7 Tips for Surviving Zoo Day

Zoo Day

Zoo Day with the kiddos is a lot of fun, but it can also be very stressful if you don’t do it right. Well, it can be stressful even if you do do it right, but following these next tips will help lessen that stress.

  • Plan Ahead

To skip time in line, buy tickets ahead of time. Look for events that might interest your child and try to plan around those if you can. Check your zoo’s website the day before to get the times for opening and closing, too. You have no idea how many times I’ve thought a zoo opened at 9, only to find out it opened at 9:30. It’s not fun to sit in a car for a half hour with a toddler.

  • Plan Around Sleeping Schedules

There is nothing worse than a tired child on Zoo Day. Plan your trip around nap schedules so that both you and your child can enjoy the animals and happiness of it all. If your child naps at noon, go for an early morning trip or one in the late afternoon. Again, make sure to keep in mind that your zoo’s opening and closing time may change, so you should always check the website the day before to ensure you have the right times.

  • Bring Eve You Might Need for the day

And by everything, I mean everything. Water, snacks, extra snacks, a backup outfit, layering-optional clothing for cold or hot days, a camera, something to carry your child in (carrier, stroller, etc.) if applicable for his age, basic first aid kit (your kid will probably fall at least once), umbrella, cash (include coins for parking, strolling rentals, etc.), comfortable shoes, diapers, wipes, over-the-counter medications, sunglasses, sunblock (even if it is overcast!), etc. Pack it all in a light backpack so it’s easy to carry — minus the stroller, of course.

  • Take a Picture of Your Child Before You Arrive

It’s hard to do this sometimes, but it’s important to plan for the worst. While it isn’t likely you will lose your child at the zoo, take all precautions in case the event does occur. Taking a picture of your child before the trip will provide zoo employees and other patrons with a good idea of who they should be looking for. Make sure he is in the outfit he will be wearing around the zoo. It is also a good idea to tag your child with your information, such as phone numbers and names.

  • Know Both Your and Your Child’s Limits

It’s really easy to want to cram a trillion things into one day, but this can make it hard to enjoy anything at all. Plan time for your child to sit and relax. Pick a bench, plop down, and have a snack. Talk about what you’ve seen so far and ask him what his favorite parts have been. When you’re ready, get back in the game!

  • Take a Few Pictures, Then Put Your Phone or Camera Away

It’s important to remember you need to actually live the moment you’re in. Sure, it’s important to have reminders of the event, but if you’re too busy trying to capture those reminders, you won’t have time to enjoy it while it’s right in front of you. Take a few pictures, then put your camera or phone away so that you can thoroughly enjoy the trip.

  • And most of all, have fun!

 

Pipsticks Sticker Club: Just What Your Crafty Child Needs

PipSticks Sticker Club Reiview

Crafts make up my child’s life.  She loves nothing more than crafts (except Minnie Mouse). While she loves markers, crayons, and paints, her most recent life love is stickers. She’s obsessed with stickers in the same way I’m obsessed with bath bombs.

While trying to figure out what the heck to get her for her birthday (other than books) I decided stickers would be a good idea because her stash is getting low. As a child, my parents got me a monthly sticker club subscription and to this day, I think it was the best thing they ever got me, so that’s what I decided I would get my daughter.

I couldn’t find the sticker club I was a part of as a child, but I did come across another really cool one. PipSticks Sticker Club! The website looked super cute, so I decided to order, hoping for the best.

And, the best is what we got. I was excited to see in the mail the most adorable package I’ve ever received:

*I blocked out my address for obvious reasons.

The package is fun and totally kid friendly. We might even use it to color on this week! It was easy to open for my toddler. She was excited to have a package come in the mail just for her. She’s constantly sending out cards to people, but doesn’t receive much to open herself so she was pretty happy to have something special like that.

Her birthday isn’t for another week, but we decided to let her go for it.

Inside, here’s what we found:

20160308_083856

A cute little “welcome” note, along with two sheets of bright paper, and our stickers!

As you can see, there is quite the variety of stickers. Animals, bugs, food, shapes, and even robots and cars. I like that the package is geared toward all kinds of kids, making sure to hit just about every interest a child might have.

Our family (especially the tot) is loving the club so far and if you think you might enjoy it too, click on this link for $5 off your first month! 

The site offers an adult version of the club as well, so be sure to check that out too if you love stickers as much as your child does.

Super Simple, Super Quick Bath Bombs Your Child is Sure to Love

bath bombs.jpg

I am obsessed  with bath bombs. Totally obsessed. They’re amazing. Fun, relaxing, and as I recently learned, super easy to make.

You read me right. You can make bath bombs right in the comfort of your own home. Say what?! It’s just as good as being able to make pizza or play dough in your very own kitchen! Seriously. This is crazy stuff right here and I couldn’t be more excited to tell you about it.

After spending an obnoxious amount of money on bath bombs, I knew I needed to figure out a cheaper way to get my fix. So I did. Don’t get me wrong here. These will never be the same as Lush’s amazing yoga bombs, but they’re still awesome in their own little way. They’ve got the same fizzle, the same pop, and the same beautiful feel, at a mere fraction of the price.

Are you ready? This recipe should make 3-4 medium sized bath bombs.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz baking soda
  • 4 oz citric acid
  • 4 oz corn starch
  • 4 oz fine grain Epsom salt
  • 3/4 tsp water
  • 2 tsp essential oil/extract (we used a basic coconut extract paired with a banana extract)
  • 1 tsp vegetable, olive, or grape seed oil
  • 3-4 drops food coloring (not too much or your bathtub will be dyed)
  • Opt. sprinkles, dried flower petals, glitter, etc (to place at bottom of mold for extra prettiness)
  • Glass bowl
  • Molds

As you may know, I don’t measure things well at all. I came up with a recipe which uses ounces and I didn’t have a scale, so I estimated based on how much of the product was in the containers. For example, our citric acid came in a 7.5 oz bottle. I knew I needed 4 ounces for the recipe, so I poured in a little over half the bottle. You can do the same, or get really serious and pull out a food scale. It doesn’t matter too much, as long as you get in the right ballpark for all of the ingredients.

*Some of these ingredients can be hard to find, so I included Amazon links where you can get them.

For your extract or essential oil, play around. Pair scents together! We used banana and coconut extracts and it smells SO good. There are so many scents out there that would go well in these.

Once you’ve got all your ingredients out, start by mixing the dry ingredients in a glass bowl. You want to use glass because it will have the least amount of reaction with the ingredients.

In another bowl, mix the liquid ingredients.

Once the dry and wet ingredients are fully mixed in their separate bowls, slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix them together the best you can. You will see it sizzle and bubble. This is OK, and actually something you should look for in a successful batch. There isn’t much liquid compared to dry ingredients, so don’t be alarmed.

At this point, the mixture should pack together nicely in your hand. If it doesn’t, add water a little bit at a time. We’re talking a half teaspoon here, as to not ruin the mixture.

Once it can be easily packed together, pack it deep into whatever mold you have chosen as tightly as you can. We used re-usable cupcake liners (then smashed two together to get the size we wanted) to get the cupcake look, but you can use any sort of mold. Easter eggs for the upcoming holiday, you name it.

As an additional option, at the bottom of the mold (before packing the mixture in), you can add things like sparkles or dried flowers, or like we did, sprinkles. Kids love to have a little extra pretty on the top of these bath bombs and it’s fun to play around with what looks good.

After you’ve filled your molds, let them sit for 24 hours on wax paper.

Enjoy!

Remember, you are working with ingredients which react to one another differently in different situations. The mere temperature of your home can change how these bath bombs turn out. Sometimes the ingredients simply react differently than other times and no one can really explain why. If the recipe doesn’t turn out the first time, try it again!

If you want to enjoy bath bombs without the work described above and don’t want to spend major bucks at Lush, pop over to Lotion Fast where you can find some awesome ones in bulk for really, really cheap. I’ve tried a few of them from her store and was impressed by the quality, especially for the price. They smell really good, use quality ingredients, and like I said, are a fraction of the price. I have personally tried the Crazy Love, Watermelon Glitter, Petal Dance, and a few others and loved them all. There’s a multitude I still want to try, so if you end up purchasing some let me know which ones and how you liked them in the comments below!

 

How to Handle Birthday Parties With a Child Who Has Allergies

Brown Birthday Gift Box with Red Ribbon Placed on a Wooden Table with Confetti.
Brown Birthday Gift Box with Red Ribbon Placed on a Wooden Table with Confetti Per DreamsTime Images/Free Images Life & Edited By Me

If you’re a mom of a young child, you know invites to birthday parties are constantly being thrown out. Just about every weekend you’ll have a party to attend for a classmate, a friend, or a family member, and if you’re a mom of a child with an allergy, you may dread all those invites.

There will always be cake and ice cream at parties. Nothing will change that. Ever. Whether your child is allergic to gluten, or dairy, or even nuts, it can be really difficult to go about these sorts of things. You want with all of your heart to let your child go have fun, but you’re worried he will feel left out because he can’t have the special treat everyone else is having, or you’re afraid he will go for it anyway and end up with a terrible reaction.

It’s hard to deal with this ordeal, but it can be done. Your child can go have fun at these parties and events, and you can even rest easy by doing these things, knowing that everything will be OK.

Pack a Special Treat 

If your child is allergic to dairy and can’t have the frosting on a normal cake, send her with a special dairy-free cupcake just for her. Same goes for other allergies. There are special treats every child can indulge in, if you look around. Find the one your child likes best and give it to them during special events like these so that they don’t feel left out when other kids are having cake and ice cream. Make it a fun thing!

Explain to Your Child She Isn’t Different in a Bad Way

Children will see that other kids get to eat different things than them at parties. While some of them won’t care, many of them will. It’s important to let your child know that her allergy does not define her and that just because she is different from others in what she can eat, isn’t a bad thing. It’s what sets her apart from the rest of the kids and makes her special.

Explain the Effects of Your Child’s Allergy to Him

If your child doesn’t fully understand what his allergy can do to his body should he eat the wrong food, he might be tempted to just try a taste. Let him know how serious it can be to do that, but try to do it in a manor that won’t scare him. The goal is not to frighten him, but to instead inform him. The more knowledge your child has on the subject, the more likely he is to understand it and why he can’t have certain things when other kids can.

Let the Parents of the Party Know About Your Child’s Allergy

If your child is attending the party of a friend, make sure the parents throwing it know he is allergic to whatever he has problems with. While they probably can’t be on top of him all the time, they might be able to help him if he’s feeling discouraged or wants to try what other kids are having. Plus, an extra set of eyes is always a good idea. Give this parent the special treat mentioned above so that they can give it to your child when the other kids are indulging in their treats if you won’t be staying for the party.

Make Sure to Being an EpiPen, Benadryl, or Whatever Allergy Medication You Use in Case of an Attack

There is always a chance of an allergy attack. Always, always, always. Be prepared. You absolutely have to be prepared. Things happen, no matter how careful you are and how many precautions you take. Make sure they stay in a safe, accessible location where they are hidden from other children, but available to adults who may need to help in the situation. If your child is old enough to administer the medication, make sure he knows where it is too. Instruct the parents of the party if you aren’t going to be attending it with your child so that they know how to help him in the case of an emergency.

Overall, Let Her Have Fun

Living with an allergy is a serious thing, but that doesn’t mean your child can’t have fun. You might be stressed about the whole birthday party thing, but don’t let her see that. Let her be a kids and have fun with everyone else while you work out the fine details in your own head. Just be there for her with any concerns she has, be prepared in case of emergency, make her feel special, and always have a special treat unique to her for these events.

Are you a mom of a child with an allergy? Do you have any other birthday party tips you can share with readers who may have the same issue?

 

No Bake DIY Play Dough: Super Simple Recipe

simple play dough

Making things with a toddler means needing a super simple recipe. I searched through Google the other day, attempting to find an easy play dough recipe I could make with my daughter but all I kept finding were either recipes that required the use of heat elements or cream of tartar, which we didn’t have in the cupboard.

Finally, I came across PBS‘ version. It’s called “Galactic Glitter Play Dough”, but we opted out of the glitter part for obvious reasons. We also tweaked the recipe for our own needs.

Here’s the recipe we came up with, based on theirs:

Ingredients:

  • Large metal mixing bowl (metal so it doesn’t get dyed)
  • 1 cup water (give or take)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4-8 tablespoons of cooking oil (the original recipe calls for 2-4, but we didn’t think it was nearly enough. The dough was too flaky. So we added double the amount)
  • 1.5 cups salt
  • 10-15 drops food coloring (more for brighter colors)

Instructions:

  1. Start by pouring the water into the metal bowl. Then, add your food coloring and mix it together well.
  2. Slowly add dry ingredients (flour and salt) to the water, mixing as you go.
  3.  Begin adding the oil to the semi-mixed product. This ingredient is why this no-bake version of play dough stays soft. If you don’t have enough oil, you will notice your dough will be very dry and crumbly. Add a little more here and there if you feel you need to. Should you add too much, throw in a tad bit more flour
  4.  Knead everything together as you would bread dough and watch it all transform before your eyes.

You can add whatever you want to introduce a variety of colors and scents. I really like to add orange essential oil to our because it smells fantastic and has a calming feel only a mother can truly appreciate.

Have fun with it! For storage, an airtight container works. Of course it won’t last forever, but you will get a few uses out of it. It’s more about the process than actually using the product.

Turn An Ordinary Wooden Stool Into Something Spectacular With Your Toddler

wooden stool

Crafting is a lot of fun with toddlers, but it’s really easy to run out of projects, especially if you’re like our family who does it on a multi-daily basis. As I was thinking of ideas for a big weekend craft for my two-year-old, I decided to bring some furniture into the mix. She needed a bathroom stool, so why not have her decorate one?

And that’s what we did. We took a basic $10 wooden, unpainted stool from Michael’s, a craft store in our area, and went with it. Set up with paints galore and an entire floor covered in sheets, my daughter had a blast covering what would soon be the stool that would help her brush her teeth at bedtime.

20160218_110625

Of course, it was rather messy but isn’t that the fun of it all?

This project can be done with any sort of unpainted (or even painted, it really doesn’t matter) furniture. I do recommend going with non-washable paints though so that the design isn’t washed away if water or other liquids do happen to spill on it. With a toddler, it’s inevitable.

What’s your craft for the week/weekend?

How I Use My Planner to Stay Sane as a Mother

planner

Balancing your life can seem impossible, but it’s not. I promise. How is it not impossible, you ask? Well, through scheduling. I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again, but it’s true. Scheduling is the way to balance even the craziest life.

I am like you. I have a toddler. I have a clean house. I work a full time job (at home). I’m starting up my very first thank-you card business (say what?!). I do direct sales (oils). I have a blog (two, actually). I workout. I occasionally take bubble baths and watch television (GASP!). I make time for my other half (when I can).

But how do I keep it all together? How do I manage to find time for everything and not go to bed crying every night?

Scheduling.

Don’t get me wrong. I go to bed crying some nights. We all do. Sometimes, no matter what you do, life gets out of control. But scheduling has been my savior most days.

Here’s what my planner looks like on a day-to-day basis. Messy. Full. Complete. And, including every aspect of my life.

schedule

What do I include in my planner? Well, everything. But let’s break it down.

Phone Time- I didn’t write it in this entry, but I often schedule in phone time. If I don’t have set 10 minute bursts of time throughout the day, I find myself spending a half-hour scrolling pointlessly through Facebook and other social media apps. During this scheduled time, I check e-mails, texts, social media alerts, etc.

Work- This is an important one because I work at home. It’s easy to put it off and say, “Oh. I’ll just do it later!”. Later never comes for me, so I have to have exact times I work. This is usually before my daughter wakes up, when she naps, and after she goes to bed.

Exercise- I often hear the excuse “I don’t have time to work out!”. Usually it isn’t true. Schedule it in and you’ll be surprised at what you can get done. I do it when my daughter first wakes up. We do dance video exercising and if you haven’t checked out that post, you need to! And really, if you have time to watch Netflix, you have time to exercise. Choose your priorities and schedule them in.

Chores/Housework- Housework is another one of those things I put off if I don’t have it scheduled. Each day, I write in my task list what I want to clean, then I pick a time when I’m going to do it. My daughter enjoys this task (read about how I got her to– here!) so I often do it when she’s awake, depending on the task.

Play Time- It’s so important to spend quality time with your children. I find that if I don’t have it scheduled, the time I spend with my daughter is mustered with other activities. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t schedule my daughter in like she’s a task. I do it so I know I have set times specifically for her. No chores, no work, no phone, no distractions. Just me and her.

Running Errands- I schedule ahead of time when I’m going to the grocery store or where ever else I need to go throughout the week so I know when it’s going to happen. There’s no guessing game as to when I might get eggs again.

Wake-Up/Bedtime- This one is more for my toddler. I put it in so I remember when I need to have things done by.

Other To-Do Things- Work stuff, contact stuff, etc.

Dinner- Holy hell. Planning dinner ahead of time makes life a million times easier. There’s nothing worse than going to the fridge wondering what the heck you’re going to eat. Weekly, I write out a meal plan so that I know what to buy when I go grocery shopping and can plan ahead of time for cooking.

Birthdays/Special Dates/Holidays- These are all important things I would totally forget without my schedule. Writing in birthdays and special dates ensures that I won’t forget them. It’s always awkward forgetting your brother’s birthday. I also write in holidays because those suck to forget too– I work seven days a week at my main job, including holidays so it’s not uncommon for me to forget it’s a holiday without my schedule.

Activities/Work Due Dates/Bills- Non-daily activities get scheduled too. Birthday parties, dinners, etc. Writing in work project due dates is a life saver for me too. I like to write when they’re a month, a week, a day, and an hour away from being due so that I have fair warning and don’t have to rush to get those I forget done in time. The same goes with bills. I would go crazy if I didn’t have my bill due dates written down, and so would my checkbook.

Me Time- This includes things like bubble baths, television watching, etc. It’s important to schedule “me” time, even if it’s only once a week/month.

Gratitude- Daily, I write one or two things I’m grateful for. It makes me appreciate life a little more, plus it’s a great reminder on bad days that my life isn’t that bad.

I’m sure I’m missing something. There’s so many things you can put in your planner. Make it you!

It’s important to remember that a schedule will almost never go perfectly, especially if you have a child. A schedule is sort of an outline and you won’t always be able to follow it as closely as you’d like. That’s OK. Really. It is. Just having a basis to go off of is a life-changer.

I currently use the Day Designer Mini by Whitney English. It’s one where I personally hand-write in the dates. Some people don’t like that idea, but she has other planners that include the dates for those of you who prefer that. I recommend her planner over any other because of the variety of features it has, such as a schedule section, a hardy cover and binder-like rings, a to-do list, meal planning, gratitude sections, notes, a top three list, etc.

Seriously, anything you could want in a planner, she’s got it packed in there. They’re a little pricey, but worth every penny. Trust me, I’ve tried just about every planner out there.

Some people like to make their planners super fancy. For me, as long as I have a pop of color, I’m good. But really, the possibilities are endless. You can use stickers, sticky notes, a color system, you name it. Just make it you. That’s all you need to do.

Oh, and are you wondering what kind of pen that lovely pink beauty is you see in the pictures? It’s a Paper Mate Flair . They come in all sorts of colors. I have the variety pack because, like I said, I love a good pop of color. For me, they make planning fun! I change up my shade daily.

For those of you who haven’t ever used a planner before, try it out for a week. You can even just do it on lined paper. Once you’ve tried it, come back and tell me what you think! Has it changed your life like it’s changed mine?