5 Ways to Encourage Your Family Towards Healthier Living

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NatureMadeFamily #CollectiveBias 

Growing up, I was a very active kid. I played soccer, took dance lessons and was always outside playing with friends, roller skating or riding my bike. While I was very active physically, my nutrition was lacking. I was an extremely picky eater as a kid, definitely not taking in what I needed to stay healthy. Now that I’m an adult and have four kids (aged 18 months to 13 years old) my life is so busy just holding down the normal day to day routine. But my husband and I do strive to live a healthier lifestyle as a family. We are encouraging our kids with daily exercise, good health and nutrition. Here are a few ideas for encouraging families to live a healthier life!

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

1. Make it a Routine

What healthy routines are you making in your life? Once you do something a few times with your kids, it can quickly become the “norm”. Like dessert – I know if we’ve offered the kids a bowl of ice cream two nights in a row you can bet that they’ll be asking for it again on night 3! Simple healthy routines become habit if you do them often enough, too. Here are a few of our healthy living routines:

  • Taking off our shoes before entering the house. So much unhealthy bacteria on shoes – better that shoes stay on the porch or garage.
  • Flossing our teeth nightly.
  • Daily bathroom cleaning.
  • We get out of the house together each evening to take an after-dinner walk. It’s a way for us to help settle our stomachs, squeeze in a little exercise and tire out the kids before bedtime.

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

2. Get Input

Our kids each have their own idea of what kind of exercise they like to do. My eldest son would happily play basketball all day. The kindergartner loves to swim. Our teenage daughter isn’t crazy about exercising but she doesn’t mind riding the stationary bike at the gym. And of course the toddler just wants to climb on play equipment at the park! It’s important when getting kids on-board that you take their personal tastes into consideration and participate in the exercise that they enjoy. We get every child involved with family-friendly exercises.

3. Easy Meal Swaps

At mealtime, I know that there are certain foods my five-year old doesn’t enjoy. He’s tried them and his taste buds just aren’t having it, so I don’t push the issue. I don’t make a big deal out of the fact that he doesn’t like bananas, so at breakfast – I’ll cut up a pear for him instead. And at dinner tonight while the rest of us ate grilled zucchini, I steamed up some baby carrots for him in the microwave. I’m not making completely different meals for him. And I do make him at least try the foods before he determines that he doesn’t want more. But it’s easy enough for me to make a quick swap for him so I know he’s having a balanced meal.

4. Mix it Up

A bit of diversity is a great idea. Doing the same thing week after week is boring! Our weekends are spent outside, taking long walks around the lake, playing soccer or swimming. We never do the same thing two weekends in a row. Around the dinner table we are trying out new veggies and creative recipes. We’ve found recently that we enjoy spaghetti squash!

5. Supplements

I’ve been wanting to purchase a children’s vitamin for my kindergartner. With my son now spending long school hours around a bunch of other five year olds, I was looking for something that would support his immune system.

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

I found Nature Made® Kids First® Vitamin C Gummies at Target. I also found Nature Made® Vitamin C Adult Gummies and picked those up for my husband and I. Target’s Cartwheel app currently offers 10% off all Nature Made® products, while supplies last.

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

Going into winter, I want to get our family on a healthy routine of taking supplements. Nature Made® had the 1st gummies verified by USP for purity and potency.* Nature Made® Gummies also have great tasting natural flavors, are gluten free and have no preservatives or yeast.

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

Kids First® Gummies are for children 4 years older and up, perfect for my kinder kid. And at just $9.99 for a value sized bottle, this is a great price. Gummy vitamins are just fun and it’s an easy way to get kids to take supplements. It never fails that my son reminds me every day to give him his gummy – he never forgets! See, now that’s a good healthy habit routine!

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

*Find those Nature Made USP verified gummies on NatureMade.com/USP

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

Mickey Mouse Costumes to Make at Home on a Budget

In five years of trick-or-treating, my son has been Mickey Mouse three times! The first year was the classic Mickey (which he calls, “Happy Mickey”). Then Sorcerer Mickey. And this year, it’s Mickey in his Roadster Racers costume. As a big Disney fan, I love that my son wants to dress as his favorite character so often! And fortunately Mickey has plenty of incarnations to choose from! Here’s how you can make each of these three Mickey Mouse costumes on a budget at home.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Classic Mickey Mouse Costume

This sweet Mickey Mouse costume is the easiest of the bunch! Several of these pieces can be inexpensively store-bought and the rest go together quickly. Instructions for making your own Classic Mickey costume HERE.

WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY

  • Black t-shirt
  • Black leggings (optional in warm weather)
  • Red shorts
  • Two large white buttons
  • Yellow shoes (but we settled for white!)
  • To sew the hood, you’ll need stretchy black fabric and polyfil

Three budget-friendly Mickey Mouse costume ideas for Halloween

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey Mouse Costume

With the wave of your wand (and a few stitches on your sewing machine) you’ll be able to sew up the Sorcerer’s hat that is the centerpiece of this darling costume. The instructions for putting together the Sorcerer’s Hat HERE.

WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY

  • Red tunic or over-sized t-shirt
  • Brown belt or rope to tie around the waist
  • Leggings or pants in a dark color
  • Blue and white cotton for the hat
  • Black felt for the Mouse ears

Three budget-friendly Mickey Mouse costume ideas for Halloween

Mickey and the Roadster Racers Costume

This is a completely handcrafted costume so it may take a little longer than the other two. But not more expensive, it just requires a few more creative touches. I made the jumpsuit and hood by following this McCall’s Costume Pattern. However I’ve made creative adjustments to add the color blocking.

If you’re not up for sewing something elaborate, this outfit could easily be put together by making it with a few store-bought pieces. By adding yellow felt designs to a sweatshirt and pants and then applying hand-painted patches you’ll have an inexpensive and unique Mickey Mouse costume!

WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY

When creating the patches I used the same technique as in this Finding Dory t-shirt. I fuse white cotton patches onto the fabric, stitch carefully around the outside and then paint my design onto the cotton. (The photo of my son when wearing this costume was before I finished with the patches).

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

I have a LOT more Halloween costume ideas HERE.


For more on the Halloween costume ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Three budget-friendly Mickey Mouse costume ideas for Halloween

5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

 Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MomentsShineWithWindex #CollectiveBias

It’s Back to school season! And either your kid is on-board or they’re not. 3 out of my 4 kids are now in school. My two oldest are in their final year of junior high. My five year old just started kindergarten. The teens were looking forward to the first day of school. They were excited to see friends and finish their last year before high school.

My kindergartner on the other hand was a bit nervous. Which wasn’t like him at all, really. He’s always been fairly independent. And so smart, he just loves to learn. I think he just had way too much fun this summer and didn’t want it to end! Right with you there, buddy…

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

I wanted to make sure that the first day of school was something really memorable and special for him. While the teens got themselves motivated, my kinder kid needed a little encouragement. I created these fun and easy ways to make the first day of school extra special. These are particularly sweet for very young children (though secretly, my teens got a kick out of them too!) Keep reading for a free printable and a special offer from Windex® brand and Shutterfly®.

1. A Special Wake-Up

I’ll be honest. On most days, I wake up my kids by either snapping on the overhead light or opening the window to let in the sunshine! But on the first day of school (and maybe even for the entire first week), I’ll wake them in a special way.

Take a picture of them sleeping first. There’s nothing cuter than a sleeping kiddo!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

For my music-loving kindergartner, I put on his favorite dance song and placed the CD player in the hallway before waking him gently. He happily jumped out of bed!

Long ago when my eldest son was in kindergarten I’d wake him up with a finger puppet character. Seriously. For some reason he’d get mad if I tried waking him up myself. But if Madame Queen the finger puppet awoke him by bopping him on the head he thought it was hilarious! Hey, you do what you can to keep the morning routine from completely melting down from the start, right?

2. Breakfast To Start the Day Off Right

My five year old would eat waffles morning, noon, and night. I know that waffles will be his request for the first day of school breakfast.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

  • Take a breakfast request a few days before the first day so you can make sure to have all the ingredients on hand.
  • If morning time is tight, consider preparing as much as possible the night before. I tend to make waffles in batches and freeze them. Then I can just pop in the toaster to reheat in the morning.
  • Even if you only have time for cold cereal, make the meal more well-rounded by adding fresh fruit like bananas, blueberries or sliced strawberries.

3. First Day Photo Op

I’ll admit it, I’m a photo-taking-social-media-sharing-mama! I love to take a cute first day photo and share it across social for everyone to see.

  • Document each step in the morning process, from waking up your student, breakfast, outfit, to catching the school bus.
  • Take your first day of school photo in the same place each year. It’s awesome to see the growth of your kiddos!
  • Get inside the classroom and take a photo of your child sitting at their desk.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

4. Welcome Home!

When my kids come home from their first day, they’re always a’ bubble with things to share. They want to tell me all about so-and-so in their class, a strict new teacher or what they did at recess. This year I wanted to surprise my kids with a special “welcome home” window that celebrates the first day of school. In particular, I knew my 5-year old would love the decorations and fanfare for his first day of kinder!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

I needed a clean and shiny surface to work with, so first I picked up Windex® Original Glass Cleaner at my local Kroger store, Food 4 Less. Windex® brand is known for its famous streak-free shine, so clean up on the window was quick and easy.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

