Kristy, Au Naturale: Survival in the woods, aka tent camping with kids.

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Camping is one of those activities that our family has always enjoyed doing together. Being in nature, grounding ourselves, and slowing down for a weekend has been really effective in helping us reconnect and bond when daily  life seems so busy. We camp with extended family as well, which, for us, has always been an amazing time.

Our camping journey started in a tent for seven people. There were only two of us and a puppy, so that made it roomy and doable. Our spacious luxury camping getaway quickly became a cramped space when we had our first kiddo.

When little #2 came around, that seven person tent turned into a giant canvas bag of emotions!

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So, we bought a Pop-up.

 

Now at least we had a roof overhead, a stove, and heat and air conditioning!

“What a step up!” we thought until even that became cramped with “baby stuff” and then the space above began to feel like more like this…

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Our camping nights started to become very very difficult. It was almost like going back to newborn stages for the first two nights every time we took a trip.

8 pm: Honey, the cloth diaper blew out, we need to go to bathhouse to hose the baby off.

10 pm: Mommy, I have to potty

Midnight: Dangit, now I have to pee

1am: diaper leaks onto mattress

3 am: Mommy I have to potty (again)

Suffice it to say, we…never…slept.

Now that we are GLAMPING it up in a tag along trailer with a bathroom, queen bed, and kitchen, I can look back and give a list of all the things necessary for tent camping with tiny kids. (If you’re not wanting to totally give up on it like I admittedly did)

Kristy’s no bull survival guide to tent camping with kids:

A large tent: 

Don’t want to pay $250 for a large WATERPROOF tent? Well, sorry Charlie, you’re gonna be cold and wet in a cheaper one. They can leak, not hold up in the wind, and have a tendency to be crackly and loud when the wind does blow.  Better investments equal better experiences in my opinion. This tent is big enough for your overnight bags, the essential change of clothes needed for any accidents, and extra towels/wetbags for any messes or laundry. Dew will make everyone damp and miserable even if you’re not rained on while camping.

A Sleeping Pad

Content_Team_081417_71478_Choosing_Sleeping_Pads_lg.jpgIn addition to a specific sleeping bag meant for outdoor slumber, you’ll need a buffer between you and the ground. TRUST ME, even if the beautiful weather during the day is warm, the ground at night gets cold! Putting a pocket of air between you, your littles, and the ground can help insure a better night sleep for you all. You can also use a camping pad, or an air mattress (but good luck trying to get the kiddos to sleep when you’ve basically just blown up a bouncy house in a tent!)

Pillows

One of the things people don’t usually think of, is how bulky pillow can be in the car ride and especially in a tent. They make specific camping pillows that have their own cases for storage when you’re out and about during the day and need more room in your tent to move around.

Proper Footware

What shoes you will need for your kiddos depends on time of year, and typography of your campground. We usually do a water based (crick, creek, or lake) campground so our kids can explore, fish, and collect shells and rocks. So we select our favorite Keens that can be amphibious. They are also great on hiking trails that aren’t too rocky. You’ll want an option that’s easy to slip on and off for those bathroom breaks.

Fire Utensils

Whether you’re roasting hot dogs or marshmallows, let’s be real…who knows who has let their dog pee on a stick nearby! I usually resort to bringing my washable Roasting sticks for all things S’mores related.

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For fire stoking, do yourself a favor and have a proper set of fire gloves incase you need to adjust any logs or one goes astray.

For cooking, we use this adjustable tripod that cooks veggies, meats, and will even toast bread right over the fire! It breaks down and goes right back in the box as well for easy traveling.

Lighting

You’ll obviously need flashlights for when you’re walking around at night. We always have these solar lamps hanging around as well, for use inside the tent as well as around the site itself. Kids and adults alike do well with headlamps as well. Just make sure you teach your kids not to shine it at your eyeballs.

Snacks

Overestimate the snacks you bring – basically double what they would go through at home. Pick things unlikely to melt/squash like nuts, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter, etc…. One of the worst possible camping situation is running out of food. While you’re at it, pack yourself some extra adult beverages.

