Salt Dough Christmas Crafts

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year! There’s nothing like a cold winter night cuddled up on the sofa with the fireplace going, sipping a cup of hot cocoa with the Christmas tree lights illuminating the room.

Growing up, my mom had a tradition. Each year she’d get my brother and I a new ornament. I love keeping that tradition alive to this day. It’s so much fun adding a new addition to the tree each year.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a crafty lady. It’s fun to go out and buy a new ornament but it’s even better to make one of our very own!

Salt dough is such a fun and easy project to do with the kiddos. It just takes a few simple kitchen ingredients for hours of fun. It’s non-toxic and safe to use, even for the youngest of children. Kids can have so much fun rolling out the dough and it helps with their fine motor skills. You can also let them help you measure out the ingredients for a math lesson!

This is a fun project I did for many years with my students. It’s a great keepsake for parents to collect each year to watch their children grow.

It can be fun for grown ups to get in on the action too. Make hand prints of the whole family to add to your tree!

Now, while making salt dough isn’t an exact science, I’m going to give you my recipe. You may need to tweak it a little bit to get the exact consistency that works for you.

Start with a large mixing bowl

Add flour and salt

Mix together

 

Next, slowly pour in the water mixing as you go.

 

You may not need the whole cup but if you do use the whole thing and find the dough to be to sticky, just sprinkle a small handful of flour and keep mixing until you get the consistency that you like.

 

Once I have it mixed fairly well in the mixing bowl, I lightly flour the counter, dump the mixture out and knead it, just like bread, until it’s nice a fluffy. Sometimes during this process I add a few more drops of water or sprinkles of flour. There’s really no right or wrong consistency, just as long as the dough doesn’t end up sticking to the counter.

When you have your dough mixed..now comes the fun part!

Roll your dough in to a ball, place in front of your child and let them roll it out! Slowly roll the rolling pin back and fourth across your dough until it’s about a half of an inch thick. You can make your ornaments as thick as you’d like, just remember the thicker they are the heavier they will be when they dry and on the flip side, if the dough is too thin, it will rip.

You can use cookie cutters to make fun shapes. We chose to make hand print ornaments. Hand print crafts are my absolute favorite. It’s such a precious memory to look back on and see how tiny your kiddos hand were.

Once you have your shapes, lay the ornaments out on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper.

Make sure to poke a small hole at the top so you can thread it later to hang on the tree

(I used a Capri Sun straw to poke the holes)

 

Next, just pop them in a 300 degree oven for about an hour. Times may vary depending on how thick or thin you rolled your salt dough. I like to keep a close eye on my ornaments as they dry just to prevent any cracking. You can also leave your ornaments out to air dry but that can take a day or two.

Once your ornaments have hardened, take them out of the oven and let them cool down.

 

Now you’re ready to paint!

I love Craft Smart Acrylic paints. They come in lots of colors, they’re non-toxic and they wash off little hands easily.

That’s it! Easy peasy Christmas ornaments you’ll treasure for years to come, along with all the precious memories you’ll create while making them!

If you have any questions about anything mentioned in my article please feel free to comment!

Merry Christmas, Mama’s!

Traveling With A Little One: My Best Tips And Tricks.

I took my son Asher on his first airplane/out of state trip when he was 7 months old. Since then, he has been on 29 flights and to 19 states! We just visited the Outer Banks the first weekend in November and I always think back to that first trip when I was getting ready to pack and how nervous I was to embark on my first adventure with my infant in tow.

My husband, Casey and I got married at Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. We wanted to celebrate our anniversary there but I wasn’t ready to leave my baby over night yet and I was still breastfeeding regularly. Wanting some alone time but not being ready for a baby-less vacation, we invited my mom to come along! I was SO nervous about being a new mom and traveling with an infant. What if his ears hurt? Would people be mad if he cried? What if I had to change a poopy diaper on the flight?!

The plane ride from Denver to New Orleans is almost three hours and I was totally consumed with what those three hours could hold for me. I read all of the blogs and Pinterest tips and was as prepared as I could be.

In the past three years I have traveled regularly with Asher, our longest flight being 7 hours nonstop and our longest travel day being 16 hours. We have had easy flights and we have had downright miserable travel days where we left at 2 am and didn’t get where we’re going for 13 hours. I feel like while it still requires a lot of planning I have definitely figured out some things since then that may be able to help moms who are feeling the same way I was on that first flight!

