Mommy Dates: One-On-One Time with Your Child

With a million Mom jobs and life that rushes full speed ahead, making that one-on-one time for your children can be a challenge. You blink and your baby is starting school, the years seem to melt together and at the end of the day, you lay awake wondering if you connected with your children enough. Did their eyelids sink closed in peaceful slumber knowing they are special and loved by you? Or with all three clamoring for your attention, did you find a way to give each of them what they deserve? Making special time for each child strengthens your relationship with that child, helps you learn new things about them and see them in a different light, and allows them to know that they special to you. That is why we try to create a monthly Mommy Date for each child.

What is a Mommy Date?

A Mommy Date is exactly that…a date with just you and Mom! Special time together where you can do things that you enjoy to fill their memory bank with moments. It doesn’t need to be big or elaborate, expensive or lavish. It just needs to be focused and purposeful one-on-one time with that child. The time where all of life’s distractions (including your phone) are put aside and your undivided attention is on that one child.

Why is a Mommy Date so important?

Everyone needs to know that they are important. Your child is no exception. In this busy world where the internet is at your fingertips connecting you to friends, social media, and work your child is now not only competing for your attention with their siblings but with technology as well. With all distractions aside, your child will know that they are more important than any of those other things.

Your child will open up to you and share things with you that you otherwise might not know. It will feel like a safe space to share their worries, celebrate their successes, and discuss their challenges. Children will flourish in this setting and you may see them in a whole different light. My best example of this is when I take my middle baby girl on her Mommy Dates. She is normally my strong-willed child. She has learned to “fight” her way into this world, continually competing with a big sister and a baby sister. When it is just her and I, she is the sweetest little soul. Things that would normally erupt in temper tantrums or outburst are simply shrugged off. She models the behaviors and the word choices that some days I feel like I’m a broken record reminding her to do.

Ideas for Mommy Dates:

  • Go to the park.
  • Visit the library and snuggle up with a bunch of books.
  • Jump into your Mommy/Daughter matching DREAMLAND COMPANY LUXE cotton nightgown and snuggle up to a movie. Of course, don’t forget the popcorn!!! Plus, when you are cozy in your nightgowns, you can tell your little girl that they were sewn by women in a female-owned factory in the USA. It’s always important to discuss strong females in the world and this is the perfect opportunity! And I can honestly say that my daughter looked super cute in her little red nightgown and was glowing with pride because she matched her mommy.  There is a DEAL FOR MOMS if you use the code ‘ihelpmoms’ you get $5 off!
Us in our matching DREAMLAND nightgowns on our most recent Mommy Date!
  • Take a walk together.
  • Try out a class. Maybe you will both find you have a hidden talent for pottery.
  • Visit a museum.
  • Kick the rest of the family out and enjoy special time together in your own home.
  • Go shopping.
  • Escape to your bedroom, shut the door and play games.
  • Go out for ice cream.
  • Volunteer together

The list could go on. Sometimes I simply ask the child what they want to do and if it is feasible we do that.

Our time here on Earth is fleeting and our days are not guaranteed. My hope is through these Mommy Dates, I’ve filled their memory with moments that they can treasure forever.

Educational Games for Kids Ages 2-8

Educational games are great for integrating skills into play! Not only that but they are a great way to build memories together! Some of my favorite memories are playing games with my family. (True fact: we played some wicked uphill games of obstacle course croquet. Cribbage and 500 would keep us up until the wee hours of the night. And don’t even get me started on the competition that happened when we all gathered to play spoons!)

I’m all about creating memories, hence the post about memory making gifts! 

I’ve compiled a list of our favorite games to use to create memories and to foster learning through play! I must give you a fair warning though that I do not pay close attention to the age guidelines on things. My experience in the classroom and with my own children has shown me that if you hold your children to high standards and give them challenges they will continue to strive to reach those goals. They will most likely surprise you with what they are capable of doing. And with most things, there are ways to modify it so that it will work for everyone!

Educational Games We LOVE:

Djeco Little Cooperation Game

Djeco Little Games, Cooperation

This game came to us in our Toy Exchange Bin and we immediately fell in love with it! It has the cutest little figures and is a game that is quick and fun for everyone. I’m a big fan of cooperative games instead of fueling the sibling competition. Together you help the little animals get to their igloo on the ice field, but the ice bridge could collapse at any time!

SmartGames Three Little Piggies-Deluxe

The logic games are fun for all ages! Help the pigs build their houses, find a way that allows them to play outside, and if they spot the wolf, get your pigs safely inside their homes. The Three Little Pigs game gradually gets more challenging as you complete each level. This helps build confidence and allows them to work through challenges without giving up. The skill of perseverance is crucial and it is so important to teach children at a young age that it is okay to struggle or have a challenge.

SmartGames Little Red Riding Hood

Help Little Red find the path to Grandma’s house! A great thing about this game and the Three Little Pigs game is that kids can play independently. This makes for a great challenge during quiet time!

Stone Soup Peaceable Kingdom

Stone Soup is another great cooperative game where everyone is working as a team to “cook” a soup by making matches of ingredients. They need to match all ingredients before the fire under the kettle goes out. It creates a non-stressful play environment for everyone!

Stack Up! Peaceable Kingdom

If you haven’t noticed, we are a big fan of Peaceable Kingdom in our house! Children work together to stack 12 blocks before the Stack Smasher “smashes” the tower. Challenge cards can add a tricky twist and the instructions come with three different game levels so the game can grow as your child grows!

Qwirkle

Mindware creates this fun game that is great for all ages! Simply build lines by matching tiles based on color or shape, and earn points as you build. This game will be a great mental challenge for your child!

Sequence for Kids and Sequence Letters

Sequence for Kids is very similar to the regular Sequence game. Play a card from your hand and place a chip on the matching space on the board. When you have four in a row, you win! A unicorn card is wild and a dragon card allows you to remove an opponent’s chip. This is a great game for building strategy skills!

Orchard Toys Shopping List

In this game, you must carefully watch and remember where items are placed so that you can be the first to complete your list and fill your cart!

Wash My Underpants

Wash my underpants!

Who wouldn’t be giggling during this game! Practice your colors as you spin to find out if you can fill your basket with clean undies. Watch out every once in a while you will be yelling out “wash my underpants”.

Camelot Jr.

SmartGames does it again with Camelot Jr.! Children must build a path that connects the Prince to the Princess. The game becomes more challenging the further you go. Children will continue to develop their problem solving and logic skills. This is another great game for independent strategy building. I love pulling this one out when I need to make dinner since it is another game that they can play by themselves.

Castle Logix

Castle Logix is very similar to Camelot Jr. but this time you are given the outline of the castle and you must figure out how to piece it together. Check your work in the booklet and continue on to the next puzzle that gradually gets harder and harder. Strengthen your spatial reasoning with this fun independent game.

Dominoes

I included Dominoes because not only is it a fun, classic game but the piece can be used for some many great math activities! I’m a big believer in multiple uses for your games and materials! Search “Domino Math Games” in Pinterest and you will be flooded with a whole bunch of fun ideas!

Bananagrams

Yet again another game that I included for the pieces! Most of the kids in this age range are not able to play Bananagrams yet but the pieces can be used in so many different ways! Search “Bananagrams Activities” in Pinterest and I promise you will be inspired. And you will be thankful you have this game later on. Scrabble is great, but you have to be SO PATIENT! It can take FOREVER! Bananagrams is a much more fast-paced, fun twist to the classic Scrabble.

Boggle Jr.

Boggle Jr. is a great game that can grow with your child as they develop letter and word recognition. My little one who just turned three showed no interest in letters. After bringing this game out she has built up her confidence and has blown me out of the water with the number of letters she now knows. For my four-year-old, I’m able to cover up the word and have her sound it out to try to spell it on her own. Before long they will be begging to play the adult version!

