Non-Candy Halloween Treat Bags! + FREE Printable!

Col’s school is hosting a Halloween Carnival this year so, we thought it would be super fun to send him in on carnival day with some special treats for his friends!

For our treat bags, I grabbed a pack of 24 Assorted Play Doh Cans, these adorable cookie cutters, and mini raisin boxes!

To finish off your treat bags, grab your FREE Halloween Tag printable HERE: Halloween Treat Tags 2017!

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How to Have a Natural Labor + Delivery in the Hospital!

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We’re almost 8 weeks home with our new bubba and I haven’t quite had the will to put him down long enough to make time to share his birth story but, in the short time I have while he’s peacefully resting, I would like to give you all the tools to have a wonderful natural birthing experience in the hospital like I did!

Being that this was my third pregnancy, my decision was already made when we were ready to start trying to get pregnant-I would go au natural again during labor and delivery and strive for the most natural and undisturbed experience as possible. To make it easy, I’ve made a list of things that I truly feel were the best tools to have when planning for a natural birth in a hospital!

 

 

Natural Birth Must Haves!

Is a natural birth your birth plan? You can TOTALLY do it mama! With this list of MUST HAVES for a natural birth from a mama who’s done it not once but, twice, I am confident that you can achieve a beautiful birthing process without meds like I did!

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  1. Essential Oils: Consult your midwife prior to using.*
    • Clary Sage Oil-Help induce labor naturally and enhance contractions once labor has started. Use topically with a carrier or in a diffuser. Not to be used prior to labor*
    • Peppermint-Help reduce nausea + headaches. Not to be used after birth, can reduce milk supply* 
    • Helichrysum-Supports elasticity of the perineal area. Mix it with a little carrier oil and apply to perineal or use in a compress.
    • Myrrh-Use with a carrier oil and rub it on the lower abdomen with clary sage oil to bring on contractions.
    • Lavender-Promotes relaxation and eases muscle tension.
  2. Cold Wash Cloths: These will be a God send when a contraction comes along and you’re beginning to sweat out of every pore on your body. Make sure your partner knows to keep them cold and ready for each contraction!
  3. Personal Fan: This is one that I didn’t have with my first or second birthing experiences but, it sure did make a difference with my third! Not only does it keep me cool where I want to be cool but, I placed mine in front of our essential oil diffuser to blow the steam right into my face. A big whiff of Clary Sage Oil diffusing and blowing from the fan would send me into a long, deep, really beneficial contraction! THIS ONE is my favorite!
  4. Birth Support: Make sure to have a really solid team behind you. If a nurse comes in offering medication, or something that doesn’t sound like part of your birth plan, you’ll need a backbone to do the talking for you, one who supports your plan. Make sure they know your practices and preferences before entering the hospital. Keep everyone updated on the research you’ve done and signals for your “breaking point” should you have one.
  5. Evening Primrose Oil: Consult your midwife prior to using. Recommended at 38 weeks or after through vaginal insertion or oral consumption.* This stuff is wondrous! Evening primrose oil helps the cervix to soften and thin out (efface). Studies suggest that due to linolenic acid found in EPO, it may trigger a prostaglandin response in the body to help shorten labor.
  6. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Not to be mistaken for raspberry tea.* Raspberry leaf tones the muscles of your uterus so they work more efficiently. Drink 2 or more cups a day starting at 36 weeks or after. Can also be used during labor for hydration.
  7. Yoga + Meditation: Whether you’re having a natural or medicated birth, yoga and meditation are great tools to have all the way through your pregnancy! Help your mind and body prepare for your baby by practicing meditation every evening in a luke warm bath and try 10-15 minutes of pregnancy yoga every morning to help ease aches and pains!
  8. These Apps:
  9. Dates: A study conducted in 2011 and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favorable, but non-significant, delivery outcome. My favorite are the fresh dates from The Fresh Market! Start consuming 6 per day, every day starting at 36 weeks for best results.
  10. Affirmations: Birth affirmations are great when paired with meditation for removing stress and fear when another contraction comes along or to keep your body relaxed while pushing during the third stage. Along with affirmations, I like to envision my body acting as a rose or flower opening up for my baby to make his way out. This Pin Board rocks and has a ton of affirmations to choose from!
  11. Several Coping Options: Whether it’s a warm tub, birthing ball, Rebozo Shawl, pacifier for biting down, you name it-have it! Try practicing Belly Dancing for Labor, Hypnobirthing, and Breathing Techniques.

 

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10 Things To Do Before Your Disney On Ice Experience! + A GIVEAWAY!

This post contains affiliate links which help me fund the free + fun posts on thehappeninghousewife.com! Find a full disclosure on the sidebar of my blog.

 

Get your littles ready for a guaranteed spectacular-fun time at Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream with these 10 tips!

Tip #1. Purchase + pick up your tickets in advance. (Make sure to use a discount code on tickets! )

Go the week of and hit up the box office at your show’s arena to save time and skip lines by picking up your tickets in advance! Save 20% off select seats with code SAVE20. Not valid on premium VIP seating. Get yours now for the best available seats! Code expires September 7, 2017.

Tip #2. Scout parking areas.

While you’re picking up your tickets in advance, ask the box office attendant or scout out the best parking areas for the night of your show! Make sure to arrive early to find the best parking!

Tip #3. Eat beforehand.

No-one likes to spend outrageous prices on snacks from concession so, take the family out for a nice meal before you head to the arena to keep from rumbling bellies and empty wallet syndrome!

Tip #4. Be prepared with your children’s necessities.

Does your little have sensitive hearing? Pack headphones.

The show falls 30 minutes after bedtime? Put a lovie or small blanket in your bag.

Pack for your family’s needs and anticipate worst case scenarios! (Diaper blow outs, thirsty babes, etc.)

Tip #5. Dress for the event.

TONS of kids dress up for the big show! To make sure your little fits right in, make sure to dress them in their favorite Disney tee or costume!

Need some ideas?

Girls Costumes

Moana

Cinderella

Elsa

Anna

Rapunzel

Belle

Boys Costumes

Maui

Prince Charming

Olaf

Chip

Beast

Tip #6. Locate bathrooms on your seat level.

Make sure to locate the nearest bathroom to your seat and make a stop there before finding your spot for the show!

Tip #7. Set behavior expectations.

Let your kids know prior to walking into the arena what is expected of them. (i.e. no kicking chairs, keep hands to yourself, staying in their seat unless they’re on mom or dad’s lap, try use the bathroom before + after the show and during intermission, spending limit on souvenirs, etc.)

Tip #8. Make a plan for souvenirs.

If you plan on letting your littles choose a souvenir before or after the show, prepare them with a spending limit or budget. The prices can get out of hand at times and you don’t want to be walking back to the car after your show with $150 in light up wands and cotton candy.

Tip #9. Pack binoculars.

No matter how near or far your seat is, binoculars always add an extra touch of fun to your experience! Grab a pair of these super cute kid-friendly ones for each little to save yourself a mid-show battle!

Tip #10. Pack light + prepare for a security check.

Your show is only a couple hours long so, make sure to only pack the necessities and be prepared for a security check when you arrive!

Want to win tickets to the Orlando show?!

Head HERE to enter!

 

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WIN a Family 4 Pack to DISNEY ON ICE Orlando!

I am super lucky to be a Feld Entertainment Blogger Ambassador! In exchange for sharing my love and thoughts about their super fun awesomeness, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and other exclusive opportunities! Without their generosity, I would not be able to provide my readers with such fun giveaways like this one!

We’re SO excited that Disney on Ice presented by Feld Entertainment will be back in Orlando this September at the Amway Center! The boys can’t wait to get out and do something fun after this long summer spent stuck at home with a very pregnant mama!

To celebrate our excitement and share in all the things we love about Disney on Ice, we’re giving one lucky fam a pack of 4 tickets to enjoy the show!

Want even more exciting news?! Moana, Maui, and their gnarly friends will be ditching the waves to hit the ice for the first time at this year’s performances! K already has his Maui ponytail holder picked out with a side of “you’re welcomes” and temporary tats!

Along with the crew from Moana, you’ll see Beauty, Beast, Anna, Elsa, Cinderella, Flynn Ryder, and my personal favorite-Rapunzel, as they hit the icy stage for a spectacular show!

Enter to win + get more info below!

Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream.

Get the deets:

WHERE: Amway Center | 400 W Church St #200 | Orlando, FL 32801

WHEN:
Sep 8, 2017 Fri 7:30 PM
Sep 9, 2017 Sat 11:00 AM
Sep 9, 2017 Sat 3:00 PM
Sep 9, 2017 Sat 7:00 PM
Sep 10, 2017 Sun 1:00 PM
Sep 10, 2017 Sun 5:00 PM
(*GIVEAWAY TICKETS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR: Friday, Sept. 8 at 7:30pm OR Saturday, Sept. 9 at 11:00am)

Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com | Via Phone at 800-854-2196 | Box Office at Amway Center, Orlando.

