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3 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

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This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission for my family.

I’m not a fan of celebrating holidays.  The whole thing just seems like too much work.  Spending a bunch of money buying decorations, searching tirelessly for ingredients and competing with other consumers for the last ham at the grocery store, cooking a ton of food, and having a messy house all for just a few short hours.  Still, it wasn’t until this past Christmas that I realized just how important celebrating something is.  Having a child leads me to revalue the joy and togetherness that holidays bring into our lives.  Simply because we are alive, well and happy to have each other.  It doesn’t have to be one of the traditional holidays, but it should be something that is important to our family.  I’d like for my son to have fond memories of a special day that we got together and did something fun for a good cause.  So we’re starting our own traditions!

Mommy Can LearnEarth Day is this Friday and while it isn’t a homemade holiday, what better reason to celebrate than the solitary planet that homes us and provides us with food, water, and air!  Here are 3 ways that we can do a little good for our planet that does so much for us.

Teaching your kids about sustainable living

Reading books to kids is the best way to teach them about, well anything!  Learning about the importance of sustainable living is a great way to get kids involved and thinking about preserving our planet at an early age.  And once kids take an interest in something new, they’ll be sure to remind us to do our part as well.  Here are 4 great books to get started:

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth

Disney Go Green: A Family Guide to a Sustainable Lifestyle

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling

The Earth Book

Earth Day activities

Earth 911 – Cool DIY projects with reusable materials.

Education World – Earth Day lesson plans and projects – great for homeschoolers!

TinkerLab – 50 Earth Day activities for toddlers and little kids.

Utilizing sustainability sites

Freecycle – A great resource for donating and receiving free reusable goods to avoid using landfills.

Healthy Home Economist – A list of organic, non-GMO, Monsanto-free seed companies.

I Want To Be Recycled – Everything recycling!

Local Harvest – Find local farms, farmers markets, co-ops, CSAs and even pick-your-own fruit gardens.

What do you have planned for Earth Day?

 

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Easy $20 DIY Felt Board

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I am not a crafty person by any means.  Despite my lack of talent in this area, I managed to make a pretty awesome felt board for my toddler. I’ve seen some pretty snazzy felt boards out there, but who has the time or money for some extravagant project?  Am I going to get a Mother of the Week Award for the best crafts?  Nope.  Nuh huh.  I’d be lucky to get a thank you (although his smile said it all).  So I’ve streamlined this process to make it easier, cheaper, less time-consuming and not as boring as you’d think.  Everything that I used came from the Dollar Store with the exception of the felt, which came from Michael’s.

Here are the tools you’ll need:

  • White felt $8 (the board is 39×27 inches so I’d say about 1.5 yards per side)
  • Color felt $5
  • Tri-fold presentation board (x2) $2
  • Packing/duck tape $1
  • Fabric glue $1
  • Googly eyes $1
  • Glitter pen (optional) $1
  • Scissors
  • A few pieces of paper and a pencil (optional)
  • Music, wine, dessert (see it’s more fun already!)

Step 1: Tape the backs of each tri-fold together across the top and bottom.  Leave the flaps free.  This will make the board sturdier and able to stand upright alone.

Step 2: Glue the fabric along the edges of each side of the board.  Make sure to get it as flat and taut as possible.  Cut off the excess felt.  If you have 2 kids playing at once, then you’ll probably want to do both sides.

You’re halfway done!

Step 3: Turn on your music, pour your wine and get comfy at the table.  Pace yourself!  You are using scissors and you wouldn’t want to bleed on your felt.  That would turn this into a $30 felt board and I’m trying to keep the costs down.  Thank you very much!

Step 4: Wild card!  At this point, you can get as funky, wacky or simple as you’d like while cutting out the designs of your dreams.  At first, I wanted to do shapes because that’s what we were currently learning (and my skill level was at triangles), but then I really started getting into it!  I worked at night so my toddler was asleep and Mister was… well, I don’t know what he was doing because I was so zoned into my project.

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BONUS:  An easy way to get fancy with your designs is to draw them on paper, cut the design out and lay it over the felt. Trace the design and cut the felt.  Simple.

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You can add googly eyes, glitter, puff balls or whatever you need to suit your creative palate.

GeorgeWeezy

George & Weezy

BarackMichelleBirds

Barack & Michelle

If you want to make a person and clothes, draw an outline of your person, fold it in half length-wise so that it is symmetrical and cut it out.  Then place a piece of paper over the cut-out and trace an outline of the body to make whatever kind of clothes you want.

