LEARNING STATION-SIMPLE HACKS TO MAXIMIZE FUNCTION

I am a BIG fan of maximizing our living area and finding the most function in a tiniest spaces.

I’ve shared with you my toddler art station already:

Toddler Art Station

Now I am sharing with you my Learning Station! I call it a Learning Station because you can never be too old OR too young to learn. I’m in absolute love with this desk area because it is so versatile. I can use it for so many things from blogging to crafting, and it is a place where I can lead educational activities for my kiddo too!

I had been searching long and hard for just the right desk for the area. As we are limited on space, I decided the best place (the only place) for a desk was the hallway. As a result, I needed to find a narrow one.

I found a lot of great desks online, but as luck would have it, this gem appeared on a mom group bidding site I belong to, and I snatched it right up. Steal of a deal! It was a dark brown when I bought it, but I repainted it to white because for my personal aesthetic I feel better when things are light and bright.

Next came the task of making it as functional as possible. My goal was to create a suitable space for a not only a blogger and DIYer, but a creative and busy two year old as well. I started with a basket. It is a perfect home to all those miscellaneous items that end up at your desk. Things that are needed, just not at all times: paper clips, highlighters, post it notes, etc. It also doubles as a platform for my computer which, in the long run, will save my neck and posture. To finish it off, I added some flowers to bring a little life to it, but also to hide the chaos within!

                     

My pen/book planter is actually a decorative shelf turned upside down. It neatly keeps things away from my work space, and I love that, just like the basket, it can be easily moved to create a larger surface.

                     

Borrowing from my art station hack, I covered the top with a layer of white erase adhesive paper. I cannot encourage this enough for a desk! It is not only perfect for  notes and to do lists, but it is a great place for hang man and tic tac toe.

                     

On the wall I have both a white erase weekly and monthly calendar. It is great to organize your thoughts, and every successful person I have talked to has said how important it is to write down your goals–or promises as my mentor would say–to stay focused and on track. Deadlines and planning easily accessible to better manage your time. I have also attached a little inspiration, and have the means to display either photos or my daughter’s artwork.

To fill the space beside my desk, I found this awesome organizer. I love it because each drawer clips closed which eliminates the loss of what’s inside. I call this my daughter’s “busy tower” because each drawer houses an educational activity I know she will love.

                     

At the end of the day, you’re going to increase productivity the better you feel. It’s important to find the right desk for your needs. Things need to be accessible, but the clutter needs to be managed. Limit the distractions. Make it comfortable. Find ways to showcase accomplishments because you should be taking pride in your work. Be creative, think outside the box, and design a space that’s right for you.

Hopefully you found some tips and tricks to increase productivity and truly enable that love of learning!

If you’ve loved my look, but don’t have time to drive around hunting for those “just right” items, I highly recommend Wayfair. Similar items to all that I have shown you, shipped straight to your door!

XoXo

PERFECT GIFTS FOR DAD THIS FATHER’S DAY

Father’s Day is nearing. It’s a day we get to celebrate the awesome men in our children’s lives. It’s a day set aside to appreciate the amazing contributions they make, and most importantly, a day to be together as a family.

I love these types of holidays. I don’t know about you, but our every day life is hectic. It’s busy, and sometimes emotions are heightened. Things are taken for granted, and appreciation is not always conveyed. While obviously it is important to humble ourselves and spend days where we cherish and value each other more than once a year on a specific date, I will say, I love these types of days.

Trust me when I say I am aware of how lucky my child and I are to have such an amazing man in our lives. There are too many absent parents in this world, that having presence is by far the best present my husband, my daughter’s father, could give us.

So of course, I am going to celebrate him. The day is spent saying to hell with our everyday normal and simply enjoying each other’s company and making memories. It usually starts with a well deserved sleep in, a yummy breakfast, the day together (usually outside), and a relaxing evening after the babe goes down playing board games or snuggling to a movie he loves.

Father’s Day to me is not a day for fancy gifts. Birthdays, yes, but father’s day is definitely a time for a more sentimental approach to gift giving. To me, it’s an opportunity to mark the day, time and place much like a time capsule. Handprints, photos, things you love about dad are all ways to create a memory frozen in time.

If you’re looking for some last minute options, here are some of our past gifts for Dad.

1- DADDY picture frame

Looking for a last minute gift that is sure to hit your child’s father right in the feels? Using pictures to make a word or sentence will definitely tug at his strings. The great thing about this is that you probably have every picture you’ll need already on your phone to make this memory frame a reality.

