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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School At Home

November 10, 2020 at 8:07 am (Home Changes and Additions, Tid Bits) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This year has been a wild one, that’s for sure. It’s been so different from the norm for many of us. But, one things remains the same. We want our kids to learn, and we want them to have the best opportunities possible. So, no matter what type of schooling you are doing, these ideas can be for you!

We are doing online schooling this year. Classes are via computer, but mom facilitates. Optimal? No. But we are making the best of it. My best tip so far? Find a space and make it for learning. Boundaries and expectations help learning go well!

You don’t need a whole room, maybe a corner, or a table, or even a certain table cloth, and when it comes out, its time to learn. I had always worked from home a lot and happen to have space in my office that I was able to convert to a learning space. Don’t worry, even if your space is much smaller, these ideas can help you too!

I have several tips for routine, but this will just be about supplies for today.

My second?! Keep it fun!! Third tip?! Get a map!

Look at how we combined both with this animal map canvas from Photo Wall! How cute is this thing?!

Photo Wall is amazing for any Wall decor really. They make wall decals, framed prints, posters, and canvases. You choose the art, the size, the material, and can even customize it! These would be amazing in kids’ rooms and nurseries, or even as an awesome accent wall!

Its details like this that really make your learning space fun and keep kids engaged. We knew Brantley needed a map for a lot of his Social Studies work, and looking things up on the computer really wasn’t cutting it. This map not only shows what he needs, but keeps his interest with the animals and details. He’s taken such an interest now! I plan to add a few more maps like this now too! And of course, you can fit them to your space.

Human anatomy? Plants or leaves? Turn them into a fun canvas or poster to make the learning fun!

Tip 4 & 5- Have your supplies accessible, and keep them organized. Again, your space doesn’t need to be huge, but if you can find your supplies and access them easily, you will be more likely to do so. Hands on activities teach concepts so much better. Like using the scissors, ruler, markers, paints… engages and sinks in. It could even be a tote of supplies that comes out with the table cloth when learning time is happening!

I’m no pro yet, but I can tell you that I’m learning right along with the kids. You can do it, and even better with some simple tweaks!

And back to my gushing about this map canvas, because it really is my pride of decorating the classroom. πŸ˜‰ Here is my map link. And use code makemineeclectic25 on your purchase from Photo Wall too! Your walls will truly thank you, in a classroom or not!

What tips would you add for schooling at home?!

XX,

Jess

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Quick and Easy Halloween DIY

October 17, 2020 at 7:47 am (Projects, Seasonal Decor) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Happy Spooky Season!

Maybe its that we’ve been cooped up way too long and missed too many “normal” things, I don’t know, but we are going all out extra for Halloween this year. Our house, or yard, our decor, even our snacks, have all gone completely spooky. I’m loving it!

If Halloween time is your thing, or even if it’s not so much, but you want to show the kiddos just a little festive fun, then I have a super easy and cute DIY project for you!

Faux Ghost Macrame Wall Hanging!

Supplies: -stick

-yarn and ribbons in various colors and textures

That’s it! Super easy, but such a cute payoff.

I cut the branch from a tree in the yard, even a dowel would work. Mine is a bit over a foot long. I started with it longer and then cut it off as I worked to make sure I knew I liked it. Decide how long you want things to hang. Mine is all random lengths, but around 14-16 inches. When you cut your pieces of yard, double this. You will fold them in half. I eyeball all of this and er on the long side. You can trim them down later.

With the piece of yarn folded in half, lay it over the stick. Bring your looped end under the stick, then stick the ends back through the loop and pull tight. Viola! I glued the ribbon together in the back around the stick instead of this method so as not to crease it. I love the ball tassel ribbon to give texture too and tied these in a knot around the stick.

The ghosts. Also simple. Wrap white yarn around a book about 50 times. Cut the strings on each end of the book and keep them in a bunch. Fold the bunch over and tie a piece of yarn around it. I took black yarn through a small chunk of the white ghost head yarn on each side and tied this together in back and then tied the black to the stick.

There is no right or wrong with any of this! Keep it fun and super simple. You could glue eyes and mouth on the ghosts too if you want! You can add more or less pieces to the stick too.

Enjoy! πŸ˜‰

Xx,

Jess

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Deck Reveal

August 31, 2020 at 6:22 pm (Home Changes and Additions) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Its been a two year wait since moving into this house and several weeks of work this summer… but she’s finally done! We have a deck!!

Now mom has a spot to relax and watch the family magic happen! πŸ˜‰

Yes, its huge! The land directly behind the house used to be another house attached. This left the ground hilly, dead, full of bricks and glass, and in general, useless. So, cover it up we did. We filled in two giant cisterns and started a deck slab. Next year we will add a pergola to the blank spot of house where the table is now. We will put a pool in down below and then the following year add another piece of deck to half wrap around the pool. It will be the ultimate dream area when we are finished.

