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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Graham Cracker Cookie Balls

I love cooking/creating things in the kitchen with my little guy.  And with this added time at home (give me all the snacks), I thought it was the perfect time to whip up a fun, kid friendly (and adult friendly) snack that little hands can help you prepare! 

These Graham Cracker Cookie Balls are a spin off of an old Brunch N'Cupcakes recipe, linked here.  PB, Rolled Oats, Graham Crackers and Mini Chocolate Chips come together to make an easy grab and go snack, or sweet after dinner treat!  Little hands can help crush graham crackers, dump and stir the recipe together.  Older kiddos can help roll the dough into balls if they like.  

Graham Cracker Cookie Balls
Makes 12-15 Cookie Balls  

1 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Cup Peanut Butter (I used Jiff Natural, you could also use Sun Butter if have a PB allergy) 
5 Graham Crackers 
1/3 Cup Honey (can add 1/2 cup if you would like a little sweeter) 
1/2 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips 

1-Place graham crackers in a zip lock bag, and crush until you have graham cracker crumbs.  If you have a kiddo cooking with you let them crush the bag with their hands or roll a rolling pin over the bag to crush the graham crackers. 
2- Combine peanut butter, crushed graham crackers, oats and honey in a large mixing bowl (little hands can help with this step too if cooking with a kiddo).  Mix together until well combined.
3- Stir in mini chocolate chips.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and begin shaping "dough" into one inch balls.  Continue rolling dough into one inch balls until no dough remains.  Place in fridge for about an hour to allow balls to firm.  Store in an air tight container for about a week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Spring Craft Idea for Littles

I am always thankful for Springs arrival (goodbye Winter)!  But this year with everything going on I am extra grateful for beautiful weather so we can get outside for a bit and escape the house, while still social distancing ourselves of course. 

With the weather warming up, and Easter right around the corner I thought I would share a fun little Spring craft idea with you all.  It's a perfect activity to keep little's occupied, and doesn't require a ton of craft supplies!  You likely already have everything you need in your house!  Here is what you need...

- Paint 
- Construction Paper 
- Pom Poms - Optional 
- Googly Eyes - Optional
- Small cups or a plate for paint
- Empty Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Roll- Cut into small sections - you will use these to paint
- Felt Add Ons - Optional, we got the cute little bunny faces at Target in the dollar section, doesnt look like they are online! 

Here is what you do! 

1 - Trace a bunny shape out on construction paper, I free handed mine with a small round Tupperware bowl.  Or click here for one I created that you can print out and trace. 
2- Cut your bunny out and place on newspaper (it might get messy). 
3- Pour a small amount of paint in small cups or on a plate, we used 3 different colors. 
4- Dip the end of a toilet paper/paper towel roll into each of the paint colors and then use the toilet paper/paper towel roll to dab/paint your bunny however you like! 
5 - Let bunny dry and then decorate with googly eyes, pom poms or felt add ons (I found ours randomly in the Target $ Section).  We then mounted our bunny to another piece of construction paper and voila you're done!

Enjoy and Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Favorite Activities for Toddlers

Life seems a bit weird, uncertain and dare I say it a bit scary right now.  We are all adjusting to new routines and a new normal as we are called to socially distance ourselves from one another to help fight the spread of COVID-19.  It seems surreal, yet it isn't.   One thing I keep reminding myself during this time is that we are all going through this right now, we all have struggles while we adjust to the new changes in our lives and we are all doing the best we can in this situation! So give yourself some grace, say a prayer, feel the emotions your feeling and know you are not alone! 

So with all that being said I thought I would share a few of my favorite indoor activities/other ideas to help you pass the time and keep your little's engaged while we adjust to the changes around us!  At the end of the post I will share more links of blogs I follow for toddler/kiddo activities!  

