Preschool & Toddler Amazon Finds during Quarantine

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We have been home for three weeks now. One of our favorite past times, Thrift Shopping… we aren’t able to do! We are being responsible and social distancing. Dad gets groceries that mom can’t order from Target Pickup, the shop club we are members of, or Amazon Pantry. Dad still goes to work – for an agricultural company, with less than 10 people at his location. As of today he will be in a tractor by himself for a few weeks if the weather cooperates. Mom stays home with both girls except for the occasional trip to town for drive thru ice cream at DQ (owned by one of our preschool friend’s family). We also bought mulch for the flower beds by calling the store and paying over the phone. They then sent someone out to load it for us. How awesome! No contact with anyone.

ANYWAY, that’s how we are doing our part to social distance. Back to the point of this post… Thrift shops are closed and no garage sales, So…. to Amazon mommy goes.

Here is a round up of our favorite items lately!

The current staple in our household is this fold up play yard. MUST HAVE! It folds up like those lawn chairs that fit into bags. Super handy! This will be going to softball games, camping, outside while I’m gardening… everywhere with us this summer. There are two different options, you can purchase it with or without the shade, or buy the shade later if you decide you need it. Since I have red hair, I know our fair skinned babies will need the shade. 🙂 I do not have the shade yet, but its on the list to buy soon!

Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Portable Playard – Here is the one in the photo ( no shade).

They also have one that comes with a shade. Summer Pop ‘n Play SE Hex Playard, 6-Sided, Sweet Life Edition, Aqua Sugar Color – Full Coverage Play Pen for Indoor and Outdoor Use – Fast, Easy and Compact Fold

Today I put mulch on our flower beds. Our preschooler helped me, and the baby was in the play-yard on the porch right where I could see her, and she was still in the shade. Perfect for now! Soon, I will be ordering the shade to go on ours if she doesn’t get it for a birthday present next month 🙂 I can’t believe she is going to be one soon! Time sure does fly.

Shade sold separately here: Summer Pop ‘n Play Full Coverage Canopy for Playard, Grey – Lightweight Play Pen Canopy, Blocks 98% of Harmful UVA/UVB Rays, Compatible with Summer Pop ‘n Play Playards (Not Included)

In the photo:
Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Portable Playard
he First Years John Deere Massaging Corn Teether
Baby Touch and Feel: Tractor book
LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket (Frustration Free Packaging), Pink
Oball Rainstick Rattle ball

This morning the UPS man brought this awesome toy – perfect for indoor and outdoor use both! It was a “Deal of the Day” last week for $12! How fun! It came with 4 animals, washable markers and a bathtub that pumps water when you press the button. The idea is to color the animals then give them a bath, let them dry, and do it all over again! This kept my preschooler busy for 2.5 hours today! WIN!

Here is the one pictured below, but I’m going to include some others like it below as well. Crayola Scribble Scrubbie Pets Scrub Tub Animal Toy Set, Kids Indoor Activities At Home, Gift Age 3+

Other similar options:

Crayola Scribble Scrubbie Pets – Cats [Fiona and Missy]

Crayola Scribble Scrubbie Pets, Vet Toy Playset with Toy Pets, Gift for Kids

Crayola Scribble Scrubbie Pets – Dogs [Wilbur and Figaro]

Two weeks ago a family member gifted us an awesome game that we all loved playing. Its called “How does Your Garden Grow?” It works on colors, counting, strategy, and taking turns (this is what we need to work on most, haha!). We loved playing! It also allows for open teaching, what I love to do… such as the “Helper” cards show lady bugs, worms, and bees. This gives me the opportunity to each our kids more about these beneficial animals in our garden. I majored in agriculture and horticulture at Iowa State University, so you bet my kids will know all about farming and gardening! My other passions along with thrifting. <3 🙂 It also has “pest” cards – raccoons, moles, and rabbits. Our preschooler just giggles and giggles every time she draws a pest card. Such a fun game! How Does Your Garden Grow?

Do you have any fun new Amazon finds? Tell me about them in the comments below!

Did you know Amazon is giving out $3 Amazon Digital credit for No Rush Shipping? Such a good option to help the company get out necessary items quicker and give us a free family movie night!

Until next time!


How to Help Your Community, While Social Distancing

Spring time is here, yet so is COVID-19.

Here are some of the ways our family has been able to beat the blues… getting some time outside while helping out our community. Use these ideas or come up with your own. I think this time is great to teach our children more unique life experiences that may not have the opportunity to be included in school lessons.

Please remember to follow the laws and orders in place in your area. Stay safe! Don’t forget to wash your hands!

  • Clean up leaves and old plant debris out of flowerbeds.
  • Remove leaves from around gravestones.
  • Do you know of someone with gravel in their yard that may have escaped into their grass where it doesn’t belong?

Have an elderly neighbor with flowerbeds that need cleaned? What about a cemetery, nursing home, veteran’s home, fire station, police station, hospice house? Could you help them by cleaning up their flower beds?

  • Raking leaves?
  • Pulling weeds?

This is a great opportunity to talk with your children about what these places are for. You can now ask our preschooler about cemeteries and she will tell you what they are for, how we respect them, and how we can keep them looking nice to pay respects to those gone before us. I look forward to this being a yearly tradition with our children.

