Tuesday, April 29, 2014

summer toddler routine + free printables


The last day of school is a month away!
The Free household is very excited about this.

As the school year is wrapping up, and having an energetic 2 year old, I've begun thinking of fun plans for our family this summer.

One important thing, though I'm admittedly not the best at it, is keeping a routine.
Here is what we are striving for:

We have zoo passes, which we want to utilize.

Our PTA is also selling movie passes for our local theater for kid movies each week.
It comes out to $1 per person per movie.
We haven't taken Levi to the theater before, but I am wayyyy excited to try this.
He loves movies and I think he will just love the big screen.
Plus it'll be theater full of kids, which will help mama not worry about a wiggly toddler.

We also have great public libraries with a summer reading program where they can earn free books.
One of the local libraries has a children's area AND a coffee shop.
We've planned to make that a regular stop this summer with some friends.

Kansas City has great activities for kids.
I've kept Friday as time for special outings. 
(Saturday can be this as well)

This could be going to a local park, swimming at Grandma and Grandpa's pool or something from our "Summer Special Activities" list

I am so excited to spend some fun family time.
I am the type though that has to be careful not to try and do it all.
I love being out and about, but know Levi needs down time at home as well.

Here are some free printables you can customize for your own summer plans!
You can print them and write them in, or right-click and save and then edit it in picmonkey and add your text and print off!

Mamas and Kansas City peeps, any things you add or any tips for a memorable summer?
Please share!

Friday, April 25, 2014

When God has placed you in the "not so nice" part of town

Our family lives in small, humble home.
It boasts about 1400 sq. feet (including our finished basement)
It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a 1 car garage.
It is shaped like a shoebox.

And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." Luke 12:15

In comparison to many of our family and friends, we live in a very "reduced" state.
(What do they expect...we are both teachers! And I teach part time!)
Not only is our home on the humble side....so is our town.
Our town is not very desirable.
In fact, most people would love to avoid it all together.

There is crime.
There are rougher schools.
Some do not take care of their home and yard.
(For example, our neighbors asked if they could have a piece of plywood. We happily gave it to them, in which they took it and propped it up against their house with an old couch to "finish off" their "fence")

But you know what?
This is where God has placed us.

Our home really fell into our laps.
It was my grandparents and when they needed assisted living, we were getting married and it worked perfectly.
It was affordable and just what we needed.
And God knew that.

We have worked to make our little home work for us.
Like adding a family room and 2nd bathroom.
We've tried to make it a little haven for our family and guests.
A place to serve others.

 God has placed us here for a reason.
Our neighbors need the gospel.
They need to be loved.
They need to be cared for.
Living in a more "affluent" area does not save us from anything.
Yes, the yards and homes may be more beautiful, but the people are just as broken.
It just may not be as visible.

So friend, if you are living in a less-than-desired area, but encouraged.
God has you there for a reason.

 Whether it is a financially wise decision for your family, or a mission-field ready for harvest, where He is going to use you or your family.
Take comfort in knowing He has placed you there.
You are on a mission everywhere you go, and your neighborhood is a mission field you encounter daily.

And on the days where I find myself perusing the real estate ads and drooling over master bathrooms and kitchens that can fit more than one person, I remind myself that I am exactly where I am meant to be for this season.

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," Hebrews 13:5

It's not to say we won't move.
God can use us wherever He needs.
But don't let jealousy and discontentment steal the joy and purpose of being exactly where you are in the here and now.

"Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all people." 1 Chronicles 16:24

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

keep em busy basket

I am loving toddlerhood, but it is kicking my butt.

I'm grateful to sleep through the night, but once we are up, it is full on energy. Everywhere I turn there is a new mess to clean up, Levi is climbing somewhere he shouldn't and I'm attempting to get regular clothes on or heaven forbid, take a shower.
One particularly stressful time of day is dinner prep time. Levi usually wants to help, which is awesome, but sometimes our tiny kitchen just doesn't accommodate. There are nights I simply need to get in there and whip dinner out ASAP. Any mamas relate?

Anyways, I decided to make a basket of special activities just for during that time. Here's what's currently in our basket:

We have color wonder paper & markers (can I get an AMEN on how awesome these are?! Levi's been experimenting in "graffiti" and with these there isn't a problem!)
Also stickers & a dishwasher basket hat we use to stuff Pom poms into for fine motor practice.
The basket is placed in our dining room next to his high chair so he can easily grab it.
I plan to rotate different items regularly to keep things interesting and keep his attention. This idea is also great for other hectic times, like attempting to get ready in the morning or if you are tending to another child. 
Ok mamas, what other awesome ideas do you have to keep little ones occupied when your attention is needed elsewhere?

Monday, April 21, 2014

diy sunburn relief spray {using essential oils}

So this past weekend was GORGEOUS in Kansas City.
And luckily there were lots of wonderful events to do outside.
However, this usually means one thing for a redhead like me.

We went to a Kite Festival, where hundreds of kites were flying.
It was so much fun and beautiful weather.
I loved being barefoot in the grass, flying a kite. 
Can't get much better than that.

I put on sunscreen like crazy.
I missed a spot.
On the back of my left arm.

And boy did it get red.

