April 20, 2015

Succulent Centerpiece for Earth Day


Earth Day is Wednesday and this weekend I did a fun project with the kids to give us an opportunity to talk about it. I have been seeing adorable, little succulent plants all over the place (even in CVS, random) and I love them! Then I read that they don't need much water and are practically indestructible, which sounds like the perfect plant for me and my crazy kids.

I took Hudson with me to Home Depot where we talked about the different types of plants they had. Many of the flowers had instructions posted, so we talked about which plants would be best for us. We wanted something that looked nice on our patio table, but we didn't want a plant that needed a lot of water. Hudson originally wanted to do a succulent/cactus mix, after he found some 'super soft cactus' that he convinced me to 'pet' after he did it. Well, soon after we did this we realized our hands were stinging and we had tiny strings of cactus stuck all over. (How the heck was I supposed to know that?? My husband got a real kick out of our story when we got home...) So we selected our plants and headed home.

The kids and I went outside to build our centerpiece. I got the white planter at the dollar store. First, we filled the pot with soil, then took the succulents out of their individual pots. I let the kids do this, and let me tell you, these little plants are TOUGH. They smashed the succulents into place, and I filled in the areas that needed it with more soil. Then I let the kids set everything with some water. (thank you dollar store for that cute little plastic watering can, that is now a pool toy favorite) And boom, we were done! So cute and so easy. (and cheap!) I will let you know how long they stick around for.

I love how it turned out! 
I also wanted to teach the kids some more about Earth Day. So I hopped on my Intel Acer Tablet and we searched for Earth Day projects, videos and ideas. I found a great website that you can type in details on where you live and specs of your home and they give you a list of things you can do to conserve energy, water and more! Hudson has been trying little things we learned, like turning off the water when he brushes his teeth... and remembering to switch off his fan and lights in his room when he leaves for school.

#spon: I'm required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include the Intel Corporation providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.


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April 16, 2015

Books my Kids are Loving in April

                     
This month we have a interesting mix of old and new books. I find it fascinating the 'book phases' my kids go through. They will have a particular book they will enjoy for what seems like forever, then it's banished to the back of the book shelf until it is randomly discovered months later... and the cycle starts again!

Hudson:
Skippyjon Jones, Lost in Spice
I don't recall if Skippyjon Jones has actually made it into a family favorites books post, but we have a TON of these books and Hudson used to request at least one of them every night. Recently, he found the Lost in Spice one, and he has been asking for it again. I think the entire Skippyjon series is really cute and creative, but this is the one series I absolutely HATE to read. All the books have crazy songs and random words are in Spanish and it always throws me off when I am reading. My husband will flat out refuse to read them.


Pit Crew Pups (Paw Patrol) (Step into Reading)
Paw Patrol is back people! I finally found some new books and the kids freaked out when I gave it to them! This one also has stickers which is a hit. After we read the book, Hudson let's Mila select a sticker to put on her hand. (and let me tell you these things STICK, since when she wakes up the sticker is still right there!)

Mila:
Owl & Friends (What Am I?)
Ok... I know I just wrote about the BookRoo book delivery service last week, but this girl is beyond obsessed with this freaking book. She is really into counting right now, so we read what is on each page... but then she likes to count the critters on each page. Now if I could only get her to stop skipping the number 5...


Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Great Balloon Chase
Ever since we went to Disney, Mila has a renewed love for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She found one of Hudson's old books, and she loves it. I don't read it to her before bed anymore since she gets herself worked up pushing all the buttons and standing up in her bed to make up dances to the little songs. So now it is a daytime book only, and she loves it!


Also this month, I need your help!! I really want to start a chapter book with Hudson. Maybe read a chapter or two together each night. I think it would be good for him so start reading a longer book, without pictures. Nothing crazy long either, maybe something that would take us a week or two to read? I would love to hear any book suggestions you guys have!

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April 12, 2015

Preparing Your Child for A New Baby


I decided to write this post since a number of my friends are having their second baby, and have asked me what I did to "prepare" Hudson for his little sister's arrival. Many people don't do anything different or 'prep' their other kids before welcoming a sibling, and that is totally fine. However, I was terrified of Hudson feeling neglected or jealous once he became a big brother, so I did a number of things to try and make the transition a little bit easier. I think because I grew up as an only child the idea of having a new sibling brought into the home was totally foreign to me. (maybe I was a bit scared for both of us!)

When I (finally) became pregnant with Mila, Hudson was almost 5 years old. So he had a pretty good run on his own. However, he had been asking for a baby brother or sister for awhile, so I knew he would be be happy... at least at first.

