Monday, June 29, 2015

No Sew Super Hero Cape Inspired by The Woods

Make a kid's super hero cape in 5 minutes without sewing! Perfect for pretend play or a cheap, easy, DIY Halloween costume.

This month's Poppins Book Nook theme is Forests & Woods, and we chose The Woods by Paul Hoppe as our selection. My boys absolutely LOVE this book and can recite it from memory. They wanted to act out the story in our own "woods" (really our backyard) so I needed to whip up 2 capes in a hurry. I figured out the perfect way to do it without sewing - and it only took 5 minutes each!

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The Woods is a charming story of a boy who is all tucked in for bed when he discovers that his stuffed bunny is missing. He can't find it anywhere, so it's time to go looking in the woods. He dons his blanket cape and trusty sword and heads off. He encounters everything from a big bear to a furry monster, but learns that each is not as they seem and the woods are not so scary after all. 

My boys really enjoy this story so we thought we'd go to the backyard for some pretend play. But first we needed capes! I am not very good at sewing, unless it's a button or a quick fix, so I thought up a quick no sew solution. This DIY super hero cape is perfect for play or a fast easy Halloween costume!

To make the No Sew Super Hero Cape you need:

Turn your pillowcase inside out. Snip off each of the corners, making enough of a slit to fit your ribbon.

Cut a piece of ribbon long enough to fit through your pillowcase and tie loosely around your child's neck. Mine was 56" long. Lay the ribbon against the pillowcase so that it is centered, and put a piece of fabric tape along the ribbon that is equal to the width of the pillowcase.

Peel off the other side of the tape and press the ribbon firmly onto the pillowcase, as flush to the top as you can. Thread the ends of the ribbon through the slits at each corner.

Flip the pillowcase back to right side out and you're done! Tie the ribbon loosely around your child's neck and he (or she) will be ready to go into the woods.

This was such an easy project but it looked and worked great! There are so many possibilities to decorate your cape if you're using it for a specific costume - fabric paint or printable iron on paper would give you tons of freedom to design something special for your very own super hero.
Be sure to visit all the wonderful Poppins Book Nook Co-hosts too!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Calming Glow in the Dark Ocean Bottle

A glow in the dark ocean in a bottle! This summer themed discovery bottle glows in the dark, perfect to help kids calm down at night.

Summer is finally here and I can't wait to head to the beach! Since I love all things ocean related this time of year, I'm super excited to share an awesome book with my boys that is all about the mysteries that lie underneath the ocean surface. And we made a super cool glow in the dark ocean bottle to go with it!

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Secrets of the Seashore is part of the Shine A Light Book collection that we just love. Each page teaches about the wonderful things found inside the ocean... but also has a hidden surprise!

When you shine a flashlight under the page, you'll uncover a picture of what lies underneath. Secrets of the Seashore is one of our favorites, and my boys love to use their flashlights to find the hidden pictures.  To go with the theme of light and the ocean, I decided to make them an ocean discovery bottle that glows in the dark! And it could not have been easier.

To make your glow in the dark ocean bottle, you will need:

Remove the label from your bottle (Goo Gone is great for this). Place your shells inside. I filled mine about 1/4 of the way with shells - you want them to have room to move around. 

Fill the bottle about 3/4 full with water. Close the cap tightly.  If you think your kids may try to open it, consider using super glue to seal it shut.

That's it! First, I gave it to my boys to check out in the light.

They loved holding and turning it over and over to watch the shells float around in the water. We also tried to find all the different types of shells and count how many we could find of each color and shape.

Then for the real surprise - we turned out the lights and it glowed! They were just mesmerized.

This is a wonderful calm down activity for bedtime. It also makes a fun, no electricity needed nightlight! Just store the bottle in a well lighted area during the day (I keep ours on a windowsill) to charge the shells.

If you love Secrets of the Seashore as much as we do, be sure to check out all the Shine A Light Books - including the brand new title On the Construction Site!

Want more awesome glow in the dark bottles? Check these out!

Glow Sticks Sensory Bottle | Teaching Mama


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Easy & Cheap Backyard Summer Fun from the Frugal Family

Easy, inexpensive ways to keep the kids entertained in the backyard! Super summer fun with bubbles, ice, and more!

We practically live in our backyard all summer long. I love finding new activities to keep the boys entertained out there, and the great thing about summer is that there's so much to choose from that is inexpensive and fun! Our Frugal Family features this week are all about having fun outside without breaking the bank.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Positive Discipline: The First Three Years - How It's Helped Our Family

How Positive Discipline: The First Three Years has helped me to become more patient and connected with my twin toddlers.