Cooler packing hack: Prep ahead of time by freezing water bottles, juice boxes or pouches, and squeezable yogurts. Use these along with ice packs and bags of ice. These will keep things cold in there for longer and also be nicely chilled when your kiddos or yourself want to eat them.

And the Piece De La Resistance

The Toilet Tent

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I cannot stress to you enough how important this little bugger is. You think, “Oh, we are camping, there’s a bathhouse right there that I’ll walk to” or “I’ll just pee in the woods cause I am woman hear me roar!”

Awesome thought. Really, it is.

HOWEVER, 9 times out of ten when your kid wakes up, you wont want to trek the 100 yards to the actual toilet when they are freaking out about the dark walk or first thing in the morning when the entire campground is sleeping and your kid is screaming that they have to go.

This tent is taller as well, so you can change in it without the hassle of ducking, if you’re tall like my family.

Putting The Fun in Family Time

We like to stay at campgrounds with lots of activities. Crabbing on piers, shark tooth treasure hunts, easy hiking, wagon rides with water balloon fights, splash parks, gem mining, local watering holes and breweries with picnic style seating can be all great things to look for. When hanging fireside, though, we always love to add magic to the experience of being outside and away from home as a family.

These amazing fire color packets change your campfire into a magical rainbow of colors that can spark the imagination of even the curmudgeonist of curmudgeons.

I hope this helps some of y’all get your family out and exploring your area or surrounding areas in order for more tiny humans to learn to appreciate and love this earth that sustains our lives. I know I am awed by the majesty of its landscapes, and weather patterns every time we go.

Oh, and no light pollution of rural campgrounds equals amazing star gazing! (Throw in a little romance for you and your partner as well!) Or some educational constellation spotting with your science kid! (There is an App for that)

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Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”

 

Sing Peace: The Power of Positive Intention

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Our scene opens to an Amphitheater. Its Grandparents Day and its my son’s first year at this Montessori School. I am excited to show my Father in Law and his wife how AMAZING this school is. It’s reputable accreditations, top notch facilities, child led education model, etc. Then the kids come out. They get in their positions for a song. Then the music starts…

Light a candle for peace

Light a candle for love

Light a candle that shines all the way ’round the world

Light a candle for me, light a candle for you

That our dream of peace, will one day come true

Sing peace around the world.

Goosebumps. Tears.

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I am utterly inspired by this song that my son’s Montessori Primary class is singing. Mesmerized by the message, I soon forget about all the impressive outward characteristics that the school offered. They, in front of my eyes, are showing me that they are teaching the kids about world peace.

What a notion! Light a candle for peace? Is it really that simple? Can I really believe that me lighting a candle for peace for all, will be enough to actualize that peace?

Yes, the power of positive intention is exactly that. Amazing, untapped, raw, power. 

“This morning, in this room, these children are using their power to change the world.”

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Many folks ask me whether or not I’ve heard the latest on local, national, or world news.  The many tragedies that happen daily, the “government’s latest screw up” and “this party is responsible for the demise of all humankind”. For those who absorb and feel energy,  frequently called Empaths, these types of things go beyond effecting just their thoughts. We feel this sort of devastation viscerally, which is why it can be hard for us to stay “up-to-date” with current events. It physically and emotionally hurts….quite literally.

There is a feeling of hopelessness that comes with constantly being bombarded with the negative things that go on in the world. It is not that we wish to remain ignorant, it is that the physical and emotional pain of feeling it becomes too much, and we must protect ourselves from it in order to live our best life.

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I know, kid. I feel it too.

Within the last ten years, I have developed a ritual that helps me feel the power of proactivity within what feels like a muddy bog of the energy of today’s world. When I feel taken by the overwhelming feeling of the worlds tragedy, I stop and light a candle. This grounding technique helps me to send up a prayer of protection for myself and the world. I take one moment to speak aloud my intention for that day. “I intend to live today happily and in gratitude” or “I intend to offer a feeling of peace to all whom I encounter.” Walking in that truth, I believe, has the power to effect maybe even ONE person. If I can effect one person, then the ripple effect can begin.

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I feel as though it is safe to say that most of us have heard of the Power of Intention. Ever heard of the book, The Secret? Oprah has!!!!

