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Messy Play! Shower Curtain Painting.

With the help of some nice weather and a shower curtain, our morning was spent outside painting.

Both of my kiddos have been messy art enthusiasts since the first time they felt paint. With every project we do they end up being covered from their head to their toes. So, we decided to take out painting outside. With some washable paint, paintbrushes, and shower curtain liner they went to town.

What you will need:

  • Washable paint (I know these are a little pricey, but they last for a long time!)
  • A shower curtain liner
  • Paint brushes
  • Tape
  • Something to put the paint on

Before the kiddos headed outside, I took some tape and taped the ends of the shower curtain to the fence. We poured the paint on the plates, gave each kiddo a paintbrush, and let them go to town.

They started off with paint brushes and quickly changed to finger painting! They mixed colors, painted the curtain, and some on the fence. Thankfully, the washable paint sprayed right off with the hose.

The kids had so much fun smearing the paint on the curtain together and making handprints all over. Grayson is already requesting to paint again! I am sure this will be an activity we do many more times over the summer. The best part, clean up was so easy. Spray everything with the hose, from the kids to the curtain. The paint washed out and I kept it hung up to dry.

XO Kate & Elizabeth

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Flashlight Look and Find

We have played a ton of flashlight type games, but this one was a little different. We didn’t need any batteries, just some imagination. And let me tell you, his imagination went wild and I am sure your child’s will too.

What you will need:

Let’s get started! First, pick your theme. My son is in love with all things construction, so that’s what I picked. Once you have your theme you can either find a picture and trace it or if you are more artistically inclined, draw your own.

For my picture, I added a little challenge for my son. I hid the letters of his name throughout the pictures for him to find. You can hide letters, numbers, or shapes in your picture to make it even more fun.

Once your picture is complete, take out the picture you traced (if you used one), and insert the black construction paper into the bag. Now we can get started on the flashlight! It’s super easy you guys, I promise. Draw a simple flashlight, cut it out, but leave some white paper showing as if its the light shining. I have a picture of it below to help you visualize.

You are now ready to start your flashlight hunt! Have you little one put the flashlight into the bag and watch the magic happen. The drawing will pop out from behind the black paper and look as though a light is being shown on it. Grayson’s face lit up with surprise as he moved the flashlight from left to right.

A few tips!

  • You need to use permanent marker or else it will all wipe off.
  • Let the marker dry before handing it over to your kiddo or you’ll end up with a smudged mess.
  • The most important tip, it doesn’t have to be perfect. They will love it no matter what.

XO Kate & Elizabeth

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He’ll Never Know

It’s 5:30am. Still dark. My preschooler walks in, to my side of the bed of course. I nudge my husband. “Can you get up with the kids? I had a rough night.”

You can tell them, but they won’t know. They may see the tip of the iceberg that is motherhood, but they don’t see what lies underneath. The feelings behind the tears, the mom guilt, the aching body, the worry you aren’t doing things right, the magic and overwhelming exhaustion of what it means to be the one everyone needs something from. To be mom.

Last night I was rocking my toddler back to sleep. It was 4am. The one who rarely wakes overnight anymore. The one who hardly ever wakes up crying. I heard her fuss, heard discomfort in her cry, and glanced at the clock. For thirty seconds or so I continued to listen without moving. Was she in pain? Was it her teeth? Is she sick? Maybe she’s thirsty. Will she go back to bed? Beside me, my husband sleeps. I roll out of bed and fill a cup of water, grab a new diaper, and head into her room. She giggles. “Great, I’ve been duped,” I think. She sips water while I change her diaper, then I rock with her for a bit. My mind drifts between wishing for my bed and realizing one day I’ll wish for this moment again, when she’s small enough to cuddle and rock in my arms. I hug her a little tighter, stay in her room a little longer, and try to be thankful she’s okay and all is well.

A few hours before this, my preschooler came in. She went to bed at 10pm, pretty much yanking any “me time” right out from under me. My husband and I tried to watch a movie together, and I fell asleep on the couch. So now it’s past midnight, and she’s standing by the bed. My side, of course. She doesn’t want to sleep in her room. She can’t find her bear. She’s thirsty. I rolled out of bed, got her more water, found the missing bear, tucked her in, told her goodnight. I crawl back in bed and wonder if she’s going to go back to an early bedtime? Will she eventually start to sleep in? Today is the first day back at preschool. I hope she doesn’t catch as many viruses as she did last year. Am I giving her enough attention? What can I do today to help her learn? Beside me, my husband sleeps. Eventually I drift back to sleep too. For a bit.

