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.
In spite of the pandemic, our Valentine’s Day won’t look much different than it usually does. After nearly 13 years of marriage and two kids, I have to admit I’m past the point of celebrating a “romantic” Valentine’s Day. The holiday has become a family affair over the years and we typically celebrate with a few small gifts and a family dinner. Valentine’s Day lands on a Sunday this year, so I foresee a lazy day in our jammies watching Disney movies and having some sweet treats! Today I wanted to round up some cute Valentine’s Day pajamas for you and your little valentines to cozy up in together.
On Wednesday (01/20/21) my little sweetheart turned 6 years old. Thanks to Covid we had a family only celebration, but we still went big on decorations and fun to make it feel special for him. I stayed up super late the night before setting it all up, so when Evan came downstairs in the morning he was greeted by his birthday decorations. He’s completely obsessed with the Hulk, and the theme was perfectly fitting for this brave warrior!
Party Decor Sources
As we are still in a pandemic, a lot of the winter activities I would normally do with the kids are out (like going to the Discovery Center or Children’s Museum). I confess I’ve allowed way more screen time this past year than I normally would (we gotta keep our sanity somehow) but I also try to make them take breaks for some educational and creative activities.
I remember making simple bird feeders to help wild birds during the winter as a kid, and wanted to recreate this for my kids. It’s simple, fun to do together, and great for the environment.
What You’ll Need
Bring 1/4 cup of water to a boil
Add in one packet of unflavored gelatin and stir until dissolved (about 2 minutes)
Remove from heat and let cool slightly
Stir in 3/4 cup of birdseed
Place 3 cookie cutters on parchment paper and fill them with the birdseed mixture
Use a second piece of parchment paper on top to press the birdseed down firmly into the cookie cutters
Cut a straw into thirds and put a piece of straw into each filled cookie cutters to create a hole
Put the filled cookie cutters into the freezer for 20 minutes
Remove from freezer and allow to slightly warm for about 5 minutes, then gently push the birdseed out of the cookie cutters
Remove the straw pieces and thread the twine or string through the hole and tie into a loop
Hang outside and have fun bird watching!
While Halloween is going to look a lot different this year, there are still so many holiday traditions that we can keep and make it special for the kids. One of the simplest yet one of my favorite ways to observe any holiday is festive pajamas. And I love that Halloween pajamas are seeming to grow in popularity as there are so many cute options these days. This past weekend we filled with a lot of fall and Halloween (socially distanced) activities, which was made even more fun by coming home to festive jammies and cuddling up on the couch to watch spooky movies. I also put together a simple Halloween themed breakfast for the kids one morning, which would be a perfect way to make Halloween morning feel a bit more special this year (and could be made all fall long!).
For our breakfast I just whipped up some cute pumpkin shaped waffles using Trader Joe’s pumpkin waffle mix and topped them with Trader Joe’s maple butter (this stuff is heavenly!). I served them with cute Halloween themed plates and cups and we had apple cider to drink. This would be a super cute breakfast for Thanksgiving morning as well.
Last week Cole turned 10 which seems pretty surreal. It seems like just yesterday he was my little baby! It’s become clear in recent months he’s leaving childhood behind more and more, and adopting a lot more tween interests. Covid has been really hard for him because he’s definitely reaching the age where his peer interactions are becoming so important to him. We knew we could’t have the big party with all of his friends that he would normally love to have this year, but I still wanted to make sure that he felt special and celebrated. We allowed him to invite his 2 best friends over for a movie night and sleepover (their families have been being very careful about Covid as well so we’ve formed somewhat of a bubble with them). We converted our living room into a movie theater with our projector, and the boys showed up for an evening movie complete with movie theater treats followed by a movie and camping out in their sleeping bags. After a fun (sleepless!) night we sent them home with little popcorn boxes filled with microwavable popcorn, cracker jacks, suckers, and flashlights for their own movie night at home.
