Where Do Babies Come From? And Other Questions Brought On By The Storks Movie

STORKS

Storks deliver babies…or at least they used to according to the animated adventure “Storks” staring Andy Samberg. Now they deliver packages for global internet retail giant Cornerstore.com. Junior (Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, is about to be promoted when the Baby Factory is accidentally activated on his watch, producing an adorable – and wholly unauthorized – baby girl.

Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble before the boss gets wise, Junior and his friend Tulip, the only human on Stork Mountain, race to make their first-ever baby drop, in a wild and revealing journey that could make more than one family whole and restore the storks’ true mission in the world.

When we were invited to check out the film, I knew the kids would want to go see it. Every time they saw a trailer, they immediately asked when it was coming to the theater. And when the day finally came for our screening, both kids were happy to finish up their homework and eat dinner early so we could take off to the theater. They were prepared for a great time. I was not prepared for the barrage of questions I would get after the movie showed. 

STORKS

A few questions that were hurled at me as we drove home: 

  • Where do babies really come from? 
  • Why would someone not have a mommy and daddy?
  • How would a stork know how to find a baby’s family?
  • What is an orphan? 
  • Are there really orphans out there without a mommy or daddy? 
  • Why can’t you be their mommy? 
  • Why can’t we get another brother or sister? 
  • Can we put a slide on our roof too? 

You get the point. 

STORKS

While most movies do bring on a lot of questions from our kids, especially the middle child, I was definitely not prepared for the questions they wanted to know after we saw Storks. And had a done my due diligence and really paid attention to the trailers, I would have been able to prepare myself to what was to come. And, hey, maybe you won’t get the same questions I did. 

Note: If you have a child who is adopted or was, at one point, an orphan, please read this post from our friend over at Highlights Along The Way. This movie may have possible triggers that can affect your child and/or yourself. 

Other than the questions we received, and tried to answer as best as we could (for their ages), the movie was a fun-filled movie with great animation and a fun storyline for the kids. They loved watching Tulip and Junior on their adventure and laughed out loud for most of the movie. Their favorite part? When a pack of wolves turned themselves into a submarine. Quite entertaining! 

STORKS

The Storks movie hit theaters on September 23rd and is rated PG

Pool Party Etiquette + A Simple Solution To Party Gifts

We’re sharing some tips on pool party etiquette and our simple solution to picking the perfect party gift with help from our partner Google Express. Also? You can score a free 6-month membership by using code FREETIME when signing up!  More savings at the bottom of this post including $15 off your first order.

Pool Party Etiquette plus A Simple Solution To Party Gifts

This past week was very busy. It was the first week the kids didn’t have camp and things were a bit… busy… in our home. Not only was I working from home while the kids tried to entertain themselves, but we are also preparing for vacation. 

And that means extra work, extra things on my to-do list (what items did we need for our trip?) and extra chores. You see, I hate leaving the house un-tidy when we leave for vacation. It’s just not fun to come back from being away and not having things perfect at home. Does that make sense?  Basically I had to do all.the.things in one week. 

Pool Party Etiquette - bring your own gear

So when we were invited to a pool party for my son’s friend that weekend, I wasn’t sure if I could do one more thing. But luckily with the help of Google Express, I was able to not only tackle my to-do list from my house, but I was also able to pick up pool supplies and a gift for my son’s friend all from the comforts of my home. And it was all delivered with time to spare. That means less running from one store to the next to the next and more spending time at home getting things ready here. 

Checking off things on my to-do list not only give me personal satisfaction but also free up time during my day so I can do fun things with the kids. Total win in my book! 

I just perused the site (and over 25+ stores) and added what I needed to my cart. Sunscreen, cell phone tripod, sea bands for the trip. A LEGO for my son’s friend’s gift. And cleaning supplies for the house. All within 15-20 minutes of looking for what I needed. That would have taken me a lot more time driving to a few different stores. In two days the items arrived at my doorstep and I was able to continue to go about checking off everything on my list before our trip. And next month when we need more sunscreen I know exactly where to go! 

Pool Party Etiquette - watch your kids Pool Party Etiquette - plan other activities

Pool Party Etiquette

1. Bring Your Own Towel

And goggles, and floaties, and change of clothes, and… you get what I mean. Don’t expect the host to provide anything you might need at the party. I also find that it’s helpful to bring a wet bag to put the wet clothes in after the kids get out of the pool and dry off. 

2. Make Sure To Designate Supervision

For me, personally, if my kids are in the pool, so am I. While my son is a strong swimmer, my daughter still lacks the confidence to swim for a long period of time without me close by. Even if I’m not right there in the pool, I’m on the side of the pool with bathing suit on just in case. If you’re dropping your child off at a pool party, don’t feel weird asking the host how many parents will be watching the kids and if the parents will be in the pool. 

3. Go Over Pool Rules

Before you leave the house, remember to go over the pool rules with the kids so they’re up on pool safety and what’s to be expected of them. Make sure they understand who’s in charge, what is ok and not ok, and what to do if they need something. I find that the kids actually remember the rules when I go over them a few times. 

