I went back and forth about whether or not to continue blogging in the new year…while I have always done it first and foremost for my own record keeping, there’s always a pressure to “keep it up”. TBD on that decision, but in the meantime, a little life update:
While I’m no longer at my day job (big life change #1), my side hustle kept me quite busy all through the fall and into December. The change in seasons also brought a big career move for Page (big life change #2). Now that the holidays are behind us and the winter lull is starting to set in…it’s only a couple short months until life’s pace picks up yet again…this time, with the arrival of a fourth family member (do you see a pattern here??).
photo credit: April + August Photography
April will bring a baby sister to round out our clan, followed soon after by another milestone change when Crew climbs on a big yellow bus and starts kindergarten (what?!) this fall. It’s an exciting time in our family life that seems to be both much of the same day to day, but also busily speeds forward the moment we blink.
So please excuse the infrequency of the posts here while I figure out if blogging makes the priority list this year, but know you can find more regularly shared bite-sized updates over on Instagram. I’ll leave you with a couple more shots of the (very much in progress!) room updates for our little lady. Happy new year, friends!
Like many of you, we have both some air and car travel planned for the summer months, and I’ve been adding to my secret stash of goodies for keeping our almost 4 and a half-year-old busy. Today I’m sharing my list of some favorites I’d recommend again and again as well as some ideas from past travel during the toddler years. (You can also file these under “restaurant friendly” — not too noisy/large/messy and perfect for when you have to sit in one spot for a while – I keep a couple of these in my trunk for whenever we end up out to eat, and rotate them out regularly.)
Depending on your mode of travel, I love these decks of ideas for car and airplane time. Go through them and all pick, or draw a mystery card – either way, these are full of fun ideas that are appropriate for either environment. I would say these can be adapted for younger ages, but truly are for the 4 and up crowd.
We bought the Dog Pile version of this game ( a little older age range) and figured we can all work on it together as a family, but this younger version, Haystax, (recommended age says 6+ but Crew can totally do this) is the same concept on a simpler level, and again, if your littles need help, it’s fun to do it together. Everything packs up neatly into the little box it came in so it’s nice and portable.
The Water Wow tablets are all over every “must have” list for traveling with kids, but I’ve learned I prefer the Color Blast version with the marker, instead of the little paintbrush thing you have to refill (inevitably, we run out of water in the car mid-trip, or we get on the plane and realize we never filled it up post-security). That said, they only make these deluxe pads with the magnifying glass with that water style of pen so I’ll just have to get over it. I like the added element of search/find (something Crew is very into right now) coupled with coloring, but we only have to pack one item for both activities. As for the younger kiddos, the regular tablets have been a hit with Crew since he was a little past two.
Melissa and Doug definitely has the “busy activity” category down to a science. The latest thing Crew has been into when we get out art stuff is any kind of tape, so of course, M&D makes a tape activity book. The book was larger than I anticipated, especially when opened flat, so it may be more of an “on-the-floor-of-the-airport” item or for when we reach our destination, but I’ll report back!
I’m a closet math nerd, so I’m all over any excuse to turn math into play. This Tiny Polka Dot game is essentially a deck of cards, but SO versatile in that there are MANY different games to play with them, based on your child’s age, starting at age 3 up to adult. Crew loves any game because it means he has our full attention (ha!) so while we haven’t used this one yet, I’m anticipating it to be a hit several times over.
And finally, I switch out stuff in our busy bags. There are round-ups of ideas all over Pinterest (like this one) and we’ve used these every. single. time. we travel since Crew was about two. The clear bags are easy for kids to see and decide what they want WITHOUT dumping everything, and you can swap out the activities based on your child’s age or interest. You can put them on jump rings to make a “book” of bags — and for multiple kids you could ring together their individual bags to keep things separate but still organized. (I like that when on rings, in turbulence, they don’t all go flying in different directions!)
Our go-to versions have been beads and pipe cleaners (it used to be just about the motor skill of stringing them on when he was younger, now it’s all about creating his own patterns.) I also used some felt to create all the elements of a cupcake, similar to this post. But to take it a step further, I made illustrated “orders” on index cards so Crew could “fill” each person’s order by assembling whatever is pictured (three sprinkles, two cherry, pink frosting, etc). Other past favorites: the window clings from the dollar section (stick them all over the car window, airplane tray, etc!), a simple pad of paper and crayons, and colorful pom poms and a pair of kid tweezers – the activity was simply to practice picking them up and transporting them to whatever was around – an empty cup, a spare busy bag, etc. Sometimes the best activities are the simplest ones!
