Thoughts on a Thursday | Welcoming September

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I feel like my blog has taken a back seat since jumping full gear into the cyber world and it has been this quiet little whisper in the back of my mind just hanging there… reminding me how much I have been slacking in the writing department. I hate that this is happening and my new resolution is to prevent it from happening again. As I begin this post, I do not have a clear direction, but my “Thoughts on a Thursday” never really begin with a set goal, it just kind of develops as I reflect and take a sort of writer’s mental health moment.

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As a teacher, we all know the saying that “August is just one long Sunday for every teacher” which is true. Don’t let any teacher tell you otherwise. Change is intimidating, even for the most experienced and strong-willed people out there. When you are in the education field you know that every year brings a fresh start, new challenges, new students, and a new opportunity to view your year and your students as a chance to always bring your best self to work each day. September can bring on that New Years resolution feel for teachers, it is an opportunity to begin again, an opportunity to reflect on the reasons why you chose this profession. For some unexplained reasons this feeling

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of renewal seems to get lost over time, and teachers begin to lose that fire, the one that burned so strongly in the first few years of teaching. You know what I mean, back during the time when you’re really in the trenches… developing every single worksheet, test, unit, attempting to align standards to each word that comes out of your mouth… living in your classroom… investing in things like “Cricuts”, downloading “Fonts”, and losing hours of your life on Pinterest.

 

No, something happens after a few years… you become nostalgic of how things “used to be…” over everything, literally everything from how the faculty rooms “used to have better ink…” to “only getting 56 days off this summer…” I mean, really?? Say that one outloud to a non teacher and good luck NOT getting slapped. It happens to almost every teacher which makes me wonder… do things really change like we perceive them to? Or is there something hidden in those first few years of a job that really make them so memorable? Or is it that rose-colored glasses effect. It’s like we forget about the sleepless nights, the hours of time and planning. If anything you would think teachers would like their jobs more over time as they are able to make simple tweaks and fine tune lessons that have already been labored over. But it doesn’t work that way. 925cd84c43665f1f195515d740955014--teacher-quotes-funny-inspirational-teacher-quotes

For many, myself included, the entrance of a child changes everything, possibly causing this mental shift in our attitude along with our priorities. Prior to having children, you take your students in as if they were your own, learning every possible avenue into those brains and pulling at every ounce of potential possible from them. You stay after, come in early, whatever it takes to get these children where they need to be in life. No exceptions.

Then you have a baby. And your world. Stops.

Suddenly you become consumed with Mom guilt (or Dad guilt) and you panic as the hours, minutes, and seconds tick away of your maternity leave to the inevitable moment you have to return to work and figure out life with work, a family, and that precious little baby that utterly consumes your life. Regardless of what a go-getter, career minded person you were before that little tiny person took over your soul, your life has forever changed.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who figured this out early on and capitalized on these precious years sooner rather than later, finding ways to get home with that sweet baby for those few years before they too are consumed by the schedule of school and extra organized events. Or maybe you were like so many of us who fought the good fight a little longer until that second little miracle showed up in our lives and just pushed the scales a little too far. I was one of those, trying to balance it all, ultimately crashing after our second little lady arrived.

Which leads me to this NEW sense of renewal. This school year is going to be a TRUE fresh start, a chance to be the best Mom, Wife, and Teacher yet. I am going to put my kids first, reach those hard to reach kids, and make meals that please picky toddlers and taste-bud-expert husbands (huuuge eye roll over that part…ugh). This is MY year, the year where I have finally found a way to balance Motherhood and teaching eliminating some of that “Mom Guilt” that has been weighing on me for the past 3 1/2 years of my life.

If you haven’t heard of  One Funny Mother, check out her recent video while shopping for pencils… Here.

I will NOT complain about “staring at a computer most of my day…” using it as an excuse for slacking on this blog, I WILL keep up, because there is no reason NOT to keep it up. So if there is something pulling you in a slump… or a goal you’ve been thinking about tackling… but keep playing the “I don’t have the time..” card, FIND A WAY. Mom life is the best life. Period. There is a coach out there who I keep promising that I am going to jump on board and let her help me get to my fitness goal that I know I can get to, if I just commit.

September is my month Maegan. It’s happening. Ps… if you’re looking for someone to motivate you in to accomplishing a goal, add this Queen of the Entrepreneural Hat on Facebook, she is literally eating, breathing, and sweating motivation. It’s unreal, and exactly what I need in my newsfeed on a daily basis. She is the epitome of setting goals and achieving them.

And to all of my teacher friends out there, just remember: We have the best job! We spend every day shaping and changing kids lives, doing something we love, sharing information we are passionate about and helping kids who need us. Who WOULDN’T love doing that?!

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BRING IT SEPTEMBER, I’m ready!

Cheers!

Whitney

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Product Review | Stella & Dot A Stellar Time

So, many moons and mood swings ago, I used to sell jewelry. It was after my Pampered Chef phase, but before my “let’s go to college YET AGAIN” phase. I started it as a side business to assist in paying for various extra costs for our wedding, and ultimately ended up spending more on the product, supplies, and presentation, than I ever made back. Lesson learned: I do not have the home show/ frugal money sense or personality to work in an atmosphere like that. I loved the social aspect of the business though, with the flexible schedule and opportunity to meet and make connections with ladies all across western Pennsylvania.

Fast forward to 2017, and I’m perusing the Facebook stream of positive vibes, after discovering the “I don’t want to see posts like this” filter button that was so discretely hidden from me for who knows how long, when I happened across a post from a high school classmate. Kayla was that naturally beautiful person, who went from crazy athletic to crazy mature beyond her years, like overnight. She was always about 3 steps ahead of the rest of us in life, and I always admired her sense of focus and drive. She and her husband knew what they wanted out of life, and they went for it, all the while, being fashionably and photogenically picturesque pursuing their version of the “great American dream.” So, I might be getting a little mellow dramatic here, but I just want to paint a picture of how I envision Kayla and her life with her high school sweetheart and two beautiful children.

One of the absolute greatest benefits to Facebook is the ability to find connections with people you may have always known, but never necessarily fell into the same social circles. Or, if you had interconnecting friends in high school, may not have really thought much beyond who you spent your day in and day out with. Back in our high school era cell phones were a new trend and very few had them. Those that did, certainly didn’t use them to connect with friends while in the same building with them. We were much less interconnected in each others lives, but can now use that to our advantage, rediscovering each other and watching all of our children growing up. The ability to find and reconnect with people you’ve always known but may not have taken the time or had the opportunity to develop friendships with these people, is the peak of social media. Finding others who are also in the throws of parenthood, saying goodbye to the “good ole’ days” of a social life, and finding that motherhood bond with others is priceless.

