Celebrating Moms and ‘Difficult’ Women Everywhere!

First off…Happy Mother’s Day to all! Hoping all of you enjoyed your day: celebrating the amazing women who helped to give us life or brought light to our lives. I wanted to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt “thank you” to all of those women who have made astounding impacts on our lives everyday…those seen and those who are, literally, behind the scenes.

Picture of the cover of In Praise of Difficult Women

Breaking the Rules…

“Difficult” Women

I was  scrolling through the news feeds on my phone this afternoon, (during naptime of course), when I came across an amazing article on National Geographic titled : Difficult Women Who Wrote Their Own Rules. This article is an interview with the Karen Karbo, the author of In Praise of Difficult Women. Her book focuses on a select group of twenty-nine women who were really anything but “difficult”. Instead, it celebrates women who were portrayed, through the eyes of society, as “difficult”. Despite criticism, these women stayed true to themselves, and continued to shine. They  followed their dreams, wrote their own rules and created a life they loved. I wanted to send this article out to all of you as I was so deeply inspired by these carefully selected women; some of whose stories I knew and others, I only briefly glimpsed at.

Karen Karbo, the author of this amazing book, speaks so profoundly, not only of the women she has highlighted, but to all women. To you and to me. To your daughters, your grandmothers, your moms. Her words are so poignant that they prompted some serious self-reflection. I began to think “what am I doing to act on my dreams? Where am I in the stages of crafting a life that I love?

 

If you don’t care too much what people think, you risk being called a difficult woman because you’re not staying in your lane or doing what is expected of you. For the most part, any time a woman doesn’t do that she can be called difficult. When a woman inconveniences somebody she can be called difficult. A woman who believes her own needs, goals, and desires are at least as important as everyone around her risks being called difficult.(Karbo)

What is “Difficult” and Why is it Women?

How much of the above quote made you pause and say “wow-nooo kidding?!”  I mean, how easy is it for even women to call other women “difficult”. How often have you heard “oh, she’s difficult to work with” or “whoa, watch out, she’s difficult to talk to”. Why? Have you ever asked why these women who you were warned about or warned others about were so “difficult”? Is it that these women in our own lives are “difficult” or perhaps they have their own way of expressing themselves that make us feel a little uncomfortable?  Karbo’s book highlights women such as J.K. Rowling (who she calls “scrappy” when describing her strength), Rachel Maddow, ( a “brainy” lady who people passed as a “know it all”), and Amelia Earhart to name a few. Inspirational? Wow-without a doubt. Motivational? The interview alone made me want to purchase the book. A must-read? In my opinion, abso-freakin-lutely.

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Achieve: The Classic Come Back Story

 

Goals

Going after your dreams-not as crazy as it seems-or cliché

What is it about a good come back story that entrances us so? The idea that someone has looked fear in the face, laughed and pursued their goal anyway? Is it the lingering question regarding: “how in the world did that person overcome—- and achieve their goals?” Maybe it’s in the midst of our own struggles when we long for some type rejuvenation, and stumble upon  this amazing story which, almost magically, enables us to breathe again and say:”if they can do it, so can I! “. Whatever it is, I know I’m a “come back” junkie. I could watch “Under the Tuscan Sun”, “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, (and don’t laugh), “Bridesmaids”, over and over and over again. Why? Each of those stories circles around a lead female character,(to whom I can relate), who undergoes some serious life altering circumstances; only to come out on top.

Faith and believing

Finding Faith

They Built the Train Tracks Across the Alps BEFORE…

Undoubtedly one of my favorite lines from Under the Tuscan Sun is imbedded in the simple rule of “keeping the faith”. In one of my favorite scenes from this movie, a very distraught Diane Lane is in the midst of another despair;  pouring her heart out to her newly found Italian friend. In an effort to aid her, he tells her the story about the train tracks that cross the great Alps. The tracks were built before people knew a train could cross them. They built them anyway knowing one day, a train would come.

Ah, yes, faith. Something that my mind only visits every now and then but, at the same time, something I feel greatly connected to. No worries, I’m not going completely religious here but I do think that faith, in whatever form you may find it, is significant. For me, I feel deeply connected but often, almost strangely “forget” to use it.

One of the questions we should ask ourselves, then, is what do we have faith in? Do we have it in ourselves to create our very own “come back” story? In our support systems like family or friends?  Remember, faith is more than a religion; it’s a deep belief, a guiding principal. Ask yourself as you begin your own “come back” story what or who you have faith in. Here’s a hint: YOU should make the top of the list. Anything and everything amazing that happens moving forward begins with you.

love you

Love your life–you’re the author!