While I was in the cleaning mood, I was able to clean up the kitchen and bathroom quickly with the Windex® Vinegar Multi-Surface Cleaner. I’ve always liked how versatile vinegar is to clean with but I’ve never liked the smell of it. This special ammonia-free formula has no harsh vinegar smell. It leaves behind only a fresh, clean scent.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Once the window was prepped, I was able to decorate it from the outside with a temporary glass marker and crepe paper announcing the first day of school!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

The whole thing went together in just a few minutes and the impact was great. Check out the happy face on my kindergartner! And the big kids thought it was pretty cool too. And when it was time to clean up, Windex® Original Glass Cleaner came to the rescue again and wiped the window streak-free again!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

5. A First Day of School Memento

I’ve created this first day of school certificate printable. My son proudly held his “award” for completing his first day of kindergarten so I could take a picture.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

FREE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PRINTABLE – Simply write in the name of your student and the date presented. After you take a photo of your student with their award, stow it for safekeeping in a school memory folder. I have a 3-ring binder for each child that holds awards and certificates.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Once you’ve shared those adorable first day pictures on social media, it’s time to make a permanent memory of them. I’ve been using Shutterfly® since my teenager was a baby!

You can take those first day pictures and put them in a photo book. Or wouldn’t they look cute on the front cover of a spiral bound notebook? I also use the back to school photos that I take on my Shutterfly® calendar each year.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Check out this amazing national offer with Shutterfly®. Buy 2 Windex® products and get $20 to shop at Shutterfly®. (Offer valid 7/15/17 – 12/1/17. Visit here for terms and conditions).

How will YOU make the first day of school special for your kids?

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Back to School Snacks on the Go from SunRype *GIVEAWAY*

My kindergartner is a snack fiend. Seriously I have to hide the school snacks or he’d be helping himself to them all day long. And you know how that goes; then the kid doesn’t want to eat his dinner! We’ve taken to limiting the purchase of pre-packaged snacks in the home because he’ll eat them all up so quickly.
However I do like to have snacks with me on hand to take on-to-go. Fruit and veggies are ideal, but not always practical. My kids won’t eat a bruised up apple and fresh strawberries are best when chilled.
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
We recently received samples of SunRype Fruit to Go. These are 100% fruit strip snacks, which I love. My first choice for snacks isn’t something heavily processed or that adds a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce. No added processed sugar here, just natural ingredients and no preservatives.
SunRype Fruit to Go are perfect for the back-to-school lunch box because they are also vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and peanut-free. Even my husband packs them in his lunch box (and he’s very particular about his food!)
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
I received complimentary samples in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links. Clicking and purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!
We tried both SunRype Fruit to Go in Apple Strawberry and Apple Strawberry Watermelon Flavors. They have a pleasant, fresh and flavorful taste. Not overly sweet and no aftertaste. And at only 50 calories, this little snack isn’t ruining anyone’s dinner!
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
SunRype also offers a 100% fruit and vegetable bar called FruitSource. In flavors like Apple Mango Strawberry Carrot, I’m excited to try those next time! These make for the perfect school snack.

SunRype is available in the produce department at most grocers next to the fruits and vegetables. It is also available from Amazon. (SunRype Apple Strawberry Fruit to Go 100% Fruit Strip Snacks and SunRype Apple Mango Strawberry Carrot Fruitsource 100% Fruit Bar)

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY or enter on the SunRypeUSA Facebook page.


WEEKLY PRIZE PACK DRAWING/PRIZE DETAILS:
From July 24 – August 28th, 2017 from the current entries received at the time of the drawing, the sponsor will be selecting at random two (2) winners each week (“Weekly Winner(s)”) beginning on Monday, July 31st, 2017 to win a prize package consisting of:

o   **A Blu-ray of “The Lion King” valued at SRP $39.99USD **Not Available Until August 29th, 2017

o   $50 Pre-loaded Credit Card

o   The Lion King BackPack – Suggested Retail Value $50

o   1 Case Of SunRype Product – SunRype Fruit To Go Strips/ FruitSource Fruit Bars Valued at approximately  $20-$25 USD) 

Prize packages collectively have an approximate retail value of $160-165.00 USD each.  There are a total of 10 of these weekly prize packages available to be won and the last drawing will be done on Tuesday, August 29th, 2017.  Entries will be carried over from one week to the next, however any one (1) person is only eligible to win one (1) prize throughout the entire Promotion period.

Preparing Your Child for the First Day of Kindergarten

My 5 year old starts kindergarten in less than two weeks (cue Mom’s tears!) He’s crazy excited about school so that makes preparing him for kindergarten sort of easy. Not all kids are like that though – My eldest was terribly nervous and anxious about his first day of kindergarten. Getting kids ready to learn, choosing at-home school supplies and even cute photo ops can add to the excitement. Here are a few ways to prepare your child for the first day of kindergarten!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking the links and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. “Play” School at Home

If your child has never been to school before the entire concept may be daunting and confusing. Outline what will happen throughout the day. Describe terms they might not know like work study, arts and crafts, recess, lunch period, quiet time and free play. Role play can help kids know what to expect and ease the jitters.

