Getting kids excited about science - bath fizzies with DK's Maker Lab by Smithsonian

An award-winning kids science book that will foster a love for science while having hands-on fun.

Step into my house and you’ll find surfaces littered with Ziplock bags open just enough to let the day’s latest slime creation ooze out, bottles filled with unidentifiable concoctions that contain some kind of plant matter, and everyday objects “scented” with copious layers of lotion. My girls love science. They love to experiment with different ingredients to see how they react and to proudly create their own “essential” recipes.

Sometimes, I’m all for this scientific exploration.

Other times, I wonder how long I’m expected to let something sit (bacteria multiplying by the second) while we “wait” for the reaction.

When DK offered to send us a complimentary copy of Smithsonian’s Maker Lab, an award-winning book that encourages kids to build, invent, create and discover through 28 DIY science experiments, I jumped at the chance. Crafty science projects that will work and teach the girls a little bit about the science behind them? What could be cooler?

Getting kids excited about science - bath fizzies with DK's Maker Lab by Smithsonian - kids science book with cool projects and experiments

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watching the African penguins at Mystic Aquarium

As chocolate ice cream dribbled down my littlest’s chin, a band played in the background, and the sun set behind my family, I could only think one thing: best vacation ever!

We’ve made visiting Mystic, Connecticut a family tradition for years now. Full of New England charm and nestled halfway between New York and Boston just off Interstate 95, it’s the perfect destination for families living in (or traveling through) the northeast.

Over the years we’ve done our share of exploring the area and there are a few family-friendly spots in and around Mystic that stick out for us.

Things to Do with Kids in Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic Aquarium

I’ve been going to Mystic Aquarium since the early 80s. I remember being so excited packing up our minivan with coolers full of drinks and food that would last our family of six all day. We could barely sit still once we hit the road.

Those warm, fuzzy feelings are what made me want to take our girls there. And, for the past five summers, we’ve done just that.

There are so many cool things about this aquarium.  One of the first exhibits we always check out is the beluga whales—this aquarium has the only beluga whales in New England! It is absolutely amazing to watch a gigantic beluga whale swim right past you. They weigh thousands (!) of pounds but they glide by with ease. Ellie couldn’t get enough of them.

beluga whale at Mystic Aquarium

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How to Wrangle Your Kids' Seashell Collection: DIY seashell picture frame

I can feel my husband’s anxiety rise as the seashells clink into the bucket from their little sandy fingers. The girls’ faces are full of the bright-eyed joy that goes hand-in-hand with discovering treasures. My husband’s face is tight and thin lipped and definitely wondering where the hell are all of these seashells going to end up and how long do I have to wait to throw them out?!

Me? I fall somewhere in between. I’m one part embrace the magic and one part at what point will we tip the scales and become eligible for Hoarders?

My girls like collecting things. Gemstones. Birthday cards. Sticky candy wrappers that are still holding on to the scent of their favorite treat. While I totally understand the desire to hold on to things that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I also understand not wanting to live in a house that looks like the local dump.

The attempt at balancing both sides had me scrambling for a way to deal with our current seashell collection ituation. Our house was littered with partially-filled Ziploc bags of seashells waiting to find a home. We could have thrown them all out, but I liked the idea of doing something special with them, in hopes of bringing back a little of that bright-eyed joy whenever my girls see them.

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our favorite things about Basin Harbor resort #familytravel #familyvacation #Vermont

If you follow me on Instagram, you know we’ve been bouncing around to different area codes this summer, getting in some solid family travel with mini getaways. First it was Great Wolf Lodge in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains (remember that time we went and I forgot to pack pants? I remembered them this time!) and then last week we enjoyed a few days of bliss at Basin Harbor in Vermont.

It. was. glorious.

If you’ve never heard of it (I hadn’t!) Basin Harbor is a resort that sits right on Lake Champlain. With ridiculous views and so much to do, it’s a great family vacation spot—just be sure to pack some dressier clothes along with your bathing suits and hike-friendly outfits or you’ll feel a liiiiiittle bit out of place. The regulars like to dress their best.

The resort has been family-run for over one hundred years and many of the same families return every summer for their vacation, which gives the place a very familiar, neighborhood kind of vibe, which we loved.

So, if you head to a schmancy resort there are probably millions of things you could be blown away by, right? The incredible food. The spa. The endless activities offered. Basin Harbor had all of those things, but our family’s favorites were a little less upper crust.

Before you read about our favorites, you should head over to Glamamom for my full rundown on Basin Harbor and all it has to offer.

our favorite things about Basin Harbor resort #familytravel #familyvacation #Vermont

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Father's Day Kids DIY All About Dad Book with free printable

Tired of Father’s Day gift ideas that are all cuff links and grilling and alcohol? Me too, which is why I teamed up with Olivia of Atiliay (again) to come up with some super cute—super original—Father’s Day DIY gift ideas for kids to make for their dads.

I’ve been trying so hard to let go of the whole Pinterest-perfect mentality. You know what I mean, right? The idea that everything you do (or worse, everything your kids do) has to be flawless and worthy of all of the social media shares. It’s easy to get swept up in it, but I want to call bullshit. It’s way too much pressure. And for what?

When it comes to kids DIYs, they get pleasure out of the doing: getting their hands dirty and experimenting and putting their heart into something. But what fun is there in making something if mommy is hovering around trying to “fix” everything? Just take a deep breath and let them do their thing. It will mean more to everyone if you do.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to start off with an awesome base, which is what I did with each of these three ideas. Olivia was sweet enough to design a free printable for us based off of her sweet Father’s Day card.

Click here to have the files sent directly to your inbox!

FREE Father's Day printable for kids - with DIY gift idea that even the littlest ones can make!

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