Ready for a Mom’s Day Out Hammock Style?


The sunshine calls to you as spring makes it’s way out from under the blanket of winter. The kids are entertaining themselves sweetly. Dinner is simmering on the stove and that new book you just bought is waiting for you to turn the first page. As you look around at your life, you pinch yourself, thinking, “Is this really my life?” I’m such a lucky girl!”

And then you hear the blood-curdling yell of your kids screeching your name in a way that makes you want to change it to something they aren’t allowed to say. “Moooooommmmmmm! She took my toy. I just had it and now she has it and I want it baaaaackkkkk!” As you are mediating their skirmish, the faint scent of something burning hits your nostrils and you realize that your once simmering dinner is now burning. You run down the stairs and trip over the new book you laid at the bottom of the stairs when you made the mad dash up to handle the fighting siblings.

As you slide across the floor you think, “I need a day off!”

LOL. What mom hasn’t thought this? Let’s face it. Mommying is not for the faint of heart. It requires strength, stamina, resolve, and the ability to squash rebellions at a moment’s notice.

But just imagine for a moment that the scene in that first paragraph could happen. Wouldn’t it be great to grab a sweet tea, retire to your favorite hammock on a sun-bathed back porch and take a much-needed mom’s day off?

A girl can dream. A girl can surely dream. If you were planning your mom’s day off, it might not involve a hammock on a back porch, but we’d love to hear what yours looks like.

Kiwi Single Hammock with spreader bars

Kiwi Single Hammock with spreader bars


Aqua Blue and White Striped Classic Hammock Chair

Aqua Blue and White Striped Classic Hammock Chair


Caribbean Citrus Double Hammock

Caribbean Citrus Double Hammock

Storing your Hair Accessories with Style

Blue Owl Hairbow & Barrette Holder

Blue Owl Hairbow & Barrette Holder

Storing your Hair Accessories with Style

I have never, ever, ever been a girly girl. The gene for “accessorizing” wasn’t on my XX chromosomal structure (that’s science talk for girl dna) so I have always just embraced “simplicity of style.”

So imagine my joy when I gave birth to two sons. No accessorizing necessary. Oh, I occasionally threw a matching baseball hat on their little heads, but that was really all that was required. I loved it. I used to watch as my sister-in-law accessorized her daughter with the craftsmanship of a fashionista. We used to tease her because she even changed her daughter’s hair bows to match her pajamas! (true story)

And then the curtains of heaven parted and bestowed upon us twin girls. Not only twin girls, but twin girls with ethnic hair that required more care than I remotely knew how to give them. So you know what I did? I educated myself. And, I not only learned how to care for their hair, putting in cute little braids and puffs, styles that required anywhere from eight to twelve hair bows in one head of hair, I learned how to accessorize it (holla)! That’s right, I became a hair accessorizing fashionista.

But with my newly acquired accessorizing skill came a whole lot of hair accessories that quickly became a mess in my bathroom. I mean, a mess. I had bows, and beads, and bands, and bands with balls on them, and headbands, and headbands with bows on them, and on and on and on.

If I am nothing else, I am organized. So the clutter of that mess just about made me crazy. Do I organize by style or by color? Do I organize in baskets or bins or with hair bow holders? And don’t even get me started on what to do with all the hair products!

So here’s how I tamed our wild hair accessory mess.

Step One: Get Your Containers

You will need two or three small plastic containers with lids. (You can use the Rubbermaid kind or something cute and decorative.) You will determine the size based on the quantity of rubber bands you have. But it’s nice (in my OCD head, at least) to have them all be the same size so they stack neatly.

You will need at least one, possibly two, plastic fish hook containers (the kind fishermen sort their hooks in).

You will need one, two- three drawer plastic containers. This will be for all your headbands.

You will need a hair bow holder. The kind that hangs on the wall with ribbons on them works best. This allows you to hang your hair bows without squishing them. (It also lets you organize them by color! Oh yeah!)

Step Two: Sort by Type

I tried sorting a number of different ways and discovered this to be what worked the best long term.

Small Plastic Containers

Put all the plain rubber bands in a small plastic container with a lid. This keeps you from getting rubber bands everywhere, and also keeps them at hand when you need them.  I also keep a small pair of scissors in this bucket for tangled rubber band extractions.

Put all the “adorned” rubber bands in a similar container. (These are rubber bands that have beads and bows on them.)

Plastic Fishing Hook Containers

Put all your hard plastic barrettes and decorative bobby pins in one of your fishing hook containers. This way, you can sort these by color and don’t have to waste time sorting through a bucket of them for ones that match!

Because my daughters have ethnic hair, we often adorn their twists and braids with beads, so I use my other fishing hook containers for their beads.

Plastic Drawers

Just a note that these come in many different sizes. Choose according to your needs.

Put all the hard plastic headbands in a plastic drawer-style container. I actually use a stacking one that fits on my shelf.

Put all the soft headbands in another drawer. Pretty simple sorting here folks!

Hair bow Holders

And last but not least, you want hanging hair bow holders. I’ve seen these in very ornate, decorative styles and very simple styles. But whatever you choose, you’ll want enough to hold all your bows, and enough to sort them by color. I even have one I use to sort for specific holidays!

Okay, there you have it! All my wisdom on the best ways to keep your hair accessories well cared for and organized! Now go, accessorize to your heart’s content!

#sweetretreatkids #hairbowholder

Frog Hair Bow & Barrette Holder

Frog Hair Bow & Barrette Holder

Pink Butterfly Hair Bow & Barrette Holder

Pink Butterfly Hair Bow & Barrette Holder

Create a Keepsake Of Your Child’s Growth


kids growth chart


Charting their growth is easy and can now be a keepsake you will treasure forever.

You know how cute it is when you measure your kids as they grow older? That thing you do where you have them put their feet up against the wall or the door or some other place in your house and then you mark how tall they are?

We had that place in our house. I’d like to tell you it was a decorative growth chart; something we could place as a keepsake with their other baby items, but nope. It was the doorway of our pantry in our kitchen. Every year on their birthday, or the first day of school, we ceremoniously had them place their heels up against the doorframe, and we measured their height, marking their name and the date next to the line.

One time, when we were having our house painted, the painter came and got me. He opened the pantry door to show me he had painted around the boy’s markings, but had left those years of measurements untouched. It really was such a sweet thing that he realized how important it was not to paint over those marks.

Throughout their childhood and even throughout their teenage years we marked the passing of milestones by measuring their height. And then, as each of them graduated from high school, we measured them that one last time. I still remember how I felt placing that pencil above their head, marking their height and simultaneously marking the end of their childhood in our home.

A year after our youngest son graduated, we moved, leaving behind that sacred place, a hieroglyphics of sorts for the people who would come behind us to live in that home. Of course we knew they would paint over those marks, but short of tearing out the doorframe, there was just no way to take it with us.

So now that we are doing this parenting thing all over again, and we have the girls, we’ve gotten wiser. We do still mark their heights, measuring them on their birthdays and the first day of school, but we do it on a growth chart. It’s a fun (and more keepsake-friendly) way of remembering their happy years of growth in our home.

#sweetretreatkids #growthchart #wallart #cherishedmemories

Magic Garden Growth Chart

Magic Garden Growth Chart


Dinosaur Kingdom Growth Chart

Dinosaur Kingdom Growth Chart


Jolly Jungle Growth Chart

Jolly Jungle Growth Chart


Afternoon Gossip, Pink & Green Growth Chart by Oopsy daisy

Afternoon Gossip, Pink & Green Growth Chart by Oopsy daisy


Why Sparking Your Child’s Imagination Is Critical to Their Success


As many of you know, my husband and I have two sets of kids, a set of boys we have raised to adulthood, and a set of girls, twin 5-year-olds we lovingly call the “twinderellas.”  We often refer to our two seasons of parenting as “life in the blue world” and “life in the pink world.”

I loved being the mom of little boys. Life in the blue world may not have been filled with baby dolls and dollhouses, but nevertheless, we spent hours in imaginative play, creating, building, destroying, and dreaming of new ways to create, build and destroy.  (I may or may not have sneaked in a doll or two along the way.)

But life in the pink world is so much more fun!

I confess, I have become slightly addicted to dollhouses (admitting it is the first step, right?).  I have accumulated My girls have accumulated quite an array of dollhouses, nicely complimented by a giant box of dollhouse furniture.  Sometimes we take all their dollhouses and all their baby dolls and all their dollhouse furniture and we build a giant doll village where we spend hours playing.

Okay, who am I kidding? THEY spend hours playing, but I do frequently interject and besides that, my life in the blue world taught me how to build a wicked cool doll village . . . so there.

Why Am I Telling You All This?

Boosting your child’s imagination is critical to their brain development (and you know how I love to talk about brain development!) It helps them

  • Develop social and emotional skills
  • Solve real-life problems through imaginative play
  • Tell you what they are thinking about long before they have those communication skills
  • Learn to care for the needs of others
  • Develop higher order thinking skills
  • Use the creative side of their brain which is critical for spatial and mathematical development

It’s like Mr. Rogers said, Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

So whether it’s with a baby doll or a dump truck, give your children opportunities to use their imaginations every single day. After all, it’s serious learning.

I’d love to hear from you! What are your children’s favorite imaginative toys?

Why Sparking Your Child’s Imagination Is Critical to Their Success

Sophie’s Dollhouse

Berrylicious Bunny Cake

Berrylicious Bunny Cake

Berrylicious Bunny Cake

Sweet Eats Series – Berrylicious Bunny Cake

Here’s another great idea from our Sweet Eats series.  Easter is right around the corner.  Celebrate with this fun Berrylicious Bunny Cake. This Sweet Eats comes from Driscoll’s, who has over 100 years of experience growing some of the finest berries on the planet.  Although any berries and fruits will work for this project, we definitely recommend the Driscoll brand.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

You will need a Wilton Step-by-Step Bunny Pan for this recipe. It’s also necessary to have a large flat platter for the cake to be placed on before decorating (many craft stores sell disposable platters if needed).


2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups hulled and chopped Driscoll’s Strawberries*

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
4 cups confectioner’s sugar, whisked before measuring (plus extra as needed)
2 tablespoons whole milk (plus extra as needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Decorating Materials
1 14 ounce bag of sweetened flaked long-shred coconut
Purple gel coloring
3 packages (6 ounces each) Driscoll’s Raspberries
1 package (16 ounces) Driscoll’s Strawberries
1 package (6 ounces or 1 1/3 cups) Driscoll’s Blackberries


*Use either 1 1/2 cups hulled, chopped strawberries or 1 1/2 cups chopped raspberries for cake batter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Thoroughly coat the insides of a Wilton Bunny Pan with nonstick spray and dust lightly with flour.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternately with the milk. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Chop enough hulled strawberries (or raspberries) to equal 1 1/2 cups and fold into batter. Pour batter into pan and smooth top with offset spatula.

Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The cake will be golden brown on top and around the edges and will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool pan on racks for 15 minutes. Unmold and place directly on rack to cool completely.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Add remaining sugar, milk and vanilla and beat on high speed until silky smooth; this might take several minutes. Frosting is now ready to use.

Place cake on a platter large enough so that it leaves space all the way around the bunny. Frost the cake evenly all over with frosting, reserving ¼-cup of frosting. Press coconut all over cake, tops and sides. Cake may be stored overnight at this point. Bring to room temperature before serving. Use photo as inspiration for decoration.

Suggestion: Two blackberries for eyes; a vertically sliced strawberry half for a nose, pointing downwards; thin, vertical slices of strawberries to detail the ears; thin, vertical slices of strawberries to create a smile; a small piece of blackberry connecting the nose and mouth; tint remaining frosting a light purple, place in a parchment cone and pipe whiskers; ring the entire bunny with raspberries. Apply fruit decoration right before serving so that they don’t stain the coconut.

Send us your photos after trying this fun Sweet Eats! We’d love to see them!

#timetogether #sweeteats #itsreallyaday #sweetretreatkids

Want to allow your little one to help make this delicious recipe with you? Consider The Learning Tower in Red by Sweet Retreat Kids.  This cooking accessory will allow you to teach your child in a safe environment .  It will help you create a safe environment so she can help in the kitchen. Creating a love for cooking, and making healthy food, at a early age, will teach him valuable lessons and they will love you for it.

The Learning Tower in Red

The Learning Tower in Red

Potty Training Without Tears (Yours or Theirs)


Potty training.

The very words can strike fear in the heart of even the strongest parent. I know, because I AM a parent, and I have potty-trained four children. When most of us start thinking about potty training, it’s either because we’re ready to stop paying for diapers, we’re tiring of changing dirty ones, or our kid is heading out the door for preschool, and we realize we’re gonna be judged by all the with-it moms who potty-trained their kids in utero.

We tell ourselves, “Get ready girl. It’s gonna be hard, it’s gonna be messy, and it could get ugly in a hurry.” We read books, ask our friends, and sign up for the latest course on potty-training bootcamp. We understand one thing: Go into this thing casually and disaster is sure to befall you.

In the words of little Kevin McAllister on Home Alone, “Don’t get scared now.”

HA! Just kidding.

Trust me, as a mom who potty-trained 2 kids over twenty years ago, and a mom who is doing it all over again, potty training doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, you can actually make potty training fun. And because I am living proof that you will all survive potty-training, I’m giving you my top ten secrets for making potty training fun.

  1. Chill the Heck Out
    For real. Put down the manuals, take a deep breath, and just know that no one leaves for college in a Pull-Up. You’ll be fine. Your kids will be fine. And no one is likely to need therapy when it’s all said and done.
  2. Make Sure They Are Ready
    This post would be way too long for me to write about the readiness signs for potty training. Ask The Google. The Google knows all. But don’t overlook this step. My four kids all potty trained at different ages. They are ready when they’re ready. Don’t rush it. (See #1.)
  3. Buy a Potty Chair
    I did not buy a potty chair with my sons. In my mind, having them go on the big potty was like cutting out the middleman. Big Mistake. With my girls, I bought potty chairs. It was totally worth the money and the extra mess. Potty chairs aren’t scary like that big giant growling porcelain throne in your bathroom. They are child-sized so their feet can touch the ground. Totally worth it.
  4. World’s Most Awesome Underpants Ever
    Along with the potty chair that you are going to buy, you’ll need some underwear. Now we grown-ups act like big boy or big girl underwear is the best thing in the world. We make a big extravagant deal about the purchase of said underpants, but generally speaking, “most kids’” potty training success is not dependent upon this. (I know, your child probably loved it; they’re special, and awesome, and totally not average in any way.) DO take them to buy underwear, and DO let them pick out the ones they want. Just DON’T count on that awesome underwear to be what walks your child into the halls of success.
  5. Give Them A Voice
    Let your littles have a voice (and a hand) in the making of the reward system. If the purpose of the progress chart (sticker chart, whatever you use) is to reward progress, you want the reward to be something the child actually WANTS to earn. I know I’ve been guilty of going out, buying the chart, the stickers and the prizes, and being kind of disappointed that they weren’t overly motivated by my choices. DUH. It’s because they were MY choices. (I also let my girls pick out their potty chairs. The more say they have in the process the better.)
  6. Trading Up
    This is one of the best things I ever did. You know how usually our prizes are little trinkets, pieces of candy, etc.?  Well pretty soon, those little trinkets will lose their luster and their motivational effectiveness. Instead, let your kids earn their little prizes, but save them up to trade up for a bigger prize! Or let them earn tickets instead of trinkets and they can shop at the “prize store” with their tickets.
  7. Have a Peecation
    Okay, worst use of the word vacation ever, but bear with me. When you are ready to potty train, set aside three full days at home where you can be 100% focused on potty training. As much as possible, let your focus be on your child and their pottying. By not going anywhere, your child can walk around in their amazing underpants, not having to worry about getting their clothes off and on, public accidents, etc. And make the atmosphere fun, just like you would on a vacation. Eat fun food, provide fun drinks (believe it or not, you want your child to drink A LOT) play games, watch movies, HAVE FUN!
  8. Awards Ceremony
    Stickers and prizes are great, but during your peecation, go the extra mile and have an Awards Ceremony, complete with a coronation or a trophy. Call the grandparents, take pictures, make a BIG DEAL out of your little one’s success.
  9. Be Okay to Try Again
    You might have asked The Google for readiness signs and been certain your little prince or princess was ready to potty train, but for some reason it’s not going well. Just in case you need permission, I give you permission to try again later. Pack the potty chair away (or leave it out for the days they show interest) wait a couple months, and try again. With one of my girls, I started when they were three, thinking they were ready, but they weren’t actually ready (or successful) until they were almost five. Every child is different. They’re ready when they’re ready. (See #1)
  10. Chill the Heck Out
    You know who’s the most stressed out about potty training? You are. If you’re chilled out about the process, likewise will your little one be. Yelling, threatening, punishing, doesn’t in anyway encourage them to be successful at mastering this very important life skill. It just stresses them out (which by the way makes them even less likely to succeed).

Let’s get real. I don’t know a single parent anywhere who has ever said, “I can’t WAIT until we get to potty train. It’s going to be so much fun.” But I want to encourage you that potty training doesn’t have to be an exercise in your patience, either. It can be both stress-free and fun if you approach it with the proper mindset.

And besides that, just think how awesome it’s going to be on social media when you use the word peecation. 🙂

Potty Training Without Tears (Yours or Theirs)

Ocean Floor Potty Chair

Best of Houzz Two Years Running


Best of Houzz

Best of Houzz 2014 and 2015

THANK YOU to all of our customers who helped us earn the “Best of Houzz” award for the second year in a row. Because you took time to share your experience with our store, we received “Best of Houzz” in Customer Satisfaction in 2014 and 2015. If you haven’t seen our PRO page yet, we invite you to check it out at Sweet Retreat Kids Houzz. We feature samples of our children’s custom furniture, outdoor playhouses, custom hand-painted wooden letters, custom princess carriage wagons, and more. Check out our projects and get inspired!

Accessories to Bling Out Your Bunk


Maxtrix Accessories

OK, so a bunk bed shelf and other bunk bed accessories probably don’t qualify as “bling.” I may have oversold that, but they’re definitely essential add-ons to any kids’ bunk bed or loft bed.

Kids won’t want to get all cozy on the top bunk only to have to get out of bed to fetch their favorite book or a sip of water? A bunk bed table will let them keep essential items handy.

Will the Maxtrix accessories fit my bed?

Most brands don’t offer these accessories, so we get a lot of inquiries about Maxtrix bunk bed accessories from parents with a different brand bed. While we can’t guarantee the fit on any brand other than Maxtrix Kids, we can give you some information to help you determine if they will work for your bed.

Maxtrix J-Hook All Maxtrix wooden bunk accessories – including the bedside tray, beverage holder, magazine rack, and bedside box – all hang on the front guard rail using J-shaped hooks. The Maxtrix guard rail is roughly 7/8” thick, so their J-hooks are sized to fit.


If you want to attach the accessory to something that is thinner or thicker, you’ll need to find an alternative way to attach it. You may be able to find a different size J-hook at a local home improvement store.

Another common question is whether the accessories will fit on the headboard or footboard of a Maxtrix bed. The bed ends are too thick to accommodate the included J-hooks, so you’ll need an alternative way to hang a bunk bed shelf or other accessory on the ends of the bed.

#sweetretreatkids #maxtrixkids

Handpainted Letters Add a Personal Touch


Can you make custom handpainted letters to match my bedding?

Looking for a way to personalize your child’s bedroom or nursery? We have the answer – custom handpainted letters that spell a name or a special word or phrase.

Check out hundreds of samples of our custom wooden names and letters, but don’t worry if you don’t find the perfect design. We can create a custom design just for you. If you send photos of your child’s bedding, paint colors, or other décor, our talented artists can make handpainted custom wood letters in a coordinating design.

You’re welcome to give as much input as you want. We’re happy to follow your detailed instructions regarding the colors and patterns on your child’s name letters. Alternatively, if you don’t have an artistic side, leave it to our talented artists to take care of all the design work.

It’s helpful for us to know your child’s wall color, so we can ensure that the background of the custom name coordinates but doesn’t blend into the wall color.

If you don’t find a sample design on our site to meet your needs, use this link to order completely custom letters for your child’s name. You can enter custom requests at the time of order. If you choose to email photos to us, be sure to include your 4-digit order number in the email, so we can connect it with the correct order. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you we can help!

Handpainted Letters

Handpainted Custom Letters


#sweetretreatkids #customletters #wallart

Help your kids feel safe at night


Three Easy Ways to Help Your Little One Feel Safe Sleeping In Their Own Room

We have been the most incredibly blessed parents in the world when it comes to bedtime. I have heard the horror stories of the nightly game of whack-a-mole played by most parents at night, but not us. Nope. Our daughters go to sleep at bedtime, safe and secure sleeping in their own rooms.

Want to know our secret? A regular bedtime routine and nightlights. It really is that simple. I could say it’s just a fluke, that our daughters are just the kind of kids that go to sleep easily, but our sons were the same way.

If you’re ready to end the madness of bedtime and get your kids to feel safe sleeping in their rooms at night, here are three easy tips you can implement right away.

scared of the dark

  1. Establish a Time for Bed: Seems like a no-brainer, but no matter how small your child, whether an infant or a grade-schooler, a regular bedtime is important. If you establish it early on, it creates a bio-rhythm that allows your child to develop their own healthy sleep cycle.
  1. Create a Routine: A normal bedtime routine can go a long way in helping your child feel safe and secure at bedtime. To help create a routine, do the following:
  • Announce that bedtime is near. Even when your child is an infant tell him/her “It’s almost bedtime.”
  • Do the same things in the same order every night. Your routine might be take a warm bath, read a story, play soft music, turn off the lights, pray, and turn on the night light. Or it might look completely different. The point is to have a routine and stick to it.
  1. Get a Nightlight: And speaking of nightlights, get one (or more than one). The dark is a scary, scary place. Even as adults, we sometimes fear the dark. A simple nightlight can be so incredibly reassuring to a child. Allowing your child to help pick out his/her nightlight can even be an important part of the process that helps your little one feel a little more in control about the situation.

Training your children to feel safe sleeping in their own room is something you can easily accomplish. All it takes is nailing down the routine that works best for your child, giving them some control about their environment, and then being consistent with these three great tips.

#sweetretreatkids #nightlights #scaredofthedark

nightlights for kids

Pink Rose Petal Night Light

Vintage Baseball Nightlight

Vintage Baseball Nightlight

Zebra Print Nightlight with Dark Pink Bow Magnet & White Ribbon Rose Magnet

Zebra Print Nightlight with Dark Pink Bow Magnet & White Ribbon Rose Magnet