About danielleridgway

Momma to an angel and a rainbow. Journeying through grief, parenting after loss, and living life one day at a time. Want to hear more from me? Follow me on Instagram: @greyskies.rainbowhighs If you have any other questions or anything else, just let me know. Thanks for reading!

Unicorn Flower Crown

What’s more magical than a unicorn? A unicorn wearing a flower crown!

With flowers popping up everywhere and our love for being outside, we combined the two for another fun backyard activity.

Mila and I LOVE unicorns. I swear when I found out I was having a girl I bought all the rainbow, pink, and unicorn items I came across. Its no wonder why Mila loves them.

Since I know she is interested in backyard adventures (scavenger hunt, birdhouse motel, fairy-tale garden, and nature crafts), I figured we’d do another one.

As always, you’ll have most of the items you’ll need on hand.

Here they are:

  • Cardboard
  • Sharpie
  • Pen
  • Yard full of flowers

All you need to do is cut a cardboard piece to whatever size. I had just recently bought candles and they came in the cutest, smallest boxes. They turned our perfect doe this activity.

Then, try your best to draw a unicorn ‘head.’ To simplify it, I obviously just drew the eyelashes, hair, horn, and some hair.

It’s not perfect by adult standards at all, but Mila thought it was the best thing ever.

Next, poke holes where a crown would be. I just used a pen to push through the cardboard. It would have been cute to do a pattern on a bigger piece of cardboard. Maybe next time!

All that’s left is to let your child explore the outdoors.

I let Mila pick ANY flowers in the yard and flower garden. For some reason, she was intent on picking the little white ones.

To keep the flowers from falling, I had Mila thread the stems in. If your little can get long stems, this will help. Then when she went back to look for more, I made little knots from the excess stems.

If you have an older child, this might be good practice for them!

Once she was all done, she gave me the biggest smile possible. Then ran inside to place it on her favorite shelf. It needed the prime spot.

Toddler activities do not need to be crazy intense for your child to be engaged and happy. Most of the time, it only take a piece of cardboard and creativity from a parent!

Even though we love unicorns, this activity can easily be tailored to your child’s animal preference.

I hope you and your child enjoys this activity! Let me know in the comments if you’ve done something similar or what animal you’d draw.

Before you go, check out how these moms included magical animals in their play:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Butterfly Activity

And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.

Eric Carle

Children’s book author and illustrator Eric Carle has gifted us so many stories. Each help us learn about the world around us. I loved reading his work as a kid and Mila loves it now. I was so sadden to hear about his death in May.

His books inspire us to slow down and find the beauty in all parts of life. Even with a paper plate. I am so thankful for the lessons he’s imprinted on so many of us. His words will echo throughout generations.

In celebration of Eric Carle’s life and our favorite book of his, we made a transforming craft. By following along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we turned a paper plate caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

Here’s what you’ll need for this activity!

The only prep that was difficult for this activity was drawing a caterpillar/butterfly shape on the paper plate. It ended up looking like the big caterpillar at the end.

Mila did not question it, so I think it turned out good. It does make me giggle though.

This activity is quite simple though. It actually reminds me of this years St. Patrick’s Day book activity. Pretty much every time the caterpillar eats, your child should put a dot of paint on the caterpillar paper plate.

I tried to get Mila to do big dots of paint, but she refused. It still turned out cute.

You can also correlate the colors too. Whatever color food the caterpillar eats, they can put it on the caterpillar.

It was also a great way to practice counting too. We counted the food on the page, then again when she was painting. I actually love the holes in the book to help them count.

When it gets to the page with the not so hungry caterpillar and it’s cocoon, just flip the paper plate to where the paint is touch the other side. Then press down so the paint can transfer to the other side.

I pretended that the folded up plate was the cocoon. Then we counted to fourteen (two weeks in the cocoon) and flipped the paper plate as we turned the page.

Mila was shocked with the activity. I don’t think she knew we were making a butterfly. She just thought we were painting just to paint again.

The reveal of TWO butterflies was quite exciting.

In the end, it was another fun activity to do while reading one of our favorite books. I’m sure we’ll find more with it too.

Mila has been reading it by herself too. It’s the cutest thing. She swears the caterpillar eats a hot dog, not a sausage during his binge.

Not matter what, I love the message Eric Carle’s books have brought to our lives. We will always read them and do fun activities with. He has left a legacy in our lives forever.

What’s your favorite Eric Carle book?

