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Easy Paper Tunnels

Sometimes we overthink and over plan activities for our little ones. The simplest of activities can result in hours of fun. These super simple paper tunnels were just that and Grayson loved them.

Grayson loves cars, trains, and airplanes, so our road became many different things. “Look Mama a race track!” to “Check out my runway!”. His imagination went wild!

While his little sister was napping, we often try to find quiet activities. The idea of tunnels popped into my head and thus we created his tunnels.

All we needed was some construction paper, tape, and painters tape. Oh, and a hard surface to attach them to. First, we created our road with the painters tape. Then, all we did was grab some construction paper, fold up little tabs on each side, and tape them down to the floor to create our little tunnels.

Easiest activity EVER! Grayson collected some of his automobiles and started playing. It’s still on our floor now, ready to use after nap time.

Because the tunnels are made out of construction paper Grayson had to practice being gentle and slow with his cars. This is not a task that comes naturally to him, so I little practice goes a long way.

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Teaching Comparisons

It’s officially summer break, and while we love the pool, the beach, and park dates with our friends, sometimes we have to stay home, stay indoors, and most importantly KEEP BUSY. Anyone else find that a challenge sometimes during the longest, hottest days of the year? We have plenty of indoor activities but sometimes I yearn for an opportunity to teach them new things. I often forget how easy (and impactful) it can be without even leaving the house. Or maybe, without leaving the backyard.

Last night I was cleaning up the kitchen and getting the house ready for bed. I had to pull a few toys in from outside and saw a little toad on our back step. One day this past April we let Addie stay up late and “hunt toads” outside, knowing there were two hopping around. She had the best time and has been asking about hunting toads ever since, but we haven’t seen any, plus it gets dark SO LATE. So I scooped this little guy up, put him in our Kritter Keeper (one of the best kid-oriented purchases I’ve ever made) and let him hang out in the kitchen until the morning. Excited is an understatement. He ate breakfast right beside her. And me, being the worrisome mom I am, felt bad for starving him all night. I tried to find a cricket or moth outside and ended up finding a green tree frog (and an unlucky rollie poly) and a summer lesson was born.

Observing how things around us are alike and different is such a good exercise for growing minds. How often do we ask our littles critical thinking questions? So today we learned about frogs vs. toads. We started with the differences. I asked her which was the frog and she got it right! When I asked her to tell me about the frog. What does he look like? What color are his eyes? And then I just asked “What else?” letting her connect the dots and think of more things she could tell me about the frog. Then we did the same thing with the toad, and we started looking at how they were different. At the end of our “lesson” she was pointing out similarities herself. My favorite was that they both hop and say “ribbit ribbit.” When talking about differences, she noticed their toes the most of all things. Is that something we, as adults, would focus on?! But toddlers do. The frog’s toes were round, smooth, and sticky. The toad’s toes were pointy and “furry” as she said, but we decided she meant bumpy. She wanted to hold the frog first because she concluded that the toad’s toes would hurt. I assured her they wouldn’t, but how amazing are children?! I love how they look at the world and how they put things together.

We spent about an hour talking about the frog and the toad, naming them, and then playing with them outside before letting them go. Some quick research on the internet over breakfast gave me some facts I could share with her, like the fact that toads don’t have many predators since they taste terrible, but frogs have several predators. Frogs also like to live near water, but toads don’t have to. This helped us decide where to let them go and we talked about what bugs they like to eat. Before I knew it it was lunch time and I felt like we had a very successful summer morning!

If you don’t have an abundance of wildlife around you, this is still an activity you can do with your children, with anything! The difference between mommy’s & daddy’s car, the difference between two stuffed animals, the difference between seashells, etc. It may sound like a silly start, frogs, but it has really made me ask my daughter more prompting questions. WHY is that your favorite doll, WHY do you like strawberries, WHAT do you love about your sister? It gets their hamster wheel turning and gives my chatterbox something new to talk about.

We also pulled out the books we had which talk about differences. One of my favorites is Hello, Hello which shows how very different animals still have things in common. Another is You’re All My Favorites, which is about three bear siblings who are different and wonder who is their parents’ favorite bear. Several of the kids books already in our collection reinforced differences in animals and people, so we rode that wave all day.

How do you teach kids about differences? What are some of the questions you ask? What conversations do you have? We are all about teaching our kids the most we can about the world around them, people and animals alike, so please share your words of wisdom! Happy summering!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

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EASY Birthday Cake Cookies

Let me start off by saying, I am by no means a baker, but I do love cookies. When I found this super easy recipe, had to give it a try. It looked pretty fool proof and it turns out it was. The cookies came out so good and stayed soft and chewy for over a week. So, lets get started!