Activity Ideas to Keep Little's Engaged:

Sensory Bins 
Sensory Bins are one of my all time favorite activities to do with my little guy thanks to The Busy Toddler.  Susie has tons of wonderful sensory ideas/activities on her blog that are great for keeping little minds engaged!  Basically a sensory bin is a large plastic box/bin filled with different materials or objects to help engages your little ones senses.  Example would be a large box of assorted beans with different types of measuring cups, or buckets that your little one could use to scoop up the beans in and dump them out etc.  I have several different sensory bins that I have created over the last few months all that have been inspired by Susie!  Below are a list of our favorites/the ones we currently have!

- Rainbow Rice Dino Dig - I dyed plain old white rice (following Susie's directions, linked here) and then placed it in a clear tupperware with plastic dinos, shovels and cups for my little guy to dig and play in!  He loved scooping up the dinos with the shovels and dumping the rice from cup to cup!

-Pom Pom Pool - I filled our outdoor water table with pom poms for our little guy to play with (dump, stir, etc.) inside once winter hit and it was to cold to play in water outside. I then added in buckets, shovels, and  small spoons for him to dump, stir and scoop up the pom poms!

-Bean and Noodle Construction Site - I filled a large plastic container with various dried beans and noodles and then added in my little guys favorite construction trucks and a few small cups to create his very own construction site.

-Water Play- Simply fill a plastic container with soapy water and some assorted cups (measuring cups, ladles, spoons) and let your kiddo enjoy dumping, splashing and mixing the water!  I ordered these a few weeks ago from Target for our water play, and they are a huge hit!  Another fun water activity we have done is a toy washing station via The Busy Toddler, linked here!

**For more fun sensory activities check out The Busy Toddler Site, linked here!

Whip up some homemade playdough (I love this recipe from Fun Learning for Kids) and let your kids creativity go to work building and molding the dough.  I place the dough (wrapped in wax paper) in an air tight container with an assortment of small toys/cookie cutters/tools that my little guy can play with in the dough!  The cookie cutters are always a huge hit!  Switch out the cookie cutters each day to keep the box interesting and different, or try letter magnets!  Older kiddos can spell words out in the flattened playdough!  Or have your kiddo roll dough snakes to practice cutting with a plastic kid knife (dull).

Build a Road/Paper Tunnels
I got the idea for this from The Mama Notes, see her post here! Instead of taping the tunnels to my floor I decided to tape them to an old cardboard box and make roads.  we later decorated the cardboard with a parking lot for our cars and an airport for our airplanes.  This activity has been a major hit with my little dude.  It will hold his attention for 20-30 minutes but is also an activity that he will come back to over and over again!

FaceTime Loved Ones
This time of social distancing can feel isolating.  Thankfully for us we live in a day in age where technology is readily available!  Schedule time in your day to FaceTiming loved ones (grandparents, Aunts/Uncles, Cousins, Friends, Siblings).  Not only will this be a nice break in your day but it will be uplifting and help keep you connected with those you love during this time of social distancing.

Send Happy Mail- 
Brighten a loved ones day and stay connected during this time by sending "Happy Mail."  Have your little one paint/color/create cards to send out to Grandparents/Aunts/Cousins etc.  Set out paints, crayons, markers, sticks and paper and let your little's get creative.  It will be a fun craft for your kiddos and also brighten someone else's day when they receive their "Happy Mail."

A few other ideas, bake your favorite muffin/treat together if you have time, if you are working from home take a 15 min break and have a dance party to get some of the crazies out, take a short walk as a family for some fresh air, and just remember to embrace this time together.  Yes, it is hard, and can be scary but remember you are not alone in this alone.  

Great resource for Kiddo Activities - 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Green Monster Muffins

 Anyone else sometimes struggle with getting their kids to eat veggies?  As my little guy has gotten older (and learned the word "No") I have found that getting him to eat his veggies can sometimes be an uphill battle (and he isn't a terribly picky eater)!

So I have started to look for creative, and sometimes sneaky ways to get him to eat more veggies ( I know I am not the only mom to do this)!  And with St Patrick's Day right around the corner, I decided to give our favorite muffin a little (green) facelift! 

These muffins are super easy to make, and I love the green color that the spinach gives them (side note, you can't taste the spinach at all) reminds me of Spring! Added bonus, my little dude loves them so it is a win win.   

