Flowy Tank Top and Me Made May

Do you follow along with Me Made May at all? It’s a challenge to wear something handmade everyday for the month of May. I’ve done it before, but honestly, I’ve rarely committed to wearing solely handmade the rest of the year. My body has changed a lot over the years (hello, five kids will do that to a girl ;) and I’ve gotten rid of many handmade that just didn’t fit my body well anymore. This year, I shared in my Instagram Stories about how I decided to wear almost completely handmade this May, so that I can really see the holes in my wardrobe and finally commit to a handmade wardrobe. 

Of course, there are a few caveats: I only have one or two pairs of handmade pants that fit my body well now. That’s on the list of things to sew, but obviously they’re a little more time consuming, and this season of my life has been all about quick sews. I also don’t currently have any handmade pajamas.

Since I’m home with my boys all day, homeschooling and doing all the mom things, I wear a lot of knit shirts. I’ve already discovered that I need to sew a few more short sleeved T-shirts, since that’s what I tend to wear the most.

This tank top and cardigan have been in regular rotation for awhile. The cardigan is a free pattern here on the blog from awhile back, and I wear it several times a week.

The tank top is a modified version of this free dress pattern from last summer. I cut the back yoke on the fold instead of adding the keyhole to the back, and I actually love it even more than the keyhole version! Plus, it’s really fast.

I had a remnant from Joann’s that I absolutely loved and have been hoarding for awhile now, and it was the perfect size for this top.

The fabric is flowy and super comfy, though the color hasn’t held up incredibly through many washes, which is a bummer. I think I made this one at the end of last summer, but never blogged about it, so it’s been worn quite a lot already.

The thing I love the most about Me Made May is that it challenges me to look closely at my wardrobe. Even though I’ve been making myself clothes for years, all the body changes have made it difficult to fully commit to a mostly handmade wardrobe. But maybe this is the year?? You can follow me on Instagram to see all my handmades this month.

If you make your own clothes, how’s your handmade wardrobe coming along? Happy sewing, friends!

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Five Tips for Sewing with Young Kids Underfoot

I’ve been in a season of slow, simple sewing. Have you been in a season like this? I’m a homeschool mama with five young kids, including a toddler whose favorite pastime is coloring on the walls and climbing onto everything he shouldn’t.. some days I barely have time to go to the bathroom, let alone sew an entire handmade wardrobe. Most of the projects I’m sewing lately are things I can complete in one sitting, generally a pattern I’ve sewn a dozen times, with slight variations here and there. I’ve sewn a bunch of garments recently that haven’t made it to the blog, for myself and the kids. None of them earth shattering in their execution, but all of them well-loved and well-worn.

I’m learning a lot these days about taking seasons as they come. I’ve had years and months where my sewing machine has been in constant use, and others where carving out time seems a bit trickier. Recently I was talking with some friends about how disappointed I was that I hadn’t been able to find the time to sew myself jeans, so I had to buy them instead. At first, it felt a little like a failure. I know how to sew jeans – I’ve done it several times, and before I got pregnant with my youngest, I had drafted and sewn a pair that I’ve been dying to tweak to the point of perfection. But my jean-sewing season will come back, I just need to give it time.

If you’re in a season like this, here are my best tips and encouragement for you:

1. Find a way to sew alongside your kiddos: For me right now, this means a shared space. I have my sewing tables set up in a corner of the room, the kiddos have an art table on the other side, and there are toys for my toddler and younger kids to play with as well. This could mean that you have a special bin of toys for your kids to play with only while you sew or that you give them a bucket or art supplies and let them create something alongside you. There’s something beautiful about creating together!

2. Use pockets of time: five minutes here and there to put a pattern together, cut it out, and prepare your fabric. When you need longer stretches of time, sew during nap time or after they’ve gone to bed. During some seasons, late night sewing isn’t an option, though (hello middle of the night feedings and teething toddler, I’m looking at you!), so make use of times when your kiddos are content to play.

3. Keep it simple when needed: What I’ve found is that small, simple sews can be deeply satisfying in a season where it’s hard to accomplish much. Pillow covers, simple tees, and pajamas are the way to go if you need to keep it simple, but still feel accomplished. When you start sleeping through the night or your toddler is more content to play alone and not demand every second of your attention, more complicated projects will return to your table.

