Kiwi Crate

MerMagKiwiCrate1Hi friends! Have you ever heard of Kiwi Crate? If you not you are in for a real kids crafting treat. Kiwi Crate contacted me and asked if they could send over a box of fun craft kit items for the boys. Well, being obsessed with this sort of thing, we of course said yes!

One of my favorite things that Kiwi Crate does is address the package out to the kids themselves. They boys absolutely loved this part and insisted that they open it all by themselves.
MerMagKiwiCrate2And what treasures they found inside once they did open it! Our box came complete with two fun bug crafts. Absolutely everything they needed to complete the craft was in the box. Real winner there.
MerMagKiwiCrate3Of the two crafts, the boys picked the fun lightening bugs craft first. They were outfiitted with two plastic bottles, multiple colorful transparent stickers, glow sticks and more! Instructions were simple and the boys loved creating their little bugs.
MerMagKiwiCrate4I think this concept behind Kiwi Crate is genius. I of course love recycling found objects around the house in my crafts but there is a time when something like this really would come in handy. Summer fun and after school crafts sent to your door step once a month that you don't have time to think about or implement on your own = awesome. Great activities to do with the grand kids, put together at parties, and more! Oh and they are filled with educational goodies that help your kids learn while creating and playing.
We love it! I already have my eye on a number of other crate options for the future. Thank you Kiwi Crate! We are big fans!


For Baby: Stocking up on Staples and Statements

MerMagBabyStaplesandStatementsTea1ABit by bit I've been trying to stock up on a wardrobe for baby girl (Due Oct. 4). With my two boys, I had it down as to how I dressed baby: soft knit kimono tops paired with knit pants or the occasional skinny jean. Simple soft soled shoes that came on and off easily. Onsies, and pjs with the occasional statement shirt, jacket or suspenders. Then as they got older, I could really get into the more fun fashions wit a bit more structure.

This will be my first girl but I still think I'll follow the same sort of philosophy: comfortable, cuddly, easy with a few pops of WOW! (and of course dresses, dresses, dresses!). Or in other words, I'm stocking up on an assortment of staples with a sprinkling of fun statement pieces. And one of my favorite go-to clothing lines to do just that is TeaMerMagBabyStaplesandStatementsTea2AI can remember the first time I heard about Tea. I was pregnant with A (so 6 years ago!) and was shopping at one of my favorite kids stores in Ft. Collins, Co, The Clothes Pony. The clerk noticed that I was expecting and rushed up to me so excited to share news of this new line that she was in love with. She proceeded to tell me about Tea clothing, about how soft and organic it was and more importantly, that it was Julia Robert's first choice for her baby. I couldn't help but laugh to myself about the use of a celebrity as a selling point (something I'm not really big into). Well I was skeptical and was now about 80% convinced that I didn't need it just because Julia Roberts did. And then I saw the clothing for myself. I was immediately in love with the simple, graphic and tasteful patterns used. And when I felt the fabrics, how soft and high quality they were, well...I was sold. The clothing didn't need anything to back it up. It spoke for itself. And I've been in love with Tea ever since.MerMagBabyStaplesandStatementsTea3So of course this was one of my first stops for baby girl and I've been so happy with what I've ordered so far. I still adore their simple and soft graphic layette options so I had to snatch a few of these up. And for a statement, well I had to snatch up this darling pale grey and purple ikat blouse (pictured first in the post). And paired with these darling purple leggings, well...I can hardly stand the cuteness. I'm also drawn to their adorable little rompers and I can just picture my future little lady crawling and toddling around in these. Such a great assortment to start out with! MerMagBabyStaplesandStatementsTea4B 
I have more favorite layette options to you share with you from Polarn O. Pyret. Another fabulous line to acquire a great selection of staples and statements. So stay tuned!

And if you want to know what is inspiring me for kids clothes these days take a look at my Little Style pin boards for both his and hers (back to school is just around the corner!).


River Raft DIY

MerMagHandmadeCharlotteRiverRaft1It's been so hot lately and we needed a kids craft that allowed us to get wet, wet wet! This river raft, made from duct tape, card board and water bottles, was just the thing. Head on over to Handmade Charlotte to get the full DIY.
MerMagHandmadeCharlotteRiverRaft2And for more duct tape fun, take a look at some of my previous projects. Any of them would make a great weekend craft for you and your Littles!
MerMagDuctTapRoundUp 1. Tea Box Circus train with duct tape
2. Animal Box Mask with duct tape
3. Interlocking Cardboard Castle with duct tape

And for a refresher on the best way to cut duct tape for craft projects, see my post here.

Happy Weekend! We are headed for the hills, anticipating a relaxing time overnight at a family cabin. Can't wait!


I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy...

As usual we had a fabulous time at my family's Fourth of July reunion in Colorado and as usual, we went all out. This year we decided to go with the birth of America, 1776 theme and the end result was nothing short of amazing. My mother created a lovely patriotic environment complete with homemade lanterns out of tin cans, cuddly quilts to lounge on, a perfect thrifted fabric for a photo backdrop, red white and blue treats to bring with us to the fireworks show and so much more!
MerMagYankeeDoodleDandy2Our summer has been rather busy so we decided to just reuse clothing and costume items that we have created and utilized in the past. My sisters however, well they took this theme and ran with it, making darling dresses for their girls...and even themselves (you can check out my sister Lorajean's pin board for the event here)! My older sister Daryllyn made a gorgeous yellow gown for herself and topped it off with a fabulous white wig. Her little darlings were just as impressively decked out.
MerMagYankeeDoodleDandy3My mother sewed all of the little girls cute little white bonnets and my sisters adorned their hair with ringlets. Everyone just looked so great.
MerMagYankeeDoodleDandy4In fact, everyone was asked to pick a particular person on early American history and not only dress the part, but come up with a mini skit or an informative piece of sorts sharing a bit about that historical figure. So we had a Davy Crockett, a Danial Boone, a Betsy Ross, a Paul Revere, an Abigail Adams, and more!MerMagYankeeDoodleDandy5It was extremely hot this year so aside from dressing up, we didn't do a whole lot. Typically we have a number of games and activities but after dressing up, eating and take a number of festive photos, we all then ditched our warm costumes in favor of swimsuits and my parents pool. Because of the number of fires in Colorado this year, all personal fireworks were banned. Our local communities larger fireworks were also cancelled so we traveled to a near by town to see a few overhead fireworks there. It was a great ending to a fun and festive day!
MerMagYankeeDoodleDandy6We did miss having Jon along for the trip and many mentioned missing his playful, actor, "life of the party" contribution to to the reunion. But aside from missing Jon, the boys and I had a fantastic time. In fact, the Littles have had a hard time transitioning back to our day to day summer life without a mob of cousins to run and play with.

Oh and I discovered that the secret to getting a moody "Count of Monte Cristo" look from my 6 yr old son is to pull him away from all the fun and ask him to pose for the camera for a few minutes. And oh will he stare you down...barely blinking...and refusing to crack even the slightest of grins... I have to admit, I was sort of impressed with his resolve and had to try not to giggle when after at least 10 clicks, he didn't budge at all. I'm seeing stubborn teen in a number of years...Oh boy. But man do I love that kid! MerMagYankeeDoodleDandy7


Writing for Alpha Mom: Introducing Solids to Your Baby

MerMagAlphaMomIntroducingSolidsHope you all had a fun filled and pleasant weekend! I just wanted to drop in and and let you know that I will be writing for Alpha Mom and all about baby food! This couldn't be more perfect timing as I'm expecting our little girl in a little less than three months (wowza!) and I've wanted to really delve into making my own baby food for some time. So now I've done just that and am sharing all my know how with you.

Take a look at my first post: Introducing Solid Foods (Fruits and Veggies) to your Baby. It's jam packed with great info. And if you have any insight on what you like to prepare for your baby, I'd love to hear it!


This week's Summer Fun Treat: Apricot Rice Pudding Pops

MerMagApricotRicePuddingPopsIt's Friday! Where has the week gone to my friends? As busy as we've been playing catch up we did manage to make this weeks summer fun treat, Apricot Rice Pudding Pops, recipe by Michael Laiskonis for Bon Appetit. We used simple IKEA popsicle molds so the didn't turn out looking as gourmet as Michael's did. The technique sure was involved and definitely something I would consider above and beyond what I would normally do. But that is the fun behind these Summer Fun Jars! It forces us to try new things and break out of our old routine. For our Summer Fun Savory Eat, Little O picked out this Slow Cooker Chicken Tikki Masala. Were planning on having that tonight.
MerMagApricotRicePuddingPops2Honest evaulation of the pudding pops: I preferred the warm rice pupping taste to the frozen one and the boys are a bit squeamish about the rice and apricot bits in their pops. But, I'm so glad we tried this. We're all forcing ourselves to step outside of our comfort zone! Which is always fun, right?

Hope you are having fun and relaxing summer! Enjoy the weekend. We have a lot fun stuff to share with you all next week!


Roadtrip to the Rockies: Tips for traveling across country with kids

MerMagRoadTripToTheRockies1 (First off, a big Thank You to all of you fabulous readers who were able to retrieve my lost post via Google Reader! I can't tell you how happy this makes me! xoxo.) 

We are back from our annual 4th of July reunion in Colorado. We had an excellent time but are very happy to be off the road, at home and in our own beds. Unfortunately Jon couldn't join us this year as he's acting in a play and has other work that he couldn't break away from. So I decided to take the 8 hour drive out to Colorado on my own with our two boys (Oh yeah, and at 6 months pregnant). Crazy you say? Well I do agree, but in someways this was one of the best road trips I've had with the boys. Why? Well in addition to having a little help from above, I think some serious preparation and planning (and the chance to caravan with my sister's family) did just the trick.

I'd love to share a few tips (some learned the hard way :)) for traveling across country with young kids (particularly if are traveling by yourself!).


  • Evaluate your needs and devise a plan. How old are your children? Do you have an infant/baby? Are your kids potty trained or are some in diapers still? What are their needs and how can you address them in the best way possible both ahead of time and while on the road? For example, my oldest, 6 yrs, needs a lot of brain stimulation so I prepared a lot of dot to dots, mazes, math activities, etc. for him. Whereas my youngest, 3 1/2 yrs, needs a best friend play toy at all times and needs to snack constantly, to stay in a good mood. So I made sure I was ready for both of these things and more. After evaluating you might end up deciding that being the sole driver just isn't in the cards for you at this time. But then again, you might decide that you think you (and your littles) are ready and want to take the plunge! And you might just find out, like me, that it was totally doable and worth it!
  • Separate the trip into shorter, manageable sections. This doesn't mean you have to stop at each "section" of your trip (but then again you might need to for feedings, diaper changes or bathroom breaks!) but you can have mile markers where you pull out a new toy or coloring book, etc. When Jon and I drive together on long trips we typically have the rule, no videos until after dinner or when it's getting dark. This encourages the kids to engage in their planned activities while it's still light out and day dream while looking out the window (a very important part of a road trip, if you ask me). On this trip however, as I was driving by myself, I told the boys that they could start watching videos after our "middle of the trip" mile marker,  Little America (where we would be also be meeting up with caravanning cousins for a short while). This helped me out as I wouldn't have to worry about entertaining them for such long periods of time and by making this clear ahead of time they knew what was coming and how to mentally prepare themselves for how the trip would play out.
  • Involve your kids in the pre-planning. Let the Littles get involved with the plan up front so they are not as thrown by any surprises. For example, we had our boys earn money for a toy from the dollar store before the trip. They then each picked out a couple of plastic Power Rangers who quickly became their inseparable (and eventually armless) road trip companions. We also took them to the library where we picked out books on CD as well as movies on DVD. I like checking out movies from the library because it's something our kids have never seen so they are engaged and excited about it, but it's not as expensive (or even free at some libraries) as purchasing an entirely new show. I then throw in a few tried and true beloved shows from our home DVD library if all else fails. We also let them come with us while picking out snacks but make sure that they didn't break into any of it until the trip. Yes they got antsy and complained, wanting the yummy thing right then but I held strong and didn't let them have any of it until we got on the road. You could also work together to make a number of homemade snacks and treat which is a really great way to go. If I did this again I'd love to pick out some of my pinned snack ideas to make such as these, these, or these (we had candy buttons on another trip and my boys loved picking them off and eating them. They quickly became my "oh no, the boys are starting to lose it, time to break out another sheet of candy buttons" trick up my sleeve). This is a fun idea as well. I think keeping these things "special" along with knowing what sort of snacks they had in store before the trip started helped them look forward to the long adventure ahead.
  • Make or purchase accessories that will help your trip run smoother. This year I finally made another travel desk for Little O as well as an art portfolio case that could be used a top the desk and then placed within the underside pocket (where the board is) for storage. I then stuffed them full of fun games and activities as well as blank paper, markers and colored pencils. These were then slung over and stored on the side of their seat arm rests, making it accessible whenever they wanted it. As my oldest is more capable of helping himself and his brother out, I also put a bag full of additional books, games, tag readers, etc. between their seats so that they could help them selves out when they needed a change of entertainment. I also made sure that the boys each had a water bottle full and available at all times. I kept the snacks in a box in the captain's chair and passed them back when needed. Both my boys can now unwrap their own drink box straws, string cheese wrappers and more, making things that much easier (hooray!).
  • Don't forget to assess your needs for the trip. Whether you are teaming up with another driver or going solo, you can't forget to evaluate your own needs for the trip. I mean, if practically every responsibility is going to to fall into your lap, you need to make sure you are happy, comfortable and excited about the adventure you have in store! Being 6 months pregnant I had make sure that I stayed well hydrated, had lots of healthy snacks (as well as the essential sour gummy snacks that keep my senses alert) and had opportunities for breaks to get out and stretch my legs (which the kids needed as well, so it worked out great!). I also needed to be engaged in the audio books so I had some say in what we finalized when going to the library before hand (Being a YA/Middle Grade illustrator, I'm quite the fan of these books so I was more than OK with a younger sort of book. You might have work something out when you can listen to a more adult book, perhaps while the kids are watching shows or have fallen asleep). Make a number of mixed CD's with music that will engross you and keep you alert and awake. I love songs that bring me back to past times in my life. Waxing nostalgic amidst stretches of red rocks, prairies and endless road can be quite fulfilling. This is also a great time to plan fun projects and brain storm about the future. I can't tell you how many young adult "novels" I've written in my head while road tripping. Maybe someday they will amount to something :). I also found that Instagramming the trip made things much more bearable for me. I was able to keep Jon in the loop and not feel so alone on this long journey (you might notice that a number of these pics here are from Instagram. I'm new to this world but if you want to follow me you can find me at mer_mag).
  • Be willing to roll with the punches. As you can probably guess, traveling with kids requires a certain amount of flexibility. Fights might break out when you least expect. They need to go to the bathroom just ten minutes after visiting the last rest stop. They claim to be "bored" with the unending amount of activities you have planned for them (many of which they haven't even bothered to look at!), etc. For I us I decided that I was going to make this trip about the trip itself, and not just the destination. So when all else failed, we found a random place to stop, get out and photograph the beautiful scenes before us (Oh and I brought a long a digital camera for the boys to take pics themselves. The giggled for a good 30 minutes taking pictures of each other legs, noses, etc. while in the car. I highly recommend this for kids who can work a camera).
Stopping and taking breaks actually ended up being one my fondest experiences of this trip. We were able stop at one my favorite landmarks, the little white church in Virginia Dale, CO. My friend's grandfather actually built this darling church and I have wanted to stop and take a closer look at it for some time. Yes making these types of stops adds time to the trip but for us, it turned out to be completely worth it.
MerMagRoadTripToTheRockies3When we finally did arrive at my parents in Colorado we jumped right into to the pool to relax and cool off!
MerMagRoadTripToTheRockies10We were so ready and excited for all the 4th of July festivities to begin. And I what a fun time we had! I can't wait to share our story and all of our pics with you, which I will be doing so very soon!

What about you? What works for you when traveling with little ones? Do you have any helpful hints on how to make things go smoother? Or some funny flops, if nothing else :). If so please share. I know we'd all love to hear them!

A bit our about our trip...

MerMagRoadTripToTheRockies12Hi Friends! So I just experienced a blogger's worst nightmare occur (OK, I'll scale back on the drama as it's not all that bad). I had just composed a long and lengthy post about our road trip to Colorado (which took all morning!) complete with great tips on how to travel with kids, etc. And guess what? Yup, it's gone. It's been deleted without a trace. I was trying edit some text and then everything went hay wire, and then it was gone. I tried everything I could think of to retrieve it but I'm pretty sure it's lost for good. I've never done text a head of time for a blog post in a Word document but I just might start doing this now!
Well anyway we have been happily home from our reunion travels and are trying to play catch with all that we have to do here at home and with work. I'll be posting again soon about all of our fun 4th of July festivities. And like always my family went ALL out, so you won't want to miss it!

(In the mean time, you can see a few more pics from our travels on Instagram. You can follow me at mer_mag if you wish.)


Paint Chip Animal Friends

MerMagHandmadeCharlottePaintchipAnimalFriends1I trust all US readers had an excellent 4th of July. Ours was hot, hot, hot! We spent most of the day in my parents pool (here in Colorado - where the fires are finally starting to calm down and be contained. Hopefully no new ones will pop up!). We had a great time though.

And if you are looking for a new, fun and super easy (not to mention practically free!) craft for your little ones to do (perhaps indoors while avoiding the hot summer heat), look no further than our fun little paint chip animal friends. Head over the Handmade Charlotte for the full DIY.
MerMagHandmadeCharlottePaintchipAnimalFriends2I know your little ones will love these new little animal amigos just as much as mine did! I think we'll be sharing this fun craft with all of our cousins later today. Perhaps that will give us moms some time to sit, sew and chat together.