The Bug Bite Thing

One of THE most irritating things about summer in our neck of the woods is the dreaded mosquitos. We have a lovely sliver of spring when they haven’t hatched out of hiding yet, and it’s simply glorious. When they do come out though, they arise with a vengeance.

Nothing is worse than being eaten alive… and then to deal with the itchiness afterwards is the literal definition of “UGH!”

I learned something new the other day. The reason we feel itchy is due to a reaction caused by the saliva/venom the bugs leave behind just under our skin.

Bug Bite Thing is a suction tool that extracts the irritants which in turn alleviates the itching, stinging and swelling!

Bug Bite Thing is reusable, kid-friendly and works on mosquitoes, bees, wasps, ants and other biting insects! The tool can also be used to remove splinters and other embedded objects!

I get it, it sounds a little too good to be true, but they come with a 100% guarantee so there is no harm in trying!

You can find them in black and white here: Bug Bite Thing.

Enter my giveaway over on Instagram for a chance to win a couple for yourself – there will be more than one winner! *giveaway now CLOSED*

xoxo Kate

Let your child get bored

In a world that is so fast-paced, we need to let our children become bored from time to time! Boredom actually allows the brain to recover from the overstimulated world that we live in.

So many parents think that it’s their responsibility to fill every moment of their child’s time with activities, extracurriculars or screens. We all know how it feels to see the moms on social media doing ALL the things— crafts, field trips, baking, sports, dance and so on. I’ve been there finding myself wondering, “am I doing enough?” And that’s one of the best parts about embracing and encouraging this unstructured time— no more guilt! We can let that go because boredom is actually GOOD for them!

Being bored teaches us that life isn’t all rainbows and fireworks because as adults, we all know know that IT IS NOT.

Unstructured down time encourages creativity, independent thinking, and problem solving skills. Allowing that open ended time gives our children the opportunity to explore their inner selves and the world around them, diving deep into their interests and discovering their unique skills and passions! We aren’t nurturing them by giving them a toy that makes all of the noise for them or plopping them in front of the TV OR keeping them so busy that they don’t get to spend any time with themselves.

When a child is bored, it allows their minds to wander. As stated above, it’s not our jobs to entertain our kids but rather give them tools to be imaginative and creative. If we spend our time filling up our children’s spare time, they’ll never learn to do it for themselves. Boredom is good for the brain!

“I think it’s necessary to let kids get bored once in a while— that’s how they learn to be creative.” – Kim Raver

Do you let your kid(s) get bored?

xxoo Kate

How to afford wooden toys on a budget

I’m cheap. I love a good deal. I hate spending a ton of money if I don’t have to. If you’re like me, keep reading… Here’s what I do to afford our wooden toys—

Sell things you no longer want or need.

I often sell random things around the house to fund the toys we want. I’ve been on a semi-minimalist journey for a few years now and it feels so good to get rid of clutter and unused toys from around the house. In return, we can afford those special pieces we’ve been wanting. Utilize Facebook marketplace, BST (buy sell trade) pages, Craigslist, Poshmark, Mercari, whatever works best for you. Another thing to note is that these toys hold their value. Most of the time, if you sell in the right place, you can get back what you paid if not more depending on the item.

*If you’re new to Mercari, here’s a discount for you: click here!

Shop second hand.

As stated above, wooden toys really hold their value so it’s not often that you can get a huge steal, but it happens from time to time. Keep your eyes out on all of the pages mentioned above and you just might find a needle in the haystack! This has happened with us several times so be persistent, it does happen!

Go thrifting.

You don’t need the name brands when it comes to wooden toys. Wooden blocks are wooden blocks and they’re amazing either way! And sometimes, you do find the sought after brands. I come from a small town and I remember thinking “eh, I’ll never find anything like that here” but I was so wrong! One time I found a small set of blocks with different rainbow shakers inside of them and when I looked them up, they were worth over $55 and I got them for $1.49. I’m not trying to sit here and brag about my finds, I’m simply stating that it makes it THAT much more rewarding and exciting when you do happen upon something. Again, keep your eyes out at all times.