4. Babywear, Pack ‘n Play, or highchair: find a way to safely contain your baby or toddler nearby. I’ve definitely worn my babies and toddlers in a sling or Ergo while sewing or put up a Pack ‘n Play next to my sewing machine. I had a “duh” moment recently when my friend Jodi shared an Instagram story with her toddler eating in a high chair while she sewed – brilliant!

5. Give yourself grace and remember it’s a season: this has been a constant mantra in my mind lately, and I’ve been so encouraged by friends reminding me of this. It won’t always be like this, and I don’t want to wish away these years when my kids are at home with me. Whether you’re a homeschool mama like me or you volunteer daily in your kids classroom or you work in or outside of the home, it can be hard to fit in time for hobbies and passions when you have littles! Embrace the season you’re in and prioritize the things you love, even for just a few minutes at a time.

Whatever season you’re in, whether you’re cranking out projects or looking longingly at your serger when you pass it by, remind yourself that each season has it’s time. Be present. Remind yourself that seasons change and kids get older. Let yourself be okay with whatever sewing time life has for you right now. And be intentional to carve out more time when you can.

Some nitty gritty sewing notes: this is my go-to sewing pattern (quick and easy!) – the Alex and Anna pajamas from Peekaboo Pattern Shop. I did make a matching pair for my six-year-old (mostly because he desperately needed pajamas, and I found a pattern in that size already cut and ready to go), but he refused to comply with my adorable matching jammie photo shoot that I had in mind, so I have proof of his pajamas over on Instagram too. These are jammies are the ultimate in comfort, since they’re sewn with jersey from Raspberry Creek Fabrics. All the RCF love and heart eyes over here, y’all.

Speaking of heart eyes….

Gah!! I can’t handle the cuteness of this age, even if he does color on all my walls.

Happy slow sewing, friends. :)

 

DIY All Natural Surface Scrub

I’ll be the first to admit that cleaning isn’t my favorite thing to do. But being a mom of five kids (and a human being who makes messes without the help of those tiny people), I have to clean a lot. But chemical cleaners are not my jam. So I buy and DIY non-toxic cleaning products, like this all natural surface scrub, that can be used on sinks, tubs, basically anywhere you need an extra oomph of cleansing!

So throw out your chemical scrubbing cleaners, and whip this up:

Ingredients

1 cup baking soda

1/4-1/3 cup liquid castille soap

20 drops Citrus Fresh essential oil

10 drops Lemon essential oil

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl – it should have a pasty consistency. Start with 1/4 cup Castille soap, and add more if needed. You could also sub Thieves Household Cleaner for castille soap. Will make between 6-8oz (2 4oz jelly jars will work perfectly to store this!)

Here’s my kitchen sink on a normal day. It’s an old porcelain sink that stains really easily.

Spread this around your sink, tub, anywhere that needs a little extra scrub. Let sit for at least 15 minutes. Spray with Thieves Cleaner, wipe down, and rinse! This will smell amazing when you’re done!

Look at the difference!!

So easy, and now you don’t have to worry about all the side effects of toxic chemical cleaners!

Want to get the same oils I used in the video? You can find them here.

FREE Women’s Beanie Hat Pattern

Hey friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted! Life has gotten busy, with homeschooling, the craziness of having five kids (and a climbing toddler – oy!), and all the things of life. I meant to share this women’s beanie pattern months ago, but blogging and sewing took a back seat to life. So I’m back with this free knit hat pattern to help you forget my long absence. ;) This one is great for upcycling an old or thrifted sweater (like the one in the photo!) or using any knit or french terry fabric.

All you need is a scrap of knit or french terry fabric that has good stretch and a sewing machine/serger. A sweater headed for the donation bin is a great way to make this hat look hand knit, even when it isn’t.

Let’s get started!

1. Print out the Free Pattern. Cut on the fold. If you are using a sweater, line the pattern up to the bottom edge of the sweater. Instead of cutting on the fold, cut two (one from the front of the sweater, one from the back).

2. Unfold the fabric and re-fold as shown below.  Sew along the long, curved edge (the new fold should be on the left). Use a serger or a zig zag stitch.

3. Fold in half, so your seam is inside.

4. Your enclosed seam will be inside now (you can see it in this photo below on the left). Your hat will be laying flat so that each triangle lines up. Sew the longest outer edge together as seen below. You’ll have four layers to sew together (unless you are upcycling a sweater).  If you’re sewing with a zig zag stitch, make sure that you sew backwards a bit at the ends of your stitches, to secure them in place.

