Tips for Traveling with Kids

Most of you that know me in real life think I’m a little (a lot….) bananas for taking as many road trips as we do. Wanna know the truth?! I actually hate driving, and I hate packing, and I REALLY hate unpacking, but more than any of those things, I hate not seeing my friends and family. Since road tripping with my littles is really the only way we get to see everyone, road tripping it is!

Although I usually drive everywhere, I’ve also flown with them several times. Even though these trips are exhausting, I hope some day when my kids are grown, they have the best memories of all the traveling we did when they were little.

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Most of these tips apply to younger kids, but some are great for kids (and adults!!!) of all ages. I hope they help you on your next road trip, flight, boat ride, whatever it is you decide to do! And, in the interest of full disclosure, I will go ahead and tell you that my kids have always been good travelers, even as babies. They both are very used to being in the car, and are generally unphased by longer car rides. I DO think it’s more challenging if you have children that are not used to traveling, or if you have children prone to car sickness, but hopefully some of my tips will be help make your trip a little less painful!

WHEN WE LEAVE 

I know most people like to get out the door first thing in the morning, but I’m almost always traveling solo with the kids. For me, I find it’s much easier to leave in the afternoon. I make the kids do something super active in the morning, and then leave right after lunch. Even if my kids don’t fall asleep (usually they both do, but at least one does every time), they are more mellow and relaxed. Sometimes we’re simple and just spend all morning at the park, sometimes we do something more exciting and go to the zoo or kids museum or something. For Bee especially, sleeping for part of it makes the ride feel much shorter.

One of my favorite road trips was a few years ago, when I drove the kids from North Carolina to Arkansas (and back). I pulled up Google maps, and picked a couple cities to stop in. I broke the trip in to 6-8 hour driving days, since 8 hours without stops is the max I’ll travel solo these days. I picked Atlanta (the Georgia Aquarium), Memphis (Memphis Zoo), Birmingham (McWane Science Center), and Charlotte (visiting my sweet niece!!!). We stopped in Atlanta and Memphis on the way out, and Birmingham and Charlotte on the way home. It was so fun to break up the trip like that, although my rotten kids both said the biscuits at the hotel in Atlanta were their favorite part of THE WHOLE TRIP. hahaha! 

We do the same thing before we fly, as long as we can swing it! If we don’t have time to do something active before a flight, I do make sure we get as much movement as possible in after security but before boarding. Sometimes that means doing laps in the terminal, but it’s better than nothing!

WHAT WE DO

This summer, they started having a “best view” contest while we were driving. I don’t understand it, because there is no prize; but they LOVE deciding which window has the best view. They’re just getting old enough for other games, like the license plate game or car bingo. Keep your eyes on the Target Bullseye section – I’ve found car bingo in there several times!!

Both kids have iPads; we didn’t have DVD players in the van, although for a cool 10k our dealership would have happily given them to us. 🙂  For long plane rides (or car rides that are longer than usual), sometimes I’ll download a new movie (E) or a few episodes of a new show (Bee). I also got them Bluetooth headphones (Bee’s here and E’s here) recently, and they are OBSESSED. They were perfect for the loooooong plane ride to Japan (but I told them no using the lights on the plane 🤣). We don’t use their iPads during short trips, and they aren’t allowed to be on them the whole time even on our longest travel days, but they’ve been a great thing to have in our travel toolkit.

We love to bring non-electronic things too, of course! Magna Doodles and Boogie Boards are GREAT options. We also have these fabric play sets, that are SO adorable, but also engaging for kids.

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Melissa & Doug water color pads are THE BEST for traveling. We’ve used them in the car, and I have a bunch for Bee to use on planes. E just likes crayons and a clipboard. I don’t love them having pencils in the car just to be safe, but he’s content with crayons, and I feel less nervous about him accidentally getting poked in the eye with those!

A few times I have felt REALLY WILD, and I let E color on table tops with washable markers. I know, so wild! Don’t panic; we cleaned the tables before boarding our plane!!  

