Happy Black Friday! The only day of the year you should really consider not leaving the house for any reason at all. Seriously. It’s scary out there, guys. Small Business Saturday is way better anyway, amiright?
I’ve told you about Bookroo before (here). We love it, and I’ve teamed up with them again to share a Black Friday code with all of you. You know, so you don’t even have to leave the sofa on a scary day like today.
If you need a refresher, Bookroo is a children’s book subscription service. The best titles wrapped and delivered straight to your door. It’s an excellent and thoughtful service for new parents looking to grow their kids’ library or those of you whose kids are book obsessed, like ours. The folks at Bookroo pick and share their favorite titles and you end up with an eclectic collection of titles you’ve probably never heard of before. Plus, the kids gets wrapped presents in the mail and what kid doesn’t get excited about presents?
When Isla and Theo were younger we got books from the Board Book Box, but this time around I asked for the Picure Book Box, since we now have more board books than weight in children. Also because as the kids get older I’m looking to grow their collection of more mature literature, specifically stories that teach kindness, adversity and empathy, and encourage a curiosity about this great big, diverse world.
This latest delivery (thank you, Bookroo!) featured two titles I had never heard of before: Night Knight and Bernice Gets Carried Away. If you’re a Grumpy Cat fan like my daughter, I highly recommend that last one. The kids were thrilled to unwrap their special packages and I’m thankful for some new reading material. I could recite every page in our entire library with my eyes closed.
So if you’re expecting, in need of new titles or looking for a great gift option for your next birthday party or baby shower, I can’t say enough good things about Bookroo.
In honor of Black Friday, here’s a discount code just for you!
Use code BFRISA for 25% off any multi-month subscription (3, 6 or 12 months). One redemption per family. Valid for new customers only. Existing customers may use for the purchase of one gift subscription. Valid 11/24 – midnight PST 11/27
When I began creating the kids’ Halloween costumes this year, I had no intention of sharing the DIY on the blog (hence the lack of in-progress images). But they turned out better than I imagined so I thought I’d share.
Let me preface this by saying I do not sew. A button or two, sure. But a dinosaur costume? Yea, right. When I did Isla’s sushi costume a couple of years ago I was too nervous to even sew a pillow, so I used stitch witchery to make a no-sew piece of salmon. If you can’t sew either, welcome. If you can, you probably don’t need to read this DIY.
The Peppa and George costume was inspired by Theo, who adores the show. He also regularly chases us around while shouting, “Dinosaur, RAWR!” If you’ve seen the show, you get the connection. But I didn’t want to just throw on a blue onesie with pink arms and legs and call it a day. So Theo is George from the episode where he dresses as a dinosaur for Halloween. If only I can get Theo to wear the George mask. Complicated, I know, but Theo is in love with his new dino suit so mom for the win.
To make the felt spikes, cut out a bunch of diamonds in two or three sizes. Mine measured 5″, 6″ and 8″ (tip-to-tip). Lay your hoodie flat, find the center and draw a line or “spine” with chalk as a guide. Then pin your diamonds sideways to the spine. (refer to pictures below).
Sew the center of the diamond to the hoodie, which will give you two triangles on either side of the stitch. Fold the triangles together, insert a little polyfill, pin the edges together to hold it in place and sew along the edges to close the spike. (If you can’t sew, like me, it’s okay because no one will see your messy stitches, especially if your thread matches the felt perfectly. Also, tiny stitches help conceal the sloppiness.)
Repeat this step for all of the triangles, using the smaller triangles as you travel up the hood. (I first used 4″ spikes everywhere but it looked more like a mohawk than a dino so I swapped the hood spikes for smaller ones.)
Cut one of the pant legs off your extra pair of pants. (I know this is painful, but just do it). Cut the foot opening on an angle so it’s a bit more narrow/pointed. I used chalk to draw a line as a guide.
Turn your leg inside out and sew the foot opening and the open side (where the crotch was) closed. Leave the other end (what was the waist) open.
Turn your leg right-side out and stuff it with polyfill.
Repeat the steps from the spike instructions above to complete your spikes. I sewed mine right along the seam of the pants to keep them straight. If you don’t have a seem, find the center and draw a line with chalk, then pin your diamonds to the chalk line.
Again, make the spikes smaller toward the tip of the tail.
You can either pin your tail to the hoodie or add an elastic waistband, which is what I did. First, cut your elastic to the appropriate length to snuggly fit your little one’s waist, then sew the two ends to the inside of your hole/opening. You’ll have to play around a bit with this to make it lay on the waist and not twist around as your child moves. I sewed both ends right next to each other at the top. Then sew your opening shut. Mine is not very pretty looking, but it gets the job done and you can’t see it under the hoodie anyway. If you want a more professional-looking tutorial, try this one.
There are obviously no instructions for this one, but here’s what I bought for the outfit:
Oh, hey! It’s been a while. We went MIA for a little bit there, but I thought I’d stop by and drop a little update and some family pictures from our annual Memorial Day weekend down the shore.
