5 Tips for a Pool Day with the Kids

“Expect the unexpected” has been my life since I’ve had my boys. I’m always thinking ahead. Whenever we go somewhere, I take the obvious necessities and then some. You never know what cards they are going to draw day-to-day. A simple trip to the neighborhood pool requires tactile decision-making on my part. While it’s just a two-minute car ride, a lot can happen from point A to point B.

When it’s 90+ degrees outside, I want to make sure our trip to the pool is enjoyed by all parties (i.e. mom, dad, kids, and our fellow neighbors). With this said, here are my five tips for a great pool day with the kids!

Toys and backup toys: My kids want…no require pool toys to survive a day at the pool. There are obviously toys they enjoy using over and over again, but they will randomly become bored of the packed toys. Some would say, make them suck it up, and to that I say, I pick my battles, and this is a fight I do not want to pursue. In the back of the car I have tub filled with backup pool toys. I quick jaunt to the parking lot and we are back on track. Did I mention earlier, that I always expect the unexpected?

Backup snacks: My kids have three go-to snacks 1. Fresh fruit (watermelon, strawberries, and mandarins) 2. Organic white cheddar puffs from Aldis and 3. Fruit snacks. From time to time, they’ll turn on me and refuse the snacks they “love.” Most parents would panic, but not me! I have a backup stash of goldfish, veggies, fruit bars, etc. If that doesn’t work, I have backup to the backup.

Change of clothes: My kids love playing in the pool, but when it’s time to go they want their wet clothes off immediately (in particular my four-year-old)! I mentioned earlier that our house is a two-minute drive, if that, from the pool, but the thought of sitting in their swimsuit is a crime against humanity in their eyes. A quick trip to the locker room with their change of clothes and we are good for the (short) journey home.

Bring an umbrella or two: When it’s a really hot day, the pool is packed. When the pool is packed, the shaded areas are ALWAYS taken. While I am excessive with the sunscreen, my gingers require some extra protection. We have an umbrella or two tucked away in the car, just in case the boys need some shade on an overly crowded day.

Accept that mom bod: For me, I carried two kids in this body. It is flawed, but I am proud of it. We unfortunately live in a society where we are always giving and receiving judgement to/from the person next to us. The pool deck is the perfect cesspool for this type of behavior. For me, I have too much on my mind taking care of the kiddos to worry about what anyone else thinks. Rocking a solid swimsuit, like this high-waist bandeau bikini set from ROVLET, gives me the extra boost of confidence I need as I chase my kids around the pool. If you go to >> https://www.rovlet.com/beachwear/swimwear.html << you can get the suit perfect for your day at the pool. Use the code LOVELY10 for 10% off your order. Looking good girl!

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Maybe you already use some of these tactics and maybe you don’t, either way, taking kids to the pool can be an adventure. What tricks do you have up your sleeve? Let me know in the comments below.

Make a successful splash this summer!

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Winners Never Quit – Kids Night In Box Review

“Failure happens all the time. It happens everyday in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm

 

One of the hardest things we can teach our kids (at least for me), is the concept of overcoming “failure.” For a toddler and preschooler, wrapping their heads around not getting the outcome they want, can be extremely difficult. There are tears and fits of frustration, but it’s a special moment of learning and growing. In this month’s Kids Night In Box – Winners Never Quit, we were able to address sportsmanship, strengths and weaknesses, winning and losing, and so much more through play.

 

Each month, Kids Night In Box provides a perfectly curated box to address an important topic of conversation, like Winners Never Quit or April’s box, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Founder, Megan Pruitt designed this month’s box with this lesson in mind – teaching little ones to lose with dignity and how to give well wishes those who beat them. Through reading, games, videos, and art, my son and I were able to do just that!

 

At the very top of the box was a copy of Mia Hamm’s Winner Never Quit! I was so excited to get this box, because 1) we LOVE to read and 2) I have heard wonderful things about this children’s book. In this picture book, Mia Hamm teaches kids that playing is just as fun as winning or losing. Through words and illustrations, teaching kids about the power of being a team player was much more impactful. The Kids Night In Box also provided self reflection questions based on the age of the child. This critical thinking is such an important skill to develop and when paired with the overarching theme of sportsmanship, it’s even better. My four-year-old can’t get enough of this book.

