Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns To Listen

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen

This post has always been one of my most popular on Pinterest, and it’s too perfect for the  summer season not to share again. If you have a little one in PreK or Kindergarten, or if you’re a teacher of young children of any kind you’ll want to own this book! I will say, though, that even my 8 year old still enjoys reading the Howard Series 4 years after we added him into our home library, this lovable little bunny is just a lot of fun!

Here is my original post:

I find that as a parent I try to make sure that most of the shows that my children watch and the books that they reads (or that I read to them) are not only entertaining and wholesome, but also have some type of lesson or learning aspect about them. Fun, silly, “just because” shows definitely have their place–but I want to make sure that we use every opportunity to teach them valuable life skills in a way they don’t even realize that they’re learning!

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen couldn’t have come at a better time as Amber has been having a few problems with learning to listen. You know, REALLY listen and obey right away.

In Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen Howard is having a little problems with listening, to any and everyone including parents, friends, and teachers. Not because he’s purposefully being bad, there is just so much to be distracted by! This book is great because it shows the cause and effect of not listening, such as punishments from teachers, hurting friends or himself, and losing privileges, which are all shown in an engaging writing style. This book is great because it also shows the good things and rewards that good “really listening” bring!

We both loved the fun pictures and the discussion questions at the end of the book too.

This book is absolutely perfect for any pre-k – kindergartner or above who is having a little bit of difficulty in this area! (and don’t they all from time to time??)

Be sure to check out their website We Do Listen Foundation for free lesson plans, read alouds, and more!

If you love this book be sure to check out our reviews of the other Howard B. Wigglebottom books as well!

Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Monkey On His Back (a book about lying)

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Courage

 

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24 TV Shows You Can Feel Good Letting Your Young Kids Watch

21 TV Shows You Can Feel Good Letting Your Young Kids Watch_edited-1

 

Alright, first off can we all just promise to be honest with one another for a few minutes here?

It’s Mid-July. If you live in the south and you walk outside your glasses are probably fogging up from the humidity (I’m totally not lying–this happened to me yesterday!!!!)

While you are a totally awesome parent who does everything from creating an elaborate Summer Fun Pinterest Board to actually managing to DO some of those fun ideas, there is going to come a point and time this summer when you will NEED to put the kids in front of some screens so you can work or even just gain some sanity back! (And, well, I’m pretty sure you might be at that point).

Trust me, it happens to us all! If you’re concerned it might happen a little too often this summer I’d recommend doing a Ticket System and having your young kids do chores for TV time – it’s worked great for us for several years now! These days we do a much simpler, scaled back version I’ll be posting about soon–so watch for that!

Although I think screen time in moderation is completely OK for kids (especially when they earn it!) it helps when you know they’re watching great shows that aren’t annoying, dumb, objectionable, and that they might even learn from! Because I’ve made it something of a mission to track down these kinds of shows for my own kids I wanted to put together a list just for you of our favorites! It could probably be a lot longer, but I only wanted to share shows that we’ve personally watched and loved! Most of these are available on Netflix instant streaming, too, which makes them even better, and ALL of them are available through Amazon to purchase. Most are also found on PBS, Disney Jr., or Nick Jr. if you have cable/satellite/or access to a DVR.

All of these shows are great for the ages of 3 to 7-year-olds. Since I haven’t ventured past that territory yet I don’t know much about great shows for older kids, but if you do please let me know by leaving a comment. I have a feeling it’s going to get even more challenging the older they get!

Educational Shows

Wild Kratts — this fun and educational show features the Kratt brothers and teaches kids all about different animals and their “creature powers”. One of our favorites I love how educational it is without being annoying and the kids love the fun features, suits, and “powers”.

Zaboomafoo — Hand in Hand with Wild Kratts is what I think of as the partner kind of show which is also by the Kratt brothers and also teaches all about animals, which we love! In my mind this show is probably 3-5 year old range and Wild Kratts is more targeted for 5-8, but kids in any of that range could enjoy both.

The Magic School Bus — I grew up on this fun and educational show and I have loved re-watching (and enjoying it just as much) with my kids! My little guy loves learning about our bodies and the episodes about the digestive and immune systems are some of his favorites!

Super Why — this was one of Amber’s all time favorite shows when she was little and I think it’s a big part of the reason she knew all her letters and the sounds they made when she was tiny!

Wordworld — Another Amber favorite and why she got a great start on reading young. This is also one of my favorites, I just adore the characters made up of the letters!

Wishbone — I grew up on this TV show and it is one of my all time favorites. The kids recently got some of the DVDs as presents and now they love it as much as I always did! This is an especially great one for kids in the upper 6-8ish level, and even older kids will enjoy it. I think my huge love of classic literature started with me falling in love with the storylines in this TV series!

Liberty Kids — Another one for the older age group, this is amazing for teaching kids about the American Revolution and  all that time period in history. I love that George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are household names now.

The Octonauts — if you love cute, adorable characters combined with learning ALL about the different kind of ocean life your family will love this show! It’s a top favorite of both the kids–and they still play with their Octonaut toys *all* the time!

Little Einsteins — this is one of Tyler’s favorites! I love how they use the different kinds of (not annoying!!) music and also teach things!

SuperBook — I already did a whole post about this series, but now that we’ve had and watched them for almost 2 years I absolutely LOVE them!! They do such a great job of sharing Bible stories in a fun and accurate way, as well as weaving in valuable lessons that apply to kids “real life” in the shows!

Bo On The Go — this cute, funny little series is all focused on getting kids excited about moving (it’s perfect for those rainy days when you can’t play outside). Bo needs the kids to fuel up her energy and they do that by moving around.

Blue Clues — a classic that came just after my childhood, as a teenager I turned my nose up at Blue and Steve but as a mom I decided I LOVED them! The story lines are engaging for kids and teach all kinds of things.

Sesame Street — ok, ok. So as long as you’re not living under a rock you know about the classic learning program, but, just in case you ARE living under a rock, you should give it a whirl as well. It’s kind of hard to have an American childhood without at least a little bit of it.

Team OmiZoomi — another super cute one, Team OmiZoomi is unique in that its focus is to teach basic math skills through fun story lines.

Book of Virtues — these are great because they have a different focus for each DVD, but it’s broken into TV-length shows. They focus on everything from Fairy Tales to Greek Myths to Bible stories focused around a center theme like Courage, Honesty, or Faith, and all woven into kids daily problems and each with a lesson!

Sid The Science Kid — I’ll be honest, this one *can* get a little annoying and the songs will get stuck in your head (hubby can’t STAND it) but the learning value is good enough it’s at least worth checking out to see if it pushes your annoying buttons or not!