A cute toy car I found for $2.49
A cute toy car I found for $2.49

Get crafty.

You don’t need to be super crafty to do some of these things!

Make some peg dolls, they’re super easy and can be purchased for a very fair price. Add some paint and wa-la! I made these rainbow peg dolls for my youngest daughter as a first try and they were really fun. I’m excited to make more and get even more detailed!

Items for purchase: peg dolls, paint markers, paints

Things like these would also be super easy to make too! Volcanoes, houses, wooden rings (purchase here) etc. (pictures below are not mine, used for reference).

Make a list give it out on special occasions.

Many of us know what it’s like to hear “what does little Benny want for his birthday?” And then panic sets in because you can’t think of anything in that moment. If you don’t have present family/friends in your life, the above options are very effective! However if you do, I encourage you to keep an ongoing list of “wants” available for times like these! You could even ask that loved ones go in on a gift together because some can be quite expensive! Encourage them to keep their eyes out for certain things throughout the year because the more people searching for you, the better!

Don’t know what the wooden toy hype is all about? I break it all down for you here!

Those are my tips on how to acquire wooden toys on a budget! Do you have anything to add? Please leave your ideas down in the comments!

xxoo Kate

Wooden toys, what’s the hype?

First I want to start off by saying— The influencers that speak about wooden toys like it ain’t no thaaang to acquire them, are speaking from a place of privilege. To most people, the price points are quite shocking. I’ve been there. Like why on earth are we out here buying $100+ rainbows?! There’s so much more to it, so let me explain.

Quality over quantity.

Yes, that price at first is like *mini heart attack* however, most people investing in wooden toys know that it’s because they want quality goods. I know what you’re thinking, who doesn’t? Many people will choose to buy ONE big set of wooden building blocks vs five plastic-flashy-noisy-toys. The plastic-flashy-noisy toys will not last as long because there are way more moving parts, pieces, lights, etc. that can break or malfunction. (I’d love to touch more on the value of open ended play later on if you’re interested).

They’re open ended.

Oskars Wooden Ark does a good job at describing what opened ended play is- Open-ended play can be described as play that has no pre-determined limitations and no fixed answer – children simply follow their imagination to allow the play to go in any direction their creativity takes them. As there are no set outcomes, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with open-ended play. Read more here.

Many plastic-flashy-noisy toys do not allow for this as they do the thinking for the child. For example, a toy truck that makes noises and flashes its lights, does not allow for the child to think for themselves by making the “beep beep” or “vroom” noises or simply imagining the lights. The imagination doesn’t have to work quite as hard. Working our children’s imagination is IMPORTANT because play, IS a child’s work. Wooden blocks are one of the best things you can purchase for your child. The possibilities are endless.

Better for the environment.

For a lot of people, the environmental factor is a huge reason they choose the wooden route. It seems like just more recently I’ve noticed a lot of anti-plastic movements and it’s great. I love that for the environment. Do we personally own plastic toys? Here and there, yes, but we are more conscious of it and I think it’s something everyone should be aware of.

Plastic toys account for 90% of the toy market. On average, the plastic toys are only played with for 6 months. Plastic toys have a shorter lifespan and they’re rarely recycled. It’s not often that a toy actually qualifies for recycling because they’re frequently made with other metals. You know what that means… they find themselves in a landfill. In 2014 Americans generated 33 million tons of plastic. We’ve got to do better.

Healthier for your family.

The health effects of the chemicals used in plastic toys are not fully known. One common chemical used is phthalates. Phthalates are known to cause birth defects and cancer. And don’t get me started on the toys made overseas. Those are even less regulated and many have been shown to contain lead, yes lead! Children are of course at higher risk of being exposed to these chemicals because toys commonly make their way to the mouth.

Fund a neighbor, not a large corporation

Many wooden toys can be purchased from small shops, Etsy, craft shows, local co ops, thrifted etc. I’m sure you’d agree that you’d like your money to go into a neighbor’s pocket rather than one of a big corporation’s overflowing money bags.

