Uncategorized

Earth Day Craft!

Happy Earth Day!

This easy Earth Day craft is the perfect activity for kids of any age. All you will need is a coffee filter, green and blue washable markers, and a spray bottle filled with water. You don’t have to just create the Earth, let your imagination go wild and use a variety of different colors.

What you will need:

  • Coffee filters
  • Washable markers (blue and green)
  • A spray bottle
  • Water
  • A baking sheet (optional)

How to:

1. Color the coffee filter with the blue and green marker. As we picked out the markers, we talked about how the Earth is made up of land and water. I let him color all over the coffee filter, no neat lines or structure. He used his imagination to create his own “land” forms and oceans.

2. For this step, we went outside to decrease the mess! We sprayed the coffee filter with water, on top of a baking sheet to keep the dirt off. If you do not have a baking sheet handy, that’s alright, the ground works just as well! We sprayed the coffee filter until the colors began to spread and combine.

3. Last, but not least, lay the coffee filter out to dry!

And just like that, your kiddo has created their own version of the planet Earth!

We hope you enjoy and would love to see your Earth Coffee Filter creations!

XO Kate & Elizabeth


Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Getting Creative with Picky Eaters

When you become pregnant with your first child, you will swear your child will eat whatever you eat. You will never make a meal just for them. Your child will eat whatever is put in front of them. You swear that your child will love vegetables.

Everything is going exactly as you predicted, so far so good, then your child turns one. They get their first bite of cake and just like that your plan of healthy toddler meals goes out the window and all the delicious food you cook ends up on the floor for the dog.

Girl (and guy), I can completely relate. In fact, I am going through this very stage right now, times two! So here are a few tips and tricks that I am currently trying with both of my children. These have helped make meal time a bit less stressful, and the kiddos are slowly starting to come around. I call that a win-win!

Stay Consistent with Offering Healthy Foods!

Finding healthy meals that your toddlers will actually eat is hard work. It’s even harder to make meal after meal just to watch it be spat out. This can be frustrating, but take comfort knowing that consistently offering healthy foods can have a positive effect on their eating habits as your little(s) grow older.

Has your little one ever refused a certain food and then all the sudden they can’t get enough of it? Well, that’s because as your baby grows and develops, their taste buds change as well. So, keep offering a variety of healthy food to your little ones and eventually they will come around!

Hide Those Veggies!

Does your kiddo like smoothies? Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to include veggies into your child’s diet. Add some kale, carrots, or even beets! The sweetness of the fruit and yogurt will mask those veggies. There are a ton of easy and tasty recipes out there to try, or just make up your own. I also like to hide veggies in pasta sauce. My children love spaghetti and never notice when I add some zucchini, carrots, or cauliflower into our sauce.

Make Their Food Fun!

Who doesn’t like a plate of pretty food? Let’s be honest when we go out to eat and are handed a gorgeous plate, we are even more excited to chow down, after taking a picture, of course. So, why not create a fun and playful display of their food for your kiddos? It is worth the extra time it takes just to see how excited they get! The few bites they take may be icing on the cake, because let’s face it, a few bites are better than no bites at all!

One super fun and simple idea is turning apple slices into animals by using peanut butter and raisins. You are only limited by your imagination, create dinosaurs, butterflies, or whatever animal you kiddo enjoys. You can also make different bugs out of veggies! Get creative, do a little Pinterest search and even include your child in the decision and creation!

Change the Shape.

The texture of different foods can be a huge turn off to kids. Sometimes, something as simple as cutting the food up in a different way can make all the difference. Try cutting veggies into smaller pieces, shapes, or strips. My son loves carrots, but only if I cut them into strips julienne style (he’s a diva, I know) or buy baby carrots. Why? I have no clue, but if all I have to do is cut them differently to entice him to eat them, I am all in! Watermelon was the same way. When I cut them into cubes, neither child would touch it. But let them eat it directly off the rind and the watermelon was gone in minutes.

Cut into cubes… no, thanks! On the rind…. yes, please!

Always Have Something They Like on the Table.