 

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I don’t think they were aware when they were putting together our Kids Night In Box, but my son’s favorite color is orange. He’s slightly obsessed and no one else in our family is allowed any claims to the color. I say all of this because the smiley face foam ball he received in his box is neon orange. The ball can not only be used as a stress reliever, but it is the main component of the Strengths + Weaknesses game. With the ball and spoon, kids can discover and understand that every person has his/her unique strengths and weaknesses. Provided was a list of actions, such as throwing the ball with your right hand and switching, balancing the ball on a spoon and walking, tucking the ball under the chin and walk around, balancing the ball on three fingers, and more. Ro discovered he is a master of tucking the ball under his chin as well as balancing the ball on a spoon. He did learn that he needs to work on throwing the ball in the air and catching it. He’s been practicing since we played and he’s improving every day.

 

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Having kids identify what it means to be a good sport or a bad sport can be hard, but in our Kids Night In Box, the Good Sport Challenge addresses this concern. Have you ever seen a professional soccer player receive a red or yellow card while out on the pitch? In our box there was a dual sided card – Good Sport with a smiley face and Bad Sport with a frowny face. In the Good Sport Challenge, I read off scenarios where the child was either being a good sport or a bad sport. For example: You are playing a board game with your brother. Your brother leaves the room to go to the restroom and you move your game piece closer to the finish line. Are you being a good sport or bad sport? This was a positive challenge for Ro as he analyzed each situation to determine the best course of action.

 

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I’ve expressed in the past our family’s love for board games. We LOVE a game night – Candy Land, Hungry Hippos, Zingo, etc. we are game. This month’s Kids Night In Box has a board game designed to teach kids on how to be a Good Sport. Each person takes turns rolling the dice and moving their soccer player across the board. If the little one gets frustrated and wants to quit, it is the perfect time to address that if one of the players quits there is no room for a winner. It’s a fun and easy way to promote healthy sportsmanship.

 

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This is just a brief insight to all of the goal scoring fun! GOALZO! We indulged in some delicious Pure Organic Layered Fruit Bar, watched a sportsmanship video, creating our own soccer ball, and so much more! There is one more amazing thing about this box – you can reuse it all! It’s fun that can be had over and over and over again. What is better than that?

 

You’re probably thinking, “how can I get my box?” No worries! Go to https://frstre.com/go/?a=19136-4863f8&s=456886-78ed66 You can also select from the Date Night In Box, Date Night In Box – Faith, and Kids Night In Box – Faith. All great options for you and your significant other or family.

 

What activity would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below.

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May 2019 Family Activities Calendar

I don’t know about you, but I often wonder how I can keep every day creative for the kids. Of course there a days we just want (really need) to sit back and relax, but the Energizer Bunny in me needs to do something at all times. Something amazing about our society is the need to create a national/regional/local holidays dedicated to something absurd. Lumpy Rug Day? Why not? No Dirty Dishes Day? Count me in! With so much inspiration right here in front of me, the creative pool is ready to be molded.

I have created a May 2019 Family Activities Calendar based on unique, and quite honestly, bizarre holidays throughout the month of May. You may find inspiration. You may not. Either way, I present you with some ideas to plan your month of May with the kiddos.

May 2019 Family Activities Calendar

Download your copy of the May 2019 Family Activities Calendar HERE

What activities would you add to your calendar? Let me know in the comments.

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A Timeless Treasure – Eric Carle

If you were to ask my parents what author I loved the most as a child, they would say Eric Carle without a second’s delay. I owned about every one of his books, in particular those that were readily available in the early 90s. There was something so magical about the interactive text and captivating illustrations. I vividly remember reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? over and over again (mom and dad I apologize; I get it now).

Now in 2018, Eric Carle is still prevalent in the realm of childhood literature. He has expanded from books to animated pictures and toys. My sons are able to experience the beauty of his educational pieces in a way I did not have access to in the 90s (#jealous).

We have found Eric Carle to be a hit for both our three-year-old and our one-year-old. Through his books, toys, and animations, our children are receptive of his teachings. Here are our favorite Eric Carle pieces –

Books:

An essential part of our nighttime routine is the bedtime story (or three) and often all of the stories come from our favorite, Eric Carle. We are currently reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar (a classic), Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? (a new favorite), Have you Seen my Cat? (my original copy), and The Mixed-Up Chameleon (my toddler’s FAVORITE). With either impactful messages, educational components, or both, my kids are sent to bed with thoughtful and colorful images in their heads.

Toys:

The World of Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Discovery Cube, 8” is one of my youngest’s most loved toys. With textured rings and fabric, peek a boo flaps, rattle, and crinkle sounds, it’s a sensory dream for a newly turned one-year-old. This discovery cube is plush, so he loves to cuddle it at night while he drifts off to sleep. With artwork from Eric Carle’s stories, the vibrancy of the illustrations, in my opinion, must ignite blissful dreams.

