DIY Pretend Campfire

Mommy Camp started today! I decided that for each week I will be setting up a dramatic play area that matches the theme. The first week’s theme is camping so I gathered a few toys that are camping related like a flashlight, magnifying glass, bug collecting jar and binoculars. I also pulled out a diy tent from a few years ago, hid bugs and lizards around the room for my kids to collect, made camp themed felt board stuff and created this quick and easy campfire!
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Materials:
– 1 sheet red glitter craft foam = .99
– 1 sheet gold glitter craft foam = .99
– 3-4 sheets wood scrapbooking paper = .30 each = 1.30
– cardboard tubes (paper towel, wrapping paper, etc.)
– tape
– scissors
– stapler & staples
Directions:
1. Cover cardboard tubes with paper using tape. Cut the paper to fit if necessary. Use the end of the tube to draw circles on the backside of the paper to cut out and place over the end of each tube with tape.
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2. Cut red and gold foam to create flame shapes. Layer the two pieces together and staple. Then curve paper into a circle and staple again.
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3. Cut orange foam to form longer “flames”. Add leftover glitter foam to the backside of the orange flames and staple. Then staple into a circle that will fit inside of the gold and red foam.
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4. Arrange the “logs” around the “fire” and you’re done!
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It only took me about 20 minutes to create and both kids think it is pretty great. Because I chose to make it from foam instead of paper like other tutorials I have seen, it is much more durable. My tiny 1.5 year old tornado grabbed it as soon as he saw it but it held it’s shape perfectly. Also, by leaving the orange portion unattached to the red and gold the kids can take it apart and put it back together which they enjoyed. The “logs” actually held up pretty well once I established that they were not for eating.
I hope your kids enjoy this quick and easy pretend fire as much as mine do! Good luck!

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Mommy Camp

As a teacher and a person who is slightly OCD, I decided to create lesson plans with thematic units for my kids while we are out for the summer. Knowing that my 4.5 year old should be learning vastly different things from my 1.5 year old I created a compilation of activities focused on teaching reading, writing, math and science to my older child, Lillian, and sensory, dexterity and word recognition for my younger child, Arthur. My goal is to both educate my kids about things that I think are cool and important but also to ensure that I don’t go crazy by having a plan.

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My “Mommy Camp” plan does look a little crazy i.e. color coded, tabbed, page protected and graphed but, It is what I need to feel organized. For the next few months I will be chronicling my adventures with mommy camp including all of the fun activities, crafts and lessons that we attempt. Hopefully others will find my craziness inspiring or at least entertaining.

Easter Fun: A Late Post

I know this is a super late post since Easter was like 3 weeks ago but, this was my Easter. We decorated eggs the day before. We only painted 4 eggs and they were super ugly but it was fun for my daughter so it was worth it. She got pretty bored waiting for the egg to get a dark color so I ended up just giving her some washable paint and she spent about 30 minutes painting 1 egg and her entire body blue. So that was fun. We tried the whisk + egg dying idea and it worked really well. So, if you haven’t heard/seen that idea you should definitely give it a try next year!

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On the actual day of Easter we went to my in-laws house after going on an Easter egg hunt at our house. At Maw-Maw’s house Lilly hunted for more eggs and then everyone went outside to play with some bubbles. So, that’s what I did about 3 weeks ago.

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My Productive Weekend

I had a crazy productive and busy weekend! Friday my mother-in-law came by to take Lilly for the night. Before leaving my husband showed up with leftover cake and about 50 helium filled balloons from work. They were celebrating the release of a new software (he’s a software developer) and the cake was big enough to feed his entire office of 100+ people with about 1/3 leftover. Here you can see Lilly showing off her blackened tongue from the icing. (His company colors are black and red.)

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Then we went out to dinner with friends and to see a movie. On Saturday I decided it was time to do some brightening up in the living room. So, I took down the black mirrors on my living room wall to paint them red along with my fireplace vases and also to paint my black picture frames on my mantel silver. Then, I had to make two more trips to buy more paint because I seriously underestimated how much I would need. In between finishing that up Lilly came home and we took her to a birthday party at the park. Then we had a ton of friends over for paella and fun with helium. We ended up entertaining ourselves with helium induced high voices for a while so that was fun.

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Here’s a quick video showing Derek, my husband, and his high voice.🙂

My Disney Cruise Experience

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Let me preface this post by stating that I had never been on a cruise before sailing with Disney. So, I don’t have any other reference for my statements or recommendations. Also, I am not profiting from this post in any way. I just thought you guys might like to know how my Spring Break went as well as a little info about what to expect if you ever take a Disney cruise.

