Fall is probably the most beautiful season in Idaho, but I have to say that spring is a close second. One of my favorite things to do in the spring is go for a drive to one of the many local fruit orchards to see the flowers in bloom, so this past weekend we attended Cherry Hill Farm’s Blossom Tour. We were greeted with a goodie bag that contained dried cherries to snack on, and we were then instructed to turn our radio to a local station that gave a narrated tour as we drove through the orchard. The kids also had a scavenger hunt they could complete by spotting things throughout the tour. At the end of the tour we were able to park and walk around the orchard a bit and they also had a little stand where you could grab a souvenir or treat. It was such a fun and educational day with my boys.
Unfortunately we are headed into our second quarantine Easter which means that community egg hunts are out again this year. Fortunately my kids have always absolutely loved having our own egg hunt at home which we have done every year in addition to a community hunt. And surprisingly they in fact prefer our annual egg hunt that is just us over a huge, crowded egg hunt with hundreds of kids. Whether it is just your immediate family, or a small gathering with a safe bubble of friends and family, you can still have a memorable and fun egg hunt that your kids are sure to love.
Easter is just over a week away, and if you are still needing to fill your kids’ Easter baskets, today I wanted to share what each of my boys are getting this year. To help keep shopping simple, I tend to stick to a theme of activities that get the kids outdoors, some art projects, books, and pajamas.
One | Giant bubbles are always so fun for kids and a great way to get them outside
Two | This combines an art project with getting the kids outside and working in the garden
Three | Cole had a tie dye day at school one year ago that was an absolute blast for him. I was thinking this would be a really fun activity we can do outside on a warm day.
Four | It can be hard to find books that he really loves, and I recently bought Cole the first book in this series after hearing these books are hugely popular with tween boys. He absolutely loves it so he’ll be getting a few more books from the series.
Five | When we go for bike rides we often throw a frisbee in the bike cart so we can stop for some games in the park. They always seem to end up going missing, so I wanted to make sure he has one and this one seems to be a big step above your basic frisbee.
Six | I love the idea of having the kids paint these cute little wooden Easter figures which we can put on our Easter table for years to come
Eight | This fun glider comes in a two pack, so you could split them up for multiple kids
Nine | I always love giving my kids something to plant in our garden each year as one of their Easter basket gifts
Ten | Sunny days are upon us and you can never have too many sunglasses
Eleven | I shared some of my favorite spring pajamas for kids in a recent post, but for my tween boy I definitely have to find that balance of things that I think are cute and things he will actually like. He’s really into video games so I felt that these gamer pajamas in a cheerful color are a good compromise.
Twelve | A chocolate bunny is a must, and they always get one in their basket
Thirteen | Another pajama compromise. My kiddo is obsessed with Fortnite (fellow tween parents I’m sure you feel my pain!) and I like that these are a fun spring color and don’t scream “video game themed.”
Fourteen | Evan received a really cute kids gardening set last year for Easter (similar to this) so we really don’t need more gardening tools. However Cole did need some gardening gloves so I’m tossing a pair in his basket.
One | I got both kids a stepping stone so they can each decorate their own and put in our garden area
Two | Another gift I got for both kids so they can each make their own Easter decorations
This week is spring break (boy has this year flown by) and I’m in a bit of scramble mode coming up with some ideas for our spring break staycation. Most years we would go skiing in Sun Valley, but due to Covid and Evan’s ongoing recovery we will be staying home. I wanted to come up with a few ideas to keep the kids engaged for a bit each day so we don’t get sucked in to a week of endless screen time, and have put together a list of daily activities. If you are looking for ideas for your own spring break staycation, I hope you find this post helpful!
Feed The Birds
In this post I made a few months back, I shared this simple bird feeder activity to do with the kids. The birds have finished off what we made for them, so it’s time to make some new feeders and thought it would also be fun to perhaps assemble a little birdhouse too.
