DIY US Map Puzzle

Make your own game with this free puzzle pattern of the United States! Use foam to create a game you can use and re-use.

Make your own game with this free puzzle pattern of the United States! Use foam to create a game you can use and re-use.

This post is sponsored by Cricut, but the opinions and ideas are all my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support Pars Caeli!

Some of my best parties have been the ones where I've planned games for every generation to enjoy! And this fourth of July I'm continuing the success with this fun puzzle activity for guests to take on together.

Create your own map of the U.S.! Use Cricut foam and this free pattern.

Create your own map of the U.S.! Use Cricut foam and this free pattern.

We decided to make ours from foam to give it the weight of a real puzzle, and we added in our patriotic colors to add to the fun. 

Supplies:

Upload the US Map puzzle file to the Cricut Design Space as a vector file. This will create multiple pages of boards with states on them. If you'd like to use less foam (or less colors), you can ungroup the image and consolidate your states onto less sheets.

Replace the normal cutting blade with the deep cut blade. This is super simple: open the latch, release the blade cartridge, press down on the top button to release blade, and insert the new blade. Place the foam on the heavy grip matte. When you select your material on your Cricut Explore, be sure to set the dial to custom, and then on the app, select foam. Also, did you know that the Cricut Explore has a new app for your Iphone? Yup, you can design from anywhere.

Once you've cut all of the pieces from the foam, carefully remove the states from each piece. The Cricut Explore can cut even the smallest states so be careful as you remove them from the larger piece to make sure you capture all the details!

Get the whole crowd involved in this fun foam map puzzle that you can create! Bring the family together as you build our nation. Pinning this for 4th of July parties!

Get the whole crowd involved in this fun foam map puzzle that you can create! Bring the family together as you build our nation. Pinning this for 4th of July parties!

Are you ready to win a Cricut prize pack? Head on over to the Facebook page and click on the Summer Love Tab. Here are the details on the giveaway:

Until Friday, July 3, 2015 , submit through the online Facebook form your answer to this question: Where will you create and/or use the Cricut Design Space™ app for iPhone® this summer? Complete entry details will be available by 9:00 AM MDT June 29, 2015, on the Official Cricut Facebook page. Entrants’ answers must be submitted through the form on the Official Cricut Facebook to be considered, and meet criteria listed in Selection of First Prizes section below.

  • One (1) Weekly Winner will receive: One (1) Cricut Explore One™ Machine, a Brights Cricut® Vinyl Sampler Pack, Cricut® Transfer Tape, a Cricut® Tools Weeder, a Cricut® Material Sample Package (contents will vary) and a $100 gift card from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. (Approximate Retail Value: $427.96 USD)
  •  Selection of weekly winners:  A panel of judges will select the top three entries per week from among all eligible entries received.  The top three entries will then be sent to a panel of judges who are bloggers (that’s me) to pick one winner per week based.  The entries will be chosen by each panel of judges based on the following judging criteria:
    • Originality of submitted item
    • Creative use of daily themes (as specified above)
    • Educational value
    • Demonstrates new possibilities for use of Cricut® products
    • *If you will submit a supplement photo through Instagram, you must follow @OfficialCricut on Instagram, use tags of @ OfficialCricut and #CricutSummer and provide your Instagram handle in your entry form on the Facebook page so that Sponsor can match the photo to the entry. A photo is not required to enter or win.

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Crayon Scratch Off Fireworks

Do you remember making crayon scratch offs as a child? Enjoy the same fun with your children with firework art.

Do you remember making crayon scratch offs as a child? Enjoy the same fun with your children with firework art.

Crayon scratch off art is a fun project that shows off the bright colors that lie just below the dark, top layer. The contrast of the bright and dark make a great backdrop for firework art!

Did you make these as a child? I remember pressing so hard against a piece of white paper with my crayons, covering every last bit of white space. And then grabbing the black crayon to cover over it all. 

For this firework art, you'll need:

  • Posterboard or heavy paper
  • Crayons or oil pastels
  • Black tempera or acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • A scratching tool like broken tip pencil or dull pen

Begin by covering your entire paper with color. We wanted to create a firework sky perfect for the fourth of July so we made a spiral of blue and red. Be sure to go all the way to the edges.

PC_crayonscratchoff_firework.jpg

Next, paint on an even coat of the black. Let it dry completely. To be sure that the black is a solid, deep tone, add on another coat of black paint and let it dry. This whole process took less than an hour.

Once dry, take your scraping tool and draw fireworks of various shapes and sizes. Be sure to leave enough black on the paper to illustrate the night sky. Add in bits of sparkle and stars that shine through the shapes that you create.

Keep in mind that sometimes the paint will require a few strokes to remove completely. And some will remain on the poster board, making a scattered fizzle like we all love in our favorite fireworks!

These would be a great craft to set up for the kids at your July 4th celebrations! Fireworks before it even gets dark!

XOXO, MJ

P.S. If you're joining in the 18 Summers Challenge, and making the most out of this summer with your children, join us tomorrow as we make some marbelized paper from shaving cream and food coloring.

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How big is the solar system?

Create a scale model of the universe in your own backyard by pacing off the planets! A great lesson with other fabulous planetary resources.

Create a scale model of the universe in your own backyard by pacing off the planets! A great lesson with other fabulous planetary resources.

You are out of this world! And just how far is that? Our universe is so vast it's almost incomprehensible. Almost!!

Today we're shrinking the universe to fit in your backyard or local park. Using balls and your footsteps, you can explore the distances between planets and the sun. We found this great idea from here on how to imagine the vastness of the universe. We paired the Planet Roll Call chant we found from Scholastic (check out their resource page), and finally, we watched over and over this animated song with fun facts about the solar system. How did I not know that Venus rotates the opposite direction of earth?

Here's what you need to travel with us:

  • The printable above! It has the steps you need to take to walk the distances, learn quick facts about each planet, and colorfully label the 8 planets and the sun
  • 9 balls. If possible, find balls that would be similar to the sizes of the planets. The sun becomes the largest, Jupiter and Saturn should be the next two largest, and the rest get smaller from there, with Mercury as the smallest.
Create a scale model of the universe in your own backyard by pacing off the planets! A great lesson with other fabulous planetary resources.