In the weeks or months leading up to the trip, I also hit up Target clearance/Bullseye section/Dollar Stores/5 Below for little surprise treasures to keep stashed away for emergencies. Sometimes they are just simply OVER the car ride, and don’t want to get back in after we’ve made a quick stop. It’s nice to have some enticements. It was more helpful when it was just E and he was little; they usually just go with the flow now, and Bee will do whatever E does. But, it does help to break up the trip a little bit.

Wondering what kinds of things I’ve picked up?  small plastic animals/dinosaurs (before we moved  we had a huge bin of plastic dinosaurs in my trunk, and I can’t even tell you how many times they were played with!!), foam stickers, small LEGO sets, small figurines from the kids’ favorite shows, books, small handheld games (not electronic), Crayola Color Wonder sets, magnetic play sets, paper dolls, etc. 

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For this long flight to Japan, I hit the jackpot with Target clearance! I found Colorforms sets for both kids, a Nella & the Princess Knight playset, some clearance LOL Dolls and Shopkins, Ready to Robot (don’t even ask me what those are, but E loved them, haha!), an Imaginext Jurassic Park play set, an American Girl sticker book, and some new reading and coloring books. These were great for the hotel once we landed, too. 

WHAT WE LISTEN TO

Both kids like to listen to movie soundtracks and alternate who gets to choose the album. We use iTunes Radio for the soundtracks that I don’t have downloaded already. The soundtracks work better for us than letting them switch every other song, although sometimes we do that too. Their current favorite soundtracks in rotation are the Greatest Showman, Moana, Trolls, Frozen, all 5 (?) LEGO movie soundtracks, Teen Titans, and the Lion King (both versions).  Bee also has a Princess Fairytale station she loves on iTunes.

WHAT WE PACK 

I always keep a bag of snacks, napkins, juice boxes, etc. on the passenger seat so I can hand stuff back. Chris almost never travels with us, so I like to have everything within my reach. It’s much easier if you have older kids, but when both kids were still in 5 point harnesses, it was 100% necessary.

The other day, Chris asked me what the wad of paper was in the driver’s side door of my car. I told him it was napkins, in case I needed them while I was driving. He said, “why would you need a napkin while you’re driving?” And, that’s the difference between us in a nutshell!! 

Our favorite travel snacks are: apples, applesauce/fruit pouches, fruit snacks, protein/granola bars, veggie straws, string cheese, rice cakes, and pretzels. I also bring bread to make pb&j sandwiches, or tortillas for “hiking pb&j” sandwiches – I usually prefer to just use tortillas since they don’t get squished like a loaf of bread does! We also love to make up a big batch of chocolate chip banana muffins, using the Kodiak mix, since they have a pretty good protein content for the kids.

Don’t laugh, but I also pack a pair of scissors. I know that sounds weird, but I can’t even tell you how many times my kids (and other people) have asked for my “car scissors”. I don’t technically “pack” them for each trip since they’re already there, but I do keep them in my car!

This summer, I started traveling with reusable straws too. Bee is not always the best when it comes to drinking out of regular cups, so having the straws came in pretty handy!

I also keep several large ziploc bags, a couple plastic grocery bags, some Clorox wipes, baby wipes, and sanitizer in my car (and in my carry on, if I’m flying!). You just never know what could happen 😳😂 If I’m driving, I usually carry a roll of paper towels somewhere in the trunk, too. Chris thinks it’s so silly, but he’s only dealt with bodily fluids while traveling a fraction of the time I have! The large ziploc bags are to hold any soiled items that you can’t toss, like special blankets, lovies, etc., until you get them to the laundry.

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Finally, I always pack a hotel or “first night” bag. Since I leave later in the day, I usually get in fairly late in the evening. It’s so nice to be able to grab my purse and the “first night” bag and leave the rest in the car for the night. Of course, you’ll also want to grab any perishable or valuable items too, rather than leaving those in the car. I keep my first night bag where it’s easy to grab as soon as we’re ready to unload.

I only toss in the essentials – pjs for everyone (if the kids aren’t already wearing theirs; sometimes they switch to pjs at our last stop of the night!), clothes for the next day, toiletries, a blanket and stuffed animal for each of them, chargers, and then perishables/valuables.