Ingredients

  • Birthday cake mix
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Rainbow sprinkles

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.

While your oven is heating up, combine the cake mix, chocolate chunks, oil and eggs. Mix until they are combined.

If you have a melon baller, use that to form the cookie balls. We don’t have one, so we used our hands. Right before the cookies go in, garnish them with sprinkles!

Pop the cookies in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

Toddler approved. He picked off the sprinkles first!

Just like that, you have delicious cookies for everyone to enjoy.

This recipe yielded 24 cookies. I stored mine in a Ziploc bag with a piece of bread to keep them soft!

We hope you enjoy!

XO Kate & Elizabeth

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Father’s Day from the Kids!

Summertime. The time for cookouts, sushiney holidays, swimming, and FATHER’S DAY! Anyone else struggle to find good Father’s Day gifts? Trying to find the perfect thing to fit in to his work/home/hobby balance that he will actually use? Tricky! But we think we’ve been pretty clever over the years.

A Swanky Badger Wallet

I gave my husband this wallet last year and he cried! It is the perfect practical gift with a twist. You are able to personalize the wallet with their initials and a cute engraved note. It has held up well to daily use and is going to be hard to top this year.

A Personalized Watch or Bracelet

You are somewhat restricted with what personal effects you can wear in a military uniform, but I wanted to get my husband something he could wear with a personal message from us. I settled on a leather bracelet with a latin phrase on it and our kids’ initials. He can wear it under his sleeve. I was iffy about this gift, because again, he isn’t one for jewelry, but he loved it and wore it throughout deployment as a reminder of us.

Kids Mad Libs

There are a ton of free and cute Father’s Day themed mad libs all over Pinterest. We have done this with our kiddo the past two years and the answers are always adorable. They are a free and fun way our showing your spouse how special they are to the kids in your life. It is also easy to store away and read years down the road.

Building Memories with Legos

Both my husband and son love Legos, so this was perfect for them. Just find a mason jar, some big Legos, and brainstorm some activities with your little ones. We used twelve Legos, so they would get to pick a fun activity each month. It was truly the gift that kept on giving. To see exactly how it’s done click here.

Hand/Foot Art

I mean look how cute these are! You can make a card with any theme that suits your family. The best part, you can do this with the smallest of babies to older children. Just grab some paper or canvas, paint, and paintbrushes and you are ready to go. I love to look back at all of their hand/footprints art over the years to see how much they have grown. Sometimes we forget just how tiny they once were.

Scavenger Hunt

Have your kids help make a scavenger hunt to find his gift that includes some of dad’s favorite places. Stop by a hiking trail, park, coffee shop, sporting goods store, etc! This is something you can do in a pinch with whatever gift(s) you already have and your kids will love being involved.

Create a Dad-worthy Snack

Get kids in the kitchen and make dad a custom snack mix, just for him. Get a mason jar or other container and they can even design the label! Sweet tooth? More of a savory fan? Add in chex, cheese puffs, gummy bears, M&Ms, etc! Anything dad would like to sit down on the couch with while he relaxes. Then have your kids name the snack. This one is fun and super easy to do last minute. Plus he will probably get a good laugh from whatever name the kids go with!

A Fishing License

Father’s Day gifts don’t have to be something tangible you can hand Dad on the day-of. We sprung for a long overdue gift, a lifetime hunting and fishing license. While the lifetime license costs more, an annual permit can be purchased online for as little as $15 and let dad fish his heart out all year! Plus the money spent for these permits goes back into helping our state and our wildlife. Win-win! Check our the options for your state, or if he’s not a fisherman or hunter, consider another membership he might like! Crossfit? Golf Club? Coffee of the month club? Magazine subscription?

Get Sentimental

While maybe not every year, sometimes it’s fun to give dad a sentimental gift like us moms get often. Even if it’s not something practical. I found this music box on Etsy and had a picture of the girls from our last Father’s Day camping trip put in with it, and it plays his favorite song. It also has to do with a childhood memory of his, so checking all the sentimental boxes! Picturing our kids taking this off the shelf and playing the song for years to come made me tear up a little, I’ll admit!

Quality Time

If nothing else catches your fancy, DO SOMETHING DAD LIKES! Go to a baseball game, sleep under the stars, hit up a (family-friendly) brewery tour, take a hike, find a food festival. The possibilities are endless! But sometimes the best gift is simply time together and memories made.

If you have any other fun or creative Father’s Day gift ideas drop them below. We love seeing how everyone celebrates the holidays.

XO Kate & Elizabeth

crafts, Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Color Hunt

Play is the highest form of research.