We do still want to add trellis to the bottom to keep everything out, but that will happen this fall.

One thing that was super important to us when adding the deck was having some shade, as we have very little from the one small existing tree.

My favorite umbrellas?! From Abba Patio! (You can use code La10 on your order with them too!) The 11 foot red stripe is gorgeous! And so easy to use. We custom installed it with brackets we made, but it can go on a table or a base as well. This keep it so much cooler in the shaded areas!!

Next I need to find some outdoor rugs to tie in the different areas. Suggestions?? I’m being so indecisive!

Also, looking for an outdoor sectional. Maybe a hot tub?! 😜

The table and chairs are from Menards. The wood lantern is from Walmart, along with the orange striped pillow and turquoise planters. The beach bag below is from Amazon.

The kids table is Step 2 and an awesome thing to have if you have littles. We use it all the time!

Tip- use a beach bag or tote like the one below to hold your deck or patio essentials. We take it in at night and bring out each day. Super helpful to keep things corralled while not getting ruined being left outside. We keep sunscreen, bug spray, santizer, sunglasses, beach towels, a speaker, and anything we want for the day inside. So handy!!

XX,

Jess

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Why I Love My Cricut

August 12, 2020 at 7:55 am (Mom Stuff, Projects, Scrap-booking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of <a href=”Cricuthttps://lnk2.io/wjcWg2L”>Cricut</a>. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have had my Cricut Explore Air 2 for a few months now, and to say I’m in love is an understatement! I’ve always been a crafter, but this things really helps me step up my game! Here I am going to talk about the 5 things that I love about my Cricut!

1. Its easy to use! I was truly shocked at how easy this machine is! Not going to lie, I was intimidated at first. I worried where to start and if I would be able to figure it all out. Yup. I was. Best place to start? Pick a project and jump in. They really mean it when they say their motto is “beginners luck every time.” I learn tricks and get braver each time I use my machine, but I definitely agree that picking a beginner level project and diving in head first is a great way to start and will prove to you how easy it is! Check out this shirt I made as one of my very first projects:

2. Support! That brings me to the second thing I love about my Cricut. Its like having a whole community of creators to support you. Have a question? Worried about where to begin or which type of project to do? They’ve got an answer! Not only does Cricut have a team you can email or chat with, but they have numerous pages where you can reach out to their pros or other crafters with tons of experience. They’ve all started somewhere and learned lots and are at the ready to make sure you love your machine and projects. I would know. I wasn’t sure how to customize the design I wanted to make myself for this bag, and the Facebook page group had almost immediate answers for me!

3. Ideas! This also leads me to another thing I love about Cricut, the ideas! I never worry about having a creative block. There’s no way. The ideas of projects to make are endless, for every single occasion you cak dream of. Really. You can find ideas galore on Pinterest, and Instagram, or Cricuts’s Facebook page. And my favorite place for inspiration? The Cricut emails! They send seasonal emails showing the new ideas and templates added to Design Space, their app for making. How did I know about the new infusible ink and coaster blanks to make these? One of their idea emails! Light bulb!

4. The options! Got a bright idea to make? You can! And Cricut can help you do it! The options they supply for you is endless. Or almost. Not only do they help with the ideas, but they make it easy to find all of the supplies you need to make visions come to fruition. They have coasters, bags, shirts, materials, pens, markers, vinyls, decals, iron ons, and the widest variety of patterns in their supplies you could imagine! Sparkles, holographics, leopard, wood grain…their possibilities are never ending! Not to mention, cricut has other machines like the EasyPress, and tools like mats, cutters, Nd weeders, to make all of the options come to life!

5. Capabilities! This machine not only cuts paper and vinyls. I was shocked to learn what all it really can do. Like blown away. It can cut leather, poster board, felt, fabric and even wood. But it doesn’t just cut, it can score. And it can draw! Yup! Shocked?! Me too. You can insert pens and markers into the blade holder and it can draw or write, making handmade cards, letters, signs… mind blown.

The capabilities combined with the Cricut options alone shows you that the possibilities are truly endless. I cannot wait to do another project every time I finish one! And now all of my gifts will be one of a kind made by yours truly!

Here’s a quick breakdown of my latest project, a sign for our kitchen.