Start Crafting The Life You LOVE

What is the life you would LOVE to live? Are you already living it and are aspiring toward other goals or is there something you would love to do but haven’t “quite gotten there” yet? Back when I was a tad younger, I worked for Gap. Believe it or not, I LOVED working for this company. Perhaps it was my manager, Michelle, who was amazing, or just the brand itself but I absolutely found it to be my relax time away from other things. I certainly wasn’t living the exact life I wanted at the time but I certainly enjoyed what I was doing. I knew that whatever it was that I started to do for my career, it had to be something that I absolutely LOVED doing. Find what you love, more than likely, you’re good at doing it. Craft your life around that love. Is it creating, teaching, being around children, animals? Make a short list of your top five-you can use the template I’ve created here to help you  :Do What I Love Goal Sheet

Do what you love

Don Fisher- Creator of Gap

The Gap Story. Or why I’m so Big On LOVING What You Do

Don Fisher with his wife Doris created The Gap back in the 1960’s when Don couldn’t find a pair of jeans he actually liked. Fast forward years and years later and he’s grown a brand. Why does this matter? Upon Don’s passing in 2009, each Gap employee was handed a little booklet with a bracelet. The booklet highlighted Don’s life, his contributions to the brand and one of his strong beliefs which read: LOVE WHAT YOU DO/ DO WHAT YOU LOVE. I mean, wow. I absolutely grabbed right onto this saying so much so that I still carry the little book and bracelet with me in my car.

Don’s words certainly resonate when we’re trying to craft a life we LOVE. Certainly, he and his wife follow those words to heart. In order to live by true “Don Fisher fashion”: start with simple things and build from there. Begin by focusing on what you love to do, rather than what you HAVE to do. This is not to say that you shouldn’t pay those bills and save money in the meantime. However, I do believe we have to reprioritize our time away from our jobs, careers, and other activities that are not giving us what we need so we can define those steps to get back to what we love.

NOW is the time to Build Your Come Back List

There was a time I was actually scared to even ask myself what I really wanted out of life. What I wanted to achieve.  That time…was last week. I figured out that I was, and still are, afraid to admit what I really want to do for fear of failure or disappointment. Pretty silly-isn’t it? After all, how in the world are we going to “take the bull by the horns” and get after what we want if we’re frightened off so quickly? Now is the time to make that list. Here’s how:

  1. Brainstorm your “Do it, Because you Love it list”  and use it to narrow down one or two goals you want for YOU. This could be career goals or personal goals…either way. LOVE WHAT YOU DO!
  2. Create a plan of action for yourself. Within that love it and do it list, choose one item and create steps, almost like  stepping stones toward that goal. REMEMBER, a step is a STEP. This is YOUR journey. No one else’s.
  3. Be accountable. Set a date for your FIRST actual step. Write it down, tell family, friends and coworkers about it. Shout it from the rooftops! Anything to help you be accountable for taking action!
  4. Celebrate once you’ve taken and completed a step toward your goal. This can be anything from a good high-five to yourself, bragging rights to a friend or grabbing that chocolate milkshake you’ve been longing for (or maybe that’s just me right now).
  5. Continue the momentum! Once a step has been taken and a celebration has ensued, REPEAT the same steps!

I’m ready for a come back….are you?

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The Only Way to Fail…Is to Stop

failure is awesome

Avoidance. Why does anyone avoid doing anything? Well, I can’t speak for everyone but I know the source of my avoidance and it’s the question that I ask myself all the time: What if I fail? With this nagging question comes it’s best friend, fear, there to stop me before I even try to fail. This happy realization came just the other day when I realized that almost one month had gone by and I didn’t move toward any of my goals established months ago. What was going on? What was I afraid of? For myself and I’m sure many of you,that fear has a name, an ugly, powerful stench that can stop even the most driven individual in their tracks. For many of us that long time friend of fear, failure,  is all too familiar.  Why do we fear failure?  Is it that feeling of despair and anxiety ? The change in how we view ourselves? How others view us? Whatever the cause, it’s time to stop letting that fear STOP us from achieving our goals…its time to let go, be afraid and step anyway.

Don’t Stop Believing~It’s Not Just a Song

Browsing my computer today, a random article popped up about J. Simioff. Ever hear of him? Nope, nor have I. Here’s a quick tid-bit on him: this gentleman just landed a 1.4 billion dollar deal with amazon after being rejected by some of the foremost investors…ever.This story, while amazing, didn’t seem to resonate with me. I’m a new blogger, a stay at home mom–what in the world did I have in common with this self-made millionaire? All of this ran through my head as I breezed needlessly through this article until one bold faced quote came up: “The only way to fail…is to stop”. Hmph. Here I was at a full stop. I mean, I’ve been avoiding writing this piece since, well, before Easter. I had stopped. Eek. After all, writing about crafting, home décor, teaching the kiddos…that’s, well, that’s the EASY “stuff”. Writing about your fears takes a bit more gumption (I LOVE that word). However, that key phrase “the only way to fail is to stop” was the cold splash of water I needed to shake that fear off my back.

That Little Voice Inside You….

As a one-time educator with a very detailed plan for my life and career,  I never had to worry or question where I was going or what I was doing with myself for the next 20-25 years. My income: all set, predetermined. My daily routine, done. Check, check and, well, check. I would get my Master’s Degree ,(check!), continue to teach and enjoy the classroom environment, the students and my summers to relax…for the next 25 years.  Hmph. Sounded good for awhile, but….what if that’s not exactly what I hoped for? What if a little voice inside started saying “this is not where you’re supposed to be” (sorry…we are on a Moana watching marathon right now in our house). Do you feel a burst of excitement, (possibly mixed with that forbidden “F” word–aka-fear), when you think about those dreams? Have you ever imagined yourself somewhere else, doing something you completely LOVE only to squash it because of fear? Because it was “too big?” It’s time we all started listening to that little voice inside and realizing our own dreams.

