Spring is near! We are planning our garden, dreaming about summer trips and craving the warmth of the sun!
My friends at the Owls Brew sent over a recipe to share with my readers and I couldn't resist!

This Garden Variety Cocktail is a great way to bring a bit of spring green to your celebrations and parties! 






Brew: The Classic (English breakfast with a tart twist)
Booze: Gin
1 Part The Classic
1 Part Gin
2 Parts Green Juice
Shake with ice and strain
Garnish: Fresh thyme

What is your favorite cocktail for spring parties and celebrations? Tell me about it in a comment!

Making Easter Easier Than Ever With HoneyBaked Ham #HoneyBakedEaster

This post was sponsored by HoneyBaked Ham

I am going to make a confession to you. I have never been a big fan of holidays. There is just something about cleaning for days, shopping, decorating and spending a few days in the kitchen prepping the meal that doesn't appeal to me. I am not even going to talk about the clean up process...

See, holidays. Fun for everyone but the hostess in my case.

Last year I discovered a trick... there is a way to cut the work in half without sacrificing on dinner. I am going to share my trick for an awesome Easter Dinner, as well as a few other tips to make your Easter Dinner a success without doing too much work!

My first bit of advice is to not clean everything days before the event. Instead make time for the entire week leading up to it to do a few chores a day. I set a time for 20 minutes. I clean as much as I can in that short time and then I move on with my day.

Tackling jobs over the course of the week is one great way to save time and efforts. Face it a cleaning spree the day before just isn't fun! But spreading it out and doing a few windows, or dusting a shelf one day, then cleaning out the fridge another day, and so on really makes it less of a challenge.

My second tip is if you plan to have more than 4 guests for dinner, pick up disposable dishes. It will save you hours of time at the end of the dinner.


My third tip is to ask your guests to each contribute a favorite dish to the meal. This takes a lot of strain off of the hostess. It is also lots of fun to sample what everyone brings!

My tip seriously has changed my opinion about holiday gatherings.

Go to a HoneyBaked Ham store and pick up a ham (whole, half, quarter or mini sized) and maybe a turkey breast too. You can select side dishes that will please the crowd, or a scrumptious dessert. All you will need to do is heat it up and serve dinner to oohs and ahhs, cause ya know.... there is nothing like a HoneyBaked Ham!

Since 1957, HoneyBaked has been known for the most flavorful, moist and tender Ham you’ll find anywhere, finished with its signature sweet, crunchy glaze. Each HoneyBaked Ham is slow-smoked for more than twenty hours for unparalleled tenderness. Finally, each Ham is hand-glazed in each store for an incredible taste that’s second to none. It comes spiral-sliced and ready to serve, making it as easy as it is delicious. HoneyBaked offers premium products that are convenient and simple-to-serve. And, it's Gluten Free too!


HoneyBaked Ham Turkey Breast is trimmed by hand, perfecting the wholesome flavor and goodness of tender 100% breast meat, carefully seasoned, then fire-glazed to perfection with our one-of-a-kind sweet, crunchy glaze. Available Smoked or Roasted, and sliced for your convenience. This is gluten free too!

If you print this coupon you can save an extra $5 off of your $50+ purchase (It is valid until 4/14/15. You must present the coupon at the time of purchase to save!)

It wouldn't be a holiday at my house without HoneyBaked Ham!




Busy Work for My Preschooler

It seems like only a few weeks ago I was rambling about how my son has missed weeks upon weeks of school due to weather and illness. The vicious cycle has repeated. I am crossing my fingers he will get to go this week. In 2 days it will be 2 full weeks of his cute little face being home... ALL THE TIME...

If I was concerned before about his missed school, this time around it is flat out worry. He is now so out of the groove of going to school that he no longer wants to go. He has tried to flatter me by telling me he likes staying home to do "fun stuff" with me more than he likes school. 

This "fun stuff" Roo speaks of is actually 'school work', but I guess he likes my approach to his opportunities to learn. {Flattery again!?}

I created "busy work bags" for Roo, which are nothing more than preschool age appropriate activities. I allow him to pick a bag each day he is home from school and work on it at his leisure. I made 7 different bags to give him variety, and as he completes one, I make a new one to keep his supply plentiful.

To be honest, the idea came to me when I organized our crafty junk. I found some really ugly old stationary that I wanted to use and I have literally hundreds of educational printables. 

Each day I have my son practice writing his name 5 times.  He also practices writing a letter of the day and a number of the day 5 times each.



I offer him 2 printables per bag. I try to mix it up to include a variety of options.


I give him a fine motor activity in each bag, such as placing wooden beads on a pipe cleaner or fine motor feeding with pom poms.


I might also include a Popsicle stick craft (make the letter I out of the craft sticks...), or have him make flowers with markers and stamps.