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A lot of times when the kids and I travel, we have several one-night stays on the way to our final destination. For those trips, I pack multiple “first night” bags. It seems like a pain when you’re doing the packing, but it makes my life so much easier, and I don’t have to make multiple trips out to my car, with the kids in tow, when I’m flying solo.

Don’t have that many extra bags? You can just keep a pillowcase or laundry bag in your trunk, and before you leave the next morning, just swap the clothes out 🙂 

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I hope your next trip goes as smoothly as possible! What are some of your favorite travel tips? Can’t wait to hear from you!

colleen

Our First Month in Okinawa

Chris and I have joked about getting orders to Japan for YEARS. We lived in North Carolina much, much longer than is typical for military families. We always laughed that one day, out of the blue, someone with authority would open his file and decide to move us as far away as possible. Well, this past January, that’s pretty much what happened!

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I was DEVASTATED, at first. I was heartbroken to say goodbye to our perfect little house, our neighborhood, and all of our people. I knew, of course, that there would be great things to see and do in Okinawa, but it took me a really long time to make Jacksonville feel like home, and it was so hard to leave. I wrote lots of sappy Facebook posts, and accidentally made lots of people cry, but we finally boarded the plane in early August.

After spending the night in the Raleigh airport, and a long 24 hours of traveling, the four of us finally arrived in Okinawa. (Pssst – stressed about traveling with kids? Check out my travel tips over here!). The kids were really SO good, on all three flights. PHEW.

Although the first month of our adventure here has involved a lot of tedious (and sometimes frustrating) housekeeping tasks, we’ve also had a chance to explore parts of the island. One of our first jobs once we landed was to celebrate E’s birthday! He turned 8 the day after we arrived!! I had sneakily stashed birthday presents, light-up balloons, and a balloon pump in my luggage. A sweet friend that arrived to the island ahead of us brought us to the grocery store the morning of his birthday, so we picked up cake and ice-cream, too. I didn’t have a lighter, but I did have a yellow bread bag 🤷🏻‍♀️ so, I ripped a tiny piece of yellow cellophane off the bread bag, and tied it around the candle, and E ripped the “flame” off when he made his wish. Whatever works!

The first couple days of adjusting to the time change were rough. I got up for the day at 11:30 pm, Bee was up at 3:30 am, E at 4:00 am, and somehow C managed to sleep 8+ hours. Rude. The kids and I walked around our hotel for a little bit after breakfast, before we were stuck inside waiting to see what was going to happen with an incoming typhoon.

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We didn’t have cars or licenses right away, so we walked most places. The kids and I tried to find a cute shop that I wanted to go to, but got lost, and then rained on, so we went to the bowling alley on Kadena instead. By the time the kids finished bowling, it had stopped raining, so we walked to the shop since my Waze app had finally started working again. The shop was closed 🤣 WOOPS. About 1/3 of the way back to the hotel, it started POURING. Three different people stopped to offer us a ride, but we were close enough to the hotel that it wasn’t a big deal at all to keep walking. We looked like a bunch of drowned rats by the time we got back to the hotel, but dang, our new raincoats were looking cute.

We got more rain over the rest of the weekend. We went to Round 1 Stadium in Ginowan with a couple families from C’s new unit. Bee loved the ball pit. Both kids attempted to roller skate. C roller bladed for a few, and I wish I had gotten it on video. We went right by the sea wall at Gordie’s. Very authentic Japanese food (hopefully you can read the sign about burgers, haha!) 😂😂  We spent more time with the same families the next day. I wish I had taken a picture of the table at Yakiniku after all 12 of us sat down, and all the dishes started coming. We had to take our shoes off before going in to eat. E made about 100 trips to get drink refills/use the bathroom because he liked putting on the restaurant’s slippers.

Luckily, the pool and splash pad were both within walking distance of our hotel. Something else for the kids to do!