I’d be remiss to not mention to pack all. the. snacks. I used to throw them in my bags haphazardly and I’ve found sanity in using Crew’s lunchbox so that he can help himself unassisted and I’m not constantly passing stuff. Game changer! W also overdose on suckers, both for takeoff / cabin pressure for those little ears and also because, frankly, they last and keep little mouths quiet and busy! It IS vacation, right? 😉 Happy travels!
I spent weeks taking this 3.5 year old to the store, browsing online, and generally asking him what he might want to be for Halloween. Anything I suggested was met with some variation of “meh” — until I proposed a character from one of his favorite books. If you have a kid in your life and haven’t read Dragons Love Tacos, do so immediately!
The ONLY opinion that was voiced was that he wanted to be a BLUE dragon with green wings. So off to Primary I went for their hoodie and joggers to get started.
If you are familiar with this book, you know the whole story unravels when the dragons get ahold of the spicy salsa. I grabbed an orange pumpkin bucket from the dollar store, spray painted it red, and we loosely followed the illustration as a guide, using scrapbook sticker letters for the label.
I bought a yard of the most dragon-ish green fabric I could find for the wings, tail, and horns. I am NOT a seamstress, but I managed to make a simple cone shaped tail, turned it right side out and stuffed it with stuffing. I added a single triangle “horn” to the end of the tail, and tacked the other two onto the hoodie. I bought a pair of children’s fairy wings at the dollar store to use as my base, covered them in the green fabric, changing the outline of the wings to be a bit more dragon and less butterfly. I sewed the top of the tail to the underside of the wings so he could put the whole thing on as if it were a backpack.
To drive home that this wasn’t just any dragon but a taco-loving dragon, I bought an “I Love Tacos’ button on Etsy and pinned it to his hoodie. We made a couple cardstock and tissue paper tacos and stuffed them in each pocket — after all, you have to have “pantloads” of tacos to host a proper taco party for dragons.
Oh no, dragon! You know what happens if you eat that spicy salsa!
Happy halloween — and happy costume creating — from our home to yours! <3
We’ve been busy over here whipping up all the magic potions so that Crew’s classroom friends can create some of their own for Halloween!
You may have guessed it — we made our own bath bombs, complete with spooky surprises inside!
This project was much easier than I expected (I was fully counting on some crumbling bombs and preschooler – and Mom – meltdowns) but I’m happy to report it was really pretty simple and straightforward!
It DOES help to have all your stuff ready, premeasured/open, so you can work quickly. (Once everything is mixed, you want to make your bombs before the mix gets too dry.) I did two batches; the first I followed the recipe below exactly (this made about five medium-sized bombs), and when those turned out well, I quadrupled it to make enough for Crew’s class of 24 and a couple extra friends.
My best tip is to spend a minute on YouTube watching an actual video of how to make these, because I picked up a lot of hints and it helped me understand better than all the written directions out there. In all I’d say we spent about $20 on everything (although I did already have the essential oils on hand). And if you keep scrolling I’m sharing a printable of the label we stapled across the top, so you can gift these as well!
After reading a few reviews of silicone versus plastic versus aluminum, I settled on this set of molds. I don’t foresee using the small one much, but the medium was perfect for stretching the batch enough to make decent-sized bombs for 24+ kiddos (and I’ll be making my own and gifting some at the holidays with the larger mold, which feels even more grand/luxurious). They worked like a charm with no sticking.
For our bath bombs, we knew we wanted them to be green (but not so pigmented they stain anyone’s tub ha!) so we used green food coloring accordingly.
1 Tbsp water (add your drops of food coloring to this for even mixing)
Essential Oil as desired (for our quadruple batch I did about four drops each of lemon, tangerine, sweet orange, and bergamot)…Crew could not get enough of smelling them ha!
Our final “ingredient” was a bat-shaped ring (I bought a bag of 30+ at WalMart for a dollar) and they fit perfectly inside the medium sized mold. I thought these would be a fun surprise when the bomb fizzles apart in the tub.
TO MAKE YOUR BATH BOMBS:
After gathering your ingredients, whisk together all the DRY ingredients first. Combine the wet ingredients separately and pour them SLOWLY into the bowl, constantly whisking. The consistency should feel ALMOST as damp as wet sand – a tad more powdery, but still “wet”.
Scoop the mixture into both halves of your mold. Don’t PACK it in, but gently press enough to firm it up, and make sure both halves are overflowing. (At this point, I pressed the bat ring into one side.) Stick your two halves together and press them together, wiping off any excess that comes out the seam. Use your knuckles to tap firmly on either side of the mold so the packed mixture will slide out easily. I used a slight “twist” motion (like unscrewing a cap) to remove one side at a time, and laid them out on a sheet of wax paper to harden up. A lot of recipes called for 24 hours to dry but I think it only helps to give them a solid 48 hours before handling them in any way.
