Trip Taking: The New England Aquarium

This past Saturday we drove down to Boston to see my brother and take our daughter on her first trip to The New England Aquarium. She was so excited. The night before I was trying to explain the scale of just how big the fish tanks were (HA, scale! Yes for bad puns!) and I could tell she just wasn’t getting it. Trying to picture a fish tank the size of her room was too much! But she was thrilled at the idea of being able to see sharks. I love that she isn’t afraid of them, though she did hesitantly ask if the sharks would be walking around WITH us haha!





Her favorite part of the day was getting to pet the sting rays and sharks. They have a big petting tank (I didn’t get photos as I was too busy petting them with her) and she was so happy to be up to her elbows in water petting tiny sharks! We even got to watch them and the rays get fed which was cool. Lots of splashing that made her giggle.





As for me, I was pretty excited to test out some of my (pretty slim) camera skills. This camera is my first DSLR, and I have really never taken the time to learn how to use it properly. I tend to stick with the auto settings, and go from there. I figured the aquarium with it’s awkward lighting and fun subjects would be a good time to test out my manual skills! So all the pics in this post are taken with manual focus and settings.




Overall, they came out okay. Many of them came out blurred as I fiddled with settings and practiced the manual focus. I definitely have a serious amount to learn, but since photography is a personal hobby I’ve got plenty of time to do so.

A lot of people say this aquarium isn’t that great compared to others, but it’s the only one I’ve ever been to so I don’t have much to compare. I actually like that it’s not huge. I’ve learned when doing things with my three year old there is definitely a limit to fun, otherwise you head into the (not so) magical land of meltdown mode. The aquarium was the perfect size in that we managed to see everything and be done before any crankiness kicked in. Huzzah!

Preschool Craft: Nature Rubbings

I guess this is technically more of an ‘art’ than a ‘craft’, but either way, it’s full of so much fun and learning opportunity!

My three year old loves nature walks. Or as she has dubbed them, ‘treasure walks’. She grabs her little plastic pail, and we head off towards the rural woodsy roads that surround us. Along the way she collects all manner of leaves, rocks, sticks; anything that strikes her fancy. For the bigger stuff we have started making Treasure Sculptures to adorn our garden bed. But for the leaves and feathers she gathers, we’ve never really had a plan for them. And then it dawned on me that we’d never done rubbings before! Since my little tends to sway towards all things art/craft related (ahem, can’t imagine why) I knew she’d love it.


She selected a few leaves, and her prized feather we found that day.



And then the fun began! I just never get sick of that look – the complete wonder and amazement of seeing something happen for the first time. It’s absolutely one of my favorite parts of being a parent, and reminds me just how incredible it is that I get to hold her hand and show her the firsts in life.





She was so proud of her finished product! Definitely an activity we’ll do again and again. I love that this combines not only an art, but a learning experience as well. We talked about each leaf she collected, what plant it was from, etc. She has a blast, and learns. Double win.



Enjoying the Weather

I wish I could just move my life outdoors in springtime. But with that being quite impractical, we just spend a boat ton of time outdoors.


Love her shades!

We love to take walks in the area. Just a short distance from us are some really lovely, rural, woodsy roads, with tons to see along the way.


The owner of this little farm was nice enough to let me take pictures of the animals, and even gave my little miss a chicken egg to bring home! We’ve since baked it in with cookies. 🙂




She loved being able to run and play with her cousins, toss rocks into the melting snow streams, and just be outside.

Now that the playgrounds are snow free, we get to spend time playing there too! We took a trip to the park next to our best friend’s house and our girls had a blast. Just can’t get enough of the wonderful weather!





Springtime is just so refreshing. I think at this point in my life, I even like it more than summer.


Preschool Homeschool: Week 1

This was our first week of doing preschool activities at home. I could write a novel (or at least a short story) about my thoughts on public school vs. homeschool but to sum up I’ll just say I’m entirely split down the middle. I think they both have benefits and downsides.

Regardless of what I end up doing, I wanted to start her on some ‘school’ like things at home, so if I do homeschool, it won’t be a huge change in pace. I’ve planned out the month with a very basic ‘curriculum’ consisting of age appropriate (and attention span appropriate) activities. It’s been going really well!


Shape tracing! She loves to do her worksheets.