At the time of my hubby’s first Father’s Day, our daughter was about 2 months old. Writing the word Daddy in photos was really neat because it was sort of a road map through our first weeks as a family of 3. He was over the moon and let me tell you, this proud papa could not wait to hang it up for all to see.

2- Make your own picture book

Sample title: I love my Daddy, Happy Father’s Day
Sample caption: My Daddy sure does work hard to provide for me and mom, and when he gets home he kisses me and sings his special Daddy song
Sample Caption: You’re the best Daddy it’s true, it’s true and I just love spending time with you! So today of all days I just wanted to say, how much I love you and happy Father’s Day!

To commemorate my husband’s first Father’s Day I did want to buy something special for him. I decided on a watch to mark the special occasion, but I wanted to make a reason for it to represent the day. In searching Pinterest, I found the phrase “I love spending time with you” and it clicked! I wrote a small poem of things our girl loves about her daddy and found correlating photos. I then assembled them into a cute picture book with the last page being a photo of her holding the watch with the caption I just love spending time with you. After reading it, he opened the watch and was too thrilled for words. Although he loves the watch and in his words “enjoys wearing her heart on his sleeve”, the individualized picture book was definitely the big hit of the day.

3- For the time crunched Momma

Last year’s Father’s Day was a little crazy for us. Being between homes after living separately for 2 ½ months due to a relocation, Father’s Day crept up far too quickly for this mom to get creatively crafty. Enter a store bought gift. As irritated as I am sometimes that my favorite bookstore now carries an abundance of children’s toys, particularly when I am there with my kiddo attempting to treat her to a new book, I’ll admit they are my go to location when it comes to a good last minute gift.

4- A sign he’ll LOVE!

Another time crunched creation. For this, I used an old piece of wood we had laying around from our renovation. I stained it using Minwax Jacobean stain that I had leftover from the renovation as well. This is a super simple addition to any décor, and will leave a smile on his face every time he sees it.

5- Personalized plates

I don’t know about the men in your life, but ours love to BBQ. This grilling plate is perfect for any man in your life. As a bonus, all the materials can be found at your local Dollar Store.

To make, dilute some yellow, orange and red acrylic paint with water to make it less thick. Stamp the hands on the plate and let dry for 24 hours to avoid cracking. Draw in the grill using oil based Sharpies and let dry. Bake for approximately 30 minutes in the oven at 300 degrees Celsius. Careful not to over bake as the color may turn. Recommended Hand Wash Only.

Sentimental gifts are nice, but remember, the most important present your child can give their father is, in fact, their presence. Enjoy the day together!

MAGICAL MOMENTS WITH YOUR TODDLER

I don’t think I can truly express how much I love Disney. I mean, I seriously LOVE Disney! I’m one of those people that despite the realities of life, I still believe in fairytales and happily ever afters. Becoming a mom I went from Princess to Queen and while there is a ton more responsibility that comes with the new title, I was glad to pass the tiara down to my beautiful little pea!

Working with children, I see how quickly kids grow up. Thinking back to the stupid naïve kid I was at 10 years old playing with Beanie Babies in the tree in the play yard during recess, it saddens me to see how much trends have changed and how quickly kids are ready to grow up now a days. After all, they are preteens NOT kids anymore. Seriously, when did that happen?!

Knowing that the years are fleeting, you know, since I blinked and woke up with a toddler, I’ve decided I am going to do everything I can to keep that magical sparkle burning bright in my child’s innocent eyes.

1- Photo shoots: I LOVE taking photos of my kiddo. It is actually one of my favorite pastimes. While the majority of them are natural and of her playing in a field, or exploring the sand on the beach, every now and again I like to capture a little whimsy and set up an actual staged photo shoot. Like I said, I am a massive fan of Disney, so of course I needed some accent pictures with beautiful quotes to compliment my little girl’s garden princess room, and what better theme to choose than the magic of a Disney Princess!

Costumes are easy enough to find, the props are a little trickier. I’ve been planning my princess scenes in line with the seasons. Cinderella is easy to capture around Halloween thanks to the magic pumpkins you will be able to transform into little carriages. Elsa is best to do in the winter where, depending on where you live, you can use the snow to capture your scene. Ariel is best to keep for summer and Belle gives more of an autumn feeling.

Whatever direction or theme you choose for your photos, make sure to have fun with it.

