The Adventure Starts Here

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Our Summer "Schedule"

Summer is the time to relax and have fun.  And while I am a firm believer in that, I also want to have a little bit of structure.  Noah thrives on a routine.  Even before starting school, I would fill our days with a mixture of fun activities in and out of the house.  This past year, we had quite the system.  We would have an activity planned each day... school twice a week, swim, soccer, play dates, errands, etc.  Having something planned for each day made our time at home feel special and made it so that Noah rarely got bored.  Last week was our first full week at home.  He finished school two weeks ago but went straight into a VBS at his preschool.  While we had a few things planned this past week, we had 3 full days where we just stayed at home with nothing to do.  And while Noah is a homebody at heart, I find that he does better when we stay busy, even if that's just doing a craft or baking something.  When perusing Pinterest, I found that a lot of people like doing a theme a day.  For example, "Make Something Monday", "Time to Read Tuesday", "What's Cooking Wednesday", "Be Thoughtful Thursday", and "Somewhere Fun Friday".  And while all that sounds super fun and great in theory, I know that chances are we would get thrown off the schedule real fast.  Noah would want to make something on a Thursday instead of a Monday or we would get invited to go to the zoo or beach on a Wednesday instead of Friday.  So instead of assigning certain activities for certain days, I decided to create a daily schedule of sorts... one that would allow for a lot of flexibility and freedom.  

Mornings spent out of the house...
Mornings are when Noah is in the best mood.  I think this is pretty common for young kids.  Because of this, I like to plan activities out of the house before lunch.  Whether it's a play date with friends, going to the pool, or running errands, I like knowing we will get out of the house at least once a day.  

Afternoons at home...
Afternoons are when I find the hours start to drag on.  We usually finish lunch by 12:30 and then there's a good 6+ hours until Chris gets home.  And now that Noah is no longer napping on a regular basis, that's a lot of time to fill!  When I don't have a plan, I am easily tempted to just let Noah watch more TV or iPad than he should.  So I have come up with a very loose schedule to keep him busy while also giving me some downtime.  Ideally, this is what our afternoons would look like...

1-2 Playtime.  Whether it's Legos, puzzles, board games, or some imaginative play with his Octonauts, this is the time for him to just play with whatever he wants.  I want Noah to have a fun and relaxed summer, so I'm not micromanaging this hour, just telling him to go play!    

2-3:30 Quiet time.  If we are out in the car around this time, Noah almost always falls asleep.  But when we are home, he rarely takes a nap.  Regardless, I still think he should have some quiet time.   I will also admit that I need some time to myself to go on the computer and just be alone.  This is when I let Noah watch his iPad, watch a few TV shows, or put a movie in.  If he's watching a show or movie I will usually sit with him while working on my laptop.  

3:30-4:30 Create something.  I find this time of day is the perfect time to be hands on and create something.  Some days I will plan a craft for him to do, but many days he likes to just draw, color, paint, or do play doh.  I would also like to bake with him once a week during this time.  He loves doing it and we get a delicious treat out of it too!

4:30 -5:30 Play on the deck.  Once it starts to cool off a bit, I'd like to get Noah back outside to play.  He gets to play in the sand and water table while I get to sit and relax for a bit.   Originally I thought I would be able to leave Noah out on the deck while I ran in and out getting dinner ready.  But then this past weekend I spotted a bear in my backyard and it has me totally freaking out!  I'm actually a little concerned I won't be able to get Noah to play out in our yard at all for a little while, and I honestly can't blame him... I'm a little on edge too!  

5:30-6:45 Dinner.  Feed Noah and prep dinner for Chris and me.  This is also when I plan to do a quick clean up of the downstairs.  

6:45-7:30 Chris is home!  Eat a quick dinner and spend some more time outside.  I'd love to start eating our dinner out on the deck and then maybe going for a family walk around the neighborhood while Noah rides his bike.  

7:30 Get ready for bed.  When Noah doesn't nap, he needs to be in bed by 8pm.  This gives us time to do a bath and read some stories.  If he did end up napping, then I'm all for the boys playing a little longer together.  

