how will you be kind today?

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February is filled with hearts, candy and lots of talk about love and romance. We love to make Valentine’s Day fun for our kids with heart shaped treats, DIY valentines and decorations, but we also like to use this time of year to talk about kindness. There are a million ways to be kind, and even a small act can make a big impact. We are excited to partner with Primary to be part of their How Will You Be Kind Today? project. For the month of February they are focusing on small acts that equal big kindness.

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We asked our kids to think about acts of kindness they could do for neighbors, friends and family. We loved the things they said. “I will share my toys with my brother.” “I will help my mom put away the dishes.” “I will write a note to my grandmother.” “I will bring my teacher a flower.”  We cut out hearts on colored card stock using our heart template and asked our kids to write their acts of kindness.

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We have also found some great books that talk about kindness or illustrate acts of kindness in a ways that kids can understand. A few of our favorites include A Sick Day for Amos McGee, My Color is Rainbow, Pete the Cat Valentine’s Day is Cool, Little Blue Truck and The Little Engine that Could.

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Whether it’s saying something nice to a friend, helping around the house, or writing a thank you note; spreading a little love and kindness is always a good idea!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Hallman + Ashley

 

Mia: Capri Leggings, Twirly Skirt, Long Sleeve Shirt Henry: Cargo Pants, HenleyHoodie Charlie: 4 Pocket Pants, Henley, Hoodie

 

our favorite podcasts for kids

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We love a good podcast! Whether it’s informative or for pure entertainment, podcasts are a great way to pass the time in the car, but sometimes the content isn’t appropriate for kids. With so many Summer car trips we wanted to find a few podcasts that our kids would enjoy. After some research we’ve come up with a list of family friendly podcasts that will keep everyone, including parents, entertained on the longest of road trips or even short car rides between pick ups and drop offs:

For kids who love adventure stories

The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified: A fast-paced, comedic adventure series for kids, The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified is a radio show created by a producer of the well-known radio show, Fresh Air. Eleanor is a journalist, radio host and adventurer, and her investigations often get her caught up into precarious situations. Set in the future, it has an old-time radio show feel complete with amazing sound effects, fabulous voices and story lines that carry on from one episode to another.

Story Pirates: This silly, completely kid friendly podcast features stories written by kids, and adapted into sketch comedy and musical theater. Our kids love listening to all the crazy, zany stories written by kids and performed by a lively group of actors complete with sound effects and music.

For curious kids (or adults)

Brains On: This may be one of our favorite podcasts. Co-hosted by kid scientists and reporters, they tackle all those fascinating questions that kids ask. Questions like, “Is there life on other planets?”, “Why does tickling make you laugh?” or even, “How do sneezes work?” This is a great podcast for the whole family!

Tumble: This is a show that explores the stories of science discovery. Using questions they receive from kids, the show’s two hosts interview scientists and experts in their field to answer questions like “Do invisibility cloaks exist?”, “How do black holes work?”, “Why do bats hang upside down?” Our kids always enjoy learning the answers to some of life’s most interesting questions.

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids: Another science-based show that answers some of kid’s most interesting questions. This podcast gets to the bottom of questions like, “Who invented words?”, “Do bears sleep all winter?”, “Why is the sky blue?” But Why, occasionally addresses topics that can be sensitive or more complex for younger listeners, so be sure to look at the description in the notes of each podcast. The host is also good about giving a heads up when the topic of any given episode could be sensitive so no need to worry about little ears hearing something they’re not ready for yet.

For kids who love fairy tales

Stories Podcast: The fairy tales featured in Stories Podcast range from classics like snow-white and Peter Rabbit to completely original work. Whether it’s a classic Grimm fairy tale or a new take on an old myth, they are all completely family friendly. This podcast isn’t as lively as some of the others so it’s perfect when you want something a little quieter and less animated.

Storynory: This podcast features fairy tales, children’s stories and poems read in a way that sound and feel like an audio book. Our kids loved listening to these stories because they were completely new to them, and we were completely taken by the readers’ fabulous British accents.

Happy Listening!

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Ashley + Hallman

and a camping we will go!

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We are now entering the best time of year…the time to go camping! In most places the weather is now warm enough at night to enjoy an evening under the stars roasting marshmallows and telling stories without freezing our tushies off. My dad started taking my brother and I camping at an early age. It started as short overnights at a site we’d pull up to in the car and very quickly worked it’s way up to 5 night backing packing excursions in Yosemite. These trips with my dad and brother are some of my most fond memories growing up, and we are so excited to make some of our own with Mia.

We starting camping with Mia in the back yard last summer and this year we are ready for the next step…car camping! I have to admit, I was ready to sling a backpack on her and make her hike into the woods for a good few days, but my husband gently reminded me that she’s only four and while we hope to bank some major miles in the future we should start out slow. He’s right!

Camping with the family is truly a wonderful experience and in order to help make sure we can all have a good time whether it’s in the back yard or in the woods, we’ve come up with some helpful hints for setting out on an overnight adventure in a tent.

