Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Princess Play Dough Kit

I love making new sensory kits.  It's the best thing ever.  EVER.

I rotate new ones about 3-4 times a year - somewhat seasonally, but really, whenever I have the time and creative space.  Though the themes thus far have been fairly gender neutral, I decided to make a really girly Princess kit for Charlotte and a Star Wars kit for Will this winter.  

Because, come on, winter is hard with toddlers.  And the more options we have for inside play, the better.

Most of my kits are inspired heavily by Pinterest and especially the Mama Papa Bubba blog - this one is no different!  One piece of advice here, though...  Let Pinterest and blogs inspire, but then shop your house, and use what you already have on hand.  From there, fill in gaps with approachability.  

For me, this meant not making my own sparkle dough - especially when it was so cheap on Prime and the holidays were busy.  This also meant making use of some princess "littles" my mom had given me a few years ago, and some used jewels my sister was getting rid of.

I have been including some sort of pipe cleaner in just about every kit for a while - I've been amazed at what toddlers can do with them!  They're especially fun to stick in play dough to make antennas, trees, arms and lots of other creative things.  I have no idea what they will use these sparkle pipe cleaners for, but I'm sure they'll be put to good use.  

I also throw in large popsicle sticks in the majority of our kits because my kids like to use them as cutters or knives and for prying play dough out of the containers.  The rolling pins came in an old Melissa + Doug kit that has more than paid for itself over the last couple of years.

Again, I purchased pre-made dough for this kit, but Mama Papa Bubba blog has some great recipes and ideas for making your own!  There'd really be no need for this many colors, either.  Two or three usually keep our kiddos busy!

I hope Charlotte squeezes hours and hours out of this sparkly little kit this winter.  I'd love to hear from you!  What fun ideas are you using for inside play this season?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

52 Lists - Life Soundtrack, Currently

The next page in my 52 Lists book asked me to list the "Soundtrack of My Life" right now.  Apparently this book does not know me very well.  Though I am a worship leader, and I do consider myself to be a pretty musical person, I am also a very highly sensitive (introverted, feeling all the feels, and hel-LO, I am overwhelmed again) person, and I LOVE the quiet.  With two toddlers, silence is a very special treat I rarely taint with music playing the background.

So, Dear Book, I do not have a soundtrack.  

Hi, my name is Liza, and I am a LAME-O.  Hiiiii, Liiiiza....

