S’mores are obviously a huge part of our summer. We have tons of fires and we’re always craving the gooey treat. Sometimes, you can have a ton of leftover marshmallows. Instead of just throwing them away before they get hard, try this Marshmallow painting.
If you’re by the campfire making s’mores, you have almost everything you’ll need.
To start this activity off, I had Mila go find sticks. It gave her some time to explore and find the perfect ones.
While she was doing that, I prepped the painting area. All you need to do is find a spot for your canvas, get a palette (I used old cardboard) to put the paint, and get out marshmallows.
Once Mila got back with the sticks, I stuck the sticks in the marshmallows to make a ‘brush.’
Before she started painting, I asked her to tell me a campfire story through her art. So, while she was painting, she was telling a big story. Everyone color represented something different.
The storytelling part of this activity is my favorite! People have been telling stories around the fire since the first humans.
I can’t remember exactly what Mila’s was about. There were a lot of details.
What I do recall is the story was about me, Mila, and Max. We rode on a bike to get plants and a tree. She was purple, I was pink, Max was orange, the plants and tree were green, the bike was blue, and there’s some colors she used again that I don’t remember why.
I should have been recording her tell the story, but I didn’t think about it until after. Either way, when I look at her little painting, I smile.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a little s’more and told more stories. It was such a fun activity to start our evening. Summer nights like these are my absolute favorite.
In the next week or so, I hope I can start writing down her stories. She’s been telling a lot of them and I want to make sure I always remember. When I do, I’ll make sure to write a post about it in case you’d like to do something similar.
Have you ever painted with marshmallows before? If not, what’s your favorite camping or summer craft you did as a child?
Here’s some other summer/camping crafts you might want to check out too!
A few weekends ago, Mila went fishing for the first time.
We decided to go for Father’s Day. It’s been a while since my dad and I have went, but we had been talking about it in front of Mila. She had been asking for days and it felt like the perfect time. Father’s Day weekend was a free fishing weekend, so we got a few fishing poles and found a spot by the lake.
What I didn’t realize was how different fishing was with a toddler. Just like my thoughts on Mila’s dance class, I knew I had to share what was going on in my head here too.
Feel free to laugh along with me.
What’s the difference between worms and night crawlers?
Seriously though… what’s the difference? Plus, is it really kosher that I’m buying whatever they are at a gas station? Either way, thank goodness I don’t have to touch them. Maybe Mila will be braver than me.
There’s a lot of gear and snacks that go into fishing.
Thank goodness Papa is here to get everything in working order.
If it was just Mila and I today, there wouldn’t be a ton of fishing. It’d be more of me chasing her around than casting out and catching! She’s grossed out by the worms… I guess we have more jobs for Papa.
It’s time to fish!
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Our poles are ready. Mila is excited to catch a big fish. Let’s see if we can…
Toddlers and sharp objects are not a good combination. Especially when said sharp objects are being hurled through the air. I guess we should have started with some ground rules to begin with and a few practice casts.
Why am I doing more fishing than her?
After the first few casts and no fish, Mila is highly disappointed.
Apparently in her mind they were all going to flock to the worm/night crawlers. I guess no one sent out the being patient while fishing memo to her.
I got one!
Cue the yelling to Mila to help me reel the fish in. As she ran over, I realized I probably scared the rest of the fish away, but this was a BIG moment for her.
No, you don’t have to touch the fish.
After the intense reeling, she eyes up her prize. Once it starts wiggling around, she’s not so sure about touching it. Finally, I convince her to pet it before we throw it back in. Of course, Papa had another job of unhooking it.
Thankfully, Mila stepped up and threw it back in the lake.
I need to catch all the fish for her!
Hours seem to pass quickly and her excitement makes me want to catch even more. We do our normal fish routine, but mixed in is the patience memo she missed.
I guess the boredom helped her get more brave in touching the worms.
This is pretty relaxing.
As it’s time to pack up, the day has been quite relaxing… minus the almost getting hooked every time Mila casted out and the persistent whining. Right before we leave, Mila proclaims that next time we catch a really big fish so we can eat it.