Jake & the Neverland Pirates — ok this one is a little light on the learning side, and might slide more into the next category, but the “gold doubloons” make for good counting learning–especially if you have a little pirate lover.

Just For Fun

While these shows do try to teach things like getting along with others, or life lessons, they are really (in my mind) more about fun. They’re all still very cute, age appropriate, exemplify good behaviors and kids love them!

Rescue Bots — this is the kids newest LOVE. They have watched all the seasons through more times than I care to think about!! It is super cute, however, and I love that it’s a Transformer Spin off that is age appropriate.

Busy Town Mysteries — an adorable show about solving mysteries with the classic Richard Scary characters.

Kipper The Dog — if you don’t like English accents this show isn’t for you, but if like me you love them then it’s a must check out. Sweet and mellow it’s perfect for even the littlest ones!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood — SO sweet! If you grew up on Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood you need to check out this spin off of it that has sweet family oriented lessons.

Sophia The First — princess loving little girls will adore this fun show about a peasant turned Princess.

Ninjago — another kid favorite, this one is probably the silliest one I let the kids fall in love with, but overall it’s just funny and one that your kids will love!

Sherrif Callie’s Wild West — a little on the fluffy side but a lot of fun!

So there you go! 24 amazing, fun, non-annoying TV Shows you can happily sit your kids down in front of!

((And yes, yes, yes–no screen time for those under 2, and please limit your kiddos screen time–I find that if mine watch more than the recommend 2 hours or under each day they start to get cranky and have bad attitudes, regardless of how great of shows they’re watching, so just save the marathons for those days when you REALLY need them for sickness or sanity sake 😉 ))

I know I’m missing some–comment with your favorite kid TV shows that meet all these criteria–we’re also always looking to expand our list!

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Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 2

Version 2

Hopefully you’ve seen the first part of this tutorial and are already obsessively working on your own quiet book! If not, go check it out here.  There are some tips and suggestions you might want to read before getting started. As promised, here are instructions for the rest of the pages in my book, as well as a cover.  Feel free to get as creative as you want and come up with your own page ideas, too!  I don’t have templates because I free-handed everything, so it’s all far from perfect, but that’s part of the charm 🙂

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For the Happy Spring page, you will need:

  • 2 9×9 pieces of background fabric
  • Felt or fabric for the water, branch, leaf, caterpillar, and cloud (make them whatever colors you prefer)
  • Three pieces of string or ribbon, each approx. 6 inches long
  • Beads to use as raindrops (make sure they will fit on the string or ribbon you are using)
  • 5 Velcro dots (or velcro that can be cut to fit the caterpillar pieces)

Start by cutting the fabric you’re using for the water so that it makes a pond that fits on the bottom section of your background piece.  Zig-zag stitch the top of the pond down (the rest of it will be sewn on when you put all your pages together.)  Lay the three strings onto your page at the angle you want them, making sure the spaces between them are equal.  Sew the top of each string to the background fabric, going over each one several times so the seams are strong enough to withstand a toddler’s mightiest yank.  Thread 3 (or more) beads onto each string and then sew the bottom ends to the pond, keeping the strands parallel to each other.  Cut out a cloud and stitch it directly onto the tops of the strings, leaving the bottom so that it can flap open.

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Now, cut out a branch that will fit on the bottom of the next page.  Sew it on just as you did with the pond piece.  Cut a leaf out of 2 contrasting colors (it should be about 4 inches long) and sew the smaller piece onto the larger one.  Stitch only the bottom section onto the branch so it makes a pocket, which will hold the pieces of the caterpillar.

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Trace something small and circular (such as a magnet, the end of a small flashlight, or even the cap of a hand sanitizer bottle) onto the felt that will be used for the caterpillar 6 times, using as many different colors of felt as you want.  The circles should be about 1″ in diameter.  Make a face (I used marker) on your caterpillar’s head and zig-zag stitch it onto your page about 2 inches from the left edge.  Sew the sticky side of your velcro dots onto the rest of the circles, and the other sides of the dots onto the background page in a staggered row behind the caterpillar’s head. And you’re done! The pieces of the caterpillar can now stick on the velcro dots or be placed in the leaf pocket.

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For the How Does Your Garden Grow? page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 pieces of background fabric or felt
  • Brown felt for soil, tree trunk, and basket
  • Green felt for the leaves
  • Felt for carrots, potatoes, apples, pears, a wheelbarrow, cloud, and gate
  • Velcro for the fruit (if you want it to really stick to the tree) IMG_2655

This is probably my favorite page, and my 8-year-old daughter designed and made the fruit tree side by herself!  Start by cutting a tree trunk about 7 inches tall.  Pin it in the middle of the page with the bottom of the trunk even with the bottom edge of your background, and be sure to leave space for leaves at the end of each branch.  Stitch the trunk on with a few vertical seams so it resembles bark.

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Cut out and sew on leaves, and if you have space add a cloud.  Cut out whatever fruits you want to have (apples, pears, peaches, oranges, lemons, plums, etc.) and sew a small piece of velcro (the sticky side!) onto the back of each fruit.  You won’t need velcro on the tree if it’s made of felt, but if you used another type of fabric be sure to sew some pieces on (non-sticky side) so the fruit will have a place to “hang.”  Cut out a basket big enough to hold your fruit and sew it on to the background, leaving at least 1 inch below and beside it for seam allowances.  Leave the top edge of the basket open for holding fruit.  Cut out a gate about 7 1/2 inches long and sew only the left edge onto the background about 1 inch from the left of the background piece.

Now, cut a piece of brown felt so that it fits over the bottom half of your other background piece, with a slight curve at the top.  Snip two rows of holes in the brown piece (about 1 cm. each) for “planting” the vegetables.  Stitch this piece on by sewing along the top edge and then make separate seams about 1/2 inch below each row of holes.  This is important so that your vegetables don’t slip down into the “dirt” and get stuck.   The other edges will be sewn when putting all the pages together.  Cut out a wheelbarrow and sew on, leaving the top open.  Add handles and a wheel.

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Cut out your carrots and potatoes now.  For the carrots, cut out two layers of orange and place a small stem between the layers.  Sew together with two or three small horizontal seams to make them look more realistic, making sure the stem is secure.

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For the potatoes cut out two layers of light brown felt and stitch together in the same way using darker brown thread.  “Plant” your veggies and let your little one do the harvesting!

