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, sharing, siblings, toddlers

This Is How We Share

Children are selfish. They live their little lives like we would often like to. Do what you want, when you want, how you want. Something breaks? Oh well. Decide to quit halfway through? Cool, let’s leave that for mom to finish. Want something someone else has? Grab it and RUN. Literally, run. It is our job, as boring, rule-following adults, to teach our children to tone it down a notch, basically.

When my first daughter was 18-24 months old, she really struggled with independent play. She wanted us involved in any and every activity, which was really tiring to say the least. Her go-to “play” was just to hand us everything. EVERYTHING! We made a fair amount of headway before baby sister came along, and continued to learn to play on our own. But, now as baby sister is walking around, of course she wants to get her paws on anything and everything. However; what really took me by surprise was that my oldest now wants to takeover everything my youngest has! Shouldn’t it be the other way around?! My youngest will play on her own and find her own toys, and my oldest tramples in to “play with her” with the best intentions, but ends up taking over the activity. And thus began my curiosity on how others reinforce sharing.

At first I just stuck with what I knew. We take turns. That makes sense and is fair, right? But while it seems simple to us, it really isn’t to the toddler mindset. They are giving up something that they don’t want to, not knowing when they will get it back. And in some cases sharing means not getting something back at all. When I tell my oldest to share her snack, she does so very reluctantly, understanding that this means she gets less snack (and therefore she usually starts eating much, much faster.) This seemed okay for awhile, but as my youngest grew more mobile it became less effective. How do you explain taking turns and asking for a toy when the littlest member of the family yanks a toy and runs with no intention of returning it? How do you make a 3 year old share her goldfish crackers and not expect your 1 year old to do the same? This technique left me struggling to explain “it’s because she’s a baby” and led to some confused and hurt expressions from my oldest (even though she always took it like a champ!)

Then we toured my daughter’s preschool, a cute little Montessori school a town over. I was introduced to a new ideology on sharing, and loved how simple it was. When another child is playing with a toy or activity, it is theirs for as long as they want it. Once they put the toy back it’s up for grabs again! What?! This blew my mind a little bit. I was always raised with same-time sharing in mind. Share or no one plays with it. My favorite results from this Montessori method are that they A) allow a child to fully play with an activity without having to pause their imagination and B) they learn patience. Waiting is hard, even for adults! Understanding early on that waiting is kind and a valuable life skill is amazing. This is also easier to enforce with smaller children, because they don’t have to understand when they can and can’t take a toy from another child and you don’t have to wrestle it back from them and try to explain they are sharing. No positive associations with that word right there!

My only hesitation with this method was, how do they learn to play together? If they are always waiting on a toy, WILL they play together? The answer is yes. I think that in the “waiting” and watching, the child playing with the toy first is allowed to shine and lead the playing. They create the rules for this short-term play and the second child adapts. In my experience at home, they always end up playing together, and if things start to go south the best method is distraction. Lead the other one to a new activity. My girls rarely battle over toys these days, so I think it’s a successful sharing practice! But as in most things in life, I always try to be open minded to trying new things. There is no black and white over here, we bend and stretch the rules to learn what works best for us.

So here are some tips for getting kids (age 1-3, because that’s the experience we have!) to share:

  • Watch their interactions first. Every child is different. Some will be content with the dynamic struck, even if one child is doing the majority of the playing. Let them try to work it out themselves. Aka, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! If you notice a power struggle, step in and try a few of these tips.
  • Lead by example. Share your food with them. Share the TV. Share books or magazines with your spouse. Sit on the floor and play with a toy, then share it with them. Let them know you are sharing and they are doing a good job sharing with you. When they can associate good feelings of being played with to the word “share” they are more likely to want to do it on their own. They now understand this is a good action.
  • Encourage clean up. Not only does this save the adults in the house a ton of time, but it’s an important life skill to learn to be organized and see things through. It also is a clear cut signal that they are done with that toy or activity and it is now available again. No more abandoned toys in the middle of the floor and screaming, “I was still playing with that!”
  • Decide which toys are NOT to be shared. Whenever we have playdates we put our favorite bear and baby doll in our room. We know that those are special toys that we have decided that we do not need to share with others. Setting those aside also lets my toddler know that all other toys ARE to be shared. Between siblings, my oldest knows that toys in the living room can be shared and if she doesn’t want her sister to play with her favorite bear or baby doll then they should be left on her bed when she’s not playing with them. Personally, I believe that letting children have a special toy or two that they don’t have to share is important.
  • If a battle ensues, distract. Don’t try to over-explain sharing to them. They likely will be so focused on what they want to do in that moment that you might as well be speaking Chinese. Just allow the child to continue playing with their activity, and take the other one over to a new activity.

If you have any tips for us, please share! Especially for older kids as we are swimming in new waters every single day! What’s the saying? Once you get used to it, it changes? YEP!

Thank you for reading & keep us posted on what works for you!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Motherhood, toddlers, Uncategorized

Why You Need a “Tribe” & How to Find Yours

Your tribe, your crew, or your people, they can be called a number of different things. They are the people who have celebrated your highs and consoled you during your lows. They are the people who you can rely on no matter what. Having a rough day? Give them a call! Have exciting news? They would love to celebrate with you. They are the people you run to no matter what! They become part of your family.