I was nervous about how durable these would be when loaded up dozens deep and handed out at school. My coworker had the genius idea to add some cobweb stuffing to the little ziploc treat bags (found at The Dollar Tree). I added a bomb and some stuffing to each bag, and printed and cut apart the following printable. (They should be about the size of a business card, before folded in half lengthwise). Stick them over the tops of the bags and staple in place. Voila! Witch’s brew for all!
Grab your free printable treat topper by clicking the attachment link below:
I can’t tell you how much fun I have going through Crew’s closet each season. Maybe it’s the fact that kids literally get an ALL NEW wardrobe every year because they’ve grown, maybe it’s that everything is just cuter in little sizes…maybe it’s just that kids clothes are so much FUN! It was so hard to choose, but I kept it to five outfits (and one jammie set, of course!) using a bunch of my favorite pieces. Some items are purchased new this year, and some were bought ahead last year and are no longer available (NLA). I’ve linked exact products where I can, but at the very least, you hopefully come away with some fun *BOY* outfit ideas!
A few things have been happening lately, and they’re inspiring some changes in how I approach sharing our life online.
A few months back, I woke to a friend’s comment tagging me in the Instagram post by a baby food brand. A major, household, parent-centric brand. There in the post was my child staring back at me. The photo was: taken from my blog without my permission (strike 1), photoshopped (strike 2), of my minor child – again no permission (MAJOR strike 3), and even if I could have seen past all of that, I wasn’t so much as credited in the caption or a comment. My mama blood boiled, I worked to get the post removed from their feed (and an apology was issued — but seriously, WHO is running their social media that they think is acceptable?). I ultimately got around to being frustrated with MYSELF that the content was out there in the first place to be misused.
I won’t pretend for a second that I’m any “big” blogger, but over the years, I’ve experienced strangers ask if I’m my blog name (much more common than my actual name ha). I always kind of laughed it off and figured it’s par for the course when you put so much of your life online. Then we had our son, and as babies do, he changed rapidly from month to month these early years. He now has hit that stretch where he still looks quite similar now as he did a full year ago, and thus he’s easier to recognize. Something we’ve learned as we’ve had a couple encounters where people who’ve never met him (innocently enough) remark that they know him, and even call him by name. While we KNOW these people mean nothing but good, this recognition coupled with our son’s instant bestie status with EVERYONE, for lack of a better term, freaked me out.
I was moved by this podcast by some of my faves, Young House Love, on protecting their children’s privacy. Once sharing on the same level I have (birth stories, monthly updates, etc) they no longer use names or show faces of their kids. Their children, while older than our own, are that much more in need of their own space and privacy, and as John points out at one point, it’s up to THEM to decide who, if anyone, they want to be online.
This moved me, big time.
Privacy, safety, exploitation (even if the “innocent” kind, by a brand trying to sell toddler snacks) – MORE than enough reason for me to make this call. I shared my thoughts with Page and he was quick to agree it made sense. The photographer in me (and of course the proud mom) longs to share every little bit, but I’ve always tried to find a balance, and now more than ever. There is plenty to share, in creative ways, that allows me to blog about motherhood (hello, cute room decor, outfits, stocking stuffers and party planning!), and still protect my son. I’ve been further inspired by the work of #projectfaceless photographers, like this one, who are beautifully and authentically capturing childhood in creatively anonymous ways. Challenge accepted!
I know there’s no perfect way to do this. Yes, he will still show up in our private social media. Yes, he may still show up in my blog instastories (that don’t get saved) and no, I’m not going to work backward and delete every picture I’ve posted. Yes, I realize he was just on national news for his love of garbage trucks, and there’s no net I can cast to reign that in. So I’m just making the conscious decision now, going forward, to be more aware and share less here and on the blog’s social media. I LOVE following along with the littles of bloggers and others who share their lives publicly, but this is simply the right choice, right now, for US. Thanks for the support as we go faceless! <3
Hat by Joules | Tee by Tailor Vintage | Shoes by Children’s Place | Shorts by Target
I had so much fun digging through Crew’s closet for Spring Outfits, that I had to do it again for summer. We’ve been hit HARD by the heat lately, so the layers are fewer and the outfits much simpler this round, but we also have our sunnies on serious repeat, which has been a fun new accessory to incorporate. (Read: Mom is buying ALL the cute little boy sunglasses!) And of course, we get to do some cute SWIM outfits as well. Bring it on, heat wave!
Hat by Under Armour | Shirt by Rockets of Awesome | Shoes by Native | Shorts by Target
Rash Guard by Hanna Andersson | Sunglasses by Target | Swim Boardies by Zara Kids
Button-down and Tie by Janie & Jack | Shorts by Gap | Sandals by OshKosh
Tee by CrewCuts | Sunglasses by Gap | Shorts by Monica & Andy | Boots by Hunter