*Please don’t be shy about asking seller’s if they’re CPSC compliant. In 2008 Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) – this act states that all manufacturers must pay a qualified lab to test and certify any product intended for children (otherwise known as a “third party test”) and label all relevant products accurately in case of a recall. Read more here.

Can be used as heirloom toys.

Wooden toys last! Heirloom toys are toys that can be passed down from generation to generation and they function just as wonderfully as they did in the past. They’re used as a special keepsake to be given to grandchildren one day!

Cult Facebook pages, not necessary, not recommended.

Don’t join the cult-like Facebook groups unless you’ve got a seriously strong willpower to resist the social pressure and pandemonium. I’ve joined a couple myself and people go CRAZY over new releases, buying and reselling, having the newest and most sought after pieces. I’m not kidding, people are in there forking over thousands of dollars. DON’T DO IT.

So as you can see, purchasing/acquiring wooden toys is done for many different reasons, all of which are pretty good if you ask me. If you’re wondering how you can buy wooden toys on a tight budget, click here!

Also coming soon- popular and loved wooden toy brands, our favorites and more! If Amazon is more your speed, click here to explore some of the toys we adore!

xxoo Kate

Gift guide for active toddlers

We all know what it’s like to get ants in our pants. Kids especially need to burn off their energy because they have so much of it. Some kids are just climbers, others could use a little help with coordination but nearly all kids just need to move. These gifts are perfect for just that!

1.Pikler Triangle I just found out about these within the last 2 years and they’ve fascinated me ever since! They’re perfect for climbers and can be used before your child can even walk. Additional attachments can be purchased like slides and more! I talk more about Pikler triangles here.

2.Toddler Slide If you decide against a Pikler and you want something a little more simple, you can’t go wrong with a slide. Kids love slides and no one says you can’t have one indoors!

3. DIY balance beam This year we’re asking Santa’s elves to make this beam and a Pikler for Christmas. I must say, the triangle is kind of complex to make but even I could make this balance beam! Balancing is a skill that must be mastered so why not make it fun?

4.Bilibo seats These versatile play objects are multi award winning and perfect for open ended play! The possibilities are nearly endless including rocking , hiding, spinning, standing on and more!

5.Balance board The balance boards were originally found in Waldorf schools but made their way into people’s homes. These are great for imaginative play, strength building and exercise. They can be used by children of all ages.

6.Mini trampoline It’s important for kids to stay active and this is the perfect pastime activity! My middle child loves to bounce and I’m here to tell you that this trampoline provides an exceptional energy-burning outlet for toddlers.

7.Gonge hilltops My girls got these for Christmas last year that they’ve been a hit ever since! They are one of the few things that get used every single day. Hilltops develop children’s ability to estimate distances and make them familiar with heights.

8.Pod swing These can be used indoors or outdoors but we plan to use it inside because my kiddos and I get some serious cabin fever (we have 8 months of snow). These hammock swings help develop a child‘s sense of balance and body awareness but at the same time can be used for relaxation.

9.Rock wall Our home is a child-centered zone. I want space for the kids to explore and have fun because why not?! Who says you can’t make a rock wall inside your house?

10.Bounce horse The only thing my oldest daughter wanted this year was a pony. She suggested a real one but we decided he or she would be too cold outside and too big to live inside so she decided to ask Santa for a “toy pony that she could ride on.”

11.Tunnel I don’t know what it is about tunnels but kids love them. They’re great for imaginative adventures. As a parent, I like these ones because they collapse down and store very easily!

12.Basketball hoop I’m going to be honest and say that we use the basketball hoop just as much as our girls do. There is something so satisfying about throwing a ball from across the living room and making it. Things get pretty heated between my husband and I but hey, the kids like it too. It’s a fun family activity!

13.Indoor play gym Also known as a Swedish wall, this play gym comes with it all- ropes, rings, climbing wall, ladder, ramp, swing. All of these features are great for climbing and coordination skills!

14.Sit n spin My girls love to spin… and spin and spin! They always end up smashing themselves off of things and getting hurt so with this sit n spin, at least they’re sitting down!