Create a scale model of the universe in your own backyard by pacing off the planets! A great lesson with other fabulous planetary resources.

Here's our labeling process mid-way through. If you're motivated, you can recreate each ball to look like the planets. For this exercise, we wanted to keep things simple so we taped the names to each of the nine balls.

Beginning with the sun and taking steps from there, we put the planets in order. As a fun example, I asked C to put her finger next to our model earth. This distance across one finger is the relative distance to the moon.

Imagine that's the furthest that any human has traveled thus far! Looking back from Neptune, it seemed almost an invisibly small fraction of the universe.

I found myself understanding the solar system in new ways, too! Thinking about how life might be possible on other planets due to their proximal nature to the sun, but also nearly impossible for many others because of the extreme distances of others.

Also, the sun is our closest star, and the next closest star, Alpha Centauri, is another 200 miles in steps, even in our scaled model. Amazing!! And lots of whoas from the kids.

Our planet exploration was a wonderful reminder of the vastness of the universe and our relatively tiny spot within it.

Give this unusual walk a try and see how much you can discover about the expansive nature of the solar system!

xoxo, MJ

P.S. We're moving onto a study of the night sky through the story of constellations tomorrow! You'll need a corkboard, string/yarn, and some pins/pushpins.

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DIY Iron-on Pillow

This post is sponsored by AllModern. Thanks for supporting the companies that support Pars Caeli!

Make a pillow even cuter with an iron-on message! This quick, easy process is a fun way to personalize.

Make a pillow even cuter with an iron-on message! This quick, easy process is a fun way to personalize.

Remember the fabulous 5 Ways to DIY? It's back, and even more awesome than ever. We have taken on pillows with some really wonderful results, and we want to inspire you to try them for yourself with a $250 giveaway from AllModern. How awesome is that?!

The team this challenge includes the fabulous ladies behind Delineate Your Dwelling, Sarah Hearts, Oleander and Palm, and A Bubbly Life. We all ordered a solid colored pillow from AllModern. There were so many color options, and this pillow also has a really well made hidden zipper and removable cover.

What would you do with a beautiful, blank pillow canvas?

This pillow design is a handwritten note. Using my Wacom tablet, I designed the words in Illustrator. Once I had the letters looking as I wanted them to, I created a mirror image of the text for the iron-on sheeting.

I used my Cricut Explore to cut the letters out of the sparkly gold iron-on. You can also cut them out by hand, keeping in mind that they should be a mirror image to work correctly for this project.

Arrange the words on the pillow cover (removing the pillow insert) to make sure you have everything where you'd like them. Using the iron-on material, you simply use a hot iron (steam off) right on the letters for 15-20 sections to make sure that the image is secure!

Make a pillow even cuter with an iron-on message! This quick, easy process is a fun way to personalize.

Make a pillow even cuter with an iron-on message! This quick, easy process is a fun way to personalize.

I wanted to add some sweet words to mine! Don't gag from the gushy mushy sentiment, but in our early years of marriage, my husband would often sing the country song Good Morning, Beautiful to me. I know. He is charmingly overdone, as I like to say.

If you're not into sewing, why not try ironing on a fun message? Check out the DIY on Pars Caeli.

If you're not into sewing, why not try ironing on a fun message? Check out the DIY on Pars Caeli.

I love how the sweet message turned out, and our new pillow adds pizzazz to our master bedroom.

Want to give it a try?! Enter our giveaway below. You have a great chance to win $250 to shop at AllModern! All you have to do is tell us in comments what project we should do next for #5WaystoDIY. And follow the Rafflecopter for additional entries (I'd love to see you over on Instagram!!). Contest ends on June 29 and is open to U.S. and Canadian residents.

Get in on the goodness!! And thanks for following along.

xoxo, MJ

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Balloon Rockets

Watch how the force of air leaving a balloon can launch a rocket!

Watch how the force of air leaving a balloon can launch a rocket!

Balloons are always around our house, usually used for balloon volleyball, and today we're transforming them into rockets! Have you launched a balloon rocket before? It's a simple way to show cause and effect and a fun way to have races in the backyard (or in the living room on a rainy/snowy day).

Watch how the force of air leaving a balloon can launch a rocket!

Watch how the force of air leaving a balloon can launch a rocket!

To make your own you'll need, balloons, scissors, string, a straw, tape (we used packing tape to make sure our straw and balloon stayed together), and an image of rocket. We drew ours on some poster board. Any image you create or print will work just fine as long as it's not too heavy.

Select an elevated course to use: we decided to go from the post on our back deck which is three stairs off the ground down to the grass. If you're indoors, you can go from a cabinet handle or a railing to the floor. With the rope, I tied one end around a deck post. On the other end I threaded half of a straw through until it reached back up top to the post. That straw piece is your rocket launcher and keeps your balloon from swirling and twirling all over the place.

Grab a helper or secure the lower end of the rope. My son was all about assisting on this one! Next, blow up the balloon. Blow it all the way up and hold the end tight. Do not tie it off.

While keeping it securely closed with your hand, add the rocket to the top with tape. We rolled some tape on the back of the rocket beforehand so it was easy to do quickly. Put tape around the straw as well so that it attaches well to the balloon. We lost a few rockets when the balloons became detached from the straws.

The best part of this activity for me was seeing his excited face at the other end of the line! "Come on, Mom, another rocket!!"

Make a dramatic countdown - 10. 9. 8.... And all at once, release your grip on the end of the balloon and let your rocket shoot out! Make sure your string is tight, your straw is straight, and your balloon is really full of air to get the most our your rocket launch!

Enjoy, enjoy!

XOXO, MJ

P.S. We're forming constellations tomorrow with pins, string, and a corkboard!

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Watercolor Resist Banner

The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

We've been out enjoying the weather as much as we can this week, but we've had a lot of rain mixed with warm temperatures so we had some great time indoors working on summer reading and this fun watercolor resist banner for Father's Day.

I'd seen some of the incredible posts that Jean from The Artful Parent has created with resists. We decided to give it a try, making our own letters from washi tape and then applying them to watercolor paper.