I guess that’s a goal and story for another time.
Have you ever been fishing with your child? If so, what was your favorite part of the experience?
Looking for other camping related activities? Check out these fun ones.
Mila and I love the warm months and everything to do with our time off. It may be hard to think of fun things to do with your toddler in the heat, but getting outside is so important.
We’re going to track our time outside until next summer. Our goal is to hit 1000 hours and I have a feeling the majority of the time will be when the sun is shining bright. 1000 Hours Outside is a movement to get outside and lessen screen time. They have a fun coloring page to track your hours and I think it’s a fun little challenge.
I also think about how Mila and I only have EIGHTEEN summers together until she goes off to college or enters adulthood. We’re going to try to make the most of them.
This is summer 4/18.
Here’s a little list of what Mila and I will be doing this summer. I can’t wait to see all of our adventures.
Create a Scavenger Hunt
You know how much Mila and I love scavengers hunts. They’re easy to make and can be done anywhere outside. We love to do them in our backyard, but have also done them on hikes, walks, and on vacation too!
Scavenger hunts are great ways to keep your little busy and you can join along too!
Go to the Zoo
Zoos are such fun places to explore. There’s all kinds of different animals and kids are just in awe of them. It may get a little hot during the summer, so make sure to pack extra water.
I’d also suggest trying to go early in the morning or during zoo nights!
Mila and I’s FAVORITE summer activity is going to the pool. We love to swim and just relax in the water. She’s also started asking to go to the waterpark. She loves the slides!
For us, swimming passes the time so quickly and cools us down. It’s also fun to play pool volleyball, make floaty forts, and play Marco Polo! Pool days have unlimited opportunities to play and learn.
Watch the Clouds
One way to engage your child’s imagination is to watch the clouds. Ask them what they see in the sky. Mila tries to make up stories along with them too. Let’s just say, she always has me laughing with what goes on in her mind.
Summer means staying up a little later than normal. Just like watching the clouds, stargazing with Mila opens up different conversations than normal. She asks about the moon and how to get to space. We also try to find different constellations, but I’m not very good at finding them right away. I promise I’ll be better at the end of summer!
Play with the Hose
Some days you can’t get to the pool, but still want to play in the water. We love playing with out hose and the attachments with it.
It’s a fun and simple activity that I think most toddlers love.
Just like going to the zoo, going on a walk or hike can be hindered by the heat. Make sure to stay hydrated or go when it’s cooler.
If you go on a hike, it could be fun to go somewhere where there’s water to be cooler too!
Tending your garden can be so much fun for you and your toddlers to watch flowers, fruits, and vegetables grow. It’s even better when you can pick and eat what you’ve helped grow!
Have a Fire
Extend your time outside by having a fire.
You can make food, like s’mores, and just enjoy the moment. We also like telling stories. Anytime there’s light that makes shadows, Mila thinks it’s story time! It’s also a fun way to wrap up a pool day or time spent with family.
This is pretty self explanatory, but deserved a spot on the list!
Play with Chalk
Playing with chalk is not only creative for kids, it can be a great learning activity. You can do color recognition, practice shapes, and even help learn letters too!
Also, it always brings a smile to my face when I see sidewalk chalk art when we go on a walk.
Go Somewhere New
There are so many places to explore. Recently, I’ve joined an Ohio Facebook group to see if there are any quirky or fun new places for Mila and I to go. Honestly, i already have a huge list of things to do this summer and beyond.
Just like going somewhere new, going on a road trip is another fun option. Mila is finally loving the car. It’s a blast to sing songs together and watch her see the world around her.
The opportunities are endless when it comes to road trips!
Volunteer or Donate
No matter if you volunteer or donate your time officially or just on your own, it’s important to show your child how important it is. On our walks, we’ll pick up trash. When we have extra money, we’ve taken dog food to the humane society.
It’s a way you can get outside and help your community too.
This is the most important thing on the list!
