Categories
family fun

Back to School Fashion: First Grade Chic

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Click to view the collection on polyvore.com and find links to all the products.

BB will be the first to tell you that some things are fancy and fashionable and other things just are not.

She’ll definitely be the first to tell me these things as we’re wandering the aisles of Target or H&M in search of the perfect Back to School Look. We tried not to go crazy with our back to school shopping this year – focusing on the things that the kids need and not just the things they might like – so that image above there? Yeah, we didn’t get all of those things.

But I thought I’d put together a little collage on Polyvore that shows off a couple of things we did get along with some fun bling and pretties that would round off the look nicely. Things that BB would rock with her looks if she had a little extra fun money.

Everything in this collage can be found at H&M except the back pack. The reason for all the H&M love is two fold:

  1. H&M totally gets my daughter and her love for all things glitz and glam. I looked at a few stores online before confirming what I already knew. I could buy her entire wardrobe here.
  2. There are some bargains to be found at H&M. Most of the tops and dresses we buy here are $5 each and they are super dreamy, comfortable soft cotton tops that seem to stand up well to the test of time. I buy the dresses a little on the large side for my long-limbed daughter and tend to get a lot of mileage out of them.

The backpack is from LL Bean – we don’t have this pattern because we bought ours last year and now they have all new patterns – the purple one above is right up BB’s fashion alley but she’ll have to wait until she outgrows her bag because these suckers are durable and LL Bean swears by their 100% guarantee.

We got BB the adorable (if slightly creepy perhaps?) top in the collage above along with two other super cute tops and a skirt that is very similar to the one above but apparently not online. The shoes, sunnies, hair clips and clam shell purse are not hers yet but would make excellent belated birthday or early Christmas presents if you find yourself saying, “I really want to spend money on that six year old cutie today.” Or if your daughter said to you the other day, “Man, I wish I dressed more like BB. How can I attain her style sensibilities?” DONE.

Categories
books

Book Review: A Knight in Sticky Armor (Doc McStuffins)

Continuing my new video book review series (or: in an attempt to be fair to my children), here is a review for a book that my daughter, five year old BB, read recently. She would like to tell you more about:

13642690A Knight in Sticky Armor (Disney Junior: Doc McStuffins) by Andrea Posner-Sanchez, Mike Wall(Illustrator)

BB thinks this book is hilarious because every time something touched the sticky part of the titular knight, said thing got stuck to him and it was “really funny.”

Savvy parents will notice that this is a story straight out of the Doc McStuffins tv show series so if you have been forced to watch the series, you probably already know who Doc is and what she’s all about.

For the rest of you, a brief description from Amazon:

Doc McStuffins doesn’t just play with her toys—she heals them! Girls ages 2-5 will love getting to know this super-smart six-year-old doctor with her own backyard clinic. This Little Golden Book is based on the new Disney Junior show, Doc McStuffins.

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for, Miss BB’s review:

In summary: You’re guess is as good as mine.

Have you read this book (or seen the tv show)? What did you think?

Categories
books

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

bookreview-geekmomgeekkid

When my son, currently eight years old, requested that I read the first book in The Underland Chronicles, a series by Suzanne Collins (yes, that Suzanne Collins), I couldn’t resist. He has become something of a Fan Boy where this series is concerned and pretty much eats, sleeps and breathes it. A kid after my own heart.

gregor the overlander by suzanne collins
FEELS: liked, good role models, obsessable

Gregor the Overlander tells the story of eleven year old Gregor who  falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building in an attempt to rescue his 2 year old sister, Boots, who had crawled inside.

When I say ‘fall’ I mean they both literally ‘fell’ into another world called The Underland which exists directly below our world. In this world there is no sunlight, no moonlight. No real communication with the upside world, except for the occasional overlander that might fall through – a fall that most wouldn’t survive.

Gregor and Boots luckily do survive, only to meet a host of giant versions of pests and creepy crawlers that would make most grown men tremble. Gregor doesn’t love the huge talking rats, cockroaches, bats and spiders initially – nor the human village that has been thriving in the Underland for years – but thanks to his diplomatic two year old sister, an ancient prophecy and a lot of luck, he finds his courage and goes on an epic adventure to help save the Underland from war and get him and his sister back to his family in New York City.