The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

The grand reveal of a resist technique make them a lot of fun for kid creations. Try this process to create a letter banner from washi tape and watercolors.

Any image or shape can be used. We decided to make our own letterforms to spell out Happy Father's Day. Using parchment paper as backing, we created the letters with tape. Once they were the shape we wanted (good practice for my 5-year old as he solidifies his formation of letters), we trimmed and embellished the edges to add some flair.

Next we stuck each letter to its own piece of watercolor paper. The children decided that they wanted each letter to be one color, and we practiced using the watercolor paints. It was a tough adjustment for some since our usual painting process involves putting a blob of paint on and smoothing it around. Watercolor is much more fluid, and the brushstrokes can be a lovely part of the finished product. We're still working on our technique.

In the meantime, we created a colorful banner, which was a lot of fun to peel and reveal. I holepunched the top corners of each letter, trimmed them into a slightly more angular shape, and tied them together for celebrating.

The kids were pretty proud to see their teamwork adding joy and color to our space, and they're ready to paint some more.

Have you tried watercolor resist before? With your children?

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're following along with the 18 Summers Challenge, we're making classic balloon rockets tomorrow. Join us!

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The Best Biggest Bubbles

These bubbles are amazing! A must-try for summer. Great for any age.

These bubbles are amazing! A must-try for summer. Great for any age.

Bubbles.

If they aren't the quintessential childhood amusement, they're pretty close. I've seen some fantastic images on Pinterest of these amazing giant bubbles, and I wanted to include some of these in our 18 Summers Challenge. There are a TON of great options for the perfect blend of liquids for the bubble solution as well as just the right wands to make. Our favorite is Valerie's, from Inner Child Fun. Head over to her site (and then come right back) to see the fabulous videos on how to make a great wand and the perfect bubble solution!

The best 30 minutes we've spent all summer - creating these bubble wands and magic solution from Inner Child Fun. You have to give these a whirl!

The best 30 minutes we've spent all summer - creating these bubble wands and magic solution from Inner Child Fun. You have to give these a whirl!

I sort of assumed that this kind of project was one that would either take a long time (nope) or not really work for little hands (totally wrong). And I know I say it a lot, but this is one you really do need to try. All three kiddos were loving bubble creation for almost an hour, and I was asking if I could please have a turn, too!

Use household string to measure one arm length and cut. Measure another for the entire wingspan. With the long string in hand, thread on a metal washer. Tie strings to eyehooks on dowel rods, and you're ready to roll!

Use household string to measure one arm length and cut. Measure another for the entire wingspan. With the long string in hand, thread on a metal washer. Tie strings to eyehooks on dowel rods, and you're ready to roll!

We took a trip to the hardware store to get all we needed:

  • One 3/8" dowel rod (I cut this in half with a steak knife because they are both thin and soft enough wood, and I was not ready to break out the power tools) So you have two wands from the one dowel.
  • Two small eye hooks (you can easily hand screw these in)
  • Household string
  • One metal washer
  • Scissors
  • Paint, markers, glitter to make the wands super fabulous

Screw one eye hook into one end of each dowel. Measure one arm span and cut the string. Measure the full arm span, and cut another string. Tie each end of the short string onto the eye hooks. Thread a metal washer through the long string and tie both ends into the eye hooks. The washer will slide freely on the string.

I told the kids they could decorate their wands, and they went hog wild! My oldest created an abstract bubble pattern on the ends of hers, and my youngest drew stripes up and down his. And my middle child spent an hour to create a fantastical rainbow set. Pretty beautiful stuff, even without the bubbles.

Once your bubble wands are made, your children are going to want to get right to making the bubbles! If possible, make the recipe below and let it sit out for a few hours. Bubble experts suggest that the Dawn liquid needs a few hours to release certain ingredients that could deter the bubble's longevity. This is hard core stuff!

We made our solution in the kitchen and let it sit for 30 minutes (we're not good at waiting). We made sure that it was kept pretty dust free, small particles will deter bubble making.

These bubbles work best on humid, windless days. But the best part for me was seeing that they worked from the first try to the last.

Use a flat pan on some kind to hold the solution, and be sure to dip your entire length of string into the solution. Slowly pull up and out of the pan and walk backwards to create long, large bubbles!

Bubbles are great for every age. You have to try these easy-peesy giant versions!

Bubbles are great for every age. You have to try these easy-peesy giant versions!

Each child developed their own method, and it was amazing to see their faces light up every. single. time. We will definitely be making more of the best biggest bubbles this summer, and I can't wait to have a playdate with friends to give them a try, too!

This recipe and wands would make a wonderful birthday present for some playful kids (or adults) in your life!

XOXO, MJ

P.S. We have a great Father's Day banner coming your way using tape resist and watercolors!

P.P.S. If you haven't yet, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get all you need to know for next week's Out of this World activities.

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2 Easy Exploding Experiments!

Make these two simple exploding experiments for some gooey, summer fun!

Make these two simple exploding experiments for some gooey, summer fun!

Summer is the right time to get kids' hands dirty and involved in learning! An open space that that can be get messy (or left dirty) can become the canvas for explosions and explorations. We decided to do some easy chemical reactions and see the results.

I have always wanted to try the erupting volcano experiment with my kids so we decided to gather the simple ingredients and head to the backyard.

If you want to try this, here's what you need:

  • A flat surface (we used a cookie pan covered in aluminum foil)
  • Tall jar or bottle
  • Baking soda (quarter cup)
  • Water (quarter cup)
  • White vinegar (quarter cup)
  • Red food coloring and dishsoap (not necessary, but way more fun)
  • Dirt, sand, or clay for volcano making
Make these two simple exploding experiments for some gooey, summer fun!

Make these two simple exploding experiments for some gooey, summer fun!

THE ERUPTING VOLCANO

In the bottle or jar, add 1/4 cups baking soda and water. Squirt in red food coloring and a strong squeeze of dishsoap. These will add foam and drama to your explosion. Put the lid back on the bottle or jar.