Uno Moo!

Uno Moo! is another twist on a classic. Children match up the farm animals by either color or type. They push the figure already in the barn door into the barn and replace it with their own match. If they don’t have a match or farmer (wild) then they must draw from inside the barn. When someone gets down to one figure left they shout, “UNO Mooooo!” The first to get all their animals in the barn wins!

Shutterfly Memory Game

I’m a huge sucker for pictures and anything that can help me recall memories. I created a Shutterfly Memory Game for my children with pictures of them with their great-grandparents. The pictures are priceless and the children love to see themselves on the pieces!

Count Your Chickens

Peaceable Kingdom does it again…I know you must be seeing a trend with a few companies that are my go-to! In this cooperative game, you must work together to get all the chickens into the coop. As you spin and move, count the number of spaces and collect that same amount of chicks. Continue to guide your children as they learn the skills to work in a group. Help them see how important it is to talk through your strategies and to listen to everyone’s opinions. These skills will be so valuable.

Super Why ABC Letter Game

PBS has my heart! Super Why is an amazing show that works on letter recognition, sounds, rhyming and so much more. Bring the TV show to your living room with this game.

HiHo Cherry-o

Fill your bucket with fruit but don’t “spill your bucket” and watch out for those pesky animals that steal them out! Kids don’t even realize that they are practicing their counting skills as they excitedly plunk the fruit into the bucket!

Super Stretchy ABC

We love this game because it gets us up and active. It’s a twist on Twister (sorry I couldn’t help myself) all while learning the ABCs.

Hoot Owl Hoot

Besides the adorable little owl pieces, this is another great cooperative game from Peaceable Kingdom. Work together to get all the baby owls home before the sun rises! Children will reinforce their colors, work on strategies, and continue to strengthen skills needed to be a team player. This game also has two levels so you can make it more challenging as your child grows.

Seek-A-Boo

Seek-a-Boo is a game from Mindware, a company you will see featured on the blog a lot as well. It is a large scale version of memory in which children must go out and find the match. For younger children you may only choose to put out a few cards or to challenge the other kids you can put them all out!

Engineering Ants

Engineering Ants is a great STEM game. Use your creativity to help free the ants. In this game, kids must be ready to invent, design, and build. Work together as a team to find the best way to get your ant out of trouble.

**(There are a lot of pieces to this game but it does say that if you contact the company they will send you any replacement pieces that you may need.)

Sneaky Squirrel

They had me with that adorable Squirrel Squeezer! Again…so many uses for this thing and think about how you are building their fine-motor skills! Help the hungry forest friends by spinning the spinner and squeezing the matching colored acorn to place it into your log. Fill your log and you win!

Pete the Cat Groovy Button Game

We LOVE Pete the Cat in our house! Even the one-year-old will find the books and dance along to the groovy beat! This game is based on the book and reinforces colors, counting, and decision-making skills all while having fun rocking out with Pete!

Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes Game

Continue on Pete’s misadventures based on the book Pete the Cat The Missing cupcakes. Search for the missing cupcakes in this game of luck and memory that changes each time you play it!

Cat and the Hat I Can Do That!

Let’s just say this is another game that gets everyone up and moving and getting Grandpa to play with surely leave everyone laughing!

Horton Hears a Who

Horton Hears a Who! is another silly action game. Players search for the clover while wearing the Horton Hat. Then they must pick up the clovers using only the trunk and hurry to carry it back before the time runs out! The player who rescues the most Whos wins!

Trouble

A classic game full of strategy and counting as you race to get all of your colored pieces to their home base. But if you get landed on you must bring that piece back to start! Once again kids don’t realize they are working on counting and number recognition because they are having too much fun!

Hullabaloo

Turn it on and listen carefully to the directions. This game can be played alone or with friends but the key is to follow the directions! You will be spinning, dancing, crawling, and giggling by the time you are done.

Zoo on the Loose

My husband and I love this game from Mindware because not only does it teach a bunch of different directional words but kids love going and finding the animals so much that they will find ours so we can play and still enjoy time together too! Sit back and enjoy the best of both worlds with this game!

Smart Start Cheese Dip

The teacher in me couldn’t resist these cute cheese shaped letters! Just think of all the uses! Use the little mouse tail to hook the cheesy letters as you race to be the first to spell the word on your card!

 

Whew! There you have 32 of our go-to educational games!

What would you add to the list?

 

Plus plan ahead and order this game for Easter:

Hoppy Floppy’s Happy Hunt

For more Easter basket ideas click here!

Trading More Kids’ “Stuff” for Christmas Gifts That Make Memories

Christmas is here and with it comes the search for the “perfect Christmas gift”. Often time’s children get inundated with trinkets and toys that pile up and become overwhelming from a parent standpoint. Unique experience Christmas gifts are a great way to alleviate some of this holiday anxiety while at the same time making lasting memories. I know as a parent I would personally be elated if someone did some of these things for my children instead of getting them more “stuff”.

Here are some ideas that I think would be valuable to fill their memory bank instead of the clutter your house!

Experience Gifts:

A Membership to the Children’s Museum and/or Science Museum

We LOVE our local Children’s Museum!

These museums are gems, filled with play-based learning that you can do with your children. They become a great haven for kids to explore and learn with new materials. Get a family pass for them to go any time throughout the year or just a few passes for them to go with you! Set aside the time to go with them and get in on the action as they create projects, do experiments, try out hands-on stations, and have tons of fun! Best of all you are helping foster their love of learning!

A Membership to the Local Zoo, Playgroup Areas, Pools, Arboretums, etc.

Do a little digging for some fun local areas to take kids. Many of these places sell memberships or passes that you can give as Christmas gifts. As a Mom who loves to take the kids on adventures, having memberships to different places can be very helpful. Often pools, zoos, arboretums, nature centers, and playgroup areas have season passes that might not normally be in the budget but if they receive it as a gift they may be able to experience it more often.

My girls loved experiencing the Butterfly House at Beaver Creek with their Mema and Grandma-Great!

In our local area, we have unique places such as Tiny Tots or the Indoor Sports Center, where kids are able to play. These venues are especially nice in the winter or on rainy days! We also have Beaver Creek Reserve which has a lot of fun nature trails and activities, as well as an area for the kids to play. Our local pool also sells summer passes that might be a fun idea, however, living in the midwest this gift wouldn’t be used until summer…or for a winter option, we have a local volleyball complex that turns the sand area into an indoor kids’ beach party! They sell passes for that as well!

Indoor beach parties are perfect for March in WI!

When we were in Dallas, we fell in love with their Arboretum. It had a whole area dedicated to children where they could explore and learn in an outside setting that was similar to a children’s museum. You can bet that if we lived there, we would LOVE a membership!

Each city has its own unique venues for children!

Dig around the area that the children live in and find out what are the great family-friendly places. There might be a whole bunch of hidden gems that you can help them experience. Any of these places would make great Christmas gifts! Parents would be thankful and kids would be reminded of you each time they visit!

Classes for the Children

Swimming lessons were a hit with this little fish!

Cooking classes, dance classes, karate, soccer, piano lessons, painting classes…all of these are fun activities for kids but add up for parents. It is such a blessing when a family member says that these lessons will be their Christmas or birthday gift!

We have a fun place called The Lily Pad lab that offers a variety of different classes geared towards younger children and their parents. As a mom of three, I struggle with providing a class for one and not the other. Taking all of them to class would break the bank! Having the flexibility to do this because it was given to them as a Christmas gift can be such a relief as a parent. You want your children to have experiences, but they must fit in the budget as well! You can feel good that you are helping out the parents and helping give them experiences to make them a well-rounded person.

If someone does give them a class as a gift, we always make it a point of talking to the children each time we go to the lesson how lucky they are that they are able to go because “Grandma Susy” got them these classes. And as an added bonus, if you are able to go with them to the classes that would be even better! Then you are making memories with them!

