Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Moments Matter: Photo Prompts for Moms

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Last month, I shared a new Moments Matter monthly photo challenge.  I feel like I'm just passing time as I move through my days. So the idea of the photo challenge that focuses on the small details of my days and helps me connect with my loved ones is very appealing.  Because it's in these little moments that life happens, love is shared, and memories are made.  With Mother's Day coming up, I've decided to revisit this challenge as a gift to myself.  I thought I'd share it with you all in case you want to join in.  As moms, sometimes we are rarely in pictures, I encourage you to be in the picture as much as possible.
There are several ways you can join me in this project:
  • Use the photo prompts to capture moments in your day that fit them.  Join me on Instagram and share them or keep them for just you and your family to enjoy.
  • Use the topics to hone your photography skills.
  • You can also use the prompts as inspiration for activities for you to do with your children. 
  • If you can’t participate every day, no worries.  Just post when the prompts speak to you and relate to the moments in your day.
  • Share whatever photos you like with the tag #momentsmatter to share the special moments in your day.
  Here are the photo prompts for this month:

Don't forget to use the hashtag #momentsmatter when you share!  See you on Instagram!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program

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Barnes and Noble has a great summer reading program that allows kids in grades 1-6 to earn free books!
Here's how kids can earn a free book:
  1. Download a summer reading journal from Barnes and Noble.
  2. Encourage your child to read any 8 books over the summer and journal about them.
  3. Take the completed journal to any Barnes and Noble between May 16th and September 5th.
  4. Then your child gets to pick a free book from the list in the back of the journal.
Kick off summer reading with any of these great picture books or chapter books!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Fire and Ice Candles {preschool melting experiment}

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Making a candle with wax and ice is an activity that I did over 25 years ago in Brownie Girl Scouts.  {How's that for dating myself?}  My version of it sat in my mom's curio cabinet for many, many years.  It's a simple project with few materials needed, but the products are so cool and so different depending on how you do it.

You can use store bought candle wax or just melt down an existing candle, like we did.  To prepare the candle to be melted down in the microwave, I dug out the metal wick plate in the bottom of the candle so I could pull the wick out. {metal and microwaves don't mix}
Then we placed the candle in a microwavable bowl that I didn't mind tossing after we used it.  We covered the bowl with a piece of tupperware to catch splatters.  It took about 15 minutes for the whole candle to melt down.
To give the candle its shape, use a waxed cup.  The wax liner will allow for easy removal by peeling the cup away.  Insert the wick, then fill up the cup with ice.  For this project, I would suggest using crushed ice.  Regular-sized ice cubes are too big and will make for a crumbly candle.   Bear put as much crushed ice as he wanted in the cup, then I poured the melted wax over it until the cubes were completely covered.

Both of us thought it was interesting to watch the immediate reaction that occurred when the hot wax and ice cubes met.  We checked back frequently to look at the progress on the melting of the ice cubes.  I should note that you may want to occasionally gently tip the cup over the sink to drain out melted water. 

I waited about 6 hours to make sure all of the ice was fully melted before I peeled the cup off of the candle.  The result is exquisite.  All of the little nooks and spaces that the ice left in the wax are so beautiful to see.
I think that the best part about this project is that it's educational and productive at the same time.  These would make for great Mother's Day gifts if made with scented wax.  This one is going to Gramma's house so it can sit in the curio cabinet for many, many years just like mine did.

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End of the Year Teacher Appreciation Gift: Book for Kids to Make

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We're coming up on the end of the year, which means a mad dash to get those year end teacher appreciation gifts done.  Something that I do each year for Bear's teacher is make a photo book filled with student interviews and pictures.  The teachers have just loved these gifts because they capture the personality and perspective of each child. So I thought I'd throw together this little printable that you can use to create a class book for your child's teacher. 
This post contains affiliate links.
These books can be completed one of two ways.  The sheets can be sent home with the students where they will fill out the below questionnaire, glue on a picture of themselves, and return. Then you can laminate each page and secure them with binder rings or spirally. Place it in wrapped shirt box or gift bag and it's ready for teacher.

Or you can do as I did and enter all of the information into an online photo book and have them professionally printed. The later is what I've done in years past because I've sent the questionnaire via email to the parents. Each student gets a two page spread, one side has their picture, the other has their interview answers. This is how I laid it out:
The download below contains printable pages with both male and female pronouns for either Mr. or Mrs./Ms./Miss teachers. Just click the link to download the PDF file from Google and you're on your way to creating a one-of-a-kind end of the year teacher gift.
Click the link below to download 

What are some end of the year teacher gifts you’ve given?

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

25 Summer Activities and Free Printable Calendar {free printable}

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It's about to be summer vacation and I'll be honest in that I'm panicking a little bit. This is the first summer that both kiddos have been old enough to do activities pretty much all day long. I'm starting prep early, using a hard copy calendar to plan activities for each month. See below for activity ideas and to get a free summer calendar printable to plan activities for you and your kiddos.

The days and weeks of summer can go by slowly if you don't have an activity list to fall back on to keep everyone occupied.  Here is a list of some of the activities that you can plan to create a fun and memorable summer.
Sign the kiddos up for swim lessons at your pool or YMCA.
Check to see if nearby community colleges offer college for kids.
Take a tour of your police or fire station.
Collect old blankets for a local animal shelter.
Have a picnic with friends at a park.
Make your own pizza at a pizza place.
Attend summer programming at your local library.
Decorate your own pottery at a paint-and-bake pottery store.
Go on a scavenger hunt at the zoo.
Get some friends together and have a bubble party.
Check out your local museum and the programming they have to offer.
Have some cool fun at the splash pad.
Go for a hike at a local state park.
Visit local stores and tape quarters to the trinket machines for other kids to find.
Set up a lemonade stand and raise money for a charity.

Sign up to sponsor a child with The Raining Season and skype with them monthly.
Collect canned foods for your local food shelter.
Attend Vacation Bible School at your church for some fun, spiritual activities.
Check with your local high school for summer sports clinics.
Participate in a Flat Me project and watch your Flat Me tour all around the country.

Tie-dye t-shirts for a family get together or the Fourth of July.
Collect socks, underwear, and stuffed buddies for a local foster care program.
Take a tour of a local factory or food processing center.
Sign up for free summer bowling and hit the lanes to have some fun.
Do a postcard exchange with friends around the country to get mail every week

Now. Here are the calendars that I created to plan our summer activities. Click the link to download them for you own planning purposes.

Click the link below to download 

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Daddy Honk Honk Review and Giveaway

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Right now, Sunny is loving books with animals, so when Penguin Books offered to send us a copy of a new book from Rosalinde Bonnet, called Daddy Honk Honk, we were thrilled.  The book did not disappoint. It's the story of how a tiny little gosling adopts an unknowing fox as its daddy. As a parent in a blended (and pending adoption family) this book really hits home because it teaches children that the meaning of family can be unconventional, surprising, and not genetically tied.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Daddy Honk Honk via Penguin Books.
Aput the fox find an egg that has been abandoned. To his surprise, it hatches and a darling little gosling pops out. Throughout the book, the little gosling says "Daddy honk honk" numerous times.  This is my daughter's favorite part and she likes to "read" the part of the gosling.  As the pages turn, Aput learns from the other animals what he needs to do to be a good dad. At the end, readers can see Aput following his fatherly instincts and taking care of his baby.  I'm not going to lie.... The ending brought me to tears.

Father's Day is coming next month and this book would be a delightful gift for the father in your life to read with their little ones.
And here's a bonus! Penguin Books is going to send one of you an amazing Daddy Honk Honk package that includes:
1 set of four magnets
1 button
4 prints (2x9”)
1 deluxe print (2x9”)
1 book

To enter, use the Rafflecopter entry below.  Contest is limited to U.S. only. Entries close on May 15th at 12 am. Winner will be announced by midnight on May 17th.


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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Daddy Honk Honk via Penguin Books. All opinions are mine. The received a copy of Daddy Honk Honk in exchange for an honest review. Giveaway items are supplied by publisher.

Friday, May 5, 2017

15 Home Teething Remedies

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Aside from sleep issues, I have to say that I think that teething is by far, one of the hardest things that parents of babies/toddlers go through. The teething phase with my youngest two were vastly different. Bear was inconsolable, in pain for days at a time.  Sunny, on the other hand, didn't bat an eye. I never even knew when she was getting a tooth. The difference? With Bear, I mostly used Hylands teething tablets and Orajel, products that have both come under fire as being dangerous for teething babies. With Sunny, I was more informed,  much more naturally-minded, and utilized natural home teething remedies.

This post contains affiliate links.

Though there is some deviation from child to child, there is a general timeline for teething that most babies follow. Below is the diagram that I followed with Sunny to anticipate when teeth were coming in. Teething symptoms can usually start around 4-6 months of age.

Teething symptoms can vary from baby to baby, but some of the most common symptoms are:
  • Drooling: Who has turned on the faucet in your baby's mouth? It seems like overnight, a switch is flipped and there is just an EXCESS of droll coming from your baby.
  • Mild facial rash: Due to an increase in droolage, a rash around the mouth and on the chin can be normal as the excess moisture causes chafing and chapping of the skin.
  • Excessive fussiness: Is baby harder to console when he/she is upset?
  • Gum bulging: Sometimes you are able to see the pearl of a tooth underneath baby's gums.
  • Biting/chewing: Have you hit the stage where anything your baby gets a hold of ends up in the mouth?
  • Elevated temperature: Sometimes teething can cause low grade fevers (lower than 101) in babies. This phenomenon is disputed among the medical community, but there is serious evidence that teething can cause fevers in some infants.
  • Pulling on ears: The gums share nerves with ears, so oftentimes babies will tug at their ears when experiencing gum discomfort.
So what can we do to help our little ones deal with the pain and discomfort caused by teething pain? Here are some of the natural home teething remedies I used with Sunny that seemed to limit her teething discomfort. As a note, anytime your baby is chewing on something, they should be fully supervised.