Using sand, dirt, or clay, mound up around the bottle. We used potting soil and water to build up the volcano sides. Once those are in place, take off the lid and pour in 1/4 cup of vinegar. The eruption is quick but not overwhelming. The kids wanted to touch the "hot lava" right away and were surprised that it smelled so good. :)

THE EXPLODING GEYSER

This next experiment we did right after the volcano because the kids wanted a bit more drama to the eruption. Have you done the Mentos candy in bottle of soda? Really, it's super fun and surprising to the unsuspecting.

To make the exploding geyser, you'll need:

  • One pack of mint Mentos
  • 2L bottle of soda (Diet Coke works the best)
  • A piece of paper and tape
  • A business card or strong piece of cardboard
Make these two simple exploding experiments for some gooey, summer fun!

Make these two simple exploding experiments for some gooey, summer fun!

Place the soda on a flat surface. Roll a piece of paper in to a tube to a size that fits the Mentos inside. You want to be able to drop all of the candies in at the same time for the most dramatic effect. Keep a card over the top of the soda until you're ready to let the Mentos drop in. Be ready to flee quickly once they drop in!

The explosion is no more than five seconds, but we've watched the replay over and over again!

These two simple and quick experiments delight on the cheap. Make them a part of your 18 Summers Challenge (even if you've already done them before!).

XOXO, MJ

P.S. We have fantastical bubbles and wands coming your way tomorrow. They are SO much fun. Stay tuned.

P.P.S. The newsletter is on its way, too, with prep for next week's Out of this World adventures.

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Rainbow Water Music

A quick and fun way to bring music into your summer! Create a scale with water and food coloring and let your children try out their own music.

A quick and fun way to bring music into your summer! Create a scale with water and food coloring and let your children try out their own music.

Water makes beautiful music! And through this simple activity with food coloring, eight identical glasses, and water, you can discover an entire musical scale.

In our home, we always have music playing (or are playing music) so when I saw this graphic on E is for Explore, I knew our kids would enjoy creating their own color-infused instrument. The beauty of this activity is that it's great for any time of year, uses what you already have, and clean up is super fast, too. It also teaches measurement and fractions, pitch, color mixing, and so much more!

We used 8, 8-oz. glasses and filled them in with measurements of 8 oz., 7 oz., 6 oz., 5 oz., 4 oz., 3 oz., 2 oz., and 1 oz.. Once the glasses were full, we began the color process. Everyone was able to mix their favorite color with a wooden skewer until we have a spectrum of eight colors.

We used our silverware as the mallet for the water xylophone. At first, the kids just wanted to hit the full run of notes, up and down, along the sides. But the more they hit the glasses, the more they began to recognize music within the collection of sounds.

Can you name the tune we're playing?

We tried recreating simple songs that we all know. And as we did so, we adjusted the amount of water in each glass. Did that note sound too sharp? Or too flat? And we'd add or pour out water accordingly.

A quick and fun way to bring music into your summer! Create a scale with water and food coloring and let your children try out their own music.

A quick and fun way to bring music into your summer! Create a scale with water and food coloring and let your children try out their own music.

Have you ever tried this out for yourself? The food coloring is not necessary, but it definitely adds to the fun!! And perfect for a sunny day.

XOXO, MJ

P.S. Don't forget to check out all the ideas for the 18 Summers Challenge by searching for #18SummersChallenge. We're continuing with explosions and transformations tomorrow with our own volcanoes and soda pops!

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Rock the Clock game

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

We're learning the fun way this summer! And what could be better (or easier) than rocks and some paint? I'm so excited to share with you our favorite new learning activity for preschoolers/K, early elementary, and even middle schoolers.

Sometimes my children stare at an analog clock, trying to read it quickly. It feels a bit like a foreign language since our electronics and nearly every clock in our home is digital. We created this game to help them be able to take on time with confidence and to have some fun with it in the process.

To make a Rock the Clock game, you'll need a square canvas, 24 rocks (12 larger, 12 smaller), rainbow paints, a white paint marker, and craft glue/hot glue. As the backing, I used a canvas I found on clearance at a craft store. Its image is not one that I wanted to hang, but I knew the canvas frame would come in handy. Using the frame like a tray, I painted the edges black to contrast with the rainbow rocks.

Sorting the rocks into two main piles, large and small, I selected one from each pile to paint a shade of the rainbow. Remember that the large rocks will be numbered with hours and the small rocks will have the minute numbers on them. I recommend two layers of paint on your rocks to make sure that the colors are nice and saturated.

Once the rocks are painted and dried, add numbers with the paint marker. Let that dry and then glue the rocks onto the canvas. In the center, you can paint or place a simple circle or press a blob of playdough to hold the hands of the clock. We made our hands from two twigs and painted them in different stripe patterns so that it's easy to talk about the big hand (that's black and white) or the small hand (that's orange and blue).

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

DOWNLOAD ROCK THE CLOCK FOR EARLY ELEMENTARY

For L, our emergent reader, we used the elementary version of Rock the Clock. A stack of cards, with times of o'clock and thirty are an easy way to begin. I sat next to him as he showed me on the clock what the time on the card said. I was amazed how quickly he wanted to move into the quarter hour times because, with the visual of the rocks and the numbers, he understood how the big hand works. Learning is amazing to watch.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

Make this fun learning game from rocks! Help your children learn how to tell time, figure out how much time has elapsed, and discover the world of timezones. Perfect summer project.

DOWNLOAD ROCK THE CLOCK FOR ELEMENTARY

For C, our new 3rd grader, we made a new set of cards. Her times are set to the 5-minute increment. She wanted to be a bit more independent so I offered her the option of taking a photo of the clock and the card next to each other and sending it to me!

This is a great idea for working parents!! Ask your child to set the clock to the time they woke up and text it to you.

Also, to challenge her further, the second set of cards asks her to calculate how much time has elapsed from a start time to an end time. She can use the rock clock to count through the minutes and hours and write down her time.


DOWNLOAD ROCK THE CLOCK FOR TIME ZONES AROUND THE WORLD

And for M, who wants to travel the world, I adapted this as a learning tool for world time zones. Using the printable map, she can discover new countries and relate to how life might be the same or completely different there. I have a lot to learn on this one, too, so I'm excited to learn side-by-side.

We think we may turn the game into a working clock at summer's end since we can't resist a good rainbow craft, but who knows. Simple tools like this are amazingly helpful to boost learning and take understanding to a whole new level.

