Look Whoo’s Turning Two

This year’s party evolved because of some fabric I found on one of my crafting hunts.  I wanted to make a fun tutu kinda skirt as my little lady would wear a tutu every day of the week if I let her.  We had to narrow it down to Tutu Tuesdays a day when she wasn’t going to be playing in the mud or on the playground at school nor have to ask others to deal with all that tulle.  The fabric I found had owls and sweet girlie colors all over it.  I made it into a tutu for my birthday girl to wear.IMG_2212My good friend Julia at the blog A Little Bee Told Me came thru for me yet again with adorable invitations.

Time to set the tables.  A quick trips thru Michael’s craft stores for wooden owls and stickers were perfect to be sprinkled around the table.  I like to have a special area for the cake to be displayed before we get to dessert.  People love to take a quick peek at the design, as well as it gives me a place to make sure all items are out at ready like plates, candle, knife etc.  My sister was away for the party this year but she found and sent along a special owl plate that the birthday girl used.  IMG_2078IMG_2083Did a little set up of fun activities around the yard for the kids and adults to keep all entertained.  Made the sweet little owls out of paper lanterns and construction paper and a flag for the top of the swing set in the same fabric as the birthday girl’s tutu.  Let say it was a lesson in sewing triangles and took a few tries.  IMG_2080IMG_2079

Playing with Uncle Steve at the sand table is so much fun.  The sand table was also filled with purple glitter to match our theme.

Time for cake!  Thanks to Audra at Mad Hatter Bakery the cake and cupcakes looked adorable and oh so yummy.

Everyone left the party with giant bouncy ball (pictured above) and owl loot bag.   It made for tons of fun all party long in the yard, and it was a gift that would get used by a kid of any size.  IMG_2077

A wonderful time with wonderful weather.  Until next time, a year that will surly fly by.  Enjoy being 2 little lady.

 

To read blogs about my daughter’s other birthdays click below…

A Pink & Green 1st Birthday Party

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The Ultimate Day Camper’s Packing List

From a former camper, counselor, Camp Director and mom comes the real list you need when sending your kid to day camp this summer.

Before your kid leaves each morning, make sure the bag is packed and some things are taken care of to prepare them for an awesome day.
Read the Welcome Guide/ A-Z Guide or Welcome Email.  Nothing is more annoying than parents that show up 30 minutes after their bus leaves and say no one told them or parents who want to pay their site counselors the balance when they can’t accept payments outside the office.
Pre-camp lessons.  Some kids will make camp their first stop before heading to Kindergarten.  Your kid should be able to change them-self into and out of their bathing suit within 5 minutes.  They should know that once you take it off it goes strait into their backpack and not thrown around a locker room.  Have them practice packing their own bags and checking behind them as they leave a space to see if they got it all.  They should be able to eat lunch in about 20-30 minute window and master all juice boxes and cheese stick wrappers etc.
 A Good Night’s Sleep.  You know your kid so let them get hit the sack early and be on their A-game.
Breakfast Fuel them up and get them ready.   All of their highly physical activities will burn a tons more calories than being at school.
Sun Screen I highly recommend doing this while your kid is in the buff or just in their bathing suit.  Use lotion to get all those places that will be exposed throughout the day and are hard to reapply to.
Bug Spray After they are dressed and ready for the day cover them from head to toe.   Extra sprays around the ankles and socks keep those ticks, and mosquitoes away.
☐ Do your daughter’s hair.  They will be sweaty, wet and it helps the spread of dreaded lice.  I find with my daughter, braids are best, they stay in longer and if the elastic breaks they might stay in place.  I really have no desire to play beauty salon in the AM for your kid and discourage my staff from doing it either.

The following list is intended as a guide for families. Please note that camper equipment need not be new and remember to write your camper’s name or initials on ALL camp gear and clothing!  This list is geared towards traditional outdoor day camps.

walking staff with campers

Come on slap your kid’s name on it!  The lost and found pile at your kid’s camp will be so massive by the end of the week it is crazy what people will just walk away from.  At some camps the parents will never see the pile so if it’s labeled we’ll make sure it gets tossed in their bags.  It is so much easier if you just label it once maybe twice.  I’ve also found that if you have things embroidered for cheap, staff will think they are more special.  We might shake our head, thinking you’re that parent, but you’re more likely to get it back.  Looking for some good products for labels or easy DIY options click here for my Back to School post that has links for permanent adhesive labels for purchase, free printable downloads and disposal cheap DIY options.  Full name is better than initials and even luggage tags work just fine.

