Easy Summer Activity for Preschoolers and Toddlers: Painting with Water

Summer Activity for Preschoolers:  Painting with WaterI'm always looking for a great summer activity for preschoolers to keep the kids happy and engaged.  Kids love to get wet, especially in the 100+ degree summer heat.  When we lived with my parents for a few months in 2011, my mom suggested that the Captain paint with water.  He was 2 then and it just started a love of painting with water.  We pulled out the foam brushes for Baby Brother the other day and while the Captain and D are a bit more hyper with their painting, it's still pretty fun and provides a great summer day activity…and it's simple and cheap!

Materials Needed:

  • one or more paintbrushes, in all types and sizes!
  • cup or bowl of water

This is a great activitiy because water dries quickly and doesn't leave a mess.  This would be a fun thing to do alongside a parent who is using real paint, as long as the child knows they are to only use the water or their "special paint" to paint with!  (That could be bad if they dipped their paintbrush in the paint instead of water!)  Give your child(ren) a task of painting the door, porch, patio, toy playhouse, whatever!  This is so much fun, yet so simple.  The toddlers and preschoolers really enjoy this activity.

 

Summer Activity for Preschoolers:  Painting with Water

What summer activity do your toddlers and preschoolers enjoy?  Make sure to check out our DIY Splash Pad for added summer fun!

Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby’s Routine with Chemical Free Baby Wipes

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for WaterWipes. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  The opinions in this chemical free baby wipes post are all mine.Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby's Routine with Water Wipes

There was no time in my life that I was more careful about what I put into my body than when I was pregnant with the boys.  I cut down on caffeine, I avoided hot tubs, sought out the safest prenatal vitamin, switched to the purest body products, only took medicine when it was absolutely necessary, and suffered through allergy season without using a decongestant, all to keep my precious unborn babes safe as possible.  It was my responsibility to keep their living environment as pure as possible so they could grow and develop.  After the Captain was born, I began to see that the baby products that I had seen so often were not the best choices for his delicate skin.  This led me to examine other areas and see what changes I could make to his daily routine.  Part of my search was trying to combat his bad eczema, but it was also cutting out unnecessary chemicals.

One area that I really struggled with was baby wipes.  These amazing, pre-packaged, pre-moistened pieces of soft cloth that wipe bottoms, faces, spills in the car, leaky bottles, and so much more.  Baby wipes are SO handy!  In my quest to eliminate unnecessary chemicals, however, I was faced with two choices in the baby wipes area:  continue to use these handy wipes, despite the mass amount of chemicals in them, or make my own wipes.  I tried making my own with baby washcloths and different homemade solutions, but those aren't exactly easy to throw in the diaper bag and keep track of.  Then there was the issue of them getting moldy and the fact that you have to prepare them so often.  Alas, I gave up my quest for the perfect, chemical free baby wipe.

Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby's Routine

A few months ago, however, my dream came true.  The last step in eliminating the chemicals in my kids' life was complete!  WaterWipes is a premier European brand of baby wipes that is chemical free and only contains TWO ingredients, 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract.  WaterWipes are both durable and effective and provide a safer alternative for Baby.  WaterWipes do not contain preservatives and the sterile environment within the package is maintained by not interfolding the wipes like other brands do.  It is best if the wipes are not moved to a different container.  Also, while the package of wipes will keep for 15 months, it is recommended to use opened packs within one month.

Reduce The Chemicals In Your Baby's Routine

Learn more about these fabulous WaterWipes and take advantage of the 2 for $6 deal at Babies "R" Us!

