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”

 

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.

 

Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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Essential Oils 101

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So what is Aromatherapy? Do you ever think back to a time before modern medicine? Before the time that the answer to everything seems to be to pop a pill? Well, before we had pills, the people  looked to the earth for help (sure, a s*$t-ton more folks died back then, but also nobody was willing to scrape the mold off cantaloupe and stick it on a festering wound either….but I’m splitting hairs. ).

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, derived from plants, roots, flowers, and saps and adapted into a concentrated oil to be used as aids in wellness of mind, body, and spirit. It can be inhaled indirectly, like in a diffuser( This one is super zen. ), via direct inhalation like using an Essential oil in your bathtub or an inhaler, or can be applied directly onto skin (be careful to be under direction of someone who is certified and knows about oils before you do this) via carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil.

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In my massage practice, I am certified to custom blend about 21 different oils. I use these blends for each client in a room diffuser. My favorite way to wear them daily for my own personal sense of zen is via my Essential Oil Necklace.

“Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. Even the oils from varieties of plants within the same species may have chemical compositions different from each other. The same applies to plants that are grown or harvested in different ways or locations.” Says this article published by PubMed. This is important to remember when using oils for their medicinal properties.

Blending Smells

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Since the olfactory nerve can be sensitive to the chemical properties of the oils, it is best to smell each oil when pairing oils together. Each blend should have three different components. A top, mid, and bottom note.

Top notes are oils such as citrus oils: lemon, sweet orange, grapefruit, being good examples. These top notes have the properties to “lift” up a mood. These oils are well known for the antidepressent qualities.

The Mid note is an oil that functions to balance out the blend. Lavender calms and sooths, eucalytpus balances and flows, and geranium is said to help regulate hormonal imbalance. There are many more, these are examples of the ones that I use frequently.

The Bottom notes are important. These are your saps, resins, barks, and some plants. Thick and earthy smelling, these function to ground you. They have very great propensity to help with sleep, anxiety, stress reduction, and overall centering.

Creating a delicate balance of chemical properties is important when blending oils. Smelling each oil one at a time can help you determine if the chemical properties of the oil are something your body can handle at that moment. For instance, you could think you LOVE lavender, but today you smell it and it smells awful! There are many other oils with soothing properties that may be less offensive to your nose, so move on to the next!

It is good practice to smell your blend and add ONE drop at a time per oil so you can be wary of the strength of your blend, and customize it directly to you!

Tips to remember

  1. Never put an oil directly on skin without a carrier oil as a base. Some oils (especially citrus) are phototoxic (breakdown in the presence of UV light) and will make your skin super susceptible to burning in the sun.
  2. Since oils are heavily concentrated (about 200lbs lavender flowers go into making just ONE lb of lavender oil) try to never blend more than 4-5 oils together.
  3. Make sure your oil is pure, in a blue or brown glass bottle that has been shipped and stored in a cool dry place (these are organic matter essences and have a shelf life) To tell if it is pure, you should see its latin name as well as its country of origin written clearly on the bottle. StillPoint Aromatics is a company that I like to recommend .
  4. Please DO NOT FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER ingest essential oils. Unless you are under the direct care of a clinically trained Aromatherapist (not corporate trained), you should avoid ingestion. Like I stated above, these heavily concentrated oils can eat through surfaces like wood. Imagine what it could do with a stomach lining or liver!
  5. Be careful and do not use oils if you’re pregnant! Again, it is earth medicine and needs trained minds to approve before use.
  6. Have fun with it! It can become a very awesome ritual if you let it!

Here is an excellent guide!

 

Essential Oils Guide

Kristy, Au Naturale: Daily Meditation for folks who don’t have time to freaking meditate.

As a massage therapist and energy worker, I put a lot of pressure on myself to put out a “zen” vibe to others. To be perfectly honest though, I have the knowledge and the tools to become and remain grounded, but I am just like many of folks in rest of the world when it comes to my ups, downs, spaz-outs, and whirlwind emotions. The struggle has been real when it comes to self-doubt and judgement about how much I am not focusing on harnessing the inner strength that I know lives within me.

I have, though, found some simple, do-able things you (yes YOU!) can do to integrate meditation into your life.

Take five

It is during the most stressful times that I find it amazingly important to spend 5 or even 1 minute shutting off my mind, and really just listening to myself breathe.  That’s as easy as closing your eyes. Forget your to-do list (those can wait), no phone calls (silence that sh*&), and just really breathe.

“But how do I ‘just’ breathe, Kristy?” Truth is, I don’t use a certain style of breathing like ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ or ‘yoga breathing’. My answer is simple. In and out, people. In and out. Then, When you open your eyes…smile. Fake it if you have to. But smile. Find something you find funny and really SMILE. Think about something you hold dear and feel the love of that something within you, and surround yourself with it.

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ONE TO FIVE MINUTES. This can be done at stop lights (with eyes open of course), right as you sit down at your desk, as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. Brushing your teeth…..anytime or anywhere. No excuses. We all drive. We all brush our teeth… (hopefully). Set a reminder on your phone if you have to… oh then put it away for five minutes.

Other people do find special breathing techniques helpful or grounding. There are great online tutorials like this one on YouTube or on apps such as the Insight Timer.

After you breathe, step two is finding a way to be mindful about setting your energy and intention up for the day by learning something new about your inner self and practicing it throughout your day.

Start at work

We all email, right? Sometimes WAY too much! How many emails do you write in a day? Read in a day? 10? 25? Well, before you start your daily “this meeting should have been a F*%#ing EMAIL, CARL!!!!!!” anger freak out, go here: The Daily Om

My wonderful mother signed me up one day during a hysterically crying episode of postpartum anxiety to receive these daily emails full of insights that helped me ground myself with purpose.

Madisyn Taylor authors this website and when you subscribe, you get wonderful emails each day as a reminder to consider yourself first. Through this webpage, there is also a series of free or donation-based courses that you can take ranging from ’21 day at home Yoga’, to ‘freeing yourself from people in your life who are energy vampires’, *f’ing Carl* .(that is the subject of a whole other post–people who DRAIN the every last shred of life out of you just by being in the same room).

It’s science

In the book Handbook for Happiness: A 4 Step Plan For Resilient Living, the Mayo Clinic sums up that emotional and physical benefits of meditation are vast. It can help emotionally with stress management, imagination, creativity, tolerance and patience (cash reward for anyone who can teach me these), reducing negative emotions, increasing self-awareness and sense of being in the present.

Oftentimes, we overlook the effects that meditation has on illness and medical conditions.

“Meditation might also be useful if you have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress…….” “some research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:450300_300x340_Cover.jpg

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Tension headaches”

LOADS of folks deal with these chronic issues, so why not arm ourselves everyday with the power of mind to DO SOMETHING about it? For free. With no bad side effects.

The power you have within you to change the vibes your giving off each day is remarkable. You just have to remember that it is there. It is important to realize that YOU and YOU only determine the course of how you handle situations.  This information is key to starting each morning off with a bit of peace to face the day. You can take back  the power to decide how you will feel and use that power to decide how you will react to each situation. Or… at least fake it until you make it!

Good luck and Namaste!


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