4. Remember Sunscreen

It may be obvious but for our family we stock up on sunscreen like it’s going out of style. And then we buy more. Because even when wearing sunscreen I will burn. So I am that parent who will re-apply my kid’s sunscreen every 1-2 hours. I’m also the parent that has extra for the kids who forgot their sunscreen. It’s an important part of the pool party equation. 

5. Have Fun!

Whether it’s fun in the pool or out, the key to any good party is to have fun. And that means SAFE fun. Plan a few activities for the kids to do outside of the pool so that when they’re done playing in the water, they have a safe activity to participate in. 

Pool Party Etiquette - water balloons

Great Gift Ideas with Google Express

With over 25 stores to choose from, you can find everything from pool toys from Target, to LEGO sets from Toys R Us , to books from Barnes and Noble. And don’t get me started on the awesome Costco finds I was perusing! There are so many great gift ideas all in one place. 

Plus, you get same-day, overnight or 2-day delivery from these stores with Google Express. It’s your everyday, delivered. We’re at Target or Costco at least once or twice a week so the fact that we can shop at these stores all in one place, add items to our cart, choose when we want delivery from each store, and check out using Google Payments makes everything so much easier. One place, not 10.  

With a Google Express membership, you can get fast and free delivery on eligible orders. For non-members, delivery starts at $4.99 per store for eligible orders which is definitely reasonable for what you’re getting. 

Google Express delivered to your door

 Want to check out Google Express yourself? Sign up for a FREE 6 month membership by using code FREETIME. Just click on the Try It Free button after following the link. Then you can shop and use BJK8N924Z at checkout for $15 off first purchase. You will need to sign up first with code FREETIME before you can use the $15 off referral code. 

Once you’ve enjoyed the freedom Google Express brings, post a comment or photo of your Saturday on social media with the #MyNewSaturday and #GoogleExpress hashtags to share how you’re spending your newfound free time!

How will you spend your free time this summer?

Give $15, Get $15: Offer may end at any time/valid until 08/31/2016 while your account is active. Limited to Google Express accounts that received the offer from Google. Each valid referral gets you a $15 courtesy credit when the new users you referred place their first order using your referral code. Alcohol, gift cards, membership costs, and shipping & service fees excluded. Credits you give are subject to these terms. Credits you get are subject to these terms.*

Making Friends In Your Thirties: The Hard Truth No One Told Me About

Making Friends In Your Thirties The Hard Truth No One Told Me About

I’ve always been somewhat outgoing. I’ve always been able to easily strike up a conversation or find something I could relate to the other person. My my has stories of me making friends with other kids on the McDonalds playground or just about anywhere else we went. As I went through school and into my 20s, I had no problems finding friends and people to hang out with. But I didn’t realize how different it’d be once I hit thirty. 

The biggest thing, I think, was the realization that it’s SO much harder to find a solid tribe as you get older. 

One thing I’ve learned, after the many friendships I’ve held, is that I have become more selective in who I bring into my tribe. Sure I have a lot of acquaintances but there are few I let into my life. And even though I’m more selective, I’ve found that the friendships I make are stronger and easier. On a recent trip I was invited on courtesy of Kia, I was able to strengthen some of those friendships I hold dearest to me. The unexpected ones. 

Making Friends In Your Thirties - girl time

I packed my new luggage up with cute outfits and a band t-shirt – Sublime of course – and headed down to the Hardrock Hotel San Diego to spend a few days with Kia and a few girlfriends – old and new. Now I thought I was just heading down to learn more about Kia and their brand, but what I also learned was how important I hold these relationships I’ve forged online. And how much girl time really means when you work full time and care for kids full time. Those two days saved my sanity when I needed it most. 

KiaSanDiego-309

Even though we hardly ever see each other in person – sometimes only every few years – each time we meet up it’s as if we’ve never been apart. I don’t have to censor myself, I don’t have to think about what I’m going to say next. Because these friends I’ve formed bonds with get me. They get my world. 

Finding friendship in my thirties has been hard but it’s also been the most rewarding.

So as I headed out to tour my dear city in a Kia Sedona with friend and fellow blogger, Heather Reese, I got to enjoy the smooth ride, adaptive cruise control, and heightened visibility while we talked about everything from our childhoods to our futures. We were able to simply relax and be ourselves even when we were sharing in a brand experience. Because that’s Kia. Down to earth, easy, and fun. Not to mention very, very comfortable. I may or may not have seen myself as a converted minivan mom. Can’t wait to see how the carseats fit in the back! 

Making Friends In Your Thirties - Kia bringing us together

Making Friends In Your Thirties - new adventures

Making Friends In Your Thirties - Horton Plaza Park

When we arrived back to the hotel after driving around and experiencing a bit of everything San Diego has to offer – from sea to mountains to desert – we spent a little more time with Kia. We enjoyed the Harman Kardon sound system as we rocked out and watched the talent that was around us. Live band karaoke and amazing videos created by the influencers as they cruised around in the various Kia vehicles available to us to test drive. 