Movie Theater Party Decor Sources
Red curtains for backdrop (I used 3)
Hot dog trays (similar)
Popcorn boxes (similar)
Birthday banner (similar)
Movie theater cutouts (similar)
Large popcorn bucket (used as vase)
Small popcorn containers (party favors)
School started here in Boise a few weeks ago, and due to high community Covid spread, classes are currently being held online. Kids may be able to return to the classroom eventually (with rotating days and masks required), but for the foreseeable future we are 100% online. Due to Evan’s brain injury and long road to recovery we will be holding him back a year and doing an extra year of preschool. He may go back to in person preschool later this year should it become safer, but my plan for the time being is to work on a bit of homeschool in addition to his busy rehab schedule. Times are certainly tough these days, with so many hard decisions for parents! If you are like me and will be homeschooling or overseeing distance learning this fall…then this post is for you. I wanted to share a few tips that have helped us find a routine and some supplies to make the best at home learning environment possible.
Create a designated space for learning
I think this is one of the most important keys for successful at home learning. It’s hard enough at it is for kids to try to focus on a computer screen, so having them trying to learn in a high traffic, loud part of the house will be even more difficult for them. We’ve set Cole up with a desk in our office and can keep the door closed while he’s in class. The room is also very well lit with big windows which I think is also important! Wherever you can find a quiet, well lit place in your home – this is a great place to make your child’s learning spot. Their bedroom, a spare room, office, or even a nook in a quiet area of the home can all work great. For Evan’s homeschool preschool, we’ve set up a folding table in the dining room that is perfect for withstanding paint and messy crafts.
Schedule your day like a typical school day
Although we are at home, it is important to me that Cole treats the day like he would any other school day. We get up at our usual time and have breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, comb his hair, and make sure he’s logged in on time. I don’t want him rolling out of bed last minute and showing up in pajamas because I feel that getting into that typical routine will help him be more productive with learning. Evan’s preschool day is significantly shorter, but we still get dressed and ready for school, and start and end our school time at the same time every day.
Make sure you have all of the school supplies on your school’s list
Cole’s school year has begun with all the assignments the kids would have done even if they had been in person. Some of the assignments are paper assignments we have to pick up at the school and complete at home – and these have required colored pencils, notebooks, and pencils. Even if you’re online, be prepared with all of the supplies your school had on your school supply list.
Be prepared to help with technology struggles
Cole is frequently coming out of the office and asking me to help him figure out something the teacher has asked him to do on the computer. And I often hear kids telling the teacher they can’t figure out what to do and she asks them to get a parent to help. Yes – we parents often don’t know how to do it either and it’s frustrating at times…but being prepared and available to help out will make your child’s school day a bit easier.
Although a designated desk for your child isn’t required (any table space can work!), it has certainly made things a lot easier for Cole. His desk was super inexpensive (under $50!) and is really small (it could fit almost anywhere!), but it has a few drawers and shelves that help him keep his schoolwork and supplies organized. I hung a few clipboards on the wall above his desk so he can hang up papers he needs to keep track of and be able to quickly access like completed homework and password lists. A whiteboard has also been helpful for writing reminders or for jotting down quick notes. And a small desk clock is a must for helping him keep track of recess breaks.
Make the best of it
This hasn’t been easy. It’s far from ideal. But it’s an opportunity to teach your kids to weather the storms of life and make the best of tough times. Cole has had an incredibly tough year with his little brother being so sick and now missing his school, friends, and extra curricular activities. But I just keep reminding him that this too shall pass and things won’t be this way forever. And we are all in this together. Cole wants to go into computer software or engineering as an adult, so I also remind him that this year of online learning will be helpful for him one day and give him a bit of an early start to working with computers. Attitude really is everything and if you can look for something positive to focus on, it will make a big difference in tackling this whole new experience! We’ve also tried to keep the fun traditions intact like the first day of school pictures…and we’ve also added some fun things like having some of the kids’ favorite foods for lunch outside and playing laser tag during recess.
