Kids

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!

Want to learn more about essential oils? Join my private group on Facebook!

FREE Summer Breezy Shorts Pattern for Boys!

For many of you, summer is starting to wind down. Here in Wisconsin, though, this is the time of year that keeps us going all winter long. So we are living it up outside as much as we can! My boys have been pretty rough on their wardrobes this summer – and have grown a LOT. So they were in need of some new play and sleep shorts. This FREE pattern, The Summer Breeze Shorts, is perfect for both! It’s a really quick sew (those are kind of my jam, in case you’re new here), and it’s also great for upcycling old pants!
My boys love to wear comfortable pants that they can move around in when they’re playing outside. They want to be able to jump, play basketball, and climb trees. But they’re also at the age where they don’t want little kid pajamas anymore (I can’t talk about it… I’m in denial that they’re that old). They love pants and shorts that double as lounge wear or pajamas, and these shorts fit the bill. Depending on the fabric you use, they can easily be sleep shorts, play shorts, athletic shorts… whatever your kiddos need!

These shorts are drafted for boys, but you may find them appropriate for your girls as well. For the pants above, the black pair is upcycled from a pair of my husband’s old athletic pants (I reused the waistband and pockets) and the grey pair is made from sweatshirt fleece. They are made to be a little more relaxed fit, longer shorts.

Materials:

  • knit, athletic fabric, sweatshirt fleece, french terry
  • 1inch non-roll elastic
  • sewing machine, thread, etc.

You can download your FREE copy of the Summer Breeze Shorts in my Facebook Group. The instructions will remain here on my blog. The layout of the pattern pieces is shown below:

Let’s Sew!

1. Cut out two front and two back pieces of your fabric. Put one front and one back piece right sides together. Sew down the long side and sew up the inseam (as shown by the pink lines). Repeat with the second leg.

2. Put one leg inside the other, right sides together. Sew along the crotch seam (shown in the picture not sewn).

3. Measure your child’s waist to determine elastic length. I used 1in. elastic, but if yours is slightly bigger, you will be just fine. Sew the ends together so it forms a circle.

4. I use a coverstitch for my waistbands, so I simply fold the waistband down over the elastic circle and sew the raw edge down. Do not sew over the elastic. You could also serge the edge of your fabric and sew it down with a stretch stitch for a similar effect. See the next photo for what to do if you don’t have a coverstitch.

If you don’t have a coverstitch, you could use a double needle or simply fold the raw edge under, pin in place, and sew the fabric in place. Do not sew over the elastic.

*You could also create a casing in the fabric and insert your elastic, but I much prefer to sew waistbands like this.

5. Hem your cuffs with about an inch hem (I recommend trying them on your child first).
So easy and Summer Breezy!!

Like I said, these are perfect for jumping. Ready, set…

…GO!

Don’t forget to head over to my Facebook Group to download the free pattern! This pattern would pair perfectly with the free Surfer Tank pattern, so grab that one if you don’t have it yet. 

This post was part of the Summer Fun series hosted by Emily of Life Sew Savory. I love this series, and it was so fun to be a part of it again! You can see the fun pool noodle boats I made for this series two years ago here!

Be sure to check out all the other summer fun posts over at Life Sew Savory!

Handmade Fish Toss Game by Patchwork Posse

Kids Hat Pattern/Tutorial Round Up – Made by Sara

Cute Dolls – Sprouting Jube Jube

Ruffle Knit Play Dress – Bonnie and Blithe

Cactus Cross Stitch by Story Piece

Free Boys Shorts Pattern by If Only They Would Nap

Travel Tic Tac Toe – Straight Stitch Designs

Dollhouse Rag Rug – Once Upon a Sewing Machine

 

When Motherhood Isn’t What You Expected 

Anytime you bring a new baby home, your life is going to change. Most of those changes are so, so good. And many are just as difficult. But babies grow and (eventually) sleep through the night, and what was hard yesterday isn’t so hard today.

