enjoyable!) and markers didn’t make my list.  I like clean crafting. 🙂

Craft Storage

To keep my craft supplies organized and my sanity intact I use Creative Options’ Medium Rack System.  They sent me a sample a few months back and it has revolutionized my craft chaos.  I’ve even bought an extra one (or two lol).  You can check them out for yourself on CreativeOptionsCraft.com or buy them on Amazon or Hobby Lobby.  They hold everything in neat little compartments and you can pull out separate sections to bring to the craft table for easy working.

If you’re unfamiliar with kid’s crafting I do hope you’ll give it a try.  It can be a lot of fun!

5 Sanity Saving Tips for Holiday Travel

This helpful post contains affiliate links and is sponsored by Randall Dodge Chrysler Jeep.  If you’re in the market for a new vehicle visit RandallDodgeChryslerJeep.com

July 2. That was the date when it had seemed like a great idea to travel home to spend the kids Christmas Break with your family. Amidst pictures in your head of jammie wearing cousins snuggling on your mom’s couch on Christmas morning you bought the plane tickets.

Now, 2 days before you travel, you’re watching your two little angels bicker over which movie to watch and you’re panicking. School has only been out for 3 days and you’re already feeling your patience thin.

What if there are weather delays? That happens right? Not just in the movies. What if they fight and spill their juice on the person next to them? What if your 6 year old takes your 4 year olds doll away and she starts crying and everyone on the plane gives you the long suffering totally annoyed stare? What if your baby has a potty accident?…maybe the tickets are refundable…

Or, you could do a little pre-planning and have an amazing and stress free trip. Now that would totally rock! And then you could go ahead and buy those matching cousin jammies for Christmas Eve.

5 Easy Tips for Holiday Travel with Kids

1. The Go Bag
Put together a bag for each child that has new toys/books that they’ve never seen before. If they love coloring buy them a new book with a new set of crayons. The dollar store and the Target $1.00 bins are great places to source these items from.  Amazon is great too when you don’t want to run out and run another errand before your trip!  Mini Play-Doh cartons, individual lego kits, new books, all fairly inexpensive, but totally worth the peace and serenity each will earn.

2. Healthy Snacks
Traveling can be exhausting for everyone, the kiddo’s are no exception. Eating in the airport and on the go is not only expensive, but the unhealthy options will sap energy quickly. We’ve all seen the after math of a sugar crash, and it’s not a pretty sight. Have some non-sugary snacks available to help them keep their energy up throughout the day. The day before, buy some fruit and nuts if they are not allergic. Individual packs of mandarin oranges and peaches are great choices. (These count in the individual allowances for liquid carry-on’s if flying.) Favorite granola bars or a bag of granola is also easy carry.

3. Separate Seats
If you have button tiny button pushers, why not give them a little space? If possible, choose seats across the aisle, have one parent sit with each child. You’re close enough to be able to share resources and chat, but everyone gets a little personal space as well. If you’re a single parent traveling with 2 or more, take the middle seat and alternate the window turns on different flight segments.

4. Check in Early
Online check-in opens for most airlines 24 hours early. The earlier you check in the less likely you are to get “bumped” in the case of an oversold flight. Less time stranded in an airport unwillingly is a win win. It also ensures you have the greatest amount of time to verify your seat assignments and contact customer service as needed if you need to ask to be reasigned. Verify that you are all assigned together, then re-verify within 2 hours of your flight.

Remember, while you are purchasing a flight, the airline is not required to accommodate you seated together. Most will make every effort to do so, but don’t hesitate to ask if needed. Sometimes planes are swapped out for a new plane with a different seating configuration. The automated system might not have seated you together and a live agent can adjust those assignments.

5. Choose Flight Times Wisely
That 6 am flight seems like a great idea when you’re thinking of having the afternoon at your destination. However, when you take into account how early you really are going to have to get up to get ready and get to the airport, allowing sufficient time for longer security lines, is it really worth it? Why not treat the travel as an adventure. Allow extra time in between flights if you have a layover for a relaxed lunch. Explore the airports, most have kid play areas and art on display. Everyone will arrive a few hours later, but relaxed and in a better mood.

These are just a few suggestions to help you plan a great traveling experience with your family. What has worked for you in the past with your kids?