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Whaddup Oprah’s Book Club List?

The book explains that in the theory of Quantum Physics, everything has an energy; including thoughts. If we think about all that we have to be grateful for, we tend to open our hearts and minds to attract MORE of the same. This goes both ways. Both negative thoughts AND positive thoughts attract one another. Relying on this can have profound changes on one’s life. Simply speak your intention until it ultimately becomes your reality. In the book, that can mean financially, spiritually, romantically, or anything you else can imagine. We are, in essence, limitless.

After all, we’ve heard this same notion since we were littles ourselves.

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. When you wish upon a star your dreams come true.” 

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Nice one, Jimminy. Thanks.

And why the heck shouldn’t they? If we are all individually powerful enough to make this happen,

imagine the potential energy of the collective?

The mountains of positivity that things like The World Kindness Movement can move.

An example lies in yesterday’s stresses I faced.  For me, they were almost too overwhelming for me to function. Money, parenting, and hormones (TMI? ah, lighten up;))got the best of me. So today, I woke up with the intention that I would feel nothing but butterflies, unicorns, and rainbows. (photo below) I even dressed the part as a reminder. Needless to say, I had an amazing day today in that I could see the good, the fun, and especially the hope in all the things that had stressed me the day before. Had I not intended to live differently today, I would have most likely felt the same stresses take me over. Silver linings are just that. Shiny lines in the proverbial sand that let us choose whether to stay on the side the negative, or to choose to see the positive.

There are ways you can get yourself involved bringing kindness to the world. The Random Acts of Kindness Organization has plenty of ideas, lesson plans, and even motivational quotes to help you on your way. If you’d like to keep it simple, then just smile at a stranger every now and again. It is said to be hella contagious:)

Or, be like this kid,  Maurice Adams, Jr..

We can all learn from Maurice. Well done, good sir.

“The Days Of Our Lives” The Power of Emotional Freedom

I spent time today talking with a dear friend, a sister in spirit if you will, who recently broke her ankle. After bringing her breakfast, which was subsequently eaten by both of our kiddos, we got to talking about praying and how we need to do more of it to attract the things we want. We spoke about being frustrated with jobs, social relationships, the diseases and illnesses that are just unfair, etc., and something she said hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m paraphrasing here, but she said to me,

“Shouldn’t we assume that people have positive intent?”

It occurred to me in that instant.  In ALL of the changes that I have been making mentally and physically, in all of the relationships that have ebbed and flowed over the past couple of years that have caused I thought have caused me pain, have been because I forgot to remember that most people are inherently good.jim-carrey-duh-meme.jpg

I was assuming, based on words or behaviors of those around me, that I was not worthy of being nurtured as a friend. I basically lost my faith in my ability to even be a good friend, and therefore, lost my faith in the excitement of new people.

This led me to a philosophy my mother and I have talked about for years, that I manage over and over again to forget.

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The Four Agreements is a book written by Miguel Ruiz that takes folks on their journey towards true personal freedom. It explores

“..self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering”

One of the keys to personal love is to follow these four simple rules in all moments of your life. It will help avoid at least some of the “triggers” that inspire the downward spiral of thoughts and emotional suffering.

Be Impeccable With Your Word

For lack of a better explanation, we must speak with integrity. This means avoiding gossip, or negative self talk. It also involves building others up, which will in turn provide you with the language and tools to build yourself in the same manner.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

DING DING DING. If I had a freaking magic button that could help me grip onto this notion, there is no limit to the price I would pay for it. This is where in the above conversation, I realized that I had totally failed. Not only had I chosen to take almost EVERYTHING personally from some people, I have also been taking things my children have said/done personally as well. And digging further, taking my SELF talk as truth. (What a mess) My personal key to emotional freedom is making THIS agreement priority in the practice.

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Don’t Make Assumptions

If you do not understand something or someone, be it their behavior, words, actions, heart, mind, anything, ASK THEM.  To avoid miscommunications and misunderstandings that don’t serve us, it is imperative that we feel brave enough to communicate in the first place. In order to not be the victim of suffering in your own mind, open your words and your heart to rid it of sadness and drama. After all, imagination is usually worse than the reality.