Step 5: Present the felt board to your child and play with them!

So there you have it folks!  The easiest, cheapest felt board that will make your toddler think you are a rockstar.  You’re welcome ;-).  This board conveniently folds up to fit into a closet or behind a bookshelf for easy storage.  If you really enjoyed this project or you’d like to get a little more imaginative with it, you can make cut-outs for each season, numbers, letters, shapes, animals or any other learning activities and separate them into sandwich bags to keep them organized.  This would also make an awesome homemade present.

Leave a comment below to let me know how it worked out for you!

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I am Not a Mini Martha Stewart: Crafts by an Un-Crafty Mommy

 

 

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I always thought that if you’re a mom, then you must be a creative person.  That being a mini Martha Stewart is innate in all women and finally reveals itself when you become a mom.  Baking cupcakes with perfect frosting designs, dazzling glittery crafts, and flawlessly sewn costumes are a part of the job. I thought that when I became a mom my fairy godmother would sprinkle star dust on me and I would summon the creative spirit of Martha; the Holy Grail of Creativity.

Um… no. That did not happen.  In fact, the opposite seems to be my reality.  I can barely cook, I cannot sew more than 2 inches of fabric without it looking like a zig zag and I am actually quite awful at crafts.  I am not kidding.  I suck at crafts.  It looks pretty easy – draw a few lines, make a few cut-outs, paste them together, sprinkle on some glitter and BOOM!  Masterpiece.  My kid would look up to me in awe, my friends would ask me to help with their kids school projects and I’d be the LeBron James of crafts.  A little exaggerated yes, but that is kind of what I had in mind.  Instead, I scour Pinterest for the easiest looking crafts and pretend to know what I’m doing when I sit my son down.

I see many pictures of people doing crafts with their toddlers and they looks so jolly and neat.  I am convinced that those pictures are lies.  All lies.  Maybe the parent finishes the crafts, then brings the kid in for a picture or maybe they have a team to help.  Either way, there is nothing neat or gleeful about doing crafts with toddlers.  My son touched everything that I asked him not to touch, he constantly knocked things off the table, he got upset with me that I put a puff ball on MY flower, and he was intent on using the glue – which ended up on my shirt and on his face.  Needless to say, I was exhausted after we were done.

So I’ll tell you what I did learn about doing crafts with toddlers: stop being so uptight and follow my child’s creative process.  This experience was harder on me because I kept trying to make it perfect, while he just wanted to have fun.  So what if what he was messy or if his flower looked like Quasimodo?  It is more important for him to be creative in his own way than for my standards to be met.  Who knows, maybe one day he’ll teach me a thing or two about creativity.

What is your experience doing crafts with your kids?  Leave a comment below!

 

 

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9 Simple Tips To Start The New Year Off Right

Everyone always talks about having balance in life.  What does that even mean?  When I hear people talk about achieving balance I imagine it coming from a vegan who doesn’t have kids and spends their afternoons doing yoga on the beach.

Coincidentally, my niece is a vegan with no kids who seriously does yoga on the beach in the afternoon.  Go figure. Check her out on IG @ modern_day_hippi

For the rest of us, how can we achieve that in our busy, complex lives?  Well, I’m no expert on the yin and yang of the best way for everyone to live, but I’ll tell you what I did to get myself back on track.

Backed away from social media.  My cell phone is never far from me, therefore neither is social media.  It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the sad or frustrating posts on Facebook (my media of choice) so my goal was to stay away from Facebook for just one day a week so that I could get a break.  I ended up staying away for 10 days consecutively!

Meditated.  I know, I know, you’ve probably heard this one a million times, but it really works.  According to Live And Dare, there are 76 scientific benefits to meditation including stress reduction and mental clarity.  I meditate before bed, when I first wake up or on my lunch break (aka the baby’s nap time).  If you need meditation music click here.

I made a list of 7 things I like to do and 7 things I have to do.  Everyday I picked one from each list and by the end of the week I felt pretty productive.

Meal planned.  I’m a newbie and only prepped food for a few days, but it freed up my evening so I wasn’t rushing to squeeze in my son’s bath before his bedtime routine.  Plus Mister didn’t starve.  Gold star for me!

Drank more water and took a walk outside.  ‘Nuff said.

Pampered myself.  I did a home pedicure, put on a dress, had a glass of wine and read a book.  Self-care is wildly undervalued, yet highly important.