No matter what you do this summer, just make sure to have fun. Kids are only little one times in their lives… and I think it’s magical to watch your children experience this time too. I know I’ll be having just as much fun as her this summer.
What is your favorite thing to do on this list? And what’s something you’re planning that you’d add?
Mila and I love watching birds in our backyard. After making DIY bird feeders, we thought it’d be fun to expand their spot on the tree. We created what I like to call a little birdhouse motel.
If you didn’t know, birds hold a special place in my heart. They remind me of Jensen and whenever I see a red or blue bird, I feel as if it’s him saying, “hello mom!” There are also birds on his urn. For some reason, his urn called out to me. It felt like it was a freeing image and after that, birds just felt right to celebrate him with. With that being said, we really welcome them in our backyard.
I’ve been looking at different birdhouses to purchase, but have been so busy I’ve forgotten to order one. Thanks mom brain! When I last went to the dollar store, I found two little kits, so I had to buy them. Then I figured we could reuse something at home too.
Not everything has to look perfect or expensive, it still turns out cute when made with love.
As I said before, if I could do this again, I probably would have ordered a different birdhouse kit. Yet, this one worked out perfectly because it wasn’t so big that Mila lost interest.
For the kits, I followed the instructions on the back of the package.
Honestly, I threw away the wood glue and went straight to my hot glue gun. It went a lot quicker! If you’re up for the challenge and have the patience, you could try the wood glue.
After the hot glue was dried, Mila and I each painted one of the mini birdhouses.
She wanted to pick out the colors and of course chose purple and pink. They’re truly her go to colors! It makes me laugh that most of the crafts and artwork in our house are bright and girly. Let’s hope the birds like it too!
While Mila continued to paint her birdhouse (which she did all by herself!), I cut out a big chunk of the juice carton and then washed it out. I also cut two holes across the top to pull string through to hang. It would have really helped if I had done this before I painted, but… I forgot!
Afterwards, I ended up painted it black (against Mila’s wishes) with a purple little heart on it. When it was dried, I pulled the string through and tied a knot.
When the kits were done, I also tied the string and hung them all together.
Mila went to find some grass, small sticks, and a little bit of bird seed to welcome in our new friends. It was so cute seeing which objects she thought the birds would like. If I were them, I’d feel right at home!
I can’t wait until we can get more birdhouses and maybe do another DIY.
These two were simple enough for us to do it in an evening. As she gets older, we can definitely do more complicated things. For now, she’s in love with our birdhouse motel. I am so proud of how well she painted and worked on her little project.
Now we get to wait to see who decides to move in and benefit from the motel. Hopefully different types of birds will visit and maybe even a bluebird or two. Fingers crossed!
What’s your favorite type of bird? Let me know in the comments.
If you love birdhouses and want some other inspiration to do a DIY one, check out what these moms have done.
Welcome to another issue of “Weird Things My Toddler Does.” From the previous 14 parts, we can definitely see that my toddler (like most) is pretty weird. I guess that’s what makes them so much fun.
Mila has taken her weirdness to the streets this time.
With all her shoes and outfits, she has decided to make a twist on what goes together. No, it’s not making weird clothing choices, it has to deal with her shoes. More specifically, crocs.
At this point of being three, Mila has thrown out everything she’s known about wearing shoes. Instead of mimicking the adults around her by wearing matching shoes, she has decided that the perfect outfit centers around one glitter croc and a blue one.
Seriously. Everywhere we go she has to wear this combination.
At the zoo recently, the other parents took notice. They asked if she dressed herself and one even asked if we had lost the other ones. Politely, I just said, “that’s what she wants to wear.”
Although it’s so weird, it was easy to point her out when she went down the slide. Or when I was scanning when she was playing up on playground equipment and I could only see feet, there were the mismatching crocs. I guess her weirdness helps in that way.
Plus, it’s not really conducive to fight about something that goes on her feet. If it makes her happy then that’s what we do.
I think the funniest part of all is she is adamant that these are the feet the mismatching has to go on. She refuses to change it up. The blue has to be the left foot and the glitter on the right.
