Toddler DIY: No-Mess Abstract Art (+ A Messy Way)

Often, I get stuck in a rut with the kids. We'll just be doing the same sort of stuff, day in and day out, going on errands, cleaning the house, playing at the train table or pretending to be dinosaurs. I'm not good at planning activities with my kids - if it requires prep or makes a huge mess, I'm out. 

But I do love to paint. So recently when we were stuck inside on a cold, rainy day, I got out the paints to work on a few of my own pieces of art, and let Eli join in on the fun while Colette was napping. We first started out with a no-mess method I had seen on Pinterest - and it could not be easier for any of you mommas looking for a simple, no-mess craft for your kiddos. And it turns out some pretty cute abstract art for very little work!

Basically, just pick a few colors that go well together, squirt them out onto the paper, pop it in a plastic bag and let your kid go to town. 

I had to encourage him a little to really smear the paint around, "Get the paint in the corner! Shake it up! Move it around! Dance with it!" Which was effective not only in making a better finished product, but was quite the show to entertain me in the process.
Since I had all the plastic down and the area prepped already for my own paintings, I let him go crazy with a few pieces of paper taped to the wall. (Quick tip: If you use regular paper, it will curl up under a lot of acrylic paint, so be sure to grab some "mixed media" specialty paper from any craft store's paint section.) I also gave him a little water to water to mix in - but honestly, I'll probably skip that next time - the paint was fun enough - and spraying the water off the paint brush was a little too fun for him, if you know what I mean.

Of course, if your toddler is anything like mine, he'll ask for a snack in the middle of - well, anything and everything we're doing. And today was no exception. When I told him he could have a granola bar while he painted, he was downright giddy. 

I've found a new mom-obsession with FLYJOY bars - have you heard of them? They're perfect for kids because not only are they heathy, using all natural ingredients (certified gluten-free, non-GMO verified, kosher certified and vegan) and my kids love eating them, but they ARE NOT MESSY. Just like that painting in a bag up there - no mess, no stress. I can't tell you how many times I've given my kids other brands of granola bars only to find my kids covered in crumbs with a ring of chocolate or fruit around their mouths when I go back to them. FLYJOY bars hold their shape and don't crumble or leave a mess. Plus, I feel good about what they're eating - the perfect kid snack in my opinion. 

Eli chose cashew cookie dough (because of the word "cookie," obvi), and he munched on it the rest of the time he painted.

Later, when I asked him which one was his favorite, he held up Blueberry and struck this pose, no lie! Blue is his current favorite color, so it makes sense.

Once the paintings were dry, I framed a few of them up, and one of them landed in his bedroom - which I revealed last week. It's adorable to see how proud he is to see his art framed and on display - definitely worth letting him make a little mess for one morning! 

How about you? Are you a crafty mom? Have any no-mess art activities to share? I'd love to hear them so I can try them out!

If you'd like to try FLYJOY bars as a snack for your kiddos, use code ART25 for 25 percent off your order at FLYJOY. 

Thank you to FLYJOY for sponsoring this post.

Colette - 12 Month Update

Kind of unbelievable to me, but this post comes over a month late! It's crazy how much more difficult it's been to get these up!

Naps: Two naps a day. One, one hour in the morning; one two to four hour in the afternoon.
Feeding: Formula. Four, 1 - 4 oz. bottles every four hours during the day.
Clothing: Nine and twelve month.
Bedtime: 7 - 7:30 p.m.

Eating: This month, I introduced Colette to cow's milk and while she loved it, I have to limit it. At her 12 month well-check she came in at the 10th percentile again (a trend for the past few checks) and the doctor recommended we that while we still offer cow's milk, we also still keep her on formula for a bit longer, simply for the calories. In addition, when I first gave milk to her, she was chugging half a sippy cup at every meal, but she very quickly started to get some pretty bad diapers. Since the same thing happened with Eli, I knew it was from her body adjusting to cow's milk. So for now, while I offer cow's milk, I definitely monitor her intake, and make sure she's getting mostly formula to keep weight on her tiny body. 

