Anniversary Gift: make a custom star map!

Back in May we celebrated our 10 year anniversary! One of my favorite dates long, long ago was when he surprised me with a night under the stars. We cuddled up in blankets and laid on the ground, just watching the sky. We got married outside, too, and love the night sky and the moon.

Now it’s a special connection with our kids, too, because we always say we love them to the moon and back. When our son was about 3 he said, “I love you to the moon and all the way back to my truck!” Haha! We’ll never forget that one!

So when I found Modern Map Art and their beautiful Custom Star Maps, I had to have one! What a perfect 10-year anniversary gift for us!!! You can customize the wording, font, color, size, border, the coordinates for your night sky, and even if you want the constellations shown or not.

star map

We went with dark grey and white and it’s beautiful! It’s nice and thick for a poster so for now it’s on our bedroom wall just like that, but I would like to get it framed, too!

Because we were celebrating our anniversary, we customized our night sky star poster with the date of our wedding night. I think that’s so cool to have a map of the stars from our location on our wedding night! I chose to have the constellations outlined on our star map, too.

star map

I went with the size 24×36″ and it’s perfect! I wanted something large enough to be a statement and a good size to have framed. It looks wonderful in our bedroom.

The custom star maps would be an awesome gift idea for birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, graduations, or other special dates in your life! I’d love to have some for our kids with their birthdays on it – maybe 3 smaller sized ones to hang in a row. Cute, right?!

star map

What occasion or special date would you want on your star map?


star map

~Product received for review. All opinions are my own.

5 best techniques to make a child’s bedtime easy

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child’s bedtime

Getting the little ones to bed. Never an easy feat, whether you’re at home or on the road. It seems that no matter how full a day you’ve had, no matter how many family activities you’ve been doing, no matter how exhausted they seem…when it comes to bedtime, they instantly seem to perk up.

They know that Mom and Dad, plus their older siblings, are all staying up later than they are. And they sense that something magical happens during this time to which they’re not privy; exciting shows are watched, snacks are eaten, laughs are had. The result? A big case of FOMO and a very cranky child!

Fear not, weary parents – because I know of a few quick tricks that can help you get your child to bed when they’re supposed to. Without the drama. And because I’m feeling generous, I thought I’d share them with you!

1. Create a pre-bedtime routine

We’re all used to some kind of routine in the mornings. We shower, we have breakfast, we head to work and we pick up a coffee on the way. Within that routine lies a dozen other routines involved in getting the kids ready for school – lunchboxes are packed, homework is checked and kisses are given before ensuring they’re on their way in good time.

When it comes to evening routines though, we can be less organised. The bedtime we set for our kids often goes out the window, especially if friends or relatives pop over to visit. We might feel too tired ourselves for baths or story times; as a result, our little ones find it hard to settle down.

But it’s so important to set – and stick to – a solid bedtime routine at an early age. So after dinner, start the wind-down early. Turn off all devices that emit blue light (like phones or tvs), as these increase alertness and can over-stimulate your child. Instead, prepare some indoor activities (coming up!) before giving them some warm milk to settle them down further. Finally, a nice bath will let them know bedtime isn’t far away; even if they seem to get hyper again with all the splashing around, it is relaxing them on the inside!

Once they’ve changed into their pajamas, it’s time to read them a story. Try to spend some time with them in their room like this so they go to bed feeling safe and secure.

2. Keep playtime indoors

Your kids aren’t going to be sleepy straight after dinner; more likely, they’ll want to make a break for the great outdoors. Unfortunately, playing games outside can overstimulate them and make it impossible to get them to bed at a normal hour…especially if it’s summertime and bright outside!

Instead, think of some calming activities they can do indoors. These include painting or coloring, playing house or making a scrapbook. All creative, imaginative games that are great for bonding with your child…without getting them too hyped up before bedtime.

3. Create a soft atmosphere

Bedtime is made even easier if you’ve made the necessary preparations first. So even before they’ve had their bath, or their glass of warm milk, or played those indoor games, turn your child’s bedroom into a sleep sanctuary. Start by turning on a night-light or bedside lamp if you have one.