  • Pick up garbage.

When you stop to look, its ridiculous how much garbage you can find in your community.

  • Lend a helping hand to nature.

Grab a pair of gloves, some garbage bags & head out to clean up your roads, public parks, playgrounds, wildlife areas, cemeteries, parking lots, school yards… the list is endless. A great time to teach your children how to care for the earth, not to litter, and notice the damage it does to our environment.

  • Bake something special for someone.
  • Donate extra items or unused items to someone in need.

Celebrate the difference you have made!

Comment with your ideas. What have you done to make a difference in your community during this pandemic?

Our preschooler and I picking up trash at a local county conservation park in our area. She was so excited to explore nature and made a game of spotting the garbage in the weeds. She was so happy and couldn’t believe we picked up so much garbage. She has the kindest heart.

DIY Succulent Wedding Centerpieces

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I have always loved plants, being an agronomy and horticulture major in college… growing up on a farm… gardening… I just love the outdoors in general. My house is always full of house plants, so naturally I wanted to have live plants as decorations at our wedding. Milk glass has been very popular recently, and selling for good amounts online. You know that’s not where I got it though.
For a few months, I would pickup a few pieces here and there while at different thrift shops. Once we decided on green as an accent color for our wedding, it was fun to find some beautiful glass with green in it also! And how fun, we got married in March – so green was a no-brainer!

The most I spent on a single piece of glass or a vase was $2. Most of these I purchased for $0.50 – $1. Toward the end of our wedding reception we walked around to our guests and thanked them for sharing the evening with us & invited them to take one home. They were great wedding favors and guests were surprised that those were our favors. They were special, unique favors that would match just about anyone’s decor at home!

It has been fun a year later to see who has kept their succulent alive 😉 Happy Anniversary month babe!

Your tables can be gorgeous and done on a budget, sometimes you just have to use a little imagination, and some good thrift finding skills!

How to make your own succulent centerpieces

First I gathered up all of the “pots” that I wanted to use. I washed them with some gentle dish soap to clean the dust off of them and get them ready to house some cute little succulents!

I then used a measuring cup, just for ease of scooping… to scoop some succulent friendly soil into the pots. I used Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Mix, 8-Quart (2 Pack). This potting soil is great for succulents and cactus plants both. How cute would cacti be for wedding centerpieces! Someone please do that and send me photos!

This is my favorite part – picking which plants go into which pots. The pack of succulents I got on Amazon had a ton of great reviews. I was skeptical about buying plants on Amazon, but for a March wedding, I couldn’t find them anywhere local here in Iowa. When the UPS man brought these to my door, I couldn’t open the box fast enough. They were gorgeous! I couldn’t have hoped for better looking plants. You can find them here: Shop Succulents | Assorted Collection of Live Succulent Plants, Hand Selected Variety Pack of Mini Succulents | Collection of 20

After I planted each one, it was time for water and fertilizer. I just used a “>simple spray bottle to give them a nice mist. You never want to over water succulents. I then followed the directions on the back of the fertilizer (Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food, 8 oz., For Succulents including Cacti, Jade, And Aloe, 1 Pack), and Viola! I hope this helps you envision how you could create your own live plant decorations for your wedding. Cactus, succulents, pansies, roses… there are all kinds of small plants that would be gorgeous to use as centerpieces or party favors. Happy planting!

DIY Outdoor Playground Music Wall

Most parents despise musical toys – you know, drum sets… maracas… kazoos. My husband isn’t a fan at all – I don’t mind them, but for both of our sanity – I decided one day we would create a fun outdoor music wall for my daughter to play with.

So, here it is. An outdoor music wall for your kids to bang on and make all the racket they want – outside!

To start off, you’ll need a base to attach everything to. We used a pallet type board, or a pallet crate lid. These can often be found at many stores for FREE in the dumpster. Don’t be afraid to ask… literally anywhere. There is always SOMEONE thankful to get rid of a pallet. If you like the look of ours, check out your nearest farm implement dealer and ask if they have any pallet crates they want rid of. You can paint it, stain it, seal it, or burn it with a torch like we did.

My husband is using a small propane torch to burn the wood. Just gives the wood a fun look, and he likes to play with fire!

Once you have an idea of the size of board you will be working with, it’s time to shop your kitchen, grandma’s kitchen, your great aunt’s kitchen, basements, Salvation Army, Goodwill, garage sales, you name it. Look for metal pans, cookie cutters, pie tins, bundt pans, anything that will make some NOISE! I found some metal lid holder racks, metal mixing spoons, whisks, all kinds of things. I thought we would use the spoons, whisks, etc as the “drumsticks.”

Get creative. Use a baby rattle, cooking spatula, you could even take apart an old xylophone like we did here.

Lay everything out on the board to see how you like it, where you’d want it placed, and how it will all fit together. I had fun lining similar things up in order of size. Now you will have to use some caution attaching your items to your board. I knew I needed husband to help with this task. He used some nails, screws, and hooks we had laying in our junk drawer. I’m sure you have one of those too. You can see the metal spoon, strainer, and cookie cutter laying on the cement. Those are some of the “drumsticks” we got to bang on the board with – can’t wait to create some awesome music!


Now the next time your kids have the urge to be loud, send them outside and have at it!