This month, she definitely started showing more preferences for food. If she sees bread/carbs on the table, she starts fussing for them, which is so difficult to know how to manage! I don't remember it starting this early with Eli, but she is definitely letting us know what she would like to eat! She's still a great eater, so it's not too bad, but I do have to encourage her quite a bit to go for the good stuff even if she sees bread on my plate. She still loves meat and veggies - chicken and roasted broccoli are her favorites. 

Sleeping: Sleeping was better this month, when we went to my in-laws for Christmas, she would sleep in until 10 a.m.! It was nuts! She was taking two, two to four hour naps and still sleeping 15 hours a night. It was crazy. I still don't really know why - she started crawling when we were there, so maybe it was just a developmental milestone? Suffice it to say, it has not stayed that way, though she was a lot better than last month. In general, she sleeps about 12-13 hour nights, straight through, and takes a morning and afternoon nap for anywhere from 1 - 4 hours, she's a little spotty. But I'm just thankful she's still sleeping when it really counts - at night.
We drove the 7+ hours back to the Twin Cities a week before Christmas, and the moment we set her down in my mother-in-law's living room she took off crawling. Well, "took off" is a strong word, but she did start forward motion! Throughout the week she got stronger and stronger, and it was fun to see her be able to move around and attempt to keep up with her cousin (Who is four weeks older than her and quite the mover!) and her brother. By the end of the month she was great at crawling anywhere she wanted. She also started to be really into walking with assistance, she's been attempting to do this for a while, but usually we're just kinda bouncing her around, now she's finally taking steps as we help her. 

She's also trying to pull up on things, but generally just falls back down or tips whatever she's pulling on over. She'll get there. She had her first words this month, "Dada," "Momma," (Though she only really says it when she's crying at my feet and has a need. Yay.) and "Bye, bye!" (More like "Bua, Bua"). Bye is super cute because she says it while waving anytime people start putting on coats or heading to the door. 

Likes / Dislikes: 
Her biggest like right now is probably walking with assistance. She'll constantly come over to me and try to hold my hands while walking away - adorable. But it's not so adorable when you've been walking around with her for 10 minutes and she scream-cries when you stop because you have to keep dinner from burning. She still loves anything dangerous and her latest kick is wrestling with Eli before nap times. She LOVES to be crushed. It weird, but so funny. Her favorite place to be is with Eli laying on top of her - and he doesn't know his own weight so he is literally crushing her. Good thing I'm there to referee. 

I have noticed her being a lot more interested in what Eli's doing, sometimes she'll get lucky and she's able to pull herself up on the train table and then she goes into destroyer mode - much to Eli's dismay. She constantly wants to be around him and I'll find her crawling all over the house to be with him. She still loves to pick through baskets, baths, being tossed in the air, getting tickled, playing peek-a-boo - all the usual stuff. 

As far as dislikes it's all the same as last month - not getting her needs meet asap. Diaper changes, food, drink, naps - you are gonna know when that girl has a need and it'd better be met lickity-split.

Momma / Daddy Update:
We can't believe Colette is one! It's so crazy to think that she came into our lives a year ago since so much has happened! With her being born on NYE, there's an element for me of it truly being a "new year," more than ever before. A birthday really makes you reflect on the past year and while it was so difficult in so many ways, Colette is such a bright spot among all the changes. I feel so bonded to her in a way that I can't describe, maybe it's partly the mother-daughter bond, but I think much of it is just the insanity we went through with the move, the renovation, the temp housing, her colic and reflux, etc. She and I have been through so, so much in her short little life and as cheesy as it sounds, it feels like there's just some deep understanding between us that we'll always be able to get through hard things together, you know? I love her so crazy-much!

