Who isn’t on the Unicorn Cra-cra-zy train lately? We are all for the magical creature at our house. Bring on the glitter and gold, rainbows and sparkles. My daughter loves unicorns, ice cream and donuts,… More
It’s that time of year we have either started succeeding or given up and failed at whatever said ‘resolutions’ we made for ourselves. And that inner voice may start to creep in and be anything but good for our personal development.
This morning I spoke with both grandmothers. We chatted on the phone on speaker and my 4-year-old and squealy baby interrupted from time to time.
I enjoyed catching up with them and listening to them share what they were up to. After I got off the phone with each of them I was pondering back on our conversations. Both grandmothers did the same thing! Both expressed slowing down more and more each day and both expressed frustration on not being able to ‘keep up’.
“Ah! The never-ending to do list” I thought to myself. The never-ending comparison game of seeing what the person next to us is capable of doing and letting it get us down. The ultimate killer of productivity if you ask me.
As one of my grandmothers was expressing her frustration, I could only relate! Not being able to complete a simple task because of certain obstacles. The only difference, the obstacles! And I thought, “This woman has raised 8 children! She has worked so hard, of course getting older and slowing down have to be hard on anyone who is a get things done girl” And my other grandmother I thought much the same of how hard she has worked as a single mother in many of her years and balancing all that.
The thing is. When I was thinking about how both women shared their overwhelm, part of me thought, “How silly! You have done so much and needn’t feel these expectations you put on yourself..”
I continued to think about how amazing both of them were and how if only they focused on what they have achieved instead of all they unable to it would be better.
Better for their peace of mind, self-esteem, just better!
So let us all take a moment for ourselves and throw our own confetti! And remark on all the things that we HAVE accomplished instead of focusing on all we have not.
When I pondered on my grandmother’s words, I thought about how we are years apart and still in a similar boat. For them, at this point in their life, it is physical limitations, for me, it is little ones that seem to have an acute talent for finding and dumping any and everything in this house.
As I am sure you may very well relate, as I express my daily stresses, my grandmother reminds me to love those moments anyway.
I am a big todo list maker. Partly for helping me to just organize my mind. And also, as my husband tells me, “one of the most Optimistic people he knows” meaning I like to make a LOT of big, realistically not achievable plans. And when I can’t accomplish all that I set out to do, I hit a low.
Lately, I have been sorting through old paperwork and old todo lists. And you know what? I look back on some of those lists and see a whole lot of little things I have spent too much energy fretting over! Funny little things. There is something about putting distance in time and looking back to remind yourself of the things that really matter.
So here is my happy challenge to you. You mama’s who may be getting bogged down on all the things you are not accomplishing.
Focus in the moment on what you CAN do in any one moment.
“Right now I CAN change this diaper”
“Right now I CAN send a quick happy birthday text to a friend”
“Right now I CAN settle these kids argument”
Pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments and the overwhelm will begin to look a little sillier.
Let us go easy on the expectations and instead celebrate our individual successes. Even if that might just mean putting on real pants for the day!
We had so much fun putting together this fun birthday party for my little Sister in Law.
It was a carnival-themed with lots of color and vintage vibes.
We had a lot of colorful triangle flags hanging across the room most of which were made with colored paper cut into an even isosceles triangle and folded over the yarn with a little glue. The extra ends needed folded in. Other string can be used but I recommend using only ribbon or yarn that does not fray easily. To keep it from fraying, try putting a little piece of tape over the end. These are a fairly versatile decoration that can be used for years to come.
A lily pad pond (above). I just cut out colored yellow and green foam into circles or lily pad shapes. Then the children could attempt to throw coins to land on them.
Decorative Party hats. My sis in law Megan prepared this one. We had the kids decorate their own hats to wear. This is a great activity to do as you wait for everyone to arrive. pom poms, glitter glue, stickers, paint etc.
This triangle flag banner has been used a lot. As props for engagement photos, party decor etc. But as you can see it is starting to fray which is why I recommend taping the ends and picking a ribbon that is sturdy, like cotton. Then it can be used again and again.
(Below) the Happy Birthday banner was printed out on card stock. Get your FREE PRINTABLE for this Happy Birthday Banner here. (And please subscribe!) Then we just hole punched them and attached them together.