I always have at least one thing on the table that I know my children will eat. That way I don’t have to worry about them being hungry five minutes after they leave the table. I let them know that they can choose what you would like to eat on your plate. I do not expect them to eat everything, but when it happens it is a pleasant surprise!

Having a food they enjoy, reduces the stress of both parent and child. When your child is relaxed, it is also more likely that they will try something new. Just imagine someone forcing you to try something you really weren’t too keen on. Do you think that would create a positive association with that specific food, or even with dinner? I think not. So, don’t force your child to finish everything on their plate. Encourage them to at least take a bite and praise them when they do. Creating positive associations between food and your child will help broaden their pallet.


I hope these tricks come in handy for you and your kiddos. If you have any other tips, comment below! We would love to hear how you get your kiddos to eat healthy!

XO Kate & Elizabeth

Uncategorized

Matching Easter Egg Sensory Bin

We LOVE sensory bins, so we created one just for Easter!

Have you done an Easter Egg hunt yet this year? We have had a ton of Easter events around our town, so the kiddos are now professionals. Because of their new found skills, we brought the Easter egg hunt into our home with this fun Matching Easter Eggs sensory bin. Not only is the sensory bin a blast, but it is a great fine-motor skill activity.

What you will need:

  • Matching Egg Sheet (Below)
  • Container
  • Rice
  • Food Dye
  • Plastic Eggs
  • Spoon
  • Bowl for Eggs
  • Clear Velcro Dots (optional)

Of course, the decorations for the sensory bin are totally optional. Make it your own and feel free to use whatever you have on hand. You can also get your kids involved in finding items to add the bin.

I created green rice by simply putting rice in a galloon bag, squeezing in some green dye, and shaking it all about. This is also a fun activity for your toddler to help you with. If you don’t have rice or green dye, you can also you the green crinkle grass.

You don’t need those exact items for the bin to be a success! Make it your own!

To Use:

Print the Matching Egg Sheets below, and cut out the Easter Egg squares on page 1. Attach the clear side of a set of clear velcro dots to each of the Easter Eggs on the matching mat.

Once your sheets and bin is ready, “hide” the Easter Egg squares throughout the sensory bin and have your child find the matching pairs.

To add an additional fine motor activity, have your little one attach and pull off the velcor eggs.

I also added some plastic Easter Eggs for an additional matching activity. I gave him a spoon to scoop the eggs out! We even made simple patterns with the plastic eggs. Let them explore, create, and imagine all the possibilities within the sensory bin.

I hope you and your little own enjoy this activity!

XO Kate & Elizabeth

Cleaning, Motherhood, toddlers

Tips for a Non-Cleaner

I am what I would consider a “non-cleaner”. I was not born (or raised) with the skilled ability to clean. I didn’t grow up scrubbing baseboards. These were not the chores I had. In fact, I’m not even sure our first house had baseboards. My childhood home was not the tidiest, and neither was my mom’s childhood home. It must be in our genes. But I don’t really remember those details when recalling early memories. I had the BEST childhood. I grew up outside, spending my time getting as tan as my shins were bruised. I ran around barefoot, playing at the pool, on the playground, in the woods. I didn’t have daily or weekly chores that ever ran on a schedule. I cleaned my room as well as any kid would, which is to say not really doing much cleaning but instead finding ANYTHING else to do instead. When I got older my chores included putting dishes away, irregular vacuuming, and my favorite…dusting. OH dusting, how I hate thee. We had a lot of intricately carved antique furniture with decorative glass and figurines, and in my teenage mind, that was the worst thing I could be expected to do. Please, ask me to do anything else. After years and years, I am realizing I am just not a very skilled cleaner. What does that even mean? Is my house in a constant state of disarray? Does FEMA need to provide some disaster relief? NO. But it means that I missed out on a very useful education that some of you had, and I work a little harder and stress a little more over cleaning-related things that I am not good at or consistent with. My (mostly) Type B personality doesn’t mind if something gets skipped, and while I have failed to make myself run on schedule, I do love organization and clean spaces. I think I am a Type B person with a Type A brain. I am always enthralled when people have their cleaning routine down to a science while I feel like I am always cleaning but never done. If you can relate, read on, and maybe this post will help a little!