It was hard to read this book and not be coming at it from a mother’s angle. I was often fretting over whether or not Gregor and Boots would ever get home to their poor mother. I cheered whenever Gregor showed bravery or compassion that was well beyond his years – he is a terrific brother and brave when it counts, without being foolish. I loved Boots (everyone loves Boots) and how she might have been the bravest and most impressive character in the story.

I loved the continual theme of not judging a book by it’s cover, not judging an entire race based off one member (or vice versa), on learning to walk a mile in each other’s shoes and the benefits of diplomacy over brute force. There were a lot of great lessons to be learned in this story and it’s a great introduction to fantasy and adventure for kids.

My eight year old is a pretty advanced reader and the kind of kid that will hide under the covers with a flashlight to read into the wee hours of the night so he tends to finish each book in one or two days. I read for about a half hour at night and finished it in about a week.  There are 5 books in the series that each sell for roughly $5 so it’s a decent bargain but if you have voracious readers, they’ll burn through them quickly. We’ve been letting my son get one a month to make it last a little longer.

At the end of the book there are questions with the author as well as a fun code for learning to speak like Boots and a writing exercise so kids (or adults) can create their own Underlands. I’m definitely going to encourage my son to try that out if he hasn’t already!

What is your child’s favorite book right now?

Categories
arts & crafts kindergarten motherhood photography

Kindergarten Looks Like: Paper Craft Extreme

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Can we talk about BB’s new craft obsession? Every day she painstakingly cuts out little shapes from bits of paper and then assembles them into pictures, coloring in all the little pieces. This is a self portrait of hers that she gave me recently and it’s just one in an ever growing collection of patchwork pictures.

Is this a common hobby? Because MM – who frequently gets lost in making intricate diagrams and charts – has not inundated me with anything similar. I mean sure he’s done his fair share of cutting and pasting different things together, but never on this level and I can’t recall having done it myself as a kid.

I don’t want to be that braggy parent that we all hate but I’m kind of blown away by this. The level of creativity, concentration and organization needed to do stuff like this? It seems like it wouldn’t be an ordinary hobby for a 5 year old but maybe I’m just underestimating all the five year olds in the world. Maybe we’re all much more brilliant than we give ourselves credit for.

Any other five year old future quilters out there? What has your kid done recently that just blew you away with Momma Pride?

Categories
family fun motherhood photography wordless wednesday

ww: but first, let me take a #selfie

selfie

Categories
entertainment motherhood photography

A distraction: Amish ninja chic.

The internet is justifiably a sad place today. In between doing all the things one does throughout the day, I’ve been reeling over the news that one of the greatest actors, comedians and humans of our time is no longer with us. I’ve read all the articles and felt all the feels and made a mental list of all the movies I need to watch with the kids SOON to make sure they get a proper education in funny. I’ve lamented with friends and lingered too long in my thoughts and hugged my babies a little tighter.

But if we are going to truly remember this man, we need to remember what he’s taught us: Laughter is the best medicine. In the off chance that you are feeling the weight of this tragedy a little too deeply today and are in need of a distraction (me, too), let’s talk about my daughter’s fashion choices. Because obviously.

amish ninja

I’m calling this look The hills are alive with the sound of ninjas.

My mother-in-law got this adorable little ensemble for BB while we were in Amish country and of course BB is obsessed. She loves nothing more than a pretty dress and if that dress can in any way seem like overkill for the occasion – well that’s even better. She’s been wearing it constantly, around the house and to MM’s karate lessons (yes, I’m apparently that mom despite my best efforts) and now she’s upping the ante with creative and irreverent accessorizing.

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I think this really shows her personality completely. She will not be pinned down by society’s expectations and always insists on doing things her way. Why wear just a traditional Amish dress when you can wear it with a Ninja Turtles mask? Why walk when you can dance? Why sit quietly when you can sing? Why eat broccoli when you can NOT eat broccoli?

