Easy DIY Photo Valentines

Throwback : Easy Photo Valentines

I love the idea of homemade Valentines, but these days it’s not really something I put too much effort into. My kids would rather pull Star Wars prepackaged stickers off the shelves than have me make them something, and February is such a busy month, I’m happy to take the easy road on this one! But back in the day, I loved making special Valentine’s for my kids to share and trade with friends.

Easy DIY Photo Valentines

Remember these great Valentines from a few years back (when my kids loved the idea of homemade Valentines…ahhh the good ole’ days)? My friend Nicole of Petit Soul put them together for me, and the idea was a huge hit! Nicole had a chalkboard wall in her house, and we had Lucy write a Valentine’s Day note on it, then took photos of the kids in front. We had Lucy stand with her hands together, so we could punch holes and add in a lollipop as a little treat. Nicole also added a little extra flair in Photoshop, like the cute heart glasses. I then printed them out in color on heavy cardstock, cut, punched a few holes and voila!

Easy DIY Photo Valentines

Whether you’re a maker or a Target sale section shopper (I’ve been both, and they are both fabulous), I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Any day that celebrates the action of the love and the people we love is a-okay in my book!

Light Fort

Beating the Winter Blues : Family Activities for When You’re Snowed In

It’s a kid’s favorite words in the English language…and yet it strikes fear in the hearts of parents. SNOW DAY. While having a day to lounge around and play in the snow can be fun for a while, cabin fever can quickly set in! So here is a quick list of fun (and EASY) ideas for your family to keep your days stuck inside a little less whiny and a lot more entertaining!

(View my segment on this topic on the Better Kansas City show at the bottom of this post!)

1. Make Snow Ice Cream – Mix snow, vanilla and sugar to taste, then add milk to desired consistency. You can also add food coloring, sprinkles or other toppings for an extra special treat!

2. Create A Snow Day Game – Take activities/chores and draw up a game board! Once kids have completed the game, have prizes at the ready. This idea came from my friend (and fellow Kansas City Moms Blog contributor) Helen, who’s husband created the game after 4+ snow days off school! You can learn more about it via Helen’s blog!

3. New Classics Movie Marathon – Make popcorn and pull out some classic flicks to share from your childhood. Some ideas include: Hook, Back to the Future, Pollyanna, Babe, Mrs. Doubtfire, the original Star Wars…

Light Fort

4. Make a DIY Light Fort or Tunnel – Take a large old box, punch holes in the top with a screwdriver, and then stick Christmas lights through the holes. You can set up an entire box, or cut a box top so you can use the lights in any kind of fort made in your home!

5. Film Your Own Movies Using an iPad/iPhone and iMovie – This is a great way for older and younger children to work together…you can assign roles such as director and actors. Create a live action film, or do stop motion video using Legos or stuffed animals. Add music, make a movie trailer and put it all together to present to the whole family in a fancy premiere!

Better Kansas City Segment – Winter Activities to Keep Everyone Busy

ivivva kansas city sweat ride

ivivva Sweat Ride 2016

Raising a young girl these days is no picnic, you guys. I love my Lucy something fierce, but there are so many challenges, especially as we inch closer and closer to the preteen years. Actually, in my opinion, we are already there! My girl will be ten in a few short months, and we’ve begun the conversations about changes in her body and mind over the next few years. It’s honestly a scary time…I remember so many formative things that happened to me over the years between 4th and 8th grade, and I’m not sure how to navigate it all as a parent on the other side of the story.

That’s why I was so excited when ivivva contacted me and invited Lucy and I to participate in their 2016 Sweat Ride. ivivva is a company that is inspired by active girls. They design beautiful athletic wear and provide experiences that connect girls through movement. ivivva (which was created by lululemon) encourages girls to be adventurous, compassionate and brave, and promotes community support to help girls reach their goals.

The team from ivivva Kansas City took 70+ girls on a bus tour of several fitness locations around Kansas City. The girls started at Fusion Fitness in Mission Farms, where they took a 30 minute cardio class to get their blood pumping.

ivivva kansas city sweat ride

We then hopped on the bus, where the music was blasting and the girls had a ball. DJ James Barr from Raise the Barr provided some high energy tunes to get the girls excited, and the entire bus participated in a fun game of “Would You Rather…” I was so impressed with this giving group of young ladies. When asked “would you rather…be a famous athlete or cure cancer?” the overwhelming answer (which could probably be heard outside the bus due to the force with which it was pronounced!) was to cure cancer.

The girls then headed into Pure Barre in Overland Park, where they participated in a full body barre workout. Many of the young ladies were dancers, and definitely were in their element at this beautiful studio. The low impact strength and stretching exercises were a hit among the crowd.

ivivva kansas city sweat ride

The crew hopped back on the bus, and in between sharing their fun on social media, the girls chatted about their lives. There were soccer players, dancers, basketball stars, artists and gymnasts, all excited to be spending the morning with their friends. Ages ranged from 10 to 14, and the group was lively as we headed to the last stop.