First off, planning ahead helps so much. When Asher was a newborn he mostly slept on flights which was great for both of us! But, that doesn’t always happen. Here is a list of things I would say are must haves for little ones:

Newborn-crawler age

1. Diapers and wipes.
2. Hand sanitizer.
3. A blanket to lay them down on the floor in the airport so they can play or get changed. (I try to always fold it so the side that is on the ground is always folded up inside and is always the same side on the ground, that way they aren’t playing on the dirty side.)
4. Another clean blanket for covering them up in the plane, stroller, car seat etc.
5. A couple changes of clothes. That first flight to New Orleans, Asher had a major blowout and there was no changing table on the plane. My husband and I cleaned him while one of us held him up midair and the other one washed and changed him. It wasn’t easy, but it was feasible. Extra clothes are a must for kids and sometimes adults.
6. Small toys and books.
7. A bottle or sippy cup for take off and landing for their ears, if they are not breastfeeding. (I recommend nursing or giving them something to drink when you take off and descend to help relieve ear pressure. This worked great for us every time and often helped put him to sleep).
8. Stroller.
9. Baby-wraps (Keep in mind if your baby is in your baby wearing wrap at security they will make you take him/her out. Same goes for the stroller but they are great to have for the rest of the airport).
10. Snacks for you!

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Older babies and toddlers

I have added and changed some stuff on the list. Extra clothes and diapers are a must but we bring a lot more toys than we did when Asher was a baby. My absolute favorite airplane toys are slime and putty! They keep Asher busy for so long and they are less messy than playdough. Make sure they are under 3 oz because airport security considers them a “gel or liquid” and they will take them if they are more than 3 oz. I also love to bring coloring books, magnet play sets, reusable stickers, and small games like memory cards. Amazon has great reusable sticker activity books.

We bring Asher an iPad for long flights. We only let him watch the iPad on airplanes. We do this because we feel like it makes it special for him and gives him something to look forward to. Since he isn’t allowed to watch it at home, it is a lot more fun for him to have something that is just for airplanes. We also use it as a last resort. Once we have played all the games, read all the books, and eaten all the snacks – he can watch his iPad. Some parents let their kids watch their iPads the entire flight and I am all for that as well. If that works for you and gets you through a tough travel day, I call it a win.

We hit bad weather flying home from Georgia this spring and had to be rerouted to a nearby state and were stuck on the plane for 4 hours longer than planned. I can’t imagine the meltdowns we all would’ve had if Asher didn’t have a movie to watch. Asher wasn’t into videos until just recently so we haven’t used that as our main form of entertainment. It’s also nice to have backups in the event of a dead battery, or no WiFi, etc.
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My other bit of advice when packing is to always bring a reusable water bottle and snacks, especially if your child has any dietary restrictions. Finding food at weird times and in a hurry in an airport can be challenging and stressful when you’re hungry so it never hurts to have a backup snack.

Car seats

When we plan to rent a car at our destination, I always bring my own car seat. We have rented them a couple of times and I always prefer to have my own. You can check your own for free at ticketing and it will arrive in oversized baggage at your destination. I’ve had to use rented car seats that are filthy. They have been out of infant or toddler seats and we have had to wait while they go get one from another rental facility (which is the worst when you’ve been traveling all day already), and they are usually expensive to rent.

Strollers

We always bring our stroller to the airport and check it at the gate. You just have to get a stroller tag at your gate and leave it right before you get on the plane.

We have always been really lucky with Asher on the plane. He enjoys it and is usually really good, but if your little one does have a meltdown or cries uncontrollably, just remember that a lot of the people on the plane have kids of their own and have been where you are. They know it’s hard and you’re trying your best. Flight attendants are often awesome with kids and will try and help you calm them or redirect their attention. If you know of something that may help, ask them. I can almost guarantee they will do it. If nothing helps and people are starting to give you snarky looks or making comments, remember that they are grown adults and they should’ve brought their noise cancelling head phones. No one wants their child to cry on an airplane- just try your best to stay calm and know it’s temporary.

Taking your kids on trips can seem overwhelming and be a lot work, but after that first flight, you will feel like a pro. Traveling with Asher has been my favorite thing. We have seen so many things together and at just three years old he has met so many wonderful people along the way. I know that all of those red eye flights and late nights packing and planning have been completely worth it. Take the trip! You will be so glad you did.

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Not The Nanny

I found myself in unfamiliar territory not that long ago. A sweet, young grandma asked me if I was the nanny to my twins. I figured this was bound to happen at some point. Perhaps it’s surprising it took this long. From the outside looking in, anyone could make this mistake.

You see, the twins are about as white as snow with the most stunning sea-green (yet sometimes blue) eyes. Their hair is wavy dirty blonde like their Dad and Valentina has the same dimple placement as her proud Papa. For the record, I really want to believe that Valentina and Victoria have my nose. And that’s about it.

In case you haven’t seen me in the flesh, I have tan skin, dark brown hair and eyes. Big sis, Gabriella is my spitting image. My “mini-me” in every way. There’s no mistake she’s my daughter. When we’re together I get the sweet sideways glances from strangers who seem to say, “Awwww, look at that cute mother-daughter duo.” I relish that we do look so much alike.

When I was pregnant, Ben and I would joke back and forth about how one twin would arrive looking like him and the other like me. I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought because it really wasn’t that important to me. I had bigger things to worry about with the twins impending arrival.

