Parenting and Family

How to Preserve Family Memories Without Losing Your Mind

A huge thanks to Montage for sponsoring this post and allowing me to help you not lose your sanity.  All opinions are of course my own.  I can’t even imagine writing about other people’s opinions.

It’s fine. Every single one of us amazing parents have all of our children’s baby books 100% filled out. We have all of our favorite pictures printed, framed, in albums according to date and organized in a beautiful Pinterest-worthy wall collage that gets rotated out every year. We have scrapbooks documenting all the important moments and milestones.

What we DON’T have are Post-Its with tiny snippets of our kids’ milestones thrown in a box, half with dates and half without. Half of them we can’t even remember which kid the milestone belongs to.  We do NOT have an iPhone full of pictures that we know we should probably print.  Or at least transfer to something that we haven’t accidentally dropped in the toilet or left on top of the car as we drive away.  We do NOT rely on Facebook to remind us about that time our youngest child took their first steps.  Because we totally remember the exact date.

We have zero guilt about our ability to capture memories and we will NEVER be one of those parents who look back with regret.

And we also have a unicorn tied up in the backyard and we wash our hair every day.

So you sound more like Parent #2, do you?  Join the exclusive club that consists of just about every parent on the planet.

How do we fix this?  Is it even fixable? Or are we just doomed for all eternity to feel like we have somehow failed our family tree and that our kids will have no sense of community and continuity or even permanence?  Does a child even exist if there are no pictures printed of his first birthday?

A wise French philosopher who died one million years ago said “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.  In other words, we can’t just sit around and complain that the job is too big and we will never have pretty scrapbooks, we have to find something that works for us and be satisfied.  If you start now and just do something, you will end up with actual living memories down the road.  If you do nothing, you will end up with, well, nothing.

But what do we doooooooooooooooo?

Just write stuff down.

It doesn’t have to be a pretty journal.  Write stuff on Post-Its or on a napkin or on the back of a take-out menu or steal a piece of paper from your kids’ homework pile.  Write down funny things your kids say or the first time they realized they could punch their brother and make it hurt or when they learned how to tie their shoes.

A billion years down  the road, these are going to be the memories we love.  Who cares if they are organized?

Sort of kind of organize your pictures on your computer.

I have a folder for each year and inside that, a folder for each month.  If I have a lot of pictures from a certain event, it gets its own folder inside the appropriate month.  These may not have dates or captions or even stories to go along with it, but when your kid asks for pictures for his birthday timeline at school, you can actually find a picture from each year instead of sorting through 3,459 pictures labeled IMG_2398.

If we print these down the road, bonus.  But for now, just sort of kind of organize.

Operation Organize Your Family Photos

Actually print stuff.

If you’re feeling ambitious, get those pictures off your phone, sort of kind of organize like we mentioned above and actually print them.  Put them into simple photo albums organized by year, by event, by child.  Whatever works for you.  In case you need some inspiration.

Sort of kind of organize your baby books.

I’m convinced that when my kids are older, I will have more time.  This has to be a thing right?  Their baby books are NOT high on my priority list right now.  Feeding my children outrageous amounts of food and actually getting them to school on time are tops on my things to do.  Down the road, when I do make time for their baby books, it will be far easier if I at least have some notes, some pictures, some dates to add instead of having to scour my brain for information that is probably not going to be accurate.

Spend an hour or two NOW trying to organize the information you do have so you have a head start when you sit down to put their books together.

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Capitalize on holiday memories.

Christmas is your friend!  We try to buy an ornament to signify the big events, trips and vacations we have taken together as a family.  We have an ornament from our honeymoon, our family’s first trip to Disneyland, ornaments to represent our favorite sports teams.  There are so many photo companies that will make photo ornaments, this would be a great way to track the growth of your kids.

Buy clear glass ornaments at a craft store, use white paint on your kids’ hands and have them grab the ornament in their palm.  Hand print ornaments!  If you have your child’s hospital bracelet from their birth, save it in another clear glass ornament.  All of these ideas make the holidays so special and make decorating the tree an amazing family event.