5. Now you will turn the hat and sew the next set of raw edges together.

6. Continue turning the hat and sewing the raw edges together as shown below.

7. Do this until all raw edges have been sewn together. It should look kind of like a star inside your hat (as seen below).

8. Sew across the top and trim to avoid having a point at the top of your hat. Tie or otherwise secure and serger threads and trim them.

Tah-dah! You have a cozy new hat! It goes great with this free cardigan pattern too. ;)

This is a great pattern for using up knit scraps! You could also match with your itty bitty and make a matching newborn baby hat!

Make sure you download your FREE pattern!

 Download your FREE Women’s Beanie Pattern

Happy sewing!

 

Create Your Own Craft Room Art

When you have your own craft or sewing room, or even your own craft corner, it’s great to be able to decorate it in a way that inspires you to spend time there creating! I recently got the chance to play around with the Posh Coloring Studio and used it to make my own art for my sewing room. It was as easy as taking and printing a photo – but with a little twist!

The Posh Coloring Studio is a super easy tool that takes any photo and turns them into coloring pages. Those pages can then be turned into anything – cards, wrapping paper, wall decor, or even a full coloring book! I really had a lot of fun making unique art for my sewing room. Here’s my original photo:

I didn’t edit the photo at all, and maybe should have just lightened up the background a bit. But it really wasn’t necessary, so if you don’t know how to do that, don’t worry!

The Posh Coloring Studio is SO easy to use. I even tried it out with some photos on my phone! Simply upload your image, edit the page, and then download it. Once you’ve downloaded it, you can use the image in any editing software you have to manipulate it any way you want to make gift tags of a certain shape, art, or whatever you want. Or just print it out to use as is! Here’s my image turned into a coloring page:

 

I added some text to my page to turn it into art for my sewing room and printed it out:

Then the really fun part… the coloring!

I think it would be awesome to print this out on watercolor paper and paint the picture for a really unique piece.

I also printed out a photo of my kids and their cousins, to see how pictures of people would look. These are SO cool, and I’m scheming up a lot of ways to use them. Wouldn’t it be great to make coloring books of family members to have at family reunions so that family members can color together while talking about who everyone is?? I just love that idea. Now I need to plan a family reunion I guess. Ha! My son snagged this and colored it while waiting for Christmas dinner. ;)

I debated coloring the background of this picture, and I might go back and do it, since it didn’t end up as bright as I would have hoped. What color do you think I should make the background??

Head over to Posh Coloring Studio to create your own sewing room art, or come up with your own fun idea!

Embroidery hoop snowman

This super cute and ridiculously easy Embroidery Hoop Snowman will make a great addition to your home this Christmas/winter season! Need a last minute gift? You can whip this up in just a few minutes! I always get a little bummed when we put away the holiday decor, but winter lasts basically forever in Wisconsin, so this one I may leave up until spring. ;)

embroidery-hoop-snowman-tutorial

This is our first Christmas in our new house, so I wanted to add something fresh to my Christmas decor. You can embellish your snowman a lot or keep yours on the simple side like mine. I was planning to add more detail, but as I was making it, simple felt like the way to go.

Supplies:

  • 3 embroidery hoops of varying sizes
  • white fabric
  • black or dark grey felt
  • fabric scrap for scarf
  • two small branches
  • hot glue gun

1. Stretch your white fabric over your three hoops. Trim the excess fabric. Use your hot glue gun to glue the three hoops together in size order.

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2. Wrap and tie the fabric scarf between the top two hoops.

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3. Cut out a hat, buttons, and whatever other embellishments you want on your snowman. Glue them down.

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4. Glue the branches onto the back of the middle hoop for the arms.

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Now you just need to find the perfect place for your snowman. Hang him on your wall or prop him on your front porch to greet all your holiday guests!

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I’m excited to have this cute little snowman in our Christmas/winter decor!


This post was originally posted on I Heart Naptime as part of the Crazy Christmas Event in 2016.

A Journey of Wellness

Last week, I took the boys to the pediatrician for a well check. The doctor came in and commented that it had been such a long time since she’d seen us. I told her we are generally pretty healthy, so we have no reason to come in, and as she was looking over the charts, she agreed.

