DIY Wednesday: Toddler Shape Match Game!

Hi friends — and HAPPY DIY WEDNESDAY!!

This week, I have a fun and EASY (and educational!) DIY for you to try: a Toddler Shape Match Game!

DIY ToddlerShape Match Game!

We’ve been “tot school” crazy in our house lately, and I can’t seem to get enough of finding new ways to help Ella learn her colors, shapes, alphabet, and numbers!  One of the activities I made to help her with colors and shapes was a “Shape Match Game” from popsicle sticks, a pen, and markers!

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This one doesn’t have much of a tutorial or instructions.  Simply draw out your shape over two popsicle sticks that are side by side.  Try to make sure the shape is centered when you draw, so half will be on one popsicle stick and half on the other stick.  I used different colors for these, to also test Ella’s colors, but you can use just one color if you choose.  I then wrote the name of each shape on the bottom half of the stick, so this activity can be used for word recognition when she gets a little older.

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And, yes.. one of our shapes is Mickey Mouse. 🙂

She loves it, and it keeps her busy for a good 5-10 minutes as she puts all of the shapes together.  Plus, she just beams when she gets a big “HOORAY” when she gets it right!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week so far!!

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DIY Wednesday: Engagements, Chalk Paint, and HOCKEY!

Happy Wednesday, friends!!

Today’s DIY Wednesday was a super fun project inspired by a great friend who wanted to make a special gift for her recently engaged bestie.

She wanted to make a “Countdown to the Wedding” canvas, with a chalkboard heart where the bride-to-be can write how many days are left. The two friends are HUGE hockey fans, specifically for the New York Rangers — so what better than to create a hockey-themed “Countdown Until We FACE-OFF!” print!

When my friend brought this idea to me, I was stoked!  I love doing anything crafty, and any excuse to bust out the paintbrushes — I’m down!  So, last week, prior to Tot School, she came over and we got to work!

First, we gather the supplies.  I managed to find square canvases on sale at Michaels a few weeks ago — got 7 canvases for $12, with 40%. SCORE! I already had the red and blue paint, and my friend brought painter’s tape, black chalk paint, and a silver paint marker.

 

We wanted the canvas to have thick red and white stripes, with two blue thinner lines in between.  I used a measuring tape and ruler to create clean lines, then we taped over the areas that needed to stay white.  Also, I cut out a stencil heart, that we would then fill with chalk paint, so the bride to be can use chalk to countdown the days. We traced the heart in the top left corner, and then taped out the heart, too.

After the lines and hearts were taped out, it was time to paint!  We painted several coats for both the red and blue lines, just so they popped against the white.  LET THE PAINT DRY COMPLETELY BEFORE REMOVING THE PAINTER’S TAPE!  And, be careful when removing it.. sometimes it likes to tear off the paint from the canvas, which can luckily be fixed. 🙂

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After removing the tape, we painted the chalk paint in the area that was taped out for the heart.  This paint was very thick, and actually only needed one (good) coat.  Again, let it dry completely!

We used a silver paint pen to write out the words.  Since they LOVE hockey, we thought it was cute to incorporate that theme into the wording, thus us choosing to write “days until we face-off.”  We hesitated at first, thinking it may sound a bit combative — but in the end, we felt it fit the couple most and they would appreciate the hockey reference. The silver paint pen needed several coats, so be patient!  I then traced out the wording with a black Sharpie marker to make it POP.

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And, that’s it!  Super easy, cute, and the bride-to-be was SO happy.

Are you going to try something similar to this at home? Let me know!  I’d love to see what you create! 🙂 Email me, check out my page on Facebook, or drop me some love in the comments below!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week, so far!

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DIY Wednesday: Toddler Dress-Up Area

Hi friends — and happy DIY Wednesday!

Today’s DIY was a HUGE #momwin.  Super simple, yet oh-so-relieving!

As Ella has grown, she has acquired a vast amount of “dress-up clothes” — costumes ranging from Anna/Elsa to Minnie Mouse, Mulan to Doc McStuffins and, of course, Tinkerbell.  I had all of these costumes hanging in her normal closet, but they were too high for her to reach — so she would either pull them down, making a huge mess and causing a nervous Momma, or not wear them at all (and where’s the fun in that?!).

