Still searching for a great gift for kids? Order KiwiCo crates! Stella and Sophia's Aunt Katie told us about the clever STEM KiwiCo crates. My nieces, Maddy and CeCe had made KiwiCo projects and had a great time creating and innovating! We love the KiwiCo tag line, "Seriously fun science, art, and engineering projects!"
I ordered the Christmas hand crank, rotating reindeer crates for Stella and Sophia and we had so much fun putting the sets together. Cheers to KiwiCo for the excellent job on creating clear instructions with lots of visuals and quality materials. Stella and Sophia had such a great time building the hand crank structure and loved seeing the reindeers and Santa's sleigh go up and down. I was so impressed with their building skills and it was such a fun project. And, the KiwiCo Christmas crates were a great way to keep us off of devices for a while!
Sophia and Stella loved building the KiwiCo crates so much that they asked me to order more right away. With this crazy year, we've been on devices so much that I happily jumped at the chance for another interactive project. Sophia picked out the robot crate and Stella picked out the rocket crate.
The second time around the girls once again had a great time building! Sophia love that she built a robot that had a motor and could walk. Stella loved building her rocket and we all had fun blasting off the rocket - sometimes better than others!
We had ordered individual KiwiCo crates and you can also order monthly subscriptions! There are many different types of crates for all ages such as tinker crates, doodle crates, atlas crates, kiwi crates and more! Stella and Sophia give the KiwiCo crates a big thumbs up and I know kids on your holiday gift list will love it too! Happy shopping! Merry Christmas!
Put on your own oxygen mask first. Dealing with stress & anxiety with your kids during the pandemic.
Most days I'm upbeat and determined to not let this crazy coronavirus pandemic and charged year get the girls or me down. I've worked hard to make things as normal as possible despite wearing masks, schedules being upside down, and everything so different for my eight-year-old twins, Sophia and Stella.
Most days I feel like I'm doing an okay job powering forward and making things okay for Stella and Sophia. The other day was not one of those days. It was more like an avalanche of 2020 being an endless hot mess.
My amazing eight-year-old Stella has some anxiety traits and likes things a particular way. It can be certain clothes, certain foods, certain shoes, etc. I've read a ton of books and blogs, listened to podcasts, and so much more. Stella's hair is one of her things - she likes it a certain way for a stretch of time and then we'll switch to something else. Last year it was this swoop with hair gel that I then thought was so hard and I was constantly worried she'd lose her hair in the front. We are now on to an intricate bun with clips to hold up hair in the back and side curls. This latest hair style can take forever, or seems like forever, during the morning school rush.
The other day we had a bad start with the bun. I re-did the bun five times but Stella didn't like it. We argued and I kept trying to appease her (I know, this is what the books say not to do). I'm sad to admit we both yelled and it was just a bad moment. After the fifth time, I told Stella I had to go make breakfast and finish the lunches. She was in tears and so was I.
When I got downstairs I made myself a cup of coffee. While the coffee was brewing, I tried to not cry. I thought about how upset Stella was, how bad I felt for her, and how I was so tired of the coronavirus pandemic and how all our lives have shifted in such a crazy way. I knew her being upset about the bun was probably about other things and I knew she couldn't help herself in that distraught moment. I also realized that what Stella and I were dealing with was so minor in comparison to what some of my friends are going through and the big challenges so many others are dealing with across the nation. As the coffee was brewing, I remembered a saying from one of my favorite CEO's, Janice Abraham from United Educators. Back in February - when the world was still so normal, she shared that it is important to put on your own oxygen mask first. You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. I breathed deeply watching my coffee pouring into my favorite mug (see picture above). The girls and I had gone to a pottery painting place last winter and I made this cup with the girls. There is a heart that they painted at the bottom of the mug. It was a great day together. I recomposed myself and took another deep breath.
I went and found Stella and gave her a huge hug. I told her I loved her and that we were going to do a re-start for our day, it was going to be a good day. I took the girls to school and they both had a good day.
