Thursday, August 31, 2017

Moments Matter: September Photo Prompts for Moms

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The Moments Matter monthly photo challenge has helped me so much in the past few months. I only hope that it's reaching other mommas like me who need to focus on the little things of each day. So much of the time, the prompts have led me toward introspection. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll definitely see this. But that's the beauty of this project... it allows us to focus on ourselves, our family, or just life in general.
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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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Grieving Another Lost Summer

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Well, school is back in session. Am I the only one feeling those pangs of regret that we didn't do all we wanted to with our kiddos over the break? We get 18 summers with our children before they go off to college. It seems like a lot. But when I realize that I've only got ten more with my son, I grow regretful... especially after this past summer.

I had big plans for all types of fun things we'd do... Printed out a calendar for each month and penciled in activities we'd prepaid for and those I wanted to do. You know... trips to the zoo,  museums, or just local sites that we'd not been to in a while.
Then summer happened... And I became overwhelmed. I didn't know how to handle these two children (ages 3 and 8) simultaneously. Didn't know how to keep everyone happy. How to spread my attention so that they both felt it was "fair".
Added into that was the onset of my son's behavioral problems the second week of summer. To keep it all simple and protect his privacy, it was a rough summer; a lost summer... Each day turned into survival instead of enjoyment. Of counting down until bedtime instead of counting down the moments we'd remember.

And it breaks my heart. Because his 8 year old summer, her 3 year old summer... they're ones I won't get back. I only hope that in future years they'll realize what a hard season we were going through as a family unit. I pray that they'll realize that their momma did their best to create memories, to offer experiences for them to grow, and that I did what the hell I could so that we all made it through with the least amount of traumatization....

As I said, for my son's privacy, I can't tell you what our summer was like. But in general terms, I'll say that it was horrendous... One I thought I'd never experience.

So what do we do now that summer is over? How do we heal? We start by focusing on what went right with the summer. Count those blessings, momma. Then, see what can be rescheduled for other times during the year. Maybe the flurry of activity will be less overwhelming if spread out a bit. Lastly, realize that sometimes the best laid plans are spoiled by the twists of fate. Stop blaming yourself. This was the hardest for me.... 

It's not easy being a mom. I don't think anything in the world prepares us for the struggles, the decisions we have to make, or for being under so much pressure. Take it easy on yourself. Remember that many of your friends only share their "Facebook worthy" moments. Many are struggling just like you are... Follow your heart. Love hard. And remember that you're doing the best you can in this very moment.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Making Kindness Rocks: A Random Act of Kindness for Kids

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Have you heard of The Kindness Rocks Project? It's an amazing new movement designed to inspire and share joy with random strangers.
As a new contributor to the amazing website, No Time for Flashcards, I've shared an amazing synopsis of the project as well as how you and your kiddos can participate. Check it out here!

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

20 Backpacks that Empower Girls: Drop the Stereotype

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The back to school season is here! Lots of new backpack shopping being done these next couple weeks. I always love seeing empowered girls (and boys) that push past the gender stereotypes in their backpack selection. Girls shouldn't be pushed towards pink and purple princesses and boys shouldn't be encouraged to opt for "masculine" themes like superheroes. That being said, here are 20 great examples that empower children on their first day of school.
This post contains affiliate links
Now. Before I get any rash comments about focusing more on girls than boys, I'm going to remind you of the big push these past few years to let little girls break the stereotype and enjoy "boy activities". Likewise, if you've been a reader for a couple years now, you'll know that I feel strongly on discouraging gender bias in children. Boys being able to express themselves in the same way without being labeled as "feminine" or a "sissy boy".
 So here are these amazing backpacks!

Spread the message of peace and love with this funky peace sign backpack.
Represent an amazing artist and activist with this Frida Kahlo backpack.
Let Mexican-American kiddos be proud of their heritage with this Mexican flag backpack.
Because sometimes you've got to be honest about superhero love without all the pink.
Promote love and equality with this rainbow heart backpack.

Send your Hermione back to school in style with a Hogwarts themed backpack.
The Barbie line has so much more diversity now, which is evident in this backpack.
Got a Wonder Woman lover? This backpack has an attached cape!
Spread the vision of MLK Jr's dream with this awesome backpack.
Smart girls rule and so does this backpack with a science themed pattern.

Let your kiddo get her science geek on with this sweet galaxy backpack.
I'm so in love with this Black Girls Rock backpack, I can't even...
Share the DC Superhero girl love with this colorful backpack.
Moana is a favorite princess right now because she does it on her own terms. Love this version.
Older girls can rock a Hillary pack and show that they are still "with her".