Fun days...
While I think this "schedule" will help our days run more smoothly, I am fully aware and expecting that this schedule to be thrown out the window at times.  I will never turn down an invitation to go on a day trip or spend the afternoon at the pool with friends.  I also love that Chris plans to take a few random days off of work so that we can go do fun family things when it's not as crowded as on the weekends.  Just yesterday, Noah and I went to the beach for the day with friends and loved every minute of it.  I really believe that these are the summer days we will always remember!

I'd love to know how you do summer!  Do you try to maintain a routine or just let your kids dictate their own time?  What are your tips for having a fun summer while still keeping the house (and your sanity) in tact!?!  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Our Weekend with Elmo, Iron Man, and Dory!

We just enjoyed a three day weekend with Chris and once again I'm convinced that three day weekends are the way to go in the summer.  On Friday, the three of us headed down to Sesame Place. Noah and I had gone earlier in the week with friends, but since we have season passes this year we figured why not go again.  On Monday, we only did the dry rides and a show.  It was ridiculously hot (at least for us!) and Noah lost steam early and wanted to head home by 1:30.  Thankfully it wasn't as hot on Friday and Noah was eager to go back.  This visit, we did only the water rides and made sure to get lots of photo ops with the characters.  We finally did the lazy river for the first time (last year it was closed whenever we went!) and we found out that Noah is more timid on rides than he was last year.  There are now a few rides that Noah loved going on last year (like a big water slide and the Cookie Monster dry ride) that he no longer likes.  Thankfully he enjoyed the smaller water slide and was happy to go on it many times.  We also let him pick out a souvenir, and after perusing the store chose the plush Abby Cadaby.  While we had already met Abby on the "street", Noah was so excited to show the real Abby his new stuffed Abby when we went to the VIP Meet and Greet.  As we left, he told us that Abby and Super Grover are his favorites :)

On Saturday, we headed to Lowes for our second Build & Grow workshop.  They are doing a superhero theme this summer and this week was Iron Man.  Noah was really excited to go since he had so much fun last time when he made Captain America.  I was really impressed that Iron Man even had a battery operated light up chest!  

Saturday afternoon, we headed to a friend's house for a barbecue.  It was great to see two of Chris' old roommates since we don't get to see them as often as we'd like.  It's also fun because one of them has a daughter who's just a year older than Noah.  They've gotten along well together in the past, but we were especially impressed at how well they played together this time.  They played on her swing set, played with the little figures Noah brought along, created countless masterpieces on the art easel, and she even showed Noah her many many Barbies!  We were all having so much fun that we stayed much later than any of us expected.  I'm not used to these late nights!

On Sunday morning, we headed to a MOMS Club event at our local movie theater.  We were able to have a private screening of Finding Dory.  While Noah hasn't seen Finding Nemo yet, he was very excited for it since he's seen the commercials and merchandise and is very interested in sea creatures (because of Octonauts).  While this was Noah's second movie in the theater and I was confident he'd do well, I was relieved that we were seeing it with a bunch of other young kids who would also be asking questions throughout and may get a little restless.  We all really loved the movie and I would definitely go see it again!  Now I want to get Finding Nemo cause I'm pretty sure Noah would love that one too!

We spent the rest of the day just hanging out.  I got a pretty bad headache and Noah was definitely in the mood to just stay home.  After a busy Friday and Saturday, it was exactly what we all needed!  

What were you guys up to this weekend???

Friday, June 24, 2016

Rewind Friday | Home Tour

Happy Friday!  Chris took the day off and we are off galavanting!  While Chris doesn't like taking full weeks off (he feels he misses too much), he loves taking many Fridays off in the Summer.  And we don't mind one bit!  Speaking of Fridays... next week, I will be helping some of my favorite blogger friends host a fun and patriotic link up.  I don't know about you, but I love any excuse to dress Noah up for whatever the current holiday is.  Needless to say, Noah will be wearing a lot of red, white, and blue over the next two weeks.  And I know I can't be alone, so why not photograph your child in their all-american best and link up with us for the 2nd Annual Star Spangled Kids Link-up!!!  You can also share your patriotic photos on Instagram with the tag #StarSpangledKids.

