Monday, July 28, 2014

{Think Outside the Toy Box} Milk Jugs: DIY Bathtub Scoop

Well here we are: the 10th and final week of the Think Outside the Toy Box Summer Fun Series! Thank you all so much for your support and participation through the last 9 weeks! I can honestly say that this was more than just blog series; I was able to link up with some really amazing ladies, spend real quality time with my son, get my creative juices flowing, and step-up my blogging game. We have had so much fun every week with messy experiments, painting crafts, and race track play. I'm hoping we can do this again next summer! But for now, enjoy our last project in this series!

If you are here for the first time or want to check out all the details again, take a look at the post introducing the Think Outside the Toy Box summer fun series. Also if you have missed any previous weeks, here are the projects we have done so far:
Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling (and bath)
Plastic Bottle Waterfall
Astronaut/Alien Costume
 Foamy Bathtub Paint
Edible Sensory Bin
Marble Drop/Race
 Shredded Crayon Canvas Art

Painted Puzzle Wall Art 
Paper Cup Race Track

Now on to this week's fun with:


When I was planning out all the different project for this series, I had initially wanted to use the milk jugs make planters because Myles was really into plants and dirt of course. Then I thought about doing a a bird feeder because Myles loves when we have birds in our yard and always chases them away. But I still kept my mind open to come up with something different/uncommon. I came across this pin and thought I could give it a try but with a little variation. So I made a:

  Shark Bathtub Scoop

What You Will Need: 

1 plastic milk jug
Scissors/X-acto knife
Glue gun (optional)


1. Rinse the milk jug out and let it dry. Hold the jug with the handle up and draw the teeth with the marker. I should have made it more into a scoop shape with the bottom middle being higher than the sides. Cut up the sides further as well.

2. Using the X-acto knife, cut a slit into the handle. Cut a triangle out of the bottom piece of the milk jug that you cut out earlier. Place the triangle into the slit. I used the glue gun to secure it in place, but it isn't necessary. 
3. Use the markers to make the shark face. I drew eyes, the nose, nose slits, and outlined the teeth. I also added some blood (red marker) for a little dramatic affect! Let the marker and glue dry for about 15 minutes before using.

 4. Play! We used this in our water table for picture purposes, but it would be perfect for the bathtub. We also used it to water the plants!

  I am so sad that this is the last Think Outside the Toy Box Summer Fun Series post. Thanks again so much for all of your support and encouragement through this whole series!  I loved sharing with all of you and hope you found some inspiration as well!
 Don't forget to check out what all of the other ladies put together for this week's item in the link-up below. And if you have a post (new or old) that you created showcasing milk jugs in a kid's project, craft, game, experiment, etc., submit it below as well.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Myles Monthly: 17

As you may know, I didn't decide to start my blog until my son Myles was about 8 months old. And well... now he is 23 months old! I'm still trying to get caught up with the monthly updates and monthly favorites, so I can get, and hopefully stay, up to date. 

 December 15th- January 14th, 2014

Well I guess the good health run had to stop at some point, and this month it was. Honestly I was lucky it happened when it did because we were home and could see Myles' normal pediatrician. I hadn't found a doctor in California yet and had just been planning our trips back to Illinois right around his well-check ages. We arrived on a Sunday night and the next day I noticed these blisters on Myles' feet. I really didn't think much of it and thought maybe it was from his shoes and walking around the airport so much. Then that night when I laid him down for bed, he got up within 5 minutes and started crying. He hadn't done that in over 5 months, but again I just kind of figured it was because he was in a different room and bed. Then the next morning when he got up, I tried nursing him as usual and he was scream-crying. He would latch on for a second and then pull off and scream. It was so weird because nursing always made everything better for him. Whenever he was upset, nursing would clam him down instantly, but this time it was what was making him upset. After trying for about 5 minutes, he finally calmed down and nursed normal. He did the the same thing when he woke up from his nap that day too. I thought it was probably teething. I should have put all of these things together to figure out that something was wrong with him, but he didn't have a fever and wasn't acting sick in any other way during the day. He was playing and eating fine while he was awake. He did the scream-crying when trying to nurse a couple more times, but by Wednesday he was just fine. Then Thursday morning I noticed he had some blisters on his fingers. At that point, I knew something was up and decided to ask Dr. Google. It was a very clear diagnosis. I called our ped and she got us in right away. She confirmed my suspicions and diagnosed him with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. It finally all made sense: the blisters on the hands and feet, the discomfort while nursing, and hard time falling asleep. I instantly felt a huge sense of mom guilt. I couldn't believe I had dismissed all of the signs and didn't take him in sooner. The only thing that saved me from all out hating myself was that there is no 'cure' or medicine for it. It just has to run its course, which by the time we took him in, it pretty much had. He still had the hand and foot blisters, but she told us they should clear up within 5 days. The blisters never bothered him to the touch so he was fine walking and using his hands. This was his first real sickness and I hated seeing him uncomfortable :( Boo to this part of motherhood! I'm guessing he got it from The Little Gym that he was going to because that is the only time he was around other kids and it is only a childhood disease.