One of my newer goals for myself is to always have my house what I would consider “houseguest ready.” Not perfect, but put together enough to where I feel comfortable having someone drop in at any moment. This may sound really silly to some, but it has always been a source of anxiety to me! I want my home to be welcoming and organized for so many reasons, and sometimes life (and my habits) just get in the way. I mean first off, two kids and two white dogs. Hello. Occasional piles of laundry to be folded on the couch, boxes to go out to recycling by the front door, last night’s dishes on the counter, etc. It’s not really how I would prefer my house to be on any given day. So here are some changes I have adopted that have made a big difference in the nightly and morning routines, as well as my overall peace of mind:

Clean a little throughout the day. Again, if you are “a cleaner”, this is probably the most obvious statement ever. But for those non-cleaners, let me explain. I once came across and article about things all neat & tidy people have in common, and the biggest one was that they cleaned throughout the day. It said, “you can’t expect to be a slob all day and then find time to clean everything up at once.” I realized that I very frequently made poor, lazy choices under the premise if “I’ll get to it later” because the kids were pulling me in one direction or another at the moment. I mean slob seems harsh, but yeah, maybe I was being a slob! For example, putting my plate on the counter instead of in the sink or dishwasher. Wiping toddler faces and putting the paper towel on the table instead of immediately in the trash. Folding laundry and leaving it in clean stacks on the floor to put away later. All of those little things have to be dealt with at some point. Maybe the end of the day, or maybe you’ll leave it for “tomorrow.” Mmm hmm. Just forcing myself not be lazy in those aspects has helped my nightly routine straightening up SO MUCH. Doing those things consistently have changed my habits which I have had for YEARS and make life more simple.

Daily laundry and dishes. For whatever reason, I always had “laundry days.” I separated out all of the laundry for all 4 of us and did load after load, then folded it all, and put it away. This was intense. I don’t know why that made sense to me, but I found another pearl of wisdom among some other cleaning article I got lost in and it mentioned the importance of daily laundry. Instead of 5 huge loads one day a week, I bought some Shout Color Catcher and at the end of each day I wash everyone’s things together. Towels, toddler clothes, work out clothes, etc. The color catchers work wonderfully at keeping colors and whites bright and the laundry loads are small and manageable. Folding and putting them away is easy! Same with dishes. Dirty dishes go immediately in the dishwasher and are washed each night, so every morning we put dishes away and start all over. Making my husband and toddler do the same is…a work in progress…but even if they don’t, it’s less mess for mama. Here’s my kitchen on a normal day now:

Have a “goodbye” spot. This is a place in your house where things can go before they are put out to pasture. Have it be tucked away, but not totally inconvenient or totally out of site. Mine is in a certain part of our garage. Having a designated place for things to be stored until you have enough to run to Goodwill, host a yardsale, etc. is great for lessening your household junk. It lets you think about whether you are ready to part with it, and it’s out of sight so it doesn’t bug you, but not hidden so you forget about it. Plus, in somewhere like the garage I can just load up the car and drop everything off when I’m ready. Easy peasy. If you find it hard to Marie Kondo things, try this method first. It’s like Marie Kondo with a safety net.

Clear couches, comforters, & counters. CCC. One of my ultimate pet peeves is having things where I want to sit. My husband has this bad habit of emptying his pockets on the back of our couch, or spreading his things out on the couch beside him if he’s working on his laptop. If I come into a room with two couches and a chair and nowhere clear to sit down, I loose it. Keeping seating areas clear, as well as beds and tables, it a great goal to have. A clean kitchen counter is my happy place. This keeps your down time relaxing, and opens up space for starting new tasks.

Make it a game. Encouraging little kids to help is great on so many levels. Toddlers LOVE lifestyle play. That’s why Melissa & Doug toys are genius! Instead of getting something where they can only pretend to clean, let them help out a little! Wipe windows, unload the silverware from the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen. Lately my 3 year old LOVES folding laundry, and I taught her to fold shirts. She’s pretty good at it! Win-win! She’ll also take a mower ride whenever she can get it.