Make sure to share your experience using: #DisneyOnIce #DareToDream @DisneyOnIce @AmwayCenter #AmwayCenter

Save 20% off select seats with code SAVE20. Not valid on premium VIP seating. Get yours now for the best available seats! Code expires September 7, 2017.

 

Enter to Win!

Giveaway begins 12:00am August 15, 2017 + ends 12am August 24, 2017. Winner will be selected at random. The winner will be notified on August 24, 2017 of their winnings and must promptly reply with 24 hours to confirm, claim, and select their showtime. Tickets must be picked up at the Amway Center Box Office starting Thursday, September 7 during regular Box Office hours (Monday through Friday | 9am to 6pm and three (3) hours prior to any event). Please arrive to pick up your tickets the day of, no later than 30 minutes before show time. Paid parking is available in the nearby GEICO garage.

 

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Back to School Photos + FREE Yearly Printable!

This post contains affiliate links which help me fund the free + fun posts on the blog and sometimes, Friday night pizza nights!

Hey mamas!

Get ready to give your friends and fam the cutest Back to School themed photos from your little!

All you’ll need is:

Once you print your free printable sheet (I like to have mine done on minimum 65lb. card stock with a laser printer from a local print spot), stick it in your frame!

With a dry erase marker, write in your child’s grade on the glass of your frame above the line on the printable sheet!

Put your little out on the sidewalk in their favorite Back to School gear and snap away!

 

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This post contains affiliate links which help me fund the free + fun posts on thehappeninghousewife.com! Find a full disclosure on the sidebar of my blog.

10 Things No-one Tells You About That Are Essential in Your Hospital Bag, For a Better Post-Partum Stay!

This post contains affiliate links which help me fund the free + fun posts on the blog and sometimes, Friday night pizza nights!

We’ve all been there: stalking Pinterest for the best, most secretive must-haves for your hospital bag, only to find the same results each time you scroll down. You then turn to rely on friends, family,  or New-Mom Facebook groups for answers. Well, I’m here to save you from middle of the night Pinterest scrolling and sanctimommies of the Facebook world, with this single post! As a mom of 2 with a third arriving any day now, I’ve had my fair share of experience with hospital bag packing!

Congratulations mama + get ready for the best ride of your life!

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1. Pads but, not just any pads, THESE pads:

During the first 12-24 hours you’ll bleed ALOT, like more than I’m sure you’re actually picturing in your mind right now so, the adult diaper style pads the hospital supplies you with are great during that time but, afterwards when you’re not bleeding from what feels like your vagina to your butt, you might want something a little more comfortable. After two babies and a third just days away, I’ve had my fair share of pad trial and error and THESE are by far the best for medium to heavy bleeding!

2. Boy Short Underwear like these: MAMIA Women’s Seamless Stretch Boy Shorts Panties (Pack of 6)

If this is your first pregnancy, then you haven’t yet experienced the joy of mesh undies after birth. They’re great, really, if you don’t plan on moving from where you’re sitting at any time to feel a gush leak out one side. Boy shorts are AWESOME, they keep your pad in place, tightly confined to its appropriate and carefully adjusted area, and you won’t feel awkward when a nurse comes in while sitting in nothing but boy shorts and a nursing bra versus mesh undies and a pad sticking out on the side!

3. An actually COMFORTABLE nursing bra (or several). This one is my FAVE: A Pea in the Pod Full Coverage Nursing Sleep Bra

With my first, I didn’t know the absolute need for a nursing bra. Things changed when round two came. I promise you won’t regret investing in just a couple of comfortable, easy to manage nursing bras. The Pea in the Pod Nursing Sleep Bras are my personal favorite. They’re ultra soft, light weight, pull down easily, and don’t have weird clips or straps. They’re soft enough and without lining that you’ll have no worries cuddling your new babe while wearing it or sleeping in between feeding sessions.