Getting back to Kayla and her beautiful family; while scrolling through my newsfeed, I noticed an announcement she was making about starting a new business. Instantly feeling the nostalgia of taking on a new venture (and having recently dove head first into blogging) I couldn’t help but jump on board and immediately volunteer to host a party. I had no idea what the brand of jewelry was that she was selling, but simply knew, she was excited and starting a new chapter in her life, and I wanted to help and share in that new adventure. So after a few delayed social media messaging sessions, we had a date, a time, and a theme. “Girls Night In” was going to be straight Mimosa’s and Cupcakes. Seriously, does a girl need anything more than cupcakes, mimosas, and jewelry on a Friday night? NO. NO WE DO NOT.

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Prior to the party, Kayla set me up with an online account and continued to promote her line through her classy style and impressive photography skills using her Instagram account, which I strongly recommend each of you find and explore her new adventure. She arrived at my house the day of the event with at least an hour to set up. While she was putting together he beautiful display we were able to catch up about the past few years of life, and while we were able to creep on each other through social media, there were so many aspects of our lives completely missed. It was really intriguing to just pick each other’s brains about life for an hour or two before everyone arrived.

Her displays were so elegant, and the jewelry… WOW, the jewelry was definitely worth every penny. I was totally impressed and admitted almost immediately how this jewelry blew the line I used to sell out of the park. The line is newer to our area, and I believe everyone who was able to stop by was also impressed by the quality of the jewelry. This is not your typical cheap costume jewelry. Kayla was wearing a beautiful necklace she had owned for several years and it looked brand new.

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Once closing out the party it was a matter of days before my free and fifty percent off items arrived. The packaging was so classy and professional. I have to admit, I saved the boxes! The care and quality in the packaging was incredibly impressive.

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The materials were such high quality and the options were ENDLESS, that I seriously changed my mind about 5 different times trying to figure out what to order. (Kayla will vouch for this…!)

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This leather wrap bracelet is definitely my favorite and has just enough gold on it to go with just about any outfit. I wear it daily with two very special bracelets that are near and dear to my heart. (Yes… yes, I do have friendship bracelets with some of my bests, and I never take them off. My husband makes fun of me for this at every opportunity possible.)

The next item up on my list of great bracelet finds is this pretty little white and gold number.

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This one paired up really well with the first bracelet I opened, and I do wear them quite often together, but I try to not wear the white as often with the harsh reality of two toddlers running around like maniacs.

The third and final bracelet on my list of Stella and Dot must-haves is this silver and cool minty blue bracelet.

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How can you not LOVE a piece of jewelry that says, “hello gorgeous” before you even meet it?!

I love all of these new pieces of jewelry and did a serious re-evaluation of my former jewelry purchases, weaning out the cheaper and slightly over-bedazzled styles of my meal attempt at selling jewelry.

At this point, I feel very safe in saying I will be making several more purchase from Kayla’s Stella and Dot website, which you can access HERE, and strongly recommend having her over for a fabulous girls night in of your own! Isn’t this what we new Moms, experienced Moms, young Moms, older Moms, and soon-to-be Moms do? We collaborate, and we support each other. So trust me when I say, investing in this product will not leave you disappointed.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

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Rainy Day Activities for the Littles (and biggies) in your Life

So we have just entered into the second week of terrible weather in Western Pennsylvania with temperatures bouncing between the thirties and fifties, drizzly rain to torrential down pours, and just an overall lingering “blah” feel in the air. If you have toddlers in your life, particularly ones who got just a taste of those few warm, sunny, and beautiful days in April, then you know how frustrating it is to go from running in the yard, to being cooped up inside. The last thing I want is to drag out this cabin fever any longer that necessary.

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I’ve really been scouring the internet recently to come up with some less than average ways to bring that fun and excitement back for my cuties and combat the rainy weather blues. I was browsing through my Facebook memories, you know the daily reminders we get on exactly what we were doing on this very day over the past however many years we’ve had a Facebook account, (Eleven for me… disturbingly), and I came across one from exactly one year ago today. In this particular memory, my daughter was camping out in her teepee on a, you guessed it, Rainy Day. And just like that, I was inspired to begin my search again, for the perfect list of Rainy Day Activities, to help survive this next week of even more awful weather.

I have several options, from fun projects to cute little unusual toys you can find in my two most favorite places: Target, and Amazon (THANK YOU PRIME SHIPPING!!!) Each blue name link will take you directly to the product I am talking about.

So first up on the list:

  1. Teepee Tents

91HwifUKrcL._SL1500_This is the exact tent we ordered a year ago for our daughters to play in. Let me tell you, this was the BEST investment we have ever made. Neither of the girls ever got sick of it, and it folds up into one long skinny post we just put behind out couch so it’s always available at a moments notice. It was simple to assemble and both my husband (who is 6′ 2″) and I can comfortable sit in it with our girls. We usually fill it with blankets and the throw pillows from the room just to make it a little more fun. Spur of the moment blanket forts are awesome, but just don’t quite compare to your own TEEPEE.

The link takes you directly to Amazon, and below the item you’ll find tons of variations on this specific tent from sizes, to colors, to even different styled tents. You just can’t go wrong with this little fortress!

2. Pop-Open Tunnels

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My youngest was given a pop-open Caterpillar Tunnel, by my sister in law for her first birthday. These are the perfect rainy day activity because they open and close so easily and storage is super convenient with the little carrying case it comes with. Plus it’s CHEAP! This is the best inexpensive source of hours of entertainment! Don’t like the caterpillar? Try the super cute Ladybug Tunnel!

3. Wooden Paper Roll Dispenser

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There are TONS and TONS and TONS of art supplies on the market. As a former art teacher, it was super important to me that our girls be exposed to creativity and have access to supplies that support just that. For Christmas this past year, my Mother in Law and Father in Law got our oldest a beautiful White Easel by Kid Craft (and I’m sure every Pottery-Barn loving mother can relate when I say Kid Craft is the affordable alternative to the gorgeous Pottery Barn creative play ideas). While the White Easel is a high price item, there are several alternatives that are inexpensive for creative play. For example, this Melissa and Doug Wooden Paper Roll Dispenser. This is perfect for a kitchen table or play table with easy dispensing paper, kids can go from small wall art, to life size treasure maps of the living room, to human outlines of themselves to color and cut out. The possibilities are endless with roll paper.

4. Creative Play: Imagination Baking

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You have all seen my little assistants in action helping in the kitchen, especially whenever a dessert is involved, but those exciting baking moments transfer right into imaginative play. The BEST, BEST, BEST, investment we ever made for our girls, was the KidKraft Play Kitchen the girls received for Christmas a year and a half ago. It was a splurge, but the quality of KidKraft made it so worth it. My father-in-law put it best that year, “you can buy a cheap toy kitchen and it might last a year or two, or you can get one like this, and even an 8 year old will still want to play with it, some things are just worth it in the long run.” He reference my niece who was 8 at the time, and immediately goes to play with the girls at the kitchen whenever she comes over to our house. I even love playing with the girls with their kitchen. You can find kitchens from all price ranges. The specific Kitchen set we purchased can be found HERE. Melissa and Doug really support the imagination play by creating such high quality toys that withstand the brutality instilled upon them by toddlers. We have the Melissa and Doug Baking Set, Bake and Decorate Wooden Cupcake Set, and the Brew and Serve Wooden Coffee Maker Set. Personally, the little coffee maker set is my favorite…!