Next, make sure their favorite blanket is on their bed and don’t forget any cuddly toys they love! So when it comes to story time, you’ll be lulling your child to sleep in an environment that’s familiar, cozy and perfect for slumber.

4. Offer a rewards scheme

If you’re having trouble getting your kids to go – and stay – in bed, try using a sticker chart. If they stay in bed until breakfast time, they get to add a sticker to the chart. If by Saturday morning they’ve filled a line of stickers in the chart, they get some sort of treat. Like pancakes for breakfast!

It may seem like a desperate solution but honestly, kids love the competitive, gaming aspect… and a little bribery can go a long way!

5. Don’t engage

This is an important one to remember. Because if your child is acting up or showing off right before bedtime, they may just want a little extra attention. They know that if they kick off at the right moment, they’ll get extra hugs, another story and a little more parent time.

By not engaging with this behavior, you’re letting them know that it’s not okay to act this way! Sometimes the strongest approach is the silent one – so just ignore whatever tantrum they’re throwing on the landing, steer them silently back to bed and eventually they’ll realize that they’re not going to get any extra attention. Combine this with the ‘rewards club’ technique and they’ll know it pays more to stay in bed!

Hopefully these techniques will help make your child’s bedtime a little easier… and as a result, your life a little easier, too! For more sleep-related tips, check out what the guys at The Sleep Advisor have to say.

In the meantime, may you and your little ones enjoy a sweeter, sounder sleep – tonight, and every night!

Contributed Article


Packing Perfection: Preparing to Travel with Babies or Toddlers

Contributed Article

Travel with babies and toddlers can be a challenge, but it can also be a grand adventure! Pack perfectly and follow a few easy strategies and your trip with kids can be an entirely enjoyable situation! Yes, for real 😉

Pre-packing checklist

Before you begin packing, make an on-paper checklist of the things you’ll need while vacationing with your kids. Once you are 100 percent sure every necessary item is on the list, start the packing! Don’t wait until the last minute to do this, advises travel gurus at Read More…

Family-friendly floors for your home

Family-friendly floors written in partnership with Luxury Flooring.

When it comes to making the right kind of choices for your family, you may not think that the type of floor you have is all that important, but it is! Your floor takes a lot of hits, especially where kids are involved, but can you have a stylish floor with little ones running around? Of course! You don’t have to compromise style for practicality. In our home we have a mix of solid wood flooring, carpet, laminate, and tile! We’ve left everything the way it

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Minecraft in a Chicago Movie Theater: this weekend!

Does your child love Minecraft? Starting this weekend on Saturday morning, instead of just playing at home, they can enjoy the game while meeting new friends as part of a local team representing Chicago, thanks to Super League Gaming and their Minecraft City Champs tournament, run in partnership with Nickelodeon. It’s like little league for Minecraft players! Fun, positive, and a special opportunity to get out and play with other kids their age. Past players clearly have had a GREAT time!

One skilled player will win

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Tips from Fit Moms on Finding Time to Exercise

Tips from Fit Moms on Finding Time to Exercise, Contributed by Kate S.

Everyone has trouble sticking to their exercise routines, but it can be almost impossible for a mom. Between looking after kids, taking them to school, going to the doctors, and any other commitments, there’s almost no time left for a mom to get her sweat on. Here are some top tips from fit moms to help you find time to exercise.

1. The Early Bird Gets the Workout You need to work out as early as possible, before the day has

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Jacob’s 1st Birthday: Viking Party

My baby is ONE?! But I just had him! I tell ya, that cliche “time flies” doesn’t change by the 3rd kid. In fact, time flies even faster. What a blur. In true Norwegian fashion, we went with a themed Viking party for the little man. It was a lot of fun to put together!

How cute is this cake?! Jacob’s little smash cake is sitting on top and looks just like a Viking helmet. I know, I know, REAL Vikings didn’t actually have horns on their helmets, but… it’s cute that way.

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