Day-Date

My oldest spent an evening packing meals for people in need with her Mema.

Taking the children on a date is a great Christmas gift! They will be so excited to have that special one-on-one time with you. It will be something you can be sure they will talk about for days and they will remember for years! Do something they enjoy together whether it is going to dinner and a movie, go bowling, play at the library, checking out a park, or picking out a craft at the craft store to go home and complete together. Giggle, have fun, and let their youthful excitement rub off on you!

What kid wouldn’t like a date to Chuck E. Cheese?

Trampoline Park Pass

Trampoline park Christmas gifts

Winter time and rainy days make for lots of cooped up energy! Give them the gift of time at the Trampoline Park! By the end of it, they will happily have quiet rest time and their parents will be so thankful!

Theater Productions

Get them tickets to see a live theater production! Support the local arts while providing the children with a cultured experience of viewing a live theatrical performance. This year we are giving our girls tickets to go see the Annie at our local theatre, ECCT. They are so excited and so are we!

Tickets to Unique Events

Christmas gifts
Tickets to the Princess Tea for a gift!

Is someone a big music buff? Does another one love princesses? Is one in love with a certain sport? Get tickets to a concert, Disney on Ice, Princess Tea Parties, or a local sports game. Take them to the event and invest in that time together. Not only are you investing time with them but you are also showing them you are in tune with what things they like and care about their interests.

Hotel Stay/Water Park Night

What is more fun than spending the night at a hotel and hitting up their pool!? Rent some movies, pop some popcorn, and swim to your heart’s content! Enjoy the time together. That is more important than any toy that will lose its luster after a few days.

Kids Love Mail:

Millennials are big into things coming to them in the mail. Subscription boxes are in big demand. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love it when something shows up in your mailbox or on your doorstep? They are also a great Christmas gift that keeps on giving for months! It can be something easy for relatives that are farther away or who aren’t as familiar with local venues. Here is my tip since I’m all about making connections and going the extra mile…have them Facetime or Skype when they open the box or get the subscription each month! You can still be a part of the excitement from afar.

Magazine Subscriptions

My grandparents did this for me as a child and I loved it! Now our children get a magazine a month sent to them and it is so fun to watch their excitement when it comes in the mail! Here are some great magazines to look into:

Box Subscriptions

Christmas Gifts

There are so many fun subscription boxes to choose from. My current favorites are The Story Box and the newly launched Little Feminist Book Club for kids. I love books and these provide questions and interactive activities that go with the stories! And while you are at it maybe you want to look at a Date Night In subscription for the adults!

Why These Types of Christmas Gifts?

I recently was at dinner with a good friend whose Aunt was passing away. One thing she said really resonated with me. She said, “She was the Aunt that got down on the floor and played with us and spent time with us.” It was in the little things that she did to foster a relationship by creating experiences together that she honored and remembered at the time of her passing.

At the end of the day, it will not matter how many things you bought them, but what will stand out is that you connected with them!

A Mom’s Jobs

They say, “A Mother’s work is never done.” I’m realizing more and more how true that is. It got me thinking the other day…what exactly are a Mom’s jobs?

Pre-warning…pour yourself a LARGE cup of coffee and sit back and marvel at all that goes on in a day. I recommend putting your coffee in a SIC (Seriously Ice Cold…but don’t worry it keeps things seriously hot too!) mug. If your day is anything like mine you won’t get to just sit and drink your nice warm coffee. Thankfully this mug can keep my coffee toasty hot for hours! Before this mug, I would retrace my steps after getting sidetracked by twelve of my other jobs only to find my coffee cold. I, of course, go for the BIG 20 oz. mug since I need all the caffeine kick I can get to fuel me through all my Mom jobs.

Mom's jobs

Okay, got your coffee? Grab a seat, this may floor you a little so it may be best to be seated as you read.

Awhile back I wrote a post about my little girl telling me that I don’t work. Her comment really resonated with me. It left me pondering life through her eyes. I wanted to be a good role model to her and show her that:

*Women work and work hard!
*The jobs that are happening here at home are work, and they are important.
*A Mom’s jobs impact us in so many different capacities of our life.

After reading the post, my sister-in-law said something to me that really stuck. She said, “Ash, you have so many job titles. Some days you are a cook, a taxi, a nurse, a housekeeper all wrapped in one.”

LIGHTBULB!!!! She was SO right!

I may not call the things I do by those names, but she was exactly right!

Wait. Please don’t close the tab and think I’m just on my soapbox complaining about all the work that goes on in my day. I promise this is not that! I want it to be known to everyone what goes into a Mom’s job. It is good for everyone to be aware so that they can be as responsive, helpful, and thankful.

As you read this, think about the Moms in your life.

A Moms’ Job consists of being:

CEO of the Family

We manage it all. We are the go-to, main contact, household manager.

Taxi

Shuttling to and from activities and playdates is no joke. Getting four kids under the age of five in and out of the car in Wisconsin winters should be an Olympic sport. I’m not going to lie when I say I literally have to climb in and out of the back hatch to get one in and out! You should see some of the looks I get! Thankfully my SIC 12 oz. travel cup fits nicely in my cup holders so my coffee can go with me to help keep me fueled up! It’s either that or a caffeine IV at this point in the day!

Check out my post with some helpful car seat safety tips with all your winter gear!

Chef

“Order up!” Seriously, I swear kids are always eating! I try to limit the times that the kids can eat to one snack between meals, but some days it feels like I’m always in the kitchen cooking something! We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner and two snacks a day. If they are hungry between those times I have to tell them, “the kitchen is closed.”

And then, of course, you slave away on a good, healthy meal and the first thing you hear is, “I don’t like this!” When I look back on my childhood, I’m so sorry to my own mother for all the times I have said those exact words to her after she worked hard to make us dinner.

Culinary Prep Cook

Finding all the recipes and ideas for what to eat is daunting. Some days I feel like we come up with the same five ideas! I love Tater Tot hotdish, but we have to change it up every once and awhile! After the meal planning, you must make sure you have all the ingredients and most likely make a quick run to the grocery store, but anyone with kids knows that there is no such thing as a “quick run”. So with that being said if you have a good go-to dinner suggestion, send them my way!

Personal Shopper

Of course, along with shopping for the groceries, someone has to make sure that the hubby has deodorant and all the kids’ shoes fit! Thankfully Target has my back on this one! Nothing beats a one-stop place to get ALL the things you may need!

Wardrobe Assistant

Getting a squirming toddler dressed and ready for the day is my morning work-out. Finding clothes that aren’t “too tight” or “itchy” some days seems impossible. Then don’t forget that between the spills, messes, and accidents this process will happen multiple times a day.

I also have to make sure that the sizes still fit. You would think that it wouldn’t be that hard, except no two companies size things the same! Currently my four-year-old is wearing a 5t shirt and 3t pants and her drawers are filled with a wide range of sizes. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the fact that the I need to keep two bins constantly out, one to grow into and one for clothes they have outgrown.

Meteorologist
One week we were all eating ice cream and the next we were making snowmen and snow-witches!

In WI, one week we will be eating ice cream cones in shorts and the next we will be making snowmen. Living in the Midwest, we have all four seasons with a wide range of temperatures. This means I need all types of clothing (short sleeve, long sleeve, shorts, pants, etc.) out and organized. Planning and preparing for all elements is a must. Layering is a lifesaver.

Couponer/Deal Finder

As I’ve mentioned before, much of what we own has come from “Treasure hunting”. I have gotten almost all of my clothes and the girls’ clothes from thrift sales or thrift stores. All the toys and much of the decoration and furniture we have acquired the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy this job but it takes planning to buy things ahead that the kids will need. As a Mom, we are always looking for the best way to save money and cut corners. Cost and budgets are swirling in our head.