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Start out Slow:

The best way to try your hand at camping is to camp out in the back yard a few times, especially if you have small kids. We also recommend borrowing the camping gear until you know for sure it’s something you want to do on a regular basis. While you don’t need a lot, the price of camping gear can add up so it’s best not to waste your money on a full set just yet.

Setting Expectations:

We’ve found that with almost any new activity it’s best to go in without any expectations. The times we’ve started out on a new adventure and we have high hopes of what it will be like, we are always let down when we find out Mia isn’t having a good time. It’s best to go in knowing that you may have to pull the plug at any given moment no matter how inconvenient the time. Of course your kids don’t need to know this, but it does make it a lot easier for the grown ups to handle their own disappointment if things don’t work out the way you hoped they would.

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What to bring:

Whether it’s in your back yard, at the beach or in the High Sierras, camping is always more comfortable when you are well prepared.

The first thing you need is a tent! Since our camping is of the “pull up your car and pitch a tent” variety, we don’t need an ultra light, itty-bitty tent. We want to be comfortable so the bigger the better. We love the this 4 person tent from REI. It’s easy to put up and has a great sunroof for looking at the stars.

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You will also need sleeping bags and sleeping pads. Sleeping bags and pads have come a long way since we were kids, they are so much more comfortable and warm! The REI Kindercone is a great starter sleeping bag for kids. It’s warm, easy to roll up and comes in a whole host of fun colors. As for sleeping pads, they can get pricey, but for the grown ups they make the whole experience a lot more comfortable. REI and Thermarest are two great brands that we’ve used for years and offer reasonably priced options.

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You’ll also want a couple flashlights and a lantern. Even if you’re just in the back yard, these will be really helpful once the sun goes down. Plus they are great for making shadow puppets on the tent walls!

If you’re sticking to the backyard here is a list of some items that may also be helpful:

  • A pillow
  • Warm pajamas
  • Extra pair of socks
  • A warm hat
  • Your child’s lovey (of course!)
  • Water bottle

If you are planning a trip for one night or more outside the wilds of the back yard, you will want to make sure you have a few more items on hand (aside from food and water):

  • Change of clothes (sweatshirt, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, pants, shorts, socks and underwear)
  • First aid kit
  • Coat or jacket
  • Mittens or gloves
  • Sun hat/baseball cap
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, eco friendly soap
  • Extra batteries
  • Waterproof matches or windproof lighter
  • Day backpack
  • Sandals or flip flops
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Cooking stove, cooking and eating utensils
  • A children’s book

While spending time in the outdoors is a truly amazing experience, we can’t forget that they are filled with wonderful little creatures. A few tips that will help keep your tent critter free are to never bring food into your tent, keep your tent flaps zipped closed at all times, and never walk around in your tent with your shoes on. You will of course, want to bring your shoes into your tent at night before you go to bed…finding a critter in your shoes in the morning can be a bit surprising. Also make sure all food is safely locked away in a food storage locker at your campsite or locked in your car.

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Here’s to some fun, family time this Summer in the great outdoors!

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Ashley

things jane likes, no. 20

And we’re back! We hope everyone is enjoying their summer! We have had a wonderful week getting some much needed rest, and spending time with our families and friends both at home and in far off places (viva Mexico…ole!). As much fun as we’ve had on our little break we are really excited to get back to work, churning out new content and combing our favorite blogs and websites for new things jane likes. This week we found several things jane likes that will keep us going through another few weeks of summer, including: popsicle paint, a DIY rope tote bag, adult slushies and the perfect striped dress.

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1. We are always on the look out for new beauty products to try, and Gal Meets Glam’s recent picks look amazing. We especially can’t wait to get our hands on Indie Lee’s Rosehip Cleanser.

2. We have been searching for a navy and white striped dress for months…and guess what? We finally found the perfect one. Of course it’s by our favorite striped shirt maker: Saint James. The Saint James Propriano dress is the perfect light-weight, slightly figure hugging dress for summer and we will be wearing this everywhere, with everything!

3. How cute are these colorful freezer paint popsicles from Hello Wonderful? All you have to do is pour your favorite paint into a popsicle mold, freeze it, add a popsicle stick and you have a new fun way to paint!

4. This list of July’s seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables is perfect for our next trip to the farmer’s market. It’s given us some great ideas for fresh and flavorful summer recipes!

5. Adult slushies?!?!! Yes, please!  Cupcakes & Cashmere has 3 great recipes for boozy granitas that will be a hit with any crowd. We don’t know which one to make first!

6. Honestly WTF’s DIY Rope tote bag is one that is on our list of projects to do…or rather Ashley’s mom, since she’s the one with the sewing machine. This bag is so cute we’re considering buying a sewing machine just so we can make it!

Have a great week!

