homemade binoculars

Photos by Jylare.

Now that the weather is warming up, we’ve been adventuring outdoors more often which is always wonderful news for the boys. Today we’ve got an easy home-made (which to us always means made from stuff found around the house) binoculars we can take along. These are great for the little boys who can’t quite figure out how to make the real thing work, but still want to be cool like their brothers!

home-made binoculars

Here’s how you’ll do it:


All you need is duct tape, a couple rolls of empty toilet paper, or one empty paper towel roll cut in half. Then you’ll need some duct tape and string and you’re ready to craft!

home-made binoculars

All you need to do is cover both rolls completely. Once you get to the end, you can duct tape a string to the outsides of each tub in place. This will act as the neck strap. Then hot glue the tubes together down the center and you’re good to go!

home-made binoculars

Quinn’s tee by Good Boy Friday - find it here!

Happy adventuring!! Find all our DIY posts with household items right here.


winter water factory [giveaway!]

Winter Water Factory is here today with a fun giveaway to get you all set up for Summer! They make the most fun prints and the epitome of awesome play clothes. Every piece is simple and sturdy but also bright and fun! Here’s our boys rocking their Winter Water Factory around town these days:

At the park and at Cubby’s in Ropes & Anchors, shopping with mom in Outer Space and touring the new Natural Curiosity Museum in Construction Electric Blue.
winter water kids line

And here are some of our favorites from their Spring/Summer line:

winter water kids line

Are you ready to win? Enter below and you’ll be considered for a $100 credit towards your favorite Winter Water Factory gear.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interactive Books

We’re happy to have Janssen of Everyday Reading guest posting today with her favorite interactive books for kids! Books where they don’t just read the words and look at the pictures, but they can actually participate, touch, feel, and experience elements of the book, too! Janssen is an ex-librarian, turned mother and we’ve loved being able to follow along with her book reviews, and we recently participated in her “In My Book Bag” series which you can find here. Welcome, Janssen!

Small Fry Interactive Books1. Press Here by Herve Tullet. This book is just SO fun. Each page gives you an instruction (“tap the yellow dot twice” or “shake the page up and down”) and on the following page, the picture has changed according to your actions. My three-year-old never gets tired of reading it. (Tap the Magic Tree just came out this summer and has a similar concept, but revolves around the seasons).

2. Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles Into Comics by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost. I bought a copy of this for the library when I was an elementary school librarian and I didn’t shelve it once the entire year. As soon as one child brought it back in, another would snatch it off the cart and check it back out. I especially like this book because it’s both a story and provides drawing instruction.
3. Out of Sight by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais. Like many children, my daughter is obsessed with animals and animal books. This is my all-time favorite one. Each page shows some part of several animals on flaps (a collection of tails, or paw prints or coat patterns). Once you lift the flap, the corresponding animal is revealed with some interesting fact about the animal (I learned so much!). Our whole family was sad to take this one back to the library.
4. Busy Bunny Days: In the Town, On the Farm & At the Port by Britta Teckentrup. Originally published in Germany, this book is a cross between Richard Scarry and Where’s Waldo?, with tons of details to look at and a tricky badger hiding on each page. The illustrations are bright, detailed, and beautiful, and I could look at the different spreads all day long.
5. The Jolly Postman by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg. This book is such a classic. A postman goes on his daily rounds, delivering letters to various fairy tale characters. At each delivery, there is a letter, with a pocket on the page where you can pull out the actual letter. We owned this book, unopened, for years before we had children, but once our first child was old enough to enjoy books, this one became part of our regular rotation. Opening those letters never gets old!
6. Round Trip by Ann Jonas. Oh, this is an amazing book. All in black and white, it begins with a trip to the city. And then when you reach the end of the book, you flip the book upside down and read back the other way, returning home. It’s mind-boggling to see all the pictures turn into completely different images just with a 180 degree spin. (I remember reading it with my dad, who loved how clever the whole idea was).
Find more of Janssen on her blog here.
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FRYday : Emily

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately. Not the work/home life balance, Heavens no! That unicorn left the building long ago.I tend to imagine my boys’ lives as a scale. The two sided kind – I think they’re called The Scale of Justice – if we’re being official. I think of one side of the scale being filled with the influence of myself and my husband.

Tipping the Scales | FRYday

We fill up this side of the scale with our love and acceptance. We tell them how wonderful they are, how they are doing a great job, how much they’re improving at something, with our hugs and kisses, and back tickles and brushing their shaggy hair off their brow. We fill it with our family’s rules and standards, with our expectations for how we want them to act and treat others. I’ve seen firsthand that every moment of everyday is a potential lightbulb moment for them. You never know what they’ll hold onto, what they’ll soak up and incorporate into the mechanics of those ever-turning brains.

The other side of the scale is everyone else. Their friends, teachers, the television, even other family members. It’s not “us versus them” but I can’t control what gets dropped into that side of the scale and it overwhelms me sometimes. I, of course, keep a close eye on who they’re spending time with, but it doesn’t change the unknowns. Lately with my four year old Hayes, I’ve felt that scale shifting. Ever so slightly. I’ve seen him adopt words, and interests, and ideologies. I’ve seen someone who only cares about having fun, all the sudden obsess over who is winning and losing. Over how fast he can run, and what toys he has in his closet. Don’t get me wrong he has learned some incredible things that I feel really grateful for. Hearing him recite the Pledge of Allegiance “One Mation under God…” and singing silly songs. Telling me the moon goes around the Earth everyday. How lucky is he that he gets to learn things that I would never have thought to show him!

Even still, I feel anxious that what I say and think is losing a little bit of weight with him. I just want the voice in his head to always be me rooting for him, cheering him on and telling him it will all be alright. I want my boys to see themselves the way I see them! Just the other day I watched Hayes jump into his preschool carpool and I was overtaken by sadness. I could feel that scale tipping, and it was the most indescribable and foreign feeling I’ve had thus far as a mother. I don’t often fear things, I feel pretty safe in my world, but for that moment I was consumed with this urgent feeling to get him back home. The teachers must have thought I was crazy when I came to the door only 15 minutes into school asking if I could pull him out. I just needed him with me, is that the weirdest? Under my wing like some crazy mother hen, even just for a little while. Just to fill him up with all the good things I could think of, before sending him back out to the world. Motherhood is a freaking trip sometimes, man. We bring them into the world, they rely on us for virtually everything for a time, and then our success in this role is based on how well we can help them learn to find their own way. It’s the most heartbreaking yet necessary arrangement. So here’s to all of you mothers out there who can’t seem to let go just yet, I am feeling your pain this week, let’s go get some ice cream.



glasses for kids [giveaway!]

Brought to you by Jonas Paul Eyewear.

Jonas Paul Eyewear

Jonas Paul Eyewear makes the most darling spectacles and shades for children and we’ll be giving away a frame of your choice to TWO winners! But first, we couldn’t share Jonas Paul’s story without sharing a little bit about the company’s namesake, little Jonas himself:

Story Behind Jonas Paul Eyewear from sprout: visual storytelling on Vimeo.

These specs are stylish and sturdy and the passion and heart behind the company, two parents, is what made us fall in love with these little frames.  Since our boys don’t wear glasses (yet!) we wanted to call on you readers that have traversed this experience before with your kids. Here’s what you all had to say:

Jonas Paul Eyewear

What were some clues that your child might need glasses?

Camille – “At the grocery store or Target I could not put Mason (16 months) down on the ground. He would scream and almost have a panic attack. He either had to be held or put straight into the cart. Come to find out, he couldn’t see and the shiny floors and the reflection of the lights scared him, he couldn’t tell if it was water or slippery… The most obvious sign came a little later when we noticed his eyes crossing.”

Paige – Ethan (9 years old) was sitting really close to the TV, asking what time it was from the back seat, and squinting his eyes.

Linda – Both my husband and I wear glasses so we were always on high alert, turns out ALL seven of our kids wear glasses! For us, just like the dentist, we take our kids to the eye doctor at age three. Most of our kids didn’t get glasses until age 5 or 6. Headaches are always a good sign of problems, so look out for that!

Julie - Our situation is unique because Amelia’s (age 4) vision was fine! But she had an eye muscle issue. Her eyes would turn outward when she was tired or trying to relax, causing her distress and aggravation especially watching TV or movies. It’s important for parents to know that passing a vision screen is not a guarantee that there are no issues. If you suspect anything is “off”, see a pediatric ophthalmologist!

Lauren – Jack (5 years old) was having trouble focusing at school, his handwriting was hard to read, and his eyes were always wandering.

Jonas Paul Eyewear

How did you prepare them for getting glasses?

Camille – Mason wore an eye patch to correct a lazy eye situation, we let him pick his stickers to decorate it and he felt special and unique. By the time he got glasses he was so excited he could finally see he never took them off!

Paige – We always presented it as a cool and positive thing. Letting him pick out his glasses, no matter what he chose helped get him excited. He was actually sad that it would take a week to get them in the mail. Now Ethan isn’t Ethan without his glasses, it’s become a part of him!

Linda – Since all their siblings had glasses the younger ones were usually jealous they didn’t get glasses too! I would always say “Don’t worry, your day will come!” ;) We had little reward systems in place so if they were caught without the glasses they put a quarter in the jar, and then when they had quarters they could buy an ice cream from the ice cream truck. Worked like a charm! Like the other mothers, I always let my kids choose their glasses!

Julie – I talked to her about glasses and how they will help her eye to “stay still”. It helped tremendously that I wear glasses. And now I refuse to wear contacts at any time, because I don’t want to send her the message that I look better without the glasses. I recommend parents in glasses to help their children through the change. My daughter is ok with her glasses because I am ok with mine.

Lauren – I pointed out all the cool people he loves that have glasses, grandpa, uncles, other friends. I brought his glasses to school the first time, brought them to him and asked the other kids in the class “Doesn’t he looks so cool?” Most agreed and now he loves them!

Jonas Paul Eyewear What do you wish you would’ve known before this experience?


  •  If your child is young take them to a specialist, get them on the right track right off the bat!
  • Be diligent about what the doctor tells you to do. If he says patch, PATCH! The discomfort is worth it in the end.
  • Buy the glasses you like, but then get their glasses professionally fitted and buy a warranty and even a back up pair. Getting scratched, dropped, lost, will all happen to your kid.

Julie – I would have gotten anti glare lenses for her. Also, back up pair! Also, LittleFourEyes.com! Amazing resource with a Facebook group of over 2,000 parents of children in glasses. The group is invaluable for anyone just starting on the glasses adventure.

Lauren – Take your prescriptions to Costco! The doctors office is so expensive.

Thank you to all of the mothers who participated in this post! How cute are their little bespectacled darlings?Moms Share Their Advice on Getting Kids Glasses

Ethan // Amelia // Jack // Mason

Now for the GIVEAWAY! Two winners will get to pick their favorite frames either in optical or sunglass form, and there are two ways to enter to win!

First, all you have to do is leave a comment letting us know why you’d like to win! We will pick the first winner from this post’s comments.

For a second chance to win, all you need to do is share this post on Facebook and we’ll pick a second winner from those who have shared the post.

Easy enough right? You have until Thursday April 24th to enter, and we’ll notify each winner then! Good luck!

All photos except directly above are by Jylare Smith Photography!