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Quiet Time Look & Find

As I plan our first road trip of many, my wheels begin to turn on quiet time activities. Finding quiet activities to keep those little minds busy during long car rides is key. To make sure that boredom doesn’t turn into meltdowns, it’s best to make sure your kiddos have something to focus on. A Look & Find bottle is a great quiet toy that will keep them busy for a long stretch of time.

What you will need:

  • Empty water bottle
  • Rice (I used the rice from our current Sensory bin )
  • Funnel or Cup with a spout
  • Knick knacks
  • Hot Glue or Tape

Onto the part you are really interested in, the how to:

First, you’ll want to find a few fun little knick knacks from around the house. Check in those junk drawers, we all have one or two, the playroom, and those hidden spots like under the couch. Once you have your items, create a checklist of everything your kiddo is going to search for. This will come in handy later on.

Next, find a little helper. Creating the Look & Find bottle is almost as fun as playing with it once it is done. Have your little one fill the bottle about half way up with rice, eyeballing is perfectly okay! You can use a funnel or a cup with a spout, whichever is easiest for your kiddo.

Add a few of your knick knacks, and then add another layer of rice, enough to cover them. Repeat this step until all of the knickknacks are used and the bottle is full. When the bottle is completely full, screw the lid on tight. To make sure the top doesn’t come off, you can add hot glue to the inside of the lid or tape around the outside.

Now, since my three year old can’t read yet, I keep the list for myself. The list allows me to ask them to search for different items and to check them off as they are found. If your child is able to read, tape the list to the outside of the bottle and have them find each item.

Just like that you have created your very own Look & Find bottle.

We would love to hear about your quiet time activities.

XO Kate

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Camping with 3 & Unders: A Survival Guide

Last summer, my husband got a wild hair about getting a camper. With him being an avid tent camper and huge fan of roughing it, and me not, I got on board pretty quickly. This would be like glamping! We decided a used pop-up camper was the way to go, just in case it wasn’t for us we could re-sell and not be out a huge investment. My husband searched daily and found one pretty quickly. Living the military life and having two little kids (and two dogs) doesn’t make it easy to travel, so our goal with the camper was to take little adventures and make the most of our time together, while traveling affordably. We brought it home, cleaned it out, and took inventory of everything we had and what we might need. We actually lucked out and got a lot of freebies thrown in with our camper, so we decided to be ambitious and take a trip right away!

Between last summer and now, we have learned a lot. I’ll admit, there have been days where I wonder WHY in the world we thought this was a good idea and I swear we aren’t taking another trip ANYTIME soon. But then, much more often, there are days where I just feel bliss, and soak up all the memories I possibly can, watching my kids experience things and creating ways to play that they never would have at home. Last week I rocked my youngest to sleep in a hammock under the last light of day, listening to crickets and birds, in the middle of a National Forest. Just take a second to appreciate how cool that sounds! We’ve seen lighthouses, mountains, and waterfalls all just in the past 9 months. Every single time we pack up, I am so so so thankful we took the trip, no matter what tiny struggles we may have had. So, if you are thinking of camping, in a tent or camper (we have done both with two babies!), here are my words of wisdom:

Start somewhere close. When we planned our first trip in the camper, we went an hour away from home. We tried to anticipate all the things that could go wrong and decided that worst case scenario, we could drive home at any hour of the day. We also chose to go to a KOA, which as new “campers” we learned stands for Kampgrounds of America. What is great about these is the amenities, and their consistency. Almost every KOA has the same amenities and they are AMAZING for kids. Bathrooms, showers, pools, little convenience stores, dog parks, and rentals, among other things. Since we were worried about keeping little ones entertained, a KOA sounded like a great first trip! We also watched several videos on YouTube to make sure we had everything our camper might need, like proper electrical hookups for example. When we planned our first tent camping trip, my oldest was 15 months old and I was 3 months pregnant, so we also decided a local-ish trip was the way to go and picked a National Forest campground near my parent’s house. Having home close by is a good safety net and stress reliever in my opinion!

Toss expectations out the window. Coming on strong with #2 on the list, I know, but let’s just get it out of the way. Parts of this are going to be challenging. While camping with kids, at some point you will STRUGGLE. When campgrounds are by a river or covered in huge boulders and you can see that spark in their tiny toddler eyes, your brain may short-circuit for a minute while you wrap your mind around how to keep your child from seriously injuring themselves. That’s okay. Just agree up front that you are going to be as “go with the flow” as possible. This is new, and new things come with a learning curve. Our first trip, we forgot coffee. This was DETREMENTAL! The second trip we remembered coffee but forgot cream and sugar. Better, but not ideal. We had a coffee curse! But now, just having completed our last trip this past week over spring break, packing and grocery shopping came relatively quick and easy. You WILL get the hang of it, it WILL be worth it, and your kids WILL have fun (and you will too.) Don’t stress over if they are eating enough fruit or if they get unbelievably dirty, or if you forget to pack a couple things. Treat it like the vacation that it is and try to make the best of what you’ve got! One thing that helps calm my nerves when going new places is to research the campgrounds and look for photos online of what to expect. I do this by using good ol’ Google and also by searching hashtags on Instagram, either of the campground name or park name. That way I can set expectations accordingly.