Interior Decorator

Although I love my husband to death, if it were up to him there would be nothing on the walls except the TV. But without complaint, he allows me to find unique pieces of furniture to redecorate, and he dutifully hangs the pictures that I insist need to adorn our walls. I will admit, as many of my friends and family will tell you, that I often re-arrange the house. I’m always looking for ways to change it up. It is the running joke that the next time you come over, everything will be in a different arrangement.

Nurse

With kids, there is always something to worry about, a rash to examine, a bug bite to question, a scrape to kiss. The list is endless. I am the administrator of the medicine, the one on hold for the on-call nurse, the late night fever checker all wrapped into one.

Counselor

All these new emotions, experiences, fears, and adventures call for a good listening ear to sort through all the feelings. It is my goal to be the “Lorelai Gilmore” type mom in which my girls can come to me and talk to me about everything! I want to make sure that I make time to talk about the day with them. I want to listen intently to their worries and triumphs. My hope is that home is always their safe landing place.

Referee

Sibling battles can be brutal. We fearlessly dive in and separate everyone. We listen to both sides and help them work through the struggles to come to a compromise. Some days it may feel that this is all we accomplish.

Secretary

Whether it is extracurricular activities or just making sure everyone is staying on schedule with their well-visits, it’s my job to keep the schedule up-to-date and make sure it’s adhered to. I can only imagine as the kids get older this job will become even more of a task!

Teacher

As you have probably seen on my Instagram, I make a point of planning a lot of play-based learning for the children. As a former 2nd grade teacher, education runs thick in my blood and there isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t reading books, practicing some skill, or trying out a new project. Don’t get me wrong, my main focus for these babies is play since they are so young but there is so much you can do through play to help them learn! All of these things take careful planning and prep. They are worth all the time and effort when I see the excitement and knowledge the kids gain!

Housekeeper

That daunting pile of laundry that never seems to go away. Yep, I do that. The floors that need scrubbing after the sticky juice and little feet running in and out. I got it covered! All those little tasks to keep a house clean are for the most part a Mom’s job.

Photographer

A Mom is a daily documenter. We take a lot of pictures of our kids and our lives. We want to soak it all in and remember every detail! With these photographs, we can look back and relive all the moments.

I have made it a personal goal of mine to do what I did for the first for every child.

Many people have told me that the first child will have an elaborate scrapbook filled with pictures and details and the third or fourth will have none. I have decided that won’t happen with my children. Each one has pictures of each month of their first year as well as photo books of their birth and other photobooks recapping adventures we had together. Trust me it takes a long time but the fact that we can go back and relive these memories any time is priceless!

Cheerleader

No one else will love your babies like you do! No one else will build them up and stand by their side for everything. A Mom’s job is to push them to be the best that they can be. We give them the encouragement to take risks with the security to know they have a safe place to land if they fail.

Hairstylist

The haircuts, the tangles, the ponies, and braids we have it covered.

Professional Party Planner

Baptism, birthdays, and all the unique things that make each holiday special do not happen by themselves. Behind each great party is a Mom that has racked her brain for the best ideas. A mom who has coordinated the food and make sure the decorations were hung just so. A mom who lost countless hours of sleep to make that day special.

Professional Organizer

Organizing the wardrobe is one tiny aspect of the day-to-day organizational skills we possess. Everything in the house needs a place. All the projects need to be filed into what is kept and what is stored in the recycling bin. Trinkets and toys need to be stored in a way so that the house doesn’t look like it is filled with toys when we all know it really is!

But beyond the physical things that we organize, we keep a filing cabinet in our brain of so many important things. We know who needs what each day, how many diapers we should pack, who loses it when they are “hangry” and the warning signs to recognize that a meltdown will ensue if we don’t act fast. We can spot the signs of the potty dance a mile away and have already planned out the quickest route to the bathroom no matter where we are.

A Mom’s Job or Just Being A Parent?

Some may feel that all of a Mom’s jobs do not need to be listed or posted since it is what we signed up for when we become parents. While that is true, we made that choice… sometimes all we need is support and acknowledgment. In a job, there are many ways that you are recognized during the day in the workforce. There is built in acknowledgment. Salary, bonuses, awards, thank-yous, lunches, treats in the lounge…These things are not received when you are at home as a parent.

Acknowledge the Invisible

It is hard to see what a Mom does during the day. As a working parent, you can see them getting up early, going to meetings, scheduling, planning, answering emails, and responding to phone calls. It is more traditionally valued being the breadwinner in society. Keeping the humanity of their children, raising humans to become mature adults. It may sound like our days are filled with playdates, trips to the park, construction paper crafts, and snuggles. What may not be seen is that it was an emotionally taxing day.

Acknowledge the invisible. Many of the things that are considered Mom’s jobs are not noticed. Be cognizant of the things that Moms do every day. Things that are expected. Sometimes we just need to know that you see our value in the family.

It is not a competition of who is working harder. We all work hard during the day. Sometimes all we need is our day to be acknowledged.

We Do A LOT!

That’s correct Mom’s out there, we do A LOT! We have a lot of different roles and job titles. We do it 24/7 without raises or pay, but it is hands down THE BEST JOB we will ever have!

By now you have hopefully finished your coffee and are floored with all the things that you do. Your mind is buzzing thinking about each job that you do and didn’t even realize it. Pour yourself a glass of wine in your 12 oz. SIC cup and sit back and relax a minute. Marvel in what you have accomplished. Watch those tiny humans and be in awe of how far they have come and all the things that you do for them each day.

If you can read this….bring me more wine….

 

The next time my little one ponders the idea of Mommy having a job, I now know the answer for her.

Cheers to all your jobs Mama!

Do you have other jobs to add to the list? Let me know!

Where To Get One of These Awesome Cups…

If you are interested in ordering your own SIC cup please check out their website. Use the discount code ihelpmoms for 15% off! Plus, your product comes with a lifetime warranty so you never have to worry. You can choose from 12 powder coated colors to get the perfect cup to match you!

Winter Car Seat Safety with Cars.com

It’s happened…the first snowfall of the season. A pre-Halloween trick Mother Nature placed on us in which she seems to have forgotten what season we were in. With that comes the digging out of all the dreaded winter gear. The time it takes to now get everyone out the door has doubled and if your children are anything like mine the thought of stuffing them into a car seat in their padded winter coats is anxiety provoking. Not only does it cause them stress to be smooshed like little sardines into a seat, but it’s anxiety provoking for us parents because the reality is it isn’t safe! Winter car seat safety needs to discussed because the repercussions are too costly not to.

With snow before Halloween, we didn’t know if we should make a snowman or a snow-witch so we made both!

The Stakes Are High…

There are on average 3,287 car fatalities a day! A DAY! According to the CDC,  663 children ages 12 and under died as occupants in a car in 2015. Now as a mom who is ultra-paranoid about her children a.k.a. has some major “mom-xiety” I need to add that 35% of those kids were not even buckled up! It is so important to be educated on car seat safety.

A Push for Correct Installation

I’ve found that people are much more informed on the importance of correctly installing your car seat. It was even a focus the other morning on the Today Show. And there are valuable resources to help make sure car seats are correctly installed. In fact, Cars.com gives you get tips and tricks for installation. And as an added precaution, you can always schedule a car seat check in your area to double check that it is installed properly.

car seat safety

What people aren’t talking about is winter car seat safety! As a Midwesterner, this is super important to me.

Here me out…I am not going to say to take the baby to the store without a coat in negative three-degree weather.

It’s cold. Trust me, I know. I don’t want my babies exposed to that cold either, but there are other ways to be safe in these frigid winter months. Frankly, a big bulky coat and a car seat can be a deadly combo. Often what happens is the harness becomes too loose and therefore doesn’t restrain the child in a crash.