For the Starry Campground page you will need:

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  • Two 9×9 background pieces (one felt, the other anything resembling a night sky)
  • Fabric for a tent (approx 8×8)
  • One 6 inch. zipper in a coordinating color
  • Felt for stars, campfire, sticks, marshmallows, bush, snake, moose, and sleeping bag

First, cut your tent fabric into a triangle that is 6 1/2 inches tall and approx. 6 inches wide. Fold the outer edges of the tent under about 1/4 inch and iron the folds flat. Cut this triangle vertically from the center of the bottom edge to almost the top corner, leaving about 1 inch at the top connected.  Fold each side of this opening under about 1/4 inch and iron the folds.  Hem the bottom edges of the tent along the folds.  Pin your zipper just under each of the opening folds and sew, making sure it can open and close from the bottom up.  Now top-stitch the two sides of the tent onto the background, leaving plenty of space on all sides.  If you want it to be a teepee, cut brown felt into sticks and stitch on at the top corner (I did this mainly because the top of my tent didn’t look very good and needed to be hidden a little.)

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Making the moose took a lot of trial and error, but I free-handed it (like everything else) and it turned out okay.  You could make a person or another animal instead and it would still be adorable.  So, cut out whatever critter you want inside the tent, making sure it will fit with space to spare.  Cut out a sleeping bag that just covers it (or him or her.)  Stitch these on and breathe a sigh of relief.  The hardest part of this page is done!

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The next part of this page was done almost exclusively by my daughter, and I’m pretty impressed with how it turned out. Cut out a felt basket about 2-3 inches wide and sew onto the starry background leaving the top open.  Cut some sticks out of felt and make some marshmallows to sew onto the ends. Place these inside the basket.  Cut out logs and contrasting colors of fire and sew these on as well.

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Cut out a bush and sew on only the bottom edge.  Cut out a snake (or bunny or skunk or whatever) and sew it on behind the bush.

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Cut out a few stars and stitch them around the sky.

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Now your toddler can “roast” marshmallows over a campfire and peek in on the creatures hiding at the campground.

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For the Wallet/Button Up page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 background pages (the one you plan to put on the right should be felt or something sturdy)
  • Brown felt for making a wallet (or and old wallet if you happen to have one)
  • Various pieces of felt and fabric for making shapes
  • Buttons in coordinating colors
  • Expired membership cards, empty gift cards, laminated photos, etc. to put into the wallet

This page is the undisputed favorite of my 2-year-old.  While it was still at our house, she took just the wallet part of the book everywhere for weeks.  It was also the least labor-intensive to make, so if you don’t plan to make all of these pages, this is one you will probably want to include for sure.  If you have a wallet, all you have to do is sew the back panel to the middle of your background fabric and it’s ready to go.  Add some old cards and photos, or even a dollar bill or two, and your little one might stay busy long enough for you to make the next half of this page!

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If you’re making a felt wallet, start with a 9×11 sheet of felt (preferably gray, brown, or black so it resembles a real wallet).  Lay the sheet down and fold the bottom edge up about 2 inches and pin right in the middle of this folded section (see photos.)

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Sew up the middle from the bottom edge to the top of the fold.  Now cut across the felt about 1 inch above the pockets you just created.  Lay the stitched piece on top of the other felt piece and cut across the top so you have one flat piece under the piece that was folded.

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Now, pin and sew together along the bottom and both sides, leaving the top open.

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To attach the wallet to the background, pin and sew it on along the right edge, right half of the bottom edge, and only the bottom layer of the middle line of the wallet.  I’ve marked all these places with yellow pins in the photo below.

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And your wallet is finished!

For the other side of this page, cut out three shapes from different fabrics and then cut a piece of felt to go on the back of each.  Pin the two pieces of each with the wrong sides together and sew, leaving a hole big enough to turn it right side out.  Turn each shape right side out and sew the small hole closed.  IMG_2631

Choose the buttons you will use and snip a hole in each shape the right size for your buttons.  Using the buttonhole setting, stitch around each buttonhole.  (Or if you know a better way, please share it with me!  This was my first time making buttonholes so you probably know how to do this much better than I do, and if you look closely you’ll see that my stitches are not very pretty.)  Lay the shapes on your background piece, making sure to leave at least 1 1/2 inches on each side for a seam allowance.  Mark where your buttons will go and then sew them onto the background. Button the shapes into place, and your last page is finished!!!

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For the cover, you will need:

  • 2 matching 9×9 pieces of fabric, plus two 2×5 pieces of the same fabric
  • One snap or button
  • Felt for cutting out a name, pictures, or any other designs you want to add to the cover
  • Large eyelets (enough to put 2 on each completed page)
  • Large eyelet tool and hammer
  • Large rings
  • Single hole puncher (optional)

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Start by choosing a design for the cover and cutting it out.  I wanted to keep it simple so I just put the name on the front, but you can be as detailed and creative as you want.  Just make sure, as always, to leave a seam allowance around all the edges.  Pin and sew your design on the front.

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Now is a good time to look through all your pages and make sure they’re in the right order.  Then pin the front cover to the first activity page (if you’re following this tutorial exactly that will be the one with a boy or girl and his/her bed) right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving about 2-3 inches open on the side that will be on the left when the book is closed.  Flip right side out and stitch closed.   This photo shows the eyelets already in but you will add them later.

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And your front cover is done.

To make the closure, lay your 2 x 5 pieces right sides together and sew around the two long edges and one short edge.  Turn right side out.  It should look something like this.

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Now, lay your back cover page face up, then place the closure you just made on the left edge of the cover piece with the open end sticking out about 1 inch.  Then place the last activity page face down over the cover piece so the right sides are together.  Pin and sew all the way around, leaving about 2-3 inches open on the right (which will be the side with the eyelets later.)

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Turn right side out and stitch closed like you did for the front.  You should have a back cover with a flap sticking out of the right side now.   Being careful to keep all your pages in the right order, pin and sew each page to one that will be on the other side of it in just the same way so that you end up with finished edges on every front/back combination.  For example, the dresser page will be sewn onto the clothesline page, the washing machine will be sewn to the sled page, etc.  The most important things to remember for this part are to keep them in the right order, and to make sure they’re all positioned correctly (you don’t want anything to end up upside down!)

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Once that’s finished, it’s time to add your eyelets so you can hook all the pages together.  Start by measuring two inches up from the bottom of the front cover about 1/2 inch from the left side.  Lay an eyelet directly above the measuring tape and trace inside the eyelet to mark where your hole will go.

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Do the same two inches from the top.

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Now cut out the holes you marked.  I found the easiest way to do this was with a hole puncher, but you can also try scissors or an X-acto knife.

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Follow the package instructions for inserting your eyelets.  Here is the way mine worked.  Insert the bottom part of the eyelet in the hole and place the top part on the other side of the hole.  Place the anchor piece below the top part and place the tall part of the tool on the bottom.  Hammer the tool gently 2 or 3 times until the eyelet is secure.

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To make sure all the holes line up, lay the cover over the next page and trace through the eyelet holes.  Then do the same thing for inserting eyelets in each page.

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When all eyelets are inserted, hook the pages together with the rings.

