Momma to an angel and a rainbow.
Journeying through grief, parenting after loss, and living life one day at a time.
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It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day and we created a Hand and Heart Sign to celebrate this great man.
This MLK Day craft also gave Mila and me the time to sit and talk about the importance of MLK’s mission. We’re always in the lookout to talk about diversity, antiracism, and love.
With my parenting, I make it a point to talk about big issues with Mila. Civil rights for everyone no matter their race, gender, or socioeconomic standing is something I believe Mila should grow up understanding. Making sure I keep the conversation age appropriate is just as important too.
To begin our conversation this year about MLK, I had her watch MLK’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. She loved watching him talk and it gave her a sense of knowing him.
Then she did a MLK coloring page from The Letter Vee. She had a picture of him up while she colored it in.
There’s so much magic when a person gets to shake a snow globe. It’s a whole work in your hands. Snow Globe Sensory Bins are even more magical and fun to explore.
If your child loves snow globes, they’re going to love this play idea.
Mila has a slight obsession with snow globes.
On her first Christmas, she got multiple ones from different people. We still have all (but one), that are all set up in her room. My parents also get her snow globes from every place they visit. To say we have a mini snow globe collection is an understatement.
No matter the time of the year, she loves to shake and look at them. To continue that love, I thought this sensory bin would be a perfect fit.
I was right!
As with a lot of my sensory bins and play ideas, I used elements I had around the house or from past bins. Here’s what we used for this one:
Rainbow bottle brush trees
Different sized jars
Spoon or mini shovel
This sensory bin is full of fun activities. All I did was set it up like this and Mila made it her own.
She filled up the jars with snow and saw how many trees she could fit in each jar. I watched her make the snow globes pretty too.
We talked about the colors of the tree, had them count, and we did small to big comparisons with the jars. Learning has no boundaries. You can talk about whatever with your child. They’ll soak up all that information.
Even though I originally just set up the mini trees, Mila brought in mini toys to play with and put in the snow globes too.
I can easily see opening up play with her by making the snow globes more themed or adding different seasonal elements in the future. Again, the opportunities are endless when it comes to sensory bins!
Hopefully you and your child enjoy this sensory bin as much as we did. We want to make snow globes sometime this winter and need all the tips we can get! I’ll update when we make them.
Have you ever made a snow globe before? What liquid do you use for the inside?
Then… check out these other fun indoor winter activities too!
Winter is here and for us, it’s time to stay inside when the temps are so low. To bring the magic of snow inside, we created these adorable Popsicle Stick Snowflakes
They’re easy for toddlers and preschoolers to create and make for an adorable craft as well.
If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you can tell I’m trying to get better at taking videos. They’re fun to make and post as reels too. It gives people who don’t have a lot of time to read a quick glimpse into the crafts and activities we do.
With that said, I forgot to take pictures while making this craft… oops. No fear though, I posted the video below.
Here’s what you’ll need to make these adorable glitter snowflakes.
Modge Podge )you can DIY this with glue and water)
For the first part of this craft, snowflake assembly is required. I would suggest an adult to do this. Personally, I used hot glue for this to be sure the snowflake will stick together. You could use other glue, but I’m unsure how it would hold up in the long run. If your child is comfortable using a hot glue gun, then they can go for it.
The actual snowflake uses four popsicle sticks. Just keep layering them so you can see the ends of the popsicle sticks. The video shows this really well.
After the glue is dried, your child can paint the snowflakes.
Mila chose the colors of her snowflakes. Of course she went for pink, light blue, and silver. She wishes that there were pink snowflakes. Wouldn’t that just be magical?
While they’re painting, I put a little tray underneath so nothing got on our countertop. These snowflakes get a little messy, so protect your area if you need! Mila couldn’t really hold and paint, so her brush kept going on the tray. Just a little heads up.
Now on to the best part: GLITTER!
Before the paint dries, sprinkle glitter over top of the snowflake. This way it gets stuck in the paint. If the paint dries beforehand, you can use modge podge to get it to stick too. I think it takes away an extra step just putting the glitter on the paint. You get similar results.
After the paint and the glitter is dry, use modge podge to seal in the paint and the glitter. If you don’t seal it, you’ll have glitter everywhere.
Once everything is dry, you have your beautiful, popsicle stick snowflakes!
They’re a lot of fun to do and easy to assemble. As you saw in the first picture, I attached them a shelf, but we want to make more to create a snowflake garland. You can potentially make and show these off in a variety of ways.
I also think they’d look cute as a car mirror decoration, but we’re definitely doing garland!
