Mt. Rushmore Area Trip

July 21, 2021 at 6:41 am (travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

We did it! Iowa to Minnesota, to South Dakota to Wyoming and back again! In a car. With little kids. Do it again? Definitely!

But there’s so much to do and so little time. So here are just a few of the things that we thought were must sees and a couple skips.

Mt. Rushmore. Obvious. But it’s impressive even to all ages. Inexpensive, only $10 for parking and free entry. It was busy, but not overly packed. Of course, we had to hit up the gift shop for something to commemorate the trip. You can do a tour and spend, more time, but it isn’t necessary for the full experience, and overall this stop won’t take a ton of time.

When near Mt. Rushmore, you should totally stop to see Crazy Horse monument. Do I think it’s worth going all the way in? Not yet. It’s still under construction, and amazing as the start is and really amazing as it will be when it’s done, I don’t think $30 for the car to get in is worth it just yet. We pulled over at the sign in a little lot and took pictures. I recommend that!

If you are in this area, driving through Black Hills National Park and Badlands National Park are must dos. There are plenty of pull over and look out spots. And the views are GORGEOUS.

If you’ve made it out to the Badlands, stop at Wall Drug. Yes it’s a lot of hype. And busy. But a very cool see if you need a drink, a bathroom and a leg stretch. You could spend all day here. But you don’t have to. We did an hour or two and picked which bits to see here.

If you make it a little further out to Rapids City, SD, see Bear Country USA. We didn’t stop this time, but would have if time allowed (we did years ago). Totally worth it. Especially with kids in tow. It’s so amusing to see bears up close!

Sturgis is also a fun stop. More for the adults, but still things to see for all ages. Great to say you’ve been there even when the rally isn’t going on. Great food. Not a must do of you aren’t into this type of thing.

If you are at Mt. Rushmore and want to venture just a couple of hours west, a stop at Devil’s Tower, WY is a must do! It was STUNNING in this area! We walked the whole path around it and kids and adult alike were in awe.

This whole area of WY is stunning really, especially to see if you are not local. The red dirt and mountainous terrain are very neat to see. We stayed in Hulett, right next door to the tower and this town was definitely unique if you’re looking for a place to stop. There is an antique store there with unique Native American artifacts. The Best Western in town is very rustic and nice, with a pool. And the local cafe was delicious.

If you have headed out to WY from Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood is on the way. I recommend stopping here if you’re on adults trip. The gambling and drinks life there looked very fun. It’s not a horrible spot to stop with kids, but not a must do. The Broke Boot gold panning mine sounded super cool with kids. However, their website did not say we had to book in advance and since we did not, we were SOL. We also planned to see a shoot out there with the boys. They only do the shows on Saturdays and Sundays and we were there on a Friday. My fault, as this is on their website.

Also on the way out if heading west is Spearfish Canyon. Definitely drive the scenic byway here. Stop for some photos and explore. It’s just amazingly gorgeous out here. We did hear that there are mountain lions when off the paths, but we did not see any. This you don’t want to miss.

If your path take you East to Souix Falls, SD on the way in or out, we loved the Ramada there. They have a little water park. Kid win!

Another stop we had mid-South Dakota was Mitchell. We stayed here on our way out. This is home of the Corn Palace. It’s neat. The kids were impressed. Fun dining in town. It’s not a must see, but makes for a good place to stop if you need to!

Hitting Minnesota on the way? The town of Blue Earth is home of the real Jolly Green Giant. Great place to stretch! The even have a little sound park!

Hope this helps a little bit! If you are the get out and explore or hike type of fam, bring a fee baggies and a permanent marker for any treasures the kiddos find!

XX,

Jess

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Trip Must Haves

July 8, 2021 at 6:32 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

We road trip and day trip a lot this time of year! So, I’ve put together a few things that are super helpful when we travel. These are good for kids of all ages!

I pack food. Duh. More importantly, I pack fun food that we don’t normally have. It makes great entertainment and fun, and even works when you need a little bribe. So helpful on a trip. Pre-packaged stuff is handy too!

I pack mess free coloring. So simple, but so handy. And I don’t have to worry about clothes and car being destroyed or crayons melting. They make some awesome mess free goodies now, all are clear to begin and make color on the special pages. Viola!

Pack a bag within a bag. I take a fold up beach bag like this one. We stop to put our feet in the water at the beach? We can throw things we might need in here instead of taking a bigger, bulkier bag out. Anything sandy can be contained here too!

I pack a wet bag! Same idea, but wet suits or shoes won’t make a mess when contained in here!

I pack a few new or not-used-in-a-while toys. Dollar Tree is great for finding inexpensive and fun surprises to pack. This popper toy has been a road trip favorite this year (from Target).

I pack Tubby Todd Baby Fresh Spray. Mom of boys here. They can get real sweaty and stinky. What if we want to stop for dinner? Spray ’em down. Fresh boys! πŸ˜‰ (you can use this link for 10% off too!)

I pack a portable fan. I’ve got one that clips to the stroller and this one that mists too in the diaper bag. Easy entertainment and so refreshing when we all need it!

I pack this multi travel bottle.

It holds 4 bottles inside. Perfect for sanitizer, soap, lotion, etc, but keeps them small and contained.

I pack our weighted blankets. Our favorites are from Moxie. These make car naps so easy and enjoyable. Aah, some peace and quiet! (You can also use code Jess15 for 15% off here!)

Hope these are helpful! Happy road tripping!

