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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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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

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

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Beat the Friggin’ Heat

It is 100 degrees right now as I sit down to type this. ONE HUNDRED DEGREES. In May! That is not something we are used to here in North Carolina. Also, we have not gotten rain in a couple weeks, which is nearly unheard of at the Carolina coast. There are toddler chalk drawings on my patio and fence that I have stared at for way too long. I have had to work watering bushes and outdoor plants into my nightly routine and bring several things inside that have literally started to shrivel, as I would if I had to be outside for any length of time. So let’s talk about some ways to beat the heat and not go insane from your overly-energetic children!

1. Revisit local attractions

It’s easy to feel like you’ve been there and done that, but try taking a look at some favorite indoor attractions near you to see if anything has changed. We have a Children’s Museum that opened up within the last year, and while we have gone a few times and not made it back, but Kate noticed today that they have added new attractions! One of which is meteorology center that this weather nerd can’t wait to play with. I mean, have my kids play with. Last summer our aquarium added a dinosaur exhibit that my daughter LOVED, I think we went 3 times while it was up. Businesses really hone in on kids being out of school and parents looking for indoor activities, so be sure to take advantage! Next week Kate & I are taking the kiddos to a planetarium show sponsored by our county’s government center. So see what is new near you. Also check Facebook for local events. That is a GREAT spot to find out if the random farm or coffee shop is hosting a kid-friendly event.

2. Stay in(side)

I take “outside” for granted. We have a big fenced in backyard and plenty of outside toys, so it is SO NICE to just let my kids out to run around and explore. When it is this hot and the UV index is literally 11 on what I thought was a 1-10 scale, we stay in. Sometimes it seems like challenge to stay indoors and limit screen time, but here are a few suggestions!
Paint with water colors (or just with water, for younger kiddos!). Have a theme. Paint bugs or dinos or princesses, whatever your child is into. Paint a story. Make a picture book where you write the words. Painting keeps my toddler occupied for a good while!
Play-doh is amazing stuff. We have collected a few kits so there are plenty of play-doh toys, and I love watching my kids get creative with how they use it. You can also make your own play-doh or modeling clay, or use kinetic sand which is awesome too. But don’t underestimate the power of the classic Play-doh!
Make a fort. Didn’t you LOVE making a fort out of couch cushions, mom’s big comforter, and anything else you could find? It was the best! So join in and help your child build one too.
Cook together. Make lunch or prep dinner, even make freezer meals for later! Kids enjoy sorting, cutting, spreading, sprinkling, and all those fun cooking verbs. So let them help out and check some things off your to-do list while you are at it!
Make cleaning fun. Go through a closet or their old toys and keep them involved. Maybe a clean closet means a fun hide out, or getting rid of old toys means picking out a new toy? Kids may not enjoy doing stuff like this every day, but remember that deviating from the ordinary can be magic for kids, and who knows what treasures you may uncover!
Have a tea party. This was one of my FAVORITE things as a kid. I had a small crystal (Gasp! Melissa and Doug would never!) pitcher and cup set and I would fill it with water and have tea parties with my parents or my toys. Set up a picnic and let your kids have a tea party too! Make lemonade and cookies or just play pretend!

I know these may not seem like groundbreaking new ideas, but sometimes I myself just need a little reminder of all the indoor crafts and activities we can do to switch our routine up on day 6 of a heat wave.

3. Make a cold treat

My sister-in-law visited with her family over Memorial Day weekend and she made the best homemade ice-cream. I’ll include the link to the recipe she used below. Not only was it amazingly delicious, but the kids had to shake the ice-cream for 10-15 minutes which is a win-win! One important tip: splurge for name brand ziplock bags to avoid leaks! I also may or may not have a dozen homemade popsicle recipes pinned to try with fresh fruit and juice. And did you know you can add ginger ale to jello to make sparkling jello? YEAH! Start googling and making because adults can enjoy these cooling treats too.

4. Bring out the waterworks

Fill up the pools and water table and bust out the sprinklers. Sometimes you just have to slather on the sunscreen and brave the heat…with the help of some cool water sources. There are some great inflatable pools at Amazon and Target for a $30 price point, so turn your backyard into a wet & wild haven. I love a good beach day or day by the pool, but this way you can skip packing all the snacks and nicknacks and just start playing, then quit whenever you’re ready.

5. Try getting ON the water

We have a hand-me-down canoe that has seen it’s fair share of adventures, and living about 10 minutes away from a public water access allows us to get in the water and paddle around easily. For some that’s a lot harder to do! But look into your local lakes, parks, ponds, and even campgrounds around rivers to see about rentals. You can rent kayaks and canoes inexpensively, or just pay a small fee to float down the river on a raft and be shuttled back. If you are a military family, check on base to see what rentals are available to you! You’ll still be in the elements on a warm day but we all know life is cooler on the water. When all else fails, hit the beach (or lake) if possible. You’re guaranteed a good nap time!

We have all summer to keep these kiddos busy, so please share your favorite activities with us! We would love to try some of them out!

XOXO, Elizabeth & Kate

Uncategorized

Simple Sorting

My one year old is very into picking things up and putting them in something…a bin, a toy box, a random kitchen drawer, the garbage can. Oh yes, we find toys everywhere. She’s THAT child. So I like to make some activities for her where she can sort and store at will. Here are two DIY activities that are really simple!

Here’s what you need:

-colander
-pipe cleaners
-q-tips
-old parmesan cheese container
-“O” shaped cereal (optional)

Start by showing your child how to thread the pipe cleaner into the colander. Let them play with putting it in, pulling it out, and feeding it through. Even twisting it up a little bit! Our colander has different shaped holes as well which makes for fun trial and error to see where it will fit. We added a step today by threading Apple Jacks cereal on some of the pipe cleaners. My 3 year old enjoyed that part a lot more!

Parmesan cheese is pretty essential in our household and therefore I often buy the big container. Ours was almost out so I just transferred it to a new container and cleaned out the parmesan cheese shaker, which is great for sorting! We used q-tips but you can also use beans or other small child-safe objects to place in the two different sides. (I recommend adult supervision with q-tips so they don’t try to stick them in places they shouldn’t go…because kids.)

This was definitely the favorite of the two activities. My 3 year old spent more time with the colander than my 1 year old, and even took it over to her play kitchen to “make pasta” so hey, the activity that keeps on giving! They both loved putting the q-tips in and then opening the other side to try and shake them all out.

Have any tried and true activities using household items? Please share below!

#MakeItMonday
XOXO Elizabeth & Kate