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Cinderella Disney Toddler Photoshoot

2- Tea Parties: Fall down the rabbit hole on a Sunday afternoon with a beautiful tea party complete with mad hatter treats and unbirthday merriment. Right now, there is nothing my kid loves more than stirring her teacup with a teeny tiny spoon, so I decided to have a little fun and spruce up a daily activity.

I started by adding lots of color to my table with a fun tablecloth and flowers. Next, I made a few special treats for our party. Cheshire smile cookies and berries with a sign saying eat me. In addition to her play teapots, I went to my favorite store (Home Sense of course!) and picked up a cute, and cheap colorful tea set.

Yes, things like this take a little planning, but I am all about making those amazing memories with my kid and engaging in special moments. Weekdays are chaotic and usually run on a routine. Whimsical weekend activities are my reminder to stop and smell the freshly painted roses instead of rushing around because we are once again running late.

3- Dress up: This is the perfect activity to really create a foundation for creativity and imagination. Dressing up and playing make belief creates a sense of positive expression. While it’s easy to simply view dress up as another form of play, it gets children thinking about how a princess would act, or a doctor, or a cowboy, or a police officer which begins to create an understanding of community.

Also, contrary to societal views, there is absolutely no rules stating that girls can only wear dresses and that boys cannot. While I love, love, love seeing my girl twirl like Cinderella, princess dresses are not the only options in her dress up corner. The other day I walked in to find my daughter coloring in her car costume while wearing a tiara, which made me fall in love with her more and more. She likes what she likes, she feels how she feels, and I love those moments when her personality shines.

Halloween is a great time to pick up some fun costumes and accessories to add to your dress up corner. I have gotten some killer deals in the past thanks to clearance sections and after Halloween sales, but make sure you have a designated place for all the great things you will be bringing home. In my delusional days, I thought it would be great to have her costumes hanging next to a mirror…I was younger and more naïve back then. Sure, maybe when she’s older I’ll be able to have the Pinterest worthy dress up corner, but for now I am happy with my dress up trunk and a few baskets to manage the accessories. After all, if it was good enough for Mr. Dressup, it’s good enough for me!

4-Bubble Dancing: Is there anything as enchanting as bubbles? Seriously, I love everything about bubbles. From the bubbles in my bath, to the bubbles drifting through the air, to the well deserved bubbles dancing around my flute of champagne after a very long, and tiring no nap day. And if I, a twenty-seven year old, feel that happy around a bubble, think of how magical they are for that sweet little toddler of yours.

Kids love new textures and experiences. Bubbles are around us daily. You have endless opportunities to strap on your ruby slippers and float through Oz with Glinda the good witch; all you need is a little creativity. For instance, bubble wrap. Think of the satisfaction everyone feels in popping those tiny bubbles of plastic. Why not try strapping them to your feet and walking around like a dinosaur? Or even simpler, blow bubbles in your milk and listen for the belly laughter that will inevitably follow from your curious toddler.

The world is a messy place; a little bit of suds and magic can go a long way!

5- Disney adventures: Okay, okay, I know this is not as realistic as the other activities in this post, but I CANNOT WAIT to take my kid to Disney for the first time. I am fortunate to live close enough to California that I will not have to sell a kidney to make it to Disney before I’m seventy-five. We have been planning our first trip ever since the strip turned blue and I am so thrilled that it will be a reality soon. Check back for all the tips and tricks I’ve learned when it comes to planning your Disney adventure; post is coming soon to the blog!

Anyways, getting back on track If Disneyland or Disney World is not feasible for your family at this time, no worries; there are TONS of Disney adventures to be had. Really, even going to see a movie in a theater is a pretty awesome thing for a kid. Add a costume and a fun sing along car ride and you’re golden! Another option is to hit up a Disney On Ice show if you are lucky enough to live in a city they tour to. Growing up, my birthday present every year was attending a D.O.I show and it was always so, so magical. I got to wear my Minnie ears and stay out past my bedtime. Not only is it a fun (and cheaper) alternative, it is also such a fun tradition. I’ll be honest, being twenty-seven, I still can’t wait for the show to come to town.

At the end of the day, there are countless ways to bring the magic of Disney into your household. Kids have a habit of growing up too fast, especially in a day and age where technology is such a dominant part of our daily lives. As difficult as it may be, I am determined to keep my little princess believing in fairytales and dreaming about fairies and pixie dust as long as possible.

While kids are destined to grow up, take a night to get a little lost in Neverland, shall we?

XoXo

Mama Lost Boy