Albert Einstein

As we came inside to take a break from playing in the rain, I noticed all the colors dancing around our playroom. I realized that the toys we play with day in and day out are, in themselves, a learning tool. So, we went on a treasure hunt, well, a color hunt. You’ll see what I mean.

What you will need:

  • Two toilet paper rolls or one paper towel roll cut in half.
  • Tape
  • A large piece of paper 
  • Markers

Grab your big piece of paper and divide it into equal sections. I did 9 squares, but you can use as many or few based on what is best for your child. Next, write down the names of the colors using the corresponding marker.

While making the grid, have your child color the toilet or paper towel rolls. Once they are done coloring, take some tape and tape the rolls together. Now, you are ready to go on a color hunt!

Place the piece of paper in the middle of the room and let your kiddo go to work. Have them look around and find anything they can that matches the colors in your grid. Gray loved looking through his binoculars to find each new item.

Some colors can be a little tricky, like those teal puzzle pieces. He switched them between the green and the blue a few times, but either would be have been correct. Let your kiddo problem solve and search without interference, unless they ask for help of course!

Gray looked around the playroom for almost an hour, adding and taking away things as the grid filled. This is something that we will do again in the near future.

If you want to add more literacy, this fun art project pairs well with the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It is one of our favorites and a great way to explore color learning.

What are some of your favorite color projects?

Take a look at some more fun activities for your kiddos.

XO Kate & Elizabeth

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive a small affiliate commission. Regardless, we give our promise that we only recommend products or services we would use personally and believe will add values to our readers.

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I Hide Ice-Cream in My Coffee Cup

A friend of mine recently shared an article on Facebook about moms getting burnt out, and how a self-care moment here and there isn’t enough. And in her status she said, “So what’s the freaking solution?! Tired of feeling like there isn’t one.”

And you know what. Me too. I didn’t know how to give advice to my fellow mom friend because I am that mom too. I don’t know the answer because I also face the problem. I don’t feel like this everyday, but some days, of course I do! Is there anyone that doesn’t? She mentioned just not wanting to get out of bed and do it (aka parent today). My only attempt at advice was that it’s totally okay to let yourself feel that way. We feel like we should’t feel that way for some reason, but it’s 100% okay to FEEL. Sometimes I don’t want to mom either. Sometimes my kids want to read a book or play a game that I just don’t want to. I don’t even want to fake want to. Do you want to wear this necklace? Not really. Want to play doctor with me? Please no, not again, because spoiler alert, I always give the wrong diagnosis to the same exact symptom and have to start over! I think that’s incredibly normal to feel this way. So why do we feel bad about it? What do we do?

I often thank the stars that I went to high school before social media. THANK. GOODNESS. Kids have it so hard today! And in many ways, moms do too. I love sharing photos on Instagram of my children with family and friends who live far away from us. I love following high school and even elementary school friends on Facebook and watching their success. I love following local pages and finding events. I love this blog and hearing from other parents, like you! What I don’t love is seeing other people compare themselves to the homes, children, and mothers online. I don’t love seeing snarky, imposing comments on my friend’s public Instagram accounts. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I have a fair amount of self-confidence and a good filter. It is pretty easy for me to be optimistic and happy for someone, yet tell myself that’s probably not their everyday. I understand Instagram. I understand it’s highlights and collaborations and pretty snippets. If your house is spotless every single day, I’m not even jealous, I don’t even want that much cleaning in my life! I also want the best for people. I really do. I have no desire to say something that would in any way diminish the picture you want the world to see. It’s your life. But some people apparently do! I truly believe that moms are letting STRANGERS get to them, making them think they should do more with their kids, work less, be cleaner, buy more things, not sell things on social media, take trips, be home more. This is adding to the burn out.

When I got hooked on “Girl Wash Your Face,” like many other women out there, it was not in her inspirational stories (of which there are many) that drew me in, but her real life admissions in the very first chapter. Why? Because it reinforces the thought that IT’S NOT JUST ME. I am not the only one. She’s a great mom, and she falters too. I can’t imagine the scrutiny she has faced, the DMs and emails she has had to read, just because people disagree and feel the need to let her know. Why do people have the urge to criticize? A healthy debate is one thing, but making someone feel wrong or less than is completely different. And comparing your life to someone else’s online life is ridiculous. Comparison is the thief of joy, so just plain DON’T!

So, like my friend asked, what’s the freaking solution? I think the solution is truth & a filter, but that’s easier said than done. One of the best things we can do as moms is be ourselves, share our truths, and have the confidence to not care what others think NOR care if their life seems a little shinier. Assume that people feel the same way when they see your life! You would be surprised how many people think the world of your parenting skills and the things you do for your kids. Assume that people are sharing their highlights, their best moments, because who really wants to remember the bad ones? Don’t let what someone else does affect your mood or your parenting for the worse, only for the better. And for goodness sake PLEASE HAVE A FILTER. Not only in what you see, but in what you say to others.

