Easy Easter Teacher Gifts – “Pin-spiration”

Hucklebaby has six different teachers, so I can’t go crazy each holiday…

I loved this idea from The EveryDaySavy. She had it listed as Valentine’s Ideas but I think it’s perfect for Spring too.

I changed mine a little bit… and let me tell you why…

Instead of opening each package and sticking it through the middle (which I admit, is MUCH more adorable) I opted to tape my sealed lip balms to the back.

If someone sent an OPEN lip balm to me…I’m pretty sure, no matter how cute it was, it would end up in the trash before my lips. I’m just sayin’.

In my mind I would rather lose cute points and have his teachers actually keep and use the EOS. These are headed to school tomorrow… :)

Want to do it too??? Grab your free printable here. 

Getting Ready For Easter – Plus an Awesome GIVEAWAY!!! 

We decorated for Easter the day after St. Patty’s day and I have learned in the past year or so that if I want to add on to my decorations, they must be Hucklebaby friendly.

I am loving anything that uses his fine motor skills at the moment, I’m sure that won’t change…and so when I see projects we can do together, that I can store away and bring out year after year…I grab them.

Thank you Target for providing a huge blue egg that was Hucklebaby level, that he carried around the store. Honestly watching him carry two of these at the same time was quite amusing. First project – around $5.

Next project…wooden eggs. In my mind, as I’m walking down the aisle, thinking what a great thing this will be, to pull the eggs out year after year and “remember”.

Oh, how I thought painting wooden eggs would be so wonderful…

It was a wonderful 4 minutes. We discovered it is much more fun painting arms and legs and what? I’m not supposed to paint my face.

Project ended.

You see that small red spot on the egg. Yep. That’s exactly what the egg still looks like. All the other ones are still bare.  I’ll pull these out again next year and see what happens.

Next project…egg stuffing.

This is Hucklebaby’s first year that he understands what he’s doing “hunting” for eggs. His school has a rule about NO CANDY…so gummies (as they are called in this house) are the next best thing right? Plus they are the only thing I could find that would fit in the eggs.

I grabbed eggs and gummies – 12 of both to be exact. Except Target only gave me 11. In the box of 12…they only put in 11. Easter Egg crisis. Come on Target? Do I have to count the gummies now? Is this how they are saving money?? Or is someone that boxes tummies laughing at all of the parents that are probably experiencing the same thing I did. Well played Target, well played.

Dear parent of the one kid that got a left over Valentine’s Fruit by the Foot in their egg… I’m sure it’s still good. :)

So after the painting and egg stuffing…a Pirate Egg is just what we need…   

I am reminding myself that things don’t need to be perfect. This is his time to be creative and find his way. They need to be his artistic choices. Yes, a toddler needs artistic choices. I’m sure it’s a thing.

Hook out of the top of the head? Perfect.

So this is what the directions look like and this is what my new Easter center piece looks like. :)

This time of year we love reading books about spring, chicks and bunnies. Want to know what our favorite spring bunny book is?

Guess How Much I Love You…A Hucklebaby Book Club Classic!

Did you know it’s 20 years old this year? To celebrate spring and Easter and just how wonderful this book is…Hucklebaby wanted to do a giveaway!

Each of 3 lucky winners will get a copy of the 20th Anniversary “Guess How Much I Love You” as well as an Event Kit with tons of kiddo activities.

Here is a link for additional activities if you already have the book in your collection.

Make Your “Own Guess How Much I Love” You Greeting Card 

 GHMILY story time set up

On winner will be selected from the blog – simply follow and post your favorite kid activity for spring.

Two winners will be selected from Instagram – follow @mariannafrances, repost the image with the #guesshowmuch and comment with your favorite kid activity for spring.

Feel free to do both for a better chance to win. Contest ends on Friday, April 3, 2015.

You get a chick…You get a chick…

There is one teacher in my school that hatches chicks every year. It’s such a cool thing for the kiddos to experience and I always wanted to do that with my kids. I finally asked her where she gets the eggs from…and I’m so mad that I waited so long to ask. Our Florida 4-H program gives you everything you need. All I had to do was contact them and they delivered it right to the room.

Today two wonderful ladies came with the incubator (it’s so much smaller than I had imagined), 7 fertilized eggs, and a daily flip chart of what the insides of our eggs look like.

I cleared off a table for the incubator because I imagined a huge thing, but this one is about the size of a basketball. It auto-rotates the eggs so we don’t have to do anything except put a few ounces of water in the center every few days. It makes a little noise before it rotates them, nothing too distracting…but all day today every one stopped to watch as the eggs rolled. I’ll admit I did too.

These are the eggs that were brought in. The initials at the top show which “mom” they came from. I’m sure it’s to keep an accurate chicken count. Maybe… I honestly have no idea…

Before they left, we were able to see the chickens that laid the eggs and where the chicks will go after they have hatched. No, we do not get to keep them forever. Although I don’t think some of my girls were listening when I said this and I predict a few tears when we have to say good bye.

The eggs are in. Only 21 more days to go. My kids think I know exactly what to do when they start hatching and were asking a million questions about it today. I had to act like I wasn’t gonna freak out as soon as I see a little beak poke through. I’m probably as excited as they are.

My only comfort at this point is that the presenters will come back in 10 days to “candle” the eggs…so we can see what is actually growing in them. I’m sure I’ll have my baby chick parenting questions fully formed by then.

I’m not sure how long the class gets to keep the chicks after they hatch… :) I think I should have asked…

I do love this chart that they left too. It reminds me of what I looked at when I was pregnant with Hucklebaby. We can all see what’s happening inside our eggs each day but I fear there will be a few parents upset when their kids swear they will no longer eat eggs after we watch what happens to the egg yoke… :)

Leprechaun Hucklebaby 

I love any reason to get dressed up. I’m trying to give that excitement to Hucklebaby as well. His school invited us to walk in the town’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this past week and I thought it would be a great experience.  He loved getting dressed up and really loved the green spray in his hair. He was my little Leprechaun Hucklebaby.

We arrived about 10 minutes before the start and found his school bus. We could either ride the bus or walk in front of it. Random Fact: Hucklebaby has never ridden a school bus… and after getting him to the first step of this one…he still has not ridden one. In case you were wondering, yes…his school has a short bus. :)

My mom happened to be in town for the day and came with us to the parade. Good thing I have extra boas on hand for occasions like these. :)

This kid…he makes me laugh. He just randomly picked up a rainbow umbrella that was there and started twirling. That green moo-stache stayed on for about 3 seconds.

Ready with our goodie bags of stuff to throw out…


The parade started…and then something happened.

Hucklebaby and I were walking with everyone else and he had a moment. Not an expected one though. He REFUSED to walk in the road. Would. Not. Do. It.

I blame myself. Everything is so concrete with him right now. Yes, no, black, white. I have made it clear that he should NEVER EVER go in the street. (that’s what parents do)

And now here I am making him walk IN the street, in front of a moving bus. He called me out.

I honestly hadn’t even thought of it that way. Parades go against everything we are teaching him right now. Stay out of the road, stay away from moving vehicles and don’t throw things at people. I just had to laugh, he was right.

So after 3 or so minutes of walking in the parade… we then had to walk beside our group in the parade. Yes. On the sidewalk. Where it was safe. Parade of one. Leprechaun Hucklebaby.

I wait all year for October…


I’m not sure why October is my favorite month. I love the feel of it. Everything feels a little “different”. Living in South Florida there isn’t that much of a change. It’s still mostly sticky. Uggg. Don’t even get me started on how I would love to wear layers. You’ve heard of a bikini body??? I have a layers body. A mighty fine one at that.

One of the main reasons I want to move north is to be able to experience a legit fall. Trees, hay rides, hot apple cider. I fake my way through fall in South Florida. All you have to do is crank the AC down and pull out cozy pj’s. I make the best out of my regional situation.

I have this problem…where as soon as Halloween decorations come out in the stores…I put them up at home. Yes, before October… I would keep them up year round…but even I know that is questionable.

The first gift Billiam ever gave to me when we were dating was this guy. Yes, a pirate skeleton. Romantic right? Every year we dig him out of the Halloween decorations, Billiam likes to remind me what a lucky lady I am.


Over the years…I have fallen in love with Dept. 56 Halloween Village Decorations. That love affair ended quickly when Hucklebaby was born. So I’ve downgraded to the Michael’s Lemax Village. (they are much cheaper) Think Tory Birch vs. Target purse of Halloween houses.


2 Halloween “Christmas” trees…uh yeah…


I’m still loving this Halloween house I made a few years ago. You can still see the original blog post here of how I made it.


Here are a few of my other favorite decorations from around the house. I would show you all of them…but I’m afraid you would judge me, and rightfully so.


I’ve been brainstorming Halloween costumes and don’t like any of the cutesy toddler stuff I keep seeing.

I think I am set on Daryl Dixon for Hucklebaby, I’m just not sure if it is too obscure… or age appropriate. But it does make me laugh. Then Billiam and I could be Zombies… :)


I’m also thinking that I want to be a “homemade” costume mom. My mom made my costumes… I feel like I should make Hucklebaby’s. That’s the great part of trick or treating. Praying your costume doesn’t fall apart…

Because I’ve scaled down my Halloween designer decorations…I’ve started adding to our collection of Halloween books. I want Hucklebaby to love this time of year as much as I do. Plus…I’ve got this thing about never having too many books.


Those books never stay organized for too long. I’m ok with that.

Because we love Halloween books around here…we want to spread the love! Here are the books that could be yours!


What are you/ your kids dressing up for to Trick-or-Treat? Plus…Hucklebaby homemade costume suggestions.

Comment below for your chance to win…


Make sure to follow @mariannafrances on Instagram for an additional chance at winning.



Hucklebaby’s Toddler Travels

I was scared. I was scared for a long time. I wasn’t ready for Hucklebaby to fly. Not because I was scared of flying…but because I was scared of being “those people”. You know who I’m talking about. The people you see at the airport that you secretly pray you won’t have to sit beside because they have “that kid”. Yeah. I was scared. I didn’t want to be them and I had a pit in my stomach that I would be.

I read everything I could about what to take with us. To prepare for anything that could come up. So when I started packing I knew I only wanted one bag. Everything needed to fit in my Mom backpack.

My snack bag: OK so all of the time I spent making homemade baby food the first year of Hucklebaby’s life… I threw that out the window and packed way too many sugary treats than I need to mention. Even I questioned my parenting choices while looking at the bag. Fruit snacks, Pop Tarts, Lolli-Pops, Goldfish and raisins. Raisins? Yeah…I needed to have something in case I started getting ‘judgie’ eyes. You know what I’m talking about.



I also stopped at Target and grabbed a few things from the Dollar Spot. Toys and games to take on the plane…that could stay on the plane if need be. Blocks, flash cards, tiny toy airplanes. I was so proud of myself.

Sidenote: Guess what flies really far across an airplane aisle? All of the little toys I took with us. Worst idea ever.



I made sure to pack plenty of diapers, even though we are potty training, airplane toilets would probably suck him in. Maybe not…but I wasn’t taking chances.

Also an extra set of clothes, because you never know what’s going to happen, an empty cup and hand sanitizer. I didn’t want plane funk.



What did I take for me? A sweater, my wallet and gum. I’m not that demanding. Plus I knew all of my energy was going to H. This was going to be my first flight where I couldn’t read a gossip magazine or listen to my I-Phone. This was going to be hardwork.


This was us headed to the airport. A beautiful Florida sunny afternoon.



I wasn’t driving so I was trying to count lightning strikes. I have no idea why.


Guess what this picture is? Just red and blue lights behind us.

Yeah…Billiam got pulled over after the rain ended. He was “trying to make up time”. He was horrified I was trying to take a picture and capture the moment…so this is the only one I was able to snap. I was laughing pretty hard.


and he was not amused….


Poor Hucklebaby. He slept through the first time his dad got in trouble with the law. I made sure to document it though. That’s my job right?



We finally made it to the airport shuttle.


Do I know how to pack or what? 50 pounds…I can squeeze just about everything in. H and I shared a suitcase.

Billiam on the other overpacked and had to rearrange his stuff. Seriously he packs more than a teenage girl.


After all of that…we needed a drink.



Airports are magical places for little boys. Planes, trucks, trains. They were all there. I would pay to go to a special room at the airport just to let him watch this activity. Like an airport park…Someone needs to think about this idea. I don’t know who is in charge of things like this…but get on it.




Time to board the plane…


Here we are…at the very back…away from as many people as possible…



Guess what…


…after all of my worrying you know what happened??? No matter what I did, prepared for and was ready for…I had “that kid”. I promise I did my best.















Sure…go ahead, climb under the seats and grab the passengers legs in front of us. That’s not mortifying.


I Found the Perfect Kid Gift….


That’s it. That’s the perfect gift. OK…hear me out.

Before I had Hucklebaby I really never knew about the “kid birthday circuit”. Yes, it exists and once you are in it…you have to accept it. That means there are endless amounts of birthdays for all of your “new mommy friends” kids, some months…every weekend. Let me point out, Hucklebaby is still only one. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like as he gets older.

As I go to these parties, I see toys. Tons of toys. Toys that I’m sure will be long forgotten by the time the next birthday rolls around. That got me thinking. I don’t want to buy toys anymore. (let’s not talk about books as gifts right now)

I was thinking this exact thought when I got a party invitation to my nephew Conner’s Iron Man Birthday party. He’s turning 5. Because he lives in Maryland  I honestly have no idea what toys he has in his collection.

So as I stood looking at rows of action figures and hoping I didn’t buy one he already had, I shrugged my shoulders. The last thing I wanted to do in that moment was get into a text conversation about, “Well, does he have this? What about this? Do you think he would like…” I gave up. I walked out of the store. Just walked out. No toys, no gift.


That’s when I walked into Learning Express (I can never pass it without going in). I was looking for something pirate related, because speaking of birthday’s thats the theme of Hucklebaby’s 2nd party…but anyway….

As I was walking around I saw this. It was a display for their personalization services. Not bad…

They had a whole bunch of different sized cases that could be personalized at no extra charge. I’m liking this. (I want to say it was about $15 for the case)


My thinking is this. I can get Conner a “brief case”, that’s what the label called it and I thought it added to the cuteness. To carry his toys, or art supplies, whatever he happens to be enjoying at that moment. It can stay at home, or go in the car…he can travel with it. It can become whatever he wants it to be. He can keep his favorite things safe and hide things under his bed in it. This is better than an ol’ action figure.


Ok.Ok.OK. So the brief case isn’t the only thing I got him…I filled it with a few things from the Target Dollar spot. I mean who wants to get an empty brief case? But, they were more practical items. 3 pair of super hero socks, pencils and notepad, a Dinosaur work book and a box of rice. Rice???


Since Conner is so young, and lives so far away. Somehow he has never learned Uncle Bill. He picked up Uncle Ben somehow…and we just kinda rolled with it as a family joke. So presenting….a Box of Uncle Ben’s Rice.


So here you have it. The perfect gift… and all under $20. Not so bad.


Sidenote: if you invite me to a birthday party within the next year or so…I’ll bring a briefcase with me. :)