4. A legit heating pad
You won’t regret this one. Your hospital probably has heating pads available, SOMETIMES, as long as there’s one not in use by other new moms. Even so, the heating pads they offer are okay but, ESPECIALLY if you’re on baby number 2 or after, you’ll likely want a heating pad that gets hot and stays hot. Of course not to be used when cuddling baby or feeding but, when they’re sleeping or away at the nursery, you’ll want some warm relief. The Sunbeam Heating Pad is top rated and for good reason. It’s already packed in my hospital bag and is off limits to anyone in our home until after baby is here and mama fully recovers.

5. House shoes. Not slippers, Not socks

Okay, I’m talking: easy to slide on, rubber bottoms, that your grandmother used to wear when she cleaned house or got ready in the morning. Socks, ewe unless they’re keeping your feet warm in the hospital bed. Slippers, just the same. Someone will likely come in and mop and clean your room once or twice during your stay but, if you decide to walk around the baby floor or down to get fresh air in the hospital courtyard. You’ll want the rubber bottoms.

6. Something to keep you occupied after baby arrives

There are only so many channels on the hospital’s cable network and only so many Law and Order SVU episodes you can watch before wanting to pull your hair out. Bring a book, magazines, cards, a board game for you and hubby, or something else you enjoy doing in a tiny, quiet space. *Also, snacks that can be eaten in between meals.

7. Something to help you fall asleep…
Fast! Practice meditating, bring Lavender Essential Oil and your Diffuser, your favorite pillow, anything. You’ll need it. Once things become quiet and everyone leaves you alone with your new baby for the first time since he/she has made their arrival, the exhaustion and tiredness will quickly set in and so will baby’s next feeding time or diaper change. The adrenalin will settle and your body will soon start to remind itself that it needs rest after all the work you put in for however many hours. Your team of nurses will visit periodically to make sure you’re awake and feeding your baby when it’s time, they’ll help with diaper changes and charting urine and bowel movements if they’re due, and anything else you or baby may need. So, take the time to rest when baby allows.

8. A short, light-weight robe

Don’t get something that will drag on the floor. A nice, light weight, knee-length robe will do the trick! One like THIS ONE (which I own and love) will make feedings easier without making baby hot and visits from friends and family more comfortable. Not to mention, your hospital bed is only so big, there’s no room for all the extra fabric of a long, heavy, terry cloth or fleece robe!

9. Your own towel

Have you ever stayed in a hotel with exceptional service but, hop out of the shower to a towel that only wraps halfway around your body? Well, that’s what you’ll get if you don’t bring your own. You’ll thank me for this one after your first shower post baby.

10. DISPOSABLE Breast Pads

If you produce a pretty fair amount of milk or more, you’re sure to leak…A LOT. You’ll be feeding your baby often but, some mamas are extra gifted when it comes to producing milk and have quite a bit of leakage in between feedings. Try the reusable ones at home if you desire but, during your hospital stay, the disposables will be so much easier and more convenient!

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This post contains affiliate links which help me fund the free + fun posts on thehappeninghousewife.com! Find a full disclosure on the sidebar of my blog.

 

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New + Improved Florida Kids SUMMER BUCKET LIST!

I totally LOVED sharing our 2015 Summer Bucket List with everyone but, after two years and a couple sizes up in the toddler section, partnered with loads of parenting experience, we decided it was time to update the list and add some of our new favorite adventures for all of you to enjoy!

In this bucket list, you’ll find something fun and unique to do in most major cities throughout Florida, from Key West up to the Panhandle and all the way back down to the Treasure Coast! Mark off the ones near you or plan a road trip to find something fresh and different!

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1. KEY WEST

Southern Most PointShipwreck MuseumTake a Trolley Ride

2. MARATHON KEY

Dolphin Research CenterTurtle HospitalSnorkel at Sombrero Reef

3. MIAMI

Visit the Miami Seaquarium-Crawl through the Castle of Dream at the Miami Children’s Museum

4. NAPLES

Visit the lazy river and water slides at Hyatt Bonita Springs -Play at the Galisano Children’s Museum of Naples

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5. SANIBEL + CAPTIVA

Make your own seashell jewelry at the Bailey Matthew’s National Shell Museum-Have a slice of Orange Cake and take in all the Christmas decor at The Bubble RoomRide bikes along the trail through Captiva

6. FL GULF KEYS

Collect shark teeth at Blind Pass Beach on Manasota Key (Grab your shark tooth sifter from  The Green Parrot Gift Shop)-Hit the cold white sand of Siesta Key Beach for the day but, make sure to bring an umbrella