 

WaterWipes Babies "R" Us

Summer Essentials for a Happy Baby

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Little Remedies. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  #LittleRemedies  Summer Essentials for a Happy Babysummer essentials

Summer is such a fun time, full of new experiences, vacations, and tasty treats.  We have had a lot of fun this summer, visiting the grandparents, checking out the Perot Museum in Dallas, going swimming, and we even made a trip to the water park.  Planning for day trips with the boys is getting easier as they get older, but there is still a lot to take.  I remember trying to go anywhere with a baby under one was sometimes so taxing because of all of the things we had to take along to make sure they were happy and made our trip pleasant.  Bottles, formula or breast milk, toys, pacifiers, diapers, swim clothes, extra clothes, towels, baby snacks, and more were sure to be missed if we forgot them.  One thing stayed in my diaper bag at all times, though, and it was Little Remedies® gas relief drops.  With new foods being eaten and the older two boys having dairy senstivities, the gas relief drops came in handy multiple times.  I was SO thankful that we had it when we needed it, to make their little tummies feel better and not filled with painful gas.

When D was about as old as he was in the picture above, I introduced him to yogurt for the first time.  Within the hour, he was screaming in pain.  Tears were streaming down his face and I didn't know what might be wrong with our usually happy baby.  I quickly remembered introducing him to the yogurt and grabbed some Little Remedies gas relief drops, read the dosage, and gave him what he needed.  While it was not instantaneous like I would have hoped, within a few minutes he was calm and I was relieved that he felt better.

We also have used Gripe Water when the babies were smaller when they had hiccups and when the Captain had colic (and was fussy!) and have had good results with that, too.  If you're looking to avoid those painful gas pains, here are some great tips from registered dietician Bridget Swinney:

Summer Essentials

I was always hesitant to give my kids medicine when they were itty bitty, but I'm thankful that Little Remedies believes that "less is more."  They make their products effective and with the fewest natural ingredients possible so we, as parents, can trust that they're not getting anything that they don't need and they will feel better quickly.  Little Remedies products do not contain any artificial colors, artificial flavors, or alcohol and are created with the specific needs of children in mind.  

Little Remedies

What are you sure to pack to make sure Baby stays happy during the summer?

Five Simple Ways To Make Starting Preschool Easier

This starting preschool post has been brought to you by Bright Start Kids.  All opinions are 100% my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Starting PreschoolThis year, D is 4 1/2 and really wants to go to pre-k like his older brother did two years ago.  He is going through a very clingy phase, however, and he is unsure about leaving his family for a few hours every day to attend pre-k.

1.  Read books about getting ready for preschool.  

The Night Before Preschool, The Kissing Hand, and Daniel Goes To School are just a few great books to read in the weeks before school starts to prepare your child for the things they will do and the emotions they will feel.

2. Practice opening and closing….everything!

In the months before school starts, work on things like shoe tying, zipping zippers, unbuckling tricky buckles (like on backpacks and lunchboxes,) any sandwich or snack containers, and more.  While preschoolers do not have to have these tasks mastered, it will help them feel less scared and more confident when they go to school and Mommy and Daddy are not available to help.

3.  Meet the teacher and classmates if possible.

Take advantage of back-to-school events and meet the teacher night.  It really helps children to get to know some of the people they will be spending the year with while Mommy or Daddy are around, to ensure that you trust them and so they will not be "strangers" on the first day!  

4. Let your child pick out a special t-shirt or shoes.

While a whole new wardrobe might not be necessary, a few new shirts or a new pair of shoes will get your child excited about back-to-school.  Letting him or her pick out a new shirt in their favorite color or with their favorite cartoon character makes the day more special.  You will want to wash and let your child wear the clothes for at least a half of an hour so they can tell you if something is uncomfortable.  Shoes might need to be broken in prior to the first day of school.

5. Personalize everything!

The best idea is to make your child feel special and have ownership over his or her things by using labels to personalize.  There will be no question of "is this mine?" when his or her name is on the backpack, lunchbox, nap mat, and any other school supplies that are not going to be used by all of the class.  (Check with the teacher before you label everything so the labels aren't wasted.) 

Bright Star Kids has lots of great labels and personalized products for back-to-school.  This company has a wide array of labels in all colors, shapes, sizes, and fonts for the name.  They have multiple, customizable label packages so you're sure to find the perfect fit for your child's needs. Just to name a few of the great labels you can customize:

  • shoe labels – round or foot shaped
  • pencil labels
  • clothing tag labels
  • iron-on labels
  • large stick-on labels
  • small stick-on labels
  • clear labels
  • round labels
  • subject labels
  • labels for allergies
  • learn to type labels
  • much, much more!

