Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Etsy Finds: 15+ Educational Toys that Kids Will Love

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

Most of my kids' toys are in the play area of our basement.  The kids aren't allowed in the basement because the last time they went down there, they dumped ALL of the toys out.  ALL OF THEM.  That happened just about a month after I spent countless hours painstakingly organizing all of the toys into labeled boxes.

I may have cried a little.  

Since Toypocalypse, the kids only get to play with the toys that were already in the main level of our house.  That's about 10% of their toys.  They have legos, playdough, the sensory bean box, tractors, Shopkins, and a few other assorted sets and random toys.  It's been about 6 months (because I just can't bring myself to go downstairs and face the insanity), and they have barely noticed.

What that tells me is that it's quality, not quantity that matters when it comes to kids' toys.

Etsy Finds:  15+ Educational Toys that Kids Will Love

So guess what?  I'm going to be having a garage sale (or rummage sale or tag sale depending on where you're from) and selling a LOT of toys!  Also, I'm going to be a lot more selective about bringing toys into the house.  (Unless they're for me...I collect Vintage Fisher Price toys)  As far as toys that the kids play with, I have a few requirements.

Any toys in my house must be educational and non-annoying (to me, not them because we all know that kids don't care how annoying a toy is.)

With that in mind, I put together a list of awesome educational toys I found on Etsy that kids AND their parents will love.  Bonus: not a single one of these toys needs batteries!

1. These Montessori Reading Blocks from Quality Montessori are a great tool for beginning readers as they learn how to read words, rhyme, etc.
Montessori Reading Blocks from Quality Montessori

2.  This Wood Math Set from Tree Fort Toys is such a fun way to work on math!  Many kids learn best by using something tangible and these discs can help with that.  Use the coupon code "SUNSHINEANDSPOONS" to get 10% off your purchase.

Wood Math Set from Tree Fort Toys


3.  What better way to learn the anatomy of the human body than with this Anatomy Play Set from Shop Orange Blossoms?  It includes 14 organs for kids to place in the correct location.

Anatomy Play Set from Shop Orange Blossoms


4.  This Wood Spelling Tree Set from Hugglebunnies makes it easy for kids to practice their spelling.

Wood Spelling Tree Set from Hugglebunnies


5.  This Educational World Map from Happy Place Art is available in print form or you can download and have it printed yourself.  Get 10% off with the coupon code "SAS10" through September 15th.

Educational World Map from Happy Place Art


6.  This Wooden Fish Puzzle from Pawoo Toys is a fun way for little ones to practice their motor skills with a puzzle while also learning to count to ten.  Get 10% off with the coupon code "PAWOO10."

Wooden Fish Puzzle from Pawoo Toys


7.  This Montessori Equation Mat from Jenn Sews Felt helps kids learn how to break numbers down along with other math skills.

Montessori Equation Mat from Jenn Sews Felt


8. Kids (and adults!) can have fun designing their own marble maze with this Wooden Marble Maze Set from Mirus Toys.

Wooden Marble Maze Set from Mirus Toys


9. Kids can use this Graphing Board from Mirus Toys with rubber bands or pegs, plus it has a dry erase surface, making it multifunctional.

Graphing Board from Mirus Toys


10.  This slingshot from Cake in the Morn can be personalized with your child's name plus a symbol of their choice on the handle.  It also comes with a bag of colorful pom poms for kids to practice with.

slingshot from Cake in the Morn


11.  Kids can learn how to design and draft plans with this Wooden Drafting Kit from Mirus Toys.

Wooden Drafting Kit from Mirus Toys


12.  This large felt world map from Em Is Crafty teaches kids to identify the continents.  The continent labels can be made in English, Spanish, or French.  Get $5 off with the coupon code "Sunshine" through the end of August.

large felt world map from Em Is Crafty


13.  This wooden moon phase puzzle from Mirus Toys is a great way for kids to learn how the moon changes.  The puzzle includes a "Moon Watcher" booklet.

wooden moon phase puzzle from Mirus Toys


14.  Kids can build and label their own apple with this felt apple from Circle Time Designs.  It includes felt backed laminated labels.

felt apple from Circle Time Designs


15.  This Learn to Tell Time Quiet Book Page from The ADD Hippie can become a part of your child's quiet book or be used as a standalone learning tool.  Get 10% off with the coupon code "Sunshine10."

