Summer Reading with Kids

“Books are a uniquely portable magic” – Stephen King

When I open a book, I am instantaneously thrown into a world of wonder. I am delighted with every turn of the page. I long for others to feel the excitement that I feel every time I pick up a book. It’s magical! I am fortunate enough to have two kids who love the power of a good book.

Reading has become a daily occurrence in our household. Books are read while at school and at home on the weekends, but every night is closed with two books. This is OUR time. While my kids are still young and in school during the work week, we are creating an environment which thrives on the written word. These tactics can transform the summer reader as well.

The Books of Summer

While reading should be the reward, developing incentives for reading can be beneficial to the young reader. We are participating in the 1,000 books before kindergarten challenge with our local library, but this can be transformed into a monthly challenge for kids. A book a day, 10 books a month, 50 books for the summer, etc., these are great options for kids. For each book they read, they will receive a sticker. For every 10 stickers, they will be rewarded for a small toy, experience, etc. A grand adventure ahead!

Create Your Own Story

Tapping into their creative side can be beneficial. Challenging kids to write and illustrate their own children’s book can be a summer-long project. Each day, they can spend 20-30 minutes on their book. By the end of their summer, they can host their own author reading for friends and family. Taking pride in their own creation is but one aspect of the project, by reading from their favorite authors, they can gain inspiration for their own developments.

Invest in Your Own Library 

The summer is the perfect time to build your family library. We have four bookshelves filled with books across our house. We love investing and growing our collection of beautiful and inspiring children’s books. Penguin Random House has released three beautiful books that have been the ideal additions to our storybook collection.

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PAPER SON  – The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung & Chris Sasaki 

From China to America with only a few papers in his hands, Tyrus Wong became an illustrator for Disney, using his gorgeous watercolor technique to create the iconic backgrounds of Bambi. Through the enchanting writing of Julie Leung and the illustrations of former character designer for Pixar Animation Studio, Chris Sasaki, Wong’s journey from immigrant to celebrated artist is wonderfully captured. My four-year-old is drawn (no pun intended) to the detailed illustrations of this children’s book. He will sit in his reading corner, flipping from page to page, carefully examining the beauty that is this book.

Available for purchase on September 24, 2019. 

Take Your Pet to School Day by Linda Ashman & Suzanne Kaufman

One word can be used to describe this book – FUN! When pets show up at Maple View Elementary School unannounced, chaos ensues and my kids bust into instantaneous laughter. Through Ashman’s skillful rhyming and Kaufman’s captivating illustrations (BIG fans over here), kids can learn the power of classroom etiquette with new friends. This children’s book is perfect for kids and pet lovers alike.

Now available for purchase.

When Sadness is at Your Door by Eva Eland

Dealing with your emotions can be hard. Understanding your feelings as a kids can be even harder. Through her debut piece, writer and illustrator Eva Eland introduces sadness as a welcomed guest; exploring its intention, giving it a name and form, and discovering ways and activities to approach moments of melancholy through mindfulness. It is important to respect the feeling(s). This is truly a beautiful piece which provides thoughtful conversation with the kids.

Now available for purchase.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

These are just a few ways to encourage summer reading. What are your ideas? Let me know in the comments. I am always looking for new and exciting ways to encourage reading with my kiddos.

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Just Imagine – Kids Night In Box Review

How many times were you told to “use your imagination” as a kid? I heard it countless times, and do you want to know something? Once I did start to use my imagination, I was able to transform any “boring” (because what does that really mean to someone under the age of 10?) situation into something exciting. I appreciate my parents for challenging me to think outside of the box in order to create my own FUN!

 

We look forward to our monthly Kids Night In Box, because it provides a space for the entire family to engage in fun and exciting activities. This month, the Just Imagine box, relied on the sentiment of just “use your imagination” (see how I brought that full circle?). Each activity, book, recipe, etc. was curated to challenge the mind – to step outside the norm and use that creative side of the brain. While every box has been a hit, this one really hit it out of the park. 

 

Literally a Box Car

 

Something special about the Kids Night In Box is that you can use and reuse every aspect of the box, including the box. In this month’s box there was a delightful activity where you transform the subscription box into a car. With the box, wooden wheels, wooden rods, rubber bands, scissors, markers, and stickers, the boys made a speed racer. I did have to break up a few fights, because they both wanted to take full control over the car, but once they started to share, the fun was endless. They helped decorate their side of the car, and generously handed the mechanic (myself) the tools needed to make their box car. Such a simple and highly entertaining activity for the entire family. 

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Play With Your Food

 

“Don’t play with you food!” In this case, we threw that statement out the window. Playing with your food, can turn into a moment of pure joy and creativity for the kids. Their Kids Night In Box came with a bag of pretzels, a bag of cheese cracker, and a bag of fruit chews. I laid out all the materials (I may have stolen a nibble or two) for the boys to design with their food. Ro wanted to make a birdhouse out of snacks. Once he completed his masterpiece, he decided to transform into a GIANT bird and eat the birdhouse (the mind of a four-year-old). For our two-year-old, he started to sort and match like pieces together, creating almost an apartment complex of pretzels and cheese crackers. The boys LOVED making with their food. Do you think if I use this with vegetables they will be just as excited? It’s an idea!