Always Do Your Best

My take on this agreement is that if we go forth in our day to do the best we can with all things, than any judgements coming from others or yourself are utterly unnecessary. This will vary from day to day of course, but we must remind ourselves that we are only playing with the hand we are dealt, and all we can do is face it one day at a time the best we can. Be proud of yourself, and know that we are all walking our paths.

It was in the realization that I had spent so much time not speaking with integrity, taking everything personally, not communicating effectively that allows me to understand my perceptions, that I honestly was not living my best life.

Dovetailing on Annie’s summer reading list from yesterday, The Four Agreements is my first choice read to finding a path that supports emotional freedom.  Having something everyday to remind me of these four agreements can help me, you, anyone, live a life constructed around that liberation.

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Challenge yourself everyday with honoring these four. Set reminders, put up post its or wall art, wear empowering jewelry. Hell, get a tattoo if you want! Let’s choose to live a life lifted by empowerment of self and others.

Will you join me?

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Royal Wrap-up…

Well there you have it folks. With some Pomp, Posh Spice mean muggin’ (cuz Amal crushed it and Vics be jelly) & slight bit of confusion for the poor English Traditional Church Ceremony later, we have the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

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Like, how adorable can a couple get?

Our thoughts?

WELCOME TO AMERICA, PRINCE HARRY!

We knew the Marks would change things up a little..but HOLY Toledo did she bring it!! A choir singing “Stand By Me” as well as Bishop Curry who LOVES love, amirite? We won’t talk about how long he spoke for. Or how Camilla was searching through her program wondering “How long is this bloke supposed to drab on?” Or the queen who basically was nodding off, or trying to refrain from aneurysm at the breaking of the mold of tradition, or needing bubbles.

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“Liz: What is actually happening right now?”

In their defense, the British officiant did start off the whole she-bang with describing the benefit of marriage as, and I quote, “the delight of sexual union”. Did anyone else catch Harry’s face when he mentions starting a family?? Harry wants some babies NOW people!!

But how about those vows? Keeping in line with Princess Diana, the feminista, Meghan, left out the “promise to obey” portion of the traditional vows – also a sweet nod to Princess Di who was the first to do so. Harry also wears a wedding ring, keeping the American Custom and abandoning the British custom of the husband not wearing one.

As far as the dress goes, I thought it was gorgeously simple. Boat necked, appropriately respectful, and the train and tiara were fabulous! The stunning veil provided just the touch of swoonworthy beauty the outfit needed.

We enjoyed ourselves a bit too much and overdosed on Harry being cute as a button and Meghan just glowing. Also scones…..we definitely overdosed on scones.

Here are some great pics…

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We love you, Harry and Meghan

How did you watch the Wedding of the year?

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Cheerio, darling

Kristy and Christiana’s Friday Guide to the Royal Wedding Couch-gate

I mean, who over the age of 30 hasn’t thought, at least once, that  “All Prince Harry or William has to do is meet me. We’ll fall in love, and I’ll be a real PRINCESS”?  We know as sure as there are biscuits at tea that we have. We all watched them grow up and witnessed the loss of their incredible Mother, Princess Di. We all fell in love with them and wanted to be there for them in those moments. It never mattered which one, we were in it for the long haul. We just KNEW that one of them would fall in love with an American girl. Knew it, knew it, knew it. (We were always on team Harry, for the record.)

Meghan and Harry

And boy, DID HE! Meghan Markle…(“Marks”, can we call her Marks? I think so.) I mean look, even we are in love with her! Not only is she eloquent and beautifully spirited, she’s also a badass brave advocate for women! She’s INCREDIBLE! Annie said it best, “our only problem with her being princess, is that SHE CAN’T RUN FOR PRESIDENT!” Come onnnnn Marks. Killing us.