While you are daydreaming about red, white, and blue, why not stick around for (and link up with) our second Rewind Friday! In case you missed it, Beth, Whitney, Stephanie and I are hosting this new linkup as a way to share your favorite overlooked content. As a blogger, we are constantly creating and sharing content that we are proud of, and that we've often put a ton of time and effort into. Sometimes a post that we love and worked really hard to put together doesn't get the kind of attention (comments, visits, shares, pins, what have you) that we think it deserves. Now's your chance to get some new eyes on these posts! So grab my Rewind Friday button and link up some of your favorite overlooked posts!  #RewindFridayParty

 photo Reward Friday Button_zpsvlv12xto.jpg

Yesterday marked our 2 year anniversary of closing on our first ever house!  Some days it feels like we just moved in while other times it feels like we've been here forever.  When we first moved in, I was sharing room tours as I "finished" them.  While I should never say any room is really finished, they were complete enough to photograph and share.  I love looking back at these photos for many reasons.  Not only were the rooms super clean, but I'm also amazed at how so many of them have already changed (in little and big ways)!  These photos are reminding me that it may be time to share an update on each of the rooms.

Now for the fun part... Last month we mentioned that we will feature the bloggers with the most clicked links.  Here is the Spotlight Post for May!    Make sure you link up this month for the chance to be showcased next month!

Here are the dates of our future link ups! 
July 29th | August 26th | September 30th 
October 28th | November 25th | December 30th

I'm also linking up with The Farmer's Wife and September Farm for "Oh Hey Friday" and with A. Liz Adventures for "Five on Friday"!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

#BoyMom Box Swap

Noah and I were really excited to participate in the #BoyMom Box Swap that Stephanie, Liz, and Sarah are hosting. There's something so fun about being a boy mom and I love the idea of celebrating that!  We got paired up with Julia (and Myles) over at The Everyday Momma.  While this was my first introduction to Julia and her blog, after reading and emailing back and forth with her, I quickly realized that we have a lot in common and that Noah and Myles have a lot of similar interests.  This made it super easy to shop for them. I think it must have helped Julia as well, because she hit it out of the park with the goodies she sent us too!  

First up... a wooden monster truck to assemble and paint, how perfect!  Not only does Noah love monster trucks, but he is clearly obsessed with crafts!  Yesterday we glued the wheels on and today we plan to paint the truck... perfect indoor activity since there's rain in the forecast.  

Next up was this Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad.  Since we've used (and loved) them in the past, Noah wanted to open and use it as soon as he saw it!  

Noah also really likes Look & Find books, so I think these Eye Found It cards will be very popular as well.  But as soon as Noah saw the bubble gun, he wanted to go out on the deck and give it a try.  While bubbles can get messy, this gun was really cool.  You fill up this little dish, then dip the bubble gun in there.  Then you just hold the trigger down for the fan to blow the bubbles.  This was one of the easiest bubble guns we've ever used and doesn't leave your kid (or yourself) with sticky hands!  It kept both of us entertained for quite a while... Noah with the bubbles and me taking bubble photos ;)

I was also super excited that Julia sent me a little something too.  I can't wait to try out the face mask!  Now head on over to The Everyday Momma to see what we sent Julia and Myles!  

rash guard | swim trunks (sold out online) | water shoes

*affiliate links used

Trucks & Ice Cream | Better Together

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. #TopYourSummer #SoHoppinGood #CollectiveBias

For me, summer is all about being outside and taking it easy with family and friends.  Throw in some ice cream on a hot, sunny day, and I'm in heaven.  This past weekend, we had my parents over for a Father's Day BBQ.  We were fortunate to have the perfect weather for an outside barbecue... sunny but not too hot or humid.  We took advantage of this beautiful weather and stayed out all afternoon.  Noah loses interest in the food faster than we adults do, so I made sure to have some fun water activities planned.  In addition to his regular water table, I set up this fun car wash for his toy trucks.  He had so much fun with the car crafts we did inside (as I shared yesterday), that I thought it would be fun to continue the theme with some outdoor play as well.  And if your child is anything like Noah, they will love anything that involves a hose!  