Ditch the pink and purple and fall in love with this blue cat love backpack.
Feelings don't make you weak, so let your kiddo rock this emoji backpack with all the feels on it.
I love this Wonder Woman pattern too much to not share another WW backpack.
Got a dinosaur lover? Get her this dinosaur backpack to rock Ross-style, lol.

Bottom line is... honor your kiddo's backpack choice. It's an expression of who they are and what message they want to send the world.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

25 Back to School Photo Ideas

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One of my favorite things about the back to school season is seeing all of the creative ways that my friends celebrate the first day of school with their kiddos. There are so many ingenious ways to commemorate the back to school season. Here are some examples of memorable first day of school photos.
So many creative mommas out there. Here are what they've come up with...
Paint a chalkboard number and use it as a photo prop.
Create chalk art that depicts what grade your child is going into.
Take a first Day of School picture using this printable.
Take a picture of the first and last days of school to compare the changes in your child.
Grab a shot of your kiddo under the school's marquee.

Grab these photo booth printables and have a fun, impromptu photo shoot.
Don't focus all your photos on faces, take a few shots of the elements of the first day.
Set some extra room in your picture and add important stats about your child.
Take a pic with this chalkboard background and ruler height measurer. I'm in love with this!
Snag a photo of your child holding a picture of themselves on the first day of school last year.
Make funny signs for your child to hold during the first day.
Grab some props and create a "bookworm" photo shoot.
Take a picture of your kiddo with their bestie or sibling on the school playground.
Draw out a large picture of your child's grade and have them pose in it.
Skip the typical and go for an authentic photo shoot that captures your child's spirit.
Create a chalkboard with your child's name, grade, and other important stats.
If you can't take a picture of your child in their classroom, snap a photo of their backpack.
Have your child write their name (as best they can) and take a picture of them with it.
Capture your little (or not so little) one walking down the hall towards their classroom.
Multiple kiddos? Label the stairs with their grades for a group shot.

Take a picture of your kiddo in front of a school bus with a handwritten sign of the school year.
Grab a shot of your child before and after their first day.
Line up multiple kids in height order and take a picture. Interesting how the order may change.
Make a t-shirt with your child's graduation year on it and snap a picture of them in it every year.

How do you capture your child's first day back to school?

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

First Day of School Signs for Kids {free printable}

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The first day of school is fast approaching. I always love to see pictures on Facebook of my friend's children headed off for their first day of school every year. There are so many cute back to school photo ideas out there. Last year, I created a First Day printable and it was a huge hit. So I decided to make them again this year.

The first day of school pictures are some of the most treasured for many parents. Get other first day of school picture ideas here. I love taking them of my kiddos and seeing those shared by my friends on Facebook. It's always such a joyful occurrence to see how kiddos grow from year to year. It definitely adds a bright spot to my social media feeds.
Below you can find the link for my free printable first day of school signs. I made sure to cover all the grades, even transitional kindergarten (this seems to be a much skipped over milestone for some kiddos). I've also included the titles of the high school classes instead of just grade number. Use whichever you prefer.
All you have to do to get the sign, is go to the link below and save the file. Then you simply print the page(s) that you need. You can print on regular paper or on cardstock. I've also seen people print and put them in frames for their children to hold.

If you happen to use these signs and share them on social media, I'd love it if you tagged me or used the hashtag #crayonfreckles so I can see. That's where the joy is for me.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Turn an Old Picture Frame into a Cute Photo Holder

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I've had this tigerwood picture frame for years. It was originally my great-grandma's. An oil painting of her as a young woman used to be in it.  I've always wanted to do something with it so that it could be within my view everyday. Finally, it came to me.  I decided to convert it into a shabby chic, but ultra cute photo holder. Find out how I did it below!

What you'll need:
An old picture frame
Fabric scraps
Hot glue gun
Chicken wire (and wire cutters/tin snips)
Staple gun

I had some leftover fabric from a previous craft, so I cut it into 1.5 inch strips. Then I wrapped it around the frame several times, to make 3 inch sections. To preserve the integrity of the frame, I glued the fabric to itself. That way the frame could remain unmarred in case I want to do something else with it in the future. 

I didn't follow a set pattern in putting on the fabric because I didn't want to worry about it being symmetrical.

Once done, I nailed in a toothed picture hanger into the back.

The last step was to add the chicken wire. Using tin snips, I cut out a piece and stapled it to the back with a staple gun.

I am sooooo in love with the finished project. I used wooden clothespins to fasten some of my favorite square pictures to the chicken wire. I think I may get some mini clothespins so that they aren't so prominent.
This old picture frame project adds such a charm to our master bedroom. It's also incredible to wake up to something of my dear Gram's every single day.

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