7. SARASOTA

See the 27 foot squid at the MOTE Laboratory and Aquarium and get an up close look at the lab-Eat off of a frisbee at Old Salty Dog and grab a picture with the giant “Unconditional Surrender” statue-Climb the banyan tree in the Children’s Rainforest at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens-Visit The Ringling, a museum dedicated to the world famous Ringling Bros. Circus

8. TAMPA

 See the mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs-Celebrate Christmas in July at the Rogers House Christmas Village-Visit the Florida Aquarium-Spend the day digging up fossils and taking in the ginormous prehistoric replicas at Dinosaur World-See where the New York Yankees practice in the Spring-Explore the many exhibits at the Glazer Children’s Museum or The Great Explorations Children’s Museum

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9. GAINESVILLE

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State ParkButterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History-View the 100+ species of plants and flowers in an abandoned lime rock query at Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens-Learn how to climb a tree with the Canopy Climbers-Splash in one of the many springs of Gainesville (Big Blue Springs, Blue Grotto, Ginnie Springs, Ichetucknee)

10. PANHANDLE

National Naval Aviation Museum-Hike to look down on the waterfall of Falling Waters State Recreation Area-Ride the Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise in Panama City Beach-Explore the Florida Caverns-Swim with Dolphins at the Gulf World Marine Park

11. JACKSONVILLE

Visit MOSH and get your science on-Stop by Sweet Pete’s for a special treat-Take a small walk to Big Talbot State Park and climb the fallen driftwoods on the beach-Spot a Leopard Gecko and other reptiles and animals at Tree Hill Nature Center-Feed a Giraffe at the Jacksonville Zoo

12. ST AUGUSTINE

Visit the Old Jail-Pretend your back in time at the Castillo de San Marcos Fort-Embrace your inner Ariel on the rocks of Washington Oaks State Park Beach-Go back to Colonial Times by spending a day at Colonial Quarter-See the Florida Gator at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park-Try not to steal the treasure at the Pirate + Treasure Museum-Get some yummy sweets and take a tour of Whetstone Chocolates

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13. CENTRAL FL BEACHES

Grab a freshly made popsicle from Mason Bar, NSB-Climb the winding stairs of the Ponce DeLeon Inlet Light House-Have a lobster roll from Cafe Heavenly-Eat a HUGE cinnamon roll after you hit the salad bar at Aunt Catfish’s in Port Orange-Take a tour on the Cape Canaveral National Seashore (N Apollo Beach) to watch sea turtles hatch-Touch stingrays and hermit crabs at the touch pool in the Marine Science Center-Smell the rubber at the Daytona Speedway

14. CENTRAL FLORIDA

Find the enormous giant cement dinosaurs at the Sugar Mill Ruins-Ice skate in the summer at RDV Sportsplex-Connect with your inner scientist at Mad Science in the Oviedo Mall-Visit the rhinos at the Central Florida Zoo and cool off in the splash pad-Ride the SunRail from DeBary to Winter Park and grab a treat at Peterbrooke Chocolatier on S Park Ave. before heading back-Swim with the manatees at Blue Springs-Eat like a German at Hollerbach’s Willowtree Cafe’ and save room for the gummy bears that come with your kid’s meal

15. LAKELAND

Climb a life-sized spiderweb, play music outside, splash around a desert themed water pad, and find Rapunzel’s hidden tower at Bok Tower Gardens-Create music and put on a show at the Explorations V Children’s Museum-Bring a mini figure to Legoland and trade any of the workers for one on their name badge

16. ORLANDO

Hit up Chef Mickey’s to eat a meal with your favorite characters-Indulge in a Sparkling Chocolate Volcano from the Rainforest Cafe’ during an indoor thunderstorm-Watch knights joust and battle at Medieval Times-Smell the roses at Leu Gardens-Grab a farm fresh meal from Farm & Haus at East End Market-Pick and sort oranges at the Orlando Science Center-Play giant Connect 4 while your parents grab a bite at Sea Dog Brewing Co.-Create your own crayon at The Crayola Experience-Hold a gator at Gatorland-Ride a swan boat in Lake Eola-Take a ride on the Orlando Eye and view The City Beautiful-Plant something in the community garden at Mead Botanical Gardens

