kids · parenting · Uncategorized

Sidewalk Chalk Mosaics

Have you had a chance to make a sidewalk chalk mosaic yet? We love them. Every aspect of it is satisfying, from planning a design, to putting down the tape, coloring and maybe especially peeling off the tape for the big reveal.

My girls had been begging to do another sidewalk chalk mosaic ever since the rain washed away their last one. Thankfully, the Easter bunny brought them more chalk and tape. 🐇

Anna Claire, our ten-year-old, was very strategic about choosing the day to do it, watching the weather so that they would get the maximum number of days to enjoy it before the next rain.

Last time I did most of the tape work. This time the girls did it without help. We have learned you don’t have to be too perfectionistic about it. It will look good no matter what.

We have also learned it is wise to sweep the area or pick up any debris so the area is clean before you start taping. If you don’t, the tape won’t stick and stay put as well.

It is also worth mentioning that we did not use a template. I have read that others “combed Pinterest” searching for a template. You certainly could! We personally opted not to because we felt like part of the fun is creating your own design.

If you do create your own design, it’s helpful to decide what the outside shape will be, then just be sure to the smaller shapes you create inside are polygons: triangles and trapezoids look best. Lots of angles!

You can put in some additional planning if you want the design to be symmetrical. We opted for more abstract.

We also had better chalk this time, “much more pigmented” (the words of Madeline, my six-year-old) and we loved the names of the colors: Macaroni and Cheese, Mauvelous and Granny Smith Apple, to name a few. We have decided we would like to be hired by Crayola to choose the color names!

A new box of chalk is so satisfying

For this project you will need:

adventures with kids · clarksville · kids · quarantine · Uncategorized

Our Second Week of Quarantine: “Spring Break”

I know we are like so many who have mourned (or are mourning) the loss of our spring break plans. We had so many fun adventures planned! But instead of being sad, we got creative and found ways to make the most of our time.

I felt like the girls deserved a week off – no school work. If it was going to be their spring break, quarantine or not, I was determined to make it the most fun I possibly could for them.

Neighborhood walks are the best medicine.

We went for a walk almost every day. It is amazing what being outdoors and taking in the vitamin D does for the body. Loving some sunshine after rain almost every day last week! Madeline asked for a horse, and I remembered a couple of stick horses I had bought way back, stuck in the closet and had forgotten about. I pulled those out and she has loved riding her hobby horse all over the house and outside.

Meet Diamond. 🐴

All of the rain delivered lots of growth in the beds so I weeded and prepped them while the girls played outside. Lots of bike and scooter riding, basketball, and badminton. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles and jumprope were favorites too. They enjoyed these simple pleasures so much.

Sidewalk chalk and bubbles

The girls asked to do some school work, which I hadn’t planned on, as I said, with this being Spring Break. But if they are wanting to learn, I am never saying no to that. Madeline working on ixl and AC worked on science fossils diagram.
AC found a recipe for Nutella fudge, and had been talking to us about it, writing it all out and begging for the ingredients to make it for several days. Larry got everything for her and helped her make it over break and she was over the moon. And her fudge was amazing. She seems to have a natural knack for cooking just like her dad. If we can just train her not to lick her fingers!

Watch out! This girl is going places. Everything she cooks up is amazing.

I had read on social media that many folks do Takeaway Tuesday. So many restaurants that we had been wanting to try have made the shift from dine-in to curbside and take-away, so we took a drive and picked up Nicholetta’s southern chicken salad and a calzone from Caprizios. We also did a curbside pick up of art supplies from Michael’s. It is so great that they offer this option! I ordered a giant pack of markers, some water color paper and a Frozen II jewelry making set for Madeline.

Nicholetta’s for the win!

It was a rainy day so we did washable marker designs on the watercolor paper and let them sit outside in the rain for a tie dye effect. AC was missing her friends so we let her call one of her best friends which she needed and loved. Madeline made one of her friends a necklace, colored her a picture and wrote her a letter. Both girls have enjoyed writing letters and receiving them. They discovered hangman and have become obsessed with the game.

Rainy day art!

Hangman!

When we were out getting Nicholetta’s we had noticed something we never noticed before – our favorite ice cream shop, Golly G’s has a drive through! So the next day, we hit the Golly G’s drive through for ice cream then took it with us to the park to enjoy outside. We hiked Spur Line Trailhead, which is a lesser known path. I like that you run into very few if any people. It is pretty with lots of flowering trees and the girls love crossing the bridge.