Put it to the Test

Those that are a little skeptical right now I challenge you to do this little test. Put your child, winter coat and all, in the car seat and tighten the harness until you can’t pinch any excess from the straps. Now without loosening it, unbuckle the straps and have your child take off their coat. Put them back in the seat and see how it fits. If you can now pinch the straps when it is buckled that means that the coat is too bulky to be safe. What happens in a crash is that under impact the coat compresses and all that excess room makes it so that the child is no longer restrained.

I mean seriously, in the Arctic Tundra of Wisconsin, we dress like the kid from A Christmas Story who can’t get up when he falls down!

What Other Options Are There Besides Giving My Child Hypothermia?!

  • Put a blanket over the child in the car.
  • Once the child is buckled in the car seat, put the coat on backward so that their arms are in the armholes and the back of the coat acts like a blanket.
  • A car seat poncho coat

My Thought…

I don’t want to be taking coats on and off because frankly, it takes too long with three kids under the age of five. We would NEVER make it to preschool unless we got ready and left an hour before school started. My vote is for the car seat poncho.

There are so many different Pinterest instructions on how to make your own. In fact, I’m thinking this will be my next craft night project. I just searched “car seat poncho” and found the CUTEST plaid one!!!

They are basically a fleece blanket with a hole for your head. Fancy ones even have a hood. When they are in their car seat you just flip the back up and buckle them in under the poncho.

UPDATE:

Check out our ponchos! I’m in LOVE with them and we get compliments on them all of the time! And after two different trips to the WI Dells I can tell you that they make amazing swimsuit coverups too!

It’s a winter car seat safe alternative that keeps the kids warm! That’s a win for everyone!

How do you battle the cold but keep kids safe at the same time? Share your thoughts and tips with us in the comments!

 

25 Spook-tacular Halloween Kids’ Activities

Activities connect adults and children and allow them to build memories as they play and learn together. I’ve compiled our favorite Halloween kids’ activities for you to try out at your house! Or put them all together and hold a smashing good Halloween party for your kids and their friends!

Frightfully Fantastic Fetticini

Halloween Kids' Activities

Boil a box of fettucini noodles and after draining them, rinse them with water. Separate the noodles into two large galloon zip-lock bags. Put a bunch of orange food color dye into one of the bags and green in the other bag. I used neon food coloring to get the lime green color. Add a few Halloween trinkets. I got eyeballs, spider rings, and glow in the dark bats from the Dollar Store to add to my noodles.

Water Adds a New Element…

When the plain noodles lost their luster, I added about an inch of water and a few tools that I keep in a cup.

Walmart has a bunch of small kitchen utensils that work great for this! I also found a pack of plastic ones at the dollar store too. Medicine syringes work great for kids as well! We all know we have a lot of extra medicine syringes in our drawers!

A helpful tip…always put sensory bins on a large reusable plastic tablecloth. It makes for much easier cleanup! This Halloween one I found in the Target Dollar Spot.

Eerie Eyeballs

Water and food coloring in a tub with different sized googly eyes makes for some fun exploring. Work their fine motor skills as they try to scoop or pick up the eyes with a kid’s tweezers. Then extend the activity further by having them sort the eyes by size!

Insects in the Grass

The Dollar Store is one of my go-to places for materials for the kids! I use the shredded, crinkly paper strips that you use in presents for sensory bins all the time. For this bin, use green and brown to look like grass. Add plastic bugs and magnifying glasses for the kids to explore.

Halloween Moon Dough

Moon Dough is exciting for kids to explore in. It’s so soft and fun to touch! You might find yourself as excited to play in it as your child!

You can easily make it by mixing 8 cups flour with 1 cup baby oil. To make it smell good you can also include a packet of Kool-aid.

Another way to make it smell like pumpkin is to use 4 cups flour, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 1 cup pumpkin puree.

We put Halloween cookie cutters, googly eyes, small pumpkins, and Halloween sprinkles in our bin but you can add whatever you want!

For an added challenge for those kids that are a little older, have them draw letters, numbers, or words in the dough with their finger or a large paintbrush.

Pumpkin Washing

After all this messy exploration, it is time to clean up all those pumpkins. My kids love cleaning things in bubbles. I filled their water table with gold glitter, water, scrub brushes, and sponges. We cleaned off the messes on the pumpkins that we had experienced earlier.

Fall is for the Peas

Green split peas are perfect for a fall sensory bin. We added some homemade caterpillars and leaves printed in different sizes. To extend the learning further, have your child sort the leaves by large, medium, and small or have them collect their own leaves in nature! I also put some bugs in our bin which are fun to pick up with little tongs or pincher to strengthen our fine motor muscles!

A Tangle of Spider Webbing

My one-year-old was thrilled with this bin! I got webbing from the Dollar Store and stretched it out. Then I dumped in some Halloween rings and spiders that I also found at the Dollar Store. She enjoyed stretching out the webbing, pulling it around the house, and trying to get the little figures out of the tangle.

As you can see, my oldest had a different plan for this! It then became or mad-scientist wig. We all took turns wearing it and laughing.

Extend the learning further for little ones by having them put the rings on and off of each other’s fingers. Or give them a straw and have them use their fine motor skills to put the rings on the straw.

Playdough Pumpkin Tray

Setting out trays that have the materials all ready for them to explore is my making dinner life-saver! I am able to get so much done while they constructively play and learn. This tray has orange and black playdough, cut brown pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and Halloween colored beads. Kids can create pumpkin faces any way they would like.

Halloween Cookie Cutters

I keep all of my Halloween cookie cutters together in a tote with all my Halloween decorations. This makes it easy to pull out during the month of October. I set out a large tray and grab playdough in Halloween colors. Using a small rolling pin they roll out the dough and cut out bats, ghosts, cats, and pumpkins.

Life Skill 101-Raking Leaves

The kids absolutely LOVE this activity. Once again the Dollar Store comes to my rescue. Thye have these fake leaves that people must use for decoration and a plastic rake! The kids dump them out and rake them into a pile, they throw them up in the air, they roll in them laughing…it’s overall just a good wholesome time!

Spooky Stamp Scenes

We love creating different scenes with stamps and colors. Often we look through books and try to re-create the pictures. These little stamps were at Target in the dollar area. I keep them all together with my Halloween decorations to pull them out during October.

Spider Web Tangle

My three year old actually put this whole web together by weaving white yarn in and out of the holes of a laundry basket. She pretended she was a spider and had a blast getting it prepped. We threw in some plastic Dollar Store spiders and let the baby try to get them out of the tangled web.

Extend it further by using a clothespin to see if the older ones can pinch the spiders out of the web. This will work on their fine motor skills and strengthen those muscles.

Ice Tray Eye Counting

 

 

 

 

 

These cute trays are also at the Dollar Store. I labeled them with numbers along the edge. The kids filled the pumpkins and skeletons with the correct number of googly eyes (or Halloween colored beads) depending on what number was underneath it. Pincher or scoop tools add another element to this idea as well.

Spine-Chilling Slime Comparison

 

If your kids are anything like mine, they are obsessed with slime. I have our favorite recipes here and a bunch of others here. I know so many blogs have these cute print out that you can print and do with your children but I’m all for simplicity. Grab a piece of paper and make your own quick T-chart to compare how the slimes are similar and different. Help the children explore using their five senses.

Pumpkin Decorating

Pumpkins make a great canvas! This is an easy way to decorate your pumpkin and can have every age involved.

Drip Paint Fail Turned Pumpkin Painting

I’m sure you have seen this around the internet. The cute drips of paint that slide down so nicely on the pumpkin. Well, let’s just say that it was a #pinterestfail at our house. The paint squirted out in big globs.

So we made the most of the situation and just used a paintbrush to spread the globs of paint all around. They turned out to be a beautiful, paint swirled pumpkins.