What ways would you show off these Popsicle Stick Snowflakes? Or let me know what snow or winter inspired crafts and activities you do during winter in the comments.
What’s more fun than reflecting on the last year? Going back to that year ten years down the road with a DIY NYE Time Capsule.
In my DIY Mini Cardboard Memory Book post, I shared that I was going to do something special with it. I’ve decided to make another new NYE tradition by doing a time capsule every year. We’re gong to fill it up with a lot of things that made the last year so special. Then, in ten years, we’ll open it up and walk down memory road.
Sometimes I can’t believe how fast time has went since Mila has been born. She is ALWAYS asking what she was like when she was a baby. I feel like she just was a baby and I blinked and there’s a little girl in front of me. Plus, this year has seemed like the fastest yet. She has grown so much and I want to treasure how little she is with what goes in our NYE time capsule. Hopefully she won’t be too embarrassed by her answers when she’s thirteen… let’s get real, she’ll be annoyed with everything then.
Almost everything was easy to put together and I found the worksheets online! Everything else is easy to make at home and it’ll bring up fun conversations amongst your family.
Here’s what we’ll be seeing on NYE 2031!
Year in Review Worksheets
I found the worksheets we used in our time capsule at @whimsicallywonderful on Instagram. Her printables are adorable (and free). I’m pretty sure I’ve shared them on the blog before. Anyways, I was planning on making our own sheets to write on, until I saw the ones I printed off.
Even though these sheets are girly, she also has ones with blues and greens in them. They’re so cute, just a different color scheme. You can find them at Whimsically Wonderful under the Whimsical Prints. It’s the last section on the page. Trust me, if you’re planning on doing a time capsule, these are such a great option!
I printed off:
My Magical Year
Top 5 Best Moments
My Feelings about 2021
There are more options on there too; like handprints and a letter to a future self.
She also chose to do a glitter handprint. We made a little craft with her hand being the 0 in 2022. We traced it out, added glue, and then a bunch of glitter! It’s still drying after twelve hours, but I’ll make sure to update about it on one of my socials.
If it never dries, she also traced her hand on the back of the family drawing too!
A Letter from Mama to Mila
Letter writing is so therapeutic and if you’ve followed my story for a little while, you know I write a lot of them (you can search letters if you’re interested). I actually used to write letters to Jensen every day when I was pregnant with him up until Mila was born. So, it sort of makes sense that I would include a letter in here too.
Honestly, one of my biggest fears is something happening to me and her being without a mom. I want to make sure she knows how much she means to me and maybe I can throw some wisdom in there too. It sounds cheesy, but maybe it’s the last letter or words she would ever get to me. That thought alone makes it important to me to write about this year and how much her at three or in 2021 meant to me.
Again, we’re also going to be opening this up when she turns thirteen, I may need that extra support… I’m joking.
If you do do a time capsule, this would make a precious memory for your child.
On Mila’s papers, it asks to write her weight and height. Even though I can easily write that down, I want to be able to visually see it.
Although I’m not going to add bags of rice in her memory box, we collected her height in a ribbon. I just placed one end of the ribbon on her head and then cut it at her feet. Then, I made a little tag saying what the ribbon was for and connected it with a clip.
I love this idea because I can unravel it and actually see how tall she was.
Again, this is a super simple and easy idea you could do too! It wouldn’t even have to be a ribbon, yard or string work well too!
Pictures and Miscellaneous
Since we take thousands of pictures each year, we had to add a few in the time capsule.
The DIY Mini Cardboard Memory Book is snuggled tightly in there. I’m still obsessed with how it turned out. We’ll also be taking Instax pictures on NYE to add to the capsule as well. Maybe I’ll even let her take whatever pictures she wants. This way we can check out how her photography skills have changed too.
Some other items we’re adding are a New Years necklace, a craft, and maybe a toy or trinket. I haven’t totally nailed that last part down.
When we open it, I just want to be blasted back to 2021 and have this magical feeling.
As pretty as everything is out of the time capsule, it’s perfect inside too. We added a ‘Do NOT Open Until NYE 2031’ on the lid too. Just in case I need some motivation to wait!
Even though I bought a pretty jar for this time capsule, you can easily upcycle items you have around the house. I’m thinking mason jars, pringle cans, or even old tupperware containers you don’t know what to do with anymore. You could be as creative as you want to be and even make this a fun part of you time capsule too. For some reason, I’m thinking of a VHS or DVD case. It would have been so clever 30 and 20 years ago.
Anyways, I’m really happy to be starting this tradition with Mila and see how it evolve over the next few years. I hope you enjoyed it too and maybe want to start this with your family.
If you do this tradition or plan to, let me know what other things Mila and I should add.
With the year coming to an end, it’s a fun time to look back on our favorite memories. To keep and showcase them, we made a DIY Mini Cardboard Memory Book. Ours is perfectly pink and full of all the pictures we loved from the last twelve months.
The plus side, this easy craft is fun to make and you can personalize it however you’d like.
Here’s what you’ll need to capture your memories of the year:
Scrap Cardboard Pieces
Honestly, this took me a little while to make, but I’m glad I did it. A little hard work goes a long way!
First, I cut out seven, small cardboard squares to make the pages. You could easily make these bigger, I just want to use this book for another project I’m sharing this week. Then I made little holes on one side of them. I couldn’t find my hole puncher, but I made them with scissors.
After, I painted a little area on the squares pink and let them dry.
While it was drying, Mila and I picked out one picture from each month, besides two months… you’ll see why. Then, I just printed them on stock paper I had at my house. When they were all printed, I just cut the pictures out.
Once that was done, I pulled out MIla and I’s favorite stickers, some glitter markers, and got to work!
Like any type of scrapbooking or picture books, it just takes time. I had a lot of fun looking back at all our favorite memories from the year. With every page, I made sure to write the month out and add relevant stickers. I think they all captured the feeling and emotions of every month. Mila had fun helping me with the stickers as well.
On the back cover page, I had her write down her name with little hearts. Just so I always have her writing. She draws hearts on everything to show love. Just something I always want to remember.
Just to share our pages incase you need some inspo, here’s ours and why we chose them for the month.
January and February
In January, MIla did a fun glitter shoot and they’re one of my favorite pictures of her! She seriously looks magical. Then in February, we made one of my favorite DIYs: I love you frame. It’s one of the pictures from that day and always makes me smile.
March and April
Last March held Easter. I laughed so hard when Mila took off after getting one ‘good’ picture with the Easter Bunny. The running shot is hilarious and I had to add it. April is our big birthday month. Jensen’s is on the fifth and Mila’s the fourteenth. We picked a picture from the day she turned three.
May and June
One month that we look forward to every year is May. We get to go on vacation AND school is usually out too. That means summer! This picture is of her in Myrtle Beach in her yellow polka dot bikini. In June, we went to our local waterpark so many times. I had to capture one of those moments.
July and August
In July, Mila and her friends won the Fourth of July talent show in our town. It was a big moment for them (and us moms). I’ll never forget that day and will always tell Mila the story of what she did after… I’ll make sure to share one day on here. At the end of August, we got Toby! Mila chose this picture since she loves her puppies so much!
September and October
September was a huge change for the both of us. Mila started preschool and has been learning so many new things. Believe me, she tells me all about it. It was also the start of me posting a picture every day of Mila’s outfits. Since we’re obsessed with Halloween for all of October, Mila requested that I added all of this year’s costumes.
November and December
Of course we had to celebrate the holiday season with these last two pages. We still love her turkey headband from Thanksgiving and that Santa picture showcased how December felt all month long.
Back Cover Page
Like I said above, I had Mila add this page. I think it’s a sweet touch to wrap the entire year and how she’s growing up. Makes my heart smile.
I really feel like this will be a yearly tradition from now on. It’s such a cute and quick way to reflect on all the years. Plus, when you see my next NYE activity, you’ll think it’s even more perfect for the mini version. Stay tuned to see.
What are some ways you like to reflect on the year during New Years? Or do you have any NYE traditions you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.
New Years Eve is traditionally has drinks all around. If you have kids or don’t drink, you HAVE to try this Sparkling Cotton Candy Mocktail.
Not only is it pretty and tasty, it’s easy to make with only four ingredients. Trust me, when the ball drops into 2022, you’ll want to be holding this drink in your hand.
I’m always on the look out for fun things to make Mila. When I was browsing Instagram a few days ago, I came across this fun cotton candy drink from @hecticmomlifestyle. Instantly I knew Mila would love it.
So I went and bought everything to test for NYE. Spoiler alert: she and I both loved it so I had to share @hecticmomlifestyle’s recipe!
Here’s what you need to make your NYE sparkle:
Sparkling grape juice
This drink is simple to make and Mila was amazed by the magic behind it.
First, dip your glass and cover the rim with marshmallow creme. I’ll admit, I made a huge mess on this part and gave it a thick coating. Mila still loved it.
Then, layer sugar sprinkles on the marshmallow creme rim. I suggest using a small plate or bowl.
Here’s the fun and interactive part for kids… or adults… put some cotton candy in the cup. We put a decent amount in since Mila loves the flavor. That’s up to whoever is making it though!
