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Little Mermaid Birthday Party

Friday, February 17, 2017

I had every intention of sharing Henley's second birthday party with you all a long time ago, and now I am planning her third birthday!  However, her party was too cute not to share!  She loves ocean animals and one of her favorite Disney Princesses is Ariel, so an Under the Sea/ Little Mermaid party was a no-brainer!




For decor, we took blue surgical sheets (my hubby is a nurse and works in EMS so he brought some home) and hung them up all over the garage to look like we were underwater.  We used streamers as seaweed and I found sea creature cut-outs on Amazon and hung them up as well.  We also made balloon octopi and fish lanterns to hang from the ceiling.







For themed food, we had a Goldfish bar, seaweed (spinach) dip, and I made clamshell cookies.  We also had seawater, punch, and mermaid margaritas for the adults.





I was able to rent an awesome ocean bounce house, which was a hit, as well as a cotton candy (sea foam) machine, and bubble machine, because "life is the bubbles"!  For games, I filled a sand table with fake coins, necklaces, and trinkets for a "Treasure Hunt" and made a fishing game with plastic fish, paper clips, and magnetic fishing poles.  There was also a Mermaids and Mateys Tattoo Parlor where the kids could pick out temporary tattoos.  Finally, we had the cutest mermaid piƱata, because what kid's party would be complete without one?!










We had a blast at the party and I still can't believe we have an almost three year old! Now on to planning for birthday #3! Ha!

The Ten Best Tips for Surviving the First Trimester

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You're pregnant.  Congratulations!  This will truly be one of the most exciting times of your life.  Whether this is your first or fifth, you've heard or experienced first hand, that the first trimester is not all its cracked up to be.  Take heart, because it doesn't have to be that bad, and even if it is, well, it'll be over sooner or later!

In my pregnancies, I've been subjected to the dreaded morning (rather, all day) sickness.  This has been the worst part of my pregnancies...but I managed to survive it!  Here are my ten best tips to alleviate the most nagging nausea and get through your first trimester woes:


  1. Always be snacking.  Try not to let your stomach get empty, because that is when the nausea hits! Even if you don't feel like eating, or if nothing sounds good, munch on a little snack.
  2. Leave crackers by your bed.  If you wake up in the night feeling yucky, eat a few.  Also, eat one when you wake up, whether you feel nauseous or not.  
  3. The best snack for me was popcorn.  I carried a bag of it around with me everywhere and it was my saving grace!  My favorite is Skinny Pop popcorn.  It has a minimal amount of salt and no fake butter on it.  
  4. They say ginger helps, but I can't stand most ginger flavored things.  If you are like me, try gingerbread cookies!  The Pepperidge Farms Gingerman cookies seemed to help me, even if it was just because I was eating and not really due to the ginger, ha! 
  5. Eat what you can.  If crackers and carbs are all that sound good or all that you can handle, that's ok!  Your baby will be fine.  Just focus on feeling better and eating something!
  6. If you can, nap!  I had crazy dreams with my first pregnancy and awful insomnia with both.  When I was tired, I was more apt to be nauseous.  Days that I was able to squeeze a nap in, I felt better.  I am fortunate that my little still takes naps, so I nap with her a few days a week.
  7. If you feel up to it, get out and do something active.  When I was busy and distracted, I usually felt a little better.  Of course, always bring snacks with you! 
  8. Drink lots of water!  I was constantly thirsty and had to carry a water bottle with me everywhere.  I also notice that if I don't drink enough water, I feel crampy and uncomfortable.  Later on in pregnancy, I find it brings on Braxton Hicks. So drink up! 
  9. TRY to take it easy.  What better excuse to be a little lazy than growing a baby?  Luckily, my daughter was very sympathetic when I didn't feel good and when I say that, I mean she complained of her own "sympathy pains".   We spent lots of times cuddled up in bed because "baby was making us feel sick" haha! She still tells me this when she wants to lay in bed and watch T.V. 
  10. Take up a crafty hobby.  I knit and crochet, and found that when I was concentrating on knitting a baby blanket, I was less apt to feel sick.  Distraction helps!
Hope that I shared some good ideas with you and that you are feeling well in your first trimester!  Here's hoping that the second trimester is more enjoyable for us all!

Baby #2 is on the Way!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I am so excited to announce that we are having another baby!


