Thursday, June 30, 2016

Camp Day 3...We made it!

The final day of dressing up for camp is here!  Overall, creating costumes was not as awful as I anticipated but I have to admit I am glad that I don't have to think about it again until next year!  Today's theme was dressing up as a superhero.  You could create your own superhero, or you could dress up as Batman, Captain America, etc.  My girls have never been interested in superheros, so we did not have any costumes to use at home.  I decided to go back to Dollar Tree (luckily I have one really close to my house)!  We bought a plastic tablecloth to cut into a cape and stickers to decorate the cape.  I also bought ribbon to use to attach the cape around her neck.   (I cut 2 small slits at the top of the cape, fed the ribbon through, and tied it.)

My daughter decided to be a superhero that helps dogs and cats that are in trouble.  She chose dog, cat, and star stickers to decorate her cape.  Then, I used face paint to create a mask on her face with paw prints.  (I am getting better with the face paint!  I have discovered that it is easier to paint large areas with a brush.  It also helps if you add a tiny amount of water to the face paint.)

Again, I was very happy with the results.  More importantly, she was excited to wear her costume to camp today!


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Camp Day 2 and red, white, and blue!

Day 2 of my daughter's camp required her to wear an outfit representing somewhere she would like to go in the world.  We looked through the items that we had at home and decided that she needed to be a hula girl!  She wanted a grass skirt to complete her look, so I checked Dollar Tree and found a cute one. (Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places to find items for my kids and my classroom.  They have a little bit of everything and all for $1!!!)  I think that her costume turned out great!

After camp, we decided to make our house look patriotic in preparation for July 4.  My husband saw a great idea where you use spray paint and a star cutout to paint red, white, and blue stars in your yard.  Of course we had to try it!  First, we had to make our star template.  We used a box that we had in our attic for the cardboard.  Then, we used a ruler to draw stars on the cardboard and cut them out with a razor blade.  (We cut 2 stars because it would not make sharing necessary, which is sometimes easier with kids!)

We then took our stars and paint outside to get started.  (We used the cheapest paint that we could find at Walmart.)

We gave the girls old t shirts to cover their clothes before we started painting.  We also made them take off their shoes so that they would not ruin them with paint.  The process was very simple from there.  We had to remind the girls to not saturate one area too much with paint so that the paint would not run out too quickly.  It also helped to stay close to the ground with the paint so that the wind did not blow it everywhere.

The yard truly looked amazing afterwards!  We have had several neighbors comment on it already.  This is truly a simple, inexpensive way to make your house look patriotic and festive.  We will definitely do it again!


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer camp fun

My daughter Emma is going to a theater day camp this week.  She is so excited!  I was excited too, but I admit I was a little anxious when I saw that each day is a themed day.  Which means that she has to dress in a new costume for each day.  The first day she is supposed to dress up as an exotic animal because they are doing their own production of Aladdin.  Now, I am a mom that wants to be crafty but many of my attempts do not turn out as planned.  I did not want my child to be the one that showed up with a costume that had people asking, "What are you supposed to be?"  Emma decided that she wanted to be a zebra. We went to Pinterest, which can lead to Pinterest fails but it is a good starting point!  I found a site that gave directions on making a zebra out of a paper plate.  I decided that we could print those out and attach them to a headband.

Once we printed the ears out on cardstock, we added stripes and I taped them to a black headband.  Then, she wanted me to paint her face to look like a zebra.  Again, I was a little anxious because I can draw a little but I am by no means an artist.  I googled "zebra face paint" and found several pictures that seemed doable.  I chose not to paint her entire face so that she could eat lunch and go throughout the day without worrying about wiping off her makeup.  Below is a picture of the results.  I was pretty pleased with the results!  Mom wins!!  For this time at least.  Now I have to start thinking about tomorrow's theme which is to dress up as someone from anywhere in the world.  And knowing my daughter she will not fall for simply wearing her regular clothes and saying that she is from Canada!  Stay tuned....


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Summer is here...finally!

