5 Steps to Keep Summertime Stress Free and Fun

5 Steps to Keep Summertime Stress Free and Fun

The sun is shining and summertime is rolling around any day now.

I often think that kids enjoy it a little more than parents do. What's not to enjoy? No school, great weather, and sleeping in every single morning. For us parents, it means scheduling child care, meal plans, etc. Although, we're all happy to welcome the much needed change, around the third week both child and parent often times fall into a rut. The allure of summertime fun is now replaced with boredom and little stimulation for the child, all while we as parents struggle to keep the stress levels down. 

It’s time to regroup and figure out a way to reconcile your child’s expectations with your own in a way that makes life a little easier for everyone. Not only can your kids have an amazing summer, so can you. Below are five tips on how to get the most out of your summer.

1. Don't ditch the morning routine
Sure, let the kiddos sleep in the first couple of mornings but after that it's back to the routine. Try establishing early morning chores before breakfast and for the working moms and dads, this is a great time to stay connected with your kids first thing in the morning. 

2. Educational camps/classes
Instead of dropping the kids off with a sitter or simply just staying home, try keeping your child mentally stimulated with educational camps or something similar. This is a great and safe way to keep them inspired even when you aren't there.

3. Let them play
This is probably the easiest and yet hardest thing to do. Why? Because it usually includes getting dirty, creating a mess, or something else that requires immediate attention as a parent :) We're all human, I get it. Challenge yourself and let them play in the dirty or water. It beats sitting in front of a TV all day. This will tire them out and help them feel satisfied at the end of the day.

4. Keep a bedtime
Who else has struggled getting your kiddos back on track when it comes time to go back to school? It's never easy turning off the summertime buzz but keeping a steady bedtime throughout the summer will soften the transition for both child and parent. 

5. Plan a family activity
Activities don't necessarily have to cost a ton of money. It could be something as simple as loading up the bikes and hitting a trail and having lunch afterwards. The power of bonding is something special and very much needed. Not everything requires a ton of money. The great stuff in life is free. 

 

4 Things To Keep In Mind If You’re A New Parent With A Disability

4 Things To Keep In Mind If You’re A New Parent With A Disability

Approximately 53 million U.S. adults have some type of disability — 4.1 million of whom are parents. If you are one of the 53 million and you’re on the brink of bringing home a child of your own for the first time, there are some preparations to consider so that this exciting new phase of your life is safe for both you and baby.

1. Prepare A Safe And Clean Home
Regardless of disability, the requirements for childproofing your home are the same:

● Secure large bookcases, television stands, and any other tip-worthy furniture to the wall.
● Install childproof locks on drawers with sharp objects, firearms, chemicals, and medication.
● Make sure all handrails are secure.
● Cover sharp corners of furniture with protective guards.
● Place a gate across stairways to prevent an accidental tumble.
● Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
● Get a fire extinguisher for every level of your home.
● Ensure the safety of the crib — whether it’s a hand-me-down or newly assembled; remove copious pillows, blankets, and toys to prevent suffocation.
● Remove clutter. Consider hiring a cleaning service to give your home a thorough clean to ensure you’re bringing your baby into a germ-free environment.

2. Consider Purchasing Some Adaptive Parenting Products Once you’ve got the basics organized, consider adding some adaptive products to make it easier for you to take care of your baby with your disability. Some examples of items include:

● A stroller attachment for your wheelchair
● Side opening crib
● Two-sided nursing pillow
● Swivel base baby car seat
● Bibs with velcro closures
● A walking harness (when it comes time to aid your baby with first steps)
● Bath and changing stations that are at a height conducive to someone in a wheelchair

3. Make Sure You’re Taking Care Of Yourself
Raising a child certainly comes with its share of stress, but if you aren’t managing it efficiently, it can create an inflammatory response in the body that can prompt a difficult pregnancy and overall health complications. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by eating well (incorporate stress-busting foods like whole-grain carbohydrates, avocados, and fatty fish), exercise as regularly, and meditate or practice yoga. Consider talking to a counselor if you are having difficulties managing your emotions or your new schedule.

Research shows you don’t have to spend a substantial amount of time to recharge your batteries. Some simple self-care strategies include:

● Turning on uplifting music
● Scheduling one uninterrupted hour with your spouse, friend, or family member
● Spend 20 minutes writing positive comments on social media
● Journal for 15 minutes
● Write down things that are causing you stress with an action item for each
● Post a goal or intention for the week on the refrigerator
● Choose one activity each day that you can truly savor and enjoy
● Download a gratitude app
● Take time for a catnap

4. Have A List Of Available Support Resources On-Hand
Raising children is challenging regardless of your health situation, but as a parent with a disability, make sure you’re getting the proper support you need. It can be difficult to acknowledge you need help, so that’s why it’s important to know your limitations and create a network of family, friends, social and disability services, and support groups to assist you on a physical and emotional level. There are several resources available online that can help you find support in your area.

Parenting is an exhilarating journey. Just as you’ve managed to master your disability, you will also be able to master the role of being a fantastic parent. Planning is key, so as soon as you find out you’re going to be a parent, start implementing the necessary changes to prepare your home —  as well as your mind.