Spur Line Trailhead – downtown Clarksville

This was our “big trip” for break, but I do think we social distanced well and followed guidelines. AC had been begging to go to Five Daughter’s Bakery in Nashville and it was near the top of her bucket list for spring break. Well, when I was looking over our would-have-been-plans, Five Daughter’s delightfully stood out to me as something we could still do. They did online ordering and curbside pick-up so minimal human interaction. We got our 100-layer-donuts and took them with us to devour at Radnor Lake, another bucket list item. I told the girls awhile back that it was Taylor Swifts favorite park and they have begged to go there since. I thought it was doable since we would be close by and wanted to do a nature walk anyway. It was breathtaking. None of us were expecting it to be as beautiful and charming as it was. We will most definitely be back! When we got home I cut back monkey grass in our front bed while the girls blew bubbles and did sidewalk chalk.

Radnor Lake – our new favorite place.

To wrap up break, we had a rainy day, and treated ourselves to a spa day: charcoal soap, facial scrub, mask and foot bath. This could be habit forming!
Finally, I took Madeline to our small country store down the road (she calls it “the honey store.”) While we were there she discovered the little free library and found a book on butterflies. It was windy and I quickly remembered our kites I had picked up a week ago. It ended up being the perfect day for flying them.

Little Free Library

Kite flying success

essential oils · kids · parenting · quarantine

DIY Scented Crayons Using Essential Oils

Have you ever made your own crayons? I was looking for some fun homeschool activities to do with my kiddos and stumbled on a recipe for making your own crayons and someone suggested scenting them.

I am personally allergic to artificial fragrance and we don’t use it in our home, but I do have and love essential oils!

Here is what you will need for this project:

  • Old crayons (broken with paper peeled off)
  • Muffin/cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  • Butter spray or olive oil spray
  • Essential oils

Here are the steps:

1. Preheat oven to 250. If crayons are not already peeled and broken into small pieces you will need to do that.

2. Decide if you want each crayon to be a different color or if you want rainbow crayons. Either way, you may want to divide your broken crayon pieces up into piles by color.

Peel paper, break into pieces and sort by color.

3. Place a liner in each section of the muffin pan. We sprayed lightly with cooking spray so the liner would come off easily. Then add crayons. I recommend placing the pan on a foil lined cookie sheet.

4. Place the pan in the oven and leave in for 15 about minutes.

5. Pull out and add two drops of desired essential oil to each crayon, then return to oven for another 15 minutes. My daughter felt it was important to color code the oil with the crayon color (pictured below).

She color coded the oil with crayon color. 🌈

6. She was eager to use her new crayons so we placed in the freezer for a half hour after we removed from the oven.

If you appreciate nostalgic stories I thought I would also share my first experience making my own crayon. I was about seven or eight: I remember being bored as a kid and taking my old pieces of crayon, and wondering if I could melt them to make a new one like the multicolored ones I had seen at church. I was little so I wasn’t allowed to use the stove or oven, but I could use the sun’s heat. I had an idea. But I would need a container. It just so happened that it was Pillsbury cinnamon roll day at my house, and so I asked my mom to save the cup the icing comes in. That cup would be perfect for my crayon experiment. It was summer, so it was hot enough I thought. I put my broken crayons, paper peeled off, in the icing container, and set it out in a sunny spot. I came back out several hours later, and just as I expected I had lovely melted rainbow wax. I brought it inside and let it cool off and was so proud of that crayon.

**Did you know there was such a thing as National Crayon Day? It is March 31, the day I am writing this. Mark your calendar for next year and this may be the perfect activity for celebrating it. 😊

kids · parenting · quarantine

Photo Scavenger Hunt

We’ve really liked doing scavenger hunts during this stay home time, and one of our favorites has been the Photo Scavenger Hunt.

We had so many laughs, so many do-overs and it forced us to be silly. Best scavenger hunt we’ve done! Here is the hunt list from Craftaholics Anonymous (thank you!) and I also included some of our pics for you to enjoy.