When we told him I was pregnant we gave him a little book called, "I'm a Big Brother." I took a picture of him holding the book and that is how I made my social media pregnancy 'announcement.' He would ask to read it almost every night and I thought it was a good book since it talked about the baby needing lots of attention... and the benefits of being older. ("Babies can't have pizza and ice cream, but I can!")

He looks so little here!!
About two months before my due date, I took Hudson to build-a-bear and asked him to make one for his baby sister. I knew going into the store that I was only going to get the gift for the baby... NOTHING for him. I wanted to prep him for the fact that not everything would be his anymore. Once we got there he starting asking for every single bear. But I would just say, "Sorry bud, we are here to get a gift for your sister so she can remember how excited you were to meet her." Finally, he selected a Hello Kitty bear and went through the process of cleaning it, talking to the little heart that they stuff inside and creating the birth certificate. In the end, he was a little bummed that he didn't get a toy, but he was excited to have a gift for his sister that he selected all by himself.

Doing his best "Hello Kitty" wink!
Donnie's mom watched Hudson while we were in the hospital, so when she brought him later that afternoon, Mila was sleeping. This allowed my husband and I to focus on Hudson and ask him all the fun things he did at his sleepover at Grandma & Papa's. He was excited to see us, but quickly turned his attention to his sister. He was a bit pensive at first, but was super excited when I asked him if he wanted to hold her.

First picture together!! Mila was just a few hours old!
I also brought to the hospital a small gift for him that was from his sister. It was a toy I knew he had been wanting and it had a lot of little pieces and busy things for him to do... to keep him from getting bored while he was at the hospital. (since... let's face it... the sister thing got old in about 5 minutes) I told him that I went shopping and told his sister to "Kick twice," when we walked by something he would like. He was so surprised that she knew exactly what he had been asking for.

When guests came to visit, I discreetly asked them to acknowledge Husdon first before going right to the baby. So when people arrived, they would all ask him a few questions... how is school or how does he like being a big brother.. stuff like that. He would chat it up for a bit and go off to play, then we would all gush over the baby.

He was a great big brother from the start!
Most of these things I did to ease my OWN fears of how he would feel about having a little sister, after being our old child for 5 years. I will say, it was a very easy transition... I have never seen any major signs of jealousy from him towards his sister. And he still likes to remind her how he made her that Hello Kitty doll.
My two cuties!!

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April 9, 2015

Make Reading Fun with BookRoo!


I love reading to my kids. I think it is so important for a number of reasons. We regularly go to the library and I do whatever I can to foster their love of reading. I always try to have plenty of new books on hand for them, to keep them wanting to read. Hudson loves when I ask him to find his favorite books for me so I can write my "Books my Kids are Loving" post each month. I also love coming up with fun crafts and food ideas to go along with whatever book they are into at the moment.

So when I heard about BookRoo, I was really excited! BookRoo is brand new service that will deliver a selection of kids board books to your door each month. (and you guys know how I love monthly subscription boxes)

                 

It was so much fun getting our first delivery, especially since the books are beautifully wrapped, and the kids got to open them! Each box comes with 3 wrapped books.
                 

Mila freaked out when she saw the books and was ready to start reading right away. She was particularly excited about the Owl & Friends book that was in our set, since she is obsessed with owls!


We read that book now every single night, so I thought it would be fun to create felt animals based on some of the critters in the book. Her favorites are the owl, the caterpillars and the purple birds (since she loves EVERYTHING purple!)

I created the animals freehand on different pieces of felt. (I have been getting good at drawing cute, little owls since she asks me to draw them all the time) The bird was easy, I just traced two different sized circles. The caterpillar was just a bunch of circles and Mila had the most fun putting that together. I glued them all together and now she plays with them while we read the book.
                 

I think BookRoo is a brilliant idea and it is also a perfect gift for new moms. (this would definitely win best present at the next baby shower you go to!) It is $20 for one month, and they also offer 3 and 6 month subscriptions, which bring the monthly price down a bit. Right now, they only offer board books, so they are best for infants through toddlers. (but my 6 year old loves them too, probably since they are easy for him to read) They are going to be adding picture books soon though. Check out BookRoo's website and they are also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest. You will love it!

BookRoo rocks!

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary month of BookRoo to facilitate my review, but all opinions are my own. 

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April 7, 2015

The Best Pasta Salad


As we get into the warmer months I wanted to share a recipe for a delicious pasta salad! It is perfect for BBQ's, picnics and pot lucks. It is always a huge hit and the best part is it is super easy to throw together. I got the recipe from my sister-in-law's sister, Hope. She would bring it to parties and it would be GONE in minutes. I asked her how she made it and when she told me I was shocked by how quick and simple it sounded!