Eli's Colorful Toddler Room

The other day I was looking back at how Eli's room has evolved over the years - it's crazy to see how the same things can be repurposed in so many different ways! If you want to look back as well, here's his nursery, and his first "toddler room." 

In the new house, Eli got a fairly large room and he upgraded to a queen bed after he started climbing out of his crib. He got the upgrade because mom and dad got one too - we finally have a master bedroom large enough for a king! Hallelujah!

Here's what the room looked like before (listing photo). In the renovation, we didn't do nearly as much upstairs as we did downstairs, but we did replace all the carpet and paint every inch of wall/trim/ceilings/closets in existence. We also replaced all the light fixtures, outlets, switches and their covers. So basically, just one huge face-lift. 

As I mentioned in the post about Colette's room, my plan was to do the kid's room on as small of budget as possible, since I wanted the majority of our funds to go to decorating the main level. Since we had to leave the curtains at our last house, the grey linen curtains and black rod are new, from Ikea. But I did take the black-out linings with me and just reattached them here. 

The pouf is from our old living room - perfect for Eli and Mike's wrestling matches and the art and frames are all either free/made or repurposed from our last house. 

The light is old. Before we moved from our Minneapolis house, I replaced all the fixtures with $20 Ikea lights so I could keep all our fixtures and install them in the new house. I'm so glad I did. We needed to replace all the lights in this house and it saved us a ton of money and time to have fixtures at the ready.

I DIY'd the headboard from a scrap piece of wood we had for another project. I just wrapped it in foam, batting and three yards of blue linen fabric from Joann Fabric. We mounted it to the wall with hardware from Home Depot and it makes this spot so much better for reading books before bed. All the pillows are either from Eli's old room or from our old basement.  While the sheets are old, I did purchase a new comforter, duvet insert and matching pillow covers from Ikea. 

The floor lamp used to be in our old basement, originally from CB2. The garden stool is from Eli's old room.  It was a Home Goods find, and it has been painted nearly every color in the rainbow, though it has stayed this light blue for a few years now.

It can be hard to know how to decorate a larger room - especially when you have a lot of wall space to fill on a minimal budget. I actually originally made the bunting to go in the playhouse in the back yard, but as a happy accident, made way too much, so I put it up here on Eli's wall. 

It was so easy, I think I made it in about 30 minutes of mindless work - and that was with toddler and a baby around trying to help! I made the bunting by just cutting random colors of construction paper out in triangles and taping them to a piece of red and white baker's twine. I hung it with three nails across the wall, so it was strong enough to not fall down. It's just high enough to be out of Eli's reach when he stands on the bed. 

Eli's closet is massive - and it's nearly empty. It has a few storage type items, but to make things easier for us, we actually store all his clothing, diapers (for night time) and underwear/socks in the bins you see (From the container store originally.) The Ikea bookcase traveled with us from our old house as well. The growth chart was something I DIY'd a few years back, and it's fun to have found a more prominent place to display it. 

While I won't go through where each item is from, all the decor is from our last house, almost all sentimental items filled with meaning for our family.  I know this wall is a bit busy, but I can't bear to take anything away because I love the story behind every item so much! If your curious, some of the items are detailed out in this post. 

While I probably should have, I didn't remove his sound machine, video monitor camera, or any of the other daily-use type items. When I see pictures of other kid-rooms, I always wonder where they put stuff like that, so I left them out when taking these shots so you can see. 

You might recognize the stool from this post and the bear banner was something I made for his old room, which thankfully, fit perfectly behind his door in his new room.

And that's it. Thankfully his room came together super quickly and easily and we all love how happy and bright it is!

Risen Motherhood, Ep. 4 || Beginning Gospel Instruction With Young Children

In this episode: Emily and Laura discuss the beginning stages of sharing the gospel with your young children, and some of the common challenges. They will share practical ideas for getting started and making it work for your family.

Show Notes: 

Emily Blog Posts:

Laura Blog Posts: 
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This Is How I Feel, XXIII

When I see on Facebook that new car seat recommendations have come out.