Click on the hunt list for the printable from Craftaholics Anonymous.
Piggy back ride (#15) and yes, the youngest is in her PJs! We have a very relaxed dress code here. 😊
Playing air guitar (#9)
Jumping in the air (#1)
Emojis (#30)
adventures with kids · kids · parenting · quarantine

Three Kite Flying Secrets

I have been posting pics of my kids flying kites for several springs now and have had other parents ask me for tips. “What am I doing wrong?” they will say. “Our kite just won’t fly.”

Secret #1: Cheap kites are the best. They are the lightest which makes them great flyers. My father-in-law is a whiz with kites so we’ve had nicer ones and they really are hard for little kids to get started. When we started getting the cheap Barbie or Elsa or Buzz Lightyear kites, we had way fewer tears and the kids could do it themselves.

Cheap Barbie kite for the win!

Secret #2: Get the kites while you can. You don’t see kites year round. They tend to be available late February and all of March. When you see them it may still be cold outside and flying one may be furthest from your mind, but if you wait til late spring and for a windy day, you may not find these. We get ours at Walmart.

Secret #3: Kite flying can be done anytime of year! We tend to think of March- the windy month. But here in Tennessee, the day before any good rain shower tends to be windy. So watch your wind forecast and if you see rain, the day before tends to be windy!

Based on what I have read, kites will fly well between 8-24 mph, and even as a light of a breeze as 5-12 mph. If you can feel the breeze on your face, you can probably fly a kite. Personally we like our kites to really fly and put on a show, so I look for anywhere between 11-18 mph as our ideal. Less than that isn’t quite enough to get it up and keep it going, and more than that can be too much. I’ve circled the wind speed on the graphic below.

According to this graph the best bet for kite flying would be Sunday at 4pm.
kids · parenting

4 Rituals to Manifest a Snow Day

Whether or not you believe in legends, superstitions or rituals, they are just downright fun, especially when trying to conjure up a snow day.

Here are 4 rituals for you to try:

1. Wear your pajamas inside out.

2. Put a spoon under your pillow.

3. Flush ice cubes down the toilet.

4. Put a white crayon in the freezer!

Bonus: We have also read to brush your teeth with the opposite hand!

Sleep tight and hopefully you will wake up to your snow day!

Do you know any other snow day rituals? Have any of them worked for you? We would love to know. Please share in the comments!

And once you’ve had your fun in the snow, check out my post on fun indoor play ideas.

foodie · kids · natural lifestyle · parenting

Big Kid Favorites at Aldi

I have two girls, ages 6 and 10. One is a picky eater and the other is a foodie. When I announce we are going to Aldi, they both chant “yay!” because they know good food is on the way.

Here are some of our favorites:

1. Fruit. Berries, Honeycrisp apples, grapes, mandarins, whole pineapples and kiwis are some of our faves. Many of them organic. Great prices.

2. Cheese. My picky eater loves the spiral string cheese (cheddar and mozzarella). We also grab her a ball of mozzarella. My foodie girl loves Havarti, Gouda, Muenster and especially blue cheese crumbles.

3. Meats. My picky eater loves the bite-sized salamis and smoked turkey. She also loves their Dino nuggets which has one of the best ingredient lists I’ve seen. My big girl loves the smoked salmon, capocollo, sopressata, and prosciutto. We grab mussels for her from time to time too.

4. Pasta. We love their pasta shells. There is just something about them that is better than what you can get a Walmart. Maybe it’s the pretty bag and great price? They also like any of the raviolis in the refrigerated section. Five cheese is our current fave. Mushroom is good too!

5. Drinks. Both girls love the Pineapple Orange juice and Mango Orange juice. They also like the Kiwi Strawberry drink pouches. The mini water bottles are perfect to grab and go for sports.

6. Snacks and treats. Dark chocolate peanut butter granola bars are delicious and all natural! We love the cookies and cream ice cream. We alternate between the “go go squeeze” type of applesauces and the cups. Both are good. We are also loving the sea salt caramel chocolate chunk cookie dough.

kids · product reviews

Best Magic Set for Kids

Our little girl just turned six and had been asking for a magic set for months. I researched and read reviews. I asked her what she wanted specifically to come it the set. And then I found this set.

She asked for the set to have a hat, a wand, a cape, a rabbit, a coin, and magic scarves. This set fit the bill with the exception of the scarves and I will include the link for those in this post.

I originally checked Amazon and read tons of reviews, then Pinterest. Everything I read supported getting this set so at that point it was a no-brainer.

Friends, I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised when we opened the set and got everything out. It’s all so well made!

There is a hidden pocket on the outside of the vest for children to hide the magic coin. The hat has two compartments to hide the bunny and she can also hide her scarves. The wand is sturdy and the bunny and coin are cute. The cape is absolutely adorable.

This is the set we chose and these are the scarves (purchased separately).

We have one happy little girl and she says she wants to be a magician for Halloween which is a double win!

adventures with kids · kids · travel with kids · Uncategorized

St. Louis Zoo: Tips for Having a Great Experience

The St. Louis Zoo really needs to be at the top of your list if you’re visiting St. Louis. We live Tennessee and have a membership at Nashville Zoo which we love. I was skeptical that the St. Louis Zoo could be better or different than our beloved zoo, and I was pleasantly surprised.

The zoo is huge. We didn’t come anywhere near seeing it all the day we went. I don’t even know that we saw half! You almost need to look at a map before you go and plan what you want to see the most that day, then plan on coming again in the future to see everything else.

My niece was our amazing tour guide for the day. She grew up in St. Louis and lives right outside of St. Louis so they have been fairly regularly. We were able to see some of the animal feedings and interactions with the trainers which was really neat.

Hedgehog experience

There is a train that routes around the entire zoo, which is a real lifesaver and can save you many footsteps. You do need to know it is popular! We had to wait between 5 and 20 minutes each time we rode the train.

Go early. Arriving when the zoo opens will allow you to avoid crowds. It was definitely more crowded toward the end of our time than when we got there. I would also say to go on a weekday. We have not been on the weekend, but I can imagine it would be more crowded on those days.

The zoo wasn’t so crowded that we couldn’t let the girls walk ahead. Go early!

The zoo is free! What the what? They could easily charge for admission or membership but they don’t.

They DO make money. Food, train rides, carousel, souvenirs and all the extras will cost you. Particularly the animal encounters. To save money you may want to consider packing your own lunches and snacks. We totally tailgated in the parking lot!

Animal encounters. I want to go back to the St. Louis Zoo for this reason alone. While we were there, we noticed several zoo patrons getting to have special experiences that the rest of us weren’t. When we saw the sea lion show, there was a young lady in the audience who was able to go behind the scenes and work with the sea lions. They trained her to do some tricks with them. I was honestly jealous! But then we read anyone could do them if you pay!

At the children’s zoo I saw a little girl who got to go back where the food is prepared for the animals and she was able to handle an baby owl. I want to handle a baby owl!

Baby owl! 🦉

We did the stingray experience which ended up being the coolest part of our visit. You get to feed them and pet them! I was a little nervous about it but if you follow their instructions and do it correctly, you will not get stung. And the baby rays were so adorable!

Stingray experience

There are SO many experiences offered and animals you can see up close and personal: big cats, giraffes, sloths, penguins and more.  The good news is that anyone can do these. You have to schedule them in advance and there is a cost. We will definitely book one of these experiences next time we go!

essential oils · kids · natural lifestyle

Helping your child with migraines

Our ten-year-old daughter has suffered with migraines for a little over two years.

We pray she is growing out of them, as they are becoming less frequent.

I asked Anna Claire today what the top three things are that help her the most when she gets a headache. She said:

1. Sleep. Sleep equals relief – period.

But that’s not always possible.

2. This headache roller. I just made her a new one for back to school. I found the recipe on my Ref Guide for EOs app (great app!) 5 drops Roman chamomile, 10 drops grapefruit, 5 drops peppermint, 3 drops rosemary, and 4 oz. V-6 Oil for children under age seven, or 2 oz. V-6 Oil for children over age seven.

3. A cold cloth. She said it helps take her mind off of the pain and serves as a distraction.

Other things we have done to prevent: request teachers with strong classroom management. Noise is a trigger for her.

Staying hydrated is key and so is limiting sugar and food coloring intake.

We saw a decrease in frequency when we started taking her to the chiropractor. I would definitely recommend that.

Thinning out or trimming her hair. She loves doing long hairstyles but I’m pretty sure we can be sure to see fewer incidents with the 6 inches she shed this weekend.

If you have a child who gets migraines and have had success with any other natural remedies please share in the comments!