Toddler Activity: Olympic Ice Play

The Summer Olympic Games are heating up! Try cooling off with a fun way to get your toddler excited about the games with a science experiment.

This activity is easy to set up and keeps your toddlers attention for a long time.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flowers (you could use other things for the rings)
  • Water
  • Container
  • Freezer
  • Ice
  • Brushes

For this one, you have to do a little preplanning.

The night before you want to do this activity, it has to be frozen. I used an old Tupperware container and filled it with water. Then, I added colored flowers that matched the Olympic Rings to the container.

To keep the flowers in place, I filled the containers lid and put something heavy on it in the freezer.

It ended up looking like this…

Next, I poured a little bit of table salt into a jar and got some brushes out too. To help the melt, I also gave Mila a little cup of water.

Everything was set into a bin to collect the water.

All I instructed Mila to do was rescue the ‘rings’ and that the salt helped make it melt.

While she worked hard on melting all the ice, we talked more about the Olympics and I showed her how it was spelled. She’s recognizing letters that are in her name and the ones she sees frequently!

She worked really hard on figuring out the best way to make the ice melt.

Her favorite was to dump a ton a salt on the ice, then water. It was so neat watching her figure out why it was melting and what helped.

It really did take her a while for all the ice to melt. I was impressed with her persistence.

Once it was melted, she enjoyed played with the letters and the flowers in the water. Water is always a great sensory component!

During this play time, Mila let me know her favorite Olympic sport was swimming… of course. She thinks it’s amazing how fast they can get through the water! I’ve also showed her some gymnastics routines that she enjoyed.

We always love sensory play and toddler activities.

It gives toddlers time to have fun while learning and parents time to get some things done! This Olympic Ice Play was a hit with Mila and I think a ton of other kids will enjoy it too!

Do you watch the Olympic Games? What’s your favorite sport?

5 Tips to Help Your Toddler Swim Without Floaties

Mila has always loved the pool.

Her first summer, we were constantly in the pool. She seemed to be at her happiest when we dance around and swam, so that’s what we did. It helped become familiar with the water and gave her a lot of pool confidence early on.

The next summer, I worried whether or not she would like it as much. But, she loved it and had no fear of getting in with her floaties.

Last summer, she mastered jumping in by herself (with her puddle jumper) and swimming to one of us. It felt like a victory! We spent so much time during our COVID summer swimming around.

When this summer came along, I wondered what she would want to try this year. I had no idea she’d be confident enough for no floaties.

I will say, my anxiety definitely stepped up. All the thoughts of what could go wrong flashed through my head. Yet, when I saw her excitement and determination to do it, I calmed down a little.

Since it’s been a process, I figured I’d share some tips that worked for us through it with other parents.

1. Set rules.

This was so big for my anxiety and Mila being pool safe. Not everyone’s rules will look the same, here’s ours.

  • You have to wear floaties if there’s other kids in the pool.
  • You don’t have to wear floaties if there’s an adult in the pool already.
  • If you’re practicing swimming without, you have to have an adult beside you.
  • When swimming between adults, let them know where you’re going.
  • Only jump in without floaties if someone’s there watching.
  • There has to be breaks.

These are the rules that work for us. My main focus is Mila’s safety. I want her to know she cannot swim without floaties by herself. She seems to be receptive with our rules too.

Although she does like to challenge us and push her limits.

2. Be confident and open.

Toddlers and kids can immediately tell what their parents are feeling. If you’re not confident and open to the situation, they’ll feel that.

At first, I was really anxious about it all. She was too! The more I let myself be okay with her swimming by herself, the more confident and stronger she became.

I think by having some sort of rules and guidelines for her, it calmed my anxiety too.

3. Get active with them.

Monkey see monkey do, right?

To put it out there, you can teach your child to swim confidently if you’re not in there with them.

While we’re in the pool, there’s someone showing Mila different ways to swim. Or they’re going under water with her. Just being active and involved goes a long way.