If there’s one thing that can bring friends together, it’s music. We belted out tunes together and enjoyed the talent of those around us who took to the mic. I may or may not have also stepped up on stage. After, we were able to chat more into the night and simply enjoy time together as friends. And it was exactly what I needed. 

I know how important it is to carve out time for friendships. To continue growing those friendships and focusing on the good people around me. While I don’t have as many friends as I once did in my teens and twenties, I know that the friendships I do have are stronger than ever. And I’m already planning my next girls night…

Making Friends In Your Thirties - firsts in singing karaoke

Have you found it difficult to make friends as you get older? What are the changes you’ve seen? 

While at The New Kia event we were introduced to two new vehicles from Kia to hit the market soon. The new Kia Niro and Kia Cadenza. The Kia Niro is a hybrid utility vehicle – the first of it’s kind and the first Kia to be built from the ground up as a hybrid. We cannot wait to test drive it once it hit’s the market. This is exactly what my husband’s been looking for! 

KiaSanDiego-413

Thanks again to Kia for inviting me to The New Kia event! 

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Stop Swim Lessons After Summer

We’re about 1/2 way through summer and I can tell you that we’ve spent a lot of time at the pool or the beach already. Because we live in Southern California, I found it really important to teach my children how to swim from an early age. And I’ve found the importance of continuing swim lessons even after summer has ended. With the help of our partner, SafeSplash Swim School, I’m sharing 9 reasons why you shouldn’t stop swim lessons after summer. 

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer

As soon as my kids took interest in the water, and from a young age, I wanted to teach them water safety. It wasn’t just about learning how to swim, or feeling comfortable in the water. I wanted to make sure that if something happened and they found  themselves in the water, they would know how to safely react until help arrived. 

For the first two kids we tried a few different variations of swim classes. From the rec center down the street to the local YMCA, we couldn’t find something that we absolutely loved for all of the kids. And especially for babies. 

Luckily, we found SafeSplash swim school this year for my youngest’s first experience in the water. And I have to tell you, I think we have another water baby on our hands! Not only did she LOVE being in the water, now she enjoys practicing the skills she’s learning any time we are in the pool. And I’ve realized the importance of continuing swim lessons even after summer has ended.  

Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer - getting used to the water

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Stop Swim Lessons After Summer

1. Stick with a Routine – I’ve found that while we don’t care for busy schedules in our home, a routine is a good thing. And when my kids do the same thing frequently, they come to realize the important of a routine. By taking them to swim every week they’ve started to get excited about going and genuinely look forward to their next lesson. 

2. Safety First – Just because it’s not summer doesn’t mean children aren’t near water. Whether it’s ponds, lakes, the ocean, etc, or even a pool in their friend’s back yard, continuing to learn swim techniques and becoming a stronger swimmer can help reduce the chance of an accident should a child fall into a body of water. 

3. Swim Parties – If you live in SoCal like we do, swim parties can pop up throughout the year. And if your child is rusty on their swim techniques, they may not be as confident in their swimming skills when a party comes around. By continuing their swimming lessons, they’ll be a pro at the next swim party. 

4. Reiterate What You’ve Learned – Practice makes perfect, right? As each lesson passes, children will learn to become a stronger swimmer and gain confidence in their ability in the pool. There won’t be any down time to get rusty! 

5. Creating A Love of Swimming – My children are water babies. As soon as they see water they get excited. I can only hope that by continuing swim lessons, they’ve created a love of swimming that will last their whole lives. 

6. Great Exercise – Swimming is a great stress reliever but it’s also great exercise as well. Plus? It’s not hard on joints or bones so it’s great for all ages. And there are so many ways to challenge oneself in the water. From underwater weights, to water aerobics, to laps, there are great opportunities to strengthen and stay fit. 

7. Individual and Team Sports – With a love of water, and great exercise, comes great opportunities. From water polo, to competitive swim, there are so many different sports for children to learn after they’ve mastered the basics of swimming. This can help them greatly in the years to come.  

8. Helps Kids In School – Your kids’ time in the pool can translate to higher grades in school. Swimming has been scientifically linked to an better academic performance. Studies have found that children who swam during their developmental years achieved several physical and mental milestones faster than their non-swimming counterparts. How cool is that? 

9. It’s Fun! – I don’t know about you but some of the best memories I have of the water are good ones. My friends and I playing marco polo, or siblings diving off my Grandma’s diving board into her pool. Running into the ocean and swimming out just a tad farther than I could touch and riding the waves back into shore while body surfing. Water can be fun when you have the skills to do so. 

Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer - becoming a stronger swimmer

With over 150 locations across the US and Mexico, The SafeSplash/Swimtastic brand family is the largest and fastest growing group of swim schools for kids in North America. At each one of their swim schools, they understand swimming is a life skill® that is extremely important to your child’s safety and development.

To learn more about SafeSplash swim schools and see if there’s a location near you, check out www.safesplash.com and www.swimtastic.com. You can also check out their blogs at https://www.safesplash.com/blog and http://blog.swimtastic.com.

Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer - floating

Are your kids in swim lessons?

Want to read more? Consider these articles: 

Water Safety Tips for Kids

Water Safety Tips for Kids

5 Reasons to Drink Water For Kids

5 Reasons to Drink Water for Kids

Water Activities Kids Will Love

15 Water Activities for Kids

How I’m Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter

How I'm Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter #SaySomething

Things have been quiet over here. My family and I are on the road driving back home from a week away. We were in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a blogging conference and I decided it’d be fun to turn it into a family road trip. While we were away we learned of the horrific tragedies that took place in the US. Brutal, un-provoked murders of yet two more men. Black men. 

We were sitting in a McDonalds for one of our many pit stops during the long drive and a TV was on and turned to the news. The first thing we saw were the headlines. Alton Sterling, a 37 year old black father of 5, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the back and chest after a homeless man called 911 outside of a convenience store. 

I’m sure by now, many have been able to read and research this shooting along with that of Philando Castile. Philando. A man who was in the car with his girlfriend and 4 year old child. Stopped for a broken tail light. Both incidents filmed and shared on social media. 

In that moment, with the tv on and my middle child right there listening to everything, I knew that I had to do something. Even if it was as small as what I chose to do. Because this is just too much. I turned to my daughter (as my son ate his chicken nuggets and played on my husband’s phone a few inches away within ear shot) and watched her reaction. Watched her take in the information she was hearing and seeing. And I allowed asked questions – as she does about everything. I tried my best to answer. I was open with her. I was honest. And I voiced my opinion. 

I am a white woman who fully acknowledges that I live with the white privilege I was born with. And I didn’t fully realize this until earlier last year after speaking with and reading comments from friends and colleagues. I have not stopped reading, watching, and listening to the pain my friends are crying out on social media. The outrage, the anger, and the helplessness they feel. And with this witness to their raw emotion I cannot help but feel drawn towards wanting to do something – anything – to acknowledge it. 

And I’m trying to do the only thing I can at the moment. I will try to share those voices, to talk with my black friends, and to educate my children on the inbred racism that not only exists in this country but in our own daily lives. I want them to see me challenge racist comments made by strangers and/or family members. I want them to hear me when I explain their white privilege and how they can use it for good. I am teaching my children to speak up and speak out for and with their black friends. Even if that means calling out a family member or feeling uncomfortable. Or coming to talk to me about it. Because I am teaching my children to respect and to love. To be less judgmental. To be accepting of those who appear different. And to question the events going on around them. 

How I'm Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter too

How I’m Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter

Here’s what we’re doing more of: 

Asking Questions

While my son is still very much in his own world and doing his own thing, my daughter is very aware of the outside world. She hears and sees everything and there’s not much you can keep from her. She’s also pretty darn smart. Now I’m not saying that my son isn’t smart, he’s just not as vocal as she is. With her increased desire to experience the world around her, she asks a lot of questions. A lot. And I’ve tried my very best to be open to her questions and helping her find the answers. 

I’ve realized that I can’t shield her from the news. I can’t shield her from hearing the bad that is happening in the world right now. I can’t shield her from her emotions after hearing someone has been shot and died and his kids don’t have a daddy anymore. All I can do is provide a listening ear and help share the information I can find with her. Even if that means I don’t have all of the answers.  

Saying “I Don’t Know”

Because I am a white woman, I cannot possibly fully understand what some of my friends are going through right now. The fear they feel as their black husbands walk out the door. The concern they have for their black son’s future. So when I run into a question from my children that I don’t know, I am more than welcome to acknowledge that I don’t have an answer. But I offer to research and read more to help educate us all. I will continue to read personal stories and reactions from those around me and keep my eyes open to what is going on around us.  

Acknowledging Our Situation

And with listening and answering my kids questions, as well as helping learn more about what is going on, I also will acknowledge our part in what is going on. I will acknowledge that I cannot speak for those affected. I cannot can only share their voice. And I can teach my children to do the same. I can teach them that there is power in stepping aside and allowing others to speak in our place. Because we can’t even begin to understand what our friends have had to live with their whole lives. And we can only help that by sharing our platform that we can educate others and open their eyes to what is going on right in front of us. 

Black Lives Matter. 

Lets teach our children to be advocates for change. Let us end unnecessary violence and killings. 

Trevor Noah The Daily Beast

And just so it’s clear… I am pro-cop and pro-black. And I am also raising my children to respect law enforcement. I acknowledge the fear that families of law enforcement also live with and appreciate all that those officers and families sacrifice for my family’s safety. Trevor Noah said it better than I could in the statement in the picture above. This statement may be why I’ve only discussed this topic and others with my family and close friends and not publicly. Along with the fact that I’m admittedly really uncomfortable with controversy. Especially when I don’t have all of the answers. I like to be prepared. And I’m not.  And it makes me feel uneasy. But if that’s all I have to feel while others feel so, so much more, then I can’t stay silent. 

All I ask is that you open your minds and your hearts to hear what the black community has to say. 

 

A few words from my friends and colleagues. I hope you’ll watch and read.  