☐ A Backpack that your camper can handle, they will be carrying it all day long.  Nothing worse than a counselor who acting like a Sherpa instead of teaching your kids camp songs and getting them to archery on time.  Some camps provide a location for bags during activities so make sure it zips close and can be stuffed in a cubby or tossed in a pile without loosing it’s contents.
Water bottle(s) are an absolute must.  There are two schools of thought pack one water bottle that can be refilled all day long.  (confirm the type of camp i.e. a boating camp may not be able to refill when on-board) or the other to send an AM and PM bottle.  The AM bottle should be iced and filled with cold water.  The PM bottle can be frozen.
☐ No-refrigeration-needed snacks and lunch (in reusable container or disposable brown paper bag) with beverage (water or juice).  Check with your camp, as some provide lunch, and or snack programs.  Try freezing some foods that will defrost in time for lunch it helps keep the rest cold as the morning heats up.  i.e. juice boxes, fruit cups.  Always pack heavy lunches, kids are so hungry spending a day in the sun moving and running.  Consider packing an AM and PM snack.  Check to see if your kid is attending a peanut-free camp.
Shirt guaranteed it will be covered in dirt, paint, grass, and shaving cream (yes, always a possibility)
Shorts or long pants 
Socks
Underwear (to wear!)
Closed-toe shoes sneaker are the best.  Just like in school, only send tie if your kid can handle it.  Crocs, or Keen sandals are sometimes permitted at camp or on the water front. The big one is no flip flops, we mean it, no flip flops!  Nothing is sadder than having to tell a kid that they have to sit out of rec field or adventure course because they are wearing Crocs or old navy flip flops.

To pack in your backpack each day:
Sweater or sweatshirt.  Surprising the early am wait at a bus stop can be chilly.
Bathing suit & towel (needed each day).  Set aside 1-2 sets.  Buy 2 of the same, so staff gets use to kids in the same gear.  We do remember who has the orange pineapple towel, and will call your kid out when we pack up from the pool each day.  Also consider a rash guard shirt these are great coverage from the sun.
Baby Powder this helpful items when placed on wet and sandy feet will absorb the water allowing you brush off the sand and get dry sand-free feet back into socks and sneakers for the hike after fun at the beach.
☐ A wet bathing suit bag or zip-lock bag they make great new pouches that will keep the wet suit from getting everything else soaked.  If you don’t have the pouch a gallon zip-lock bag works just fine.
Clear Gallon Zip-lock Bag toss the baby powder, bug spray and sunscreen in it.  Chances are your kid will use their backpack as a seat in the dirt while waiting for the nature staff to explain the differences between moths and butterflies.  Save yourself the headache of internal explosions.
Rain gear (rain jacket or poncho.  Boots if they fit in the bag)  Having a kid at camp will force you to become a local weather watcher.  Some camps have rain sites and can do most stuff indoors some camps keep a regular rotation and just alter programs having campers still walk from place to place.  Ask your Camp Director or previous camp parents what the scoop is.
Sunscreen.  Send both lotion, spray and chap-sticks.  Campers will often share and hap haphazardly apply the spray.  Which will cause you to take out stock in your local drug store sunscreen isle.  Most camps do not encourage sharing for allergy reasons and will avoid having a counselor apply sun lotion to your child and instead encourage other campers to help each other.
☐ Non-aerosol insect repellent.  
 Hat or Visor consider tossing in sunglasses if your kid would wear them.
☐ Extra pair of underwear place these in a clear zip-lock bag that can live nicely on the bottom of the backpack.  (very helpful after the other camper unit sneaks up on your group with coolers full of water balloons.)
☐ Optional: Small amount of cash (approximately $5—$20) to purchase items in the camp store, aka Trading Post.  Check with your camp as they will probably only have a specific day of the week where they will get to visit the camp store/trading post so you don’t have to send it every day.  Plus if your kids tells you they need $20 every day they are either flat out lying or skipping the camp bus and heading to the arcade downtown.

colton-rv-camping-with-kids-01Additional Equipment for specialty camps
Life Jackets- Don’t forget to label them.
Field Trips– If your camp has a special camp t-shirt wear it!  It only makes your kids that much safer when in a large group.  If you’ve lost it put them in a similar color.  Gift Shop money.  Don’t bother, nothing is more annoying than a kid that has $4 and wants to get a $18 dolphin from the aquarium or the kid who has $25 and just spent the whole amount on sugar filled pixie sticks.  This isn’t the time nor place to have a lesson in personal finances.
Sporting Equipment i.e. cleats, pads, helmets etc.

