My son just turned two and while he doesn't say much, one thing he loves to say is "ROAR"! So, it was only fitting that he have a dinosaur themed birthday party this year. I had a lot of fun preparing for this party and I hope you find some inspiration!
When guests arrived they saw gigantic dino footprints down our front sidewalk to our door. I had my brother draw them because he's a graphic designer and I figured he'd have fun with it. He did. He decided that he wanted to morph the dinosaur prints into tiny Arthur prints as they got closer to the door. It was stinking adorable.
I used my silhouette to create the Arthur banner (it slipped and went a little crooked in this photo. Oops) as well as the 3D pterodactyls. I used plastic dinosaurs to make the food items fun and created a cute menu using canva.com. The "dinosaur eggs" were supposed to look super cute and have colored outsides but, the peeling process was a disaster and many looked slightly ragged. They tasted good though.
I made the cake using this paleo coconut cake recipe. It was soooooo good! Everyone enjoyed it! i added toasted coconut to the top and slivered almonds around the sides to make it a little prettier. Then I added a dinosaur and a speech bubble that said "RAWR" for the dino. I think it turned out pretty great!
For fun, the kids had a dino fossil dig area and a cardboard "volcano" for pretend play. We were really lucky to have 60 degree weather in February so we had all of the fun in the backyard. The kids also had the opportunity to jump on the trampoline, swing and play in the playhouse. Once gifts were opened, they also had fun with some really cool chalk stencil sets that were gifted (My mother-in-law said she got them at Wal-Mart.).
I made the volcano with three cardboard boxes, brown craft paper, red streamers, a knife and some tape. I cut a big opening at the bottom of the biggest, center box and then folded the sides in on the smaller boxes but left them open on both ends to create tunnels. Then I taped all three boxes together and covered them with crinkled paper and streamers at the top. I taped the sign to the swing set which was in front of the volcano. The kids actually played quite a bit with it and it only cost about three dollars!
The dig site was a water table we already had filled with play sand and plaster of paris dino bones. I bought the molds from amazon and made the bones the night before. They popped out pretty easily and looked really great! Then I threw in a few sand tools like a shovel and a bucket and a few chunky paint brushes for dusting the fossils and taped a sign to the side. This was a big hit with everyone!
I made all four of us adorable dino themed shirts too. Lilly had a girl walking a pet dinosaur in glitter, Arthur had a t-rex holding the number two and wearing a party hat, I had a shirt that said "RAWR" and Derek had a dinosir, a t-rex with a top hat, bow tie and monocle. I didn't manage to snap a pic of Derek with his shirt and Arthur was NOT into photos so these are the best I could do. I created all of them using my silhouette and iron-on vinyl.
We also had a photo booth area set up. I hung a plastic table cloth on the wall and provided a few props and a selfie-stick to encourage guests to take a pic. We got some pretty cute ones. I made the signs with my silhouette and craft. Threw in some feather boas, dino masks and a safari hat for good measure. The kids all got to take home goodie bags with mini dinosaurs, masks and a craft activity from amazon that was dinosaur themed.
Arthur had a good time and really enjoyed the watermelon and cake. The adults were able to visit because the kids were having so much fun and no one got hurt or threw up. I call it a success!
Oh, and when Arthur went to blow out the candle, he started as soon as it was lit...across the room. It was adorable to watch him blowing at the candle for the entirety of the Happy Birthday Song.
I've made it another week into the whole30! I'm pretty proud of myself and it hasn't been too terribly difficult. The weekends are hard because that is when I generally eat out. But, my husband has been really good at motivating me and has stuck with me. We ended up modifying our meal plan this week but were able to stay on track until Saturday. My son turned two and we had his party. I tried to make whole30 options for myself but some things went wrong. I forgot that the wings I had planned would need to be marinated so we had to modify with a different recipe that was not whole30. Also, I was so busy that I skipped lunch and then when the wings weren't compliant I totally went off-road and ate a sandwich. I was starving. Then I felt like I had ruined it anyway and ate a piece of cake. That being said, the cake was paleo and used coconut flour, maple syrup and cream cheese so it was definitely not whole30 but was still pretty ok in the grand scheme of things. To be honest, I've lost some serious motivation for a personal reason that I cannot divulge right now but is health related. (Don't worry, I'm fine and I'll tell you later.) But, anyway...I'm going to try to stick to it for most of my meals. I know I've ruined the idea but, I feel like I can still make good choices and avoid the artificial stuff and most bread and sweets. I'll still be using my week three recipes too.
