Little People Advent: A Five-Day Journey for Preschoolers

The Christmas season has been particuclary exciting this year because my three-year-old is really starting to understand more, ask questions and get excited about the season. 

We are really emphasizing that in our family we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I have been trying to talk to my son about the nativity, and the Christmas story according to Luke. 

Last week my sister emailed me a little advent story she had written for her daughter, who is also three. She used the story she had written to acompany her Little People Nativity set. 

I thought I would share this with you today. This is perfect for a preschooler and will take five nights to complete. 

Angel:

I told Mary the good news that she was going to have a special baby.  This baby would be God’s son and would save the World.  I also came to tell the shepherds to go and worship the baby in the stable.

Donkey:

I gave Mary a ride to Bethlehem.  I was one of the animals in the stable the night that baby Jesus was born.

Mary:

I came with Joseph to Bethlehem.  I rode a long way on a donkey.  I was tired and it was time for baby Jesus to be born.  There was no room in the inn so we had to stay in the stable.  I am Jesus’ mommy.

 

Shepherd:

I was in the field watching over my sheep when lots of angels appeared in the sky telling me to go find a baby in the stable.

Wise Man:

I came from the East.  I traveled a long way following the star.  I brought gifts for the baby Jesus.

What do you think? Do you have a special advent tradition? Join the converstation. 

 

 

Our favorite toddler books

There is no denying the the benefits of reading to your kids and reading early and often.

Reading fosters brain development and helps children learn to be better readers and enjoy reading as an adult. (Source.)

We started reading to Ry the day after he was born. I am not even kidding. My mom came to the hospital and read him a book. Then Jason and I just kept it going. Jason did a lot of the reading to him as a baby before bed and this gave me an opportunity to take a break from nursing, changing diapers and general "mom stuff." This was my shower time. 

Issie, on the other hand, was too busy screaming to be read to as a newborn. But now we are finding him more and more interested in stories. 

Today I wanted to share some of our FAVORITE books we read to our toddlers. You can find all of these at the library and in fact, that's where we get most of our books. While we do have a large children's library in our home, we couldn't possibly have the room (or budget!) to purchase all the books we love and store them. 

Today I am telling you about our favorite books for toddlers. 

 

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. 

We enjoy all of the Llama Llama books at our house. He is definitely a toddler and gets himself into trouble. But this sweet toddler also loves his mama and learns great lessons about sharing. 

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. 

Ry LOVES this book and the sequel "Little Blue Truck Leads the Way." It teaches kindness, sharing and the illustrations are just cute!

Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton. 

"Red truck is a tow truck, a work truck, not a show truck..." Ry has this entire book memorized. He loves it. It's all about Red Truck and his driver who save a school bus from a snowy creek. 

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by James Dean. 

Pete is one groovy cat! In this series Pete sings his way through many different situations, but in this book he sings about his school shoes and all the adventures he has while wearing them. 

Corduroy by Don Freeman. 

This is a classic! Corduroy is a sweet bear who lives in a department store. It is all about friendship and adventure through the eyes of a bear. Thousands upon thousands of kids have loved Corduroy and the illustrations are just gorgeous. 

Brown Bear, Brown Beat by Bill Martin Jr. Illustrations by Eric Carle

Colors and rhymes. This is the reason to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Kids will love the pictures (illustrated by Carle) and the repetition. 

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

Jason brought this one home soon after Ry was born. And we all love it. Such a sweet story of a daddy hare and a baby hare and the love of a parent. 

The Monster at The End of This Book. 

You probably read this one as a kid! I know I did. Ry loves this one and he loves yelling "stop. turning. pages!!!!"

I Love You Through and Through

This is a simple book with a sweet message. We all love our babies!

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. 

This book needs no introduction. We read this one so many times that I could just start reciting it and Ry would stop and listen. 

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. 

A can do attitude. Sacrificial friendship. This book is inspiring to children and adults. Because if we believe we can achieve... yes, I know how cheesy that just sounded. 

Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. 

We love all Sandra Boynton's books. But among our favorite is Pajama Time. It's the perfect before bed book. 

What are your favorite children's books? Leave me a comment. I want to know!!

This post contains affiliate links. Read my FULL disclosure policy

 

Our budget-friendly back to school lunch and outfit

My sweet boy started back to nursery school yesterday. I can't beleive it!

I know that back to school costs can be expensive. There are supplies, clothes, shoes and lunches. It can all add up. 

I thought I would share our budget-friendly back to school lunch and outfit. 

Homemade sensory board for curious little hands

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I live with two toddlers. That means four little curious hands. 20 little mischievous fingers. They want to touch, push, pull and turn everything. 

And that's okay. That's how humans learn. So learn away little ones. 

Jason and I made the boys this simple sensory board using items like a doorknob, hinges, locks, a light and a door stop. 