Speak Up. Say Something. #AltonSterlingBrandi Riley

It’s Time For You To Say Something #AltonSterling – Amiyrah Martin

This Is Bullshit #AltonSterling – Amber Dorsey

Groundhog Day of Police Brutality Bullshit. ‪#‎AltonSterling‬ – Awesomely Luvvie

10 Reasons I Don’t Want To Be Your White Ally – Colleen Mitchell

Please feel free to link to your posts below in the comments as you #SaySomething and I’ll share. 

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer + a free chore chart printable

Kids are getting way too much screen time these days. With the help of this free chore chart printable and our sponsor, Walmart and SheSpeaks, we’ve create a way to trade clean time for screen time in an effort of reducing screen time and getting the kids more involved in the household chores!

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer + a free chore chart printable

My son has been out of school for two weeks now and my daughter graduates preschool tomorrow. To say that we’re in full summer mode is pretty accurate. And when you work from home, that means you have to get creative with ways to keep them busy without resorting to letting them watch tv all day. Because what’s that going to do for them when they get back to school, right?

In an effort to lessen the amount of times I hear, “I’m bored,” and to try and ramp up the kids involvement in household chores after starting them slow with cleaning their rooms, I created a system where they earn screen time (up to 2 hours a day) in exchange for doing certain tasks. And in an effort to better keep track of those hours – because it was getting quite difficult in my head – I created a free chore chart printable as well.

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer with Walmart

Once we got going I realized we needed to restock the cleaning cabinet so I headed over to www.avoidtheoops.com and grabbed a few essentials including:

  • Dawn dish soap
  • Mr. Clean magic erasers
  • Cascade detergent pods
  • Swiffer refill pads
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Febreeze spray

I was able to order everything online and, with orders of $50+, get shipping to my door free. Took the hassle out of bringing all of the kids to the store with me and trying to haul everything around! The best part is we were able to stock up on larger sizes and simply refill our smaller bottles and keep the larger sizes in the garage. This means we’re less likely to run out without a back up. And when we do run out? Walmart.com will be there to help!

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer doing the dishes

How to Trade Clean Time for Screen Time

  • Come up with a list of tasks your children can do or help with
  • Assign a minute value to each task
  • Create a max number of minutes the children can earn each day (sometimes we even throw in a bonus or two)
  • Stock up on cleaning supplies from Walmart.com
  • Let the kids start tackling things on the list
  • Put the responsibility of tracking in the kids hands – have them check off tasks as they complete them
  • Once the kids are done with accruing their minutes, let them know how much screen time they have for the next day (this is key)
  • Start the whole process over the next day

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer cleaning the living room

What I’ve found over these past few weeks after instilling this system in our home is the following: 

  • My kids really hate cleaning but REALLY love their tv and tablet time.
  • My son has been more eager to help when we offer to find new games on the tablet for him to play as well (including educational games).
  • Making sure they know that the time they earn that day is for the NEXT day is really important. And, hopefully, it’s teaching them delayed gratification.
  • Our limit of 2 hours max has still yet to be met. The kids usually earn between 30-55 minutes each day.
  • We still need to re-evaluate our weekend tv and screen time rule. That might change as we move forward.
  • Family movie time or family shows watched together is not counted against their earned time.
  • If mom or dad turns on the tv, they don’t lose their earned time.
  • The kids are really getting creative in finding ways to keep them entertained AND they’re actually playing together!
  • This means a whole lot of oops moments. Spills, messes, general disaster areas in various rooms of the house. But that’s OK! With the help of our www.avoidtheoops.com supplies and their willingness to earn more time for the next day, most of the oopses are picked up.
  • Their moods have improved. We have less fighting, less bickering, and more helping.

 

Grab your free chore chart printable here!

(or click the photo below)

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer free chore chart printable

How do you get your kids involved in household chores? What age do you start?

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers: Creating a Toddler Room To Grow

This post brought to you by Disney Junior. The content and opinions expressed below are that of mine alone.

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow

Babies turn into toddlers quite quickly. One minute they’re crawling on the ground and cooing and laughing and the next minute they’re running down the hall pointing at an object and saying (kind of) words. Their little brains are working so hard and so fast that if you don’t keep a look out for the changes, it may happen without you even knowing it!

Luckily we’ve been through this a few times before and it’s come to my attention over the past few weeks that my 15 month old has officially changed from a baby into a toddler. It almost feels like overnight. She’s still very much a baby but through her actions and reactions to our everyday adventures she is starting to act a whole lot more like me and her sister. She’s definitely our little MinnieMe.

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Playing with Siblings

From wanting to help us bake and cook, to demanding that we read her a favorite book before bed as we cuddle on her new full size bed with cute new Minnie Mouse bedding, to insisting she wear the same thing as her older sister like her new adorable Minnie Mouse Toddler Girl 2-Fer Dress, or use the same Disney Minnie Mouse Bows and Dots Beach Towel after bath time, our little toddler loves to try and keep up with us no matter what we’re doing.