I include a few bonus items that are just fun to do like coloring these blank cardboard sticker things, or coloring in a ticket, which becomes a treasured item to use with his much loved train sets.

Roo loves doing this "fun stuff"! I don't know if my handwriting on the pages helps motivate him or not ( he loves to ask me to write things for him,) or if he just likes the fine motor activities which he will do several times a day!

This is one of the many ways I try to keep my son learning new things, developing the skills he has, and best of all, entertained without a screen!

How do you encourage learning in your home?

Welcome Spring With These Bird Activities

There is no better time to introduce your children to birds than in the spring when the seasonal birds return and chirping can be heard in abundance. I found these really cute crafts and invitations to play that I thought were really spectacular ways to begin learning about birds in anticipation of the arrival of spring. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!



This Paper Plate Peacock Craft from Toddling in the Fast Lane is adorable and would make a great way to begin exploring birds with kids.


This Birds Nest Small World Play Idea from Craftulate is an invitation to play that kids cannot resist!



This idea is a great way to welcome spring! The kids will love making this Nest and Bird Craft from Buggy and Buddy.




This Pipe-cleaner Feather Peacock from Artsy Craftsy Mom is a very creative craft that will bring a splash of color to any room!




The kids will love making this Foam Bird House  from Artsy Fartsy Mama to learn more about where some birds might live. 




I love this idea for Garden Birds small world play from Learning and Exploring! This looks like a great way to learn through play!





Active Play on Indoor Days

This winter has been brutal hasn't it? My poor children have been cooped up for what feels like... forever months as the temperatures drop from cold to even colder! To say we have cabin fever would be accurate! Honestly, we have developed a case of the lazy's too. We spent several days doing nothing to the point of sheer exhaustion.

After another day with restless and cranky kids, who spent the day in various stages of doing nothing other than destroying the house,  I realized it was time to find ways to get them moving, having fun and hopefully even learning something too! 

via Besttoys4toddlers.com


Bubbly Ball Bowling sounds like a lot of fun! My kids really like playing ball, so I have a hunch bowling would go over well!


via Craftulate


My kids have discovered the sheer joy of balloons. Harper isn't old enough for this game yet, but Roo would love to play Balloon Tennis!

via Tutus and Tea Parties


When we get "bubbles" my kids can't wait to start popping them! This Bubble Wrap Hop Game is a great way to burn off a little excess energy for kids of all ages! 

via Cutting Tiny Bites

Getting ready for snow play is a good way to wear kids out...work on gross motor skills.

via Creatiful Kids


If bad comes to worse, you can always keep the kids really busy by Making an Indoor Slide for them!

via B-Inspired Mama


If you have an indoor trampoline (and shouldn't we all!?) these trampoline games will be a big hit with the kids!

How do you keep your kids active on indoor days? I would love to hear your ideas and tips!



Time Flies When You Are Raising A Family



How fast time flies when you are raising a family! It seems like only yesterday I was the mother of a 15 month old boy, trying to find my way in the journey that is motherhood. Fast forward to today. That boy is turning 5 in May. I am now the mother of a 15 month old girl.

They are growing so fast! My heart breaks a little everyday when they are a little bigger, they are a little older, they are a little more independent. I am excited to see them grow and discover the world, but oh, if they would just stay small a little longer!

It hit me hard, just like a ton of bricks might, when I realized... in less than 3 months my little boy will be 5.  I had to catch my breath as I replayed that time in my mind. How badly I wished I could hit pause. I wished I could savor those moments with an infant in my arms, or chasing a toddler about. I wished I could greedily gather up all of the giggles of a 3 year old on his most rotten day, to collect in my heart. I wished I could have all of those moments again with Roo. I wished I could go back to when Harper was a newborn and just soak it all in, how tiny she was, her sweet sighs. The way she smelled when she was days old, the way she would smile when I would stroke her cheek.

If I only knew how fast it all really goes when it was all beginning!

 


Now that he is closer to 5 and she is 15 months old I am learning to savor moments.

Every evening after dinner I tuck my phones into a cabinet. I leave my laptop in another room. I stash the tablet away. I grab the coziest quilt and invite my kids to cuddle with me. I hand the remote over to Roo, he selects a cartoon and with my two babies I relax. I don't let the chirping phones distract me, this is my favorite time of the day, the time I spend quietly with my kids, giggling when appropriate. Smelling the sweetness of their blond hair. Memorizing the way their skin feels beneath my hands as I massage tiny backs and shoulders. Wishing that if I can't have the moments that have passed back that I can be all there for these brief pre-bedtime moments. The way my daughter clings to be, her head resting on me when she is tired, or the way my son hugs me and sighs "Uhmmm" when he wraps his arms around me. Those are moments to savor, to cherish, to be there completely for.