Three is about making choices and becoming independent… it’s just weird Mila decided to show it off like this.
Cheers to crocs and they still look cute mismatched.
What weird things are you toddlers doing lately? Do you fight with your kids about what they wear or just roll with it?
We love process art! With spring here, as well as the bugs, we had to find a creative way to make a unique piece of art. This time, with a flyswatter and a hyper toddler!
Mila has a love hate with bugs. On one hand, she’s afraid of most of them. Then, on the other, she likes butterflies and the ‘pretty’ bugs. She despises flies and gnats, but was pretty impressed last year when she was introduced to the flyswatter. It’s like she’s on fly patrol whenever she sees one.
To get her creative and being active (which she loves), I thought this activity would be fun for her!
Not only is it fun for Mila to paint and have fun with it, the texture the flyswatter made was amazing to me. It turned out to be a great project.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Canvas or paper
‘Bugs’ (aka paint)
I love activities that have an easy set up. It works for Mila’s patience level and if I just need a quick activity, it’s so nice. This one was just like that.
The only real planning we did was picking out paint colors. Mila, of course, went for her normal colors: pink, blue, and purple. We had everything else already on hand, but you can find all of these materials almost anywhere.
Then, I just poured little dots of paint all over the canvas. I told Mila to pretend they were bugs and to smack them!
She had so much fun hitting all the different bugs. If I do this activity again, I’ll have her hit the certain colors to practice color matching. It would be fun seeing if she or any toddler would try their best not to hit any other colors too.
The patter the lines on the flyswatter made were perfect. When she asked for more bugs, the layered look was so cute. Somehow, the paints didn’t all muddle together and you could see all the different colors. I was worried they’d just become a huge purple blob!
Mila had a ton of fun hitting the canvas and we ended up doing the same activity on a big wood board too.
I hope to finish her painting off with writing a quote on it in the near future. I love to combine her artwork with encouraging words! It just makes for a fun team project that I know we’ll enjoy for years to come.
Let me know in the comments if you like bugs or if you’re on Mila’s side of the flyswatter.
Check out how some other moms incorporated bugs and insects in their learning.
In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, femininity, and art, Mila learned more about one of my favorite historical woman: Frida Kahlo. Of course, we had to do a craft of a Frida portrait; just with a toddler spin.
If you don’t know about Frida, she’s truly an amazing woman. Her history was tragic, but her perseverance to keep going against all odds really speaks to me. Through everything, she became one of Mexico’s greatest artists. She did a ton of self portraits, which is why we honored her this way.
Now, I understand Frida has NOTHING to do with Cinco de Mayo. This holiday commemorates Mexico’s unlikely defeat over France in 1862. Since then, it’s turned into a huge celebration.
With Mila being three, I don’t feel completely comfortable talking about war with her yet. It’s still a great way to teach her about Mexican culture. Frida is a huge cultural icon and since we love learning about art, it felt perfect.
Anyways, you can look up all kinds of information about CInco de Mayo and Frida all over the internet. Now it’s time to get to our little craft.
Honestly, i wish I had a free printable for everyone to make this craft a little easier. The elements in this project are a little detailed, but the end result is worth it.
To prep for this craft, I drew the different elements of Frida’s face on the construction or craft paper. They don’t have to be perfect. I think the more unique it is with its imperfections, the more it connects with Frida and her work.
I drew Frida’s hair, nose, eyes, and unibrow on black construction paper. Her lips on red scrapbook paper. The accessories on yellow scrapbook paper. Her body is made out of brown construction paper and the dress out of floral scrapbook paper.
Once everything was drawn, I cut them out.
Since we used a canvas, I hot glued Frida’s body and part of her hair down. Then, it was all up to Mila.
She has seen Frida and her artwork for her entire life. We read books with her in them, but I showered her a picture before she started. After, I asked if she could make her face.
Honestly, she did a great job. She loved talking about the different parts of her face and was in love with the flowers. I think she said Frida about a thousand times too. It amazes me that she picks up on all these new words.