Bright Start KidsWe ordered the Preschool & Daycare Labels Kit, which is currently on sale for $29.95, down from $62.  You get 170 high quality labels for your child in this package.  Here are the adorable labels we ordered.  (The name has been marked out for privacy, but you can see how high quality and beautiful these labels are!)

preschool labels

How do you prepare your kids for the first day of school?

 

Raising Boys: Accidents Happen!

Accidents happen with all children and most times, there is nothing anyone could have done to prevent the accident from happening.  Covering your child in bubble wrap, knee and elbow pads, a helmet, and steel toed boots might help, but of course that's ridiculous!  Being the mom of three boys, accidents are an every day occurrence.  Most of the time it's just a fall or lately, Baby Brother throwing something and nailing someone in the head.  I don't know why he thinks this is so hilarious, but he's a toddler, and it happens.  Skinned knees, bruises, and scratches also happen more frequently than I would like with the boys, but that's part of being a kid.  What I absolutely hate to see, though, is blood.  It breaks my heart to see my any of my boys crying and scared at the sight of blood.  Thankfully I know how to be calm, but it is scary to me and to them!  

When the Captain was two, Baby D was born.  And when Baby D was about 4 days old, he was climbing a structure at the playground and fell and bit through his lip.  There was blood everywhere, it was super scary!  He wasn't crying, really, but he was scared.  We had never had an accident that bad before, and I made the decision to head to the ER.  His lip was cut open and it was just gross.  He was a big boy through it all, and luckily it only took a little medical glue at the ER to fix him up, but it was rough for this mommy!  He looked like he had a piece of chicken hanging out of his lip for about a week.  There's still a scar, but it's hiding under his lip.  It's a good story to tell, at least.  Now most of his injuries are sports injuries, but thankfully the cut lip has been his worst injury.

accident accidentD seems to be more accident prone of the three boys, for now at least.  He had quite a few tumbles when he was learning to walk and a new toddler.  He's had a few busted lips and seems to be the one who gets hurt more often.  Just yesterday, the Captain somehow pinched his arm between his hand and the card at Costco and you would have thought he was being beat by the way he was screaming.  I know it hurt, but the kid is very dramatic about his injuries, which for sure does not make it any easier for me and Daddy!  We feel for him and hate that he gets hurt so often.

Like I said earlier, Baby Brother is usually the cause of the tears around here.  He loves to throw, hit, and chase the older two boys!  It can be comical, but we always try hard not to laugh as not to encourage him.  Hopefully this phase will be over soon!  His biggest injuries are skinned knees and blood from scratching mosquito bites.  Baby Brother has proven to be pretty tough, and hopefully he will stay safe and avoid the injuries.

As the boys grow older and especially as they get into more serious sports, I know the accidents will happen.  It's important for us to stress safety at all times, but also to be prepared for those accidents.  Alfac accident insurance is perfect for sports loving and accident prone kids.  Injuries covered with accident insurance that may not be covered by regular health insurance include:  broken teeth, concussions, ER visits, lacerations, intensive care confinement, and more.  When your child (or you) has a covered accident, you'll receive cash benefits to help cover costs that insurance won't cover.

Accidents happen….are you prepared?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

What NOT To Say To A Childless Couple Who Is Trying To Get Pregnant

ttc2
When we were childless and trying to get pregnant the first time, we didn't tell anyone for a long time.  When a few months passed and it wasn't as easy as it seemed, we began confiding in others and luckily, received lots of love and support.  I had been tracking my cycles and it was clear to me that my ovaries just weren't doing their job.  It's hard to get pregnant when you're not ovulating, of course!  A few people and even a doctor said some pretty odd things to us, but I realize they were just trying to make us feel better and lighten up the mood a little bit.  Trying to conceive should be fun and light hearted and it is prime opportunity for sex jokes to be socially acceptable….or some people think!  

If someone confides in you that they are trying to conceive, be supportive and don't offer any advice unless they truly ask for it.  My advice would be to NOT utter any of these phrases to them, because they're not helpful nor necessarily even true.

"Just have sex every day and it will happen."

"Quit trying and it will happen."  (Which, if taken literally, really won't work!)

"Have sex on Day 13 and 14 and you will get pregnant."

"Just get drunk and it will happen."

"Be happy with what you have and then it will happen."

"Do you need some tips on how to do it the right way?"  This phrase is usally said by men and followed by a wink towards the male in the relationship.  Just no.

Trying to conceive is a special time in a couple's life where they are trying for something that will change their lives in the most magical way.  Astroglide TTC Trying to Conceive™ understands that, and wants to make the process as easy as possible.  Sometimes there are issues that need to be medically addressed, but oftentimes, a couple isn't getting pregnant just because of timing or their lubricant simply isn't optimized for the little swimmers.  Astroglide TTC™ is a specially formulated for couples who are trying to conceive.  It supports fertility with adjusted pH levels.  

ttc

When trying to conceive, it is very important to create an environment where sperm has a chance of survival, so they have the best chance to get to the prize – the egg. Environmental conditions are affected by pH levels, osmolality, and the consistency of egg white cervical mucus. While traditional lubricants may affect these conditions and inhibit sperm motility, studies have shown that Astroglide TTC is compatible with sperm, oocytes and embryos and allows sperm to move freely.  In essence, it creates the perfect environment to conceive a baby!

Astroglide TTC has a retail price of $12.99 which is the best value compared to other competitors.  One box contains 8 prefilled, mess free applicators.  They fit perfectly in overnight bags and can be taken anywhere for when the time is right!

Astroglide TTC

What's the craziest thing someone told you when you were trying to conceive a baby?

 

Astroglide TTCâ„¢ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine

Raise A Hand For Teachers

This Raise A Hand  For Teachers post has been brought to you by ThredUp.  All opinions are mine.

Raise A Hand For Teachers with ThredUp

Teachers' jobs are getting increasingly harder by the day.  Things have changed so much since I was in school, but even since I was a kindergarten teacher seven years ago.  We all know that teachers work diligently to prepare for, educate, and care for kids of all ages, but teachers also have a daunting task to encourage, love, build character, and protect.  Teachers have more and more things to worry about while trying to get their job done, all with a small paycheck and trying to take care of their own families. 

I have known of teachers that have bought their students school supplies and had to purchase their own classroom supplies.  They need specific things to enrich their classroom that their school doesn't have the funds for, so they purchase it.  It's a labor of love.  He or she sees that a student doesn't have the right school supplies and the parents don't have enough money to buy them, so out of his or her own pocket, the school supplies are bought, all while salvaging the pride of the student and family.  Quietly, lovingly, teachers take care of their students and make their classroom an environment that is ready for learning, so all of the students can succeed.  

Beyond the basics, however, there are many teachers who are buying food for their hungry students and clothes for their students who need them.  According to AdoptAClassroom.com, teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money each year to make their classroom ready for learning.  70% of teachers have purchased apparel like jackets, socks, and shoes for their students that were in need.

Fashion resale site thredUP.com has partnered with AdoptAClassroom.org to recognize and thank teachers for their hard work and the positive impact they make each day on our children’s lives.  thredUP.com has popular kids brands including GapKids, Janie and Jack, Lilly Pulitzer, Mini Boden, Zara Kids, and many more.  We have used thredUP.com in the past and have always been pleased with the exceptional quality. It's the best of the best, at affordable resale prices, up to 90% off of retail.  thredUP is a one-stop shop, with all of the top brands in one place at thredUP.com/Back-To-School or on the mobile app.  It's so convenient and stress-free!

Raise A Hand for Teachers Program:

  • Nomination period is July 15 – August 23

  • Three teachers each win $2,500 for classroom supplies and $500 to thredUP. 50 runner-up winners receive $100 to thredUP.

  • Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 8 (following Labor Day weekend)

  • Visit Raise A Hand For Teachers to nominate your favorite teacher!

 

I'm nominating a teacher I know who brings home very little cash, because she spends so much on her students. Who will you nominate?

