DIY Toddler Party Favors

Cheap & easy DIY toddler party favor idea! Make Gak (aka flubber) from Elmer's glue and Borax. Place it in the mini 4 oz. mason jars. A great alternative to candy!When it comes to children’s birthday parties and choosing favors can become stressful for moms reaching for that “perfect party”. This year I kept it simple and made them! Lily’s buddies went home with tiny mason jars filled with squishy, slimy homemade gak (or aka flubber).

For Lily’s first birthday I slaved away making sand buckets filled with a variety of toys and candy…yes cotton candy!!???? Some of the kids weren’t even one yet!!! The sand bucket alone would and should have been enough…but it was my baby’s first and I went overboard…way over.

I had purchased the 4 oz mini mason jars from Walmart with the initial intent to serve individual portions of homemade macaroni & cheese. Once I finalized the menu without the need for the classic cheesy noodle side dish I figured I would utilize them for the favors somehow. That’s when I found a pin that lead me to the adorable pink glitter gak given away at a party at Mama Papa Bubba.

When I made the gak I left the glitter and the pink color out since 95% of Lily’s buddies are boys. Dying it red and blue matched the BBQ theme this year and are unisex. I used some of the extra fabric from the DIY garland I created (post coming soon!) to make toppers for the jars. I found a glass bowl that was bigger that the width of the mason jars. I wish I actually made the circles a little bigger because when I screwed the lid over the fabric not enough stuck around the entire jar (that’s just my picky opinion!).

Items needed to make Gak (aka flubber) for some DIY toddler favors.To make these cute favors you need the following:

Containers (Walmart sells the 4 oz. mason jars in a 12 pack for $12.97)
Borax, 1 teaspoon (found at most stores near laundry detergent)
Elmer’s Glue 7.625 oz. bottle
Food coloring
Warm water
Note: I made 14 favors and I used 2 large (7.625 oz.) and 1 regular ( 4 oz.) bottle of Elmer’s glue. I made three batches with each individual bottle of glue. For measurement purposes with the 4 oz. bottle of glue, follow the same directions but use ½ teaspoon of Borax mixed with ¼ cup warm water.
Note: For all the moms out there that are worried about Borax being toxic…don’t worry. Borax has the same safety warning as salt and baking soda!

1. In a mixing bowl pour the glue out and fill the empty bottles with warm water.

2. Give the bottles a good shake and then pour the water into the bowl. Mix the glue and water (it will be a watery mixture).

3. If you want the gak to be a specific color drop in the food coloring into the glue mixture. FYI to get the color red you have to put a LOT in otherwise it will turn pink!

Easy steps in making Gak (aka flubber) for DIY toddler party favors.4. In a separate small bowl measure ½ cup of warm water and mix in 1 teaspoon of Borax until it dissolves.

5. Pour the Borax mixture into the glue and start to stir. It will notice a change instantly.

6. After you mix it with a spoon, finish with your hands to soak up the remaining liquid and finish creating the gak. The gak can easily be cut/ripped into smaller portions to fit the mason jars.

Gak is a lot of fun for kids to play with, just like playdough. Gak molds quicker to containers than dough and if you place it in a strainer the gak will eventually start to drain through it creating strings of slime! And if you have an older kid just pushing the gak into a container creates funny noises (aka fart sounds!). So if your looking for a cheap DIY party favor for toddlers try this one. Plus it’s a great alternative to candy!

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  1. Julie commented:
    February 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi! I love this idea, just curious if there is a shelf life? TIA

    • Amy Romano commented:
      February 23, 2014 Reply

      Hey Julie!
      I am not sure about the shelf life. I wish I could give you an exact date, but with all my research I found mixed reviews on how long it would last. If you are making a big batch for your kid to play with, as long as you keep it in an air tight container it should last weeks (from personal experience!). For this post I put a small amount in tiny mason jars for favors and we kept one for Lily to play with. I found that after a while of playing with the small amount it kinda dried up a bit. I just wet my hands and worked in the moisture to give it back the gooey consistency! She played with the favor (not everyday) for about 2 weeks before I tossed it and just made a larger batch for her to play with. Hope this helps!

  2. Kristen commented:
    February 25, 2014 Reply

    I love the chalkboard idea. How did u make it? And where did u get the bright colored chalk?

    • Amy Romano commented:
      February 28, 2014 Reply

      Hey Kristen!

      Thanks! Are you referring to the huge chalkboard with all the pictures from Lily’s 2nd birthday? Or the large Chalkboard that was outside that kids could play on? I will email you to confirm and shoot you in the right direction to find the info!

  3. Mecca commented:
    November 5, 2014 Reply

    Does the gak dry out? I am wondering if I do this 2/3 days before the party will it be an issue.