Towards the end of the month, I noticed he got all four of his 1st year molars in. All of his teeth have come in two or more at a time, so I wasn't that surprised. I just can't believe he broke all of those big teeth at once! He was a trooper and I didn't even know it was happening! He now had 12 teeth total.

Eating the same as last month; still loving fruit, rice, and most meats. He also discovered fruit snacks... I could tell they were going to become an obsession very quickly! 
As far as breastfeeding goes, Myles started a bit of self-weaning. He would still nurse in the morning, mid-morning, and then at nap time, but he seemed to not need to nurse again after that until bedtime. So we pretty much cut out that feeding. Of course there were days that he would randomly ask to nurse during that time (got hurt, sick, extra attention), but for the most part he didn't need to nurse at all between those times anymore. I think it helped that he was usually eating a decent sized dinner now.  Also I was really trying to stick to only one nursing time between morning and nap. Some days were great and others... well.. this would happen.... 
It was definitely a work in progress, but overall I could progress.

Sleep was a little off this month because of the trip back home, time change, and then being sick. He still went to bed just fine and slept through the night, but he did have a couple of really early mornings. I hated to see him waking up crying and not being able to calm him down :( Nursing always made things better, but it didn't work this time and that was heartbreaking. Other than that, he was still getting his regular naps and his sleep returned to normal once we got back home. 

New words this month: Money, dog
'Cha Cha' for train- I think he got this from the train set that he had. The train sang a song that said 'Cha, Cha, Chi, Chi, Chug along with me'.

  • We went back home for Christmas this month! I was dreading the cold and snow after becoming so accustomed to the gorgeous California weather, but I didn't want Myles' first real Christmas to be without his family. So I sucked it up and headed back to the Midwest. This was Myles' fourth flight and my second with solo toddler duty. It's pretty nerve wracking every time I have to do it alone, but honestly this one wasn't so bad. For some reason traveling from California to Illinois has been pretty easy on us, but from Illinois to California is killer. Luckily SFO is super toddler friendly and equipped with this fun little play area right by the Virgin terminals. This time Myles was super excited to see the plane and just sat and watched it before we boarded. 
  • Family Photos: We got our first family photos done this month by Mark's cousin Alex. I can't believe we waited so long to get them done! I was dreading trying to get Myles to cooperate and just kept putting it off. But I wanted to send out a New Years card with updated pictures for all of our friends and family, so I finally decided to just get it over with. To my surprise, Myles did so well and we all had a great time! Below are a few of my favorites. Check out the rest here and also Myles' first holiday photos.

  • First haircut: I caved in and did it. Before we left for Illinois, I was becoming increasingly annoyed with trying to manage his hair. Plus, I finally realized how bad his mullet really was. I had been so worried that if I had his hair cut, the curls would be gone forever, that I convinced myself that his hair did not resemble that of a 30 year old redneck man. I made the appointment with my long time (12+ years) hairdresser and hoped for the best. I told her to cut the back short but just trim up the front. She had him sit on my lap and he did great. He looked a little like he was wondering what was going on, but he didn't cry, whine, or squirm at all. It was short (10 mins.), but I was so surprised that he sat so still and let her cut away. 
  • Splits: One day I noticed him doing the splits in the kitchen (sliding his feet on the hardwood floor). I told him he was doing the splits and it stuck with him. After that, anytime I asked him to do the splits, he would. And he was really good at it, almost going all the way down to the floor!