Truck Car Wash

A bucket
Dish (or hand) soap
A sponge
A hose
Toy trucks (or really anything else that needs "cleaning")

Fill the bucket with water and soap.  
Give your child the sponge and let them clean their cars and trucks. 
Take the hose and rinse off the trucks and lay them out to dry.  
You can repeat these steps as many times as your kid wants! 

We used the same bucket and sponge that we use for washing our real cars.  But since Noah was washing his toy cars, we used some mild dish soap from our kitchen.  Noah hates to get his clothes wet, so we changed him into his swim suit and water shoes and let him get to work.  He loved dunking his trucks in the soapy water and scrubbing them down with the big sponge.  But his absolute favorite part was using the hose to rinse them off.  Chris showed him how he could spray the water at the wheels and make them spin... he thought that was so cool!

While the boys were busy washing the toy trucks and playing with the hose, I put together a little afternoon treat.  Ice cream is my absolute favorite.  I feel like it's never too cold for ice cream, but on a hot and sunny day, it's absolute perfection!  Since we were celebrating Father's Day, I decided to put in a little more effort and get everyone's favorite Blue Bunny® flavors and Smucker’s toppings!  I love that with just a few flavors of ice cream and toppings, everyone was able to make their ideal ice cream creation.  All the perks of going to an ice cream parlor without the hassle!  I'm all about making entertaining easier!    

Blue Bunny® Homemade Vanilla
Blue Bunny® Mint Chocolate Chip
Blue Bunny® Cherry Pickin' Chocolate™

Everyone got to enjoy their favorite... Keebler waffle cones with Mint Chocolate Chip, Cherry Pickin' Chocolate™, and Homemade Vanilla with Smucker’s Sundae Syrup Caramel Flavored Syrup. And while my family are all big cone fans, I couldn't wait to show Noah how the Smucker’s Magic Shell works on top of a bowl of Homemade Vanilla!  I'm personally a fan of each and every flavor and combination (I purposefully got everything that I love) making it really hard to choose which one to have.  If I'm being honest, I had more than one!

While I will never turn down some delicious ice cream and toppings, being able to enjoy it with my family made it 100 times better!  I loved watching Noah eat his cone with Papa!  We see my dad a lot during the week since he's constantly stopping by our house to work on our lawn.  While we see him a lot, it's a nice treat for Noah and him to just sit and chat.  There's just something about an ice cream cone that can bring people together.  The very best days are better together!

You can find the new clear packaged containers of Blue Bunny® and all of your Smucker’s toppings in the ice cream aisle at Walmart. You can also earn cash back on Smucker's Ice Cream Toppings with the free Ibotta app! Everything you need for an ice cream filled afternoon with family in one convenient spot!

So tell me, what is your favorite ice cream and toppings combination?  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vroom Vroom! | Transportation Crafts for Pre-schoolers

If you are a regular reader, you know that we love to craft over here.  Not only do we love to do organized crafts that I plan ahead of time, but Noah is constantly drawing pictures and using scissors, glue, and tape.  Last week, while I was making breakfast, he drew a traffic light all on his own.  This spontaneous drawing inspired me to do some transportation crafts with Noah.  

I figured it was only fitting for us to start with a stop light!

Construction paper - black, red, yellow, and green
A cup (or other round object) to act as tracing guide

Trace 3 circles on the black piece of construction paper.  The size of your circles will depend on the size of your paper.  You'll want the three circles to be spaced out evenly.  
Cut squares of red, yellow, and green construction paper.  
Glue the squares inside the appropriate circle.  This is the perfect time to teach your child the order of a traffic light and work on their colors.  If they are very young, you could start it off and use this as a color matching craft with the rest of the pieces.  
If you'd like, trim the black backing and add a yellow pole (that was totally Noah's idea!)