I cannot believe how much or how fast she is changing. And I don’t know if I can keep up! I feel like she went from not caring one bit about walking to going non-stop in her own direction. She definitely takes after us and I know she’ll be just as energetic and opinionated as her sister. 

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers - bedtime routines

So the time has come for us to give our baby turned toddler her own space. We’ve fixed up a new room for her brother upstairs and have begun creating a room just for her. Inspired by her baby shower and her first birthday, we’ve used elements from Minnie Mouse to create a fun, playful atmosphere for her to learn and grow in. 

This Mother’s Day reminded me of how quickly these kids change and how much we need to preserve our memories with them. So as I transform her room for her, I want to share what we change and what we add to encourage her journey into toddlerhood. 

Tips on creating a toddler room to grow: 

  1. Purchase a twin or full size bed. Toddler beds are not comfortable… let me tell you! And when we transitioned the kids into their own beds, it was much easier to give them a full size bed then a small bed. And we didn’t have to buy another bed when they outgrew the toddler bed! 
  2. Get a full size dresser and add a changing table box with pad to the top of it instead of using a separate changing table. Again… one less piece of furniture to buy! 
  3. Utilize photos or memorabilia from your child’s baby shower, birthdays, etc to decorate the room. We were able to repurpose her name sign from her baby shower as wall art.

Here’s a sneak peek at her almost finished toddler room:

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow with Disney Baby

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow #MinnieMe

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow changing table

Looking to create a fun toddler room of your own?

Check out these adorable Disney Junior Minnie Mouse items and grab a few things that would work for your explorative toddler! Not quite ready for a full size bed? Check out this Disney Minnie Mouse Bow Power 4-piece Toddler Bedding Set! So cute.

Watching my two little “MinnieMe’s” grow has been one of the greatest joys in my life. This time together with them goes quickly and I’m definitely soaking up every minute of it!

Visit Sponsors Site

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline

We’re thankful for summer and sharing a great way to get outdoors with an outdoor movie night idea brought to you thanks to our partnership with Hershey’s via MomTrends.  

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline

Summertime always comes and immediately the one thing that runs through my head as a work from home mom is: how in the world am I going to take care of the kids all day AND get work done?

But this summer I’m approaching things differently. I’m not resenting the fact that our school cancelled their summer program right after all of the local museum classes filled up, or the fact that I don’t have a backup child care set in place because I didn’t think about it in February when apparently everyone else did. I’m going to make the best of our summers together and really strive to be thankful for summer.

At the end of the day, summer is the only real time I have to fully enjoy my kids until they move out of the house. That means 10 summers left with my oldest, 12 with my middle, and 17 with my youngest. Those are going to go by FAST!

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with siblings

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer

1. More Time With The Kids – 

While having the kids home all summer will be hard to balance my work/life workload, having more time with the kids is always a good thing and something to be thankful for. Even though I still have to work, I can take an afternoon or morning off each week to really spend one on one time with the kids. Plus we have some help from family so they can have fun adventures with Grandma, their great aunts, or their cousins throughout the summer too. 

2. Later Bedtime – 

Because we don’t have to wake up early, I can choose to spend more time with the kids at night (watching movies outside!) or catch up on work after bed time. The kids love having the freedom of no bedtime and actually get to bed by 9pm when this happens so they’re not up too late. And everyone is in a better mood when we go to bed and get up when our bodies tell us to. 

3. No Alarm Clock – 

Ok, confession: I don’t use an alarm clock. But I do have to wake up at 6:30am every day during the school year to make sure the kids get out the door and to school on time. Because we don’t have to actually get up and go somewhere (if we choose not to), we can sleep in. AND? We can have pajama days. Lots and lots of pajama days! 

4. Warm Weather – 

I love that we get to enjoy all summer together when the weather is nice. Sure there’s a few weeks where it’s unbearably hot. But living here in San Diego means that we can take full advantage of the beaches, pools, and other outdoor (and some indoor) areas to keep cool. I fully plan on taking advantage of our location this year and have quite a few beach days planned for us. Even if that means I have to get my keyboard a little sandy while I work and they play. 

5.  Fun Adventures – 

With the warmer weather and lack of an actual place we have to be, we can have fun adventures this summer (and every summer) that we wouldn’t have had the freedom to do during the school year. As I mentioned previously, we’ll take full advantage of our location. But I’m also planning at least one road trip and a few staycations to enjoy ourselves this year. I’m also hoping to schedule at least one activity outside the home a week. That way I’m not too stressed about too many activities but we still get to do fun things. 

So far here are some of my ideas for summer fun adventures: hikes, beach/pool days, zoo trip, free days at museums, movies in the middle of the day, trip to the water park, trip to the mountains, gardening club, city clean up days, trip to the aquarium

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline and making homemade ice cream5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with homemade popcorn

One of our fun adventures this summer will be getting outdoors and enjoying movie night on our trampoline. And it’s SUPER simple! 