  • First time 'sledding': We did end up getting a decent amount of snow when we were back in Illinois, but I just never felt comfortable taking Myles out to play in it. I didn't have boots or snow pants for him and I was just worried that he would get too wet and then sick. Our stay was winding down and I still had no intentions on taking him out. We went to go see my dad for the last time before we left the next day and as we were saying goodbye, my dad plopped Myles onto a sled he had outside and pulled him around the yard. He was definitely loving it, so I guess next year I will have to take him real sledding!
  • First time meeting Santa: I so wanted Myles to meet Santa, but I really didn't want to take him to the mall and stand in a 3 hour line, just to have him refuse to sit on his lap or even take a picture. I kind of just dismissed the idea, until I saw an advertisement for 'Breakfast with Santa' at the new conservatory in our city. I jumped all over that! It was too perfect: breakfast, Santa, conservatory, and no waiting! This was the sequence of events surrounding the 'meeting':
He was not having it at first; typical #santafail. But Santa stuck around and Myles began to grow a little more comfortable with him, he even gave him a high-five! Then inside the conservatory, we had success!

After the Santa meeting, we explored the conservatory with all its plants, ponds, fish, bridges, and kissing frogs!
  • First real Christmas: I talked last month about how I considered this Myles' first Christmas because last year we didn't really celebrate. He was only 4 months old, we had just moved, and I was still miserable: trying to survive on no sleep and battling major PPD. So this year I was determined to make it a good one. I tried to plan as many festive things as possible and overall I was really happy with this year's Christmas. Here are a few shots from Christmas morning as well:
  • Pointing to body parts: he started with nose, then belly button, then toes, and then all of the rest just came at once.

  • Myles got a 4-wheeler with Christmas money.. and I am pretty sure he stayed occupied with the box longer than the awesome toy that cam in it! 
So cliche, yet so true!
  • Myles has a love-hate relationship with the vacuum and carpet shampooer. Sometimes he would get scared of it, other times he would want to help push it, and still others he wouldn't even notice it was on. This particular day, he got really scared when Mark turned it on and ran away crying. So Mark brought him back over, had him touch it to show him it wasn't scary, and then gave him a ride! 

  • When daddy gets off work: He started to understand that during the day time daddy was gone and busy, but would always come back at night. He really loved it when his daddy came home and had playtime while mommy cooked dinner. 
  • Books: still really into his Barney Farm songs book. He loves it when we sing the songs to him (even though I don't know how to sing them to the music; two of the four songs I've never heard before). He also had a favorite bedtime book: Goodnight Moon. He seriously loved that book so much he would get mad if you tried reading anything else at bedtime. He would cry and say "moont" until you started reading it.
  • Skateboard: I found this tech-deck skateboard in our junk drawer and thought Myles might like it. He was hooked ever since my family come to visit and he got to play on my brother's new skateboard. So this was a total hit. Mark showed him how to skate with it using his fingers and he caught on very quickly! He would copy what Mark did and even make up some of his own moves :) This thing went everywhere with us!
  •   Burt Reyonlds impression: One day during our vacation, my step-dad found Myles just like this when he walked into the living room!

What are new skills your kid(s) are learning?
Come back to check out my favorites from months seventeen & eighteen!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Monthly Favorites: Fifteen & Sixteen

When it comes to being a new mom, "free time" no longer exists. And if by some amazing miracle you happen to somehow get a couple of minutes to yourself, I doubt researching baby products is on the top of your list. Whenever my son is coming to a new age and needing new products, I heavily rely on my fellow mommy bloggers' recommendations. No need to waste precious 'you time' trying to navigate through the thousands of products out there only to find out they're poor quality or useless. So I decided to do my own monthly favorites posts to help out my fellow mommies!

I will also let you in on any deals or money saving tips with each product!