Here are the ingredients:
1 large package of cheese tortellini
1 container of pesto (or you can make your own if you like to be all ambitious like that!)
1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes
1 small can of black olives
Parmesan cheese

All you do is cook the pasta according to the directions, (I use Buitoni since I think its good, but you can use any kind of tortellini and pesto you want) then drain & mix with the pesto. Do this while the pasta is still hot since it helps distribute the pesto. Drain and chop the sun-dried tomatoes & olives and toss them in there. (as much or as little as you like) Mix in some Parmesan cheese. Put the pasta salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve it. (you should give it time to cool completely in there before you serve it) If it is in the fridge for awhile, set it out about 10 minutes before you are going to serve it and don't mix it right away or all the tortellini will break apart.


You can add whatever you like in this salad, sometimes I use olives. Other times I add minced garlic or roasted garlic. I keep meaning to make this with artichokes as well, but I always forget to buy the freaking artichokes. (but I bet it would be delish)

It is so simple but SO good, and a fun twist on the usual vinaigrette pasta salad. It will take you 5 minutes to prepare and you will be a total rock star. Shout out to Hope for sharing her pasta salad deliciousness with me!!

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April 6, 2015

March Family Favorites


March was a sneaky one! We had our Disney trip at the very end of February, and I blinked and now it's April! What the heck? My work schedule has been really crazy lately (which is why I haven't been posting here as much as I usually do) and we had spring break.

So here's our Family Favorites for the light-speed month of March!

Lauren
Flower Power!
I am very boring when it comes to how I dress. The majority of my closet is black and grey. I have no idea what is causing me to gravitate to all these flowery things this month, but I just am! I have never purchased so many prints (and flower prints at that!) in my LIFE. Flower patterned scarves, shorts, shirts and even shoes! I am flower crazy and I love it!
                 

Mila
Elsa Princess Dress
For my Disney family favorites edition, I mentioned how Donnie's mom bought Mila the most amazing Elsa dress for her birthday. Well, I am here to tell you now that it is TOO amazing. Mila would wear this dress ALL DAY, EVERY DAY if she could. She wears it to play outside, to go to the bank, food shopping... anywhere. She thinks she is a legit celebrity when she wears it, too. She walks around just waving at people and showing off her dress. It's hilarious. I am not ashamed to admit that my husband and I will hide the dress if we are going somewhere where we don't want her to wear it and then say we don't know where it is. But she does look pretty darn cute in it.

                  
This is her first time putting the dress on after Grandma gave it to her!

Donnie & Hudson
Inflatable Water Slide
My husband and son have the same family favorite and it's a good one! (even though this technically shouldn't be a March family favorite since we just got it this week, but whatever) I sent my husband to Sam's Club to get a ham and he came home with a water slide. (and the ham) This thing has been a major hit and we have only used it a few times. It doesn't look like much, but the kids play with it NON-STOP. You hook it up to your hose so the slide stays slippery. It also came with two inflatable boards with handles to slide down, or you can use regular boogie boards (all the ones we have work great) or just go down yourself. The kids loved it during Easter, we put it out after the egg hunt and then all we had to do was sit and watch them all go crazy. I was worried Mila was too little to use it, but she quickly proved us wrong and even managed to hold her own with the older kids on Easter pushing her way through. Since we don't park in our garage, we just drag the slide around front and leave it in there partially inflated, so we can take it out to use quickly. For 60 bucks, this may be the best purchase ever made. Go hubby!
                    


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April 1, 2015

How to make the most of bath time with SoCozy

 “I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for SoCozy. I received Target gift cards to facilitate my review and thank me for my participation.” 



Since I work most of the day, I am always looking for ways to make daily, mundane tasks with my kids more fun and enjoyable. I cherish the nighttime routine of dinner, bath, books & bed. It is such a fun & silly time with the kids (well, most of the time) and I get to hear all about their day!

Here are a few ways to make the most of bath time with the kids... so you can turn a daily chore into something everyone can look forward to!


Have fun: From toys to bubbles, there are plenty of opportunities to make bath time a party! My kids love making 'bubble hats' and spiking up their hair with shampoo. I am sure to have a mirror nearby to show them the finished product! (cheap foam shaving cream is also fun for kids to create with in the bath!) They also love making up games with bath toys. Cups, strainers and little plastic dolls & figurines can provide tons of fun, and help little ones grow their imaginations! My son always liked to bring his mask and snorkel in the bath, it looked ridiculous, but he had the best time!