This week’s focus is writing and letter practice, and learning the days of the week. Lots of letter, number, and shape tracing along with one big activity each day. She has this ‘My First Calendar’ that we’ve done daily since she received it for her birthday, and she adores it! She’s well on her way to recognizing the day’s of the week (we identify them by first letter) and she is so excited to be able to change the season to spring soon!



Our days of the week activity was really simple – I’m all about simple and cheap! During nap time I cut out some cardboard rectangles on which I wrote the days of the week. Her task was to put them in order (we started with Monday since it’s the day her calendar starts on). She did great!

Thursday we did our biggest activity of the week. Matching uppercase and lowercase letters. This was another simple and cheap project to make!



Using my 1″ circle puncher, I made 52 circles, and wrote the uppercase and lowercase letters on them. Then I hot glued them onto felt. I only used red as I have copious amounts of these red pieces for some reason! Then I cut them out.




The felt board is from a dinosaur felt game her grandma bought her, but making a felt board for this would be so easy – hot glue a big piece of felt to a big piece of cardboard and voila! (The easel is mine that my grandfather made for me.) Her task was to match the lower case letters with their uppercase counterpart. Or as she called it, matching the baby letters with their mommys and daddys. Since she knows all her uppercase letters, learning the lowercase is priority for now. She knows about 1/3 of the lowercase, most obviously the ones that look the same!

However, with all the activities, nothing is pushed. I don’t force her to continue if it’s clear she’s not into it. She is only three, and has plenty of time for school. Most session take about 20 minutes, and so far she has been loving them! Next week we tackle writing numbers, counting to twenty, and maybe some super simple basic math using Goldfish. I think she’ll like that one!

Do you homeschool? What are your thoughts on homeschool vs. public/private school?


Preschool Experiment: Milk, Food Coloring, and Dish Soap

You may remember from my previous preschool experiment post that March was the kickoff for a new thing around our house: preschool homeschool. I’ll have a post up about how the first week goes, but this past Sunday before starting the ‘official’ homeschool days, I decided to do another fun play experiment with her. A classic – mixing milk, food coloring, and dish soap. You’ll need: a lipped plate, milk, food coloring, dish soap (we used Dawn), cotton swaps, and a small container for the soap.

Quick note: please excuse her lack of shirt in the photos – she absolutely insisted that this must be done in her underwear and refused to put on her apron (which she normally loves wearing). Didn’t bother me any; undies all the way!

We set out a plate with a very thin layer of milk in it. Whole milk works best, and we just happened to have some left over from making white hot chocolate!


She then instructed me where to put the drops of color. Then I let her dip her cotton swab in the soap to start ‘drawing’ in it!


She loved watching the food coloring pool out away from the soapy cotton swab! Also, I’d like to note that I did the ‘experiment’ part of this more as a color mixing and learning the primary colors experiment. I figured the reaction between the soap and milk was a little over her head, so in terms of ‘learning’ we used this more as a color lesson than a science lesson.She knows that red and blue make purple but is a little iffy on the other primary mixes. I would ask her before she started swirling her swab in the mixture what color she thought it would make. She actually remembered blue and yellow make green! But red and yellow definitely stumped her.


Occasionally she would poke the milk mixture and make a small splash, causing perfectly round droplets that would skate across the top. She loved that. The photo below is the best I could get, but I think that ended up being her favorite part!


Once we had exhausted our mixing options and our attention span (aka about twenty-five minutes of color mixing) I let her pour the soap into the colored milk to see what would happen. We added a drop of red food coloring to the soap first at her request.


She was fascinated at all the swirlies it made in the milk! This was definitely a successful experiment, and one we’ll do again just for fun. Especially when we get to our art and color homeschool week!

Until next time,


Local Love

Despite being currently buried under a foot of fresh snow, we actually managed to venture out of the house this past weekend and Monday for some fun! We ventured out of our little town to explore our neighboring town of Meredith, New Hampshire.

The weekend provided some grownup fun. On Saturday we headed to the local comic book shop to play some Ascension. Ascension is an awesome deck-building board game where you buy new cards and fight monsters to accumulate honor. The person with the most honor at the end wins! If you’ve ever played Dominion, it plays very similarly; almost a more simplified version, but I find Ascension more fun.

*Image via Acension’s website*

Before we headed out, we decided to snag a present for our little miss – a new My Little Pony comic! She received one for her birthday, loves it, and has been asking for the next one. It’s never to early to start a comic book collection, and she’s kicking it off at the ripe age of three!