Find SIMPLE ideas for preserving memories.

Use the infamous Google or the Pinterest search bar for ideas on how to preserve your memories.  I searched for SIMPLE ideas and came up with several articles with some ideas that were actually relevant.  Of course, there were those brilliant suggestions like MAKE A QUILT OUT OF YOUR KIDS’ BABY CLOTHES.  Which is of course adorable, but not for those of us who can barely spell quilt, let alone make one.  Look for ideas that don’t make you want to stick a fork in your eyeball.  The point is to enjoy this.

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Make a simple (but AMAZING) photo book.

Photo books are one of our very favorite ways to preserve memories.  I am not a scrapbooker and haven’t printed a photo in YEARS, so this is one of the few ways I am actually creating a living memory for our family.  We create photo books for big events like our trip to Disneyland and the birth of both of our kids, but we also create a book every December that chronicles our year together as a family.  I add in first day of school pictures, holidays, special memories like the time our oldest son chopped his hair off.  It allows us to marvel at the growth of our kids, while still remembering all the little moments that make life so colorful.

I have used several companies in the past to make our photo books and I’ve always been very pleased with the result, but often times the process of making the book makes me want to shrivel up and die inside. They generally take me anywhere between 3 and 5 hours from start to finish.  And I’m a procrastinator.  So I’m usually under the gun of some kind of shipping deadline.  Which makes me sweat and feel even more anxious.

Surprisingly, after using Montage for two glorious books for our family, I’ve found a site that doesn’t make me want to lay down and take a nap at the mere thought of creating a book.

You upload all your pictures and then they throw them into a layout.  You then go through each page and do your basic edits (enlarging images, adding simple text).  You can quickly change the layout of each page until you are satisfied and you can easily move images in and out of the toolbar that is below your book editor.

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I’m not kidding you, once I had my pictures chosen and uploaded, my books took me about 30 minutes from start to finish and they are GLORIOUS.  I love the collage-y, scrapbook-y feel without having to actually put the time in to make a scrapbook.  And with an eco-friendly leather cover, these books are absolute keepsakes.

The best part about photo books is that they are saved in projects on your account.  If something happens to your book at home, you can print another one without feeling like you’ve lost everything.  You can easily print additional books for grandparents or special friends. So. Many. Options.

Montage has a great feature that allows you to see a demo of a book being made without having to upload any pictures.  You can also see a preview of our family’s most recent book here.

What would you add to this list?  Have you figured out a simple method of preserving memories that works for your family?

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My husband and I ran 172 errands this past weekend while he was home for the New Year’s holiday and in between our 7-year old telling knock knock jokes in the truck for an hour straight, we managed to have a decent conversation about our goals for the upcoming year.  As our lives are so intertwined anyway, our goals are fairly similar, but it was really interesting to hear them from his perspective.

As I was preparing to write a post about our goals for 2016, I stumbled across a post I wrote about our goals for 2015.  Apparently, when a year passes, you forget everything you’ve ever written.  I was excited to read the post to see how we did for the year but surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), our goals are VERY similar to what they were last year.

Budget, weight loss/maintenance, meal planning.  Apparently these are recurring themes?  What this tells me is that they are not so much once-a-year resolutions, but something to work on every day of the year.  I love the idea of revisiting our goals at the beginning of the year as a refresher, but keeping them at the forefront throughout the year is a goal in itself.

Setting very actionable goals (read: specific, attainable, with a direct action or behavior correlated with it) is extremely important, but I also love the idea of grand overarching themes for the year.  For example, one of my goals last year was to clean up our disaster of a spare bedroom to use as my office (so I could quit working on the damn couch).  While this was very specific, the overarching theme is for me to be more efficient with my time.

One of my goals for 2016 is to be less wordy.  Just kidding.  I think I should use ALL THE WORDS ALL THE TIME.  Like I did in the intro to this post.

PicMonkey CollageWho is that girl on the left?  And who let her wear red pants??