Outdoor Movie Night On A Trampoline

  1. Grab a white sheet plus a pile of blankets and pillows.
  2. Hang the white sheet over one side of the net on your trampoline and clamp down with clamps (I just use the clamps I use for my photo backdrops here).
  3. Set out the blankets and pillows so everyone is comfy. 
  4. Make some fun snacks with the kids like this delicious homemade chocolate ice cream in a bag with Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup or popcorn in a bag.
  5. Grab a projector and start playing the movie! 

 

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with blankets and pillows

What #Simply5 words describe a sweet memory that’s made your day special? 

Sometimes, even the process of enjoying the little things in life – like movie night – becomes complicated. It shouldn’t require a year-long commitment or tons of planning.

In honor of the sweet and simple ingredients in Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup and the sweet and simple memories that it inspires, we want people to share the sweetness in everyday moments. Take a moment to “stop and smell the chocolate” and share your #Simply5 – a five word recount of what makes your day sweet.

Post your #Simply5 on social media by sharing a five word recap of what makes your day special! 

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Summer + an outdoor movie night idea on a trampoline with Hershey's Simply 5

Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup is a sweet and simple take on original Hershey’s Syrup, now made with five simple ingredients. You can find more recipes and fun things to do with Hershey’s by visiting them on Facebook or following along on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Hershey’s via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hershey’s or Momtrends.

Science in the Kitchen: Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag

We’re getting creative in the kitchen with this fun Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream in a Bag recipe brought to you thanks to our partnership with Hershey’s via MomTrends.  

Science in the Kitchen Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag

This weekend the kids and I got a little creative in the kitchen. After finding that my husband ate the last of the ice cream, they were determined to make a fun sweet treat to enjoy while we watched movies together. So I suggested we make ice cream. Now their first reaction was one of disbelief. Not that they hadn’t made ice cream before, but because our ice cream maker has been in the garage since we’ve moved here and they knew that wasn’t going to happen. So when I suggested that we shake and make our own homemade ice cream in a bag like I used to with my grandma, their eyes lit up and they were 100% on board to try things out.

While we were going over what ingredients we needed – ice, ice cream salt, heavy whipping cream, vanilla, sugar – my son spotted the HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup and asked if we could turn our ice cream into chocolate chip ice cream like the kind we’ve made before with a ribbon of homemade ganache. Instead of nixing the idea right away, I asked him what he’d do to make chocolate chip ice cream from the syrup. His mind started going and the ideas started cranking out.

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag ingredients

He settled on an experiment he wanted to try out: If we squeezed a ribbon of HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup onto wax paper and froze it, would it become hard so we could break it up into our ice cream?

So I let him set everything up and try it out. After about 3 hours in the freezer, though, the syrup was very cold, but not solid. So he decided that we’d just drizzle the chocolate in the ice cream mix to make a chocolate ice cream. Even though his hypothesis was wrong, he still ended up with a pretty yummy outcome!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag with Hershey's Simply 5

Each of the older two had their own bags of ice cream and both decided on stopping when it became the consistency of soft serve vs. waiting until it became a more formed ice cream (see the photo below). If you don’t like a little melted ice cream, feel free to shake until the ice cream turns harder.

Just a little squeeze of the HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup, brings back cherished childhood memories I created with my family so it was fun to do this with my kids. It’s an easy way to share a sweet and simple moment with my family. We also love enjoying a glass of milk with a little swirl of syrup inside!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag and just right

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 drizzle of HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup
  • 6 tablespoons ice cream salt
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1 gallon size zippered plastic bag
  • 1 quart size zippered plastic bag

In the quart size zippered plastic bag, add heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup. Seal tight making sure to get most of the air out.

In the freezer size zippered plastic bag, add the ice and ice cream salt. Then add the ice cream mixture bag. Shake, shake, shake like crazy until your ice cream starts forming (about 3-5 minutes of shaking). I suggest putting on some dance music to make it more enjoyable!

Once your ice cream has formed, wipe off any excess salt from the bag and snip a corner of the bag with some scissors (if soft serve consistency) to pour into a cup or bowl. Or use a spoon to scoop out (if harder consistency). Drizzle with more HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup and enjoy!

Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream In A Bag with Hershey's Simply 5 syrup

HERSHEY’S SIMPLY 5 Syrup is a sweet and simple take on the HERSHEY’S classic, now made with five simple ingredients. You can find more recipes and fun things to do with HERSHEY’S by visiting them on Facebook or following along on Twitter.

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Hershey’s via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hershey’s or Momtrends.

Finding Teachable Moments With Our Kids

This conversation featuring 10 places to find teachable moments is brought to you by Vroom

Finding Teachable Moments With Our Kids

Over the past few years I’ve come to realize how important it is to turn average, everyday moments into teachable moments with our kids. Not only are they the most relaxed when we’re just doing our own thing and going through our day, they’re also more apt to ask questions and really take in what you’re telling them when you share something with them in the moment.

In an effort to take advantage of these moments, I’ve listed our top 10 places to find teachable moments below.