Breakfast was skipped in favor of a tea this morning. I just haven't been hungry. I know that skipping breakfast isn't a good thing. It just happened.
Lunch was a steak. I cooked two last night knowing that I would need something for lunch today. I paired it with an apple and a side of steamed brussel sprouts.
Dinner was paleo pho. We didn't have zucchini to make the noodles because the grocery store was out so we used kelp noodles. The broth tasted pretty good but there was definitely not enough for two people. It was really upsetting and I do not recommend kelp noodles for pho. They are too crunchy. They might be good in a creamy sauce or something but they do not fool you. You know you aren't eating pasta noodles unless you eat yours uncooked. Crunch. Crunch. Also, apparently I was so famished by the time we ate that I forgot to snap a picture. You aren't missing anything though. Blah.
I'm wrapping up my second week of whole30 and it has been more challenging than week one. I could definitely eat a pizza right now. But, I know that I can stick to it for two more weeks and a plan is a necessity for me to make it. So, below you can download my week three meal plan, shopping list and recipes! There are a few of our favorites from week one and two repeated but there are many new ones! Enjoy!
I don't know about you but, my two year old loves to put everything in his mouth. When I want to give him something fun to do that my 5 year old will also enjoy I love whipping up a batch of edible sensory material. It's even better when the recipe only calls for a few common ingredients and takes less than 15 minutes to create! Check out my list of 10 fantastically simple and edible sensory recipes that will leave you with a few minutes to go to the bathroom alone without the fear of your toddler chomping on something undesirable.
I hope you have fun with these recipes! I know my kids will! Thanks for visiting!
We had a lovely time at the Galentine's day party even though several people had to miss it for last minute reasons (sick kid, no babysitter etc.) my friend Kila and I still had a blast hanging out and enjoying yummy food! I followed through with the plan I created in my first post and made whole30 approved recipes including bacon wrapped egg cups, fruit salad and chocolate mousse with the optional mimosa (I used sparkling water to stay whole30). It was all really good and my friend couldn't believe that it was all whole30 compliant! Let me tell you, those egg cups are amaze-balls! I actually ate four!
I spent very little time creating the decorations but I think they definitely set the mood and were pretty. I copied the idea for a xoxo table cloth but used a $1 plastic table cloth and a sharpie instead of white fabric and paint. It was very thin so I laid it on top of a glittery cream colored fabric tablecloth I already own. I used my white dishes and simple champagne flutes and placed a fork on top of a red paper napkin at each setting. In the center of each plate a placed a nail polish with a cute tag that I created tied on with pink ribbon. In the center of the table I placed a bouquet of grocery store flowers in a clear vase and a sprinkling of pink and red glitter heart stickers from the dollar store as well as the remaining pink ribbon. I think it turned out very pretty and elegant. And it cost a grand total of $12 for decorations (the flowers were $10).
I also set up a photo area with the same wrapping paper I used for the Valentine's photo shoot with my kids. It's is just so versatile! I taped it to the wall width wise at waist height. Then I raided my daughter's room for feather boas and tiaras as well as her art easel for the sign. We took selfies with my hand dandy selfie stick! You can get them at most stores for about $5.
I've completed my first week and i'm feeling pretty good. I'm really proud of myself for completing the first week and I've seen some results. I weighed myself (even though you're not supposed to) and I've lost 4 pounds this week! That is major for me! I don't lose weight quickly as a general rule so, four pounds in one week is crazy!
I am also very proud of how well I did when eating out. I will say that I had no issues and thought it was super easy during the week until I went out to eat this weekend. That was when I struggled. However, my husband was very encouraging and helpful and we managed to both stick to it! You can check out what I ate for the week below and also download my meal plan from week one here.