Take a Hike
A few years back we spent the majority of our spring break at home, and to keep the kids busy we did several nature walks and easy hikes. This hike pictured was taken on the Oregon Trail which is just down the street from us. Cole studied the Oregon Trail this year in school so he’s got a renewed interest in it, and we are going to take this hike again over spring break as we haven’t done it in a few years. It’s got lots of educational markers posted along the trail and it’s pretty neat & very educational! Even just a simple nature walk is always fun for kids, and you can make it more engaging by adding in a scavenger hunt.
It is way too cold here in Idaho for real camping right now, but why not set up a campsite indoors?! My kids get a kick out of this activity and it can be made to feel as realistic as possible with indoor s’mores, campfire stories, and sleeping in a sleeping bag under the “stars.” You can read more about this in a previous post here.
Cook Something Together
My kids always have fun getting in the kitchen so every so often I’ll try to get the kids involved with making something. This past summer we made homemade ice cream which was a ton of fun (you can see my post here), but the options are endless. You could have them make personal pizzas, teach them how to make one of their favorite meals, or even give them a cookbook they can browse and choose something they want to make.
Do An Art Project
A few years ago I found this super cool cardboard rocket ship that the kids got to decorate and then play with. You could literally let kids decorate some old boxes and make them into a fort which would be just as fun, but a kit like this makes for extra convenience. You could also have the kids paint rocks, garden stones, or get a head start on creating a gift for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
Photography is one of my favorite hobbies and I think it would be so fun to teach my kids a few of the basics and see the world through their eyes. Give them a camera for a day and see what they come up with!
A Day Of Giving
This past year has been a tough year for everyone. Many people have lost loved ones due to the pandemic. Many have lost their jobs and are struggling financially. Having spent the past year dealing with a child having a life threatening medical emergency and a difficult subsequent recovery…I know these times are not easy. Donating food to a local food bank, donating toys to a children’s hospital, or even just doing a random act of kindness is a wonderful way to make the world a little brighter and teach your kids about giving back.
I’m a sucker for cute pajamas for my kids and I especially love themed holiday and seasonal pajamas. My kids really love pajamas too which also makes them a great gift option (my kids pretty much always get a set of pjs as one of their holiday or birthday gifts). I’m looking to grab the kids each a set or two of pajamas for their Easter baskets, and today I wanted to round up some of the cutest options I’ve seen.
St Patrick’s Day is often seen as a party holiday for adults, but having grown up in a small Irish Catholic community, I’ve always seen St Patrick’s Day as a family holiday. Our community always had a huge celebration that included a parade, sheepdog trials, lots of traditional Irish food and dance, and of course fun activities for the kids. I have my own Irish ancestry as my grandmother descended from Irish immigrants, and I love sharing this holiday with my kids so they can learn a bit about their heritage as well. We’ve developed some traditions over the years in how we mark the day, and today I wanted to share my three favorite tips for making this a fun holiday for kids.
Wear Something Festive
It is tradition to wear green on St Patrick’s Day so you don’t get pinched, so have some fun with this and wear something festive. This year our family got matching Shamrock pajamas which are so fun!
Make A Leprechaun Trap
One of our favorite traditions is building a leprechaun trap. I go to the craft store and buy a ton of different items to use to decorate our trap and then let the kids get creative making a trap out of an old box. This one from a two years ago is one of my favorites that the kids ever came up with. They made a cute rope ladder and decorated the box with moss, rocks, shamrock stickers, and had a little pot of gold coins to lure their leprechaun. The kids always excitedly race downstairs St Patrick’s Day morning to check their trap to see if they’ve caught one, and while they haven’t succeeded, they do always find a clue left behind for a treasure hunt. Pinterest has tons of free printable options to make a St Patrick’s Day treasure hunt, and our treasure hunt always leads to a pot of gold chocolate coins and a few little trinkets (like tattoos, socks, stickers).