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Ashley + Hallman

pom pom poppers

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A few months ago, our friend Kendra showed us a pom pom popper she had made with the kids at her daughter’s school. We knew our kids would enjoy making these poppers and love playing with them even more. This pom pom popper is so simple to make, and is the perfect Summer boredom buster for kids. We also think it is also a great firework-free way for kids to celebrate the 4th of July!

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Supplies

  • Balloons
  • Pom Poms
  • Paper Cups
  • Scissors

Cut the bottom out of a paper cup. We used our favorite party cups from Sweet Lulu, but any paper cups will do. If the cups are stiff then it makes it easier. Paper coffee cups will hold up the best, but you can make any paper cups work. Tie a knot in the open end of a deflated balloon and then cut off the top 1/4 of the balloon. Next stretch the cut part of the balloon around the cup being careful not to let the sides of the cup bend.

We used felt balls from Hello Maypole for our pom pom poppers, but you can also find pom poms on Amazon or at any craft store. You can fill the cups with pom poms or just use 1 or 2 at a time. Pull the knot on the balloon back an inch or so, release and watch the pom poms start popping! Charlie kept pulling it back as far as it would go, which will cause the balloon to come off. The poppers are made of inexpensive materials so they will not last forever, but they made for some great entertainment for the kiddos. We made a few poppers for each kid so if one came apart they had a back up. We especially love this activity because you can do it inside or outside without destroying your house!

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Here’s to Summer fun!

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Hallman + Ashley

a very merry unbirthday party

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My mom is a super creative mom. When we were young, she was always creating adventures out of every day activities. If we walked to the village near our house, we dropped breads crumbs on the way and pretended to be Hansel & Gretel. The hidden rocks in our local gardens became the setting for Peter Pan adventures and in the summer, there was at least one Alice in Wonderland style unbirthday party. This was one of my favorite memories from childhood.

My mom would pick a random day in the summer and declare it “unbirthday day”. We would go to the store get some streamers, balloons, cake, icing and sprinkles. Then each child would get a dollar or two to buy a present. I regularly bought a goldfish. We would decorate the house, bake a cake, make unbirthday cards for each other and exchange small presents. Sometimes we would watch the birthday scene from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and we always sang “A Very Merry Unbirthday”.

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My sister and I loved unbirthday celebrations! It was a family tradition. We loved having birthday cake when it was no one’s birthday. It was silly, it was fun and it made a dull Tuesday extra special…my mom was great at making Tuesdays extra special! I want that for my kids too.

Once my sister and I became mothers we started having unbirthday celebrations when our families went to the beach every Summer. At first, it was really an excuse for us to relive our childhood, but now our boys look forward to our unbirthday celebrations…and who doesn’t like to eat birthday cake any day of the year! So if you have a rainy day or just need something fun to do on a Tuesday, throw an unbirthday party! We guarantee it will be fun for everyone!

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 Wishing you a very merry unbirthday!

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Hallman

rain, rain go away…

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We’re so lucky that we live in a place where it rarely rains, but when it does (gasp!) the whole city is at a stand still, wondering what to do! How on earth will we survive?  And oh my goodness, what will our children do? Where will they play?

Trying to occupy small children all day inside can be a challenge, but with a few sure fire activities it can be done! We like to think back to some of the things we did when we were stuck inside as kids. The games we played and the forts we built! Our forts were epic! Today we’re sharing some of our favorite ways to entertain kids when you are stuck inside all day.

Build a Fort:

To build a fort get out as many blankets and flat sheets as you can find. Then pull up a few chairs, you can even use your coffee table. Drape the sheets over the chairs and tables to create a tent, you can always use twine or ribbon to help tie them into place. Line the floor with some blankets or sleeping bags and let you kids create their own special space with their stuffed animals and pillows.

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Play Bingo:

Most of us have a few of the old standby games: Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry O, but Bingo or Heads Up Seven Up are special games we remembered playing only on rainy days at school when recess was cancelled. While our kids are too young for Heads Up Seven Up, Bingo is always a fun option. We’ve created a simple printable bingo game you can use in a pinch. Cut out some pieces of paper to use as the markers or give your kids pennies and you’re all set!

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Indoor Scavenger Hunt:

Kids love to hunt for treasures so why not give them a list of items to find around the house! You can make it as easy or hard as you like, bearing in mind that if you make it too hard the kids can sometimes lose interest. Have fun with your list, the sillier the better! Here are some ideas we like to use for ours, but feel free to get creative with your own: 3 blue legos, a green fruit or vegetable, a nickel, a red crayon, a band-aid, a roll of toilet paper, a left shoe, a toy that makes noise, something with the number 3 on it.

Go Outside:

We’re not saying you should plan to spend the entire afternoon outside, but a walk in the rain or snow is always fun! Our kids love to put on their rain boots and go jumping through puddles, so why not let them do it! Show them how to catch rain drops on their tongue, see who can find the biggest puddle or go on a bug hunt. Something as simple as a walk in the rain or playing in the snow can provide endless entertainment for little ones. Then when everyone’s all tuckered out, come inside and take a nap in the fort!

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Have Fun!

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Ashley + Hallman