Eric Carle My First Smart Pad – PI Kids is a delightfully exciting educational toy that my three-year-old plays with often. “The electronic activity pad and 8-book library teaches alphabet, spelling, opposites, animal habitats, sounds, and sizes.” He calls it his “computer” and carries it around to conduct “business.” The beautiful illustrations and the familiarity of his favorite characters inspire him to sit down and absorb. As a parent, I LOVE it!

Animation:  

I don’t know about you, but we intake all our “TV” through Netflix. We love how there is an option to create a kids account. My son can access his favorite shows and we don’t have to worry about him watching something wildly inappropriate. Under the “Watch Again” tab is his Netflix account is The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories. Voiced by Brian Cummings and Linda Gray, some of his favorites like, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Mixed-Up Chameleon, to name a few, are brought to life through animation. He likes to snuggle up on the couch in his “cocoon” made of blankets for 30 minutes (or more depending the repetition of his viewing) and relax. It’s fantastic!

With books dating all the way back to 1967 (i.e. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?), Eric Carle has been a staple in the lives of so many individuals including myself and now my kids. If you don’t have Eric Carle in your personal library I suggest you run to your nearest bookstore or public library and introduce yourselves to these beautiful classics of children’s literature.

4 Reasons to Raise Your Kids in the South

For my entire life I’ve been told I don’t sound like I hail from the south. I used to take this sentiment as a compliment. If we are being honest, the media does not highlight the south in the best of lights. The south is often depicted as the land of severely conservative, backwoods folks, who all live on farms and raise 42 cows. I personally have never self-identified as this dramatized version of a southern, so when folks assumed I was from New England, I didn’t necessarily correct them.

As I’ve gotten older, I have realized the beauty of living in the south and have embraced my sweet tea roots, especially as the mother of two young boys. That’s right; this liberal mama loves raising her ginger babes in the Tar Heel state.

Here are four reasons why raising your kids in the south is a beautiful thing:

  1. Manners make the man – We can all agree manners are a must. I was raised to say, “yes ma’am/sir,” “no ma’am/sir,” please and thank you, etc. Having manners is not only polite, but they leave a positive and lasting impression. You’ll stand out in the crowd in the best way. To be in the south without manners is a sin (we are on the bible belt of course). If one forgets the proper greeting or response, there is a southern mama always there to glare the most intense evil eye in your direction. We learn very quickly to keep our manners in check.
  2. Wild child – Being in nature is something a southerner is born to do (well, most of us). I remember playing in the neighborhood creek, climbing trees, and venturing into the woods for an “adventure.” My boys LOVE to play outside. My oldest is a master bug hunter and collector of dirt. While I’m not a huge fan of the creepy crawlers, he has zero fear when it comes to facing a spider or earth worm; he wants to be their friend. He feels comfortable outside and that makes my tree-hugger heart happy.
  3. We’ve got spirit, yes, we do – College basketball…what more can I say? When you live in the south you are born on a side, the side of an ACC team. In North Carolina the trinity of college basketball falls within three points – UNC Tarheels, Duke Blue Devils, and NC State Wolfpack. We clearly bleed Carolina blue and cheer on our beloved Tar Heels to victory. This inherent need to be tethered to a team builds a sense of pride and commitment in an individual.
  4. Family values (the good ones) – This can be said for anybody, anywhere, but family values are so important in the south. Now, I don’t think all “family values” are, well, valuable, but I do think finding those naturally good qualities are important. We can learn a lot from of our family. My family has always projected strong social values like respect/courtesy, giving back, kindness, standing up for others, etc. I want and will carry these values into the lives of my children.

As someone who was born and raised in the south, I’ve worked my entire life to eliminate that stereotypical view of a southerner from my own mind. There is so much beauty to be found down south when raising children to be fully functioning and well-adjusted individuals. We are a wonderfully complex breed.

“Southerners know all too well that a basket of fried chicken can mean ‘I’m sorry,’ ‘I love you’ or ‘Welcome Home.’” (Johnathan Scott Barrett)

4 Ways to Create and Maintain a Successful Family Routine

When routine changes it can throw everyone off, especially a toddler who LOVES consistency. I recently started a new job that’s extremely fulfilling but requires more office time than my previous job. When I worked remotely I could drop my kids off later and pick them earlier than most parents, but now I must drop them off earlier and pick them up a little later than normal. My three-year-old picked up on this change immediately, and let’s just say, he’s not a fan.