I don’t take for granted for one second that my boys are healthy. I have friends whose kids have struggled with health problems, large and small. Before I even got pregnant with our oldest, I started making big changes in our life. I started by dramatically reducing the amount of sugar we were eating. I slowly kicked the majority of processed foods out of our diets. I began searching for natural alternatives to the products we use in our home: cleaners, soaps, shampoos, etc. The more I learned about the toxins that are in our everyday products, the less I could ignore it. Every single thing we’re putting into or onto our bodies, all the things we’re breathing in, they have an impact on our health and wellness.

If I think back to what was inside our refrigerator and cupboards when we were first married, the difference is incredible. Not only that, but the difference in my own health is amazing. Before becoming pregnant, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Many women who have PCOS struggle with infertility their entire lives. We did struggle to get pregnant early on in our marriage, which was the catalyst for making many of these huge changes. The Father blessed us so richly with our five boys (and one who we’ll meet someday in Heaven!), and I want to give them their best life: for them know how loved they are by God, to teach them how to love generously, and to keep their bodies healthy and strong so that they can live out the purpose for which they were created!

Preparing most meals from scratch, buying local and organic foods, and using non-toxic products in our home can sometimes be inconvenient.. it takes more time to make yogurt at home than it does to buy it at the store. I can’t run to Target and find non-toxic laundry detergent. Buying local and organic meats and produce costs more money, but if our bodies are healthier and we’re rarely visiting the doctor, it’s worth every penny.

Ridding our home of toxic products, laden with chemicals that are unregulated and proven to cause countless health problems wasn’t an overnight task. I tried brand after brand, DIY recipe after DIY recipe. But the so-called “non-toxic” products you buy in the store still have ingredients that I wasn’t happy with, and the DIY recipes were okay, but time consuming. And how can you DIY things like foundation and lipstick??

About five years ago, I discovered essential oils. My sister-in-law introduced me to them, and I was intrigued. It seemed like such a good fit to my sorta-hippie lifestyle. ;)

So I started my hunt for the perfect essential oil… I tried countless brands. I purchased from mom and pop shops, big name brands, and everything in between. I even bought many oils on Amazon (which I later found out was a BIG no-no… they can be easily tampered with and adulterated!). About two years ago, a friend introduced me to Young Living essential oils, and immediately I abandoned all other oils and became a member with Young Living.

The purity and potency of Young Living essential oils – especially when compared to all the other oils I had tried and been using – blew me away. I could tell a difference as soon as I smelled and applied the oils. I researched Young Living as a company, and discovered that their growing practices are amazing, their standards are incredibly high, and their seed to seal guarantee means that their oils remain 100% pure, therapeutic grade oils. I got my Premium Starter Kit, became a wholesale member for life, joined Essential Rewards to earn points back on all my purchases, and never looked back.

It’s been over two years since I made the decision to exclusively use Young Living essential oils. But Young Living is more than just oils. Nearly all of my frustrations for non-toxic products have found answers in Young Living. I know exactly what the ingredients are that we are putting on and in our bodies. Everything from toothpaste to household cleaners, supplements to makeup… it’s all free from toxins, fillers, and added junk!

Keeping my family well and being proactive about our health is one of my highest priorities. What we eat, how we take care of our bodies, and what we have in our home has changed dramatically over the years, and it’s made me so passionate about sharing our wellness journey with others! Helping other people find natural solutions and non-toxic alternatives is something that’s incredibly important to me, because I want everyone I know to live in a place of freedom and wellness!

I would love to help you and your family get started on a journey of wellness! I’m a giver at heart, and if I had the means to give oils away to everyone I meet, I would do it. But until I can do that, I want to offer you support in your journey: a community that will help you learn about essential oils, natural living, and removing toxins from your home. I also have a free gift for you!!

I’m offering you your choice for a freebie with the purchase of a Premium Starter Kit!

The first choice is an absolutely beautiful handmade essential oil pouch! My friend Beth at WeePereas makes the most amazing handmade items – I carry one of her oil pouches in my purse everyday! These oil pouches will hold all 11 of the oils that are in the Premium Starter Kit, plus there’s room for quite a bit more in there!

But if you would prefer (or if you live internationally), you could get $20 cash back on your Premium Starter Kit purchase instead!

By purchasing a starter kit, you will receive a wholesale discount of 24% on everything you buy from Young Living. There’s no required monthly fee, you never have to sell anything, and you’ll gain a community of friends who want to help you in your journey to wellness! After you purchase your Premium Starter Kit using my member number (3181679), fill out this form to receive your free gift!

*This offer is valid for new accounts only*

Grab Your Premium Starter Kit!