Learn to Tell Time Quiet Book Page from The ADD Hippie


16.  Help kids learn what the planets look like and what order they go in with this wooden planet stacking toy from Mirus Toys.

wooden planet stacking toy from Mirus Toys

15+ educational toys that kids AND parents will love:


I'd love to hear which toy from this list was your favorite!  Leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What Chronically Ill People Want You To Know

Just about everyone who has a chronic illness fights not just their illness, but the preconceptions and judgments of their friends, family, and even complete strangers.  Stories like this or this happen way too often.

I asked people on my Facebook page, in the Spoonie Mommas group, and the Sunshine and Spoons group what they wish people knew about their chronic illnesses.  The answers were pretty eye-opening.  

If you love someone with a chronic illness of any kind, read this.  For them.  You'll come away with a greater understanding of what they are going through everyday.    

What Chronically Ill People Want You To Know

For me personally, I wish people knew that I feel like I have the flu just about everyday.  Imagine that...waking up in the morning aching intensely all over, so exhausted that you can barely put one foot in front of the other and that it gets worse throughout the day.  Now imagine waking up like that every single day and knowing that it will never get better.

I also wish that people knew that while yes, I've had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome my whole life, it has gotten worse, especially in the last few years.  I'm not just faking it and I'm not trying to get attention.  I did not get worse because I got diagnosed, I got diagnosed because I was getting worse.  
Here's what everyone else had to say when I asked them what they wished others knew about their chronic illnesses...

Caroline Pennington-That it sucks big time.

Out of Spoons, Just Knives Left spoonie shirt
Available in the Sunshine and Spoons Shop

Meagan Paullin-That fatigue is different than tired.  That my aches and pains aren't like the normal aging ones you say you have too.  That I won't ever "get better."

Jen DeFrates from Heaven Not Harvard-That I have other things to talk about! Everyone's first questions when we have a chat is on my hip and progress.  I do appreciate the care and concern, but at some point it becomes part of just how I do life and doesn't need to be a major topic of every conversation.

JulieAnn Sveen-That it's not a joke and that it is not pretend.  It is painful, and I am NOT trying to get attention!  I would not wish this on anyone.

Tricia McGuire-It's like fighting a losing battle somedays!  And if I'm having a flare-up (as I am now and have been for at least the last two months), they don't want to hear about it and want me to act as if I'm fine.  It's so frustrating!

Darci Lopez from Life Unplanned-That it changes EVERYTHING.

Ashley Bryant-Stop saying 'I hope you feel better.'  I never will be free of this.  I would prefer you ask if today is a bearable day or a tough day because it shows a sense of understanding.

Not All Disabilities Are Visible shirt - chronic illness invisible disability
Available in the Sunshine and Spoons Shop

Carrie Enright
-That there are days that hurt so badly you can't think and days where the pain is barely noticeable.  That on those days where the pain is barely noticeable, I get to do more, but usually pay for it the next couple days or even so much as a full week later.

Tiffany Duke Lehman-Just because I'm not actively complaining about feeling terrible or being in pain doesn't mean I feel good.  I just don't want to constantly whine and complain or talk about it with people who don't really care.  In fact, I'm probably not going to mention how I feel unless you genuinely ask.

Chrissy Nixon-That I never know how I'm going to feel from one moment to the next, and it will always be this way for me...for the rest of my life.

Karise Dolan-The amount of and severity of pain I fight through to do everyday stuff.  Despite me looking normal (ha, or a hot mess), I still fight a hidden battle of pain.  But I do it with a smile and joy, because this girl wins everyday.   Sometimes, I feel like a straight-up warrior after I successfully complete a day.

