Guest/Play Room Transformation

March 2, 2021 at 7:15 am (Family Stuff, Home Changes and Additions, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

When we moved in a few years ago the rooms were all boring and ugly…

Then we painted and added some fun flair to make this one a bright teen room…

Then, the teen grew up and moved out, so we had an empty space. πŸ’‘ We had an idea! A play room. But also make it a guest room, so that we still have a space for company to sleep…

And so the room became a guest/play room.

Paint again. Tone down those walls. New floors. New furniture. Make it fun, but grown up enough for guests… viola!

We went gray on the walls, but a touch darker than normal since we have lots of sunshine in here. We did snap in wood floor, since they are durable and easy to clean. Then the fun part…

We added a wall mural from PhotoWall! What better way to keep it fun for play and interesting but adult for guests?!

How cool is that?! It was actually super easy to install, just wallpaper in vertical strips, and it even comes with the paste. The boys are in LOVE with their new space!

You can head to PhotoWall too and use code ‘makemineeclectic25’ for 25% off any of their art, canvases, or wallpapers!

Next we will add furniture, so stay tuned…

XX,

Jess

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Sensory Play Part 2

December 4, 2020 at 3:28 pm (Family Stuff, Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I wanted to follow up with some more sensory play ideas we have found since getting our table. If you are new here, here is the first post on sensory play, where we talk about our table and some items that are super helpful!

First, get a funnel. These come in a pack of three and are collapsible silicone. Makes putting it all back SO much easier!

Another thing we’ve fallen in love with are these super cute jars from Busy Littles! You can even customize your jar with her, just message her on Instagram to order!

These are so fun because she adds acrylic letters and numbers that she makes! We got an alphabet that she customized to a camo theme! We also got one of her winter jars and a rainbow number jar. The boys LOVE them all!

So, what have we learned? That ANYTHING can be added to a sensory bin! The boys love that they can mix, stir, explore, dump, and keep the fun going for hours. Ok, minutes. They are kids. But still, its impressive. And anything that entertains both a 7 year old and a 2 year old is impressive in my book!

Also, here’s a peak at the Christmas box from Little Creators Texas too! We still love these also!

Have you tried sensory play yet?!

Jess,

XX

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Sensory Play

November 21, 2020 at 10:15 pm (Family Stuff, Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have been working hard to make Barrett’s time while Brantley is in study time more educational and interactive (and Brantley’s breaks too) and include less cartoons.

So I’ve added some sensory play! And its going SO well over here that I thought I would share some of the things we are using and loving!

First, it’s totally not necessary, but the table we got it super handy! I got the boys the Ikea Flisat table. Its under $50 and is great quality. The two tops are removable and their Trofast bins hang from underneath. This concept is awesome! I can take the bins out to wash them, refill them, or even store things in them. The table tops are wipeable and not the type that get crud caught in the vinyl edge, these are solid! I also added the Sundvik chairs, as opposed to the stools they recommend with the table.

We now use this area for all kinds of crafts, coloring, sensory bins, and even snacks.

The large wooden bowl is from Walmart for about $7. The small set is 4 from Amazon. I also added the set of wooden spoons from Amazon. I even have my own set of wood bowls for charcuterie boards because they were so cute. πŸ˜‚

Sometimes we add things like rice, beans, popcorn kernels, and pastas to the dishes. This is a huge hit. Albeit a little messy. πŸ˜‰

I highly recommend some Magic Erasers (these things are like mom gold!) and a little broom like this one for clean up.

These plastic jars are awesome for saving some of the fillers or kids’ creations for a while to use again.

And this wire bin (similar) actually has two more that stack on top, but the bottom one on wheels fits perfectly under the table to corral some things.

You don’t need a ton of stuff and can definitely wrangle some things from around the house. These are just the items we started with to keep organized in making sensory fun.

One thing I’m loving so that I don’t have to think up all the ideas on my own is the premade and themed kits from Little Creators Texas. Her play dough kits are so fun! Here the boys are playing with the fall themed kit. They LOVE it and keep coming back to play again!

I also have some kinetic sand, fake snow, and water beads that we can switch into the tubs. And you can add in any little bits like pinecones, blocks, wooden people,, letters,, shapes… the list is endless. This set up has already given these two hours of entertainment. I am impressed. And I can say that I see their wheels spinning and them learning from this kind of interactive play already. I highly recommend.

We already have lots of ideas for new things to try too, so if this kind of thing interests you, be sure to follow me on Instagram, where I will show more things we use for interactive and sensory play!

Have you made any sensory bins yourself? What did you use?

Xx,

Jess

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I’m in the House and I’m Saving Astronauts!

May 25, 2020 at 7:53 pm (Family Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Me may be in the house, but we aren’t bored! We have been saving astronauts around here!

Yes, astronauts. We found a new family fun activity and had to share!

It’s interactive and had us all using our brains!