I was unprepared for the constant mental exhaustion that is motherhood. Mom brains run 24/7. A mantra I repeat to myself when I get overwhelmed is “Worry is a prayer for the unwanted.” I know it’s true, but worry is inevitable. Am I strong enough for this? We want another child, can I handle it? Am I patient enough? Who will I ask to help me if one of my kids has to go to the ER and my husband is gone? I hate asking for help. Will I be able to ask for help? I lost my temper today. Will that effect them long term? Are they going to have tempers too? Are they going to be kind to others? Am I kind enough to them? Am I doing my best?

These are thoughts that go through my mind all the time. When I have a quiet moment to myself, when I am trying to fall asleep, when I am holding back tears. I try to self-soothe by reassuring myself I wouldn’t be given more than I can handle. I have great family. My kids are good kids. I have friends who will help if I ask. There are families who deal with so much, we have it so good. I know these things are true, but they don’t erase the words that fill my mind in the silence. Beyond the worries, there’s filling up our mental plates: What is for dinner? When is their next dentist appointment? Did I pay preschool tuition? What can I plan for today to keep these little people active? Are there any bills I forgot about? When should kids know their ABC’s, are we behind? When does my car need an oil change? Stolen sleep. Silent worries. A neverending to-do list. A house that is never as clean as I’d like. A project left incomplete. A book unread. Laundry for days. Mom guilt. Stress. Feeling less than. Waking up feeling this way, before even the sun. Beside me, he sleeps. He’ll never know.

It’s hard, feeling the weight of all this, the weight that is motherhood, before the sun even rises. When you’re exhausted and can’t rest. You can say it, explain it, cry it out, he can even take a shift now and then, but he’ll never know what it’s like all the time. Just like I’ll never know his stresses at work, or what it’s like to leave his babies for months at a time, even half a year. Worrying about providing for his family. Worrying about retirement. Missing holidays and birthdays and milestones while he’s away. I’ll never know.

Motherhood is hard. Fatherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. These are facts.

I have amazing children. I can handle anything thrown my way. I am a great mom. These are also facts.

To anyone who feels like they aren’t enough, or whose emotions go misconstrued, or who cries when you feel you shouldn’t, just know we all feel that way sometimes. It means you are better than you think, braver than you know, and as strong as you need to be. When you are grumpy and short-tempered with your family and worry everyone sees you as a monster, take comfort in this: Your husband knows the real you, he knows you are tired, and is thankful for everything you do. He isn’t thinking badly about you, he just hopes you’re okay. Your kids forgot about it almost as soon as it happened. They are worried about snacks and playtime, and they will still choose you over dad for everything. Your babies love you endlessly, they are loving little blank canvases. They just want to touch you and be near you, no matter what you say or do. The only person upset at you, is you. And you are doing just fine.

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

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Ice Pop Painting

It’s been hot here in North Carolina, super hot actually. With the heat comes short trips outside, so that everyone doesn’t overheat. These ice pops melt just in time to head back in for some relief from the heat.

I would recommend doing this activity outside because may get messy! Bonus, you can paint the concrete when they are tired of coloring on the paper.

What you will need:

  • Ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Food coloring or washable paint
  • Clothespins or Popsicle sticks
  • White paper

You can do this with either food coloring or washable paint, whichever you have handy. How I made them was by putting two drops of food coloring in each container. Those two drops were more then enough to create the bright colors we were looking for.

Once you have your colors made place a popsicle stick or clothespin in each color. Now for the hard part, throw them in the freezer until they are frozen. This took about two to three hours for ours to fully harden.

Those of you with small children, the clothespins seemed to be easier for my 1.5 year old to hold onto. As soon as the popsicles were set down the kiddos went to work. They painted the paper, the concrete and even themselves.

It did get messy, but most of the dye washed off in the bathtub!

Here is one of their masterpieces!

XO Kate & Elizabeth

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‘Cause Baby You’re a Firework

I can’t believe Fourth of July is right around the corner! Like in three days! It is one of our favorite holidays. We love having a cookout, playing at the beach, and watching fireworks with our friends and family. With that being said, we have started our celebration a few days early with some fun and slightly messy fireworks. Now, these fireworks aren’t as loud, but they are just as pretty.

What you will need:

  • A few toilet paper rolls
  • Scissors
  • Red, White, and Blue paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Black Construction paper

First, I cut the toilet paper rolls to make little slits. If your kiddo has good scissor skills and you aren’t scared of getting your finger cut off, let them do this part. I would like to keep my fingers, so I went ahead and did this step myself.

Now to the fun, and messy, part. Give the kiddos a paint brush or three and let them go to town. As you can see my son wanted to add a little eye paint to his outfit today. It’s washable, so no worries. Let them paint the spindles and then press them onto the piece of paper.

Let them paint and stamp until their hearts are content. We made a ton of fireworks and they are already asking to do it again. Here are a few of their masterpieces!