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    August 23, 2017 Reply

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  1. By Lily & Bliss | Backyard BBQ Party: part 2 on April 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    […] that creates a squishy & slimy substance that kids love to play with(read about the favors here). Some of the fabric from the garland was used for toppers on the mason jars. I used more of the […]

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Backyard BBQ Party: part 2

I’m back with part 2 of Lily backyard BBQ party celebrating her second birthday!

twochalkboardLast year I created “A Year of Firsts” chalkboard for her first birthday and it seemed to be a huge hit all over Pinterest. I used the idea again, but created “Another Year of Memories”. There are so many firsts that she encountered over the last year but many of our favorite memories were “repeats”! So to make it easier I just printed all the photos from the last year and taped them up on the same chalkboard (that I created here). I used a chalk pen to label a few of the pictures like “first walk”, first haircut”, “Disney World” and “1…2….3 ER visits”!

twoblockplayareaThe DIY fabric garland that hung on the chalkboard collage also draped my mom’s TV area where we had plenty of toys for the toddlers to play with (including some toys from my childhood!). I love some of these sweet photos I got of Lily and her buddies, Beckett & Brady. These kids are just so adorable!

twofavorsI also used the fabric garland and a vintage box to display the favors. The kids took home tiny 4 oz mason jars that were filled with homemade gak. What is gak (aka flubber)? Its the concoction of Elmer’s glue and Borax that creates a squishy & slimy substance that kids love to play with(read about the favors here). Some of the fabric from the garland was used for toppers on the mason jars. I used more of the DIY chalkboard tags to label gifts for two babies that went home with age appropriate toys. The 9 month old would attempt to eat the gak and I’m sure the 4 month old wouldn’t even think to grab it!

Now for all the backyard fun! Toddlers can be fickle so I made sure there was plenty of fun activities that would keep the kids busy. We had two tiny picnic tables that had red gingham tablecloths for the kids to eat on. The tables were placed in the grass for easier clean up and for a close place to sit while snacking in between all the fun activities.

So many ideas for a backyard party for toddlers. Outdoor chalkboard...blown up pool with pool noodles and sprinklers!The Little Tykes Beach Ball sprinkler (found at Walmart) had spray heads on all sides of the ball for endless fun! A blown up child pool sat underneath a beach tent to give some shade. I filled the pool with water, two noodles that I cut in half (to create more toys!) a beach ball and some other pool balls that were a buck at Target. On my mom’s porch I had my DIY outdoor chalkboard for a little creativity play.

waterblob1But it seems that the water blob was a huge hit with the kids. I found this idea via Pinterest (like all things) and can’t believe how easy is was to make and how much fun the kids had with it! I picked up the plastic sheeting from Lowe’s (around $8) and some duct tape from Target. Make sure you get the plastic sheeting that is 4 mil thick. I bought the 2 mil and there was one tear in the plastic during the party, but I just use some duct tape to cove the hole and it worked! Take the plastic sheeting and fold it over. Take the duct tape and seal the three sides leaving a small opening to fill with water. I did insert some fun foam shapes I had from Target. You can read a tutorial from Clumsy Crafter where I got the idea from! On the day of Lily’s party Mike filled the plastic with water from a hose and then taped the hole up. The kids had a blast running and jumping on the blob. Lily enjoyed laying down on it as if it was a water bed. I have plenty of the plastic leftover so I plan on making this again during the summer.

twowaterblob We had a bucket full of towels outside and another bucket that hung from a shepards hook filled with SPF and bugs spray (thank goodness we had no rain or mosquitoes!). I thought having these outside would make it easier on us mommas so we didn’t have to keep lugging the diaper bags all around the party! I also made sure I had some extra swimming diapers on hand in case anyone ran out.

Having a party outside? Think about providing guests with SPF & bug spray just in case they forgot theirs. You can place them in a metal buckets and hang it from a shepards hook!Having a pool or sprinkler party for toddlers? Provide a bucket with some extra towels just in case guests forgot theirs!Our family had such a wonderful time celebrating our sweet Lily with dear friends. The kids seemed to have a blast…

twoendpool…and Lily ended the party the way she came into the world….naked (minus the pigtails & bows!). Stay tuned this week for some of the DIY projects from this party!


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  1. Emily Ley commented:
    June 26, 2013 Reply

    HAHAHAH!! I love these photos! Especially the last one!! Love you friend! xo

  2. kelsey commented:
    June 26, 2013 Reply

    bwahahaha That last photo of Lily is awesome! The look on her face… oh man! Pretty sure I almost just woke up G with my loud burst of laughter. Too funny!!