Now, let me just say that this was definitely worth the money! We had a great time and everything went very smoothly. All of the staff on board were fantastically helpful. We sailed out of Galveston, TX bound to Cozumel, Mexico on a four day cruise aboard the Disney Magic. My husband and I brought our 2.5 year old daughter and stayed in one of the cheapest rooms which was an inside stateroom. So, we didn’t have a porthole or balcony but, we did have a handicapped room so it was quite a bit larger than a regular room. (none of us are handicapped it just worked out that way) Our cruise cost $1,700 for all three of us (they discount children so she only cost an extra $300) and I booked it only two weeks before sailing so it was a really good price.

The Disney Magic is the oldest of the four Disney ships but you wouldn’t know it from being on board. Everything was well kept and looked basically brand new. The ship has 3 pools, 3 main restaurants which you rotate through for dinner each night, 4 open restaurants meaning that they are open the majority of the day and you just walk up to the window to order and 1 fancy restaurant for adults only. The adults only restaurant costs extra per person but the others don’t cost any extra. The ship also has a jumbo tron type of T.V. overlooking one of the pools that plays various films throughout the day as well as a movie theater and a performance theater that hosts several award winning Broadway-style shows. The ship also has multiple areas devoted to kids only. There are two areas for kids ages 3-12 as well as a daycare which costs $6 per hour for ages 3 and under. There area also several bars and a couple places for teens only.

The ship always has something going on for you to do. Each evening when the housekeeping people straighten up your room and get your beds turned down for you as well as leave a fun towel animal and some candies. They also leave you a “Navigator” that has a grid displaying all of the events for the next day. I recommend bringing a marker to mark which events you plan on attending so you can plan out your day. (The pen provided in the room did not write on the paper of the Navigator very well.) We took advantage of the 3-12 kids areas as well as the daycare. My main issue was that they have a serious prejudice towards diapers/pull-ups. Children must be fully potty trained to play in the 3-12 areas and they are not permitted to wear pull-ups. The staff will call you on the “wave phone” which is a cell-phone of sorts provided to all passengers aboard the ship so you can communicate to members of your party as well as ship staff. If you child has an accident and you will have to go and retrieve them ASAP. My daughter is fully potty trained but does require prompting at times, especially when she is having a fun time and doesn’t want to leave to use the bathroom. So, I would of course feel more comfortable with her having a pull-up on just in case. We went ahead and dropped her off wearing one each time and only got called for an accident once. We also used the daycare because we didn’t want our event to get cut short. At the daycare they will change diapers so there is no need to worry about your child having an accident and having to run to fetch them. It is also more one-on-one and functions more like a daycare. The 3-12 zones were pandemonium and most kids were only slightly monitored which allowed for my daughter to have a blast but also came out a little crazy because she was free to run around and do whatever she wanted. They will feed them in all of the kid zones as well. I felt more confident in her care at the daycare but it was definitely not as much fun. You can tell just by comparing the two areas. The daycare is about 5 times smaller. However, Lilly was able to finger paint with one of the caregivers and play with toys she was familiar with like a play kitchen and baby dolls. They even sent the art that she made to our room on our last night for us to take home.

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Again, there are limitless things to do on board the ship. We took photos with the princesses, Minnie, Donald, Captain Hook and Peter Pan. (There were pictures with all of the other characters that you can think of but we didn’t get to them all.) We went to a couple family dance parties with various Disney characters. We saw fireworks, went to a mixology class (it cost extra but was TOTALLY worth it), saw a movie that was just released in theaters “Oz the Great and Powerful”, swam, sunbathed, relaxed in a hot tub, ate delicious food, ordered room service (for free!), saw a live show and of course went to Mexico for a day. It was a lot of fun! In regards to the mixology class, it was an extra $15 per person but we each got 6 full sized drinks. We were pretty hammered. They taught us how to make each drink and it was really fun. Then we went up to grab some food and watched a movie while we sobered up before picking up our daughter from the daycare. If you get the opportunity to participate in one of the drinking classes (they also had wine, beer and tequila tasting) then you should definitely do it.