Amber Necklaces
The theory of how amber necklaces actually work is that body heat warms the amber and releases succinic acid which then alleviates teething discomfort.  We weren't always sold on amber. Until once, when Sunny was in the midst of teething, I broke her necklace. She turned into the grumpiest pickle baby. I chip-clipped her necklace on her and within 10 minutes, she was back to her normal happy self. If you choose to try an amber necklace to relieve your little one's teething pain, there are a few important things to know. Make sure you have real amber. Amber is more effective when it is raw and lighter in color. Get a necklace with individually knotted stones and that has a tension release clasp that will release the necklace if too much pull is placed on it (prevents choking). And always, always, ALWAYS remove your baby's amber necklace before putting them down to sleep.
Frozen Fruits & Veggies
Freeze 3 inch sections of bananas, carrots, or slices of apple and place them in mesh fresh food feeders. Baby can chew on them without getting section of fruit that is too big to chew or swallow while enjoying the cool, solid comfort.
Wet Dishcloth
Pretty straightforward. Wet a dishcloth, leaving a portion dry for baby to hold onto once it's frozen. Roll it up so that the dry portion is not touching the wet. Place in a plastic bag to preserve cleanliness. Freeze for a few hours.
Silicone Teethers
Silicone teethers can be used at room temperature or after being chilled. This fruit shaped teether set has textures that can soothe aching and help baby break those teeth through the gums.

Teething Biscuits
If your baby can sit unassisted, then providing teething biscuits to help with teething is a viable option. You can purchase premade teething biscuits or make your own.

Nurse on Demand
Nursing moms can help teething babies and toddlers by letting them nurse on demand. Nursing can help comfort littles when they're dealing with discomfort.

Teething Necklaces
Like silicone teethers, silicone teething necklaces can yield benefits warm or cold.  The added bonus to this that moms can wear them and look fashionable while helping their babies with teething.
Chilled Teething Rings
Traditional chilled teething rings are classic soothers for teething gums. They're inexpensive and easy for baby to use.

Wooden Teethers
Wooden teethers, like this fun set of four, provide a firm surface for babies to num num on. Wooden teething toys relieve parents of concerns regarding possible BPA in plastic teethers.

Gum Massage
You can massage baby's gums with thoroughly washed hands or get a gum massager and use it. Either way, small circular motions using gentle pressure can help alleviate teething discomfort.

Frozen Pacifiers
Pop a pacifier in the freezer and let baby have it.  This is especially helpful for front teeth as that is where the pacifier will come in contact with the gums.

Cold Spoon
It gives me the eebs to think about gnawing on a metal spoon. But the cold metal of a chilled teaspoon can do some good in alleviating gum discomfort.

Vibrating Teethers
It might sound weird, but they make vibrating teethers that I've heard do wonders for sore little mouths. The vibrating sensation provides relief for teething much like a massaging chair would do for a sore back.

Distraction Techniques
Teething pain can be consuming for little humans, so any distraction we can offer them is beneficial. This can come in the form of playing with dried pasta in a bowl, sensory bottles, or water play. Pretty much anything that suits baby's interests and can get them focused on something other than teething.

OTC Pain Relievers
Okay, so this isn't necessarily a "home remedy". I will admit that I like to reserve over the counter pain meds such as Tylenol and ibuprofen for extreme circumstances. But when your baby is in pain and nothing else is working, there's no shame in using pain relievers to help them.

Are there any other ways that you relieve your baby or toddler's teething pain?

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Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

"My Girl" Birthday Party Theme

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Before Sunny turned 1 year old, I decided that I wanted her party theme to be one that was not so common and a bit off of the beaten path. I decided to base it on a song. Naturally, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "You are My Sunshine" were ones that immediately came to mind. Instead, I decided to go with a theme that went with the song "My Girl" by The Temptations.
For the tablecloth, I used a vintage floral one that belonged to my great-grandma. I got some brown craft paper letters to spell out the word "one" and covered them with scrapbook paper that coordinated with the theme.  We also used these letters for Sunny's one year old photo shoot.
On the wall above the table, I hung Sunny's 3, 6, 9, and 12 month pictures mounted on cute, coordinating scrapbook paper. I purchased little bee accents and metal bird accessories to add to the tablescape.
Painted $1 mason jars from Target with twine bows and fresh daisies sat on top of a vintage orange crate.
Overall, it was a very fresh, vibrant theme for our little ones' first birthday. It couldn't have gone better!

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