We recieved a packet with a map, puzzles, and clues. You get started by texting the abandoned astronaut lost in another dimension. She texts back and asks for you help. She gives you clues, helping your family work through the puzzles and brain teasers in order to find the information that will help to return her to Earth.

Through communicating with the astronaut via text, we were able to figure out the puzzles and find the clues to return her home safely! It was like we were really in this with her!

We all played together (while the 2 year old napped) and it definitely was fun for all ages! The puzzles even had the teen and adults wracking our brains. The 7 year old loved helping and setting up our clue station. He was super amused with how you figure out some of the clues!

Overall, we all had a blast! What a fun way to get in some family time and do something totally different during these times where we are cooped up a little too much! We highly recommend!

Right now you can use code jessimariel for 10% off at Adventurous.co. Also, go give them a follow on IG at @adventurousco

I hope you all enjoy! Let me know what you think! πŸ˜‰

Xx,

Jess

*I have been gifted the game and compensated for the post, but all opinions are my own!*

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Quarantine Ideas

April 28, 2020 at 6:36 am (Family Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

We remind the kids every day that we are “safe at home”, not “stuck at home”. And truly, we are blessed. But, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming having everyone here full time. I want to keep them all entertained, educated, occupied, happy…

Here are just a few ideas that may help during this time!

1. Follow my craft idea board on Pinterest! I add ideas to it as I see them, so check it out for some of the things we have tried and some we still hope to try!

We have loved some of these! One true favorite was shaving cream art! Smear down shaving cream in a pan, add drops of food coloring and swirl them in any pattern with the end of a paintbrush. Lay a thick piece of paper on the colored cream and press. Lift up and scrape cream off the paper with a spatula. Look what it leaves behind!

2. Educational apps that make learning fun! I know we all try to limit screen time. But we all need a break and a little help too! There are several we love, but one that the 6 year old can use by himself is Book Prunelle. It’s an ebook platform for kids , featuring powerful stories to inspire them to become the next generation of conscious kids. They tackle challenging topics in an entertaining and child-friendly way to help kids grown mindful and kind-hearted. Cool, right?!

You pay for a subscription by month or year, but right now you can try the first month for free! And you can use the code JESSIMARIEL5 off of either subscription too!

They have books like this one explaining the Corona Virus in terms kids understand!

3. Read with Dolly on Thursdays! The boys both loved this for some reason! Dolly Parton reads a story live on YouTube every Thursday and saves it to her channel to watch anytime. The boys were glued. And mom cleaned the kitchen! πŸ˜‰

4. Duo appto facetime anyone. Maybe you knew about this? I did not, but was so happy to learn! With this app, any type of phone can video call one another. Now the kids can video call with grandma and grandpa!

5. Neveo journal making! Neveo lets you add photos all month to an app and at the end of the month they put together your pictures and captions into a journal to be send to grandparents, friends, etc. So helpful for keeping up with some of those seniors that can’t get out right now! Use the code SUPPORT for two free months of 50 photo journals!

I hope these little ideas help even a tad bit. Hang in there. Give yourself grace. We’ve got this.

XX,

Jess

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Family Travel Tips

January 14, 2020 at 6:51 am (Family Stuff, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart. But, it’s totally possible to have an awesome time and not lose your sanity! We are living proof. I have a few simple tricks to keep it all together when traveling with a crew. My family of 5, mom, dad, 17 year old, 6 year old, and 1.5 year old, recently traveled to Florida and not only survived, but also had an amazing time. (Read about Florida ideas is previous post!) Here are some things that worked really well for us that we recommend and will be doing again.

Packing Cases- We got each family member a different color set of packing cases this time. Especially helpful since plane tickets no longer come with a checked bag any longer, as we decided to pay the extra fee for only two large checked suitcases between the 5 of us. This set of packing cases, which we used, are decently priced, come with 6 pouches per set, and had plenty of color options. They are a bit cheaply made, but did a good job for us. Lots more options for these on Amazon too! I divided each person’s cases into groups, like one pouch for shirts, one for bottoms, one for undergarments, etc. I also think it may be helpful to divide by outfits rolled together. At least this way there were only 6 options for where your swim suit could be located on the chaos! πŸ˜‰

Nacuwa Bottle- If you haven’t heard already, all airlines now only allow liquids in 3.4 oz bottles and these need to be in a quart sized ziplock baggie. To simplify things, use the Nacuwa bottle! All of our necessities can go in one bottle. It’s even TSA approved! Tip- add a ziplock to each bag. You might bring home a hotel lotion, or find that you had a little perfume in your purse without a baggie. Each person is allowed one, so make sure you are prepared to take advantage of this! We use the Nacuwa travel bottle for camping and cabining as well! So handy!

Bubble Bum Seat- Got kids in the booster seat age and size range? You need this. Its handy for all the things, travel, grandma’s car, carpool, etc. We loved having it for the rental car. I know rental cars can provide carseats, but they add an extra expense. And, I’ve heard rumor, that sometimes they don’t have the size seat you requested on hand, or it is outdated or dirty… Save yourself extra trouble and get this guy. He fits in this bag shown in my hand, then blows up to the seat B is holding below. It meets and exceeds all safety standards! Plus, B says it’s super comfy.