15.Indoor climbing dome These domes can be used outdoors but if you have the space, indoors too! They’re great for climbing and hours of fun!

xxoo Kate

Christmas Gift Guide for Toddlers

Judge me if you must, but I’m totally that person that puts up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. No it’s not up yet but I’m already getting antsy. My husband gives me a hard time about my eagerness every year. Some people may say that I’m getting ahead of myself but I just like to drag out the excitement for as long as possible. It’s my favorite time of the year!

I’m not all about the presents, that’s not what brings me joy. I love getting together with family, celebrating Jesus, the lights, the smells… I could go on.

While I don’t focus solely on the gifts, I really do love Christmas shopping and gift giving. I start to think about it quite early, hence this post coming out in October…

I like to buy things that will be well-loved and last a long time. I’m really into open-ended play, wooden toys, and things that spark imagination. We are not a one hundred percent Montessori or Waldorf family however I do like to incorporate their values and ideas.

I don’t like toys that make noise or flash because they do all of the work for my children. I’d prefer to listen to my girls “vroom-vroom” their own toys rather than a recording that plays over and over, even when they’re done playing with said toy. I avoid these types of things because one of my favorite sounds in the entire world is listening to my daughters imaginations run wild. They’re hilarious.

So whether you’re ready to put up the tree or not, the holiday season is fast approaching so best be prepared. Not to worry because I have the perfect toddler gift guide for you!

Around Christmastime this year, my girls will be 3.5 years old, one month shy of 2 years old and our third daughter will be 3 months old. Olive, my baby won’t be getting a whole lot of toys since she’s so young so for this guide, I’m focusing on my big girls!

Here’s what’s on our list…

1. Play Kitchen (IKEA $79)

I like this kitchen because the height of the legs can be adjusted to three different positions so it actually grows with my kids. I also love that it’s not made from colorful plastic because I prefer neutrals!

2. Play Kitchen Accessories (IKEA Pots+Pans $9.99, Utensils $4.99)

At first I was eye-ing up a Melissa and Doug pots and pans set but it was $24.99. For just $14.98 I’m able to get both of the sets pictured above from IKEA. And again, I love that they’re not plastic!

3. Dollhouse (IKEA $34.99)

I love the simple design and wood features of this dollhouse from IKEA. There are so many fun “hacks” and ways to decorate and personalize it as well. It can also be hung on the wall so when my girls are “over” dollhouses, it can be used as a cute shelf!

4. Dollhouse Furniture (IKEA $17.99)

The furniture is well made, trendy and the perfect pop of color. I know my girls will love them. I’m also a fan because there isn’t a million pieces to keep track of!

5. Dollhouse People (Target $19.99)

I love that these people are wooden but also bendable! The parents are 4.5 inches tall and the kids are 3.75 inches tall so they’re small but not so small that they will get lost. Even though they’re bendable they can still stand up!

6. Balance Board (Etsy $51.89)

At first I was interested in a Wobbel board but at a price tag of over $150 and needing to be shipped overseas, I decided to look elsewhere. I found this one on Etsy with awesome reviews. The balance board originally made their appearance in Waldorf schools but made their way into people’s homes. These are great for imaginative play, strength building and exercise. They can be used by children of all ages.

7. Baby dolls (Target $21.99)

All toddlers seem to love baby dolls. At least for my girls, they love being little “mamas.” The open ended play scenarios are nearly infinite. It’s my own personal preference but I don’t want to get them into collectible dolls where they end up wanting a bunch of them and then they end up all over the house. I think one baby each is more than enough!

8. Wooden Doll Cradle (Target $26.99)

Again, just trying to avoid plastic. I think this cradle is super sweet and just the right size for the dolls mentioned above.

9. Tea set (Target $18.99)

I love “tea time” at our house and I know the girls love to have pretend tea parties and picnics but I wanted them to be able to have dishes that they could actually eat and drink from. Tin was an option but they aren’t very sturdy. I also love the colors of these!

10. Puzzles (Target 28.49)

My oldest daughter has developed a love for puzzles lately. I think puzzles are a wonderful option for quiet time activities and as a mom of three young children, silence from time to time is much appreciated! I like the wooden puzzles because they’re much more sturdy than other options.