So when we brought home baby boy five, I expected certain challenges. I knew there would be countless sleepless nights ahead of me. I knew there would be crying – from both baby and mama. I knew there could be some rocky days as his brothers transitioned to this new person in our home. I knew that I should expect the unexpected.

photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

But this most recent season of motherhood has been more exhausting and more challenging than I was prepared for. In the nine plus years since I became a parent, I’ve been a proud breastfeeding mama. Not in an “I’m better than you if you don’t breastfeed” kind of way, but in an “I’m willing to work as hard as I can to make this work, because this is what I believe is best for my baby.” And it has been hard work.

So of course, I expected the same for our newest babe. After all, fifth babies come at least with the blessing of experience – every little thing isn’t new and confusing, as it was with my first.

photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

In the beginning, it was easy. He nursed like a champ, and we had very few problems. We settled into a groove and everything was going well. Until it wasn’t.

At a well-check, we discovered he wasn’t gaining weight. Even though I thought he had been nursing so well, he wasn’t growing like he should have been.

This felt personal. I’m the one responsible for this little life. I’m his sole source of nourishment. I’m the reason he’s not growing.

It took awhile to find the cause of his lack of weight gain, and in the process, we began to supplement. I cried when my husband gave him his first bottle. Not because formula was going to ruin my baby, but because I felt like I had failed him. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do – what I was made to do.

Through my own persistence and refusing to simply believe that my milk wasn’t “enough” we discovered our little one had a significant lip and tongue tie that had been over looked for months. Once we began down the road of supplementing (which was necessary, even if it was heart wrenching), baby decided he didn’t want to nurse anymore. Who could blame him, really. He hadn’t been physically capable of getting all the milk he needed when nursing, so when we introduced a bottle, he didn’t have to work so hard to fill his little belly anymore.

So my life revolved around feedings – pumping, attempting to nurse only to be met with screams and tears – his and mine, and bottle feeding. I felt like all I did was feed and pump, feed and pump.

My free moments were few and far between. When the baby was sleeping, I was pumping and homeschooling and trying to keep up with the daily tasks of mothering a small army of children. I was spending every second of the day – and throughout the night – caring for a child. I put all other things on the back burner – sewing, exercising, self-care. It was a hard and difficult season.

But because this was my fifth baby and not my first, I knew that it was just that – a season. Sometimes I would pump in my sewing room and look at my stacks of fabric, and my mind would fill with ideas for what to sew next. I would spot the half finished projects sitting on my sewing table, and wonder how long it would be before I could get to them. And then I would remind myself that it wasn’t always like this – and one day, it would get better. I would dust off my sewing machine and we’d pick back up like the old friends we are. This season was hard, but it wasn’t going to last forever.

About a month ago, I chose to stop pumping. Instead of feeling guilty for not nursing a full year or more like I had with my other kiddos, I knew that it was the right choice for me. I needed to step out of that hard season and create a little more margin in my days. My milk supply had been dwindling, and I knew that my body and my soul needed some restoration.

I’ve since returned to my trusty sewing machine and finished projects that I had begun months ago. My brain made space to create something new. I still have days or weeks where my sewing machine sits untouched. The dishes pile up and must be washed. The baby learns to crawl, gets into everything he shouldn’t, and suddenly I’m trading sleepy snuggles for chasing him around the house. Summer comes and we spend hours at the park.

Motherhood always brings the unexpected: joys, tears, adventures, and challenges. But I always come back to sewing, even if it comes in 15 minute increments, because this is my self-care. When life throws something at you that you weren’t expecting, the small moments of taking care of yourself become even more important. I know that if I don’t take care of myself, there’s no way I can take care of these littles of mine. When the season changes, I’ll have a renewed appreciation for an uninterrupted hour spent with my sewing machine. Here in this season of sleepless nights and countless bottle feedings, though, I’m okay with slow sewing with a side of baby snuggles.

Thanks, Jodi, for inviting me to be a part of the Ease Into Motherhood series.

Planning a Family Vacation Without Losing Your Mind (plus FREE packing list printable!)

                                     
Summer is here! Schools are letting out and everyone starts thinking about pool days, park time, and family vacations! When you’re planning a vacation with kids, it can be easy to stress about lots of details: where to sleep, what to eat, what to bring, etc. I have a list of ten things to help you plan a family vacation without losing your mind (plus a free packing list printable, so keep reading!)