1. Lose 10-15 pounds

For those of you who have been following me for awhile or know anything about me, you know I’ve already conquered the “get to the gym” part of the fitness journey.  My husband and I do CrossFit 4-6 times per week, so working out isn’t the issue.  We eat really well 85-90% of the time, but over the summer (and last summer and the holidays and probably the spring too) we let the pounds creep on.  Apparently drinking all the vodka that Costco sells is not a weight loss solution?

We work HARD at the gym and put in a lot of time and I’m tired of playing the maintenance game.  I don’t want to go to the gym to attempt to counteract the effects of my weekend food choices.  I want to make good food choices AND train hard.  Now honestly, I’m okay with my weight.  I am.  I work hard and know I don’t have a giant mountain to climb.  But I also know that as hard as I work, things could be better.  I want to FEEL like I work out 4-6 days per week.

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Our Favorite Family Board Games (ages 3-8+)

by Melody on December 16, 2015

Best Board Games for Kids Ages 3-8+

I’m not one of those Moms that could sit on the floor for hours and play games with my kids.  Do those Moms even exist or did they go the way of unicorns and magic rainbows?   I do it on occasion because my kids love it and because it can be pretty hilarious to watch them be “sneaky” about the Old Maid in their hand.

While I will do my board game Mom duty, I really struggle with the traditional games like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders and others.  They just aren’t fun.  They take a million years and the dudes get knocked over and kids get pissed when they have to go back to the beginning and by the end, we all want to poke our eyeballs out.  I’ve done my best to research games that are actually fun.  For everyone.

If you are looking for some fun ideas to liven up Christmas break or to add to family game night, here are some of our favorites.  You’ll notice none of these are novelty games.  While those are fun for a few plays or once or twice a year at holidays, they don’t seem to have the lasting power of a logic game or something a little more classic.

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We picked up ThinkFun’s Rush Hour at a consignment sale a few years ago for $5 and gave it to our son on his 7th birthday.  I seriously underestimated how great this game would be.  It’s a logic and puzzle game for one player with four levels of play, from beginner to advanced.  They set the cars up based on one of the play cards’ designs and then try to get the red car out of “rush hour”.  Both of our kids (5 and 7) have played for hours, my husband has played for hours, I have played for like 20 minutes (which is saying something to get me to sit down that long).  It’s fascinating to watch the kids try to work out the puzzles, to scout out moves, to try different things.  THE BEST INVESTMENT.

It is also available in Rush Hour Junior or play with a friend in Rush Hour Shift.

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ThinkFun’s Laser Maze is new to us this year!  It is a single player logic and puzzle game (similar to Rush Hour), but this time you use a real laser to reflect and split to reach your goal.  This one is recommended for kids 8 and up, but with beginner to expert levels, both my kids love it.  I love that this is less a concrete puzzle, but a lesson in science and reasoning.

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Our family really loves the Richard Scarry Busytown game. It’s perfect for both our 7 and 5-year olds to play with us or together (although that sometimes ends in fights, they are 5 and 7). Just the other night, they each had a friend over and the kids taught each other and played several times without a hitch.

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Pacific Northwest Christmas Family Fun Guide

Pin this to your Christmas Pinterest board!

I know.  It’s early November.  But I swear, you will blink and it will be January 1st and we’ll be staring dazed at a list of resolutions and a pile of wrapping paper.  My philosophy on the holidays is to schedule, people!  While this may seem counter intuitive to the whole “relax and kick back and enjoy the holidays with your family” type vibe, I find if I don’t add a few events, kid-friendly festivities, craft ideas and even where we will get our tree, things don’t get done.

This year I have teamed up with Angela of Frugal Living NW and Jen and Sia of Thrifty NW Mom to bring you a round-up of Christmas events and festivals, craft shows and bazaars and Christmas Tree Farms around the Pacific Northwest.