Pack familiar things. Nearly everything you are about to do is going to be different. One saving grace for me was bringing a travel high chair. When my youngest daughter was 9 months old, we went to the Outer Banks. She couldn’t walk, but MAN could she crawl. And if you haven’t been inside a pop-up, crawling is a little worrisome! So being able to strap her in her seat for snacks and meals, even to play with toys while we cooked dinner, was a lifesaver. Also be sure to pack favorite stuffed animals, blankets, or whatever comfort items you would usually pack for your kiddos, because camping does bring along unfamiliar places and noises! I suggest pack-n-plays or dock-a-tots for little ones so that they can nap/play easy. Monkey Mats also come in very handy for being able to play anywhere.

Bring along layers. Packing clothing for you and your kids is a little tough, because while you want to pack light for a tight space like a tent or camper, you also want to have enough clothing. When we went camping in the mountains this past October it was our first time “dry-camping.” That means that while our camper has hookups for electricity and water, we camped on a campground without. That also means no heat or AC. The first day we were in t-shirts and long pants, loving the fall weather. The last night, we experienced 60+ MPH gusts which shook our entire soft top camper, I was convinced a huge tree was going to crush us, and the wind chill was in the teens. Sleeping under lantern light and no heat with a 2 year old and 10 month old. Insane right?! But we made it and we agree it was our best trip ever. It’s funny how challenging or uncomfortable things sometimes form the fondest memories. Make sure to pack layers, rain jackets, etc for any possible weather. And a FEW duplicate clothing items, because kids.

Keep toys simple. Time to go back to basics! Staple toys for us, no matter the destination, include a bucket and a shovel. I also have recently started including a little Tupperware container for temporary critter observation (lol). For my youngest, I like to throw in a few toys from home that keep her entertained: something to read, something that makes noise, something to chew on, and something to stack/build. At the age they are now (3 and 16 months), I include play-doh and crayons/paper for some crafting, and the iPad in case the weather is bad and we need to watch a movie until the rain passes. The iPad also doubles as a sound machine for daytime naps! When selecting what to pack to keep kiddos entertained, try to find the balance between pushing them to be creative and explore their surroundings, and you staying sane. Remember why you want to take them camping in the first place and try to be creative yourself, and make the most of your time in the wild as a family. Play can be ANYTHING.

Push yourself. Also during that aforementioned mountain trip, we arrived to our campsite at 1:30am, set up in the dark, and went to sleep around 3am. We then woke up at 5am to make a 30 minute drive and see the sunrise on Mt. Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. Hiking up that short trail to the summit with nature completely silent around us and being alone on top of a mountain watching a new day?! Oh man. We ALL did it with smiles on our faces and it was a breathtaking experience. I’ll never forget. Camping is adventure, so make sure you bring your adventurous side. See the sights, eat the food, make the drive. We hiked to see a lighthouse and sweated through our clothes. We tent camped by a river and were eaten alive by bugs. We snuggled in one bed as freezing wind shook our surroundings. These are the stories we write together, as a family. The good laughs and fond memories come from experiences that stand apart from all the rest.

Some of our must-take prodcuts:
Cutter All Family wipes are amazing, and probably worked the best for us! We snagged these Para’kito wrist bands and clip for the babies from Walmart. They are baby safe (all natural ingredients/essential oils) and work well as a back-up, but wouldn’t recommend them being your only insect repellent. We also use Thermacell repellants and citronella candles around the campsite if it’s really bad. Coppertone Water Babies works best for us, we love the whipped sunscreen, but Babyganics makes great products too.

My packing list for the kids:
-sunscreen
-bug control
-thermometer & baby tylenol, along with first aid kid
-hats
-For warmer months: light jacket or rain jacket, for colder months: layered clothing up to a heavy jacket
-basic toys
-iPad (sound machine or a bad weather day)
-diapers, wipes, potty
-plastic grocery bags for dirty diapers, wet clothes, etc.
-towels & baby shampoo
-kid-safe antibacterial hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes
-pillows & stuffed animal
-bedtime story
-baby carrier (I bring my Tula and my WildBird sling)
-bathing suit, water shoes, and foldable pool for warmer months
-Monkey Mat

-water cups

Remember, camping doesn’t have to be roughing it. One of the reasons we got a camper was to ultimately save cost on vacations. Many theme parks, national landmarks, and other attractions have designated camping areas (even Disney!) where you can stay and sight-see. We haven’t been able to do this yet, but it’s on our bucket list. Since getting our camper, we have slowly added upgrades to make traveling further more attainable, such as a composting toilet, outdoor canopy, and gated fence for our dogs (and kids, lol). We love dreaming up all the places we will go!

Feeling on top of the world. Sunrise in October on Mt. Mitchell. Elevation 6,684ft. The highest peak east of the Mississippi River.


Now, start planning your adventure! Feel free to comment if you want to know anymore about our camp life!

XOXO, Elizabeth

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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

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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

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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