Tag - Home

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» Review: Dr. Mercola Probiotics
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» REVIEW: Click and Grow Garden
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» REVIEW: Girls of American History
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» REVIEW: Circle with Disney
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» Motherhood: Snow Days and Dance Floors
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» REVIEW: Sleep Guardian (for Night Terrors)
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DIY: Bathroom Vanity Update
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DIY: Cosco Stool Refurbish
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» REVIEW: Canary Home Security
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Activities for Preschoolers- The Screen Fast Continues

» Review: Dr. Mercola Probiotics

We have been aware of the benefits of probiotics for quite some time. However, our kids aren’t always eager to take them and they often have an interesting taste, and can be difficult to mix with foods or liquids. We have pressed on, knowing that 80% of our immune system lives in our gut. A healthy gut often equals greater health overall…. so we were quite excited to partner with Moms Meet to try out Dr. Mercola’s probiotics for kids and adults.

If you are curious what makes a good probiotic, here is a quick checklist to look for:

  • Contain effective bacterial strains – must be strain specific*
  • Are viable and dose specific
  • Remain stable and viable for a long time
  • Have the ability to survive the stomach and reach the intestine
  • Thrive in the intestine

You can be sure to avoid false claims by double checking the label for the following:

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1
  2. Lactobacillus casei
  3. Lactobacillus plantarum
  4. Lactobacillus salivarius
  5. Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  6. Lactobacillus brevis
  7. Bifidobacterium lactis
  8. Bifidobacterium longum
  9. Bifidobacterium bifidum
  10. Streptococcus thermophilus

Dr. Mercola does indeed include these ingredients in a conveniently packaged and truly good tasting powder. Dr. Mercola products are also subject to third party testing and the probiotic strains demonstrated gastrointestinal acid and bile tolerances over 90%. You can read the results here.

The kids actually enjoyed mixing this up and drinking it. I also packed the adult probiotic with me on my latest trip to Africa, it was so convenient to mix with bottled water.
Additionally, it mixes very smoothly. There were no complaints when it came to taking the daily probiotic!

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Disclaimer: Mom’s Meet provided samples of Dr. Mercola’s probiotic. As always the opinions are my own.

» REVIEW: Click and Grow Garden

Fall is officially here and winter will be here before we know it. Our Nashville climate isn’t conducive to growing much outdoors once that shift happens and we love having fresh herbs in the kitchen. The solution? And indoor herb garden with Click and Grow.

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Set up

The Click and Grow unit has three pods allowing you to choose to purchase and insert any combination of refill cups as you’d like. The kids really enjoyed peeling off the lids and being able to pop each cup in. It’s like a garden Keurig! On the left side, there is a water reservoir that has a floating piece to let you easily see when more water is needed. When the tank is full, it lasts about four weeks until it is completely empty. This is pretty amazing for people (like me) who forget to water plants. Once the pods were in we simply plugged the unit in (first thing in the morning) to allowed the light to do it’s job. The unit’s light will stay on for 16 hours and then shut off for 8 all on it’s own.

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Basil, Basil, Basil

With three basil cups in place and a tank full of water, we were ready to watch our little garden grow. In about two days, we started to see little sprouts. From there, the plants grew and grew at such a surprising rate. For two months we’ve been able to trim off a few pieces every few days and only have to refill the water reservoir as needed.

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Conclusion

A year-round garden is always a challenge as the seasons change and especially in the fall and winter months. Click and Grow makes it easy for busy moms to keep some nice fresh herbs or vegetables on hand. The kids also enjoyed being part of the opening and setup process. Three pods can feel limiting, especially if you’re trying to grow strawberries or cherry tomatoes. If you’re looking for a more complete solution, the Click and Grow Indoor Farm (fits 38 and 57 pods) may be worth checking out.

Buy on Amazon

Click and Grow website

 

Disclaimer: The folks at Click and Grow kindly provided us a unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» REVIEW: Girls of American History

Many of you may be preparing your curriculum for the upcoming school year. It’s often quite a challenge to select curriculum that is both interesting and challenging at the same time. We do not homeschool but we do add quite a bit into our Summer enrichment. This Summer we added the Girls of American History lessons into our Summer learning and exploration. And don’t be fooled by the name, this curriculum works for both genders, in some units more than others. Girls of American History was written by a long-time homeschooling mom of five, and she nails it!