This is Trina...finally joining in on the blogging fun!  Not only am I a busy mom, but I also teach kindergarten.  If there are other teacher's out there reading this, you know that the end of the year is one of the craziest times of the year.  Now that I am on summer vacation, I have more time to blog! My daughters and I decided to celebrate by making chocolate covered strawberries.  First, let me tell you, I am no Martha Stewart.  In other words, if I can do it then you definitely can too!  I have tried melting chocolate several different ways, but the best way (in my opinion) is by using the Wilton Chocolate Pro.
It is so easy to use and the chocolate melts quickly and evenly,  My favorite chocolate to use is Ghirardelli.  I used milk chocolate this time since my girls prefer it, but dark chocolate is my favorite.
*I am not sure why this picture will not turn the correct way!  

Once the chocolate has melted (about 10 minutes), you can simply dip the strawberries into the Wilton Chocolate Pro.  I hold onto the stem to do this, but you could insert a toothpick or a skewer into the strawberry if the stems are not strong enough.  This process is so simple that my 10 year old did most of the dipping.  The strawberries may not have come out as neat as I would have liked, but sometimes you just need to step back and let the kids have fun.  (This is something that I am still working on!)

Sometimes we add sprinkles to the chocolate before it hardens, but we did not have any this time.  Once we have dipped all of the strawberries, I put the pan in the refrigerator for about an hour.  These are such an easy and healthy summer treat!

Enjoy!  :)  

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Family Vacation in Cancun!

Hello!! Iced coffee for me today on this hot summer day! What are you drinking?

My family and I just returned from a family trip to Cancun! We had a great time! Partly because this is the first trip in a long time that no one got sick while on the trip. Yes, a very low standard, I know. But this is huge for my family. Someone always gets sick.

We stayed at the Royal Islander which is part of the Royal Resorts (check them out!). What is that, you might ask? Well, it is actually a time share. We used to own one at another resort called the Royal Mayan, but its lease ran out and the hotel and property it was situated on, returned to the Mexican government. Anyway... my mom still has a unit in the Royal Islander and she invited us to join her and my aunt this year. There are too many of us stay in her unit, so we rented our own. Why do you care and why am I trying to sell you a time share? I'm not! You can actually stay there as if it were an all suites hotel! It is quite a nice setup. And there are several Royal Resorts in Cancun and even newer ones stretching southward into the Mayan Riviera.

The room is great because you have a suite with a kitchen, a living room and nice balcony.  Check out the Floor Plan! There is also a lock-out room that resembles a standard hotel room that can be added to your room to accommodate more people. There were 6 of us and we were very comfortable!
Beautiful sunset from our balcony

Lobby at the Royal Islander

Facing the back of the lobby 

The Royal Market
They have a small market there with just about any necessities. It ranges from basic groceries and toiletries, to post cards (does anyone still send those?!?) and magnets, to sunscreen and basic medications. So, if you forget something, there is a good chance they will have it. As an added bonus, before you arrive, they offer a 10% discount via email if you preorder groceries. And they deliver them to your room, so when you enter, they are already there. I love that, because we drink bottled water while we are there and lugging bottles of water around this fairly expansive resort can be a bit much, especially if you are dressed in airport clothes and hot and exhausted!

Pottery Painting! 
Painting pottery here is one of our favorite things to do in the afternoon. They have a big selection of things to paint. You can charge it to your room card, and paint a little each day or all at once. Once you are finished they spruce it up from you, and glaze it. You can pick it up the day after you finish. Just be sure to leave enough time to pick it up!

Another beach view. You can see all the umbrellas available!

I have no idea what they used to right welcome on the beach with, but they really try to make you feel just that, welcome. 
You can get a massage outside. (I didn't want to get too close, there was someone in there!)

Sports Desk
The sports desk is great! They have pool noodles and towels and other things to use at the beach and the pool. 

A view of the Islander from the beach side. 
The following are self-explanatory. Views of the pool(s) and swim up bar. 

Trash and recycling
I know this seems silly to point out, but they have these everyone around the resort. I appreciate that they recycle. I feel so wasteful drinking bottles of water all week. I normally use a Thermos Insulated Water Bottle with a straw. I love this thing, I use it everyday! This one is from Mighty Nest, as I have had a hard time finding them elsewhere lately.

They also have laundry facilities. It had limited hours, but a very nice lady in there to assist you. You had to put it in and move it yourself, but it was a welcome service midweek. Below are the hours of operation.