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After we finished up there, we decided to hit up some of the local shops in Meredith, which I had never really explored. We ended up coming across a locally owned bookstore, which just about made my day. I had no idea a bookstore was tucked away so close to me! I’m up to my ears in books to read right now, so I didn’t purchase any. Instead I opted for a new journal, since my new one is pretty tiny and will fill up fast.

Front cover
Back cover

Isn’t it gorgeous?! Hand stamped leather, hand bound pages – I’m so in love with it. Can’t wait to start filling the pages!

Monday was filled with an adventure to the Meredith Children’s Museum. We met up with an old friend from middle school days (Sarah Chase of Chase Photography – check out her blog too!) and her husband and son. It was great! The museum was actually much more than I was expecting – huge open layout rooms with plenty for the kids to do. We never even fully explored the lower floor since there was so much to do! If you’re local with kids, I definitely recommend checking it out.


She was so excited for a playground inside!
Completely fascinated by. . .
. . .all the billiard balls rolling around these tracks! She loved this room.

And now, we are reburied under mountains of snow, so it’s a good thing we got in our trips when we could! I really wouldn’t mind the snow if it were warm enough (by which I mean at least 30!) to play outside. But it’s only been in the teens, and add wind to that – no thank you. We’ll stay inside with our arts and crafts instead! Here’s hoping we see warmer weather soon!


Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! The hubs and I have never done anything over the top for this particular holiday. Neither one of us are against it at all, it’s just not one of those holidays that is really important to either one of us. We have the tendency to randomly surprise each other with little things for no reason at all (he usually snags me nerdy collectibles, I tend to bring home some of his favorite sweet treats!) so V-Day just isn’t too big on our celebration list. But this year, I was spoiled!

We celebrated on Wednesday since he had the day off, and first he surprised me with this beautiful orchid.



Orchids are my absolute favorite flower, in basically any variety and this one is so lovely. Giant blooms, with plenty of buds left to open up!

Then he got me a HUGE square of fudge from my favorite shop! YUM! I rarely ever get fudge, so I’m pretty excited to savor this baby. Despite the fact that all I want to do is take it to a corner and gnaw away the entire thing, mouse style. But a little at a time. . .self control. . .I can do that!


And lastly, as if that wasn’t enough he got me a new Game of Thrones Funko figurine! I LOVE my Funko guys – I think they are such an awesome combination of totally adorable and totally creepy. He got me Jaime Lannister for Christmas, and now he’s added Jon Snow to my collection!


ISN’T HE JUST SO ADORABLE?!?! He is definitely my favorite one yet. His little mustache just kills me.

The little miss and I made him some cards earlier in the week. For hers, she painted a separate sheet of paper and then I cut out heart shapes. She glued them on in a line on the front of his card and then ‘wrote’ (aka she held the Sharpie while I guided her hand) on the front. For the inside she opted to do a watercolor drawing on one side, and crayons on the other. She was so proud! For her envelope, she colored a white heart and glued it on. Mine was just some stamp letters and silver ink! I think this years card is my favorite card I’ve made him yet. It’s silly, which suits us (definitely not the romantic sappy type over here) and also adorable! For the inside I used a sticker from my Scrawny Girl sticker pack and wrote a little love note for him. Perfect!





How do you plan to spend your Valentine’s Day?

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Preschool Experiment: Baking Soda and Vinegar!

I’ve decided that this year I’m going to start some preschool level homeschooling with my three year old. We are still debating having her start preschool in the fall, or waiting another year, but I definitely want to start some specific ‘school’ activities at home! I’ve already sat down and planned out the month of March, and I’m using February to prep, and occasionally do some specific activities with her.

This week I decided to set up a mini science experiment. Super basic, super cheap, and most importantly lots of fun for her! First, I got our supplies:


  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring
  • Squirt bottle
  • Cookie sheet


Then I spread out a thin layer of baking soda in the cookie sheet – just enough to cover the bottom. Then, the questions began. First I asked her what she though would happen when we added in drops of food coloring. She told me that it would turn colors – go logic haha! She instructed me where to put each drop of food coloring (I’m not ready to hand over a bottle of food coloring yet!) and then the fun began.


Before we started, I asked her what she thought would happen when she started squirting on the vinegar. She told me she thought it would change color. I thought that was a good guess! Definitely a logical jump.