Seriously people just don’t bring the following; crazy that we have to say it but you’d be surprised. The following items are prohibited at traditional day camp programs: iPods, cell phones, jewelry, electronic games, weapons, pets, illegal drugs, and alcoholic beverages. You’ve sent your kids to be engaged in something new, making new friends, learning a skill.  None of that is accomplished if they are scrolling the internet checking on their friends in another group or camp.  If you need them, you have the camp phone number and if they need you; we’ve collected it all during the mountain of paperwork you filled in, back in the spring at registration.

Once your kid gets home it’s time to…
☐ Empty and re-load the bag.  Check out the art project that just came home or the gods-eye they worked on all day, or the friendship bracelet they are making for someone.  Make sure you pay attention to the weekly calendar of events.  Is it a dress up theme day? Are you suppose to bring something special? Kids that participate in the theme weeks, dress up days or activities have by far more fun.  The counselors are more likely to naturally engage with your kid if they are sporting an awesome pirate map they made and rolled up with sticks.
☐ Get them cleaned up.  A tub/shower can do wonders as well as give your a chance for a tick check.
☐ Get them a good meal.  Remember camps now post on Facebook, website, Instagram or even email out some happenings of the day.  I always post some type of conversation starter for my camps.  Ask your kid at dinner specifics about camp, new favorite song, least favorite meal in the mess hall, most talented counselor.
☐ Than it is early to bed, to do it all again the next day.

My goal as a Camp Director is to send your kids home tired and dirty with a smile on their face.  If you’ve found something to be helpful or should be added to your camp’s specific list, email your Camp Director.  We spend all of December, January and February updating our packing list, and paperwork; and welcome honest feed back.

Make memories, make friends and have an awesome summer!

Chores for Children 

When is it too early for kids to have chores?  Now I’m no child expert but having worked in youth development for 20 years and having two kids of my own; that I haven’t killed yet I feel like I can add my own two cents.  It’s never too early to help around the house. They live there don’t they? And some day you want them to move out and have their own homes. Right?

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(keep reading for your free download link)

As soon as they show an interest is when they should begin.  Toddlers love to sort; why not let them sort plastic plates and sippy cups. When they want to help sweep the floor buy a manageable hand broom or cut the handle off an older one. I got a dust buster hand-held vacuum and my 18month old loves to do the floor after dinner

I’ve attached below the kid chore tags that we’re now using. They were easy to make and were pulled together in an evening of searching the computer.  My kids are not fully reading so I added the pictures and words to help with both sides of the learning.

Print the kids chore tags on card stock, laminate and glue a magnet to them.  I tried hot glue, and than gorilla glue, a heavy duty epoxy kept them stuck.

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We’re trying a few methods.

1. All the tags go up on the magnetic hall door and they move them from top to bottom once completed.  This method was fine but I had to remember to move them back at night as well as pull those that weren’t relevant for the day i.e. trash night.  It also was becoming overwhelming as to trying to complete all the tasks.

2. If they are on the fridge it happens every day but if they are on the freezer door they happen only once a week.  This method worked until the little sibling started pulling them down. I also thought about printing them on different colored paper depending on their frequency.  (Way to supermom for me right now)

3. I select from the bag the chores for the day.  The rest just stay in the zip lock for another day.  This seems to work the best.  It isn’t overwhelming having all the chores out and I can pick and choose the most important for the day.

Let me know what’s happening in your house and if it’s successful.  I’ll take a helping hand anyway I can get it.

Here’s your free download use and enjoy.  Kids Chore Tags

Kindergarten Tissues, Cheers & Tea

Hello Kindergarten and hello new friends.  Did you realize that as your little peanut gets ready to start the journey of education you’re about to begin the journey as “so in so’s mom/dad”. Not only will your little one be making friends that may last the next 13 years and maybe beyond but you are too.

My oldest started last year on this journey and I figured I needed some new people in my village and tribe.  Ones who can talk shop with me when it comes to school politics, policy, and scoop.  I kept my ears open in August kinda hoping that the school, PTG, or 1st grade parents might host something like this. But with no avail I set out to do it on my own.

It was pretty easy. Picked a local coffee shop that was between all the elementary schools, had parking and an area to sit. I wanted to include all the elementary schools as my town has more than one. It made sense because as our kids grow the schools merge; plus the more the merrier. I made a public Facebook event grabbed as many emails as I could from school correspondences and Pre-K friends and hit invite.

I decided hosting it at a local coffee shop was the easiest.  It would have been awkward for people to come to my house. What I really liked is that it was no stress for me. I didn’t have to buy supplies for coffee and food. I left purchase up to each person and they could keep whatever time table they wanted.

The event invitation was worded as so…”Do you have a child entering Kindergarten this fall at insert school names here? Doesn’t matter if it is your first, last, or one in-between. Join other parents in a quick sip before you head to work or start the day. Consider it a chance to meet others who will be walking the same path of school for the next 13 years.  Tissues will be provided but Tea & Coffee will be up to you. Tell your friends and share the invite.”  Set the invite for 10-15 min pass the school bell which allows those that put kids on the bus to get there first; those that drop off to get out of the parking lot, and those of us that followed the bus just to sneak a peak time to drive by.

I did call the coffee shop ahead of time to see if they could do something special for us and to let them know we were coming.  Honestly, I had no idea how many people would come. I also made special tissue boxes figuring it could be an ice breaker and let those arriving know where all the Kindergarten parents were. FREE download below.

It worked out great. We had a good group; some came and left on their way to work, some stayed for over an hour and had breakfast. Doing it at school would have been crazy as our schools don’t have tons of parking and teachers and parents are already a bit on edge taking care of our kids and teaching them the ropes.

So now as a first grade mom; I’ll keep my eyes pealed on the first day, for those taking a few extra pictures, giving a few extra hugs and extend a tissue and an invite to coffee.

Have a great school year!

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If you are interested in a FREE tissue box wrap download them here..  You only need to print 2 pages per box so pick your favorite color combos.  Print them on regular paper and trim the edges.  A little scotch tape and you’re done.  These tags are designed for the square boxes not individual packets nor rectangular boxes.

Looking for other back to school ideas and tips?  Try reading Back to School.  Which is all about how to be prepared in the AM and for the year.

Laundry, laundry everywhere.

It’s been a long time coming but I finally have pictures of my laundry room.  One of my initial post on my Facebook group highlighted a few special touches that I just can’t live without and how this small room to which I spend so much time in was so boring.

The plain white walls one window and no personality all began it’s journey in the middle of a snow storm.  There were never big plans to re-do this space as it was not high on the priority list but thanks to a good husband and a crazy color choice for paint we began.

In the middle of the snow storm with a best friend we witnessed the falling of 3 over head cabinets from the wall.  Comical to say the least.  Imagine 4 kids 2 guys out shoveling snow during a blizzard and me and a girlfriend holding up cabinets half connected to the wall.  Poor installation was ultimately the reason for their demise.  This than opened a conversation and a week of Pintrest dreaming of re-doing the space.  Now don’t confuse me with having a great budget and access to a total re-do, but rather create a better layout and some paint colors.

Some items that I already had and knew I wanted to keep included my lost sock board.  Which is available to purchase thru my Etsy store. This re-purposed board holds the single socks that are looking for their “solemates”.

Lost Sock Board

A cleaning how to list which I reference while trying to act like a detective and figure out what is it and how to remove stains from kids clothes.  This list is cut from magazines, online searches and my own mother’s suggestions.

And some sorting for bleach, hand washing and storage so I didn’t have to see bottles and supplies.  This room provides the most amount of light to our second floor so the door is almost always open.  I needed this space to look bright, tidy and function all the time.