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Wikki Stixs

 

Who remembers playing with Wikki Stixs as a kid? I remember the countless hours of fun I would devote to building and rebuilding unique art pieces out of those malleable wax sticks. With it being summer and their Little Mermaid obsession, we created our own mermaid from Wikki Stixs by thinking outside of the box. Now, she may not look entirely amused (thanks to my four-year-old’s facial construction), but she is really living it up under the sea. She is one fancy mermaid! There was a lot of debate on what we should make at the beginning, but watching the cogs in their minds turn as they developed ideas was priceless. This is a great activity to take on a road trip, to a restaurant, the doctors office, etc. You can’t go wrong. 

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More Imagination

 

This box had so many exciting activities:

  • A recipe for a Hot Air Balloon Adventure
  • Story Time
  • Board book – Not a Box 
  • So much more!

 

We sincerely love and look forward to our Kids Night In Box every month. When we see our box sitting on the front porch, we can’t wait to dive in, because 1) we know it’s fun 2) we know we will spend time together and 3) we always laugh. To get your own box go to >> https://frstre.com/go/?a=19136-4863f8&s=456886-78ed66 << You can also select from the Date Night In Box, Date Night In Box – Faith, and Kids Night In Box – Faith. All great options for you and your significant other or family.

 

So, tell me, what’s one way you create outside of the box? Leave your response in the comments below. 

#KNIJustImagine #KidsNightInBox

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5 Tips for a Pool Day with the Kids

“Expect the unexpected” has been my life since I’ve had my boys. I’m always thinking ahead. Whenever we go somewhere, I take the obvious necessities and then some. You never know what cards they are going to draw day-to-day. A simple trip to the neighborhood pool requires tactile decision-making on my part. While it’s just a two-minute car ride, a lot can happen from point A to point B.

When it’s 90+ degrees outside, I want to make sure our trip to the pool is enjoyed by all parties (i.e. mom, dad, kids, and our fellow neighbors). With this said, here are my five tips for a great pool day with the kids!

Toys and backup toys: My kids want…no require pool toys to survive a day at the pool. There are obviously toys they enjoy using over and over again, but they will randomly become bored of the packed toys. Some would say, make them suck it up, and to that I say, I pick my battles, and this is a fight I do not want to pursue. In the back of the car I have tub filled with backup pool toys. I quick jaunt to the parking lot and we are back on track. Did I mention earlier, that I always expect the unexpected?

Backup snacks: My kids have three go-to snacks 1. Fresh fruit (watermelon, strawberries, and mandarins) 2. Organic white cheddar puffs from Aldis and 3. Fruit snacks. From time to time, they’ll turn on me and refuse the snacks they “love.” Most parents would panic, but not me! I have a backup stash of goldfish, veggies, fruit bars, etc. If that doesn’t work, I have backup to the backup.

Change of clothes: My kids love playing in the pool, but when it’s time to go they want their wet clothes off immediately (in particular my four-year-old)! I mentioned earlier that our house is a two-minute drive, if that, from the pool, but the thought of sitting in their swimsuit is a crime against humanity in their eyes. A quick trip to the locker room with their change of clothes and we are good for the (short) journey home.

Bring an umbrella or two: When it’s a really hot day, the pool is packed. When the pool is packed, the shaded areas are ALWAYS taken. While I am excessive with the sunscreen, my gingers require some extra protection. We have an umbrella or two tucked away in the car, just in case the boys need some shade on an overly crowded day.

Accept that mom bod: For me, I carried two kids in this body. It is flawed, but I am proud of it. We unfortunately live in a society where we are always giving and receiving judgement to/from the person next to us. The pool deck is the perfect cesspool for this type of behavior. For me, I have too much on my mind taking care of the kiddos to worry about what anyone else thinks. Rocking a solid swimsuit, like this high-waist bandeau bikini set from ROVLET, gives me the extra boost of confidence I need as I chase my kids around the pool. If you go to >> https://www.rovlet.com/beachwear/swimwear.html << you can get the suit perfect for your day at the pool. Use the code LOVELY10 for 10% off your order. Looking good girl!

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Maybe you already use some of these tactics and maybe you don’t, either way, taking kids to the pool can be an adventure. What tricks do you have up your sleeve? Let me know in the comments below.

Make a successful splash this summer!

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Winners Never Quit – Kids Night In Box Review

“Failure happens all the time. It happens everyday in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” – Mia Hamm

 

One of the hardest things we can teach our kids (at least for me), is the concept of overcoming “failure.” For a toddler and preschooler, wrapping their heads around not getting the outcome they want, can be extremely difficult. There are tears and fits of frustration, but it’s a special moment of learning and growing. In this month’s Kids Night In Box – Winners Never Quit, we were able to address sportsmanship, strengths and weaknesses, winning and losing, and so much more through play.

 

Each month, Kids Night In Box provides a perfectly curated box to address an important topic of conversation, like Winners Never Quit or April’s box, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Founder, Megan Pruitt designed this month’s box with this lesson in mind – teaching little ones to lose with dignity and how to give well wishes those who beat them. Through reading, games, videos, and art, my son and I were able to do just that!

 

At the very top of the box was a copy of Mia Hamm’s Winner Never Quit! I was so excited to get this box, because 1) we LOVE to read and 2) I have heard wonderful things about this children’s book. In this picture book, Mia Hamm teaches kids that playing is just as fun as winning or losing. Through words and illustrations, teaching kids about the power of being a team player was much more impactful. The Kids Night In Box also provided self reflection questions based on the age of the child. This critical thinking is such an important skill to develop and when paired with the overarching theme of sportsmanship, it’s even better. My four-year-old can’t get enough of this book.