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The final step is to sew a snap onto the closure so the book will stay closed.  Fold the flap over the front cover and mark where you will place each piece of the snap.  Stitch on with strong thread, and you’re done!!!

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Now share your photos with the rest of us so we can all celebrate your huge accomplishment!

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Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 1

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My cousin ,who is really more like a sister, recently had her first baby and she wanted someone to make a quiet book for him.  So, my 8-year-old daughter and I decided to take on the challenge.  After months of working on it little by little (because, let’s face it, that’s how projects go when you’re a mom), we finally finished it!  I’m so excited to share the tutorial with you and I hope it will inspire you to start your own.  But be forewarned:  it is ADDICTIVE and you won’t want to do anything else once you start.  If you’re like me, you might even lay awake at night planning new pages and losing precious sleep, but it will be worth it. I know some of you will want to make one similar to this, so I’m including instructions for each page I made, but if you have other ideas to try out, go for it!  Half the fun is in designing your own. There are no templates because I freehanded everything, but if I can do it, believe me, you can too.

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Here are some things to consider BEFORE you get started:

  • What age child will be using the book?  This will help you determine what activities (buttoning, lacing, zipping, snapping, moving things back and forth, matching, learning numbers, letters, etc.) will be age-appropriate.  Also, make sure not to include small parts that could pose a choking risk if the child is still very young.  This book will probably be ideal for a toddler who is between 2 and 3 (my almost-3-year-old has tested every page out and can do all the activities without help).
  • What size should the book be?  I cut my fabric pieces 9″x 9″ so the pages are slightly smaller than that once they’re sewn together, but you might want to make it smaller if it will mostly be used on the go or larger if you are planning to fit lots of things on each page (like the entire alphabet or a road for felt cars to drive on, for example).
  • How much time do you want to invest?  A quiet book can literally take months, or it can be a much shorter project if you don’t make it too detailed.  Either way, it can provide hours of fun for a child, so decide how much time you honestly want to spend on it and you’ll be more likely to finish.

Once you’ve thought about these things, it’s time to get started.

Step 1:  Plan your pages.  It’s really helpful to make a list of what pages you want to include and what activities you will put on each page.  I didn’t want to have to use interfacing to make the pages sturdier, so I made sure to end up with one felt background and one regular fabric background sewn together (see photo).

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This makes the pages sturdy enough without having to mess with an extra layer, but you have to plan a little to make it work.  Or you could make all your backgrounds felt to simplify things.

Step 2:  Gather your supplies.  Make a list of what supplies you need for each page.  Don’t forget things like thread, velcro, specific colors of felt, background fabrics, grommets, etc.  There were so many times I had to stop in the middle of something because I hadn’t thought it through enough to get everything I needed.  Don’t do this to yourself! *Felt is much easier to work with than most other fabrics because it doesn’t fray and you won’t have to stitch around the edges like you otherwise would, so plan to use lots of it if you want to save time.

Step 3:  Get to work!  Here are instructions for the first three pages in my book.  (The rest will follow soon!)

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For the Dress Me page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 background pages (felt or other fabric)
  • 4 1/2 x 3 in. piece of pillow fabric
  • 5×6 in. rectangle of blanket fabric
  • Contrasting brown felt for the dresser (2 shades)
  • Various felt colors for clothing
  • Felt for the boy, his hair, and his undies
  • Small amount of fiberfill for the pillow

Start by hemming one 6-inch edge of the blanket fabric.  Pin the other three edges under and onto your felt about one inch from the bottom of the felt and sew (leaving the top edge open for the boy to fit under).  Fold the pillow piece in half right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving a small space open.  Turn right side out, fill with fiberfill, and sew closed.  Sew the two short sides onto the felt background just above the blanket.  Cut out a dresser shape, drawers, and knobs.  Sew the pieces together and then stitch the sides and bottom to your other background page, leaving the top open.

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Cut out the shape of a boy (I only made him one layer but I would strongly recommend cutting two layers and sewing them together before you make the rest of him so he will be sturdier.) Now cut out hair for the back and front of his head.  I did this by laying him over dark brown felt and cutting around his head, just slightly larger, and then cutting a front piece to fit over just his forehead.  Use the same technique for cutting out his underwear.  Now pin the hairpieces and the two underwear pieces on and sew with whatever color thread you want to use.  (I hand-stitched the hair and used my machine for the underwear.)  You can either take the easy route and draw on a face with a permanent marker, or you could stitch on his features.  As you can see, I went for the lazy way.  Finally, you can lay him on different colors of felt and cut out various types of clothing for him: PJs, sports jerseys, jeans and t-shirts, etc.

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Be as creative as you want!  I wanted to add a mirror above the dresser but couldn’t find anything that would work for that.  If you do it, post a picture so we can all admire your handiwork!

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For the Laundry Time page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 in. background pieces
  • Felt for the poles, washing machine, and clothes
  • Fabric (or felt) for the laundry basket
  • String or ribbon (approx 10 in.) and mini clothespins OR a strip of velcro about 8 in. long (go with the velcro option if this will be used by a very small child as the clothespins could pose a choking risk)

 

Cut out laundry poles about 5 1/2 in. tall and snip a tiny hole near the top of each one.  Sew them on at a slight angle, leaving the hole at the top.  Thread your string through each hole and pull until it hangs down slightly, then tie each side really well.  Hook on your clothespins.  (Alternatively, sew a strip of velcro (the sticky side) between the tops of the two poles and the felt clothing will stick without clothespins.)

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The grass on my page was added because I had to fix something on the page behind it after they were sewn together, but if you want to add some, I would suggest placing it closer to the bottom of the page.  Now, cut a 4×4 square of felt for the washer and fold in half to cut out a large circle from the middle.  Cut your vinyl to be a circle slightly larger than the hole in your square and then cut a coordinating color of felt to fit around the edges of your vinyl circle. (Confusing, I know.  See the photo below.)

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Now sew the felt circle onto the vinyl.  Sew the outer edges of the washing machine square onto the background and then sew the left side of the vinyl door onto the washer.  Add velcro to keep it closed.  Now cut out a laundry basket and hem the top edge.  Zig-zag stitch the sides and bottom of the basket so it sits on the washer.  Cut out some fun clothes and you’re done!

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For the Winter Wonderland page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 in. pieces of snowy-looking fabric
  • White felt or fleece for the snow and the snowman
  • Felt for the hat rack, hats, arms, nose, and sled
  • String or ribbon (I would suggest ribbon) approx. 10 inches
  • Snaps for the hats

Start by laying out the white fleece over the snowy background and cutting a blanket of snow for both pages (be sure to make one side slope for the sled to “slide” down).  Zig-zag stitch the top edge of each snowy piece onto the background.  The other sides will be sewn down when you attach all the pages later.  Cut out three circles for the snowman and zig-zag stitch them on one at a time, starting with the biggest and working your way up.  Remember to leave a seam allowance!