Cook Something Fun
My kids’ favorite St Patrick’s Day treat is green pancakes and milk, and I love making this for the kids for breakfast each year. Adding a cute activity placemat makes the meal feel a bit more special too. One year we made shamrock shaped sugar cookies and decorated them with edible gold sprinkles, and this year I think we will make Lucky Charms Bars (think Rice Krispie Treats but with Lucky Charms instead). Every St Patrick’s Day I make a traditional Cottage Pie for dinner, and I would love to have the kids help me make a traditional Irish Soda Bread this year too. Adding a few decorations and festive touches make the meal a little more fun too.
I hope this gives you some ideas for a fun St Patrick’s Day!
If you’ve followed me for awhile, then I’m sure you know about the tragedy our family faced last year. Back in March, my youngest son Evan suffered 4 massive strokes. Needless to say it was a year of complete devastation and heartbreak. Nothing can ever prepare you for the life shattering experience that is nearly losing a child, and then trying to gather yourself and face the years of uncertainty and challenges to come. Covid of course made an already difficult time about a million times worse, as we were really alone in trying to navigate this sudden new life with a very medically fragile child. We even reached a point where we were no longer able to attend some of Evan’s therapies in person due to the lax Covid policies of the hospital where we were attending outpatient sessions – which meant I was trying to manage Evan’s daily therapy sessions at home via telehealth. There were no therapy based schools open due to Covid, so I became his homeschool teacher too. And of course still trying to care for my other son, oversee his distance learning, and keep up on household responsibilities. Needless to say…I hit the wall of exhaustion by the end of the year. I knew it was time for some changes and I needed help because Evan’s recovery will take many, many years and I know I can’t continue to do it 100% on my own.
While my story is definitely extreme, I know a lot of moms can relate to the burnout of last year. Suddenly becoming a homeschool teacher and dealing with all the stress and uncertainty of a pandemic definitely made for a hard year for so many. I know that many others also suffered losses of loved ones from Covid (and other tragedies), and for anyone suffering…my heart goes out to you and you are not alone.
I am happy to report that I’m starting 2021 off with finally getting some much needed help which will be wonderful for Evan in his recovery, and also give me a bit of free time. A therapy based school that we had Evan on the list for was finally able to reopen, and he’s now going to school a few days a week. He has been so excited to make some new friends, and his first month of school has been going incredibly well. And with this bit of free time, I’m going to start working on making my own self care a priority. Brain injury recovery is a marathon and this is something we will be working hard on for many years. I know that in order to continue to care for Evan, as well as the rest of my family, I need to take care of myself first. I’ve been horrible about not doing the things I know I need to be doing the keep me fueled and in a good mental space. So this year I’m prioritizing my self care and I am going to make sure that I do the things I need to do for myself so that I have the ability to continue to care for everyone else. I’ve put together this self care checklist to remind myself daily to carve out time for these things, and hopefully it can help you too!
In addition to a daily reminder checklist, I’ve found that creating a self care “toolkit” is also really helpful for me and I have a number of products I use that help promote my personal self care. I put together this list of products to help you create your very own self care toolkit to help give you ideas for ways to practice your own self care.
One | Journaling is a really effective tool for dealing with stress, and I love that this journaling book contains a lot of prompts to help guide you
Two | I try to read this devotional every day. It’s a quick way to connect with God and make time for spirituality.
Three | Melatonin has been so helpful for me this past year in helping me overcome sleep difficulties
Four | I have and love this sleeping mask. I find that when I’m too tired to do my full skincare routine, a sleeping mask is the quickest way to give my skin a little extra pampering
Five | This sleeping mask contains melatonin and I’m really wanting to try it
Six | Starting your day off with an affirmation is a great way to put you in a positive mindset
Seven | Drinking enough water is a constant work in progress for me. This motivational water bottle that encourages you to keep drinking is sitting in my cart
Eight | Our entire family has weighted blankets, and they really do help with anxiety. When Evan was still in the PICU following his strokes, it greatly helped him in his recovery and there are so many studies showing how beneficial they are.
Nine | A cup of calming tea makes for a great bedtime ritual
Ten | Keeping one of these little stress balls with motivational quotes on it in your purse can help you get through any anxious thoughts that pop up throughout the day
Eleven | We’ve been loving using oils for Evan, and they really helped with calming him during his hospitalization. You could alternatively pick an energizing scent to help perk you up during the day as well.