Make bath time educational: Bath time can be a good time to help your kids learn. I have foam numbers and letters and I float a bunch of them in the tub. Then I will ask Mila to find the red number 5, or find me a letter B... things like that. We also make up songs and stories using the bath toys they are playing with at the time.



Have the right products: This is huge. If you have soap that makes the kids itchy or irritated or shampoo that burns and stings their eyes... then no one is going to look forward to taking a bath. Make sure you use the right products for your little ones skin and stick with tear-free shampoos. We love the SoCozy line sold which is now sold at Target. SoCozy makes salon quality hair products, for kids! They are super easy to find, in the hair products aisle. (for adults, not the baby section!)  Up until now, you could only find SoCozy products at Cozy's Cuts for Kids, a salon just for kids with 2 locations in New York City. (so the fact that it is now at my most favorite store is just awesome!)
SoCozy is SO easy to find!
Up until now, you could only find SoCozy at Cozy's Cuts for Kids, a salon just for kids with 2 locations in New York City. SoCozy products are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic colors and propylene glycol. (No nasties here!) They are also tear-free and have some seriously awesome ingredients for my kids hair! We love the 3 in 1 shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. I can wash my sweet girl from head to toe with this yummy smelling soap! It has keratin, silk amino acids and kiwi fruit extract to help make her hair healthy and strong.
She always steals the detangler spray from me!
I also use the detangler spray on my daughter since her hair is crazy! It goes all over the place so this spray is a MUST! My son loves the conditioner, even though his hair is so short and he doesn't really need it, but he is obsessed with the smell! (all the products smell amazing!)

Don't rush: Try to get them in the tub early enough so they have plenty of time to play. Once I get them all clean, both kids love hanging out for awhile. Try to enjoy the moment yourself and resist the urge to rush them out. We all have lots of things to do, but soon your little ones won't need (or want) your help during tub time.. so remember to take advantage of these sweet times with your children when they are still little.
Have fun!
Right now SoCozy is holding a contest click here for details. Also check out their Facebook page and Instagram!

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March 29, 2015

Frozen Toddler Room Makeover


My sweet girl recently got a FROZEN room makeover and I just wanted to share it with you guys! As we all know, she is Frozen obsessed and I thought adding a bit of Frozen magic would help FREEZE her to her bed at night. Well, she still wanders over to my neck of the woods almost every night, so it did NOT work, but at least her room looks super cute.
Mila's big moment, and ironically enough she FROZE! 
Mila started jumping out of her crib super young, like 18 months.. so she has been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for a while. So we finally got her a big girl bed from Ikea, I took down her nursery decorations and decided on a Elsa makeover.

With Hudson I got him a plain comforter and just change out his sheets with whatever he is into at the time. It works out well and saves me a ton of money. Kids change what they like often and I don't want to have to makeover their room every time. I love wall decals for the same reason. When they decide they are over whatever is they were into... then I just pull off the decals and get something new.

I got Mila a plain reversible comforter at Target. It is light purple on one side and teal on the other. She loves purple so I really wanted to incorporate it. It also goes with the Frozen sheet set I got. I love the look of marquee light up letters, I have been seeing them all over Pinterest. So I decided to get the Marquee Love letter kit they have at Michaels when I spotted them for 50% off a few weeks back. I had a 20% off your entire purchase coupon to stack on top of that, so I ended up getting each letter for $4.19. (woot! woot!) I bought glitter scrapbook paper in different shades of purple and teal since I wanted to customize the background of the letters that way.


The kit comes with everything you need (except batteries) and it was super easy for me to trace the letters on the back of my scrapbook paper and cut them out. The one big issue here is the hole looks like it is the size of a regular hole punch, but it's not. It doesn't say anywhere on the box what size the actual holes are, and when I did a google search I only found a few tutorials and none of them were specific. (aka: "...just punch out the holes and you are done!")

                       

Maybe if you use thinner scrapbook paper the holes just kind of rip to fit the bulbs, but my glitter paper was no joke so that wasn't happening. So here's what I did... and it worked awesome! I just grabbed a pencil and jammed it through to make the hole larger. (I soon moved up to a pen that was a bit wider... but at this point I was so irritated by the letters that I stopped taking pictures) Once I figured that out, the rest really was very easy. The lighted letters look SO cute on the wall... it is worth the 14 extra grey hairs I now have on my head.

                     

To go with the letters I got a big Elsa decal with all these little snowflakes. (I ordered it online at Walmart, I think it was like $15 and I had it shipped to the store) I love the way the whole thing turned out, but more importantly Mila LOVES it! Every time she walks in her room she gasps and says, "So beautiful!!" (haha, I have a little drama queen on my hands here)
She loves her Elsa room! 
                                   


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