Where you are NOW…

Do you have a career you like or, perhaps, tolerate (to say the least? Perhaps you really enjoy the path your on?  Maybe you have an income that works and a routine that’s “doable”. So, why change it?  Why fix what isn’t “broke”? When I was teaching, I really enjoyed my career. The predictability, the income; there was little I had to be concerned with. I was comfortable. However, every now and then, in the midst of a motivational speech given by administration at an all school meeting, something inside of me would “burst”. I would feel this amazing urge to get up and apply their “dream one size too big”  speeches to my own life…outside of teaching. What was holding me back? If you said “fear” and “failure” you’re exactly on point. I was stuck, like knee deep in fear and failure-stuck. I knew something had to change.

Taking Steps!

Taking Steps to Walk Through Fear!

Take it Slow…but TAKE Steps!

So where did I begin? For starters-I just began taking steps–tiny, baby ones. It was better than staying still.  After all, if you’re  starting from zero, there’s nothing to lose…right?  For me, it was starting to write outside of my teaching career. Starting to freelance write. One day, I even dared to call myself a “professional writer” HA! That was a huge step…but one that I needed to take-one we ALL need to take. We need to start building the bridge away from fear, we need, as Ruth Soukup (an amazingly, inspirational entrepreneur), states, to “exercising your courage muscle”. So, what should you do to start exercising?  Identify your dream. Then STEP!

This is Just the Beginning

If you’re just starting to “exercise” that fear away, you’re not alone. I’m in the midst of this journey as well! I will tell you, that my current success from that first step of becoming a freelance writer, to diving in and creating this blog entirely on my own started with those small steps and “willing” the fear out of me. Seriously. I became so excited about the prospect of starting this adventure and so frustrated with the fear itself, that I just started walking THROUGH it.  Don’t get me wrong, at times you need to be your own cheering section through this process and it isn’t easy! I’m still getting stuck(i.e…writing this blog). As I moved through the steps, however, I began to realize that this was just the beginning and that it was ok. That I WAS, in fact, moving toward my goal…not away from it. I was paralyzed last month by fear and decided it was good to take a small break in order to regroup, reenergize, and reconnect. How did I get to the point where I felt like I could write this? I found some outside inspiration. Let me introduce you to Ruth Soukup.

I’ll take my Goals- 86 the Fear and Add the Inspiration, Please!

Let’s face it, sometimes we all need a little push, perhaps a little inspiration to get over those days (or weeks, in my case), where fear takes over your beloved dreams and stops them faster than quicksand. In the last months, I began reading one of my favorite blogs, The Work at Home Woman. In that time, I grabbed a lot of  inspiration from Holly and her team as I was feeling pretty defeated.  It was at here that I discovered Ruth Soukup, a successful entrepreneur, blogger, NY Times Best Selling Author and more! I read and read all about her personal story, her professional background and countless case studies surrounding her online course that she developed. After taking a big breath, I sucked in my fear (literally), and enrolled in her Elite Blogging Academy course. I’m just at the beginning of this course but, I LOVE it. Point is…if you’re stuck in the muck with fear, your first step may be opening your eyes and seeing what’s out there for some outward inspiration.

Here are some ideas of where you can look:

  • Seek people who are in your niche who have risen above obstacles:
    • online (i.e. search how to overcome fears about…and insert)
    • inquire with friends
    • tap into networks of coworkers

These are the people who may have been in your same shoes and will provide some additional advice on how they rose above their own fears to achieve their goals/dreams.

The DO IT SCARED Movement: Like the Honey in my Coffee

Sometimes life has a sense of humor-right? I mean, in a good way. Flash forward a few weeks later and I’m back at it…trying to fight fear and move on with my goals. All of a sudden, quite out of the blue, I’m reading a post from Ruth Soukup about fear and she states: “Courage doesn’t mean we are never afraid. Instead, courage is being scared but taking ACTION anyway, despite our fear”. HOLY mackerel-now why haven’t I thought of that? Being afraid is actually OK…letting the fear STOP you…not so much. I’m just at the beginning of these podcasts, but they are pretty AMAZING!  What’s so  awesome about this podcast? There are worksheets, full transcripts AND there you may be topics you love, there may not be–choose what you feel resonates with you…its all up there, and it’s all FREE. Check it out here: https://doitscared.com/episodes/  

Moving Forward…

Here’s a few ways to start off if you’ve found that fear is sabotaging you the way it has me recently:

  1.  TAKE A STEP–any step. Remember-the only way to fail is to stop. Perhaps start off  by writing down your dreams/goals-or draw them out, or look online for ideas.
  2. Find some Inspiration! Ruth Soukup’s messages through her online courses and now, in her podcasts, are moving and motivating–listen to one here:https://doitscared.com/episode1/
  3. Remember-it’s actually good to be scared…just don’t let that fear stop you!
  4.  Failing? FAIL better…if it’s one thing I’ve read over and over that seems to make the most sense is that through failure, we learn, we grow, we get one step closer to those goals. Keep moving toward what you love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Excellent Easter & Spring Crafts!