My son quickly became hyper sensitive and started not listening/following directions as well as he used to. One could say this is happening because he’s at “that” age, but it seems suspect for this to have started around the same time I began my new job.  I’m not a detective, but I can clearly breakdown the evidence.

My husband and I sprang into action to make a new “norm” for our household. It’s important to us to have a space where our kids feel and actively participate in a healthy routine. Now, I’ve only birthed two little ones, so I can only speak from my experience with them, but thoughtful consistency is key.

Here are the four ways we successfully found our new routine:

  1. Communicate – Seems simple enough, right? You can never over communicate with your kids, at least in my opinion. We talk about and talk through our routine constantly with our kids, more specifically our toddler. He seems to respond to well to repeated verbal communication.
  2. Cool and Calm – As parents it’s easy to lose our cool when our kids react in a not-so-attractive manner when they get frustrated about the change in routine (I know from experience and I’m not proud of it). When we act in a level-headed manner, our kids will have a positive response. We set the emotional example.
  3. Sleep – When our kids are well rested, the world seems to be a safe place, but when they don’t, you might as well duck and cover. When my kids get a great night’s sleep, they are prepared to take on the day with a positive attitude. My one-year-old sleeps a solid 13 hours a night and my three-year-old clocks in between 10-11 hours a night. I truly believe sleep makes a big difference in achieving a new “norm.”
  4. Fun – It’s important to add a new and exciting component to the routine. Make it worthwhile for all involved parties. My husband and I “let” our toddler guide the bedtime routine. He picks the books, he turns off the lights, he arranges his bed, etc. We are known for putting on a performance. If it’s a song, a monologue, an interpretive dance of the book we are reading, we make it fun. This is part of the routine that is specifically tailored for him and something he looks forward to every single day. It’s HIS mom and dad time.

I’ll say it again, change is hard, but if you work to make it a positive experience, your kids will adjust. Fingers crossed we can maintain our son’s positive perspective and make the one-on-one time we have with him memorable in the best way. What are some tips that have worked for you? Let me know if the comments.

Toddler Time – The Slime Book

I never fully understood the obsession with slime. For months Instagram stories, tweets, and even Youtube gurus were plastering their feeds with SLIME. While this was all happening, I was sitting on my couch saying, “what’s the big deal?” Well folks, I now I understand the fascination.

I am always looking for fun activities to do with my toddler on the weekend. It’s easy to cave and let him watch his iPad all day long, but I refuse to let him fall victim to the digital world (I had to add a dramatic flair). As any nearly three-year-old boy, he loves to get into anything and everything gooey, goopy, and gloopy. When we received The Slime Book by DK Publishing, I knew we had found the exciting activity my kid would love!

Now my toddler is obsessed with dinosaurs, so I wanted to do something slime related involving our prehistoric friends. I found a recipe called “See-Through Slime” which required ingredients I already had readily available in my home and used the tactile aspect of the “Dinosaurs in Amber” recipe and added plastic dinosaurs to the mix. Once our slime was mixed and filled with dinos, we played a fun game of archeologist. I’m not one to brag, but we discovered some pretty unique species that day (jealous?).

Even though fluffy, stretchy, and snow slime is fun to make, let’s keep in mind that toddlers, especially my toddler, like to put everything in their mouths. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my son to “stop, remove it from your mouth, put it down, and step away.” The Slime Book brings the joy of making slime to an all new delicious level with their handful of edible recipes. You don’t have to worry about your kid consuming glue, glitter, saline solution or shaving cream when you mix these items together.

If you are looking for a fun activity to do with your kids, check out DK Publishing’s The Slime Book and their 30+ awesome slime recipes. “Each recipe is Borax-free and uses safe, readily available ingredients,” so you will feel safe making squishy experiments with your little ones.

Have you entered the world of slime? What are your favorite slime recipes to do with your kids? Let me know in the comments below.

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You Know You’re A Boy Mom If…

A boy mom is a special breed. We are in the trenches 24/7 collecting bugs, battling in lightsaber fights, and catching our children as they fling themselves off anything with some height. It’s a tough and messy job, but we are well equipped to take it on.

It amazes me the things my boys decide to do on a daily basis. Honestly, the depth of my imagination is not large enough to make up the things that my kids do. The way my household works, I should really have my own CBS comedy. We would be breaking all of the sitcom charts.