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17. SPACE COAST

Kayak through a bioluminescence tour with A Day Away Kayak Tours and see the algae glow-Watch a rocket launch or visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to feast your eyes on real-life rovers and moon rocks-Swim in a whale’s mouth at the Brevard Zoo-Race a car at Andretti Thrill Park-Volunteer at the Sea Turtle Preservation Society and get an up close encounter with a nesting spot-Get up close and personal with the black bears and a 200 ft alligator at the Jungle Adventures Park-Play on Cocoa Beach -Spend your allowance on a gnarly new boogie board at the world famous Ron Jon Surf Shop

18. BOCA RATON + FT LAUDERDALE

Feed a flamingo at the Flamingo Gardens-Visit the South Florida Science Center + Aquarium-Pop into the Museum of Discovery + Science-Let a butterfly land on you at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek -Hop on over to the Boca Children’s Museum and the Boca Children’s Science Explorium-Get Wet and play at the science playground at Sugar Sand park

19. TREASURE COAST

The Children’s Museum of Treasure Coast -Touch and view model ecosystems and thriving underwater worlds of the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean at the Smithsonian Marine StationEnvironmental Learning Center -Go inside the stick huts at the McKee Botanical Gardens-See a different side of Mickey at the Disney Vero Beach Hotel

20. Close to HOME

Visit your local fire station-Build a cardboard box Castle-Make a lava Lamp-Adopt a fish-Grow a windowsill plant-Sing a song at your local senior citizen facility-Paint rocks to hide on your next adventure-Make slime-Paint pottery at your local ceramics spot-Get a group together for a fun paint class

 


 

I’d LOVE to know if you’ve marked any of these off of your list! If so, comment below and share your favorite!

See some of our bucket list adventures below!

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All images in this post with or without watermark, belong to The Happening Housewife on behalf of The Happening Housewife Blog and Where You Went Photography. Please tag back to this post link if you would like to share any images in this post. Use without reference to The Happening Housewife Blog may infringe on copyright laws and result in a fine.

 

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Disguise Learning with Play using STEM! (+ A Snapology LEGO GIVEAWAY!)

I’m so excited to be partnering with Nakturnal for a giveaway! Read below to find out how you can enter to win a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot- Sebastian Gator! Find a full disclaimer on the sidebar of my blog!


It’s no secret that we eat, breathe, live LEGO and all things STEM-based in our home. Not a day goes by that one or both of the boys isn’t stimulating their brain with those small colorful blocks, folding a paper airplane out of an old piece mail, or manipulating K-Nex into crazy, crime-fighting vehicles and winding roads.

When we realized that Col was a little different than other kids, it took no time at all to see the potential benefits of what STEM-based learning could do for him. Writing, Reading, and Speech as separate subjects are definitely a must-have in your child’s learning plan but, for kids like Colin, a science and mathematical learning environment is the most beneficial way to grow their unique little minds!

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Fast forward to when we had K! We were quick to realize once he was at a play age that typically developing kids thrive in the same STEM-based environment as well! Which made play time between the two of them a bonding experience and way to encourage them to teach each other new ways of learning!

Now that you know our little back story, let’s get to why you’re really here: “How do I disguise learning with play using STEM and what exactly is it?”

  • What is STEM?

STEM is a way of learning based on the idea of educating children of all ages in four specific areas — Science, Technology, Engineering, + Mathematics in an applied, hands on approach. Rather than teach the four subjects separately, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.

Pretty cool, huh?

  • What are the benefits of STEM?

1. It’s CURRENT!

In a technology-based society, science is forever changing and growing. As work places change by frequently updating their software, and equipment that we use in our daily lives becomes more advanced, STEM knowledge is vital. Staying up to date on the latest techy trends is a must in today’s world!

2. GET CREATIVE!

Creativity is one of the many benefits of a STEM education by implementing the idea of “Learning by Doing!”

Ironically, creativity is also the result of a STEM-based education ! STEM-based learning encourages students to get their hands ‘dirty’, solve problems, create new designs and functions, and make tools out of something that otherwise wouldn’t be!

3. INNOVATE, INNOVATE, INNOVATE!

With the growth of technology, is the freedom to invent and engineer almost anything you can dream of! Starting at a young age, we can encourage our kids to use their minds and create the impossible with STEM.

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1. OFFER THE RIGHT TOYS

I’m totally not suggesting that you go out and spend hundreds on an entirely new toy collection but, when birthdays and holidays come around, encourage friends and family to give more significant gifts that stimulate learning rather than the typical stuffed animal or piece of junk that will end up in a garage sale pile a few months later!