 

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5. Creative Play: Household Accessories

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The research behind creative play is unreal. There are so many skills and developmental milestones in simply imagining real life tasks. Our girls LOVE playing with their matching Cabbage Patch baby dolls, carrying them around in car seats, pushing them in strollers, and even feeding them in sweet little high chairs. Our youngest’s current favorite task is “ironing” her blanket on this DARLING little Honestly Cute Ironing Board on Target’s website. They have an entire category for Pretend Play on their website. I mean, Honestly Cute even has a Dyson-look-alike VACUUM! Or try the Let’s Get Cleaning Broom and Duster set! My girls LOVE copying whatever chore or task I’m doing, so why not make it fun?! After all, I do get an awful lot of cleaning done on Rainy Days!

6. Creative Kitchen : Bake some Cupcakes!

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It’s no secret that I love to bake, or that my kids love helping me. On rainy and chilly days  like today I find myself drawn to the kitchen looking for an excuse to turn the stove on and shake the chill that never seems to leave. Plus, who doesn’t love sharing a goey cake batter spoon with their little loved ones? So here are some cute little inspiration photos to get you in the mood to make fun little cupcakes with your littles, or bigs, depending on what age you have running around your house on these chilly and rainy days.

Head over to my Pinterest Board: Cupcakes for more ideas!

7. Read some Cute New Books!

Whether your an e-reader, or a hard copy book guru, you can never have enough cute books for your kids! I always welcome new book suggestions for the 1-4 year old age. Another great way to get your hands on some new titles for your kiddos would be to find a family member or friend with similar aged children and do a “book exchange” trading your favorites for their favorites. It’s a win win! You find new books that have already been approved by people you care about, and you get to share the treasure you and your children love in return. Thanks to my sister, we love the Sandra Boynton books: Snuggle Puppy!, Hippos Go Berserk!, Pajama Time!, and Barnyard Dance!

LITTLE FREE LIBRARY
I’ve seen so many of the “Little Free Libraries” popping up all over the place. If you have never heard of this idea, a Little Free Library is a drop box located in a common area or a volunteering neighbor’s yard to donate books no longer used for others in a community to read. They are typically waterproof boxes that are unlocked and offer a spot to share, discuss, and build a stronger community simply by exchanging books.

8. Create a Day of Sunshine

Colors brighten our day, so why not try a cute spin off from sending a “Box of Sunshine” to having a Day of Sunshine to brighten those dreary days. Fill your day with as many sunny and brightly colored things from yellow table cloths, to colorful paper plates, yellow fruits and snacks, or yellow lemonade. Try to fill your whole date with everything bright and yellow! Make sparkly yellow suns, listen to “Yellow Submarine” just fill those dreary clouds outside with rays of fun and sun inside.  Check out my Day of Sunshine board on Pinterest to find more colorful inspirational ideas for a sun-filled day.

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Hopefully this little list was able to inspire you to create some excitement for your kids in one way or another to weather the stormy days!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

10 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Mother’s Day Brunch

When you are the Mom of the house, more often than not, you are the cook, the clean-up crew, and the planner. This may not fit for everyone but it certainly is how our life seems to go. In the summer my husband really steps up to the plate at dinner time by proudly using his Weber Summit grill that was a joint Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift about three years ago. You might wonder, how a grill for my husband is a gift for me as well? Or perhaps, why would you get such a large or fairly expensive grill? Let me tell you, when your husband willingly cooks at least half of the dinners through summer, and takes meticulous care of EVERYTHING he owns, it is a gift. It is the BEST gift. He is a good cook too. Each year he likes to get the updated version of the Weber New Real Grilling Cookbook, and I strongly recommend picking up this book of recipe inspiration! I can’t make a recipe without a good picture to go with it, and this one is full of amazing pictures and simple recipes.

But getting back to the issue at hand: Mother’s Day. If you are the planner and cook in your house, you will want to plan ahead for some simple, and effective ideas that will make your Mother’s Day Brunch enjoyable for all!

Each year we have both my parents and my husband’s over for a Brunch/Lunch and last year, I think we might have knocked it out of the park. Between the food, the timing, and the beautiful day, I’d say everyone left full, relaxed, and pampered.

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  1. Host Early and Keep it Small

We typically have our Moms come around 11 or 12 with plans to eat about an hour after the parents arrive. This timing is so nice because it gives plenty of time to spend the morning with my girls but still be ready before the guests arrive. We don’t extend out beyond the parents (my husband has 3 siblings who all have families themselves, so we limit just to the parents to keep it special for the Moms).

With my in-laws, they have 4 children, so by providing a nice brunch/lunch they still have plenty of time to enjoy the day, and visit their other children. My sister lives out of town, so my parents are pretty flexible to hang out at any point.

2. Flowers are a thoughtful Addition

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Last year, I had two matching floral arrangements picked out and scheduled to deliver ahead of time, (and no, my husband did NOT plan ahead and whipped last second flowers out for me… such a man) that doubled as beautiful centerpieces and take-home gifts for our mothers. I love peonies, and took in an inspiration picture to a local florist, who did an amazing job matching the arrangement, but keeping to my specific price range. The flowers had just begun to open, so they lasted for about two weeks after the brunch.

3. Choose Foods that can be Prepared in Advance

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I knew I would not want to spend my Mother’s Day preparing food all afternoon. My husband was more than happy to grill, so we chose meat options that allowed him to do just that. I also cut up fruit and prepared the dip the night before, along with the blueberry muffins. Tomato Salad was made first thing in the morning, because it’s delicious after it has time to sit, but too long in the fridge and the tomatoes get weird. My menu last year included:

  • Marinated Chicken, ready to grill
  • Sausages wrapped in bacon, and stuffed with cheese (we did have men there too, after all – learning curve, do NOT grill over direct heat! They WILL BURN)
  • Lemon Blueberry Muffins (easily converted to gluten free with the use of Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour )
  • Fresh Fruit and Dip
  • Tomato Basil Salad
  • The BEST Ice Cream Cake (recipe to come soon)

4. Bubbly Drinks are a Must

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With the brunch theme, the Perfect Mimosa was a great pairing for the meal. We of course always have beer for any guys, but The Perfect Mimosa is an excellent drink option whenever you have ladies who might not always be inclined to drink. The combination of a champagne of your choosing, (we aren’t super classy so we go for the sweet and cheap kind!) and raspberry or orange sherbet in lieu of juice makes a beautiful and delicious drink!

I did a quick scour of the Mom Blogger’s out there and found a similar recipe on The Cookie Rookie’s Sherbet Mimosas however, I only use the champagne and sherbet, skipping the additional alcohol.