Tis’ The Season to Travel Jolly

This post is sponsored by Patterson Chrysler Dodge.  If you’re in the market for a new car visit PattersonChryslerDodge.com

Kid in the snow

The perfect Christmas scene begins with the scent of hot coffee brewing in the kitchen, lights twinkling brightly around a tree filled with bright baubles, the kids squealing in excitement as they unwrap their gifts, and most importantly, the whole family gathered around to share in the fun. This is the love, kindness, and magic we all hope to have during the season, but traveling to get there, isn’t always a warm and joyful experience. Here are some travel tips for the kids:

-Seasonal Snacks– Tis’ the season to indulge in delicious and festive holiday treats, right? Packing the kids adorable little snacks for the trip will make it fun and memorable while keeping stomachs full. Cookie cut sandwiches into a Christmas tree shape, have some “cold” hot chocolate by adding mini marshmallows to a jug of chocolate milk, put red and green M&M’s into the snack mix, the ideas are endless.

-Surprise Sacks-Pack a few brown paper lunch sacks with small stocking stuffers. On each bag write a certain time, for example the half way mark, once that time is reached allow the kids to open the sacks for a surprise. This will also allow you to get little items then can play with in the car or on a plane.  I completely recommend these Dover Little Sticker Books for less than $2 each,  Melissa & Doug Water Wow book, a rubik’s cube, and a fidget widget.

-Christmas Concert– Remember when we were young and would sing in the car? That never gets old, turn up your favorite holiday CD and belt out the songs as a family. Instruments are optional! (As you’ve heard me mention numerous times, Justin Roberts is THE go-to music for families! Trust me, you’ll love him!)

A sprinkle of creativity, a dash of joy, and a spoonful of love will guarantee a collection of new Christmas memories with your traveling family. Each of these tips is also a chance to teach about how priceless the time spent together truly is.

Happy Kids on Road Trips

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Volkswagon of Arlington.

Kids in the Car

There is nothing that spoils a road trip like an unhappy child – cooped up, cranky, bored and the kid’s aren’t too happy either. If you are going over 50 miles with kids under 12 you are going to want to have a game plan and load the car with plenty of kid friendly gear, food bribes, and fun activities. These tips are sure fire tools for success.

  • –  Comfort. At this point in parenthood you probably don’t need to be told to make sure the kids empty their bladder before leaving but just in case you need the reminder this is #1. If they say they don’t need to go, don’t trust them…MAKE THEM GO! After that is out of the way, be sure and dress them comfortably and cut out some of the complaining by putting them in loose, comfy clothes. Avoid tight waist bands, collared and buttoned up shirts, and anything that doesn’t support total comfort.
  • –  Snacks. Next you are going to want to pack snacks – Preferably items that won’t completely destroy your vehicles interior. Nothing sticky, oozing, or hard to clean.  Dried fruit, fruit snacks, pretzels, goldfish, and  juice boxes. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer are also must have items. Let them pack some items they want to have along for the ride-grab a small backpack or basket that will fit in the backseat and let them choose items like crayons and paper, their favorite book, doll, or handheld game (don’t forget the headphones). Dollar store cookie sheets make great activity trays for the road, throw on some magnets and you have a busy board that will keep kids from toddlers to tweens busy.
  • –  Music and Movies. Let them have a turn choosing music and the movies if you have portable dvd players in the car.  Keep in mind that it is their trip too and allowing them to have some say so will lead to increased cooperation (just choose movies ahead of time that you can tolerate, if not enjoy).
  • – Play games WITH them.  Punch Buggy, License Plate Bingo, anything to pass time and keep their minds occupied.  Who can spot the most pickups in 20 minutes?  How many yellow cars are in the state of North Carolina? Make them up as you go, be a part of the fun and you might find the trip goes faster for you too.
  • – Sing songs together.  Justin Robert’s music is our all time favorite.  If you have kids and HATE “kid’s music” you have to check this out!  Fun music that will have you reminiscing of your own childhood and singing the songs to yourself when you’re not even around your kids.
  • –  Stop occasionally. Kids are meant to move, it is cruel and unusual to strap them in and expect them to stay within the confines of a seat belt or car seat for 10 hours. Every once in awhile find a rest stop or even a park, let everyone out to stretch their arms and legs, have a run or quick game of catch if possible to get the blood pumping and burn off some energy (be sure to pack a football, a jump rope, or a Frisbee for stops).  This will make the time in the car a little easier to handle.

If you’re a pro traveler with kids I would love to hear what tips and tricks that have worked for you!