“Girls of American History was created to be used with the popular American Girl historical, fictional series. Each unit in Girls of American History is meant to last six weeks. Of course you can lengthen or shorten this based on what works for your family. For example, you may decide to spend more time on the Felicity® & American Revolution Unit, as there is so much to learn and review for that particular time period. Don’t be deterred by the use of American Girl books; this truly is not a study just for girls, but for all children. There are many strong male characters in each series, as well as crafts and field trips that will entertain and engage boys.”

You can check out samples here before purchasing the curriculum. We enjoyed exploring history, language and doing so with a very hands-on approach. The connection to the American Girl series was the icing on the cake. If you are looking for a unique way to approach history this year check out this curriculum set and support a homeschooling mom while you’re at it!

» REVIEW: Circle with Disney

Disclaimer: The folks at Circle with Disney kindly provided us a security unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

Currently, we don’t have a huge need to censor the Internet from our children. They don’t have devices and all screen time is closely monitored. However, we realize it won’t be that way forever.  Our nine year old has begun to use the computer for school and has also talked about saving money for a used iPad. We’ve even realized, after chatting with friends who have older children, that we also have to be concerned about our children’s visiting friends and the devices they bring. Enter Circle.

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Circle with Disney (which is actually square shaped) does so much more than just turn the Internet on and off in the home at designated times. We’ve had ours for two months, so I’ve figured out how it works best for us. To be clear, this is not a router, it’s a device that connects to your router and acts like a gatekeeper to all devices on your network. Even visiting devices. (take that sneaky friends!)

Set up

One of the best features is that everything, including the initial set up, is controlled through your iPhone app (Android is supposed to be coming soon). That’s it. No need to set up different time limits and restrictions on each device. If you already have Kindles with FreeTime, you know the headache I’m talking about. Imagine having to set that up four times on four different devices.

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Doing the initial set up for all devices can still be time consuming depending on how many devices there are in the household. An added bonus is that you receive push notifications on your phone anytime a new device is added to the network. If your children’s friends are over, you can easily add any restrictions to their devices the moment Circle sends you a notification.

Parental Controls

Set time limits on internet-connected activity

  • Set a daily overall time limit
  • Set a daily time limit for a particular app, website or category of content.
  • Set a bedtime

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Circle is designed so that each person in your house has a profile with their device(s). From there, you can set different limitations, for instance: you can allow three hours of online activity a day, but only 30 minutes of that can be YouTube and no activity after 8pm. You can also choose to block YouTube altogether or even the newly-debated app, Snapchat. The limits are across all devices so that an individual can’t do 30 minutes of a game on their iPad, then jump to their computer for more.

Content Filtering + Ad Blocking

You can use pre-set content levels for each family member, from Pre-K, Kid, Teen, Adult or None. From there, you can customize to meet your needs.  For example, with the “Kid” level, Club Penguin, Disney and Minecraft are allowed, but if you prefer to disable Minecraft, you can do so with the flick of a switch. Depending on the level you choose, it will block websites, they provide a long list of categories. You can even spare yourself from content that you don’t want to see. If there’s a site that’s blocked but is acceptable for your child, you can manually grant access to that site.

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In the Content Filter settings, you can turn on Google safe search, YouTube restricted mode, and Ad blocking. This didn’t cut out ads 100% but it’s definitely better than nothing.

Insights

The reporting under “Insights” shows you how long each family member spent online each day, week, and month, going back one month.  You can see which sites were visited, and which sites were blocked by the content filters.  From there, you can easily unblock a site, if needed.

Pause the Internet

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Yep, that’s right.  You can pause the internet for everyone, or for a certain family member, or for a certain family member’s device. So if Bobby has been told to come to the table for dinner, and won’t turn the Netflix show off, you can pause the Internet for Bobby. There are a variety of ways to assign devices so you can just pause the Internet for all the kids in the house or parents as well if you catch yourself checking your phone during family game night.