1. Don’t overplan.

Kids are unpredictable. You may arrive at your destination only to find that your kids are content with doing one activity the entire time you’re there! Have a few preplanned outings or activities, but keep your schedule loose and allow for flexibility.

2. Bring snacks.

This is basically a given when you’re traveling with kids, but it will make your life easier. Rather than having to search for food to eat when those inevitable hangry meltdowns occur, pack some healthy snacks that your kids enjoy. It also helps for those “You want me to eat WHAT?!” moments that happen a little more often when traveling. ;)

3. Schedule nap/rest times.

When you’re away from home and filling your days with activities that aren’t the norm, your kids are going to need some down time. And let’s face it – so are you! Plan to spend at least an hour each day (or more, depending on the ages of your kiddos) resting and doing quiet activities like reading, card games, or taking naps. This will help everyone to recharge and have more energy – and fewer meltdowns!

4. Pack light.

Unless you’re vacationing in a remote village somewhere, you probably don’t need to pack everything you own. Many hotels and water parks have laundry available, so you don’t have to worry if baby goes through all five outfits in the first day. When my kids were younger, I would pack lots of toys for them to play with, only to discover that they were so excited to be in a new place, they barely looked at their toys! So bring the bare minimum and know that you can always grab extra supplies at a nearby store if you find you absolutely need them. You’ll be happy to carry fewer suitcases!

5. Pack a few familiar comforts.

Whether it’s a lovey, an essential oil diffuser, or a cozy bathrobe for snuggling in after swimming, everyone likes to feel at home when they’re away. I always let my kids chose one stuffed animal or blankie to have on long car rides or in hotel rooms. That familiar feeling tends to help everyone sleep a little better!

6. Make a list.

I just looove lists. Whenever we take a trip, I make a huge list of everything I need, so we don’t forget anything. I really adore checking off boxes. :) I have a great packing printable for you free at the end of this post!

7. Choose a kid-friendly location.

Not all vacation spots are made for kids, so choose wisely. We love vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells, because there’s something for everyone. The Kalahari Resort is family friendly and has activities for all ages. They have both indoor and outdoor waterslides, so you can have fun even when the weather isn’t that great.

The Kalahari Resort here in Wisconsin recently added an awesome new outdoor waterslide, which just opened this Memorial Day. The new ride “The Smoke That Thunders” looks amazing! You can pile on these big rafts with your family and friends and thunder down the epic waterslide. I can’t wait to try it!

Over the years, my family has traveled to the Wisconsin Dells many times, and the Kalahari Resort is perfect for families with multiple ages. Since there’s such a wide variety under one roof, you don’t have to get in your car to go elsewhere unless you want to. One-stop vacationing is my jam. Because once I’ve gotten everyone out of the car, I really don’t want to get back in unless we’re going home! Mom can hit up the spa (um, yes please!!) while the kids are playing arcade games, then we can all meet back at the waterpark. There are water activities appropriate for every age level, so no one feels left out. That’s important for a big family like mine. ;)

Since there’s so much to do in one spot at the Kalahari Resort, you really don’t need to pack much. They have towels, food, fun activities, arcade games, and more. So you just need to pack a few personal items! I’ve made a free printable to help your packing go a little smoother.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PACKING LIST PRINTABLE

If you’re not close enough to drive to the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari location, be sure to check out the Sandusky, Ohio location!

What packing tips do you have to help keep your sanity?

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Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

 

If you’ve ever had a picky eater in your household, you know the angst of trying to get them to branch out. Our picky eater would eat the same meal for lunch and dinner every.single.day. if we let him: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Seriously, this kid LOVES his PB&Js. I’m constantly working to get him to try new foods or even a new way to eat a food he likes. You mamas of picky eaters know how hard this is! So for a healthy and fun twist on his daily PB&J, I’ve been making these super yummy peanut butter and jelly granola bars for lunch or snack time instead!