Did you know that this Sunday is National Ice Cream Day?! What better way to celebrate than by making this simple version of homemade ice cream and having a little ice cream party with your kids.
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 2 sandwich ziplock bags
- 1 gallon ziplock bag
- 3 cups crushed ice
- 1/3 cup ice cream salt
- Toppings of your choice
Put first 3 ingredients in one of the small ziplock bags and tightly seal. Then double bag that inside the 2nd small bag (this is to ensure none of the salt gets in – you don’t want salty ice cream!). I also recommend using high quality ziplock bags.
Put the ice and rock salt in the large gallon size bag, then add the smaller filled bags. Seal the large bag.
Squeeze (or shake!) the large bag for 10-15 minutes until ice cream is thickened. You will want to wear gloves or pot holder mittens for this!
Remove small bag, unseal, and serve!
Here’s a few other really fun tools and ice cream accessories if you want to get even fancier with making homemade ice cream…
One | This is just like Coldstone where you can mix things into your ice cream
Two | This mini size ice cream maker is perfect for kids and small portions – and won’t take up much cupboard space
Three | This ice cream making attachment goes right on your stand mixer
Four | If you make large portions, you’ll need a tub like this to store it
Five | A glass ice cream bowl makes you feel a bit more fancy
Six | I love the idea of making homemade ice cream sandwiches
Seven | A sleek looking ice cream maker
Eight | Such a fun topping mix
Nine | A good scoop is a must
Ten | This ice cream cone cake pan would be so fun
Eleven | Perfect for a kids ice cream party
Twelve | This little bowl is so neat – you can roll up your ice cream or cut it into shapes
Like many places, Covid cases are rapidly accelerating here in Boise and new restrictions have been reimplemented banning groups larger than 50 people. Which of course means no annual parade or fireworks. While we will miss these fun traditions this year, I’m all in favor of prioritizing keeping our family safe and healthy! That said, I still want to make sure we have fun celebrating the holiday even if we will be quarantining at home. Today I’m putting together a list of some activities you can do at home with your kids to celebrate the 4th of July this year.
🇺🇸 HAVE A BIKE PARADE 🇺🇸
While we may not be able to attend an actual parade, we can still have our own! I thought it would be fun to have the kids decorate their bikes and ride around the neighborhood…and even invite other neighborhood kids to join in (safely socially distanced of course!)
🇺🇸 WATER FUN 🇺🇸
With no local pools open, we will opt for some water fun at home! We were gifted a huge inflatable pool when Evan got home from the hospital, which we are planning to fill up for the holiday. We can also get our water guns and water balloons out for even more fun!
🇺🇸 HOT DOG BAR 🇺🇸
An all-American hot dog bar is the perfect easy and patriotic meal for the 4th of July
🇺🇸 MAKE PATRIOTIC SHIRTS 🇺🇸
There are so many fun ways you could create a patriotic shirt – from painting your own design, to tie dye, to bedazzling…this is sure to be a fun activity
🇺🇸 BUCKETS OF FUN 🇺🇸
Putting together a bucket of activities and treats to keep the kids busy all day is sure to make the day a bit more special. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles, sunglasses, glow sticks, tattoos, cracker jacks, and pop rocks would all be fun options
🇺🇸 WATCH A PATRIOTIC MOVIE OUTSIDE 🇺🇸
Set up a projector and screen, and watch something patriotic. My pick would be Hamilton on Disney+ which is coming out on July 3rd!
🇺🇸 FIREWORKS 🇺🇸
While we may not get to see the big show this year, we will still be able to have a few small fireworks at home. My kids especially love pop its – which are super fun and safe for the little ones. You could also do some non firework festive options like silly string or confetti poppers!
One of my absolute favorite places to shop for kids clothing is Janie and Jack, and today I’m excited to share an exclusive promo code for my readers for an additional 20% off your entire purchase – including sale items!
- Code: SHOPSTYLE20
- Valid: Until 6/28 (11pm PT)
Here’s a few adorable sale items that have caught my eye…