Conclusion

For $100 and no subscription fee, I think Circle with Disney is well worth it. We’re  looking forward to seeing the device staying current and get better with time (we’ve noticed a few App updates since we’ve received ours). The app is super easy to use and I love the ability to pause the internet on the fly without having to know how to set up a guest network on my router.

However, there are some things you need to know before purchasing your unit. The Circle does not give any control for games (apps) that don’t rely on the Internet so parents must still be mindful of time spent on screens. For those of you who have kids with iPhones, Circle does not control or account for 3G/4G activity. Circle Go is in product development and is supposed to be the solution for this problem. Additionally, Circle does not have control over phone calls, texts, or social media activity.

Buy Circle with Disney

» Motherhood: Snow Days and Dance Floors

I had to laugh, just a little, when I peeked on Facebook this morning. With an onslaught of snow days the women in my region are getting a bit worn out. This was evidenced by the jump in “10 ways to find joy in the trenches” and “When mothering is hard and no one sees” posts. And when I had the previously mentioned laugh, it wasn’t because I think these are silly. It was because YES. I am so there. And apparently ya’ll are too. Solidarity girls.

When it snows, when school is canceled, the responsibility of caring for the kids falls to me. I work from home most of the time and my husband works in an office. It makes sense that I’m the chosen one. But it doesn’t make it easy. The unknowns and schedule changes are difficult on kids. Especially kids that have experienced trauma or have needs that require a schedule. It’s not that time spent with them isn’t enjoyed but they aren’t their best and I’m not my best.

And I keep coming back to one thought “what a waste of time.” The weight of my children’s ever growing status is heavy on me lately. While I delight in their growth and knowledge acquisition I also miss the days of chubby hands and pureed foods. I look forward to the pre-teen and teenage years, but also fear them… in a healthy way. This is the age-old dance of motherhood. Those before me have cleared the floor and now I’m in the center trying to keep up with the beat. And it’s a fast song.

Every mother who has gone before me reminds me that it went so fast for them. And I can truthfully reply that yes, it’s going so fast I can barely hang on. I’m trying to teach them about Jesus, teach them to read, teach them to care for others, teach them to be kind, teach them to clean up, teach them to respect others. The list grows and multiplies daily. They fail to meet expectations. I fail to respond with grace. We are all, as I mentioned above, not our best. And attempts to recover this time, to have do-overs, are thwarted by circumstances outside our control.

And then everything scrolls back to mom, me, on that dance floor, with the fast song. It feels like techno because the world is disjointed and everyone is crying and someone has been hit in the face with a stuffed animal… and it hit. their. eye. And I just want to scream “turn the music off!”

And in that quiet moment I’ll gather all of mine to me. And whisper in their ears… I’m not my best. You’re not your best. But while I was frantically going through the motions I realized something.  You can’t learn, unless I lead.

Unless I wake up with joy on my lips and in my heart. Unless I beg God for the Grace to be who He made me to be. Unless I take the internal struggle and purposefully push it up to He that is Greater than I… it’s all, as i said, a waste of time. The responsibility of four lives is too much for my humanness. And it appears that snow days, that were meant to be joyful, bring out way too much me.

Today, in the midst of all the find joy posts and the lonely motherhood posts I’m gathering the ones I’m entrusted with, I’m gathering them close. And we are breaking free of the not-our-best moments. We are embracing grace for each other and most of all I’m giving it up, so I can be filled, so I can lead them well.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

 

 

 

 

» REVIEW: Sleep Guardian (for Night Terrors)

Disclaimer: The folks at Lully kindly allowed us a Sleep Guardian unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

It started early for Charlotte. She didn’t sleep well as a newborn because she spent some extended time in the hospital and then came home with a little glow-worm light when her bilirubin levels just wouldn’t go down. She wanted to sleep, she would have been a great sleeper, there was just too much going on for her to get comfortable. Her sleep patterns were constantly interrupted. As the toddler years came around her sleep patterns became worse. We started seeing true night terrors. If you’re wondering what a night terror is (it’s not the same thing as a nightmare), you can find an explanation hereor you’re still not sure if your child has a night terror or something else, you can click here. She was scary and screaming during many of them. By first grade, she was having them almost daily. We began to notice that he more active she was during the day, the more her night terrors would occur. Not only are night terrors scary as a parent, they prevent children from getting the best sleep possible, which can cause fatigue and affect their whole day.

