Don’t Forget to do these things before the New Year!

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over, we now reflect on the year past and look forward to the New Year. We make resolutions and want to start the year off on the right foot.

The same goes for your kid(S). We need to set them up for a great year. We need to lead by example and show them how to make goals for the new year. I will have another post coming soon about resolutions. Right now, I am talking about beneficial things we can do as parents to set our children up for the second half of the school year. Where I am writing from, it is almost half of the school year point. With a new year starting and the second half of the year to go, there are some hints/tips/tricks to make that goal happen.

These tips can be used at any time though!

  1. Wash lunchboxes

I just throw the lunchbox in with a load of laundry (usually towels) and have never had a problem. I open them up and lay them out to dry to prevent odor. If this is not an option, you can use a disinfectant spray. Or at least use dishwashing towel and wipe out the inside lining and handles. With all the germs and food remnants, this is a reminder to give them a good wipe.

2. Add sanitizer

Adding a small, travel size hand sanitizer in their lunch is a good reminder for them to wash their hands before they eat. Some teachers have them wash their hands or use sanitizer in their rooms but, the hand sanitizer can be beneficial for any sticky residue or mishaps.

3. Clean bookbags

Similar to the lunch bags, it is possible to clean bookbags. Depending on material, it can usually be sprayed or wiped down for cleaning and sanitation purposes. Do their bookbags need cleaned out? Based on your child’s age, school, and habits; they can be included in this process. Go through items that need attention, saved, and disgarded. Complementary to the bookbag, do their folders/binders need cleaned out?

4. Deep clean water bottles/straws

If your child(ren) pack their lunch and have a water bottle or they carry a water bottle in lieu of a water fountain; it’s time to clean those water bottles. Some brands can have the straw and top replaced. A dishwasher may be used for some models (read all directions from the manufacturer before attempting). A straw brush can be purchased to fit down the reusable straw. This is not only for viruses but also to prevent bacteria from growing on the various parts of the bottle.

5. Add money to lunch account

Your child’s school will have sent instructions on how to send in money for school lunches. Most are electronic, but, many still accept checks sent into the building. Either way, check the balance and see if it is getting low.

6. Wash their winter gear

Wintertime is here for me! Which means hats, gloves, scarves, and so on. Go through to make sure for the first day back morning rush that these items are paired up and everyone has what they need. Do they need washed? Coats and boots get messy in the salt and snow slush.

7. New Supplies!!!!!!

Give them a little baggie of new supplies. Maybe they got new pencils or erasers from treat bags or stocking stuffers! They might need new pencils, crayons, and fresh glue sticks. Who doesn’t love a new box of sharpened crayons?


8. Donations?

Some schools/universities ask parents for donations. It can be snacks for a preschool class. Tissues or hand sanitizer for the classroom. Set the teacher up for a nice welcome back!

9. Thank you’s?

If you practice sending thank you notes, are there any that need to be sent to school? Did the teacher give a thoughtful class project? Did a friend give an unexpected gift?

10. Change/wash linens

I know that the month of December can become hectic with all the festivities, functions, and get togethers. I can’t seem to keep up with everything. This is a reminder to change the bed linens for the start of the new year. Maybe you had holiday themed linens that can be removed. Washing them later is a different story!! Getting the new ones on, is half the battle.

So, how did I do? Did I have any ideas that you didn’t think of? Did any surprise you? Is there anything that I missed? Please leave me a comment to help me out and any other parents out there.

Favorite Toy Brands

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Not sponsored. No links. Honest opinions only.

My mother always said my kids should be toy testers. She is right. My kids are infamous for breaking their toys. It is an ongoing process, teaching them how to treat their toys properly. But in the mean time, I have become very familiar with brands of toys and which ones have stood up to the torture test. Here are my top companies to buy toys from that will give you the most bang for your buck and confidence in your purchases.

  1. Learning Resources

This does my teacher heart good!!!!! It is geared more towards teachers, learning, and educational toys. They have a variety of items and most importantly products that can be used in several ways and adapted year after year.

Their products are midrange to higher price point than the rest of my list, but, so worth it! The quality of these items are amazing. They have survived my children and have been passed down. They have been used over and over again and remain new looking. I cannot say enough good things about their products.

2. Melissa & Doug

Now these products can be found on their websites but also at your local retail stores. Their prices are mid-range, but affordable.

They have great educational toys, awesome sticker activity books, and magnets. I love this company for their pretend play items. They have a lot of toy kitchen food, dress up, and imaginary products.

Melissa & Doug purchases also stand the test of time due to high quality product materials.