We purchased a wooden table top at Lowes. 

Then we purchased the items we wanted to go on the board, like hinges, door stops, a doorknob, a doorbell and a little light. 

We screwed everything in place and used velcro to attach the light in the center. 

Voila. Here is it (minus the light.)

The boys love it and it's hours of silent fun. 

Have you made any DIY toys? 

Cowboy birthday party on a BUDGET! And FREE invitation printable

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Yesterday Issie was a year old. I wanted to share all about his birthday party. Or as I called it, his cowboy budget party!

From invitations to food to gifts, this party only cost us about $45 and it was so much fun! (Note: my mother provided homemade ice cream and sausage balls at no cost to me. Plus she had decorations we used.)

We had a cowboy party over mother's day weekend. We did this because Issie was being dedicated at church and all of our family was already going to be in town. 

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Location: 

We had the party at "Nana and PawPaw's House" aka, my parents house. It was a great location because they have a big open porch (great since it rained) and a horse the kids could ride. 

The bonus is, my mom is a retired kindergarten teacher who has great party ideas and already had a ton of decorations left from her classroom. (Which she paid for herself as a teacher. If you see a teacher today give him or her a hug and then hand them a $20!)

This leads us to...

Decorations:

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My mom decorated her dining table using these hats she got at the dollar tree a loooong time ago and some bandannas. I love that she put an old pair of red boots on the table. 

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She had these old characters left over from a cowboy unit she did in her classroom. And my niece and nephew made this sign. So cute! 

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Food: 

This is the only part of the party that matters, right? 

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As I mentioned above my mother made some sausage and cheese biscuits that were delicious! She used this recipe from the Betty Crocker website. 

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I also made a basic fruit salad of grapes, strawberries and pineapple. And that's it. Just real, fresh fruit- no pie filling or sugar added. 

And we didn't need any added sugar with the Whoopie Pies I made instead of traditional birthday cake. 

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Issie got a small whoopie pie, which was clearly a hit! He had never had cake or really anything sugary before. I like this in lieu of a "smash cake." By the look on his face he LOOOOVED it. 

My mom also made the Pioneer Woman's ice cream. Have you ever had that stuff? Well don't, because you will just want more! 

Outfit:

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In the south we have to have a special outfit for everything. My mom made the boys matching cowboy pants and shirts. How cute is that outfit?? 

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Here is a closer look at Ryby's shirt. How cute is that? He loved it and wants to wear his cowboy pants all the time. 

Favors:

We didn't do any! The only children "guest" were my three nieces, my older son and my nephew. And trust me, their mothers did not want them sent home with more junk. (And one of my nieces is only three months old.) 

Invitations: 

Birthday invite general .pdf

I made this cute little invitation using PicMonkey. I made a "cow print" in the back ground. I created this generic one that you can print for free by clicking here

All in all it was a really fun party and I was so happy to pull of something simple. 

What are some fun frugal party ideas you've had? LEAVE A COMMENT!   BLURBFRIENDS

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Ice Rescue Game for Toddlers

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We are loving the beautiful weather we have been having in South Alabama. Yes, it's getting hot. But it's only May. So we have a lot of heat left to go. 

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The boys have loved playing in the little kiddie pool and the water table my parents got Issie for his birthday. But I also wanted some fun, structured activities for the kiddos. 

Like every other kid in America, Ry has become OBSESSED with frozen. Frozen! He love frozen. It's a cute movie and all. I like it. But enough is enough. No more "Let it Go." No more "Let it Go!!" 

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Anyway- tangent avoided. On Monday, while the boys were napping I threw their little toy trains and figurines into cups of water and put them in the freezer. 

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When Ry woke up I told him that Elsa had frozen his trains and he needed to thaw them out. He loved it. He got so excited. So outside we went with a dish detergent bottle filled with water. 

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Ry squirted water on the frozen trains and giggled as it worked. It was so much fun for both of us, and like all great fun, was free. 

What activities are you planning for this summer? 


Creating Special Memories on a Budget

We are headed into the Easter weekend, which for me is an incredible time of worship and reflection upon the what my Savior has done for me. 

It is also a time of family, food and fun. We all want to create memories with our families during special times like this. I want to encourage you that memory making doesn't have to be expensive, in fact it doesn't have to cost anything!

Our family has committed to living a frugal and debt free life, and while I LOVE spending time with my kids and husband, I am not going to pressure myself into thinking spending time is spending money.

In fact, at my house, one of our favorite weekend activities is sitting on our front porch and waving at the cars as they drive by. My 2-year-old and I count the number of people who wave back, or better yet, toot their horn. 

It's really dorky, but it's sweet, simple, fun and free. 

So this Easter weekend we are keeping it simple while we enjoy family and going to church. 

