Crafts for Preschoolers - Part One: Halloween [Easy for Moms!]

The Holidays always spark my creative side -- and yes, by "the holidays" we start with Halloween in this house! So, for the next few months, our walls, refrigerator, and doorways are haunted, kissed by holly, sparkling, even fragrant with the best the season has to offer.

Inspiration


In my planning and assessing my "craft supply room" for the necessities, I often feel compelled to research crafts that you do not need to be Martha Stewart to accomplish with kids. I adore Pinterest, but I often times feel like it consumes my day and lately I also feel like Martha Stewart is curating all the kids craft boards! I don't want to decorate a seven layer cake for my child's Pre-K Halloween party, I just want to make a few goodie bags. You get my point.

So, I have scoured REAL books! Yes! Books! Remember those? And magazines! And a little bit of Googling and even some Pinterest and what I've found I'm sharing with you here. The multi-part posting will include some of the seasonal holidays that come each autumn. Stay tuned for a Thanksgiving installment after this!

Supplies

I try to go for "regular" supplies that I already have en masse, or that are easily acquired around the home: Kleenex, glue, egg cartons, tempura paint, pipecleaners, etc. (These, at least, are normal around MY house!)

My son is three-and-a-half-years-old. So that is the age that is targeted, but I'd say depending on the child, these can be generalized as toddler - pre-K or even Kindergarten-aged children. Bonus points if you play applicable seasonal music while you craft with the kiddos! We LOVE Pandora for finding our crafting mood music!

The Projects

Egg Carton Ghosties 

Supplies: glue, Kleenes, white tempura paint, scissors, egg carton, marker, pipe cleaner or ribbon



Egg Carton Bats

Supplies: black tempura paint, scissors, egg carton, googly eyes, glue, ribbon or pipe cleaner



Print Owls

Supplies: Glue sticks, construction paper, cardstock [for better canvas], paint, little hands!



Haunted Trees

Supplies: Glue sticks, construction paper, cardstock [for better canvas], paint, little hands AND feet!

Picture is coming...

Skeleton Hands

Supplies: Glue, cardstock, white tempura paint, little hands, and Q-tips or similar white ear swabs



Glitter is optional for all of these!!

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on Star Kids [review]

We've all been there -- messy back seat, cleaning the car seat every other day, and wishing that you had the willpower to outlaw eating in the backseat (but not able to put down the muffin in the front!) Well, Star Kids have made the ingenious Snack & Play Travel Tray and with the exception of a few quirks, we're loving it!

I have a dark confession but it totally makes me appreciate the tray, so I have to share... We were at the drive-thru for McDonalds -- yes, I said it! I'm weak! That darn Monopoly gets me every year! Plus it is the only restaurant on the side of town where we were that my child will even consider that has a drive thru. So, there we were. 


He also demands ketsup with his fries. I don't blame him I guess! If I didn't have such a ketsup/vinegar aversion with this pregnancy, I'd probably want some too! Well, McDs' doesn't make any kind of dipping vessel -- at least not in our area -- so how is the kid supposed to get the condiment? The driver is no help. I offered to let him suck the ketsup out of the packet, but that wasn't his idea of gourmet dining. 



So, I unfolded a wrapper and put the ketsup on it. I placed the waxpaper wrapper on the tray and amazingly, it worked! Mind you it was fully dark. I was immediately thankful for the handy invention! It also bought me some time during carbound errands like going to the bank and the library book drop while he played more easily with his toys. 

There is a buckle that secures the tray to your child's seat. Handy pockets on the sides hang over the car seat and are accessible by the child, so they are quite nice compared to the incessant "Mom! Will you get my toy...I dropped it!" 

The single downfall to the tray we've found is that because it is packable, the tray folds down the middle. This is great for storing, but a flat, sturdy surface is desirable at times. Otherwise, it rocks. I consider this a road trip essential now!

One lucky reader will win a Snack & Play Travel Tray of their choice in my Travelin' with Baby prize package! Good Luck!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for this event and article. All opinions are my own.

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on My Little Seat [review]

We tried our laps. We tried the large, bulky plastic high chair that was like having an ungulate in the kitchen with you for months on end. We were lucky that we breastfed exclusively for an extended time -- that way this was a limited time problem! Now that we'll have another little mouth to feed we knew we had to change our infrastructure for the task.

When my son became a toddler we had the good fortune of having my grandfather, a fantastic woodworker, gift to him a handmade restaurant-style high chair. This has been amazing -- but not so great for smaller kids and there's the issue of sharing. [Probably not going to go well.]