3. Step 2

Step 2 is my go-to brand for certain, bigger items. Like a kid outside picnic table, table and chairs, and playhouses.

They too have a range of products and prices, but, it is their attention to detail that I love the most. They really did their research and can check off all my requirements before I buy something for my kiddos. For example, rounded corners, heavy plastic, no hinges to pinch, and proper mounting capacity. The safety measures are appreciated.

4. B toys

This brand is fairly newer to me. I have seen it mainly in my Target stores near me. They have more “traditional” toys, in my opinion. I have see trucks, boats, and musical intstruments. It is the company that impresses me. They have recycled products. Use recycled materials. Their packaging in made from recycled materials as well. Where they can, they use only price tags for selling. If possible, they store the item in reusable bags for your own storage. The company is trying to lessen it’s ecological footprint, and that is a worthy cause. The toys we do own, have been through a lot of wear and tear. They even survived water play!

5. Kid Kraft

This company too, is newer to me. I mostly see it at Target, but also online. I love their attention to detail when making creative play items like toy kitchens and food items. I look forward to watching their selection grow and my options increase as my childrens’ needs and likes differ with age.

Honorable Mentions

This list would not be complete if I did not mention Fisher Price and Little Tikes. I love these two companies, have so many of their products, and even had them when I was a kid. I feel that these two brands are well known since they have been around and at their rising starts in the -50’s and -60’s. Most people have heard of their names, and I felt no reviews needed from me.

Please let me know if you agree with these brands. Do you have any brands to suggest that I check out to help in my quest of good quality toys for my rowdy bunch?

Don’t throw these baby items away!!!!!!

“They are getting so big!” “My babies are growing so fast.” These phrases have been said everywhere. Most people can relate to the concept that a parents’ days are long and the years are short. They grow up so fast. Right before our eyes.

As they grow at this rate, I am constantly rotating clothes to the next biggest size, decluttering toys, and donating items no longer needed by my family. However, there are some baby items that I have not given away. I have found a way to give them new life. They have remained useful.

*This post contains affiliate links. If items are purchased through these links, I may receive a small percentage of profit.

  1. Bottle Brushes

I keep bottle brushes around. Although my children no longer use bottles, they still use spill proof sippy cups throughout the day. I find myself using bottle brushes in their sippy cups because of their size and shape, a brush does a more thorough job, than my ill fitting hand. I pop these in the dishwasher every now and again to keep them fresh and bacteria free.

2. Bottle brushes again?

Similarly to the bottle brushes mentioned above, these bottle nipple brushes can be used again to clean toddler sippy cups. They can be used to clean the lids, mouth holes, and keep rubber flow regulators clean and clog free.

3.Baby bottle cage

Now this mom hack is pure genius! (If I do say so, myself.) You will never guess what I use this dishwasher cage for!!! My homemade frosting piping tips!!!!! That’s right. After I wash them by hand to ensure cleanliness, I place them in the top section of the cage to run through a cycle in the dishwasher for sterilization.

I have used this cage for smaller toys, pump parts, cup parts, and countless other items. Even the above mentioned bottle brushes get a good clean through the dishwasher in this product. On the side is a place for reusable drinking straws! The options are endless.

4. Breastmilk storage tubes

I invested in these breastmilk storage tubes, during my pumping days. I couldn’t just recycle them. I found “out of the box” uses for them. After washing and boiling them (sterilizing), I have used them for lots of things. For example, after using some edible sprinkle “eyeballs” for a fun recipe in the kitchen, the package they came in, was unsuitable for storage. So, I used one of these tubes to keep the remaining sprinkles fresh. I bought pearl sprinkles for a special birthday cake topping, the extra were stored in another tube.

I have also used them for craft items. Glitter, gems, any smaller items like that work well in these containers. What about game pieces? They can be used for a number of reasons throughout the whole house.

5. Pack n’ play

Well, what can you do with a pack n’ play? I found an idea on Pinterest (original post unknown). I made a reading nook! You cut the mesh off of one side. Place a few pillows inside, place a crib sheet over the top, and you have made yourself a little get away your kids will love! My pack n’ play had this half mobile that attached from one side to the other. I was able to use that under the crib sheet, to even give the area a domed effect, allowing more head room!!!!!! My kids used this as a house, a fort, and even a camper. They found joy again in playing with this piece.

6. Baby gates

I keep gates around for numerous reasons actually. For any visitors who might come with small children. I still gate off the stairs. I use them during parties at my house to ensure safety for small guests. They can be used temporarily with pets.