I also think the more she sees confident swimmers, the quicker she’s going to get there too.

4. Give them feedback.

At the beginning of this no floaty journey, I felt like I nit picked everything she was doing. Just because I wanted her to be safe.

Now, I’ve been able to give her constructive feedback.

The biggest one I’m always saying is to use big arms. She forgets halfway through to keep moving them. Once she’s reminded, she does it the next time. It’s all just a learning process!

Obviously, try not to bombard them with feedback. That can be discouraging, but there is a good balance to keep them safe and swimming.

5. Have FUN!

As with anything, the most important thing is to have fun!

I encourage Mila to jump in and show me different tricks. That’s always a hit! When we’re in the pool, we have races and make waves too. We make sure to play games while she has her floaties on too. Some games we play are hide-and-seek and building forts.

The stronger she gets as a swimmer, the more games we’ll get to play. I know she’s really excited to be able to dive for diving sticks and toys.

I hope our experience with swimming and these tips can help you with your toddler or child too!

What are some of your tips and tricks that helped you or your child swim?

DIY Outdoor Art Display

Mila and I spend a lot of time outside. We tend to our plants, play with our cats, and eat out there too. Since our outdoor areas are so important, we decided to do a DIY Outdoor Art Display to make it even more homey.

Mila makes a lot of artwork. Most of it gets showcased on here. She is so proud to show it off and it makes me smile every time I see it.

Why wouldn’t we take it outside?

Plus, outdoor living doesn’t have to be boring. You can add colors and pops of personality. Just make sure it’s covered from the elements and you’re good. There’s also a ton of weatherproofed items you can purchase.

Here’s what we used for this outdoor art display:

  • Two pallet boards
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Hammer
  • Nails

The biggest project was the shelf. All we did was screw the boards together. We could have painted it, but I like the natural look. Then, we screwed the shelf in the siding and put nails where the canvas went.

After that hard part was done, it’s decorating time.

I loved how all the elements came together. Mila’s artwork was the star of the show, but there’s other elements that we love Thats inside our house.

The plants we chose love humidity and are covered from the sun harsh rays. It’s also a great way to propagate them and add glass pieces. The rest of our porch is covered in plants too!

Of course, we had to add Jensen’s block. It’s our way of having him close to us no matter where we are around the house.

I also loved the picture of Mila and the eagle rock too. All things that make our space ours.

With a few nails, screws, and pieces of pallet wood we created our perfect art display. It truly was a simple process that had a big impact.

Since I have wood siding, I think it made this project a little easier. If you have vinyl siding, all you would need is different screws. It isn’t too much different!

At the end of the day, I’m so happy for this little DIY. It’s helped me center on self care and taking a moment in the morning and evenings.

I can’t wait to see what Mila creates for it next.

What outdoor DIYs have you done lately?

Toddler Activity: Poetry and Watercolors

April is National Poetry Month, which makes my English heart flutter. Of course, I had to get Mila writing poetry too.

To create watercolor poetry with a toddler, here’s what you’ll need:

So you’re probably thinking, how can an almost three year old write poetry? Well, after spending all day with a chatty toddler, they end up saying pretty important things. Even if they don’t realize it!

Inspiration strikes any and everywhere.

A couple weeks ago, I did six word memoirs with my students. Before the lesson, I came up with a few at home. Mila, unknowingly, helped contribute as well.

She said one silly thing and another one that really made me think. Both are great pieces of poetry…

Stinky girl, I don’t know you.

Don’t touch bumblebees that fly high.

Okay, the first one made me laugh a lot. But, it’s something I don’t want to ever forget.

The second one made me think. She definitely meant it literal, but I thought deeply about it. For me, it meant like don’t mess up something that’s going well. That’s what makes poetry so much fun.

To showcase Mila’s wise words, we made watercolor paintings. I had her use whatever colors she wanted. It came up a little messy and sort of made me think of stinky girls or that sort of idea.

Then, I created the lavender and bee watercolor for her bumblebee poem.