 

Easter and Spring

Spring has sprung!

It’s official, spring is here! While Mother Nature may be singing a different tune, (hello New England snow), yesterday officially marked the first day of a new season and with it, of course, comes new crafting, learning and decorating opportunities-YAY! I absolutely LOVE decorating for a new season or holiday…and the BEST part is…so do the kiddos! I use every opportunity imaginable to let our kids change over the décor in the house in celebration for the newest season. They love making crafts, looking through bins to find crafts from the year prior, and finding new ideas to create items for the house! Honestly, kids are so super creative, that I’ve learned to let go of my “gotta control the perfection” bit in lieu of adorable kid décor. IT’s amazing! Our kids get so excited to see their art work or crafts adorned all over our house; it’s super fun!

In preparation for this season of “newness”, we’ve located some amazing crafting/learning opportunities (that double as awesome decorating ideas) to share with all of you (double YAY!)

Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover or the entering of a new season, we have you covered with five of the most adorable ways to teach, celebrate and decorate the start of this awesome, new season.

Easy-Peasy Foam Eggs

Easter and Spring Crafts!

Easter and Spring Crafts! Foam Eggs-created by your littles!

Want an adorable way to celebrate Easter and spring? Try creating eggs using foam pieces or find a kit with all of the goodies already created for you! Here are some fun ways to create AND decorate:

What you will need: (affiliate links below)

        • Foam pieces to cut out the egg shapes
        • Glue sticks
        • Cute Foam Shapes such as these:

IF you’re super short on time or just excited to dive in and leave some of the cutting to someone else–here’s another option for you (this is exactly the one I purchased last year–it lasted me until this year!)

Here are two other kits that come with everything you want to create and decorate:

 

From there we just got down to decorating our eggs! We made a wreath and used extra eggs to make a decorative banner above our plain cabinets! So fun!

Excellent Easter/Spring Crafts!

Decorate for Easter and Sprig

Spring-up those boring spaces with kid art!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We LOVE this

Why We Love This: A Plethora of Teachable Moments

 

  • Builds fine motor development for littles learning how to use scissors or apply intricate, decorative pieces.
  • Offers the chance to for children to express creativity (check out the “flying egg featured above left).
  • If teaching colors, it provides a great sounding board to discuss the different colored eggs.
  • If teaching counting, how may eggs do you see? How many green eggs? Yellow eggs?
  • Teaching patterns-use different designs to create patterns such as: polka dots, lines, polka dots, lines.
  • Discuss/show animals that hatch from eggs (chickens, snakes, other birds, turtles).

More adorable crafts: for Easter or Spring–Whatever your Thing!

 

Peek-a-boo Clothespin Eggs from One Little Project at a Time:

How cute are these? One Little Project gives an easy tutorial for creating these adorable eggs!

Want to check out this tutorial? Here’s the link! http://onelittleproject.com/peekaboo-clothespin-eggs/

Peek-a-boo Clothespin Eggs

These peekaboo clothespin eggs are so easy to make and they look SO CUTE! Each one takes less than 5 minutes to make and they look adorable! They're an awesome low mess craft idea and are such an adorable Easter craft idea!! My kids loved seeing the surprise chick inside the egg!

peekaboo eggs from:http://onelittleproject.com/peekaboo-clothespin-eggs/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science and art fun with coffee filter flowers

 

Science meets Art and Spring:

Coffee-Filter Flower Water Color Craft!

Awesome idea found on fun-a-day: https://fun-a-day.com/colorful-science-and-art-experiment-for-spring/#comment-179649

Two years ago, I explored the concept of chromatography with our, then, four year old budding scientist. Flash-forward two years later and she ABSOLUTELY can’t get enough of science or chemistry! You can bet this project from fun-a-day is on our list this week!

This great project combines art and science all within an AWESOME spring theme! Exploring color and how they combine to create other colors is just one awesome learning tool that you can go over with even your littlest of learners!

Why We LOVE this

Why We Love This:

The combined learning, hands-on fun! Fun-A-Day breaks down other learning possibilities with this such as:

  • Color absorption (rates of absorption)
  • Saturation
  • Fine Motor Skill Practice-using eye droppers

Other awesome reasons to love this crafty learning experience:

  • Accessible to younger learners–I’m not afraid to try this with our three-year old!
  • Can be easily modified for older budding scientists.
  • Simple to access supplies! I’m actually trying food coloring with this first, then the watercolors!

 

 Catch that Caterpillar Craft!

15 Very Hungry Caterpillar Crafts for Kids

Adorable clothes pin caterpillar found on teachingmama.org can be created after reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar, (affiliate link below) by Eric Carle, or you can create your own multi-colored caterpillar using a clothespin! (more to come here!)

 

Colorful Coffee Filter Butterflies!

Find this fun idea on Honey & Lime: http://www.honeyandlime.co/2012/03/spring-crafts-for-kids-coffee-filter-butterfly-craft.html

Yes…I’m one of those peop that if I have already bought coffee filters for one fun project, why not keep it going? What’s spring without a mini-lesson on metamorphosis? Well-stay-tuned! Aside from this adorable craft from Honey & Lime below, we have a book recommendations and a way to take this spring learning experience to the next level!

This adorable craft can be created on a separate day as your caterpillar craft or on the same day!

All you really need to transform a caterpillar into a butterfly can be found on Honey and Lime! White coffee filters, paint and pipe cleaners!

Wrapping it Up:

For these spring-inspired ideas, our kiddos took center stage! Most of these ideas are Pinterest inspired but instead of searching, you can always stop by here to grab some quick go-to ideas (rather than searching yourself!). All of these crafts are great to use for learning, crafting, and decorating–a win, win, WIN in my book any day! Stay tuned for some add on ideas to the caterpillar theme!

 

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Saint Patrick’s Day Learning Fun!

With the month of March living up to it’s “in like a lion, out like a lamb” motto, I was quickly searching for some additional Saint Patrick’s Day learning fun to eat up time after snow-day activities wrap up. I found it took me a little bit of time to go through all of those awesome pins and posts for the next, (and arguably -by my husband’s criteria-most fun), holiday in the line up leading to Easter.

While celebrating the luck of the Irish, (Irish or not), we’ve nailed down some adorable crafts combined with learning that surely aim to please!

Hands on Learning Age Preschool and Up! 

http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2016/02/kids-science-for-st-patricks-day.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/VvbGJ+(Growing+A+Jeweled+Rose)

Handprint Rainbow

Handprint Rainbow Keepsake by The Logans

Hand Print Rainbow:

Have littles learning their colors? What better way to talk about the legends associated with Saint Patrick’s Day than to incorporate making their own rainbow and “pot of gold”? Not only is it fun, you can put it in a sheet protector or laminate it and have it for years to come !

BONUS Activity: Do you want a way for your kiddos to reflect on how lucky or blessed they are this St. Patrick’s Day? Put gold coins out for them to add what they feel “lucky” for. You can ask your little ones what is so special in their lives that they love! Then write it down on a gold coin like this:

Awesome learning~ OUTSIDE THE BOX!

Saint Patrick's Day Learning Fun!

St. Patrick’s Day Learning Felt Activity from The Teaching Mamas:https://www.etsy.com/listing/586480850/st-patricks-day-felt-board-fun?ref=shop_home_active_1

Want to pull off some awesome hands-on learning activities but find that your day just seems to slip away from you? NO WORRIES! The Teaching Mamas, a new and upcoming store filled with AMAZING hands-on learning opportunities, has the perfect solution!

This awesome Saint Patrick’s Day themed box can be used throughout this month leading into spring!

Teach Colors with Felt!

Teach Colors with Fun Felt!

Teaching Numbers

Teach numbers using felt coins!

 

Counting Fun with Clovers!

Counting Fun with Clovers

Counting Fun!

Counting Fun with Gold Coins!

 

Why We LOVE this

Why We Love This:

  • Multiple teaching opportunities: colors, numbers, and fine-motor skills
  • Inexpensive: Only $15.00 on Etsy!
  • Learning board can be used over and over again.
  • Kiddos LOVE felt–the soft feel, bright colors, interchangeability, AND the fact that you could apply other felt activities to this one!

Link to purchase: https://www.etsy.com/listing/586480850/st-patricks-day-felt-board-fun?ref=shop_home_active_1

Religious Focus for Saint Patrick’s Day: I found this AWESOME packet on TeacherspayTeachers:

St. Patrick's Day Bible Activity Pack

Grab it here:https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/St-Patricks-Day-Bible-Activity-Pack-3026510

St. Patrick's Day Bible Activity Pack

Why We LOVE this

Why We Love This:

Cost: SUPER INEXPENSIVE! ONLY $5.00!

*Extremely easy download–after purchase it took me about 2 minutes to complete

*Great for littles (age 2+) all the way through Grade 1

*Multiple Activities! This pack includes coloring pages, mazes, a shamrock craft to create highlighting the Trinity and much more!

 

I've read that everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, so we show show our lucky side with awesome homemade slime. Our last name is Irish, so of course we had to make a St Patricks Day slime recipe this year. Our St Patricks Day slime is a fun activity for science and sensory play all in one!

Saint Patrick’s Day Slime!  

What’s more fun than creating slime? It’s an activity EVERYONE LOVES!  FOUR SIMPLE recipes to do so!  This awesome website: Little bits for Little Hands gives you the run down: https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/st-patricks-day-slime-recipe-holiday-sensory-play/

This awesome site gives you four different ways to create that “can’t get enough of” slime!

  1. Fluffy Slime with shaving cream
  2. Borax Slime!
  3. Liquid Starch Slime!
  4. Saline Solution Slime!

Below are the recipes provided on Little Bins for Little Hands:

 

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Oh My-O-Organizing! Organizing on a Budget–and it’s awesome.

 

 

 
Most Popular Toys

REAL organizing on a budget!


Holidays have well been over and all of your festive decorations, may or may not  be fully put away (I STILL have some lights on a random bush outside). However, your organizing train has come to a full on hault due to one realization-your toy collection has grown and, unfortunately, your home has not. Tired of stepping on trains, legos, cars, dolls, and, well, everything BUT your kitchen floor? Think you need a good amount of moo-lah to organize your kids stuff? Think again! Below, we outline one of the easiest, budget friendly, kid friendly ways to organize all of those little toys that puncture your feet, eat up space and, otherwise, MIGHT make you slightly insane on a daily basis.

Organize it ALL-BUT FIRST A QUICK SIDE NOTE:

As you may or may not know, I started a “organize, don’t fear the New Year”  post right on New Year’s Day. If you’ve also been following me, you’ve also noticed  that almost two months have past and that subject has seem to gone to the crickets. No worries, unlike most gym memberships,I haven’t forgotten that resolution (I recently read that 80-90% of resolutions are lost in February…hmmm). Either way, in this organizing endeavor, I managed to leak my organizing ambitions down the stairs in an effort to straighten out the great toy catastrophe throughout my home.

Organization Inspiration-FOUND!

We visit our local library anywhere between two to three times a week and  I’m always so impressed with the colorful layout, carefully marked bins and the overall organized “feel” of the environment inside of their children’t room. I was so inspired by this organization (and why shouldn’t it be…they have like 12 staff members to manage it and label it everyday) that I decided to duplicate it in our very own home!  In thinking about how this might look in our home, I took a step back at what made this children’s room space so successful and I determine that the space had:

  1. The toys were categorized-Legos, Cars, Maker Space etc, were kept together.
  2. Labels were on EVERYTHING.
  3. The categorized toys had a space to be placed after play.

From there, I came up with three “must-haves”  to reclaim our own home-space:

  • Must be visible for the kids to access.
  • Must have labels for our kids to recognize and organize.
  • Needs to have it’s own space away from our living area.

After assessing what I liked about this space and figured out what we needed so that a small portion of my sanity could return.. I moved on.

Oh-but there was STILL one issue…my wallet was a little light. EEEK.

On a Budget? You Can STILL Organize!

So being the determined mama/parent that I’m certain most of you are, I wasn’t going to let a “little” thing like money get in the way of regaining my home after the holiday toy rush. So, I started looking around my home for ideas-ways to get around spending more than, let’s say 30 bucks. Low and behold, I found baskets and from there, I developed our very own labeling and categorizing system so amazing, that our kids wanted in on the fun! Get this…I was so low on cash that I couldn’t even grab ink for our printer. No ink? NO PROBLEM? Does everything “Martha Stewart” or Pinterest worthy have to be printed? Well, I say thee “nay”!

What you need: (FYI–it’s NOT mind blowing-you have all or most of these!) (affiliate links below)

 

  • Markers–really–you know you have at LEAST three colors laying around somewhere midst the mess.
  • Baskets, old shoe boxes, anything to store the STUFF in. Remember-it’s not about  of Parents Magazine…it should be neat. FOR YOU.
  • Tape or Velcro
  • Sheet Protectors….ok…this is one you MAY NOT have laying around your house–BUT to be fair–you could go online here or to any local big box store and spend…MAYBE 10 BUCKS to grab them. Worth it so you won’t have to relabel.

 

Organizing is so fun with everyone!

We started by organizing each category of toy into large piles: Matchbox cars here, Legos there, trains over there. Then we started creating labels for each basket. I WILL tell you, I need to get MORE of those baskets! I DO love them and, with a coupon, they are about $5.00-6.00 each. You can find them at Michael’s Craft store or really any craft store. I recommend checking locally so you can avoid any possible additional cost.

Below is the end result!

BONUS: We made the labels a learning tool as well for our littlest reader in-training…adding the uppercase and lowercase letters to each label).

 

 

Pin-worthy Budget Friendly Organizing!

Overall, super excited and they are adorable. These baskets fit nicely in a larger cubby or right under a table (we slide ours right under the train table after the kiddos are done playing!)

 


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Valentine’s Day Ideas for Every Budget!

Looking for the not-so-obvious Valentine’s gifts? Try including your kiddos in on the fun to create a sweet statement for your loved one in the next couple of days!

Looking for a different way to express your love this Valentine’s day? Maybe the chocolate, dinner, flowers, thing is too much of a “been there” done that? OR maybe you want to break away from tradition and celebrate your love JUST BECAUSE on February 15th! Whatever your reason, if you’re searching for something new, different, and, otherwise, UNEXPECTED, for you and the number one love in your life…we have some awesome ideas below:

We’ve sectioned out these ideas into categories and spending brackets…just in case the holidays are STILL wreaking havoc on your budget!  We included a price-indicator sheet just in case you weren’t certain what our symbols meant!

$-Least Expensive…or in some cases, FREE! (we will scream it out—FREE—if that’s what it ends up being)
$$-Mid-Range Cost—usually under $60.00
$$$-Most Expensive—looking at $100.00 or more in cost

Hello, Valentines? Party of 6? Getting the Kiddos Involved:

Think it’s too late to get original? No Sitter? NO problem! Check out these sure-fire ways to show the L-O-V-E and have fun with the kids in the process…win-win!

Get Crafty This Valentine’s Day!

$

Here’s two ideas we’ve done in the past when time and money weren’t necessarily on our side:

1.Make art pictures in the snow! Last year, we made art in the snow using food coloring (also works with washable paint in plastic ketchup and mustard bottles), then we took pictures of our designs to frame and give!

2.Handprints on Cardstock to look like flowers (adorable).

 

CREATE YOUR OWN POTTERY PLATE OR MUG

$$ *time sensitive–we have an idea on how to make it work!

Have your kiddos create their own plate or mug at a pottery studio. *NOTE—many of these places have timeframes which could include up to a week’s turnaround time to fire up the creation. Here’s how to get around that tricky little detail:

  1. Take kids to create pottery at pottery studio.
  2. Take pics of kids creating their works of art!
  3. Print up pics at local shop and have kiddos place them in a box or bag for your special someone!

IF you can get the items in time for the big day OR even if it’s after Wednesday….here’s what you can do:

On Valentine’s morning, afternoon or evening, make breakfast, lunch or dinner for your loved one with the kiddos…and serve it in their newly designed plate or mug. An adorable, unique way to say “WE LOVE YOU!”

RECREATE THAT SPECIAL PLACE!

$$$ *time sensitive–but COULD BE DONE IN THE NEXT TWO DAYS!

You and the kiddos could recreate a favorite place, moment for your loved one. Does your wife, hubby or partner love the beach but it’s all of 20 degrees outside? Bring the beach home. Here’s the beach theme idea:
1. Two or more plastic kiddo pools (find them here)
2. Blow up palm trees (find them here)
3. Blue cellophane to cover your floor for the look of the “ocean” Find it here:
4. Buy or create moon sand (recipe here—kids LOVE making this)
5. Use shells from last summer’s favorite beach trip OR purchase some extras here:
6. Download ocean waves sounds on your wireless speaker or phone(we have a wireless speaker and it’s AMAZING-check it out here)
7. Beach chairs by the pool filled with sand (if you need new ones-grab a couple here)

You and the kiddos could create tropical drinks and a tropical menu for dinner!  Certainly, to be a Valentine’s your lovey won’t forget!

 

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Valentines for ALL!

Valentines Messages

Valentines for All! Secret Decoder Messages in February!

 

Here is a “combo” Valentines pin idea from Pinterest that we L-O-V-E!  I started this easy-peasy idea just two nights ago and everyone LOVED it so much, I thought I would share!

Here’s what you need (you have it all I’m sure!)

1. White Crayon
2. Cardstock or plain white paper (although I think the wax crayon sticks better to cardstock)
3. Markers for the kiddos! (Lighter colors are best!)

 

1.You can create these whenever it works, but we prefer to do it after our loves are in bed. Create your secret Valentine’s hearts and messages using the white crayon. We’re focusing on all of the reasons why we love each of our kids. The image below is the first one we wrote for our daughter which said : “We love how much you always make certain that everyone is happy”.

2. Hang them up on your little loves doors in the morning for them to take down and decode. I decided to get creative and complete one for my husband along with kids hearts everyday as well.

Valentines Messages

Valentines for All! Decoding the messages is so much fun!

**Side note there** I MUST admit, it really helps me to focus on those little reasons why I love my hubby so much. Let’s face it, in a busy day, it’s sometimes hard to think about how you love it when your partner simply looks at you and smiles.

This adorable Valentines activity turned into a discussion about how wax is resistant to the water color in markers. Such a great time!

Valentines for All! On our daughter’s door. Secret messages stating why we love her.

Our daughter loved this Valentines activity so much that she made one for my husband and I. It reads: Mommy and Daddy, let’s make a craft together”.

Valentines Messages

Valentines for All! Our daughter making her own for us…adorable.

We were going to do this Valentines Craft activity as a countdown to Valentine’s Day but our kiddos love it so much…they have requested to keep it going through the whole month! Yay!

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Letter Learning FUN Name Game!

Learning thise letters

Inspired by our littlest guy, this letter learning name game is fun to make and play! Here’s a little background history on this game: Our daughter knew her letters before the age of two.I mean–not even just knew the “big” letters (capitals), she knew how to distinguish between “big A” and “little a”. She is our little “sponge”, soaking everything up and loving learning since she was born!  Science, Math, Language Arts–you name it, she can’t get enough! We used sign language early on and graduated to lettered blocks, flash cards, tracing and independent writing as she was deciphering letters and letter sounds. She was definitely happy with any teaching method we presented-traditional or non.

Moving forward, we knew with our littlest guy,who also loves learning-(what child doesn’t?!), that we needed to take a little bit of a different approach to teaching and learning. Honestly, I was psyched about investigating other ways of presenting ideas to him (like letters/letter sounds), because I love discovering new ways to teach!  In my search for something that would connect well with his interests,I stumbled upon an idea and turned it into our very own fun letter learning name game! Here it is:

 

Fun. easy DIY letter game

Letter Learning Name Game!

Letter Learning Name Game!

Learning Goals:

  • Practice letter recognition
  • Letter sounds
  • Letters associated with their name
  • Practice fine motor grasping skills

Age range: This game IS fun for all ages with supervision! However, it may be a bit redundant for children over the age of 5 or if the child already knows how to spell their name and knows their letters.

Supplies you will need OR can easily purchase below:

To create the close pin letter game pieces:

      1. Close pins (larger ones not the mini ones)–enough for the letters in your child’s name or the whole alphabet
      2. Acrylic Paint or washable water color (unless the close pins are already painted–see option below).
      3. Marker or pre-printed letters to adhere to the close pins
      4. Modge Podge–a crafters favorite!

     

Supplies for the “game board”

Please remember these are just ideas! If you think of something else, we would love to hear from you so we can post it and add on!

  • Pre-printed letters OR a marker to simply write the letters down.

Ideas for material to use as the base for your game board:

  • Construction paper-(to add letters)
  • Paper Plate (also a base for the letters)
  • Stock paper

Additionally ADORABLE IDEA:

Ask your kiddos to get involved in the creation of their board game: Have kiddos cut/create the board game using one or more of the materials above into a shape of something they love-shape of a truck, animal, a basketball or baseball…you name it!

Steps for Creating these Easy Letter Learning Name Game Pieces: 

Painted Close Pins Ready for Mod Podge!

***There are affiliate ads present below!***

Step 1: Painting

If painting: paint all of the closepins with two separate coats. Let dry.

Step 2: Mod Podge


  • Add one coat of Mod Podge to seal the paint.
    • Tip: Paint on Mod Podge thinly, careful not to over paint it as it will dry in clumps.

Step 3: Letters 

  • After the Mod Podge is dry, add letters with Sharpie Marker OR pre-printed letters.
  • Allow Marker to dry or letters to stick onto close pins.

Step 4: MORE Mod!

  • Add one-two more coats of Mod Podge, allowing each coat to fully dry before adding another.

Game Time!

First: we played with the close pins, opening and closing them. We also reviewed the letters we were using by calling each one out on both the close pins and the game board!

  1. Simply calling out the letters to see who can find them and attach them to the right spaces.
  2. A timed/see whose faster game where each person (adult and kiddo or kiddo versus kiddo) takes their game boards and yells out each letter the find as they quickly scramble to see who can “build” their name first! ***

**For the second game option–we did this one after much practice with our little guy. He needed to learn the letters and feel secure before the fun of timing it took place! Let me tell you, though, once we timed it, he wanted to play over and over again!

 

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Yummy Eggs!

 

Our daughter, typically, WILL NOT touch anything green. Don’t get me wrong, she’s an awesome eater in most other colors of the rainbow…all EXCEPT green. She didn’t start off with a distaste for the color green. From the time she started investigating solid foods through age 2, she wouldn’t hesitate to gobble things up like plain avocado or even avocado and peanut butter sandwiches! After reading an article on the benefit of using the rainbow to do a nutrition check on the types of foods your kids get in a day, it quickly dawned on me that we weren’t great at offering things like salads, peas or, anything green for that matter to our little girl. After quite a few failed attempts, I decided that I needed to get creative and fast. So, I started with breakfast. Our daughter already loved eggs, now it was time to improvise: “Scrambly” Egg, meet, Mr. Spinach.

Green Eggs…Minus the Ham

(Affiliate Ads are BELOW!)

Have kiddos that love eggs? This easy, yummy scrambled egg concoction is now a hit with all the kiddos…even our littlest eater! Aside from being absolutely awesome, spinach is a GREAT super food!  Here are some super health benefits according to the Mayo Clinc spinach is:

  • High in vitamins A and C
  • High in folate
  • Antioxidant compounds
  • Great source of magnesium
  • Carotenoids found in spinach like beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are protective against some vision diseases.
  • Protective against heart disease and certain cancers.

Win-Win! The last reason why these eggs are EGG-ceptional? These eggs are so quick and easy, our kiddos LOVE to make them.

Here’s the SUPER simple way we cook up some “scrambly” eggs in our house:

Heads UP:….we use our own measurements for taste–meaning our kids use their own measurements…NOTHING is exact here!

Second HEADS UP:  MOST of our ingredients are organic but you don’t HAVE to use those!

  • 2-3 Organic or Free-Range Eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese–(if your kiddos like it cheesy…add more!)
  • 4-5 spinach leafs….AGAIN–no EXACT amount here!
  • 1/4 cup Organic Milk….dependent on egg amount and if you want to add or not!
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper…or more! Some like it hot!
  • 1/2 teaspoon of butter or olive oil–we use butter!

Heat pan gradually on low-medium heat. Crack eggs, scramble and add the rest of the ingredients! Put butter or oil in pan after all ingredients are stirred.

SIDE SUGGESTION: We also cook up some toast or a bagel and fruit! Pure YUMMY!



A few of our ingredients….

Breaking up those spinach leafs!

Shake that pepper!

Stir it up!

That’s all we do! Of course, we have our kiddos wash those hands after preparing this tasty breakfast dish, but one of the best parts is that they made it all on their own!

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