How the book "Positive Discipline the First Three Years" has helped me as a mom and helped our family to thrive!

Parenting is hard. I have twins who are almost three, and these three years have been wonderful but also incredibly challenging at times. It is amazing to me how quickly time has passed and how much my boys have grown. As a parent, I am determined to raise my children to be confident, capable adults in the most positive and loving way that I can. Positive Discipline is helping me to do just that.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Awesome Animal Books for Kids Plus a $25 Amazon Giveaway

We love animals here, as our family happily includes two dogs and a cat. My boys are into anything animal related, especially books. I peeked inside our All Things Kids Books guide to find some lists of animal books recommended by our favorite bloggers.  And, we've got a new animal book on our must read list and a $25 Amazon gift card to giveaway too!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Backyard Camping Ideas for Your Family

Have an adventure in your own backyard with these fun camping ideas!
(c) Can Stock Photo

Let me start with this - I'm not a camping kind of girl. I love being outdoors and I really love roasting s'mores on the fire, but at the end of the day, I like to be in the vicinity of my indoor plumbing and central air.  Camping in the backyard is totally my kind of thing, and this summer we are going to try it with my boys. I found some inspirations for our camp out and I'm excited to share them with you! Camping at home is a super low cost way to have a memorable summer adventure.

Backyard Camping Ideas:

Backyard Camping and Reading Under the Stars - Teach Mama

Let's Go Camping! 50 Ideas to Make it Easier and Fun - A Mom with a Lesson Plan

Backyard Campout - Delicate Construction

Backyard Camp & Tie Dye Fun - Makeovers & Motherhood

Family Camping in Your Own Backyard - Edventures with Kids

5 Backyard Camping Must Haves - East Coast Mommy

DIY Backyard Fort - Mosswood Connections

Campfire Cake in 90 Seconds - I Really Love Chocolate

DIY Viking Backyard Play Tent - Adventure in a Box

Summer Camp Out Printables & Activities - Real Life at Home

5 Tips You Must Know When Camping with Kids - Mom on the Move

Colorful Campout: Food Edition - Syncopated Mama

From our All Things Kids Books Collection:

10 Camping Books for Kids - Edventures with Kids

Check out what's new:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Must Read Books for Summer

Looking for the perfect book to enjoy by the pool this summer? Check out these fabulous picks!

I love a good summer read. Whether it's a thriller, a comedy, or a tear jerker, the best summer books are the ones you can get lost in. My perfect summer day would be sitting poolside with a frosty cocktail and a pile of books. Now that I have toddlers, I don't get those days very often, but I can still appreciate a good book (and a good drink!). If you're looking for a perfect novel to enjoy by the beach or in the backyard, I've got some great recommendations. 


Friday, June 12, 2015

One Thing I Learned from Having Twins that All Moms Need to Know

I have twins. They are my first, last, and only children. Being a brand new mom is daunting for anyone, and having to figure out motherhood with two babies was a challenge to say the least. But I love my boys and our life and I would not change the way that I was introduced to motherhood in any way. Learning how to be a mom to 2 kids right from the start has taught me a lot, but there's one lesson my twins have taught me that is invaluable.

The world (and the internet) is full of parenting advice. Some of it is crazy, but a lot of it is good. I read books and articles before my boys were born and even more as we started navigating those early hard days and weeks. I struggled with everything most new moms do - breastfeeding, getting baby (babies!) to sleep, you name it. And I found a lot of advice about all of it, but here's the one thing nobody told me...

There's no right way to do it. The best advice only works half the time. And mom, it's not your fault.

This started to dawn on me when it came to feeding my newborns. I was adamant that I would breast feed, but we had struggles. I did everything I could but after weeks of work, one of my twins would not latch. The other nursed like a champ. Despite the fact that I did all the same things, followed all the same advice, they just responded differently. They are different people and that's OK. It took a lot to let go of the mom guilt, and the "what am I doing wrong?" feeling.  Finally I figured out that I needed to do what worked for each of them as individuals and once I did, and let go of the guilt, we were all much happier.

If I thought feeding was hard, it was nothing compared to what we've been through (and still go through) with sleep. I beat myself up so much over my babies' sleep until it truly hit me that the best advice doesn't always work. And it's not my fault.

I did everything the books and articles say to do - swaddled, put to sleep drowsy, dream feeds... all of it. One of my twins started sleeping through the night at about 9 weeks. The other didn't sleep through the night until he was 18 MONTHS old. I did the same routine for each of them, followed all of the same advice, and it worked for one and not the other. I can't even tell you how many nights I sobbed thinking my baby would never sleep... and what was I doing wrong?? Nothing. He was just being who he was, and I was doing the best that I could.

