Busy Bag Swap

I recently hosted a Busy Bag Swap with some local Chicago moms.  It was a hit.  For those of you unfamiliar with the busy bag concept, it is an activity for your little one that is usually contained in a single bag.  It is great for travel and easy to store.

If you are interested in hosting a Busy Bag Swap here is how I hosted mine.

I first started with my Busy Bag Swap invitation which read:

I have seen these great busy bag swaps and want in on the action. What I am proposing is each mom makes 15 of the same busy bags to swap and we will all have lunch together! Bring your little one(s), pack your lunches, and (if you would like) bring some food to share. We’ll have lunch, the kids will play and we’ll exchange our busy bags. That means you’ll leave with 15 busy bags for your toddler!

Here are some Busy Bag resources: 
http://pinterest.com/msmblog/busy-bags/

http://www.secondstorywindow.net/home/2011/10/toddler-time-busy-bag-series-part-2.html

http://planetoftheapels.blogspot.com/p/our-busy-bag-swap.html

http://unsolicitedadvice-n-such.blogspot.com/2011/07/preschool-young-k-adv-2s-young-ks-busy.html

You can also Google “Busy Bag Swap”.

Please comment and let us know what Busy Bag you’ll be bringing so we don’t have duplicates.

I then waited for local Chicago moms to sign up and share what they would bring.  I decided I contribute a color matching Paint Swatch game inspired by Shannon at Tot School.  (I will post some images about how I made mine in a later post.)

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Although I was hoping for 14 other parents to attend the swap, I got only 5.  I was disappointed and wondered if I had done something wrong in my invitation, date I decided to host it, or time of day I picked.  I decided not to dwell on that.  Instead, I changed my focus on the positive; some time with other moms, possible new friends for my little guy, and new busy bags. The moms I met were all so nice and despite the rain came.  Yay!  In the end, my little guy has a total of six new busy bags to play with.

One mom brought a Pool Noodle Lacing game that is excellent for color identification, number and counting, and motor skills.  We can thank Kirby from Planet of the Apels for this one.

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One crafty mom brought this great Popsicle Stick Color Matching game that can be found on Holli’s site Full Hands Full Hearts.

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This geometric busy bag that encourages color matching and learning about shapes was inspired by Modern Parent Messy Kid.

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Another mom, who happens to also be a teacher, brought an Exploration Bag.  Her busy bag was the only one to get us outdoors and exploring.  I can’t wait to try it out with my little guy.

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Lastly, this mom created this Color Sorting busy bag.  Full of little toys, shapes, textures, and colors it is a tool for learning and practicing color identification and sorting.  I love all the different items found in the bag and had fun sorting them for this picture.

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At 18 months old, my little guy hasn’t learned his colors.  I think he knows the color blue, but that could be me just seeing something I wish was there.  All the busy bags are great but at his current stage of development they’re still a bit advanced for him.  Tonight, I broke out the color sorting busy bag to see how he would play with it.  He ended up sorting the items in the bag not based on color but based on category.  That was a fun activity him and I did for about 20 minutes.  I would begin by putting one item on each plate and he would then sort the items.  He sat in my lap as he picked out the cars, sticks, spoons, and dinosaurs.

20130628-211752.jpgI am so grateful to the moms that put in the time and effort to make these bags.  They turned out so great and I can’t wait to break out more for my little guy to enjoy.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with other parents and at the same time gather some fun activities for your little one I encourage you to host a busy bag swap.

Summer Must Have #2- Kangaroo Carrier WeeRide

My first priority this summer is spend a lot of time outdoors with my little guy.  Our summer will be full of these opportunities.  We will be camping in Yosemite, taking several trips to the Morton Arboretum, many bike rides along Lake Michigan, and lots of park time.  To help us live it up this summer I present to you the Kangaroo Carrier from WeeRide.

Right when the weather started to warm up I began daydreaming of long bike rides with my hubby and little one.  I pictured our little family biking for a few hours on the weekends, my husband pulling our little one along in a bike trailer while I rode beside it.  Our little guy may even fall asleep in it and while my husband and I would continue our ride.  I spent hours reading reviews on bike trailers.  In my research I found that there are a lot of great bike trailers on the market but my research ultimately led me in a different direction.  It led me to the Kangaroo Carrier from WeeRide.

Kangaroo Carrier from WeeRide

The carrier offered one very important feature that the bike trailers did not, it allowed us to be close to our little one during the bike ride.  Unlike with a bike trailer, our little guy would be right up there with us.   Luckily for me, a coworker was looking to sell his.  Score!

We have now had the WeeRide for more than a few months.  We have been using it a few times a week.  Sometimes for short rides to the park, others for weekend rides around Chicago.  Last weekend, we took our longest bike ride around the Morton Arboretum.  What I love most about the WeeRide is how I am able to interact with him as I ride.  If I want to talk to him, I just lean in and whisper in his ear.  I am able to hear and see how he is reacting during the ride.  I learned that he gets scared and lets out a whimper if he feels we are going too fast.  When he is having fun, he’ll yell out ‘weeeee!’  Sometimes, when he’s feeling grown up, he’ll grab the handle bars and try to steer (which as he gets stronger I could see becoming an issue).

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The start of last Saturday’s bike ride.  Our little guy is strapped in, excited and ready to go.

Other aspects of the WeeRide I like are:

  • It is stable and secure.  The WeeRide securely attaches to both my bike and my hubby’s bike.  We have two carrier bars, one for each of our bikes.  We can easily remove the kangaroo carrier and transfer it between bikes without worrying about the loss of structural stability.
  • Our little guy is very comfortable.  Once we buckle him in, he sits in the carrier as if he were sitting in a chair.  He’ll looks around.  He’ll rest his hands on his knees.  He’ll point at things that catch his interest.  He’ll point to my  husband and yell, “Ba!” (which means dad in Vietnamese).  If he gets tired, he could even rest his head on the headrest located between him and the handle bars.
  • The leg rests are adjustable.  One of the major differences between the WeeRide and other kangaroo carriers I researched was the adjustable leg rests.  Thinking long term, it was important that if biking were to become a big part of how we spend our free time, our little guy needed to be comfortable.  Some other kangaroo carriers do not offer the same degree of comfort the WeeRide does.
  • It fits into my attachment parenting style.  I love that I can have my little guy right up there with me.  It’s like babywearing while biking.  We are in constant communication and I am able to read his cues.

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Here we are a little further into our ride.  He is looking comfortable and has been having a good time.  My mister was able to get him to look at the camera in this shot.  I, of course, kept my eyes on the road. 

For parents looking into biking with their toddler, I highly recommend a kangaroo carrier.  My mister and I are very happy with the WeeRide.  Later on down the road, we may eventually get a bike trailer.  But, the WeeRide will last us a few more years.  The WeeRide website states that the maximum recommended age is 4 years and weight is 40lbs.   Great news for us because this means a few more years of  ‘weeeees’ and ‘woo hoos’ from our little one.

If you would like to see the WeeRide in action, check out my video:  We put the ‘Wee’ in WeeRide.

When riding with your kids, you must always have them wear  a helmet.  For our little guy, he is wearing a Giro helmet in size xsmall.  We purchased the helmet from REI.  My helmet happens to be on incorrectly.  My ponytail was too high for the helmet.  A helmet tip to those with long hair:  you want a low ponytail when wearing a bike helmet.

*I was not compensated for this review.  I purchased and own the Kangaroo Carrier WeeRide.  All opinions, ideas, images (except first image of the Kangaroo Carrier WeeRide.  That image is from the WeeRide company website), and videos are my own and property of yellowlovesgrey.  They cannot be used without my written consent. 

Wedding Wear Reworked

This post is dedicated to getting the most out of your wedding clothes.  It has been three years since my wedding, but I still wear items from that day.  I think the key to wearing your wedding items after your wedding, is first, figure out a way to tone the formal down.  My second tip is to pick the right occasion for the clothes. My third tip is be willing to take risks.

This picture was taken last Sunday, while I was leaving my apartment to attend my school’s graduation ceremony.  This outfit consists of three (yes THREE!) items that were worn on my wedding day.  Pretty good right?

Can you guess which three items? Let me give you some time to figure it out…

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The three items are the dress, the necklace, and that big white flower.  Following my tips above, let me explain what I was thinking when I put this outfit together.

Tip #1:  Figure out a way to tone the formal feel of the items down.

You may have already guessed that this dress is actually one of the bridesmaids dresses from my wedding, it is not my actual wedding gown.  (For those of you that have bridesmaids dresses just hanging in your closet, maybe this will inspire you to rework it.)  To tone this JCrew Chartreuse bridesmaids dress down, I relied on a casual short sleeve navy GAP cardigan and some white canvas Steve Madden wedges.  The casual texture of both the sweater and the shoes helped minimize the formalness (is that a word?) of my fancy dress.  I also added the white  Anthropologie flower to my sweater  and my JCrew gold and pearl necklace to act as a neutral medium to the contrasting blue and bright yellow in my outfit.  The result is an outfit centered around just three color blocks:  white, yellow, and blue.

Tip #2:  Pick the right occasion.

As I stated earlier, I was on my way to my high school’s graduation.  This was the perfect occasion for my dress because there is a range of attire during a high school graduation.  It can be as formal as a floral sheath dress with pearls to as casual as jeans and a sweater.  There is such a range in apparel at this event that it gives a lot of wiggle room for how one would dress.  I did not look or feel out of place when I arrived in this outfit.  Other occasions you can consider wearing your wedding items to are other weddings, formal dinner parties, holiday parties, charity events, evening shows such as symphonies, plays, musicals,  and dinner dates.

Tip #3:  Take a risk.

This tip doesn’t just apply to reworking your wedding items.  This tip applies to dressing yourself period.  It is important that you feel good in your clothes but to also keep yourself from being stuck in a rut.  That’s why it is good to  take risks and put yourself out there.  I admit, this dress is a loud color.  The color seemed even louder when I walked into the arena for graduation and saw mostly black and white.  But that  is ok.  I wanted to represent myself and how I was feeling.  I felt happy, cheery, and ready for summer.  When I wore this outfit I felt it was the perfect representation of those feelings.  I got a lot of compliments about the color, which further ‘brightened’ my mood. 😉

So what do you think?  Did I successfully transition my wedding wear to the ‘real world’?

Here’s a picture from my actual wedding day.  It was such a great day, I smile each time I think about it.  The wedding colors, yellow and grey, are actually the inspiration for my blog title. I hope your wedding brings lots of good memories back to you too.

Have you reworked any of your wedding items? If so, how? I would love to get your tips and tricks.

I Heart Accessories Swap hosted by Teaching In Heels

Join me and other bloggers having some girly fun with I Heart Accessories.  Hosted by MJ from Teaching in Heels.  Bloggers swap $15-$20 worth of accessories with one another.

For more information, check out her blog here: Teaching in Heels

Too fun!