Entertaining a toddler when you just can’t go outside

I am definitely not one to complain about the warm summer weather we’ve been having; I MUCH prefer the heat to the cold (especially after the winter that wouldn’t end).  But sometimes it does get to be just TOO HOT to be running around outside for hours on end with your kiddo.  And sometimes there’s a thunderstorm which, despite all your wishes and deisres, keeps you inside for a few hours.  So what is a parent to do when stuck indoors with a little one that is just itching to run and play?  Here’s my list of things to do inside and places to go to beat the summer heat (or rain) without breaking the bank.

To Do Inside Without Leaving the House
1) Have a Nerf Gun fight
My husband and I impulsively bought 2 mini nerf guns at the store ($5 for the set- what a deal!).  Our thought was that since they were little, Ian would be able to use them and we could play together.  Well… even though they are small, the pull-back strength and trigger pull are so heavy that there is no way that Ian could manage it.  We opted for shooting each other instead, and I have to say, it was SO MUCH FUN.  We had just the 6 darts between us, but we were running through the house, hiding behind walls, jumping over pets, shooting wildly and laughing hysterically.  Meanwhile, Ian was shrieking with delight and gathering up all the ammo (and, conveniently, returning it to ME, not my husband).  If you haven’t had a nerf gun fight recently, this is a MUST do!  And as my experience proves, your little one can get involved even if he can’t manage the gun.

nerf-guns

Best toys ever!

 

2) Dig out the sensory bins
These things are ridiculously awesome.  And they keep a kid entertained forever.  If you need some suggestions, Pinterest is inundated with these things.  Trust me.  I have a whole board dedicated to them.

3) Indoor finger painting
I originally saw this on Pinterest, and I was smitten.  Finger painting is fun but is so incredibly messy, so it’s typically better as an outside activity.  But this allows your little one to squelch and squish that paint without the accompanying mess!  That’s definitely a win-win!

indoor-finger-painting

Put paint in bags and tape to the table- genius!!

 

4) Bathtub painting
I also saw this on Pinterest (pinned from http://www.theidearoom.net), and it’s genius (and has the side benefit of ending up with a sparkly clean tub afterwards).  I can’t wait to try this with Ian the next time it’s really pouring outside and we need something fun to do.

Things To Do Out of the House
1) Go to the library
You’d be surprised what types of things are available (for FREE) for you to do at your local library.  Ours does story times, puppet shows, crafts, and more.  And after the “event” is over, you can spend some time browsing through the books and discovering something new to read together.

2) Go to a bookstore
Similar to the library, a lot of bookstores have story times for kids (and they’re usually free!).  If they don’t have a story time, they probably have a kid’s area that has not only a mountain of children’s books but also a play area.  Our local Barnes and Noble has a train table.  That’s enough to keep Ian happy for hours.

3) Go to a park with a splash pad
We are extremely fortunate that the parks in our area are fantastic.  The playgrounds are terrific and the parks are very well maintained.  We’re also lucky that a few of our parks also happen to have splash pad areas.  If it’s really stinking hot, a splash pad is a great way to cool down if you don’t have easy access to a pool.

What do you like to do to keep your littles entertained when it’s super hot and sticky outside (or when it’s raining a flood)?

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{Honest Review} Charlie the Cavalier Begs for Attention (children’s book)

Charlie the Cavalier Book Cover
Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. I received a free sample of this book and puppet in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Having family members or other loved ones who live far away from you and your family can be difficult.  We know this first hand and all too well- all of our family and a lot of our good friends are a 10 hour drive away.  To compensate for this distance, we tend to do a lot of Skyping so the grandparents have an opportunity to see Ian on a more regular basis.  We started this when Ian was pretty small (a few months old, at the most), so he’s gotten pretty used to staring at the camera/TV and waving to grandma and grandpa (or Gi-Gi and Dad-Dad, depending on who’s on the other side of the camera).

I have noticed, however, that as he has gotten more active and “fidgety”, he has a little less patience for the Skype calls since there’s only so much connecting that can be done through this medium.  Don’t get me wrong, Skyping is great, but it’s no replacement for actual human contact.

Apparently there are other families who feel this way and are struggling to keep their kids present and involved in these over-the-computer conversations.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something to help children become more engaged during these video chats?  Enter “Charlie the Cavalier Begs for Attention”, by Lisa Rusczyk.

When I came across this e-book and puppet, it sounded like a pretty genius idea and something that I could really see our family using.  Essentially, it’s a story about a King Charles Cavalier, Charlie, who likes to play games and sing songs and has been trained to protect the child’s loved ones while they are apart.  The puppet that accompanies the book is supposed to represent Charlie and is used as a tool to facilitate interaction between the child and the loved one on the other end of the video chat.  There are lots of scenes in the book that lend themselves to use of the puppet (at one point, Charlie starts singing the ABCs), so the interaction can be as much or little as you make it.  You can read more about Charlie the Cavalier here, on the book’s official website.

Now, on to my thoughts and impressions.

I printed out the free puppet and started assembling it first.  If you know how to operate scissors and fold paper, you can put together this puppet.  I’m not kidding.

Charlie the Cavalier printed puppet

After I built the puppet, I was a little afraid that it wouldn’t be very toddler-proof.  I KNEW it wouldn’t be Ian-proof.  So I dug out a small brown paper bag (lunch sack size) and attached the puppet to the bag.  This made it maybe a little harder to operate, but it was much sturdier!

Charlie the Cavalier bag puppet

The puppet was actually pretty cute, and Ian liked it a lot.  He kept opening the mouth and looking inside at the tongue.  And, of course, he had to make it “eat” his hand and giggle at that idea.  Aren’t kids great?