Spirit Airlines- Ok, hear me out. This may not be the airline of beat choice if you are taking a super long flight and need extra comfort… but they have their perks if you are ok with very basic and are hoping to save some money. Perk 1- they allow you to bring a diaper bag on free, in addition to the one personal item each traveler is allowed. Thank goodness! Perk 2- they also allow you to check a stroller and carseat for each child for free. We checked the toddler’s carseat (again with the rental car issue) and gate checked the stroller. This means we drove it all the way to the gate with kiddo in it, and it goes right in the door of the plane and off to meet us. Perfect! Perk 3- they combine weights for your suitcases, whereas other airlines don’t. Each checked suitcase is allowed to be 40lbs without extra charge. With Spirit, one could be 20lbs and one could be 60lbs then. Less stress worrying about how to split things up!! Perk 4- you can bring your own snacks and drinks! They do not serve anything for free on the flight, adding to your lower prices, but this also allows you the freedom to pack what and how much you want! Some airports will not allow you through safety checks with drinks. Chicago did, because Spirit’s checkpoint was separated. However, Jacksonville did not, as all airline were checked together. Snacks were fine. Exceptions are always made for breastmilk, formula, etc.

Carseats– I mentioned above that I believe in the perks of bringing your own carseat when renting a car. Here is something you should get. A strap to attach the carseat to your wheeled suitcase. So handy to not lug another parcel through the airport. We wheeled the carseat to baggage check. Then we packed it in it’s own travel bag to be checked. The second picture below is how the carseat bag rolls up into it’s own pouch to pack. Pack this in an outside pocket of your suitcase and you will know where it is before you check bags.

Last tips- stay organized, go with the flow, don’t see it all, and enjoy the little things. Dad says- pack lots of snacks. You will have a blast! Safe travels!

Anything you would add?

XX,

Jess

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Marineland, Family Florida Trip Ideas

January 9, 2020 at 7:12 am (Family Stuff, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Want to take the kids to Florida, but not quite ready to go all in on Disney just yet? We weren’t either. I have some ideas for you!

Must see in Florida? Marineland Dolphin Adventure!! Truly, this place is a must see and a pleaser for all ages.

Yes, we danced with the dolphins! 🀩 This dolphin is Dazzle and she was a sweetheart. We learned a lot about her and dolphins in general. You can choose tickets to swim with the dolphins or tickets to meet and greet with them (pet them!), like the youngest and dad did.

You can even get a package that includes painting with the dolphins! There are talks and training demonstrations…

There was a tour of the facility, which included learning the history here. They are the first facility of their kind! Movies have even been made here! You can see turtles and other sea life too. There was just so much to explore. Plus, who doesn’t love an adorable gift shop? They even had custom necklaces made with each dolphin’s fluke (tail fin). How neat?! There is also a photographer there to snap photos while you are in the water or focusing on the dolphin fun!

And the view over the ocean was divine, even on a cloudy day…

There is just so much to say about this place. Truly I can’t rave enough and highly recommend you visit there for yourself!

Want to make it a whole weekend and need more things to fill your time? Us too! I’ve got a few recommendations:

Tip- Fly into and stay in Jacksonville. It’s a big enough city to have plenty to do, but not a spring-breaker hot spot.

1. Check out the beaches! The whole family enjoyed the sand and water, even in the cooler winter time. We all love to hunt for shells and treasures. Best beach for shells, sea glass and shark teeth is Mickler’s Landing, a public beach at Ponte Verda. Jacksonville beach, Atlantic beach, and Neptune beaches are all public, close by and very nice. Public beach access in Marineland was also very nice!

2. Jacksonville Zoo! Also fun for the whole family.

3. See St. Augustine! The younger kids didn’t understand the significance and were not super interested, but did enjoy seeing the big stone “castle”. They had lots of lights up in the evening, the bridge is neat, and there is a huge light house. Plus shops and restaurants to please us bigger kids.

4. St. Augustine alligator park! We didn’t get to make it here, but this attraction looked so fun!

5. Catty Shack wildlife sanctuary! We also didn’t make it here, but it is on our list! You can see them feed the tigers!

6. Seafood! Need I say more? I’ll list a few of our tried and true favorites.

*Safe Harbor, Jacksonville

*Slider’s, Jacksonville

*Sonny’s BBQ, Jacksonville (not seafood, but totally a favorite worth checking out)

*South Beach Grill, Marineland

Tip- Hyatt Place, Jacksonville Airport is where we stayed. Casual yet nice, family friendly and spacious. Plus, you can sign up for Hyatt Club for free and get free breakfasts. Just one we would recommend!

I hope you enjoy visiting Florida too! Let me know how you like these spots!

XX,

Jess

Disclosure: we were hosted at Marineland only. All opinions of all locations listed here are fully our own. We want to be helpful for your family, with honest reviews!

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