 

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I don’t think they were aware when they were putting together our Kids Night In Box, but my son’s favorite color is orange. He’s slightly obsessed and no one else in our family is allowed any claims to the color. I say all of this because the smiley face foam ball he received in his box is neon orange. The ball can not only be used as a stress reliever, but it is the main component of the Strengths + Weaknesses game. With the ball and spoon, kids can discover and understand that every person has his/her unique strengths and weaknesses. Provided was a list of actions, such as throwing the ball with your right hand and switching, balancing the ball on a spoon and walking, tucking the ball under the chin and walk around, balancing the ball on three fingers, and more. Ro discovered he is a master of tucking the ball under his chin as well as balancing the ball on a spoon. He did learn that he needs to work on throwing the ball in the air and catching it. He’s been practicing since we played and he’s improving every day.

 

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Having kids identify what it means to be a good sport or a bad sport can be hard, but in our Kids Night In Box, the Good Sport Challenge addresses this concern. Have you ever seen a professional soccer player receive a red or yellow card while out on the pitch? In our box there was a dual sided card – Good Sport with a smiley face and Bad Sport with a frowny face. In the Good Sport Challenge, I read off scenarios where the child was either being a good sport or a bad sport. For example: You are playing a board game with your brother. Your brother leaves the room to go to the restroom and you move your game piece closer to the finish line. Are you being a good sport or bad sport? This was a positive challenge for Ro as he analyzed each situation to determine the best course of action.

 

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I’ve expressed in the past our family’s love for board games. We LOVE a game night – Candy Land, Hungry Hippos, Zingo, etc. we are game. This month’s Kids Night In Box has a board game designed to teach kids on how to be a Good Sport. Each person takes turns rolling the dice and moving their soccer player across the board. If the little one gets frustrated and wants to quit, it is the perfect time to address that if one of the players quits there is no room for a winner. It’s a fun and easy way to promote healthy sportsmanship.

 

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This is just a brief insight to all of the goal scoring fun! GOALZO! We indulged in some delicious Pure Organic Layered Fruit Bar, watched a sportsmanship video, creating our own soccer ball, and so much more! There is one more amazing thing about this box – you can reuse it all! It’s fun that can be had over and over and over again. What is better than that?

 

You’re probably thinking, “how can I get my box?” No worries! Go to https://frstre.com/go/?a=19136-4863f8&s=456886-78ed66 You can also select from the Date Night In Box, Date Night In Box – Faith, and Kids Night In Box – Faith. All great options for you and your significant other or family.

 

What activity would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below.

#KNIWinnersNeverQuit #KidsNightInBox

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5 Must-Have Items When Hiking with Toddlers

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Ralph (we’re on a first name basis) encapsulates so much of my life as an adult through his words, but more importantly on the experiences I establish for my kids. We, as humans, have this inherent need to be outside coursing through our veins. This is particularly true when it comes to my kids. The sentiment of “stay wild my child” appropriately fits the mold of my boys. When we have the opportunity to be in nature, we seize it!

 

You’ll often find us at a local park or hiking through a trail. While my kids LOVE to be outside, we have to be prepared for the storm that is a {TODDLER}. It can hit at any moment and rain on our outdoor parade. Being equipped to tackle the beast of their emotions can keep one’s time in nature a harmonious experience.

 

I’ve learned from experience, as most parents do, on what I need to take to keep my kids moving and grooving when enjoying the work of Mother Earth. Here are the 5 must-have items you need when hiking with a toddler.

 

  1. Hello Bello Organic Bug Spray – How many times do I hear “there’s a bug on me!” “Help! It’s eating me!” “I don’t like squitos!” or my favorite “EWWWWW!” With two gingers, their skin is super sensitive, and it has been an actual journey to find a safe and effective bug spray that’s not going to destroy their skin. The Hello Bello Organic Bug Spray is 100% USDA Certified Organic, hypoallergenic, non-irritating, and lab-tested to repel mosquitoes, flies, ticks, and more. I feel comfortable using this on my kids and they have a more pleasant experience exploring the beauty of nature. This helps cut out the toddler drama (parents, you know what I’m talking about).

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  1. Squeasy Gear Squeasy Snacker – My boys LOVE water! Keeping them hydrated is not only important while outdoors, but it keeps them happy and satisfied. We actually use Squeasy Snacker, the silicone pouch, to keep the kids water cool. It’s easy to store in our backpack, clip to our belts, or carry around in the woods. It’s such a versatile product – water, apple sauce, yogurt, etc. you can take your favorite snack and drink with you wherever you go!

 

  1. My Super Cookies – In our house snack time is 24/7. What’s the saying? “They’ll eat you out of house and home.” My boys already eat us out of house and home and they are only 2 and 4!! With this said, they obviously want a snack (or two) while we are hiking or on the nature trail. My Super Cookies organic whole grain cookies are the perfect go-to snack for the boys. Like I mentioned, they are whole grain as well as 100% nut free and made with coconut oil and chia seeds. It’s a healthy options and gives them the boost of energy they need.