We're going to play outside. Since it's Easter have an Easter egg hunt. I picked up some eggs at the Dollar Tree. I don't even fill them, I just hide them in the yard and Ry has the best time finding them. Then he "hides" them and I find them. 

We're going to laugh together. These little years can be tough, but they are so filled with joy. 

We are going to remember the season. My children are still so little that their comprehension of Easter is limited, but that doesn't stop us from talking about it. 

I found this great printable of ideas from Happy Home Fairy and we've had fun coloring, singing and playing games. 

Here are some free Easter basket ideas for young and older children!

How are you spending your Easter weekend? 

Easy homemade baby food recipes

Issie has at such a fun age. He is trying to walk, he laughs at everything and he is having a great time trying new foods. 

Seriously- look at those fat little short legs! 

 

A few months back I won a Baby Bullet (disclosure policy) from the awesome, awesome, awesome ladies of What's Up Mom's

I made baby food when Ry was a baby, but I used just my ordinary blender, which was hard to clean and had a lot of parts. But this baby bullet- man, it's a game changers. 

So Issie and I thought we would share some of our favorite baby food recipes. 

1. Bananas and Homemade Yogurt - I used one ripe banana and a half cup of yogurt. You can find my homemade yogurt recipe here, but store bought yogurt is perfect as well. 

I just put it all in the blender and blend until smooth. It's usually pretty liquidy so I either pour it in a sippy cup or thicken it with baby oatmeal. 

2. Spinach and apple sauce. Issie loves homemade apple sauce, he would eat apple sauce all day if I let him. But I do worry he isn't getting enough iron since he is still breastfed. So I throw some spinach in there with the apple sauce and he is good to go. He loves it. (That's what he is eating in the photo up there!) 

3. Green baby smoothie. This sort of combines the two recipes above.

I use one ripe banana, a handful of fresh spinach, some yogurt and a little breast milk or formula. I throw it all in the blender. 
If your child has lactose sensitivity and you don't want to use yogurt you can omit the yogurt completely an use a frozen banana and dilute it with a little water. You could also use coconut milk, almond milk or soy milk. And there is also kefir, which is lactose free.

 

4. Quinoa and blueberries. Okay, I know this sounds strange, but I promise babies love it. I use a cup prepared organic quinoa and some frozen organic blueberries, steamed. 

Then I combine them in the bullet with a little breast milk. 

I actually saw some quinoa and blueberry pouches at my local Target for $1.50 each. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? That's highway robbery. 

 

I purchased some of these BooginHead pouches from Amazon and I reused them over and over. (Affiliate link, here is my disclosure policy.)

Have you made your own baby food? It's so easy and will save you so much money! 

Hack your diaper Genie tutorial

 

Let's face it, diapers are a way of life when you have babies. And they stink. And you have to dispose of them.

The costs of all these things add up. Here comes the diaper pail! Personally, I thought a garbage can could do the same job. But then someone gave us a pail at our shower and then the baby came and I realized that yes Virginia, diapers do smell.

So I am forever grateful for my diaper genie. But the refills can get expensive. The three packs run $15- $18 on Amazon.

I am cheap. So I decided to hack my Genie and create my own refills for pennies!

What you'll need:

Your diaper genie

A pack of garbage bags - A pack of 28 for $1 at The Dollar Tree

Take out the insert of Diaper Genie bags. Wrap the garbage bag around the insert. 

Pull the garbage bag through the hole.

Feed the bag through the Genie!

Toss the rest of the roll of bags in the bottom of the Genie. I also recommend sprinkling a little baking soda in there.

Voila! Pennies!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Meaning, if you click the link and make a purchase I do earn a portion of the purchase. I am not asking you to buy anything, I am just being upfront with you guys.

Create a memory game from leftover Valentine's Day Cards

My toddler got a HUGE amount of Valentine's cards last week. In fact, my daddy sent him an entire box of Thomas cards. 

As you can see from the photo above Ry is a BIG Thomas fan. Loves the show and anything related to it. When I showed him all the cards he named each character with perfect clarity. 

But I don't need a TON of Valentine's just lying around my house. So I decided to upcycle them into a fun memory game for Ry. 

What you'll need:

Construction paper

glue stick

old cards

OPTIONAL: Contact paper or a laminator. 

Step one, make sure each card has an indentical twin. Recycle the ones that don't or same them for something else. 

Step 2. Cut into squares, all about the same size. 

Step 3. Glue them to some construction paper. 

Step 4. Cut out the cards that you glued to the paper. 

Step 5 would be to laminate them, but I don't have a laminator at my house so I wll have to save that step for later. 

Clearly Ry LOVES them. Right now he doesn't understand the concept of mathing, but he is only two so we will get there. 

How are you recycling all those cards at your house?