We had access to some great little TV dinner tables that were the perfect size for stacking cups. The little red and white checkered print went perfectly with our cute vintage theme. The cups were semi study plastic cups. Then you will also see here, is a bowling set that we found in the toys.
To make the booths feel a bit more like booths since this was all inside, we used colorful plastic table clothes (the cheap disposable kind) This really dressed up the room and was easy to tape up.
The stairs made for a perfect Prize zone. We could layer them up based on number of tokens required. Each child received tickets upon arrival but was able to win tokens, which were just wooden chips about 2.5 inches big and painted.
The sisters and mom put together this fun personalized poster. We put it near the entrance where the bags for their prizes were. They basically could make their own goodie bags to take home based on the prizes them won. Gumballs in a mason jar made for a fun centerpiece. I loved the pinwheels sticking out. But beware, if you are doing your party outside, be sure to consider sticky heat that could melt them!
This is a chalk board that I have used for countless activities and carnival themed parties. We just found a vintage design online to style after with chalk. BTW, if you do not want your chalk to get smudged than chalk pens will help with that! Or to create smooth chalk lines, try soaking your chalk for a few minutes in water. (that was a trick we used when I use to work at a restaurant as a hostess) My sister in law drew up this cute board to welcome the guests.
The ticket booth was fun fun! We again used a TV food table as it was the perfect size and then I had a piece of stretchy red and white striped fabric that I just clamped to the back. The ticket sign was a tag board yellow piece painted and hung with yarn. The red roll of tickets has lasted through about 6 carnival parties so far and was very worth the purchase. I just found those as a Party City store.
You can tell that some of my decorative pieces have already seen their share of parties! I think when redoing this piece it will use red and white study cotton and take the time to sew it together for prolonged use. This has lasted about 4 parties. It is red and white tag board and cut and glued together with the bottom rounded.
The birthday girl! And her sisters love her to pieces to put together such a fun party:)
We did very “professional” face painting:) For the props I used Femo clay for molding to the slick into fun shapes like lips and mustaches, then baked it and once cooled glued it to the stick.
Megan with her awesome party hat!
Our fishing pond was made with:
– Colorful draw fish, cut out and lamented. (I have found that lamenting something like this is well worth it! I have used these for dozens of things, like lessons at church, preschool and parties with relevant themes)
– Tape to tape on the sign and fish
– I created a fish setting on a piece of tag board with paint. In the future I might buy a cheap blue sheet and then get some fabric paints to decorate a background)
-A 1.5 inch rod
-About 3 feet of string taped at the end
-A clothes pin tied to the other end of the stick for clamping the prizes to
To operate the fishing booth, we folded up a ping pong table which needed to happen anyway to make space for the party, but you can tie a rope to two sturdy anchor points or use a long stick or light weight wood beam to rest over two semi high surfaces such as two ladders.
Part of what makes a party fun was to make it feel just condensed enough that it feels lively and fun. This same principle is used for city planning in effective city lay outs where the parking is put at the back to the store fronts can come right up to the street. So anyway, we were condensed as is in our space, but you want to find that even ground of spreading out enough for the games but having everything close enough that there is a fun energy present that they can all share.
For the other side of the room I used my photo backdrop stand with clamps to hang backdrops and plastic tables clothes. Back porch poles with ropes tied in between or two ladders with wood safely clamped across in place are another route. Also in the picture, another game that was fun was cups for tossing little balls into.
You can’t full see it in this picture, so I will hunt for a better one, but behind all this we had a theater area, where while the kids ate pizza and cake they watched a movie that we had actually made. They had to of course pay with a ‘ticket’ to get into the movie.
All in all this party was a huge success!
What party themes have you tried? Share your party adventures in a comment below! What worked or didn’t work for your little crew?
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Ok you guys. If you are making your way through Indianapolis with the family, you have GOT to put this museum on the list! It is ranked #1 in the country and was so much fun! We could have gone several days in a row if we were there for longer. We just visited my hubby while he was doing his internship there over the summer so while he was working we went to go play. Anyway, there is so much here! We were there for half the day but barely made it through 1/2 of it if that.
