Thursday, December 18, 2014

He's Here!

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It has been a whirlwind of a week since the arrival of baby boy #2. Emerson Leo arrived very early in the morning on December 11, with daddy there via FaceTime for the entire labor and delivery. We have been home since Friday afternoon and are getting quickly back to our normal routine after taking a weekend to acclimate. Music class on Tuesday, a trip to Minneapolis on the train to see Santa Wednesday, and ECFE this morning! Skyler is such a proud big brother and it has been so fun to watch him interact with his baby brother. He loves to hold the baby while giving him a lots of hugs and kisses. He is so helpful with everything I do from changing to burping and soothing, he is such a doting brother and it makes me cry almost everyday, it is just so sweet! I am completely smitten with my little Emerson and have been enjoying a ton of new baby cuddles and smells. He is so yummy! Some favorite pictures from the past few days. 

Talking to Daddy on FaceTime

Leaving the hospital!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Feathered Turkey Play

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This simple feathered turkey contact paper play is a perfect last minute Thanksgiving activity. If you need some time for final preparations and are looking for something fun to occupy your little one, give this a try! All you need is colored construction paper (or you could draw the turkey shape onto a piece of white paper), contact paper, tape, and feathers (which could also be made out of paper). 

To make this fun activity for Skyler, I cut the turkey pieces out of construction paper, quickly used a glue stick to put him together and taped him straight onto our glass door. Then I taped the non-stick side of a small piece of contact paper over him, peeled off the backing to reveal the sticky side, and we were ready to play in just a few minutes!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids (Plus a Giveaway!)

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Between the snow that started earlier this week (and the extremely cold temps we will be having in Minnesota for the next several months) and the upcoming arrival of baby boy #2 any day now, I am more concerned about keeping Skyler well entertained and not plopping him down in front of a screen to pass the time. We love the occasional episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and some educational iPad apps, but I want to make sure that I am still providing Skyler with a variety of learning activities at a time where we will be cooped up at home and with a new baby that will require a lot of attention. The timing could not be more perfect for the book I am reviewing today!

When I found out that Asia of Fun at Home with Kids was working on her first book, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it!! I have been a huge fan of Asia and her incredible blog since she started and have been so happy to get to know her since starting Minne-Mama. Her simple hands-on activities are appealing to kids of all ages and every single thing she posts is SO fun! Skyler and I frequently do the activities and crafts that she posts, and I have many of her other posts on my must-try list (my Pinterest is proof of that!) Well, the wait is over, the book is out and it is AMAZING!

Many of the activities I have been dying to try are included such as Moonsand, Baked Cotton Balls, Crystallizing Watercolors, Soap Foam, Dirt and Worms, and every single small world activity. You have got to check them all out - the coolest! 

Skyler and I have happily been going through and trying some activities from the book. I had everything for the following activities at home already which is one of my favorite things about this book. You can buy almost everything at the grocery store or superstore that you are probably stopping at at least once a week (if you don't have it stocked in your pantry already!)

We did two activities from the book on Monday when we had our first snowfall. We started with the recipe for Magic Expanding Paint and it was a HUGE hit with Skyler. He started off by making small dots, but after I mentioned the word "squeeze" he filled page after page with awesome puddles of paint. His favorite way to create was by making a circle with one color, filling the center with another color, and switching off until his page was full.

Seriously, this recipe was so quick to put together and we spent the next half hour talking, laughing, and creating some beautiful pieces of art! This activity is going to become very popular at our house - just look at the joy on Skyler's face!

We also tried Oobleck for the first time! Going along with our snowy morning, we kept with the Plain Oobleck from the book, and then Skyler added snowflake sequins to play with. I wasn't sure how this would go since Skyler is not really into slimy sensory play.

At first he touched it and said "I don't like this!" I sat and played with it, talking about how cool it was (seriously this stuff is incredible to touch - I have never felt anything like it!)

With some manipulation, the sequins started dropping down into the Oobleck, so I told Skyler we had to play peek-a-boo for them. That caught his attention, and my little man who is not a fan of gooey stuff was on a mission to find snowflakes! He still didn't love it, but it was a start. There were smiles :) I will definitely continue to use this activity with Skyler.

We also made the PomPom Shooter from the book which was a ton of fun! The next two up for us are the Flax Goo from the slimes section and the Banana Playdough. Both things we have all the ingredients for at home and I think Skyler will love them both!

I am planning on buying a stockpile of 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kidsto give as Christmas, birthday, and 'just because' gifts for everyone I know that has a child baby to school-aged. For an extra special gift to give, check out Asia's post for including the book with this DIY sensory kit!