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Now that I’ve told you a little about the fun that we had I will tell you about some of the things that I brought upon the recommendation of other sites/blogs that I ended up not needing and some things that I wish that I had brought. First of all, I brought waaaayyyy too many clothes. I didn’t change my outfit as often as I thought I would and I wore a swim suit for a good majority of the trip. So, pick one nicer looking outfit to wear to dinner every night (that equals 4) and pick one comfy outfit to wear around during the day (that equals 4) I didn’t need any more than that but, I would definitely bring two swimsuits so you can wear a dry one if one is wet. Also, a nice cover-up to wear over your suit so you don’t have to walk through the ship half naked. I also wish I had brought more sunscreen. I brought one bottle for my husband and I to share and one bottle for my daughter. Hers was a cream and ours a spray. We still have plenty of hers but we ran out. Sunscreen on board was at least double the cost that it would normally be so we ended up having to use hers for the rest of our trip. So, if you are using spray bring extra. I also wish I had brought my own hairdryer. They do provide you with one but, it is not a normal hairdryer. Let me just say that I am usually fine with hairdryers in hotel rooms. I have a lot of hair but it is relatively fine and as long as it gets hot and has some good air flow it’ll work o.k. However, the one they provided didn’t get hot. It stayed cool and had very little air pressure. I ended up blow drying my bangs a little so they weren’t crazy looking and then just let my hair be wavy and air dry. So, bring a hairdryer! Trust me! Also, bring a large water bottle so you can have water in your room. The rooms do not have cups in them like most hotels. There is a drink station on deck 9 with cups and drinks but the cups are small. So, bring a large water bottle so you can fill it up with water in your room if you want or at the drink station and actually still have something to drink by the time you get back to your room. Also, you can easily toss the water bottle in your bag and bring it with you to the theater and movies so you don’t have to spend extra money on the beverages that they sell at the entrances. And, on that note, we brought candy to eat in the theater. It was a good idea and we definitely ate it. Some things that we brought that we didn’t need but other sites recommended were: clothespins (There is a clothes line that comes out of the wall in the shower for you to hang your clothes we didn’t need the clothes pins and just laid them over the line.), a set of colored markers/sharpies (You can bring a photo frame mat to the customer service desk for the characters to sign. A recommendation I read said to also bring pens/markers in different colors for them to use. I didn’t leave the markers with the mat because they said they could just sign it with a pen and each would probably use different colors anyway. It’s up to you but it was an unnecessary item to carry.), bath products (The ones they supply are SUPER nice! I loved them!) and gym clothes (I exercise at least 3 times per week and thought, “yeah! I’ll exercise!”, yeah right! There is so much to do you won’t find time to make it to the gym so skip the gym clothes and tennis shoes it was a waste of space for me.)

So, to break down what to definitely bring and what to skip:

Bring:

– water bottle

– hairdryer

– extra sunscreen

– 1 marker/sharpie for planning your day

– page protector/folder (for storing papers that you want to keep for a scrapbook)

– ziplock bags for collecting sand and seashells

– a squirt bottle for collecting ocean water for that wavy hair effect

– candy for the theater

– two swim suits + a cover-up

– a book to read while you sunbathe

– ipad/iphone for kids to play with when bored at dinner (we used this often because we had the late dinner)

Skip:

– too many clothes (1 outfit for dinner and one for the day)

– clothespins

– colored pens/markers (if bringing a mat for signatures)

– gym clothes and tennis shoes

– bath products

– alcohol (unless you’re a real booze hound it was really heavy to carry-on and we ordered drinks more than we drank the stuff we bought)

I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

 

 

 

 

DIY Nail Art Stickers

I have a free printable for you!! All you need to do to create your own nail stickers is print out the template, draw your own patterns on each nail shape, slip the template inside of a page protector and use nail polish to paint over your design! Then apply a base coat to each nail and while it is still wet apply each sticker to the corresponding nail. Then paint a top coat on top of each nail. Voila! Done! I’ll post pics of how mine turned out if you’ll do the same. Have fun!

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Choosing a Safe and Effective Sunscreen

Spring break is less than a week away in my neck of the woods and I will be taking a cruise to Mexico with my family. I know I need to buy some new sunscreen and figured I would do a little research before hitting the store. So, I delved into the confusing and large, confusing word filled world of sunscreen labels.

