{family fun} The sky is the limit!

When you became a parent, did you really think about what kind of parent you would be?  I’m sure at some point you told yourself that you were going to be the “cool parent”. That you would let your kids do all the things you wished your parents had let you do, because YOU knooooow it would have all turned out OK if they had let you do all those things.

Yeah, I had that idea too.

I had it when I as 18 with a fake ID and told my little sisters that I would give them my ID when I turned 21 because it was so hard to get a good fake ID (which I had, but ssshh, don’t tell anyone else I had one.)

Then I turned 21, and for a week straight I had nightmares of my sisters dying in a car wreck because they had been drinking alcohol bought using MY ID…it was awful. I had guilt on my shoulders from not being able to live with myself if they were killed, and guilt on my shoulders knowing I could make their social lives easier. Honestly, the guilt in both directions was heart wrenching. What was the right desicion??

Fast forward quite a few years and I’m staring at my little girls. My 2 year old, 3 year old, and 4 year old little girls. Knowing that they are all at ages that are impressionable.

What I do counts. I want to make the right decisions for them. They are watching me, copying me, doing what I do.

And trust me, I don’t always do it well.

But this time, I know I did.

This past weekend, Hubs and I took the girls to a new-to-us swimming pool with a low and high dive. The high dive is easily 12 feet in the air.  All of our girls have gone off low dives a number of times, but a high dive??  Hubs went off of it, but with my new Vertigo issues, I hung back in the water to help the girls to the side of the pool after their jumps.

None of the girls headed towards the high dive, but they all kept eye balling it.  I asked Addie if she wanted to go….

“You first, Mommy.”

And in a split second I knew this was one of those times I needed to show my girls that they can do ANYTHING THEY WANT TO DO. They don’t need to be afraid, because we are right beside them, and we will go first if they want us to.  I was out of the pool, up the ladder and off the high dive in 30 seconds flat (any longer and I’m pretty sure the Veritgo would have spun me off the top, ugh).

After that jump, there was no stopping Hayden and Addie. Of couse this started an audience, and then the lifeguard decided he might stand a little closer, seeing as how a 3 and 4 year old were heading off that big tower multiple times.

But then Piper made it known she wanted to jump too.

Hubs and I tried to figure out what to do. How do we keep her safe, without bursting her spirit? How do we let her walk down a path she really wants to go down, but let her do it best for her age? How do we teach her to go after what she wants and to not be afraid, if we don’t let her try new things? Isn’t it better to teach her how to do it safely, then to say no?

BUT SHE’S TWO YEARS OLD and it’s a HIGH DIVE!!! For the love of all that is good, the wind could blow her little body off the board!!!

I turned to the lifeguard and asked if a 2 year old had ever jumped off the high dive? He just looked at me baffled. After a few minutes he said, “Can she swim?”, and my answer was, YES!

Piper is 2. She has had swim lessons since she was 14 months. She had just been jumping off a low dive for 15 minutes and kicking herself up to the surface. She is a fish in the water. We have given her the tools she needs. (Thank you Coach Dan!!!)

She. Can. Do. This.

And we were going to let her.

The lifeguard let Hubs climb up the ladder behind Piper (which she emphatically DID NOT WANT him to do).  He stood on the ladder, as she walked across that platform. Then like a little angel in the sky she smiled down at me and jumped off that 12 foot board. Into the water she went with no hesitation, kicking backed up to the surface, all the while smiling.

In that moment it confirmed for me that our job is to keep our girls safe, but it is also to teach them to believe in themselves and what they can do, and to give them the tools to go after the dreams they want to.

Today was a growing day for Hubs and I as parents, and for our girls as well, as we all  realized, the sky IS the limit!!

{family fun} being prepared for all the fun!

Who is ready for all the fun to be had with your kiddos this summer?  Whether they are little punks like ours at 2, 3 and 4 years old….or are a bit older, summer is a great time with LOADS of things to do as a family.

The hard part to summer is juggling being prepared for all those activities.  Thankfully, with a little bit of planning, there isn’t much that can catch you off guard!

First off, you need a few cute bags. I like to make sure I have a bag (or two or three…) that I love. I tend to use 3 for my situation, one is a diaper bag, one is their activity bag, and one is anything that mommy needs.  My favorite tote bags to use are the Halsea tote bags. They have loads of visible pockets to keep mom organized. I’ve also seen friends order these totes and had them monogrammed, “Pool”, “Beach”, “Kids”, etc. Fab idea!