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Several days after arriving on the island, we had our newcomer’s brief, which included a driving test to get our Japanese licenses. After the brief, we picked the kids up from childcare, and our sponsor drove us to pick out cars. E desperately wanted me to get something other than black, but I bought the black one on the right 😂 C *almost* got the bright blue one, but settled on the grayish Cube instead.

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59 days after leaving our NC house, we finally laid eyeballs on the house we were going to sign for 🎉 I had been mentally preparing myself to live in a tiny 3rd floor apartment, but this little end unit multiplex on base was so perfect. So much bigger than I imagined, 3 bedrooms, tons of closet space (you KNOW I need my closet space!), 2.5 bathrooms, a small deck and patio, outdoor storage, a little yard space, a playground within walking distance, two little palm trees to greet me every day, AND, PET FRIENDLY. 😭 I could have just cried. Some of you know I’ve especially been sweatin’ that pet-friendly part. PHEW.
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There’s a small gift shop called the Kadena Gift Corner, across from the exchange, that I’d been dying to visit since we arrived. We finally got Okinawa 123, a super cute counting book that a friend told us about, for Natalie. I bought myself a few birthday presents “from the kids”, and they insisted on little wooden elephants for themselves 😂😂I’ll need to make many more trips in the future, because there were so many fun things. The first time I went was the Thailand shipment opening. So fun!
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After we got our address, we were able to register E for 3rd grade at his new elementary school, and then stay for new student orientation. The principal was so kind. We chatted for a bit and he gave each of the kids a little eraser. Both of them (the kids, not the principal) had meltdowns on the way home, in our sponsor’s car 😱 We were on day 60 of our gypsy living, so I could understand how they felt, but also, GET IT TOGETHER 😂
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The same night, we got a phone call saying that our cars were ready, and we could get them that day, as long as we could make it to the dealership by 6:00 pm. We made it there with a little time to spare, picked up both cars, and have both managed to drive in the correct lane so far 😂 The worst part is, the windshield wipers and blinkers are opposite. Guess how many times C washed his windshield the first day….I shouldn’t make fun of him, because I STILL cannot stop trying to get in the wrong side of my car.
Our first weekend with cars, we went to American Village and the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. We had such a fun day exploring American Village/Depot Island, despite the cloudy, gray skies, and loads of back sweat.
The kids died over the little turtle bread treats we found at Aeon in American Village.  We walked around for a couple hours, and ended our day at the Bokunen Art Museum. E loved the view from the top!
It was supposed to rain most of the rest of the weekend, so we ventured to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. E had put this aquarium on his Okinawa bucket list right when we found out we were moving here. Both kids loved it! It was really busy the day we went, and also really hot, but we’ll be back again for sure since we bought the annual pass!
We had stayed in 17 different places since June, and after 65 days, we finally got to unpack our suitcases 🙌🏻 On Day 66, all of our stuff showed up at our house. The only thing that arrived broken was a Scentsy warmer that I broke myself, haha! 
We had a low key weekend right before schools started, and I really wanted to get some more unpacking and laundry done. Well, I didn’t *want* to, but my sanity required it 😂Even though our stuff hadn’t shown up moldy, all of our clothing and linens that weren’t sealed in ziplocs smelled very much like they’d been in storage for two months. That meant A LOT of laundry. I think I did 45 loads, but I definitely lost count after day 2. For all of their meltdowns over the previous two months, the kids never once complained about the constant packing and unpacking, not having all their things, sharing a pull out couch for most of the summer, or anything else related to the move. Natalie was so happy to have her room and all of her dress-up stuff unpacked. E has made like 7000 LEGO creations. They both told me that weekend that they loved it here.

We did take a little bit of time to explore White Beach. The kids loved the water, but they were too chicken to go much further in since E had seen a warning sign about jellyfish!!

Natalie’s just been living her best life since we landed! She’s obsessed with these “doughnut rolls”, as she calls them. We bought several breads at the market, then she found a ton of treasures at two little dollar stores (even though we only went in for a dishdrainer and two stools). She found trainer chopsticks, a sloth for Ethan, and several other fun things. And she had to have that fuzzy rabbit head purse, obviously. She also is OBSESSED with all of the ice-cream vending machines around Okinawa.