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Cut out and sew on arms, a nose, and eyes.  Cut out a felt hat rack about 7-8 inches tall and stitch on.  Sew the back half of a snap on the snowman’s head and also on each end of the hat rack.  Make various hats to fit on the snowman and add the front part of a snap to the back of each, first making sure the placement will work. (You don’t want the snowman’s eyes to be covered when he’s wearing any of his hats!)

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Cut out two identical pieces of red felt in the shape of a sled and stitch them together with two parallel lines down the middle with a small space in between.  Thread your ribbon (or string) into the space so it can move up and down and sew the ends of the ribbon to the edges of the page, going over them a few times to get a strong seam.

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And that’s it!

There are instructions for 4 more pages, plus a cover, coming soon.  I hope you’ll be inspired and get to work on your own quiet book!

 

 

 

 

Happy Homeschooling–Even with a Toddler

 

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In the almost 4 years we’ve been homeschooling, there has always been a baby or a toddler in the house. Without a doubt the biggest challenge for me has been figuring out what to do with the youngest during school time.  I can’t even count the times our school day was cut short because of a younger sibling whining or getting into mischief or having a potty training accident, and after dealing with the situation I was often too frustrated to get things back on track. I realized that most of my frustration was coming from trying to fit our lives into a picture of what I thought homeschooling should look like, and it simply wasn’t working.

Continue reading “Happy Homeschooling–Even with a Toddler”

Tools You Need To Breastfeed

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I’m partnering with SimpleWishes to bring you these tips, tricks, and a great giveaway!

 

Breastfeeding *seems* like it should be simple enough. I mean, all you need is your baby and your, ahem, breasts, right?!

Well, if you’ve been looking into breastfeeding, or if you’ve tried it, you know that’s far from the truth! Although it might be more complicated than you first thought, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a wonderful and successful endeavor. Even when you purchase these tools, you still save thousands of dollars over purchasing formula. Not to mention, you’ll be giving your baby the very best possible food you can! I could go on and on about all the benefits of breastfeeding, both for you and your baby. That’s a topic for another post, though! For now, I’m going to give you the top tools to purchase ahead of time to make sure your experience goes as smoothly as possible!

Tools You Need To Breastfeed Successfully

A Great Nursing Bra – A great nursing bra will be your very best friend. You want to purchase a few that are sturdy (you’ll need to wash them often!), and also that provide easy access. When you have a hungry infant in one arm the last thing you want to do is sit for several minutes fumbling to get them to the goods! I recommend purchasing 2-3 of the top rated ones. After you try them out stock up on several of your favorite!

A Great Pumping Bra – Wait, didn’t we just cover this? Actually, you’ll want bras for nursing, and different bras for pumping! Especially if you’ll be pumping often, or continuing to breastfeed once you return to work, this is an absolute necessity. The best pumping bra is one that will allow you to pump hands free. Pumping can consume huge amounts of time, and time is so valuable as a mom with a baby! Reclaim your time with hands-free pumping!

The Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra is absolutely one that you should consider purchasing. It has received rave reviews from over 6,500 fans on Amazon (Wow!!!) Click through to read all the tips, tricks, and recommendations from fellow nursing moms! Then keep on reading and don’t miss the bottom–I’m actually giving one of these amazing Pumping Bras away to one lucky reader!

An Efficient Pump – Pumps can seem like a huge expense, and it’s tempting to go for the budget-priced model. If you’ll only be pumping on rare occasions, this might be a good choice. If you plan to pump frequently, however, a great quality pump will make a huge difference. Efficient and high-quality pumps are far more comfortable, and they also pump remarkably faster. Again, do your research on Amazon and searches to find the right quality for the right price! It’s certainly worth the time and effort.

A Nursing Pillow – A wrap-around nursing pillow helps make proper positioning and comfort for you and your baby a breeze! Of course Boppy is a huge and well-known brand, but many stores carry knock-off versions that are just as nice, if not better.

A Nursing Cover – You can nurse discretely anywhere at all, as long as you have a great cover! We highly recommend investing in these–it will keep you from hiding away all the time, and also from making anyone feel uncomfortable!

The biggest thing to look for is a cover with an open neckline. Eye to eye contact is important during nursing. Also, as babies get older they don’t love the feeling of a blanket over them. An open neckline keeps them tucked away without them feeling like something’s right on their head, which will cause them to continually try to throw it off. Being able to check in on your love is essential for making sure they get the proper latch, as well! The best open neck breastfeeding covers are just wide enough to allow you a good view, while also being only open enough so that you can see down, but anyone around you cannot.

Breastfeeding Friendly Bottles – When you do a combination of bottle and breast it’s a great idea to invest in bottles that are specifically designed for breastfeeding moms. These have nipples that are more similar to your own. This helps for an easier transition for baby when you’re bottle and breastfeeding.

I hope these tools you need to breastfeed successfully will help you! Do you have one I missed? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

Now it’s time for the giveaway!!!

One Lucky Winner Will Receive a Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra

Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

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Fun & Easy Ways to Promote Wellness In Your Family

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

How are you doing? How is your family doing?

Be honest, when you read that did you assume the fake, “Good, thanks. How are you?” smile and response you give the cashier? It’s easy to be so busy and frantic that we don’t realize that we’re really NOT doing that good, after all.

So how are you really doing?  How is your families wellness, their sense of well-being? Are you living healthy, fulfilling lives? When is the last time you smiled and laughed together? Today’s post is all about encouraging you to get those important moments into your life in fun and easy ways every day.

Fun & Easy Ways to Promote Wellness In Your Family

Play Together

This is one of the easiest and best ways to promote family wellness. It often gets lost in the cracks of homework, meals, and running here and there and everywhere though. When you’re focusing on wellness you don’t want it to feel like a burden, a chore, or just something to check off your to-do list.

It’s a recurring theme around here that we’re all busy. To make sure that playing together happens, you just have to get a tiny bit creative. I found things that were already in my routine and figured out how I could tweak them into play time together. Now when I take the kids to the park, instead of scrolling on my phone I jump in and play tag with them. After school we do a quick stop and walk to the pond and bring bread to feed the turtles and ducks. While I’m waiting for dinner to cook I put on our favorite music and we throw an impromptu dance party. When we have that awkward 10 minutes before we need to head out the door, we sneak in a few rounds of a card game.

When you think about it for just a bit, it’s easy to find some play time, and it benefits everyone in your family!

Unwind Together

Are you going constantly from the time you wake up far too early till the time your head hits the pillow? How would you describe putting your kids to bed? It is peaceful, or more like a war zone?

