Fall Bucket List 🍂🍁

I absolutely love the changing of the season! And this weekend we finally have a break from the endless summer heat. We’ll be doing a few of my favorite activities from my fall bucket list, and I’ll sharing them with you!

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  • Apple picking at an orchard gets the whole family involved and out into the fresh air

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  • Visit a real Pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkins
  • Hay ride at a local farm, often petting farms with also have activities beyond a simple hay ride- maybe you can feed the chickens or baby goats?!

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  • A trip to your local Farmers market before many of them close for the winter season is a chance to really smell and enjoy fresh produce from around your community

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  • A family Hike to see the leaves changing colors is always a huge hit for us!

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  • Build a fire outside and toast marshmallows

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  • Create a few fall themed crafts with your little ones
  • Drink hot apple cider & make cookies!

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  • For the grown ups, try a traditional Oktoberfest beer or pumpkin beer!
  • Visit your local county or state fair

What fall bucket list items would you add? Comment below, we love to hear from you!

xo,

Christine

Tampa, Florida with Kids

Are you still looking to plan your family vacation this summer? I’ve put together our must see places with kids in the Tampa area to share with you! The best part of visiting the sunshine state, is that most of our favorite places are open year round! And I hope you’ll see that Florida has lots more than just the mouse land and crazy rides.

Our Top Must See!

  1. The Florida Aquarium
  2. Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park
  3. Glazer Children’s Museum
  4. Clearwater Beach

 

1 // The Florida Aquarium

Located in downtown Tampa, this is the perfect place to take the whole family. It gets you up close to many of the animals that live in Florida! Ever wanted to pet a sting ray, or meet a penguin? You’ll be amazed at just how close you can get to all the lovable creatures! How would you like to drive in and swim with the fish? No experience needed, you just need to be six years or older!

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2 // Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park

Voted #1 Family Friendly Zoo in the US by Parents Magazine, this is a must visit and probably our favorite place in the Tampa area. If your children love animals, they’ll have a great visit here! They have special animal encounters where you can feed many of the animals! We can’t wait to try many of these.

 

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3 // Glazer Children’s Museum

Even your littlest ones will find lots of great games to play, and things to explore at the children’s museum. Three floors of activities, climbing adventures, STEM activities and interactive play.

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4 // Clearwater Beach

Clearwater beach is about 20 miles of beautiful white sand, and clear water. We love coming to this beach and playing in the sand.

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BONUS

If you’re looking for even more adventures, head over to Area Attractions.

What are your favorite places to visit? Do you like the beach, visiting animals, or doing creative arts and crafts when visiting new cities?

xo,

Christine

Beach Packing List for Toddlers

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We’re going up, up, so high on an airplane this week to visit Florida! Andy and I just celebrated our fourth year wedding anniversary are so excited that busy season is finally over! Yay! For those of you that are new around here, Andy works in the accounting world as an auditor, and they are slammed this time of year with lots of extra hours. Which means, a little vacation is well deserved for all of us!

I’m so excited to be visiting my mom and spending a week with her going to the pool and the beach! We have gone to visit before, so this isn’t our fist trip. However it seems we continue to need to find new ways to keep her entertained on long trips. You know what I mean? Toddlers are busy little people always learning, always on the go!

I’ve rounded up a few of our must haves, plus some new suggestions from friends we’ll be trying out!

 

Clothing

 

 

We love sundresses, and living in the south we are obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer. I love their bright colors and patterns, especially for beach trips in the summer! Two of our current favorite designs are this toddler shift dress and this adorable baby girls dress. The best thing about being two, is you can still wear 24 month sizes and toddler girl sizes too! Yay!! Our two very favorite bathing suites are these from Target; coral and waves!

Accessories

 

 

 

Minnie Mouse Sunglasses | Straw purse | Wide-brim Hat | Tropical Hat

Adventure Sandals | Swimming Vest

 

Travel

 

Minnie Mouse Umbrella Stroller | Stroller Fan| Water-resistant Sunscreen

Magna-doodle Board | Fun Magnetic Board| Leak-proof water Bottle| Snacks to Go | Reusable Activity Pads

 

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Carrying it All

Freshly Picked Butterscotch Beige | Skip Hop Caramel

At the airport or going on a road trip, it’s great to have a place that is convenient to keep everything your little ones might need handy. These are both great bags that look stylish and help moms and dads make parenting look easy!!