What I ate
I've made it to Thursday on my first week of the Whole 30 challenge and realized I should plan for next week. I'll post about my feelings towards my first week and all the details on how it went when it is officially complete. But, I can tell you that I feel great, haven't had a single migraine and don't find myself in energy slumps after meals. I can also tell that I've lost a little weight. It's also been really easy in that I haven't felt like I was torturing myself.
Now, for my second week I've made a few modifications to my overall plan from last week. I will not have a special lunch everyday and will instead eat leftovers from the night before. This worked really well last week and is a lot easier than preparing something special. My snacks will not be special either. I found that I was totally satisfied with a piece of fruit, some veggies or a larabar. So, I'll be using those things as snacks.
I did change the dinners keeping a few that were absolutely amazing like the knock-off Chikfila nuggets and paleo pad thai. OMG! So good! So, you can download my meal plan, shopping list and recipes below! Good luck and let me know how it goes for you!
Valentine's Day is less than a week away but I've decided I need a little one-on-one with my favorite gals so I'm hosting a Galentine's Brunch! I've sent out the invites to my best ladies and have made my plan. You can see what I plan on doing as well as access my invite on canva to create your own Galentine's Day Brunch!
I'm planning on a small party with just a few close friends. This way I can make it extra special! I'm going to make a few simple decorations for the table including some tissue paper poofs, a table cloth, some sparkly items like confetti or glitter cardstock cut into xoxo or hearts and a photo area. I'm going for something like this party found on pop sugar.
I also plan on placing a small gift at each place setting similar to the one below found at the tom kat studio. I even created my own version of their tag and you can print it here.
Since I am currently doing the Whole 30 diet, I selected recipes that are whole 30 compliant but still feel luxurious and taste amazing. I'm planning on serving:
- bacon and egg cups with asparagus
- chocolate mousse
- sunshine fruit salad
- coffee & tea
- mimosas (I'm just going to add sparkling water to mine.)
I'm pretty excited about the party and will update with a new post as soon as it's over!
I don't know about you but, I loathe when my child comes home with gigantic amounts of candy/sweets. I don't need that! I'm trying NOT to be a fatty and my kids definitely don't need it either. So, I generally try to go with a non-sweet valentine. This year I found some adorable heart shaped plastic play glasses at Target and set about designing an adorable Valentine to go with them.
I created my printable valentine using canva.com. Then I had to create a cut file to back the printed paper because I printed on regular paper and it was too floppy. Once I cut out the printed papers, I sent my cut file to my silhouette using brightly colored craft paper. Then I glued the printed copy paper to the colorful craft paper and adhered a pair of glasses to each one using washi tape.
I think they're super cute! And you can make them too! I've included the printable and cut file below! Have fun!
On Saturday I decided that I would like to take some Valentine's Day themed photos of the kids. I had not planned for this and realized that if I didn't do it then that it wouldn't be done in time. (I know myself and a photo shoot with cranky kids after a full day of work does not sound like fun.) So, cursing my lack of preparation I analyzed my craft closet for something I could use as a backdrop and maybe even a few props. Luckily, I had a roll of black and white houndstooth wrapping paper that would look great as a backdrop. (It's actually Christmas wrapping paper I picked up on clearance. I doubt that it will make it to Christmas next year though. I've already wrapped two presents and used a large portion for this project.) Then, I took a frame I already own that is gold and took out the photo, replacing it with a sheet of red paper. I decided to augment the photos with a text on photo app that I'll detail in a bit so, the paper could be blank. Then, I simply unrolled the wrapping paper at about 5 ft. up on the wall to the floor. I created two connected panels that looked like one wide panel when photographed by matching the prints to each other. I did all of this in my dining room and had to move my table to the side to give myself room for photographing. I also set up a lamp without its shade to add additional light.
Once I got my "studio" set up. I ransacked the kids closets for cute outfits. Luckily, I managed to find some things that would look cute together and that were clean! I got the kids dressed, bribed them with candy and went to work capturing the perfect shots. Most weren't so great and, inevitably, when one was cooperating the other most definitely was not.