We would love to see your kiddos masterpieces in the comments!

XO Kate & Elizabeth

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Our House is a Zoo

I can’t imagine a house without pets. I have literally never had to. When I was born, there was my dad’s black lab, Jezebel. Then slowly we added cats. A good many cats, because my mom had to pass the animal shelter on the way home from work and couldn’t turn down giving them a good home. In middle school and high school came less cats and more dogs. And while we were in college my (now) husband and I got our first dog, Kenzie.

By the time my first daughter was born, we had somehow had accumulated three dogs. Three. I say somehow, but I know exactly how it happened. I should have seen it coming. See, we had every intention of breeding Kenzie when she was younger, and try we did, but she was not a fan. After meeting five or so male labs over the years to try and make that happen, we just decided to give up and find a second dog to keep her company. We found what were advertised as “snow white labs” a state over and became obsessed. Kenzie was a yellow lab, and we both remember the day we saw a portly white male lab walking through Bass Pro Shops and wanted to kidnap him, he was so perfect. We drove to pick out our new puppy and arrived in a very rural town in South Carolina. When we pulled up to the house there were two puppies left for us to choose from. Pro move: I hopped out of the car first and didn’t wait for my husband. I walked straight up to the puppy pen and one cute little dog with a cowlick on his nose jumped right up to me. The other literally turned away from me and faced the fence. My husband didn’t stand a chance in helping to choose this dog, it was decided. And that’s how we got Cotton. He was trouble from the start. And before we could get him fixed, right after his “coming of age”, he got our 8 year old lab pregnant. Go. Figure. And that’s how we have Olive, our pick of the litter. Cotton and Olive are less than a year apart in age.

So, my daughter was born into a house with three dogs. And as much as I love my dogs, our house is a zoo. I started to imagine what having a house without dogs was like. Do people without dogs even have to vacuum? What does their dirt even look like if it doesn’t have dog hair in it? Wouldn’t it be nice to leave the house overnight and not have to take the dog? Don’t get me started on keeping up with vet visits and heart medication and 15month well baby check-ups and dentist appointments…my head is a zoo too. I used to get really upset when people had kids and got rid of their dogs. I just didn’t see how they could do that to a member of their family. One of the FIRST members of their family. Because that’s what our dogs were to us, family. But now that I have kids, I do understand. Some days you barely feed and bathe yourself, so that means the dog is getting better care than even you are. But, while I no longer judge that decision, I could never do it. We love our little zoo.

When you see your 1 year old throw the ball for the dog and laugh and laugh and laugh, it’s worth it. When you find your 3 year old giving the dog a check-up with her doctor kit and he’s totally cooperating, it’s worth it. When you’ve had a long day and finally got the kids to bed and plop on the couch and the dog comes to cuddle with you, a soft, SILENT creature that isn’t asking you for anything, it’s worth it. And that may not be the case for everyone, but our house will always have dogs.

About a year ago, when our kids were 2 years old and 5 months old, Kenzie passed away. Our first dog, our fellow adventurer, our kid before kids. Because yes, dog mom is a thing. She passed away suddenly in her sleep. When we found her outside, we had just put the kids to bed. I hugged her and cried. And cried some more. I told her I was sorry over and over. It just poured out of me, because since having kids she hadn’t gotten my attention. I didn’t have as much patience for dog things. She hadn’t been taken to the beach, or in the boat, or anything we used to do. She hadn’t been played with as much in the backyard. She’d slowed down, and so had I. That was a brand new form of mom guilt that hit me like a wave. I know she had a good life, but I feel like I dropped the ball at the end. And I didn’t know it was the end until it was. We called a pet crematorium and sat in the driveway with her under the stars until they arrived. The next morning, when our two year old asked where she was, we told her she was an angel now. My tiny little toddler said “Oh, I wish she would come back.” And it’s worth it. She won’t have memories of Kenzie, just like I have very few of the black lab I was brought home to, but we will remember those things, like how Kenzie sniffed the carseat on that very first Spring day.

Just like kids, dogs teach us so many things about the world around us, and they teach our kids so many things too. Responsibility, compassion, friendship, trust, loyalty. It seems so true of everything in life that there are seasons. Childhood is a great season. Pets are a great season. When they run together, it’s amazing. Seasons may reoccur, with new pets and new babies, but you can never go back. It’s also true that sometimes the hardest things are the most rewarding, and while pets and kids are HARD, I wouldn’t trade it. I love they they have furry best friends to hug and whisper to when we, their parents, make them mad. I love that they can dress them up and involve them in their games. I love that the dogs will sleep at the foot of their bed when we let them, watching over them as they sleep. They are a comfort of childhood, and it warms my heart to watch these seasons. Two very different seasons that go by way too fast.

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

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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.