 

  1. Bumkins Reusable Snack Bags – As you may or may not know about me, I am pretty big on sustainability and living an environmentally conscious life. Bumkins Reusable Snack bags are perfect for storing, well of course snacks, but also first aid needs, IDs and cash, as well as lollipops! You may be asking – “why lollipops?” Well, here’s the thing; lollipops keep my kids focused and on task. I do not need them wandering all over God’s green earth. It also gives them a sugar boost to keep their energy up and going. For myself, I constantly need to be doing something on top of the thing I am already doing, and unfortunately for my children, they are the same. Lollipops are my trick to keep the experience a happy one.

 

  1. Crckt Backpack – When we hike or explore a local trail, we always use our Crckt blue and green camo frog backpack. Yes, it stores all of our exploration necessities, but it’s also a fun distraction for the kids. If my husband and I are wearing it, the kids know to keep their eye on the frogs. If my oldest wants to wear it, which he often does, it helps us keep an eye on him (he’s my wanderer…but he gets it legally from me). It’s important to keep all of your necessities in one place, and we have found this backpack is the perfect option for our family on so many levels.

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Of course there are more items to consider when going on a hike, but these are the 5 I make sure are on person at all times. What would you add to your must-have item list for hiking? Let me know in the comments below.

 

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

All of the items mentioned in the blog are linked above.

 

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Made for the Minimalist Millennial Mama – JORD Watch + Giveaway

What’s the saying? A little bit of country, a little bit of rock & roll! Well this girl is a little bit earth mama, a little bit sporty, a little bit Gwen Stefani in No Doubt circa 1995, while mixed in with a minimalist perspective. I like my wardrobe to be simple, easy to wear, but also packed with a little bit quirkiness. I often neglect to accessorize because I’m always in a rush or I get overwhelmed with the decision. I have recently found the one item that makes accessorizing easy and stylish – JORD (pronounced Yode) watches.

JORD Watch

Keep reading for your chance to get $100 off any watch of your choice.

JORD watches are a gorgeous mix of natural, and largely reclaimed materials (cue an eco happy dance), combined with quality movements and components. My JORD, the FRANKIE is made of dark sandalwood with a smoke face; a watch made for the minimalist soul. It literally goes with everything…like EVERYTHING! I was walking around the office the other day and my co-worker, a gentleman, was so complimentary of my watch. The great thing about the FRANKIE, in particular, is that it’s a versatile timepiece, perfect for anyone to wear. If you’re looking for a certain style, JORD has so many stunning options to choose from.

FRANKIE – JORD Watch

If you’re looking for a more personalized option, JORD has your back. Most watch backplates can be engraved, including ALL Cedar humidor presentation boxes. Dare I say, this is the perfect gift for a birthday, graduation, or holiday – Father’s Day will be here before you know it (wink, wink). If you want to take the personalization even further, you can mix and match woods and faces. Additionally, sizing your JORD is super easy! Each watch can be sized for the individual wearer.

JORD also saved this mama in a moment of crisis. Have you ever experienced the moment when you think your phone is charging through the night, but in fact it’s not and then the phone dies and you’re left in panic? I woke up the other morning from a restful night’s sleep only realize my phone was DEAD! It was a week day! The power had gone out overnight, so my phone and all the clocks in the house were off. My panic didn’t last long, because my JORD watch was on my nightstand ticking away.

Not only does JORD compliment my own unique style, but it’s dependable. With top notch customer service, JORD watches were made for YOU! Exchanges and returns are free, with standard worldwide shipping is provided to all customers.You can’t go wrong with JORD.

Now you know how amazing JORD is, so here’s your chance to get $100 off any watch of your choice. Simply enter through this link >> https://www.woodwatches.com/g/makingsofamillennialmama <<. The winner will be emailed following the conclusion of the giveaway. If you don’t win, no need to worry. All entrants will receive a 10% off discount code.

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May 2019 Family Activities Calendar

I don’t know about you, but I often wonder how I can keep every day creative for the kids. Of course there a days we just want (really need) to sit back and relax, but the Energizer Bunny in me needs to do something at all times. Something amazing about our society is the need to create a national/regional/local holidays dedicated to something absurd. Lumpy Rug Day? Why not? No Dirty Dishes Day? Count me in! With so much inspiration right here in front of me, the creative pool is ready to be molded.

I have created a May 2019 Family Activities Calendar based on unique, and quite honestly, bizarre holidays throughout the month of May. You may find inspiration. You may not. Either way, I present you with some ideas to plan your month of May with the kiddos.

May 2019 Family Activities Calendar

Download your copy of the May 2019 Family Activities Calendar HERE

What activities would you add to your calendar? Let me know in the comments.

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Living with Intention – Parenting

One of the biggest takeaways I have gathered thus far through my journey of motherhood is the resilience of children. It amazes me how they will continuously try something (even if they can’t get it quite right) or re-adjust to whatever is happening in the world around them. They do all of this with a smile on their face(s). Kids are AMAZING!

I’ve recently put my kids to the test. I started a new job, which I love, but it has tilted our world’s axis. We are waking up earlier, getting picked up later or picked up by someone other than mom, and spending less time together on the weekdays. While this has been a tough transition for me, because my husband and kids are my world, they have adapted beautifully. They don’t appear phased (which I won’t take too personally), but I have realized my personal shift. I am far more intentional with my life.