    This was such a fun party for the kiddos… I mean the photos say it all, it was a great party for the kids!

    I can’t wait to prep for Gs party (parties?) in August! So fun!!

  3. mckay commented:
    July 1, 2013 Reply

    love all the pictures and details! still so sad I wasn’t there.

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Turning Two With A Backyard BBQ: part 1

Really cute backyard bbq for a toddler's second birthdayWell she officially became two years old even though our sweet Lily has appeared to be in ‘the terrible twos’ months ago! On Saturday (her actual birthday) we had a backyard BQ complete with fun water play to beat the brutal summer heat.

My dear friend Emily Ley created her invitations and I LOVED how they turned out! With a BBQ theme I stuck to red gingham as the main color/print followed by blue, white and a splash of gold here and there. Emily created a gold ‘hooray’ ticket to help weave in that color. Craft paper envelopes completed the BBQ theme feel and I used my embosser for the return address (I got mine from Paper Source). To take it up one more notch I found these awesome stamps from Zazzle that had “I want you to BBQ” with the iconic Uncle Sam (the yellow scribble is to omit my address & my parent’s). With Fourth of July right around the corner I figured I would be able to score cheaper party materials with a BBQ theme and in red, white and blue colors.

BBQ themes invites created from my friend Emily Ley. BBQ themed stamps found on Zazzle, embossed return address (got mine at Papersource) & craft paper envelopes tied it all together.The great thing about toddler parties is that you can be specific about the time of the event. We used the same time frame as last year with the celebration starting at 11 am and ending around “naptime” which falls around 1 o’clock. With the brutal Florida heat, full bellies and exhaustion over hard core sprinkler fun all the kids were ready to call it quits at the same time!

The party was held at my parent’s lovely home about four minutes away. We have a pool that takes up most of our backyard, and to get the non-swimming toddlers wet in our backyard would mean all the moms or dads would have to get in. I wanted to just sit back and watch lily and her buddies have fun (with a beer in my hand…so we opted for my parent’s house with a very large grass backyard.

twofoodsetupThe party fare was of course BBQ with pulled pork sandwiches, summer vegetable pasta salad, sliced watermelon, corn on the cob and more fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries and grapes). For the littles, we had popcorn chicken from Publix (local grocery store), same sliced watermelon & fresh fruit, applesauce pouches and corn niblets (easier than on the cob). The vegetables in the pasta salad were chopped and the pasta was whole grain so they had that as an option too!

BBQ themed party with pulled pork sandwiches (w/ 3 sauce choices), sliced watermelon, other fresh fruit, corn on the cob & whole grain vegetable pasta salad. toddler food for a BBQ themed party. Popcorn chicken (purchased from local grocery store), corn nibblets, sliced watermelon, fresh fruit, applesauce pouches and small cups of whole grain pasta salad with veggies! We prepared the pulled pork sandwiches ahead of time to keep it easier and guests had their options of three different sauces. I found the plain plastic condiment bottles from Amazon and applied craft stickers (Martha Stewart’s line a Staples) with the names of the sauce printed on them.

twosauceDue to the time of year Target had some new BBQ themed kitchen items and I snatched up this adorable galvanized pig napkin holder!

Sweet BBQ themed toddler birthday Last year I used paper as the tablecloth and wrote directly on the table to label the dishes. This year I didn’t label everything and used cute mini chalkboard clips I scored from Groopdealz. I continued using chalkboard as a way to label other party décor with some tags I made (this simple DIY project found here). When I think of BBQ red gingham and galvanized metal comes to mind. I picked up a few galvanized bins from Home Goods (that place is so dangerous) and the two tiered stand from Target. The red gingham material is actually cloth napkins I purchased from Amazon and these will be re-used as actual napkins throughout the summer and for other future parties (none planned but that’s my rational thinking).

Drink station idea. A tub for the kids mini water bottles and juice pouches. Use a basket to organize straws, cups and napkins for the drinks. Make sure you have signs to let your guests know what options they have and using the chalkboard tags are cute & can be re-used for future events. All the drinks were kept together on my mom’s kitchen island right in front of her double doors leading out to the backyard. Refreshments stayed cool inside, but were close enough for refills to stay hydrated with the heat and humidity. Fruit infused water (used sliced Fuji apples) and sangria (with sliced Fuji apples and oranges) were served in decanters with my DIY chalkboard tags. I propped up a small chalkboard (that was purchased from World Market over a year ago) to let everyone know that beer was outback in my parent’s metal cooler. The cooler had a built in bottle opener on the side so that was super convenient. In a galvanized bucket I had mini water bottles and Honest fruit pouches (apple juice & grape juice) for the kids. I used a woven basket tray to organize drink napkins, cups (kept it classy & simple with plastic) and fancy red stripe straws in a cute metal straw container (found at Home Goods).