3 Parental Life Hacks

3 Parental Life Hacks

90% of parenting is thinking about when you can lie down again.

As a parent, it's easy to get down on yourself. The laundry is full, dinner isn't made, the "kids look tired and it's all my fault!" Whenever you think you're the only one looking to pull your hair out, you're not. 

I remember as a kid, my mom who was a single parent lived on structure, without it, she would have gone mad. Not to say she didn't stumble every now and again, we're only human. Even before "life hacks" was a thing, she was doing little things to make her life a little easier, for example: weekly meal calendars and prepping outfits the night before. We all have our own little tricks but I think we can all agree we could always use a little more :)

Below are some hacks that are sure to make you think "why didn't I think of that!" Enjoy my fellow parents! And remember, Jesus blessed you with these little babies, just breathe and pray. Sooner rather than later, you will wish they were little again. 

Screen time
Who's experienced your kiddo lose it when you attempt to take the device away or turn the tv off early? Limit TV/Device time by starting shows in the middle. Most kids aren't really concerned about the story line. 

Potty Training
This can be one of the most challenging experiences out there. Even as an adult toilet paper rolls can be challenging (sadly) i.e. the roll rolls a little too much, finding the tear on a new roll, etc. Imagine being a kid and taking that challenge on?! Make it easy by placing a tissue box next to their shrine, this will make it easier for them to grab portioned perfectly pieces of tissue.

Shopping
How many of us sprint past the toy isle at our local store, raise your hand (hand raised). To avoid tears and heartache, have your kiddo snap a photo of each of the their dream toys and "send them to Santa." This way you have a phone full of Christmas gift ideas and the kids are left feeling hopeful and happy.

 

 

 

3 Kid Friendly Activities To Celebrate St. Patty's Day

3 Kid Friendly Activities To Celebrate St. Patty's Day

Are you looking for a St Patty's Day project guaranteed to keep your kiddos busy for a while? Look no further, we have some great activities that are guaranteed to keep you and the little ones entertained. 

When I was a kid I remember loving St. Patricks Day and the inevitable friendly "pinch" from a classmate (even if you were wearing green, lol)! As we get older, we tend to think St. Patricks Day isn't necessarily a holiday circled around children, but I beg to differ. It's a great opportunity for quality time and to teach our children that the green holiday doesn't necessarily have to be an unhealthy way to spend a fun day. Unfortunately our culture tends to push a different lifestyle on us as we get older.

What may be surprising, kids can find the fun in almost anything, depending on your level of involvement and enthusiasm. Be your child's supporter and fun giver! Since we're lucky enough to have St. Patricks Day fall on a Saturday this year, this gives you more time to stew over how you're going to make this not an ordinary day. Be adventurous. Maybe a party with a few families could be an idea, this would allow the adults to hang out and the kids to play. The perfect recipe for a fun day. 

Scrap Rainbow
Who remembers loving the game "Color By Numbers"? We have a cheap and easy way to make a colorful rainbow that would make great memorable wall art. 

Cut out multiple colors of cardboard paper. Draw a rough rainbow on an 8.5x11 or 11x17 of white paper. Create a row of linear squares in each color arch. Number each square. Last step, would be to place the correct numbers on the back of each square. Break out the Elmers Glue and have fun!

Leprechaun Gold
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is one reason to get up and get moving. Leprechauns Gold is a great way to get the kids involved and active. 

First step would be to take everyone on a hunt for rocks. Once all of the rocks are collected, bring them back to your yard or garage (be sure to put large pieces of cardboard down). Align all of the rocks in a line and have the kids spray them with gold spray paint. Once this is done, go ahead and have lunch and let them dry. 

Last step is for you parents, take all of the rocks and hide them around your yard, park, etc. Once they are all hidden, watch and enjoy the look of success twinkling in your child's eyes :) 

Shamrock Pops
This is a tasty twist to St. Patty's and they're sure to make the kids yell "Thank you!" Shamrock pops are a quick and easy way to make an ordinary afternoon a little bit more special. 

Purchase a pack of toothpicks, a bag of plain editable marshmallows, and green sprinkles. Quickly submerge the marshmallows into water, roll them into the sprinkles, and enjoy! Simple and Sweet.

 

Pass The Vitamin D

Pass The Vitamin D

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day...

The benefits of rain are fantastic for the environment around us. Especially living in states that tend to be a lot dryer than most. With the recent drought in California, our lakes, rivers, etc were slowly fading, cost of water was rising, and even in some areas, a water limit was in place. 

We're not quite out of the weeds of winter yet, and  we still have those gloomy and rainy days on the horizon but let's talk sunshine and it's unbelievable benefits is has for our health, mind, and spirit.

Do you ever subconsciously feel happier, stronger, or more energetic when it's sunny out? That's the suns number one job. Vitamin D deficiency is a real thing that can have negative effects on our mind and body that can sometimes be quite easy to ignore.