My twins have taught me that every child needs something different, and what is "best" for one will not work for the other.

This is the only piece of parenting advice that I think works 100% of the time. Getting to know your child and finding the solutions that work for both of you is the only way to get it right.

When you're struggling as a mom, and all moms do, definitely do your research. Read as much as you can and try what feels right to you. Ask your friends or your own mom for advice. But no matter what, don't let yourself get wrapped up with guilt or feeling like you're doing something wrong when what worked for someone else is not working for you. Be patient, trust your instincts, and you will figure out what works for your family. And never ever forget...

You're doing a great job.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

DIY Father's Day Ideas from the Frugal Family

Welcome to this week's Frugal Family! This week we're looking ahead to Father's Day, which will be here before you know it! I love giving handmade & keepsake gifts for most occasions, and this week we have some great ideas that are low cost and easy to do.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Handprint Baseball Father's Day Gift with Free Printable Poem

Make a handprint baseball for Father's Day or a baby keepsake!

We are a big baseball family. This summer, my husband has been having so much fun teaching our boys to throw and catch (they are finally starting to get the idea!). Watching them play gave me an idea for a Father's Day present that would help him to never forget these special days.

This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for details.

A sweet twist on a handprint Father's Day gift for baseball loving dads. Preserve your baby or toddler's handprint on a baseball for Dad. With free printable poem!

Handprint Baseball Keepsake Craft

This craft is really easy to make, so it's a perfect choice if you need a last minute gift.

All you need is:

To make the handprint, cover your child's hand in the ink.

Then very gently place their palm on the ball. Wrap their fingers around carefully, or if they are old enough, have them grip the ball. Mine are almost 3 and they were able to do it themselves! You do need to be careful to get a clear print, so you may want to practice a couple of times before doing your actual ball.

All done! Be sure to allow plenty of time for the ink to dry completely so that it doesn't smudge.

We included this poem to go along with ours - just click the button below to download it for free!


Giving this as a Christmas gift? CLICK HERE for an updated version of the poem just for Christmas!

Love this idea? Find more DIY baseball gifts here for all occasions!


Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Organize a Playroom in 5 Easy Steps

How to organize a playroom with maximum storage in 5 easy steps.

The playroom is my favorite room in our house. Formerly the sunroom off our kitchen, it is a happy place filled with natural light that my boys can call their own. It's not a large space though, and it seems like their toys multiply overnight! I've found that keeping it organized is key to making it comfortable and to give them space to explore and play.  Here's how to organize a playroom to maximize storage and help us enjoy our space.

Tame the toy clutter and design an organized, inviting playroom with these easy toy storage tips!

This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for details.

How to Organize a Playroom 

1. Everything has a home.

This is my #1 rule for our playroom (and every room in our house!).  We have a place for all of our toys so that nothing is left out at the end of the day. The key to our success in the playroom is our toy storage system - it takes up almost an entire wall and is the centerpiece of our room.

The shelves are two Trofast systems from IKEA, placed together (and secured to the wall for safety!). You can customize the color and size of the bins that fit inside - we have 2 small, 8 medium, and 2 large. My mom made the cushion and pillow for the center to create our reading bench (the monster pillow is from Target). I absolutely LOVE this system and it is not that expensive, especially if you don't have to pay IKEA shipping (you can also check it out on Amazon).

Each bin holds tons of little toys that would drive me crazy if they were out in plain sight (though they are usually all over the floor by the end of the day). Having a place for each type of toy makes clean up go really quickly, and helps my boys to know where to put things when they help clean up too.

2. Keep like things together.

Part of having a home for everything is keeping similar things in the same place. It doesn't do any good to just toss the toys into random bins at the end of the day, because when your kids are ready to play they will have to tear everything apart to find what they are looking for. I love these cubes from Thirty One because they can be personalized so we know what's inside, and they have lids to keep everything contained and clean. This one holds all our play food and dishes so if the boys want to play in their kitchen they can grab the box and go. Then clean up is a breeze because we can just toss everything back inside.

I also love this mega sorter bin from The Land of Nod. It is HUGE and holds a lot. It's perfect for bulky and odd shaped items because the canvas sides are very forgiving. We keep all our musical instruments in here and recently added our DIY cardboard blocks.

3. Turn storage into seating.

I love anything that serves a dual purpose, like turning the middle of our IKEA system into a cozy reading bench. When I was looking for somewhere to store our stuffed animals, I found the perfect thing that helped contain our clutter and provided extra seating in our playroom.