I went for a walk while the girls were in school and it helped. I had a few minutes to clear my mind and regroup for the continued days ahead. So, to all the mommas out there that are having tough days, you got this. You can make it through this moment. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Take time for you. We are cheering for you and are here to help. xoxo, Meg
P.S. If you need a little encouragement, here are a few favorites. Please note, you help support our Messy Mommies blog by shopping with our links and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
This is a great book with excellent insights and actions. Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children
I really like this CBT Workbook for Kids which provides helpful information and activities for kids. I also appreciated how the information was organized into different segments (home, school, etc.)
Some holiday coffee so you can take a coffee break!
Because we have a long road ahead, you may need this wine glass too!
And finally, check out Cocktail Courier! Cocktail sets delivered to your house! I just ordered from Cocktail Courier which has its headquarters in Chicago and can't wait to make my Apres Ski Relaxer cocktail!
I'm going to cut to the chase - I've really missed my family and friends. We've been staying home during the coronavirus pandemic and have only gone out a few times to the grocery store or an occasional Target run. I've missed hanging out with our friends, family, and especially our nieces and nephews. My twins, Stella and Sophia have really missed hanging out with everyone and have kept asking when we could all be together again. It tugs at your heart and I just haven't had the answers.
For the 4th of July, we decided to go to my parent's lake house near Starved Rock with my parents, my fellow messy mom and sister-in-law, Holly, my brother, Matt and my niece Eleanora. That made a group of nine and we've all been careful about social distancing so we all felt okay about getting together.
The joy of seeing Eleanora, Stella and Sophia together and with my grandparents made my heart burst with fireworks of joy. I really can't remember the last time we were all together. The 4th of July is my husband Tony's favorite holiday. We cooked out, the kids jumped off the dock a million times, the girls made TikTok videos, and we sat on the deck talking for hours. We laughed and the girls had a great time. I think it helped all of us recharge and feel a little lighter. I'm hoping that you can also meet up with a few of your family members or friends in the days ahead. I know you'll laugh and will treasure the time together. Stay safe!
Playing guitar is easily the highlight to any of my days - tips to promote musical growth in your kids
This has been the summer of trying new things! My dear friend, Jayme had shared on Facebook that her son, Ryan was home from college and was available for guitar lessons. We had seen Ryan play with some his friends at various venues around town and Stella and Sophia were intrigued with his band!
Ryan has done an awesome job with the lessons with Stella and we have chatted about the powerful role music can play in the lives of kids. I asked Ryan to write a guest post about kids and music. As you will see, Ryan is highly creative, clever, and passionate about music.
Playing guitar is easily the highlight to any of my days - tips to promote musical growth in your kids
By Ryan Zobel
Learning an instrument is no easy task, but the benefits of learning music as a child truly changes your brain for the better. You might be asking yourself how and why you should teach your child a musical instrument, and that’s where I come in. My name is Ryan Zobel, and I have played guitar for 14 of my 19 years alive. Playing guitar is easily the highlight to any of my days, and I am extremely happy I kept moving along with my lessons at a young age. In my time of learning, and teaching, I have learned a few things that promote the growth of a young student from the parent’s perspective. In the articles I pulled, I found a few tips and tricks that rang true to me as helpful ways to promote musical growth in your little ones.
From the article titled “6 Easy Ways To Encourage A Love Of Music In Kids”, Will Stroet shoots out great ideas to bring music into kid’s lives. His first reason was to “Listen”. Listening to music was what got me into playing guitar. Stroet claims children have no musical bias, but I’m not sure how entirely true that is. I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and Stevie Ray Vaughan CDs in my dad’s car as a kid, and those two artists have definitely rubbed off on me. That being said, I naturally like that music and my dad never forced it on me. Play the music your kids enjoy, but also try broadening their horizons to see what artists they truly love.
Picking an instrument is a whole other ordeal. I remember the day I walked into my mom’s room and told her I want to play guitar vividly, but not every kid picks an instrument from the get-go. Number 19 on Dr. Kimberly S. Moore’s article titled: “43 Easy Ways to Engage Young Kids in Music” says to “Buy a kid-friendly xylophone”. If you want your kid to pick an instrument but it is not quite the time to buy a guitar or piano or what have you, a xylophone is the way to go. Xylophones are laid out just like a piano, and makes it easy to play simple melodies. This is a good starter instrument because it is an easy transition into piano, and if your child does not like it, try something with strings or even a drum set.