 When I pull back a diaper and the poop was nearly a blow out so my finger comes out covered in it. 

When someone says, "Who's stinky?" And I know it's my kid but I don't really want to acknowledge it.

When I look in the pantry at lunch time and realize we're out of peanut butter and bread. 

 When I pass another mom trying to tame a toddler tantrum at the grocery store.

When my toddler refuses to eat his dinner, then from across the kitchen I see him take a bite.

When my kid's shoes suddenly don't fit.

When a friend cancels a playdate last minute.

When I'm trying to hold my writhing, angry one year old.

Like this post? I share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

On Opening Our Imperfect Homes, Even In The Mess

Having moved into a new home last year, I have have a lot of projects in progress, though let's be honest, some have come to a sharp, stale halt and are dying a slow death in the basement. My project wish list is miles long, touch up paint here, spray paint that ugly yellow thing white, scrub the black scuff marks out of the floor, fix that outlet, fill that blank wall with something! When we moved, we thought we had a handle on what the house needed, but you never really know until you live there and start digging in - and then it started to feel like for every one thing we crossed off our original list, we added five more that we found along the way.

Over the years, I've always had lists like this. Things I want to improve in my home to make it better and more beautiful. And as we've added children to the mix, there is always a mess, always something that needs scrubbed, painted or sanitized. It may have taken me two kids, but I've come to the great realization every mother comes to eventually: You cannot stay ahead of the mess.

And as my own failing efforts are highlighted by being unable to keep up with the projects, improvements, and general wreckage left behind by my children, I find myself wanting to hide it more, to steer clear of having someone see the half-starts, the flaws and my failures. I've found myself wanting to say no to hosting, because the "house is just not there yet." Or wanting to keep certain parts of the house off limits, because of weird, broken tiles in the bathroom, or a mattress on the floor in the bedroom because we don't have a bed frame yet. Which honestly, is just not like me.
The other day when we had a few friends over, I found myself highlighting projects I knew I needed to get done, wanting to say something about them because I wanted them to know, I know, "that area looks bad or this thing needs work or that window needs cleaned," like I feared they'd think I was a delinquent mother and homemaker - and that by saying something right off the bat, it would make it all okay. But instead of highlighting my acute and fascinating powers of understanding areas and needs of home improvement, all I did was highlight my insecurities, and make them feel awkward.

Saying "no" to hosting, or making excuses and pointing out issues in our homes is so revealing of misplaced values in our hearts. It shows that we're finding our worth in our homes and the perfect image we want to give off, rather than who we are and how we can be used. All it serves to do is to make hospitality all about the host. And hosting and opening our homes should never be about us, it should be about our guests. About making them feel comfortable and welcomed, a place to relax and enjoy the people they're with. It's not about the lack of decorating in a room, the holes in the drywall in the stairwell, or the Cheerios scattered on the kitchen floor.

Opening our homes is about trusting the people who are over to not judge us. To trust them with our imperfections and failures, knowing they have them too. It's the double standard we all seem to live by with our homes, we see the mess and needs of our own home, but never notice it when we go to someone else's. And lately, I've been trying to rest easy in that truth. That I can have people over in a room that has nothing but a rug, a few chairs and a train table, and no one will even notice. That my friends can use my bathroom with the cabinet that hangs loose and the shower that drains so slowly you might as well take a bath and be able to laugh it off.

Will I try to clean before they come? Heavens, yes. I'm not a saint. But will it be a big deal when my son rubs raspberry jelly all over my chairs right before people come in? Maybe a little, but I'm pretty sure my guests will be able to relate, and have no problem sitting in jelly-smeared chair.

If I waited for everything in house to be perfect, I'd never have people over. So here's to conversations while projects are "in progress," laughter in the unfinished, and bonding in the mess.

*Progress shots of the house during our renovation, when we were still hosting and entertaining, but I was constantly having to check my heart of pride, embarrassment and making it all about me.

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