We recently discovered Lully’s Sleep Guardian (FYI: Lully is the company and Sleep Guardian is the product) and decided to give it a shot based on some other great things we’d heard.

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How it Works

The Sleep Guardian is based on a tried-and-true technique called scheduled awakenings. Simply put, you wake your child 15-30 minutes before their night terrors typically occur. This interrupts the unhealthy sleep cycle and prevents night terrors. Starting back in 1988, clinical studies have shown that this method has reduced 90% of night terrors.

Set up

Sleep Guardian is a simple device that goes under your child’s mattress that vibrates fairly vigorously around the time your child should be entering into the unhealthy deep sleep that occurs before night terrors, typically 1-3 hours after the child goes to bed.

Opening, placing the unit under the mattress and plugging it in takes less than five minutes. After that, I had to download the iPhone app, set up an account and go through a series of screens to get everything up and running.

iPhone App

After downloading and creating an account, the phone connects to the unit via Bluetooth. Without going into details, essentially the app is used to do everything at this point: record (bedtimes, night terrors, and when Sleep Guardian is turned on), notify you when to turn the Sleep Guardian on (this was very helpful), and to actually turn the unit on. Over time, the calendar allows you to see which nights your child had night terrors and which nights he/she didn’t (blue *no night terror* vs. pink *night terror* on the calendar screenshot below). Based off of the data you record (be diligent about it), Sleep Guardian adjusts what time you should turn the unit on until it gets your child’s sleep cycle right.

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Turning on Sleep Guardian does require you to be awake, which may be a downside, but at least you can do it from your phone, without having to move unless you’re out of the 32-foot Bluetooth range. The unit will vibrate for a few minutes then turn itself off. This will wake your child up and break the sleep cycle, then he/she will just roll over and go back to bed. In the settings, there’s a sensitivity level that you can change to make it vibrate enough to wake them up but light enough to avoid annoying them. This feature you have to just tweak the first few nights to get it right for your child.

Conclusion

Night terrors can be super scary. Kids demand weird things, scream and hit and cry excessively. They can’t really be woken up, as it can be dangerous. As Dr. Andy Rink (one of the co-founders of Lully) explained it, 90% of their brain is still asleep; it’s only the primary motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement and vocalization) that’s awake. Charlotte never remembers the episode, but we surely do. We never sleep  well when she is awake and screaming.

The Sleep Guardian is the first proven non-medication solution to stop night terrors. This was very attractive to us because we always seek non-medicinal routes of care before choosing medication. I am thrilled we discovered and tried the Sleep Guardian. It wasn’t uncommon that Charlotte would have a night terror five out of seven nights. This little device has greatly impacted the way Charlotte sleeps and I am happy to report that after using and tweaking the Sleep Guardian’s settings for a couple months, she has only had two in the last 14 days.

Lully Sleep Guardian website
Buy on Amazon

DIY: Bathroom Vanity Update

A little goes a long way. When we moved into this home three years ago, the bathrooms were newly renovated but lacked the personal touch and character that I desired. The bathroom “character” project has been very patient with me. I purchased gorgeous marble back splash tile almost a year ago ($3 per sheet clearance at Home Depot!) I had just completed our kitchen back splash and was in the DIY mood. The week we had planned to take care of this three-hour project, one thing led to another and we ended up with our kitchen being a total hazard zone. I tend to just pull the trigger on things. This Wall removal craziness was one of those things. Sure! Let’s go for it.

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But that’s another blog post for a later time…

Back to the bathroom. Unlike our downstairs master bathroom, we have two restrooms that were remodeled at some time before we moved in. This made it hard since we couldn’t just tear the whole thing apart and start fresh. I couldn’t justify or afford something like that. The cabinets were new and good quality but the finish wasn’t holding up at all.

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So we decided to enhance what we already had. When a project needs freshening up, paint is always in the equation. I chose a steel gray color for the vanity and these Franklin knobs from National Hardware in pewter. This paint is practically bullet proof. I dare the kids to try and mess it up.