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Windsor Castle, the Royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire and the 2018 Royal Wedding venue

So ladies and gents, it is upon us. The world-wide shattering of hearts that shall happen this Saturday at midday in Windsor. The last single royal gets hitched, and simulatensouly crushes all our hopes and dreams of Kristy Wright, Princess of Wales. (cause we know all of you were rooting me on)

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The official invites, image via HuffPost (since ours was misplaced)

Something clearly went awry and our invites were seemingly lost in the mail. So what shall we do to celebrate? Well, Christiana and I will be waking promptly at 4am to make a pitcher of mimosas, strap on obnoxiously large hats, partake in scones and crumpets, and roll that live wedding coverage. Who are we kidding, we have kids, we’ll probably be up anyway because…what is sleep? And how can we even be mad? He’s marrying the freaking MARKS!

Sound like your bag? Well hold on to your crumpets, people. Here’s what you need to know to get your princess on TOMORROW MORNING. Call your friends. Buy bubbles and OJ. Premake (or buy) your scones, crumpets, and whatever other British breakfast tickles your fancy.  We want to support having tea, but at 4 am, let’s be real. We’ll be fumbling for our coffee. Sorry, Harry.

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Coverage begins at 4am Eastern time. (Sorry, you guys on the west coast are screwed.) Guests arrive from 9:30-11 London time and Prince Hot Ginger (“PHG” if you feel me) arrives at 11:30 (6:30 am eastern), so you best be watching by then. The ceremony starts at noon, followed by the carriage ride around Windsor from 1-2. Husbands, get on board. This is like the longest and classiest tailgate ever, just deal.

We’re rolling out these blueberry scones per Sally’s Baking Addiction and attempting these crumpets from the Beeb. (Thats the BBC for the layperson). Also, it’s been reported that the queen mother has a glass of Champagne every day, so I feel obliged to include some bubbly mimosas in this royal feast. You know, for Liz.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images, Town and Country Magazine

Royal protocol also dictates hats for you ladies. (I don’t care if you are still in your pajamas. Look, I don’t make the rules!) Don’t you remember all the crazy hats that turned up at Will and Kate’s wedding?! (Like “nooooo Beatrice and Eugenie!”) The hats were really almost more famous than the swath of international celebs. Learn more about appropriate headwear in this video from the Washington Post.

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Speaking of celebs, be prepared to keep your eyes peeled for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (AKA Will and Kate – new parents to baby #3, woop!), the Beckhams, Elton John and maybe even the Clooneys.  So put on your hat, pour yourself a good pot of coffee, serve your warm crumpets and have yourself a merry Royal Wedding Couch-gate. We’re all rooting for you Marks! Cheerio!

P.S. Follow us on twitter @lockerstolittles for a photo recap of said couch-gate.

 

18835945_10103938084553859_8628446883750688728_nKristy is a married mom of 2, doula, massage therapist, and dedicated crossfitter with a passion of healing the human body and mind in Virginia, and closet anglophile. She co-wrote this with Christiana, the unofficial authority on all things Royal.

 

Kristy, Au Naturale: Home delivery S.T.E.A.M. projects for parents who can’t DIY

If you have a kid like mine: an active, energy-filled seven year old boy, you can commiserate with me on how hard it is to get them to sit still to do…well… ANYTHING. My son, OG we’ll call him, can literally sit still for only three, maybe four seconds before fighting the urge to make a musical beat, a funny noise, or to try and make us laugh with his latest made up karate move or a full sentence in his made up language.

Talk about trying to focus on homework in the first grade? Nope. Nopes. All the no’s.

He has always been able to focus, however, on things involving art, science, technology, adventure, and music. He’s developed an affinity for math in his Montessori school (a skill he definitely doesn’t get from me) so we longed for a way to incorporate all these things into a parent/son project at home.

S.T.E.A.M. if you don’t already know, is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.

Engineering? WHAT? For a kid who likes to throw things just to see how many pieces they will break into against the wall? The one who likes to pull apart his whole room in order to create an elaborate fort/putt putt course/cookie stand all in one that he drew in his blue prints the day before….BINGO!

Welcome to our sanity (other than a crisp Nobilo Sauv Blanc).

Kiwi Crate:    https://www.kiwico.com/

Kiwi Crate is a monthly, age-based home delivery project kit. All the parts and pieces come inside the themed box, (Thank you sweet Lord for me not having to lug two kids into Michael’s without having multiple panic attacks and visions of a bull in a china shop) along with the instructions for three projects to do throughout the month. Our son has built everything from kites, to robot arms, to sewing and stuffing felt organs to paste on a full size paper person to teach human anatomy!