Continue reading “{family fun} being prepared for all the fun!”

{family fun} photo booth fun!

Normally this post would have fallen under {home & garden} for parties, however, I happen to think this would be fun to do even for a play date or weekend activity, or even a family photo shoot. So I decided to post it in {family fun}.

One of the activities I chose to do at the girls Three Ring Circus Birthday last year was a Photo Booth. I checked into renting one of the machines you see at county fairs and such, but everything I found was a little more than we had in mind.

So instead I enlisted the help of my most favorite Orange County kids photographer, Sandy Heit.  We decided to use the girls playroom as the “booth”.  My sister drew some fun circus artwork on the chalkboard as a backdrop.  Then with a few great props ~ giant glasses, rainbow wig, mustache, clown noses, pink glasses, party hats, colorful balloons, a great red chair, and of course any toy in the playroom….and we were in business! Below are a few of my favorite shots….

{Click on each thumbnail for a larger image}

{Images: Sandy Heit}

It was a fun activity for the kids, and I absolutely love Sandy’s work with kids! Plus I was able to send each family a thank you note along with their photo. (Albeit I sent them over 6 months after the party…KID YOU NOT ~ 6 MONTHS, that’s how off my life and days were this past year!!)

Whether you hire someone, enlist a friend or family member, or just do it for a play date, Photo Booths are definitely a FAVORITE IDEA!

{family fun} monkey preschool ~ fave kids apps

I’m amazed at how great kids games are these days. I remember spending road trips getting to play Donkey Kong Jr for hours, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t teach me anything other then jumping over a barrel. But NOW, my 2 year old can put puzzles together. My 1 year learns words on flash cards, and my 3 year is taking care of a fish tank.  They do a lot more than all that of course, but those things alone just boggle my mind!

So I thought I would share a few favorites. My Genius Sister-in-Law turned me onto Monkey Preschool Lunchbox almost a year ago. We have a Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, iPhone App and a Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, iPad App. For some reason, I think I only bought the iPhone App and it let me update the version for my iPad, but I could be wrong. It’s been a while….Also depending on how you are set up (all of our devices are under one account so any phone we use – mine, Hubs, the Littles) can use the same App without an additional fee.

What I do know is the Little’s LOVE it!!  Hayden started putting puzzles together on it when she was 2 years old!  And Addie, at a new 3 years was playing the matching game like no one’s business!

This little monkey dances you through each short game. This one is like the old memory game as they touch each card to flip it over, and match up the fruit cards.

Then they touch the fruit that starts with the “G”.

Touch the “Red Diamond”.

And when they have completed a few games, they get to pick a sticker and drag it onto their board.

Now touch all the green fruit.

And put the fruit back together. The first time Hay did this my jaw dropped. Kid you not, she was just over 2 years old and she dragged each piece exactly where it belonged!

Like so!

Our whole family loves this game. Super simple for kids to figure out, engaging, educational, and fun. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox is a favorite for sure!!

Would love to know what Apps have become favorites in your family??

{Disclosure: The Apple App store doesn’t know me, but my kids know what Apps they like, and we want to share our faves with you!}

{familiy activities} art project with a pot luck tip

I know people think I’m being super creative sometimes, but the reality is, I’m selfish. Selfish and juggling kids most of the time. So a lot of the time when I’m asked to help out with something or to contribute to an event, I usually try to think of something that would be helpful to ME.

See SELFISH?!

OK, but there IS a reason for it.  I usually find that if it helps me (crazy mom of 3 Little Punks, juggling the day on 3 hours of sleep) then it’s probably helpful to other parents too.

A few months back, Addie’s preschool invited all the families for a potluck picnic.  All the parents and all the siblings were invited. And as it happened it was on a day that I didn’t have an extra set of hands to call. Big group, lots of kids, lots of people on picnic blankets around the school playground. All of which sounded like a really fun afternoon for the kiddos.

But I would most likely not eat. Not because I didn’t want to. But all hands would be needed on deck to help the Littles. Addie would be fine. Hayden and Piper?? A crap shoot.

So I chose to bring lunch the way I would most likely need to eat it. In a take away container.