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The pictures don’t do it justice at all! Now that the vanity is done, I can’t wait to add the back splash. I’m so happy with the color and how it pulls the gray tones out of the existing tile. The back splash and second bathroom reveal will go down over Christmas break. Moral of the story in home renovations… a little goes a long way.

Disclaimer: The folks at National Hardware kindly provided the cabinet hardware for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

 

DIY: Cosco Stool Refurbish

Four years ago, roughly, I found a yellow retro cosco stool at a flea market. It was $5 and needed some love. I took it home and we most definitely gave it some love. We stood on it, sat on it, painted with it, hung pictures with it and used it for visiting toddlers in lieu of a high chair. Finally, four years later I took 10 MINUTES to give it some true TLC.

Step 1: Locate the FOUR tabs on the underside of the seat. Use a butter knife (or any flat, strong object) and lift the tabs to release the seat top. (yay for tabs!)

Step 1: Locate the FOUR tabs on the underside of the seat. Use a butter knife (or any flat, strong object) and lift the tabs to release the seat top. (yay for tabs!)

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STEP 2: Lift the old seat from the base and remove the vinyl. Save the foam if it’s in good shape.

Step 3: Use material of your choice (upholsteryfabric) and rewrap the seat, being mindful of the edges. Uses hot glue or spray adhesive for extra hold. No staples!

Step 3: Use material of your choice (upholsteryfabric) and rewrap the seat, being mindful of the edges. Uses hot glue or spray adhesive for extra hold. No staples!

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Last step: Fit the seat base back on the stool and close the tabs on the underside of the seat. Done!

And here’s a quick look at the before. Why did I wait four years!??

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» REVIEW: Canary Home Security

Disclaimer: The folks at Canary kindly provided us a security unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

OK. True story. This past summer when we were visiting Houston, we had a good friend check on our house a few times a day and let the dog out. One Sunday afternoon, we were visiting the Houston Zoo, when we started getting text messages about our house: “Did you make your bed before you left?”, “Did you have a glass of water on your nightstand?”, “Was your sun room open?” As the text conversation continued, the worst thoughts poured over me. Did someone break into our house? Did they sleep in our bed and drink a glass of water? Let’s hope it was just Goldilocks… turns out it was a door with a latch just loose enough to re-open if the wind was just right, a dog that loves to wrestle with the comforter and a friend dropping by to pick up some essential oils.

If only we had a Canary back then…

Whether you have an existing alarm system or not, the Canary is a useful and surprisingly fun gadget for the home. There are tons of wireless home security options in the market but I was led to Canary by doing my own research online. Here’s my review for us moms:

Set up

First of all, after looking and purchasing online, the Canary is much smaller than I thought it would be. The unit is about the size of a 12 oz. can (but slightly taller) that’s easy to move around should you need to.

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To sync the device to your home’s Wi-Fi network, all you have to do is download the app to your phone and follow the step-by-step instructions on the app. You’ll see a pretty yellow glow when you’ve successfully paired Canary to your Wi-Fi network. Once the app was downloaded, I was able to get everything up and running in about five minutes! (and yes that’s a toiler paper roll next to the pumpkin, real life y’all)

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Night Vision

(Night Vision)

Three Modes

There are three modes on the Canary: Armed, Disarmed and Privacy. Armed means you’ll get a mobile notification each time the Canary detects something unusual while you’re away, and send you a video clip of what it saw. Disarmed means it can still detect the motions as before, but will not send you alerts. You can still go back and watch these recorded clips. Privacy is designed for when you are home and do not want the Canary recording you (we have yet to use this function). The Canary iPhone app will use geo location to automatically arm itself when you leave the house, and disarm itself when you arrive home. This is a great feature and allowing the app to use my location 24/7 does not kill my phone battery! You can also add as many phones as needed so the Canary will know when to arm/disarm.

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Alerts

For a while we kept getting false alerts when the sun setting would reflect light in a way that confused the Canary. We relocated the unit and have had better success. If we ever did get a legit notification and noticed an intruder, the Canary app allows you to set off a 90+ db siren. Even more effective if we had more units (you can have up to four). You can also call a local ambulance, police, or fire station right out of the app if needed.