Melted Crayon Pumpkin

Together we peeled the wrappers off the crayons that were broken in our box. (Peeling wrappers takes patience and works those fine motor skills!) I love incorporatin the kids in as much of the project and prep as possible. Then I hot glued the crayons around the stem of the pumpkin.

**If I were doing this again, I would use smaller crayon pieces since my pumpkin was relatively small.

Together we melted the crayon using the hot air from a blow-dryer. I rotated back and forth from the high setting to the lower setting watching to make sure it wasn’t splattering too much.

I love the way they turned out! And of course my science brain husband had to inform us how some of the crayons had different melting points and that is why a few of them were harder to get to melt.

Melting Ghosts

We did a different version of this with our science experiments. It just so happened that biodegradable packing peanuts came in the mail shortly after posting that. I saved them and we colored ghosts on them as well. Since they are biodegradable, it only takes water to make them “melt” away. I used children’s medicine syringes for the kids to suck up and squirt out the water. The girls played with this for a good hour as the melted ghosts and made up stories!

Brain Jello Smash

The Dollar Store has this cool brain mold. We made jello and after enjoying it a bit we used it for a little sensory time.

We aren’t huge Jello fans at our house so after we ate a bit, I let them have some sensory time!

For the baby, we stripped down to our diaper and decided exploring would be easiest in the bathtub where it would be much easier to clean up!

Check out what other fun Halloween food we had fun with!

Games Galore…

After Halloween, I always check out Target’s clearance section for games and materials that make great Halloween kids’ activities. I found a bunch of this stuff last year! The ring toss game is always a huge hit! You could make your own with cones from the Dollar Store and a little spray paint.

Also, check out your local thrift stores for fun things to do, this puzzle was found at Goodwill.

I keep all the Halloween books together and pull them out for the month! I set up a fun little reading nook with all my favorite books!

Check out some fun crafts and a few of our favorite Halloween books!

Tic-tac-toe is fun! This set I got at Target but you could easily make your own using felt. Or for a simple twist…use paper and stickers.

Lacing cards were also another Target treasure that is great for working our fine motor skills.

 

Try keeping all your things together in a Halloween bin and collecting materials to add each year. The kids will be excited to dive right in and explore when you pull the tote out!

 

 

 

Halloween Snacks to Please Little Monsters

Halloween snacks get everyone excited this time of year! The look on those little faces when you do something so simple is truly priceless. Changing up a normal food and giving it just a little twist can make their day! Plus, I’ve added a special adult treat to the blog as a little extra!

Spider Sandwich:

Materials:
  • Bread
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Peanut Butter
  • Blueberries

Cut the bread into a circle using a butter knife. Spread peanut butter on one slice and stick four pretzels to each side. Add the other slice on top and stick two blueberries on for eyes. We found that a dab of peanut butter helped the eyes to stay put.

My four year old actually learned how to make this one herself and she was so proud! She even added a candy corn nose to hers!

Halloween Cookie Cutter Sandwiches:

Materials:
  • Bread
  • Halloween Cookie Cutters
  • Anything you want to put in your sandwich

Stamp out your bread and meat using Halloween cookie cutters!

For more fun ideas to add a twist to your plain PB&J check out this blog. 

Pumpkin Quesadilla:

Materials:
  • Tortillas
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Take two tortillas and using kitchen scissors cut out the face and a stem! Spray some cooking spray on a pan and fry up the quesadilla!

Finger Dogs:

 
Materials:
  • Hotdogs
  • Ketchup
  • Hotdog Buns

Cook the hotdogs the way you normally do. Using a sharp paring knife cut off the casing near the top to create a fingernail. Then make little slits in the hotdog to create the look of the knuckles and wrinkles. Chop off the end and squirt the ketchup primarily in that area.

Mummy Dogs:

Materials:
  • Hotdogs
  • Crescent Rolls

Take your hotdogs and wrap them up with a crescent roll. I stretched my crescent rolls sections out so they were a little thinner and stringy before I wrapped the hotdog. Then pop them in the oven as directed on the crescent roll package. Just leave them in a little longer to cook.

Halloween Snacks

Mummy Fruit Pouches:

Materials:
  • Fruit Pouches
  • Toilet Paper or Crete Paper
  • Googly Eyes

Wrap the paper around a fruit pouch and tape the end on the back. Glue on two googly eyes and you are all set!

Pumpkin Fruit Cups:

Draw a pumpkin face on the bottom of a mandarin orange fruit cup with a black sharpie marker! Display them upside down until the kids are ready to eat them!

Ghost String Cheese:

Halloween snacks don’t get much easier than this one…

With a sharpie marker draw a ghost face (basically three circles) on the outside of a white string cheese package.

Witches Brooms:

Halloween Snacks

Materials:
  • String Cheese
  • Pretzel Sticks

Cut a string cheese in half using kitchen scissors. Then cut slits into the bottom of the cheese. Spread them apart a little and stick a pretzel stick in the top!

Frankenstein Grape Cups:

Materials:
  • Clear Cup
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue
  • Googly Eyes
  • Black Sharpie
  • Green Grapes

Draw Frankensteins face on a clear cup using a black sharpie marker. Attach googly eyes using hot glue. Then fill the cup up with green grapes!

Pumpkin Oranges:

(Pictured above with the Frankenstein Grape Cups)

This is such a simple little thing you can do for the kids. Take a sharpie marker and draw silly pumpkin faces on their oranges or cuties! They will love it!

Dessert

Jello Brains:

Materials:
  • Brain Mold (I found my at the Dollar Store.)
  • Jello
  • Water

Prepare three boxes of Jello as directed on the package. I mixed green and red to get this black color. Pour into the mold and refrigerate until it becomes solid. Tip it over onto a plate and enjoy!

 

We aren’t huge Jello fans at our house so after we ate a bit, I let them have some sensory time!
For younger ones, you may want to do the Jello exploring in the bathtub.

Candy Corn Cupcakes:

Find the recipe for these cute cupcakes Halloween snacks and many other festive ones here!

Beverages:

Glowing Kid’s Drinks:

Click the picture to find out how to make these glowing drinks for your kids!

I’m Here for the BOOS…For the Adults Only!

I set up a Bloody Mary bar for the adults the night of the Halloween Science Experiments. I simply attached stickers to the pitcher for the saying and then added other fun ingredients (pickles, ghost string cheese from above, beef sticks, olives, pepperonis, etc.) on the side for them to add to their Bloody Mary.

There you have it! Halloween snacks that are fun, festive, and full of memories for everyone! Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out!

 

 

 

Unicorn Party for One Unique Little Girl

Do you happen to know a unique kid who you are unicorn and rainbows over? I sure do and that’s why I loved planning this fun unicorn party! Not to mention there are unicorns at every store right now! They are the hot thing, so of course it’s easy to find cute little unicorn party decorations.

Since my little lady turned three, I opted for a party in the later afternoon so that everyone could rest before the fun began. It also ended before dinner so we opted for the fun treats and snacks. Okay so truthfully they may have overdosed on sugar and were sent home without an appetite but hey, it’s a birthday party!

Fancy Finger Food

As tempting as it may be to make a large pan of mac’n’cheese and dye it all rainbow colored I tried to opt for a little less food dye. Instead I went for a rainbow fruit tray and a rainbow veggie tray…which I did need to dye the cauliflower purple.

Fruit Tray:

-Red: Strawberries -Orange: Oranges -Yellow: Pineapple

-Green: Green Grapes -Blue: Blueberries (not pictured in ours)

-Purple: Purple Grapes -Clouds: Cool-Whip

Veggie Tray:

-Red: Cherry Tomatoes -Orange: Carrots -Yellow: Yellow Peppers

-Green: Broccoli -Purple: *Dyed Cauliflower -Clouds: Ranch Dip

* To dye the cauliflower, just put it in a large zip-lock bag with a bunch of purple food coloring and a little water and allow it to sit for awhile.