Charlie the Cavalier interactive puppet

Once he was done inspecting the puppet, we curled up on the couch to read the e-book.  I was a little nervous since we have never read an e-book together before…we always do regular books (and mainly board books because he likes to turn the pages himself).  But he actually did really well and seemed to like it just as much as a regular book, even if he couldn’t physically turn the pages.  He seemed to really get a kick out of Charlie the puppet “speaking” and moving.  I had Charlie dancing and barking and singing, and Ian was laughing the whole time.  In addition to the puppet, Ian also really enjoyed the colorful pictures on each page.  He kept pointing out different things on the tablet that he wanted me to see.

Charlie the cavalier ebook

All in all, it’s a sweet book that lends itself to some great parent/child interaction. I also think it could be a great tool for aiding in video chatting.  I’d like to send a copy of the puppet to my parents for them to print and assemble to use the next time we Skype with them.  I’m curious to see if Ian gets excited to interact with Charlie when he’s on the other side of a video screen.  Even if he doesn’t, it’s still a cute read that is a nice little addition to our growing library of books.

Charlie the Cavalier is recommended for ages 2-6.  You can buy the e-book on Amazon (don’t forget to go to the Charlie the Cavalier website to download your free printable puppet) for $2.99; however, Charlie the Cavalier is having a promotion on Monday, June 23, where you can snag the book for free- what a deal!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

{Honest Review} Citrus Lane

CitrusLaneReview

 

Note: This is not a paid advertorial.  I was not compensated in any way for this review. All thoughts are 100% my own.

I ordered my first Citrus Lane box in April 2013, when Ian was just 6 months old.  I didn’t know anyone who subscribed to Citrus Lane, but I had seen an ad on Facebook, and I have to admit I was intrigued.  Subscription boxes were a fairly new concept to me at the time (I guess I was living under a rock), so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I checked out the Citrus Lane website, read up on their various brand partners, read reviews…anything to try to make my decision about whether it would really be worth it to sign up.  In the end, I just decided to take the plunge.  I knew I’d always be wondering otherwise.  And I was reassured with the fact that I could always cancel if I wasn’t impressed.

firstCitrusLane

I was hooked after my first box.  Yes.  It really is THAT good.

“But WHY?” you may ask.  Well, let me tell you why we love Citrus Lane, and why I recommend it to friends and family with kids under 5.

1. The brands are top notch
Citrus Lane partners with some really terrific brands to bring new and unique products into my home.  A lot of the brands I’d never heard of until they came to me in my box… and now I actively seek them out when I’m shopping.  They are all either sourced sustainably, or are chemical free/natural, or have some other compelling corporate story.  Some of the brands I’ve come to know and expect from Citrus Lane include:
Green Toys
The Honest Company
Melissa & Doug
i play
Episencial
California Baby
Barefoot Books
Skip Hop
Plum Organics

2. The products are fantastic
There hasn’t been a box yet that I’ve disliked.  And having received over 12 boxes, that’s quite a feat.  I love that the items are age appropriate, and I’ve definitely noticed them growing with Ian.  But probably what I like the most is the mix of items that come in the box. I can almost always assume Ian will get at least 1-3 toys of some description.  The next pretty sure item is a book (which I love!). Followed by a “beauty” product (lotion, shampoo, body wash, sunscreen, etc). Most of the time, we also get some type of food (a package of teething biscuits, a pouch of yogurt drops, a bag of organic cookies, etc).  And last, but not least, Citrus Lane always seems to throw in an item for mom (Julep nail polish, juice Beauty hand cream).  I don’t know how they always come up with such a great combination of products, but they do, and it’s pretty genius.  The fact that most of Ian’s “stuff” came from a Citrus Lane box speaks volumes, and that’s one of the main reasons I continue to subscribe.  I tried to round up a good cross section of the stuff we’ve received over the past year to help illustrate this point.  In one word, Citrus Lane is awesome.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

3. The excitement of getting something new in the mail each month
This is pretty self explanatory- who doesn’t love getting mail?  And if you like surprises, that makes this whole deal even better.  I will admit that at first, this excitement factor was really more for me than for Ian (I mean, does a 6 month old understand or recognize that he is receiving mail?).  Now that Ian has gotten older, however, he’s started to grasp the concept that this big brown box is his to open.  Once we start opening it, he gets pretty excited and loves to explore what’s inside.  It’s so fun to watch!

4. The price point is spot on
At $21 a month, this is a pretty good deal. I have no idea if it’s the cheapest kid subscription box out there (I love it so much I haven’t bothered to look elsewhere), but I’m not sure how you’d get so much quality for any less.  In fact, I’m not sure how they manage to squeeze in the items you DO get for such a good price.  To top it off, the shipping has been fantastic- my box has always come when I expected it to (one or two boxes were maybe a day later than I thought, but considering it had to traverse the country and gets placed in my mailbox, I’m not complaining!).

5. The customer relationship
I have been really impressed with the customer service and general friendliness I’ve experienced with Citrus Lane.  I get a survey for each box where I can provide feedback and rate the products I received.  Most of my survey responses include a comment along the lines of “keep up the good work” because I really have been so pleased with my subscription.

If you’re on the fence, and have ever even considered subscribing to Citrus Lane… do it!  I haven’t regretted it for one minute!

[Note: if you sign up via my referral link (https://www.citruslane.com/invitedby/citrus.lane.714472), you can get 50% off your first month!]

 

Welcome!

Hi there, and welcome to my blog! My name is Beth, and I’m the Mrs of the Frankenfield family. My husband, Jon, and I have been married nearly 5 years (we got married August 29, 2009).  We have a 13 year old dog-Scout, a 4 year old cat-Igby, a 3 year old cat-Ducky, and an 18 month old son-Ian. To find out more about our family, hop over to the About page.  Or you can just learn as you go, through my posts. I’m so glad you are here, and can’t wait to get to know you!