5. Grandmothers need Spoiling Too

While Mother’s Day primarily focuses on the relationship between Mother and Child, the grandchildren can also play a role with sweet little homemade cards or hand-made gifts for the honorary Grandmother, Nanna, or Grammy as well! Nothing melts a grandparents heart quicker than a cute little craft project.

Love Bugs and Postcards has an AMAZING compilation of craft ideas in their post: 12 Fabulous and Fun Mother’s Day Crafts no point in re-inventing the wheel here!

6. Dessert is ESSENTIAL

I have an incredibly HUGE sweet tooth. Period. A Mother’s Day, or frankly any holiday, is not a celebration without dessert. So here is a list of possible pre-made dessert ideas to serve at your Mother’s Day Party:

7. Decor – Less is More (Hey, it’s your day too!)

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Whenever hosting a Mother’s Day event, and being a mother yourself, many times we get so swept up in planning that “our day” becomes a day of work. So keep it simple. Use a table runner that’s fairly neutral, some miscellaneous vases, a tray, or even floral arrangements that double as both a gift AND a centerpiece! We have a trifle bowl full of apples on a wooden tray sitting on our kitchen every day. It’s simple but pretty and would be an excellent centerpiece for an event like this. Even little dishes of candy can be included into a tablescape.

8. Put Thought into the Gift 

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I have spent many hours researching the top items available on the market this year, and have developed a fairly comprehensive list of suggestions, including some previous Mother’s Day gifts I have received. Last year, I found some unique and personalized options through Etsy shops that were tailored specifically to my Mom and Mother-in-laws tastes.

If you are looking for some suggestions for the Mother in your life check out my Complete Mother’s Day 2017 Gift Guide

9. Don’t Over-Plan

Keeping to simple foods, drinks, and sweet little gifts is more than enough. Don’t get crazy with decorations, over-the-top cleaning. We are all Moms! We get it! Your Mom will not be inspecting the windows for toddler finger smudges, nor will they be looking for hints of dust on your shelves. Remember this is YOUR weekend, so enjoy it alongside the Mom role models in your life!

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10. Outdoor Seating

If the weather permits, outdoor seating areas are always a nice introduction to a season of picnics and summer weather. But keep in mind, Mother’s Day falls DEAD CENTER in early allergy season. If you are planning to do outdoor seating keep in mind the following issues:

  • Wind – Use Table Cloth Clamps to secure your outdoor tablescape, and consider using heavier plates as Melamine is easily scooped up with a friendly breeze.
  • Allergies – if you are serving anyone with significant allergies, it doesn’t hurt to check your pollen count on any smart phone weather app.
  • Temperature – Outdoor seating is great in theory, but lets face it, Mother Nature has a mind of her own. While you may the most beautiful garden seating for a Mother’s Day brunch, random 50 degree temperatures do not accommodate most appetites, and neither do 80 degree temperatures in full blown sunshine. We try to host our events on the massive covered porch behind out house, but there are even times when the weather just doesn’t cooperate for our outdoor living space either.
  • Alternate Location – If you are hosting at your house, it is always good to have an alternate option prepared even if it’s just inside at your kitchen table, just in case Mother Nature decides to pull a fast one on you.

 

So there you have it! 10 simple tips to help you host a fabulous event, while still enjoying your own Mother’s Day! May you all be pampered and appreciated this Mother’s Day.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

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This week I have really been focusing on gift giving. I know it’s a random time of year to choose gift giving as a topic of interest, but there is something about Spring that is so new and fresh and makes me want to put winter blues behind me and brighten some one’s day. It could also be that my husband and two very good friends have birthdays right at the beginning of Spring, or even the fact that Easter is coming just around the corner. Regardless of whatever inspired this mood of gifting, I wanted to share some of my top Mother’s Day Gift Ideas with my 2017 Mother’s Day Gift Guide.

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Every product includes a description of why you will love it along with an image and link to the product itself. Spoil your mother, or better yet, share this with your husband… and enjoy the spoiling yourself!

  1. Echo Dot

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Ok… so at first I wasn’t sure about the whole talking to a piece of technology in your home; however, there are countless times that I have my hands full with the girls and my husband is off doing whatever… and a little assistance would be nice! Our three year old likes to try to change channels and mess with the dvd player while I am cooking. How nice would it be to say, “Hey Alexa, play Frozen, for the girls.” Or even, “Hey Alexa, what is the next step in this recipe?” How many of you mothers use Pinterest as your recipe book? I do! I am constantly flipping through my phone, leaving flour or who knows what else on the touch screen of my phone while trying to cook.

2. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

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This classic novel, is a picturesque story of the occasional struggles between mother – daughter relationships, and the secrets children sometimes are unaware of when it comes to their parents. Kristin Hannah’s attention to detail and build up in this heart warming novel will leave any mother in tears of joy by the end.

3. Keurig 2.0 K200 Series

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I am a coffee junkie! My husband and I recently purchase a more elaborate coffee system, but inevitably returned to our classic Keurig. It is so simple and convenient! I registered for a Keurig 5 1/2 years ago before we were married and my teaching friends purchased it for us as a shower gift. I still have that system. Keurig products are such great quality products. There is something about feminine colored appliances that really appeal to me. I love this K200 in Oasis. Keurig also offers a K250 in Sandy Pearl

4. Gold Flatware by Threshold

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I confess, I have been eyeing this set of flatware up for months. I am in love with the gold finish and the price! You just can’t beat a good value that looks and feels like quality. If anyone happens to speak with my husband, this would be an excellent addition to our home…!

5. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

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My Kitchen Aid is my appliance better half. My husband bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer for my first mother’s day and I use it constantly. It literally fell out of the hatch of my vehicle on a trip to my sisters this past Christmas, bounced across her driveway, and miraculously still works. There was a moment I thought I might be losing my poor baby appliance, but it was a trooper and pulled through! If that doesn’t sales pitch you on the quality of this machine, I don’t know what will. This is the specific model I use and love. I would recommend ordering an additional bowl, for busy baking days. While this item is on the higher end of the shopping budget, it certainly will let the Mother in your life know how much she is appreciated! Besides, who doesn’t love a little extra motivation to have baked good around more often?!

6. Porcelain Classic White Dinnerware Set

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LOVE my white dish set from Target. These dishes are high quality and affordable. You can purchase them as a set or individual pieces, which I also love. I was treated to a nice set of these clean white dishes last year for Mother’s day. The thing I love the most about a white dish set, is the timeless feel. You can switch in different accent plates, compliment with seasonal colors, and never get sick of it. While patterns and colors may be trendy a times, white plates will never go out of style. When I am investing in an item for my kitchen, I want it to last. These plates are exactly that.

7. Decorative Dry Erase Boards

Help Mom stay organized and stylish at an affordable price at a mere $9.99 with this Marble Dry Erase Board or this Navy Blue and Copper Chalk Board. These are so cute and would look great in an office, kitchen, or entry way! I have the Marble one in my Updated Home Office (post coming soon!).