She started squirting it on very delicately at first, just a little drip on each drop of color. You could see the wonder as she watched it fizz up – she kept exclaiming, “Fizzy bubble colors!” with a little giggle.




Then she really started getting into it and squeezing out a lot of vinegar to make big fizzy sections. Once the bottle was empty, I poured some vinegar into a measuring cup so she could see the difference between dumping it on and squirting it in a line. She definitely preferred the squirt bottle!


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I put a little more vinegar in the squirt bottle for her and she kept at it, making sure to soak and fizz every available spot.




Then I gave her a butter knife so she could draw in the paste we had created. She loved swirling all the colors together (despite the fact that when you mix all food coloring together, it makes a sickly green – didn’t seem to bother her). Finally, she declared that her drawing was done, and we left it to dry.




I asked her again what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar to which she replied, “It makes fizzies!”. I figure we’ll wait a couple years before explaining chemical reactions!

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It’s Party Time!

My baby girl turn three today! She’s certainly not a baby anymore. . .not even really a toddler. I can’t believe how much she’s grown this year, both in her knowledge and literally her height. We’ve hit some big learning milestones this year and this was also the first year she has done an ‘extra-curricular’ activity – gymnastics class! It’s been really successful, and I’m amazed to see how much her gross motor skills have improved from day one. In January she is ready to move up to the next level of class too – she’s really excited! It’s been a big year full of so many wonderful things, and her party this past weekend was just another thing on that list.

Cookie favors for the guests.

She requested a ‘pink dinosaur’ theme this year (she loves dinosaurs!) and then amended that to ‘pink and purple dinosaur’ theme, so that’s what she got! I decided to go the route of making all (or as many as possible) of the decorations myself this year and I am SO glad I did!

The full spread. . .before the food was out.


I think the two food signs were my favorite decorations!

I made her invitations, banner, cupcake toppers, dinosaur danglies, and table signs in Photoshop and printed them out. The only things I spent money on were some plastic dinosaurs and the balloons and streamers – all in all it cost me $10.00. I’ll take that!


Every year for her party I put out a photo with her name, age, and her favorite things! It’s nice to be able to look back and see the changes as she grows. This year’s favorite things:

  • Pink Blankie (her special blankie she got for Christmas when she was just one week old – it’s been with her ever since!)
  • Dinosaurs
  • PB&J Sandwiches
  • Taking walks
  • Coloring and Painting
  • Berenstain Bears books
  • Making ‘Line-Ups’ (she takes her toys and builds them in lines across the house – see this post for an example!)
  • Littlest Pet Shop toys
  • Playing with her cousins
  • Gymnastics
  • Sleeping over Mimi’s house
  • Sunday Brunch at Grandma’s house

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A terrifying T-Rex cousin, and her new tutu (which had to be worn immediately!).


The party was great – lots of family and friends, laughter and food! Just how a party should be. She got an army of new books, half of which are ALL dinosaur books (of which we are thrilled – both my husband and I adore reading and have already passed that on to our miss; she loves books!!) and at least 15 new puzzles!! She’s on a huge puzzle kick lately so she was a happy camper. Also, one of my favorite presents she received:


This pink dinosaur stuffy HANDMADE by my best friend!! It is so fabulous. And handmade?? How can you go wrong?! Yet another toy for her to treasure.

Three already. . .

Being swept up in party hosting, friends, family, laughter and food, I totally forgot to take a picture of her cupcakes I made. Whoops! But you can see one here. . .just picture ones with purple frosting too and there you have it.

CHOMP! True dinosaur style.

After the party that night our best friends stayed overnight (we were snowed in!) so we spent the night playing board games, laughing, and drinking cocoa. Is there a better way to spend a weekend?

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I spent $1.50 on some watercolors the other day when I was at Michaels getting myself some art supplies, and it was a darn good investment. My little miss has been absolutely loving them!


This is also a great way to continue her learning about mixing colors to make other colors. Our other method of doing that is when she has yogurt for lunch, we dye it with food coloring and practice mixing colors that way.


I also let her sprinkle some salt over her some of her paintings so she could see the effect it makes – it has become her new favorite way to paint! We’re going to use some of them as backings for some Christmas presents which I’ll reveal after the holidays.


All in all, I’m happy with that $1.50 spent!

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