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40 Springtime Crafts & Activities for Kids

I love springtime – the weather is finally getting nice again and there is a hint of summer in the air… I finally start to feel like it’s actually coming! Of course, sometimes spring can get a little frustrating now that we have a toddler – all the rain can sometimes leave us feeling trapped inside when all he wants to do is play in the backyard. It’s hard to know what the weather will bring this time of year, so I set out to find a ton of ideas for both the sunny days and the rainy days!

So, if your kids are feeling bored this spring, why don’t you…

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(via Playground Parkbench)

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10 storybooks for the budding nature enthusiast

“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.” David Sobel, author of Beyond Ecophobia, Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education

We live in the city, but we are always looking for ways to encourage curiosity, appreciation and respect for the great outdoors. Whether searching for bugs in our backyard, going on an “adventure walk” at a local park or nature center, or swimming in one of our many surrounding lakes, our goal is to get outside and experience nature.

We have a pretty good collection of children’s scientific fact books that interest 4-year-old Leo, but there is nothing quite like connecting over bedtime stories our favorite time of day. Adding imagination to the topic opens up a greater opportunity to share, discuss and tie it all together with emotion. If you’re looking to expand beyond classics like The Giving Tree and The Lorax, here are some recommendations…
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Milk Bath

Milk bath photography has been steadily growing in the photography groups I belong to. I think it started out as herbal baths for newborns, and kind of grew from there. Most of the time it’s centered around maternity and newborns being held by their mothers. I am currently enrolled in an online photography class so I decided to give a milk bath a try this week as my assignment, and the set up turned out to be a lot easier than I realized.

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I am a big fan of florals (though they hate me thanks to my allergies) and have always wanted an excuse to shoot with them, especially having two daughters. I decided to go with real flowers though lots of people use silk because they say real flowers sink faster, but as I was using such a small amount of water vs what you need for maternity, I felt like I could get away with it.

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National Infertility Awareness Week April 24-30: How to Support a Friend Going Through Infertility

When we were first diagnosed with infertility my world crumbled. I know that sounds dramatic, but from the time I was a little girl the majority of my hopes and dreams revolved around motherhood. I remember in 4th grade when our teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I answered that I wanted to be a stay ­at ­home mom. So, when I got the call that said “little to no chance of natural conception” I was devastated. We weren’t in the place financially to pursue expensive fertility treatment, and I feared I would be the woman that would take years to get pregnant while all my other friends had multiple children and talked “shop talk” about pregnancy, breastfeeding, diaper changes and all kinds of mom topics.

Now that almost 5 years have passed, we have two beautiful children, but I have yet to get pregnant. We have brought home both of our kids through the gift of domestic infant adoption and I have been a part of all kinds of mom duties, just not pregnancy, giving birth, or breastfeeding.

Even though I am grateful to have two healthy kids, infertility is still a tender spot for me. On my most recent trip to the gynecologist office I cried a few tears as I saw so many pregnant women walk up to the receptionist counter and talk so nonchalantly about their growing bellies and babies. I am fascinated by the idea of giving birth and although I love a good birth story, I still feel a sharp pain in my chest whenever I hear one, as it’s a story I always thought I would have and do not. And when I snuggle my kids close at night I often think of their birthmothers and how grateful I am for them, but also how much I grieve that I didn’t get to experience those first 9 months with my kids growing inside of me. I’m thankful that infertility is now more of a dull ache than a sharp pain, a lot of it due to the support system I have had along the way.

If you love someone going through infertility, you probably feel kind of awkward about it. You want to be there and support your friend as they struggle to build their family, but it’s not an easy topic to bring up and talk about it. If you were to ask me who my closest friends were through the journey I could name you less than a handful of people. Because walking with someone through infertility, or any kind of loss, is hard. But, if you are up for the challenge I can tell you they will appreciate it more than they will ever be able to express to you in words.

Here are a few things that friends and family did that were so supportive of us through the journey.