To begin, I turned to google, of course, and did a search for the healthiest/least chemical filled sunscreens. I also read up on what constitutes a “good” sunscreen as defined by the FDA. I learned that when looking for a sunscreen you want to look for one that protects you from both UVA and UVB light because the sun emits both types. You would be surprised how many only protect you from UVB radiation. I also learned that you might want to avoid PABA in your sunscreen because it can cause skin irritation and stain clothing.Other chemicals you will want to avoid are parabens (duh) because they mimic hormones and could cause cancer as well as chemical sunscreens containing chemicals like oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnamate. You should also avoid titanium dioxide because it has also been identified as a cancer causing agent. I know this next statement may burst your bubble but, you should also avoid the sunscreen sprays because they release nano particles that could damage lungs. If you use it on yourself and hold your breath you might be o.k. but for young kids like my 2 year old, you better go with the old-school lotion or maybe a sunscreen stick. Also in regards to easy you should avoid sunscreen wipes (even though they are sooooo easy) because they have not been researched by the FDA as to their effectiveness. Finally, in regards to things to avoid, you should avoid fragrances. Normally they are made with detrimental chemicals (often parabens) that are known cancer causing agents. Many of the natural sunscreens may have a fragrance anyway due to natural oils like rosemary and lemon grass so they will have a pleasant smell. Just read the ingredient list.

In regards to your SPF rating. I learned that you want a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or so if you are going to be outside for extended periods of time. Everything I read said that just because the SPF is higher it does not make that sunscreen better or more effective than that of one with an SPF of 30 or so and they generally contain more chemicals to create the higher SPF. SPF measures the length of time you are protected from the UVA rays so, if you normally burn within 10 minutes of sun exposure multiply that number by the SPF. For example, if it is an SPF of 30 that means that you multiply it by 10 and you will receive 300 minutes of protection before burning after applying the sunscreen. Because SPF only measures UVA protection you have to look for specific ingredients to protect from the UVB rays because there is no measuring system in use. You should look for sunscreens containing non-nano zinc oxide for that protection.

A site I found very helpful in narrowing down my decision was www.ewg.org.They have reviewed all of the sunscreens available and rated them on a scale to let you know which ones are the least and most harmful. They even have a “Hall of Shame” to make it easy for you to recognize the worst sunscreens for your children. The top most harmful sunscreens listed are as follows:

These were placed on the list for multiple reasons like containing harmful chemicals, lacking UVA ray protection, being a spray targeted for kids andcontaining titanium dioxide in powder form.

So, after all of my research what sunscreens did I decide to put on my list? I chose 3 different brands that I think will meet my needs. I have a smaller selection based on what I can buy in person because of my location so that knocked other good options off of my list. All three of the brands I chose will cost somewhere between $10-15 but, I think it’s worth it.

California Baby Everyday/Year-round Sunscreen Stick SPF 30+

California Baby products are always good and I have bought several different ones in the past. They normally have a pleasant smell and texture and I can find them at Target and Walgreens.

Kiss My Face Kids 100% Natural Sunblock/Sunstick, Pink, SPF 30

It’s a brand I’m familiar with and the fact that it goes on pink and then dries clear will be both fun and helpful when applying.

ThinkBaby Sunscreen Benefitting Livestron SPF 50+

It has a good score and was one of the first sunscreens to pass the “Whole Foods Premium Care” Requirements. Purchasing this product also ensures that 1.5 million dollars goes to support Livestrong in the fight against cancer.

In all honesty I will probably choose the California Baby but if one of the other two are on sale then they might win. I hope this was helpful.

                     

I’m on a Boat!

I'm on a Boat...

I’m going on a Disney cruise in one week and am super excited. I decided to play around with my dream apparel for the cruise on Polyvore. I ended up creating a mix of classy, comfy and fun by including a little bit of whimsy with Mickey. I mean, c’mon, it’s a Disney cruise! I also used my fav summer color, coral. and the ever classic combo of black and white. I wish this is what I was really taking but C’est la vie!

DIY Art Gallery for Kids

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This is an easy and inexpensive way to display not only your child’s art but also important papers relevant to your family members like schedules and messages.

You will need:

– some sort of string/rope

– clothespins

– poster frame (any other large frame)

– hot glue gun

First, you need to remove the plastic or glass front and the back of the frame leaving you with only the frame itself. The frame I used was a $25 frame from walmart. They had cheaper, thinner frames but I wanted it to make more of a statement.

Then you can paint the frame if you want. I chose to paint my black frame a bright, cherry red to go with some other red things in my living area.

After painting the frame cut the string/rope to lengths that will extend across the width of the frame.

Then, using your hot glue gun, glue strips of string/rope across the width of the frame at varying intervals. I didn’t even measure. I just eyeballed it and it worked great.

You are now done! All you have to do is hang it on the wall and clip your clothes pins on!

I hope you like it! It makes it really easy to display things as soon as they come in the door instead of having to go through the pile of school papers from the week.