Strawberry Mint Sun Tea

One of my favorite summer drinks is sun tea. It’s so easy to make and even more refreshing. Since I’m still battling the mint take over, I thought I could combine my favorite flavors. Out of it came Strawberry Mint Sun Tea.

When I first got my house, my grandpa gave my my grandma’s sun tea container. It felt like such an honor. I usually put iced tea in there when I make it. Now it feels like when I make sun tea, I can connect with her.

Even though I used a different container for this batch (thanks toddler and dog!), it was magical seeing the transformation. Mila loved it too.

Here’s what we used for our Strawberry Mint Sun Tea:

  • Big glass jar with a tight lid
  • Tea bags
  • Strawberries
  • Mint
  • Water
  • A sunny day

Obviously I didn’t put specific amounts for the ingredients. There’s a reason why (there’s always a reason).

The size of your jar or container determines what you’ll need. I personally used six tea bags and then just eyeballed the strawberries and mint. Maybe around seven strawberries and a handful or two of mint!

It’s all about preference! But, I made a l it take cheat sheet in case you’d like some guidance.

The first thing you need for sun tea is a sunny day! With summer coming up, you’ll have no issues with that.

Honestly, all you have to do is fill up your container. Then, put all the ingredients in. We mixed it around to activate the mint leaves, but it’s not needed!

Once every thing is in there, shut the lid and stick it outside.

It’s truly that simple.

We let it stay outside for around seven hours. I could tell it was time to take it in by the color of the water. Again, this is all about preference and what you like in a tea.

To serve, I strained the strawberries, but let the mint leaves come through over a small jar of ice.

It was so refreshing. The mint made it taste so cooling.

Although it didn’t need sugar, Mila asked for it to be a little sweeter. So, you can add sugar if you’d please. Again, tea is all about how your taste buds like it!

Sun tea is so fun to make and your kids will constantly be checking the water. It’s like a little science experiment.

We’ll be making another batch of sun tea soon enough!

What’s your favorite thing to add to tea?

While you’re at it, check out these other amazing iced tea recipes!

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part 16

You know we had to be back with all the weird things my toddler does. This time, it’s a mix of cuteness and weirdness. You can decide which.

Mila loves birthdays. She thinks it’s so much fun to pick out gifts and cards for the occasion too.

Usually, I take her to the dollar store and let her go wild. She’ll pick all the things that remind her of the person or toys that she can play with them. One time, she chose blue paper plates for her grandpa.

See… weird.

The even stranger part are her card choices, from the inside out.

I’ll take her to the card section and let her pick out any card that she’d like. Sometimes it can get a little crazy. I mean, look at this choice for hee grandma’s birthday…

Before purchasing this must have card, I read it to her. She disagreed with my reading skills. Then she let me know it said: ‘Happy Birthday, Gigi!’

That might be a little embarrassing when she gets older.

Alas, the card was a hit. It caused a lot of laughs and she seemed to be proud of her choice. Even though it was a weird little mix up.

On the inside of each card, she’s learned to sign her name by drawing herself.

As you can see, when Mila draws people, there’s a few parts missing. The big circle is the head. Inside of it are a mouth and two eyes. The two lines at the bottom are legs and the stuff on top is hair.

It may or may not look like a chicken nugget person, but she sure is proud of signing it this way. One day, even though the way she does thinfs is weird, I know I’ll love these strange, little people that she loves to draw. Plus, the gifts that she handpicks are usually my favorite of all.

She might be a little weird, but she has a big heart. Isn’t that the real goal of parenting?

Has your child ever given you a random gift?

Toddler Activity: Beach Sensory Play

Sensory play is so important for children to learn about the world around them. Since it’s almost summer and we just got back from the beach, I knew Mila would enjoy this sensory bin.

They’re also great if you need a minute to yourself. Sensory play can extend imaginative play and your toddler can be as creative as they please. This translates into more time to do a quick chore, sitting down for a second, or playing with them!

The best part, I already had all the materials and it was easy to do.

Here’s what I used:

To make the ocean part, I laid down blue tissue paper on the bottom of the box. Then tore up other pieces of tissue paper to be the water.

On the other half, I added sand colored packing peanuts. These are so amazing and I reuse them in Mila’s play frequently. I didn’t even have to buy them, just reused from other packages.

Then, I added candy fish to the water, mermaids, and seashells.

For the beach, I used resin letters to spell out beach and then added fairy garden beach accessories too.

Before we started playing with the bin, we read How to Catch a Mermaid. This is one of Mila’s favorites! She’s a little obsessed with mermaids at the moment.

