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?

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.

Toddler Activity: Backyard Scavenger Hunt

Being outside is a staple in Mila and I’s life. Everyday, we explore our backyard and the world around us. To keep the fun going, we love to do mini backyard scavenger hunts.

We’ve done this before by finding different colored objects. It’s great for color recognition, but sometimes can be hard to find all the colors.

To switch it up a bit, we got really specific with our latest hunt.

If you’d like to do this activity and prep, all you need is a scrap piece of cardboard or paper to write down the different items. Then, just get outside!

For ours, I wrote down different items that I knew were in our yard. I ended up drawing little pictures of the items too because Mila can’t read. It helps her see the words, but also understand what she needs to get too.

We set up a home base for the cardboard to stay, then she went on her search.

She’d point and say which item she was going to go get. Then she went on her way. It was fun watching her pick out the items.

I could have sworn she’d get a handful of dandelions, but came back with a little white flower instead. Her rock also made me laugh the first time because it was so big. Then the second time she did it, she found a really small one.

I love activities that get her outside and thinking. We could have had different items on this and will most likely expand too.

Other items could be leaves, dirt, bug, and maybe a random object. Or you could do a specific count on the items. Such as, find five rocks and three flowers. The opportunities are endless!

Mila actually did this for a little while. It was nice to just sit and work on my computer as she found the different items. We’ll definitely be using different scavenger hunts all summer long since she loves them so much!

What items would you have your child find in your backyard?

Toddler Activity: Fruit Flower Art

Two of our favorite parts of spring are the flowers and fresh fruit! Since we love playing with our food, we were inspired to paint our favorite spring things.

Mila has painted with different foods before. It’s always fun watching her experiment with how the paint works with random objects. Even more fun, is how it all turns out at the end.

For this project, we ate a fruit salad for breakfast and then used the tops for her artwork. It was a way to reduce waste and be creative all in one.

Try saving some of your fruit scraps and try this flower painting out.

Here’s all you’ll need:

This activity is really simple to set up.

All you need to do is prep your fruits, get a painting space, and pour paint. Your child will figure out the rest as they paint.

For Mila, I asked her if she wanted to paint flowers and we looked at the ones in our yard.

Since we practiced the parts of flowers, she kept telling me which part of the flower she was painting. It’s amazing how much little ones remember! She also kept telling me the apples made bigger flowers and the strawberries made smaller ones.

I absolutely love watching the world Thats in her head come alive on a canvas. She’s always telling a story when she paints too.

We make sure to ‘sign’ and date the back of every painting she does. One day I’ll need to get a huge storage box for all of her paintings. For now, they’re decorated all throughout my house.

With these paintings, you can have your child paint whatever they’d like. Mila just loves flowers and it’s perfect for springtime.

I think she did an amazing job!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever painted with and what do you think Mila and I should try next?

If you’re into playing with your food, but just prefer eating it, check out these recipes from other mamas. I’m sure you’ll love them!

Toddler Activity: Birdhouse Motel

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.

Here’s what we used for our birdhouse motel:

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.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part 15

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?