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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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Public Meltdown: The Time I Became THAT Mom

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Today I decided to take a quick trip to a large, popular farmers market to get a few things that I can’t get as cheap anywhere else.  Though it was during his nap time (he didn’t seem tired at all), Sonshine was excited to get out of the house and frankly I was as well.

He was rather quiet during the car ride there so I had no indication of what was to come.  We got out of the car and he happily sat down in the cart.  I was surprised that the farmers market so crowded considering it was a weekday afternoon.  It was the perfect amount of people to witness my son act like a complete donkey and embarrass me like I’ve never been embarrassed before.  I would have rather tripped on my face or loudly farted than be looked at as a pathetic mom with an out of control toddler.

He wanted to push the cart and when I said no he started throwing our items around the cart.  This was already uncharacteristic behavior for him so I tried to keep a low profile by giving him a toy and talking to him in a really sweet voice.  He quickly went from LittleCrankyBoots to Toddzilla.  He screamed at the top of his lungs, tried to get out of the cart and yelled “no mommy!” at me several times.

After quietly and nonchalantly waiting for him to calm down, I started to feel warm.  It was the heat from the deathray stares that I received from the other shoppers.  Disapproving looks, snarls, head shakes, pursed lips, “hmphs,” and other nonverbal judgments came hurling my way.  That’s when it hit me: I was THAT mom.  The mom with the out of control, heathen kid with no home training because clearly I wasn’t doing my job.  Three short years ago I would have been judging the hell outta THAT mom.  I wanted to completely disappear.  Just melt right into the floor.

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At that moment, a grandma came up to me and said, “honey, I have a few grown kids.  Just ignore him.  You can’t spank him or it will make it worse.  He’s a toddler; they’re crazy.  And don’t worry about these people, if they have kids they’ll understand and if they don’t well, they have no opinion.”  Bless her heart.  I was so thankful for her kind words.

So the next time I’m out and I see THAT mom, I’ll be sure to leave my judgments where they are and if we happen to catch each other’s eye, I’ll give her a kind “I totally understand,” smile and I’ll keep it moving as if her kid isn’t having a rough time.  It doesn’t make her kid (or mine) a bad kid because they are having a bad day.  Parenting is a lot of work when our kids are having good days, we certainly don’t need the extra pressure or judgment when times are tough.

Have you ever been THAT mom?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

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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.

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George & Weezy

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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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It’s Dr. Seuss’ Birthday!

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We all know that reading is a vital component to a child’s learning and development.  Reading a good book can make you laugh, teach you something, or enable your mind to escape into a fantasy land.  And for many people, their love of reading started with Dr. Seuss.  Over the last 70 years, Dr. Seuss has written over 60 children’s books.  His first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before being published in 1937.  What a great lesson in perseverance, determination and purpose to teach your kids.  The sky is the limit and education is their spaceship.

The best example for reading that your kids have is YOU!  Turning off the TV and picking up a book will show your kids that reading is important and fun.  Take them to the local library, get a free library card and let your LittleBookWorm pick any books they deem interesting.  Reading doesn’t only have to happen at night; in the morning, after school or keeping a few books in the car are great times to squeeze in a little reading.  Reading just 20 minutes a day can increase your child’s love for reading and their vocabulary too!  So in honor of an author that has brought reading into so many of our lives, take some time to read a few books to your kids tonight.  And if you’re big on celebrations, why not throw a Dr. Seuss party?

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Meditation Monday: Grieving

Earlier this month, Mister’s cousin suddenly passed away.  They grew up together and were rather close, so his passing has really taken a toll on our family.  He was a great friend and father and sometimes I think that makes it harder.  Mourning him opened up my own wounds about the people that I have lost.  As much as you want to celebrate their life, the thought that you’ll never talk to them again stings you over and over.

The grieving process is such a personal thing.  Everyone has their own way to mourn their loved one.  Reminiscing about the good times you shared, taking a walk, or even doing an activity that person used to enjoy are all ways to grieve.  And the length of time that it takes to heal varies from person to person.  My grandma and I were very close my whole life.  We did everything together – travel, bingo, church, movies, made forts with the couch cushions.  She even stayed in my college dorm with me for a week at 89 years old!  When she passed, I was so hurt that my buddy was gone.  It was very hard to let her go, but that would have been selfish of me to wish she had lived longer (because she was sick).  She lived a great life and I’m thankful that I got to spend so much time with her.  I say all of that to say, if you are grieving someone right now, it will get easier.  It doesn’t seem like it will, but the old saying is true, time heals all wounds.  And it’s not that you love or miss them any less, but the sting subsides a bit and you begin to actually celebrate their life and smile when you think of them.

Please take 10 minutes to practice this meditation.  I wish peace and healing to you.

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Sesame Street Partners With HBO

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This is Sesame Streets 46th season on air and they are celebrating by posting their season opening episode for free on Facebook (for a limited time).  Yes, you read that correctly: for FREE.  Why for free you ask?  When did they start charging to watch a non-profit, educational children’s show?  Well, Sesame Street has partnered with HBO for a 5 year contract to air their new episodes (plus 150 past episodes).  Sesame Workshop executives have cited that the partnership will aid in the financial responsibilities to boost production (from 18 to 35 shows per year) as well as to create other educational spin-off shows.  The segments will now be 30 minutes long opposed to an hour and will be available to PBS after airing on HBO for 9 months.  The older episodes will still be available on the PBS channel and for streaming on PBSkids.org, however Sesame Street will no longer be available on Netflix nor Amazon.

The show will be doing parody’s on real life events and even adult HBO shows (i.e. Game of Thrones).  Do you think this will impact the integrity of the show now that HBO is writing the check?  Will you be purchasing the HBO channel or HBO Now (streaming without cable) for your kids to watch Sesame Street?  Let me know!  Leave a comment below.