But, after about 15 minutes and a sucker later, I ended up with a few I thought I could work with. Once I had my best photos selected and favorited on my phone. I did a few quick edits using the phone's built-in camera editor. I cropped, enhanced and adjusted the light on each photo to get these results.
After using the built-in editor to it's fullest, I opened my favorite photo editing app, Rookie Cam, it's free and amaze-balls! Anyway, I applied two different filters to each photo. First I applied "baby skin" from the "clean portrait" section. Then I applied "delight" from "clean portrait" as well but, adjusted the intensity to about half.
Once I was happy with the images I was ready to add text to each photo. I used Phonto to achieve this. It is also free and is super easy to use. I chose cute phrases for the frame that went with each picture. For the photo of my daughter by herself, I decided to make individualized valentine photos for our favorite people. Once I created the text layout on the photo, I just saved each individualized version and then edited the text for the next person. It didn't take very long and will make everyone feel extra special. Plus, Lilly got to help me by telling me why she loved each person. I just made one version of Arthur. He can't tell me his reasons for loving people yet. Maybe I can make individualized ones for him next year.
I am really happy with my results and it only took me about an hour (probably less) to create this magic! I hope I've inspired you to pull out some wrapping paper and grab a few adorable pics! Have fun and Happy Valentine's Day!
I like to change my the wallpaper on my phone for holidays and seasons. I change it pretty regularly because I get bored and usually I just find one I like on pinterest. However, this time I wasn't having any luck with one that I really liked so I made my own and have posted them for you to set as your wallpaper for FREE! Enjoy!
Just click each picture to save it to your phone!
I have not been happy with my body since having my son, Arthur, almost two years ago. With my daughter, I went to the gym 6 days a week and was in the best shape of my life only 6 months after her birth. However, I've not found it as easy this time. I find it hard enough to give them both the attention I feel they need without exercise. When I toss that into the mix it seems impossible. I've been dedicated to working on it since Christmas and have managed to squeeze in a workout about 5 times a week. But, I've not been going to a gym like I did with my daughter and have not seen the results that I want.
My husband has always been a fan of restricting his diet, sometimes a little too drastically, to achieve his body goals and he has seen great success. I've always been of the kind of person who will kill themselves at the gym and then go eat a cheeseburger (Not every time of course but, if I want a burger, I eat a burger.) I do use moderation when eating and am not actually a big fan of sweets but, maybe it is going to take a little more this time around to achieve the body goals that I have in mind. I did turn 30 this year and everything I hear says that when it all starts going downhill.
"Established by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig (of Whole9) in April 2009, the Whole30® is our original nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system."
So, I've decided to try the Whole 30 Challenge. If you're not familiar with the challenge, it is a way of resetting your body and giving it the chance to detox from food that isn't all that great for you by following their food guidelines for 30 days. It also gives you the ability to see how certain foods effect you in way of your body and your mood. It is similar to paleo in that you don't eat carbohydrates or refined sugars but it is even more severe because you also omit dairy and anything artificial including sweeteners. Basically, you eat protein, vegetables and fruits and nuts in that order. I plan on not only doing the challenge but also keeping up my exercise regimen of at least 4 tabata/interval style workouts each week at home using the Nike Training App and the Tabata Trainer app.
After reading about the program I realized that the key to succeeding is to plan. Just like any diet, if you fail to plan you are planning to fail. So, I began to scour the internet for recipes that I felt would help me not only succeed but actually look forward to the food I would be eating. I will say that they suggest not creating whole 30 friendly food bread knock-offs like pancakes and muffins but, I am using them. The ingredients do follow the whole 30 guidelines. I know myself and if I'm not allowed to have something every once in a while that resembles bread I might not make it. My plan also includes doing A LOT of prep before we start our week including pre-cooking and preparing breakfasts, prepping veggies and organizing ingredients in ready to go "kits". I'm thinking about making a homemade version of HelloFresh boxes by pre-portioning everything in a box giving us very little prep work on our weeknights. But, that might be too ambitious so I guess I'll find out Sunday what is achievable.