When my husband said he was subscribing to a monthly project system I admittedly did an eye roll thinking “you think he’s gonna sit still long enough to warrant spending that money?” To my surprise, that’s exactly what he did. The first crate we got was building a full working pinball machine out of rubber bands and cardboard.

Which he Maguyver’ed the eff out of, following the instructions, all by himself! No help at all. And the best part was…he focused! He had a blast, too. I was SOLD. Onto the next and the next…finally coming to his favorite one: The Spy Kit….(pictured below)

Ok enough gushing about my amazingly awesome kid’s productivity…

How it works.

If you’re like me and you’re too lazy to go to the website above I’ll give you the rundown.

  1. Pick a line based on your child’s age: 0-16plus (yes, they even have one for toddlers and a newborn pack!)
  2. It will ship to your home once a month
  3. Watch the excitement on your child’s face when the box arrives and its for THEM! Now they can have some independent or parent led learning time at home.

How much is it?

Packages vary depending on if you buy one month at a time or more, up to 1 year at a time. starting cost for a month is $19.95 – The more you buy the less you pay.

$19.95 and what do we get?

The benefits are many. Your child can feel a sense of being:

  • productive
  • accomplished
  • creative
  • engaged and connected with you
  • independant
  • successful in learning a new task
  • inventive
  • oh….need I say more?

And you can either help, or lie back and smile with your wine glass full snapping photos of how much of a kickass decision you made to watch you kid’s mind grow and explore.

I wonder which one I chose to do 😉 #noshameinmygame

https://www.kiwico.com/Refer?i=MichaelW131 you can click here if you want to try and give us some referral credits!🤙🏻

At Home with Christiana: In search of spring break sanity

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If you’re like me and you live somewhere that the weather is slightly less than spring-y (ahem, thanks ENTIRE east coast) you may be about midway through your kids’ spring break and about to go insane. Or maybe you went crazy on Monday… no judgment.

Either way, today was rainy, my boys were bored, and I needed like 5 seconds to shower without someone hanging from a light fixture. Enter … custom Star Wars coloring sheets!! And quiet boys. Like off-and-on quiet and sustained interest for HOURS. This is not something that comes easily in a household with a three year-old that yells “SMASH!” before beginning most tasks, and a five year-old whom his pre-K teachers dubbed “not an art guy”.

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Even little sister can dig it.

I know this may seem like a common sense idea, but it took me five years to think of it, so I’m going on the assumption that some of you haven’t tried this yet either. Basically, take a book that involves whatever your kids are interested in  obsessed with at the moment (For my boys it happens to be Star Wars despite the fact that they have seen zero Star Wars films, gee thanks Disney marketing!). Ask them to pick out some favorite characters, scenes, vehicles, etc. Trace said character, scene, or vehicle with a pencil (because if you’re like me you’ll have to erase the fingers that don’t line up a few times — why are the hands ALWAYS wonky?!) Label it, or have your kiddo write a caption for the image if they want. You don’t have to be artistic, or even creative, this is seriously just tracing. Trust me, I don’t craft!

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Traced sheets ready for copying

Once you have a traced original that all parties can agree on (you know you better make sure you get Elsa’s dress right! Good luck with R2-D2’s buttons…) take your traced original over to your printer/copier and show the kids how it can scan the image and print out copies magic coloring sheets!  As a bonus, if you let the kids make the copies, they get a major kick out of pressing the buttons on a machine they’re usually not allowed to touch.  Thats it. Literally.  Just be prepared that they will want to make approximately 500 copies. Each.

This super simple activity is free, improves fine motor skills, encourages creativity, and reinforces color and reading comprehension. And gives a parent enough time for a mimosa. I mean shower. BOOM! Happy (un)Spring Break!

Custom Coloring Sheet Supplies:

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  • Printer paper
  • Favorite kids books
  • Pencil
  • Printer/Copier
  • Crayons, colored pencils, or markers
  • Optional: Mimosa