During the first week of school, E and Chris both got home early, so we went to the Kadena Marina for a couple hours. We also got Bee registered for preK out in town, and an international Montessori-style school. She’ll have yoga, karate, hydroponics, swimming, Japanese, and more, built in to her school day. She told me she was “a little nervous” to visit the school today, but as soon as they told her she could bring cupcakes to celebrate her birthday with her new friends on her first day, she was all in !
Over the long Labor Day weekend, we had a full and sweaty day! We spent the morning at Pineapple Park in Nago. We filled up on pineapple treats, including pineapple wine, pineapple icecream, pineapple chunks, chocolate covered pineapple, and more.After Pineapple Park, we went next door to Fruitsland. I expected more fruit? But it was a whole fairy “epic quest”, as E called it. We left Fruitsland and headed to Pizza in the Sky for pizza. We finished the day with all the kids piled in the tiny trunk of my car eating icecream from Lawson StationThe tram ride at Pineapple Park was all in Japanese, so I’m not sure what we learned on that part, but we did see lots of pineapples growing in their natural habitat 🤣 the little pineapple golf carts were so cute, and that part was in English. After the golf cart ride, we continued the tour on foot. Bee tried an Okinawan sweet potato (beniimo) popsicle and gave it a thumbs up. E had a lemon popsicle. The giant pineapple dessert included pineapple jam, a cherry , whipped cream, cornflakes, chocolate sauce, cookies, pineapple chunks, pineapple icecream, and the giant pineapple on the side. Between the four of us, we ate all of it!  
At Fruitsland, the big kids loved doing the actual fairy quest. The little kids liked looking around at everything and feeding the goats. It was a long wait for Pizza in the Sky, but the view from the top is beautiful. The restaurant has fans and hats to borrow during your sweaty wait. E really enjoyed the hats The restaurant has a bunch of plushies inside that kids can play with while they’re eating here. They loved taking their shoes off and going inside to pick out dinner friends. And, if you’re wondering, my trunk is exactly four kids wide, with no room to spare!
Next up was Bee’s birthday! We had plans for the evening, so the kids and I spent all morning and early afternoon celebrating her! We also celebrated with our new neighborhood friends the night before. By FAR Bee’s favorite part of Xystus Kidsland was the kid-sized potty. We must have made six trips in like an hour. Then, we had to kill some time before the doughnut shop, Otaru Unga, opened, so we went to Aeon for some more treasures. Had to have a doll party in the parking lot, naturally.
Chris had an extra day off after the kids went back to school, so we went out to lunch in Onna. We tried to go to Blue Island Cafe, but they were closed the day we went. Instead we went to Tembo Restaurant Churaumi inside of Okashi Goten, a beniimo tart factory and sweets/souvenir shop. The ocean views were so pretty I could barely stand it!

Once everyone went back to school and work, I took a few hours and drove out to Sea Glass Beach. I had the entire beach to myself!! 

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This past week, I stopped by Mister Donut to get these spooky doughnuts for the kids, to celebrate the end of Natalie’s first week of school. They were so excited about these crazy Halloween donuts I found, except they all tasted awful 😂😂 Such a let down! 
We still miss all of our family and friends back home, but we’re soaking up all that Okinawa has to offer for the few years we get to live here. Can’t wait to share our next adventures with you all!
Love,
colleen

Me Made May 2019

Whew, it’s been a long time since you’ve heard from me! I hadn’t planned to post about Me Made May here, but I was inspired by the always fabulous Katy of Wild & Wanderful. Make sure you check out all of her fun Me Made May outfits, too!

Here’s all 31 looks together:

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Want all the details on fabrics, patterns, and accessories? All the info {or at least all the info I remember } is posted below. Enjoy!

Looks 1-4:

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1 – sized down + color blocked Women’s Paige, fabric unknown, necklace from Noonday Collection

2 – Women’s Ava, fabric from knitpop, necklace from Noonday Collection, earrings from ohlittlefoxes.