I think she did a really good job. She put it in a prime spot for all to see! I love that she loves all her hard work.
Plus, it was a fun way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
Tonight we’ll be enjoying tacos and I’ll have a margarita. We love to celebrate these holidays and learn all about new culture.
Let us know what you think about this Frida craft and how you celebrate Cinco de Mayo!
Before you go, check out how these moms celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican heritage.
I always thought motherhood was teaching your children about the ins and outs of life.
We teach them to walk, talk, and be functional humans. Or that’s the goal. Through their trials, we help encourage them to become better people and learn from what life hands them.
My unconventional start to motherhood sort of took that away from me. I learned so much from Jensen and his death that I would have never imagined. With Mila, I thought it’d be me doing all the teaching, not the learning. In many ways, being her mom has surprised me.
As much as I’ve taught her and helped encourage her to become the sassy three year old that she’s become, she’s made me into a whole new person.
With Bereaved Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day coming up the next two weekends, I’ve been thinking a lot about my motherhood. Jensen has taught me so much about love and living fully. I’ve talked about it extensively through this outlet. This morning, as Mila hugged me not to go, all the lessons she’s taught me have flooded my head.
Here’s just a few.
One thing Mila did not get from me is anxiety. She is the most steady person I know and it’s a beautiful combination with us two.
When she needs comforted, I’m there for her. I never thought kids could do the same thing. Yet, anytime I’m upset, she comes over and just says, ‘it’s okay.’ Then she’ll shush me and just give me a tight squeeze. This act of hers has taught me so much about patience and realizing the moment will go away.
Anytime I’m feeling stressed when she’s not around, I remember her sweet voice and that seems to help make a lot of things feel okay.
Laugh at the little things.
All I have to do is give our dog a certain look and Mila laughs wildly.
Mila’s taught me not to take life so seriously. After Jensen died, it was hard to laugh freely. With her, she just demands humor and lightness. She’ll do things just to make other people laugh. Or when she’s upset, I know if she laughs once, she’ll be much better.
The mix of seriousness and lightness has balanced out the last three years. She’ll always be the one who giggles at the the little things. I’m happy for that.
Just be you.
In a world where social media dominates, it’s hard to just be yourself. Influencers and the media try to sway us constantly, but Mila has taught me the opposite.
She doesn’t understand advertisements and social media yet, but she’s the opposite force. When I look at her, I see so much uniqueness and individuality, I would never want her to be like anyone else. Just herself. I reflect on that often and encourage her to do follow her ways.
Then, I think about how I can apply that to myself and others around me. I want those that I love (and beyond) to just be them. For me, I just want to be me. There’s not code to follow or correct way to live. The most beautiful person we can be is just ourselves.
Every time I look at her, I’m reminded of that.
Live in the moment.
Mila has taught me to see the world completely differently.
The main way is to live in the moment. I can have 100 things planned out, but she pulls me into the present like no other. It’s funny because I could be doing work and she says, “watch me.” Sometimes I tell her to wait, but then I realize, I can never get this moment back with her. So, we pretend and play and just live.
Work will always be there and it gets done, just a little bit later.
We’re in this together.
I know moms, even myself, complain about never having any alone time. It’s exhausting, so of course Mila and I are in this together.
But, that’s not what I mean.
At three, I have such serious conversations about what she wants for our life too. We decide on where we want to go or what we want to eat. We’ve talked about different vacations or what plants to buy too.
It sounds silly since she’s three, but this is her life and childhood too. Together, we have to make it the very best it can be. When she’s happy, I am too.
We’re in this life and growing together.
The one thing children bring unconditionally is love.
Love, love, love.
I love Jensen and Mila more than anything. Mila has physically showed me how kids love outwardly. It isn’t in the moments everyone sees or knows about. Even though she’s in a “I like you” stage, she always nods her head when I say, “do you mean love?” back to her.
Love isn’t in her words though. It’s in the hugs where she tells me it’s going to be okay, her laughter that fills the room, and the fruit snacks and juice she brings to bed for us.