But do you want to know what was the most fun? I built my kids a fort. I used a couple of the pressure mounted (inexpensive) wooden gates in my hallway. I turned the gate sideways and fit it to be above their heads. I then used a sheet overtop to create a “tent like” effect. They loved it! They spent so much time in there, and it kept them busy for quite a while.

7. Straps

I bought so many of these straps! I have used them in the car and highchairs with their cups, to ensure they would not fall on the ground and get dirty, but also, they could reach them and retrieve the cups themselves.

I have also used them in the car for other toys. Possibly, loop around the handle of a toy or around a stuffed animal. I have used them with my cart cover when I shopped. I encircled a toy and attached the strap on my cover. I have used them for the stroller. Again for toys and cups during outings.

To be honest, I currently still have some in my bag. They could even be used with older children and plain water bottles. The options are endless!

I hope these ideas were helpful. The point was to show how to get your money’s worth, products can be reused for other purposes, and that these items can still be helpful. I hope you can repurpose some of these items or maybe even buy some of these items based on my recommendations for later and multiple uses.

Did you like these mom hacks? Do you have any mom hacks? I would love to hear from you. I am always looking for good ideas to make my job a little easier. Let’s build each other up and form a community to help parents navigate this journey together.

15 Guaranteed Ways to Make This School Year Successful and Memorable

Photo by Julia M

This school year, no matter where the learning takes place, will look very different. Whether it is in person with masks, online, at home, or a combination, learning has taken a drastic new look.

The start of a new school year causes anxiety for some children with all the unknowns, but this year, apprehension is at an all time high for students, teachers, and parents.

Which ever way you chose to have your children learn, there are ways to make sure this year is a success and a fun one at that.

Most of the following ideas are geared towards learning from a home setting, but can be adapted to all forms of schooling.

1. Back to School Shopping.  Whether you go to the store to shop for supplies and/or new clothes or shop online, have the kids be involved. Let them help pick out colors of folders or a design. Maybe you will not need a backpack, which might give you the funds to splurge on a fancy unique pencil box to keep the mood positive and light. If shopping online, make a big deal about waiting for the package to be delivered. It gives them something to look forward to and the joy of opening the package.

2. Let the countdown begin!  You can make a Post-it note countdown, or a chain countdown, or even a chalkboard or whiteboard countdown. It can be simple or fancy, but a way for the child to rationalize when the first day of school will start. On the flipside, a countdown can be used to look forward to things like winter break, holidays, birthdays, and the ever anticipated last day of school.

3. Give them a dedicated work space. Again, this can be as simple as a cleared off spot on the kitchen table or a room revamped to imitate a schoolroom setting. The goal is so the student knows where to go and have consistency throughout the year.

4. Students need supplies for various projects all year long. Again, whether it be a simple caddy system, shelf, or room, having all the supplies in one location will help the task/day/year go more smoothly.

5. First day pictures. Typically we celebrate life’s milestones by taking pictures to remember them. Well, this is no different. Treat the first day of school like they would be going any other year. Maybe, they even have a nice outfit picked to make them feel special.

6. Participate in school themed days. Keep an eye on the school calendar and website and stay on top of what is going on in the school building. If they have a “theme” week to show school spirit, you can participate at home. Especially if you have live virtual classes over the computer, the class will be able to see your participation.

7. School Picture Day, similar to a theme day mentioned, take a special photo. Have them pick out a memorable outfit and pay attention to their hair. You could go outside for a seasonal back drop. A special picture to commemorate this unique year of learning.

8. Ordinarily, older students receive daily planners and are required to write down their assignments. If one will not be provided for them, a planner can be purchased (as cheap as a dollar)  My goal, with this one, is to keep that act of responsibility. Keep the student in the habit of writing things down for themselves. This will maintain the expectancy in future years.

9. Dress for the day. As much as I love working in my pajamas, all nice and cozy, my workload can take a hit. It’s like making the bed. After you do that first thing in the day, you feel successful and ready to start the day. It also keeps the students in the right frame of mind. It maintains the routine and structure that students typically need.

10. You can still support your school and/or district by participating in various activities. Schools have been switching over to higher technology by scanning Box Tops instead of cutting them out and physically handing them in to the school’s PTO. You can scan your receipt and make sure your donations and rewards go directly to your home school building. Some schools have a Scripts gift card system where a portion of the proceeds go back to the school. Depending on where you live and what is available, there are still ways to assist your school.

11. Use seasonal items to keep things fresh. After getting into the swing of things, we all sometimes get antsy and bored. Switching things around seasonally gives new life and rejuvenation to the work/area. This can be done by using seasonal pencils found, usually inexpensively, at local stores. Adding some additional decorations for Fall or the holidays can boost the spirits.