3 – Women’s Paige, fabric from Sincerely Rylee, necklace from Noonday Collection

4 – Women’s Catherine, fabric from knitpop, necklaces are two different pieces from local boutiques

Looks 5-8:

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5 –Women’s Ava, fabric from Hobby Lobby, earrings from Jane & Cope

6 – Cocoon Cardigan & modified Women’s Stella, fabric unknown

7 – heavily modified women’s Mya (use Daphne instead), fabric from Sly Fox fabrics, necklace from Noonday Collection

8 – Women’s Mya, freebie necklace pattern, shirt fabric from Knitpop & necklace fabric from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics

Looks 9-12:

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9 – Women’s Paige tunic length, fabric from Sincerely Rylee fabrics, necklace from Kendra Scott

10 – Women’s Nina tunic length, fabric unknown, necklace from Noonday Collectionhttps://colleenleonard.noondaycollection.com/shop/, earrings from wal mart {I KNOW, RIGHT}

11 – Megan romper, fabric from Sly Fox fabrics, earrings from ohlittlefoxes.

12 – RTW chambray shirt with Women’s Adeline maxi, earrings from Noonday Collection

Looks 13-16:

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13 – Women’s Fiona, fabric from knitpop, RTW shorts from New River Pottery, necklace from Noonday Collection

14 – Women’s Paige in hi-low tunic, flounce sleeve, fabric from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics, necklace from Kendra Scott

15 – Women’s Nina dress, fabrics from Hobby Lobby, necklace from Noonday Collection

16 – Women’s Nina dress with shortened back hem, fabric from Knitpop, earrings from Noonday Collection

Looks 17- 20:

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17 – Women’s Ella, fabric from Pretty Posh Prints, necklace from Noonday Collection

18 – Women’s Ella, fabric from knitpop, RTW coverup from Agnes & Dora, necklace from Noonday Collection

19 – Summer Coverup, fabric from scrap pile in LA fabric district, tank is RTW from local boutique, necklaces are two pieces from local boutiques

20 – Timeless Tunic, fabric from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics, necklace from Target

Looks 21- 24:

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21 – Women’s Nina in tunic length, fabric unknown, earrings from Jane & Cope

22 – Women’s Mya modified to maxi length + Kourtney knot on side, necklace is modified keychain from Noonday Collection

23 – Women’s Paige modified with decorative buttons and ties, fabric from scrap pile in LA fabric district, earrings from Wal Mart

24 – Sized down Women’s Mya, fabric from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics, necklace from local craft show

Looks 25-28:

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25 – Boho Babydoll with modified flutter sleeves, fabric from So Sew English, necklace from Noonday Collection

26 – Women’s Sierra, fabric unknown, necklace from Kmart years ago

27 – Women’s Paige with waist ties added, fabric from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics, necklace from Kmart

28 – Women’s Ella modified with decorative buttons, fabric from scrap pile in LA fabric district

Looks 29-31:

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29 – Women’s Tara, stretch mesh fabric found in scrap pile in LA fabric district; necklace from Noonday Collection

30 – Women’s Tara, stretch mesh fabric found in scrap pile in LA fabric district; necklace from Noonday Collection

31 – Women’s Ella, fabric from scrap pile in LA fabric district, necklace from Noonday Collection

That’s it for this year’s Me Made May! I won’t have the same porch for next year’s pics, but you already know I’ll have the same pose, haha!!

Sadly, many of these fabrics and necklaces are no longer available, but you should be able to shop similar looks using links above! Happy shopping and sewing 🙂 

colleen

April Showers

I know some of you are still buried under piles of snow, but in eastern NC it feels like the rain has hardly stopped since last spring. We’ve had a few days of sun and spring-like temperatures, but for the most part, it’s stayed wet and cold.

I keep putting out more florals, more greenery, more bright & light colors, in hopes that eventually, the weather outside will match the inside of my house. Haha!

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E hasn’t been loving all the rain and cold, but he does make the best of it. He recently started reading the illustrated version of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, and he is hooked. Even though he can read challenging text, he is definitely not ready to part with illustrations, so this version is just perfect for him. I’m hoping they will illustrate the remainder of the series because I have a feeling the rain isn’t actually going anywhere, hahaha!