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I’m pretty choosy about what foods we put into our bodies, so I really enjoy cooking and baking from scratch whenever I can. I’ve made these granola bars for years, and they’re always a big hit. I feel good about my family eating them, because I know exactly what’s inside. Homemade granola bars are always better than packaged and processed! They are also really easy and quick to make, which is a necessity in this season of my life.

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Because we put Jif Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter inside the bars, they pair absolutely perfectly with our favorite Smucker’s Fruit Spread!

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We have used Smucker’s Fruit Spreads in our house for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love their “Simply Fruit” line – no added sugars! I’m a big fan of short ingredient lists. :) And the Fruit and Honey Triple Berry spread… oh my, I could eat it on its own, it’s so yummy.

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We spread the jelly and peanut butter on top, and then – to make it more like a true PB&J – we put another granola bar on top.

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This “sandwich” is easy to pack in a lunchbox, or put some jelly in a reusable container for dipping your granola bar. Pickiest eater approved!

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If you follow me on Instagram, you won’t be surprised that one of my favorite places to shop is Target. We go through a loaf of bread in like five minutes, so the fact that I can pick up our PB&J supplies and this adorable basket and PINK rolling pin, all while drinking coffee (bonus points if I’m alone!)… well, I’m sold. ;)

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And I love love LOVE the Cartwheel app! Last month, I forgot my login password, and seriously spent an extra 20 minutes in the store trying every password I could possibly have used, then reseting my password, just so I could use my coupons. Ha!! Right now, both Smucker’s Fruit Spreads and Jif Peanut Butter Spreads have Cartwheel savings – which I totally used. Because seriously, five kids is kind of a lot and any little bit I can save makes me a happy mama!

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Ready to make your own??

Peanut Butter (and Jelly!) Granola Bars

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ground flax
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 – 1 cup raisins/chocolate chips/chopped nuts *optional

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
generous 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

optional toppings:

jelly
creamy peanut butter
bananas
chia seeds

Directions:

1. Combine all dry ingredients.
2. Combine all wet ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until evenly moistened.
4. Spoon onto 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper – press evenly into the pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to brown (27 minutes is the sweet spot for me!)
6. Let cool completely before cutting into pieces. If you don’t, they will be crumbly and not stay formed into bars. They will still be yummy, but they may be more like granola instead of bars. :)
7. Top with Jif Natural Creamy Peanut Butter and Smucker’s Fruit Spread, and maybe some bananas or chia seeds too!

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My kids could NOT wait for this batch to cool, so we ended up with a lot of bite-sized pieces. Luckily, small pieces make the perfect snack.

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How do you combat the boring lunch blues??

15 Sewing Projects to Help You Get Organized!

Happy New Year! I love when things start fresh… new years, new seasons, new school years, new notebooks. As we’re starting 2017, I’m doing a huge purge of my house. We moved into our new (old) home last February, and in that time I’m realizing all the stuff that we don’t need – or want – encroaching on our space. I’m also looking for pretty and functional ways to organize the things we do have. So today I’m sharing 15 sewing projects that will help you get organized!15-sewing-projects-to-help-you-get-organized

Floor cushion with hidden storage

This floor cushion was an easy way for us to store stuffed animals and other soft items when we needed to corral them. We’ve simplified the stuffed animals collection, so I think we’ll repurpose this one for blanket storage this year.

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Nesting Baskets

I was eyeing up some fabric baskets at the store the other day, when I realized I’d rather have handmade ones! These from Jess at The Sewing Rabbit have a free pattern, so I’m going to use some of these to corral toys and baby blankets.

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Puzzle envelopes

I love these puzzle envelopes from my friend Jodi at Sew Fearless, and I think they’d work great for organizing some of our homeschool supplies.

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Essential oil travel case

I need to make a few more of these essential oil travel cases, because one just isn’t enough for the oils I want to carry with me out of the house!

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Zipper pouch

This is my current favorite type of zipper pouch to make and use. I’m finding them so handy that I need at least two more.

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Rolled camp kitchen

I’m not a big fan of junk drawers, but I need a place to put miscellany – items that don’t seem to have a home, but should. I think this rolled camp kitchen from Sabra at Sew a Straight Line would be great for hanging in the closet and collecting those items.