Every once in a while when we are at a museum, there will be that occasional exhibit that brings out the “kid” in me. You know what I mean? I just am so passionate about miniature things. I love the art of it. So when I saw these dollhouse miniatures at the Children’s museum my heart skipped a beat. This would be a hobby I wouldn’t mind perusing one day. In a way we are already doing so on our own with our miniature dollhouse creations and fairy house building. But note, I do have the help of toddlers. They love it though. We have built one for each season for our family room table of decor.
Would you have the patience and delicate hand required to pursue such an art? Tell me in the comments below!
I love this little colonial setup. One of these days we might try to my our way to Colonial Williamsburg before leaving the east coast.
When I was about 11, a best friend of mine had a full dollhouse like this one. It was complete with electricity… the works. I remember her telling me about how her grandparents has started making it for the oldest sister, but it didn’t get completed until the last sister was about 8 or 9. Such a time consuming art I guess, but I think there is certainly a reason why!
When we were in Seattle, we got a chance to go to the Chihuly glass museum featuring amazing work like this one displayed in the center of the winding stairs at the childrens museum and it was stunning. The artist was is so devoted to his art, that even when he lost one eye in glass making and now wears an eye patch, he continues on. If I lost an eye as a photographer… well I guess that would work out ok as I close one eye anyway to look through the shutter.
Mister Milo was sooo focused on being the racecar driver, I really couldn’t get his attention 😉 Pretty much he is at, “Whatever mom! I am busy drivin a car here!”
In Salt Lake City at the Gateway Children’s museum there, The Discovery Gateway they have an amazing room devoted to balls where you can pop them in the tubes and send them about. They has a similar setup here with balls and scarfs and other fun floating things you could send up flying.
And .. the splash pad! They do have splash protection gear but my kids are too cool for that:) JK.
Madeline ready with her goggles to play in the wind tunnel and send scarves and papers flying up.
This was part of the creatures in the forest area. As a mom, I couldn’t stop thinking… how often do these furry guys get washed? And that is what good hand sanitize is for. It is when your 3 year old tries to come at you and give you snuggly kisses with the shared furry friend that you kindly pass.
And this was one of our favorites! Art corner! They started out this little class with a teacher giving a short lesson on expression and art talking about butterfly wings, then we got to make one out of coffee filters and watercolor paint.
The kids used eye droppers to put their paint on their picture. It was beautiful and proud mama art. But unfortunately only lasted a few days with our upcoming travels.
Next we explored the archaeological digs where kids could reconstruct duplicates of the Emperor’s Silent Army and similar figures.
And a fun under the sea “treasure hunters” exhibit
A giant plastic mummy kids could reconstruct. This was of course too old for my kids but perfect for all those school groups coming in learning about mummies.
It felt a bit like we were in Universal Studios or something. With all the lights and effects.
The train exhibit was Milo’s FAVORITE! Though he was pretty tired by this point. They loved the tunnels that you could crawl under and see trains down there and the trains that went above.
I had a hard time peeling him away from this one. Fortunately one distraction sits next to another which makes the transitions easier.
For another career, I don’t think I would mind perusing miniature building. How cute is this boho/ hobbit styled train station? Reminds me of Harry Potter.
A completely amazing full stream locomotive. Milo was ecstatic.
An assortment of metal vintage trains. Love these! Reminds me of the grandparents fun tradition of a train going around the Christmas tree. Smaller versions though. These ones were pretty big!
Outside this windows were rolling tape of the countryside and such as you went on a pretend journey.
More vintage trains! And me…
Loved this train table and how you could stand in the middle of it if you wanted to. I think that only other place I had seen this before was at the Raleigh Children’s museum.
In the basement of the Museum was an assortment of plastic Chihuly art pieces that the children could poke into the holes and make a masterpiece. Also, there was a pretty legit rotating chair that leaned back so you could observe the art on the ceiling. I would have loved to linger longer on it but somehow Milo still had a LOT of energy and was running about. I will post a video here shortly.
Getting to know our Asian neighbors! Madeline played house inside as setup of a Chinese home. Play food, the works.
We could go to a play market place, learn calligraphy, watch a show (which we missed) and Madeline has fun dressing up in traditional Opera attire.