This is a very simple way to introduce poetry to your child. It’s only six words! I believe that when kids see their work showcased, they know it’s good too. Letting Mila know those were her words, goes a long way.

I can’t wait to build upon poetry for Mila. It’s a beautiful way to express oneself.

Another alternative for this activity is to let your child do any type of watercolor activity and then you come up with the words.

Either way, you both can be creative and let each other know poetry isn’t that scary.

Let me know in the comments if you ever write poetry and if or how you introduce it to your children.

7 Spring Books Your Toddler Will Love

With spring books comes beautiful illustrations that toddlers love. It’s also a perfect time to teach little ones about all the new things that happen in spring.

I can’t even explain the importance of reading to toddlers. That’s how they expand their vocabulary and learn about everything around them. Plus, it’s great time to bond with your little one too.

Here are seven spring books Mila and I are loving.

This is the latest book I’ve purchased for Mila. The covers illustration is beautiful and it carries on throughout the book too. I love how Mila is learning without even realizing it. Plus, it lets her know how important bees are to our world!

“Also an Animal” is a beautiful book about spring babies and the love between mothers and their babies. The book is so informative. I didn’t even know the name of some of the babies. Mila loves mama and baby pairs, so this book is perfect for that.

This classic book is perfect for spring and Easter too! Mila loves all the pictures and I enjoy sharing stories that I read when I was a child too. It’s a perfect book to make an Easter Eve tradition with too!

Everyone knows this classic song! This book version has beautiful illustrations that helps a toddler visualize what’s going on. At the end, it lets you know the hand motions to use too.

I also enjoy this book to explain to Mila that spiders aren’t scary. It seems to help!

Love You More
by Hannah Green

One of my favorite Aldi finds, “Love You More” is a beautiful book about family with bright colors. It lets young kids know that no matter what, they are loved. Mila loves pointing out the colors and we count the flowers on the page too.

If you can find this treasure online, let me know so I can link!

Another classic story, “Play With Me” is perfect for teaching patience and gentleness to little ones. If you have a toddler, you know those two aren’t their strong points. It was a great teaching moment for Mila. Plus, I personally love the illustrations in this book. They’re not as bright, but they’re still beautiful.

I was originally gifted this book and Mila and I fell in love. This is a beautiful story about mothers of all creatures love of their children. Again, the illustrations are beautiful and Mila loved the babies in it.

All of these books are staples in our home. Let me know in the comments what are your favorite spring time books?

5 Ways to Protect Your Face from Maskne.

5 Ways to Protect Your Face from Maskne

No matter where you stand on the mask mandate, masks are still going to be around for the foreseeable future. The worst part of them are the subsequent breakouts.

These breakouts have been coined as ‘maskne.’

maskne (mɑːsknɪ)- acne and other facial breakouts that arise from regular use of facial masks traditionally worn by medical professionals.

Since I wear a mask almost everyday, I’ve found out what works best for my skin. My skin is typically oily, which isn’t a great mix with the extra mask moisture. But by sticking with a skincare routine and taking precautionary steps, my face has been clearer than ever.

Here’s the products and tips that have protected my face from maskne and might help you too.

Skin Care Routine | Eclectic Serenity Skincare Products

Remember when I went and got reiki done a few weeks ago (and again recently)? Well, Kiersten at Eclectic Serenity, also makes skin care products.

My face has drastically gotten clearer and smoother after using these products. Besides that, I love actually being able to pronounce everything that’s actually going on my face.

I cleanse and tone twice a day and use the serum once a day. She also makes makeup wipes. They take all my makeup wipe in one cotton disc.

The ingredients in the products are easy on my skin and still make a huge impact. They smell amazing too.

They’re locally (to me) made in Uhrichsville, OH and she ships!

Although I’d love for you to try Eclectic Serenity’s products, a skincare routine is a must to protect against maskne. Make sure to cleanse and tone, especially at the end of the day.

