Back to school also generally means birthday party season! As you might have noticed, I actually love birthday parties and my general feeling is the more, the merrier. But that can start to really add up. So I like to pick something special, nice, and educational even that isn't a gazillion bucks. Since I've been shopping around so much for our kindergarten and elementary-aged kids, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite 25 finds under $25 (or just barely over). I've organized them into general categories (although many of them cover lots of different interests) and think they'd be great for any birthday boy or girl. What's topping your kiddo's birthday list these days!?
Felting is the first item we added to our Fall Bucket List (because we had the supplies to do it all summer and never got around to it!) and I am so glad that we found time to make felted stones this season. It's an insanely fun tactile project where the activity is just as much fun as the finished project. Head over to The Land of Nod's blog to get the goods (and see how cute they look with some felted teeth dinos!).
And thanks to The Land of Nod for gifting the cute play materials!
Disclosure: The Land of Nod provided us with the play dinosaurs and felt storage bin in exchange for this post. No other compensation was provided and all opinions herein are our own.
I've been a little slow to get to our last day in Italy, but I'm excited to share our wonderful trip to Pompeii. It was absolutely a historical highlight of our vacation, especially for the kids. We had to return to Rome for our flight the following day, so we had booked our same driver (yes, that driver) already for the drive from Amalfi back to Rome. Because Pompeii is on the way, we'd planned to stop for a few hours.
As I mentioned in our final summer bucket list update, we've all become a little obsessed with seasonal bucket lists. It's a great way to get creative together, and a wonderful go-to when we're looking for something to do. Plus, I always love a list for the mere act of getting to cross items off. So we sat down to brainstorm ideas for this fall -- a few items we rolled over from our summer list, but most are brand spankin' new. Fall officially starts September 23rd -- get ready, we're coming for ya.
I'm guessing you noticed from my post on Cameron's favorite fall looks, but my lady likes herself the color gold. Metallic will do, but gold is her fave. So when we found ourselves with the need to buy a pair of gym shoes for school (had to be athletic and had to be velcro), Cam requested gold. I looked high and low, but couldn't find a pair under $150. And even I have my limits (really, I do). And while I'm on board with Cam's fashionable intentions and support her expressing herself how she feels comfortable, at the end of the day, she needs to be able to do what she needs to be able to do at school. I also just can't believe she's old enough to be in kindergarten ... gah!!! Anyway, she finally agreed to a leopard pair with gold accents -- we'll see how they hold up, I have my suspicions. But, in the meantime, I've rounded up some golden weekend makes for my favorite gal. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
Given how well everyone slept the night after our coastal explorations (and how much the kids actually slept while we were on the boat as well), Joel and I woke up our fourth day in Amalfi with a new resolve to take a boat vacation at some point in our near future. But, we had a slightly different at-sea plan for this particular day -- we were going to take a short ferry ride to nearby Positano.
There are so many great scents and textures to the fall season, and what better way to explore them than with some sensory activities! Plus, they just might stop me from eating all. the. pie. Happy almost fall, all!
Well, we didn't hit all 75+ items from this year's Summer Bucket List. I blame July. July was pretty pitiful in terms of crossing things off. But our August vacations helped put a good last dent in it. We came out at 55 activities for the season. Better than last year (46), not quite as good as the year before (60). In any event, our whole family is now a bit obsessed with the bucket list idea, so I'm thinking we might do one for every season (although, obviously not as prolific as the summer lists since school's in session). We'll see .... Here's how this summer ended up.
41. Stargazing -- we finally explored the Rock Creek Planetarium and joined one of the Wednesday Young Planetarium programs.
At the end of every day of our Italian vacation, Joel and I would recap the day's events, marveling at how good the kids had been (overall) and deciding that that day was our favorite. As we all settled into the vacation mode, it truly did seem that each day was better than the last. But I think our third day on the Amalfi Coast really won that title.
Despite the fact that we found Rome to be surprisingly uncrowded and easy to navigate (mostly), by our fifth day in Italy we were all excited to head to the Amalfi Coast for some relaxation. After much back and forth, we'd decided to stay in Amalfi Town -- it's not as much of a scene as popular Positano (that was a plus in my book when traveling with kids), it's the least vertically-oriented of the coastal towns (also good when traveling with kids), and we were able to find a hotel that could accommodate all of us in one suite (very, very difficult to find as most of the hotels are small). Our hotel in Amalfi had set up a transfer for us from Rome. Originally I wanted to try to train + bus it, but I was so, so glad by the end of our time in Rome that all we had to do was get in a car and sit.
We've become a little board-game obsessed in our house. Especially with Catan Jr. (which I love to play with them as much as I love that they can play by themselves). Those kids will cut you for some gold. And you really have to watch Cam -- she constantly tries to rig the die.
Oh happy day!! Today is our kids' first day back at school. Technically Cameron is only going for two hours today, but I'll take it. Although, at the same time, I'm now feeling sad about summer being over and the kids being so big. They seem ginormous to me. Especially Kane. My first grader is up to my shoulders (not that I'm tall) and has seemingly lost all his little kidness. Speaking of which, he had strong thoughts on his fall wardrobe, which still features the color green wherever possible. Here's what he's got lined up.
Dressy Prep -- he's fallen off ties somewhat, but Kane still favors looking "dressy" and if he sees a green tie, he has to have it (especially if it has anything to do with LEGO or StarWars). He scored a sweet pair of bright green suede moccasins in Positano this summer and he's begging to wear them to school (his are much nicer than those shown below, but this was the closest I could find online). He also likes mixing patterns and includes stripes whenever he can.
Everyday Brights -- Kane has really taken to putting together his own outfits and needs a strong reason for changing whatever he's paired up. That reason does not include having too many bright things at one time. Well, at least it's hard to lose him in a crowd. He will only wear GAP jeans and still favors a good fall jacket (he actually asked specifically for a wool coat this year, but I can just imagine what would happen to that on the playground).
Weekend Sports -- he is signed up for four sports this fall. So far he remains somewhat unaware of the crowd dressing complete in UnderArmour (not that I can point any fingers, that's generally what I'm in) and goes for comfortable sportswear. He did persuade his dad to purchase a few typographic shirts and name-brand sportswear for him though .... For obvious reasons, he is also not hard to spot on the field.
We had an easy day planned for our last day in Rome, including a little "sleeping in." And given the schedule we'd been running for our first several days there, the kids actually complied. We took our time getting ready (Cam insisted that the two of us don coordinating patterned jumpsuits), hit up a different cafe in the arcade across from our hotel for our morning cappuccino and cornetti, and then headed over to Borghese Gallery. I had made advance reservations for the 11:00 a.m. entrance -- admission to the gallery is timed and you should absolutely purchase tickets ahead of time online because they sell out far in advance. We picked up our tickets and rented two of the audio tours, thinking that the kids wouldn't be interested. So of course that meant they took the audio gadgets for themselves, but I didn't mind sharing and was just happy that they were listening intently.
As I try to ease the kids back into a school mindset, I've been thinking of fun ways to get them re-focused. They already love science experiments, so why wouldn't they love edible science!? Test out some of these tasty projects and see what you think.
Given my screw up the day prior with our Vatican guide, I made sure everyone was up and at 'em early Wednesday morning. This meant not only that we were actually on time for our guide (I hate, hate being late), but we were able to partake in a traditional Roman cafe "breakfast." We'd read up and knew that Romans take a quick cappuccino and cornetto standing at the cafe bar. The kids insisted we do the same lest we appear to be American tourists (because I'm sure that wasn't otherwise obvious). We had to grab the cappuccino for take away, but I was so, so happy on the taxi ride down to the Vatican. And then it started to rain. And then it started to pour. And it appeared we would be on time to meet our guide outside the Vatican museum, where we planned to spend a half-hour talking about things outside before our early entry access. Oy.
Oh yea. It's that time of year again: back-to-school shopping. I don't know who is more excited -- the kids or me. And I'm mixed on our motivations. Either way, it's happening and we're all pumped. Cameron's favorite looks have changed slightly from last year (post here), but she holds strong in the girly and glam department. She has definitely bumped up her sporty interest as well, which is good because I think she's in for a bit of a shock when I tell her that ballet flats aren't going to really fly at her new school. Maybe we can at least sneak them in the first day!!
Glam Cam -- this is still Cameron's most favorite look. Worn anywhere at any time. She's even planning on donning a few of these for her first day of Kindergarten! And, yes, we know the bag isn't practical, but she's our Pineapple Princess!