Back in 2013, I made my first big move to the snowy state of Nebraska, smack dab in the middle of winter. The excitement of snow was enough for me to set aside any differences I may have felt psychically or mentally. However, a month in, I began to notice some difference in my mood and energy levels. I chalked it up to the big move and relocating out of state, but then I started to notice that the symptoms were getting worse, not better. I was shocked when my doctor revealed that I was severely Vitamin D deficient. She quickly put me on a high dose of Vitamin D...and IT WORKED. My mood got better, muscle aches disappeared, and my energy levels were once again balanced. During this entire ordeal, it never occurred to me how important Vitamin D is when it comes to our overall health. 

The two ways you are able to get the right amount of Vitamin D on a daily basis is by exposing your skin to sunlight (while wearing sunscreen) or taking daily supplements. Contrary to what some may believe, you aren't able to get the right amount of Vitamin D through food.

Who wants to feel lousy? Not me. Below are some ways to catch Vitamin D deficiency and stop it in it's track. Along with some Vitamin D food options!

Symptoms

Getting sick or infected often
Fatigue and tiredness
Bone and back pain (body aches)
Depression/changes in mood
Muscle pain

Foods high in Vitamin D

Egg yolks
Salmon
Canned tuna
Mushrooms
Fortified foods – Milk, soy milk, and certain cereals

 

 

3 Tips For Spring Cleaning With Kids

3 Tips For Spring Cleaning With Kids

Spring is right around the corner. I know what you're thinking, "but my Christmas Tree is still up."

I don't know about you but it feels like 2018 is flying by and by the time we know it, it'll be time to whip out the sandals and shorts. As much as "fun in the sun" sounds, we all have to face the dreaded and inevitable truth, SPRING CLEANING. 

Before you run for the hills, moms and dads, why not put a twist and have some little hands join in on the fun? We all could use some help and this could be a great way to include the kiddos. 

Below are 3 tips on how to make a dreaded task, a memorable one. 

Think teamwork
Cleaning the bathroom and clearing out the closets can be lonely. This doesn't have to be a solo mission. Assign specific tasks to each family member. 

Don't micro manage
Who likes having their boss breathing down their neck? No one. Kids are the same! Allow some freedom in the process. It'll help with the overall experience and also teach your child independence.

Motivators
Who likes to clean in a silent home? Not me! Turn on the tunes and make a reward plan. It's always nice to know you're working toward a goal. Maybe it's pizza or a trip to the movies. Music+Rewards=Happy campers

 

5 Ways To Teach Your Child About Independence

5 Ways To Teach Your Child About Independence

It's 7:45AM and your blood pressure spikes. The mountain of mommy and daddy to-do's begins to sink in and you realize, it's time for school.

How many of us can understand the dreaded Monday-Friday mornings that demand we as parents be on our A game. Pack the lunches, do the hair, make sure their backpack is packed, all while not forgetting to bring along your very much needed coffee for the anxious ride to school where you will drop of your child in a panicked frenzy? Doesn't sound like you? Lucky! Although it may not be as hectic for all parents first thing in the mooring, I think we can all agree that we sometimes wished our kiddos could do a little more to ease the tension and responsibly on ourselves. 

Growing up in a single parent home, independence wasn't a maybe, it was NECESSARY. At the time I did't quite understand why I wasn't able to just sit their and daze at the wall, giving myself some time to wake up my 5 year old brain while my mom picked an outfit (Yes, true story). Looking back, my mother's hollers to "get up and get dressed" now make me smile. I never knew what a big difference it made in her morning when I actually took the responsibility to pick an outfit (sometimes not so cute) and make sure my bag is packed and ready. It may seem like a lot of responsibility for a youngster to handle but I don't think we give our kiddos much credit. Kids are SMART and very intuitive. Let's nurture that!

Below are some tips on how to kick start your child's independence and alleviate some pressure on your shoulders.

Set Priorities
Give your child one task at a time, so you don't overwhelm them.

Set Time
To keep a schedule and have it stick, set time limits for each task. This way your child is able to understand the importance of time management and completing goals. 

Forget Perfection
Perfection is unachievable. Focus on the task and it's completion. This will give your child a sense of accomplishment and encourage further responsiblity. 

Talk About It
Explain to your child the importance of independence and time management. It doesn't have to be a complicated speech and remember to speak in terms your child will understand and embrace. Everyone loves being confident in what they do! 

Make A List
Sit down together and make a list of things your child would like to start learning to do on their own. Keep it an open conversation and allow the to explore their interests.

 

6 Ways To Help Your Child Through Difficult Situations

6 Ways To Help Your Child Through Difficult Situations

Parenting is one of the most rewarding jobs on this planet. You have the opportunity to mold this wonderful little human.

Every now and again I like to sit back and reflect on some of the the wonderful milestones my child has had: cub scout awards, their first tooth, learning to ride a bike, and the list goes on. It's so funny how as a parent you truly do see the world in a totally different light, to you what was once a mundane task is now the highlight to your day. All it takes is a smile on their little face and a twinkle in their eye to make your heart melt. 

That's the beauty about kids. The world is their oyster, full of love and new things. But what happens when certain life events fall into your life and inevitably theirs, and you have to face the hard task of explaining a difficult situation to them in a way that they will understand? 