Raise A Hand For Teachers with ThredUp

Three Layer Very Berry Dream Cream – A New Summer Favorite!

*contains affiliate links*

Very Berry Dream Cream

We have had some success in growing strawberries in the past, but blackberries are our big backyard berry producer.  (Figures, since I've heard that blackberries grow wild and are even a nuisance to some people.)  We have found that if we pick them right when they turn from red to black and keep them in a bowl on the cabinet for a few days, they're oh so sweet and rarely sour.  Eat them too early, they're super sour and even bitter and if you leave them too long on the bush, the birds will attack them.  Last month we had a lot of blackberries, so I came up with this fun recipe, using our three favorite berries – blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries.  The boys named this dessert "Very Berry Dream Cream" and we all love it.  The whole process takes a couple of days because each layer has to set, so I recommend making a big batch to make it worth it.  This recipe makes anywhere from 10-15 servings, depending on the size of your jars or containers.  Also, you could make a big dish instead of individual serving sizes.  Whatever you choose to do, I know you will enjoy this delicious recipe!

Ingredients for bottom layer:

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1 TBSP gelatin
  • 2 TBSP sugar

Ingredients for middle layer:

  • 1 TBSP gelatin
  • 4 TBSP cold water
  • 16 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Ingredients for top layer:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1/2 TBSP gelatin
  • 2 TBSP sugar

Supplies Needed:

  • 10-15 small 8 oz. Mason jars, bowls, or other individual serving container
  • blender or food processor
  • sauce pan and spatula for cooking

Directions for First Layer:

  1. Wash and dry all of your Mason jars and set aside.
  2. Also, make room in your fridge for the jars.  (This will save you frustration later!)
  3. Rinse the blackberries and blueberries with fresh water, then place in a blender, along with the gelatin and sugar.
  4. Puree' the berries, gelatin, and sugar for a few minutes, until smooth with no lumps.
  5. Optional:  pour mixture through a strainer to remove blackberry seeds that didn't puree'.  I didn't do this and it wasn't a big deal, but it might be if you have texture issues.  Another option would be puree' the berries, remove the seeds, then add in the gelatin and sugar.
  6. Pour mixture into a pot on the stove on medium-high heat and remove once it starts boiling.
  7. Carefully pour a layer of the mixture into the bottom of each of your mason jars.
  8. Refrigerate for 8 hours or better, overnight.

Directions for Middle Layer:

  1. When the first layer is completely firm, begin the second layer.  (If you pour the second layer too soon, you'll have your layers mixed up and while still delicious, it's not as pretty.)
  2. Mix 1 TBSP gelatin into 4 TBSP cold water.  Leave for 5-10 minutes and let it swell.
  3. Pour 16 oz heavy whipping cream, 12 oz cold milk, and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium sauce pan, stir, and simmer over medium-high heat. (Don't let it boil.)
  4. After sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and add in 2 tsp vanilla and stir.
  5. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then add in gelatin that has swelled.
  6. Stir until gelatin has dissolved completely.
  7. Carefully pour on top of the blueberry/blackberry layer in each jar.
  8. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or better yet, overnight.

Directions for Top Layer:

  1. Rinse the strawberries and trim the green tops off and discard.
  2. Place strawberries, 1/2 TBSP gelatin, and 2 TBSP sugar into blender or food processor and puree' completely for a few minutes.
  3. Pour mixture through a strainer to remove seeds, if desired.
  4. Place mixture in a medium sauce pan and simmer over medium-high heat just until boiling.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Pour mixture over the middle layer and refrigerate for a few hours.  It's not as essential that this layer set completely, so eat whenever it's cool!

 Very Berry Dream Cream

I know this seems like a ton of work, but really it's more about planning.  Each step doesn't take longer than 15-20 minutes, it's just the waiting for each layer to set.  Hubby and the boys LOVED this dessert and it's relatively healthy.  Grass fed gelatin has great health benefits and the berries provide antioxidants.  So, eat up and enjoy!