Green Monster Muffins 
Makes 12 Large or 24 Mini Muffins 

1 Cup Whole Flour 
1 Cup Oatmeal 
1/2 - 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar (use less if you don't want your muffins as sweet)
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder 
1 Beaten Egg 
3/4 Cup Milk 
1/3 Cup Cooking Oil (I typically use Canola Oil, but use whatever cooking oil you like!)
1 Handful Baby Spinach
1- Combine dry ingredients into one bowl and mix together. 
2- In a high speed blender combine wet ingredients and blend until well combined, and spinach is finely blended. 
3- Add wet ingredients to your dry ingredients, mix until combined. 
4- Line 12 muffin cups (or 24 mini muffin cups) with liners or spray with cooking spray.  Fill each muffin tin with batter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (if you like)
5- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Mom Guilt

Mom guilt... a "feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness, or uncertainty experienced by mother's when they worry they are failing or falling short of expectations in some way (source)."

Any mom's out there feel like this? I know I do, and maybe more frequently then I care to admit.   It is something I never fully expected to experience and at times can seem crippling.  I find that I experience it in in several different ways... it is the small voice in my head saying I am not doing enough for my kiddo, or teaching him enough.  It comes in the form of tears when I feel as if I was to hard on my little one for not listening, or being naughty.  It comes as part of the comparison trap, where I constantly compare myself and my little dude to others and feel as if I am falling short of some invisible expectation or standard.

I'm telling you all this because if you are feeling this way, I want you to know you aren't alone and because I want to share with you a few tricks that have helped me battle my mom guilt.   So here they are, my little tips and tricks for battling the sometimes never ending Mom Guilt!
  1. When the small voice in my head tells me I am not good enough or that I am not doing enough I remind myself that I am the best mother for my little guy.  I tell myself that I know my kid better then anyone and this helps ease the chatter in my head.  I remind myself that I am human, and I am not going to have everything figured out all the time.  That I am going to make mistakes, and that’s ok.  You know the best part, your son or daughter still loves you regardless, even when you mess up!   
  2. When the tears start to flow because I feel like I have been to harsh on my little guy, I make sure to let him know that I still love him and that his actions (not listening, being naughty) don’t make me stop loving him. I make sure to talk to him about why he got in trouble and then follow it up with a hug and a kiss and a few extra snuggles.  Disciplining a toddler or any kiddo is hard especially on us mommy’s but just make sure your kiddo understands their punishment, what actions got them to said punishment and that this doesn’t change how much you love them. 
  3. Finally the comparison trap!   When I feel like I am constantly comparing myself to other mom’s out there and start to feel as though  I am falling short I try to shut those thoughts down quickly.  I remind myself again that I am the best mom for my child and that I am doing the best I can!  And then I take a little break from social media (or try not to look at it as much).  Most of the time when I start comparing myself to others it is because I have been on social media to much.  I find taking little breaks from Social Media helps keep my thoughts in check and helps me not to compare myself to others mommy's out there!
I hope these little tips helped and remember you aren’t alone!  Being a mom is tough work, and we are all doing the best we can!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Road Trips with a Toddler

A long distance road trip with a toddler is no joke!  And now that Derek and I have a few longer trips under our belts (9.5 hour and 12 hours) I thought I would pull a post together to share my tips and tricks for making the trip as smooth and as fun as possible!

Keep in mind I am not expert, these are the things that worked for us!  So let's get started!

Toys/Books - I bring A LOT of toys/books on trips with us.   Not only are toys and books great for a car ride, but they are great for the end destination too (think play time in the hotel, bedtime stories etc.)  I typically fill Theo's little school backpack with an assortment of his favorite smaller toys and a few of his favorite books (think balls, small toy animals, toys with buttons/zippers, cars , flashcards and interactive/activity books).  Being that I sit in back with him on most longer trips I simply pull one toy out at a time, let him play with it and when he gets bored move onto the next!  A favorite activity on our last long car ride was putting his small toy animals through the holes in Derek's helmet.  Once all the animals were pushed through the helmet, we would free them and start the game all over (pictured below).  Get creative and use other non-toy things in the car to help pass the time!