I made 2 pasta salads because I could easily toss them together while the kids ate breakfast that morning. Then fill them in little individual containers.  That way I (or any parent that didn’t get a chance to eat) could just throw the container in their bag to eat in their car after the event, or have an easy one handed dish to walk around with. But then I had a panic attack. One of the salads was a pesto salad (that the kids and I all LOVE) but it had pine nuts in it. And while our school is not nut free, nor was I aware of any allergies, I was still anxious.

Labels can be really easy to make. But along with being selfish, I’m also lazy. So I keep a stack of 8.5 x 11 Inches label sheets on hand (you can buy in large boxes at Staples). That way you never have to worry about lining things up perfectly on the computer. Just whip up whatever you want, print and cut to your hearts content! I can make labels on the fly this way and do nothing but format with a Word document. I have absolutely no Photoshop skills.

Super simple!!  Of course, after I had punched the “Pesto Pasta *Nuts*” label, I realized the kids could help color them (which would also keep them busy for a few minutes more). I pulled out some crayons and let the coloring begin on the next set of labels.

While they colored, I filled the containers. Punched the labels, and Addie helped me stick them on everything. The salads stacked perfectly in the containers in an insulated grocery bag with a few ice packs and were ready to go a few hours later when we were.

Now, while my photos are not the best here. (Truly I was just grateful I rememebered to pull out the camera while we were doing all of this). The tip is a good one. The containers are sold at lots of different supply stores.  I picked ours up at Smart & Final. A sleeve of 50 was around $3. I have 8oz, 16oz, and 32oz.

I use them for leftovers, storing kids craft supplies, etc. I should actually write a whole post just on the containers. But this post was meant to share how great they are for bringing things to a pot luck.

They looked cute stacked up, received rave reviews, AND I was able to eat! That’s a three-fer in my book!!

BTW, there are loads of great punches to have on hand, the one I used for this (and about a billion other projects was the Ek Success 2-Inch X-Large Paper Shapers Scallop Circle Nesting Punch

{family fun} halloween fun!

I have an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G baby sister (can I say “baby” sister when we are in our 30s??)

Anywhoo, she is.  I could go on for days as to why I think she is one of the best and most talented human beings on this planet.

For now, I’m just going to point you to her Pinterest page (hair, fashion, design, party ideas, food, etc). Have you heard of Pinterest??  Oh you really must join! (It would take up this whole post right now if I told you about how awesome it is, so I’ll save that. But trust me, you will love it!) Fabulous way to save and organize images and links and “see” it all in a way that visual people ~ like me ~ NEED to see things, on “boards”.

As I was scanning through a few Pinterest boards this weekend, I discovered my very own baby sister’s Halloween boards….soooo many fabulous and awesome ideas for Halloween. Great collection of recipes, decorating, etc.  Lots of scary, crazy, fun stuff!

There are too may favorite ideas to share them all, so be sure to check it out, and get in inspired. I’m hoping the links above will allow you to see things, even if you’re not on Pinterest. But you’ll have to let me know…

If you can’t see it, then this is the post of Halloween ideas I wrote about last Halloween. I really loved this round up! Hopefully it can inspire you too….

(Image Source: Amy Atlas)

Another fun thing I did with the kids last year, that I’ve started to replicate at almost every holiday in some way shape or form, is decorating one giant cookie.  You can go the Martha route and make your own cookie dough, but I find with the Littles so young (3 and under) that their patience only lasts so long. I normally keep a few bags of the Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix in the pantry.  Then because I can NEVER get cookie shapes to look like they are supposed to, I bake 1 big cookie in a tart pan.

A tart pan you ask?

Why yes, actually.

You see you can spread the dough out to fill the pan (the Littles can help too). Then when it’s done baking, you just pop it out. No mess, no fuss. I normally cut it like a pie and give each Little her own triangles to decorate. Always a hit.

For Halloween we went the spider web scary route.  At Christmas we made them into trees…Valentines Day they were hearts…and I think I’ll attempt turkeys this year. I’ll have to let you know how that goes.

OK, few more ideas for you…..I love Amanda from Kevin & Amanda. Not only is she the sweetest person in real life, but her posts are always fun to read, have fabulous photographs, and yummy recipes.  Check out these fun Halloween macaroons! Love the decorating!

(Image Source: Kevin & Amanda)

And lastly, I just have to put this up there because it spooked the crud out of me!  Anyone ever seen a Barbie Zombie Graveyard???  I know my baby sister will be all over this one when she sees it….freaks.me.out!