Phone a friend. There is no shame in not enjoying cleaning, or not being good at it. I know several moms who pay someone to clean weekly or deep clean monthly. If you can do that- go for it! But if you’d rather improve your cleaning skills and efficiency yourself, ask a friend what they do. I asked Kate this very thing, which led to the inspiration for this blog and the one to follow (so stay tuned!) Kate is a cleaner. She has a routine, which keeps her household running like clockwork. I asked her for her weekly schedule she sets for herself. Other friends have found genius Pinterest hacks which save time too, so don’t be afraid to ask how your friends clean!

Give yourself time. If you have a tendency to be messy, don’t expect to become a neat-freak overnight. You can’t change a lifetime of habits overnight. (And if you can, please write a blog!) Set achievable goals, take it one day at a time, and strive for consistency. Try to make each day better than the last. Slowly you will find yourself with less work to do each day, which means you can dive into another project or start organizing those drawers or closets you never find time to get to.

When Kate and I started this blog, one of our primary goals was to be honest, not shiny. We are not perfect and neither are our houses. Just like (almost) everyone else. So, I say all of that to say it is OKAY if your house is always always always a mess. It really is. Even the cleanest of people, I’m sure, wishes things were a little more clean and tidy. Just think, when your kids are grown and the opportunities to make memories with little people has come and gone, your house can be clean. I would rather my house be messy and my kids be happy. When I’m 90 years old and recalling my greatest memories, I can ASSURE YOU I will not be picturing my clean house. So find a balance between messy & clean, don’t stress over the opinions of people who don’t live there, and be happy.

Any quick cleaning tips or habits hat have made a difference for you? Please don’t keep them to yourself! Share below!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Uncategorized

Cool Whip Easter Eggs!

Here is a fun and tasty twist on Easter Eggs. Today we brought all four kiddos together to dye Easter eggs. We tried both the traditional kits and cool whip. The cool whip seemed to be a huge hit and less of a mess!

Supplies

  • Food coloring
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cool Whip
  • Cooking Tray
  • Vinegar (optional)

How to:

If you decide to use vinegar, it brightens the colors, soak the eggs for about 2 or 3 minutes. Do not forget your eggs in the vinegar.

Spread your cool whip all over your cooking tray, I lined ours with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Drop dots of food coloring all over the cool whip and use a spoon to gently swirl the food dye around. Do not over mix or you will end up with brown eggs. Roll the eggs around in the cool whip mixture and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse and dry them off and they are done!

It was a fun way to dye eggs without the worry of the babies eating something they shouldn’t. The eggs turned out gorgeous as well.

Have fun and share your beautiful eggs!

Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Easter Baskets for Babies & Toddlers

As parents we love getting our kids gifts, and Easter is no exception. Each year, as spring comes around, we all look forward to Easter egg hunts, dressing up, dyeing eggs, and filling Easter baskets with loads of goodies.

However, many parents don’t enjoy the stress of figuring out what to fill their child’s Easter basket with. It is easy to run out of ideas and to grab all the sugary candy you see all over the store. Of course, we want their baskets to be fun and enjoyable, but we don’t want to have our toddler on a sugar high. We try our best to find unique ideas that are practical and not a basket filled with sweets.

We tend to try to shy away from those basket “fillers”. You know, all the small pieces that will end up sprawled across the playroom floor in a matter of minutes. The kind that are waiting for your unsuspecting feet to step on in the middle of the night. The kind that end up in the giveaway pile only weeks after purchasing. Yeah, those basket fillers!  

We know you’d rather gift your kid with things that are fun and that gets plenty of use. So, we went on the hunt for the best Easter basket fillers that babies and toddlers would enjoy and that parents wouldn’t mind buying because they are super practical. We had to get creative and found five different categories to choose from to build your basket! We made it SUPER easy too, with the help of Amazon.

We’ve got what you need to make this year’s Easter basket for your baby and toddler the best one yet!

So, here is our list of Easter basket ideas for babies and toddlers.

Something to read:

Books are usually where I start when getting gifts for any holiday! They are a great way to introduce new topics and get their imaginations going. So, don’t forget to grab some fun Easter or Spring themed books to put in your kiddos Easter basket. And then snuggle up together and read as a family.