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Will you be traveling this summer? What would you add to the list? Leave us a comment below, or join us on Facebook and Instagram for more conversations! Looking for our other post on our minimalist packing list? It’s here: A Minimalist Guide to Stress-Free Traveling with Toddlers & Babies

xo,

Christine

 

The Loudest 2nd Birthday EVER 🌸

We had the best time celebrating our friend’s 2nd Birthday. She had a really fun, loud, color-filled Trolls themed birthday party! My friend really out did herself!

If you’re looking for inspiration for a really fun Birthday party for your toddler, my friend Kristyn of Carolina Fireflies party is sure to inspire you! It was like stepping into the most fun trolls party house ever!

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When you first walk in, a huge rainbow, lots of treats and things hanging from the ceiling greeted you. And how gorgeous is this dessert table? The Trolls popcorn was so much fun to eat, and I’m sure it was hard to make it and not sneak a few bites! If you want to try some yourself, check out this recipe. Trolls Popcorn is sweet, salty, delicious and full of chocolate candy and pretty sprinkles. This treat might just get you showered in Troll Hugs!

Another easy and fun treat my friend made were these yummy pretzel flowers! A little salty and a little sweet, your kids are going to have a hard time eating just one!

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There were so many cute details!

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These flowers are all made by hand and a huge labor of love. Pinterest is filled with patterns and tutorials on how to make them. This huge rainbow flower was completely done by hand, including the pattern my friend used to make the flowers.

 

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Lots more flowers and balloons! I loved how she incorporated the trolls theme throughout her decorations. Now who’s ready for hug time?

 

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Unfortunately this is the only photo I took of the balloon rainbow my friend made. Of course it’s the photo of the birthday girl and my little one getting into mischief, right? I’ve linked a similar photo, and a how to by abeautifulmess!

WeddingDecor Ideas

The party was filled with lots of music, silly dancing, hugs and of course lots of eating. There were fruits and vegetables served on trays in a rainbow of colors. For your own party you might want to try making jello in rainbow colors to put out for the kids! I hope you’ll be inspired by this party to have your own Trolls Themed Party!

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xo,

Christine

 

Sisterhood, more than just Friendship

How may times have you wondered if what you’re doing is really making a difference? Women have wrestled with thoughts of doubt, longing, thankfulness, heartache and desire for millennium. As mothers, daughters, sisters, our hearts are made to be open to love, and service. If you’re a mom, you know what I’m talking about. But who can we turn to for support? Our spouse can be a single source of love, encouragement, and partnership among many other things. But our spouse cannot be everything for us. We need relationships outside our marriage.

Sisters, whether by flesh or friendship, can provide us with such great joy, comfort and be a huge support system. New moms especially need a circle of women they can trust. In some cultures that circle includes family, mothers, sisters, aunts, and other relatives. But in the US we often have miles between our closest relatives. Mom tribe, sisterhood, moms and tots, whatever the group might be called, they are all the same. Women helping other women.

 

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In the age of the internet, it is so easy to feel like you have a mom tribe in a FaceBook group, Instagram mamas or other social media group. But there is nothing like spending time face to face with the same women week after week for an hour or three. We’re humans and most of us crave human interaction. (Yes, even introverts like some time with groups).

If you don’t have a moms group you’re part of, I’d like to encourage you to “make space” in your life for one. Look on FB, it’s ok. Try out a mom group through your local church. They won’t be judging you for wearing yoga pants, or having a milk stain (I think that’s what it is) on your shirt or not brushing you hair that day. You know why? Because they are going through the same thing as you. They can relate. Even if you only have a chance to order a coffee and pray that your kids play nicely for 30 minutes while you try to remember the other moms names, I promise it will be worth it. The stories I’ve shared, and had shared with me, the advice I’ve received, and lovingly given, have forged bonds that I know will last a lifetime.

Moms, we need each other. We can’t do it alone.

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Children are such a blessing, and they look to us for guidance, for us to be a model the type of behavior we wish of them. And yes, motherhood is a mountain we climb each day. But the small feet that follow us, eventually share the view of sunlight at the top. I promise you it is worth all the daily struggles.

And it’s totally ok to humble ourselves and say we need help.

 

If you’re looking for more models, women in scripture are our real-life models of prayer, penitence, adoration, thanksgiving, and praise- our sisters of faith.

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I’m hosting weekly LIVE hangouts on IG, if you’re interested in joining, pick up the devotional here: She Who Believed Lent Devotional / Journal

I’m hosting Mondays at 8pm EST you can click the link to join, or go to www.instagram.com/dsm_blog I would love for you to join me and our discussion.