What Chronically Ill People Want You To Know

Keri Chrispell-That it's genetic.  I didn't just "come down" with it out of nowhere and trying probiotics or whatever else they are selling isn't going to miraculously cure me of it.  I am who I am.  If you don't like my genes, then stay out of them.  Pushing your "cure all" on people with genetic conditions isn't going to help us.

Vee Hill-That I'm not faking, over-exaggerating, or complaining too much.  And that if there was a magical cure, I would've found it by now.

Christine Feldschneider-That I'm not exaggerating when I say that I live with pain everyday.  Just because you can't see my disability doesn't mean that it's not real.  Please don't look down on me or judge me until you've walked in my shoes.

What Chronically Ill People Want You To Know

Susan Lark-That it is real, and the pain is awful.  If there was a cure, I would certainly seek it.  I deal with pain daily and every second of the day or night.  I try to smile and enjoy a good laugh, but on a daily basis that is not reachable.  I stay home a lot because I do not want to be around people that think this is not real.

Kathy Tellstrom-The fracture of relationships and how difficult it is for kids especially who are isolated from their illness.  As the rest of the world moves forward, they are left behind.  For parents, the constant canceling and bargaining that goes on on a daily basis between illness and life.

Sally Cousins-How desperately heartbreaking it is to realize that your old life is over and you must come to terms with a new you.
What Chronically Ill People Want You To Know:


Meg Smiley-That it's hard enough for me to deal with the pain and side effects on a daily basis without working to try and convince or console everyone around me.  I would rather just be prayed for and accepted for who I am that either be pitied or judged.

Melanie Maine-That just because they see me having a good day, that doesn't mean I'm "getting better," and that I'm not sad about my illnesses and really don't need pity.  It's a normal part of my life and is really difficult sometimes, but acknowledging and accepting my disability doesn't mean I've given up on living a full and happy life. 

Sara Goldstein-That I'm not going to get better.  Please stop telling me I will if I want to.

Dotty Quade-That it is invalidating to compare everyday aches and pains to the severity of the pain one feels when their joints slip out of place or muscles or connective tissues spontaneously rip.  And even though we are often still walking around, that doesn't mean we're okay.  Often it means we are drugged beyond reason, likely taped or braced together, and extremely good at managing pain because we don't want to miss life by staying in bed every time we are in agony.

Dreena Seaver Maine-That they have no idea how much I hide my pain.  That I don't talk about my pain because I don't want to sound like I'm complaining.  That I keep so much to myself and it's lonely being me and having no one to talk to.  How I quietly cry from the pain.  But on the outside, I look fine.

Ginny Etheridge Webb-I want people to know that I am not going to "get better."

If you have a chronic illness, what would you add to this?  If you don't, did you learn anything about having one?  

You might also enjoy:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Conquer the Laundry Monster

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

Around four years ago, I conquered the laundry monster.  It was awesome.

Aaaand, then it came back to life.

Long story short, I had my fourth baby who ended up being medically complex, we moved to a new home, my two oldest kids, the baby and I were all diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and I've spent the last three years at doctors' offices and in hospitals.  My world was turned upside down, and I totally lost control of the laundry.

How to conquer the laundry monster

That baby is now three years old and doing amazingly well.  We're slowly getting past the newly diagnosed stage of having a genetic syndrome and moving on to the maintenance stage.  We've lived in our home for three years now and everything has been unpacked, spread all over the house, and multiplied x 2000.  (Seriously, where does all this junk come from?!?)

It's time to tackle the laundry.  *insert scary music here*

I'm going back to my tried and true system, and I'm even going to share it with you because I'm just that awesome.

The first step is to divide the laundry up into categories.  Here are mine...
  • Towels
  • Hubby's and my clothes
  • Katie and Anna's clothes
  • Nano and Davy's clothes
  • Hubby's farm clothes (which have to be washed separately because of the lovely hog smell.) 
The next step was to assign each category to a day of the week like this...

Monday: Wash Hubby's farm clothes
Tuesday: Wash the towels
Wednesday: Wash the girls' clothes
Thursday: Wash the boys' clothes
Friday: Wash Hubby's and my clothes

This gives me the whole weekend off from the pressure of doing laundry.  If we're gone all day and I don't get a chance to do that day's laundry, I can either double it up with another day or do it on Saturday.
The key to making this schedule work is folding and putting away the clothes right away instead of dumping it all out on the couch to worry about later.

I've found it's easier to stay caught up on folding and putting away laundry when I'm just doing one category a day.  I used to tackle 6-8 loads in one day, and it was completely overwhelming to stay on top of folding and putting it all away.  When you're not behind on the laundry already, folding and putting away one or two loads is not a big deal.

Here are a few other tips for making laundry easier at your house...
  • Get color coded laundry baskets for each child.  Their folded laundry can go in their basket, and then they can take it to their room to put away.  
  • Treat yourself to a episode or two of your favorite show on Netflix while you fold the laundry.
  • Throw all of the socks in one basket and have a sock matching party with the kids once a week.
  • Or, get each member of the family a mesh laundry bag for their socks.  That way, they can easily match their own socks.
  • Use divided laundry baskets to collect the laundry in bedrooms and the bathroom.  Teach the kids to throw the dark clothes on one side and light ones on the other.
  • Use laundry baskets that hang over the door if space is an issue.
  • Teach the kids to do laundry!  My 9 year old can fold and put away her own laundry, my 7 year old can fold his laundry with a little help and put it away, and my two youngest are learning to fold and put away.
  • Use dryer balls to cut down on drying time.
  • Hang a stain removal guide and/or laundry symbol guide next to the washing machine.  You can find some cute printable ones here.
How I conquered the laundry monster and you can too

Is laundry an ongoing issue for you or have you found any tricks to help you stay on top of it?  I'd love to hear how you handle laundry at your house!  


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Do You Really Have to Treasure Each Moment?

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

As parents, we've all heard statements like these...

"Enjoy your kids now because you'll never get these days back."

"They'll never be this little again."

"Treasure each day with your child."

It seems that I always run across one of those blog posts or memes on days when I haven't had too many good mommy moments.  Days when I'm literally counting down the minutes until bedtime and simultaneously dreading the usual bedtime battle.  Days when the kids weren't the only ones yelling around our house.  Days when I wish I was done with diapers or potty training for good.

Do You Really Have to Treasure Each Moment?

Thanks for making me feel guilty for having "wasted" another day with my kids that I'll never get back.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Shopping for Gifts at Uncommon Goods

I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are mine.

The summer is half over already.

Seriously.  What happened?

We're deep in summer mode over here, but I've already started my Christmas shopping.  With four kidlets of my own, 14 nieces and nephews and countless other people on my list, I've found that it's much more cost effective and less stressful for me to start super early.

On a side note, Anna saw the Christmas tree stashed under the stairs in the basement this morning and asked if we could put it up yet.  I draw the line there.

It's not just Christmas shopping though.  I tend to buy things for birthdays and other events throughout the year, mainly because if I don't, I know I'll completely forget until the morning of and then have to panic and shove some random gift in a gift bag.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Why God Hasn't Healed Me

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

When I was 17, I went to an outdoor Christian music festival for 2 days with some friends.  That's when I found out that I have a heat and sun intolerance and also when it got kicked into overdrive.  I spent most of my time sleeping in the tent, and it took me several months to recover.

Why God Hasn't Healed Me

Since then, things have gotten worse.  Each one of my pregnancies intensified my heat and sun intolerance, and now it's so severe that I often joke that I'm a vampire because I stay out of the sun as much as I possibly can.  Just a few seconds in the sun or heat, and I start feeling dizzy, nauseous, weak, and like my head is going to explode.  I panic when I get into a hot car until the air conditioner is running at full blast, I will go out of my way to walk in a shaded area versus a sunny one, and I stay indoors whenever possible.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Awareness Bundle Giveaway!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

If you have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, you know how important it is to raise awareness for the disorder. Most people you encounter have never even heard of it and many doctors don't know much about EDS or have incorrect information on it.