11. Grimms Rainbow Stacker (Bella Luna Toys $95)

When I first saw the price tag on these rainbows, I laughed. I thought, who in their right mind would spend $100+ on such a thing?! Well now I would! Grimms rainbows have AMAZING reviews and they are so versatile. The arches can be used as a nesting toy but also bridges, tunnels, trains, boats and so much more. These rainbows definitely spark the imagination!

12. Train set (IKEA $9.99)

My youngest daughter has become obsessed with “choo-choos.” You really can’t beat the price on this set either. We used to have a train table but it was bulky and always looked messy. This set can be build up anywhere and then taken down and easily stored.

13. Picasso Tiles (Amazon $49.98)

I’ve been hearing amazing things about these tiles. Children of all ages sit and play with these for hours and the possibilities are endless. I have to be honest, I don’t know how much my children will like them but I know my husband and I will, ha!

14. Play Silks (Etsy $95)

Play silks are a Waldorf staple. They are amazing for creative play. They can be used for dress up, puppet shows, forts, and so much more! They are the perfect, open ended toy.

15. Popsicle Molds (Amazon $8.99)

I love the idea behind the molds with a stick, like a classic “popsicle” but for my messy toddlers, these are so much more realistic! They are reusable silicone sleeves with a cap! There are so many healthy recipes made with yogurt and fruits so my kids are getting a treat but it’s also good for them!

16. Temporary Tattoos (Ducky Street $3)

I love Ducky Street tattoos because they are inexpensive and the designs are unlike any others that I’ve seen. There are so many designs to choose from!

17. Vintage Wall Art (Retro Planet $4.29)

I am in love with these vintage posters. Obviously these are very personal to our style but someone else out there will agree with me that they’re cute! They will go perfect in my daughters bedroom and you can’t beat the price!

18. Swaddle Wall Hanging (Modern Burlap $26)

These swaddles are just so beautiful. I’ve been admiring them for a while. You can use them as a blanket yes, but my intention is to use it as a wall hanging. The scriptures are powerful and the simplicity of the white swaddle with the fancy black lettering is just what I’m looking for. I’m in love with the “Child of God” one!

19. Shopping List Game (Amazon $11.87)

I’ve heard wonderful reviews about this game. I am a board game lover and want to start my kids young. I was trying to find a game that my girls and I can sit down and play to spark their love for games early and this one is perfect for their ages. If your kids love it you can buy extensions with more foods or with clothes!

20. Pajamas (Target $ vary)

My hope is that my daughters can each open up a present with pajamas on Christmas Eve so that they can wear them the next day on Christmas! We always lounge around the house for the majority of the day so it will be perfect! And honestly, kids are just the cutest in their little jammies anyways!

Check out some cool gifts we received last year by clicking here. What are some things on your wish list this year?

Happy holidays!

xxoo Kate

How to sterilize a Wubbanub pacifier

Maybe it’s allergies, maybe it’s a little cold but everyone in our house has been a little stuffy lately. With a new baby I’m on high alert because my daughters are obsessed with giving their new sister kisses… aka, smothering their little sister’s face with their wet mouths and runny noses. No thanks!

I’ve been pretty good about having them kiss the top of her head, or not at all but one thing I can’t seem to keep track of are her pacifiers! My toddler always seems to find them and proudly bring them to us after she’s tested them out herself.

It was all fine until Winter got ahold of Olive’s Wubbanub. If you don’t know what a Wubbanub is, it’s a pacifier that’s attached to a little cozy animal.

I was like great… the puppy doesn’t detach so how in the world am I supposed to sterilize this now?!

I did not like suggestions that the Google offered such as soaking it in soapy water, using a sanitizing wipe, and even running it through the washing machine using a “baby” detergent. I didn’t want to use anything that involved chemicals so those were no-go’s for me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wondered this so let me share with you how to sanitize them, chemical-free!

All you need to do is boil a pot of water on your stove, dangle the pacifier in the boiling water for 5 minutes, let it dry and wala, that’s it! Just do your best to hold it out of the way of the steam because ouch! You’re welcome!

xxoo Kate