Finding the strength and right words can be difficult, but it isn't the only step in introducing a life event that will affect your life as well as their own. Below are some ways to gently explain and nurture the reaction of your child after a difficult situation rises in your family. 

Prayer
This is probably the most important step in anything! God is so good. He is perfect. Send your worries and concerns to him. He's got it covered even when you think you don't.

Answer your child's questions
Children need the opportunity to talk about their feelings with each other and with adults. It is important that you have your own feelings and thoughts straight. Think not only about what you want to say, but also about how you want it to come across. Always be thoughtful and honest.

Acknowledge Feelings
Unlike adults, children have not yet had the opportunity to work through feelings, especially hard ones. This is why it is important to let them know that it is OK to feel what they are feeling. Share your own feelings in a way that they will understand and will help them feel like they are not alone. One of the best things you can teach your child is the ability to cope and send it all to God.

Reassurance
Offer the comfort that they need. Give lots of hugs, spend time together, and show them that life goes on and things do get better with time. 

Break it down in child terms
It may make perfect sense to you but not necessarily to them. Every child is different and requires words/explanations that make sense to them. 

Check for signs of stress
Every child is unique in how they handle stress. Some are vocal and some tend to withdraw. Here some signs to look for if you suspect your child isn't coping well: changes in eating, anxiety, crying a lot, bad dreams, feeling sick, aggressive behavior, etc. 

 

 

New Year New You

New Year New You

As the clock quickly approaches December 31st I'm sure all of us have given some thought to ways we can improve this new year.

The average New Years resolution is often circled around longs hours at the gym or attempting to quit that pesky habit – we all have them. But let's be honest, how often do those last? 

Letting go of all the superficial and often "you" focused resolutions, I thought what a great idea it would be to explore other avenues of my life that may need enrichment. This year I decided to focus more on changes that will not only help improve my parenting but that will also feed my spirit.

Here are some tips on how to turn your typical New Years resolutions to something much more substantial and heart warming.

Attending church
Trust me, I know how hard it is to actually muster the strength to get up, get the kids dressed, and make it to church. Sometimes it's easier to just shrug it off and plan for next Sunday.

What I found was that, making God a focal point in not only my life but in the life of my family was the best thing I could do. 

Listen to your children
There was a wonderful quote I read not too long, it said something along the lines of "If you don't listen to your kids now they won't tell you the big stuff when they're older, because to them all of it has been big stuff."

That quote really rang true to me. I completely understand the days where you just want to tune them out and hand them an ipad but try and remember that they're only young once and they only have one "you". The fact that they want to share every little thing with you should make you flattered and actually put a little smile on your face :)

Don't ignore yourself
Being a parent is such a blessing but it is also exhausting. After packing lunches, homework, and pretty much putting the children and your home first, you're left running on empty and just wanting to take a few minutes to relax. 

Some parents think that taking care of yourself means a "lot of time" but it actually doesn't. Instead of grabbing that latte to-go, how about you treat yourself to 20min inside of the cafe. It's the little things that can make a huge difference. 

YOU are the head of the home. Take care of that head and body! 

 

 

5 Ways To Stay Healthy And Happy This Winter

5 Ways To Stay Healthy And Happy This Winter

Pass the tissues, Tylenol PM, and winter time blues. As much as we all love this time of year that is full of memorable moments and hot cocoa, we are not immune to the season.

Flu season is quickly approaching, along with a whole lot of other 'speed bumps' we cannot avoid. Whether you live in a state that is full of snow or a state that just rains on you all winter long, the lack of sunshine and germs at every step/touch can be a bit much at times. 

Every year can be different. One year can be full of merry and cheer and the next can be nothing but clogged sinuses and praying for Summer to come early. I remember my first winter in Nebraska (California girl here) was a complete and utter shock – I couldn't shake a cold that seemed to last weeks and my mood was down a bit, so I went to the doctor. Surprise, surprise, I was severely vitamin D deficient. Luckily, my doctor spared mercy on me, gave me some Vitamin D pills and some priceless advice. 

Here are 5 tips for staying healthy and happy during this season of joy.

Stay active
Work out when it's freezing outside?!? You ask. Trust me, I get it. It's always hard to get up and get active when the windshield on your car is still icy and your spouse is snoring next to you, but your body depends on it. Our body is a smart machine, it can detect anything. Just by adding a 30 minute walk a day can boost your metabolism and get your endorphins pumping. You're worth it. 

Pass the flu shot
Don't let you and your family fall victim to the flu this season. I have to admit, I barely got my first flu shot a couple of weeks ago and I'm happy I did. It took 2 minutes and it was FREE. Most places like CVS, Walgreens, etc. offer free flue shots. What do you have to lose? It's extra protection against the seasons number one mood killer. Worried your kids won't be too happy to take that step inside the CVS? Offer them ice cream afterwards (that worked for me!). 

Help others
Whoever said "helping others is healing to the soul" was absolutely right! There's a certain joy you feel when you know you're doing a selfless act that will help and enrich someone else's life who may be less fortunate. Especially during this season, there are a lot of open slots for volunteer work. Try checking out your local town website or Facebook page for updates on volunteer opportunities. 