Monthly 15 & 16

1. Toy Story: I bought this movie with money from Myles' first birthday. I played it for him once after I bought it and he couldn't care less. He was so not into TV shows, movies, etc. So I just put away for the time being until I thought he may be a little bit more into it. A couple months later (at 16 months), I decided to try it again. That one random day changed our lives forever! He only had to watch it once to get obsessively hooked! All day long, it was "Buzz/Woody, Buzz/Woody": when he woke up, when he ate lunch, when he got up from his nap, before bed. We even had to start spelling any words that reminded him of the movie or he would go into tantrum meltdown city! I limited watching it to once a day, but if it were up to him he would have seriously watched it 24/7. The good thing is I absolutely LOVE this movie. I was actually excited to watch it again and found it to be even better as an adult. We eventually invested in the 2nd and 3rd ones so we could rotate them. His super obsession lasted about two months and kind of fizzed out after that. He still loves all of the characters, but he doesn't ask to watch the  movies anymore. He has moved on... hopefully not too much though because we are having a Toy Story party for his 2nd birthday.

2.  Sassy Catch and Count Net: I feel like good bath toys are so hard to come by! I am always looking for something different, entertaining, and somewhat educational for the tub and I am forever disappointed in the selection. The Alex brand has some pretty cool things, but I never know what Myles will actually like anymore, so I don't want to buy any of them just to find out he couldn't care less about them. Every time I think he will really like something, he has no interest in it. I have found that with bath toys, the simpler the better. I picked up this set one day at Babys R Us and it is still one of his top favorites 7+ months later. The fish have "1, 2, and 3" on them and are three different colors. Those simple little fish are what we used to teach him colors and numbers. The first time he said blue and counted were with these fish! It is also a really good way to work on fine motor skills with scooping the fish up with the net. When he first got this, he wasn't able to scoop them up. It was something we worked on every bath and I was so proud when he finally got it. Now he loves to take the net everywhere. He even uses it in his water table to catch things. This toy is totally inexpensive and simple, but it is by far our favorite bath toy ever!

3. Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker Pad: I was planning another trip back to Illinois with solo toddler duty, so I knew I had to step up my "keep-Myles-entertained" arsenal! He wouldn't sit still for a movie or TV show yet, so I had to find other ways to occupy him for 4 1/2 hours. Our previous 3 flights weren't too bad, but the older he got the harder it was to keep him sitting still and content for long periods of time. I brought a couple of his favorite books, toys, and snacks, but I wanted to bring something with that was totally new to him. He was starting to get into stickers and that made me think about the sticker clings that came with background settings I had when I was young. I googled something along those lines and found these reusable sticker pads. I bought both the vehicle and animal sets. Each set comes with 5 different backgrounds and about 35 stickers per background. I kept them hidden until the plane ride so that it would be something totally new for him. At that age a lot of the stickers and scenes were lost on him, but he liked putting them on and taking them off and just holding his favorite animal/car. Since then he has grown to engage with these more and more. He knows almost all the animals and different kinds of vehicles and he starting to create imaginary play with the scenes. I like playing with him and making up stories to help him understand that aspect of it. We are flying solo again in a couple weeks, so these will definitely be in our carry on bag! They provide hours of play and are perfect for keeping kids occupied when they are confined to a small area (car seat, plane ride, waiting at doctors, etc.)

4. American Plastic Toys Tool Bench: I found this bench (and extra tools) at my local children's resale shop for $20. I had been eying a tool set for a while so when this popped up, I had to get it. Myles loves all things 'working'. He always wants to be a part of whatever the adults are doing, especially if it involves tools. This set is the perfect way to indulge his love of 'working' while keeping him safe. Although he still will always ask for the real thing, he is usually satisfied with his plastic tools. It comes with lots of different tools and accessories that are awesome for perfecting fine motor skills and imaginary play. It has been really cool to watch Myles over the months grow with this toy and learn how to use the screw driver, hammer, wrench, etc. properly. We even just picked up an electric screw driver at a rummage sale that goes with this set. It is by far his favorite tool to date. He even uses it to drill on our teeth :)

5. Personal Family Photo Book: I have talked about this book a couple of times before on the blog, but it is one of our all time favorites. Being away from all our family has been rough so we try to do whatever we can to make sure we stayed connected. Myles loves looking at pictures so I thought this would be a perfect way to help him remember everyone and get to see their faces whenever he wants. I made this book using Snapfish and it was really easy. I am hoping we can use it to help him learn some more names before we go back for his second birthday soon. I think it would be so sweet if I could somehow make that happen!

6. Crayola Washable Kids Paint: These paints are the best! They have a couple different sets with all different colors. I love them because they are completely washable, but still very vibrant and have come out looking great in all of our projects. They are the perfect paints for hand/foot print art as well. These are my go-to toddler friendly paints! 