Know anyone who might enjoy creating and playing with Rock the Clock? Send this post along!

XOXO, MJ

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Citrus Floral Centerpiece

Good Monday morning! I'm delighted share a special project with you that is featured in the second issue of a fabulous online magazine called Merry, created by my friend Melissa of The Sweet Escape.

Slices of citrus add the color and the vibrancy to summer's blooms!

Slices of citrus add the color and the vibrancy to summer's blooms!

The toughest part of this centerpiece is finding just the right vases. You're looking for two that fit nicely inside of each other, with a quarter to a half an inch gap where you can add in the fruits. Oranges, grapefruit, limes, and lemons will last for a few days with no maintenance.

Some of summer's best treats come in the warm temperatures, the sun-kissed colors, and the gorgeous florals. Using two glass vases of similar shapes, you can create a lovely combination of all the bests of the season. With a mixture of grapefruit, orange, and lemon slices, the walls of the centerpiece become a showcase of citrus. Pair these circular slices with voluminous peonies for a blend of beauty and a delight for all the senses.

Pairing similar tones makes for a sweet bouquet of freshness. Consider also a sharp contrast with an aloe plant or tropical variety for the inner vase!

Merry Mag is a beautiful online magazine showing you the best projects for the sweet summer hours. Browse through the 98 pages of goodness at Merry Mag.

Merry Mag is a beautiful online magazine showing you the best projects for the sweet summer hours. Browse through the 98 pages of goodness at Merry Mag.

Congrats to Melissa and to all twenty contributors on a lovely summer resource. Head on over to Merry Mag to see ninety-eight pages of photos and projects to make you swoon!

xoxo, MJ

P.S. If you're joining us for the 18 Summers Challenge, we're making music tomorrow with water and glasses. Break out the food coloring!

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Painted Terra Cotta Pot Garden

Take a great recipe to the next level! Plant a pot full of the ingredients and add the ingredient list, handwritten on the pot. A fabulous teacher present, too!

Take a great recipe to the next level! Plant a pot full of the ingredients and add the ingredient list, handwritten on the pot. A fabulous teacher present, too!

Summer is the best time to be outside! We love getting to know local plants and flowers and planting our family garden is a highlight of the summer's start. Frequent visits to the nursery for vegetable and herb plants are just a part of our summer ritual. The kids love to touch and to smell each plant, and I love that they are more interested in the meals and dishes we create with the plants that they have grown (bonus!)!

As a fun extension of our usual veggie patch, we decided to make a special garden for one of their new favorite foods - salsa! Tacos, burritos, and guacamole have been added to our menu planning, and the kids expressed interest in making our own version.

Add your favorite recipe with a paint marker and plant a garden just for this dish! Makes a wonderful hostess gift or teacher present.

Add your favorite recipe with a paint marker and plant a garden just for this dish! Makes a wonderful hostess gift or teacher present.

With so many great salsa recipes out there, you likely already have your own blend, but if not, try this one from Lulu the Baker or Cooking Classy's restaurant style. We know that not every ingredient is readily available locally so we put together what we could find.

The supplies are simple on this one: one large terra cot pot, outdoor paint (one that seals the pot for you), a white paint marker, and your plants. Perhaps your garden will be an Italian selection for pesto or a French selection of tarragon. Pick your recipe and then select your plants, keeping in mind that some might need to be transferred as they grow larger.

In our salsa pot, we have roma tomatoes, two cilantro plants, and a few yellow onions. It smells so delish! And it's already brought so much happiness before we even get to the final product. Seeing my children enjoying the gifts of nature is a fabulous part of our 18 Summers Challenge. And M loved making one as a year-end present for her teacher, too!

Give a mini garden of all the best ingredients for a wonderful salsa and write the recipe right on the pot! Great teacher gift!!

Give a mini garden of all the best ingredients for a wonderful salsa and write the recipe right on the pot! Great teacher gift!!

What would you plant?

xoxo, MJ

P.S. Are you joining in the projects we're creating for this summer together? Up tomorrow, a fun game called Rock the Clock. Get those stones ready.

P.P.S. If you want a sneak peek into all that's ahead, including supply lists, subscribe to the Pars Caeli newsletter by adding your email below.

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A nature hunt in your backyard

This post is sponsored by Sprout by HP, but the project and thoughts are all mine. Thank you for your support of the brands that support Pars Caeli.

So many wonderful summer, childhood memories can be created right in our backyard. Literally. Though I've lived in multiple locations, I can vividly remember the natural details within the backyards of our homes. One had a grape arbor, one a favorite cement patch and views of cows at pasture, and another the sweet smell of lilacs. A returning summer goal of mine is for my children to spend more time outside, in our yard. I want them to run/jump/climb and to use their broad imaginations to create, and to learn about the natural classroom we have right outside our door.

So, I decided to make a game of it. A scavenger hunt! With three children, ages 5, 8, and 10, I wanted varying levels of difficulty so I decided to make a printable that they could all use.

Create a scavenger hunt out of leaves, branches, and blooms for the backyard. Help your children learn how to identify the environment around them through this fun game!

Create a scavenger hunt out of leaves, branches, and blooms for the backyard. Help your children learn how to identify the environment around them through this fun game!

Here's how it works:

  • The 5-year old gets to take me on the journey as he finds and identifies each of the items.
  • The 8-year old will write down the names of the trees, plants, and flowers on the printable. She'll have to identify what she can from memory.
  • And the 10-year old will learn even more about these natural beauties by looking through our field guides (like the ones below). She's a lover of words and etymology so she's excited to take on some Latin roots.

I went out to the yard with camera and bucket in hand, ready to collect treasures. It's important to me that my children be able to identify local trees, plants, and flowers so I added samples of the varieties that we have in our yard.

For our printable, I used the HP Sprout to make photo-realistic images that I could manipulate quickly. I love creating special projects for my children, but I don't have a ton of time to do so. The Sprout was super helpful on this!

I captured the twelve items, rotated them on the page, and scaled them for a two-column layout. I could see keeping them on the computer, too, so that the kids can make their own pictures with our backyard features.