Less Face Makeup

Working away from home the last few months has forced me to do my makeup again. Yet, half of everyone’s face is covered by masks.

The solution I’ve found with masks and makeup is to stop wearing face makeup. Well, at least on the bottom half of my face. It might look a little silly, but just focusing on what people see or not wearing it at all has worked so far.

It feels like the combo of makeup and mask helps clog pores. If we have to have one, the other goes.

I feel like this has helped my face stay clear and keep money in my pocket.

Less makeup, less problems.

Masks with Good Material

What you put on your skin matters. Purchasing and wearing masks that are made of quality fabric will do wonders for you skin.

One of the best types of fabric to keep maskne away is cotton. I’ve bought reusable masks from the start, but fell in love with this listing on Etsy. They’re stylish and just feel light on your face. It didn’t take long to ship either. PLUS, they’re good for the environment, which is so important to me.

I know a lot of people wear disposable masks, so the key here is to not wear just one all the time. Make sure you’re using new masks so you have a clean slate.

Humidifiers

This year, I got two big humidifiers. I mostly got them to keep my plants healthy this winter, but they’re really good for your skin too. Humidifiers keep the air humid and not dry, that helps keep your skin nice and moisturized.

So, when I’m home and not wearing a mask, it helps a lot.

They also make the air you breathe better too. Just overall a ton of benefits for having humidifiers in your home. I like bedside ones to keep on at night!

Clean Masks

Honestly, this one sounds so simple, but I think sending out a reminder is good for everyone!

If you wear reusable masks, they need cleaned and refreshed often. It’s nice to have a few masks to rotate through. Most are machine washable and can either be thrown in the dryer or air dried.

Honestly, I like drying mine in the dryer. Masks can stretch out, so getting them a little smaller helps the fit!

Obviously, clean masks help keep your face clean. That ultimately helps you fight maskne.

Even though I’ve gotten a little maskne here and there, this fall and winter I’ve definitely found what works best for me.

What have been your tips and tricks to prevent maskne?

6 Self Care Journaling Prompts

No matter if you’re a good writer or not, journaling is healing. When used as a self reflective tool, writing can help organize your thoughts and come to conclusions about what you’re going through in life.

The hardest part of it all is just starting.

Sometimes it’s difficult to think about what to write. Prompts are a great starting point to get your thoughts moving.

Here’s six writing prompts that I find myself going back to when I journal for self care.

I hope they help you too.

1. What do you wish you could say to someone if there were no consequences?
2. Why do other people look up to you?
3. What is something you accomplished this week that you’re proud of?
4. How would your child/spouse/parent describe you?
5. What does your dream life look love?
6. Write a letter to someone who’s impacted your life the most.

Again, the hardest part to writing is starting. These are all thoughtful jumping points that can help you pick up a pen or type on whatever device.

Remember, you deserve time to be you and do what’s best for you.

If you’d like to see more of my personal journaling prompts, let me know and I’ll share more. Of course, if you have helpful prompts to share, please let me know in the comments.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Eleven

At the beginning of the year, I made a jar to document the good things we experienced that week. It’s been fun reflecting, but knowing Mila, she has to make it a little weird.

That’s just what toddlers do!

I will admit, this one is more cute than weird, but I thought it’d be perfect to share with Valentine’s Day coming up.

Mila has had the same thing that makes her happy every week… ME!

When I go to our jar, I date it, then make an “M” for what makes her grateful. Then I ask her what made her happy this last week.

The second time we did it, she just said, “you.” I thought it was the cutest thing ever.

When it came to ask her again, she replied with the same thing. Admittedly, I felt a little bad. I was writing down things I wanted to remember at the end of the year, not just Mila or Jensen. Maybe it was a fluke of her just saying me?

On the fourth week, she said, again, said I was what made her most happy. Still feeling sad, I asked her to elaborate and she said, “playing with you.”

Since that fourth week, I haven’t re-asked her what made her happy and accepted this cuteness.