12. Who knows what the holidays will look like this year. Traditions will be challenging to continue exactly as remembered. However, these are the things that we need to do for the children to reassure them that we will get through this rough patch in history.

13. Treat and approach the year, like any other year. You have to have a separate workspace, not to be confused with their toys and fun areas. Act as if you were in school. Discipline as if your were in school. They need to know what to expect and act appropriately. If maintained with the same attitude, it will be easier to carry on throughout the school year.

14. Prepare for next year’s success. My main goal for this year is to do what I can to prepare them for next year to help bridge the gap between home and school.

For example, I bought my son who is starting fifth grade, a planner from the Dollar Tree. He was writing down his homework daily last year and will be required to do so next year in middle school.  My goal is to keep him in that routine and get him to do it without me reminding him to do so and giving him that responsibility.

My other son will be starting kindergarten. I bought him a dinosaur covered folder. He is excited to use it, since he loves dinosaurs. Students in the younger grades, need time to master life skills like, placing papers neatly into folders and how to maintain a neat work space. We will be working on this all year long, with the intention of making it easier when he returns to school in person.

15. The final and in my opinion, the most important piece of advice would be, to encourage them and yourselves. Children look to adults on how to handle situations. You set the tone. If you enter this year on a positive note and keep your positivity, the kids will replicate your feelings for the year. You will have to allow yourself grace since we are all doing our best. We cannot expect to be perfect from Day 1 and will have a learning curve to get into the swing of things.

My goal through these examples is to hopefully ease anxiety, have a successful year, get ready for next year, and to feel apart of the community and not so isolated.

Please share this article with other parents who may be going through some of the same things. Let me know if any of these ideas have helped you. Is there anything that your are doing or plan on doing throughout the school year?  I would love to hear more suggestions.

How to decide? What should we do about schooling this year?

Photo by Tim Gouw on

As we navigate these unprecedented times, we have to make the best decisions we can to protect our families. Parents all around the world are determining how they want to proceed with the new school year.
There is no right answer. I will not list the pros and cons for the various forms of education out there available.  You will have to do research online, talk with neighbors, seek chat rooms on social media, and ask opinions.

I will not try to persuade you one way or the other. As, I too, am struggling with this decision in my own household.  What, I will tell you, is to ask yourself this one question:

Can I dedicate my family to this decision?

Whatever you choose, public school, private school, cyber school, homeschooling, or virtual you have to be fully committed to that choice. Notice I said “family“. The decision affects all in the household. Whether it is possible exposure in an in-person setting or being available to assist a student working from home if needed.

Once you make the decision, you should dedicate as much energy to that decision as possible to ensure that the student or students school year is a success.

 I will be following up this article with another blog that will share my tips on how to make this unusual school year a success. Stay tuned for that!!!!!

Does what I’m saying mean that you cannot not change your mind for the whole school year? Am I stuck for the whole year? I was told a student starting out with cyber school can move back to the in-person school setting?

One word: NO!!!!

You certainly have the opportunity to change your mind. IF you feel your decision is not working for your child or the family and need to make alternative arrangements, you certainly may. What my message is here today, is that the decision should be given the same respect and determination as any other school year.

For example, just to show the multi-faceted situations out there could look like, let’s take a single father who has a daughter starting second grade and a newborn. He is currently working from home. He decides to homeschool his child. He will have to determine if he can juggle lesson planning, instruction time, and working from home while up in the middle of the night tending to the baby’s needs. He very well may. I’m not saying it is impossible, but he has to think about the level of dedication it will take. Will that second grader get the support she needs? Will the baby get all the attention he deserves as well?

Think as a whole family unit. Are grandparents (age of at risk) involved with the children? And so on, and so forth. When you have made up your mind together, as the parent you need to set the tone. You have to put on the brave face needed to enter this school year. Lean on one another, seek help from friends or faculty. We all want our students to succeed. It starts from home with a positive outlook.

Please give this a like if you agree. Please follow me to make sure you know when my new article comes out sharing my tips and tricks for this school year. Sign up your email address and share with all your friends. Leave me a comment on how your kids handled the decision.

5 Things You Should Be Doing While Quarantined

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* This post contains links, from which, I may receive a commission from items purchased through this article.

While doing our part to slow the spread of the Coronvirus, we are spending more time at home. This can be easy for some and hard for others. Depending on your situation, if you are single or a family big or small, these are ideas of things that can be done with the extra time you have on your hands. Maybe you are juggling work at home and homeschooling and do not have extra time, these are suggestions that should still be taken into account now that everyone spends so much time at home.