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Her personality is so big, it fills the room. Her smile is contagious. She’s one of those kids that makes little old ladies in the super market stop and gush and she soaks it all in. If you have a minute, she has a little solo number to sing for you that she wrote ten seconds ago. She may well be an iconic entertainer herself one day, lord knows she entertains me from sun up to sun down.

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“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

– Robin Williams

Categories
family fun travel

Road Trip Diaries: Hershey, PA

epicroadtrip

After driving through Ohio and New York and spending a week in Massachusetts, most people would consider that an awesome family vacation. We would call that JUST THE BEGINNING. Having seen most of our friends and family and eaten at all of the places that make it feel like home, we packed up and left for Hershey, Pennsylvania at the bright and absurdly early time of 4AM.

Things we learned:

  • Caravaning for long distances is hard work. Families travel at different speeds and require different bathroom breaks, etc. Texting between passenger seats is a useful way to keep in touch when you lose each other and a fun addition to a long drive.
  • My daughter is not a morning person (the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree). Between waking up too early and possibly not hydrating enough, I was a bit nauseous and she was downright miserable. This was literally (and luckily) our only bout of carsickness on the trip. So, early morning travel is probably not going to be a big thing in our family.
  • Hootie and the Blowfish / Counting Crows – I can’t tell them apart and my husband tells me that I’m insane and that they sound vastly different. Anyone else agree with me that the difference is actually quite subtle?

Eventually we got to Pennsylvania and found ourselves at the Hershey Hotel’s Woodside Cottages AKA the swankiest, most luxurious hotel I’ve ever stayed in. My amazing in laws booked a cottage for all of us so that we could have our own hotel rooms but all be together and have the added bonus of privacy and pampering. These cottages are amazing and probably every trip to Hershey from here on out is going to be slightly disappointing in comparison.

So how was Hershey?

Both amazing and less than amazing depending on the minute. On the one hand, the kids got to go on a lot of rides, my husband had a nostalgic-filled week sharing the fun of Hershey with his parents, siblings and the three of us. We got to see everything, including spending a day in a rented cabana where we could enjoy the water park and / or relax depending on our preferences. We played ski-ball which always makes me happy. I took a bunch of pictures of the kids posed with things or riding rides. I walked a LOT which meant lots of extra exercise to counteract all the calories consumed in the Land of Chocolate.

Less than stellar things which occasionally made me grumpy:

  • It rained like constantly. Actually, if I had to describe our vacation in one word, RAIN would probably be the best descriptor. Apparently July is Thunderstorm season basically everywhere and one storm or another seemed to chase us the entire month.
  • Trying to match the pace of all those long legged in laws was exhausting. I probably should have slowed down and gone at my own pace but I was so eager to not miss anything and probably also trying too hard to be easy going and likable that I often sacrificed my own happiness or energy level in the name of fitting in. Basically I acted like a ridiculous teenager a few times and I’m not proud of it.
  • Did I mention the rain? Like when our cabanas were evacuated TWICE because of freakishly large thunderstorms or the time we were driving to Panera Bread and the rain was falling so hard that the visibility was like -5 feet.
  • Super skeevy laundromats.
  • Our GPS being super weird and taking us on the strangest routes to get places.

Stellar things that more than made up for the grumpiness:

  • In between being overly anxious about being fun and care free, I actually had some fun and carefree moments. Like going out for drinks with in laws, laughing uproariously with my mother-in-law about how weirdly similar Dan and his brother and father are, especially when they somehow manage to perfectly match each other’s pace while they’re walking and start to resemble tin soldiers marching in a line.
  • Turn down service at the hotel – soft fluffy robes and chocolates on our pillows every night.
  • All the rides at Hershey with the kids – seeing my brave littles take on rides that were intimidating and watching the grandparents and aunts and uncles spending precious time with them. Feeling like a kid again.
  • Being able to take the shuttle into the park which meant not dealing with parking basically at all.