And last but not least, shadow puppets! Can I just say that this is a developing passion of mine! We have pursued that as a Christmas holiday tradition telling the Nativity story and make puppets each year for it. I will make a separate post all about that shortly!
What were your favorite exhibits? What was your favorite to visit and why? Tell me in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe!
Photography by: http://effervescentmediaworks.com
Valentine’s season in one of our favorite crafting seasons! We just love all the cute colors and hearts and gifts that we make for giving friends and family.
Here are some super easy and beautiful Valentine cards we made this year that include two current art trends, watercolor and glitter. The simplicity of this craft is perfect for a pro yet personal touch.
Here is what I used:
- Strathmore Watercolor paper 6×9
- plastic or paper plate for shaking glitter over
- Gold Glitter – We like Martha Stewart Crafts brand Glitter – Florentine Gold
- red and orange-red watercolor paint and a little water
- paintbrush and palette
- Elmer’s glue
To start I used the 6 x 9 watercolor paper, because I don’t care for a lot of cutting and I could simply cut it straight from the pad binding. Once I had the number I wanted I folder them on a flat surface and used the handles of my scissors to make a cleanly folded crease.
From there I starting mixing my paint a touch with about a teaspoon or tablespoon of water. I like to not mix it completely together as a variety of tones make a prettier heart.
I loosely painted my hearts and for fun on a few I flecked so paint speckles on my flicking my brush against my hand a few inches away from the card.
Last I laid the cards flat. To help reduce chances of the paint running, I go creative in how they were laid to make sure they were flat. The paper does tend to warp temporarily with the water color paint but when it dries it will go back to normal.
Let the cards all dry, for about an hour or too. Make sure they are completely dry as you will not want the glitter to cling to the wet parts and if you try to move them while they are still drying you are more likely to have the paint bleed.
When they are dry use a bottle of Elmer’s glue and put your calligraphy skills to use. Make sure your glue is all down in the end of the bottle and test on another piece of paper to get use to the speed it comes out for writing. I recommend sticking to short words like Love, or abbreviations like: u r a q t (you are a cutie) Which will make them smile mouthing it out and trying to figure it out.
Other ideas are: Hello Beautiful, Hey There, Happy Valentines, Sweet, Cutie, xoxo… Simply consider the receiver of the card and what would put a smile on their face.
Sprinkle your glitter on all over your glue, gently shake it off of the plate and set aside, face up to dry.
What my kids loved: Helping sprinkle the glitter and also painting the cards. My toddler is quite proud every time she completes her masterpiece and I love that. It is half the reason for doing crafts like this is worth it. Instilling pride, self-esteem, and patience etc.
And there you have it! Have fun!
Comment below if you have made a craft like this or one like it! How did it turn out?
These are my two babies . . . when they were still babies. It’s one of my favorite pictures. I remember this being a challenging trip. We were down in Atlanta to see friends and my husband got sick and had to go to Urgent care in the middle of the night. And this was them at the hotel before bed. They were both eager for those bottles and then just sat there sucking on them waiting for my next move. Just staring. So many expectations or just wonder I guess.
What’s next mom? What’s next on the agenda? What exciting thing will you entertain us with next? What are we going to have for dinner mom? Who’s going to come over for playdate mom?
The list goes on.
When I was a kid, we found our own playmates down the street and only sometimes did my mom formally arrange them. But sadly, a lot of that part of America is history. I look down the street and rarely see kids out at play.
This photo. When I look at it, I see the little expectations again and I see two innocent and helpless
little human’s I am in charge of taking care of. Nourishing them. Teaching them everything. Comforting them when they are upset and helping them build their confidence. Helping them to build their own confidence as they learn to do things for themselves, and become quite stubborn in insisting to do it themselves. And then after all those seemingly never-ending small expectations. Filling a bottle, then a sippy cup, then one day they stop asking you and get it for themselves. And little by little they grow up.
They take pride in their accomplishments and suddenly develop expectations of themselves. My 4-year-old would barely sit down to finish a coloring page or a drawing, then suddenly overnight it seems he has been sitting and patiently coloring and drawing pictures constantly. And I love this because not only is he developing his creativity but learning to express himself in a healthy manner. Emotions of love or stress and frustration can come out in his drawings and it helps me to see more of what he is going through and open up a door of conversation on the topic.