Now you may or may not know this about me, but I am Type A to the point that I have everything organized to the “T” 24/7. No matter what it is, i.e. food, clothing, schedules, etc., I am aligned in every way; however I often I get caught up in the idea of catching up that I fail to enjoy the present. With this new job, I have found myself putting down the phone and other distractions to be deeply entrenched in my family’s lives. Now this is not something I randomly started pursuing, but something I have and will continue to work on.

Here are the techniques I use to be more intentional:

  1. Communication – We do it every day. We talk in person, over the phone, through social media, etc., yet we often fail when it comes to intentional communication. I really try to be cognizant of everyone’s feelings. Listening and taking note of what’s going on in their lives. Asking questions and creating opportunities to build together from those experiences. This will support the growth of your family in a positive direction.
  2. Laugh – There is no need to stress about the tiny details. In the grand scheme of things, life will go on. Instead of stressing yourself out to get everything done and still be Super Mom/Dad, push it to the side and laugh. Spreading laughter to your kids will not only improve their lives, but bring more joy to yours.
  3. Be Present – It’s easy to hide behind the screen (phone, TV, computer, etc.) and lose sight of what’s important. Bring present and focusing your time and energy into your tribe is the best thing you can do. The Instagram post can wait, trust me.
  4. Routine – Now, I mentioned I am the Queen of Routines. While things have changed, we are still operating with focus. Keeping the routine is important. Even after a long day and your kids want to stay up a little longer or eat candy at 8 PM, keep the routine in mind. This consistency is not only good for them, but also helpful for you as a parent and partner.
  5. Say No! – I’m not talking about shutting down your kids and/or spouse/partner, I am talking about saying no things that impede upon your family life. If you work from 9 AM to 5 PM that is when you work (sometimes you have to stay late or travel), but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Your kids are only little once, make them a priority. Instead of saying yes to projects or proposals that can wait until the next morning, politely say no and go home to your family. At the end of the day, it will all get done.

As Steve Maraboli stated, “the universe doesn’t give you what you ask for with your thoughts – it gives you what you demand with your actions.” Living with intention is hard. I am in no way as master at intentional living, but I am working on it. How do you promote an intentional lifestyle? Let me know in the comments.

Good luck on your journey!

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Kids Night In Box – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I am often plagued with the thought of “what are we going to do?” (cue dramatic music) when it rains all weekend long. We are currently in the times of technology, but that doesn’t mean I want my kids glued to the T.V. or their tablets while we hunker down inside from the storms brewing outside. I want to keep their minds moving and grooving even outside of school.

Well, let me tell you what turned our wet April weekend around – Kids Night In Box! My fellow parents, this subscription box service is a GAME-CHANGER (lots of emphasis on game-changer). Filled with activities, treats, and books, this box has everything you could need for a fun and educational night in with the kids.

If you know me, I LOVE Earth Day (April 22nd!), and this month’s Kids Night In Box is appropriately themed Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. As an advocate for Mother Earth, I am constantly introducing my boys to ways to support the environment. Instead of listening to me repeat the same mantra over and over again, they got a taste of what it means to positively give back to Earth through engaging activities.

This sustainable box was jammed pack full of environmentally conscious goodies, like:

  • Recipes
  • Book
  • Arts and crafts
  • Snack
  • Eco-Friendly Pledge

We love a good book, especially a book that gives us an inside look on the impact recycling can have on the environment. Don’t Throw That Away! by Lara Bergen is a fun and interactive flap book which shows kids how to transform every day trash into something new and innovative. My four-year-old wants to turn our recently recycled milk jug into a bird house and I think we are definitely going to make that happen. Let’s not fail to mention the adorable illustrations are truly captivating.

After reading our new book, we created an upcycled bubble blower. Bubbles are a kid’s guilty pleasure. I’m pretty sure my two-year-old is sleeping with a jug of bubbles right now (I’m kidding…maybe). With just a cardboard craft tube (toilet paper roll), mesh material, craft tape, cupcake scented bubbles, and bowl, we created a “bubble-blowing machine.” The boys lost their minds! They were thrilled with the streams of bubbles that flowed from their new bubble blower. The Kids Night In Box comes with a list of four games you can do with your upcycled bubble blower and my kids loved them all.

After blowing bubbles on the front porch (cautiously separated from the rain), my oldest and I went to work on creating the most stunning newspaper flowers the world has ever seen! Early in the day we painted our blue water color (provided in the box) background, which dried during our bubble extravaganza, as the foundation of our newspaper flowers. With water colors, paper straws, stickers, and a lot of creative energy we went to town making a masterpiece. We took some creative liberties, but we are proud of our art. It’s currently taped to the front of my son’s closet door.

This is just a snapshot of our Earth Warrior themed day. We devoured our Nature’s Path Enviro Kidz Organic Crispy Chocolate Rice Bar (yum!). I’ve already started using the Bumkins reusable snack bag for the kid’s snacks.  We also signed the Eco Friendly Pledge found the back of our Kids Night In Box user guide. Every part of the Kids Night In Box is reusable and the box is recyclable! I mean, how amazing is that?!

You’re probably thinking, “how can I get my box?” No worries! Go to https://frstre.com/go/?a=19136-4863f8&s=456886-78ed66 You can also select from the Date Night In Box, Date Night In Box – Faith, and Kids Night In Box – Faith. All great options for you and your significant other or family.