And finally, a map of the two resorts. They do have two other resorts in Cancun, the Royal Cancun (original, right?) and the Royal Sands. There are other resorts further south, as I mentioned before as well. But the Cancun, Sands, Islander and Caribbean have a shuttle service that will take you around to all of the Cancun Royal Resorts. They also have a restaurant across the street from the Islander and the Caribbean called, Captain's Cove, that is very popular because of its location on the lagoon. 

Map of the Caribbean and the Islander 

List of restaurants at these two resorts
There is so much more to tell you about Cancun if you are interested! But this covers the Royal Resorts where we stayed. Please feel free to ask away in the comments if you want to know more. Anyone want to hear about what we did while we were there?? Let me know!


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tips for Traveling with Kids!

Hi! Grab your favorite cup o' joe, pull up a comfy chair and let's chat about traveling with kids!

So, my kids have been out of school for a couple of weeks now. And like most people, we want to travel more while they are out of school for the summer. So here are some things I have discovered make traveling with kids a bit easier. I find that the more prepared you are, the smoother the traveling part goes. You are happier for it and so are they!

My family and I just returned from a vacation to Cancun! (I hope to post more about the trip soon!) So, we traveled by air rather than in a car. Can you imagine driving from Virginia to Cancun!?!?! These tips may differ a bit from a road trip, but I think most can be applied to both. 

My sons are older (8 and 12), so they entertain themselves pretty well. We have made it a tradition to buy a new video game for them to play when we go on long trips. Now, they look forward to picking out a new game. (Full disclosure: my kids like to play on their devices...a lot. We struggle to manage their screen time limitations. What works for my family may not work for yours, but to each their own!) Anyway, the boys each have an iPad and a Nintendo 3DS XL. They have gotten into the habit of selecting a game for their DSs. A new game/app on an iPad/iPod could work well too (and would be much more inexpensive!) as long as you select one that doesn't require wifi to play. I also allow them each to choose a candy or snack to pack too. This is especially exciting to them because I really try to minimize the super sugary snacks they have. We buy both the game and the snacks beforehand, usually at our pre-trip excursion to Target to get supplies. I then promptly stash these items in my closet where they can't find them! Just before we leave for the airport or road trip, they get it, so it is still a novelty. 

My daughter, on the other hand, is only 3. She is still in the phase that she requires almost constant attention, especially on a plane. I pack an entire backpack (I know, overkill!!) for things for her to do. Over the years, I have done some Pinterest searching and have found a few ideas. Please forgive me that I do not recall where I found some of these ideas! You can search for activities on Pinterest. There are tons! I have started collecting small trinkets or toys in the month before we travel. Then, I "wrap" them in a paper bag. I fold over the top, punch holes in the fold and use wrapping ribbon to tie a bow. Sometimes, I get creative and draw a clue on the outside, partly so I know what I am giving her and to (hopefully!) make her more excited about unwrapping whatever might be inside. I try to plan a few for each way. I pack some in the backpack that I carry on the plane and pack the other half in the suitcase to bring home in the backpack.

Please excuse my artistic skills, or lack thereof! There was a Jake and the Neverland Pirates coloring kit inside.

Also, I download movies from iTunes for her to watch, because remember, you never know about the wifi when traveling! She and my younger son watched Zootopia (at least portions of it) about 4 times. Here she is watching Tangled on her iPad.

We keep the iPad she uses in an Otterbox case. We learned the hard way how easy it is to crack an iPad screen once when she let an iPad fall out of the car and onto the driveway. In addition to protection, it has this handy stand built into the case for watching movies. 

Also pictured is her Thermos cup that we love! I usually buy them at Target, but you can get them from AmazonSmile. They have lots of different colors and characters. She takes it to school also, but is especially convenient for traveling! We take it empty through security, and fill it up afterwards. This time, a nice barista at Starbucks filled it up with water for me while I waited for my coffee. I have found if you ask nicely, they are happy to do it! I made sure to leave them a tip. Warning: with the pressurization of the plane, sometimes pressure builds in the cup and when you open the top, whatever liquid is inside sprays out! To avoid this, don't close the cap OR if you need the cap closed to help prevent spills, I suggest twisting the top open a little before allowing your child to sip from the straw. I forgot this last time, and it squirted out all over my daughter, me and the window. Oops! 

These are just the tip of the iceberg! If you have a favorite tip to share, please let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Travels!

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