After scouring Pinterest for ideas on what to do with her costumes, I found several cute ideas.  Most of the ideas required some sort of physical piece of furniture — and we just don’t have the space in her room for any additional furniture pieces, at least while we still have the changing table (oh potty-training gods, send me a miracle!).  I was striking out.

In sheer desperation, I took all the dresses down from her closet, nicely folded each costume, and placed them gingerly in a bin under her changing table. The folded dresses lasted a whole 5 minutes before she discovered the bin, and threw each one on to the floor — laughing and playing with each one.  Le sigh — those that have two year olds of their own can relate, I’m sure!  So, bins — no go.  After that first day of constant folding and refolding (and refolding.. and refolding…and REFOLDING.  What’s the definition of insanity again?), the dresses just seemed to be stuffed into the bin when cleaning up, and by stuffed, I mean STUFFED.  A hot wrinkled mess.

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So, I did what any other organization-loving-hot-mess-living Momma would do: I went to Ikea, with big hopes and dreams of an answer to my “please, dear God, these dresses are driving me insane” prayers. Nothing.  Not a dang thing that would work for our space, solely for the purpose of housing these costumes. That night, after dinner, I was telling Raux about my costume closet woes.  He smiled, took a sip of his drink, and said, “Well, there’s always Command Strips.”  Command Strips are truly a lifesaver, I’ll agree — and they are Raux’s go-to for pretty much anything — so this made me laugh.

“What? You can’t just Command Strip dresses to the wall. You need like a hook or something.” I said, with a slight shake of my head and roll of my eyes. Psh.

He smirked. “Yeah, they make hooks.”  He sipped his beverage again, raised his eyebrows, and gave me a “yeah… yeah… mindblown?” look.

MINDBLOWN.  What a crazy person I’ve been — on the hunt for some crazy organization device, when I can just MAKE IT myself.  And, I totally knew they made Command Strip hooks — I just put them up in my closet to hold my necklaces a few months ago.  OMG. *facepalm*  Oh, that sweet, handsome, GENIUS hubby of mine. 😉

So, the next day, I ventured to Target (insert angels singing here) for my Command Strip HOOKS.  While I was there, I found really cute letters to spell out “dress up” that I would paint to hang above the dresses.  I chose to paint them in rainbow colors — but you can paint them whatever you’d like.  After they dried, I affixed our handy-dandy Command Strips on the back.

I decided to place the hooks and letters behind Ella’s bedroom door.  I had her stand next to the wall, so I could hang them at a good height for her to reach.  Then I used a level to evenly place each of the hooks and letters on the wall.  After I finished, I was in love.  Not only was it EASY, but it was super cute and added more color to her room.

Moments after I hung each dress up, I called Ella in her room to see her new “dress-up area.”  She said “Wow…” and named off the characters of each dress.  Not even 5 minutes later, each dress was in a crumbled mess on the floor — again.  But this time, it didn’t bother me so much.  I knew each dress had a place, and hanging each one up (no matter how many times I have to do it every day) made me smile.

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Hope everyone is having a great week so far!  Make sure to check back with us tomorrow — we will be wrapping up week TWO of Tot School.  The photos are really cute, and I can’t wait to share what we did this week! <3

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DIY Wednesday: Classic Cars (Toddler Edition)

Hi friends!

I’m so excited to share this fun and creative project with you guys today!

Lately, we have been experiencing A LOT of rain.  No complaints really — I genuinely love the rain, rainy days with a book and a cup of hot tea are my FAVORITE.  Rainy days with a toddler, however, can get tiring — especially when that particular toddler LOVES being outside, and whines about not being able to go play.  😉  So, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do…. get creative.

Do you remember your first car?  No, not your 2 door Honda Civic — or in my case, a 1974 Datsun Nissan stationwagon that I cleverly named “Shaggy” with its shag-rug steering wheel cover. Ah, memories.

But no, I’m talking further back.. you know what I mean: cardboard box, invisible steering wheel, wheels made with construction paper.  Your FIRST car.  A car that could take you ANYWHERE — the kitchen, the “store,” the moon.  A car that was big enough for you to fit in, but also fit all of your imaginary friends and several stuffed animals. A car where you didn’t need roads… you made your own.

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Oh yes, we made a car.  A car that provided at least an hour of distraction, tons of giggles, an arm workout for Momma, and a beautiful memory that deserves to be written out.