Eat well
This time of year tends to call for a lot of cookies and warm drinks but the pit fall is that a lot of these tasty treats are loaded with sugar. All though they are scrumptious at the moment, that yummy bite can lead to a sugar high that will result in a low. I found that by replacing sugar with healthier alternatives like Stevia and Truvia made for more of a guilt free experience. 

Remember to include veggies and protein to all meals and avoid starches. Chili and soups are wonderful options, as they often result in a lot of leftovers and tends to keep everyone warm and happy. 

Get out and live
There is nothing better than packing the kiddos into the car and going on an adventure. Whether it's as simple as taking a trip to the grocery store to make a yummy meal together or visiting a distant family member. Don't let the weather hold you hostage in the house, grab your mittens and experience the joy of the season. 

Tis The Season To Be Stressed

Tis The Season To Be Stressed

The Holiday season is filled with excitement, shining smiles, and....exhaustion. As Christmas quickly approaches the daunting list of all of the things we need to do to prepare rears it's not-so-pretty head: buy gifts, plan travel, decorate the house, prepare for houseguests, and the list goes on...literally. 

Sometimes I can't help but think about all of the moms and dads out there who seem to have it all together, their tree is up, the presents were bought the year before, and the kitchen smells like pine cones and Santa Claus. I had a "perfect friend" like that, and one day I decided to ask her what her secret was, and you know what she said? Coffee and Jesus (yes, she really said that!). She went on to explain all of the ways she prepped for the holiday season and how how it saved her so much time and stress in the long run.

Let's face it, being a parent is hard enough and than we throw the holiday season into the pie mix and it makes you almost want to scream (but don't). We're here for you.

Below are some jolly and easy tips on how to not lose your head and actually allow yourself to enjoy the season minus the headache. 

Did someone say Amazon?
I know what you're thinking, Amazon is so impersonal, but think about it, no lines and you can shop all year around from the comfort of your own couch. One thing I noticed by trying this method was that through out the year I was able to keep tabs on what my kids actually wanted, instead of trying to catch hints in December and than scrambling to the nearest Target. It saved time and it was delivered to my front door. 

Don't overthink it
If you're anything like me, I stress on whether the red ribbon in the kitchen matches the ribbon on the wreath outside. Truth is, no one notices but you! Decorations are just a detail to the season, not a deal breaker. 

Houseguest(s) plan of attack
If we're lucky, we often have houseguests warn us a few weeks in advance before their arrival. Occasionally, we're surprised and instead of 5 houseguests, we have 8. Always have a list of where guests will sleep (even the surprisers), add blankets and pillows to that area before hand, assign a place for luggage, and keep a stack of towels in the bathroom(s). 

What I like to do is buy easy meals at Costco or Sams that I can just throw in the oven and forget about for about 30 min. This reduces stress and keeps everyone full. 

Candles
Do you want the air to smell like cinnamon rolls and love? Run to the store and buy some candles. Not only are they relaxing but it's a cheap and easy way to create an ambiance in your home. 
*This is what my "perfect friend" used in her kitchen ;) 

Traveling?
Car rides, plane rides, any kind of ride can be quite the task with kiddos running around. Whether it's in the air or on the ground the same tips apply: pack light, plan travel times, bring games, and include the kids in the planning. This way they feel as though they had some sort of hand in the whole thing. When kids feel in charge they take on more of a leadership role. Don't believe me? The next time you're at the grocery store and you see the child yelling in the cart next to you, while yours is picking the best pasta for dinner that night, you will understand. 

 

 

Celebrating Gratitude

Celebrating Gratitude

Persevere in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

'Tis the season to be grateful. Isn't life such a wonderful gift? Despite the inevitable hardships that life can bring us, the sun truly does shine again. There is such a peace in knowing that God holds the ultimate plan for our individual lives. Each life, household, and family is beautifully unique and and each person was placed exactly where God intended them to be. Doesn't that blow your mind? 

Around this time of year, I always remember being a child sitting in my Grandma's steamy kitchen, while she made yet another hardy meal with love. She didn't have much, most of her items were bought from a thrift store and she made most of her clothes, but I can honestly say she was the most grateful person I have ever met. Even as a child I noticed her humble way of going about life – she was rich in spirit. My Grandmother taught me to appreciate not the material but to instead be grateful for the things that can easily be looked over, for example: waking up in the morning, your health, family, and peace of mind. She always reminded me that the last three on the list (health, family, and peace), "money could not buy". I never forgot that. 

I'm a strong believer that when you teach your children young and instill this way of thinking and believing, it will greatly help them as they grow into adult hood. Below are some tips on how to bring gratitude into your home and family. 

Gratitude Jar
When something heartwarming happens in your household, say "I am so grateful!", write it down and throw it in the jar. This will make the moment more special and it will help your children understand the true meaning of gratitude.

Thank You Letters
Did you your child have something kind happen to them? Did their teacher go the extra mile? Awesome. Help your child write a simple Thank You letter by expressing their gratitude. 