Some of our favorites:

  • LEGO
  • Magna-Tiles
  • Tegu Blocks
  • KIDS FIRST Engineering Tubs
  • Marble Run
  • Lincoln Logs

When choosing toys, try to make sure they incorporate and/or encourage one of the following: tinkering, building, circuit creation (adding pieces and parts to the toy that make it GO! or turn on and off), problem solving, or tech-based growth and learning.

Does the anticipated and totally loathed “LEGO dump” have you resisting adding them to your STEM collection?! Check out my post to help with that!

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2. ALLOW UNINTERUPTED + FREE WILL TINKERING

Sometimes, regardless of the mess it makes, you just have to let your little ones free with their tinkering toys without borders. I know, I’m with you. Walking into our home to a ‘road’ of K-Nex that stretches from the front door to, well, I don’t ever really know where, can be super annoying and seemingly pointless but, they’re actually using their little minds to create something super awesome and through the mess is some really great learning!

3. HELP + ANSWER WITHOUT FRUSTRATION

I know this one can be a bit difficult, especially when your knee deep in your own project but, when your little comes to you for advice or answers, they’re seeking you out for a reason! Curiosity is natural for growing minds and by shooting them down or showing frustration when they’ve asked the same question every single day for a week, you’re discouraging one of the greatest forms of learning. If you don’t know the answer to a question yourself, let them watch as you figure it out. Whether it be from a book, video, or the internet, seeing you seek out an answer encourages them to continue doing so through you.

4. ALLOW FREE PLAY WITH CRAFT SUPPLIES

Yes, for real. I mean, don’t give your kid all access freedom to liquid glue and finger paints but, offer them a bucket of dry supplies! Rubber bands, tape, twine, paper clips, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, clothespins, dowels, empty toilet paper rolls can all be used in creating some really awesome things. Change it up every other week or so with fresh supplies and new tools!

5. TRY A “BUILDING SNACK” TRAY

Similar to free play with random craft supplies, you never know what your little one will come up with when you offer them a tray of “building snacks” at the table! We love pretzel sticks, mini marshmallows, grapes, sliced olives, cheese cubes, and cheerios. You’ll be amazed at their first cheese cube-pretzel stick car with grape wheels!

6. INCORPORATE EDUCATIONAL SHOWS DURING SCREEN TIME

If you allow screen time in your home, there are a TON of education shows that go hand-in-hand with STEM-based learning! One of my favorite things as a mom to my littles is walking in on them super indulged in old school Bill Nye and The Magic School Bus. I love when they approach me to spill their guts about friction or some other super sciencey topic three days after watching an episode. It’s always a proud moment for us, even if they got it from a screen!

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We use all of these tools in our day to day life as a family and although it took a little practice, it’s now just routine! Our family truly enjoys play time together AND apart because of this method and as parents we’ve learned to embrace the repetitive questions and constant mess of LEGO!

 


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Giveaway closed.

Congratulations to Jenna!


Want to win a Snapology Sebastian Gator LEGO Set?!

(Recommended for ages 6+)

As parents of special needs + typically developing kids, we know from experience that every child is different and so is their preferred method of learning. So, as a soon to be family of three crazy boys, all different and unique, we’d love to know: Which of the ideas in this post is your littles’ favorite way of STEM-based play? (Haven’t tried one yet? Answer: Which idea are you most likely to implement first?) Comment below to be entered!

*Winner will be chosen at random 10 days from the post date on July 23, 2017 and will be notified via email. US entrants only please. Prize is a LEGO® brick set of the Snapology Mascot, Sebastian Gator, mailed directly to your home!


Curious about Snapology?!

Snapology is a STEM-based kids’ facility that hosts totally rad play dates, birthday parties, field trips, workshops, + summer camps where littles (ages 1 and up) use LEGO, K’nex, art + mosaic, code, robotics, and more to learn through play! Sounds super awesome right?! Well, they’re looking for someone interested in becoming a franchise owner in the Central Florida region! Give them a call or apply online today if this sounds like the spot for you!

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6 Ways to Stroll with Evenflo Pivot

A huge thank you to Evenflo for gifting this stroller to our growing family in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions and thoughts are 100% my own.

Florida, sweet Florida!