1. Detectors

For the safety of everyone in the house, ask yourself, if your detectors are up to date? I am not just talking about batteries.  I mean the whole unit. Did you know that detectors have a expiration date? We are talking smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

I learned the hard way. Standing outside in the yard with my four children watching as the fire department came, luckily, as a false alarm due to the fact that my carbon monoxide detector was going off as a warning that it was expired. We had a plug in detector with a back up battery. We thought we had all the bases covered. But life snuck up on us and the whole unit was too old and needed replaced.

Similarly, newer thermostats need batteries. Replacing these often will provide and maintain the working function of your furnace and air conditioning units.

If you do not have a fire extinguisher, that is a possible investment that is good to have on hand. Those too, have a shelf life. If you have one, check the unit itself to see the date and whether it needs replaced.

2. Dryer lint

 A serious threat to house fires is collected dryer lint. Given our busy lifestyles these days, it is easy to overlook a small detail like dryer lint. Not just the lint that catches in the filter, but the lint that forms and accumulates in the pipes leading the exhaust to the outside.

3. Back up

With cell phones at the tip of our fingers that act as our computers, cameras, and video cameras all in one, are you sure your files are safe?

What about your home computer? Do you have documents or family pictures that need to be protected and saved somewhere safe?

Whether it is using a reputable site, the cloud, or external hard drive, do it now before it is too late!

4. Dangers

This encompasses a lot of things. Are there any dangers in or around your home that need addressed? Broken locks or weak entry points? I recently added chain locks to my doors. Could you benefit from improving anything to eliminate dangers or threats to your family?

How about baby proofing items? Are your bookshelves and heavy furniture properly mounted to the wall? Maybe its about time to mount that television?

With families finding schools and daycares closed and children being home all day, is your home as safe as it can be? If boredom should strike or tempers flare, do your kids know what is off limits? If they wander off do they know what poisons are and not to take medication that looks like candy?

You can (and I did) sit your kids down and discuss the dangers inside a home. Afterwards go on a scavenger hunt and point out all the relatively dangerous items that are off limits. Place Mr. Yuk stickers on poisonous or hazardous materials. (Making them aware and accountable does not negate proper supervision.)

Mr. Yuk sticker can be found: 1-800-222-1222 will direct your call to the nearest regional poison center. You will be asked to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the nearest location to be given a free sheet of Mr. Yuk stickers.

5. Are you prepared?

Ask yourself if you and/or family is prepared for an emergency? Depending on where you live and your living situation, are you ready? From power outages, natural disasters, to medical emergencies, are you covered?

This can be a family project as well. Get the kids involved. Let them help pack the supplies, so that all, know where these rations are at all times. It can be fun when you add some entertainment for long periods of waiting times.

Do you have flashlights for all member of the house? Do you have enough batteries to work the flashlights? Do you need candles and/or matches? Food supply enough for everyone? Enough water?

Complete lists can be found on the internet that you can tailor to your needs. Given the short demand of items right now, you can at least make an inventory list of what you do have and make another list of things you do need and can accumulate them over time.

Do you have a survival kit already made? When was the last time you replaced anything? Have you checked expiration dates on these items?

Do your children know what to do in an emergency? Keeping it age appropriate, you can have discussions about who and what numbers to call if an emergency should arise. Are the phone numbers in a visible and easy place for them to access? Fire drills can be practiced, just like they did in school!

Well, I hope I have given you enough to think about and good advice. If there is anything this pandemic has taught us, is that we can not take anything for granted.

Stay strong and stay safe.

Is there anything that you would add to my list. Leave it down below in the comments. I would love to hear your suggestions too. Sharing is caring!

It’s the Little Things

My baby is growing up!!!!!!!! Why? Why can’t they stay small forever?

Photo by Gustavo Fring on

Every say this? I am guilty too. I was given the same piece of advice over and over again while I was pregnant with my first child. “Enjoy it while you can, it goes by so fast.” No truer words have ever been spoken.

After experiencing this first hand, I made a promise to myself, that I will never let the little things go by. I will not take each and every day for granted.

There are of course challenges, rough times, and bad days. But, it is a day that I get to spend with my four miracles.

When I feel down or struggling, I have to stop and focus on the little things. These small details get me to refocus my energy on the important things in life and the abundance of blessings I have been given.

You may never have this day with your children again. Today is a gift. Breathe an notice. Study their little faces and feet. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today mama, it will be gone before you know it.”

Jan Hatmaker

This quote doesn’t just speak to me, it screams in my ear!