We decided to start trying for another baby this past August.  For me, this was not something to take lightly, and it was a decision I approached with nervousness and dread.  After experiencing a devastating loss and then a long process to conceive our daughter, I was not looking forward to trying for another baby.  Not to mention, I honestly had prepared to need fertility treatments again as we had with Henley.  I was dreading another month (after month, after month) of seeing negative pregnancy tests again this time around.  At the same time, I knew in my heart it was time for another baby, and Henley was praying for a baby sister every night for weeks.  So, I did my best to "try without trying" and keep my mind off of it.

A week before Halloween, I was feeling less than awesome, and while I didn't expect to see a positive test, I was beyond shocked and overjoyed when I saw it!  When Henley woke up from her nap, I put her in a shirt that I had bought that said "Big Sister" and had her tell my hubby.  We were all so happy and so thankful that God answered our prayers, and much sooner than either of us had expected!

The day we found out! 

Thrilled to be a Big Sister!



I am now almost 17 weeks along (almost halfway, what?!) with our second little girl!  Doing great and still a little in shock that this is really happening!  We announced our great news to everyone the week of Christmas, when I hit my second trimester.  Can't wait to share more with you as this pregnancy goes on!




Ice Cream Bread

Monday, February 29, 2016

More and more I am seeing food videos pop up in my Facebook feed.  I'm sure you know the ones I am talking about: they're quick, look so easy, and of course, delicious.  I usually save them only to be added to the long list of recipes and links in my Facebook folder that I never really look at again.  Well, I came across this one and it stuck in my head, one, because it is a dessert, and two, because it only has two main ingredients that you might already have in your kitchen.  I had to finally try one of these video recipes to se if the are indeed that simple and "Tasty".

Ice Cream Bread 



Ingredients:
  • 1 Pint ice cream (any flavor, but I used plain old vanilla
  • 1 1/4 Cup self-rising flour
  • Optional: mix-ins (I used sprinkles and chocolate chips)


Directions:
  1. Allow ice cream to melt in your mixing bowl.  Once melted, slowly add in flour and mix until well blended. 
  2. Mix in sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc. 
  3. Line a bread tin with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  
  4. Spoon bread mix into pan evenly.  
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 34-40 minutes.
  6. Let cool and enjoy with a scoop of ice cream!


Simple enough, right? I really liked this dessert, but more so when served with ice cream.  Keep in mind that this is a BREAD recipe, not a cake recipe.  Ice Cream Bread is only mildly sweet and is sort of dense.  When you serve it with ice cream it makes it sweeter and a little more moist.


This is a perfect recipe to get the kiddos involved in.  I had Henley add in the sprinkles and chocolate chips, and I would be lying if I said she didn't dip her fingers in the melted ice cream multiple times!  We had a great time making this and I am looking forward to trying another version of my own, so stay tuned!



The Story Box Review

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

In our house, we are avid readers, Henley included.  We read so many books with her each day (I'm talking ten or more books), that they tend to get old.  We have shelves and baskets of her books in nearly every room of the house, and they are all well loved.  I am thrilled that she loves to read, not only because it is something that I have loved from the time I was her age, but because I know it does wonders for her language skills.

Another thing I love...subscription boxes.  I currently subscribe to two for myself and I love the thrill of getting surprises sent to you each month.  So, last week, when I happened upon a new subscription box, The Story Box, while perusing Instagram, I was so excited!  The Story Box is a subscription box  for young children (ages 1-7) that was created by a speech-language pathologist and her husband, and includes two books and a learning guide to go along with them.


When The Story Box arrived today, I couldn't wait to open it!  The packaging was neat and fun, and Henley was excited about it too.  The books were carefully wrapped in tissue and fun crinkle paper, and sealed with a note.  Inside, there is a note from the creators, Holly and Clint, and a general guide on how to read and involve your child(ren) in any story at a variety of ages (baby, toddler, preschooler, or early elementary).  I found this interesting, and a great reminder to not just read to my little one, but to ask her questions and involve her in the story more.



Then, onto the books!  Included are two quality, hard cover books (not board books, these have paper pages), and this month, the books were Outside by Deirdre Gill and Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray and with art by Christopher Silas Neal.  Both books were right up Henley's alley.  As most toddlers do, she loves animals and Go to Sleep, Little Farm has a bunch of them in it.  She really liked going through and naming each one, making its noises, and saying goodnight to them.  In Outside, there is a little boy playing in the snow, which Henley is also obsessed with right now.  Thanks to Frozen and last month's Frosty the Snowman on repeat, she is always saying that she wants to build a snowman.  This book was a hit with her, too.