If you would rather not invest in a xylophone, there are other great ways to promote musical learning in your child. The very first tip in the “43 Easy Ways to Engage Young Kids in Music” article is “Let them bang on pots and pans… and maybe buy some headphones?”. This may sound like a bad idea on paper, but truly letting your child or children go bananas on the pots and pans is better than it sounds. If you do it with them, try to find different pitches different utensils and pots make. With this knowledge, show them a short beat of your own, using the different sounds. After that, they will try to mimic your sound and even make some of their own.
The final step to starting your child’s musical career is found in Yuval Kamina’s article titled: “5 Tips to Interest Your Child in Playing an Instrument.” The final step is to find an instructor that works well with your child. One that encourages him or her to play the songs they like and work towards sharpening their skills.
Thanks for reading and I hope your children enjoy music as much as I do.
We definitely found an instructor that works well with Stella! Huge thank you to Ryan for giving Stella guitar lessons this summer and for helping foster a love of music! Thank you also for the fantastic tips for encouraging musical growth in kids! We love seeing the positive impact music has had on you and look forward to following your musical career! Parents, we hope your kids will pick up a musical instrument too and in the meantime break out the pots and pans!
Thanks for stopping by!
For the past couple of weeks we have been talking about our summer bucket lists! Stella and Sophia made a bucket list in school and we are making family bucket lists too. The other day the girls and I were running errands in the mini-van and Sophia piped up from her seat. She wanted to know when the mud run was and wanted to make sure we were adding it to our bucket list. I was so surprised and so happy. I assured her that we were doing this family adventure again - the Kid's Obstacle Challenge!
Tony, Sophia, Stella and I had done the Kid's Obstacle Challenge for the past two years and loved this muddy, adventure filled obstacle course. Stella is our bold twin that loves climbing over the obstacles and has army crawled through the mud each year. Sophia is my sweet, shy twin that cautiously approaches adventure and uses her keen eye to navigate the course. As a family, we have had a blast each year and the girls have proudly worn their Kid's Obstacle Challenge medals. Each of my girls is able to go at their own pace an master the obstacles in ways that fit their personalities. Stella is climbing over fences and Sophia weaves her way through the challenge. It is awesome to watch and be a part of their brave adventure.
Family adventures matter! I love how we have created such fun memories during our past Kid's Obstacle Challenge races and how those moments have inspired my shy Sophia to be brave and seek out more adventures. This year we promised Stella that we all would do the army crawl in the mud! Stella and Sophia are already in ninja training mode at the park and we can't wait for the Kid's Obstacle Challenge in July! We hope you will come join us on the course!
Here are some tips!
Wear old shoes that you can donate or throw out.
Wear clothes that can get really, really muddy!
We bring a small backpack with water bottles. There is water on the course but it was really hot last year.
Bring your cell phone on the course, you will get great pictures! Be sure to have a case/waterproof cover since it is muddy!
There are hoses at the end of the race so you can get some of the mud off but bring towels too! We also bring a change of clothes for the girls!
Here are Kid's Obstacle Challenge details!
Kid's Obstacle Challenge - July 13 and 14
Danada South Park
2751 Navistar Drive, Lisle, IL 60532
Thanks to Clif Bars and Razor for supporting family adventures and this epic event!
What will be on your family bucket list this summer? We will be rounding up great ideas for summer bucket lists! Share your idea now and we may include it in our epic 2019 summer bucket list ideas! Thanks for stopping by! Happy summer!
I'm going to tell you a very, very, very scary story about a hair razor haunted house in the basement of a church and the spirit that moves throughout the chambers of terror!
On a recent dark and rainy Friday night I found myself in a tiny room surrounded by terrifying screams! I could hear an angry nun slamming a ruler on a desk and yelling at students. A very mean (and funny) hotel clerk screamed at guests and I could hear doors slamming! I shuddered in my tiny room hiding from goblins, monsters, and wolves. I could hear more terrifying screams in the distance. How did I get here?
Suddenly, I heard kids screaming "Madison, is that you?!" and I cracked up laughing. I knew exactly how I got into this tiny room in this house of terror. A few years ago I signed our twins, Stella and Sophia up for pre-school at St. Thecla and that brought us to an amazing community filled with a powerful spirit.