As much as she loves Pizza, her grandparents, Max, and Mickey Mouse, I always find it a little weird that she consistently chooses me as her happiness. Of all the things in the world and her lame mom is her answer.

Honestly, I’m going to love looking back and remembering that I made her smile for weeks in a row. I know one week she won’t say me and that’s okay.

For now though, I guess she’s just a weirdo, with a big heart for her mom.

You have the strength.

Whenever I’m feeling down, I remember I have the most important cheerleader looking up at me. 

She reminds me that I have the strength, especially when she hits this power pose.

Even on the days, I can’t imagine getting through, I know she’s watching. She reminds me that with love and determination, I can accomplish anything. 

Now I know motherhood, and parenthood, in general, is hard. It’s even harder when the last year has been all out of whack. We’ve been through a pandemic, crazy election, and overall change in every aspect of life. 

Somehow, we’re still doing it. Every day we come back better than ever. Before we know it, this hellacious time will be over. 

Today, I’m going to be your cheerleader and verbally scream online, you have the strength. 

If twenty-two grown men can go play a football game and are considered strong, you have the strength to do anything you set your mind on. 

When your kids (human, animal, or plant) are demanding all your attention, you have the strength to keep doing it. 

You have the strength of all the energy you put out in the world because all that good comes back.

No matter how long we have left with this pandemic and lockdown, you have the strength to do your best with it all. 

You have the strength to decide what’s best for you.

During your time at work, school, or home with your children, you have the strength to crush all your goals. Whatever goal you have, big or small, I know you’ll hit it.

You have the strength to be the badass woman (or man) you’ve always been. 

On the days where you don’t feel strong enough to keep going, I know you will find the strength to keep moving forward. 

You have the strength of the stubborn toddler you raised.

If you haven’t raised a toddler… I’m still cheering on that strength to you because the energy that’s in a toddler could move mountains. Everyone deserves that.

You have the strength.

Self Care Sunday: Plants and Masks

No matter if you’re stuck watching football, having a lazy day, or are needing a minute to yourself, self care is essential. Moms, especially, need a minute to themselves.

Finding out what calms your soul and clears your head is the self care for you. If you can nourish your body too, then it’s even better.

During the first few months after COVID hit, I got really into plants and helping our environment. They sort of go together, so that makes sense.

I found that taking care of plants and learning about them eased my anxiety so much.

Somehow a few plants has turned into a mini, indoor jungle, but I love it. They’ve also helped me want to take care of myself better too.

Hello self care.

Today, I want to share a little face mask recipe and give a plant recommendation and tip. This way, you can see one part of my self care journey. Maybe you’ll even want to try this self care moment.

Two things Mila and I are constantly running out of is avocados and honey. She will sit and just eat both.

They’re also pretty awesome for your skin too!

To make a mask, mash up half an avocado and 1 1/2 teaspoons of honey. Mix them up and apply. Use the other half for avocado toast the next morning.

Make sure to save the avocado seed too! I’ll make a post about what you can do with those.

Apply the mask to your face and keep it on for 15 minutes. After, wash off and do your normal skincare routine.

During the 15 minutes is a perfect time to do planty tasks.

If you don’t have any plants, snake plants are perfect beginner plants. You can get them at Lowe’s or the one pictured is from Lively Root.

They’re such easy plants. Snake plants tolerate low light, are drought resistant (which means you don’t have to water them constantly), and do well in household humidity.

Plus, snake plants were one of the plants that NASA found as top air-filtering plants. Pretty cool right?

Anyways, while waiting for my mask to do work it’s magic, I dusted my snake’s leaves. Dusting helps make sure your plant gets as much sun as it can. Even though this is a low light plant, it still needs to get as much as it can.

Self care is something everyone should make time to do. Mila put our DIY mask on too and helped me with our ‘planties.’ She just refused to take a picture.

Find something you love. Maybe it’s plants and masks or maybe not. Either way, you deserve self care on Sundays or any day.