festive decorI kept the dessert SUPER simple and made two chocolate bundt cakes (recipe here). This is my absolute favorite chocolate cake and I make it often. For Easter I brought it over to Emily Ley’s house for a get together with friends and it was a hit with everyone….so if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it right? Last year I made a smash cake, cupcakes, rice crispies and Starbuck’s cake pops….which was just too much. The bundt cakes were made the night before and lightly dusted with powdered sugar the day of….beyond simple. I displayed the sweet treat on my mom’s buffet. I covered the wall with paper fans some that I created (post coming soon) and some purchased from Amazon. My mom owns a few vintage wood boxes that I used to prop up the cake, hold the utensils and the party favors.

twomasonjarsBesides that red gingham napkins and paper fans I spread out mason jar vases around the house. Each vase had burlap and red gingham ribbon hot glued on. A few of them had a gold “L” I bought at Joann’s and spray-painted and the rest had more of those DIY chalkboard tags with the number “2”. I am obsessed with the little gold L vases that I can’t bear to embellishments off!

twogarlandLily’s first birthday was based on a DIY fabric bunting my mom and I slaved over and I swore I would never make another fabric anything for another party. Insert foot in mouth! I just couldn’t help myself and I made some fabric garlands that hung from my mom’s TV mantel, the favor box and around the huge chalkboard that displayed pictures from the past year. A DIY post on the fabric garland is coming soon!

Stay tuned for part two of Lily’s second birthday tomorrow because this post is getting too long and this weekend has left me exhausted!

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  1. Nancy H commented:
    June 25, 2013 Reply

    Amazing!!! Every detail is perfection yet you make it look like
    It’s so easy! Can’t wait to see more 🙂

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  1. By Lily & Bliss | DIY Chalkboard Tags or Signs on July 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    […] project was so simple it’s silly. For Lily’s second birthday I wanted small chalkboard signs for the food and drink stations. I loved the way these DIY […]

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Is She Really Almost 2?

almosttwoTwo years ago today I was on the verge of a meltdown…I had been told that my induction was being pushed back due to the overwhelming number of women in labor. I was miserable, swollen, a week past due, tired and beyond the word ‘fat’.

Thank goodness I had the best doctor (Dr. Jill Botehlo) on call and worked to get me in later that day! With a rough pregnancy my labor and delivery was anything but easy and glamorous. I envy those moms with perfect curls, mascara and an un-swollen face, arms and hands. I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open for the birth pictures. I was a hot mess y’all. But a blessed hot mess!

Before we put Lily to bed last night I cradled her in my lap and told her that two years ago she was still in my tummy. Lily sweetly started to pull up my shirt puzzled. In truth I am still puzzled myself.

It amazes me that I grew a human inside of my belly.

That baby learned to sit up, army crawl (then crawl) pull herself up and walk in a year (well 13 ½ months).

She has hair down to the middle of her back!

She can say words! And she is smart enough to know how to push my buttons and twist her Dada perfectly around her finger and sweet smile with a simple hug and kiss.

It is amazing. God is good. Life is good. Tantrums and all! So as I whip through the day prepping for Lily’s birthday tomorrow I leave you will some pictures and some of the posts from her birth! (photos from the lovely Kimberly Photography!)


My nerves were through the roof the night before the birth…read about that here


Two epidurals people! It was a crazy birth…read that here


And a year ago we shared her first birthday here and here!


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  1. Erin commented:
    July 15, 2013 Reply

    AAAhhhh my goodness. I’ve just been block stalking you (for last minute planning of Kate’s 1st Birthday party – I’m so behind -) & am getting BEYOND emotional here at my desk!!! LOVE Lily’s birthday parties (1 &2) and all of these great photos.

    p.s. i get those babycenter emails too & now i’m cringing, waiting for it to change to toddler, at least now you’ve prepared me!! 🙁

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DIY Outdoor Chalkboard

Keep the chalk mess in the backyard w/ this DIY outdoor chalkboard. Make it fancy with gold borders (spray paint). Screw on some brass hooks and hang $1 tin pails to hold the chalk and eraser! I’m back with another DIY post using the famous chalk paint. I actually worked on several projects using chalk paint for Lily’s birthday party this Saturday, but I will save those for next week!

Having a wall devoted to chalk doodles and ‘to do lists’ are all over Pinterest. I haven’t decided to fully commit to doing this inside my house…so that’s why I made a huge one for the backyard. Lily is a crayon lover at the moment so not knowing if she would use a chalk wall inside, the outdoor chalkboard will be our training wheels I guess.

We had a majority of the materials for this project making this very cheap, which always makes me smile (and Mike!). Here’s what you need:

Wood board (found at Lowes or Home Depot, you can buy pre-cut or cut to the size you want)
Small towel
Primer (I purchased Primer & Seal 1 2 3 from Ace for $7.98)
Chalk Paint
Foam roller & paint tray
Gold spray paint
Painter’s tape
Paint tarp
Plastic garbage bag
Brass cuphooks ($2.49 at Ace)
Tin pails
Chalk & eraser

I had a large piece of wood leftover from my DIY laundry room shelf just taking up space in my garage. To smooth the surface I used my mom’s sanding machine and then wiped all the dust off the board with a small towel. I sprayed a coat of primer to make the surface as smooth as I could.

Keep the chalk mess in the backyard w/ this DIY outdoor chalkboard.To keep the remaining painting as clean as I could I laid out a large tarp under the wood board (you can keep it classy using flip flops and a dog bowl as weights!). I primed the board in the front yard standing up against a tree. To prevent drips with the chalkboard I would recommend laying it flat. I used a small foam roller (that I found at Target’s dollar section months ago) and applied three coats of the chalk paint (check with your chalk paint for wait times between each coat- I allowed 4 hours). My chalk paint instructed a minimum of two coats and I added one more for better results.

Keep the chalk mess in the backyard w/ this DIY outdoor chalkboard.Using a yardstick and a pencil I outlined a two inch boarder for all four sides. I applied painter’s tape to seal the boarder (make sure you press the tape good to seal). I taped two garbage bags down to protect the middle of the board before I spray painted a gold boarder. I just wanted to make it pretty!

Keep the chalk mess in the backyard w/ this DIY outdoor chalkboard. Once it was dry and the tape and garbage bags were removed we screwed on the brass hooks (went with brass to match the gold boarder). Mike and I stood the board up to screw in the hooks. Warning: when you start to twist the hooks into the wood it will seem like it isn’t going in. It almost appeared that the hook was ruining the wood, but we kept applying pressure and the hooks eventually screwed all the way in (phew). The chalkboard is laying against the house in a corner on the patio and doesn’t required to be hung because it is supported by two walls (saved money & my sanity with this). We had two small galvanized pails in our garage that were found in Target’s dollar section. One pail holds Lily’s chalk and the other one holds an eraser.

Keep the chalk mess in the backyard w/ this DIY outdoor chalkboard.We got tons of giggles from Lily when we unveiled her fancy outdoor chalkboard. She created some toddler doodles and then had a field day with the eraser. Crayons don’t have erasers so making your doodle disappear was like magic to this kid. The chalkboard sits under our patio and under our outdoor fans, so the shade and breeze from the fans makes it a bearable outdoor activity for both Lily and her parents!

Keep the chalk mess in the backyard w/ this DIY outdoor chalkboard.
Total cost: $10.47 (only needed to buy the primer and brass hooks!)

Keep the chalk mess in the backyard w/ this DIY outdoor chalkboard.

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  1. kelsey commented:
    June 20, 2013 Reply

    Lily looks like such a big (2 year old) girl in these photos! Love this DIY for it’s cost-effectiveness and simplicity both in appearance and creation. Nice job Amy!!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 21, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Kelsey! Putting it to use at the party too! See you tomorrow xo

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Loving Bloglovin’ and Why You Should Too!

blogloovtitleHey folks a little reminder for all you Google Readers…on July first you’re going to say adios to it! Yep as part of Google’s ‘spring cleaning’ they are pouring more time into fewer products. But don’t frete…there are other options for you.

For those of you that are scratching your forehead, Google Reader was a way to save all of your favorite blogs (like Lily & Bliss!) to one location. When a blog has a new post that feeds into the reader. This way you can stay up to date on all your favorite blogs.

Have you ever just stumbled upon a new blog and liked the current post…you thought I want to continue this…then life happens (dog needs to pee or your kid needs a diaper change) and that really cool blog’s name has vanished from your memory…if you’re a mother this happens all the time with blog titles, grocery lists and important to dos! Well using a reader allows you to quickly add the new blog so when “mommy brain” switches in gear the readers will remember for you!

Google reader is gonzo on July first so if you are a user….don’t wait, sign up with other options so you can transfer all your blogs now! Two options are Feedly or Bloglovin’. I personally found Bloglovin’ to be easier to navigate so let me show you what I love (btw Feedly has some of the same attributes but I was drawn to Bloglovin’ visually and for it’s easy use).

It is so easy to add blogs to Bloglovin’. If you have a Google Reader and want to transfer all your favorite blogs to Bloglovin’ click here for the simple steps! You can do a quick search for your blog, or you can hover over “top blogs” and pick a category to view other blogs.

Bloglovin’ works on your computer, iPhone, Android and iPad.

You will receive an email with your daily feeds from Bloglovin’ all in ONE email. So you can cut down emails!

bloglovincategoriesYou can create your own categories and organize your blogs (this made me giddy!). For example you can create the following categories: Foodie, DIY and Baby. You then can add Young House Love to DIY, Skinny Taste to Foodie and on and on. That way if your only feeling the mood to read about kitchen remodels you can read just the DIY blogs.

You have the option to “like” posts and Bloglovin’ will save them under all the other “liked” posts for you to read again whenever you feel like it!bloglovinmain

Bloglovin’ allows you to comment on the blog directly from their feeder.

You can quickly skim over a new post from one blog and if you want to read it later you can mark it as “unread” so it stays in the que with all unread posts.

bloglovinbarWhen you click on a new post from a blog it will appear as if you are going straight to their site. You will notice at the top of the page will be a Bloglovin’ bar that will allow you to post to Facebook, Tweet or Pin whatever you liked about that particular post. There is also a drop down box that lists all the other blogs you follow that you can skip to from that page or just click the “newer” “older” and “liked” posts to continue your blog reading.

Pretty easy ain’t it! So if you’re looking for a new reader for all your favorite blogs or you’re a newbie to the reader realm and just discovered how easier it will make your life than hop on over to Bloglovin’ and get started! You can click on the logo below to add me to your reading list!

Follow on Bloglovin

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  1. Lyndsey commented:
    June 18, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for the help with bloglovin’!! It was really helpful.
    Have a great day! 🙂

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 20, 2013 Reply

      No problem Lyndsey! I’m glad it was helpful!

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Keeping Her Busy: Sensory Bag FAIL

Because it is nice (and funny) to actually see a project from Pinterest not turn out like the original perfect pin! This sensory bag project looked great until I mixed my toddler with a unzipped bag of hair gel! #fail #pinterestfail #naileditWell I attempted a project I saw from Pinterest…and I FAILED.

Sensory bags are all over the web and they seem to be a great sensory activity to keep your baby or kid busy. Babies can have a ball with sensory overload as they can squish the contents of the bag around. Toddlers can play a ‘where’s waldo’ while you can teach them colors, shapes and work on their words. To make them you basically fill a plastic bag (Ziplock) with gel and other items for your baby or toddler to find and/or feel once the bag is sealed. Big emphasism on ‘sealed’.

I picked up a cheap bottle of hair gel (under $2) and poured it in a plastic zip bag (not a Ziploc). I tossed in some plastic coins (from Target’s dollar spot), colored pipe cleaners (that I twisted into different shapes), colored pieces of foam (cut into different shapes), and a green bead necklace (cut into pieces & found in Target’s dollar section). I zipped it up and was excited to let Lily explore the bag and it’s contents.

She sat down at her table, poked the bag twice before she quickly grabbed it and squezed it really tight…she likes to give ‘hard’ hugs and kisses to everything. Well her hug plus a cheap brand of plastic bag (that I will never buy again) created a fountain of goo that went all over the table, her body and the floor.

Because it is nice (and funny) to actually see a project from Pinterest not turn out like the original perfect pin! This sensory bag project looked great until I mixed my toddler with a unzipped bag of hair gel! #fail #pinterestfail #naileditWhen Lily gets freaked out she freezes and let’s out a whine or cry….thank gosh she freezes or I would have had a trail of cheap hair gel all over my living room as she ran trying to escape the goo! Since it was a gel and not a liquid it was really easy to clean up.   So that’s a plus. Another positive…this was a cheap project! IF I decide to try this again I’m using duck tape to fully seal the bag!

Because it is nice (and funny) to actually see a project from Pinterest not turn out like the original perfect pin! This sensory bag project looked great until I mixed my toddler with a unzipped bag of hair gel! #fail #pinterestfail #naileditFor some giggles you should Google ‘pinterest fail’….my sensory bag is now part of that hall of fame.

And to see how these sensory bags actually work check out better examples at Teach Preschool or Growing a Jeweled Rose.

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  1. Emma commented:
    August 31, 2013 Reply

    I try things from Pintrest and fail often! However, you definitely win for the messiest fail! I think my 4-year-old would have loved if the bag exploded and turned her into a sticky mess – that would have just been twice as fun!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      September 3, 2013 Reply

      Emma- I think all the pretty images of crafts & recipes on Pinterest HAD to be the second, third of sixth attempt…right? Or at least I tell myself that every time I have a Pinterest fail!!!

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Friday Link Love: vol. 5

linklove8 more days until Lily turns TWO! Sniff sniff…while I craft away on her party décor enjoy some Friday links!

I’ve got some funny links, but I found this one so interesting. What do these places have in common….16-th century Italian village, an American train station in Detroit from the builders of the famous Grand Central and a theme park in Japan? They are abandoned monuments that are beautiful and have remarkable stories. Read here.

board with that one serious link?         okay okay…

Pictures of kids caught in the act of something bad make me giggle….if it’s my kid that laughing comes about a day later. Catching kids in funny napping situations always give me a chuckle as well…that’s why I love checking out Naps Happen for some hilarious photos. Here are some good ones: Black swan dive, papasan pretzel, in a dresser drawer and my favorite one…two out of three sleeping.

Hi my name is Amy and I’m a reality tv fan. Yep I sadly have to admit I’m hooked on the sad limo exits, Big Brother drama and all seasons of the housewives (but the crazy Jersey women are my favs). So when I saw this clip of two women on LIVE tv get catty I loved it. It seems that the news anchor and the weather lady have a long lasting feud that starts to show on live tv…now why can’t that happen with the Tampa news? Watch here.

Lily likes the show Calliou (on Sprout) and I LOATH that show. Of course I could just not turn it on, but it is the one show that she will watch and neatly eat every bite of her lunch…and that is without flinging a nugget to the dog, aiming and spitting a blueberry at the kitchen table and waving a yogurt stick all around spraying the blinds, window and wall. SO I will take 20 minutes of that whining Calliou for a full stomach for Lily (means a better nap!) and a clean kitchen. Calliou annoyance is one of those common bonds moms have like lack of sleep and the ability to pee when you laugh or sneeze. So when Where’s the F#*cking Mommy Manual came up with a hysterical list of annoying kid shows and Calliou topped it…I raised my beer (don’t worry Lily was asleep) and said AMEN. Check out the list here.

and some lovely pictures of a recent yogurt showdown…(and the finger is making another appearance)linkloveyogurt

linkyogurtwindowHappy Friday y’all and enjoy the weekend…


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  1. June 14, 2013 Reply

    Aw, what a great Friday surprise! Thanks so much for the shout out. Love your blog.

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 15, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Alicia! I’m obviously I fan of yours 😉

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Why We Chose ISR

whywechoseISROur family lives in the sunshine state. We have palm trees and beautiful weather a majority of the year (ironically as I type we are having a crazy lightening storm). With the white sand beaches and crystal blue waters comes a super scary statistic for parents. Florida has the highest unintentional drowning rate in the country for 1 to 4 year olds (source). We live in Hillsborough county that sadly has the 4th highest drowning rate in the state (source).

We have a pool in our backyard and my parents have a lake behind their home…so when it came to swim lessons for Lily it was a no brainer. Last summer when she was a year old my girlfriends and I did a group swim class where a lady came to one of our homes to teach. Lily has always loved water and did well with all of the class steps. With the changing of the seasons and because we don’t have a pool heater, we have stayed out our pool until 2 ½ months ago. Lily picked up her love for the pool in a snap, but to my shock she forgot a lot of the tips and steps we learned last summer.

Well duh Amy of course she did…she was only one.

isrswim2Two weeks ago family pool time became sheer torture for Mike and me. We learned that our daughter is a bit of a dare devil and totally carefree. I don’t want to take away that spirit, but when it comes to jumping in the pool and sinking….we’re pulling the reins back. Lily started to jump from the steps and keep flapping her arms and legs until she started to go down…never turning her body back to the steps or wall. Mike and I would immediately grab her and push her back to the steps. At one point she continually forced her head into the water and let her arms and legs float up…the view was absolutely terrifying. She looked like a lifeless child. When we would pull her up she would force her head back down in the water before taking an adequate breath of air.

Even after choking down some water a few times she still wanted to keep going. I tried to take her around the pool singing “motor boat…motor boat…” to get her to kick her legs out, but she continued to keep her legs down in a vertical position which is the absolute worst. I competitively swam half of my life and I knew that the vertical swim position would lead a child to sink. I knew that I needed a stricter form of swim lessons for Lily. That’s why we chose ISR.

Monday was our first ISR swim class. Infant Swimming Resource is a particular kind of swim lesson that teaches self-rescue skills so babies, toddlers, and kids can save themselves. You can start your child as early as 6 months. ISR classes are one on one with a certified instructor. To learn more you can visit our teacher’s website for a little more information here.

After two classes I really don’t know why I kept Lily from taking these earlier. I heard horrible stories of strict teachers that scared children so bad that it scarred them. Most stories I heard were from someone who hadn’t placed their child in an ISR program and/or come to think of it had a child who didn’t know how to swim period. The stories were just scary. But the chance of my child drowning is scarier.

ISRswimblueListen I’m being honest…the classes are difficult to watch. No parent wants to see their child struggle to swim…and cry doing it. But I would rather struggle with this than struggle over the drowning of my child.

I would rather have a strict instructor give one on one lessons to my child on survival skills than another group swim class where we sing songs and really only get our kids comfortable with the pool and going under the water. Being comfortable with the water isn’t going to save my child…if anything it creates a bigger opportunity for my child to drown as they rush to get into the pool that they are so comfortable to be in.

Lily’s lessons are only 10 minutes and we go Monday to Friday so the repetition allows her to retain the information. The first two minutes of the first class were difficult. Lily’s teacher would sit her on the wall and gently place her in the water to get her to turn around and grab the side of the pool. Lily was kicking off the edge of the pool (one of the only things she remembered from the swim class last year) and swimming vertically into the pool, not swimming to the edge for safety. Because Mike and I were always there to grab her we had given her a handicap in a way. Lily thought that the teacher would just grab her like we did to save her. In the first 10 minutes Lily learned how to turn back to the wall and pull up on the side.

Yes she cried. Yes it was hard. BUT look at what she learned in 10 minutes. After I was drying Lily off the next tyke was getting in when I struck up a conversation with his mom. Her words struck me …”It was money well spent the first time I saw him turn over and float to safety”.  She was right. Learning to swim won’t be easy to watch as a crazy mom who still struggles with post partum. But I know that the lessons will get better when Lily learns the self-rescue skills and builds her confidence back up.

Lily is like many kids and freaks out sometimes when I put her in her car seat to run some errands. Now do I just give in and say…”okay Lily stop crying honey, I will only attach the first harness so you can be more comfortable…” or “oh you don’t like the car seat? Okay here we can just put you in a booster…”  HECK NO!!!!! That car seat is for her safety….just like these ISR lessons. Being a parent is hard and it ain’t easy. Sometimes teaching our children valuable life lessons isn’t going to be roses and rainbows. One day the lessons will get easier for Lily. Until then I will continue to take her and after we will get some frozen yogurt as her reward.

If anyone is thinking of ISR lessons and on the fence I don’t mind chatting about it! Feel free to email me at

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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    June 14, 2013 Reply

    i’ve never heard of these type of lessons. I think I would have a panic attack watching. I felt a bit anxiety just reading. All your points make perfect sense though!

  2. kelsey commented:
    June 18, 2013 Reply

    Love these photos of Lily!!

  3. Amanda commented:
    April 18, 2014 Reply

    I was searching through Pinterest and so happy I found you! I live in tampa fl & have been debating wether or not to put my daughter in ISR! this really helped my decision

    • Amy Romano commented:
      April 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Amanada! Glad this post helped you, it was the best choice for us!

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  1. […] to the ISR lessons we have been swimming in our pool and feeling more at ease. She is a total fish and can swim from […]

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Simple Summer Moments

simplesummermomentsExperiencing childhood all over again through your child’s eyes is pure simple bliss…

Of course it’s easy to sit back and drum up memories of summertime as a child. I can easily recall the smell of fresh cut grass, the distinct plastic smell from the slip-n-slide and the gum flavored popsicle shaped like a baseball glove. I can still hear the loud buzz of the cicadas that pierce the southern sky and damp red dirt roads after an afternoon shower from our family visits to Georgia & Tennessee. I can recall coming in for dinner and crying at the table because the thick blades of grass in Coral Springs sliced my feet, legs, arms and hands. My mom would pop open a small metal She-Ra tray and I would eat dessert on the edge of the linoleum (I wasn’t allowed to eat on the carpet) as I watched tv….I can still hear the old school ABC World News Tonight theme song…DaDa Da Duuummm (hear it here)…and cheers for President Reagan as the walls with graffiti finally came down. Some of my childhood memories from summer still feel so fresh.

But then I have Lily. To have the chance to relive childhood through her precious hazel eyes is a special gift. Yes life seems to be sprinting by with her and because it is…I’m trying to soak up those simple summer moments.

simplemomentsgrassThose simple summer moments like running through the grass……in a tutu.

divaposeEven soaking up her arms crossed diva pose she started two months ago…

simpleicecream Those simple childhood moments like having your first ice cream sandwich. Found these mini ice cream sandwiches from Fat Boy at Publix. They are perfect size for a toddler. She gave the treat a poke or two to figure out if it was a yucky vegetable….


icecreamsandwhich1Once the sweet chocolate was gone it became a fun game on how to eat the ice cream middle…the no hands approach is my favorite.

icecreamsanwhiches3 Summer is short and enjoy whatever you have planned on your bucket list…just remember to soak up the simple moments.


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