  • Little Blue Truck Springtime I actually bought this for my son LAST Easter and it is still one of his favorites. All of the Little Blue Truck books are adorable, but I love the interactive flaps in this one. 
  • Llama Llama Easter Egg – The Llama Llama books are always so sweet, and this one is no exception. 
  • We Are the Gardeners-This is my topic pick for this Easter! It is written by Joanna Gaines and all about gardening. I cannot wait to read this one to both of my kiddos. 
  • Mouse’s First Spring My daughters current favorite book. We read this book at least three times a day. The cute sound effects and pictures captures her attention every time. 
  • If you Plant a Seed– We are BIG into planting this year, so this book is prefect for spring. 
  • And then it’s Spring- Another cute Spring book for both our toddler and baby. Teach them all about Spring with this cute book.

Something to eat:

While we don’t want to pack our child’s Easter basket with sugary treats, snacks are the way to their heart! So, grab some of their favorite and swap them out in place of all that candy.

  • Goldfish
  • Fruit Bars
  • Granola Bars
  • Puffs
  • Graham Crackers

Something to make:

Toddlers love to build and create! We have found some fun crafts and activities to get your kiddos imagination flowing.

  • Birdhouse kit-This cute kit allows your kiddo the creative pow to decorate their own bird house. Once the house is built, watch their excitement grow as a bird makes a home.
  • Bug Catching kit- What toddler doesn’t love catching a few bugs and observing them? This kit invites so much awesome science play. Work with your kiddo to safely grab bugs to watch before releasing them. I can’t wait to catch a few ants and worms with my toddler!
  • Tie Dye Kit –A little messy, but so much fun! Grab a white shirt, and let your little one design their own tie dye shirt! You can make one for each member of the family.

Something to wear:

With warm weather coming use their basket as an adorable way to get them spring time ready!

  • Rainboots and Rain coat
  • Sunhat
  • Cute Sunglasses
  • Bathing suit
  • Flipflops
  • Cute Easter Outfit

Something to use:

Practical gifts are the best kind of gift! Something that they can use time and time again over the spring and summer. Here are a few of our topic picks.

  • Bubble Machine– A classic and a favorite of both of my children. Bubbles and even a bubble machine is a fun way to get them to run around outdoors, as the warm weather begins.
  • Play-Doh -To refresh your supply and offer a simple activity whenever you might need it.
  • Chalk– A new warm season, a new set of chalk. It’s just how it has to be! Our chalk from last year is looking pretty tired and may have gone threw a few rain storms! This fresh set should get the creative outdoor juices flowing!
  • Coloring Paper & Crayons– We use plain paper, so our baby and toddler can use their imagination as they color and draw. These crayons are also great for little hands to grab and scribble. As a bonus, they are also fun to stack!
  • Outdoor Paint– Keep the mess outside with these waterproof outdoor paints. They come with brushes and hours of fun.
  • Dot Markers – I use dot markers for a variety of activities. From art projects to finding letters, they are a great addition to your art closet.

Don’t forget to add your our traditions to your Easter Basket.

I hope you are able to get a bit of inspiration from this list and are ready to get that basket together! What are some of the things you’ve put into your child’s Easter basket?

XOXO Kate & Elizabeth

Motherhood, outdoors, toddlers

Letting the Outside In

Like many of you, we have been anxiously awaiting spring over here in North Carolina and cursing Puxatony for getting our hopes up this year. We had a string of warm sunny days, followed by a snow day, then another warm day, now 40 degree days with gale warnings. On Monday I was wearing shorts, and today I had to put two jackets on each of my girls to head to our doctor’s appointment. TWO. When you add a slew of viruses to the mix, we are more than ready to open our windows and break out the flip flops!

As boring as winter days stuck inside can be, and despite my current longing for actual spring, I sometimes feel that warm days can strike the same monotony. We tend to eat breakfast and head outside, but this mama needs some variety to keep me playing alongside my children, which I think is extremely important to do. I always push myself to be the mom running with my kids on the playground, not just watching them from the sidelines, no matter how much coffee and tylenol it requires!

