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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

Little Ways Moms Can Make Big Differences in Their Health

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

In a few weeks I’m going to be celebrating my 44th birthday. Celebrating? Yes! There are definitely times when I’m the oldest mom with her kids on the playground (and I have the creaky back to prove it!) So I might be older but what I don’t want is to feel old. I want to wake up with the energy everyday that I need to parent my four kids. I’m making little changes NOW that are going to make a big difference. It’s the “snowball effect”. One little change begets another on my way to a healthier life.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Out for a walk, moving more and sitting less!

Moving More. Sitting Less

As a writer, I’ll admit that I tend to sit more than I should! One of my goals is to be moving more and sitting less.

  • Stand when doing household chores. I stand when folding laundry and sorting socks.
  • If you have trouble remembering to move, set your phone alarm to remind you. Even a 20 minute walk or an impromptu dance party helps!
  • Can you walk instead of driving? Work in walking to the library or the store as part of your exercise for the day.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Portion Control

When I’m busy with my kids there are times when I forget to eat. Unfortunately that means the next time I sit down to eat, I’m ravenous and tend to overeat. And of course there are many side effects to overeating, from feeling bloated to weight gain.

  • Eat off of a smaller plate to trick your mind into thinking you have more food.
  • Take a look at proper serving sizes. Use a measuring cup to get an idea of sizing.
  • Serve food in the kitchen and don’t return for seconds.
  • Add twice as many vegetables as anything else on my plate.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Listening to My Body

Stopping and really listening to my body throughout the day helps keep me in check.

  • Is my throat dry? I’m probably not drinking enough water.
  • Am I stiff? Maybe I need to run through some stretches.
  • Am I really hungry? Then why am I opening the fridge again?
  • Am I tired? Why am I forcing myself to stay awake! I should get to bed earlier.

Taking a Daily Probiotic

Taking a daily probiotic is definitely one of those things that helps me to balance my gut health. I feel so much better when I’m taking one. And when I’m feeling better, I’m more motivated to make good choices. That’s the snowball effect of good, healthy choices. And for me, I start with Nature Made® Digestive Probiotics Adult Gummies.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

 

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that exists naturally in cultured or fermented foods (like yogurt and certain cheeses). Probiotics offer benefits for your digestive system by pushing out unwanted organisms. This allows more of the “good” bacteria to be present in your gut. And “good’ bacteria can help you feel better (remember the “snowball effect”? It’s real!)

I picked up Nature Made® Digestive Probiotics Adult Gummies at my local Walmart. As directed, I take two a day. I appreciate that Nature Made® is produced to the highest quality standards to ensure purity and safety.

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Nature Made® Digestive Probiotics Adult Gummies have dual action probiotics plus energyǂ† B12 (ǂVitamin B12 supports cellular energy production.† †These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.)

And let’s be honest. Chewing an adult gummie is FUN! I look forward to taking my Nature Made® Probiotics Gummies, it’s like a little treat just for me!

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

In what little ways are you making a difference in your health? Is a probiotic part of your daily routine?

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

My kids truly love Honest Kids! It’s the only juice we purchase for them because it’s certified organic and sweetened only with fruit juice. We’ve shared our love of Honest Kids via social media and have always received a nice response from the company. Isn’t it good when the company feels as nice as the product!

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

We recently had the pleasure of testing the two new Honest Kids additions, which will be available in 8-pouch, single-variety cartons starting in March 2016.

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

The newest members of the Honest Kids family are:

·         Cherry Go Round: Give this one a whirl! A lively mix of organic apple, grape and cherry juices with other delicious organic ingredients, Cherry Go Round may be a newcomer but with its exuberant flavor, it’s certainly no sideshow! Available in 6.75 fl. oz. pouches.

·         Twisted Tropical Tango: A veritable typhoon of tropical flavors, this organic blend of apple, grape, and orange juices is balanced with a touch of mango puree and other organic ingredients for a smooth and refreshing taste.  Available in 6.75 fl. oz. pouches.

We’ve tested both flavors and they have the light and refreshing fresh juice taste we’ve come to love and expect from Honest Kids. I can’t decide which is my favorite. I love the bright hit of cherry in Cherry Go Round, which is unique and delicious. And the subtle mango mixed with the orange juice in Twisted Tropical Tango is flavorful and thirst-quenching. I love that after I drink Honest Kids juice my thirst is actually quenched and I’m not left feeling thirstier (like with some other drinks).

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

Honest Kids Giveaway!

5 lucky winners will receive a month’s supply of the new Honest Kids varieties, shipped to their house from Honest Tea…That’s a lot of sweet sipping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to US Residents only

Honest Kids New Flavors Review and GIVEAWAY!

Ways to Remember Those You’ve Lost During the Holidays #CTCA

I have received compensation for this post as part of a promotional program with CTCA and MomSelect. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Ways to Remember Those You've Lost During the Holidays #CTCA

We lost my dad is renal cancer a year and a half ago. Holidays can be particularly hard when remembering those you’ve lost. When I think back to the last Christmas we had with him (in 2013), it’s a bittersweet feeling. We knew at that time that he wouldn’t be with us to celebrate another one. Surprisingly he hung on and didn’t pass until April 5th. But certainly each time the holidays come around, his presence is greatly missed.

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During the holiday season, how do you remember those you’ve lost?

Here are some ideas of how include the memories of those you’ve lost this holiday.

  • Serve one of their favorite holiday dishes.
  • Light a candle in their honor.
  • Get out the old family albums and take the time to reminisce.
  • Ask family members to write down their favorite memory of that person. When we asked our family to do this, I heard stories about my dad that I’d never heard before and that helped us deeply in our grief.
  • Decorate a small tree with trinkets or special mementos of your loved one. Or make a single ornament in their honor to hang on your tree.
  • Consider a donation to your loved one’s favorite cause or charity.
  • Talk about them. Sometimes the hurt is so bad that we are afraid to bring up old memories but talking about those that have passed helps with that pain. It’s wonderful to recall special memories from years past when our loved ones were still with us.

My Story

My dad’s symptoms started in 2002. The doctor’s discovered that he had a blocked kidney that was causing urinary troubles and the kidney was removed. Cancer was never discussed. Five years later he started to have some health concerns and after a body scan it was discovered that he had small cancerous spots on his lungs and spine. The doctor explained that during the kidney removal surgery, cancerous cells had gotten into the blood stream and metastasized onto other spots in his body. Though the cancer was now growing in other locations, it was still considered “renal” or kidney cancer. These cancerous spots were only the size of a dot from the tip of a pin but they were in multiple places throughout the body, so the doctors said they were inoperable.

My love for Disney started with my dad.

My love for Disney started with my dad.

My dad was placed on a daily radiation medication and he was given a diagnosis of one year to live. We braced ourselves for the worst. And a year came and went. Then another year. And another. He continued taking the daily radiation medication and the cancerous spots stabilized. It had some nasty side effects (blisters on his feet and tongue, scaly skin and rash) but he was still with us. In early 2013, doctors said that the medication was no longer effective and my dad started chemotherapy. He had one single treatment before coming down with pneumonia. Then came a transitory stroke. He was never strong enough to start back any cancer treatments. His health started to decline. Looking back at the time, it seemed like a rapid decline to us, but given that he hung on for over a year after stopping the treatments, it was really quite slow and agonizing. Rough for us and even more hard for my dad, who was in constant pain.


Cancer Treatment Centers of America #CTCA

After so many years in the battle with his cancer, my dad was prepared and ready to stop his treatment. However for those who are still strong enough to fight, there’s the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. There are a number of facilities available across the country with many patients traveling out of state to receive care. Each person’s cancer is unique. That’s why the Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) uses leading technology to aggressively treat cancer. They also offer nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, mind-body medicine, spiritual support nutrition and other therapies, because they know that managing the side effects of cancer treatment is half the battle.

Image from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Image from Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Though my dad’s personal treatment helped him stay alive longer than expected, the side effects on his body and mind were brutal. I think often if we’d been able to keep him healthier longer if nutrition therapy and mind-body medicine had been used. Knowing that the Cancer Treatment Centers of America treats the whole person and not just the cancer,  I am relieved in knowing they are helping so many others in their battles.

For those of you fighting, my thoughts and prayers are with you. And for those of you who are dealing with loss, know that through the pain there are the memories. I pray that you find peace during the holidays and can choose one of these special ways to celebrate those who have passed.


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Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

This shop has been compensated by Albertsons. All opinions are mine alone. #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #CollectiveBias

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

My family eats almost all of our meals at home and dinners are always eaten together. Television is off and we gather around to share our day with each other. Everyone participates in setting the table, preparing the meal and cleaning up afterwards.

We dress the table each night with fabric place mats and cloth napkins that I’ve made (tutorial here). Sometimes we light a candle for ambiance. It feels good to eat at home and to share our day around the dinner table but sometimes we need a little “refresh”. I will admit that my kids do get bored with some of the same meals since we tend to serve the same stand-by dishes when time and money is tight.

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

Now that I’m home more often I’ve been inspired by cookbooks at the library and have had the time to expand on our repertoire to the delight of the family…Ooh, butternut squash & spinach lasagna one night, homemade pizza the next!

However nothing brightened their day more than when I served dinner last week alongside a big pitcher of Lipton Iced Tea with dinner!

“There’s tea at the table!”, yelled one of the kids and I’m not kidding, they all came running!

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

A lovely table setting and Lipton Iced Tea for dinner (shirts optional!)

Most of the time each child receives either a small glass of milk or water with their meal, so Lipton Iced Tea was a big-time treat. I was happy to be able to serve them something special after a long week and Lipton Iced Tea is also a healthier choice than soda. It was definitely a complement alongside our ground turkey and pasta and was an extremely refreshing beverage.

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

I picked up Lipton Iced Tea in a 100 count box from Albertsons. So easy to make (the recipe is on their website) You can find the 100 count Lipton tea bags in the tea section and they can be served iced or hot. I served our Lipton Iced tea with a squeeze of lemon and agave sweetener but next time I think I’ll add some frozen berries for a flavor twist!

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad

Albertsons and Safeway stores are currently running their Stock Up Sale (from Sept 30th through Oct 13th) 9/30-10/13) and have Lipton Iced Tea 100 count as part of the promotion. This is a great deal and a great way to make every dinner feel special, without breaking the bank!

 

Refresh Dinnertime with Lipton Iced Tea #StockUpOnLipton #Albertsons #ad


How do you “refresh” your dinner when the family gets bored with the same old thing? Please share in the comments!

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