This stuffed animal bag is so clever - when you fill it with your stuffed animals it becomes a soft seat! The top is mesh so that kids can see inside, and the zipper is large and easy to use so that my toddlers can open it themselves. 

4. Go vertical.

Our playroom is not big, so I like to maximize our floor space as much as I can. When organizing your playroom, look to your walls to see what you can hang to keep clutter off the floor.

I've given this area of our playroom a total makeover! See my new kids craft area here with lots of tips on how to organize kids art supplies.

I was able to create a really fun art corner by utilizing our wall space. Everything is low and easy for the boys to reach, while staying neat and out of the way when they are doing other things.

I keep coloring & sticker books in a hanging wall basket and in these great Oh Snap Pockets from Thirty One. Then above our table I have Oh Snap Bins to hold crayons and chalk (our tabletop is covered in chalkboard contact paper). This keeps everything in easy reach while also keeping it neat and organized in a small space.

5. Use the one in, one out rule. 

No matter how many bins or buckets you have, you won't escape the toy clutter and have an organized playroom if you keep adding new stuff. We use the "one in, one out" rule when it comes to new toys - for every new toy we bring in we have to give away an old one. My boys seem to outgrow toys every day so this is a pretty easy rule for us - we give toys to our younger friends, put them in our yard sale stash, or donate them. Twice a year, before their birthday and Christmas, I do an extra clean out and get rid of anything that they've outgrown, is missing pieces, or they don't enjoy any more.

I am also a big fan of rotating toys - moving things outside in summer or stashing things away in a closet when they've fallen out of favor. Then on a rainy day I can pull it out and it's like new again!

Organize Your Life: The Ultimate Guide for Moms

Now that your playroom is under control, the rest of your house in order with my ultimate guide to organizing for moms. Find tons of cleaning tips, organizing projects, printables, and more. See it all here!

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Tame the toy clutter and design an organized, inviting playroom with these easy toy storage tips!


Friday, June 5, 2015

Microsoft Surface 3 Giveaway (Ended)

Thanks for your interest but this giveaway has ended! 

Love technology? Check out our app reviews here!


What's Outside Your Window? The Day is Waiting Book Review & Craft

A review of The Day is Waiting by Don Freeman & a fun window craft for kids!

"What do you see when you look outside?" This is the opening line for the children's book The Day is Waiting by Don Freeman, words by Linda Zuckerman. These words begin an adventure of imagination in the pages of this lovely storybook and inspired us to do a fun window themed craft.

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The Day is Waiting has an interesting backstory. When Don Freeman, creator of the classic (and one of my all time favorites) Corduroy, passed away in 1978, he left behind a treasury of unpublished artwork. His wife and colleagues collected these illustrations and added text by Freeman’s friend Linda Zuckerman to create The Day is Waiting.

Knowing this background, I expected the book to be disjointed, as the drawings were never intended to be a complete story. This was not at all the case. The book invites children to imagine the world beyond their windows, and to dream of where they may go and who they may find. The illustrations are charming and rich, evoking far away places and silly animal friends. Linda Zuckerman’s text brings the pictures together, with a simple line on each page. The text has an easy rhythm and rhyme which make it fun to read aloud (and my kids want to read it over and over again).

My boys and I loved The Day is Waiting. I appreciated the book’s message that encourages exploring the world outside of your window, but knowing that home is always waiting for you. My boys loved the colorful illustrations, fun characters, and simple text. 

Since we enjoyed the book so much, I decided to expand on its theme with a fun "what's outside your window?" craft.

To make your own window, you will need:

  • Card stock or heavy paper in 3 colors - I used light blue for the sky, cream for the window panes, and yellow for the curtains.
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black Marker

To make the window, cut out 2 strips of card stock - one equal to the length of your paper and one equal to the width. Cut out 2 curtain shapes (Tip: draw a large capital R on the edge of your paper and cut out the outline to make the curtain shape).

Glue your 2 strips of card stock in a + shape in the middle of your background paper. Glue the curtain shapes to either side. Add in fold details on your curtains with the marker. Allow everything to dry.

All done! Now you can invite your children to imagine what is outside their window. You can ask older kids to draw what they see (or what they would like to see), or you can use stickers for very little kids.

My boys love stickers so I set out their windows with an assortment of their favorites and asked them what they see outside their windows.

They are very into monsters right now (thanks Monsters, Inc) so they went for the monster stickers first.

They loved telling me about all the silly monsters outside their windows.

And our finished product! We had so much fun with these and I loved that we were able to tie in our new book to a craft that really sparked some imaginative thinking. And stickers are great for fine motor practice too. We'll definitely do this project again!

 I received my copy of The Day is Waiting free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions and ideas in this post are my own.
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