Set up boundaries with toxic people.  Making conversations quick and utilizing texting has reduced some stress in my life.

Did something fun (NOT watching tv).  I picked up 5 books from the library, a bit ambitious I know, to get me back in the groove of reading.   Went outside and my son made chalk art in the driveway while I huffed and puffed on a cheap bubble wand.  Note to self: get a bubble machine.

Hung out with friends.  Getting together with the girls revives me.

So there you have it.  Start simple.  Give these tips a try and let me know how it works out.  What are your New Year’s goals?  What steps are you taking to achieve balance in your life?  Leave your suggestions below!

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The End of an Era: Nap Time

Me: “It’s too soon. We can’t give up yet.”

Mister: “I really think it’s over babe.  Sorry.  He’s 2.5 years old.  You have to let go.”

Me:  “I will NOT let go of nap time until he’s four!”

For the past few days, LittleCrankyBoots has not taken his afternoon nap.  And you know how much I love nap time – read about it here and here.  About this same time last year, he stopped taking his 2nd nap.  Both transitions have been harder on me than on him.  He seems totally content to run amuck or express his toddler angst all day, I however, NEED nap time.  Most appropriately, my mom mailed this magnet to me and though I don’t sleep while he is awake, this perfectly captures how I feel.

magnet

Pic: Dave Coverly

I’ve always been a cheerful early riser, but now that LittleCrankyBoots has decided to forego nap time, I am struggling to wake up.  My alarm clock is the sound of his mattress screeching for help as he mercilessly jumps on it while yelling, “he’s jumping!”  I slap my arm across the bed reaching for my phone to see what ungodly hour it is, then reluctantly peel the sheets off of me and slide out the bed.  With eyes half shut, I zombie walk toward the bathroom for my last 30 seconds of silence, wash my hands then look up in the mirror at my crazy hair and think, “please universe, let this boy take a nap today.”

A few months ago it was easy to tire him out.  Playing with balloons in the living room, chasing each other around the dining room table or letting him run to the fridge to grab magnetic alphabet letters and bring them to me one-by-one as I chill on the couch (alphabet + phonics + exercise = awesome mommy!).  He’d tucker himself out and I’d still have energy for the rest of the day.  Now, I have to take him to the park, which is not a problem, except he’s not old enough to wander by himself.  As I chase him around, I glance over at the moms sitting in a circle talking as their kids run around alone. A twinge of jealousy hits me as they sit in a circle catching up with the latest discussion about I don’t know what because I’m not over there!

BUT… l will not complain.   My life is blessed and even though I am exhausted most days, I am so thankful to be able to spend these precious moments with my LittleCrankyBoots.  I celebrate every stage of his life – though I’m happy to be done with teething and I can’t wait until he’s fully potty trained – and it fills my heart with joy to watch him grow.

How old was your LittleCrankyBoots when s/he stopped taking naps?  Was it a smooth transition?

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Celebrating Halloween for the First Time in 18 Years

October 31st.  The dreaded day that broke my heart so many years ago.  The day that I had one less parent to help guide me through this world.  The day that I was no longer daddy’s little girl.  I remember this day last year and the grief that I felt.  Alas, this day has crept upon me again.  This time though, for the first time in 18 years I did more than lay on my couch and cry.

Dad & I at my elementary honor roll awards ceremony

While I didn’t get dressed up or pass out candy, I did manage to take my LoveBug to a Halloween dance party for toddlers at the library.  I didn’t want to fully commit to buying him a costume since I wasn’t sure if I’d go through with leaving the house, so I dressed him up as a cowboy with clothes we had at home.  We also stopped by a friend’s Halloween party.  LoveBug didn’t know what was going on, but he was excited to be around new people.  He ran around the living room passing out fist bumps and dancing to the music.  I was surprised that I really enjoyed seeing everyone so happy and didn’t feel sad.  The last few years of my father’s life, he was blind.  He didn’t even know what I looked like.  The fact that I can see my son and have this experience with him is a gift.  So although something in me feels guilty that I did not grieve, a piece of me feels grateful that I have this moment.

Mommy & Cowboy, Halloween 2015

This could be a turning point for me.  It is bittersweet though.  A love taken from me and a love given to me.  They say that having kids changes a person.  Bringing a life into this world has given me something that was long lost: joy.  Spending this day with my son has helped me turn a day that has caused such sorrow into a day that heals the wound in my heart.