So we began…  The joy of prep work and set up

I picked a crazy color, I know but the orange was such a contrast from the rest of our house which is coastal with blues, yellow, greens and whites.  This room could fill my need of vibrant color.  I was only doing an accent wall and it wasn’t the living room so my husband agreed.  Now for a mariner all he could say it that it was international orange. I think life raft or home depot orange is accurate for us lay people.  In any form it is bright, keeps the light reflecting into the hall bright and can show off my crazier side.  Behr Premium Plus – Flame 210B-7.

wall orange I wanted to add some baskets for sorting that were wall mounted.  My floor space was limited so anything I could hang up was key.  Found these baskets at Home Depot made some tags and they work perfect.  The basket is removable so I can dump the load in as they are full and really weren’t too expensive.  I knew I wanted to add to this space some of my kids artwork.  Figured if I’m spending so much time here the artwork with the crazy colors would fit right in and make me smile.  My daughter painted this hot pink mermaid and it’s by far one of my favorites.

Drum roll please.  The after photos…    Now I’m very thankful for a second floor laundry room; a true room not a closet and not in the basement.  I’ve hauled my share of baskets from basements to laundry mats and all the way back to mom’s house.  Use the space you have and make it work for you.  Possibilities are truly endless.

St Patrick’s Day

I sure love a holiday where drinking is the norm, and the food is simple and yummy.  This blog follows a week of festive fun from a play date at a friends house to a local weekend parade event.

Let’s get festive. Made these legging super quick last year.  Got orange leggings, took green scrap material and used my shamrock cookie cutter to trace.  Hand sewed the patches on so when the holiday is done and over I can remove them and have the basic orange back again.  I think she looked adorable as it was a chilly day and she needed the warmth.


Time to get the house festive this pot of shamrocks set the mood all month long at my friend’s house.  My March mantel exploded with festive fun.  Full post here.
IMG_3763 The tables look nice but let’s bring out the food.  Breakfast is served on parade day morning and my husband loves being in his “lab” making unbelievable food.    We eat like kings and queens.  Keeping even the fruit festive makes little fingers want to reach for more at the play date. IMG_3812pan cakes
The food continued all day long with festive pasta for our little people and a traditional Irish dinner with corn beef and cabbage for the adults.  Let’s top it off with dessert and delicious it was.  An Oreo dream so pretty as it was yummy. 

Happy New Year It’s 9pm!

New Year’s with kids just isn’t the same.  Granted now I don’t have to wear high heals and wait at the bar for a drink, but partying with the mini pack can still be fun especially if you can celebrate the ball dropping at 9pm!

We start with some sparkle cause who doesn’t like to wear a little sparkle to a party? If age appropriate once the sparkle has worn off it is time to don our baby new year suits.  The pictures get funnier and funnier each year.  Toss in the props and in our case see which kid cries first.

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This has become a hit or miss in our family but is still so easy and so fun.  Place bags with small goodies in them for each half hour as you count down to “midnight”  The bags are not filled with anything overexciting, as a parent, but for the kids are like gold.  We make sure we fill the bags according to what we’ll be able to handle.  For example the candy usually goes as to what will be right after dinner and the horns don’t make an appearance till the very end.

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Some winners for us include…

  • Candy (such as ring pops to ring in the new year)
  • Party Beads
  • New Year’s Crowns
  • New Year’s Horns
  • Gold Coins
  • Play dough Cans
  • Princess Wands
  • Bubbles
  • Stickers & Stamps

I’ve seen people that do some amazing things like make pizza with the dough in the shape of the year, balloon drops off the celling fan, and hourly party games and activities.  I’m not sure even for me if I’m into it that much.  Honestly I feel like New Year’s Eve unless you have a rockin’ party to go to like a wedding or an epic event is like prom; all hype and no big delivery.  Not to say I didn’t have fun at my proms but the getting ready was the exciting part.

Thanks to Netflix, they again will be streaming It’s Almost Midnight- Netflix 2016 Kids New Year’s Eve Countdown.  This 5 minute countdown which can feature characters of their choice is free for subscribers.  Don’t forget the bubbly juice in “fancy” glasses and let your countdown begin.

My girlfriends and I try these every year.  We even get them into bed by 9:15 but some how the girls wake up around 11:45pm.  Go figure, so we let them celebrate.  Hope your New Year is filled with sunshine, love and seashells.

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Share what fun kids stuff you do for New Year’s Eve.