Here’s what you need:

  • Cardboard box — we used an empty diaper box
  • Kraft paper/Wrapping Paper — in the color of your choice
  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue and Tape
  • Rope — optional, but you will probably want this

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First, you will need to cut off the flaps of the box — you will be using these for the wheels and windshield.  Next, wrap the box with your kraft or wrapping paper — as if you were wrapping a present, but leaving the inside part of the box open (as this is where your little one will be sitting). After that, you can use the flap pieces to cut out 4 circular shapes for the wheels of the car.  Make sure to keep one of the longer flaps, as you will use this for a windshield.

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Once all of the pieces are cut, trace the shape of the wheels on black construction paper.  Cut the circles out, and carefully glue onto the cardboard wheels.  When all four wheels are covered, you can then glue each one near the base of the box, but not touching the floor.  Glue two on each side, to resemble the wheels of a car.  Helpers are always appreciated, especially when they think they are Mickey Mouse.

Next, take the long flap piece, and wrap it with white construction paper. Once wrapped, you can glue or tape this piece on the inside of the car on the “front side” of the car.  This should be placed at an angle — as to mimic a windshield.  If glue or tape doesn’t hold this in place, feel free to use a stapler.  Then, HAVE FUN!  Cut up pieces of construction paper to decorate your car as you wish.  We make headlight, brake lights, a grill, and a license plate.

The last step is optional, but recommended.   We added a rope to our car by cutting a smaller hole in the front of the car — we fed it through the hole and knotted it several times to hold.  This will be so you can pull your child around your house. Ella LOVED this — she kept saying “beep beep” and laughing as I pulled her around. 🙂

I hope you try this out — and if you do, leave me a comment below!  We love hearing from you! 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!

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DIY Wednesday: Treats for My “Peeps”

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Today’s DIY Wednesday post is a super cute and super EASY Easter treat that is sure to “wow” your friends: Carrot Krispies! This seriously took me about an hour TOTAL to put together for our Stroller Strides Easter-themed class, and everyone enjoyed it as a special post-workout treat in honor of the upcoming holiday.

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First, gather all of the ingredients needed to make regular Rice Krispie treats: butter, marshmallows, Rice Cereal, and vanilla extract.  To make the orange color, I used Wilton Orange gel food color, and mixed it in with the marshmallows, as they were melting with the butter.  Make sure to add enough coloring to make the marshmallows orange — otherwise your carrots will be a pastel type color and not as vibrant.  Also, because it is Easter, I found edible Easter grass that I thought would be perfect for the leaf part of the carrot.

IMG_2523Once the marshmallows are melted, add in your cereal.  Mix until fully coated, and the spread the krispies out on a COOKIE SHEET that is lined with parchment paper.  This will ensure they are thin enough to cut and that they don’t stick to the pan.  Once cooled, take a sharp knife and start cutting the krispies into triangle shapes — roughly 6 inches long.

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Once all the carrots are cut, tear off pieces of the edible Easter grass and press them gently onto the top of the carrots.  They will stick to the marshmallow 🙂 Then, you can bag them in a medium sized favor bag, and affix you favorite Easter-themed tag!  I found these cute tags on Pinterest, via this super cute site here.

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Hope everyone is having a fantastic Easter week!  Check back tomorrow for really sweet pictures of Ella’s playdate with Quinn — where we painted, played dress-up, and colored Easter eggs!

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DIY Thursday? [St. Patrick’s Day Edition!]

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!!

So, this week’s DIY Wednesday has been pushed to Thursday, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day!! Woohoo! Prepare yourself — this is a photo-heavy post, full of cuteness courtesy of Miss Ella Grey. 😉

We started our celebration a little early, by creating a cute little toddler activity to work on our colors.  Super simple — I took a piece of construction paper to cut out the black pot, used gold glitter and glue to create the “gold” on top of the pot, and used markers to draw the rainbow lines.

Next, I used Froot Loops cereal to help Ella pick out all of the different colors of the rainbow, and wrote the names of the colors on the lines, for recognition.