The big update is … We moved! Still in Philly, only a few blocks away actually, but it’s been a busy few months getting the house ready and getting settled. We bought it as it was being gutted so we got to customize/design the whole thing, which was an intimidating, time-consuming, but endlessly exciting endeavor. It has the private office Chris desperately needed, a small backyard, more living and sleeping space and is in a prime location. We’re thrilled! Maybe I’ll share some pictures as we finish up rooms and buy fun things. I’ve posted a few glimpses on my Instagram, so be sure to follow along there if you’re interested.
Anyway, that’s about it. Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. I’ll be back soon!
If I could give my daughter only one thing, it would be the knowledge that she and she alone can decide her place in this world. Be strong, be kind, be confident, be true to yourself, and give zero you-know-whats about the people who wish to bring you down. You make me a better woman, my sweet Isla Bee.
In honor of this International Women’s Day, thank you to all the glass-shattering women in my life.
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.” – Michelle Obama
One of the best things about being a parent is watching my kids learn new things. Isla is three now and she’s constantly making us laugh and surprising us with random bits of knowledge.
Like that time we were at the doctor’s office and she picked an ocean book from the office library to take home. She was “reading” the book in the waiting area with me and suddenly she exclaimed, “It’s a manatee, Mama! Manatees have tails, and they eat seaweed.” I looked at the words on the page and it was as if she was reading it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “My kid is a genius,” I thought. The same thing every mom thinks when her child does something amazing (every day). It turns out there’s an episode of Isla’s favorite show (“Diego”) that’s all about manatees, which means she knows more about them than I do!
One of the (many) hard parts of parenting is, for me, figuring out ways and finding time to teach our kids at home. Isla’s in preschool only part-time so it’s important for us to reinforce the things she’s learning. We found out early in the year that her class will focus on the alphabet and her teacher stressed to me that it’s important for kids to really understand, not just memorize. Just because a child can count to 10 or recite the alphabet, that doesn’t mean he or she truly understands what it means or can apply it in real life. This all led me to a fun, easy daily project we could do at home.
We call it “Letter of the Day.” You’ve heard of such a thing, I’m sure!
We started out by picking one letter every morning and then asking Isla to help us sound out words that begin with that letter. We’d write them all down for her and draw pictures and she’d color them. It was a fun way to focus on our letters and apply them to objects she already knows. But over time our letter pages got lost in the shuffle and I wasn’t certain she was retaining what she was learning from day-to-day, so the project faded away.
Then I got an opportunity to work with Elmer’s® brand here on the blog and I came up with a fun way to make our Letter of the Day project more productive. I ran to Target, and for less than $10 picked up a few Elmer’s products: a Foam Tri-Fold Display Board (currently available in store but not online), Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks and Board Mate Reusable Stencils.
Here’s how our new and improved Letter of the Day project works:
Every morning (that Isla doesn’t have school), we pick one letter. Then we find the big and small stencils for that letter and any shapes that begin with that letter. Together we trace the letters and shapes onto colored construction paper and I write down and draw words, animals and objects that start with our letter.
As we’re going along coloring and tracing, I’m constantly asking, “Now what’s the letter today? Do you remember?” And together we sound it out again and again and I try to reinforce the letter and the words. Her favorite part, though, is the gluing. Of course! Once I’ve cut everything out she glues the paper onto the tri-fold display board and then we go over the letters and words again and sound them out. When she’s had enough (after about 10 minutes) she closes up the tri-fold and says, “Okay, mama, I’m done. I need chocolate!” Because that one time I rewarded her with chocolate and she will not let me forget it! Not my best idea but I’m calling it a win anyway.
My favorite thing about the display board is that we get to go back and look at all of the letters from previous days. We did the letter “M” on our second day and Isla always goes back to the manatee picture I tried to draw. (Don’t judge me, I was an English major.) She loves that manatee and remembers that manatee begins with the letter M. We reinforce it every day and she is so proud of herself as she points to everything and identifies the letters and names of the objects or animals. She even shouts out little fun facts that I write on the board, like “Manatee has a tail!” or “S is for Sister, like Isla!” The other day she pointed to the words at the top of the board, which read, “Isla’s Alphabet” and said, “Isla! That’s me!” I love that seeing it every day has helped her recognize her own name!
After breakfast on the third day, Isla said to me, “Time for letter of the day, Mama!” That was music to my mama ears. To know Isla is not just learning, but enjoying the process is everything I had hoped. It’s a small, inexpensive idea with a potentially big impact, and it offers us a few uninterrupted minutes to spend together on a shared project. There is no greater joy as a parent than sharing these moments together and knowing my daughter is learning something valuable along the way.
Thanks, Elmer’s® brand, for sponsoring this blog post! (This idea and any thoughts expressed in this post are all mine. I promise.)
UPDATE: Special offer for my readers: Get 10% off Elmer’s Board Mate display boards, foam core boards, and Board Mate board accessories, using the Target Cartwheel app!