Friday, January 31, 2014

Valentine's Day Crafts for Toddlers

I'm thrilled that Grace is now getting to an age where she can really enjoy doing crafts with me. She gets so excited when she sees me start to pull out the supplies. She had so much fun with our Christmas crafts recently that yesterday I decided it was time to start crafting for Valentine's Day!

Valentine's gifts for grandparents

We made two crafts during Connor's naptime.

The first was a heart suncatcher made with contact paper and tissue paper. I ordered a huge roll of contact paper recently on Amazon and I love it! It's mess free and easy to use. I cut out 2 hearts from the contact paper. I gave Grace one and let her stick a bunch of different shades of tissue paper squares on to it.

Once she had covered the entire thing, we added some red star stickers and some pink glitter. I sealed it by placing the other piece of contact paper over it. For decoration, I cut two hearts from construction paper to add as a pretty border. Grace wasn't wanting to take pictures during this, in fact she was yelling "NO CHEESE MAMA!" But I managed to get her to hold up the finished heart at the end.

I hung it in our window and it makes a very pretty decoration! Grace loves seeing her craft displayed and she shows it to everyone who comes into the house.
Heart craft for toddlers

I had promised her several days ago that I would let her paint soon and finally decided I was brave enough to let her do it. Paint is always a messy ordeal in our house so I try to limit it.

We painted red hearts using a toilet paper roll. Simply bend the toilet paper roll into the shape of a heart and tape it in place. Grace loved dipping the roll into the paint and seeing her hearts on the paper. I use Crayola finger paint because it comes off of skin and clothing easily!

Towards the end she decided she was done with the roll and wanted to use her hands (as you can see on the heart on the right!) Once she decided she was done, we let the paint dry and then cut out hearts from the paper. I apologize to Grace's grandmas, you've seen your Valentine's Day cards now!!

Toddler Heart Craft

Are you making Valentine's Day crafts this year? I'd love to see them!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bedtime Routine

I'm trying to get back to my normal blog schedule this week and I'm excited that I'm going to be bringing back a couple of my favorite features including Must Read Mondays and Toddler Fun Thursdays. Today I'm linking up to a new Toddler link up over at Director Jewels called Toddler Time Tuesdays (yes I know I'm two days late!)

Director Jewels

This week's topic is bedtime routines.

I am a HUGE believer in sticking as closely as possible to a bedtime routine. Grace has always had a hard time with sleep, so sticking with a routine helps make the transition easier for her. Connor doesn't have as hard as a time with it but I think it's important for toddlers to know what to expect at the end of the day.

We start our bedtime routine at about 7 PM. This gives us time to eat dinner as a family and have a little bit of playtime.

1. We do bath if it's bath night (which doesn't happen as often as it should I have to admit!)
2. We brush their teeth. We got the kids cheapy spin brushes for Christmas stocking stuffers and they love them. They are so excited to brush their teeth and so this is a highlight of their bedtime routine.
3. We all play quietly in Grace's room for a bit, change Connor's diaper, and get both of their PJs on. This is more of an ordeal than it should be because if it were up to Grace, she would wear the same Sofia nightgown every single day. We try to give her choices but she normally ends up throwing a tantrum when we don't let her wear it for days on end.
4. I get everything situated in Connor's room and nurse him. Grace and Mike come in to give him kisses and turn on his sleep sheep for him.

5. While I get Connor to sleep, Grace and Mike pick up all the toys in the living room and her room.
6. I take Grace potty. She and I read 3 books in her room and cuddle.

7. Mike comes in to say goodnight. Every single night Grace runs into his arms to give him big hugs and kisses.
8. I say goodnight and Mike stays in with her to get her to go to sleep. For some reason, if I stay, she'll fuss and complain forever. I hear "Mama, wait!" but if Mike is in there, she calms down in about 2 minutes and goes right to sleep. So it's his job!

They are both normally asleep by about 8ish. Sometimes longer but it's nice to have a couple of hours at night to ourselves. Then they sleep til about 7 (Connor still wakes up once sometime between 3-5 to nurse.)

Do you have a set bedtime routine?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The dreaded weight loss post: No more excuses!

I always skip these posts on other blogs. I don't know why, may be they make me feel guilty for not really taking care of myself? Because honestly, I haven't been. After two pregnancies, major health problems, and most recently, 15 months of breastfeeding, I am actually at my lowest weight in about 4 years. I should be happy with that right? Well, actually I still have about 25 lbs I want to lose to get down to a healthy weight. Every pound shows when you are 5'2!

It's not just about the weight though. If you're a mom, you know what a pregnancy does to your body. I have rolls in places I never thought rolls could be. My tummy, once flat, is now squishy with the dreaded flabby overlap over my c-section scar. I know my body will never look like it did pre-pregnancy and I'm ok with that (these stretch marks aren't going anywhere!) But I want to tone. I want to get healthy.

We have been eating a lot better at home so I know that I need to start working out to really make progress. It's hard since Grace doesn't nap and she always wants to "help" me exercise. Having her climb on me while I'm trying to do stuff on the floor or mess with my legs while I'm trying to jog in place makes it....interesting. I need to do it after the kids go to bed. Of course, I'm always tired or I find other things that I have to get done in the evenings, so I rarely make time to work out. But this is it, no more excuses! I'm going to start doing it at least 4 nights a week. Mike and I are going to have a weekend away for our anniversary in June and I'm really hoping to have made some good progress by then!

What is your favorite kind of work out? Do you have a favorite series of workout videos? Please share, I generally hate exercising and I need to find some fun new work outs to keep me going!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Little Lady Lily's Handmade Fairy Wands Review!

Disclosure: I received 10 wands to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own.

When I was planning Grace's ballerina 3rd birthday party, I knew that I wanted to do something fun and special for the favors.  I made each of the boys personalized superhero capes and each of the girls a tutu. But I wanted something else for the girls to complete the ballerina/princess look. When I found Little Lady Lily's Etsy shop, I fell in love with her handmade fairy wands! I knew they would make the perfect accessories for the whimsical look I was going for at the party.

Melissa, the owner of Little Lady Lily's shop generously sent me 10 wands so that each girl could have one. I was impressed with the quality when they arrived. The colors were bright and fun. They were individually packaged with a little bow that was adorable but because of the way I wanted to arrange the favors, I unwrapped them and placed each one with a tutu. 
Princess Party Favors

The girls loved them! They were waving them around and acting like princesses with them. Even our youngest little party guest (Addie from Director Jewels) was enamored with hers (she was supervised the entire time with it since the wand does have little jewels that could be a potential choking hazard for little ones.) 

The wands were simply beautiful and I couldn't have been happier with them. Grace's has become a great addition to her dress up trunk. I found her yesterday playing in her room with her Princess Sofia dress and her wand yelling "bibbity boppity boo!"

I had such a hard time deciding which wands to get in the first place. Melissa offers so many cute ones. Grace's recent favorites are the Frozen inspired wands:
Wands inspired by Anna and Elsa. LOVE!
Melissa also offers pirate and superhero wands:

I highly recommend Little Lady Lily's shop. Her wands are beautiful and are sure to be a hit for any princess or fairy party!

Disclosure: I received 10 wands to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ballerina Party: Grace's 3rd Birthday Party

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from any of the links I make a small amount.

Grace loves to dance! So when I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday party, she said she wanted a "dance party." Her favorite color is purple so I took the purple ballerina theme and ran with it. Not too surprisingly, most ballet parties I could find online were pink, so I had to make most of the decorations myself. I started working on everything weeks before and I am thrilled with how it all came together.

Ballet Party

This is going to be a very photo heavy post, just a warning! :)

I found invitations that I liked on Pinterest and decided to recreate them. It took some trial and error but I finally settled on this and everyone loved them! I found purple glitter on me and the furniture for days after I made them. Here is the tutorial that includes a free printable leotard!

DIY Ballerina Tutu Invitation

Grace was so excited the morning of the party as we put the decorations up.

This wall was my pride and joy of the party decorations. I spent many hours sewing each child a tutu or superhero cape. I will be posting more pictures and tutorials on the tutus and capes next week.

Ballet Party Decorations
Ballet Party Decorations
Ballet Party Decorations

Each girl received a fairy wand with their tutu from Little Lady Lily's shop. I will be posting a review of the wands tomorrow!
Ballet Party Decorations

I would love to take credit for the food table, but honestly I have to give most of the credit to my friend Julie! She helped me make the cupcake picks, the marshmallow wands and pretty much set up the entire table while I was going crazy at the last minute trying to get everything ready.
Ballet Party Food
Ballet Cupcake Picks

I love how the cupcake picks turned out. I have shared a tutorial and a free printable leotard template in this post!
Ballet Cupcake Picks
The marshmallow wands were a hit with the kids. We glued ribbon on to wooden kabob skewers and they made a cute decoration.
Ballerina Party FoodBallerina Party Food

 Julie sewed up a cute ruffle streamer for the table.
Ballet Party Decorations

The birthday banner was made using my cricut and ballerina printables I found here. I shrunk them, cut them out, and then added a tulle ruffled skirt to each.
Ballerina Party Decorations
Ballerina Party Decorations

I also made snowflake ballerinas with printables from here. I made an attempt to hand cut pretty snowflakes like she did, but after one, I decided to use my Cricut to cut the other two!
Ballet Party Decorations
Ballet Party Decorations
Ballet Party Decorations

I made tulle pom poms and also cut out butterflies with my Cricut to help complete the whimsical ballet setting!

Cricut Butterflies

About an hour before the party, Grace started getting very grumpy. She refused to nap that day and started throwing constant tantrums. It was bad and I was concerned that her party was going to be a disaster. My mom finally convinced her to put on her leotard and tutu that I made for her but she was still grumpy when her guests arrived.

She started begging for a cupcake. Now some back story. For the past year or so, she has freaked out the moment anyone starts singing Happy Birthday. We would go to other kid's parties and she would lie on the ground crying when the singing started. So for the past month, I have been singing it at least once a day to get her used to it. The day before we actually even practiced blowing out a real candle with her friend Lincoln. She thought it was great fun! But due to her mood, I was worried that all of our efforts would be wasted. Sure enough, as soon as we started singing Happy Birthday, she lost it. Screaming, crying, kicking, was awful. Thankfully as soon as the singing stopped she was fine again and actually blew out her candle.

She was happy that she finally got to eat her cupcake.

I swear she was enjoying it.
For some reason, that picture always reminds me of this one from her first Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party:

It didn't take long for her to start begging to open her presents. This was the first year she's really cared and she got so excited with each one. She wanted to open each and every one.
Her Elsa doll. She had Anna already and was so excited to get Elsa too.
Sophia dress and shoes. She has been wearing the shoes around the house every single day.
I got this tea set cheap and she LOVES it. It's a special toy to only play with while Connor naps as it is very breakable, but all day long she asks to play tea!
Her big gift from us was a dress up trunk. I've been collecting the dress up clothes from consignment sales and Facebook groups for months and I was so excited to see her reaction to it.

 She wasn't sure what to make of it at first but she dove in and got so excited.

She found this Cinderella dress and pretty much hasn't taken it off since the party. She's not allowed to wear it to eat, sleep, or go potty but otherwise she's got it on. We have to basically force it off of her to go out in public. As soon as we get home, she runs to find "Rella dress!!" It's too long for her but she loves it.

She had lots of little friends at her party and most of the girls decided to dress up too. We were able to get a few of them to take a picture with Grace and I am so happy we did. How adorable is this??

The dress up trunk was definitely a huge hit!

All of the kids looked adorable in their tutus and superhero capes.

Despite the rocky start to the party, it was a success. Grace had fun and begged to have her "dance party" again the next day. It was fun and I have to confess that I haven't had the heart to take down most of the decorations yet. She gets excited every time we go downstairs to see stuff from her party. Happy Birthday my darling girl!


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