So we looked and searched and Googled and asked around. What we came up with was an extremely versatile, packable, easy-to-clean option: My Little Seat.

  

Almost any seat that isn't a real high-backed chair can accommodate this handy high-chair. Fit it to many different sizes of kiddos. It's really one of the best we've found for our lifestyle - on the go and messy! Stuff it into the little sack and you have a feeding station that is about the size of a cloth diaper! Perfect!

One lucky reader will win a My Little Seat of their choice in my Travelin' with Baby prize package! Good Luck!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for this event and article. All opinions are my own.

Flippin' for Fall Series: The REALLY Personal Touch with Cariloha! [review]



While it's not MY job to tell you what should be included in your bedroom or nighttime routine, I do feel compelled to let you know what goes on between MY sheets these days....

Such. Amazing. Sleep. Wow.

I thought I was going to have to make a continuation of my series that was "Flippin' in Flakes" or something...I felt like we'd never be sleeping in our own, new bed in our own new house. Let alone sleeping so well! We're there now... It all started...

...While we were strolling down the street in Juneau, Alaska this summer and my son was on a "scavenger hunt for treasures" -- one of the ways we found FREE fun in cruise towns. All those coupons for trinkets that get you in to stores make fantastic treasures for kids and a great afternoon of family fun wandering around town! Well, during one of our stops, the task was to "feel the difference" between your run-of-the-mill cotton sheets, nicer Egyptian cotton sheets, and Bamboo sheets. WOW.

The moment that my fingertips grazed the bamboo sheets I knew I needed one day to roll around and dream sweet dreams on this textile. It was cool to the touch, soft as the best "lovies" and cuddle blankets, but also light and I wanted to experience more! Where were we? We were exiting the Cariloha store in the downtown area of Franklin Street.

Caribbean style + Hawaiian aloha = pure bliss!


So naturally, a few months later while planning my Flippin' for Fall Series, I wanted to find a few unique embellishments, if you will, that can take a ho-hum room to the next level and make it a special, cozy, amazing space in your home. I don't have a budget like the HGTV shows, so I had to be creative and write realistically, since most of us do not have that kind of monetary freedom! That meant cozy as it might be, I wouldn't be including a jacuzzi tub in the master bedroom plans.

This goal could however be accomplished with some pieces that were plush, luxe accessories but were also functional items that one would use and could afford to implement into a room design. Those perfect few items included bamboo sheets, a luxurious towel set, and even a little extra bonus for mom and all her hard work: cozy socks!

I washed the sheets that had a bit of a vinegar-esque smell from in the new package and they were incredibly quick drying. They do wrinkle easily, as the photos show -- but for me being really pregnant wrestling with king-size anything could do just as much damage as a dryer! So, pardon a few wrinkles, I ironed the set once, very carefully with a slightly damp towel barrier -- you do have to treat these nicely, low heat, wash on cold or cool, etc. But they come out feeling wonderful and are easy to care for. I love that they are cool to the touch, since I'm always warm. I am constantly flipping my pillow to take advantage of the "cool side." Even in the dead of winter. So the combination of bamboo sheets and a down comforter make the ultimate pairing!

The sheets are smooth and soft, silky against your legs and arms. I was hesitant to use them on our "family bed" -- but with pull ups and the mattress protector, I guess there is only so much we can do! We're taking the chance since these linens are too good to pass up! The colors are zen, calming. We chose Sage, but there is also a light blue and a neutral color. They are a tad slippery -- which I love! I was able to get a nice, snug fit on the mattress and they are true to size.

Cariloha is a one-stop shop for all things soft, sustainable and stunning for home, bath, and even your own body! We have a king-size bed now that acts as our family bed for now, though the kids room does have bunk beds that are occasionally used, and we have a full-size bed in our guest/dad room. Yes, my husband gets the boot sometimes (usually self-imposed) so that he can get more sleep before work! But, any of these rooms can act as a guest room in the event of company. When it's my parents, we love to offer them the master, since it's a bigger space and has an adjoining bathroom.

We can now feel like we are treating our guests to an experience akin to a Hilton or Sandals (at least with the offering of our linens and bathroom textiles!) That is where the resort experience usually ends, with the appearance of crazy tots and park playdates...but...for a few glimmering moments, they might be expecting that instead of a drooling kiddo coming through the door, it could be housekeeping or a spa attendant!




Now, this is how I enjoy my mornings -- a cup of coffee, my cozy socks, and my feet up enjoying our new, fabulous view!


Treat yourself or get some Bamboo (naturally odor resisting and hypoallergenic) action for the guest rooms! Either way, those that get to use them will be sleeping like babies! (And in our case, it's the babies that get to use them too!)

Bamboo is a very sustainable fiber (it's like a tree but is a grass and can grow many FEET each day!) and though you cannot tell 100% from the photos -- it's so stinkin' soft! I really thought about just taking a "selfie" of me dazed and staring off in complete bliss -- but that seemed crazy. So use your imagination! It's the softest bedroom set I've ever encountered. I wanted to "poach" the towel set for my very own, and hide it. But I was feeling generous, so we do use that set for our honorable guests!

I wasn't kidding about the "cool" factor either -- apparently it's approximately three degrees cooler than cotton! And moisture wicking! So, for many, many reasons, bamboo is a great choice for families! Eco-friendly, and oh-so fancy! We are going to have a hard time washing our sheets and sleeping on flannel, cotton, or anything but bamboo while this set is cleaned!

Have you incorporated bamboo into your life? Maybe in the form of cloth diapers for your kids? Well, bridge the gap and treat yourself too! Cariloha is my new favorite place to spoil myself and those I love! 

*Disclosure: I was provided complimentary product from Cariloha for this post. I was not compensated in any other way and all of my opinions of the rockin' nature of these items are honest!*

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on Phil & Teds Nest [review]

Our son was not a pack 'n' play napper. At Granny's house mom always had to surrender at least an hour to laying in bed during naps and then barracading the child with pillows and noodles under sheets and all sorts of other crazy ways to try to keep him safe while napping. High maintenance? Yes!


So, for this kiddo, I've been researching options for safe alternatives to killing my afternoon, pack 'n' play sleep (which I'm anticipating will not work again) and the gigantic crib. Phil & Ted's -- trusted name for everything from sleeping and eating to strolling and playing solutions for kids had the answer for me! The Nest!

The fact that I was able to erect this thing in less than 15 seconds without even glancing at the directions AND feel comfortable with my end result (enough to put a child in it) speaks volumes for the product! The website says you can do it in ten, so I must be a little slow. I didn't sit on the floor trying to beat my personal best time--we'll save that for one of those days when I'm losing it. Even if it takes under a minute -- that's amazing, speedy, and totally convenient!

The "poles" are pre-attached on one end and the loose end simply sticks into a corresponding hole. That's it. It's easier than the "easy up" tents for adult campers -- those often need a good dose of humor to succeed. And I generally pinch my fingers. Those are for the birds. The Nest however is the best idea ever and suits me just fine!


It was "cool" enough that my nearly four year old son wanted to sleep in it -- though he wasn't allowed to try, since he is too big!

Another great feature is the carrying case is double sided and can be a dual purpose bag. It has one side meant for The Nest (and it actually fits back into the case without a fight) and the other side leaves room for lovies, blankets, clothing...whatever you might want to stow for the little one while traveling!


The Nest would fit into SOME luggage without taking up the whole case. I'm not sure if this is carry-on acceptable, since sometimes baby gear is not subject to the same conditions that regular baggage is. The Nest is meant for SMALL children--babies. The mattress and bottom are firm so you need not worry about it being too soft and cushy. They also sell sheets that are removable and washable if that's something you decide you need. The mesh top makes it breathable and in areas like where we live -- keeps insects out! (We will be using ours a ton outside!)

ONE reader will get the chance to test out The Nest for themselves! I'm giving one away (sponsored by Phil & Teds) as part of my Travelin' with Baby package! Enter by going to the main link or clicking here. Many thanks to Phil & Ted's!!!

Disclosure: We received a complimentary Nest for this post and event. 

Travelin' with Baby - Spotlight on Boba [review]

First off, I have to thank my friend Liz for letting me borrow her baby to dig out my Boba 3g and give it a go while 30 weeks pregnant! Surprisingly, it was still really secure and comfortable for me to carry a small baby even with the not-so-small bump. What made it so cozy? Well, likely the fact that I was taking my new Boba Hoodie for a test-drive (walk) too!


One of the things we love to do this time of year -- a strange but favorite fall pass-times is to walk through our tree farm. The reason we walk through is to exercise, look for upland birds, and of course to scope out any candidates for that perfect Christmas tree!