I have also noticed he gets too hard on himself. Perhaps that is the artist’s blood in him, from our family of artists that expect a little too much of themselves. But how else do you grow if you never push yourself? Anyway, we are learning that it is ok to color outside the lines sometimes.
Have a little artist in the house with the abundance of sweet little creations? Here are some great tips for organizing all that artwork.
I recently got together and did a collab with one of the most down to earth, fun bright and colorful moms I know! Here name is Jessi, but she currently goes professionally by Jessica Danielle. She is a party planner and photographer.
Together we chat DIY, party planning and she shows us how to make a Tulle Tutu.
Recently she put on an adorable Unicorn Party for her 4 year old. Complete with the ponies and magical horn and bright color.
The girls pranced around and danced and had a blast.
Beautiful cake by Cakes by Jessica This little cake topper is so adorable. I can’t get over it.
This adorable silver sparkled four year old unicorn shirt is from Aubrey Bills Boutique
Adorable backdrop by Kristy Lynne Horsley. Those unicorn cut outs and patterns is so fun!
This adorable unicorn costume is from Princess Paradise! Love all their costumes. Such great quality and it was the perfect outfit for Brynley’s “Royal” birthday trot to presents.
I think every little girl at some point had a stage of exciting galloping around like a horse or unicorn.
Be sure to check out and subscribe to Jessica Danielle Photography here: https://www.instagram.com/jessica.danielle.photography/
And if you are located in the Salt Lake and West Jordan areas of Utah, be sure to inquire for your next upcoming birthday party! Whether you decorate or just want someone there to document the day! It takes such a stress off so you can enjoy the party yourself!
Below is Brynley’s full video captured by Jennie Case. Jennie captured my 2nd child’s birth. I am so comfortable with her and I love her videos. Consider her for your upcoming event or wedding!
Photography: Jessica Danielle Photography and Party Planning
Videography: Jennie Case
T-Shirt: Aubrey Bills Boutique
Cake: Cakes By Jessica
Unicorn Costume by: Princess Paradise
Each autumn, I can never get enough of these beautiful colorful leaves. This fun craft is simple and brings together nature and fall color! And makes for a cute table centerpiece for Thanksgiving or other holiday dinners.
I hadn’t ever seen a turkey in person before I moved to California and I would never have guessed I would find them here! Palm trees and wild turkey’s, who knew. That is northern California for you. I did learn that wild turkey’s can be rather mean and will come right after you, so if you ever meet one, keep your distance!
What you’ll need
- Vibrant Leaves (best found in damp cold conditions near the base of it’s recently changing tree) If you are not in a place where real leaves are available use artificial ones.
May your house be filled with cheer and a little gobble gobble!
Those three words that can sometimes lead to my ultimate mom guilt. Because they come again and again! Sometimes I think , “not again. I love you, but I have SO much to do….. or I just want to socialize for a few minutes with the other moms! Play date is for mama’s sanity too child! I can’t wait til you are old enough to swing yourself.” And then you know what… I feel guilty again for looking at such a task as a chore.
Because, tomorrow, they will grow up and my 2 year old won’t have that little sweet chime in his voice when he comes to my office door and “mom you come push me? Push me on da swing mom!” And so then I pull away from whatever email, edit or project I am working on to go out in the backyard and push him. (not always mind you, but I attempt to balance it out) I lift the swing back back back and let go. And he or she will squeal with delight “Wheeeeeee!! Higher mom higher! Whoa mom, too high, too scary…”
It goes on.
But you know something…. as adorable as their little chimes or squeals of joy are, there is something a little sweeter.
Sometimes I will be working, and take a look out the door into the backyard and see something adorable, I hear something adorable. It is the way they play with each other. Yes there is the “NO IT’s MY turn First! MOOOOMMMMMM Milo’s NOT letting me have a TURN!” thrown in there… but every once in a while, I hear them playing together nicely and taking turns spinning each other and giggling together. This sibling bonding is heartwarming and I love to see it. I believe that even at a young age, kids recognize the sacrifices we make. Believe me, there are times I can’t get anything done! But I have noticed what a huge difference breaking up my day has also had on me, on any stresses etc to step away from chores or emails or whatever to play with the kids, to go to the park, to stop and smell the roses… It brings me back to priorities, to family, and you know something… it drives me, motivates me.