Snacks - Car friendly snacks are a must!  I love having an assortment of yummy and healthy snacks that pack/travel easy and help fight off hunger.  I throw car snacks into there own bag and put it in the back seat next to my toy back pack (mentioned above) so snacks are easy to grab and hand out when hunger strikes!  Here are a few of my fav/go to portable snacks!  Applesauce/Vegetable Pouches (we love the GoGo Squeeze Brand and Costco Brand), Teddy Grahams, Goldfish Crackers, PB + Graham Cracker Sandwiches, Bananas, and fresh berries washed and stored in small tupperware containers (but warning, this can get a bit messy if your little one smooshes them or drops them in the car).  I also make sure to pack a water bottle/sippy cup for Theo, you gotta stay hydrated!

Stops - Lets face it we all get antsy on long car rides!  Stops for us were/are key when taking long road trips!  We usually will make a lunch/dinner stop depending on the time of day we start our road trip, this is nice because it is typically a bit longer of a stop and everyone can get a good meal in them (you don't want anyone getting hangry)!  Along with stopping for Lunch/Dinner we will also make the occasional bathroom/gas station stop or park stop!  We have found that even though stops will make the trip a tad longer, they help with our sanity in the end!  Everyone does better on a long car ride when they can get out, stretch and run around!

Naptime - Take advantage of nap time and use it to your benefit!  Theo only takes an afternoon nap these days, but we still have learned to use that afternoon nap to our advantage!   Below are two ways that we have utilized nap time to our advantage -

1 - If you are going on a longer road trip and you are going to be breaking the drive up over a few days start the first leg of your trip later in the afternoon.  For example when we drove out to MI we drove half on Friday evening and the other half Saturday morning.  Here is how our Friday evening half looked... We picked Theo up from school around 1 PM (close to his typical nap time) and let him nap in the car (roughly a 2-3 hour nap).  When he woke up we played for a bit with our bag of toys, had a snack and made a pit stop to stretch our legs.  Then we drove a bit more, stopped for dinner, changed him into PJS and drove to our hotel for the evening.   Since we drove the second half of our MI trip in the AM, we left after breakfast and just made more stops to stretch etc to keep everyone happy.

2- If you are not planning on driving the trip over multiple days, I recommend leaving in the AM after breakfast and then keep your little entertained with toys/snacks etc.  Make sure to make plenty of stops to keep people happy!   Stop for a longer lunch and then get back in the car for nap time!  

And my last and final tip... don't hate!

Ipad/Movies -  Sometimes on a long road trip you just need to sit back and relax and that is where the Ipad/Movies come into play.  We use the Ipad/Movies as a last resort when snacks/toys/books/and stops just aren't cutting it.   We typically have 1-2 movies downloaded to the Ipad that Theo can pick from and then we usually let him watch 1 movie during the road trip to our destination and then another movie home.  Again, we use this as a last resort when we all just need to relax!

I hope you found this post helpful!  Again, I am not an expert these are just the things that have helped us when traveling with our little by car! 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

One Pot Pasta

I feel like every mom, or dare I say every adult has those 1-2 go to recipes.  The recipes they reach for when they need to get dinner on the table quick (under 30 Mins), and the recipes they know always turn out just right!

For me this  One-Pot pasta is one of those recipes!  On any given night I can whip up a batch of this spaghetti like pasta, and Theodore (and Derek too) will happily eat it up.  The last time I made this recipe Theodore gobbled up 3 helpings (seriously made my night)!  Another bonus of this recipe (besides being delicious) is it creates minimal dishes!  All the ingredients get thrown into one pot.  It is amazing!  

The original recipe comes from Cooking Light, linked here.  Most times I add in additional veggies! Just toss them into the post while the pasta is cooking and voila, no extra dishes!  A few of our fav veggie additions are broccoli, broccoli slaw (cooks up like noodles), peas and carrots!    I seriously will do anything to get more veggies in front of my kiddo!  I have also added cooked chicken sausage to the pasta prior to serving for additional flavor and a good protein kick!