Your mom tribe understands your struggles differently then your spouse. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I often run to him for advice, but my mom tribe offers me a different preceptive. They know when to give advice and when you just want someone to be upset right beside you. They are right there in the thick of this journey with you. Riding shot gun through this crazy journey called motherhood. Your tribe is usually interested in the same things as you. So, your husband may get out of listening to you talk about the newest episode of The Real Housewives. (He will probably thank you for that!)

As military spouses, our tribes change throughout the years, but the bonds we create never break. We rely a lot on our tribe, whether its during the inevitable deployment curse, celebrating a new life, or keeping each other sane while our spouses are away. Our tribe is who keeps us going and our heads on straight.

We started out just the 3 of us, and now there are 9. Watching your tribe grow is an amazing thing!

How to Find Those Special Mommas:

It’s kind oflike dating all over again! You take your littles to the park or library in search of finding someone who you clicks with you and your kiddos. Once you find a momma who you think would get along with you, invite them on a playdate. During the playdate you ask about each other’s interests and get to know each other. Seriously, it’s mom dating! After your first playdate, it’s a waiting game to see if you hear back from one another.

Is it always mom friend at first playdate? No, and that’s okay. Nor every mom is going to click with you and vise versa.

Where to Look?

You want to find moms with similar interests as you. Perhaps you have seen the same moms at the park, church, or library story time. Finding someone who enjoys running 5k’s and doing yoga might not be the lifestyle you choose to live. Maybe a mom who rocks yoga pants (yes, they are considered pants!) and drinks wine on playdates is more your speed. If you are lucky, your child will make new friends with a certain kid who’s mom you have been thinking about talking to. You know, that mom who seems to be just like you… Thank you for the little ice breaker, bud!  

You will have to put yourself out there. Personally, as an introvert and homebody, this was where I struggled the most. You can’t stay home and assume someone is going to come knocking on your door for a playdate. Not only is this unlikely, but a little creepy!

Venture outside of your home, even if that means the community park. If you have a friend who will join you, bring them along. I’ve noticed it’s easier to be social when you have someone you know.

Yes, our tribe is crazy & we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Keeping Your Tribe!

Once you start growing your tribe, continue to put forth effort into your friendship. Be their support system, offer to help them when they are in need, and be an ear when they need someone to talk to. The more you put into your friendship the more it will grow and strengthen.

Your tribe isn’t just for you either. Watching your children make those special life time friends is something money cant buy. When they wake up first thing in the morning asking to play with their best friend, who’s mom is also your best friend… BEST THING IS THE WORLD!

Best Friends!

So, go out and find your tribe. If you already have found them, thank them for all that they do! Continue to grow those friendships!

XOXO Kate & Elizabeth

Uncategorized

The Magic of a Normal Day

This month I started a gratitude journal, part of our Mindful March journey to focus on self-care, and I thought about all the things I am grateful for: my kids, my husband, my health, their health, my house, my van that can cart us around, etc….and as that list got longer and less obvious, adding things like, “Learning that my daughter loves when the wind blows her hair when we play outside,” I realized what I am most grateful for is normal days.

It’s really easy to get caught up in things you wish for. And by no means am I saying you shouldn’t dream big. I often think about trips I’d like to take, a future career I’d like to have, or what alternate-universe me would be doing right now, like fighting crime as the world’s most elusive spy. Not possible in this universe, since I can’t cross a room without knocking something over, but you know, maybe in another one! And sometimes, as all mothers surely do, I long for the days before children where I had seemingly endless hours of the day. After navigating life with two kids for about 9 months or so, my husband asked me, “What did you do with your day before kids when we moved here?” because I left my full-time job to follow his. My honest answer, after a LONG pause…”I don’t even know!” Dreaming big and daydreaming are healthy. But what isn’t healthy is comparing yourself to others. Your marriage, your kids, your wardrobe. Comparison is absolutely the thief of joy, because it often robs our confidence in the lives we have built.

Last night I was looking back at my old photos, as I often do, and I realized what an eventful year we have had. We brought a baby into this world a few days before the New Year, so everything in 2018 was her first. We celebrated career achievements, we bought a camper, we traveled to the Outer Banks (a bucket list item for this North Carolina-native who had never been), we took our girls to see mountains for the first time and saw the sun rise on the highest peak east of the Mississippi, we had ALL the holidays together. We had quite the eventful year. Now in 2019, we will see another deployment, we have zero family trips booked, and I am looking wistfully at those past photos filled with adventure.  I see friends decorating nurseries, having babies, running marathons, laying in a hammock on a tropical island, and it’s really easy to let that thief sneak in.  But here’s were I remind myself how very much I LOVE NORMAL DAYS.

On a normal day, no one is sick.  Everyone is mostly happy.  A few tears are shed over sharing a toy or the dog eating our animal cracker.  We have dance parties.  We laugh over a movie.  We walk outside and pick flowers and talk about birds.  We get up on our tippy toes to check the mail.  We eat meals together.  We argue about when to get out of the bath.  We kiss goodnight and read stories.  We may not dip our toes in crystal blue waters or hug Mickey Mouse while watching fireworks, but you know what?  The adventures we grow nostalgic for have shaped who we are today, and the moments we wish for just give us more of an excuse to dream big and make them happen.  But today, normal is amazing.  On days when we end up in the ER, we wish for normal.  The first day of deployment when we wake up and realize we have many more months of waking up alone before he comes back, we wish for normal.  When we hear someone we love has departed this Earth, we wish for normal.   Because normal is comfortingly beautiful.  Normal is under-appreciated.  Normal is spectacular in disguise.  I am extremely, ecstatically thankful for normal days.

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate