Weekend Projects: The cutest little playhouse EVER!

We spent the weekend building this super cute little playhouse from a kit.

Kidkraft Country Vista Playhouse $594

The directions were fantastic and they were easy to follow. We started by putting together the sides and frame.

The roof was by far the hardest to put together.

Once I finally figured out what I was doing wrong, the roof went on easily.

And lastly, I put the doors on. This part was hard, but once I figured out the hinges, they went on perfectly.

And then for funzies, I added a solar gooseneck light and an iron bell “doorbell.”

We are also going to dress it up with a paver sidewalk and some flowers. The girls are loving the little playhouse.

You should totally buy one for your kids!

Easy Spring Kids’ Crafts: “feet birds”

Quarantine isn’t as strict these days as it has been, but most of us are still spending more time at home where we are safest. Staying at home can mean it’s a lot harder to entertain the littles, so throughout March and April, I’ll be sharing a few spring kids’ crafts with you.

I know you must be wondering: what is a foot bird anyway? It’s exactly what it sounds like.

Paint the bottom of your child’s foot with your choice of washable paint. Then, simply freehand a roundish belly at the arch of the foot. Add little feet, an eye and a beak. You can add a little crest to the top of the bird’s head if you want.

These feet birds make a cute keepsake so you can remember when your littles were small, or you can give them to the grandparents.

…or frame them and decorate with them every spring.

Have a wonderful week! We will show you a great reuse and repurpose idea on Wednesday.

How to fill your kids’ love tank (on Valentines and every day)

These times are difficult, and if you’re like me, you are struggling to balance work, home, and all of the different things you are currently worried about. Sometimes, even when I believe my children know I love them, I don’t always do enough to fill their love tank. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, but why do we tend to focus heavily on showing love on Valentine’s Day, rather than all year long?

The best thing we can give anyone is our time- and today I’d like to share some simple, fun and easy ways to fill your child’s love tank all year long.

1. Spend time with them

family making breakfast in the kitchen
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Kids won’t care if you spend a lot of money. I always thought we had to buy something or pay for an experience for the kids to be happy. My kids are perfectly happy to play with us in the backyard or help cook dinner. Ask your kid what they enjoy doing the most with you and go from there.

2. Listen to them…actually listen

photo of woman and girl talking while lying on bed
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Sometimes, in the age of devices and screens, good conversation falls by the wayside. I try to have at least one good conversation a day with my kids- ask them about their day, what they think about a song playing on the radio, or something. Kids have lots of interesting things to say and sometimes they just want to know someone cares about what they have to say.

3. Snuggle

focused students doing homework at home
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Snuggling doesn’t have to be just snuggling. Snuggle up together with a good book or while watching a movie. Kids feel safe and loved when they’re near you.

4. Let them make a decision

calm stylish kid recreating in green garden
Photo by Allan Mas on Pexels.com

You don’t have to let them make a major decision- it can be something simple, like “What are we doing today?” or “What would you like for dinner?” Kids feel important when you let them choose.

Lastly, I try to get one good hug in with my kids and husband every day. It helps us connect to one another and feel loved. What are some ways you fill your kids’ love tank on a regular basis?

The (Affordable) Parents’ 2021 Winter Survival Kit

By Emma Grace Brown, guest writer

No matter what, winter is always a challenging time for parents. It’s cold out, there’s not a ton to do, and kids and parents alike start to get pretty stir crazy. However, this year promises to be an even tougher time for many. Lots of families aren’t going to be comfortable with the sort of indoor activities and gatherings that have been winter-weather go-tos in previous years. 

We want to help you come up with ways to make this winter fun, despite the difficulties. To that end, we’ve come up with this 2020 Winter Survival Kit. We know money is tight for many families right now, so we’ve gone out of our way to make sure the list includes tips to keep these items budget-friendly. We hope it inspires you to have a safe, healthy, enjoyable winter: 

Outdoor Gear 

If you plan to meet up with people this winter, odds are it’s going to be outdoors. Since indoor gatherings are far higher risk than the alternative, it only makes sense to get out in the fresh air to see the people we love. If you want to meet outside in winter, however, you need good, comfortable, and most importantly, warm gear so it’s actually pleasant to be outside. 

Start with warm winter coats for the whole family. Grown-ups might be able to keep using their coat from last year, but kids tend to grow out of seasonal items before the next cold snap comes around. Outlet malls and shops like Nordstrom Rack are great options when buying for kids. You’ll get high-quality items without the sticker shock. Consider donating the coats your kids have grown out of to a local coat drive to help kids in need stay warm. 

Virtual Activities 

Using virtual means of connection, such as Zoom calls or video games, allow your family to stay in touch with non-household loved ones without risking catching or spreading COVID-19. If you don’t have a video game console, however, it’s easy to feel left out of the virtual fun. The good news is, there are tons of ways to play games with people virtually, no console required. 

There are plenty of online board games that only need a laptop, phone, or tablet for players to join. You can also check out hidden identity games such as Spyfall. Since this kind of game is based more on conversation and interaction than pieces or movement, it naturally lends itself to the video chat experience. Even party games like charades work surprisingly well over video chat! Stay creative and keep an open mind, and you’ll find tons of fun ways to connect online. 

Creative Play 

Finally, we recommend picking up art supplies and embracing creative play over the coming months. Studies have shown that, while the pandemic has made creativity harder, it’s also made it far more important. Art and other creative tasks go a long way toward working out the stress and anxiety the pandemic causes. Moreover, arts are notoriously underfunded in schools, so it might introduce your child to a passion they might not have discovered otherwise. 

A great way to find affordable art supplies is to look for a local second-hand craft shop. These are becoming more and more popular as people become more focused on reducing waste. If you can’t find one near you, you can also check out sales and coupons for local art and office supply stores. 

This winter, focus on finding low-cost ways to keep the whole family connected and entertained. Go gentle on yourself if the stress starts to wear on you, and give yourself space to mourn the winter you might have had. It’s always a challenge to be stuck inside, but creative thought (and lots of self-compassion) can make it easier. 

See more home and parenting hacks at Lumber in My Minivan.

Photo Credit: Pexels

How to create a capsule wardrobe for your children

I don’t know about you, but we fight two frequent battles at my home: my kids wanting to wear things that don’t match, and my kids having a closet full of clothes they don’t wear. Each year, we seem to buy so many items of clothing, and some of them are outgrown before they are even worn. This causes us to waste money and waste space, as you are storing clothes you clearly didn’t need.

Enter the capsule wardrobe.

Capsule wardrobes are not new. If you do a Pinterest search, you will find hundreds of blog posts and graphics about capsule wardrobes. Since kids outgrow clothing at an alarming rate, it makes sense to spend less on more versatile pieces. Capsule wardrobes involve spending less, less clutter, and more outfit choices. So how do you create a capsule wardrobe?

1. Take stock of what you have.

Clear out your child’s dresser and closet. Make three piles- one to keep, one to donate, and one to throw away. If clothes are stained or too worn, throw them away. Don’t donate anything you wouldn’t buy from the thrift store yourself. Once you have finalized your “keep” pile, look at what items you have, what items you need, and what colors you have.

2. Decide what you need

Think about your lives, your kids’ activities, and the climate where you live. We are in the mid-atlantic, and it gets hot here in the summer. We go to school and church and are in dance class. Therefore, they will need church clothes, work out clothes and enough outfits for the school week. We try to follow the 4-6 rule: have four to six pairs of pants- two pairs of jeans, one pair of dark colored pants and one pair of light colored pants; four to six dresses (sundresses are OK because you can wear a jacket or sweater over them); two skirts, four pairs of shorts, two swimsuits, 4 to 6 long sleeve shirts, 4 to 6 short sleeved shirts, three sweaters, one casual jacket and one dressy jacket. Don’t forget about underwear and socks.

3. Choose a color scheme

What colors do you already have? What colors do your kids absolutely love? What colors look best on them? My little blonde, blue eyed girls look great in blue, green, and hot pink. They also love wearing these colors. I make sure to include plenty of neutral colored pieces to tie the wardrobe together. Children’s boutiques often stick with a color scheme when they release new seasonal lines. This makes color scheming your child’s capsule wardrobe easy! Retailers like Gymboree and Carter’s are known for this.

4. Hand-me-downs and thrift stores are your friend!

I have two daughters and while I don’t save everything from my older child’s wardrobe, I do save gently worn items and big items like coats. If you don’t mind second hand items, you can save some big bucks reusing items from other children, or thrift shopping. We love ThredUp online consignment shop!

I’ve created an infographic for you. Feel free to print this off and use it as a checklist.

Here is a sample capsule wardrobe for my littlest child:

The above clothing items are all from OshKosh. Except for the romper, do you see how each piece coordinates and can be worn together? You only have a few clothing pieces, but you can create several different outfits from the pieces. All of the items go together so there is little chance of her creating a “Tacky Day” outfit that doesn’t match. How many different combinations do you see that will go together and be cute?

Feel free to hop online and start creating your own capsule wardrobe! Have fun and happy shopping!