What activity would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below.

#KNIReduceReuseRecycle #KidsNightInBox

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Goodbye Germs – 4 Ways to Keep Illness Away

So, I don’t know about you, but the cold, flu, allergies, stomach bug, really whatever you can think of, has plagued our home over the past couple of months. When you have kids in daycare, I think the chances of passing along germs spreads 100 times faster…just from my own experience. I’ve been on a personal crusade against germs and have found 4 fail-proof ways to keep illness at bay.

Here are the 4 H’s to keep in mind:

 

  1. H2O – Water is our friend. Water is our friend. Water is our friend. Say this mantra over and over again and keep hydrated. Adults should drink roughly 2 liters (eight 8-ounce glasses) of water daily. I try to keep water in my kids’ hands at all times, especially when they are at home. I carry my CamelBak with me to work every day and the boys have their own water bottles they trucked around everywhere we go. We LOVE water and staying hydrated actually keeps the sickness away.
    I would check with your pediatrician in regard to how much water your little one should drink on the daily. 
  2. Hotspots – Finding a good cleaner that is safe for the kids and pets as well as keeps the house free of germs is almost impossible to find, until now! CleanWell is a miracle brand keeping families safe from harsh chemicals as well as creating a healthy environment. We love the Botanical Bathroom Disinfectant, Botanical Disinfectant All Purpose Cleaner, and Botanical Disinfecting Wipes. These awesome products kill up to 99.9% of household germs including Influenza A, Rhinovirus, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, and so much more. Cleaning with these in illness hotspots – those places where germs grow at a rapid rate – like toilets (also handy when you have boys), sinks, desks, doorknobs, etc. can help eliminate the spread of germs. I honestly can’t get enough these products. They make cleaning easier without needing to rinse and there is no harsh chemical residue floating through the air. Go to their website >> cleanwelltoday.com << to find a store near you who sells these AWESOME products or check them out on Amazon. Three cheers for CleanWell!

    Clean Well Botanical Bathroom Cleaner

  3. Hands up – My kids are so use to me saying “hands up” when we are in a public bathroom, battling sickness in the house, or maneuvering through a store. Germs are everywhere and I’m all about building the immune system, but keeping their hands off of hotspots can make a big difference. The CDC has notated how viruses, like the flu, can live on a hard surface for two to eight hours. Yikes! With the way things spread through daycare, taking extra steps when out and about is necessary. My kids know not to touch a handle without me wiping it down.
  4. Hot (really warm) water – Ya’ll we should all know this one, but soap and hot/warm water is the way to go. When you have kids their idea of washing hands is to throw them under the running faucet for half a second, wipe off excess water on their pant leg, and move on with their lives. By finding a catchy song or rhyme that lasts around 20 seconds can keep them washing their hands for the allotted amount of time. They should be washing their hands every time they leave the bathroom, before they sit down to eat, as well as when they come home from school/park/outings. CleanWell has a wonderful foaming hand soap that comes in four scents – Spearmint Lime, Ginger Bergamot, Lavender, and Orange Vanilla. I LOVE the Spearmint Lime; it is divine!

Now these are just four ways to keep the germs away, so I want to know, how do you keep your house protected from sickness? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, make sure you check out CleanWell >> www.cleanwelltoday.com << They will have the product or products you are looking for to keep your house safe and clean.

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Hooray Heroes – A Sibling Adventure

We LOVE books and we don’t care who knows it!

Reading is an integral part of our family life. Every night we read two books before bed with each of the boys. I often catch my sons sitting down with a book in their playroom, bedrooms, or snuggled up on the living room couch (together or alone). We have four bookshelves spread across our house filled with all types of stories and tales. Along with our favorite classics, we’ve recently added a new book we adore by Hooray Heroes.

Hooray Heroes offers the most wonderful personalized books for kids. They carefully and diligently design books specific to your little heroes. Each character’s hair, skin tone, eye color, etc. is hand selected by you to perfectly match your little one’s facial features and personality. From birthdays, to Christmas, to growing up and all the adventures in between, Hooray Heroes carefully selects stories appropriate for children ages 0 to 12.

Now the excitement of Hooray Heroes has further expanded with their Special Edition of two siblings embarking on memorable adventures in the form of poems. These poems are presented by either mom or dad about older and younger siblings or even twins! Whatever combination works for your family, you can translate that into your “Adventures of” book.

Our boys love each more than anything (they can also get on each other’s nerve) and often maneuver through life hand-in-hand. Hooray Heroes beautifully captures the bond of what it means to be a sibling through captivating illustrations and tales of hunting for pirate treasure, drawing all over the walls (true story – I’ll have to tell you about it later), or even taking on the monsters in the dark.

When we received our Special Edition of “The Adventures of Duncan and Rorie” the boys were thrilled. Our youngest loves to point out who’s who and our oldest describes in great detail to his younger brother all of the stories before them. This has really changed up the bedtime routine. Even though the boys have different bed times, we bring them together to read one or two poems of our daring redheads.

I can’t recommend Hooray Heroes enough. If you have one child or multiple, their array of personalized story options will be an excellent addition to your personal library. They also make great gifts! You can still get your books in time for Pre-Easter delivery if you order NOW. Head on over to www.hoorayhereos.com and let the adventure begin!