Home workbooks like these can get your kinder kid prepared for what they might be seeing from their teacher during school. (BIG Kindergarten Workbook and Reading & Math Jumbo Workbook: Grade K)

   

2. Read Books Together

Story time is a big deal in kindergarten! And of course you already know that about 30 minutes of reading each night is ideal to develop reading skills in kids.

These are two favorite books I know about the first day of school. They are sure to put a smile on the face of your nervous kindergartner. These books are must-haves! (The Kissing Hand and First Day Jitters)

   

3. Make Learning Fun

Teaching basics like letter recognition and how to properly hold a pencil will start kids off on the right foot. Supply your kindergartner with a few of these items to practice learning at home first. (Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Alphabet Activity Book and Gaobei Pencil Grip for Children)

4. Wait for a Supply List Before Making Big Purchases

I know that the kindergartners in my school district don’t use backpacks. Kids carry open-topped buckets to hold their over-sized paperwork. So I won’t be making a backpack purchase for my kindergartner this year.

That’s my son on the left with his LL Bean backpack in 3rd grade. He’s still using it in 8th grade!

However if you do need a backpack, I highly recommend L.L.Bean. I bought my eldest son his backpack from L.L.Bean when he entered 3rd grade. He’s starting 8th grade this year…with the same backpack! And it’s still in great condition (no wear, no tears and the zippers work perfectly).

LL Bean Backpack (same one I bought my son 5 years ago!)

Before you run out and stock up on pencils and crayons, wait for a supply list from your child’s teacher. Or consider buying a few small items to have at home to get your child in the “back to school mood”.


5. Teach and Practice Basic Manners at Home

“Please” and “Thank You” goes a long way. So does sharing, friendship and being a good friend. Practice with gentle reminders at home. A few good books can help to reinforce what you’re teaching. (365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette and Say Please, Little Owlet)

   

6. Pick Out a Special First Day Outfit

My kids love having something special to wear on the first day of school. And I always shop Gymboree because the quality and pricing is fantastic. The clothes are durable and so cute too (perfect for picture day!)

At prices like these, you can easily stock up for the entire first month of school! (PS: These are all images of clothing that I’ve recently purchased for my own kids!)

If you’ve never ordered before, here’s a special link that will get you 25% OFF Gymboree with your first order!

Make the First Day Special

Now that you’ve taken care of preparing your kindergartner for the first day of school, here are a few more ideas to help make the first day really special!

7. Plan a Fun First Day Breakfast

Put away the cold cereal for the first day and give the kids something fun and filling! A Mickey waffle would surely put a smile on their face for back-to-school. And Amazon even sells Golden Malted waffle mix, the same kind used in the Disney parks! (Disney Classic Mickey Waffle Maker and Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour)

8. The Obligatory First Day of School Photo

I love the idea of taking first day of school photos in the same place each year, just to compare growth from year to year. I try to pose my kids against the cute white fence at my mom’s house each year. From left to right, this is my son at kindergarten, first, third, fourth and fifth grade.

      

Another sweet memory is capturing your kindergartner exploring their classroom for the first time. I grabbed this shot when my eldest son sat down to look at picture books in his new class.

9. Write Down First Day Thoughts in a School Memory Book

You’ll look back fondly on these sweet memories! Having a dedicated school memory book keeps cute memories, photos and special awards and photos in one spot. My 13 year old son has the book mentioned here. I love looking back at it on the first day of school each year, remembering that adorable kid with missing front teeth! (School Years: A Family Keepsake of School Memories)


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


These practical back-to-school preparation tips will help ease your kinder kid into the first day of kindergarten.

Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Back to school shopping. Kids get so excited about the new stuff. And parents everywhere cringe and worry about the cost! With four kids to clothe (ages 16 months to 13 years), I know the stress of shopping for kid’s clothes. But I’ve gathered up some great ideas and hacks along the way that help me stick to my budget. Check out my 7 budget tips and back to school clothing hacks.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

Back to School Clothing

#1: Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Seriously, your child doesn’t need an entirely new wardrobe unless they grew 5″ over summer and have nothing to wear except pajamas. Pick and choose the pieces that are must-have.

#2: Give the kids a choice. Let them have some input on what they’d like to wear. This really helps minimize stressful mornings when anxiety about school kicks in. Getting dressed and feeling awkward has a lot to do with that stress.

#3: Aim for comfort. However you don’t have to sacrifice cute! I’ve been purchasing from Gymboree for 13 years. I love the coordinating lines, how easy the clothing washes up and of course, how adorable my kids look in them.

Keep reading for my back to school clothing hacks and budgeting tips for shopping!

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

1. Give Them No Reason to Say, “I Have Nothing to Wear!”

Before you hear those words, go through the closets and dressers piece by piece. Have your child try things on to verify fit. Too small? Have a donation box handy. Not in season? Put it in a storage bin under the bed for later. Once you have cleared out the old, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to purchase.

Pre-Shopping Tip: There always seems to be that one piece of clothing that doesn’t match anything. My daughter had the cutest patterned pair of pants but she never wore them because she didn’t have a top that matched the colors. Decide whether you’ll let that piece go or try and find the coordinating item to wear with it.

2. Layer Summer over Winter

What’s in the closet that can continue to be worn, even in the chillier months? My daughter had the cutest chambray jumper dress from Gymboree that she wore all-year round. When weather was warm she wore the dress alone. When weather was cool, she wore it over a turtleneck and leggings.

For boys, lightweight button-up shirts can be layered over long pants and long sleeved tees.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Look in the closet and see what items can be layered during the winter. Keep that tip in mind when purchasing new items.

3. Prep the Night Before

To ease the morning-of-school stress, make it a habit to prep as much as possible the night before. This means getting backpack and homework organized and placing shoes (with socks!) by the front door.

I choose my outfit the day before and encourage my kids to do the same. This way they can decide what they want to wear with a little more time.  And they’re fresh and ready to get dressed in the morning!

Pre-Shopping Tip: Does your preschooler still struggle with getting himself dressed? If buttons and zippers are slowing him down, purchase easy, quick-on clothing styles like rib-neck tees and elastic waist pants.

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

4. Stock Up on Layering Pieces

Long sleeved tees and turtlenecks that can be worn under coordinating shirts or sweaters can really extend the wardrobe. Cardigans, fleece hoodies and pullover sweaters are nice to layer over tees or button-up shirts.

For girls, leggings are perfect for layering under skirts and dresses when the weather is cool. Consider capri length for fall, full length and fuzzy lined for winter.

Pre-Shopping Tip: In the case of layering tees, I like to choose classic colors that coordinate with many other items in the closet. Think navy blue, white and black for the best versatility.

Gymboree Long Sleeved Tee

5. Choose Practical Shoes That Go with Everything

Have only a few styles of shoes in colors that coordinate with many different outfits. I recommend altering days to allow shoes to dry and air-out inside (helping to eliminate odors).

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you’re trying to expedite the morning routine, choose easy-on styles like slip on shoes or Velcro instead of laces.

Gymboree Mesh Sneakers

6. Shop Out of Season

This is one of my tried and true budget shopping tips. Shop NOW for next year! When I see that clothes are up to 70% off at Gymboree, I jump on that sale! I’ll purchase items for my kids, knowing that I’ll be putting them away for another season.

I recently purchased shorts in a few sizes larger for my toddler to wear next summer. They were $5.59 (already a fantastic price!). But when I paired that with my Gymbucks redemption, the cost went down to $2.80 and you CAN’T beat that kind of bargain!

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you want to buy ahead but aren’t sure what size your child would be, consider the style first. Opt for elastic or drawstring waist shorts and pants,  or loose dresses instead of form-fitting or “skinny” styles.

7. Don’t Need Full Outfits? Just Add Accessories!

One of my favorite ways to jazz up an “old” outfit is by adding cool new accessories. A fun pair of tights, belt, purse, coordinating socks or a hair accessory adds just a bit of spark to an outfit on a budget.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Don’t forget the underwear! I have to remind my older kids to let me know when their underpants are getting too small so I can reorder new ones! We’ve always purchased Gymboree because the elastic holds up so well and the designs don’t fade.

 

 

Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackToSchoolGoals #CollectiveBias

My 3 kids are excited to be headed back to school, are yours? They can’t wait to see their friends, start in a new grade and yes, even learn something new (Self-discipline runs high in those first few weeks of school and I try to take advantage of that!) Stocked with fresh school supplies, the kids are organized with assignments. They’re on top of their school paperwork and planning new projects. I’m on my game too, keeping a tidy calendar of events and going through the paperwork like a pro.

And then sometime in mid-October, energy wanes. Interest drops and sameness sets in. The school supplies aren’t so fresh anymore and motivation for school is POOF…gone! With three kids starting school in the fall, I’m looking for ways to keep my kids resolute on their school goals. Motivation leads to strong habits for a lifetime. And truly, that’s my ultimate goal as a mom: Raising independent people who can stick to their goals with minimal reminder from me.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation for School

I have one child starting kindergarten and two teens in their final year of junior high. Setting goals and having small reminders help my kids stay motivated year-round. I find that I’m more likely to accomplish my goals when I write them down. There’s just something about seeing those goals day after day in my own handwriting that helps me stick to it!

This year I’m helping my kids get set for success by having them write down their goals before school begins. I’m encouraging them to stretch beyond the basics and truly extend and reach farther than they have before.