Cool Down With A DIY Iced Tea Glass FULL of Half Iced Tea & Half Lemonade

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MeAndMyTea #CollectiveBias

DIY Iced Tea Glass

Being from Texas, iced tea has always been one of my favorite drinks.  I drink at least one glass of iced tea daily, sweetened with honey.  Tea is always my go to beverage of choice at family gatherings, potlucks, and parties.  I broke up with soda a few years ago and have not looked back, because tea is just, so so good and has many health benefits, too.  Iced tea always seems to quench my thirst like soda never could.  It's the perfect drink to enjoy by the pool or park with my family.

I wanted to jazz up my iced tea with a fun, summery design, so I made a DIY iced tea glass with an oil based paint marker.  I think it turned out pretty cute, and I'm on the very low end of being artistically gifted.  Imagine what you could do!!  I also repurposed a pickle jar as an iced tea "pitcher" to match.  My tea of choice was Bigelow Half Iced Tea & Half Lemonade!

DIY Iced Tea Glass

Supplies Needed:

  • drinking glass of any kind or repurposed glass jars
  • oil based paint marker(s)
  • contact paper – optional, but helpful!
  • oven
  • your favorite flavor of Bigelow iced tea

Directions:

1.  Decide on your design.  You can cut something out of contact paper to ensure precision, or you can freehand it, it's up to you!  If using contact paper, peel off backing and press to stick on the glass.

DIY Iced Tea Glass

2.  Clean the side of your glass/jar that you will be using with rubbing alcohol or vinegar and let dry completely.  (Don't touch the cleaned areas or oil will transfer from your hands to the glass.)

3.  Use the oil based paint markers to create your design on the glass.  (You can use rubbing alcohol to clean off and start over.)

4.  When satisfied with your design, peel off contact paper and let your design dry for about 20 minutes.

DIY Iced Tea Glass

5.  Place glass items into a COLD oven and turn on to 350°.

6.  Open a window because there will be fumes and let the design "cook" on the glass for about 40 minutes.

7.  Turn off oven off and let glass cool completely before removing.

8.  Hand wash for best results, but wash them in the dishwasher if you like to live dangerously.  

I realized after the cooking process that I should have used more paint on my jar.  Oh well, I'll know next time!

DIY Iced Tea Glass

The boys were impressed with Mommy's super crafting powers, but they were much more impressed with the delicious Bigelow Half Iced Tea & Half Lemonade.  They are all tea lovers like their mommy, and lemonade lovers like their daddy, so this was such a special treat for them.  And that's the great thing about Bigelow tea is that I feel good about serving it to my little ones because it's healthy and 100% American made by an American family.  They have so many different flavors, too.  I bought my Bigelow tea at Walmart, in the beverage aisle.DIY Iced Tea Glass

Bigelow Tea is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year!  Bigelow began in a New York City townhouse, where Ruth Campbell Bigelow developed the iconic "Constant Comment"® tea, (which is delicious, by the way!)  Bigelow Tea now has a worldwide market offering more than 130 varieties of flavored, green, organic, herbal, decaffeinated and iced teas.  There's definitely something for everyone.  They also use a special foil pouch to ensure freshness and protect the tea from the air, moisture, and surrounding aromas.  

Are you an iced tea drinker?  I'd love to hear about your favorite way to drink iced tea in the comments below!

Summer Sports and Dental Injuries

This dental injuries post was brought to you by Jefferson Dental Clinics.  All opinions are mine.

Summer Sports and Dental Injuries

We are taking a break from team sports this summer, but our kids are playing some sort of sport every day!  This helpful infographic from Jefferson Dental Clinics is very eye opening as to what dangers lie ahead for many kids' mouths and teeth this summer.  Sports injuries are common and we try to prepare for them, but how many parents plan for the best care of our children's teeth?  I am always scared that the boys are going to knock a tooth out, and yes, it would be traumatic if that happened, but there's also jaw dislocation, root fracture, or crown displacement.  Proper fitting of mouthguards and helmets is essential for the safety of your child's teeth!  Check with your child's dentist before they start practicing for any sport to make sure that their teeth are going to be protected during the season.