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Trading Card carrier

I made this carrier for my boys’ football cards last year, but I think I need to make a similar one to hold playing cards and other little card games. It would make it super easy to grab when I know we’re going to need a distraction at an appointment or when we’re headed away for the weekend.

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Fabric Tray

I hate how dresser and table tops are stuff collectors! I want to make a couple of these fabric trays from Anna at Noodlehead for our night stands and other places that seem to collect all.the.things.

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Clothespin Bag

This clothespin bag from Melissa at Melly Sews is the perfect solution for housing plastic grocery bags in our basement by the laundry!

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Simple tote bag

A lot of our reusable grocery bags have gotten dingy and just need to be tossed. I’m going to sew up a few more of these tote bags to replace them!

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Gym bag

New year must mean new health resolutions, right?? Everyone and their mom is heading to the gym. This baby weight isn’t just going to melt away. ;) I love this gym bag from my friend Melissa at Sew Like My Mom!

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Bedside pocket organizer

My boys love to take books to bed, and I think this bedside pocket organizer from Sew Can She will help keep them from becoming a giant pile next to their beds!

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Wet Bag

I need to make a larger version of this wet bag. I still use this one in my diaper bag (SO handy to have, along with this changing mat!), but my large wet bag has seen better days and needs replacing.

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Vinyl Lego Organizer

Any other moms have a love-hate relationship with Legos?? Okay really, we love Legos in our house. They provide my boys with hours of creative play. But organizing them… YIKES. I love this vinyl lego organizer from Emily at Nap-time Creations, and I think it could be a great solution!

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Crochet hook case

Okay, so I don’t actually crochet (ha!), but my mom recently taught my oldest how to knit, and my knitting needles aren’t very accessible. I want to make a case like this one from my friend Delia at Delia Creates to put all the needles, so he can get to the ones he needs on his own, without me digging through a bin in the basement!

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Here’s to getting organized in 2017! Happy sewing!

Holiday Traditions: Throw a First Snow Party (and a giveaway!)

We recently had our first snow of the season! And wow, it was a beautiful one. It was the kind of snow where it sticks to the trees and comes down in big, fluffy flakes. It looked like we were living in a giant snow globe! It was also the kind where you didn’t really have to shovel, hehe. The kids had a blast playing in it. Since this is our first full winter in our new home, they were over the moon to sled down our hill and traipse through the snow-covered woods. There’s something magical about the first snow (I know Lorelei Gilmore would agree with me on this), so we like to celebrate by throwing a First Snow Party!
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I love holiday traditions, and since becoming a mom, that’s something I’ve really enjoyed sharing with my boys. I can tell they love having things to look forward to year after year. Plus, traditions like this are just FUN!

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We pull out all the stops for our First Snow party: holiday treats like ice cream, cookies, egg nog, hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream (or a peppermint mocha for mom!), and some popcorn thrown in for a salty fix. ;)dsc_8700-copy

There’s also something so special about holiday foods, and Kemps Candy Cane Ice Cream, Peppermint Bark Moose Tracks, Egg Nog are perfect for this tradition. I think they almost taste even better because you know that you’re not going to be able to eat it year-round.

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My boys seriously went nuts for the Kemps Candy Cane Ice Cream, but the Peppermint Bark Moose Tracks was my fave. They kept thanking me over and over for the special treats. You know something is a hit when they are literally licking the bowl!

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I also discovered that my boys had never had Egg Nog before. What?! Don’t worry, that’s been corrected. It went over like gangbusters, in case you were wondering.

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See how much fun my kiddos had in this video:

(Click here if you’re having trouble viewing the video.)

I just love the holidays!! Sharing these traditions with my family is such a blessing, and I’m so excited for all the memories we’ll make this year, our first Christmas in our new (old) farmhouse and our first Christmas with our new baby.

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And in the spirit of Christmas, I get to give away some of this yummy goodness! Five winners will each receive a coupon for free Kemps products, so you can try these delicious treats for yourself and make memories with your family!