Choose a board and a quote. My board is a faded, chipped, barn board from our barn. (I’m sure to some the white paint left on one corner and the odd shape caused by years of cattle wear are not pretty, but we loved this board! πŸ˜‰

Then, start on the Design Space app, and find my design template here. My board is 5ft long, but you can edit the design to adjust measurements. Once you send the design to the machine and it cuts it on vinyl, weed the excess pieces out. Use transfer tape to pick up your design and stick it down in place on your board. You could add flourishes to the ends of your quote too! You can change this design and even choose your own color vinyl. I used matte clear coat over the board to ensure no edges lift since I chose an old, rippled barn board for my project. Add a hanger or two on the back and hang. Easy peasy and a great one-of-a-kind, beginner-friendly project!

Have questions? Need help or ideas? Just ask! 😘

XX,

Jess

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Muscatine Iowa Area Sightseeing

July 13, 2020 at 8:12 pm (travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Summer is here! We’ve been quarantined long enough, so we are off to see all the sights, but distantly! So, we thought we would round up some of the things to do and see outside and at a distance, here in Muscatine area, Iowa. Enjoy!

1. Wilcat Den and Saw Mill- this is one of my family’s favorites in the area. Its historic and beautiful and there is plenty to do here! You can camp or stop for the day, hike the many trails, and explore the historic buildings. There is a school and an old church and even a mill. The old bridge over the stream at the mill is a gorgeous sight to behold. PLUS… you can swim in the stream and go up to the waterfall! Its an amazing experience and the whole family loves doing it!

2. Weed Park- one of the best parks I’ve found, anywhere. Picnic areas, pavilions, historical plaques and sights, gorgeous views of the Mississippi, beautiful landscaping, and a pond with ducks, geese, and fishing for kids. Plus, they have two playgrounds that are awesome. And once back to normal they have a waterpark. Totally worth a visit for everyone in the family.

3. Discovery Park- during normal times, they have an indoor center to see interactive wildlife features and even take classes. Currently, you can still see all they have to offer outside. There are numerous trails to walk, most paved, through gorgeous views, wildflower patches and even see wild animals. They have a butterfly garden and owls outside to view too. They also have a pond where you can fish!

4. Muscatine River Front- plenty to do down here, even distantly! You may not be visiting the pearl button factory museum right now, and even the splash pad is not turned on yet, but it’s still a beautiful, relaxing, and even entertaining area of Muscatine. You can walk the gorgeous river front, even stopping to read the plaques about the city history. You can play at the play ground. You can even take photos with the clam digger statue. And there are a few downtown restaurants up the block that offer outside dining!

5. Swinging Bridge- you have to drive about 15 minutes out of town for this one, but worth the drive. The Swinging Bridge in Columbus Junction is a sight to not miss. We visit each year for the views and a photo. Read about the bridge’s history, walk across if you dare, snap some photos, and even hike the lower trails. You will love this one!!

While you are out in the Columbus Junction area, you can see the historical marker for Convict Highway! πŸ˜‰ Just a super old road, but you can read about how the convicts of the time built it!

Muscatine also offers several parks with awesome playgrounds, a skate park, and a disk golf course. Plus plenty of sites indoors once that is safe again!

We also love to camp and boat. I can recommend places for that too! Enjoy! πŸ˜‰

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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Frame Hanger Project

April 15, 2020 at 12:09 pm (Projects) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I love old picture frames. All kinds. I’ve got a hallway of empty ones upstairs. Sometimes I fill them. Sometimes I paint them. And sometimes I do something fun with them…

This frame I once painted black with a silver line. Years ago. I was over it. (Ignore the ugly paneling in the upstairs hall we hope to rip out soon)

I wanted something lighter and brighter for my office. And I needed a place to hang some of my beautiful Parabo Press photos. (If you haven’t ordered from them, you must. They are gorgeous)

So first I lightly sanded the frame. Then I painted it white. I used wall paint for this project because it’s what I had. And its quarantine. And this step wasn’t super important for this project. It took 2-3 coats, but doesn’t need to be perfect.

Then I sanded with a foam sanding block. I scraped the edges and roughed up the centers. Go slowly and start lightly. Keep going until you love it.

Then, because I wanted just a little something more for this one, I used a small brush and “dry brushed” on some charcoal gray paint. This means I dipped a tiny amount on the brush and then swiped most of it off onto a paper plate. When the brush is almost dry, wipe it on the frame. It will give you just a tiny bit of paint and give a smudge-y look. I used a paper towel to rub this in as I added it too. It came out nice and weathered.

Then to add some wire. You could use twine or ribbon, or whatever you have. I had some picture hanging wire from a hanging kit. I cut it slightly longer than the width of the frame, maybe a half inch extra on each side. Then I pulled it tight across the frame and used a staple fun to staple it in place. I twisted the extra ends into a little ball to help keep it in place.

You can get tiny clothes pins on Amazon.

And viola!

I’ve also done this before with chicken wire…

What do you think?

Doing any quarantine projects?!

XX,

Jess

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