My plan includes recipes like knock-off Chik-fil-A nuggets & Mustardy Kale Salad with Bacon and Sweet Potatoes, Paleo Pad Thai and Paleo Alfredo with Zucchini Noodles. I even get my chocolate fix with Chocolate Banana Coconut Chia Pudding. I'm pretty excited to try them all!
I have included my meal plan, shopping list, Sunday night prep plan AND recipes for each of the meals I will be making for week one so that you can also give the whole 30 challenge a try if you like. I'll let you know how it goes and post week two as soon as I'm finished. I plan on starting on Monday (today is Wednesday). Wish me luck! I've also included a blank menu planner if you want to do your own thing.
*My shopping list does not include a few key ingredients for seasoning and cooking because I already had them. Make sure you double check for things like coconut amino acids and coconut oil. :)
Lilly and I got a little crafty this weekend and created some ADORABLE V-Day shirts! And, I'm giving you a FREE cut file so you can make one just like hers!
I simply designed her shirt in Silhouette Studio using their text files and some free images from the web. Then I sent it to cut. I used black iron-on transfer material. After I cut the black, I copied the heart from "love" and pasted it into a new file. Then I sent it through the machine in gold iron-on transfer material. Once both were cut, I weeded the text and removed the black heart. Then I replaced it with the gold one. It was really easy because I could see the outline of the original one on the plastic. Then I ironed it onto the pink shirt I picked up at Wal-Mart! She had fun hitting the "load" and "unload" button as well as designing it with me so it was a win/win, cute shirt + time together!
I made the other shirts for a friend and they took a little more manipulating. I created a file with x's and a separate file with o's. I sent the hearts through on the gold material and the hearts on the leopard material. Then I weeded them and cut the plastic material down to the edges of the transfer material. Then I laid them onto the shirt in the correct order and evenly centered them on the shirt. Pretty easy and a great result!
Grab the free cut file for the "L is for Love" shirt below. Happy crafting!
We like to think of ourselves as devoted and caring parents who make it a point to spend quality time with our children; however, we often find ourselves focusing on other things while attempting to play. Kids unknowingly crave alone time with parents where they are the only focus. By beginning a regular habit of dating our kids, we have improved not only our children's mental state and general behavior, but have also been able to improve our general feelings about ourselves as parents. We've been able to cut down on feelings of guilt and are not as stressed about the time we don't spend with them.
Now that Arthur is almost two, he requires more and more of our focus and Lillian is not blind to that fact. We've noticed a decrease in her willingness to cooperate and listen. Just last week we received an email from her teacher informing us that she was not listening to instruction. We instantly knew that her feelings of neglect were the likely culprit. (Not that she was being neglected in any way! She just wasn't getting as much one-on-one time as she needed.) So we made a plan to begin a weekly Mommy/Daddy date. This way, she would get a whole night, once a week, where she received 100% of our attention. The added benefit is that the parent who stays home gets to spend alone time with our son and he gets that parent's focus for the night.
We decided to give her a double dose for the first week and we both took her on a date. For our first date, I took her for hot chocolate and a chat at Starbucks. We talked about her day and I made sure to devote all of my attention to her. Taking special care to leave my phone in my purse except for a few fun selfies. While enjoying our drinks, I talked with her about her misbehavior at school and made sure she understood that it was not ok. Once we were done with the heavy stuff we were able to have fun for the rest of the night. We went to the mall and rode a motorized animal thing that they have, it's only $6 for 15 minutes and is pretty freakin' cool. (It's like a motor powered car but is shaped like an animal and the adult can ride it too. You can ride through the whole mall but cannot enter the stores.) Then, I let her pick out and stuff a bear at build-a-bear, (She won't get a toy every date night. That would be ridiculous.) We ended the evening by letting her choose the dinner venue. She opted for fried rice and veggies at our favorite Asian restaurant. We stayed out later than usual and had a discussion about what would happen when we got home in regards to getting ready and going to bed. She was very cooperative and went to bed without any problem. My husband, Derek, and Arthur got to spend time together playing and he said while they played with pretend dinosaurs in the floor, every so often Arthur would just gaze up at him with a grin from ear to ear that simply said, "I love you, Dad." It was pretty heartwarming.