To enter to win, leave a comment answering the following question:

What holiday traditions do you have in your home? How are you celebrating the Christmas season?

*please leave your email address if it is not connected to your account, so I can contact you if you win!

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You can find out more about Kemps by visiting them on Facebook or Twitter.

Real Mom Confessions: How to End the Toothbrushing Battle

                                  

I think it’s fair to say that parents everywhere have experienced the same struggle at least a time or two: the dreaded tooth brushing battle! Whether it be a toddler who refuses to open her mouth or a preschooler who hates the taste of toothpaste or an older child who just can’t remember to brush, the struggle IS real. With four tooth-bearing kiddos, we’ve gone through our fair share of brushing battles. If you’re nodding your head, saying “Yes! This is me!” I have some toothbrushing tips to make brush time a little easier.

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Some of my kiddos have fought tooth brushing more than others, so I’ve used my fair share of tricks to try to get them to brush. I’m sure you parents can relate to this video:


(Click here if you’re having trouble viewing the video)

Here’s how we ended the tooth brushing battle in our house:

1. Make it silly

When you make a silly face, act like a monkey, or bring out the goofy voices, your toddler will have a hard time holding back his smiles. This relaxes you both and makes it more of a game, less of a battle.

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2. Don’t push it 

It’s important to brush your kiddos’ teeth,  but sometimes we just need to back off for awhile. If your little one is suddenly refusing to brush, take a few days off (her teeth won’t fall out!) and come back to it with a fresh approach.

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3. Give them control 

Kids love to be in control! Let your preschooler squeeze the toothpaste himself. Ask your elementary aged child to be the tooth brush monitor. Give your toddler a choice of toothpaste flavors.

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4. Buy a really yummy toothpaste

This kind of seems like a no-brainer, but honestly? Some kids’ toothpastes don’t taste good! Many have a fake taste that I wouldn’t enjoy using, so why would they?  Some of my boys are really picky about food, and they don’t care for traditional toothpaste flavors. I’ve truly never seen my kids like a toothpaste as much as they like this hello toothpaste. Sometimes they brush their teeth three times a day, without me even asking. What?!

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The unique flavors (watermelon and bubble gum are the kid favorites here) really get them excited to brush. And the toothpaste is naturally friendly, which makes this mama excited! I love when our personal care products say no: no dyes, parabens, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, triclosan, or microbeads. I’m super conscious of what we put in our bodies, so that’s all really important to me.

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Something else I love? These toothpastes have fluoride and fluoride free options. Personally, I love the natural sweet mint flavor (fluoride free!)

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I love anything that can make my mom life a little bit easier (can I get an Amen, mamas??), and eliminating brush time battles with hello toothpaste has made a huge difference in our house.

So time for your own real mom confessions… what crazy things have you done to get your kids to brush their teeth? What tips do you have to share??

10 Things to Sew for Baby from a Flannel Sheet

We’re in full-on baby prep mode over here, and I always have a few projects I want to sew before baby arrives. So when Dana of Sew Thrifty invited me to be a part of her Thrifty Baby Celebration, it made perfect sense to participate! I love to upcycle, and baby clothes and accessories are PERFECT for this, because they’re so small.  So I’ve collected a list of 10 things you can sew from a flannel sheet.
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Flannel is great for fall and winter babies, and flannel sheets are excellent for getting lots of yardage for little cost. Between thrift stores and clearance sales (and your linen closet!), you don’t have to spend a lot of money on flannel. Sewing for baby can be super inexpensive!

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1. Prefold diapers – this is one of my most popular tutorials and one of my most-used baby items. Because babies use a lot of diapers. ;) I’ve sewn quite a few from flannel sheets as well as flannel remnants.

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2. Bandana drool bib – some babies are super drooly or spit up all the time, and these little drool bibs are so cute and perfect to catch the mess before it gets on their clothes.

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3. Cloth wipes and burp rags – if you’re cloth diapering, cloth wipes make total sense and are super cost-effective. If you aren’t using cloth diapers, these are the perfect size for wiping little baby noses or cleaning up after a meal. And of course, burp rags are a must-have for every household with a newborn!