If you’d like to get more info or ask more questions, feel free to email me at ifonlytheywouldnap at gmail dot com or join my Facebook group for members and non-members! I can’t wait to help you get started on your journey of wellness!

 

FREE Raglan Cardigan Pattern and Cozy Layers for Fall!

 

It’s finally starting to feel like fall in Wisconsin, which means it’s time to bust out my favorite kind of clothes: cozy layers! Seriously, I love wrapping up in cozy cardigans, flannel scarves, and knit hats. Plus can we talk about my love for slippers? It is deep. And of course, it’s just going to get colder, so I’ve been digging out the wool socks and blankets. If you’re going to stay warm this fall and winter, the best way to do it is with lots of layers. I’ve got a free pattern for a cute and cozy raglan cardigan, plus some tips on staying warm as the weather gets colder.
I’ve professed my love of cardigans over and over here on my blog, and I’ve made this particular one a number of times. After so many tweaks, this pattern is exactly what I want, and I’ve made it in so many different fabrics, I can basically wear one everyday if I want!

We live in an old farmhouse that’s a little drafty in some rooms, so layers are important inside the house too. I like to wear things that can double as cozy at home clothes or cute outfits for when I’m actually going to see someone other than my kids. ;) Anything that I can wear at home with sweatpants but then change my look completely when I throw on some jeans and cute boots is a win.

When I pull out our bins of winter clothes every year, I love that I get to wear my Cuddlduds again. If you live where it gets cold, you probably have a pair or two (or three) of Cuddlduds. I’ve worn them for as long as I can remember, and they are a must-have to surviving the Frozen Tundra winter! This shirt? Cuddlduds! It’s been awhile since I’ve purchased any new ones (because they last forever!), so I got so excited when I saw all the new styles.

This shirt is the perfect layering tee. It’s a modal fabric – sooo soft, thin and warm, but not so warm that you’re not going to want to wear your cute cardi. ;)

Did I mention that I made this cardigan in lots of different fabrics? Yes? Well, I did. And I’m not even a little sorry.

This shirt is my go-to for layering under cardigans. And this french terry from Raspberry Creek Fabrics is divine.

But let’s not forget… Saturday lounging! Pair this shirt with these amazing knit leggings, and a great cup of coffee – obviously, and this is where you’ll find me all winter.

I’m not even kidding you when I say that I want to LIVE in these leggings! They are quite possibly the softest things I’ve ever worn, and they look a little like joggers which is super cute. Sleep in them… wear them under your jeans when it’s really cold (hello, fifty below Wisconsin winter, I’m looking at you!)… or wear them under a tunic or sweater as leggings.

Another cardigan sweater? Yes, please. :) I made this one in fleece. It wasn’t the best choice for this pattern, because it didn’t have quite enough stretch (I recommend using a drapey sweater knit or french terry), but it sure does feel warm and cozy. Paired with these fleece leggings, I’m pretty sure I won’t feel the farmhouse drafts at.all.

Do you think my kids will be on board with cozying up in our Cuddlduds and reading all winter? I really might have to make this a thing.

I found some adorable Cuddlduds for my one year old a couple months ago at a local store, and I’ve been dying for cold weather just to see him wear them. I love that there are so many cute options for everyone in the family!

This fabric also happens to be almost exactly the same as the fabric I used to make one of my cardigans – and that wasn’t even intentional. It really is the epitome of cozy!

If you’re not going to DIY your own cardigans like me, Cuddlduds has some ADORABLE hoodies and cardi’s, so check them out if you’re not ready to make your own. Plus I saw a free shipping promo when you snag yours from Bon-Ton.. if everything could come straight to my door and I didn’t have to shop in a store, I’d be a happy girl. ;)

But if your fabric stash is begging for a little cozy sewing, let’s make a cardigan!

Download your FREE Raglan Cardigan Pattern

1. Sew the back piece to the back side of the sleeve, right sides together.

2. Sew the front piece to the front side of the sleeve, right sides together.

3. Repeat steps one and two with the other sleeve piece.

4. Fold the sleeve right sides together and sew down the sleeve, continuing all the way down the side of the cardigan, sewing the back and front piece together.

5. Option one: with a band –  cut a strip of fabric 41in. x 7in. (or narrower if you prefer). Fold in half, wrong sides together, and sew along the top of the cardigan. (see the purple cardigan for how this looks)

Option two: no band – use a double needle or coverstitch to hem the top of the cardigan (see the grey cardigan for how this looks)

7. Use a double needle or coverstitch to hem down the front of the cardigan with a 1/4 to 1/2in hem, starting at the top.