Also included in The Story Box is a parent guide to go with each book.  It gives you a language concept to work on at each age group, along with an activity you can do to correspond with the story. For example, with Go to Sleep, Little Farm, it suggests to introduce prepositions to your toddler and as an activity, gives a recipe for a puffy paint mixture to make a moon painting.  I know Henley will love that! Since there are concepts and activities suggested for each age group, you can keep these guides and use them as your child grows.

Snowman Activity for Outside 
Overall, I was really impressed with The Story Box and I am looking forward to seeing what books they will ship out next!  I was also impressed to see that a portion of each sale goes toward materials for children with disabilities and from low income families.  I always am more inclined to purchase or partake in something when it goes toward a good cause!

If you love reading like we do, and are looking for something new to try or new ideas for learning with your littles, check out The Story Box! Holly and Clint have been so kind to share a coupon code with my readers, so make sure to enter TAKESIX at checkout and get $6 off of your first order!  I hope you love it as much as we do!


Powdered Sugar "Sweetheart" Playdough

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My gosh, how are we well into the new year already?  I cannot believe that the holiday season is behind us.  I am always a little sad to take down all of our Christmas decor, but this year, I was super bummed to have to put it away.  This past season was so magical, with Henley able to understand and get excited over everything.  It was especially hard to say goodbye to Chrissy, our Elf on the Shelf.  Henley was looking for her for a week after Christmas!

To fill the void of holiday spirit in the house, I started to break out my Valentine's Day things.  While not quite as exciting as Christmas, it is a holiday that is all about pink and girlie things, so I'm sure Henley and I will have some fun with it.  Here is the first Valentine themed project of the season: we turned a recipe for Powdered Sugar Playdough into pink "sweetheart" play dough.

Not only is this project is quick and easy to make, it is edible!  So, even your littlest ones can get in on the fun, but be warned...once they get a taste of this stuff, its hard to get them to stop!

Powdered Sugar Playdough


What you need:
  • 1/2 Cup of canned cake frosting (any color or flavor)
  • 1 1/2 Cups+ of powdered sugar
  • Food coloring (optional)

Directions:
  1. Scoop 1/2 C of frosting into your mixing bowl.  
  2. With your mixer on low, slowly add in powdered sugar.  After about a cup has been added, test your dough and see how sticky it is.  
  3. Add the rest of your sugar very slowly and keep testing your dough. It will be ready once it no longer sticks to your hands (you may need a little more powdered sugar than called for).  
  4. If you add too much powdered sugar, you can remedy your stiff dough by adding a little olive oil/canola oil to the mix.  
  5. Once you are satisfied with the dough's consistency, add food coloring if you wish.
  6. Have fun!  We used cookie cutters, utensils, and Sweethearts candies to play with ours.
  7. When finished playing, you can store your playdough in an airtight container or Ziplock bag for up to two weeks. 


Hope your littles love this project as much as mine did!  


Easy Spider Cookies

Sunday, October 25, 2015

About a month ago, Henley walked into a spiderweb.  Since then, everywhere we go, she points them out and exclaims "Spider! Spider"!  Being that it's Halloween season, there are spiders everywhere and she loves them! I don't get it, but it's really cute.  I saw these cookies on Pinterest last year and knew I had to make some for her.  


I am not the best at decorating cookies/cakes, but these are so simple and so cute, anyone can make them!  If your kiddos are old enough to help, this is a great baking project for you to do together. Or, you could just surprise them with these cute cookies like I did! 

Easy Spider Cookies



Ingredients: 

• Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix (or your favorite peanut butter cookie dough)
• Dove Chocolate Eyeballs (or any round chocolate candy you can find) 
• Candy eyeballs
• Black or brown decorator icing 

Directions: 

1.  Mix your cookie dough according to the directions on the package (or your own recipe).  You could also use premade cookie dough.  

2.  Roll the cookie dough into 1in. balls and bake according to package/recipe directions.  While baking, unwrap your chocolate candies. 

3. When cookies are done, place a chocolate ball in the center of each one and press down gently. 

4.  Allow the cookies to set a few minutes and then place two eyeballs into the chocolate.  

5.  Once cookies are cool, use your decorator icing to draw legs on each cookie.  

6.  Enjoy!  Store in a single layer in an airtight container.  



As you can see, the girls enjoyed them very much! I hope you do, too!