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I could keep gushing about the book - how great it describes ways to manage messy play (something I thought I would avoid as a mom because I hate to make a mess!), how clearly labeled each activity is with any potential allergens, or the huge amount of variations included - but really, you have to check it out for yourself!

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kidsis available worldwide and can be purchased through the following links. If you don't see a link for your country, email Asia at and she will be able to help you track one down! (

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes and Noble
From your local US bookstore
Book Depository
Fishpond AU

Asia has a super fun giveaway going on and you can enter here to win a handmade activity from the book (made by the author herself)! I would be thrilled to win any of her amazing creations!! Enter to win below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was asked by Asia to be a part of her online book tour and was given a copy of the book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Toddler Decorated Care Package

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Care package two was successfully shipped and received! We found out that Joe got approved for leave and will be home for Thanksgiving before returning to his stateside training. I chose to do a Thanksgiving theme and had a lot of fun making this package.

I wanted to include Skyler in the decorating of the package as much as possible. We had a lot of fun making sticker turkeys, hand print turkeys, and a big feathered turkey to decorate the inside, flaps, and top of Joe's care package. Skyler loved feeling involved not only in making the care package, but helping me pick out the things that went inside of it. 

Similar to our last package, I mostly just sent snacks for Joe (with plenty to share!) since he didn't really need anything yet. I also included a letter, and on the morning I was going to send it, Joe asked me to send the arm band for his phone, so luckily I was able to send it to him that day!

My main goal with this care package was trying out mason jar pies. Joe's dad has a recipe he loves at Thanksgiving for sweet potato pecan pie. Following their recipe for the pie filling and modifying the cooking temp and time using a canned pie recipe I looked up, I ended up with three little pies that can be shipped safely because of the canning process! The recipe usually has the nuts on top, but I found a candied pecan recipe and sent them separately instead. Joe said they were amazing and I can't wait to try this method out for all sorts of baked goods!

I included tons of snacks and treats like jelly cranberries (Joe loves them - sticking with the Thanksgiving theme), almonds and trail mix, granola bars, chips and salsa, candy corn and M&M's, beef jerky, and flavored pretzels. We'll see if they can actually finish it all before Thanksgiving - I went a little overboard!

Skyler's favorite part was decorating this feathered turkey for Joe. Skyler put on the eyes, beak, and feet of the turkey on his own, colored the turkey a little bit and then we turned it over and added the feathers. I handed Skyler pieces of tape and we worked together to fill the back of the turkey. He talked about sending daddy that turkey for days and was excited to find out that Joe has it hanging by his bed.

The final product - so much fun to put together and send! Now time to prepare his next package :) 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Garbage Truck Play

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This garbage truck play was a spur of the moment activity that ended up filling our entire morning! We were spending some time playing in the living room and after watching Skyler quietly make several laps around the room with his toy recycling truck, I asked him if he wanted to make a road for his truck. He looked at me like it was the best idea ever, so we quickly got out the black tape and started making a curvy road for his truck. Every time I ripped off a new piece of tape Skyler would giggle and say "Oh! Good one, Mama!" He had a great time helping me place the tape around the carpet to complete the road.

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I grabbed a few small toys to act as the 'garbage' for his truck. We had been listening to his Kindermusik CD earlier in the morning and had to pull out all of his shaker eggs after the song "shake your eggs" came on. In addition to his eggs, I got some balls from his ball ramp and fabric block set, and we had plenty of garbage to set up around on the side of the road!

This activity was such a hit with Skyler! He drove his two trucks around and around (this recycling truck from Green Toys is one of Skyler's absolute favorite toys!), stopping to fill the trucks with toys and then setting the garbage back up just to do it again. Every time Skyler looked at me he flashed me this huge smile. His very cheesiest - I love it!!

Over a week later, his black tape road is still going strong on the carpet! He just loves it!! This was our first time making a tape road, and I know it will not be the last. It is such a simple way to extend play time with his vehicles, which are Skyler's absolute favorite toys. The size of the road doesn't matter at all either. He likes it just as much with his small construction vehicles and wooden trains, or with his big riding train too.

Such a fun morning with this sweet boy!

Taking a break from his busy job!

Watching Skyler carefully open his garbage truck and fill it with the toys was a lot of fun to watch. It is always exciting to set up an activity that makes him so happy. Especially when it was completely unplanned! Makes you feel like Supermom :)

It couldn't have been a more perfect day to do this activity either. It was garbage AND recycling day, so we took breaks from playing with our garbage truck track to watch the real trucks do their job. Once the truck was done doing both sides of our street (Skyler's favorite part is when it has to back up to get out to the main road - the beeping is just so fun for a two-year-old!) he would quickly turn around and start playing with his track again! Skyler told me for days after playing this that he was going to drive a garbage truck like a garbage truck man!