Use code RAINBOWS15 for 15% off your order

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5 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Today marks the first day of Spring (even though the temperature outside says otherwise), and this means one thing – SPRING CLEANING! Is anyone else as excited to clean the deep and dark corners of their house like me? No…just me? OK!

It’s the time of year where everyone sets up their yard sale at the edge of their driveway and prays to make a little extra cash by hocking off their stuff they no longer want. In the day and age of Marie Kondo, I have a feeling you will be seeing more of your neighbors setting up for the community yard sale.

* As an aside, don’t ask your toddler if an item “brings them joy.” They will say yes to EVERYTHING! You still have the right to make an executive decision regarding the 5,000 Hot Wheels, 52,000 dinosaurs, and 1 million building blocks they possess.

Not only do I love the chance to purge, but I LOVE a thrifting moment. [To the tune of Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana] “you get the best of both worlds!” My favorite yard sale/thrift find is this 1908 map of Union County, North Carolina. It’s amazing!

1908 Map of Union County, NC

A yard sale brings out all types of people – the observer, the peruser, and the hardcore thrifter (I’m somewhere in between the latter two). It’s important to provide a desirable experience for all involved parties on the day of your sale. Here are my five tips to setting up a successful yard sale for the buyer and the seller.

5 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale:

  1. Take advantage of the Community Yard Sale. When you team up with neighbors, your reach will grow even more. Think about how you want to grow your following on social media and apply it to your yard sale. Like, comment, save, and tag your neighbors.
  2. Timing is EVERYTHING when it comes to a fluid and positive yard sale experience. Consider hosting your yard sale at the start of the month, in particular the first weekend of a month. When we think about the “average” person’s pay period, the beginning and end of the month are often when they have the most cash on hand. “Show me the money!” (Jerry Maguire anyone?).
  3. Once you’ve cleaned out your items, sort and organize. The worst thing is to show up to a yard sale and it’s in a state of chaos. I have no desire to dig through your stash of items unless you are set up at an antique roadshow in the middle of a field (it’s all about the ambiance).
  4. We all LOVE a deal, and if you say otherwise, I think you may be fibbing. Look for opportunities to provide a deal to the public. For example, 5 books for $1.00 or 4 onesies for $2.50. It is also important to advertise and make those deals as visible as possible. It will save the “customer” from asking you and save your time from answering question after question.
  5. I would need more than my fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve been to a yard sale where an individual is trying to sell something that just SHOULD NOT be sold. Hundreds of pre-loved teddy bears, Microsoft 97’ owners manuals, shoes missing their soles, and outdated children’s safety items (i.e. car seats) are advertised for sale at countless yard sales across the nation. Please DO NOT be this person – know thy customer!

What other tips and tricks would recommend for a yard sale? What do you look for when you’re thrifting? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Book Review: Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths

The other day I watched my four-year-old have a complete meltdown because the dog looked at him. Yup, the dog looked at him. His freak out caused my two-year-old to throw his cup (which broke and leaked everywhere) across the playroom crashing into the wall causing another wave of crocodile tears. These are the real moments of motherhood – raw, ridiculous, and ruthless.

I took to social media that day not to share this wild mishap, but an adorable photo of my kids reenacting the entire production of Baby Shark. Like many of us, I slapped a filter on life and gave you what you wanted to see – a fantasy-land of parenting. Let’s be honest, we need more reality in focus, because motherhood is a wonderful, yet extremely messy experience.

I recently got my hands on a copy of Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths – Embarrassing Stories and Brutally Honest Advice on the Extremely Real Struggle of Motherhood, by dynamic duo Catherine “Cat” Belknap and Natalie “Nat” Telfer. Cat and Nat give it to you straight in this hilarious collection of REAL motherhood anecdotes. This journey from pregnancy to toddlerdom will leave you rolling on the floor in laughter.

Cat and Nat’s Mom Truths

From tips on what you should actually pack in your hospital bag to the realities of Instagram myths on to tips of how to avoid post-partum sex, they give it all to you. With all of these knee-slapping realities, Cat and Nat provide you with the reassurance that you are doing a GREAT job. Motherhood is hard and there is no right way to do it. “There is only your way.”

To be honest, I have been dealing with some personal “mom guilt.” There is no reason for it. I have decided I need to feel guilty, constantly questioning if I’m doing enough for my kids, if working is ruining my children’s lives, if the tone I had with my toddler will negatively impact him for the rest of his life…you know normal thoughts (she said with sarcasm). When I dove head first into this book, I didn’t realize how much it would put me in check. I’m no longer sweating the small stuff. I love my kids, they love me, and well hell, that’s enough! So, Cat and Nat – thank you! Thank you for sharing these truths in a captivating and entertaining way. I can look at myself and say, “you are mom enough!”

Grab your favorite drink (black coffee for me), your favorite treat, shed the mom guilt, and indulge in this delightfully raw capture of what motherhood is REALLY like. Now available for purchase, get your copy of Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths today! >> Cat & Nat’s Mom Truths <<

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids – Toddlers and Preschoolers

I am one of those parents that celebrates every holiday. When it’s Earth Day we are outside picking up litter off the ground at our local park. On Mardi Gras, this mama is making beignets. The luck of the Irish is upon us when we hunt for our pot o’ gold on St. Patrick’s Day. Our house turns into a spectacular delight during my favorite holiday, Halloween. You get the idea – I LOVE to CELEBRATE!