Unicorn Horns:

Be prepared for a flashback to the 90’s when you bring out the Bugles for “unique” crunchy unicorn party treat!

Fruity Pebble Rainbow Bars

The other day as I was sweeping up the million little piece of fruity pebbles that had escaped their morning breakfast bowl it dawned on me…Rice Krispie treat Fruity Pebbles and then no more left over for cereal! That’s a double win! They are colorful, delicious, and super simple to make. Just follow the directions for Rice Krispies and just switch the cereal up!

Fruit Water

Extra fruit from the rainbow tray? Not a problem, just add it to the water to make it tasty and colorful!

Unicorn Cake

As many of you who have read about our other parties know, my mom makes all the cakes for the girls! It is tradition and according to the birthday girl this was her favorite thing of the whole day! We opted for fresh flowers for the unicorn mane. It was colorful yet a much simpler way of decorating. These daisies were pre-colored at Walmart but you could also grab white daisies and put the stems in food coloring and water to color the tips yourself.

Be sure to check out the other cakes in these great parties!

*“One-derful” Woodland Adventure

*Calling All You Party Animals

 

Dreamy Unicorn Party Decorations

Of all the parties that I’ve done for the girls, I think these unicorn party decorations were my absolute favorite!

Castle Fit for a Princess:

My good friend ordered this cute little pop-up princess tent as a birthday present for Em. It made for a perfect castle for the birthday princess and her friends to hide out in.

I made a rainbow balloon walkway leading up to the tent by poking golf tees through the bottom of the balloon tie. Push the tee into the ground and there you have it!

Rainbow Arch:
Notice my oldest wearing all the Target rainbow gear we could find. This will be reused for Halloween as well since we are carrying on the unicorn and rainbow theme!

The end of summer season meant pool noodles were on clearance! I found one in every color and taped them all together at the ends. Then I taped them over the back of two kids’ folding chairs. (If you wanted the arch to be up higher you could use adult chairs, you would just need to make the clouds bigger.) I then tied white balloons on the chair for clouds. The kids had so much fun running through the arch!

Clouds and Rainbow Streamers:

The girls had a blast helping create these sparkly clouds! I cut out a cloud shape from a sheet of tag board. Then if you watched my Instagram Story you saw the girls roll glue along the edges and sprinkle it with ALL the glitter (my husband’s favorite craft supply…). Attach streamers in every color below the clouds and you have the perfect backdrop.

Paper Plate Unicorns:

The verdict is still out on whether this looks like a unicorn or a pig but the girls had fun so that’s all that matters. We made these “unicorns” to decorate with for the party. For older kids it could be part of the activities you do during the party.

All you need is:

  • Paper plate
  • hole puncher
  • yarn
  • pink, white, and yellow construction paper
  • googley eyes
  • markers

First, punch out about 8 holes at the top of the paper plate. Cut out a pink nose, two white ears, and a unicorn horn from the construction paper. Glue them to the paper plate. Then glue two googley eyes on the paper plate. Cut out a different color yarn pieces about 8 inches long each. It doesn’t have to be exact. The kids can string the yarn through the hole and tie it on the plate for the mane. Then they can add anything they would like to make it their own with the markers.

Unique Unicorn Party Outfit:
Target dollar section has the cute gold number balloons! Stock up when you see them because they go fast!

Thank goodness for Target! They have the cutest unicorn leggings and unicorn t-shirts which worked perfect for this birthday party! The unicorn headband I ordered on-line. It’s super cute and very reasonable!

 

 

 

 

Lucky for me I could find some for the baby and myself (from the kids’ department) as well! I tend to have to get into the festive theme of the party as much as possible if I can.

 

 

I wasn’t the only awesome person who got into the unicorn party theme!

Games Galore:

I’m a sucker for themed games so of course I had a blast making these games for the party!

Pin the Horn on the Unicorn:
Just like the typical “pin the tail on the donkey” just with a unicorn and horns instead!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Parachute

I was shockingly surprised with how much fun the kids had with the parachute. I picked it up for fifty cents this summer at a thrift sale! A steal! We counted in different languages as we jumped and threw our arms up in the air. A few kids helped throw ball pit balls on the parachute and together we giggled as they popped up in the air. I was only slightly sadden that it wasn’t big enough for us to play “sharks” or to create a bubble that we sit on with our bottoms.

Prize Punch

This game was a little more time consuming to create but the kids LOVED it! I got two pieces of heavy duty (foam like) board from the Dollar Store. I traced a circle smaller than the size of the red solo cups. Using an xacto knife I cut out the circles. Then I taped a square piece of tissue paper (every color of the rainbow of course) over the back of each circle. After that, place a prize in a red solo cup and hot glue the rim of the cup down on the back side of each circle. (A word to the wise, if you are using suckers tape them down so that the stick doesn’t poke into a child’s hand when they punch.) Once it is complete the kids can take turns punching through the tissue paper holes to discover their treasure!

Toss the Ring on the Unicorn Horn

Play ring toss using rainbow colored cones from the Dollar Store and heavy duty twine rings.

Build a Unicorn Horn

Materials:

  • Waffle cones
  • white frosting with the sprinkle tops
  • Twizzler Pull and Peel
  • Plastic knives
My one year old literally did dig in!

The kids dug in to this craft! I placed a cone on each plate and put one container of frosting and sprinkles out for every few kids. Using the plastic knives, they spread the frosting over the cone. Then they sprinkled it with sprinkles and wrapped it with Twizzlers! And best of all they could eat it when they were finished!

Tattoo Station
A pack of colorful Melissa and Doug Tattoos, a bowl of water, and a rag created hours of fun! Everyone at the party got tattoos from big sis!
But be forewarned, they might end up EVERYWHERE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Favor

Unicorn Slime

  

The night before, the girls had a blast unicorn slime for all their friends.

Materials:

Mix the glue, glitter, and baking soda together. Slowly add the contact solution so that you can adjust the amount to make sure you don’t add too much! Continue to mix until the slime forms. Knead it with your hands. If you want it to be stretchier add a little water! Pop it in the containers and have you the birthday child hand them out as they thank their guests for coming to the party!

 

There you have it! One fun unicorn party for one unique little girl!

 

Cheers to 30 Years: My True Fear

It is time to kiss the good old 20s good-bye and begin the next chapter as a 30 year old! Yikes!

In all honesty, I guess the thought of 30 doesn’t really bother me. I’ve always been that girl who was ready for the next big thing, charging through life and taking it on head first. As a child, I started a few days’ worth of kindergarten and moved to first grade. I got work release my senior year so I could save up money instead of staying at school. I took college classes in high school so I could graduate college in 3 1/2 years and start teaching right away. My husband and I bought a house together about a month before we were engaged! We were married long before we decided to have children and well, as you can see we didn’t wait long between each one for the next one to come along! With all that being said…

I’m ready for 30 and for slowing down.

I look back on my life and think to myself…”Girl, why did you rush it?!” You can’t go back on that time again. You can’t go back to the days that you were a little kid running barefoot and free, playing kick the can till the street lights turned on. The days are gone where you sat on the phone for hours poring over all the things that happened that day at school. The anticipation of the dance… that “nerv-cited” feeling as all eyes were glued to you during the big game… that sideways glance that made your stomach do somersaults and kept you up all night wondering.

This was my childhood playhouse that my Dad (pictured here) built for me 28 years ago when I was 2!

It just makes me think of the Tracy Adkins song “You’re Gonna Miss This”.

20s were fun. Life was a whirlwind of late nights, exciting changes, and welcomed adventures.

But 30s…

30s will be even better. I’ve accepted the “mom-bod” that’s evolved. It is time to say to hell with it and just wear the darn swimsuit. Instead of worrying about what it might look like, I know now to embrace the changes. I have the wisdom and experience that can only come from time and experiences. My confidence has grown and matured. I now am okay being me and embracing the quirks that make me who I am. I realized as I looked around at all the family, friends, and neighbors that are here celebrating with me that I’ve got amazing support and love.