The next morning she got up and came downstairs fully dressed and ready to go without any prompting. We also received an e-mail from her teacher letting us know that her behavior had dramatically improved and there was no longer an issue. My husband went ahead and took her for another date that night. They went to the college library and read numerous books together in the children's section. Then they ate burgers at Five Guys. Arthur and I basically cuddled the whole time they were out. He had a fever and wasn't feeling well. I'm not going to complain though, cuddling him will be something that I am going to miss the older he gets.
I think the key element to the idea of dating your children is that you spend time alone with each other. Not only does this give the child focused attention but it can also be very cathartic for the parent as well. You don't have to do it every week and you can choose the day and time. This allows for you as a parent to live in the moment with your child. Don't worry about things that need to be done, stop checking your phone, and simply exist in the moment with your child. Recent research has turned the idea of how much time we need to spend with our children on its head by stating that the amount of time has nothing to do with their happiness. It is the quality that is important. Children are not dumb and can tell when you are unhappy, stressed, and/or feeling guilty. They benefit from quality time where you are present both mentally and physically. This can also help during times when you are feeling guilty about the amount of time you are spending with your children because you know that you give them quality time on those dates so it's ok that you need to do laundry and dishes some of the other time.
We've seen a noticeable change in her behavior, willingness to share, and cooperation at home and the teacher hasn't had to contact us again about misbehavior. I've also felt less stressed and guilty when I need to do things around the house or just need a break to read a book. I feel more confident that the time I spend with my children is valuable and that relieves a lot of my own underlying stress. We're making a point to continue a weekly date night, taking turns spending one-on-one time with our children. This week, Derek will take her and I'll stay with Arthur, next week we'll switch. There are many things you can take your child to do, but the most important thing is to simply spend time with them. Make them the focus and you will not only have a happier child, but you will be creating memories that will last forever not to mention strengthening your bond as parent and child. I've listed some more ideas for date nights with your child below and I encourage you to make a point to take them on a date every once in a while. You won't regret it!
Dating your Children: Date Ideas
- see a movie
- do an activity such as mini golf, bowling, pottery painting or skating
- visit a library or bookstore and read together
- go on a hike/nature walk
- mani/pedis - many nail salons nowadays have children's pedicure chairs
- fancy dinner - get dressed up in fancy clothes and have a meal
- gym class - a lot of places have regular mommy/daddy and me classes for yoga and more especially larger cities
- craft classes - similarly, home depot, and some craft stores host free craft classes for parents and children
- window shopping at the mall
- dessert date - Skip the dinner and just get a fancy dessert together.
- coffee date - get a coffee/hot chocolate together and chat
- visit a museum
- go on a scavenger hunt - there are plenty of ideas online for an easy and fun scavenger hunt
- have a photo shoot - you can head out or just hit the backyard and be sure to let your child pick their outfit and grab a few fun props. To make it extra fun, be sure to make it comical by directing them like a real photographer. "Make a fish face! Magnificent Dahling!"
- volunteer together
- makeovers at the mall - the make-up counters in department stores will give you a free makeover. Take advantage (Just be nice and let them know you don't intend on buying anything upfront so they can give attention to the people who do. They work on commission.)
Stay at Home:
- bake together
- have a tea party - Be sure to dress appropriately! Tiaras are a must!
- rent a movie and eat popcorn - We like to dump a bag of peanut m&m's in our popcorn. It's delicious!
- spa night - Skip the expensive salon and turn your bathroom into a spa. Light a candle, play some music and make a bubbly foot bath. Fancy treats like homemade chocolate covered strawberries and faux bubbly make it extra special.
- game night
- camp out - spend a night under the stars in your own backyard
- bike ride and picnic - pack your lunch/dinner and ride somewhere nearby for a lovely picnic
- dance and karaoke party - make your living room come alive with music and dance!
- craft something at home - visit pinterest or buy a craft in a box kit
- science experiment - you can also find plenty of ideas online or buy a kit
- plant a mini garden - grab a pot and let your child start their own mini garden
- build a fort and read books
- cook dinner together
- learn something - Hit the internet and learn about something of their choosing.
Rachel is a mother of three, elementary Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.