Valentine’s Day is no different. The boys pass out valentines a school and share in delicious treats and juice with their friends at their school’s Valentine’s Day party. With all of the fun celebration, I still like to shower my little love bugs with a bag of goodies without breaking the bank. While their gift bags have the traditional heart-shaped candies and novelty items, I like to personalize each gift based on their likes. This can be difficult when their preferences are always changing, but this year, I think I’ve got it perfected (she said humbly)!

As a self-proclaimed bargain shopping queen, I like to look for the best deal without compromising the quality of the gift. Before the 14th sneaks up on us unexpectedly, I wanted to give you an inside look to my Target Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for my toddler and preschooler.

Toddler Treats: My youngest is currently watching Coco on loop and he loves his bedtime books, so it seemed appropriate to get A Little Golden Book of his favorite movie. He also loves lip balm and the Target Bullseye Section has the perfect set of five lip balms for $3. The kid is constantly misplacing his lip balm, so this way he will have some to spare. The other bits and bobs are fun heart-shaped candies and dinner plate to put a smile on his face.

Disney Pixar COCO A Little Golden Book – $4.99 (+tax) from Target Book Section

Cools As A Crocodile Lip Balm Set – $3.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Trolli Sour Brite Hearts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Seasonal Section

Friendasaurus Heart Plate – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Sweetarts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Total – Roughly $12.00

Preschooler Presents: My oldest is obsessed with Tsum Tsum figurines and recently Target has been clearing house to make room for the new blind bags and playsets. You have to dig, but I found this set on MEGA clearance in aisles of the Target Toy Section. Additionally, he LOVES alligators/crocodiles, so I had to grab him as much gator gear as I could. Lucky for me, reptiles were a big part of the Target Bullseye Section this year.

Disney Tsum Tsum The Palace of Agrabah – $4.48 (+tax) on clearance from $14.99 in Target Toy Section

Trolli Sour Brite Hearts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Seasonal Section

Cool As A Crocodile Heart Plate – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Sweetarts – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Cool As A Crocodile Sticker Sheet – $1.00 (+tax) from Target Bullseye Section

Total – Roughly $10.00

I would say these boys are going to be thrilled with their gifts, and this mama didn’t break the bank which is something I’m proud of (pats herself on the back). What would you include in your Valentine’s Day gift guide? Let me know in the comments below.

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How To Limit Screen Time

How to Limit Screen Time for Kids

I’m guilty! Put me in handcuffs and throw me in the slammer. I have relied on the power of screen time to get me through those rough episodes in public, whiny times at home, and the occasional “will you stop if I give this to you?” moments of parenthood.

I’ve read the research and I know excessive screen time is no beuno when it comes to the little ones. I have worked to be more intentional in limiting screen time, but not necessarily eliminating it all together. I believe there are benefits to watching educational shows or playing learning apps. My oldest can name at least ten types of whales and tell you the difference between an octagon and hexagon – he’s only three. With this said, I don’t want him to turn into a tech zombie before he’s in Kindergarten.

How to Limit Screen Time

Here are five ways to effectively limit screen time for kids:

  1. Break the habit – Make it clear, screen time WILL NOT be a constant. Listen, this may not be the most conventional tactic for all parents, but we’ve never been able to gradually phase out anything in our kid’s lives. My youngest never used a pacifier, but our oldest was an addict. After months of negotiating, we cut him off cold turkey. By day two, there were no complaints or pleas for the paci. Just like the trusty wubbanub, we cut him off from the iPad and life moved on. Instead of grabbing the iPad when he came home from school, he was inspired to play with his toys, build a puzzle, or color a picture.
  2.  Screen time is a treat – If our kids want to watch a movie or their favorite episode of Octonauts, we encourage them to make their beds, clean up the play room, eat all of their dinner (my oldest is a picky eater), or help take care of the dogs. We don’t get what we want just because we want it. It’s a tough lesson, but our preschooler has already established a routine of organization and appreciation. When he gets to sit down with iPad, it’s a treat for hard work.
  3. Incentivize in other ways – Our  three-year-old is strongly driven by incentives. If it’s a sticker or a high five, he wants to be recognized for a job well done. We created a help chart, where he receives a sticker for completing a series of chores, helping his little brother, listening at school, etc. Once he fills up his chart be can exchange his points for a small prize. Lately he has been into Tsum Tsums, so we have been awarding him with a blind bag. He is driven to fill his collection, which in return fills his time and he forgets about wanting to watch Frozen for the hundredth time.
  4. Circulate Toys – OK, so incentives aren’t your thing. One simple way to redirect your child’s attention from the screen is to circulate their toys. This method works for our toddler. By changing out their toys every couple of weeks re-inspires play time. They forget they had those action figures, books, cars, etc. We switch things around about every two weeks and it seems to work.
  5. Set the example – Now, this is the hardest method – eliminating our own use of technology in front of the kids. It’s bad when your three-year-old tells you to put down your phone or step away from the computer (insert parental cringe). Our kids watch our every move and look to us for inspiration. Let’s set the example, and reduce our time on the digital devices. We might even feel better afterwards.

I am making a public vow to reduce my screen time and be more present with my kids, because they are only little for so long. Will you join me and make the pledge today? Let me know in the comments what strategies you will use to limit screen time for your family.

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