Back to this sweet grandma on a random day this Summer. The twins and I were having fun at an indoor gym and a light-hearted conversation started between the two of us. After the usual exchange of niceties, she socked me in the stomach when she asked, “Are you the nanny?” I like to think I’m not easily offended, but it did sting just a bit. And I know this is just the beginning of many times ahead when I’ll be in this same situation. Do I need to buy the matching Lily Pulitzer Mommy-Daughter dresses to send the message loud and clear?

I think most people are perplexed when they see the twins and I together. Working out in their minds if I’m the nanny or the Mom. If Ben happens to be around or come around later it’s almost as if there’s a collective “Aha” from the on-lookers. Now it makes sense!

You may be wondering what my response was to this unassuming lady who just sucker punched me. I said, “Nope, I carried them for 37 weeks and 4 days to be exact.” After the blood drained from her face, we laughed and I told her not to feel bad. And I meant it.

While the physical likeness between the twins and I is almost non-existent, I hope that the intangible mother-daughter bond between each of us supersedes any doubt of my role as their mom. They remind me everyday, that no matter how I look (which is usually pretty tired), I’m their mama. Not the nanny.


 

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Lillian Sowles is a wife and mom to 3 girls, residing just outside of Charlotte, NC. She enjoys reading fiction, having fun with her family, trying new recipes and sipping hot coffee. You can read more about her here!

You Are The Most Beautiful Disaster

Hey mama, I see you.

I see you in all your hot mess glory.

I see you with those bags under your eyes, because you were up with the baby in the night. I see you in your stained shirt that you smelled this morning before you put it on. I see you with your day old make up and messy bun, because that’s all you’ve got the time and energy for. I see you with your extra large Diet Coke you snagged in the McDonald’s drive-thru after you dropped your daughter off at preschool.

I see you, and I feel you.

I feel those nagging negative thoughts that keep popping up into your mind today, “I am a hot mess.” “I am barely surviving.” “Am I doing enough?” “Am I enough?” “My kids deserve better.” “My husband deserves more.” “I am failing.”

You, my sweet friend, are not alone.

And for the record, you’re doing great! You aren’t failing. You are being a Mom.

“But look at Sarah and her perfect Instagram life. She never wears day old make up, and stained clothes. She never has bags under her eyes. Her skin is glowing, and her smile is so perfect. She drinks water and protein shakes and has the perfect butt in her Lululemon yoga pants. Her kids are always dressed in matching clothes, with their hair tied up perfectly in a bow. She’s never late for preschool pick up, and she always brings healthy homemade snacks.”

“I forgot it was our snack day and had to run to the grocery store before school and sent my child in with Goldfish.”

Girlfriend, snap out of it. You’re living the real mom life. The one where we make mistakes… constantly. The one where our alarms don’t go off, so our kids are late to school… again. The one where we have cereal for dinner because that’s all the energy we have left for at the end of the day. The one where the laundry piles up until the mountain is so high there is no possible way we can fold it all. The one where we survive on Diet Coke and a cat nap while the kids have TV time. The one where we put on a movie just to entertain the kids for a few hours.

BUT… You are also living the one where you held your daughter today and rocked her in the rocking chair while you sang songs. You got down on the floor with your son and played race cars. You told your kids about a million times how much you love them. You covered your babies from head to toe with kisses. And when they asked for a silly snack, you arranged those leftover goldfish you sent to school on a plate to look like they were under the sea.

So, your Instagram doesn’t look like Sarah’s does. Who cares? Your life reel looks happy, full of love, giggles, and snuggles. One day you’ll look back on these memories and you won’t remember that you looked a hot mess. You’ll remember your daughters face as you sang together. You’ll remember how much your son loved crashing his car into yours. You’ll remember how there are never enough kisses to cover your babies with.

That stain on your shirt? It’s because yesterday, you let your kids make slime, and those sticky little hands hugged you to tell you “Thanks mom, this was so much fun.”

Those bags under your eyes? It’s because your daughter needed you, not daddy, YOU to snuggle her back to sleep (because you give better back rubs).

Your day old make up? Oh yea, you stayed up late helping your son finish his science project and didn’t have the energy to wash your face afterwards.

Mama, you may think you’re a hot mess. But what I see is a mama who puts everyone before herself. Who makes sure her children know just how loved they are. A mama that plays cars and sings songs because the laundry can wait (at least it’s clean). I see a mama that makes sure her babies are taken care of in all the necessary ways. And I see children that love and adore you because you are the one that showed them how to love and adore.

What I see is A Beautiful Disaster.

And it truly is, beautiful.

You, Mama, Are The Most Beautiful Disaster.

 


 

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Laurel Dowse is a wife and mom to 2 girls and a baby on the way. She is a SAHM by day, and teaches dance a few nights a week. She loves true crime podcasts, binge-watching her favorite shows, and encourages naps! She is a cancer survivor after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma on her leg in 2015. You can read more about her here!