So here are some of the little things that I have noticed about my children:

My oldest is a chip off the old (not that old) block. He is a natural. My occupation by day is a teacher. My son has seen and heard me enough, that he might one day take my job. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy this so much.

My second son, when we go for family walks, he holds my hand. His hand is just the right size. Like Goldilocks said, it’s not too big, it’s not too small, it’s just right. I will take the hand holding as long as I can get it.

The youngest son cracks my husband and I up. Since he was able to sit up straight when being carried, he has imitated my husband and pats him on the back. Never fails, every single time. It became like reassurance for us after while.

Now my daughter, the baby, the princess. She gives the best hugs. She doesn’t let me do all the hugging. She wraps her arms around my neck and squeezes. I will not be the first to let go.

“As a mother there will be many times in your life that you hug your child, knowing that you needed that hug more than they did.” -Unknown

I have enjoyed watching my first get older and hit all the big milestones and firsts. As those are his firsts, they will always be our firsts as parents. He is growing up and there are advantages to him getting older. Him and I bond over the latest things trending fads. We love to watch YouTube videos sometimes at night while the younger ones are sleeping. He gets to stay up later. He can tell me about what is on his mind. Just real heart to heart conversations.

During the school year, my second son, really misses his older brother. When we go pick him up from the bus stop, they run to each other on the sidewalk and hug. My oldest carries him back and greets his other brother and sister. I hope they always get along like that and will be there for each other.

I could watch my youngest son’s face all day. I’m fairly certain he has not made the same face twice. He is so animated and full of life that he puts a smile on my face from ear to ear just by looking at him.

I can also smile while I see my daughter run. For seven years I only watched boys run as fast as they can. But my daughter has a different run. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but it has a mixture of a run and skip combination. She runs on her toes. But don’t let that fool you, she can keep up with her brothers and hold her own.

It’s the little things!

During these busy times we live in with all of the distractions, it is important to stop and actually notice these things. Make note of them so you don’t forget. I am taking daily pictures of these things to remember and cherish.

Take Time

“Take time to tickle, to kiss and to hug; take time to giggle, to talk and to love. Perhaps there’s a lot that needs done today, but take just a minute to stop and play. They need you right now, and soon they’ll be grown. Soak up the memories while they’re still at home. Take time to show them they’re worth the time spent. The amount of time shared should never be a regret.”

-Jenn Gigowski

Please leave me a comment down below what “little things” you love about your children.

Remember, sharing is caring. Please follow me on Instagram @trucksandbows1 and on Facebook.

10 Guaranteed Ways to Make Your Kids Feel Special

At some point or another, we all ask ourselves, “am I doing enough for my kids”? We worry about their academics, social life, eating habits, health, and the list goes on and on. Chances are, if you are even asking that  question, you are doing great. With the hustle of today’s society, it is easy to lose sight of what is really important. Money, material objects, numerous activities, the latest fashion, and newest gadgets are not the only things needed to be provided. They need love, guidance, reassurance, and made to feel special. I hope to provide some ways that are easy and free to guarantee kids that they mean the world to you.

Lunch Notes

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A lunch note is a quick and easy way to show your kid that your are thinking about them throughout the day. It can be a joke, reminder, picture, or a short message. It can be done on a napkin, card, or Post-it. I have even seen messages written on a banana itself! Whether it is written the night before or jotted down while eating your breakfast, it will still send the message to your child that you are thinking about them.

Secret Letter

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I had a pretty piece of stationary paper for Valentine’s Day. I wrote a secret letter to my son the night before and put it in his folder in his backpack. He got to read it when he was unpacking at school. Since the theme was love, I listed many of the things I love about him. When he came home, he placed it in his binder where we keep all his certificates and memorable items. He loved it, because I showed him how much I love and cherish him. It only took a few minutes the night before.

Cooking Buddy

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Dinner time can be chaotic! With school pickup, after school activities, homework, not to mention hunger meltdowns, I have made it a goal to start choosing one child to come out with me to the kitchen and help me cook. I have started a rotation system, while the other ones are with my husband doing homework and other things. Cooking together has so many benefits, teachable moments, and learning opportunities. But the focus on them at that time, makes them so HAP-PEA!

Voice Text

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In this day and age of technology, it is easy to keep in contact. One way, would be sending a voice text to your kids. The message could be played and not only would they know that you are thinking of them, you can reassure them with the sound of your own voice.

Wake Up or Stay Up

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There have been times when one child has gotten up earlier than the others. Use that time together. Snuggle, talk about the day, read together. Anything in those special moments together will start them off on the right foot for the day.

I have also been known to let my oldest stay up a little longer. Sometimes we watch TV shows, YouTube clips, talk about the day, or he shows me his latest Lego creation. He goes to sleep comforted.


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An “on occasion” way to build a bond with your child, is by passing down an heirloom to him or her. Depending on the object and the child’s age, an heirloom is a physical reminder of the love you have between each other.


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Give your children an opportunity to pick something out or choose something. They can pick what to have for breakfast or dinner. Pick what movie to watch or go see. They can pick the outing for the family. You will be surprised how much time and thought goes into these decisions. What seem like small trivial details we make all day long, are what the child will remember and build memories from for a lifetime.

Holiday Lunch

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Another example of how to show your kid they are exceptional, is by having a special lunch. Holidays are an easy way to spruce up everyday lunches. The internet and Pinterest have numerous ideas of how to convert the everyday items into holiday themed items. It just makes the lunch festive and your child knows that your are thinking about them while they are eating it. Even if creating these elaborate lunches seems daunting, you can throw a holiday napkin in the lunchbox. Stores sell a lot of snacks with seasonal packaging that appeals to the younger children. Because it is out of the ordinary, makes it more unique.

Goodnight Confidence Booster

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 A good established bedtime routine has been documented to show success. Well in that routine, I try and make sure that while I am saying good night to my kiddos, I leave them with one last thought before tucking them in for the night. It could be a compliment, something they did well that day, praise, or just simply a reminder of how they are a miracle. They will go to sleep with confidence in themselves that they can do anything.

Home Videos/Photographs

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Kids love to see pictures and videos of themselves. Whether they remember the event or not, they enjoy seeing themselves grow up and cherish those memories. This is a great opportunity to spend one on one time with a child and review more specific occasions. First birthdays, Baptisms, graduations, and first sporting events are all good places to start. Spending time together and sharing stories, will strengthen those memories so they never forget. Locations and names maybe hard to recall, but the feeling you get deep inside when you see these happy times will always be remembered.

I hope there were some ideas you can take and use with your little ones. If not the examples, the idea that making your child feel special is important.

“There are no perfect parents, and there are no perfect children, but there are plenty of perfect moments along the way.” Dave Willis

Please leave me a comment! Follow me. Let’s start a discussion, what ideas do you have to make your little ones feel special?

Insanely Easy and Clever Ways to Plan for Christmas.

I have been told, many many times, that I am a “planner”. 

I need my planning skills to keep me sane during the holiday season.  My husband and I have four young children. I consider myself the CEO of the household details. There are times when I need to focus on and plan for 5 or 6 people. Here are some of my tips and tricks I use during the holidays.


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I have a designated spiral notebook that is strictly for “master lists”. I have made over the years, lists for several occasions. They include, favorite family dinner options, vacation packing, birthday party plans, and holidays. I did an absolute “brain dump” on these topics and wrote these lists down. When the time comes, I can refer to these lists and not have to start from scratch.  I add things when I learn something new. My kids are still growing and our needs change. I may not need everything on the list at that exact moment, but I am confident in knowing that I won’t forget anything I definitely need.

For the holidays I have a master list of typical Christmas activities we would like to do and attend. This way, I make sure my calendar is up to date. I have a list of typical ingredients I buy every year from cookies, meals, and kid snacks. I have these notes as reference for myself. I usually jot down some items and keep a list in my purse to buy them as I go, and refer to them while shopping so I don’t forget anything. They are simply reminders and I would be lost without them.


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We still send old fashioned Christmas cards made out by me in the snail mail. This is a major job, since we are blessed, and our list of people we would like to send to gets longer and longer every year. I write a message and sign all family members name by hand. I am unable to fill out all the cards in one sitting. So, I break up this task into smaller chunks. I usually do a couple a night after the kids have gone to bed. I can get more done if I sit and watch a Christmas movie all cozy under a blanket!!!!!


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Along the same lines of the Christmas cards, I try and make out some lunch notes for my sons (only two in school full day) ahead of time. When more children are in school, this will benefit me even more. I use the quiet time at night to jot a quick note to him and have it at the ready when I am packing his lunch, in advance. When I am making his lunch, it is too chaotic for me to think and take time to write a note. These notes may be as simple as telling him how much he is loved, a joke, or even a teachable moment.


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If there is one thing that I pick to do early, it is treat bags and gifts. After I accumulate the items needed for the presents, I have the kids help me put them together and set them aside. If it is not perishable, they can sit and wait till they are needed. These are not “time-sensitive” items that can be crossed off the list.


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Starting around Thanksgiving, I start my baking. As previously mentioned, I make certain favorite recipes every year. I refer to my list, and see which ones can be done early and frozen. This helps me spread out the baking in between my busy daily schedule. I’m not stressed at the end of the month because I started early. Some days are better than others. If my schedule does not allow for extra baking, it is ok, because I have been spreading it out for over a month. It is a nice cushion for time.


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This may or may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”. I know a lot of people who want to do all their wrapping in one sitting. You have to drag all your supplies and gifts out only once instead of multiple times. However, as I said before, my children are still at a young age and need me. I rarely get projects done from start to finish. This is the only way I can get the wrapping done.  You would be surprised how many gifts you can wrap in a short amount of time.


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Another easy task you can cross off the list is ironing.  I go through their holiday hand me downs and new purchases.  We have school events, concerts, functions, family photos, church services, and family parties.  That’s a lot to organize for 5 people!!!! I usually iron while watching television at night. They get hung up and are ready to go when needed.


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I have learned over the years to have extra things packed. I typically take a complete change of clothes for each kid and leave it in the car if we need it. Anything can happen from spills, illness, car sickness, overeating, falls, and much more. Believe me, it happens, and then I am grateful that I am a “planner”. It’s even possible that you might be able to help out a cousin or friend!

I do like throwing in the diaper bag, a seasonal sleeper. This is so easy, it is a whole outfit in one piece. This can be used for accidents or even if the party lasts longer than anticipated. Your little one can be changed into their pajamas for the ride home.


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I think this one is genius! Keep track of everyday items you have in the house. For example, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, feminine products, diapers, wipes, etc. While shopping, you might want to purchase a back up of these items. The last thing you want to do is face the last minute shoppers for some diapers!

If you made it to the end, thank you! The last one is my favorite tip of all.


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While shopping, throughout the year, if I see a good sale, reduced item, or a real gem, I buy it. I tend to bargain hunt. I have gifts bought early, for all the holidays and birthdays. When it comes to Christmas, I have stuff piled away. Four kids presents’ and stocking stuffers’ can get confusing. I came up with a solution that works for me. I buy from the Dollar Tree (reuse if they are in good shape) their giant gift bags. I buy one for each kid. That way, I can divide up my purchases early in the season and see who has what and who I need to focus on. Plus, this provides organization during the shopping season. After I purchase an item, it goes straight in their bag. Then when I use the above mentioned tip of wrapping as I go, I can grab one bag at a time. 

I hope you found these tips and tricks helpful. Are there any that I missed? Please leave me a comment below. I hope you and your family have a truly Merry Christmas season and a Happy New Year!

My Top 10 Favorite Movies

Let me first start out by saying this is hard!!!!!! I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the sky. I love movies. Give me a good movie any night. I do fit into the cliché category of romantic comedies, however, I do like all sorts of movies. These picks were extremely hard to make. They have changed over the years and may change again.  These movies are definitely ones that I can watch my whole life.


Do not judge! There is something about this movie, I don’t know what it is, but I love it.  Oh, wait, I know, it’s KEANU REEVES. Enough said.

The Wedding Planner

This holds a special place in my heart. It was part of the first date I would have with my husband. Every time I watch this movie, it just takes me back.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

I know, I know, another Matthew McConaughey movie? What can I say? That southern accent and the charm.

Miss Congeniality

Another repeat actor, Sandra Bullock. I thought she was hilarious imitating pageant contestants. The ugly duckling turned swan gave this glasses and pony tail wearing girl some hope.

27 Dresses

I was able to relate to the main character in this movie. She did everything for everybody. Was reliable to the point of being taken advantaged of. She was overlooked, until one day, somebody truly saw her for who she was and appreciated her.

Pearl Harbor

It is among one of my favorites, however, I have only seen it a couple of times. I save it, as if I can refrain from ruining it. I still cry when I see it. I still get chills. I hope I never lose those reactions to this film. I love the soundtrack to this movie too.

The Cutting Edge

Talk about chills!!! The end of this movie never fails to give me chills. I have huge goose bumps. The push and pull between these two to finally come together at the climax of the film is magical.

Princess Bride

AS YOU WISH. My brothers and I can recite this movie word for word. Can’t explain it better than, this is my childhood.


Interesting choice, eh? Another movie that I could quote almost all the lines of dialogue. There is so much going on in this movie, from the costumes, backgrounds, and extras, I notice something new every time I watch it.


A musical? That’s right. I could belt these songs out like I was on Broadway. (At least, I think so.) I knew Christian Bale before he was a huge mega movie star!

Did you agree with my picks? Anything I left out? Please comment down below some of your favorite movies. I am always looking for recommendations.