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Ella LOVED this — it took her a minute to catch on to the lining up all the same colors next to each other on the corresponding line, but once she did, she kept pulling on the colored Froot Loop and saying the name of the color out loud.  Exactly what I was wanting.  Then, we used the remaining cereal pieces to create cereal necklaces — which didn’t last long, as you can see in the pics below. 😉

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Next, we made “leprechaun bread” for all of our friends at Stroller Strides and for Dada’s work.  “Leprechaun bread” is essentially just pound cake baked in loaf pans, with a special “peek-a-boo” surprise inside.  I knew I wanted to do the “peek-a-boo” in the shape of a shamrock — however, a shamrock cutter was extremely difficult to find (strange, I know!).  So, instead of hand cutting, we used a make-shift flower shaped cutter. Also, it’s almost against my religion, but we used box mix instead of making the cake from scratch — because, well.. that’s just what I wanted to do. Shame on me, I know — sarcasm intended. 🙂

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So, want to make this at home?  You totally should!  It’s super easy!

First, mix all of your ingredients together to make your “peek-a-boo” loaf.  Like I said, I used a box mix for Pound Cake, so I followed the directions on the box, but added in green food coloring to my first batch.  I took a pretty good amount of green to get the green to show up this dark, so keep that in mind when you are mixing in your color.  After the green loaf is mixed, pour the into a loaf pan (make sure it is coated with non-stick spray!) and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes.  Once it comes out, let it cool enough for you to slice it, and then cut the shape you want out of the slices.  Be precise and careful on this part!

Next, mix your ingredients for your non-colored loaf the same way as before, but do not add color into the mix this time.  Once mixed, pour a little bit in your loaf pan to cover the bottom — then carefully add in your cut-out pieces to form a line.  Then, CAREFULLY pour the remaining mix in the pan, covering your cut-out line, bake at 350 for 50 minutes.  Let it cool completely before slicing!

I found these cute tags on Pinterest for our bags, to make them a bit more festive!  Feel free to create your own — or visit this site to download the same ones we used for free!

The “Leprechaun Bread” was a huge hit at Dada’s work, and the little ones enjoyed it at Stroller Strides, too! Our class this morning was a LOT of fun — much thanks to our fit family for a great workout!  The little ones made a St. Patrick’s Day craft, by each one placing their colored handprint on a sheet of paper to create a rainbow of hands (or friends, as we called it).  We wrote in each little one’s name, so we can remember the fun we had!

We have had quite a festive holiday, so far!  We plan to spend the rest of the afternoon going on evening walk and enjoying the sunshine, then wrapping it up with a movie and –maybe, just maybe — a piece of leprechaun bread before bed. 🙂

We hope all of our family and friends have an amazing night and stay SAFE!  We are so lucky to get the opportunity to share our little moments with you, and have you as readers.  signature

Lessons in Real Life

Today is beautiful.

Beautiful weather, open windows and a breeze through the house.  We started the morning with pancakes, then Daddy let Momma get another hour and a half of sleep [best Valentine’s Day Eve gift ever!]. We went for our morning walk, listened to our daily podcast, and before lunchtime, Ella and I made cookies again.

She was SO excited to make cookies — she kept saying “I love cookies! I love cookies!” Even though when I first opened up the dough and she managed to grab a pinch of dough and put it in her mouth — she’s quick, man! — we had a great time cutting out cookies again as a Valentine’s Day Eve activity!  I even posted a cute pic on Instagram showing our efforts — feeling all proud and Pinterest-y — total #momwin today!

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Cookies in the oven, Ella was quietly playing, I was enjoying a cup of hot tea, listening to some music…

…Then, Ella came to me to tell me she went “stinky.” And good god, did she ever.. TMI, but it’s true, and I try to be real with y’all. Ever have those moments where you really try to reason with someone when you know they don’t quite understand?  That was me during this diaper change.

Me: “Ella, Stinky girl!  You know, this wouldn’t be as stinky or uncomfortable if you would just go stinky on the big girl potty..”

Ella: “STINKY!”

Me: “Yes, STINKY!! When do you want to try to do this on the big girl potty?  It’s SO much better when you stinky on the potty than in your pants!”

Ella: “STINKY!”

Yeah, she totally gets it.

When we finished cleaning up, we walked out of her room and I smelled something different… A “stinky” unlike the “stinky” I was just cleaning up.

Crap. The cookies. 

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Fail.

And all I could do is laugh.

My point is, even though we burned the cookies today, it’s still a beautiful day. Not everything in life is sunshine, rainbows, sweet smells, and perfectly baked cookies. It’s how we react in the moments where it isn’t that truly matters. Because, you know, they may be burned this time, but the process was what was most enjoyed.. Something I’m still learning to acknowledge everyday. Thank you for the reminder! 🙂

I hope this brings a smile today, and hope everyone is having an amazingly beautiful weekend!

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