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Unplanned Adventures

We don’t get many days off. Between running our business, shuttling T to and from visits, attending foster care training and taking in respite placements, oh, and bottle feeding baby goats, we keep ourselves really busy. This week though we had one day with no visits or appointments, and our bottle baby was starting to nurse from mom so didn’t need feeding nearly as often. One of our favorite things to do before T was take off for the day on an unplanned adventure. Sometimes we would drive somewhere we’ve never been before, just to see where we would end up. Other times we would have a destination in mind but no plan once we got there. We were so excited to do the same with T now that we know him well enough to know how to make it a successful trip.

T started the day with one solid nap in his crib. We didn’t want his entire day to be napping in the car or on the go, so we waited until after his first nap to head out. Our first stop was our favorite breakfast place about 45 minutes away. We had a delicious brunch and T enjoyed smiling at the servers (he’s their favorite, they all say) and eating his own breakfast. He loves restaurants and we are trying to enjoy it while it lasts, before he’s mobile and wild!

After breakfast we headed to the beautiful park in town. There’s a creek running all through the park, lots of green space, tons of flowers blooming, a duck pond and of course a playground. T has never been on the baby swings before, as he hasn’t had the strength to sit up well enough until now. We played on the grass for a while as he practiced crawling and then headed over to the swings. What a hit. He had the best time and gave us some really big smiles. Sadly I can only show the back of his head, but you can imagine the giggles and smiles we could see from the front.

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Best gifts for a 2 year old

I’ve been saying Baby Pencil is two for the longest time because I have a lot of friends without kids who look very confused when I say 20-something months. But now that 2 is here, it feels so bittersweet! I love how Baby Pencil’s world has just opened up because he’s smarter, more aware and more curious about everything. We got so many great gifts for his birthday and I wanted to share what worked really well for this 2 year old!

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1) Crayola Stamp and marker set – This marker set is a great relief because it does not mark on clothes, furniture or skin. It only works on special paper. This set comes with stamps and markers and it’s great to let them go nuts! Baby Pencil really likes to stamp things and these stamps are quite large so it’s very satisfying.

2) Green Toys Tool set – This whole tool set is adorable and perfectly sized for a 2 year old’s hands. I honestly don’t understand how to work with tools but Mr. Pencil will step in here and help him learn how to screw things properly. Baby Pencil loves to twirl the large screws around.

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What I Wish I Had Been Told

As a soon to be new parent, you get a lot of unwanted advice and most of it is pretty much the same. There’s a lot of “sleep while the baby sleeps” and “enjoy this time while they are little” or “you will fall in love immediately.” But there are a few thousand things that pop up as you really delve into being a parent, and some of them would have been so helpful to hear before your baby got here. Here are a few that I would have loved to hear.

1) It is terrifying being a parent. When they are really little, like brand new, the worrying is crazy. They are so helpless and you (and your partner) are the only way they will survive. That is insane if you really think about it. Another human is completely dependent on you and it is so scary. As a new mom especially, there are a million hormones going crazy and you are sleep deprived and you are probably just trying to figure out how the heck to do everything. It’s a lot to take in and deal with.

2) You will willingly change things you thought you wouldn’t. I’ve written before about how against bed-sharing I was until I had children. I thought it was irresponsible and not worth the risk, but when I made the decision to save our sanity and try it, it changed my life. I could not be happier that I made that change. Another thing I always said was that I would only breastfeed for 6 months and then wean. I really have no idea what I was thinking with this, but once I had children, I changed my tune quickly.

3) Worrying is the new normal. The worst thing for me was the constant worry about SIDs. I found myself barely sleeping not only because the baby wanted to eat all.the.time, but also because I constantly needed to feel her chest to see if she was still breathing. It nearly consumed me and when Little Bug was born, it was a repeat of the same worrying. Once they got older and sturdier, my worrying shifted to other things, like accidentally forgetting them somewhere, or feeding them something they were allergic to, or forgetting to close the gate on the stairs. It honestly never ends; I just find new things to worry about.

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