Also, if you want my bigger list of toddler travel must haves, see the post here!

XX,

Jess

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Toddler Packing

April 13, 2021 at 9:44 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’ve posted before about baby must haves and essentials, and talked about diaper bag supplies for babies, but what about when babies become toddlers?! Little different, right?!

No worries, I’ve rounded up everything I pack for a trip out with my toddler. All very handy!

Don’t worry, I’m an over packer, you can pick what you think would be helpful from the list. πŸ˜‰

First, diapers, wipes, changing pad and extra change of clothes. Even if you toddler is potty training or has learned, these are super handy for emergencies. Believe me, I know. Also, a folding potty seat. Game changer. (This changing pad is so nice, and super wipeable/cleanable! )

Feeding supplies. Always snacks and water. I bring an extra bottle to refill our cups too (and use code Jessimarie15 on Swig bottles and mugs! πŸ™Œ) Having a bib, even if grown out of them at home, is super handy for keeping nice clothes tidy. I stash a fold up plate and silverware too, for when the eating situation is less than toddler friendly.

Also, these cups from Elk and Friends have solid lids that make packing snacks super easy too! πŸ‘Œ

This is where face wipes and wash clothes come in handy. And kid friendly sanitizer.

I always have safe sunscreen and bug spray. Plus Fight Bite is amazing for taking away bug bite and poison ivy itch!!

Bandaids and medicine are a must! These metal kits from Welly come loaded and are so handy. I buy the bandaid kit and med kit and swap half and half to put in places like the diaper bag, car, camper, etc. Their meds include stomach soother, fever relief, and allergy relief. And are rated for ages 2 and over. So handy!!

I like to pack a pouch of toys that the kids rarely see so that they are interesting. And soft headphones. So handy when they need to swipe my phone for entertainment.

A clip on fan for the stroller is helpful too!

And our Tubby Todd Dream Cream goes everywhere with us. Great for dry skin, rashes, etc and works for the whole fam. (This link saves you 10% automatically! πŸ˜‰)

I also always add a mini CleanSmart spray. This guy disinfects surfaces with just a spray and is safe for the kiddos! CleanSmart and sanitizer both go in an easily accessible side pocket, not a pouch, for quick grabbing.

Our Lily Jade diaper bags are our favorite and their packing cases make great spots for all the things we need. I like to pack them by category. I even use one pouch for “mom stuff.” Think lip gloss, lotion, Tylenol, etc.

I also always add some Bumkins pouches. Handy to pack snacks or to stash things on the go. We’ve even filled one with shells and treasures on an adventure before. 🀣

Anything I’m forgetting? Always forgetting something. Hope this helps! πŸ˜‰

Jess

XX

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Guest/Play Room Update

April 12, 2021 at 8:41 pm (Home Changes and Additions) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Added a new rug! Small update, but so gorgeous I had to share!

Rug is from Mark and Day, and I LOVE their selection and prices! Highly recommend! AND, you can use that link and save 10% 😍

Wall hangings, shelves and a couch coming soon…

Plus, a total gut of our mudroom in process to share soon! πŸ˜‰

Jess

XX

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New Way to Clean!

April 10, 2021 at 7:31 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Let’s face it, life’s messy. Kids, pets, busy lives… husbands. 🀣

I’ve found something that makes it very simpler to keep it all clean. CleanSmart. Period. Spray it on. Walk away. That simple. How?! This cleaner is made with natural Hypochlorus Acid and made with 100% natural ingredients. It dissolves to saline solution and leaves no chemical residue. And no fumes!

This cleaner can be used on anything, door knobs and appliances to countertops, highchairs, toys, and switches. It’s even safe for use on baby’s pacifier, and safe to spray around food and pets.

Plus, CleanSmart kills 99.9% of germs, including Coronavirus, cold, flu, strep, RSV, staph, MRSA, E. Coli, salmonella, and listeria, to name a few! The EPA has approved CleanSmart to kill a while list of germs!

I even throw the mini bottle in my diaper bag to spray down items as we go (think shopping cart handles!)

So what I’m saying is, get some! Seriously. CleanSmart will change your house cleaning game. How much more simple can it get than spraying and done?! I’m so pumped that not only is it easy, but effective and safe for my whole family and the Earth. πŸ˜‰

It’s now available on Amazon Prime too!!

Let me know what you think!

Jess,

XX

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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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The Best Chex Mix

November 15, 2020 at 8:53 am (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have it. The Best. Chex. Mix. Recipe.

I promise.

This recipe has been a family tradition since we were kids, and still is today for my kiddos. Its super easy and EVERYONE is a fan. We freeze a couple bags and it serves family, friends, guests, and gift recipients all season long. And is always welcomed.

I hope you all enjoy like we do!

1/2 c. Butter or Margarine
1 1/2 tsp. Seasoned Salt
4 1/2 tsp. Worchestershire Sauce
Sprinkle of Garlic Powder to taste
2 c. Corn Chex
2 c. Rice Chex
2 c. Wheat Chex
1 c. Cheerios
1 c. Pretzel Sticks
1 c. Mixed Nuts
1 c. Mix Cereal

Heat margarine at 250Β° in shallow roasting pan until melted. Remove and stir in seasoned salt and worchestershire sauce. Add cereal and nuts. Mix until all pieces are coated. Heat in oven 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes. Spread to cool.

Best part is, it doubles well! Make a double batch and use a large pan. Easy!

Let me know what you think!

Jess,

XX

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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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