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4. Changing pad cover – the vinyl changing pads (affiliate link to the one I personally own!) are great places to change baby’s diaper, but they aren’t super comfy. Especially with a fall/winter baby, I hate to put baby down on a chilly surface. This same concept could also be used to make flannel crib sheets!

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5. Easy baby blanket – of course, every baby needs blankets! The yardage that you get in a flannel sheet is perfect for making extra blankets for gifts or for when your baby spits up all over his blanket and you need a clean one.

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6. Baby blanket with piping – the piping adds an adorable accent to a flannel baby blanket!

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7. Ragged baby blanket – how great would this blanket be to lay on the floor for baby to play on? Or to throw over the carseat when the weather is cold? It’s also perfect for the scraps leftover from all your flannel projects. ;)

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8. Flannel pants – While itty bitty babies probably aren’t going to use flannel pants as jammies, they’re still so cozy to wear on chilly fall and winter days. Plus, baby pants take so little time and fabric to sew!

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9. Seatbelt covers – since flannel is absorbent, these would do a great job at soaking up baby’s drool in the carseat. Not to mention how soft they are! Make sure these don’t interfere with the use of the chest clip, and use your own judgment as to whether or not adding this to your carseat is safe or not.

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10. Baby bibs – whether you’re soaking up drool or baby is venturing into the world of solid foods, bibs are a must-have. I’m pretty sure we have zero cloth bibs left in our house (because after four kids, they’ve all long since bitten the dust!), and I will be making a bunch of these from this free pattern.

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There are SEW many things you can make from a flannel sheet! Happy baby sewing. :)

Free Newborn Baby Hat Pattern

If you’ve been around the blog lately or following me on Instagram, you know that we’re just weeks (days??) away from welcoming baby boy number five. So I’ve been cooking easy meals and making last minute baby items. Baby pants are among my absolute favorite things to sew for babies, and I decided baby also needs some matching hats! I have a free hat pattern to share with you, so all the babies in your life can be covered from head to toe. :)free-newborn-baby-hat-pattern

Baby hats are a necessity for a fall or winter baby, and knit hats are just so cute and cozy.

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This pattern is super quick and easy to sew! It takes less than 1/4 yard of knit fabric, so you can use up some scraps.

Supplies:

  • less than 1/4yd knit fabric
  • thread
  • serger or sewing machine that can zig-zag
  • scissors or rotary cutter

Download your FREE Newborn Baby Hat Pattern

1. After you’ve taped the pattern together, cut out your fabric. This is how the fabric looks opened up:

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2. Fold the fabric right sides together and sew along the long curved side, leaving about 3 inches open on each end.

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3. Fold the fabric in half, wrong sides together – this will put your seam on the inside. Fold the hat as shown in the photo below, matching up the points. You will have four layers of fabric together. Sew all four layers together from one point to the side, using either a serger or a zig-zag stitch. If you are using a serger, leave the tails long. If you are using a zig-zag stitch, be sure to back-stitch at the ends.

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4. Turn the hat and sew together the next four layers of fabric. Again, leave the tails long if you’re using a serger.

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5. Continue to turn the hat, matching up the four layers of fabric, and sewing them together. All the seams should be coming together at a point at the top.

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7. When you’re finished with all the seams, it should look like the photo below. If you used a serger, tie all the tails so they don’t unravel before cutting them.

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Now turn your hat right side out and cuff!

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Since I don’t have a baby to model this hat yet, this old baby doll of mine will have to do. ;)

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It’s obviously a little big for the doll, but will be perfect for baby!

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This baby hat pattern goes perfectly with my free newborn baby pants pattern!

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I mean seriously… how cute is this??!! I think baby might be coming in home in one of these outfits!

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The brown striped pants were upcycled (which is also why they’re longer… since my babies tend to grow longer instead of chubbier, I didn’t bother to cut the pattern shorter to account for re-using the hem). The arrows came from Raspberry Creek Fabrics, and the plaid from Girl Charlee.dsc_8291-copy

Don’t forget to download your FREE Newborn Baby Hat Pattern!

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Happy baby sewing!