8. Hem the bottom of the cardigan in the same way.

9. Hem the sleeves with a half inch hem.

Make sure you download your FREE Raglan Cardigan Pattern!

How do you layer for cold weather? Don’t forget to snag your Cuddlduds before it gets cold and grab the free shipping promo from Bon-Ton. Then come back for more layering fun to come later this week.. a free pattern for this adorable hat will hit the blog later this week!

Letter/Number Practice Pack – FREE Download!

The new school year is upon us! Whether you’re homeschoolers like us or your kids go off to school, there’s so much excitement wrapped up in the new school year! The teacher in me loves getting all the new supplies and curriculum. I’m kind of an eclectic homeschooler, in that we use a mix of a few things for our curriculum. This year my boys are in fourth, second, and first. Plus I have a preschooler and the baby (oy… he’s a whole post in itself!) We’re big fans of slow learning in the early years – I don’t push them to read before they’re ready, and we don’t do formal school until at least kindergarten. Because play IS learning for littles!! But sometimes my preschooler wants to “do school” like his big brothers, and my first grader could use some review. So I created this FREE download – a letter and number practice pack for preschoolers to first graders! Print it off and add a few materials that you already have on hand to give your kiddos some fun learning activities!

There are six activities in this Practice Pack, though you could easily use the pieces to create even more!

Here are the materials you’ll need to grab from your house:

  • Egg carton
  • Cardboard tubes (we used our Young Living tubes because we have exactly 13,000 of them)
  • Old magnets (the kind that people send you in the mail with calendars, business cards, etc.) – if you don’t have any on hand, you can buy magnet strips at craft stores or online here
  • Cheerios or other small manipulatives
  • Liquid glue and/or glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Download your free  Letter and Number Practice Pack
  • Optional: cardstock or laminator

We don’t use a lot of worksheets for school in our house, but we do like hands on learning activities. When kids are learning about letters and numbers, having something they can hold in their hand helps their brains to make connections. Cheerios is a perfect choice for this! We already have them in our house (Honey Nut Cheerios is literally the number one food my kids beg for at the store!), I don’t have to worry about the baby choking on them when they fall on the floor, and cleanup is easy … it all goes right into their mouths! ;)

I made a variety of letter and number activities at varying levels. Some of them can be used more than one way depending on your little one’s needs.

Here are the different counting activities:
Have your kiddo count out the correct number of Cheerios to match the number of stars on each number card.

Draw a number card (1-20 available). Your child will place the card next to a star and fill that star with the correct number of Cheerios.

With so many kids and homeschooling them all, it’s important for me to have some learning activities they can do without a lot of direction. After I told them the instructions, they were able to do it all on their own!

Of course, your child will need to have a snack mid-activity. This is crucial to their learning. ;)

For this circle activity, your child will count out the correct number of Cheerios to match the numerals around the circle.

Place number cards in each section of the egg carton. Have your little one count out the number of Cheerios to match the numeral. Cut the egg carton in half for kiddos who are just learning numbers, so that it’s not quite so overwhelming.

Here are the activities for Letter Recognition:

This craft has a bunch of different activities you could do with it! Put your magnet strips on the backs of your cardboard tubes. Glue upper or lowercase letter cards to the front of the tubes.

Put the letter tubes onto a magnetic surface like your fridge or a white board.

Have your kiddo say the letter sound as they slide a Cheerio down the tube!

If your little one doesn’t know letter sounds, focus on identifying letters. Ask them to slide a Cheerio down a certain letter tube. This is such a fun activity – ALL my kids liked it, even my almost ten year old! Because who doesn’t love shooting Cheerios down a tube?? ;) I love that I don’t have to worry about my 11 month old getting a hold of the Cheerios as they fall, unlike a marble or some other small manipulative.

You could also print out another set of number cards and glue those onto the tubes if you want to focus on numbers. Then have them slide the correct number of Cheerios down the tubes!

Within each letter strip, have your child find the lowercase letter that matches the uppercase letter at the beginning of the row.

Whether you homeschool or not, these are easy activities to whip out on a moment’s notice with your kiddos. If your littles need a little extra help learning their letters and numbers or if you just need a few fun activities for them to do when they’re begging for some screen time, these are easy to pull out without a lot of prep. If you want your activities to last and be able to use them over and over, make sure you print or glue onto cardstock or get them laminated.