She’s taught me how love can glue back a broken heart and even leave space for more.
In these three years, sometimes I get confused about who’s taking care of who. As much as I help her grow, she helps me grow too. I love being her and Jensen’s mom.
What big life lessons have your children taught you?
Last year, Mila and I tried our best to maintain a toddler garden. With a little practice, we’ve found five tips that really help our garden grow and thrive.
I will admit, we’ve acquired a few houseplants since our go at it last year. It’s really helped up understand what plants need to grow. Germinating seeds are a little more tricky than having houseplants, but it’s the same principal.
We ended up buying an herb kit from the dollar store to practice. It costed $5 for the seeds, soil, and container. I thought it was a great deal. They’re a little wonky right now since they’re growing towards our grow light, but they’ll even out soon!
Here’s what we did to make them sprout.
One of the best things you can do for your seeds is to plant them in a warm environment.
At this point, they don’t need a ton of sun. Windowsills can be really cold in April, so keeping them in the kitchen or another warm room of your house is perfect. This will help promote them to germinate and sprout. They also grow quicker when they’re warm.
If they get too cold, they’ll freeze and won’t be viable to sprout.
Besides warmth, the other most important component of starting seeds is humidity.
If the heat in your house is on, your home probably doesn’t have a humid environment for the seeds. But, there are easy ways to create it.
The easiest way is to use saran wrap. After you plant your seeds and spray water on them, just tear off a piece of saran wrap and put it over your containers. This and heat will create a humid environment that your seeds will thrive in.
It may not be the prettiest sight, but it really does help!
You could also use plastic takeout boxes or Tupperware to create the same effect too!
I think this is where Mila and I messed up the most last year!
Your seeds do not need to be buried in your soil mix. They need to be able to feel the warmth and humidity. Last year, I put them further down and although some sprouted, it was too deep. This year, I mostly spread the seeds on top of the soil and gently pressed them in the soil.
It took them a shorter amount of time to sprout this year and they’re really thriving. I believe this tip was the biggest factor there.
Gardening and growing herbs and vegetables from seeds take a lot of time and patience.
It can take up to two weeks for seeds to sprout. If they get overwatered or it’s too cold, they can end up rotting and not even sprout. There’s a lot of components and science to starting a garden.
This garden is a great time to talk to your toddler or child of any age about patience. They’ll be excited to check and see if their plants have sprouted every chance they can get. Once they finally start to, your child will be so proud of their efforts. You will be too!
They say plants grow better when listening to happy music. Think how much they can grow from kind words and love from you.
Gardening truly is a labor of love. Not only to the plants, but with you and your little ones too. There are so many teachable moments and just teaching your child that something can grow from the love you put into it sticks.
I might not be the gardening guru, but these tips have helped us out this year. Mila is so excited to see her garden grow!
When our plants get bigger and it’s time to switch pots, I’ll update with those tips too.
If you’re wondering if you should start a garden, you most definitely should! Start small and see what works for you this year. By next year, you can take on more if you’d like. Either way, it can be a fun and ongoing experiment with your kids.
Before you go, check out how these other moms garden with their children:
Like seriously, it’s about five times a week. She’s super comfortable around heat sources, tools, and utensils. Plus, she loves trying new foods and dishes. I think when she has a hand in cooking, she’s more into trying whatever we cook.
Her favorite part is mixing and stirring our food. At first, it went normal. Lately, though, I’ve noticed she’s been doing something a little weird while I cook.
It doesn’t matter how many pots we use, she stirs with every single bamboo utensil. Weirder than that, she only uses the utensil for one stir and then discards it.
Not only is it a strange practice, it calls for a ton of clean up.
I guess toddlers like making a mess too. Maybe it’s about time she starts helping with all the dishes.
Let’s hope that she always loves cooking with me and wants to experiment with her food, but maybe gets a little less messy as time goes by. Even just practicing using one utensil instead of them all.
Toddlers are just weird.
Does anyone else’s toddler have to use every single one of an object? Mila does this with paint brushes too!