Drinkable Premama Prenatal Vitamins

Being pregnant changes a lot about a person.  Everything actually.  A woman’s world is totally rocked and now their focus is on the little baby inside them and no longer about themselves.

Pregnant Mama

This post was sponsored by Premama as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

From the way we dress to the things we put in our body, we notice everything!  Germs seem to not exist in places that they never did before.  Second hand smoke used to just be annoying and now it’s deadly.  No longer is plastic safe to eat off of because it contains chemicals that may leach into food and into my baby.  Not to mention the number of foods that pregnant women are warned to avoid…and the ones that they need to eat to give their baby the best shot possible.  There’s so much for a new mama to take in!

With all the new stress a pregnant mama goes through (including trying not to stress because that’s bad for the baby!) there’s one thing they don’t need to feel guilty over.  Prenatal vitamins.  If you’re pregnant and struggling to survive the prenatal vitamins your doctor prescribed ask him about Premama products.

Premama Vitamin Drink Mix

Premama products are great for before pregnancy (Did you know you should take vitamins before you become pregnant?  It’s true!), during pregnancy (prenatals), or after your pregnancy (Their Premama Lactation is perfect for nursing mamas).  Premama vitamin drink mixes are delicious on their own or can be mixed in with your own favorite breakfast smoothie.  They are rich in folic acid with levels similar to many prescription prenatal vitamins, and equal to, or greater than most leading over the counter brands.  Premama products also have Omega-3 fatty acids and non-constipating iron (which are often found only in prescription prenatal multivitamins.)

Premama Drink Mix

While pregnant (and always really!) it’s important for women to take care of themselves and their babies.  An easy way to do that is with Premama products that are perfect for women trying to conceive, expecting or lactating post baby.

meijer

Head to the vitamin section of your local Meijer store to take advantage of these money saving offers (September 12 – 25, 2016)!

  • Premama Fertility – Save $4
  • Premama Essentials – Save $4
  • Premama Essentials + DHA – Save $5
  • Premama Lactation – Save $4
  • Premama Digestive Aid – Save $3

multivitamins

If you want to try Premama for yourself you can for free!  From now until September 29th you can receive a free sample of Premama Lactation or Premama Fertility!  Simply follow the actions on the widget below to claim your free sample and $5 coupon.

Premama Facebook Sampling

For a store near you that carries Premama products, you can visit their store locator.  For additional information visit Premama’s websitePremama on Facebook, and Premama on Instagram.

Things No One Tells You About Being a Mom

I’ve teamed up with Poise as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network to tell you the truth about being a mom.

Being a Mom

Babies are marvelous aren’t they?  They come into our lives smelling sweetly like only a baby can smell, with soft skin, and tiny fingers.  They are expert cuddlers from the get-go and just as fast they have you wrapped around their finger.  No matter how many parenting books you’ve read, kid’s you’ve babysat, or birth stories you’ve watched, nothing will prepare you for the journey that is motherhood.

Babies are completely worth it but there are several things that no one tells you about motherhood beforehand.  I’ve rounded up a group of mama friends to give you the low-down on embarrassing mom moments no one ever warns you about.  We share these frank experiences, or words of wisdom, to help you to embrace motherhood with a bit more knowledge and confidence.

Names have been changed to protect the embarrassed. 🙂

Courtney: I pee on myself every time I sneeze, laugh, or cough… It’s horrible.

Bethany: My body odor changed.  Like after a workout, I’ll never be able to do anything but immediately shower.

Carrie: Baby happened to prefer the boob that was naturally larger anyways. Now I have huge boob and little boob.

Jenn: Yep, saggy boobs, floppy boobs, mushy boobs…sense a theme here? Lol feet grew a tiny bit with each pregnancy too so I’m now a size 9 instead of an 8. Ummmmm premature balding thanks to hormones….. Definitely cannot run or workout without peeing first haha

Judy: Nursing is a nightmare for the first few months, because my body thinks I have triplets. All I have to do is bend over, and it starts coming!. I remember just standing there in shock, watching this 3-foot spray coming out of me, while my husband just stood there and laughed.

Jenny:  I get SO HOT so easily now. (Not fun when you live in the south and most of the summer is 100* and 100% humidity) I sweat a lot more too and the odor. 🙁 I’m so embarrassed.  Also, I can’t start dishes or anything having to do with water until I go to the bathroom first. 😬

Ashley: Um… Wardrobe malfunctions due to toddlers performing alligator death rolls to escape.