I say all of this because her comment really struck a chord with me. For one, she was not someone I would have believed to be struggling. She is a wonderful mom, a kind and genuine person, and runs her own business. It was refreshing, to see her admit this instead of posting a shiny picture. Like reading that book, it made me feel like I’m not alone on the days I feel like this too. And now I hope you know you aren’t either.

Here are some of our truths, from both Elizabeth & Kate, to let you know we may have clever DIY ideas and take our kids on fun adventures and seem patient AF, but we are often boring and messy and super impatient:

-I hide ice-cream in my coffee cup during the day. If my kids get suspicious I tell them it’s coffee yogurt and get no more questions.
-My kids DO watch TV, and sometimes way “too much,” but they don’t mind, I stay sane on those days, and they won’t be worse off later in life. They really won’t.
-We eat chicken nuggets and frozen pizza and Easy Mac on the reg. Healthy meals that everyone loves make me feel like a supermom, but they don’t happen every day.
-About those healthy meals, sometimes I bribe my kids to eat them. “If you finish your plate, you can have a cookie”, is said probably a few to many times around here.
-I do yell at my kids and only sometimes feel bad about it afterwards. My oldest usually laughs at me, so I don’t think she will be scarred for life. I am an imperfect person, and emotions sometimes get the best of me.
-We go on car rides just for my sanity’s sake. When everyone is having a meltdown, we hop in the car and good ol’ Starbucks drive thru here we come.
-I don’t dust. I just don’t. And sweeping and mopping are rare. Dog hair is a way of life around here and the four of us are okay with it.
-I don’t always want to play with my kids. Sure, building a tower can be fun, but after 10 or so times I’m over it.
-We listen to 90’s rap music and dance around the room. Disney is great, but sometimes you just need to bring back the oldies and skip the kid music.
-I watch trashy TV to wind down instead of being productive. Often. I too see those “supermoms” who raise 5 kids and run a business and sew their matching clothes and then craft on their vinyl machine. Or spend their downtime reading current events. Nope, not me. I don’t have the energy left at the end of the day and just want some mindless “me” time.
-Which brings me to the fact that I BOUGHT a vinyl machine and barely know how to use it. It’s okay to not be crafty.
-I worry about how people will take what I say and I am a classic people-pleaser, but I also try to be true to myself and teach my kids to be respectful, but strong. We are all just doing our best!

Bachelorette and overpriced ice coffee while the kids nap instead of doing ANYTHING ELSE productive. Cheers to mindless me time!

Share one of your mom truths in the comments below. It’s freeing, I promise! And we definitely won’t judge. Thanks for reading!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

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DIY Watermelon Popsicles

It has been HOT here in North Carolina, so we have been eating a ton of popsicles. As my kids sat there devouring their sugary treat I couldn’t help but wonder how I could make it a bit healthier. I don’t know if its just my two kiddos, but they have a ton of energy all they time. Feeding them basically frozen sugar water wasn’t doing myself any favors.

So, I hopped on good old Amazon and ordered some popsicle molds. Thanks to prime, two days later they arrived on my doorstep. You would have thought I would be googling recipes while I wanted for the molds, but nope I didn’t. Of course, my son was so excited when they arrived we needed to make popsicles immediately or so he told me.

I found a few recipes on Pinterest, but didn’t have nearly enough ingredients for any of them. So, we created our own!

What you will need:

  • Popsicle mold
  • About 4 cups of watermelon
  • Half a lime
  • Blender
  • Sugar (optional)

This is not an exact science and you can add or substract whatever ingredients you may like. We did not add sugar and I think the popsicles came out pretty sweet. Bonus, my kiddos loved them as well.

How to make them:

Chop up some watermelon and throw it into the blender.

Juice about a half of a lime and add that in as well. *This is where you’d add the sugar, if wanted. *

Once everything is smoothly blended together pour it into the molds. Leave about a half inch at the top for the popsicles to expand when freezing.

This was the hardest part for my son, put them in the freezer for at least 4 hours. I am pretty sure I heard the question ” Are they done yet?” at least 20 times that day. So, in retrospect it may be best to make these at night and skip the “Are they done yet?” question.

Once they in fact were done, the verdict was in and they were a success. We can’t wait to try out different flavors this summer.

What are some of your favorite popsicles flavors? I would love some ideas for next time.

XO Kate & Elizabeth