Now that Noah is getting older and really good at cutting, I'm letting him do so much more.  In the past, I would prepare all the materials ahead of time and just let him do the gluing.  But this time, I simply gave him all the colored construction paper and let him do the rest.  He helped me trace the 3 circles using a cup as our guide.  Then he cut all the squares from the colored paper and glued them into place.  It was totally his idea to trim the black paper so that the stop light was more narrow.  And we had to add a yellow pole! 

Now that we had our traffic light, we needed some cars to go along with it!  

I had found some paper plate crafts on Pinterest and showed Noah the finished product.  He was so excited to do it and immediately went to grab the paper plates!  And before I knew it, he had cut the bottoms off to make a car!

Paper plate
Construction paper (black, white, yellow, and whatever color you want your car to be)

Cut the bottom off your paper plate to make a slightly larger than half circle
Cut squares of construction paper so you can cover your car (paper plate)
Cut some large black circles for wheels, smaller yellow circles for lights, and yellow rectangles for windows
Simply glue on the colored squares and then the wheels, lights, and windows, and you are done!

Once again, Noah had fun doing every single part of this craft!  He absolutely loves to cut and glue and was adamant to do everything "on his own"!  I couldn't get over how he sat with his legs crossed when cutting out the wheels!

While I had only planned to do these two crafts, Noah immediately requested we make a train next!  I'm not exaggerating when I say he loves this stuff!

I quickly searched Pinterest for a train craft and found a really cute "shape" train.   For this craft, I helped Noah a little more by cutting out the rectangles and triangles, but that was because we wanted the proportions to be right.  

Construction paper - blue for the background, and whatever colors you want for the rest of the train
Cotton balls
Optional -  googly eyes and a crayon to make the face

Cut out different shapes - a large rectangle for the body, circles for the wheels, and some rectangles and triangles for the front, steam column, and whistle.  To be honest, I don't really know what the parts of the train are called, I just know what they look like from watching Thomas ;)
Using glue, assemble the train and add the steam (cotton balls).
While the train looked great at this point, Noah specifically asked for some googly eyes so that his train would have a face.  I'm guessing because all the Thomas trains have faces?  Then he drew on a smiley face... and added some dirt :)

I am just loving how these crafts are evolving as Noah grows.  If you have colored construction paper, scissors, and glue in your arsenal, you can make almost anything.  And based on your child's age, skill, and interest, you can decide how much you prepare ahead of time versus how much they do on their own.  And as usual, I find it's best to have a general idea of what it will look like and then let your child run with it and add their own creative touches to it :)  Crafting with toddlers and preschoolers really can be simple AND fun!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fun at the Carnival | The Expo

Is there anything better than a summer evening at your local carnival?  There's something about the kiddie rides, the cheap prizes you win at the games, and the greasy food that makes it the perfect family activity.  This was the second time going to our local "expo", and this year Noah specifically requested that we invite his best bud to come with us.  It was so much fun to watch Noah run around with his friends and have someone to go on the rides with.  We lucked out with a warm and sunny evening with low humidity (which is key to beautiful weather in New Jersey!).  We made the most of our two hours there by going on all the kiddie rides, winning a few prizes, and eating our weight in pretzels, zeppoles, and italian ice!  

One of the most amusing parts of the evening was watching the dads "compete" at the different carnival games.  It started when Chris won Noah a stuffed zebra at the water gun game.   He then won a stuffed cookie monster for JP, the very next round!  While Chris will tell you that it's really rare for him to win, so far this summer, Chris has won 3 times!  On our way out, JP's dad decided to try his luck at the dunk a cop tank.  He was successful at dunking the cop, which led to Chris having to give it a try as well.  We finished the night with the men seeing who could throw a faster pitch.  While neither of them will be trying out for the majors, they did win the boys some inflatable swords ;) 

shirtchambray shorts | cross body (in brown) | leather slides (in black) | sunglasses | bracelets

You know it was a good evening when you need to brush your teeth a few times just to get the red italian ice stain off your teeth and lips!  And to top it all off, when we were discussing our favorite thing from the day, Noah couldn't narrow it down to just one thing.  Instead, he had a top 5 list, including riding on the train ride and watching the man get dunked.  And honestly, I couldn't agree more :)  
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