Conclusion

Especially with children, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Canary is a great alternative or addition to a traditional wired system (plus they just lowered the price to $200). State Farm also just lowered our home owners insurance by $80/year so the unit will practically pay for itself, all we had to do was request a letter from Canary. It’s fun to go back and watch the kids or dogs on occasion, especially if a disagreement starts or if you want to determine exactly when the two boys crawled in bed with mom and dad. After using a single unit for a couple months, I’m eager to add a second and maybe even a third unit to cover more of our house.

Canary website
Buy on Amazon

Activities for Preschoolers- The Screen Fast Continues

Thankfully we’ve continued to keep a tight reign on screens around the Goodbye house. I received several comments and messages asking me what we’ve been doing instead of using screens in our home. Thus, this post. Today I’m sharing a number of activities that are simple, relatively cheap and have stood the test of time in our home. I’ve also started a dedicated Pinterest board with doable activities for you to follow. You can access my Pinterest account through the icon on the blog. Hope this helps. Let’s keep walking together as we nurture and grow these little folks.

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Color Wonder by Crayola. Color Wonder has really expanded their offerings. Several versions now include numbers, letters and cool pictures that appear when you color over the white areas. Liam calls it a treasure hunt. I really like this particular Learning Numbers version. (Click on Bold text to view actual links for ideas)

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Legos! We sorted through big brother’s Lego boxes and selected simple pieces that he could easily build with. We keep these in a bin on a shelf with other play bins we’ve created. Keeping everything accessible is key.

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Sorting, cut and paste and color matching books from the Dollar Tree. Don’t spend $3.99 on these books at Target! I consistently find great preschool materials at Dollar Tree. Liam recently tried his hand at cutting, but I still help in this department. Here, he is sorting the vegetables into the correct color bin and then gluing. Glue sticks really give him a sense of independence. And please know… it took us weeks to get this groove going. The first time we sat down with a book he ripped it up.

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Kinetic Sand! Sensory input, sensory play. Enough said. We all, yes myself included, love to sit down and mold and squish this stuff. You can find it everywhere now. I often find packages at ROSS and Marshalls stores for a great price. This is another bin we keep on our shelf, ready to go.

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Bean Boxes. Simply grab a few of the largest dry bean bags your store has to offer. We change up the bean bin all the time. I’ve added Sea Shells, action figures, letters, questions, marbles and scoops. The biggest hit has been a two-liter and a funnel. There is apparently something relaxing about funneling beans into a two liter on repeat.

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Books. I made book bins for the kids according to age. My kids often hear me shout, “grab your book bins!” when things get a little hairy. I change out the books here and there to keep things fresh. Liam also enjoys this Wipe Clean book I picked up. It’s HUGE, and I love the reusable nature.

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Unifix Cubes. As a former teacher I totally geek out with stuff like this. I adore place value! These little guys come in super handy when I’m doing math homework with my school age kiddos. For my preschooler these vivid colored, stacking blocks have limitless possibilities. On this day Liam was sorting them by color into little tea-cups. After he sorted he was allowed to tower-up each color and use them for light-sabers. We also make patterns, review colors and practice counting with the cubes. As you can see, I store them in a basket with the other bins.

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Bouncing bubbles. We found these on clearance recently and LOVE them. They hang out and the kids poke them and hold them, stick them in their hair. Super fun. While outside we will also paint, look for sticks and bugs and soak up some vitamin D from the sun!

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We also allow indoor toys to come inside when it rains. On this particular day Liam was saying his school morning goodbyes while preparing to blade it up in the family room. Whatever works. Baby needs to move!

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Cooking. My kids cook with me. It keeps their hands busy and engaged. With a few safety lessons and a watchful eye even a four year old can help with meal prep. Warning: Much patience is required. Again, we had to work up to this. Also… dogs will be fed.

Lastly. We are getting outside a lot. I’m an outside person in general. But I find myself thinking ahead about our outdoor time. Long weekend coming? Find a campsite or plan to set up camp in the backyard. Look for a day hike, explore a local lake or park. That’s what the weekend is for!

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Hickory Nut Falls

 

 

 

 

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