Things Learned:

  1. Despite my best efforts, I’m not a go with the flow girl. I try my best, but I’m not good at it.
  2. I care too much what other people think of me and doubt myself too often.
  3. BB is much braver than MM when it comes to potentially scary rides. She is a risk taker at heart and he’s a cautious kid, much like his mother.
  4. Reeses Martinis are delicious.
  5. There should always be soft, fluffy robes.
hershey
1 – MM was in the Hershey Bar height range for rides | 2. Checking their height at Hershey Park’s Zoo | 3. Riding the carousel with papa | 4. MM on the Frog Hopper | 5. Posing with Hershey KISS!! | 6. BB LOVED the Frog Hopper | 7. Riding on the little kid version of that crazy swing ride | 8. BB and MM truck driving – MM was such a sweet and patient big brother that day | 9. BB was at the Hershey Kiss Height Level which tickled her absolutely pink.

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Next: Amish Country

Categories
family fun motherhood

CLEAN: a look at what exactly defines clean and tidy.

CLEAN

I was thinking about what is considered “clean” this weekend, while attempting to tidy up a bit before having friends over for dinner. “Clean” seems to vary depending on who is doing the cleaning and what the occasion is.

Cleaning the stove for me means wiping off all the gunk and maybe pulling out the fancy stove top cleaner gunk made by elves in the Forest of Naboo. For my husband it means pulling out a razor blade and some elbow grease. For my children? hahahahahahahahahahahahha

Vacuuming to my seven year old means picking up all the cheerios on the floor and making a halfhearted pass of the kitchen with our stick vac. To me, it usually means cleaning the edges of every room where most of the dirt migrates and moving the dogs crate to make sure all the hair gets picked up. To my husband, I vacuum like a girl and “should get out the actual vacuum and stop bending over with the hand vac to clean the house.”

And if company is coming over? The rules all change – toilets get scrubbed, towels get washed early and I suddenly notice a million dirty nooks and crannies that hadn’t been visible before. And if it’s someone like a mother in law or that friend whose house never looks as dirty as ours ever? See the graphic above and maybe buy a second bottle.

What does clean mean to you?

Categories
family fun

craft love: these dinosaurs are real stand up guys!

dino

We’ve been finding ourselves stuck inside a lot this summer and I was in desperate need of a quick and easy art project to occupy an hour or two of our time. Flipping through the May issue of Disney Family Fun magazine, I saw a cute stand up dinosaur guy that had been painted on cardboard. They have a free printable on their website so you can trace your own dinos – you’ll need an account on parents.com to login and access it but I’m pretty sure they are totally free and it’ll gain you access to lots of different magazines online.

This sounded like a nice easy project so I quickly printed off a few copies (no need to fight over paper stencils!) and cut out each stencil while the kids were eating lunch. Later I set up the stencils, green card stock, scissors and markers and briefly showed them the idea of the project but tried to encourage that they do their own thing with it.

My son, age 7, has a tendency to closely mimic whatever design I am doing during projects like this – so concerned about “doing it right” – in an effort to foster some creativity I made each corner, nook and cranny of my dinosaur a little different from each other (you can see my Stand Up Guy in the bottom to pictures of the collage above). He tried to keep up with me for awhile, but eventually my son also let himself just do his own thing and was really proud of the results (see the two pictures on the right hand side).

Then there’s my daughter – a three year old who absolutely marches to the beat of her own drum. Rather than trace the stencil on the green paper, she began cutting little pieces of green paper and placing them on her stencil in a mosaic style. I was so impressed with her creativity, that I offered her a glue stick which she happily accepted. She really spent most of the project practicing cutting and gluing, which is really a perfect use of our time and I was so proud of her. You can see her results in the big photo of the collage which was a little too floppy to stand but so adorable!

After making our dinosaurs, my son decided to use all of our scrap papers to be food for the dinosaurs to eat and building blocks for a Dinosaur City – no scrap gets unused under his watch! So now, my youngest has worked on some motor skills, both kids have gotten a lesson in creativity and we’re recycling – all for free, basically, as we used supplies we already had on hand.

By the time they were done crafting and playing, dinner was ready!

Disclaimer: Disney Family Fun did not sponsor this post, request it or have any idea that my children like making paper dinosaurs. These thoughts are my own and I am writing about them simply to share the project idea with other tired mommas out there looking for a quick art project fix.