Get your calendars out now friends!  Here’s what we will be bringing you:

  • This Beautiful Frugal Life – Christmas events and tree farms around Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon
  • Thrifty NW Mom – Christmas events and tree farms around Western Washington (from Whatcom County to Centralia/Chehalis area)
  • Frugal Living NW – Christmas events and tree farms around Western Oregon and Southwest Washington

Holiday Bazaars and Christmas Craft Shows

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Tri-Cities, WA

NOV. 6-8 – Custer’s Annual Arts & Crafts Show at the TRAC in Pasco Times: Friday 10am – 8pm, Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm – Admission: Adults $6.00 – Good all Weekend/Kids 12 and Under Free

NOV. 6-8 – Vineyard View Marketplace Annual Holiday Bazaar – 52 E Vineyard Dr. Pasco – Complimentary hot chocolate, beer tastings, face painting, John Deere gators and tractors and more

NOV 6-7 – West Highlands United Methodist Women’s craft bazaar – corner of South Union Street and Kennewick Avenue 9am – 4pm Admission: FREE

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Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links and if you click through the links, I make a small commission that enables me to keep this site running. Thanks for your support!

I’m so excited to tell you about the fantastic deal that Junior Explorers is running through tomorrow, October 31st.  You can try out their fun kids’ monthly subscription program for FREE!  This would be a great way to try out a program that you may have been reluctant to “try before buying”.

Our 7-year old recently had the chance to try out the Junior Explorers subscription program and had a blast!  Junior Explorers offers kids ages 5-12 the chance to explore the world through interactive science kits and online missions and games.  Each month, your child will receive a great little kit with activities, collectibles, stickers and more that they can complete, which in turn lead them to the online missions.  These missions are based on wildly different parts of the world, with a focus on different continents, different habitats and different wildlife.

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Our son had a BLAST combing through this Junior Explorers kit and learned so much through the animal fact sheets and activities.  He was so excited about getting his own mail and exploring the kit on his own.  Once we had him securely set up to explore the online mission, he was lost for over an hour in the interactive activities and games.  He does love to learn and read, so this wasn’t a stretch for him, but it was so fun to try something different.

Their are several monthly subscription options, with the opportunity to get from 1 to 12 missions per month!  Through the online activities, kids can earn points and actually give back to real world conservation projects, which is a great lesson in philanthropy.

This would make a wonderful gift to your kiddos for Christmas and could easily be shared between siblings.  This would also make an awesome gift idea from Grandma and Grandpa.

Click here to check out the different subscription options.  To get your first month FREE, use promo code FREEOCT at checkout (this may automatically show up as free, so don’t be totally thrown if that happens).  The only cost you will incur is a $3.99 shipping fee.  Please note that plans do automatically renew, but you can cancel at anytime.

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money-saving

Welcome to the life of an occasional spend-all-the-money-in-the-world impulse shopper who sometimes uses a coupon but tries mightily to save money where she can.  Each week I will be sharing one (or more) of the ways I saved our family money or time.  Or both.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

For the last few years, we have picked up our boys’ Halloween costumes at Costco.  They come out in like August, have TONS of styles to choose from, are generally full costumes (accessories, suit, mask) and are a CRAZY good price.  One year I thought I could be crafty and make their costumes.  One year.  Sometimes it is better to just admit where your strengths DON’T lie and make it easy on yourself.

This year was no different.  We let the kids pick out their favorites, tucked them away in the closet and forgot about them.  We won’t let the kids touch them until close to Halloween because, they’re crazy. We’d like them to trick or treat with costumes that aren’t full of holes and still actually snap in the back.  This past weekend, we decided to pull them out and just double check that everything fit right and figure out what the kids would need to wear under their costumes if is cold.

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We have an amazing little samurai warrior and A TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLE WITHOUT A SHELL.  I swear I checked each costume up and down for all the parts before we bought, but the belt that comes with the costume is giant and I’m pretty sure I thought it was the shell.  So we have no shell.  A turtle without a shell.  Praise all that is holy that we didn’t wait until Halloween morning.

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Saturday in the land of parenthood - Football and carpools and birthday parties, OH MY

Every once in awhile, my husband and I will attempt to remember that hazy time that may or may not have existed before we had kids.  I know we were people back then and we did stuff.  But what was it?