Then, pour in the sparkling grape juice. Of course the cotton candy disappears and your juice will slightly change colors.
After, I garnished her cup with another piece of cotton candy and let her enjoy.
I ended up tasting this drink, before she ate the entire bag of cotton candy. It was surprisingly not overly sugary. If you’d want this mocktail to be a cocktail, I’d suggest using champagne instead of sparkling grape juice to get the same effect.
We’ll definitely be enjoying this drink on NYE. Stay tuned for some fun activities you can do with your child this year.
Happy First Day of Winter, everyone! To celebrate, I prepped this Winter Tree Sensory Bin for Mila to play with winter elements without the cold!
This sensory bin was such a hit, I’ll keep it set up all winter long.
Let me tell you a secret… of all the elements in this sensory play are reused from Christmas decor and past sensory bins.
My dogs told me… aggressively… that they didn’t like my new mini tree. I was so sad because it was cute and brand new! Instead of just throwing it all away, I cut what I could salvage off and gave it a new life.
I’m letting you on this little secret because I have NO idea where to find little tree branches like these normally. AND since Christmas season will be over soon, you definitely can reuse old decor items for play or other DIY’s. It’s always just a nice reminder.
Anyways, here’s what’s all in this sensory bin:
Reused pine branches
To set this up for Mila, I added fake snow from the other sensory bin this month at the bottom of a tray. At first, I put the tree together so she knew what she was going on.
Then I told her to decorate the tree with the ornaments and bells.
After, she had taken everything out of the bin and started making different trees! I wish I would have began the play this way. It made the bin much more creative and she ran to get other little characters to play in the snow.
I love watching her play and her ideas come to life.
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate winter or just want another sensory play idea for your child, this one was definitely a hit!
Let me know in the comments your favorite season and how you celebrate them.
Christmas is almost here and mom guilt is in full effect. There’s presents to be wrapped, the kids asked for a new toy from Santa, and the cookies haven’t been baked yet. All while you still have to parent, work, and everything else too.
Not thinking you can get everything off your Christmas Bucket List done or making the holiday season as magical as it can be, it makes you feel bad.
In efforts to be nice to myself, I wanted to share some ways to I decrease mom guilt during the holidays with you.
Take a Deep Breath
Whenever I feel myself spiraling into mom guilt, I try to calm myself. Usually, I just need to take a deep breath and realize my thoughts and emotions are getting the best of me.
Believe me, I get it. There’s a ton to do, but if you can calm yourself with a deep breath and taking things one step at a time, it will help. In that moment you can realize what’s really important and what you can handle in the next five minutes, hour, or day.
You are one person and it feels like the world is on your shoulders. Don’t forget to breathe and remember you’re doing your best.
Buy Premade Crafts/Baked Goods
I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. It makes me feel creative and show other parents easy activities to do with your kids.
On the other hand, there are times I have NO idea how everyone’s getting things done… and so beautifully! It can make me feel guilty about where I am with the holidays or coming up with unique crafts or baking all kinds of cookies from scratch.
My big tip… buy premade crafts and baked goods. They don’t even need to be all the way done.
If you walk into Joann Fabrics or any craft store (even the dollar store), there are a ton of different fun Christmas crafts and activities. Mila and I have done quite a few this year and it was just as fun… with just as cute outcomes.
Plus, I am all for buying cake boxes so I don’t have to think about all the ingredients. Or they had premade cut outs that all you had to do was bake and decorate.
This is such a time saver for me while still giving me that feeling of doing jolly holiday activities.
Involve Your Child
Kids are seriously magical. They want to help whenever they can and what they do always turns out so precious… or hilarious.
Mila helps me out with so many different things during the holiday season:
The root of the holidays and making traditions are the kids… so make them the center of it.
Cookies, presents, and all the other home things do not have to be perfect; especially during the holidays. I think it’s more special knowing a child helped with all of these things. It teaches them and helps you out too.
Another part of mom guilt and worry during the holidays is money. Mila and I always try to make gifts and they’re usually the ones most loved.
Involving children in the holiday hustle can really help with mom guilt and making memories too.
Take Care of You
If you’re anything like me, I put myself on the back burner. I constantly try to put others ahead of me and make sure the ones I love have everything they need… even if I don’t.
Whenever I’m in a bad mental place, I feel like my mom guilt is worse. I’m not at my best (or nicest) to Mila. It makes stressful times like the holidays way more intense. Not only do I feel bad on the inside, everyone else can feel it too.
Even when you have a million things to do, make space for you.
I know it’s hard, but you need and deserve it.