If you're looking for ways to help raise awareness, I have an entire post devoted to that here.

You want to hear something really awesome though?

I'm co-hosting a giveaway for an Ehlers Danlos Syndrome awareness bundle with five other awesome bloggers!!  My co-hosts are Sarah from My Stripy Life, Brittany from A Southern Celiac, Sara from A Zebra Writes, Jenni from 1visibl3Girl, and Mary from The Headache Heroine.

Enter to win an EDS awareness bundle giveaway worth over $75!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Cars 3 is Racing Into Theaters with a Giveaway

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

One of the most popular Disney movies to date is Cars.  It's one that my kids have watched more times than I can count.  When Davy was in the hospital last week, he watched it three times over a two day period. Thankfully, it is something the whole family can enjoy and I don't mind it.

Well, Cars 3 is finally on it's way to theaters and to help celebrate its release The Hopping Bloggers have put together an awesome prize pack for one lucky reader! This package is worth $150 and includes:
Synopsis Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!
CARS 3 races into theaters everywhere on June 16th!

Connect with Cars 3

Enter to win this Cars 3 using the form below. GOOD LUCK!
If you're a blogger looking to connect with brands: Join The Hopping Bloggers database and get started today! If you're a brand looking to work with a network of professional bloggers: Check out the creative campaigns The Hopping Bloggers has to offer!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Raising Awareness for Celiac Disease with A Southern Celiac!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my linksThank you for helping me keep this blog going!

In addition to being Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Awareness month, May is also Celiac Disease Awareness month! I invited Brittany from A Southern Celiac to tell us all a little more about it and help dispel some of the myths about Celiac's. Brittany also has Ehlers Danlos so we thought the partnership was perfect for us both. Please welcome her to Sunshine and Spoons!

May is Celiac Awareness Month, so Hannah has kindly allowed me to guest post on her blog! I'm Brittany, the Celiac behind A Southern Celiac. I was first diagnosed with celiac disease in 2012 at the age of 19 after having stomach issues since I was 18 months old! Stories like mine aren't uncommon, which is why I'm so passionate about spreading awareness for Celiac Disease.


Don't worry though, I'm not here to bore you with my diagnosis story. I've written that out before, and honestly, it was even tedious for me to re-read! Nope, today I'm here to share some surprising facts about Celiac Disease.  I'm assuming you know the basics. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine. When a celiac eats even small amounts of gluten, their body gets confused and attacks the small intestine. The only treatment is a strict gluten free diet. That seems pretty straightforward– but there's more to Celiac than it seems.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What It's Like To Be a Kid With Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

This post may be a little hard for you to read. I know I had tears in my eyes more than once while typing this up.

If you've been hanging around Sunshine and Spoons for very long, you know that at least 3 of my 4 kids have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which they inherited from me. Davy (3) and Nano (7) don't really understand it yet, but Katie (9) does. She goes back and forth between being proud of being a zebra to asking why God would make her have EDS and all of the pain that goes along with it.

Kids are supposed to be able to run and play. They shouldn't have to deal with chronic pain and fatigue. They shouldn't have to spend their childhoods at doctors' offices, wearing braces and explaining random bruises.

But, that's not how things always work. I interviewed 25 kids who have EDS to see what it's really like to be a child or young person with the disorder. 

What it's like to be a kids with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

Averie, 10 years old (hEDS) - "The hardest part is telling other kids that I can't do certain things, like play on the monkey bars, or do everything that my classmates are doing in gym class. EDS hurts a lot.  It's frustrating that you can't do as much as your friends, and POTS is really frustrating because I just have to explain myself more when I'm getting up more slowly than others, and have to draw attention to myself."