Marcy: I have the inability to hold my pee sometimes.  There are times that I end up cleaning the bathroom floor after a failed attempt to get my pants down fast enough.

Sarah:  Cabin pressure mixed with full boobs equals milk facial for baby. Sorry baby…

Tiffany:  I second the squishy boob comment not to sound weird but I had really great boobs before I got pregnant. Didn’t really realize they’d get so…floppy… Lol

Alexia: with the saggy boobs..and hair loss!! If my hair doesn’t stop falling out, I’m gonna need some rogain soon!!  Oh and the trend where girls shave the side of their heads I’ve achieved that naturally, thank you hormones.

Anne: My boobs. I mean after #3 they just weren’t even close to the same.

Stephanie:  Mommy brain is a real thing! Hubby makes me close my eyes sometimes just to finish a sentence! And one time, I was with a couple of my close guy friends and one of them had to tell me I was leaking through my shirt…

Kristen: This isn’t really a body thing per se, but my child pulled my skirt down to my ankles in front of a window at a restaurant downtown during lunch hour.  Also my dad was there.

Lauren:  This one stretch mark on my boob is perfectly placed so a big blue vein shows through. It looks really funny lol.

Stacie:  My boobs don’t hang evenly. Or they aren’t the same size, not sure which it is.  It started during pregnancy! I need to find some thicker bras now or I’m always wearing patterned shirts to help camouflage the problem!

Ashli:  Jumping jacks are not the best form of exercise any more, unless you enjoy seeing yourself on every jumping Jack.

Catherine: The jiggling. When I jog, it sounds like my body is giving me a standing ovation…..

Brittany: Pretty sure I thought I had regained decent bladder control at 3 months PP but the trampoline park with my husband’s work proved me wrong…

Carla:  Awful hair postpartum! It fell out (as it’s supposed to) but I have curly hair and the new hair growing in at my part is an inch long and always frizzy! Not even hair spray can tame that beast!

Jessica: Feeling like you have an internal canyon just above your belly button from where your abs are trying to come back together.

Abigail: Oh, yeah, Jessica, the way your abs look when you try to do a sit-up. It freaked me out the first time I saw it! My Dr. said he had a patient who was a fitness trainer who tried to sue him because of that!

Crystal:  The loss of the ability to hold my flatulence. Working out, going to the park, making dinner… Seriously, I just cannot control it.

Heather:  The feeling that your insides are going to fall out with every step for the first…oh…2-3 months!  I was anxious to get back to running and when I did (after my 6-wk checkup), I almost looked behind me to be sure I hadn’t left my uterus a few steps back…

Meredith:  Finishing coaching a volleyball game only look down and find 2 ginormous wet circles on each boob. Lovely. Also the hair regrowth that sticks up straight and NOTHING will keep it down.

Hillary:  The fact that I just found a ginormous chunk of pizza that had been in my hair for 3 hours and I had no clue. Also, The faint smell of ketchup that plagues you all day until bed time when you realize that your toddler smeared ketchup across your chest at lunch.

There you have it!  Real life accounts from real moms.  Which was your favorite?

standing ovation

This quote from Catherine was my favorite! It’s also my least favorite because it’s so true!

I noticed a theme throughout these, did you?  Boobs and pee.  I have no advice to help you get your pre-baby boobs back but at least there are products out there to help you with the pee.  Kegels are great but while you’re working those muscles back into shape you might want to look into a product that has you covered. The Poise brand teamed up with Brooke Burke-Charvet to start a dialogue about light bladder leakage (LBL) and to empower women to seize their Poise moment.  That moment being the point where they stop letting leaks interrupt their lives and reach for products, like Poise Thin-Shape Light Absorbency pads.  The new Poise Thin-Shape Light Absorbency pads are the thinnest pads for LBL.  They offer 3-in-1 protection, are designed to move with you and are 40% thinner than the original, but they stay 3 times dryer.  If you’re part of the 1 in 3 women who suffer from LBL, visit Poise.com to request a free sample and learn more about LBL.  For instance, did you know that there are more people with bladder leakage in their 20’s than in their 80’s?  Before having kids I would have never believed it!

Motherhood is a journey and as anyone who has ever been on a road trip will attest, it’s more fun with friends.  The best advice I can offer new moms is to befriend other moms, especially veteran moms.  You need someone who understands you and someone that will pick out that food that’s been in your hair all day.