So this weekend I applied my usual aloe vera to it, but then decided to experiment with some other ingredients and came up with this wonderful Sunburn Relief Spray.
It's fantastic!
It soothes, heals and cools!

It has 4 ingredients:
aloe vera
Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker.
witch hazel
Healing damaged skin is one of witch hazel's specialties. But as sunburn is also a type of skin inflammation, witch hazel is ideal for treating this too (despite swelling not being obvious). Treating sunburn with witch hazel will lessen healing time and prevent the infamous skin peeling and flaking.
lavender oil
Did you know that Lavender has tissue regeneration and healing properties that quickly relieve sunburn? Yes, lavender also reduces scarring and minimizes pain associated with sunburn!
peppermint oil
Peppermint oil has incredibly cooling properties to it. When the heat of a fresh sunburn is bothering you, the peppermint oil will help cool the skin down and bring relief.

This concoction worked wonderfully for me. It helped me sleep with minimal stinging and heat. The next morning it was noticably lighter in color and not nearly as painful.

And it was fantastic because I already had all these ingredients at home! I now leave it in our medicine cabinet ready in case of another burn.

Let me know if you try it or have another sunburn relief to share!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

75 Toddler Easter Basket Ideas

My most popular post thus far has been last year's 50 Toddler Easter Basket Ideas.
So this year, I obviously had to up it!

Here are some ideas:

* Stuffed Bunny or Chick
* Easter- themed books (see list below)
* Bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible is highly recommended)
* Chocolate Bunny
*Preschool Devotional
* Toddler Snacks (gold fish, fruit snacks, puffs, etc.)

Summer Fun
* Swimsuit
* Sunglasses
* Beach towel
* Water wings
* Pool toy
* Sand bucket and shovel
*Inflatable swimming pool
* Sidewalk chalk
* Kite
* Water/ Sand Table
* Lawn chair
* Tent
*Gardening Supplies

*CD's (Hidden in my Heart lullabies, Songs for Saplings, etc.)
*Games for Tablet (leap pad, innotab, etc.)
* Misc. board books
* Educational DVDs

* Color Wonder marker set
*Coloring book
*Do a Dot Markers
*Art kits
* Crayons
* "My First Paint Set"
* Construction Paper
* Stickers
* Apron
*Play dough
*Play dough stamps 

* Sippy Cups
*Disposable dining mats
* Bibs
* PJs
* Summer clothes
* Shoes
* Easter outfit
* Shampoo/Lotion
* Girl accessories (hair bows, etc.)

*Mega Bloks
* Bath toys
* Small instruments
* Little People
* Play food
* Mr. Potato Head
* Small cars
* Slinky
* Stuffed animal
* Doll

* Tickets to the Zoo
* Membership to Gymboree
* Tickets to local children's museum
*Tickets to baseball game

"What is Easter?"
"The Berenstein Bears and the Easter Story"
"Pat the Bunny"
"The Pout Pout Fish"

*Disney (Frozen, Toys Story, etc.)
* Favorite TV show on DVD (Thomas, Sesame Street, Etc.)
*Veggie Tales


Thursday, April 10, 2014

motherhood: a reflection on the first two years

Life has been busy.
And this blog has been neglected. 
Sorry friends.

I thought, now that I've been a mama for a whopping two years, I'd give a check in on how things are going!

Levi is 2!
He is running, climbing, jumping, skateboarding, and tricycling
He has a HUGE vocabulary and is now putting together sentences
He can identify shapes, colors, some letters and can count
He is now in a big boy bed (sniff sniff)
He is now in the 30% for height and 24% for weight!!!! This is HUGE for us!!!!

Levi is the typical toddler. He'd rather play than eat.
He's not overly picky, which is fabulous.
He would love to have a diet consisting of chocolate milk, cookies and candy though (don't we all?!)

cloth diapering
2 years and still going!
We did have to switch to disposies overnight. The wet cloth on his skin for an extended time was causing rashes. Switching to overnight disposables cleared it up. 
Hoping to start potty training this summer when mommy and daddy are home!

I've still been blessed to teach part-time in the afternoons. I've loved our leisurely mornings together. This is when we do preschool time, play outside, prep for dinner or just watch a movie : )

what we love
being outside (I think we are going to basically live outside til October)
movies (this kid LOVES movies)
stuffed animals (he loves to play with them, make them walk, feed them, etc.)
toys (duh...what toddler doesn't love toys!)

random thoughts
so....infancy is exhausting. The whole living life in 3 hour chunks is brutal.
Now that we are in toddlerhood, we sleep through the night (hallelujah!), but it is a whole different kind of exhausting.
My house is never picked up. Not that I don't try. Just as soon as everything is in it's place, Levi dumps his bowl full of cheerios on the floor and jumps on them. Then pulls out every sippy cup we own. Then takes all the towels out of the cabinet. You get the picture.

I love seeing his little personality emerge. I love talking with him and starting to see what goes on in that little noggin of his.

I love seeing him interact with others. Playing with his friends. Telling his family he loves them. Love it.

Motherhood requires a sense of humor. Otherwise you'll go insane.

Find Mommy friends. Luckily, my best friend has a son a few months younger than Levi. Together we can vent, laugh, cry and "get" each other. This motherhood stuff is tough but SO amazing.