There aren’t many places that you can spend the first weekend of March in swim trunks and flip flops and for that reason, we’re so happy to raise our babies in this sweet Sunshine State! For us, March calls for open windows, fruit picking, diving into the questionable temperatures of the pool, and renewal of our annual passes to the Central Florida Zoo!

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Over the weekend, we hopped in the car and made the short trip to visit the zoo! I’ve been dying to test drive our new Evenflo Pivot Travel System since it’s arrival and knew the zoo and all it’s terrain would be the perfect spot (even though the cheerios on the tile and our super plush shag rug did offer substantial terrain on the night of our new stroller’s unboxing).

What I really loved about pushing the Pivot around all day is the “toddler seat recline to bassinet” action. (Side note: We have a luxury brand stroller that I had to have JUST for the bassinet and to tell you the truth, the whole seat removal and replace with a bassinet and vice versa, is a TOTAL pain.) With the Pivot, there’s a lever on the back of the seat which reclines it ALL.THE.WAY. down to a bassinet. I really just can’t get over how much of a time and energy saver that is. How do you get it back into seat mode? Pull that lever and lift up. Seriously, it’s that easy! There’s a buckle on the back side of the seat to give the seat shape and keep it stable. I’ve got to give it to Evenflo for making it so easy and affordable to leave the extra bulky bassinet behind and transform your stroller from sit to sleep mode in 2 easy steps, WITHOUT the hassle of unlocking, removing, and storing a bassinet!

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Not only does the seat transform into a bassinet but, it can be unlocked and reversed for a parent-facing stroll. This was perfect while we waited in the long line to renew our membership before entering the zoo! The belly bar is easily removable and has an awesome snack tray which occupied little K with carrots and cucumbers during our wait!

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Once we got into the zoo, we just flipped the seat around and he was content all the way until he needed to exercise his bitty legs when we entered the petting area!

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Going through two toddler stages, several strollers and wagons, tons of terrain and adventure, and the constant feeding of growing boys while on the move, I think it’s safe to say that we’re pretty experienced when it comes to knowing a good push to bad push in a stroller and the severe need for a well thought-out stroller basket.

Knowing that we’d be spending our entire day at the zoo, changing from play clothes to swim suits and back again, and snacking during our visit, the large and realistically functional basket on the Pivot, was a HUGE plus. It’s super easy to get in and out of, with a large enough space for two towels, a wet bag, lunch box, and more! I can’t thank Evenflo enough for creating this stroller with such an easy to access basket! TOTAL LIFE SAVER.

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Now, let’s talk about the push!

I’ve had my fair share of stiff wheels, blow outs, terrible turns, and squeaky strolls when it comes to strollers. Five years ago, being a first time mom, I was so excited to have an over the top, drop-in, majorly bulky travel system. BIG mistake, HUGE.

Going into our second baby with a toddler on the run, I REFUSED a travel system and instead told myself I’d be a baby-wearing feign. WRONG. (I mean, I love wearing but, I’m certainly not an 80% of the time baby-wearer. Heck, I’m not even a 30% of the time wearer.) Eventually, I caved and purchased a Sit and Stand…TERRIBLE. The idea was great but, the push was so difficult that we never used it.

Now onto my third baby, with TWO toddlers CONSTANTLY on the go and a storage unit full of mom knowledge acting as my brain, it’s easy to know what works and what doesn’t in only a matter of minutes (BEFORE purchasing and exiting the store to find you’ve made a huge mistake weeks later). Even my husband can appreciate a good stroller with an easy push and after our day trip, we both agreed that Evenflo has totally nailed it with the Pivot! Each of us had a chance to push through dirt and rocks, over boardwalk trails, water covered walkways, and mulch with ease!

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We wrapped up our long day filled with tons of snacking, playing in the sun, petting and visiting our favorite animals, and test driving our newest addition and I think it’s safe to say that every one came home a happy camper!

After a little thought, hubby and I have both decided to let go of our luxury stroller (with the bassinet) and replace it’s spot in the back of the mom mobile with our new Evenflo Pivot!


Want a full list of the 6 Ways to Stroll with the Evenflo Pivot? (Of course you do, that’s why you’re here!)

  • Front Facing Carseat Drop In
  • Rear Facing Carseat Drop In
  • Outward Facing Bassinet
  • Parent Facing Bassinet
  • Front Facing Seat
  • Parent Facing Seat

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Because each system comes with a SafeMax Infant Car Seat which features an Anti-rebound bar, we can’t wait to install it in our family car to bring baby #3 home!

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