It seemed like a great opportunity (since my bundle will not be here until December) to use the Boba hoodie during a chilly fall afternoon! When the baby does arrive though, I'm more than excited to do my grocery shopping hands free -- and without worry of the chills from the freezer aisle and produce area! (The grocery store was my favorite place to wear my son who is still within the weight limits but just too darn big and wiggly for me to carry -- not to mention that he walks just fine if he puts his mind to it!)



Boba makes hoodies and vests now to provide that extra bit of comfort for you and your little one. I dug around but couldn't locate a photo (and I'd have been ashamed to post it anyway) for a picture of my husband wearing our son in a dreaded crotch dangler! That isn't the point of my search though, all that was real visible were two little pj feet sticking out from a bursting, buttoned overshirt. We have been in the market for something like this hoodie for years!

*Please note - this is JUST an overshirt for a carrier that we already own. If you do not own a Boba or another similar carrier you will not have a proper support system for carrying your baby/child!*

What we love:

- The front of the hoodie has a "viewing hole" for baby to still see around
- The fit, weight and coverage of the hoodie is excellent -- I went a tad on the "big side" planning to accommodate carrying a toddler again
- Thumbholes! We love them! Enough said! 
- hidden zipper for access/self-loading without needing assistance!
- front and back use
- the presence of the hood -- baby is snug, you should be too!

What could rock more:

- For right now they come in gray and black. I do not know if Boba has plans to expand the Vest/Hoodie color/pattern stash. 

- Men's sizes. My XL fits me well pregnant and would fit my husband in a pinch but not comfortably. I'd love to see a men's line that has some more roomy styles for men that wear proudly!

- The fabric strip in between the wearers' neck and the baby's head can get a little constrictive if you do not have it adjusted well. With a tug and pull here and there it becomes comfortable again. I'm a freak about tight necklines, so I am also likely more sensitive to the slightest thing!

One lucky travelin' reader can win a Boba VEST to go over their carrier (color/size up to you) by entering to win over at the Travelin' with Baby post! The VEST is courtesy of Boba and I send a great big thank you to them for sponsoring the fun event!

Disclosure: We received a complimentary Boba Hoodie for the purposes of this review and event. All opinions are our own. 

Curious George Comes to Life for our Monkey!

I planned on bombarding this post with photos. I even thought about doing a Wordless Wednesday (something I haven't done in months and am abysmal at, since I love words...) but...

As I unzipped my camera case, the emcee was just uttering "Please absolutely no flash photography OR photography of any kind due to copyright laws and the actors safety." So, my hopes dashed I will have to convey to you using only words how seeing George portrayed as a human in a suit was received by my Curious George on PBS Kids-lovin' son of mine!


For me, playing Curious George bingo was the highlight of the show. I just cannot have a 3D monkey taking the place of the 2D primate that stole my heart at a young age. But, knowing that this was a performance and not a movie, I did know this going in... 

The only gripe with the venue? They had 300 children and three games of bingo with six prizes. I value the 'good sport' mentality and not everyone wins, but there were some seriously sad children that didn't understand... Anyway...that's neither here nor there.

The show. It was an hour long and quite a good storyline. I do not recall reading a book in my childhood about George mailing himself to Rome, but it was cute. The props were simple. The actors were really great! Chef Pisghetti and Netty, his wife had voice doppelgangers. If that's a thing. There was a lot of movement and a lot of song. 

A deviation from the show we love to watch in the morning, the Doorman (played by a woman who did a remarkable job with the part AND was spot-on with the accent) actually travels out of the city! He is intrigued by travel and there was no Hundley

Kids were roaring, adults could appreciate the details and the finer points of the story. It was a great night out to enjoy a bit of kiddie-culture as a family. 

Photo graciously sent by PBS Kids for use here

We'd been leading up to this night with George-themed fun all week. We purchased "BooFest" knowing that it would air in just a few weeks, but not able to contain our excitement we had to have it. I've not heard my son cackle that loudly and wildly in a long time -- he found No Noggin the most comical character ever! 

Photo graciously sent over by PBS Kids for use here


So, when the Scholastic Book Order came around the preschool, I figured "Why not?" So I purchased the book version, expecting him to be bored with it. No -- full laughter again. It was delightful!

So, as we sat painting egg carton crafts for Halloween tonight, we also played BooFest for the second time this week as a treat. We'll be tuning in on PBS Kids soon, I'm sure too! Have you seen it? It's a great little festive film and we recommend it to any Curious George fans out there! Check out your local PBS station for local showings coming up! And...

Hold on to your hats!!!

 

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