Personally, I love wrapping presents. It’s really relaxing to me and I make sure to put one of my favorite movies on with a big cup of peppermint hot chocolate. Honestly, it’s not much, but it gives myself space and takes care of my needs.
I would also suggest trying to get a babysitter so you can do things like that OR a self care day during this time.
The biggest message I’m trying to convey is to not forget about yourself. You are important and need to be taken care of just like everyone else, no matter the time of year.
Live in the Moment
Through the craziness of the holidays and trying to plan everything out, try to live in the moment.
Whenever I get so busy and planned out, I feel myself slip into autopilot or going through the motions. Honestly, the best parts of this past month is the moments not planned.
Mila and I went to the Akron Zoo’s Wild Lights on a whim. It wasn’t planned and we had so much fun. Another time, we were asked to go watch a play of The Grinch a couple hours before it started. Again, it was so much fun.
It’s easy to fall into checking things off your list, b it you can’t forget to live either.
Whenever I feel guilty as Mila watches a show while I’m rushing around, we hop in the car and go look at Christmas decorations and lights. It’s simple, but puts a smile on both of our faces.
Life is way too short to feel guilt and not soak up all these moments.
No matter what you need to do during this holiday season, remember you are doing your best. There’s no need to feel guilty. You are the best mom and parent to your child.
I promise they see your hard work and love you so much for it and for you just being their parent.
What ways do you decrease mom guilt during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.
Looking for a different way to make your Christmas gifts even more special? Try this DIY Wrapping Paper. I promise your family and friends will love getting their gifts wrapped in paper that’s made with love. And… your kids will be really proud of themselves when they show it off to them too.
Making our own wrapping paper is a big Christmas Bucket List item for us. We did it her first Christmas and now it’s become a fun tradition. I know my parents always look forward to seeing her wrapping paper. This year, she made it for her friends at preschool. I’m sure we’ll be doing this Christmas Activity more than once this year.
Maybe this can become a fun tradition for your family too! Here’s what you’ll need to make your own wrapping paper:
Brown craft paper
This activity is super simple in the best way. You get to let your child be as creative as they want to be. PLUS, they get to be messy too! I think all kids like that aspect of that.
To set up, all I did was lay out brown kraft paper, pour paint on a separate paper plate, and laid out her tools (paint brushes, cookie cutters, bingo daubers). She did everything else all by herself. I would also suggest laying trash bags down if you want to keep your surface clean.
I played Christmas music and had Mila explain to me what she was drawing. The one section was a whole scene with people. It’s fun to hear their thought process.
After they’re done creating, just let your wrapping paper dry.
Then, just wrap your presents like normal. I tried to get Mila to paint more in the middle so you could see the design. We also love to add yarn and ribbon to make presents even more special.
Mila was super proud of her wrapping paper. It’s so unique. We’ve done it every year and each year it looks so different. It’s a great way to capture her growth. It also feels like a present within a present when you give to others. I love gifting her artwork and this is a fun way to do that while being useful too!
Even though we normally do this for Christmas, I’d love to do it for different birthdays or holidays.
Let me know in the comments…
Have you ever made your own wrapping paper? OR what recycled products do you use for wrapping paper?
Christmas and baking go hand-in-hand. Cookies are great, but these Reindeer Pretzel Bites are easy into make and oh so tasty!
You only need three ingredients and I’ll guarantee Santa will be happy on Christmas Eve.
I actually made these Reindeer Pretzel Bites for Mila’s preschool class. They’re a perfect snack! I only had three reindeer bites per student and filled the rest of the bag with pretzels. It’s great since the kids don’t get all the sugar if they had a bag full of these.
Anyways, here’s all you need for this recipe:
Red and brown m&m’s
These are a lot of fun to make and Mila got to help a lot!
First, preheat your oven to 250 F.
I would suggest taking the foil off of all the rollos before baking. When I was doing this, Mila picked out the red and brown m&m’s. This small activity that helped me was great for her motor skills and talking about all the colors.
Once the foil was off and colors were separated, we lined as many pretzels as we could on a lined baking sheet.
Then, put rollos on top of the pretzels and bake them for two minutes.
Once they’ve been in there for two minutes, press the m&m’s into them. This is a little tricky. I would suggest holding the pretzels while pushing them down.
Then, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes to set them.
These were a lot of fun to make and were pretty tasty too. I stole a few of them after I knew her classmates were covered.
To make these super cute, I added a Christmas tag to the bag and sent them on their way.
I would definitely suggest making these and would be perfect for a holiday party. You could put them in a big bowl and they’d be a hit.
What do you leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve? Or what’s your favorite holiday dessert?