Mother's Day GIFT GUIDE

8. Classic Wooden Tray

These beautiful, yet simple, wooden trays remind me of a fun Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tradition we had in our home growing up. Each year on Mother’s day my dad and I (or my sister and I when she still lived at home) would get up and make breakfast for our Mom and take her a tray of breakfast in bed. As a kid it felt SO FUN to eat  breakfast in a bed! We did the same on Father’s day serving my Dad breakfast in bed as well. So when I stumbled across this Acacia Bed Tray and Espresso Benito Breakfast Tray I just had to share this fun tradition from my childhood. Even surprising Mom with the tray, breakfast, and some fresh flowers would surely start any Mother’s Day off perfectly.

9. A Shopping Trip!

Target Logo

Plan a day and prepare in advance by surprising her with a scheduled date, child care arranged, and a budget for a shopping spree. Target now offers both credit cards and debit cards. If my husband ever said to me, “Here honey, I took care of scheduling a sitter for this day, and I have this awesomely full Target gift card (or credit card) spend the day enjoying yourself!” I might just have a heart attack and never even make it to the store. Some of my close friends who have experienced my shopping trips to Target will vouch for how dangerous it would be to send me unsupervised into a Target store with a credit card. But trust me, it has happened…

10.  Affordable Floral Necklace

Floral Necklace

When it comes to jewelry you will really need to feel your way through this. I like jewelry that is inexpensive, as the more trendy styles come and go; however, I have my select timeless pieces with more sentimental value. (See the next item if you’re looking in this direction) This necklace lays beautifully when paired with a simple shirt and jeans but can also dress up an outfit for an evening out with the husband. I find myself following the ever spinning circle of “silver” or “gold” falling more heavily on gold at the moment, but like that the crystal look balances out the gold if you’re still unsure about jumping back into gold jewelry.

11. Personalized Jewelry by Unmistakably Mine

  1. As I have mentioned in my previous post, UnmistakablyMine | Personalized and Affordable, this is my ultimate go-to shop on Etsy for personalized and sentimental gifts for those that I love.  You cannot go wrong on Mother’s day when shopping with Lori and her quality products from personalized necklaces for a mother, to bracelets for a friend, and  even the Pet Mommy out there will find items to cherish on her website.

12.  Reversible Tote

reversible tote

Show me a Mother, and I’ll show you a multi-tasker. This bag is perfect for the Mom on the go. It’s inexpensive and REVERSIBLE! Plus if you click the link above, it comes in 8 color options. I have one in the black and tan reversible option, prior to this little gem of a pattern being released. I love the spring feel this pattern has, and the strength of the bag has my stamp of approval. I’ve carried multiple laptops in mine at once, along with items for my kids.

13. Terracotta Planters – Personalized

pot

Plants and planters seem to go hand in hand with Mother’s Day. Perhaps it’s that Kindergarten-Style brainwashing we receive when we place our hand prints on Terracotta planters at 6 years old.  Then followed by the act of planting the pot with basil or some other random herb and take our creations home to our mothers, hearts beaming, anxious for her approval. Today I am presenting you with an updated, modern approach to that childhood gift. Hello Smith and Hawkins:

Smith and Hawkins

I love the small Terracotta Planters new, empty, and full of gardening tools or seed packets, or planted with a favorite flowering plant or frequently used herb.

14. Cake Stands – Not Just for Cakes Anymore

From white, to milk glass, to crystal, and even metallic, cake stands are one of the trendiest purchases of late. I have two currently, but would love to continue to grow this collection.  A simple White Cake Stand is always a classic starting point. Galvanized Metal Cake Stands add that rustic charm so heavily inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines. And the third cute stand listed above is a sweet little Gold Cake Stand with pretty little details that would be a compliment to just about any cake or cupcake presentation.

But cake stands don’t have to remain in the kitchen. I’ve noticed some very cute presentations from jewelry trays on a vanity, to accent pieces on a mantle. The possibilities are endless. So get creative!

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Well there you have it. 14 ideas to inspire some unique, yet thoughtful gifts for the mother in your life. Celebrate her and all that she does for her family. If you are the mother, just forward this helpful little link on over to your husband and leave the rest up to him!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Painting Away the Baby Blues

Parenting is like a never ending rollercoaster. One moment you are climbing up what seems like an immense hill and as you finally figure it out and begin to casually coast down the other side, just like that, those darn children change and you feel like you’re starting all over again, re-learning the next challenge, milestone, or phase in your child’s life.

Recently I have been struggling with the first round of “lasts” of parenting. We mutually agreed to have two children and have been blessed with two healthy, beautiful, funny, head strong girls and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When our youngest turned one, it felt somewhat like an accomplishment: we had survived the baby phase. She gradually began to master the art of walking, and eventually phased out her adorable little knee-scootch that she used in lieu of walking for like a five month span of her life. It was only a matter of time before her sweet deep little voice began to mimic words, learning “peeze” “tank-yew” and “wav yew,” each becoming music to our ears.

All of a sudden, just after we reached the 16 month milestone, it was as if someone pushed the fast-forward button in my daughter’s life. Within a week it felt as though she had completely transitioned from baby to toddler, trying harder than ever to keep up with her three-year old sister. She seemed to skip stages of development that her older sister hung in a bit longer.

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Everyone wants to tell a new mother or young mother to cherish the time while you have it, and every sleep deprived mother nods politely back, as if they are being lectured on not appreciating their children enough, even though we all know that is not the intention of the comment. But it isn’t until the second child that you begin to feel the depth of true meaning behind this comment. Time is priceless. We do not know how much time we have on this earth, with the people we love. All that we know is we need to make the most of it, cherish the small moments, hold on to the good memories, and let the grudges go.

I have recently found myself emptying dresser drawers of baby clothes. Rather than re filling totes to store in the basement “for the next one” since there will be no “next one”, I have been passing them on to friends I care for very much. It is this weird sharing of little items, that helps bring peace to the harsh reality that my baby is growing up. Giving someone else the opportunity to share little moments in the sweet clothes that I have photographed countless times, memorized the milestones that took place while wearing them for each of my girls, brings a little peace to an aching heart of a mother who just wants time to slow down, if only for a moment.

My youngest is this wild at heart child who is fierce. She is fierce in how much she loves, how she plays, how she learns, and how she grows. I am constantly amazed by her.

I recently spent an entire weekend in spring-cleaning overdrive. My husband used to work away so I was used to frequent days alone to complete home projects. With his recent shift back into an office, I have not had as much time to really dig in to any major home projects. So when the opportunity came for him to take a weekend venture with his brother and Dad to check out a potential hunting spot, I fully supported it.

Our three year old has been drastically out-growing her toddler bed. My parents willingly scheduled a sleep over with our girls for the same weekend so I could complete a full bedroom make-over uninterrupted. It was during this weekend of solitude that I really began to reflect on how much life was changing in our house.