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As a bonus, I’ll be giving away a Devotion this week. Yes, for FREE! Follow along on Instagram and FaceBook so you don’t miss your chance to win!!

 

xo,

Christine

Easy Valentine Mobile Craft

I love Valentine’s Day, especially now that I’m a mom.  Children see the world with such wonder and amazement, it makes holidays even more fun! We love doing crafts together, and our favorites always include something personalized. Almost all of the supplies we used can be bought at the dollar store if you don’t already have most of it at home! Bonus points, right? Fun and almost free!

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Supplies

  • Large Foam Hearts (we got ours at Dollar Tree)
  • Small Foam Heart Stickers (also from Dollar Tree)
  • Bakers Twine, Yarn, whatever you have on hand
  • Paint & Paint Brush
  • Markers, Craft Pen, whatever you have on hand
  • Scissors
  • Tape or Glue
  • FREE Hearts Printable 

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Ready to get started? Grab a couple paper towels and let’s got!

Print out our hearts here, if you haven’t already. Then cut out the hearts and set them aside. Cut the baker’s twine/ string/ yarn to four pieces of 11 inches in length.

Ask the child to pick a paint color they’d like to do their hand print with. (Tip for those that don’t like messy hands, trace their hand on the Large Heart, then fill it in with paint together!) For the others, gently paint the palm of your child’s hand with their desired color and ask them to spread their fingers while you guide them to making their hand print on one of the large hearts! Set aside to dry.

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Lay out three pieces of baker twine and the heart cutouts with the small foam hearts in the pattern you would like for your mobile. Carefully remove the backing to each heart sticker and place adhesive side up with the string on top and place one printed heart on top making a sandwich with the string in the middle. (Tip, you could use red/ white/ pink hearts cut from construction paper in place of the heart stickers.) Repeat for all three strings attaching all the printed hearts to the heart stickers.

 

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“LOVE IS…” to the Large heart with the hand print, then turn over (make sure the paint is dry! and tape or glue the fourth piece of string to the back as a loop. While turned over, tape or glue to the bottom of the backside of the heart the three rows of hearts now dangling on the strings.

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Great work! Don’t forget to write your child’s name and the year on the back of their new master piece! These Easy Valentine Mobiles could be gifts for grandparents, teachers, godparents, elderly neighbors, anyone that could benefit from such a sweet homemade gift.

If you tried this craft, let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Comment below.

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Sensory Play

Build Your Own Sensory Kit

Does your toddler love to play with you when it’s time to cook dinner? Or maybe when you have a sink full of dishes plus a dishwasher full of clean dishes that need to be put away?

Maybe you’re ready for sensory play with a sensory bin!

There will be some training, for the kids, yes, but also for you of course! Yes, there will be some mess, and that’s ok. Embrace the mess.


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The Rules. Yes there are two rules that are critical for success.

  1. We do NOT EAT our sensory bins
  2. We do not DUMP our sensory bins

First give a warning.  When one of the two rules are broken give a warning, then put away the bin for 10-15 minutes.

That’s it! For your first bin, expect mistakes. Judge the maturity of your child, some are ready at 16 months, some need 24 months or more to perfect and play nicely in a sensory bin. Hopefully you’ll get at least 15 minutes of solid play time, maybe even up to an hour!

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Below are the recommended tools to start your own sensory bin. Starting with something simple like rice and fewer tools will set both of you up for success. And remember adult supervision is always required!

Tools

  1. Storage bin (this one from Target would do nicely)
  2. Two pounds of rice (we’ll get into colored rice in another post)
  3. Scooping tools (we love these from Ikea or try these from Amazon)
  4. Optional: Glass jars (to see it filling) Funnels (reenforces object permanence) Measuring Cups/ Scooping Toys and/ or fun figures like small construction trucks or animals that can play/ hide in the bin.

 

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Best of luck and we hope that you have lots of fun with your sensory bin!! Comment below if you’d like us to share more sensory bin ideas or suggestions to make first time sensory bin play successful. We’d love to hear from you! Even if you’re not successful, remember that just like learning to eat, it’s often messy at first, but with more practice everyone gets better!!

I should also mention that storing your supplies in gallon ziplock bags, right in the bin makes clean up, and set up a breeze!

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Ready to try a few more Sensory Bins?

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xo,

Chistine