A little craft using the paints: Painted Puzzle Wall Art

Christmas footprint art

7. Nuby Insulated No Spill Straw Cup: It is like a full time job just trying to find a decent sippy cup out there. I can tell you that we have one whole shelf in our kitchen cabinets dedicated just to sippy cups and all their accessories. We have recently (starting around 22 months) converted to regular cups 90% of the time, but I have kept all of our sippies for outings and travel. From about months 14-20, I couldn't leave the store without picking up a new sippy in hopes of finding 'the one'. The biggest issue I had with finding the right cup was making sure that it was truly was no spill, but still easy enough to suck the liquid out of. I had the most luck with the Nuby brand and this specific one I ended up liking the best. You can buy the cup and top together or just the top if you already have some cups they would fit on. These are the closest to no spill or leak that I have found and they are still very easy to drink out of because of the easy touch-flow valve. It also has a flip top so the straw stays clean. There are several other cups in the Nuby brand that use this top if you are looking for something bigger, smaller, or non insulated. These are by far the best sippy cup for their price on the market!

  What toddler items are on the top of your list? What are your opinions of these products?

Monday, July 21, 2014

{Think Outside the Toy Box} Paper Cups: DIY Race Track

Hey look at me posting on time and everything! We are slowly getting our life and routine back together, just in time for it to get all crazy again as we are leaving in less than two weeks to go back home for Myles' 2nd birthday party! Life is hectic around here and when all is said and done, I will have a two year old, memories of an awesome vacation home, and a new city to explore when we get back. And by that time summer will be pretty much over! 

Well here we are at week nine of the Think Outside the Toy Box Summer Fun Series! 
If you are here for the first time or want to check out all the details again, take a look at the post introducing the Think Outside the Toy Box summer fun series. Also if you have missed any previous weeks, here are the projects we have done so far:
Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling (and bath)
Plastic Bottle Waterfall
Astronaut/Alien Costume
 Foamy Bathtub Paint
Edible Sensory Bin
Marble Drop/Race
 Shredded Crayon Canvas Art

Painted Puzzle Wall Art

Now on to this week's fun with:


I have had the idea for this week's item in my head since the beginning of this series. I originally came up with two ideas and really wanted to try them both, but with moving and everything else going on, I only got around to making one. I'm sure either would have been a hit with Myles, but I think (for once) I actually made the right choice! He is super into his race/train tracks right now (as I am sure he will be for many years to come), so I came up with my own version and made him a

  Paper Cup Race Track

What You Will Need: 

1 box of 200 count paper bathroom cups
Glue Gun (with a lot of glue sticks)
 Flattened Cardboard Box/ Plywood Sheet, Particle Board
Different Colored Markers (optional)
Race Cars


1. Lay out the board you have chosen (or have laying around the house.) Put the paper cups out on the board in the placement you want them. I experimented with different  features and the way they would hold up best. I laid it all out on the board and moved parts around until I was happy with the whole set-up. 

2. Use the glue gun to secure all of the cups to the board/other cups. 

I tried a bunch of stuff out and came up with a few fun features like bridges, a tunnel, a jump, and some towers. I opened up the cups to make the jump ramp, bridges, and ramps to go up and down the bridges. I also opened the cups to make a tunnel. That didn't turn out exactly how I wanted though. It works well enough, but the cars get stuck in there sometimes. I should have made it shorter or higher. I also glued cups on other cups to make some towers and a big bridge. 

3. You can also draw/color areas to make it more like a real race track. It can be a dirt trail, have a lake, a pit-stop, etc. I didn't have the time, but you could get really creative with markers. 

4. Play! I am pretty please with how much Myles actually likes playing with this! And he hasn't destroyed it yet!

We had a blast with week eight of the Think Outside the Toy Box Summer Fun Series; thanks for checking it out! Also don't forget to check out what all of the other ladies put together for this week's item in the link-up below. 
  And if you have a post (new or old) that you created showcasing paper cups in a kid's project, craft, game, experiment, etc., submit it below as well. No post this week? No problem; join us next Monday when we will be using milk jugs! 
 And in case you want to get a head start, here is the complete list for the coming weeks:
July 28 - Plastic Milk Jugs