I will, however, list noises (including some songs) that fill my life now...  Because, I think, someday, I will want to remember some of the details of this sweet season of my life as a mama.  Someday, I will probably miss these sounds and wish I could play them on Pandora.
  1. It's late, and the kids are sleeping, so I hear white noise machines playing from both their rooms.  Back when they were newborns, all the seasoned moms told me to vacuum while they slept.  "Leave the TV on!  Bang those pots and pans!  They'll learn to sleep through it!"  Well, gals, I tried.  I really did.  And, sure, they slept all of 12 minutes before jolting awake, but I'm the kind of mama that loves HER sleep, too, so I put on some clean yoga pants and drove myself to Wal-Mart, bought a ten dollar white noise machine, cranked it up to the highest setting and enjoyed a relaxing retreat while my babies slept for THREE HOURS.  Suffice it to say, I am all about the white noise, people.  Also, that sentence before the last one was a pretty run-on sentence.  Sorry, Ms. Wilson.
  2. I also hear Mark's fan.  I call it "Mark's fan," like your mom would say, "Go talk to YOUR FATHER."  Like, when she was kind of mad and did not want to be linked to HER HUSBAND and would rather identify him as YOUR FATHER.  I would rather not identify myself with that choice-word fan for several reasons.  He insists on having it on in our bedroom the entire night (that seems tiring to me).  He likes the ambient noise (I would prefer silence - please see above).  He likes the "air circulation" (I hate the extra sensation of something moving and breezing over my skin - please see above again).  Someday, I may miss some of the sounds on this list, but I betcha twelve million dollars I will not miss that fan.  MARK's fan.
  3. The Fray.  I thought I should list them here because even though I only listen to them about seven times a year, they are the only band (when I do have a rare moment of craving music) I actually want to listen to.  Gravelly and imperfect voices, lots of piano and drums...they are like the BEST vanilla ice cream.  Super predictable and super delicious - kind of like home.  I heart you, Fray.  I also heart vanilla ice cream.  #basicwhitegirl
  4. Whining.  OH, THE WHINING that can come from a two and three year old.  
  5. Little voices singing.  I am not much for babies, but I do love children when they become old enough to talk and especially sing.  I fell in love with both of my kids (ahem, again) when they started singing with me.  Will knows all the words to the hymn The Solid Rock and My God Is So Great!, and Charlotte sings a mean Bless the Lord and Happy Birthday.  
  6. Pride of the Dutchmen.  I spent an embarrassing amount of time tonight geeking out over Orange City's marching band's videos.  I just LOVED high school band and had always wished we'd be as good in our field shows and marching as we were in our concert band.  We were pretty darn good, people...  Anyway, I NEED to live vicariously through my children as they go to band camp and field competitions and Hollywood parades.  (Someone, send a therapist.)  Let it be known, we WILL move to Orange City by the time Will is old enough to be in band.
  7. Diffuser.  I finally bought a nice essential oil diffuser that makes very, very little noise.  But, on the rare occasions the house is extremely quiet...you'll hear a little puff, followed by the glorious scent of Thieves or Lavender + Lemon.
  8. All the Frozen songs.  Because, hello, I have a daughter.  We've watched it seventeen hundred times, but I still pause whatever I'm doing to sing "For The First Time in Forever" with Charlotte and "Love is an Open Door" with Will.  Whoever wrote Frozen, please write more Disney musicals.  And, while I'm at it, has anyone else noticed the sharp decline of main characters actually SINGING their own songs?  Dancing, even?  I am not a fan of this let's-play-a-cool-song-in-the-background-by-a-pop-star-while-main-characters-do-NOT-sing-or-dance thing.  There are less and less kids' movies that are true musicals, and I'm kind of upset about it.
  9. Giggling behind closed doors.  Will and Charlotte love to run off into a room, slam the door behind them, and play who-knows-what.  See here.  All I DO know is that I usually hear LOTS of cackling and hollering and giggling and usually find a HUGE mess to clean up.  They have so much fun, I can't bear to stop them.
  10. Indie Holiday Radio.  As we've established, I rarely listen to music, but the holidays are sort of an exception.  I stumbled upon this Pandora station and have pulled it out at least three whole times this season (which is, like, a LOT for me).  I hope you love it.

More 52 Lists posts here...


Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Cheapest Gift Everyone Could Actually Use

Christmas giving is hard, you guys.  Both Mark and I's families have started asking for wish lists from each person, which makes things much easier, but what to give all the other people?!  Teachers, neighbors, ministry supporters, bus drivers, small group friends, aunts, uncles and babysitters...  And, as the list gets longer, goodness gracious, the dollars start to add up!

Enter please, calendars...

I have been gifting calendars ever since the Lord bestowed the brilliant idea upon me in college.  Several years, I designed and printed my own versions.  Another handful of years, I purchased them directly.  Regardless, every single adult can use a calendar, and Christmas (the end of the year) is a great time to gift them.

If your budget allows, it's really fun to buy calendars that are already printed and packaged adorably.  Some even come with trendy stands!  

However, if you are like me, and have a more meager budget to work with, download a digital calendar design (Etsy has great options!) and print your own.  I have been able to gift calendars for less than a dollar.  (Gasp!)  

To really cut corners, choose a black and white version (b+w printing is at least one third the cost of color printing), and choose a YEARLY calendar.  In this way, you will print only one sheet per person, versus twelve - one for each month.  To spruce up the single, yearly calendar page, I like to print on high-quality card stock and include a cute magnet or clip for hanging on the fridge.  You could also try a clipboard from the dollar store!

Anyway, without further ado, here are several of my favorite calendar picks from Etsy.  Which ones are your favorites?!

YEARLY CALENDARS12 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

MONTHLY CALENDARS1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

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