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loved my daughter’s nursery room. Ironically, I loved it so much that I re-created it three times. I first set her room up in our old home, about 2 months before she was born. We then purchased our current residence and moved when she was only 5 weeks old, the child never even had a chance to sleep in her initial nursery. The exact nursery was replicated in the new home. And then shortly after she turned one, we shifted her room to a different room in the house when discovering she would become a big sister in the very near future. My mom hand sewed a gorgeous set of beautiful pink and blue crib bedding that set off the entire theme. So when I tell you I struggled with the idea of changing her Tiffany Blue baby walls to a delicate and sophisticated color scheme that could grow with her, I truly mean it.

So on that Saturday evening in March, I methodically began my process of moving furniture, cleaning the floors and setting up my work station. I have a system to every painting project I take on, perhaps it is the former artist in me. Once I had all of the pieces in place and the Pandora station set, I began to cover up three years of my baby girl’s life with a new coat, perhaps a new stage, of life.

The next 3 hours felt like a bizarre movie was rolling through my head as I remembered little moments in her life, like the first fall after she was born when my husband posed for his first archery season picture with her. The smile on her face when she sat on his lap was so genuine and full of excitement that it melted my heart right on the spot. I remembered the first time she began to dance to The Hotdog Song from Micky Mouse Clubhouse. I also remembered how she first tried learning to run the summer after turning one. Her arms would go so fast, but her poor little feet were so slow and comical. I remembered the heart breaking teeny tiny little boot she wore after discovering she had a tiny toddler fracture in her leg. I thought about how she would tilt her head in a sweet little shrug whenever anyone said “awe, so sweet” to her. And then I started to catch up to more recent moments, like when she would try to pose her baby sister on the couch for me to take her picture. I also remembered the epic fail of trying to send my husband a video of the girls saying “happy birthday daddy”  when he was working away, when all Brielle could muster was “eeew, she’s throwing up Mommy… clean her up!” Oh those reflux babies…

As the time passed, so did the coat of paint, and eventually I found myself taking a picture of the last strip of blue paint, just before I covered it up. Perhaps the purpose behind this post is to remember that life is constantly moving forward. There is no stop, rewind, or pause button for it. It is difficult at times to keep this in perspective; however, critical to remember because as beautiful as the time is that we are given, we cannot get it back.

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I still keep 3 pairs of 0-3 month socks in my girls drawers. I just cannot bring myself to take those teeny tiny little pieces out of the drawer, permanently accepting that they will never wear them again. It was a bitter sweet moment as I added the finishing touches to my daughter’s “Big Girl” room preparing for the great reveal, and rather than get hung up in the time that has passed, I chose to focus on the here and now, anxiously awaiting her approval that would hopefully come that evening.

Once my husband returned from his trip, I picked the girls up from the weekend sleep over at Nana and Papa’s and corralled the girls back into the house. Our three year old bolted up the steps to see her new room, and let me just say, three is a wonderful age.

Hug your babies tonight, cheers!

  • Whitney

St. Patrick’s Day Craft Ideas

Before I ever had children, I was obsessed with holiday crafting. A few girlfriends and I have made several feeble attempts to pull together a “Pinterest Club” or “Craft Club” as my mother used to call it. We usually get one excellent day in, with the plans to follow up a month later at someone else’s house, failing miserably on the follow-through. Once we all began to have children, those craft nights turned into food and drink and laughter nights, usually having at most, one member follow through with a craft. Yes, those children will do that do you. They wipe away all excessive motivation to complete a project when surrounded by your best girls and some excellent food and drink.

For those of you who still have that follow-through and motivation, I have rounded up some of my favorite online seasonal ideas for this dreary March that just seems to be having an identity crisis, alternating from Lamb to Lion and then back to Lamb.

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I have included 5 projects: one for each day between now and St. Patrick’s Day along with the link to the original post including instructions for completion. Perhaps this will inspire a St. Patrick’s day girl’s night for you to pull together a few girls and have a spontaneous creative Friday night. Or, if you are more like my girls and I, enjoy this Friday as a food and laughter filled evening, sharing the trials and tribulations of being a wife, mother, or employee! This St. Patrick’s Day I will be hosting an impromptu Girls Night In with a former classmate of mine! Kayla Jamison, a new member of the Stella and Dot family, will be introducing us to a collection of jewelry and fashion with a trunk show. You can check out all of her great products HERE. I’m not sure if I’m more excited to see her awesome collection, or just FINALLY get to catch up with her!

Stella & Dot
This was the cute little invite I crafted; however, I failed to it out to the majority of the people invited! 
In high school we had several mutual friends, and definitely would have considered each other as friends, but shortly after graduation we each took very different life paths, keeping in touch with our select few friends and losing those common connections. Then that magical shift came. The moment you have a child, particularly if you are the first in a social group to have a child, the social group starts to dissipate. Suddenly those common grounds disappear and you find yourself drawn more to the young parents showing up in your social media news feed, and less to the shenanigans of those weekend events from your kid-less friends. This is when Kayla re-entered my life.

Shortly after our oldest was born I found her appearing more and more often in my social media. Perhaps this was because another classmate of ours, her best friend, was having a baby just a short two months after my oldest was born. And just like that both Kayla and the other classmate became my most common follows. I love watching my classmates children grow up. Particularly the ones who are going through different stages of parenting ahead of me, the ones close to my children’s ages since they will be in school together, and even ones who are miles away, say Florida, because it helps to keep me from feeling disconnected from those close friends. This is, in my opinion, the epitome of Social Media perks.

So bringing this ever-side-tracked mind back into focus the first items I have found for you include some festive decor, some of which I plan to include in my upcoming Girls Night In!

  1. DIY St. Patrick’s Day Garland

St Patricks Day Garland

For those of you unfamiliar with The Land of Nod, the children’s line from Crate and Barrel, they also have a blog: Honest to Nod which is, quite possibly, my absolute favorite creative idea go-to. This post comes from 2014, and reminds me of a little garland project my nieces and I took on that same year for Christmas. We made simple little pom poms out of yarn and strung them up in the girls rooms. I love the variety of three dimensional shapes along with flat glittery shamrocks in this garland. I can honestly say, this would be a cute and reusable decoration easily stored in a tote. If you aren’t big in to cutting out shapes, I would strongly recommend investing in a variety of paper punches, or a Shamrock Paper Punch . I did not purchase specific shapes, rather several sizes of Circles, presenting holiday feelings from the colors of paper I choose to make my garland with. I have the Fiskars Medium and Extra Large circles. You can find the full instructions by clicking on the link to the project above the picture.

2. Paper Shamrock Shapes

Shamrock Shape

This one is more of a cutsie decoration, not the type you save and reuse in your house each year. But I will admit, they are very fun to make! I was inspired to attempt to transform the hallway where my classroom is located after the Family and Consumer Science department decorated the entire wing of the school where their classrooms are located the month before Christmas. It was so festive and beautiful that I ran to Walmart and purchased 4 strands of 300 count white lights to string down our hallway trying to replicate their festivity. My students then went to work designing beautiful three-dimensional blue snowflakes to hang with fishing line from the drop ceiling. The end result was stunning! My classroom assistant began to peruse the internet for seasonal three dimensional shapes to incorporate into the design of the hallway throughout the remaining seasons of the school year, starting first with elegant tiny hearts (one of the leaves of the clovers pictures above). She then stumbled upon a shamrock version of the same shape. Currently, our hallway only has a few of the green shamrocks floating. We just received a random lion of a snow storm after 55 degree weather the day before. Another colleague and I were concerned our snowflakes were jinxing the school so we tore each one down quickly!

This was the best tutorial I could find online to make these cute shapes and would double as a great project to complete with kids on a random Lion of a March day.

3. Potted Clover

Clover

With the world on a Joanna Gaines high, and Magnolia this, Magnolia that, I found that Pretty Handy Girl  (which I must add that I love her profile picture!) has an excellent and simple idea to get into the vibe of March. With Joanna continuing to inspire us with her fresh whites, clean lines, bright greenery and exquisite floral arrangements, this simple little craft idea is just enough to get into those spring vibes only days before Spring officially begins, and spark a light in all of those green thumbed friends out there itching to begin those gardens.

4. Free Printable Banners

Banners

As a teacher, the thing I believe I am going to miss the most about the brick and mortar classroom will be the holiday decorating, or even the unit-specific decorations I have developed over the past five years. Already planning my home office, I’m envisioning some type of re-purposed frame with a chalkboard center, just to still have the feel of school around me as I convert to the digital world. These sweet little banners may work as the perfect seasonal alternative for a home office classroom.

That being said, I do not feel these should be limited to a classroom! They are so cute and would make an excellent food table backdrop, mantle addition, or entryway surprise any any other various creative location that might work for you! Flag banners are my favorite event accent as well. They are so simple but add a whole new level of creativity to any event. Ella Claire has three printable cute options available for you! Click here to go to my Pinterest page to view this item, along with many more options like it!

5. DIY St Patrick’s Day Mason Jars

mason jars

No craft post is ever complete without a mason jar project! And if you happen to be one of those mason jar junkies, I have found the blog for YOU! Ka Styles is seriously an entire blog with gorgeous mason jar ideas! I was stuck scrolling through her posts and ideas for 45 minutes! They are so pretty! And how simple is this?! You pick the color, paint the jar and just like that! You’ve created a beautiful little accent piece for a mantle, a gift for a friend, a vase for those Joanna inspired blooms, or a pencil jar for that home office. Plenty of time to spare to gossip with those gal pals!

While this was a bit wordy, I hope you were able to hop around and find some great projects to work on this week as we wind into the upcoming holiday festivities next weekend!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Weekends with Toddlers | What to Do?

I found myself sitting on a Tuesday commute home divulging in the temporary excitement that comes when a significant change is about to occur in your life. Now that the shock and awe of my career shift has sunk in, and the important parties have all been notified, it seems as though life has begun to move in slow motion, gradually ticking away the hours, minutes, and seconds until this Career Shift actually takes place.

I’ve gone through every emotion possible starting at terrified, then moving in sequential order through heart-broken, excited, nervous, frustrated, irritated, anxious, impatient, exhausted, and now to complacent. Emotional roller coasters are exhausting. But as my rail car seems to be stalling out, I’m focusing on the here and now. What do I have left to do before I leave? And most importantly, what can I already begin to do with my little girls as I make this shift to prioritize them above all else.

So it was on this random Tuesday, pulling out of the sitter’s driveway that my oldest daughter asked me, “Mommy, could we make cookies tomorrow? No, could we make cookies TODAY?!” I thought for a moment about the steps involved, ingredients needed, and then like a lightening bolt striking a tree, remembered buying a tub of cookie dough from my niece’s fundraiser that was, brace yourselves, ACTUALLY GLUTEN FREE! I had already planned to make One Pot Jambalaya for dinner, a recipe I kind of whipped out of no-where, winging an attempt at a more complicated version I had made years before. And with this simple dinner plan, I knew we would have additional free time to do just that, bake cookies. I immediately agreed to this simple task of scooping and rolling cookie dough without hesitation and the squeals of excitement that escaped my girls in the back seat were music to my ears.

We then hurried home and began our dinner preparations, finishing just as my husband pulled into the driveway. Once everyone was well fed, the girls began to dig into the container of cookie dough rolling, scooping, and even eating, until we had created 2 sheets full of cookies! My girls actually enjoy the prep better than the end result in almost any cookie (except sugar cookies. My youngest will take you down to get to a sugar cookie) so when the trays were completed, and the cookies were not the top notch cookie like many of our homemade ones, the girls were not interested in eating them.

I then thought to myself, what can I do with 24 gluten free cookies that don’t meet the expectations of the cookie baking connoisseurs my daughters have become? And just like that she hit me; a student who has been on my caseload at school for 3 1/2 years now, has a gluten intolerance that is not well monitored. We immediately packaged up the cookies, making her a little card from the girls placing them in my school bag to be delivered the next day.

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It was this small pay-it-forward gesture that got me thinking, what other “service-project” activities could a toddler and 17 month old participate in?

My very good friend runs a Helping Hands club that is highly active in service projects and volunteer hours. I want my girls to learn the value of paying-it-forward at an early age. So I developed a list of 10 simple activities you can do with your child at any age to help teach this core value of our society to even the smallest of children

  1. Baking cookies for a local shut-in, delivering with a friendly child-crafted card.
  2. Donating old books to a local library or the Salvation Army
  3. Sorting through old toys, choosing ones to donate to local community supporting corporations like GoodWill
  4. Creating a “coupon book” of hugs and kisses for grandparents.
  5. Making lists of the things siblings love the most about each other, sharing one item every day for a week off the list.
  6. Taking your children grocery shopping for items to donate to a local food pantry.
  7. Volunteering with toddlers to help sort at local food banks
  8. Understanding the value of the critical terms Thank You, or Please at ages as young as 1
  9. Letting small children assist in picking out gifts for other children, and sharing in the joy of giving a gift to someone they love.
  10. Taking your child to local community events demonstrating the importance of community and supporting local businesses from an early age.

All of these ideas could easily be performed in a small rural community all the way to the booming cities across our country. We want our children to be BETTER than us, to value more, and want less.

Spend the weekend with your children, no matter their age, sharing in the joys of paying it forward.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

Treats on a Tuesday

With the upcoming festively green holiday, I have been searching the internet in attempts to find some fun activities to do with my girls and some cute little treats to send with the girls to the sitter. My mother is 50% Irish, and like all mothers of the 80’s and 90’s this meant dying anything possible in our St. Patrick’s day meal GREEN. We did not eat some lavishly traditional Irish cuisine, nor did we all speak with heavy Irish accents. Nope, just straight up ate all the green foods possible. And I loved it.

Since the invention of Pinterest, I’ve noticed even the less than crafty have stepped up their A-game on crafting. I had to laugh on my way to work today as I listened to the radio personalities going on and on about how no real mom makes the cute crafts on Pinterest. It must be a food stylist, or a professional posing as a stay at home Mom. Reality check Radio. Some of us do exist! We are the epitome of over-doers, those people that everyone seems to feel the need to throw the ever insulting comment, “You have too much time on your hands…” at us every chance they get. I am relieved every time I see a fellow Facebook friend post some ridiculously crafty idea he or she made online. It’s almost a relief to see someone else, like they make it OK to be crafty. Ridiculous thinking, I’m very much aware of that.

So I found a collection of cute little St. Paddy’s day crafts and  treats to share with you over this first week of March. Today I’ll start with a couple easy kid-friendly treats.

  1. Rainbow Cups

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I love this Rainbow and Pot of Gold! It’s so cute! Plus you can find all of these items easily at your local grocery store or on Amazon having them delivered right to your door! I found this one on I Can Teach My Child  I love the organized Skittles before layering the candy cups. But the Chocolate Gold Coins layered at the bottom are the kind of candy that takes me back to childhood! Using the simple 5 oz Clear Plastic Cups  and then of course topping them off with Mini Marshmallows This treat is naturally gluten free which is always a plus in our house!

Ok… Brace yourself for this next product!

2. Edible Gold Spray

Wilton has an edible Gold Color Mist Spray that can be used to turn your favorite treats into GOLD! So if you need to eat gluten-free cookies in replace of Oreoes, order  Kinnikinnick’s Chocolate Cookies and make your own gold coins for your little cuties! Genius.

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I have already ordered 3 of these. My students will be getting gold treats, my sitter’s kids will be… my nieces and nephews will be… perhaps even my parents will!

3. Lucky Charms Marshmallow Treats

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With the recent change in Lucky Charms as they transitioned to a Gluten Free product, I have secretly been reliving my childhood in the mornings. It’s still amazing to me how easy it is to access so many gluten free products these days. But with this being a fairly recent change, it’s important to make sure the packaging displays the Gluten Free Emblem

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Some stores are still finishing up selling older packages that are not certified gluten free. So shop cautiously.

I really like the recipe for Lucky Charms Treats I found on Brown Eyed Baker  She has a good balance of ooey-gooey in her treats! The girls and I kicked off the month with a batch of these already!

And if all else fails, just buy a big old bag of the Marshmallows! That’s all my girls want to eat anyways!

3. Shamrock Pretzels

The next big ticket treat that seems to be blowing up online is the Shamrock Pretzel! These are so cute and only require two ingredients:

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I prefer Gratify Gluten Free Pretzel products. I also like Glutino Gluten Free Pretzels and I know Snyder offers a Variety Pack along iwith individual purchases.

You can find a great Step-by-Step instructional article on The Spruce.

Again, I cannot stress how much I LOVE my Amazon Pantry boxes. My girls are great shoppers, but lets be realistic. What mother ACTUALLY enjoys taking a one and three year old to the store with her? No one. I feel like shopping at a store without my kids is almost like a mini vacation.

4. Fruity Rainbows

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This treat is a unique presentation for a party! You could easily adapt this to make cute little plates for your sweeties at lunch or breakfast, but I just love the fruit with a little chocolate treat at the end! My girls looooove when I sneak in a little chocolate treat to their meals. And what is better than a gold wrapped Rolo candy?! It screams Pot-o-Gold!

5. St. Patrick’s Day Muddy Buddies Treat

Who doesn’t love the good old fashioned Puppy Chow snack? When I think about Puppy Chow, I go back to my mom’s great friend and neighbor popping in to our house infrequently with random treats and baked goods she would come up with. She was Pinterest before there was Pinterest! This was one of my particularly favorite surprises she would bring over as a child. Oh Pammy, I’m drooling over your puppy chow as I type!

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This festive little twist on a classic snack follow very similar instructions to the original Puppy Chow snack mix using Gluten Free Rice Chex but adds in a couple slight alterations. Try it out following Glue Sticks and Gumdrops recipe.

I hope these 5 little festive treats help to ring in the St. Paddy’s day mood. After all… it is Fat Tuesday! Sneak one treat in today before starting your Lenten sacrifices off tomorrow!

Cheers to a very Green March!

  • Whitney

Career Shift : Now What?

As I drove to work this morning, I went through my typical morning wake-up ritual. I turned the music up excessively loud as I drove away from my sitter’s house where my sweet little ladies were nestled back to sleep. 6:05 am and my current guilty pleasure jam comes blaring through my speakers, “Bad Things” by Machine Gun Kelly (don’t judge… who can really be held accountable for their decisions at 6 am?). Good music means a good day in my mental wake-up call.

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As I am turning down the hill that will lead me out of the small town I call home, I begin to notice things. Small things. I notice how it’s already beginning to lighten outside and the faint hint of pink past the railroad tracks seems to just line the trees ever so slightly. I notice how quickly my drive seems to pass before me. Suddenly I am in the outskirts of my town where my husband and I started out together, with only a few cents to rub together. He was working away all of the time, and I was double dipping between substitute teaching and full time graduate school (round one). In a flash I am taken back to my first day driving to work, nervous, feeling like 6:15 am was so crazy early to be leaving my house. I can feel the butterflies all over as if I’ve never taught there before. I can remember the first student who walked through my door on the first student day realizing I only had one student in my first period study hall. The nerves that had gripped me melting away.

And just like that I am pulled from that memory as the radio personalities are discussing Random Acts of Kindness and I am back here, in the present thinking about the service project I have had brewing in the back of my mind for my students. Realizing “down the road” no longer means in my classroom, with my students, in my comfort zone, the harsh reality hits me across the face. I am leaving. I will be leaving my classroom. I will no longer make this drive, follow this route, use this routine, none of it will exist in my life in a matter of weeks.

career-shift-11

By this point I am turning into Amish country and the sun is casting a rosy glow across the fields accented by sharp black tree silhouettes. These mornings are so peaceful and offer a solid 45 minute wake up call to my mind as I begin to scan through my mental to-to list for the day. What will I do to organize my thoughts when I no longer drive to work each day? How will my routine shift?

This is top on my list of to-dos. I must determine what this new position in my life will look like. Perhaps it will involve that ever annoying task of incorporating fitness back in to my life. Somehow I know that is not going to be part of my new routine but entertain the idea for the hell of it.

I know that making breakfast for my family each day is top on my bucket list of new morning rituals. Perhaps waking up an hour before everyone else, setting up my “classroom” and preparing breakfast can replace my morning therapeutic drive? Who knows, maybe I will sleep soundly until the first little lady awake pulls me from my bed.

What I do know is that I am in charge. I control where life takes me next and I’m more than ready to make this shift, personally, professionally, and proactively.

Cheers!

  • Whitney