I’m not even kidding when I say that my boys would eat cereal all day if I let them. Ha! I really appreciate that Cheerios has no High Fructose Corn Syrup (one of the biggest no-no’s in our house), and I love that they’ve removed the preservative BHT from their cereals.

When I was pregnant with my youngest, oh my goodness I craved Cheerios!! Unlike my kiddos, I’m not usually much of a cereal eater, but I think I have some childhood nostalgia around Cheerios, because I love a big bowl with bananas. So yummy! :) As we get back into our homeschool groove, having quick and easy breakfast options is important to me. We can toss them in a Ziplock bag for mornings when we need to leave the house early. Plus, can I get an Amen for Family Size boxes?? A total big family necessity!

So grab your FREE DOWNLOAD of the Practice Pack, grab some Cheerios from any local retailer, and have a smooth transition into the new school year!

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Hiking With Kids: How to get started and what to bring!

One of our family’s favorite things to do together is go hiking! It’s something we’ve done together long before we had kids, and it’s been such a consistent part of our family’s routine that our kiddos have grown up hiking regularly. A lot of people are overwhelmed with the idea of hiking with kids, but it’s not as difficult as it sounds! Getting kids out into nature is an incredibly important part of their development and health, so I have some tips for helping you get started, including what you should bring along with you!

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If you’ve never taken your kids hiking, you probably want to start small. Find a small trail at a local park and give it a whirl. Work your way up to longer, more challenging hikes. If you’re headed out for a short time, you probably won’t need all these supplies. But let’s face it, when we go out with little kids, it’s better to be slightly over prepared. ;) Depending on the ages of your kiddos, you might decide to leave some of these items out of your pack. Or you may add some more in depending on the weather or particular place you’re hiking.

Comfy, sturdy shoes – since it’s summer, Keens are my favorite shoes for shorter hikes. Longer hikes or cooler weather obviously require different shoes.

Baby carrier – the Ergo works nicely for us for the length of our hikes and having a small baby. It’s also great to stuff into a backpack for a toddler/preschooler who suddenly decides they can’t walk another step. If you’re going to hike really long distances or big mountains, consider getting a camping backpack carrier that gives more support.

Diapers and wipes (I like the Seedlings wipes, which you can buy here) in a pouch for easy locating in your bag

Portable changing mat, in case the ground is wet or rocky.

A baby toy or two for babies who are being carried is a nice distraction when they get antsy.

Sunglasses to protect those precious eyes!

Water bottles for the whole family.

Extra change of clothes for baby (especially little ones who are prone to blow outs!) During colder weather, you might toss in hats or gloves, long sleeved shirts or sweatshirts, or other warm clothing.

Burp rags – these are obvious if you have a baby who spits up a lot, but I toss them in even after we’ve passed the baby stage. They’re great for wiping up messes or big scrapes. Baby wipes are great, but these are so nice and gentle!

Snacks… because kids want to eat eleventy billion snacks a day, so they’re obviously going to be starving the moment you hit the trail.

Insect repellent, sunscreen, itch spray (the Lavaderm after sun spray is perfect for this), waterless hand purifier – all of these can be found here

Band-aids for the inevitable scraped knee, tweezers for slivers or ticks, and all the oils! These are my must-haves when we’re out for a hike:

KidScents Owie oil (for all those bumps and owies on the trail)

KidScents TummyGize oil (in case someone’s tummy feels icky)

Purification/Geranium (great for helping to keep away the creepy crawlies – add some to hair or shoes)

Basil (for those nasty stings!)

Deep Relief (for any aches and pains that happen while you’re hiking)

Lavender (to help calm any irritated skin)

Valor (for the inevitable meltdown … from you or your littles!)

*All these oils can be purchased here

I have to give a shout out to my girl Beth who has an amazing shop. Weepereas sells amazing oil pouches, baby shoes, and toddler backpacks. They are incredibly well made, and I carry my oil pouch with me all the time. It holds more than just oils too!

Not pictured: hats (especially for babies), baby bottles or sippy cups. I bring ours in a small cooler that fits in the bottom of my backpack. I usually toss some cheese sticks or other small snacks in, depending on how long our hike is. Then I also have an ice pack in case we need one on hand.

Pack it all in a backpack that’s comfortable enough to wear for a long time:

Now go off and enjoy the adventure!

What do you take along when you hike with your family? Happy hiking, friends!

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