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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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 250° 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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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! 😉

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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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! 😉

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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Best For Baby And The Environment

March 18, 2020 at 6:53 am (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Two kids in and we’ve tried them all. Diapers. A must have. But they also must work. And I’ve found the ones!

NEST BABY DIAPERS!

First of all, these work. They do their job. I know that every kiddo is different and different things work best for each, but these are universally amazing. They have a slightly bigger fit, which seems helpful in preventing leaks! Daytime, and even all night, we have yet to experience a leak!

Next, they are easy on sensitive skin. Second babe gets rashy easily and diapers usually seem to add moisture and make this worse. Not these. Nest’s diapers are hypoallergenic, with skin-safe materials throughout. They are free of harmful chemicals and known allergens. Soft, super absorbent, and easy on all skin types.

Third, I want to use a brand that is more eco friendly. Nest’s diapers are made of all plant based materials- wood, bamboo cane, and are completely compostable.

Lastly, I don’t want to break the bank for something that ultimately is a toilet. These diapers are competitively priced! And that combined with how well they work and their benefits makes them the ultimate win!

Eco-friendly, sustainable materials, soft, absorbent, gentle on sensitive skin, affordable and mailed right to you…what else could you want in a diaper?!

Find them in select Meijer stores now. Or here on Amazon too!

XX,

Jess

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Must Have Baby Items You Didn’t Know You Needed

February 24, 2020 at 7:55 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

So many options when it comes to baby items now days! Its confusing and overwhelming. And some of those things you just plain don’t need to waste your money on. Here’s a list of things that you probably didn’t know you needed, but that I’ve found to be so helpful! Honestly!

Travel Plate- This has been one of the most handy inventions I’ve used with both the boys! Since it’s got it’s own case, I just fold up the dirty mat when we are out and put it back in the case to clean when we get home. So simple!

Travel Spoon– Handy when they are using purees and soft baby food still. You can fill this guy with food and there’s so much less mess! It’s even got a cover for the end.

Rubber Changing Pad– This one by Ubbi is so handy. Easy to wipe, roll, fold, it makes diapering on the go so much easier.

Roll-up Changing Clutch– I adore my diaper bag, but sometimes I don’t want to haul the whole thing if I’m just running in somewhere. This clutch can fit in my purse and get even smaller if I unzip the pad portion. Just the necessities for quick jonts!

Dream Egg Sound Machine– This is the most portable sound machine I’ve seen. Lots of noise and volume options, plus its wireless. Charge it and go. It can even be used in the car or stroller, etc. So handy for anyone, not just babies!

Baby Nest- There are lots of options out there, but we love ours from Doreen’s Bibs and Bobs. It’s cute, handy, and portable. We still use ours at almost age 2 and take it on trips too! It seems to keep kiddo nice and cozy.

Convertible High Chair– Seriously, if you going to use a high chair, make sure it’s convertible. I had an older Graco version for the oldest and this new model does so much more and therefore is so much more handy. It can be attached to a chair as a booster, the back can be removed for more space, the base itself can be a stool seat for older kids. It really has all the features we need, including folding up and the tray hangs on the back!

Tush Baby- One of the things I found with kiddo #2 is the Tush Baby and I love it! He always wants to be carried, but also get down and look. I’m sure you can all relate! This thing saves my hips and makes it easy to carry forward or backward, front or hip, and he can go up and down to his heart’s desire. So handy!

A Great Looking Diaper Bag- Ok, it’s not a necessity, but it sure does make momming a lot more fun. I’ve had many, loved several, but this Lily Jade bag takes the cake. Its gorgeous. Plus it can be a backpack, or the straps stow away to be a should or cross-body bag. It’s so spacious without being too big or heavy to carry too. I carry everything but the kitchen sink I’m here with me. Its officially my purse/ diaper bag. I just call that the mom bag. ❤

Hope these ideas help you too! Anything else you would add?

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! 😉

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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Again For Mom ;)

November 26, 2019 at 9:33 am (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I had to share Eshakti one more time. I couldn’t help it. They are just that awesome!

I was on the hunt for the perfect fall into winter dress… and knew just where to look. Eshakti! Plus, I’m on a major leopard kick right now! 🤣

Again I was able to fully customize this dress. The sleeve length, the hem length, the neck line, and even my size measurements. And again it fits perfectly and looks just like I had envisioned.

This one happens to be a crepe material, is double lined, has modesty buttons so that you can open up some in the neck or bottom, and has pockets too! Love!

I wore this out for my birthday dinner the other night and had so many compliments. I just can’t help but to keep telling everyone, its Eshakti, check them out!

Don’t forget that you can use code JESSI10 on their gorgeous dresses and clothes too!

XX,

Jess

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Coolest New Gadget

November 4, 2019 at 6:40 am (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have a new gadget. I’m in love. Meet Lollipop baby camera.

This thing is so cool. We have always loved our baby monitor and it did a great job for years. But the battery is dying and we knew we needed something updated. Six years is quite a long time to use and abuse an electronic. We had heard awesome things about the Lollipop baby camera and really wanted to try it. So glad we got the chance!

First of all, how cute is this design?! I love the modern, simple look. They come in this blue, a pink, a yellow, and now they have a new gray cover option too.

The lollipop itself is bendable and can be posed or twisted to suit your needs and space. You can wrap it around the crib rail or twist it to perch on a shelf. It also came with a little branch to attach to the wall to wrap it around and an attachment that holds the end wrapped around a crib rail. This is what we have used here.

So not only is this guy cute and fun, but he’s also so versatile! This actually makes traveling with this monitor much easier than with our old one. We can simply twist and place in a new location, no charging station or monitor screen to bring… because of the other perk… it shows to an app on your phone!

Yes, that’s Barrett all curled up in the corner. 🤣 Silly goose. But I can see him, hear him, and monitor everything, right from my phone.

And since you use wifi… you can even access the picture when you are away from home! What?! I can check in on the kiddos even when we have a sitter!

It also alerts you of room environment factors like temperature, and if the baby is crying. You can zoom in. And you can record snapshots or video clips of what is going on.

I’m in love. It’s been a huge help for us! Check them out on IG!

Xx, Jess

(I was gifted this Lollipop baby camera to try and review, however, all opinions are my own!)

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Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

October 22, 2019 at 5:27 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you know me at all, you know I’m no cook. It’s never been something I enjoy to do, so I have never gotten much better than “able to keep my kids alive” level. 🤣

But, I have a few recipes up my sleeve that make it seem like I know what I’m doing just a little. This is a family favorite. So easy, probably 10 minute prep time, inexpensive, and both adults and kids love it. It makes enough for the 5 of us for dinner plus leftovers. Leftovers are almost even better with this dish! 😉

Ingredients

2 c shredded chicken

1 box spaghetti

2 can cream of chicken soup

1 can original Rotel

1 8oz package sour cream

Large sprinkling of shredded cheese

Tips: use a broasted chicken from the store. Easiest to shred when its warm. Shred then refrigerate if making tomorrow. Shred an overly full 2 cups. There will be just enough left for a couple of legs for kids lunch or to put on a salad, etc.

Instructions: Boil the entire package of spaghetti. Mix with all other ingredients except cheese in a 9×13 casserole pan. Cover in foil. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and add a full sprinkling of your favorite shredded cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Viola!

One more tip, a sprinkling of crumbled potato chips tops it excellently. Especially day 2 leftovers! Yumm!

Xx,

Jess

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