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If you’ve met my Bee in real life, you know she’s just as happy twirling through rain puddles as she is twirling in the sunshine. She doesn’t love to be bundled up, though, so she is longing for warmer weather too. PSST – check out the sneak peek of an exclusive line I’ve been working on! Stay tuned to see how you can order these exact dresses. 

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Since Bee stays home with me the majority of the time, I’m thankful for resources like education.com that give me quality materials and activities for those rainy spring days (or for any season, really!). Education.com shares that “learning fun will spring up for your kids with this matching worksheet. Kids can match the spring-themed words and pictures and practice their word recognition and spelling skills at the same time. Be sure to check out education.com for lots more learning resources just like this one.”

This pictorial matching activity is great for my non-reader! She can identify all of her letters and many beginning sounds, so we worked on this matching sheet together.

She told me what each picture/object was, and then we talked about what sound or letter the words might start with. I guess her dolls joined for moral support, haha!

Need a little something to keep your little (or not-so-little) ones busy and engaged? Education.com has lots more like this, for all learning levels! Download your copy of the Spring Matching Worksheet for free right here , and grab the answer key here.

Until next time!

Love,

colleen

DIY Vanellope von Schweetz

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The Made for Mermaids Jordan pattern was in testing right around the time my kids were watching Wreck It Ralph 2 for the first time. My daughter was immediately smitten with Vanellope von Schweetz, and asked if I could make her a costume. I had just enough scraps of teal and hot pink, and some metallicy-sequin material, to make it work.

She was a little bummed I didn’t have real candy for her to stick in her hair, but the confetti was good enough 😉

If I had planned this earlier, I would have ordered more vinyl or found striped fabric to use for her leggings, but since this was a last minute costume, we made do! I sewed long strips of fabric into one large piece, and then cut my legging pieces out.

We had so much fun dressing up the Jordan pattern to make this “sweet” outfit. It comes in adult sizes, too, so be sure to scoop up patterns for the whole fam. Happy sewing!

Love,

colleen

Made for Mermaids Jamie Poncho Pattern

The Jamie Poncho is the BEST Thanksgiving outfit you could possibly imagine! It’s not just cute; it’s also cozy for traveling, and roomy enough for all the mashed potatoes I intend to eat!

You can wear it as a pullover-style, or as a cocoon cardigan. Check out the Made for Mermaids blog for the button closure hack I wrote.

As much as I love the Jamie for myself, I CANNOT take the cuteness of the youth Jamie. It is so, so precious. I made two for Bee – one in velvet, and one in a heavy sweater knit. She loves both of them!

Since we live in North Carolina, this is perfect for most of our fall and winter! Of course, we have days where she needs a full winter coat, but generally this is all she needs!

She was REALLY feeling herself in this crushed velvet version! She could not get enough twirling.

I know she may be over this “fancy” phase one day, so I’m so happy to have all the pictures that I do.

I just love her so!

I hope you enjoy your Jamie ponchos as much as we love ours. I’m already looking forward to sewing up more of them for myself!

Love,

colleen

DIY Tomatoa & Moana Costume

My son is a MAJOR costume planner. He usually picks out his costume a year in advance, sometimes even before that!! I’ve posted about some of his/our previous costumes here. Last year was the first year Chris was actually home for Halloween, so naturally, E asked him to dress up with us. If you’ve met Chris, you know dressing up is 100% NOT his thing. However, if you’ve never been home for Halloween, and your then-6-year-old asks you to dress up as Gru from Despicable Me, you would have to be heartless to say no! 

This year, both kids decided our theme should be Moana. Bee chose Moana, E chose Tomatoa, and they decided Chris and I would be Maui and Te-fiti respectively. I didn’t put *too* much effort into either of our costumes, since I knew they wouldn’t get much use post-Halloween, but I did make sure that at least parts of the kids’ costumes were useable in every day life! 