Twelve | We love having our diffuser going so that the entire family can enjoy scented oils
Thirteen | I love using aromatherapy in the shower, and I especially love citrus scents for a bit of extra energy in the morning
Fourteen | I recently bought this pillowcase and absolutely love it! It’s been a game changer in helping reduce my breakouts and just feels lovely to sleep on too
Fifteen | Eye gels really help de-puff my eyes when I’ve had a poor night’s sleep or am just feeling some extra stress
Sixteen | I’m honestly not much of a bath person, but this “emotional detox” bath soak may just change my mind
Seventeen | This supplement is supposed help with stress management by normalizing cortisol levels and it has great reviews
Eighteen | There’s something about a pair of insanely cozy socks that always makes me feel better
Nineteen | I often get into a funk around this time of year due to lack of sunlight. This affordable sun lamp has rave reviews, and can really help those struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder
Twenty | I’m really intrigued by these finger acupuncture rings which are supposed to help alleviate tension
Twenty One | This sea wool sponge is a great way to give you a little extra pampering during your shower
Twenty Two | This highly reviewed CBD oil provides incredible hydrating and skin softening effects
Twenty Three | I absolutely love facial rolling and find it so incredibly relaxing and de-stressing
Twenty Four | This lavender filled acupressure pillow can help with neck and back pain, as well as headaches
Twenty Five | This weighted sleep mask can help with easing anxiety and promoting sleep
Twenty Six | A comfortable meditation cushion can help you get comfortable during mediation or prayer
A quick update about Evan’s progress in case you are wondering. When we arrived home from the hospital at the end of May, he could only say 4 words without prompting or help. He spoke in a whisper and was difficult to understand. He couldn’t feed himself. It was hard to know what he understood because he couldn’t really answer any questions and struggled following directions. He had zero mobility. His right arm was almost completely paralyzed. Now, nearly one year into his recovery, he is speaking in full sentences. He’s regaining new words every single day and he’s a total chatterbox talking all day long. His speech is very clear and about 95% of what he says is perfectly understandable. His therapy preschool teacher feels that he is absolutely on track to start Kindergarten this fall in a regular classroom with an IEP. He’s feeding himself independently. He’s walking independently in a gait training walker & walking short distances with minimal support (just holding my hands for balance). He is back to playing some of his favorite games like building legos and he navigates the iPad incredibly well (although he’s still slowly relearning how to play some of his favorite games like Minecraft). He has relearned his abcs, counts to 20, can spell and identify the letters of his name, knows the days of the week, and he’s starting to be able to trace simple lines. While his right hand is still significantly impaired, he’s gained a ton of movement in his arm. He has the sweetest, most loving spirit and is always giving compliments to everyone and wanting to brighten everyone’s day. While there’s no doubt we have still have a long ways to go, he continues to work incredibly hard and make progress daily. This journey has been difficult, but with continued hard work, faith, and prayer there is the beauty of hope that our best days are still ahead.
This past weekend the kids had a 4 day winter break, which coincided with Valentine’s Day and a huge winter snow storm where we ended up getting over 8 inches of snow. This winter has been incredibly mild here in Boise, so finally getting a big snowfall made for such a fun mini staycation. We had a blast building a snowman, having snowball fights, drinking lots of hot cocoa by the fire, and enjoying Valentine’s Day together with lots of yummy treats.
One of my favorite Valentine’s Day traditions with my kids is gifting them a small gift basket while we have a special family dinner. Some of the gifts I typically give in their basket are things like candies, favorite snacks, a tee shirt or pajamas, small toys or games, and almost always – a book or two. Books truly are the best gift for any occasion, and I especially love giving my kids holiday themed books for each holiday. Evan will definitely be getting a Valentine’s book in his little gift basket, and today I wanted to share some Valentine’s themed books to share with your littlest sweethearts.