The book prompted us to hide the mermaids and she played with the bin to find them. It was such a cute activity. She also loved talked about the book and pointing out what accessories we had in the bin with what was in the book. It really was a hit!

Mila enjoyed touching the tissue paper and packing peanuts. I had her explain how they felt in her hands and what colors they were.

We also talked about how to spell beach, the letters in it, and what color they were. Resin letters are such a great investment and can be used all the time! They’re pretty cute too!

Her favorite had to be when she realized she could eat the fish! She loves sour candy, so it was a pleasant surprise for her.

Mila actually asked me to keep the box together for her. I guess that means she really likes it. She’s constantly playing with her mermaids and talking about the beach. It must make her feel like we have a little part of it at home!

The best part of sensory play is watching your toddler be imaginative. We’ll definitely be using this one over and over again.

What’s your child’s favorite type of sensory play?

5 June Affirmations for Self Love.

With post school craziness, I’ve been lacking on setting aside time for self care. I knew for June that I needed to make self love affirmation cards to remind myself to take time for me.

Since I love painting, I did random doodles to be the backdrop for my affirmations.

I love that they can be as simple or complex as I want to make it.

For this month, I wanted to focus on how colors made me feel. It seems like I always am drawn to rainbows, so I’m not surprised that’s what I drew. All the other colors were straight from my emotions and I tried to get the words to match.

Here’s my June affirmations this month. I also shared my cross between watercolor and digital art. Please feel free to use and share them if you’d like!

I spread love wherever I go.

I choose to let go of past anger.

Just keep shining.

I will ride out this wave.

You are important too.

Affirmations are so important for me to do. I hang them up in my kitchen where I can see them. They don’t have to be big pieces of paper to make a huge impact.

These little reminders will help me remember to make time for myself this summer. Mothers need self care and self love. This is mine.

Even if it’s five minutes, make sure to take time for you.

You’re important. You deserve it.

What affirmations or quotes have been speaking to you lately? Let me know in the comments.

Backyard Mint Mojito

One of my favorite parts of having a backyard garden is making new recipes! Since my mint is sort of taking over, I needed to find something quick.

A mojito sounded like the perfect drink for my little problem.

I’ve never made a mojito at home before, but I figured I’d try! After seeing how easy it was, I’ll definitely be making it again.

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime juiced or 4 ounces
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces of white rum (I used lime flavored)
  • 3 ounces of seltzer
  • Ice

The first thing you need to do is collect your mint! You can get some at stores or in your backyard. This is what I’ve been working with lately…

My little garden smells so good, but it’s a lot of mint. I cut off two stems. They gave me the perfect amount of leaves and there’s still a ton of mint left.

After you figure out your mint situation, the fun begins.

The first thing you need to do is muddle your mint. I personally don’t have specific bar equipment, but I’m guessing it’d be easier. Honestly, I used the back of my spoon and it seemed to work pretty well.

Then, add your muddled mint, lime juice, rum, and simple syrup in a glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Again, I didn’t have a cocktail shaker, but I shook them with a glass and plastic cup.

It worked so I’m pretty impressed with my ingenuity.

Then, strain your mojito mixture in a glass filled with ice. Top the rest of it off with seltzer. After, you can garnish with extra mint or a lime wedge.

After you’re all done, enjoy it!

I love the taste of mint, so I added extra in there. It ended up tasting amazing, especially after letting it sit for a little bit before I drank it. It just tasted extra minty.

Hopefully I’ll be able to try and make a mint julep sometime this summer too. I have more than enough mint to experiment with! Once I find a recipe that I love, I’ll share it on here. Fingers crossed it goes as easily as this Backyard Mint Mojito.

Let me know what your favorite summer drink or refreshment is in the comments. If you tried this recipe, tell me how yours tasted too!

Enjoy!

Looking for some other tasty summer drinks, try these too!

Celebrating Fathers with a Fatherless Daughter

Simplicity of Grace

‘A mama, a papa, and a baby.’

My two-year-old says as she brings me three different sizes of stuffed animals. This concept of family, what a family is supposed to look like is new to her. After a few movies, she’s realized our little mother-daughter unit is not the same as her favorite characters.

Being a single parent, I didn’t think we’d have conversations like this for a long time. I tell her some families have a mama and a papa, others just have a mama or a papa, or some have two mamas or two papas. And no matter what a family consists of, all that matters is the family’s love and happiness. A lot of that information goes over her head and she reverts back to her mama, papa, and baby pretend play.

As I sit and watch her play like this, I worry about her future and if she will think it’s negative she doesn’t have a ‘dad’ in her life. I think she’s happy with just the two of us, but moms always worry.