(Image Source: This Mama Makes Stuff)

Update: I had to add this fabulous photo this morning after my post was already published. But I saw it on Design Mom, and she found it on Pinterest (See! Told ya Pinterest is fabulous!) I think I would want to keep these pumpkins out all year long! Looks like the idea and photos came from this fun mom’s blog originally.

How about you? Any favorite design ideas?  Feel free to leave links or ideas in the comments!

Happy Halloween Weekend Friends!

{family fun} wall of happiness

Remember when I said we were going to be out of town for a month?

And when I mentioned needing to gather art supplies and a little bit of paint?

Yeaaaaah….

You put all that together with 3 Little Punks and you have A LOT of art to work with!

But what’s a lake house wall for, if not to display a little happiness??

Or A LOT of happiness?

You know….you NEED to have a wall that you can remember when you’re not there the other 11 months out of the year.

Something you can get excited about visiting again next summer.

The tie-dyed turtle will be waiting for you….

So will your rainbow.

And your 5 year old summer crush. {Who is “sooooo cool Mommy!”}

Your abstract.

And your sisters.

And your mom & dad :-)

And we can’t wait to visit all that happiness again next year too!  Next time you’re wondering what to do with it all…just hang it up and smile at all the amazing memories you’ve made :-)

{family fun} DIY Watercolor Paint with Baking Soda

So before we left on our big trip….you know that one month away with the kids in the middle of no where?

Yep, that “little” trip.

Before we left, I gathered lots of craft supplies to pack for the Little Punks.  But as you know, that’s not cheap….especially when you’re gathering supplies for a whole month, AND you have 3 Little Punks that will want to join in on the fun. So then I really started tapping into resources and favorite blogs to find some more inexpensive ideas.

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{Family Fun} Saturday Chores

Weekend chores. No one really wants to do them, but they don’t ever go away until they get done, so I guess it’s better to just button up and do em.

And really, some chores can be a whole lot more fun than others.

Take washing the outdoor cushions??  The super dirty, never gonna.get.em.totally.clean.before.company.comes.over.the.next.day.cushions.

While the Little Punks and I were giving all their outdoor sandbox toys a bath in a big kiddie pool on the lawn, Hubs had the brilliant idea of also washing these cushions.  And somehow doing chores never seems quite as bad as when you’re doing them all together.

I think it’s good to teach kids that this whole chore thing takes team work.

It kinda helps teach responsibility.

And you are never too young to chip in. Hay and Addie are GREAT car washers!!

Besides, you know your sisters will always “have your back”.

And you might even be able to do a little washing yourself…then skip your bath that night (kinda)…

Weekend chores really don’t have to be all that bad!  At least I don’t think these Little Punks are too upset about them…

Do your kids help out with the weekend chores?

{Family Fun} A home for the lake fish

I have to be totally honest. This is not an original idea, but I don’t have a clue where I first saw it now.

You know when you start down the rabbit hole of sites?

When you’re one place and then before you know it you’ve been to a 1000 places?

When you’ve loved 90% of the places the rabbit hole has taken you?

And you’ve been too lazy to bookmark everything along the way?

When you are so lazy that you keep almost everything open as a tab in Firefox thinking you’ll go back and “just save the ones you really want?”

And then you go and make dinner, give the Little Punks a bath, and put them to bed?

And then come back to your computer and find that it’s become so slow that molasses is beating it out of the jar?

And your husband gets frustrated with it all and wonders how you can work like this all day, and poof! All those tabs are closed??

Nope. That has never happened to me. Never.

So if anyone has seen anything like this little project, know that it inspired me!

The Sunday before we were leaving on our trip, Hubs was trying to get a few things done and I needed to occupy the Little Punks but was too lazy to get dressed to take them to the park.

I remembered this little fish tank project (from my vanishing website tabs) and whipped out what I thought we needed and then winged it. I’m sure you can can wing it too:

Paper plates (lucky for me they were blue)
Cellophane
Glue sticks
Orange paper & google eyes – Fish
Brown paper – sand & shells
Green paper & pipe cleaners – Seaweed
Gold glitter pen/paint – because glitter is fun
Stapler

I told the girls we are making a house for all the fish we were going to see at the lake in Canada. They had a ball!

Addie & Hay were so proud of their projects. Addie named her fish “Tanzania”. I’m still laughing over that!  Piper, well, she colored and then she ate crayons. She’s not quite at the art project stage yet.

This could be fun for so many little trips.  Love a good simple art project!

Enjoy!