The HP Sprout helps make any three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional piece of art! We used these natural elements for a scavenger hunt of our backyard.

The HP Sprout helps make any three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional piece of art! We used these natural elements for a scavenger hunt of our backyard.

GET YOUR PRINTABLE HERE.

I'm excited to explore!! We all need to understand the world around us more, and this is a wonderful summer learning game, too.

How do you make the most of your outdoor space?

xoxo, MJ

Other fun options with a nature's scavenger hunt could include taking photos of the leaves and flowers in your yard and printing them out for children to identify and find. You could also have them use the found objects from the bucket to run around and put them back in their natural habitats. This is a great opportunity to talk about each plant and variety!


What would you create with a Sprout?

P.S. Did you see how else we've used our Sprout?

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Strawberry Shortcake Stars

It's strawberry season! And picking time is our favorite. Today we're enjoying the sweet flavors of strawberries with a fun take on a traditional strawberry shortcake that leans a bit more to the messy and child-loving side.

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

The kids and I love to bake together so we'll be sharing more recipes like this during the 18 Summers Challenge, and we all love strawberries so this was a win win for us. Not every day is a great baking day, though, (remember those ideas I gave for having success with your kids in the kitchen?) so I waited until L and I had some time to ourselves to create treats for the rest of the family. Give yourself about an hour from start to finish for this recipe and enjoy the mess of flour and dough. It will happen. And the messy will likely be your child's favorite part so do your best to set aside the need to keep tidy.

Take a plateful (or about 4 cups) of sliced strawberries to make a family portion of Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Take a plateful (or about 4 cups) of sliced strawberries to make a family portion of Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Preheat your oven to 425ºF. We adapted this recipe for easy strawberry shortcakes from Just A Taste, Here's what you need:

  • 4 C sliced strawberries - we cut ours super small for little mouths and hands
  • 2 T sugar

Mix these two together and set aside while you're making the rest of the recipe.

  • 2 C flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C heavy cream, plus additional for brushing on shortcakes
  • Sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 C chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 4 T sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Mix these strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside while you're making the rest of the recipe.

Mix these strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside while you're making the rest of the recipe.

Stir together the sliced strawberries with the sugar (a great job for little hands). Set aside. Be sure to take in the delicious smells of fresh berries.

Mixing and kneading are great skills for children to accomplish. Make these yummy Strawberry Shortcake Stars with your kids!

Mixing and kneading are great skills for children to accomplish. Make these yummy Strawberry Shortcake Stars with your kids!

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

Add the heavy cream. Form the dough into a ball within the bowl and then move to a lightly floured surface for kneading. Not much is necessary, only one or two pounds to be sure you don't have tough cakes.

Roll the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. With a star cookie cutter (we used one 3" wide), cut out shapes and transfer them to the baking sheet. We were able to make 10 stars from our batch. Gently pour less than a teaspoon of heavy cream on each and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until they're golden brown.

Cookie cutters are handy all year round! Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Cookie cutters are handy all year round! Strawberry Shortcake Stars.

Let those cool while you put together the cream. Make sure the ingredients here are very cold. We had ours a little warmer and the cream was extra melty but still delicious!

Mix the heavy cream, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract with a mixer on high speed. Continue until peaks form.

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

Strawberry Shortcake Stars are a treat perfect for July 4th or any star-studded celebration, like the end of great day!

Creating your shortcake is as wonderful as sandwich making. Slice the stars horizontally to create a top and bottom piece. First add a layer of cream, and then 2-3 spoonfuls of strawberries. The amount of cream and strawberries you add makes it more or less a sandwich treat. Some enjoy shortcake with a fork anyway.

This easy recipe for strawberry shortcake is one that you can do with the kids! Find more info on Pars Caeli.

This easy recipe for strawberry shortcake is one that you can do with the kids! Find more info on Pars Caeli.

Little fingers won't be able to stay away from these delicious strawberry shortcake stars, the simple, delicious way to use in-season berries.

Little fingers won't be able to stay away from these delicious strawberry shortcake stars, the simple, delicious way to use in-season berries.

We loved eating these as open face treats, too. This allowed for extra dollops of cream and more heaping helpings of strawberries!

Have you made any strawberry treats this season?

XOXO, MJ

P.S. For those following along with the 18 Summers Challenge, we'll be going on a hunt in nature tomorrow! Printables, printables, printables!!

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Summer Reading Printable

Make summer reading goals fun! Use this gumball machine printable to set goals and show progress. Printing now!

Make summer reading goals fun! Use this gumball machine printable to set goals and show progress. Printing now!

The best part of summer is . . .

We'd all fill in the blank just a little differently, right? For me and my oldest daughter, summer reading would be right at the top of the list. The freedom to select any book, the great expanse of time (at least in childhood) to immerse yourself in the story, spending lazy afternoons in a hammock with your favorite characters!! So good.

Our local library does a wonderful job of incentivizing time spent reading, encouraging children to track every 10 minutes spent reading or listening to someone read to them. For every 10 minutes, they color in a bubble on a big sheet to keep track of how much reading they're doing. Once they build up to 250 minutes, they receive a fun pack of restaurant coupons and stickers. The 10-minute increment feels like just enough for my 5-year old, and my 8- and 10-year olds can't wait to rack up bubbles. I like that it's time spent reading and not number of books or pages because those often move all of us to speed read or breeze over some of the best books!

Is reading a favorite part of your summer? Try this to help your children adopt the same interest! Free printable.

Is reading a favorite part of your summer? Try this to help your children adopt the same interest! Free printable.

Inspired by the good work of our local library, we created our own goal this summer - a family goal. How much time will all five of us (parents included!) spend reading? Knowing that the girls that spent 24 and 27 hours in reading last summer, we went big and bold with 100 hours as a family!

We're already digging in.

Set a family reading goal this summer! Let your children know that reading is important to you, too.

Set a family reading goal this summer! Let your children know that reading is important to you, too.

To track our family progress, we created this poster-sized gumball machine printable. For every ten minutes any of us reads, we get to stamp on a gumball. We have a ton of the dot markers from preschool days so we're using those as the gumballs, but colored circles or dot stickers would work just as well.

We've only just begun, but it's already fun to see all that we can accomplish together. And from previous summers I know that the joy of filling in a bubble or stamping a gumball quickly transitions into the delight of a good plot and the joy of moving the bookmark.

I created a letter-sized printable for your children to track their goal and work to reach it! Post the gumball machine somewhere that everyone can cheer along (and make sure it's cheer only and not criticism). You can, of course, do individual tracking with this free printable or subscribe to the newsletter and get a free printable poster to track family goals.

DOWNLOAD YOUR PRINTABLE

SUBSCRIBE FOR THE POSTER

We haven't pinned down what our final goal will obtain - maybe a trip to the bookstore with a book for everyone? Or a field trip into the library in Chicago? Undetermined but I love that none of us are too worried about it. It's the reading in between that brings the most fun.

If you're joining us in the 18 Summers Challenge and are wondering what's up for tomorrow, we're making the most of strawberry season with an easy strawberry shortcake that you and the kids can create together. Or you can make it all for yourself because strawberries are good for you, right?

xoxo, MJ

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Displaying Children's Artwork

We are almost in the final countdown until the end of the school year! Our family is limping across the finish line a bit, as we typically do, just worn from the extra activities that seem to pop up to celebrate endings and new beginnings.

Every summer is a new beginning for us, too. We make it a point as a family to try new activities we've been itching to get into, and to make learning all about our passions and curiosities. Mommy and Daddy school, a time for two teacher alums (the hubs and I) to share in the learning enrichment, has been a highlight of our summers since the kiddos were toddlers. You can find all of our posted ideas here.

The best ways to decorate and to enjoy children's artwork without letting it overtake your home!

The best ways to decorate and to enjoy children's artwork without letting it overtake your home!

With the #18SummersChallenge approaching in June, I have my mind on creating, crafting, and summer bliss! (By the way, have you signed up to join in on that fun yet? Subscribe to our newsletter to get weekly supply lists and great ideas to make the most of summer!)

But, with creating comes a lot more stuff in the house - papers, sculptures, found objects, and more - that need to find a home. I clear out folders for flat work, make room on a side table for three dimensional creations, and ready art display areas to showcase our fun. And I'm always looking creative ways to decorate with our children's work. Artwork created by small hands makes a home warmer and adds a touch of whimsy and life, don't you think?

1. Hanging gallery - We have one of these in our playroom, complete with clothespins. Haeley from Design Improvised made this one along with her daughters, and the whole process would be a fun way to get children involved in putting together their own space!

2. Covered canvas frames - Create Studio assembled a museum in the making with a great collection of frames ready to go for potential pieces. I feel some curating in our future for these painted beauties.

3. Construction paper quick ones - These paper frames are an easy fold and hang solution from Serving Pink Lemonade. Children can practice their cutting skills, too (bonus!).

4. Rail and clips - I love this solution on HGTV for an old school feel. Pair a vintage yardstick with colorful clothespins for a unique hanging display. This would coordinate so well with our playroom/homework area.

5. Fancy string - Taking the hanging gallery to the next level, why not use pom pom fringe or sequin notions? Special ribbons or different colors for each child would add a nice touch, too.

6. Box gallery show - What if you threw a gallery launch? Love this idea from Casa Maria for a pop up installation of kids art! Invite relatives and neighbors over for lemonade as they browse through the latest creations.

7. Cork tiles - The modern edge on this gallery is what caught my attention. Janssen of Everyday Reading has a bright, clean space that is sure to inspire.

8. Stairway gallery - This classic look is brought to today's styles with the crisp white framing that is featured on each artwork. We're currently creating a collection on our stairway with a similar look, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you all!

9. Rock gallery - These shadow boxes are my fave for taking simple collections (of which we have SO many) to museum-level beauty through repetition of shape or color. I can imagine the shell collection, hama bead art, and eraser assortments finding happy homes in these boxes on display!

Do Good letterpress 8" x 10" print, available soon in the Shop at Pars Caeli.

Do Good letterpress 8" x 10" print, available soon in the Shop at Pars Caeli.

Our latest display technique are these vintage pants hangers that I purchased from Julia over at Tag & Tibby over a year ago. They are both unique and quirky enough to equal the charm of some of our most unique pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DIY Picture Frame Dry Erase Board

Looking for an easy gift to whip up? One of our favorites is the DIY Dry Erase board that can add some personality to your message keeping.

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

The color (?) white has grown on me in recent years. But I will admit, I'm a true color lover so the idea of making a white board not so . . . white is right up my alley.

All you need is a larger frame (for a better writing surface), fabric, scissors, and sturdy tape. Pick fabric you love, but remember to keep it light enough that your writing will still show, and subdued enough in pattern that the fabric doesn't distract from the messaging.

All you need: fabric (preferably one lighter in color with subtle patterning), scissors, large wall frame, and tape.

All you need: fabric (preferably one lighter in color with subtle patterning), scissors, large wall frame, and tape.

Simply wrap the frame backing as you would a present, maintaining a tight pull on the fabric as you secure it with tape. The corners are the trickiest so trim as you need to be sure to get a flat finished edge.

My two daughters share a room so we created two of these blue marbled boards to unify their spaces. And I love that the boards are lovely pieces of art when not used for the latest homework tracking or doodling.

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Fabric can be easily removed when you're ready for a new pattern, too! Way easier than repainting a room, wouldn't you say?

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

Looking for an easy, quick gift? Turn any large frame into a patterned dry erase board. Simple how-to on Pars Caeli!

What do you prefer a white board? Or a dry erase board with personality?

xoxo, MJ

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The Challenge of 18 Summers

Join in a summer's full of activities and childhood joys on Pars Caeli. Every week, new ideas for ages 5-10, with supply lists ready a week in advance for big projects.

Join in a summer's full of activities and childhood joys on Pars Caeli. Every week, new ideas for ages 5-10, with supply lists ready a week in advance for big projects.

"Next year, he's off to college, and this is his last real summer at home. I don't know yet what we're going to do. I feel all this pressure, and I want to make it special, make the most of it."