I can’t over stress how important just having a few hours to unwind each night is. Now, I understand that this can’t happen every night this time of year. But at least 3 nights out of the 5 weeknights you have, should allow you to have this unwind time.

I’ve built in a nice, solid chunk of time for us to unwind as a family and get ready for bed. First I have the kids take care of all their bedtime routine essentials. You know, baths, and brushing teeth and hair and all that good stuff. I also make sure we don’t forget one very important thing: Nature Made® Kids First® Vitamins!

When you get too busy another important wellness item that can get neglected is making sure you’re taking the vitamins and supplements you need. With a chunk of time dedicated to bedtime routine and unwind time together each day, you can be sure this no longer gets neglected. I recently re-stocked up on Nature Made® products for me and the kids at Target! I love stocking up on all our essentials before the holiday rush happens in earnest. Kids First® Gummies are for children 4 years older and up and you can see they have the great price point of $9.99. They’re the easy way for kids to take supplements and perfect to start the family on a healthy, tasty routine.

Another great reason to buy them right now is you can receive 30% off all Nature Made® products with Cartwheel, while supplies last!

After all the bedtime essentials are taken care of it’s time for the unwinding fun! Most nights the kids either get dedicated play time alone with me for 5 minutes, or I help them clean up their rooms if it needs it. Then I read out loud with them from a chapter book. This time also includes talking and sharing with each other. It’s amazing how much they’ll open up at the end of the day!

The kids aren’t the only ones who need unwind time, though! I make sure I also have plenty of downtime each evening. For me, this includes time hanging out with the hubby and usually reading a good book. I also make sure that my night time routine also includes Nature Made® Multi for Her + Omega-3 Adult Gummies or Nature Made® Hair Skin and Nails Adult Gummies. The Nature Made® Multi for Her + Omega-3 Adult Gummies are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, D3, and E, as well as key B vitamins (folic acid, biotin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12), and important minerals such as chromium and zinc.

I can always tell the difference when we have that crucial time to unwind and take care of ourselves, and when we don’t. Try looking at things you can let go of to see if it makes a big difference in your wellness, too!

Participate in the Complaint Flip Challenge Together

The amount of information and connection of the age that we live in is one thing that I’m continually thankful for! However, it can also become negative and overwhelming. It all depends on how and what we choose to focus in on, to let into our brains, and allow to take camp and dwell there.

I’m especially bad about this, and so I’ve learned to become very selective on what I allow myself to focus on, and what we as a family focus our time around. We’re way too busy to be having a bunch of sad, bad, or especially drama filled thoughts floating around up there. We need room for the good, the purposeful, and the creative!

The only way to get into this habit is to work on catching yourself when you’re not focusing on the good and “flipping” it. I’ve mentioned on social media that the past few weeks have been especially trying for us. Lots of bad crazy unexpectedly thrown into the other crazy of this season (isn’t that how it always works?!). To help ease the stress and stay focused on the good as things come up I take action, or I “flip” them in my thinking. If it’s something big and sad instead of dwelling on it I think of one tangible thing I can do to help. For example: donate to the areas that need relief, or bring a meal to a friend who just had surgery. Then, knowing I’ve done what I can, I can move on.

For things that happen to me that I can’t do this on, this is where the “flip” mentality comes in. Instead of focusing on the complaint, I find at least one blessing in the bad, or that the bad brings to mind. For example, say moths decide to overtake our pantry. Then the exterminator needs to come out to come kill them. In order for him to do that I have to move *all* of the food out of the pantry, wipe it down, and throw a lot away. Instead of focusing on all the complaints, I find the good. Two good things here are I’m thankful that we have a pantry full of food, in a country where pest control is relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated.

Challenge your family for one week to try and put this into practice. You might take a few minutes at a meal, on the way home from school, or after homework to share what you’re having troubles with currently and practice doing this together. Don’t nag or push. After all, this is to promote togetherness and refocusing our thoughts. Keep it should be low pressure and fun! Do this every so often when you feel that your family could benefit from it.

It’s amazing how much better our lives become, simply when we switch how we choose to look at them.

Hopefully, by adding in these fun, easy ways your family will feel a whole new sense of wellness every day! Do you have any ways that you add happiness and wellness into your life? I’m always up for amazing ideas! Leave me a comment and let me know! Also, don’t forget to stock up and save 30% off all Nature Made® products with Cartwheel, while supplies last!

† 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

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Easy Ways To Sneak Adventure Into Your Family’s Life

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

There are a couple of quotes that I love, that I feel so strongly about it’s like I came up with them (or, rather, could have if I’d been so clever). You’ve heard me say them before, and chances are you’ll hear me say them again. But they’re Just. That. Good.

Collect Memories, Not Things

&

Not All Who Wander Are Lost ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

Life is the sum of the experiences we have, and the people that we share them with. As a busy-crazy parent, though, it’s all too easy to lose sight of that in the million-mile long to-do list. Especially during this time of year, it’s far too easy to lose our sense of adventure and playfulness and focus on the urgent instead of the important. So today I want to really encourage you to block out some time for some adventure! There’s another new quote I just came across that I love, too:

We were born to play. We were born to move. We were born to laugh and to seek adventures both big and small. We were born to live a full, flavorful live. We were Born to Shred. ~ Shredded Wheat Cereal

I love this!! It so embodies the life I want to live and give my family.

However, as you recently saw when I shared how I rock this back to life season, I’m as crazy busy as everyone else! I don’t have the time, money, or energy for going to Europe or Skydiving at the moment. There are plenty of ways to fill your life with adventures that you can easily sneak into even your busy crazy weeks! So today I’ll be sharing them with you, plus giving you practical tips for how to make sure they actually happen.

But first…

I just *couldn’t* be an adventuring mom of nearly 10 years without throwing in some tips and tricks on how to make your adventure go smoothly!! After all, while chaotic adventures are still adventures, they don’t exactly make for the sweetest memories.

Fuel Up! Whatever you’re into, fuel it with Post® Shredded Wheat! Hanger is a true thing (at least in this family) and making sure that everyone is well fed before heading out for the day not only saves you money, it also ensures that you’ll be able to tackle your adventure!

Shredded Wheat has just come out with 3 delicious new Frosted flavors which are Mixed Berry, Cinnamon Roll, and S’mores Bites! Not only are these perfect for breakfast, but they also make great on-the-go adventure snacks! One of my kids all-time favorite snacks to bring along is dry cereal in a baggie, and these delicious combos are perfect for that!

Extra Awesome? Right now you can take advantage of this great iBotta offer for Shredded Wheat cereal at Walmart and earn $3 cash back! Just click on the picture to get all the details!

Once you’re fueled up for the day, bag some extra for a snack, bring along drinks, make sure your car is all set, and head out on one of these Easy Adventures!

*Explore Every Local Park In Your Hometown

Most cities have a website with a Parks Directory. Search for yours or even find it by looking up the map views of your hometown online. Then visit each park at least once with your family! Parks are my favorite spot for easy week day adventures. Especially here in Texas they usually are so much more than just playgrounds and can include fishing ponds with ducks and turtles, hiking paths, sports fields, and more! Often parks will have special events that happen in them, so search these up too for a chance to find out about concerts, movies, and yearly events that happen there.

*Visit Your Closest National or State Park, or Nature Preserves

These are gorgeous gems that often tourists will travel for days (or in the case of National Parks, the world) to see. The crazy thing is that I’ve often found that the locals have never visited these spots, or only gone a handful of times. Pick one of these and make a day trip on a weekend! These also often have websites completely dedicated to all there is to do, see, and participate in them. In Wyoming, my parents live just a day trip away from all of all the above, and they even include the wide variety of desert regions to the gorgeous mountains lakes and streams!

*Check Out A Locally Owned Store You’ve Never Visited On the Town Square

How many locally owned stores do you have in your town? Even (and especially) in itty-bitty towns there are Mom and Pop Stores, Local Bakeries, and Thrift Stores. Hit up your main town square which usually includes a beautiful mix of old buildings and these shops and poke into places you’ve never been! You might even discover little, hidden treasures like we did when we stumbled across a little free library in our town square.

*Go Painted Rock Hunting & Hiding

While traditional rock hunting has always been loads of fun, there’s a new twist to this classic past time that’s popping up everywhere! People are painting rocks, then hiding them for others to find. Anyone can join in on the fun, and you can easily find or start a group for your hometown using Facebook!

*Learn A New Skill As a Family–like Archery or Taekwondo

Pick a hobby or skill that every member of your family can participate in, and then do it! This can be as simple as searching for videos on how to do a few simple moves or steps of a skill, or you can get dedicated and sign up the entire family to learn together! Active skills are great, but this could also be something like finding a group video game to do together or completing a DIY project.

Want to remember these plus even more ideas? Here’s a printable for you as a way to get inspired to sneak adventure into your life!

Want to make sure this actually happens? Take out your calendar now! Pick 4 of the easiest and put them on your schedule, one a week. Now, pick one of the bigger adventures and put it down for one weekend in the coming month. Then repeat! I promise that if you carve out the time you won’t regret it! The rich experiences and new memories will make you feel alive and encourage you as it draws you closer together as a family. Every state and hometown has its own unique hidden treasures, and I’ve found you’ll love and appreciate where you live so much more when you take a few minutes to go adventuring to them and discover new ones along the way!

Don’t forget to Fuel Up With Your Favorite New Shredded Wheat Flavor before and on the go! Looking for even more amazing and inspiring ideas? Check out all the great ones on Pinterest Here!

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Creative Solutions To Teaching & Rewarding Your Older Kids

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I’m being compensated to share this fun, interesting new option for rewarding your kids with you today!

 

It’s clear by many different posts that I’ve shared with you why I think that having your kids help around the house is so beneficial. I’ve shared our system with you, and how it’s evolved through the years. We’re still using the method where the kids work to earn money or screen time. This is perfect for the ages they’re at, but as Amber gets older at a lightning speed, I’ve been thinking towards the future.

So when I first heard about BusyKid I thought it was a super intriguing idea! It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of millennials are not invested in the stock market.  I agree that the stock market has always felt super intimating to me. Although I have an IRA I’ve never actively participated in purchasing stock. I love this easy way to introduce your kids to it, and how it opens up their options for the money they earn. I thought my readers with older kids would especially appreciate learning about this new and innovative option!

Also, did you know that right now in the US, only 7 states require high school students to pass a basic finance test in order to graduate, and it’s possible depending on where you live, that your child would never spend one hour talking about this important topic before being on their own. This means as parents we need to make sure our kids are equipped with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to succeed.

For a limited time, 2 kids of each new family will receive a free $10 stock.  BusyKid wants kids to learn how to invest so they decided to give them their first experience in dealing with the stock market. Also, right now you can enroll the entire family for $14.95 a year and get first 30 days free.

So what exactly is BusyKid and how does it work? Here’s some information from the company:

Think of BusyKid as your child’s first job with direct deposit. Your child can earn, save, share, spend and invest a weekly allowance. By using BusyKid regularly from a young age, your children can start building a routine they can use when it’s time for them to be living on their own.

Earn Your Stock – Let your children earn money to invest by completing chores around the house. By using BusyKid, your children can automatically turn their allowance into investments. In addition to the stock option, you can also use BusyKid to make direct donations to several charities, to transfer funds to bank accounts.

There’s also the option to Add a BusyKid Spend Card (rechargeable Debit Card) for just $5 per year. The BusyKid Spend Card allows your child to spend allowance in-stores or online, or transfer fund to other bank accounts.

I love how these options set up an account that mimics the real world while still letting the parent be in charge of a completely customized system!

To get the whole scoop on this innovative new system visit their website here!

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5 Ways To Power Through Your Crazy Week

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC., The Coca-Cola Company, and Conagra Brands all opinions are mine alone. #PowerfullySmart #CollectiveBias

Life. Is. Busy.

I know, I know. It’s a recurring theme around here lately. But seriously, this time of year is SO BUSY for me, and I know it is for you, too! For a while, I was just really struggling to keep up the energy and drive that I needed to tackle this season (literally and figuratively).

The first thing I did was to get organized and come up with a schedule to keep things on track and from slipping through the cracks. I recently shared that with you in my How To Rock Your Back To Life post. All the organization in the world, though, doesn’t do you a bit of good if you’re so exhausted you can’t get through it, or so distracted that you can’t focus.

So today I’m sharing with you things I’m doing in my life to be able to Power Through My Busy Week and actually manage to accomplish half of that list!

Get Enough Rest

Again, I know, I know. You’ve heard this one a million times, and chances are you might even laugh at it. Like, HOW is it possible to get enough rest? This one has always been super challenging for me, too. For one, I’m a night person so living in a morning person world now that the kids are in school is not pleasant. Also, I’m one of those “lucky” people who truly does need 8-9 hours of good sleep or their whole world is out of joint.

These are the things that have really helped me be able to get the rest I need. Some you’ve heard before, and others are a little non-conventional, but hopefully, they’ll get your mind going on how YOU can get the rest you need. As you’ll see you can tweak your routine according to your personality. The more you know about yourself the more you’ll be able to make it work. For example, extroverts and introverts both need time alone each day–but for opposite reasons!

  • Early Bedtimes For Kids – So a lifesaver for me is that my kids have early bedtimes. Even at ages 7 & 9, they’re both still in bed with doors shut at 7:30 almost every night. Then they can stay up reading or cleaning/organizing their rooms until 8, which is lights out. They’re both extroverts, like me, so this time alone helps them to get tired and shut down their brains for the night. Which plays right into the next step
  • Intentionally Wind Down— When my kids go down for the night is also when I stop working. I shut down my email and my social media and I “mush” for the night. This is so helpful. As I mentioned I’m an extrovert and a night person. In order for me not to be jazzed and my brain not to be whirling into the middle of the night, I have to intentionally shut it down. Plus I think there really is something to that screen light keeping you awake theory (look it up if you’re curious). Cuddling up in a comfy room, with dim lights, and a good book makes it possible for me to pass out easily at a decent time every night!
  • Sleep In — Yepp. You read that right. While there are a ton of articles on the merits of waking up early, I’ve found it’s best for me if I hit that snooze. My kids actually are up *before* I am. *gasps*. But, as I mentioned, they’re the ones who have to be up, dressed, and ready for the day early on. All I need to do is be up in time to make sure they’re good to go, haven’t forgotten anything, and drive them to drop off. It’s amazing what this extra 20 minutes of light snooze does for me each morning. It gives my inner not-a-morning-person a chance to ease into the day–while still in my cozy bed.

Power Up With Your Food

I hate breakfast. I wish I didn’t and I know how (supposedly) it’s the most important, but usually, I skim by with just a little of something like Greek Yogurt. I think it’s that whole “not a morning person” thing still. Because I go lightly on breakfast, though, it means I need a delicious, filling, and smart meal to help me power through the rest of my busy day. I also need something convenient and quick. Since I work from home I don’t want to spend a lot of time whipping up a meal during my precious little lunch break.

Que Healthy Choice® Power Bowls and smartwater. This dynamic duo is the perfect answer to lunch!

First off, let’s talk hydration. Because, really, it should go without saying, but I will anyway. There’s absolutely no way to power through your busy week if you’re not staying hydrated with water! Personally drinking water is one thing that I’ve always been really good at. I love it and it loves me! I know so many of my readers have trouble drinking water, though, so I’d love to introduce you to smartwater. It comes in this gorgeous, sleek packaging and is vapor-distilled for purity, inspired by the clouds, with just the right amount of electrolytes for a uniquely clean taste. If you don’t drink enough water because of disliking how it tastes, you need to purchase this brand! I love the size of the bottle, too. For someone who chugs water all day, this is the just-right amount for lunch or when I’m out and about!

And now for the food! For me, food has to taste delicious, or I just don’t want it. However, I know I need power for my days so I’m trying to be more intentional about what I’m putting in my body. That’s why I was attracted to Healthy Choice® Power Bowls. They are food with purpose that insist that every ingredient matters. They’re also made with an intentional balance of vegetables, proteins, and whole grains to fuel your lifestyle. They come in a variety of bold, fun flavors:

  • Adobo Chicken Bowl
  • Cuban-Inspired Pork Bowl
  • Chicken Sausage And Barley Bowl (my favorite!! I just love the flavor combination in this one, soooo tasty and filling!)
  • Korean-Inspired Beef Bowl

You can find both these products at Walmart! And right now you can even Earn .75 cash back when you purchase Healthy Choice® Power Bowls at Walmart (any variety – any size) through iBotta!

Another thing to do when you’re eating is to **Just Eat**

This is a tough one. When your schedule gets so completely jam-packed it’s possible to want to over-task every single second. I’ve found that this ends up in a very frazzled, tired, and stressed out me! Even if you’re making these for on the go, find a spot, sit down, and actually just *enjoy* eating and drinking. It only takes a few moments and just the act of taking a break and enjoying your food makes a huge difference in giving you power and energy for your day!

Create a Stress-Free Space

This is another big one! When you get overly busy is also when those things that *can* slip through the cracks, do. Often this means that workspaces get super chaotic looking and cluttered. For me, clutter absolutely adds stress into my life. I find it much harder to focus and concentrate when working in an untidy space (although usually, I don’t even consciously realize that’s what’s going on). This also applies to my first step, as well. If your master bedroom looks like a storage room instead of a restful oasis, chances are it’s adding to your exhaustion. Clear the clutter, add in some items that bring you joy, and get back to being productive! Wondering how on earth you can find the time to do this with your current workload? Read on!

Find Your Sweet Spot

In my post on organization, I mentioned how using timers can be huge for helping increase focus and productivity. Learning how and when you work best can make or break this system. For example, I’ve found that when I’m working at the computer I’ll be super focused….and then “all of a sudden” I’ll find myself rabbit trailing down a sea of mindless social media scrolling, stray post clicking, or thinking about the million other to-dos.

By using my timers I’ve found that my brain can focus and work hard for 30-45 minutes. At this point, I start to get distracted by everything. So now I set my timer for 30-45 minutes depending on my daily schedule. Then after that, I reset my timer for 10-15 minutes to do something that breaks me away from whatever I’ve been focused on. Usually, I try to make this something when I get up and move around. So these time chunks are where you’d work in de-cluttering your work area! It’s amazing how much you can get done in 10-15 minutes when you’re motivated. Since I work from home this is the block of time that I do my laundry and other housework in. It takes the time that my brain would automatically be zoning out in and works in active, productive activities. I find once I’m back it’s so much easier to refocus!

Move Your Body

When your life gets busy crazy it’s soooo easy to also let being active slip to the wayside. Again, this is one of the worst things you can do since it’s a great source of energy! I’ve found that during this time of life I just have to get super creative with *how* I’m sneaking exercise into my routine. As you know for a long while I worked on our treadmill once the kids were in bed each night. Over the past half a year, however, for several reasons that just wasn’t working well any longer. Then I came up with a great idea.

When my kids worked out, I joined them! At first, this looked like me playing with them on the playground. When I ran us by after school, instead of scrolling on my phone while they played tag, I joined in! This was a great “work smarter not harder” move as it combined quality time with them and moving for me.

This summer they joined our local martial arts school. For months I’ve sat and watched them while I played on my computer a few times a week. Then I realized that with the group discount rate my husband and I could both join in for just a little bit extra each month. Last week I officially started and we’re all loving it! Our local school combines kid and adults, so we’re all out there together. Again, a super win for working smarter not harder.

Chances are good you have active kids, too. When they’re active find a way to move *your* body as well. That might be playing with them, or walking around the track, or going out for a jog during that time. It’ll look different for us all, but it doesn’t have to be hard!

Have any amazing tips I missed? I’m always looking for more ways to power through my own oh-so-crazy days!  Leave me a comment letting me know and don’t forget to use the iBotta offer on your next trip to Walmart!

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