The base of Natalie’s costume is a nude-colored bodysuit, using the Tai pattern from Made for Mermaids. I attached stretch lace trim directly to the bodysuit. Attached to the bodysuit is a short tutu skirt (part of the original pattern). I didn’t get any great pictures of her wearing it like that, but it was wonderful for the costume party at her gymnastics class!

Next, I used the Cher skirt (also from Made for Mermaids) as her “wrap skirt”. I attached several different kinds of lace and trim, all found at Hobby Lobby, and then omitted the snaps to create a more wrap look. 

Of course, Moana has to have her heart of Te-fiti, and her trusty friends, Pua and Hei Hei. All of these, as well as her sandals, came from Amazon.

E has extremely high costume expectations, and I can’t even be mad about it because I’ve created that monster myself. 

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 After he put in his request for Tomatoa, he was hopeful that I could find a way to make him bioluminescent. Luckily, I found glow-in-the-dark glitter glue that gave a close enough effect for him. 

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I used Stella and the Lexi + Lou Loungers for E’s costume base. I didn’t add any glue or embellishments to these, so that he can wear those two pieces as pajamas! 

I also used the free Beanie pattern, and attached styrofoam “eyeballs” and felt teeth. The orange neck piece” is just a tube, but you could use the neck warmer pattern if you wanted! E contributed the pipe cleaner antennae.  I found clearance shoes that I spray painted, and free-hand cut pincers that I layered with batting. His extra “legs” are filled with poly-fill, and shaped using florist wire. I attached them to the inside of the aluminum roaster pan that I used for his shell using hot glue; that would not be a great option for permanent attachment, but it held up just fine for Halloween!

The most time consuming part, by far, was his shell. Several layers of spray paint, adhesive, glitter, glow-in-the-dark glue, and dollar store “treasures” like rings and necklaces brought his vision to life, but took days to complete because of all the layers! 

We had so much fun trick-or-treating together this year. Although I love to help my kids create, part of me is hoping we can just dress up as ghosts next year. Haha!!

colleen

Fun With Words

I know I’m not alone in my love of all things fall! I love the change in weather, the change in wardrobe, back-to-school shopping, prepping for the busy holiday season, pumpkin everything – what’s not to love?

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Unfortunately, fall in our area is also hurricane season. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, our county schools have been out for nearly five weeks, with no definite return date in sight! I am SO thankful that our district is being thorough, and that students and staff will not be asked to return until the buildings are safe and clean. Still, that leaves parents and teachers alike wondering, now what?!

Our area teachers have been putting together videos, digital assignments, pop-up learning stations, and anything else they can think of to keep young minds active, as we are essentially heading into month five of “summer vacation”! I am so impressed by their dedication, even as some of them are in the process of recovery themselves!

While we are also working on grade level math skills using various workbooks and manipulatives, at our house, we especially love having fun with words. Both of my children LOVE to read, and my son has always been interested in vocabulary, word play, figurative language, and so much more.

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Education.com has been a great tool during this extended time outside of school! Are you needing a little brain work that doesn’t feel like work? Snuggle up with your kids and this fun Autumn leaves word scramble. E loves these because they are quick and fun!

You can download the Autumn Leaves Word Scramble and Answer Key  right here for free! For more engaging spelling activities, go to Education.com!

Another fun word game we’ve been playing is Boggle. It was one of my favorites when I was younger, and I’m happy to have another “brain” game we can all play together! It’s a little bit of a challenge because Bee likes to move the letters and move the timer around, but it’s still fun to see what words we can find!

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E has also been writing, illustrating, and typing his own stories. He loves to draw comic-book/graphic novel type stories, and we’ve put the pages in clear report covers to keep his pages all together. It’s an easy and cheap way to “bind” a book!

Finally, we all read daily. Bee and E both have their old favorites that they read almost daily, but we also make sure to keep new (or at least new to them) coming in regularly! I know some people are anti-comic book or books that are a little on the goofier side, but I’m a firm believer that reading is reading; anything that keeps kids engaged and in love with books is worth it. These Teen Titans Go books were a big hit at our house this morning!

What’s your favorite way to play with words? Best book you’ve read recently?! We’d love to hear all about it!

colleen