With Father’s Day nearing and with my daughter noticing talk of dads, my worry for my fatherless daughter has increased… until I realized family is so much more than a mama, a papa, and a baby.

Through this journey of motherhood, I realize ‘father figures’ are not always biological dads.

My daughter is impacted every day by men in her life that choose her. By widening the scope of what makes a family, she has never missed out on having a ‘dad.’ She has a grandpa who protects and plays with her. An uncle that chases her around and helps her fix things that are broken. A great-grandpa that makes sure she has everything she needs and cheers her on. There are countless of other ‘uncles’ who watch over her, ask about her days, and continually want the very best for her. She might not be ‘theirs,’ but there isn’t a shortage of love and fatherly influence.

So on this Father’s Day and every day, I want to say thank you to all of them for showing my daughter what a dad is supposed to look like. Thank you for choosing her when hers wouldn’t. She has soaked that impact up more than I could have ever imagined.

Thank you to the dads the make a difference in their children’s lives and the others that aren’t theirs too.

To my daughter and other children who don’t have involved fathers, I hope you see that there are so many that love you and want the best for you. A family isn’t just a mama, a papa, and a baby, but a group of people who pick each other and support them unconditionally.

Originally published on Newsymom.

Road Trip Tic Tac Toe

Ever since I’ve been a little girl, we’ve been on vacation for Memorial Day weekend. One way to make the road trips go faster were games.

I love that family has been able to take the same trip with Mila too. Besides last year of course. It’s so sentimental that I get to see Mila enjoy the same place I did growing up. Plus, she LOVES the beach.

I was a little nervous for the road trip with a three year old, so I remembered our games. This year, Mila has been into tic tac toe, so we made it road trip friendly!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A baking sheet
  • Bottle/milk caps
  • Washi tape
  • Magnets
  • An amazing road trip!

This is a simple activity to put together. Let’s just say you’ll have more time teaching your toddler the game.

All you do is put a tic tac toe board with washi tape on the baking sheet.

Then, use peel and stick magnets to put on the inside of caps. This way they can easily stick on your tic tac toe board without you losing them! You can also use other magnets with a hot glue gun.

After that, it’s time to play!

We used a mason jar to keep all the caps in one place, but you could just as easily slip the whole baking sheet in the back of the seat.

This was so easy to use in the car. It withstood passing it back and forth with my crazy toddler.

I also loved that we were able to reuse bottle caps and didn’t have to buy a special board. Once we’re done with it, I’ll just take the tape off, wash it, and clean with the baking sheet again.

Although, I think it might be tricky to take away from her since she likes the game so much!

Let me know in the comments what games you played during your family road trips? Do you kids like different ones?

Toddler Activity: Ice Cream Bonanza

With the temps steadily increasing, Mila keeps asking about one thing for breakfast: ice cream. To make her ice cream dreams come true, we had an ice cream bonanza (after lunch) to celebrate life.

I mean… there doesn’t need to be any reason to eat ice cream, but we had to make it special. They’re only three and this excitable once!

The first step was to make an ice cream charcuterie board!

We used all our favorite ice cream toppings for this. M&Ms, Oreos, strawberries, whipped cream, and of course sprinkles. Plus a little more too. Mila was shocked this whole board was for her!

Good thing she didn’t eat everything off of it. That would have been a fun sugar rush.

After she was satisfied with her dessert, we opened up her new Little Bookish Wardrobe box. We’ve been subscribed to this monthly box since last year! It’s a great way to add to your library. Plus, it comes with a dress up outfit AND a few activities to do too.

This month’s book was Izzy: The Ice Cream Fairy by Make Believe Ideas. It’s an adorable book that Mila had so much fun reading.

The story is set at a beach. Izzy and the ice cream fairies run out of ice cream. So, they go on a trip to find more. So much drama! Mila’s face throughout it was hilarious.

Honestly though, the best part of our whole bonanza was seeing Mila dress up as an ice cream fairy.

She thought her dress up outfit was perfect for the day.

After the book, we did the activities on the card. She also answered all my ice cream related questions, which made me happy.

Apparently her favorite ice cream is vanilla. Sprinkles are her favorite topping. She loves the ice cream from The Tusky Dugout and Dairy Queen. Cookies do NOT go on ice cream, but they’re good to snack while you’re eating it.

I love three.

Have you ever had an ice cream party for your toddler? What’s your favorite type of charcuterie board? Sweet or savory? Let me know in the comments.