It just happens that the amazing community spirt in the month of October turns to bone-chilling terror! St Thecla hosts an awesome haunted house in the basement of the church throughout the month of October as a school fundraiser! On this rainy Friday night I was working tech inside the haunted house. My job was to open and close an "elevator" door. It was so much fun working inside the haunted house. The past two years I had done concessions which was great too. Last year my husband Tony and I went through the haunted house and it was soooo scary! You have to come to the haunted house this weekend!
St. Thecla also has a non-scare haunted house this afternoon and the little kids can go through the haunted house while trick or treating for candy. It is is creepy and fun! Last year Stella and Sophia and their great pal Claire went through the haunted house and had blast.
To provide a terrifying haunted house for the Chicagoland area it takes many people behind the scenes. I am in awe of the St. Thecla community of parents, alums, high school volunteers, and neighborhood friends! The spirit of passion and commitment to St. Thecla runs deep in this spooky haunted house crowd and inspires young students to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I was cracking up when I heard kids yelling for Madison because she was Stella and Sophia's prayer partner last year. The girls adore Madison. Madison is now in high school and came back to volunteer for the haunted house - as many students do. That is a powerful community - with deep roots, built to last.
I wish I knew all the names of the older kid's parents (and all those involved in the haunted house) because I would love to give them all huge shouts out for being terrifyingly awesome! There is so much work in coordinating the volunteers, running the concessions, prepping the costumes and scarers, selling tickets, and a million other little details. Us younger kid parents are becoming more involved and are learning the ropes. A huge THANK YOU to all those involved. I know it is a ton of work and you are so appreciate. Your awesomeness helps our students and school!
So, as you make your plans for today, Saturday and Sunday be sure to head on over to SCARY and Devon for the Hair Razor Haunted House! Here are the details! We'll listen for your screams! And, thanks for supporting St. Thecla!
Hair Razor Haunted House
October Saturday 28th
No Scare Lights On 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Show up in costume and trick-or-treat throughout the haunted house. Tickets are $6.00
Hair Razor haunted house 7 pm to 10:30 pm
October Sunday 29th
Hair Razor haunted house 6 pm to 9:30 pm
Where: Basement of St. Thecla Church
6725 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, IL 60631
Stella and Sophia love watching the ninja warrior shows and are fascinated with the different obstacles. As we watch, they jump from our living room chairs onto the couch and around the room. I'm constantly telling them to be careful and to not break a leg! They pretend we have a buzzer that they need to hit to win. Recently, while at the park the girls create their own obstacle courses. They dash from slide to climbing rope to bridge and laugh along the way. The other day we were at Rosedale Park in Chicago, near our friend Margaret's house. The girls love to climb and the above picture shows the girls climbing to the top of the tower to hit the "buzzer!" So much summer fun!
Do you have ninja kids in your home? If so, we have the place for you to go this Saturday, June 24th! Come to the Kids Obstacle Challenge in Crystal Lake! The course looks amazing! Your kids will have a blast climbing the ropes, swinging over the mud pits, and dashing into the ball pit! And, so many more fun obstacles! You need to check out the photo gallery! Each participant receives a very cool medal and the event looks like so much family fun! The Kids Obstacle Challenge is for kids age 5-16.
The great folks at the Kids Obstacle Challenge are offering followers of Messy Mommies an exclusive offer! Check out the website and we hope to see you on course!
Kids Obstacle Challenge
851 IL-176, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
EXCLUSIVE OFFER: 20% OFF registration to Kids Obstacle Challenge in Crystal Lake, IL on Saturday, June 24th! Offer ends 6/23 at 11:59pm CDT.
Promo code: BEBRAVE20
Are you working on plans for your kids? If they like to shake, rattle and squirm to music we know where you should go! Come see the amazing Ms. Jodi Koplin and the Jigglejam Band! I’ve shared before that we think Ms. Jodi is fantastic! We have taken her classes and have been to her shows and our twins have loved singing and dancing the Jigglejam way! Within minutes Ms. Jodi captivates the youngsters and has them up dancing. We have her CDs and are constantly singing along in the car to her upbeat tunes.