Coming Up with #BackToSchoolGoals

Keeping motivation high year-round is a challenge and kids need frequent reminders. Rather than the nagging “Mom voice”, I’m letting my kids come up with their own school goals. This is something they can foster themselves, with their own words and objectives.

Here are a few motivation goals for school that my kids came up with:

  • Clean out backpack each night after school
  • Prepare clothes, backpack and lunch the night before
  • Get to bed no later than 9 pm
  • Read at least 30 minutes each night before bed
  • Speak up in class and try to answer questions (even if we don’t always have the right answer)
  • Wake up early enough to have time for breakfast and getting ready without rushing
  • Aim not to miss any days of school
  • Remember to bring home physical education clothes at the end of the week
  • Complete extra credit assignments if offered
  • Organize folder and paperwork each week
  • Greet teachers and peers and make new friends
  • Limit free time at home with tablets and video games

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Writing Down Motivation Goals for School

Since I know that writing down goals helps develop good habits for a lifetime, I’ve created a FREE PRINTABLE: Motivation Goals for School. Kids can fill in their school year goals. This motivational worksheet can be referred to all school year. Use this free printable with your kids to help them write down their own school goals.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

In anticipation of the school year, I stopped at Walmart and I picked up the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouches in a 50-pack. For some reason I always thought that a laminating machine would be really expensive, but it’s so reasonably priced (and now I can’t stop thinking about all the things in my house I want to laminate!) You can find these items in the back-to-school supplies section.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

I laminated my son’s school goals with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator. After he was done with the goal sheet we simply slide it into the Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouch. When the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator was warm and ready (a blue light indicator goes on), we slid the pouch in place and the machine did the rest!

We three-hole punched it and placed it where he’ll see it every day, in the front of his binder. This consistent reminder to my kids of their original goals is going to help them stay on track!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

More Motivation Reminders All Over the House

I have several motivational phrases in my home, including favorite Bible quotes. Seeing them daily and repeating them either in my head or out loud keeps me calm and centered. I like being surrounded by positive encouragements.

I created this trio of motivational quotes and printed them out. I’ve laminated them with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and will be tacking them on the walls of each of the kid’s rooms. With two of them in their final year of junior high, I want to fill them up with as much positive energy as I can before they start high school!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                      #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                           #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

FREE PRINTABLES: What Others Are Doing (orange), You Can If You Think You Can (blue)Motivation and Habits (green)

I frequently use Post-it® Notes around the house as motivational reminders. Seeing what I’ve written day after day really helps me soak in the affirmations. Strategically placed Post-it® notes with an uplifting message for the kids help keep them focused on their school goals.

I usually have my Post-it® Notes messages on the bathroom mirror. Consider placing motivation reminders where kids will see them frequently, like on a cereal box for the morning or inside their lunch box.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation Leads to Habit

Once kids are motivated, making something a regular habit will truly ingrain it into their routine. Since I was a child I’ve always taken a few minutes before bed to choose my clothes and prep for the next day. I have my kids do the same by getting outfits ready, putting their shoes and backpacks in the garage and we run through the next day’s calendar.

There are no last minute scrambles in the morning because we have a great habit of setting things up the night before. This daily preparation is now a habit that keeps me on track each day and sets up a calm and organized morning.

Another good habit is to keep binders and paperwork organized. Use of Post-it® Page Markers and Post-it® Flags Page Flags with crucial items tabbed saves time when trying to find assignments or important papers.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

What motivational goals are you setting up with your kids now in the hopes they will turn into habits? What #BackToSchoolGoals would you add to the list? Share with me in the comments!

Painted Rocks Project – How Rocks Get My Kids Active in Community

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

How can painted rocks make kids more active? And could painted rocks create a culture of kindness? My city started a painted rocks project that has everyone young and old getting out in the community to hide and find painted rocks of all styles and sizes. Find out more about how you can paint rocks or even start this project in your own area.

Painted Rocks Project #SanteeRocks

It started on a walk to the park. We found the painted rock on a park bench. One side of the rock had the word “DREAM”. The backside said, “Post a picture on #SanteeRocks FB page then rehide”.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Our first painted rock find!

The Santee Rocks Facebook page description states, “Santee Rocks began with the sole purpose of spreading joy, kindness, and a sense of community through creativity and was inspired by the Whidbey Island Rocks Facebook Group. The goal is to paint rocks and then hide them in various locations to bring joy to the finder”. 

 Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Getting Kids Active with Painted Rocks

Hardly a day goes by without my son requesting that we go on a walk to look for Santee Rocks. He knows exactly how many he’s found over the last few months (26).

And when my son does find a rock, he shows it proudly to anyone passing by before finding a perfect hiding spot. I’m seeing him be less shy and more conversational.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

This patriotic rock was found (along with a Susan B. Anthony coin) on the Fourth of July!

While my daughter isn’t as likely to chat it up she’s enjoys showing off her artistic side by painting rocks to hide. All the kids love to see the rocks that they’ve painted being shared on the Facebook page.

Painted Rocks of Your Own – Host a Painting Party!

Ready to paint your own rocks? Gather up a few inexpensive supplies and get creative! Use your inspiration from anywhere. We’ve seen some incredibly beautiful rocks on our Facebook page. And we’ve found some rocks that were probably painted by 2-year olds! Doesn’t matter. Each time my son finds a rock, he’s thrilled, no matter what it looks like.

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!  Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

You’ll need rocks, of course. Smooth river stones can be purchased if you don’t have rocks in your yard to use. There were some issues in our community when people were taking rocks from in front of shops to use for painting. Don’t steal rocks! Use your own or buy them.


Collect a variety of acrylic paints and paintbrushes. Use big brushes for covering the entire rock with paint and thinner brushes for details. A paint palette is a mess-free place to hold and mix colors (or use a paper plate for quick clean up).


You’ll need a permanent marker, like a Sharpie to write instructions on the back. Sealant is a must otherwise your artwork will wash away if the rock gets wet. Extra items could include a painting smock and a table drop cloth.


Starting Your Own Painted Rocks Group

If you think that your own community would benefit from something fun like this painted rock project, consider starting it up in your own area. Start off by enlisting friends to create their own painted rocks to hide. Start a Facebook group and things should get rolling from there. Our community site has over 10K followers!

Want to start a painted rocks project in your community? See how painted rocks have fostered creativity and made my kids more active!

Dad found this painted rock and brought it home for my son to hide the next day.

Basic Painted Rocks Rules – (adapted from #SanteeRocks Facebook group)

  • If you find a painted rock that you can’t bear to part with, please keep it. Replace it with one of your own creations.
  • Coat rocks with a sealer for longevity.
  • Do not decorate rocks with glue-on accessories. These decorations will eventually fall off and become litter and a hazard to wildlife.
  • Be sensitive to the environment, stay on all trails, and do not hunt in protected habitats.
  • Do not hide rocks inside businesses
  • We encourage you to take rocks to other towns, states or countries to hide and share. This is a kindness project, and kindness has no boundaries!

  


For more on activities and ways to beat summer boredom,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


7 Books for Kids to Read Before a Disney Vacation

Getting kids ready for a Disney vacation? Every child, from babies to teens can benefit from one of these tried and tested Disney books for kids before their magical vacation. Whether doing Disney parks research, educating on the history of Disney or just getting familiar with characters, these are books kids will love. These are the top books for kids to read before a Disney trip that will get them prepared and excited!

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Disney Books for Kids

Yep, the internet is great for travel planning but I don’t necessarily want my kids surfing the web (even if they’re just looking for Disney vacation stuff). I love that these Disney books for kids exist to help get them prepared for vacation. Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection. I’m talking about the books for kids that they should read before your Disney vacation.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

For Research and Planning

If you want to get the most out of your Disney vacation (money and time well-spent) you’ll have to invest some research and planning. Get kids on board with a guide book they can read with you at home.

The Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids guide book really helps to build excitement. Kids may have heard of the rides and attractions but not know any details other than that. The book informs kids on what to expect once they get to the Parks (psst…helping kids know what to expect can help minimize disappointment and meltdowns!)

For Babies

If you’re planning on taking your baby to Disney, I suggest helping them get familiar with the characters. Disney Baby I Love You This Much! features Mickey and his friends with a sweet story line. Point out the characters in the books and repeat their names. Expand baby’s character palate with the equally adorable Disney Baby My First Colors. I love the colorful fold-out pages and less often seen characters in this book.

My daughter loves these books (we received complimentary copies from Disney Baby). Most babies are very excited to see characters in the park though some might not want to get closer than a few feet. My daughter at 6 months old wanted to touch characters. However at 13 months old, she cried anytime we were within 10 feet! Read more about my “no-cry” ways to introduce your baby to characters in the parks.

For more tips about taking babies to Disney, read about the things to do at Disney World with a baby on TravelingMom or my posts at Disney Baby.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Even babies will appreciate these Disney books for kids before their vacation.

For Preschoolers

When planning your preschooler’s first Disney trip, you’ll want to give them more of a backstory on the attractions. Preschool #DisneyKids are easily drawn into the magic! My preschooler loves storybooks, like the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection.

Planning a California trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park? Check out my TravelingMom post with insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disneyland. And more preschooler at Disney tips here, as well.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For Princesses-in-Training

Is your little princess excited to wear her costume at the Park? Get her ready from head-to-toe with the help of this DIY book, Disney Princess Hairstyles. The step-by-step illustrations make it easy to recreate some truly stunning braids, buns and up-dos, inspired by Disney Princesses. For even more inspiration, try Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

  

Give yourself plenty of time at home before your trip to practice and perfect some of the more elaborate designs.

Doing your child’s hair and sprinkling your own glitter will save you big bucks! However if you can’t handle the complexity of these styles, consider booking a reservation at Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique instead.


For Tweens

Many kids at this age have an appreciation or interest in history and historical figures. A non-fiction account of Walt Disney can really spark the thoughts of impressionable tweens. Walt’s quotes about imagination, hard work and steadfast dreams hold true for kids today. Tweens can truly find inspiration in knowing Walt Disney’s background and childhood history.

Tweens also love to find out how things work. The basic principles of creative “Imagineering” can affect tweens in a positive way.

I recommend Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans) and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

    

For Teens

My fantasy-loving teen has really enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers (7 Book Series). Getting to stay at Disney after everyone leaves – amazing, right? Fighting Disney villains to save the world? Even better! This dramatic chapter book series is great.

For Aspiring Animators

Immersing kids with Disney pre-trip really gets them in the mood for a magical vacation. Watching the classic Disney animated features helps get kids excited for what they’ll see on the rides. And possibly for the character meetings they’ll have as well.

My kids enjoy the Learn to Draw series. The step-by-step illustrations guide kids how to draw characters, whether it’s classic Mickey from Learn to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through the Decades, an animated favorite from Learn to Draw Disney’s Classic Animated Movies or Moana & Maui from Learn to Draw Disney’s Moana.
    

Stock up on sketch paper, pencils, erasers and colored pencils so kids can work on their art. This is a great on-the-road activity as well!


Looking for Recommended Disney Books for Grown-Ups?

Make sure to check out my post, Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Vacation. Those are the books that the grown-ups should read for research and fun before their trip!

Many of these books are available for Amazon Kindle as well.
Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

How Kids Can Save Money for Disney (+ Disney DIY Tutorial!)

Saving money for a family vacation generally falls on parents who pitch in the big dollars, of course. But when it comes to nickels and dimes, there’s no reason that kids can’t jump on board too! Here are some ways that kids can save money for Disney so they’ll have spending cash for treats and souvenirs of their own. This quick Disney DIY bank tutorial will help them save their pennies!

Please note that there are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through this link helps support me in a small financial way (thank you!)

Kids Can Save Money for Disney

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

By Doing Extra Chores

I believe that kids should pitch in on housework on a regular basis but for those chore that go “above and beyond”, I’m not above a bit of extra monetary compensation. A few bucks here and there for extra chores can add up in a kid’s Disney bank.

With Good Behavior/Good Grades

This one works especially well with little guys! I keep a good behavior chart for my preschooler in the two weeks leading up to the trip. This allows him 14 days to earn a little spending money based on good attitude and helpfulness around the house. For big kids, you could also reward good grades on a special pay scale, with bonuses for all As!

By Selling Something

Coordinate a yard sale as a family where the kids can sell their outgrown toys and/or clothing and earn a few dollars. Or set up an old fashioned lemonade stand or bake sale, though this is often more work for grown-ups involved!

Receiving Gifts

One of my kids favorite ways to save money for Disney trips is by saving monetary gifts given for birthdays and Christmas. If someone is planning on purchasing a gift for your child and asks what she’d like to receive, recommend a Disney gift card!

By Collecting Change

And here’s the perfect place to store all that loose change! Follow this easy DIY for create your own Disney vacation bank.

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!

You can customize the bank with whatever Disney-themed charms you like. This DIY only cost me about $7 to make. I used a half price coupon from the craft store for the most expensive item. Or you can purchase them inexpensively on Amazon.

I purchased my supplies at Hobby Lobby. Here are similar items available at Amazon:

Wide Mouth Glass Mason Jar with Metal Lid,

Glitter Alphabet Sticker Letters

Disney Button Embellishments, Mickey And Minnie Glitter

Wish Lucky Charms

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These peel and stick letters have a cute sparkle stud detail. You can customize your jar with whatever lettering you want (the hardest part of this entire project is getting the letters straight!)

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I found these inexpensive items including Mickey and Minnie buttons, metal “Wish” charms and sparkly dangles. Kids can loop the charms onto a length of narrow ribbon and tie it around the neck of the jar. There are enough charms in each package to make several banks, so they would really be a great gift for another Disney-loving family!

Kids can save money for Disney with this DIY tutorial to make their own Disney Vacation fund bank!


Save Money on a DISNEY WORLD Vacation!

Purchase discount tickets and Walt Disney World vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.


 

Kids Can Save Money for Disney! Read the money saving tips & check out the DIY Disney Bank Tutorial

For more ways to save money for your Disney vacation,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Saving Money for Disney Loop: