July 22, 2013

Cure summer boredom and play dress up with space camp!

This week I investigated dress up costumes for kids and decided to create a space camp as part of a sponsored post for Collective Bias® I was amazed at the selection I found on Costume Express #Unplug2Play #cbias

Hello and welcome to the middle of summer break!  If you're like most parents then you rushed out of the gates with lots of day trips, educational activities and creativity.  By now you're probably feeling a bit spent in the go-go-go department.  This is the tipping point where the concept of allowing the TV babysitter to tack a few more hours onto its schedule becomes very appealing because hey, it's free help after all.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp astronaut costume #Unplug2Play #cbias
I know, because I've been there.  So maybe it was about 20 years ago, but I can still remember how sometime around the end of July air conditioning and Nintendo - the original one (OMG I'm old) won.  Quite frankly, I commend my mother for making it that far into the summer without putting all four of us up for adoption.

In our house I have to admit I have not charged the iPad in months.  On purpose.   Horrible waste of technology, but I am afraid that I'll start leaning on it too much as a form of entertainment for Kayla.  It's SO easy to let them play for "just a few more minutes pretty please with a cherry on top!"

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp astronaut training sign  #Unplug2Play #cbias

So with Craig leaving on a "business trip" to Las Vegas yet again I geared up for a few days of special mother daughter bonding.  Last summer we went indoor camping, so this year I wanted something different and since Kayla LOVES to play dress up I decided that space camp was the perfect activity.  I recalled that a few years back while I was way too busy hopping on planes and bouncing around Asia for work Pluto got downgraded rendering any planet learning mnemonic tricks from my childhood worthless.  Time for a little re-education for mom too. Shhhhhh don't tell!

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp astronaut costume #Unplug2Play #cbias

I quickly came up with my essentials for space camp with a 4 year old.  The most important piece being a very authentic feeling astronaut costume.  I mean really, how can you expect a child to break the sound barrier and explore the universe dressed in everyday duds?

In the fastest Internet search ever, I located this super cute NASA issue (okay, well almost NASA issue) astronaut costume from Costume Express.  I have a love hate relationship with costume shopping because there are often a few great gems to be found, but by and large I'm normally underwhelmed with the quality and level of detail in the big box stores.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp astronaut costume #Unplug2Play #cbias

This astronaut costume was different.  From the plush padded collar to the bright, authentic feeling patches to the many zippers, pockets and belts that small children go nuts over - they really thought of everything!  I was pretty amazed and felt that this was the same quality as those super duper expensive costumes you see in the gift shop at museums but I grabbed it for under $50 and know we'll get years of play out of it.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp activities #Unplug2Play #cbias

With one sweet costume checked off my list I also grabbed a few small things that would make our experience official and educational like some planet replicas, glow in the dark stars and a book on Kayla's level rather than some overly technical work that would leave both of us snoring.

 I adore this book There's No Place Like Space!  It's perfect for a child who enjoys the rhymes of Dr. Seuss but instead of talking about nonsense it actually does give some great information about the planets and what makes each one different.  Of course Kayla loved it and it was the perfect kickoff to our activities.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't have some crazy master plan.  I just figured we'd play, I'd make her do crazy exercises and declare it space training.  So when we headed outside to practice our moon jumps I happened to peek inside the shed and spot Kayla's old baby bathtub.  Maybe it's because I'm really still about 7 years old at heart, but the second I saw it I knew it needed to become a spaceship immediately.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp  DIY rocket ship from foil astronaut costume #Unplug2Play #cbias

With about $1 worth of aluminum foil and 5 minutes of our time, Kayla and I created her intergalactic mode of transportation.  While she was flying to Jupiter I got the idea to give her a little rocket booster to make sure she could get all the way to Neptune - you know, since Pluto has been downgraded since we were kids.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp  DIY rocket ship from foil astronaut costume #Unplug2Play #cbias

In an effort to maintain his collegiate ways even though he's in his 40's AND drive me positively insane Craig will pretty much only drink out of disposable red plastic cups even though we have half the inventory of a Crate & Barrel glassware section in our home.  So I smiled from ear to ear as I cut one apart (aggressively) taped it to the back of the spaceship and added my ever present touch of crepe paper streamers for flames.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp  DIY space snacks freeze dried fruit  #Unplug2Play #cbias

One of the things I did pre-meditate was a cute pouch of snacks for Kayla because I don't know about your kids, but mine is constantly hungry.  First I thought of those packets of Neopolitan astronaut ice cream, but eeek!  They still conform to 80's food rules and are filled with junk I don't want to feed Kayla.  But then I remembered that Kayla had begged me for some freeze dried strawberries the last time we were at Trader Joe's and those would be perfect.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp  DIY space snacks freeze dried fruit  #Unplug2Play #cbias

I made this little printable in about 3 minutes, created a little bag out of wax paper by just folding and taping it. No fancy Martha Stewart glassine bags in this house! And used a star punch we'd gotten in last month's Kiwi Crate to make it extra space-like.  I could feel good that she was just eating fruit and Kayla was delighted to have a serious space snack.

Post snack we took one more ride, this time to the moon and Kayla got out to finally practice moon jumps.  I figured we'd just be jumping on the grass.  I should have guessed that she'd want to jump off the giant  (fake) boulders in our yard that cover our sprinkler valves.  Coming from a family that is neurotic to say the least when it comes to risk and injury it took me a couple of minutes to be okay with that and a couple more to stop saying "be careful" and "make sure you don't fall."

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp astronaut costume #Unplug2Play #cbias

I had to reason with myself and realize that jumping off a rock that's about 2 feet in the air and landing on grass probably isn't going to land us at urgent care.  The helicopter mom in me decided to take a few minutes off and let my kid ummmm be a kid?  Of course she became more bold very quickly and started hanging from the nearby palm tree, but I was cool with it and kept my distance.

And I almost cried when she giggled, told me how much fun space camp was and said "I love you to the moon and back mom."  It's something I say to her a lot.  It's not a new phrase, but given the circumstances it felt so darn good.

Mommy Testers DIY Space camp astronaut costume #Unplug2Play #cbias

If you're looking for a great alternative to electronic entertainment this summer, nothing feeds the imagination of kids (and parents!) like a good old game of dress up.  Costumes are hard to find this time of year but I  bet you'll be surprised by the huge dress up selection at Costume Express.

Orders over $75 ship free and if you're like me and have a ShopRunner account which comes as a fringe benefit of having an American Express card you'll get free 2 day shipping on most items without any minimum purchase....which rocks!  By joining their mailing list you'll snag a coupon for 15% off a purchase which makes that summer fun even more affordable.

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