My oldest is only 10, but I felt that same heart pang. I saw the softness in this mother's eyes--she, the amazing parent of eight children, ranging ages 3 to 18--as we chatted during t-ball team pictures. How do we make the most of the time we have with our children, while they're still at home?

I feel that pang a lot when it comes to childhood summers. I want so much the continual carpe diem experiences for my children. The bliss of chasing butterflies matched with the incredible camp that opens their eyes to new possibilities. The right amount of boredom to find the space to create their own adventures. The time making family memories together and traveling to see new places.

"One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now." - Paulo Coelho

And, much like the mom that I was chatting with, I do put a lot of pressure on myself. I have a feeling I'm not the only one.

So how do we do it? Provide the planning and energy to make memories happen and mix it with the ease and the relaxation to allow spontaneity at its best.

Frankly, I'm not sure. I'll likely stress about it and not do enough BUT nevertheless I'm inviting you into our summer journey to try some bucket list activities, to relive some of the joyful activities of our own childhoods, and to experiment with new projects! For newsletter subscribers, I'll send a supply list every Friday so you can join along and preview future ideas. No worries, most projects will include easy items you have right in your home.

And I want to see what you're up to with your children, from infant to college age. How do you make the most of the summer together? Share your tweets and photos using the hashtag #18summerschallenge, and I'll repost select ideas to help us all!! And don't forget to share and to subscribe to be a part of the best summer of childhood.

We can do this, enjoy our times together and make them memorable. Cheers to a wonderful summer ahead.

xoxo, MJ

 

 

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How Much Water do you need?

It used to be 8 by 8, but now doctors are recommending something different. How do you know if you're drinking enough and a simple idea to try to help you stay hydrated.

It used to be 8 by 8, but now doctors are recommending something different. How do you know if you're drinking enough and a simple idea to try to help you stay hydrated.

One of the great birthday gifts I gave myself this year is the gift of good health. I feel really blessed to have no major ailments, injuries, or physical challenges, but I also have a ways to go to feel fit, healthy, and strong. One area that I'm focusing on in particular is hydration.

How much water do you drink a day? How much liquid in total? I've always wondered if I'm getting enough (though checking out the toilet bowl after a quick pee is a good indication - clear for hydrated, yellow for dehydrated). I know that I need to add more to my daily intake. The old 8 for 8 rule (8, 8-oz glasses of water a day) is a good standby, but I've also been reading that there's more to it than that. So I did some fact finding for us.

Our body weight is made up of about 60 percent water. Everything, every system and organ, depends on water. It flushes out toxins, carries nutrients, and provides moisture - just to name a few all star traits.

It seems that the new recommendation for how much water to ingest varies on your gender, your weight, and your activity levels. Makes sense. The Institute of Medicine recommends about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day for women. Notice that the rec is beverages so that other liquids can/should be consumed as well, particularly to replace important electrolytes that might be lost in physical exertion and sweat. Don't fret, you don't have to down Gatorade. Doctors say adding a bit of sea salt to your drink adds the same beneficial effects.

According to WebMD, "you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” So if you weigh 150 pounds for example, you're looking at 75 to 150 ounces of water a day.

I also found this tidbit from USNews that I thought was really helpful:

"The basic equation for determining... is by dividing your body weight in half. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you would need 100 ounces of water per day if you're not doing anything strenuous. If you're working out, hiking, at a high altitude or outdoors a great deal, you're going to need to add to those 100 ounces."

I can do that!

Try this: write the number of glasses you want to drink up the side of a glass in dry erase marker. As you finish a glass, wipe off the top number to keep track of how many more you'd like to drink!

Try this: write the number of glasses you want to drink up the side of a glass in dry erase marker. As you finish a glass, wipe off the top number to keep track of how many more you'd like to drink!

And here's how I'm keeping track. I measured out eight ounces. Yes, I'm that kind of gal. We have juice glasses that are just about exactly eight ounces. I write the number of glasses that I want to drink up the side of the glass in dry erase marker. As I finish a glass, I rub off the top number with my finger so that I remember how many more I should be drinking. Sometimes us busy moms need helpful ways to keep track of this kind of thing since we can get pulled away by kids, work, or the house at any given moment!

How do you make sure that you're hydrated?

xoxo, MJ



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Loving your age

Limited edition Do Good letterpress print will be a part of Shop Pars Caeli later this month!

Limited edition Do Good letterpress print will be a part of Shop Pars Caeli later this month!

So this is the view from four decades on the planet. Today is my birthday, my 40th birthday.

I wasn't completely sure I was going to share that with you.

And that took me down a rabbit hole of why nots.

It seems from my perch that these days aging is set up to be feared, or at least avoided, in our society. We all (me included!) want to look younger, to act younger, to be mistaken for younger than what we really are. Sending wishes of gladness that 40 is the new 20 is a fun way to extend youth.

But what if we went back to the notion that elders are respected and revered?

Or even more what if we entered a whole new era where aging is the best thing there is? Remember how anxious you were to turn from four to five? Or eighteen? 21?

How does Pitbull say it . . . Any day above ground is a great day. (Oh man, I'm quoting Pitbull now.)

Friends, I've lived forty years! And rather than dread it (like I thought I was going to), I feel truly, honestly grateful. I've lived in many different places, had a bountiful number of experiences, and been touched by the most loving individuals. I even given birth to three of them. I've made little and BIG mistakes. I've had to learn from them. I've hurt people and loved people and celebrated people. And I've grown and changed and stayed the same.

I'm more wrinkled and saggy. More tired and cynical. No, I can't jump as high, nor run as fast.

But I am here, friends. I have another day, week, month, and hopefully years to do my best to add love into the world and to be deeply grateful for the gifts I've been given. How amazing!! And I've had 4-0 such opportunities.

I'm not bragging, but being around to love and to be loved for forty birthdays feels like a pretty giant blessing.

God is Good limited edition letterpress print will soon be available at Shop Pars Caeli.

God is Good limited edition letterpress print will soon be available at Shop Pars Caeli.

One of my great blessings is this space right here where I can share what's on my mind, in my heart, and all over my studio floor. I'm so honored to have you lovelies over here, and I so so appreciate your support and encouragement.

So let's celebrate another year!! Are you brave enough to share your age?

xoxo, MJ

 

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