Grayson & Gavin’s Top Movie Picks for Preschoolers (I’m guessing)

I know screen time is a hot topic, and some mamas try to limit their kiddos to screen time only on the weekends or maybe 30 minutes a day – and I find that super admirable. I do.

But if we’re being real, my boys watch quite a bit of TV and movies. I’m super strict with the iPad time – some days Grayson doesn’t get any at all, but if he does I typically put a pretty strict limit on it. But when it comes to the TV, we have it on quite a bit. I like the background noise honestly, and my kids aren’t really the type to get sucked in and stare at it for hours. They may sit and watch a 30 minute show here and there, but that time includes jumping around, running in circles, maybe a little wrestling, playing with toys, AND watching the show.

But I’ve noticed that if it’s the right movie, they (even Gavin!) will sit and watch most of it – all while doing the things mentioned above, of course. In fact, Daddy is big on movie nights. He goes all out, popping popcorn in his fancy popcorn maker, closing all the curtains to make it dark like a movie theater, and turning the sound up WAY louder than Mommy would like.

So since movies are pretty big for our boys, I thought I would share their very favorites with you guys, just in case you’re looking for a treat for your little ones!

Top Movie Picks for Preschoolers - Haven Gray {the blog}

Lion King

Did you know they just released this from the vault? Well, it’s been what, a month now? ¬†– and my boys have watched it approximately 200 times. They LOVE it. Grayson loves the fight scenes (no surprise) and Gavin loves to dance to all the fun music. This is the first movie that I’ve noticed Grayson memorizing the lyrics and singing along with all the songs, which I find super adorable. There are a few things in there that I don’t love – I’ve had to explain the meaning of “cactus butt” and also tell him that we aren’t allowed to say stupid, even though they do in the movie – but that’s the case for just about anything out there, unfortunately. He’s at that age where he’s a total sponge, and wants to know what everything means, so this has introduced some interesting conversations, to say the least ūüėČ

Trolls

Y’all. Have your kids jumped on the Trolls train? I’ve seen this one more than I care to admit, but it IS super cute. Lots of fun music (thank you, Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake) and a pretty cute storyline. No matter where they are in the house, if they hear the first few notes of “Can’t Stop the Feeling” at the end of the movie, they come running.

Moana

This is more Gavin than Grayson, but I honestly think Grayson says he doesn’t like it simply because it’s Gavin’s favorite (brothers, I’m telling you). Out of every kids movie I’ve seen, this might be my favorite – and I’m honestly not totally sure why. Just like all of them, there are several cute songs, but I think I just love the storyline. I love that Moana dares to go after her dreams and follow her purpose even when it’s hard, and she meets all of the challenges she faces head on. I know, I’m too involved here, but watch a movie enough and you’ll start thinking about a deeper meaning. Orrrr I may just be a little crazy.

Life of Pets

We haven’t watched this one as much, but I think it’s making it’s way to the top of the list. They were watching it last night and Gavin was cracking up, like belly laughing harder than I’ve ever heard him. It is a pretty funny movie, and all those pets are pretty cute. Another perk is we haven’t watched it 100 times, so it’s still somewhat interesting to me at this point.

Alright, what about you? Do your kids watch movies often, or do you limit screen time pretty strictly? And what are some new favorites I can share with my boys? I’d love for you to share – you could be saving my sanity!

 

Diaper Bag Essentials for the First Time Mom

Even though it’s only been a little more than four years since I had my first baby, it’s a little difficult to remember what it was like before his arrival. I’m so in “mom-mode” 24/7 that I honestly can barely remember life as a non-mom. But one thing I do remember is panicking¬†before our first few outings, positive that I would forget to put something super essential in his diaper bag.¬†

It can be a lot of pressure to get out of the house with every single thing you might possibly need, no matter the circumstance that may happen to arise РI mean, what if you forget something you really, really NEED?!?

Well mamas, I have good news for you: babies aren’t near as complicated as you may have been led to believe. As a mama of two, I can tell you that my personal diaper bag “essentials” have gone down in number over the years. So today, I’m going to share what I truly consider to be non-negotiable items that you should have in your diaper bag at all times. As long as you’ve got these things covered, you’ll be just fine – promise.

Diaper Bag Essentials | Haven Gray {the blog}

  • Extra Diapers & Wipes

Number one most important thing that you should double and triple check for before you leave the house, absolutely. And when I say extra, I mean several extra. You will be amazed at how often you will be changing diapers, especially in the first few months. If your wipes are getting low – throw in another pack. There is no way to predict a blow out diaper, and if you’re low on wipes when one happens to occur, you will live to regret it.¬†

  • Change of Clothes

At least one full change of clothes is a must, so have an extra onesie, pants, and socks at a minimum. The amount of extra clothing depends on the baby. With my first born, I always had three or four extra changes in his bag because he was the king of blowout diapers – something I’m sure he will love that I shared with the internet in his older years. With my second, I just make sure I’ve got one, and to be honest he usually grows out of them before they get used. You’ll know within a couple of weeks what kind of baby you’ve got (and good luck to you if you’ve got the first kind I mentioned).¬†

  • Pacifier

Oh, the horror of being stuck somewhere without a pacifier. Again, this depends on the baby, but I would say it’s a safe bet that most babies will want the comfort of a paci when they’re out and about in their early days. They have cute little pacifier carrying cases to keep them nice and clean, but a ziplock baggy should do the trick as well.¬†

  • Hand Sanitizer/Wipes

Especially as a first time mom, you are likely going to be obsessed with germs for awhile. I sanitized everything that came near my first born for probably his first year of life. It’s amazing how disgusting everything you touch becomes when you think about then touching your sweet, innocent little baby. Stay stocked up here for your own sanity.¬†

  • Diaper Rash Cream

You never know when a diaper rash is going to pop up. I swear, one diaper change things look perfect, then the next you’re dealing with a sad looking little rash. Even though my boys haven’t really had many diaper rash issues, I always keep this on hand. My favorite is Dr. Smith’s Diaper Rash Ointment. Within a diaper change or two this stuff has always cleared up any redness we’ve had going on.¬†

  • Changing Pad

Nothing’s worse than being out in public, about to use the diaper changing station in a public restroom and realizing you don’t have a changing pad. This has happened to me, and laying your baby down without a layer of cleanliness between them and the table is not ideal. I’ve actually gone so far as to line the table with paper towels, but obviously that didn’t work so well. So keep a changing pad in your bag at all times – it’s even a good idea to have an extra for when you wash your everyday one, just in case.

  • Blanket

While this may be obvious in the winter months, I like to keep at least a thin receiving blanket or muslin swaddle blanket in our bags even throughout the summer. On windy days it’s nice to have something to cover baby up, and you never know when you’ll be somewhere with AC that is just a little too cold.¬†

  • Toys

For the first couple of months your little one will likely sleep through most outings, but once they come out of their newborn cocoon they will begin to demand entertainment. There are so many great toys out there that attach to carseats so you don’t have to worry about them falling onto dirty floors or out of their reach in the car. I always keep a couple extras in the diaper bag as well.¬†

  • Snacks & Sippy Cups

This won’t be necessary for a few months, but once your baby is snacking and sipping on water, you will need to be ready at all times. Hangry babies and toddlers are zero fun, so keep a bag of healthy snacks with you during every outing, no matter how brief,¬†to be on the safe side.¬†

There you have it! There are maybe a million other things that you can include in your diaper bag, but to save space (and your shoulders because diaper bags get heavy!) these basic items will get you through just about any situation that should come up. You’ve got this, mamas!¬†

Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids That Are Always Hungry

If the kids in your home are anything like the ones around here, they’re requesting a snack about 75% of the day, every single day. We aren’t super strict on the amount of snacks that we hand out – I assume growing boys that are constantly moving and grooving need lots of fuel, so I’m not too stingy with how much snacking they do. However, I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to healthy snacking options. Below I’ll share a few of my favorite healthy snacks for the littles in your life.¬†

Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Strawberries & Grapes

My oldest isn’t a huge fruit lover (unless it’s frozen), in spite of my best efforts. However, my tiny guy LOVES it. Right now we are on a real Strawberry/Grape kick, and we go through at least a carton of strawberries a week. It’s definitely important to remember to cut these up into bite size portions, especially the grapes, since they can be a choking hazard. Plus, the more pieces they have to eat, the longer they spend eating the snack, the longer it is until I have to figure out ANOTHER snack, and so on….

  • Crackers/Apple Slices With Peanut Butter

My four year old has a new-found love for peanut butter, and since I’m always trying to find ways to push protein in his diet, I will put peanut butter on just about anything these days. Two things that work well around here are crackers (whatever’s the favorite at your house will do the trick) and apple slices. I put the peanut butter in a little serving cup and dish out a few crackers or apple slices and¬†he’s a happy camper.¬†

  • String Cheese

Yet another sneaky way to get some protein in. String cheese is a real hit for us – even Mommy and Daddy tend to snack on it after dinner. We typically choose a low-fat version, and I’ll buy the organic option if it’s on sale or I decide to throw caution to the wind and spend $5 on a bag of string cheese.¬†

  • Smoothies

I have to admit, this is more of a Nana-thing in our world. Mommy has good intentions, but I super hate cleaning the blender so I’m not likely to make a smoothie unless it’s requested. However, if I weren’t so lazy, smoothies are an amazingly healthy snack for kids when done right. Our favorite way to make them is with almond milk, frozen fruit, and yogurt – maybe add a little honey for extra sweetness if we’re feeling crazy. Delicious and healthy in so many ways. Can’t beat it!¬†

  • Organic Frozen Pancakes

My boys are completely obsessed with Earth’s Best Frozen Organic Mini Blueberry Pancakes. I buy two boxes a week and we usually run out. They want them for breakfast every morning and for a snack throughout the day. The good news is these little pancakes aren’t half bad – they’re made with whole grains and are a good source of iron, zinc, and b vitamins. And apparently they’re tasty enough that the kids never even ask for syrup to go with them. Score!

  • Turkey “Rollups”

This is a hilariously easy snack that for some reason is a hit around here. I buy a pound of thinly sliced turkey at the deli counter most weeks, and literally take a piece and roll it up in a long strip for a snack. That’s it. Easy as can possibly be, relatively healthy, and again, protein. I even stick this in my Grayson’s lunch for preschool as the “main course” at least once a week when school’s in session.¬†

  • Cottage Cheese

Now, this could just be my kid, but it’s worth a shot! For some reason Grayson is a big fan of cottage cheese, which is totally fine by me. Protein, calcium, vitamins – you really can’t go wrong here.¬†If you think your kids will be skeptical, there are a couple of ways you can dress it up – occasionally we will add honey to ours, and there’s always the option to add fruit. Give it a try!

  • Cereal Bars

I think my kids would eat several of these a day if I would let them – their favorite (for the moment) seems to be Earth’s Best Organic Strawberry Sunny Days Snack Bars. I know they love them because they’re sweet, but they really are a pretty decent snack nutritionally so I feel pretty good about handing them over¬†when they ask for one. According to their website, these bars are a great source of calcium, iron, zinc and six B vitamins – not too shabby! I keep our snack bags stocked with these at all times.¬†

So there you have it! If your kids are getting bored with your normal snack options, try out a few of these. Also, I would love for you to share your favorite toddler snacks in the comments – we’re always looking to try new, healthy things around here!¬†

5 Basic Items Every Stylish Boy Needs in His Closet

It can be¬†a serious challenge to dress toddler and preschool age boys – trust me, I’m practically an expert in this area by this point. The selection that you find in most stores includes jeans that don’t fit quite right, t-shirts with cartoon characters, and clunky shoes that are – great for playing in the dirt I guess? Since this is something I obviously care about (aka, the entire reason I initially started Haven Gray Kids) I thought I would help my fellow boy mamas out with a few tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way. So here are the five things your little man needs in his coset ASAP!¬†

  • Skinny Jeans

I know, I know, a lot of people seem to think that boys don’t wear skinny jeans. But I will have you know that I have been putting my boys in skinnies basically since birth, and I get more positive comments on their jeans than almost anything else. My theory is that they are so tiny that the typical straight leg jean that you find at most stores overwhelms their little frames. Instead of looking clean cut they look a little disheveled. My solution is to put them in skinny jeans, and I promise they instantly look more put together.¬†

  • “Cool Guy” Shoes

Something else I’ve been putting my boys in, literally since they could walk, are low top Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. This style of shoe is perfect because it goes with nearly anything they will wear, and I love them in black because, well….boys get dirty. Pair these with skinny jeans (or leggings for little guys) and you’ve got an instant hipster baby on your hands. I also love the Tiny Toms – we’ve had several styles over the years and I’ve loved them all. Most of the Toms are also much easier to get on a flailing toddler than the lace up Converse, so I consider these a mama win.

  • Graphic Tees

Graphic tees are super in right now, especially for little guys. Funny sayings, cool designs – it all works. My top tips when buying t-shirts for boys¬†are to avoid white tees (unless you don’t mind constant stains) and to make sure they have a slim fit. A lot of tees you’ll find out there have a boxy cut, and this tends to lead to a less put together look – much like the typical “boy jeans” that we already talked about.¬†

  • Button Down Shirts

A button down might seem a little bit preppy (and preppy we are not), but they are one of my favorite things to put on my guys. What I love so much about them is that you can dress them up or down. Pair them with khakis and nice shoes for church or a more formal event, or make them look super cool with rolled up sleeves, skinny jeans, and Chucks. In the winter they look cute underneath sweaters and cardigans, and they can even be worn in the summer with rolled up sleeves, shorts, and sandals. They’re pretty much the most versatile thing you can buy for a little boy!¬†

  • Sweaters & Hoodies

Ahh, sweaters and hoodies. Two of my favorite things that are absolutely essential in colder months Рwhich is like, two months here in Texas, but still. I like to buy my boys sweaters and hoodies both to have more of a slim fit Рno big surprise here. I buy them big enough for them to have a little room for growth and so that they can easily be layered with a button down or tee underneath, but slim enough that they still have a tailored look. A hoodie with a graphic tee, skinny jeans and Chucks is a fun, laid back look for day-to-day, and a sweater layered with a button down, skinnies and boots is an instant, classic outfit for just about anything that comes up. 

The amazing thing about building a wardrobe for your little man is that it’s SO EASY. You don’t need a million accessories, leggings, dresses, etc. – buy the basics and you are good to go! You can mix and match all these things however your little heart desires, and when you’ve bought the right items in a cut that flatters their little toddler frame, you’ve got an instant cool guy on your hands.¬†