My cousin even surprised me and flew in to celebrate with us!

My True Fear of Getting Older:

Truthfully, the thought of my kids getting older is more frightening to me than me aging. I’ve always been the one that worries that I might miss something. What if I don’t see them do something big or I can’t be a part of an important moment?

One of my biggest fears is that the memories of them will not stick with me. Hence why I take a million photos. I want to hold on to everything they do and all their funny little nuances. The fresh baby smell and the touch of their smooth, buttery skin to be forever accessible to me. I want my senses to remember all the things that make them my babies.

This time when they are little is such a blur of sleepless nights, shower-less days, and more coffee than I should truly admit. You are so busy and engrossed in everything. The changes happen so fast and just when you think you have something figured out, it all changes again. It is somehow in that fog of being a mom of young kids that you are supposed to store all those important memories.

Somehow you are supposed to remember the moment even when at that time you didn’t realize it was so important.

It is true that you never know it is the last time until later on when you reflect back on it. As you pack away those tiny outfits you never realized it was the last time they were going to wear them. The last time they stare up at you when you nurse and you watch their eyelids growing heavy. That last time their tiny hand slips into yours as they trustingly gasp on to you when crossing the street.  That time when you held them and they wrapped their little arms around you and nuzzled their sweaty forehead into your neck, it was the last. You don’t realize that before long they won’t want you to carry them down to bed.

My honest fear isn’t me getting old. It is my kids getting older. I know that it will come with great changes and exciting adventures but this is what I know right now. Although it is crazy and stressful, it is beautiful. I am not ready to let that go.

So cheers to 30 years…and while I can’t slow down how fast my kids grow up, I can slow down the day-to-day so I can enjoy every minute.

How do you (or did you) feel about turning 30? Do you have advice for your 30s? Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts!

 

Embracing the “Mom-bod”: Tips, Tricks, and At-Home Teeth Whitening

“Mom-bod” vs. “Dad-bod”

Click the here to read about how my husband felt as a Dad to a newborn.

 

With all the news about the new hot “dad-bod”, I can’t help but think we ladies need to rally around the beauty of the new “mom-bod”. I mean hell “Dad-bod” is the new fad for men, so much so that Men’s Fitness and the Washington Post are writing about it! And they got that “bod” without creating a living being inside of them! So ladies, I’m here to raise a glass to the new “mom-bod” we ALL proudly say we have after growing a child inside of us.

 

There are a million different programs, shakes, pills or diets out there that I’m sure you have seen or tried in some capacity. Some work for some women and others not so much. Shaun-T and his Insanity work out program is what built back my stomach muscles after having a crowbar pry them apart for each c-sections. Still, there is no set of crunches or diet drink that will put you back to the twenty something girl you were before you had children…three of them in my case.

Even if you are back to your pre-pregnancy size or weight, there are still definite changes!

And while I have heard so many people say they are embracing their stripes and learning to love their new curves, it can be a challenge nonetheless. Your body will never be quite the same, but that is OKAY! You grew a person inside of it for heaven sake! Give yourself a little break and be proud. Instead of focusing on so-called “flaws” that you see when you look at your new “mom-bod”, let’s instead embrace the beauty and find ways to make you confident in the new you! It’s time to change our mindset and perk up what we can. Oh gosh, no pun intended on that one…I guess some things won’t “perk up” no matter how much positive energy we put into them!

It’s the little things…

Mom-bod or not, I’ve found that doing the little things can boost your confidence in yourself. Finding things that make you feel good about yourself after having children is crucial.

Mom Jeans, Maternity Clothes, and Muffin Tops

If you are anything like me, you have a closet full of clothes that fit well before kids and clothes that fit while you were pregnant. It’s time to change that! You need to make sure you have clothes that fit the new you! It is okay to let go of your pre-pregnancy jeans and toss the maternity clothes out the window. Start over and find a few outfits that really flatter YOU. Your body has changed and while your old clothes may be tight, your maternity clothes are probably frumpy. Invest in a few key articles of clothing that you can mix and match. Make sure you feel comfortable in them and like the way they feel. And don’t think just because you are a mom, that you can’t be trendy! You don’t need to settle for “mom jeans”.

Put Your Best Face Forward

No one warned me of the excessive amount of hormonal acne that would plague my face and jawline after having babies. It was to the point where I was trying everything including putting a call in to the dermatologist who was booked for MONTHS!

Finally, I went and had a facial which I’d never done before in my life. It was amazing! Painful, but amazing. The aesthetician was so real. She gave me a few washes and tips for some make-up that would help. I felt like I had been inundated with people trying to sell me their products lately and it was so refreshing to hear someone give it to me straight. So far, I can honestly say that my skin is starting to clear up. It feels smoother and healthier. Best of all, it is free of the  harmful chemicals that were in the other products. I spent more on cleansers and make-up than I ever have in my life, but feeling confident in my skin has been priceless. Instead of trying to hide my face, I’m ready to show it off!

This hat was my go-to when I wanted to help hide some of my face!

The moral: take care of your face. Spend the time and money on it because it’s what everyone sees each day when they look at you. Start now so you don’t regret not doing it a few years down the road.

Smiles Are Always In Fashion

Coffee is a mom’s best friend. If you are like me, you quickly slam a cup in the morning to get it pumping through your veins to keep up with the kids. Then evening comes and the wine is calling your name. You deserve it after all for keeping up with the kids all day. That combination, along with a few diet cokes here and there, do a number on the whiteness of your teeth. I’m sure your teeth have seen better days.

A smile truly is the prettiest thing you can wear.

Thank goodness for Smile Brilliant, a teeth whitening system that truly works wonders! I’ve tried the strips that slide off my teeth, I’ve painted on whitening with a little brush, and I’ve even gotten systems from the dentist. None of these really make a noticeable difference in my teeth other than the intense tooth sensitivity they created. This was not the case with Smile Brilliant!

Smile Brilliant has you make a mold of your teeth (that may sound daunting but trust me, it was super easy-I did it with three littles running around!) and then they ship you back custom fit whitening trays. This eliminates the need to go to the dentist and pay excessive amounts for them to create the trays.

Every day or every other day, you put the gel on your trays and leave them in for about an hour or longer. Then you brush and put a desensitizing gel on the tray for another 15 minutes. That’s it! Those that follow my Instagram story may have seen that I was taking walks, playing with the kids, and cooking dinner while whitening my teeth because it was that easy.

The Proof is in the Picture
Before (Top) and After (Bottom) pictures!

I feel so strongly about this teeth whitening system that I will be doing a giveaway to one lucky person for a $139 Smile Brilliant credit so that they too can up their “mom-bod” game with a brilliant white smile!

Enter here:

www.smilebrilliant.com/g/parentingtheprincipal

This giveaway is open for one week to all U.S., U.K., Australian, and Canadian residents. Smile Brilliant hosts the giveaway on their own website so that you do not have to worry about your email being sold to a third-party website.

Or use the code parentingtheprincipal10 to get 10% off your order of Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening System.

Cut, Color, Style…But Make It Easy

With all the hair that is falling out after having a baby, start popping those Biotin vitamins and book your appointment at the salon. Get a new cut and color that fits the new you! Make sure it is something that is easy to manage. Taking the time to style your hair every morning as a busy mom is darn near impossible. In my case it was the dark plum color for fall and long layers for a little body but still the ability for the mom bun!

You Gave Life…

Spruce up you but always remember, your “mom-bod” is amazing. It grew another human and that, my friend, is something to be proud of…stripes, loose skin, widen hips, flat butt and all.

Rock it Mama, because you are beautiful!

And our children are always watching us…

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tooth Whitening Gel