As a mom I try to think of positive influencers for Sophia and Stella. Most times I feel like I’m doing pretty good. Recently, Stella started saying she “hated” things and when she was mad was calling me “stupid.” Not good for my 5 year-old and at first I couldn’t figure out where she was even picking up the language. I thought about the shows we typically watched on Disney and Nickelodeon and I knew it didn’t come from there. Flipping through the CDs in the minivan I realized the language was coming from the movie Home Alone. We love the movie and the tricks on the bad guys make the girls laugh. But I hadn’t paid close attention to some of the language. In the beginning Kevin is fighting with his siblings and they call him stupid and later he says he hates his mom and family. Ugh, #momfail on my part. We are now watching less of Home Alone and listening more to Ms. Jodi.
Ms. Jodi’s CDs have great music and more importantly, great lyrics for kids. She talks about kindness and friendship, making safe choices, and healthy eating. As the kids sing along they are learning about good values and good choices. We can’t wait to hear the songs on Ms. Jodi’s new CD, Shake, Rattle & Squirm!
Following are some of Ms. Jodi and the Jigglejam Band’s upcoming events! We hope you can come out for some fun and great music! You can read more in Ms. Jodi’s recent Chicago Tribune article too! Check out Ms. Jodi's Facebook page for more information!
Ms. Jodi and the Jigglejam Band
Saturday, June 17th – Deerfield Farmers Market
9:30 am Free event!
Monday, June 19th – The Book Market at Hanger One, 2651 Navy Blvd., Glenview
7:00 pm Free event sponsored by the Glenview Public Library. Registration required.
Register for the event by calling the Glenview Public Library at 847-729-7500.
Wednesday, June 21st – The Chicago Botanic Garden – Shake, Rattle, & Squirm CD Release Concert
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm Free event, need to pay for parking. Bring a picnic and enjoy he conert in a beautiful setting!
As we are wrapping up pre-school 4, Stella and Sophia's teacher asked the students to conduct a science experiment. Each student has been assigned a day and the student performs the experiment in front of the class.
I must admit when the science experiment paper came home I was a tiny, tiny bit dismayed as I am kind of ready to wrap up the year. But the infectious enthusiasm of my five-year-old twins quickly won me over. The girls reminded me of how awesome it is to make slime and wanted to know what types of science experiments they could do for their class.
We fired up the computer and turned to Pinterest. We quickly found lots of pre-school science ideas and are working on our plans for their presentations. The girls were so interested in the different projects and had lots of questions on how the projects worked. As we sat there clicking on ideas I thought to myself this really was a good idea and I needed to get fully onboard.
A few days later the girls jumped into the minivan at pick-up time and immediately began telling me about their friend, Lukas' cool science experiment. Per Stella and Sophia, Lukas had a bowl of water and added pepper. The girls said the pepper was like germs. Then Lukas put some hand soap on his finger and put it in the water. The pepper scattered which Sophia and Stella thought was very cool. Lukas explained that it is important to use soap and wash your hands to keep germs away. The girls loved it and we had to do Lukas' science experiment that evening. Stella dumped a ton of "germs" or pepper into her bowl while Sophia wanted a smaller amount of "germs." Stella was so excited to put the Dial soap on her finger and Sophia was a little more cautious but loved the reaction in the water. Check out the picture above to see the girls in action with the germ experiment. Good job Lukas and love the power of Dial soap!
Stella and Sophia love science and math and often we look for opportunities to incorporate science and math into our play. The girls love to take out a measuring tape and see how small something is, how long something is, and how tall certain toys are compared to others. They work as a pretty good team and the tape measure is a great way for us to practice our numbers. A few weeks ago they were measuring bunnies on our tablecloth.
If you are looking for a math experiment for your kids, we have an easy and fun activity for you from www.education.com. The easy to use www.education.com website is packed with worksheets, games, activities, songs and other excellent resources for you and your kids.
With summer approaching you could use summer items like swim googles, a swim raft, popsicles, and a beach towel for this project. Happy measuring!
Use familiar household items and decorations to turn estimation into a fun game! This exercise in estimation is great for any fourth grader trying to build their math skills by learning how to measure different items.
What You Need: