Style in the Heat: 5 Tips for Mama + Kids for the Backyard, Beach and Beyond

Welcome to the days of sun, sand, dribbly watermelon and popsicle faces, long warm days, and everything else that comes with Summer. The best. Whether you head to the beach or pool or just hang out in your backyard, these days are meant to be enjoyed and memories made. It isn’t about all the things, it’s about filling up a pool- maybe inflating a floatie or two- and giving the kids a bucket and water as entertainment. Voila, unplugged childhood at it’s best. 

This time of year, I can’t be outside with the kids enough. Grab the swimsuits/ Summer clothes, lob on the sunscreen and (half an hour later some days!) we’re outside for as much of the day as possible. We eat all 3 meals outside if I have it my way and they come in for nap/ bed time dirty, tired, and smelling of the sun and fresh air. I loved the idea of sharing about one of our beach days for this post, but wrangling these two for photos requires more than this mama’s two arms. So I figured a backyard shoot was in order, plus it’s where so much of Summer is spent as a family and I love that this wasn’t a super- styled photo shoot. Just me with the kids hanging out in the backyard getting up to shenanigans; some pretty cute moments were captured that will be getting printed and added to our gallery wall.

I had the chance to team up with a few of my favourite local brands to share some comfortable Summer styles (see some twinning mermaids below) and ideas to get you through the hottest season of the year. What was great about this backyard shoot is it doesn’t get any more laid- back than this. Well, as laid back as it gets with two kids running wild and loose. 😉 But that’s what Summer and childhood is about, and when you’re making memories, there’s nothing better. Comfort goes a long way this time of year and finding quality pieces that stand up to the elements and activities that come with Summer can make getting ready for a day spent outside that much easier. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that there weren’t so many cute choices for boys, but that’s changed in a big way and Liam loved hamming it up for the camera. I hope you like our Summer style picks- we’ve got some talented locals around here and they make it easy to dress for these hot days! All sources provided at the end of this post.

5 Summer Style Tips for Mama + Kids

1. Hats– More than a cute accessory, these help protect from the sun, and there are plenty of options out there for all members of the family. For littles, ones that have a strap for under the chin can help keep them from removing them, but as kids get older those styles can be harder to find. It took some getting used to, but Liam now wears a snap back (this Mahalo one is by Aloha Kai) . Even though this style doesn’t cover the back of the neck, it gives his face good coverage and I load on plenty of sunscreen anyways. Styles with adjustable straps also mean you can get a few seasons out of them and they’re great year- round. I like a variety of styles for myself, but my beach hat of choice this year is anything with a brim while I build up my tan for the season (see this post for a cute beach hat DIY).

   

2. Tops– The classic tee is hard to beat, but tank tops are a versatile option for days when it’s too hot even for a t- shirt and you don’t want anything on your shoulders (you know, those days when it feels too hot to wear anything). Perfect as a quick cover- up at the beach/ pool (buy a size up if you want them less- fitted for this purpose, and get an extra year out of them too) and a comfortable option to prevent chafing from seat belts and car seat straps. They’re a quick/ easy style option that you can throw on with any bottoms and double as great pj tops to wear to bed on hot Summer nights (ie those nights when the kids fall asleep in the car on the way home). 

       

3. Cover ups– Whether you go for a maxi dress, skirt, or another option, a cover- up is a perfect extra layer when you’ve got a beachy breeze or want to layer- up for a Summer picnic. Hooded towels  or over- sized tops are a great option- especially for kids- but if you want something to wear from the beach to the dinner table, something that’s comfortable and easy to slip on are two things I’m looking for. A comfortable top (again with the tank tops!) with a skirt work great and still allows you to move as you chase your monkeys kids around (this bright watermelon one is from Lone Wolf Boutique– see this post for another one of her styles perfect for Summer).

 

 

4. Swim suits– I don’t think I could write a post on beach/ pool/ Summer style without including this seasonal staple! When it comes to kids, you can find everything from UV- protecting styles to ones that are just plain cute, and everything in between. This is a time of year to have fun outdoors and you want everyone to be comfortable in the heat. Choose options that suit your lifestyle when it comes to shopping for both the kids and your own suits. I can’t resist a cute pair of swim shorts or a bikini for my two, but they also have fuller- coverage UV protecting styles for long days when the sun is scorching hot. And for Moms, I know the swim suit debate is a personal one. I love a 2- piece, but some days a 1- piece is the better choice based on our activities. And if you prefer more coverage there are plenty of stylish 1 and 2- piece suits out there. The 1- piece I’m wearing in this post is from All Twerk and No Pray and it’s my go- to 1- piece (also great paired with a skirt or shorts!). For a fuller- coverage 2- piece style, see this post.

5. Bottoms– When it comes time to pack up and head to the beach, shorts and skirts are essentials, but for cool Summer mornings and evenings, having comfortable pieces that provide more coverage from the shade and breeze are good to keep in mind for everyone. Comfortable leggings for all are a great choice and allow for plenty of running, swimming, and other movement. As the day warms up, simply swap for those shorts/ skirts, or swimsuits. For Moms, they’re a comfortable option that offers more coverage if you don’t love shorts (a capri- style is perfect if you don’t want to wear full- length ones in the heat) and can comfortably slip over a 1- piece or paired with a bikini top. Pick a pair made for yoga/ working out; the material will provide optimal comfort and movement in the heat. Two of my favourite local brands that combine quality, comfort, and style are Inner Fire and Kristina Benson Art (see this post and this post).

So there you have it. A few ideas to help get you and the kids through the Summer in comfort and style, and hopefully some new ideas to arm you for the hot days ahead. I’d love to hear what your essentials are for this time of year and your favourite Summer staples! Like these ideas? Or not? What would you change/ add?

Sources

‘Mahalo’ hat and Snow Cone tank- Aloha Kai | Instagram

‘Mermaid’ tanks- Little + Co | Instagram

Watermelon skirt- Lone Wolf Boutique | Instagram

Photo credit:

Akane Kondo Photo | Instagram

 

Natural Sunscreens for the Whole Family

Every Spring as the weather is getting warmer I start to get everything organized for the heat of the Summer- water shoes and sandals, hats, beach essentials, swim suits… and sunscreen. And each year I try to find a natural option that isn’t loaded with chemicals while keeping my family from turning into lobsters (no olive skin/ 5 minutes to bronzed over here, we fair- skinned folks have to build up a tan over a looooong time). There seem to be some general things to look out for, some questionable, and some that you want for sun protection. As I did the research for this post I tried to simplify the information and make recommendations based on what I found* (I’ve also included the sources that I referred to at the end of the post so you can do some research for yourself if you wish). It’s sometimes hard to find quality options in grocery stores, so all of the options below are ones that you can easily find online (you can also find them in natural/ health food stores). See some of the good and bad things to look for in sunscreens and a few suggestions to try this Summer below- just add sun!

 

 

Top to bottom, left to right

Goddess Gardens Organics Baby Sunscreen 

thinksport Kids Sunscreen

Badger Kids Active Sunscreen

Goddess Gardens Organics Natural Sunscreen Spray

Badger Baby Sunscreen

Goddess Gardens Organics Kids Sunscreen

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen

thinksport Baby Sunscreen 

For more natural sunscreen options available online check out Well.ca and Amazon– if you’re unsure about some of the products you find, Google search them by name and you should be able to find their ingredients listed along with information about how they really measure up (that’s how I discovered one of my old go- tos wasn’t as good as I thought).

One other thing I learned while researching the sunscreens to include in this post: if you like sunscreens in spray form (ie in an aerosol/ pressurized can), look closely at the ingredients, as they may not be cause for concern when applied to the skin, but inhaling them has it’s own set of concerns (this article was informative on this topic). This opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms, so I didn’t include any aerosol suggestions, just a cream that you can spray on without it becoming a mist). 

* Please note that these recommendations are based on research and information I found online. I am not making medical or scientific recommendations, and as with any skincare product if in doubt, apply a small amount to a test area prior to use. 

Sources:

EWG.org: Here and here.

SafeMama.org

WomensHealthMag.com

DavidSuzuki.org

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

 

Backyard Gardening: 5 Books for the Green Thumb Family

 We’re heading into gardening season on the West Coast and I’m already looking forward to the warm months to come spent outside digging in the dirt. For the past few years we’ve planted edible gardens and last year was the first full season of us planting our two raised box gardens full; everything from kale to peas. Will and I both enjoy gardening and the output from all our hard work, and we’ve enjoyed teaching Ari about gardening and plants the past two Summers. Gardening is definitely a labour of love, but you can enjoy it on as big or as small of a scale as you like. I joke that our back yard is my favourite room of the house in Spring and Summer and soaking up the Vitamin D in our backyard is one of my favourite ways to unwind.

With Ari turning four this year, we’re looking forward to her helping even more in the garden, even if it’s only simple tasks, it’s something she loves and a great opportunity to teach her about growing food and nature. Our goal is to grow organic food and make the most of homegrown eats through the Spring and Summer, while also teaching our kids a love and appreciation for the outdoors and letting them be a part of the process. You don’t need a lot of space to enjoy gardening- pots, containers, and vertical gardens are all great small- space options- and there are methods to make the most of even small garden plots. Even if gardening isn’t a passion- maybe it’s something you just want to dapple in- or want to teach your kids about how plants grow, I thought I’d round- up some reading material to kickstart gardening season. 

I’m sharing 5 books below to help build your gardening library, including a few titles for kids, so everyone in the family can enjoy their time digging in the dirt. All titles available from Raincoast Books.

What Will Grow?

This book for kids teaches about a variety of different seeds and what they grow into- everything from peas and tomatoes to oak trees and sunflowers.  It’s perfect to teach kids about how plants grow from seeds and that they can transform into many things: flowers, trees, fruits, or vegetables. A great intro to gardening for young readers that includes info about seed growth and simple tips to start your own garden, plus four pull- out pages that kids will love. The pages are full of bright illustrations with planting tips for all of the seeds featured at the back of the book, along with the stages of growth from seed to full- grown plant. 

By Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

What happens in the dirt that we don’t see? Lots of things! This kids’ book shows the hidden world of nature below the garden surface plus all the activity that happens above ground through the four seasons. Everything from worms and other bugs, to the animals and creatures that call the garden home. This a great book to teach kids about all of the critters that are a part of the garden world throughout the year and shows how it changes through the seasons- from prepping the garden for planting, to the final harvest of the year. At the end of the book is a list of suggested further reading for little gardeners along with an ‘about the animals’ section to teach kids about the creatures featured throughout the book.

By Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

The Little Veggie Patch Co. DIY Garden Projects

This book is loaded with ideas for garden projects, ranging from simple ideas for kids to all- out garden DIYs. Whether you’re looking for garden space ideas- want to build your own vertical garden, repurpose items to help plants grow, or want to attract garden- friendly bugs to your yard?- or get your kids involved, this book has over 250 pages loaded with ideas, all accompanied by easy to follow step- by- step instructions and photos to help you complete your project. I’ve already got a few bookmarked to try with the kids and I’ve seen a few DIYs I’d like to try making for our box gardens as well. I like that this book can help you from start to finish of setting up and growing a garden, plus has simple ideas to get the kids involved. 

By Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik- Reardon 

Tiny Garden, Huge Harvest

Don’t have a lot of room but still want to grow some yummy things with your green thumb? This book provides tips for small plot and container gardening with step- by- step instructions for designing, planting, and harvesting. It shows that you don’t need a lot of space, you just need to make the most of it. It includes tips for different garden options- vertical, tiered, pot/ container gardening, as well as what kind of garden you’re thinking of: do you want to be able to harvest and eat what you grow, or simply enjoy the act of gardening? It also has information about gardening techniques and what to do with the food you grow, including garden planning, four- season gardening, succession planting, and how to preserve harvested edibles. At the back of the book is a handy index with information on a variety of edible varieties including some popular herbs. Added bonus: this is a little book loaded with info- it’s about the size of a postcard, making it perfect to tuck into your bag when you head to store to buy gardening supplies and want a quick reference guide.

By Caleb Warnock

Herbs + Flowers

Maybe something on a simpler scale is what you’re looking for? This little book is a great guide for growing more than 32 kinds of herbs and edible flowers (have you seen how pretty a salad looks garnished with fresh flowers?) and has beautiful illustrations of all the plants featured. Each variety is outlined with key information including how it tastes, when to plant and pick, and serving suggestions (ie fresh dill is nice eaten raw or cooked and pairs well with cucumber, lime, lemon, and red peppers, among other tasty combinations). It also includes substitution suggestions, so you can try out different options if a certain plant doesn’t grow well for you (I’ve tried growing basil from a seed unsuccessfully, so have opted to buy a small plant in the past, but other ideas according to the book include mint, lemon balm, and oregano). Another great reference book to tuck into your bag to take to the store when you stock up, and a simple/ enjoyable read no matter what your skill/ expertise level.

By Pip McCormac, illustrated by Louise O’Reilly 

 

All of the books listed above are available through Raincoast Books.

Find them online on Amazon.ca and Indigo.

Website: raincoast.com | Instagram: @raincoastbooks | Facebook: Raincoast Books | Twitter: @raincoastbooks

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

 

Easter Eggs 3 Ways

 chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs

By now I think it’s well known I love a good DIY, and Easter is no different. I wanted to try doing naturally dyed eggs at home, plus a few other simple ideas for decorating eggs: chalk paint and glitter- covered eggs. I thought a variety would be fun plus Ari loved the chance to help decorate them. The chalk paint and glitter eggs are quick and simple to make, but I’ve provided info on how we did the natural dye eggs since there was a little more involved with them. 

I’ve been eyeing up the naturally dyed Easter eggs that I’ve seen others share about and finally thought I’d try making them this year with Ari at home. I’ll admit that it takes a little while to make the natural dyes and you’ll want to put down some paper to avoid spills/ stains, but it’s fun to try and Ari had a blast. For some other fun Easter ideas scroll to the end of this post to see the Easter party I teamed up on with Creative Wife & Joyful Worker (where you’ll find her DIY for making those gold foil eggs) and Discovering Parenthood.

NATURAL DYE EGGS

natural homemade Easter egg dye

Making the dye for all 4 colours of eggs starts with the same mixture of ingredients + whatever additive is needed to create the colour. 

For the dye base:

4 cups water

2 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp salt

For pink eggs- 4 cups roughly chopped beets

For yellow eggs- 4 tbsp ground tumeric

For green eggs-  6 cups spinach, chopped + 1 tbsp ground tumeric 

For blue eggs-  4 cups red cabbage, chopped

natural homemade Easter egg dye

natural homemade Easter egg dye

Directions:

  1. Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a large pot, followed by the dye ingredient for the colour you want to make. 
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer for half an hour uncovered. 
  3. Strain the dye liquid from the solid ingredient (for the tumeric used for the yellow and green dye you can use cheesecloth to help strain). Transfer to a large canning jar or other container to cool. Repeat until you have all of the dyes for the colours you want to make (I added some of the tumeric dye for yellow eggs to the green dye mixture because I didn’t think the green dye from the spinach would turn out. I’m glad I added it because the eggs turned out really green). 
  4. Once the liquid has cooled, submerge your eggs and leave over night in the fridge.

Tip: I’d suggest using hard boiled eggs, since they sink and will absorb the dye equally over the whole shell surface. We tried using artificial white eggs plus hard boiled brown and white eggs to see how they would turn out. The artificial eggs didn’t absorb the dye as well and came out more pastel (which is still pretty, just might not be the result you want), plus I found it was easy to wipe the dye off of them after we took them out of the jars, so the coverage wasn’t as nice/ even. I like the artificial eggs more for the other two styles of eggs I made- chalk paint and glitter- covered. 

 

natural homemade Easter egg dye

CHALK PAINT EGGS

chalk paint Easter eggs

Materials:

Eggs (we used the artificial eggs left over from the natural dye batch and I liked how they worked for this)

Chalk paint in various colours

Sponge brush

Directions:

chalk paint Easter eggs

  1. Using a sponge brush, paint one half of each egg (either top or bottom) and allow to dry in an egg carton. Flip and repeat.
  2. Apply a second coat if needed (I found the second coat gave nice coverage)

chalk paint Easter eggs

GLITTER EGGS

chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs

Materials:

Eggs (we added glitter to some of the chalk paint eggs, but I love the idea of doing this with plain white eggs as well)

Liquid glue or mod podge

Glitter

Sponge brush

Directions:

chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs

  1. Using a sponge brush, coat one half of the egg in glue and sprinkle glitter over top and allow to dry in an egg carton. Flip and repeat.
  2. Tap loose glitter to remove. If you want to avoid glitter getting everywhere, add a second coat of glue or mod podge over top to seal the glitter.

chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs

 Like I said, I love the chance to make a mess and get a little crafty. I guess it’s about that time to start adding some Spring and Easter decor around the house and these eggs are perfect for that (but I’d maybe just stick with the artificial eggs if they’re going to be used for more than a day or two 😉 ). They’re pretty displayed in glass jars and vases or scattered on your table for Easter dinner. See the photos below for some ideas of how to style an Easter table/ party and the links to the other Easter projects included in the Easter collab with Creative Wife and Joyful Worker and Discovering Parenthood

  chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs 

chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs

chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs

chalk paint and glitter Easter eggs

Easter party

Easter party

Easter party 

Easter party

For other fun Easter ideas see these posts from our Easter collab:

Geo Floral Easter Party Decor– Creative Wife and Joyful Worker 

A Little Floral Easter Party– Discovering Parenthood

DIY Kid’s Carrot Love Ducks Snack– Discovering Parenthood

DIY Gold Foil Easter Eggs– Creative Wife and Joyful Worker 

DIY Floral Kid’s Bunny Ears– Discovering Parenthood (blog post link coming soon).

DIY Watercolour Easter Egg Banner- Creative Wife and Joyful Worker (blog post link coming soon)

Photos:

DIY photos: OHP

Styled party photos- Creative Wife and Joyful Worker and Discovering Parenthood

Location- Ritual Icecream in Fort Langley

Raspberry Cheesecake Icecream + dishes- Ritual Icecream

Kid’s Clothes- Watermelon Tree Kids in Fort Langley

Outfit Styling- Creative Wife and Joyful Worker

Floral Table Runner- Sequel Events

Bunny Rabbit Floral Cake- The Cake Mama

Geometric and Floral Name Cookies: The Cake Mama

Geometric Party Plates, Blush Tablecloth, Wooden Forks: Joonie and Joe

Easter Egg Macarons: Sugar Patisserie

Spring #OOTD for Little Ones with Watermelon Tree Kids

We spent a fun morning yesterday morning at Ritual Ice Cream in Fort Langley shooting photos for an upcoming Easter collab with Creative Wife and Joyful Worker and Discovering Parenthood. Considering there were six little ones running around, I think we pulled it off pretty well and the kids handled it like champs. It didn’t hurt that there was the promise of sweet treats after the photos either. 😉 Sugar rush and all, it was a fun morning spent with friends and the perfect way to spend the first day of Spring. 

There will be plenty more of all things Spring and Easter from that shoot coming soon to all three of our blogs, but until then I wanted to share the sweet outfits my two little blondies got to model from Watermelon Tree Kids, a sweet children’s store in Fort Langley, that stocks a variety of quality baby and kid’s items ranging from larger, well- known companies, to a variety of local brands. I had the chance to check out the store before Christmas with a girlfriend and love everything about this store and the mother- daughter team behind it. They were very generous helping us dress the kids in the sweetest outfits for Spring and if you’ve been looking for an outfit for your kids, they’ve definitely got plenty of cute items to choose from!

Ari’s dress- WHEAT

Liam’s shirt & shorts- Ben Sherman

Both provided by Watermelon Tree Kids

I’m a sucker for getting the kids dressed up, even if it only lasts a short while. Ari’s dress was super soft and comfortable, and Liam killed me with cuteness is his button- up and shorts. (If you follow the blog on Instagram you’ll also know that he loved when they came off and was running around in just the shirt and diaper- what is it with boys?!). I also love the added bonus of supporting a local family- run business that cares about the quality of the items they carry (Sidenote: they also have a great play area and couch in the back of the store to help entertain the kids and provide a space to breast feed if needed while you shop). You can tell the owners really care about their customer’s experience and I appreciate that it’s a kid- friendly place to shop. The next time you’re in Fort Langley I hope you pay this sweet shop a visit. <3

Thank you to Ritual Ice Cream for letting us shoot the photos at your beautiful location and Watermelon Tree Kids for providing the outfits for all of the kids!

Photo credit: Creative Wife and Joyful Worker & Discovering Parenthood

Find Watermelon Tree Kids online: watermelontree.ca | Instagram: @watermelontreekids

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