10 Places To Find Teachable Moments

Finding Teachable Moments in the Car

1. In The Car

The one place that I find ourselves the most disconnected from tablets and computers and phones is the car. For one… no wifi! And we’re in the car at least twice a day to and from school for drop off and pick up. While we don’t necessarily talk the whole time we’re in the car, we are together in a confined space with no where else to go until we get to our destination.

I’ve found that this is the great time to not only ask about their day, but to open up about topics we might not have thought about. And what’s most crazy is that those topics don’t just pop up… they’re provoked by the one thing that is on in the car: the radio. Whether it’s a song that comes on, or something the announcer says, my kids and I have had great talks about everything from racism to politics to math after a topic was sparked by what we hear on the radio.

2. On A Walk

We love taking family walks. It’s important for us to get outdoors with the kids so we try and make time for walks as a family. Whether we’re heading out to the park or up the road to grab an ice cream cone after dinner, it’s a great time to bring things up. We also love talking about what’s going on in our neighborhood and what we see around us.

3. After School

I don’t know if this is the same for everyone but my son never gives me any information about what’s going on at school or what’s coming up. My daughter, on the other hand, gets in the car after school ready to share about her day. But when I do want to know what’s going on with him I don’t just ask what he did at school. I find ways around the obvious question and ask him other things that might lead to a conversation about his day. I found some really great conversation starters here.

4. During Dinner Time

Dinner time in our home is family time. And it doesn’t just start when we sit at the table to eat. By getting the kids involved in making dinner with me, I can teach them little things in the kitchen that they can continue to learn as they get older. Whether its dumping in the ingredients into a bowl like my 15 month old, chopping up veggies like the older kids, or unloading the dishwasher like my husband, everyone has something to do when we get dinner ready. This gives us the opportunity to spend time with one another while we teach each other new things. You can find more tips for creating a family table at meal time here.

5. On A Trip

When we leave home for trips, whether it’s for vacation or a simple get away for the day, we try to take any opportunity we can to teach our children about something. If we’re heading to Boston to visit family, we make sure to schedule a few historical stops along the way, or if we’re going to the San Diego Zoo, we try and get the kids involved in learning more about the animals we see. By just exploring the world around them, they soak in everything.

6. In The Bathroom

So if you’re a parent you know that you can’t do anything alone anymore. And that includes going to the bathroom. While it may not be the most enjoyable thing, I’ve found that my kids curiosity in the bathroom has helped open our channels of communication about things we might not have discussed until a later age. I’m pretty open about the birds and the bees with my kids. While I do make sure to keep it at an age appropriate level, most of the talks I’ve had with my son and daughter have started in the bathroom.

Finding Teachable Moments in the back yard

7. In The Back Yard

Our back yard is our oasis. Whether we’re gardening together, playing together, or taking care of our many animals, having an active back yard has allowed us the opportunity to continue to teach our children about how to grow their own food and how to take care of another being. By just making things available to them, like a few planters to plant whatever veggies or flowers they want to plant, I’ve come to realize how independent they become and how much they’ve learned by just observing us.

8. In The Classroom

Now this might sound like a no-brainer but it’s not on the list for why you think. If you work outside of the home it may be hard to do, but volunteering in your child’s classroom can really open the doors of communication and help in teaching them at home.

I’ve found that by observing my son in class and seeing how he learns things there has helped how I approach teaching him certain things at home. Homework time is also a great time to check in with them and see how they’re doing.  By being active and in communication with his teacher, I’ve been able to see what his strengths are academically and what he needs help with.

9. At A Friend’s House

Growing up I learned so much about the differences between each family after heading to a friend’s house for a playdate or sleep over. The family dynamics are so different between one household and another and by going to friends houses to see their family dynamic, we’ve been able to teach our kids that being different is great. We also make sure they feel comfortable in asking questions they have about those differences.

10. With Family Members

One thing I absolutely love about living close to family are the different life lessons their grandparents and aunts and uncles can teach them. Whether it’s just hanging out at Grandma’s house or going on an adventure with their Great aunts or uncles, being able to learn different ways from different people has allowed our kids to get a bigger perspective on the world around them.

Finding Teachable Moments with Family Members

In an effort to inspire every caregiver to think more about teachable moments, the Bezos foundation has started a fun campaign called the Vroom initiative. Vroom was developed based on the premise that every child is born with enormous potential, and every parent can help them realize that potential. The Vroom Superhero campaign demonstrates the heroic role that every parent and caregiver plays in the lives of children, and reinforces the message that anyone can be a Vroom Superhero to a child.

You can find a little more about the campaign in the video below:

Vroom was designed to give parents and caregivers simple tools that turn everyday activities, like mealtime and bath time, into brain building moments. We want to empower parents and caregivers like Camellia to interact with their children during their daily routines, engaging them in activities that require no additional time or resources but have outsize long-term benefits.

Become a superhero and join Vroom today!

How do you make teachable moments fun?



© A Crafty Spoonful - All Rights Reserved
It is OK to use one of my photos provided a link back and/or proper credit is given. It is NOT ok to copy and paste a whole post including instructions. Please do not remove watermarks or alter images in any way. Please contact me with any questions at danielle@acraftyspoonful.com

.