Blessing Tree
Buy a small tree that can sit on a table. On Thanksgiving have everyone write one non thing they are grateful for and have them pin it to the tree. When dinner is over, read through the pinned notes over dessert and a warm heart. 

3 Ways To Financially Prep Your Family

3 Ways To Financially Prep Your Family

Do you remember cradling your baby in your arms, it seems like it was just yesterday, right?! Well, the day will quickly roll around where you're kissing them off to college and making a speech at their wedding. 

We all want what's best for our children, and what's the one thing that can hinder a person later on in life? You guessed it, money. As parents we get so caught up in teaching our kids about manners, education, etc that we tend to gloss over the importance of money, what it means, and how it can greatly impact our lives later down the road. Not to say manners and education aren't important but these are just pieces to a very big puzzle called Life.

"It's too soon to talk about money", you say. Wrong. It's never too soon to start prepping for college funds, practicing healthy financial habits, and schooling our kiddos on how to earn and manage money. Trust me, you will thank your self later. Choosing to take this on early in your child's life will not only help with ensuring financial stability on your end but will relieve stress for both of you later on down the road.

Looking back, my mom was RIGHT! (Shhh, don't tell her I said that). One thing my mother always stressed was learning to save money and protecting your credit. Boy was she right!

Here are some tips on how to prep yourself financially for the future, as well as how to wrap your child's young mind around cash/credit/and savings:

Start Early
Saving $50 per month from the day a child’s born could give you $20,000 by the time he or she turns 17. It is never too early, or too late, to start saving for your kiddos college.

This can be a huge lifesaver for you when it comes time to pay tuition.

Never Too Early To Work
Start by offering to pay your child for certain jobs done around the house or their community. This will help them build pride and a strong work ethic. 

Encourage them to work in high school and put 50% of their paycheck earnings into a savings account for their college fund that they are unable to touch until they're 18. They may not like it (or you too) after doing so, BUT guaranteed they will love you once their first school loan bill comes in.

Credit Game
Credit can be a difficult thing to try and teach a young child but it isn't impossible. You're probably thinking, "really credit? I hardly understand it myself!" And trust me, I get why you're a little thrown but it's important to start teaching them about owing, making payments, and the repercussions if they forget to pay what they owe. 

Start by playing this simple game: Give your child a used/old card of yours and have that be their credit card. Explain their limit (whatever that may be, $5 bucks?). Tell them that money is now on the card but that they will need to pay this back the next time they do a special job. Let them know that they will not be able use the card until it is paid off. If they do not pay back, they will be forced to pay a fee of $1.

It may be difficult moms and dads but stick to your guns. Even if they cry, beg, sob, etc. This doesn't need to be an every day thing but try it the next time they want something like a toy or ice cream. 

May the force be with you. 

 

 

6 Ways to Earn Money From Outgrown Clothes

6 Ways to Earn Money From Outgrown Clothes

Whoever said kids grow up fast weren't kidding!

When children outgrow their clothes, the most common thing most people do is donate them to a charity or hand them off to family members. Helping others is an amazing thing, however, kids clothes is not cheap. Especially when you have to buy a new pair of pants or shoes 2 months after stocking their closet up with new clothes. Can I get an amen?!

Luckily, there a lot of avenues a parent can take to flip their child's outgrown clothing into clothing that fits. Whether they swap clothes or simply sell them for cash, the options are endless. 

A big hurdle parents run into is the quality of the clothing. We all know children can be quite hard on their clothes and shoes – chasing Godzilla, crawling around the playground, and trying to build the world's largest lego robot does not come without a price. Below are some tips that are sure to save you money and at the same time reduce waste. 

Local consignment shop
You can take your used clothes here and sell it on consignment, which normally means the shop will you a percentage of what the article of clothing sells for. 

Facebook
We all know how powerful social media can be. This is one sure way of getting your child's outgrown clothing to the public. Facebook now has a "Sale" feature that is easy to use and it allows buyers to filter their search based on location and category. 

ThredUp
This site is a heaven sent and super easy to use! you simply request a cleanout kit, fill the container with your child's clothing, and send it back. ThredUp will offer you an amount for what you sent and the best part is...IT'S FREE. 

Group Garage Sale
Gather your fellow Mama-friends and schedule a joint garage sale. This will not only be a fun time together, it will attract a large crowd based on the variety of merchandise. The odds go up of making more cash!

5 Ways to Go From Summer to School Mode

5 Ways to Go From Summer to School Mode

The transition from running around in the sprinklers to running to the school bus can at times be a little challenging for kids.

Who remembers the night before the first day of school as a kid? The horror! This marked the end of a stress free summer with friends and ice cream. Now, the reality for the next 365 days are include books, bedtimes, and yes, the horrible "school routine."

For parents, this could come as a shock. Just as you're getting used to your Summer schedule, the school year rolls around and there you go organizing yet another school year.

Good news, parents and kids, it doesn't have to be all that bad. Here are some tips that are sure to ease the transition for the both of you. 

Restart Routines
Kids need time to adjust. A few weeks before school starts slowly begin to add in school year things: bedtimes mealtimes, etc.

Clothes Freedom
Clothes may or may not be important to all children but allowing them the freedom to choose some shirts and bottoms, will give them an extra boost of confidence because they were able to choose what they wanted to wear. 

Dust the Book Off
Start scheduling reading times, break out the flashcards, and get those little brains churning again. This will prep them for the new school year and lessen the shock. 

Game Plan
No matter how old you are, there is always some level of anxiety when a new school year is approaching. Try talking to your child about what they expect out of this year and what their fears are. This will help set an expectation and leave room for adjustments.

Take a Family Trip
Plan one last family trip. Not your ordinary theme park packed excursion, try going green and enjoying the world around you. Take a hike, picnic, learn about plants, or visit a farm.

 

Fourth of July Festivities

Fourth of July Festivities

Planning to celebrate in style this Fourth of July? 

Today we're sharing some fun red, white, and blue events going on in our area. Light up the sparklers, fire up the BBQ and get ready for some awesome quality time with family and friends! 

Who doesn't love the only holiday that requires fireworks and mass amounts of BBQ goodies? I know we do. Whether you're thinking of keeping it simple and staying local or are feeling a bit more adventurous and wanting to venture out of town, we've got you covered. 

Local

Fourth of July Parade | Downtown, Fairfield, CA
July 4th @ 10:00am

Fourth of July Celebration | Waterfront, Suisun City, CA
July 4th @ 10:00am
Details: free live music, craft vendors, family entertainment, rides and a huge fireworks display

Fourth of July Celebration | Waterfront, Suisun City, CA
July 4th @ 10:00am
Details: Free live music, craft vendors, family entertainment, rides and a huge fireworks display

Picnic in the Park & Fireworks | Benicia City Park, Benicia, CA
July 4th | 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Details: Fireworks start at around 9 p.m. at the foot of First Street. Enjoy arts, crafts, hot food, live entertainment, and children's activities throughout the day
 

Out of town

Fourth of July Berkeley Marina | Berkeley Marina, Berkeley, CA
July 4th |  12:00pm - 10:00pm
Details: Live entertainment all day, face painting, arts and crafts, Adventure Playground, dragon boat rowing, and food (fireworks begin at 9:35pm)

Annual July 4th Festival of Family Fun | Jack London Square, Oakland, CA
July 4th |  11:00am - 4:00 pm
Details: Festive day will fill the waterfront with interactive activities, entertainment, stilt walkers, puppetry and more for both parents and children

Fourth of July Celebration at The PIER | Pier 39, San Francisco, CA
July 4th |  11:00am - 4:00 pm
Details: PIER 39 celebrates Independence Day with fun for the whole family featuring musical entertainment, activities and fireworks.

3 Healthy Alternatives To Your Summertime Treats

3 Healthy Alternatives To Your Summertime Treats

The temperatures are rising, the AC is blaring, and nothing says Summer like a nice big ice cream cone or tall glass of lemonade.

When it comes to summer eating, we like our meals fresh, delicious, and healthy, so we're not left with regrets when it comes time to hit the beach or the kids are bouncing off the walls with a sugar buzz. I never really appreciated cutting calories until I hit my mid 20's and realized those pesky 5 lbs were a lot harder to shed now then they were 2 years prior. But above all else the most important thing that was weighing on me was the overall and long term health of my family. Often times children look at the lifestyle and health choices of their parents and often adopt those habits.

Typically, people don't choose water to quench their thirst. Instead they reach for beverages like juices, sodas, or lattes that are highly sugared, empty-calorie drinks that can often lead to diabetes and other health problems. Luckily, now a days finding healthy alternatives to your seasonal favorites has never been easier. 

Below are some wonderful yummy and healthy treats that I'm sure you and your family will enjoy. 

Banana Ice Cream
Serves 4

-6 bananas
-(optional) 1/2 cup fresh mint, mixed berries, etc. 

Directions
-Slice bananas and freeze for 24 hours
-Add frozen bananas to food processor
-Add any other extras you would like
-Eat immediately afterwards

Pink Lemonade
1 serving

-2 tbsp fresh raspberries or strawberries
-2 cups water
-1 lemon freshly squeezed
-Pinch sea salt
-1 tbsp raw honey 

Directions
-Soak berries for 4-8 hours in 2 cups of pure or filtered water (with ginger)
-Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth
-Ice it down and enjoy! 

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Serves 6

-1 head of cauliflower
-1 cup mozzaralla
-1/4 cup parmesan
-1 egg
-Basil
-Salt and pepper

Directions
-Rice cauliflower
-Drain all excess water with rag
-Add egg
-Add mozzarella and parmesan
-Add chopped basil
-Add salt and pepper
-Mix all ingredients together

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spread the mixed cauliflower mixture onto a flat greased cookie tray from edge-to-edge. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until until golden grown. Let sit for 30 minutes to cool and harden. 

Once the crust is ready to go, add all additional toppings (i.e. sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, etc.) Bake at 400 for 20-25minutes. Serve it up with a nice fresh salad and enjoy!

 





 

Summer Survival Guide For Parents

Summer Survival Guide For Parents

The kids are home, the ice cream man is circling the block, and you're ready to pull your hair out, right? Never fear, you're not alone. 

Do you ever feel like the school year is a mini vacation that happens on a daily basis? I know I do. Which is why when Summer Break rolls around the anxiety picks up and I begin to think How in the world am I going to survive 24 solid hours of "Mom, look at me!" or "HE HIT ME!". Whether you're a stay at home parent or hit the office regularly, we could all use a break from Summer break.  

When I was a kid, Summer was the bee's knees. It meant no school and a flexible bedtime. What I didn't realize that this meant my mom was on double duty. On top of her normal work schedule, she also had to nail down child care, meals, and a complete workaround of her almost perfect schedule. My poor mom! I almost want to call her and apologize. 

All sad stuff aside, I have some great news for you, Summer break doesn't need to be that cloud raining on your sunny parade. I've spoken to a lot of parents and received some great tips on how they learned to survive while the kiddos were lurking around.

Ditch The Hot Oven
Who needs to be slaving over a oven when it's 100 degrees outside? NOT ME, that's who. This is an excellent time to utilize that grill. Try making some slight tweaks to your menu to better suit the warm weather. Fresh sandwiches and cold salads? I think yes!

Make Time For Yourself
Take that Yoga class or use those dusty running shoes that you bought last year. Anything! Just get up and get out, sans the kids. Alone time is vital for everyone. It'll boost your energy and get your day off to a good start.

Snack Station
SNACKS, SNACKS, AND MORE SNACKS. Pick a spot in the kitchen within child reach and have some tasty treats awaiting them. This will help you have one less thing to do or prepare. 

Ship Them Off To camp
The headline says it all. A lot of communities offer free day camps. This is a great way to allow you to stick to your somewhat regular schedule and tire your children out just in time for dinner ;)
 

 

Let The School Bell Ring!

Let The School Bell Ring!

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the school year is winding down beautifully. This would make for a perfect time to reflect with your child on their accomplishments and also plan for the fun summer ahead. 

I remember being a kid and loving the summer buzz towards the end of the school year. The weather was nice, spirits were high, a lot was learned, and most importantly, we had a solid 2-3 months of leisure time! The world was my oyster. I was a big reader back then so I would make sure to stock up on my favorite books and Fashion Avenue clothing for my Barbies. But, it wasn't all about books and solo play time with my toys, I would like to say about 80% of my time was spent outside, riding my bike with friends, hanging at the pool, or just being silly in the sun. But as I grew and reflected on my childhood, the fondest memories of all were when I was able to spend quality time with my mom and sister. 

As surprising as it is, moms and dads, your kids actually want to spend time with you. Summer time is perfect for that. Luckily, we have a lot of local spots where a lot of quality time and fun can be had! Below are some locations and some fun ideas you can include in your outing. 

Larry's Produce
Ok, so who has heard of Larry's, raise your hand? I think we all have and if you haven't, don't fret, we're here for you. Larry's Produce has been around for years. They offer fresh locally grown produce at discount prices. So grab the wheel barrel and start picking! 
Idea: Have the kids think up their favorite lunch or dinner dish, make a produce list, and get to shopping. This is a great way to involve the entire family.

Rockville Park or Pena Adobe Park
Roll those sleeves up and pack up the kids. Whether you like to hike or bike, these parks offer great trails, safe environments, and perfect for picnics.
Idea: Have the kids choose whether to bike or hike. Brainstorm the perfect snacks/packed lunch, and get going! 

Bowling!
Let's face it, sometimes the sun can be exhausting, we all need a break. That is where the wonderful sport of bowling comes in. Unlimited AC, someones else's shoes, there's a winner at the end, and who doesn't love bowling alley food (or is it just me)?

Whatever it is you and your family choose to do this summer, try and do it together. 

More Than Just An Easter Basket

More Than Just An Easter Basket

The birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the familiar smell of fresh cut grass slowly reminds us of the season ahead. 

I remember being a kid and absolutely loving this time of year, a majority of my time was spent painting easter eggs or helping my mom decorate the house with her usual seasonal decorations. The skies were a rich blue and the weather was a light breeze that seemed to hug you.

Aside from the obvious benefits of Spring, this special season marked two very important things for me as a child.

  1. A huge basket of candy
  2. And no more rainy day recess

Although I grew up in a Christian home, candy usually trumped the true meaning of Easter. I may have not fully understood the importance of Easter as a child, but I remember as I got older I began to fully appreciate the power of that special day. 

My grandmother had an amazing way of sharing biblical stories in a way that I could understand and appreciate. When she explained the true meaning of Easter and the miracles that took place on that day, it dawned on me the true power and beauty of Jesus. She explained it very simply, "Jesus is alive" – That type of intro intrigued me as a child. I remember after the explanation feeling like I truly learned something bigger than I could have imagined. 

As a parent, it's never easy explaining complex things to a child but word choice and delivery are everything. Below are some tips you can use to explain to your child the true reason behind the season. 

  1. Simplifying situations in a manner that a child can understand
  2. Visual examples (i.e. picture books, videos, art exercises)
  3. Make it a group effort and invite some friends over along with their parents, to join in on the learning experience.