I thought it would be fun, well, more for you than me, to share some of the crazy things my kids have done; a list of instances that only a boy mom could really appreciate. Here is my list of 7 “you know you’re a boy mom if” situations:

  1. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve been handed your child’s turd as a present.
  2. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve been slapped in the back of the head by a LED blue Obi-Wan Kenobi lightsaber.
  3. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve had to tell your child on multiple occasions that his penis is OK and it is not going anywhere.
  4. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve learned every type of dinosaur and can recite them while giving your child a piggy back ride roaring at the top of your lungs. Quiz me; I dare you!
  5. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve had to tell your two-year-old son not to wrestle his six month old brother. You’re going to win dude, I promise!
  6. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve received a high five from your toddler congratulating you on your ability to poop in the potty (I am a big girl).
  7. You know you’re a boy mom if you’ve told your child to stop licking his boogers, the piece of gum off the floor, or the illustrations of food in his bedtime books.

These are just a few of my boy mom moments. The list could go on and on and on. Perhaps I will create a “you know you’re a boy mom if” list part two. That’s a thought!

What are your parenting moments?

Toddler Time – Good Night, Baby Moon

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know how important the bedtime routine is in my house, in particular, the books we read together as a family at night. My toddler will mull over the books in his bookshelf and carefully select each literary masterpiece we read.

He is known is to pick the same books, even when he sits there and stares for five or more minutes at his collection. We can all admit, it’s easier to default to what we know and feel comfortable with, but I often encourage my toddler to step outside of his comfort zone and pick a book that is fun and exciting, but is also packed with educational opportunities.

DK Publishing’s Good Night, Baby Moon is the interactive, educational, and charming book, both child and parent will love. What’s cuter than a family of curious rabbits who have rhythm? Not much in my opinion! In this special book, your little one can follow this family of furry critters as they examine and learn about the various phases of the moon.

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We’ve recently been talking to our son about the sun, the moon, the stars, and the clouds floating by in the sky.  He’s finally at the age where he is excited to learn! Good Night, Baby Moon, provides the perfect opportunity for us to go outside and point at the moon and compare it to the journey of the little bunny family as they learn about the various phases of mother moon.

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Did I mention the front cover of this book lights up?! My son is so eager to press the button and see the moon behind the rabbits shine bright. I caught him the other night flicking the light on and off in the baby monitor. That’s right! He loves his copy of Good Night, Baby Moon so much, he insists on taking it to bed with him at night. Who needs a stuffed animal when you have DK Publishing’s Good Night, Baby Moon?

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Do you want to stroll through the woods with the rabbit family too? Well, your wait will be over soon. On September 5, 2017, you can get your hands of this perfect bedtime read. Mark your calendars, so you can make bedtime even more fun!

“Watching the moon helped the rabbits to learn, that when it goes away, it will always return.”

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Toddler Time – Monster Marshmallows

Growing up in a household with one parent in the medical field and one parent in the field of science, we were encouraged to do activities that expanded our minds and increased our curiosity. I never went to your “typical summer camp” where you lived in a bunk house and participated in kayaking and archery. My parents put me in marine biology, chemistry, and physic camps. It’s not what you would envision an elementary schooler participating in, but it was the best thing they could have done for me. My desire to learn more, I believe, encouraged me to participate in different courses and electives throughout my school career. I was excited about learning!

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I say this because it is never too early to get your kids excited about STEMS. When we got our hands on DK Publishing’s Maker Lab book of 28 kid-safe projects and crafts, it became the perfect introduction to the world of science for my toddler.

This wonderfully delightful book has step-by-step experiments, ranked from easy to hard, designed for 8 to 12 year olds. Even though this is designed for older kids, there are plenty of options for a mom and her toddler to get their science game on!

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I am constantly looking for ways to engage my son outside of his iPad on the weekends. When I came across the Monster Marshmallow experiment I knew I had found the perfect experiment for my two and half year old. What toddler doesn’t love delicious, gooey, and sticky marshmallows? I, myself, could go for a s’more right now!

All you need for this yummy experiment is a marshmallow(s), microwave safe plate, microwave, and an appetite.

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I had my son pick out his marshmallow and place it on the plate. Together we moved the plate with marshmallow to the microwave. I punched in 30 seconds and he hit the start button. About 15 seconds into the cook time, we saw our marshmallow expand and grow! He was in awe and learning about how “air heats up, and the pressure it exerts increases and the pockets grow bigger!”

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This wasn’t just a 30 seconds experiment for us, we did it over and over and over again. If you’re looking for a way to let your kids have fun and learn at the same time, DK Publishing’s Maker Lab is the book for you. I know we will be cracking this book open again very soon!

Get your copy of Makers Lab here >> https://www.dk.com/us/9781465451354-maker-lab/ << and let me know what experiments you try with your kids in the comments below.

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