At our final destination, Yoga Six, the girls were escorted into a hot yoga room, where the emphasis was on breath and relaxation. After a morning of workouts, the girls were pretty excited to stretch out! The hot yoga room also felt pretty fantastic compared to the 15 degree Kansas City day outside! After all the high energy fun and chatter on the bus, it was really awesome to see the girls dig into the yoga practice and just be themselves.

ivivva kansas city sweat ride

After yoga, we all sat in a circle and talked about setting goals for the new year. The ivivva team led the girls in a goal setting exercise, where they took a big goal and broke it down in to a manageable and measurable goal for the next few months. While some of the goals focused on athletics, like scoring more goals this season in soccer, others focused on life lessons, like working toward gaining more confidence or being there for friends. My Lucy, who started ice skating a few months ago and just loves it, decided to work toward passing her next ice skating levels by the end of this class session.

ivivva kansas city sweat ride

I was so inspired by this fun, active day with such a lovely group of young ladies. The best part was watching how the girls supported and lifted each other up, encouraging their old and new friends as they worked together. When you’re a young girl, learning how to be connected and raise your sisters up is a life skill that will not only benefit you, but the world around you as you grow up. I am so grateful I was able to be a witness to it!

This post was sponsored by ivivva, but all throughts and options are my own. ivivva sparks and connects a global community of brave, compassionate and adventurous girls – to get involved, support each other and impact the world around them in their own unique way. Learn more and sign up for future community events at ivivva.com! Group photo by Vanessa Calcara.

MLK Darkness and Stars

Darkness and Stars : Ways to Serve With Kids

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about service and how to be a helper in your community. We love spending our day off doing what we can to help others, no matter how old or young we are. Here are a few ways we like to serve others on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and every other day of the year!

MLK Darkness and Stars

1. Clean Up the Local School Playground –
Grab some trash bags and gloves and spend 30 minutes to an hour picking up any loose trash that might be laying around. Make a game out of it and see who can pick up the most!

2. Go Through Your Gently Used Winter Coats, Boots and Gear and Gather Items to Donate – We like to give ours to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City or to the Willow Domestic Violence Center.

3. Volunteer Together – Some of our favorite places to volunteer as a family are Harvesters of Kansas City and the KC Pet Project!

4. Take Dinner to Someone in Need –
Do you have a friend who has a new baby? Or maybe an elderly family member who is a bit lonely? Have your kids help make a nice dinner and drop it off together. I also like to have my kids draw pictures as gifts to go along with the meal.

5. Happy Chalk – When the weather is a bit warmer, we like to take sidewalk chalk and decorate the neighborhood with kind words of encouragement. Imagine being on a walk and looking down to see a happy note saying, “You are loved!” staring back at you. It’s pretty fun!

How do you serve your community as a family? I’d love to hear your ideas and add some new acts of kindness to our repertoire.

Christmas 2015

2015 Holiday Recap : The Quarantine Christmas

Well looky here…it’s the new year! I took a much-needed break from blogging over the holiday, and it turned out to be a pretty good choice. I wish I could say I unplugged completely, but I’m definitely not perfect and still sneaked in some work here and there. This holiday didn’t go exactly as planned, and I’m so grateful I have a flexible job where I can dedicate time to different outlets when needed. Over the holiday we had a bit of a quarantine situation going on…and it wasn’t pretty! We had (in no particular order) pink eye, the flu, a croup-type cough, an ear infection and head lice. Yep, it was a doozy! I was fairly lucky to be free of all of these ailments so that I could spend my time and energy helping my people heal, but of course today I woke up with a massive sinus issue, so I think my body has finally decided it’s my turn!

Christmas 2015

Due to all the illnesses floating around, we had a pretty low-key holiday. We were legitimately under a doctor-ordered quarantine until Christmas Day, and the kids were pretty bummed we had to cancel Christmas activities with our extended family. Luckily, by the 26th everyone was feeling much better (and we were no longer contagious) so we were able to celebrate a little late. And honestly, as much as it stinks being stuck at home, it was kind of nice snuggling in for a simple, quiet holiday. Though I wouldn’t wish the amount of laundry and cleaning that comes with head lice on ANYONE. Holy wow.

Christmas 2015

I made about a zillion baked treats over the break, planning to take them to Christmas celebrations with the family. Since we were unable to attend most of them, the kids and I ended up delivering bags of sugar cookies and tins of cinnamon rolls to our local fire stations and police stations, to thank them for working over the holiday. It wasn’t our original plan, but it turned out to be a great way to give back and make the best out of a crappy situation. Lucy even chased our trash collector down the street to deliver him a bag of cookies, which is absolutely one of my top 10 holiday memories!

The kids head back to school tomorrow and Wednesday, and I can’t wait to get back in to a regular routine. As per our silly family tradition, we keep our Christmas decorations up until Three Kings Day (just like when I was growing up) so we still have a few more days of twinkle lights ahead of us. And while I should probably be excited to put away Christmas until next year, I think a few more days of twinkle lights is probably the best medicine for a quarantined Christmas.

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