Madeline will notice when I make a sacrifice and she sees when I am turning away from something else that I need to get done. And it is a serious tug and pull. This balancing act. Being an adult, helping pay the bills and making those sacrifices. I feel like a juggler for a reason. That ought to be a synonym for adult.
Madeline sees when I pull away because every time she sees that I am spending quality time with her, and not half looking at the phone or playing hide and seek (while doing chores at the same time (admit it! you do it too:)
In those moments we are building a puzzle, or reading a book or playing with ponies, or swinging, even if it just 5 or 10 minutes here and there…. she looks at me and says, “I love you mom.”
Time is love.
Have you played today?
My child: “Mom! What’s for dinner?”
Me: “Whatever I can get made!”
And in the meantime I will juggle as I deal with raw meat, a hot stove, knives, curious kids wanting to help and hunger that just can’t wait.
What’s your daily juggle? Let us know in the comments below and it just might make it into our next video!
Here are my quick tips for having a hassle free dinner making session.
- Have an activity.
- Truthfully, we usually wait until this time of day to turn on any screens, so I use dinner prep time as a time to turn on a show. But if you want to avoid too much screen time, that have a box of “dinner prep time only” activities that you pull out special for this time of day. Here are some examples (play dough, stickers, puzzles, watercolor paints…) Just make it a fun activity that they don’t get to do whenever.
- Involve them.
- We have started a chore chart in our house, which can be really tricky to be consistent with, but I have found that during dinner prep time, this is a great time for them to do some simple chores and help out. The stickers and eventually earning a toy are their incentive. Small chores like wiping down the table, picking up toys, putting silverware on the table, folding napkins, scrubbing potatoes, washing their hands etc are a few examples of some chores. They will feel part of the team too helping out. Be sure to encourage them along with reinforcement. Plus, they are more likely to eat the food if they help!
- Let them watch
- From a safe distance, let them watch the stirring and chopping. Always be cautious of heat and use this as a reminder of listening to mama to stay safe. We have adopted Daniel’s the Tiger’s , “Stop and Listen to Stay Safe.” Each show has a lesson and that one has helped. Turning on the oven light and letting them watch keeps them preoccupied for a few minutes.
- Give them a Snack
- Look out for this one! I feel like there is never enough ‘up’ space in our house and I can’t seem to keep the chips and other not so healthy snacks hidden well enough! And as most of us know, the moment they snack on too much junk, the less likely they will actually eat their dinner! So my suggestion of keeping those little hungry tweeters at bay until the good healthy stuff is ready is to take advantage of their hunger! Raw carrot sticks are one such example that my little’s are quick to grab at, especially if it is offered to them when they are hungry. Plus, it takes a while to naw at too, so it is a slower eat.
- Let them play in the back yard.
- Having a gated backyard has been my dream for a LONG time! When I am chopping and boiling and frying it is not fun to have little baby birds at your feet needing constant attention. So I pull out bubbles or a something fun like chalk and let them go play. The big thing is making it something new to keep them entertained long enough with out too many sibling quarrels.
Good luck and happy eats! Let me know in the comments what you like to do to keep your little preoccupied while you prep dinner!
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All I can say about this photoshoot I recently did with my toddlers is, “The Juggle is REAL!”
This is one of the silliest and most fun photo shoots I have done with my kids. And as a photographer and a mama these kids have had a lot of pictures taken so that is saying a lot. They thought hopping all over mama was so much fun because it is something that they never get to do! I edited this into a Charlie Chaplin styled old movie and I am in love with the high speed cuteness. Little Madeline’s and Milo’s kerplunking all over the bed and little facial expressions are the sweetest.
Not a single day of motherhood is easy. I can often feel like a circus performer wrangling this little crew. But I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. What is your daily juggle? Tell us and it might just make it into our next video! Something as seemingly simple as transporting the groceries inside is one of mine from this week.
When it comes to it, yes I have hard days, and more hard days. Yes, the juggle and struggle is real, but with that… I have learned to roll with it.
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