Did we sleep in on the weekends?  Did we work longer hours during the week?  Did we have hours and hours to make gourmet meals?  Did we actually watch TV outside of baseball and football?  Did friends call and ask us to go out and we were just like “Sure”?  It’s like a different dimension.  We seem to have crawled out of a worm hole and never looked back.

Parenting is awesome.  Really.  But it’s all-encompassing and takes over life in a way that’s near impossible to describe to those outside the trenches.  It colors literally everything, from how much time you have to get ready to where and when you go out to dinner to who you hang out with to what you eat for breakfast to how you spend your money to how you spend your weekends.

So this Saturday.

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My Story of Miscarriage and Loss and Grief

I got home this morning after dropping the kids off at school and became frantic because I couldn’t find this innocuous yellow baby blanket I bought over 12 years ago.  I didn’t do anything else until I finally tracked it down in my office buried in an old hope chest.  I have been drowning in memories that I didn’t even know were still buried.  I have been overwhelmed by all the small and magnificently giant ways my heart was changed when we lost our baby.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, so I’ve been reading stories of loss and heartbreak all morning.  But from that I’ve been so uplifted by those willing to share their stories.  By bringing light to what can feel like the darkest time, they are reassuring others that they are not alone in the emptiness and the struggle and the overwhelming feeling of loss.

About 12 years ago at the ripe old age of 22, my husband and I found out we were pregnant.  I still remember that day.  We had donuts for breakfast and then I had to leave him at home alone with this gigantic news while I went to work.  We weren’t planning on having kids for YEARS, it wasn’t even on the radar.  We spent hours and days and weeks trying to reconcile what this meant for our life.  None of our friends had kids or were having kids, so we had nobody to relate to.  We told our parents, who were admittedly shocked but excited.

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Amazon has released a high value coupon good for $3 off several varieties and sizes of Huggies diapers and it seems as if they have drastically dropped their prices, making for some AMAZING deals.  When I had babes in diapers, $.10 per diaper or less was my stock-up price and that has become increasingly harder to find as the years go on.

The best prices are available with your Amazon Mom discount, which is 20% off the listed shelf price.  Your $3 coupon will come off the price after the 20% discount when you clip it directly under the main price. To take advantage of the Amazon Mom discount, you must be logged into your Amazon account and choose Subscribe & Save on the right hand side of the screen.  You may have to play around with the quantities to find the least expensive option.

The best prices I see:

Even at $.13 per diaper for size 6, this is a pretty fantastic price for the larger size.  As the quantities are generally smaller the bigger the diapers get, it’s  harder to snag a stock-up price.  This is a great time to pick some up for your kiddos.  Even if this is not your favorite brand, it’s an awesome price for an emergency pack or to take to a baby shower.

Please remember: Amazon prices can change very quickly.  Please verify that the price is the same as what I post before purchasing.  As of 10/15/15 at 10:30 AM, this listed price was accurate.

Subscribe & Save does mean that you are now signed up to receive recurring shipments at whatever interval you chose. If you do not want to receive additional shipments, just go into “My Account” and click on “Manage Subscribe & Save Items”.  All you have to do is cancel your subscription, you are under no obligation to purchase additional items.  Your order may not ship right away, as your Subscribe & Save items are all grouped together to ship on one date.  If you need them soon, click on “Change Schedule” in your account to change the ship date/month.

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So my husband and I have been spending one million hours talking about the blog and where it should be going and why I’m not using my unique voice (read: sarcastic and honest and non-grammatically correct) and my incessant use of hashtags that don’t mean anything, to save the world!  For a few years now, I have been wanting to go back to the roots of this blog and talk about parenting and crazy children and saving time and saving sanity.  As I am the sole blogger in these here parts AND the sole parental unit during the day (read: carpools and pumpkin patch trips and lunch packing and wrestling match referee), it can be tricky to not get bogged down in the details and to write posts that don’t require a whole lot of brain power.  Have you ever tried to write a heartfelt story while your children are playing a weird acrobatic/karate-like game of hide and seek all around you?  Sometimes the quick and easy details are all I got.  And sometimes I don’t even have that.

We went round and round trying to figure out what direction I should be going in and what y’all would like to read and how many people would tell me that my perspective on parenting is ALL WRONG.  Between the two of us, we came up with the outrageously creative and mind-blowing idea of telling you all about my day.  Like, that’s it.  Once a week, I’m going to take notes on the minute to minute crap stuff that my kids and I do.  If you don’t have kids, you may think this sounds like the world’s most boring TV show.  But if you do have kids?  Lord have mercy on us all.  Don’t you feel like you fit 172 hours of things and 92 America’s Funniest Home Videos moments into one day and then collapse in bed still clutching your glass of wine and mascara smudged under both eyes like you just came off the football field?

It’s riveting stuff.  Edge of your seat.  Or it’s not at all but let’s share it anyway because everyone likes to feel like they aren’t the only ones wallowing in the crazy.

I tried to start last week.  I took notes on my day (yes, yes I did) on Monday.  But then every day after that just got a little crazier and a little crazier and it didn’t seem fair to only honor one of the ridiculous days.  Life with kids is sure one hell of a joyride.

A few highlights:

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PicMonkey Collage

If you are an Amazon Mom member (if you are a Prime member, you also have access to Amazon Mom),  you can snag an AMAZING deal on Huggies diapers and wipes!  As an Amazon Mom member, you already can receive up to 20% off with Subscribe & Save, plus an additional 50% off for a limited time PLUS some of the items have extra coupons.

If you are not an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up for a FREE 1-month trial and try the benefits of Amazon Mom as well.  It is super easy to cancel at the end of the month, but you may be hooked like we are.  Prime gives us FREE 2-day shipping on most items with no minimum purchase, access to Amazon Instant Video (TONS of movies and TV shows), thousands and thousands of songs and playlists through Prime Music and much, much more.

Here’s how to score these deals:
  • Click here to order
  • Clip the coupon available under the price (if applicable)
  • Choose the “Subscribe & Save” option on the right hand side (discount automatically applied)
  • Use applicable promo code at checkout for additional 50% discount
  • Shipping is free

The best part about this promo is that your promo code gives you 50% off LIST PRICE, not your Subscribe & Save price.  These are ridonkulous deals.

If you are not currently signed up for Amazon Mom, it will give you the option to quickly sign up on each available item page.  Answer a few quick questions and you are on your way!

PROMOTIONAL CODES

  • On select diaper purchases, use code HUGGIES50D at checkout
  • On select wipes purchases, use code HUGGIES50W at checkout

SOME OF MY FAVORITE DEALS

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Huggies Overnites Diapers Size Size 5 (66 ct) just $4.49 after S&S, coupon and promo code ($.07/diaper)

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Pull-Ups Training Pants Size 2T-3T – 4T/5T (56-74 ct) just $5.49 after S&S, coupon and promo code (as low as $.07/pant)

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Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers Size 3 (148 ct) just $11.96 after S&S, coupon and promo code ($.08/diaper)

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Huggies One & Done Refreshing Baby Wipes Refill (648 ct) just $6.86 after S&S and promo code (just $.01/wipe!)

indexHuggies Natural Care Baby Wipes Refill (552 ct) just $5.83 after S&S and promo code ($.01/wipe!)

Subscribe & Save does mean that you are now signed up to receive recurring shipments at whatever interval you chose. If you do not want to receive additional shipments, just go into “My Account” and click on “Manage Subscribe & Save Items”.  All you have to do is cancel your subscription, you are under no obligation to purchase additional items.

Click here to check out all the deals.  This may be limited to one per customer per account, as you can only add one Subscribe & Save item to your cart at a time.  These are seriously massive stock-up prices.  If you are expecting or going to a baby shower or even want to donate to a local domestic violence or crisis center, this is the time!

As of 10/5/15 at 10 PM, these listed prices were accurate.

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Tips and tricks to help your child pack their own school lunch

Our oldest son is in his second year at a Montessori school that fosters and preaches and attempts to ingrain independence (as all Montessori programs do). I packed his lunch for him every day last year, even though his teacher suggested that he do it himself.

I just couldn’t do it. I had no system in place. He is the slowest slowpoke on the planet. How would he know what to pack? Would I end up doing it for him anyway? Would he pack 4 bananas and a piece of cheese? Would I be nagging him all morning every day of my life?

See, I’m a bit of a control freak. And he’s a bit of a fly by the seat of his pants kid who couldn’t care less when and if things get done. We’re a fantastic match.

This year, he actually insisted that he wanted to pack his own lunch, which gave the boot to my nagging doubts about whether he I could handle it. We’ve tried the “Just get it done because it has to be done” inspirational speech and it works zero percent of the time, so I buckled down and made a plan.  One of the things that the Montessori approach really stresses is that kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for.  As long as you give them the proper instructions and make all the tools easily accessible, with some guidance they can actually be fairly independent little humans.  Which in turn gives parents a few extra seconds to spend on the 172 loads of laundry that need folding.

The Plan!

School Lunch Packing List

Main Concern:

He wouldn’t know what or how much to pack and he’d be asking
me what to do every step of the way.

Solution:

I knew he needed a road map, but I wasn’t about to write out a list for him every day on what to bring. He could pack the same thing every single day, but that’s not necessarily creating independence. That’s more of a dictatorship. We basically keep the same (or very similar) snacks in our pantry and food in our fridge each week, so I knew his lunches would consist of mainly the same things, just in different rotations. I decided to give him a choice.

I wanted to make sure he had a good balanced lunch to give him fuel and energy for the afternoon, but that he had options to make him excited to eat. I decided to write out the basic lunch categories and then give him a limited number of options in those categories. This put the power in his hands without being too overwhelming with too many choices.  This has also created conversations about different types of food and what gives us energy and why we don’t eat 4 bananas and a piece of cheese for lunch.

As a bonus at the end of the week, I let him choose a special treat every Friday in place of one of his “extras”.  I don’t mean treat like a Snickers bar, but he is welcome to take a juice box, Larabar or a crunchy snack like popcorn or Pirate’s Booty if we have it.  We try not to be too restrictive in our eating, but we all feel (and act) better when we eat healthier.  I feel like this gives him the option to choose a treat without turning into a sugar-laced crazy pants.

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Main Concern:

He would never know what containers to use or where to find them
in my oddly well-organized but highly combustible Tupperware cabinet and I would go insane when he knocked everything over every day.

[click to continue…]

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practicecursive

Educents is offering a great freebie right now, perfect for getting ready for back to school or adding to your homeschool curriculum.  The Educents Heroes offers 53 pages of cursive alphabet worksheets, with both lower and uppercase letters.

I truthfully don’t know how much cursive is taught in public school anymore, but out soon-to-be 2nd grader practiced it all last year and I kind of love it.  It makes him so much more aware of his letters and what he is writing, as he really has to put a lot of thought into it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on cursive!

Click here to download your FREE printable worksheets.

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If you have been looking for ways to show your children what life in other countries is like, check out this FREE Compassion Explorer Magazine for the iPad.  The magazine will introduce your kids to world poverty with stories, pictures and recipes and also fun crafts and activities for kids ages 6 to 13.

Click here to check out this free magazine.  No credit card info is required.

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_zltr9zPQiBzSRoQ2qO7Ruu5LtEh4EdbJbpmPDTqHaqWuhd9OycUTLJ0IIcGQG98pSJp8igATaIuyNwHh-KXgCyLC4vkLSc4vPaJ3Sf4RN5ognTiQAWY_-Urts__l9R5gGdGHmhOZiHA3SouEQ=s0-d-e1-ftIf you are a new teacher this year (Pre-K through 8th grade), you can snag a FREE “How To Plan Your School Year” e-book!  With over 300 pages of ideas and printables, this would be a great way to jumpstart your classroom and teaching routines.

Your book will contain:

  • Ideas for classroom rules and routines
  • First-day-of-school activities
  • Bulletin board templates
  • Reproducible name tags and passes
  • Classroom organization tips
  • Forms for parent communication

Click here to get your free e-book.  All you have to do is enter in a few pieces of information.  No credit card required!

Thanks The Coupon Project!

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Educents has these ADORABLE Minion Math Centers for free through August 2nd, regularly priced at $4.99!  Your downloadable product will come with 7 different worksheets to help your little one with addition, subtraction, measurements, counting money and much more.  The familiarity of the outrageous Minions will make these extra fun for your kiddos.

Click here, add to your cart and you will be able to download your product.

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FREE constellation connect-the-dots activity download

July 29, 2015

Little Passports has a fun FREE download for your kiddos to learn about the constellations.  Easy connect-the-dots activity to teach them about six different constellations, which could then turn into a stargazing evening to spot the groupings they have just learned. Click here to download.  Click on the image and a new PDF will open.

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{Portland} Goldstar: Discounted tickets to Mary Poppins the Musical {just $15 per ticket!}

July 27, 2015

If you haven’t heard of Goldstar yet, they are an awesome site that offers discount tickets to events, concerts and performances nationwide.  They have a HUGE selection of venues and events to choose from and this is a great way to have a night or afternoon out without breaking the bank. One of my favorite […]

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So Far This Summer {popsicles and sunscreen and late nights, oh my!}

July 24, 2015

So far this summer. We have stayed up late. We have slept in late. We have eaten popsicles before dinner and after dinner and for dinner. We have swam in the morning. We have swam way past our bedtime. We have swam until we almost fell asleep in the pool. We have fallen asleep on […]

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FREE TenMarks Summer Math Program for kids {sharpen those math skills before school}

July 22, 2015

If you are looking to sharpen up your kids’ math skills sharp over the summer break or fill in some educational gaps leading up to the new school year, check out the FREE TenMarks Summer Math Program.  This program is designed to guide students through a personalized curriculum that is based off each student’s specific […]

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Mabel’s Label’s: Early bird pricing on back to school combo packs (UV-resistant, waterproof, dishwasher safe labels)

July 22, 2015

This post contains affiliate links. By clicking on these links, you are supporting this site.  Thank you! Now that school is out and kids are off to camp, are you looking around your house and wondering where all of the water bottles, hooded jackets and that extra pair of sneakers disappeared to? Get a jump […]

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Educents: 30% off KidCoder Web Design Courses from Homeschool Programming (ages 9-18)

July 20, 2015

Check out this great deal on KidCoder Web Design Courses from Homeschool Programming through Educents, pay just $59.50 for the beginner’s pack or $99 for the year pack.  This is a 30% savings! KidCoder is designed for kids from 4th to 12th grade and is a self-study course with no teacher expertise required.  Step-by-step activities […]

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Educents: FREE educational UNO-style card game download

July 2, 2015

Educents has an awesome downloadable freebie that would be a fun supplement to your learning activities this summer.  Download this WILD Uno-style card game that features summer vocabulary and ocean animals and plants.  This set is recommended for advanced preschoolers, K-2 and even 3rd graders who may need a little extra help. Click here to […]

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Junior Explorers monthly subscription kit for kids (learn about the Amazon, Serengeti, Great Barrier Reef + more)

June 19, 2015

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links and if you click through the links, I make a small commission that enables me to keep this site running. Thanks for your support! Our 6-year old recently had the chance to try out the Junior Explorers subscription program and had a blast!  Junior Explorers offers kids ages […]

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All The Things I Have Ever Wanted For My Children (ending with a little bit of ego)

June 9, 2015

Parenting is just hard work.  It is. Not only is it physically demanding, but it takes a massive toll on our emotions (how can you ever prepare for that?).  We feel overwhelming love from minute one but also guilt and regret and shame and complete exhaustion.  I think most parents will tell you it’s 100% […]

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