That being said, here are a few of our favorite ways to mix up the monotony and enjoy those warm days of Spring:

  • Visit a farm. In our town we are lucky enough to have a farm that boasts a family-style restaurant and allows visitors to come and feed goats, chat with chickens, and gawk at llamas and cows. When an activity only costs me a handful of quarters to buy corn for farm animals, SIGN ME UP. Look online and see if you have a farm like this too! If not, you can always take a driving tour down some country roads. Pack a picnic and sit in the back of the car while watching cows or horses in a farmer’s field. It may not tire them out as much, but they will love it nonetheless!
  • Seas the day! Take a day trip to the water. Neighborhood pools are amazing things, but you can’t beat the allure of a pond, lake, or ocean. Let your littles get their toes wet! Look up public accesses online if you aren’t familiar with any in your area. Search for State Parks to see what each has to offer. Many will identify not only fun things like nature trails or scenic overlooks, but water access points as well. If you live in North Carolina, start here! If a wilderness water spot is out of the question, you can easily make a splash in your own backyard, no matter the size. We purchased this foldable pet pool, of all things, and it’s been amazing! We set it up in our yard, at the beach, and even outside of our camper. It drains and folds up small enough to stick in a beach bag. Highly recommend!
  • Go to the park, but skip the playground. We frequent the playground OFTEN. It is definitely a favorite of the tiny bosses around here. But as parents, it can get a little old! Am I right?! So pick a day and go to the park but avoid the colorful equipment. Stick to the tree line and explore nature. There are SO MANY ACTIVITIES you can put together in a matter of minutes. Make a scavenger hunt of things your child can find. Gather items to make a bird feeder. Take a bucket and have them pick up any little piece of the wild they want, then pull out the glue and make a collage when you get home.
  • Car wash time! Not literally. I mean, unless they’re up for it. That would be a win-win! But instead of making them wash the family transport, get them a rag and bucket and let them go to town on their little cars or bikes. You can give dolls an outdoor bath too, or plastic animals, anything!
  • Recycle! Take a cardboard box outside along with some markers, paint, crayons, stickers, whatever you have on hand! Have your child decide what to make…a rocket, pirate ship, race car, etc! Decorate and then watch their imagination run wild.
  • Catch a bug! Does anyone else have kids that LOVE bugs?! My daughter points them out all the time, loves her bug books, but still looses her mind when a moth gets in the house! Now, I am not the world’s biggest fan of bugs, but I see the opportunity here to show her the difference between good bugs and bad bugs and build that comfort level, so I’m going to take it. We were gifted an adventure kit for Christmas and we love it. My three year old loves to catch ants and rolly pollies now! You can also sacrifice some of those tupperware containers we all have too many of and let your kids catch & release from there!
  • Pitch a tent. Whether you dig out the ol’ camping equipment or take a flat sheet outside, your kid will go nuts! Why? Because it’s NEW! We really take for granted how such simple actions can make a child’s day. Enjoy some time being explorers outside in your makeshift hideaway, and if you are feeling crazy, make some s’mores! No need for a fire pit, just add marshmallow fluff to your next grocery list or microwave larger marshmallows (no more than a few seconds at a time, because guess what, they catch fire amazingly fast in there!)
  • Lights, Camera, Picnic! There’s nothing wrong with a movie now and then. Even a movie day! So embrace that nice pre-summer weather and take movie time outside. Grab your phone, tablet, or laptop and pick a family favorite. Pop popcorn or eat a meal together al fresco! You may even want to splurge on an outdoor projector if you have a backyard suitable for gatherings or spending a lot of time in. My family loves this one for backyard movies and camping trips!
  • Smell the flowers. Botanical gardens, memorial gardens, a local nursery, or even a trip to Lowes! Walk through and smell the flowers. Talk about colors and smells. If you’re in a home improvement store, have your child grab some paint samples and find flowers of the same color in the garden center. Play is everywhere! If the mood strikes you, take a few flowers home and plant them in a special spot. Every yard could use another plant or two.

If I wasn’t already, I am now drooling over that springtime sunshine and hoping it will be here to stay soon enough! What are your favorite spring & summer activities? Share with us in the comments below!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate