A “One-derful” Woodland Adventure

Another Birthday for the Books

Turning one is a “one-derful” occasion that deserves a grand celebration! Here is a recap of the fun filled “One-derful” Woodland Adventure birthday party we held for our little one!

Inspired by the books:

(If you haven’t read these books…YOU NEED TO! They are the cutest stories with rich language and pictures that really add to the story.)

A New Motto: Simplify

Another birthday has come and gone for my little ones! I can now sit back and sigh a little sigh of relief knowing that it was pulled off without a hitch! Sure there were hiccups. The day ended up being 94 degrees with a 25+ mile an hour wind, both of which makes outside parties a challenge. But we all pulled together and made it work.

As a mom who has done a “big” birthday party 7 times now, I’m realizing it is okay to just let things go and just enjoy the moment. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and the internet has glorified these parties to become big ordeals with gorgeous decorations, perfect looking food, and elaborate activities. They have made the whole party become a big production with all the stress of what it “should” be.

I know first hand that stress. I’ve been fallen into the trap numerous times. You can see one of them here.

The one thing that keeps me doing these parties is the fact that the girls will talk about them ALL the time. They will bring up little details throughout the year that I never would have thought that they remembered. To me that is most important. It is a big deal to them and therefore I will continue to throw them the best birthday party that I can. However, I’m sticking with my new motto of simplifying things as much as possible!

I embraced the simplification as much as possible this time around and it made the party so much more enjoyable for me. There were a few decorations that were made that added to the “one-derful” Woodland Adventure. But as you will see when you read on, my village really came through on the decorations this year! I also tried to get food that fits the Woodland theme but my other stipulation was that it had to be easy! And there were no themed games but we had TONS of water fun (totally not related to a “One-derful” Woodland Adventure) since it was SOOOO hot!

It does take a village.

The other amazing this about this “one-derful” birthday is the fact that so many amazing people pulled together to help with this party! As you can see when you read below I have some amazing people in my life! They are pretty “one-derful”! (Sorry I just couldn’t resist!) Like I said before, it takes a village!

It is tradition that my mom makes the cake and the smash cake. The girls have always loved the fact that their Mema makes the cakes for them. And let me personally tell you that not only do they look amazing but they taste delicious! Fitting with the “One-derful” Woodland theme and the story Hedgehugs, she made a hedgehog cake!

The birthday girl with her Mema and the hedgehog cake!
Seriously the cutest hedgehog cake ever!
I love how she put the smash cake on a slice of a log and spelled her name out with pretzel sticks.

For another feature of a gorgeous cake that Mema made, check out my two year old’s Party Animals Birthday!

“One-deful” Woodland Decor:

My amazing friend came and made the high chair fabric banner with my girls while I was helping my husband lay bricks for a new patio. (Yes, we were crazy enough to put in a new patio ourselves two weeks before the party! It was down to the wire getting it done but we pulled it off and I’m so happy with how it turned out! It got a good workout the day of the party!) These banners are super easy to make. Just find fabric that matches your colors and theme.

That same friend and I actually sewed the big Happy Birthday banner for my oldest’s first birthday. I love the rich look of the cloth banner and the colors seem to work for every theme we have had. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work to make the banner. We had to sew all of the triangles and then ironing on the letters. I’m not a sewer so this was a daunting task. Thankfully my friend is amazing and she walked me through it. Best of all, once it is complete it really simplifies things for all the other birthday parties!

My wonderful sister had been looking at every target in the twin cities for the number one balloon at their dollar spot. She did end up finding it right before the party. When we opened the package, it was less than a foot tall and there was no way to put helium in it. Thank goodness the 50-50 Factory Outlet has every number balloon available and so she ran and got helium put a number 1 from their store!

The birthday girl holding the large helium filled number 1 balloon!
The birthday girl holding the large helium filled number 1 balloon!
Birthday girl standing near a small one balloon holding the letters O N E.
Here is the Target dollar spot number 1 balloon so you can see the size comparison!

Another amazing friend of mine helped created the adorable onsie for her birthday! It says “One-derful” on the front and has a number one with a bow on it on the back! I’m in love with how it turned out!

 

Those of you that read the blog frequently or who check our Instagram probably know I LOVE Shutterfly! A few months before the party I got an email with an offer for a free poster! I decided to create a number one poster with a few pictures of the birthday girl! Not only is it a cute decoration but it is also an amazing keepsake! I’d say it turned out “one-derful”!

When I was shopping for the fabric for the high chair banner, I stumbled upon these cute wooden animals at JoAnn Fabric. I nabbed up a few and set them up near the food. I also have little chalkboard signs that I’ve found at the Target Dollar Spot that I use for every birthday to label the food. These are great since I can label the food to what the theme is for each party and just erase it for the next time. Simple: my new motto here!

Another talented friend made the gorgeous 3-D flower banner that went above the food table! She couldn’t even come to the party because she was out of town but she was so sweet to help with the decorations! I love the flowers because in the book Hedgehugs and the Hattipillar, they get flowers stuck to their quills that look quite similar!

Forest Food:

I tried to keep the food as simple as possible while still sticking to the theme. The main part of the meal was the brats (a.k.a. logs). For sides we had salad (Field Greens), fresh fruit (wild berries and melons), pretzel sticks (twigs), and celery with peanut butter and raisins (ants on a log). I put the pretzel stick “twigs” in brown paper bags with the tops rolled down. Originally I wanted to place these bags outside on the tables for people to snack on through the day however, with such strong winds we had to keep it all inside.

Drinks:

The week before the party I found this cute little Melissa and Doug lemonade/grocery store at a thrift sale! It worked perfect for a drink station! I knew that keeping everyone hydrated would be critical on a scorching hot day! We refilled the lemonade often as well as had water and other adult beverages in coolers near by.

Entertainment:

Since it was a birthday for a one year old I decided I would relax a little and not stress about planning games and activities. I did cover the tables with white rolls of paper and put mason jars of colored pencils on them. (Originally I wanted to fill the jars with crayons but that would melt in the scorching heat!) People could decorate the tables with any little drawings and messages that they wanted.

Other than that, I just wanted everyone to stay cool! I told anyone with children to have them come with swimsuits! We set out our pool and our water table. (I’ve raved about this water table on our Products We Love page.) Then we borrowed a pirate water table and the giant inflatable water slide from neighbors! The kids were more than entertained for hours! They had so much fun hopping from different water thing to another. But, by far their favorite was of course the water slide! After the party my husband came to the conclusion that investing in a blow up water slide like this is totally worth it for anyone who has children!

The highlight of our party…the water slide!
Of course we must always add all the ball pit balls to our swimming pool for extra fun!

It was another “one-derful” party for the books! I couldn’t have done it without my village. For more on my village click here!

Experience Gifts for Dad

Because the best memories are made together!

Most Dad’s want nothing more than to spend time with their family on Father’s Day. An experience gift is perfect especially for the Dad who seems to have it all. Check out these fun ideas for unique ways to create special memories that Dad will treasure forever!

Backyard Lawn Game Tournament

Set out all the different lawn games in your yard and have a fun family tournament. Enjoy ladderball, Bag Toss, Yard Yatzee, Jenga, Lawn Darts, or of course our Eau Claire favorite Kubb. (If you don’t have some of these games they would be a great Father’s Day present as well!)

Camp in the Back Yard

Set up a tent and pack a few camping essentials to create the perfect back-yard getaway! Dad will love the simplicity and fun of this easy experience gift! It’s a perfect way to create lasting memories together!

Fishing

 There are a lot of great local spots to spend the day fishing! Grab your poles and a container of worms and relax with Dad by the water. Catching a fish is just an added bonus to spending the day with Dad.

Hiking

Everyone pack some snacks and good walking shoes for a fun time exploring nature. Take in the sights and sounds as you explore uncharted territory. We took my husband out the other day and the kids were so excited to find different places where a beaver had chewed! It was like a scavenger hunt trying to find the beaver itself!

Build and Create Together

If the Dad in your life is anything like the guys I know, they love to build and create things! It also gives him a chance to use the new tools you’ve bought him. Find a fun Pinterest project to create and have all the supplies set up to do a family project.  When you are all finished you can proudly display what you created and share the memories every time you see the finished product!

Take a Road Trip

Find a local highway or just a fun nearby town to set out on an adventure with Dad. Let the day just take you in any direction. You will have so much fun just going with whatever comes your way. Just think of all the unique memories you can create together! Plus some of the best conversations seem to happen in car rides! Or see if there is a National Park or Monument not too far from you that you can check out!

Arcade or Fun Zone Afternoon

In our City we have a place called Action City that is every Man’s childhood dream come true playground! I’m sure that there is something similar around your town. Take Dad and the kids to spend the afternoon checking out the new trampoline park, playing laser tag, crashing around on the go-carts, or flying 130 feet up in the air on their new zip-line! There is nothing better than watching Dad play and laugh with the kids. If you can’t find a place like this in your area, create your own and go to a fun playground, bring some squirt guns or Nerf guns and have at it!

Tickets to a Game

Take Dad to go see the Packers or the Brewers play or I guess any other sports team would do as well. Spend the day creating memories together as you take in the sights and sounds of a game. For those Dads who seem to have it all these experience gifts are perfect! (For a less expensive, local option you could always go to a local team game in your town.)

Golf Outing

Golfing together is another great experience gift for Dad. Spend the day on the green zipping around on a golf cart. A few adult beverages, a bucket of balls, and some clubs would make most Dads ecstatic.

Whatever you choose to get or do, make sure that you let the special Dad in your life know he matters and that you notice all the little things he does! And don’t forget to check out our other post for 10 different craft ideas for the kid’s to make Dad.

 

10 Father’s Day Crafts for Kids

Father’s Day is just around the corner! That means it is time to start thinking about things that the kids can do to make Dad feel special. Below are 10 super quick and easy things that your little ones can do with your assistance for Dad on Father’s Day.

  1. Hands Down the Best Dad:

    I think the title gives you a clue as to what you need to do. Paint their hands and have them leave handprints on a piece of card stock. Then write the catch phrase or have them write it! Father’s Day is the perfect time to let Dad know he is “Hands Down the Best!”

Two handprints with the saying "Hands Down Best Dad Ever!"

  1. You’re My Superhero:

    While you have that paint out, you can also whip up these cute little superhero prints! Using a sponge and light blue paint, have your child stamp out a sky pattern all over a piece of white card stock. Allow the sky to dry. Then paint their foot and stamp that down on the piece of card stock for the body of the superhero. Use their handprint as the cape. Cut out a circle for the head and a small circle for the hand. Have your child glue those pieces on and draw in the face/hair. There you have it, a Father’s Day superhero portrait!

Footprint body and handprint cape to create a flying superhero with the catch phrase "You are my superhero!"

  1. Following In My Daddy’s Footsteps:

    You may be noticing a pattern; I really like handprints and footprints. Father’s Day is such an important time to let Dad know that the little ones really do look up to him. This is another adorable and easy project to complete for Dad. Stamp his shoe in black paint or have your kids paint the bottom of it with a paintbrush. Then print it on a piece of card stock. After it dries, paint your child’s foot and lay that down on top of Dad’s shoe print. Add the phrase “Following in my Daddy’s Footsteps!” and you are all set!

Shoe print with a child's footprint inside with the saying "Following in my Daddy's Footsteps!"

  1. Self-Portrait:

    Nothing is cuter than seeing what you look like in the eyes of your child, right?! Draw the outline of a head, neck, and shoulders on a piece of white paper. Let your kids create the Father’s Day masterpiece from there!

Child's portrait of what they think their Dad looks like.

  1. Crayon Resistance Painting:

    This is by far my go to project for cards and thank you notes! It is super simple and the kids have fun creating it. That a double win in my book! On a white piece of card stock write out the message you want to appear with a white crayon. Set out the water colors (I’ve linked our favorite water colors) and a cup of water and let the kids create the masterpiece. Make sure that they paint all of the paper so that the message comes out clear! No matter how many times you do this type of project, it never fails that they will get super excited when the message starts to appear!

Water color paint with many colors with the words "Daddy we love you!" showing through in white.

  1. Dad Survey:

    Mother’s Day is during the school year and most of you know that the kids come home with this cute little survey all about you! It’s hilarious to read and melts your heart all in one. But Father’s Day is not during the school year, therefore, most Dad’s do not get the joy of these cute little surveys. So why not do it for them! It’s super easy to type up a page for them to either fill in or answer as you record. Insert their funny antics on the line and sit back and enjoy Dad’s expression as he reads it on Father’s Day.

A filled in "All about Daddy" survey done by a four year old.

  1. Side Walk Chalk Pictures:

    As you might have guessed, we love photographs over here. This is one of my favorite projects for us to do. If you check out my Instagram you will see a few others that we have created for other events! Draw a fun background with a little message to Dad wishing him a Happy Father’s Day. Have the kids lay down on it and get above them to take a cute picture. The large pack of Crayola Sidewalk Chalk is a must for any chalk drawing this summer!

(DON’T DO THIS IN YOUR OWN DRIVEWAY UNLESS YOU ARE GOING TO WASH AWAY THE EVIDENCE!)

A Moon with kids around it and the saying "We love you to the Moon and back" as a Father's Day picture present!
Okay, so getting all the kids to look at you and have it not be too bright is definitely a challenge when you need to do it during that day because Daddy is home at night! That’s why the next idea may work a little easier, unless you have bigger kids than mine!!
  1. Shadow Picture:

    Write out your message in block letters. Cut out the letters and have your child hold the sign up on a sunny day! Easy right!? And best of all you don’t even have to worry if all the kids are actually looking at the camera!

Shadow of three kids holding a sign that says We (Heart) Daddy!

  1. Photo Gifts:

    I love Shutterfly! We are always working on books, mugs, or printing prints from there. A coffee mug is always a fun way to show Dad every day how much he means to you! Sit down with your children and have them pick the pictures that they think Dad will like the best. Fill it with his favorite treat or a fun pair of socks and you are golden! Or create a special Daddy and Me book as a keepsake. Add special pictures of the kids and Dad! Browse their website for a bunch of unique Father’s Day gift ideas! Put those cute photographs that you had the kids try out from the last two ideas to use on some amazing products on Shutterfly!

Two picture coffee mugs and a photo book about Daddy.

  1. Dad You Rock:

    Father’s Day is the perfect time to tell Dad how much he “Rocks”. Grab a rock and have your child paint it! Once it dries write on it with a sharpie marker!

A hand holding a painted rock that says "You Rock Daddy!"

There you have it, 10 easy projects that you can do with your child for Father’s Day!

Do you have a special project that you like to do for Father’s Day? Feel free to share it below!

As you know being a Dad isn’t always easy. Check out the Dad’s perspective on how it is living with a newborn to get an inside look at how the Dad in your life might be feeling!

The Power of “No” as a Parent

N-O- sure is a powerful two letter word. What happens when we use “no” too frequently?

“Say yes more often so that when you say “no” they know you mean it.” These words spoken on Zen Parenting Radio hit home. They made me stop and think about all the times in a day I say no.

As a parent to young kids, I feel like I’m always saying no.

“No, you can’t have another snack.”

“No, we already watched a Goldie and Bear so the TV is staying off.”

“No, I can’t push you on the swing right now.”

“No hun, I’m sorry we aren’t getting the paint set out right before dinner.”

Baby smiling on a swing with hands in the air.

Okay, you get it! The list just seems to go on. These are all true statements that I uttered just today!  I really should make a point of counting the number of times I say “no” verses the number of times I say “yes”. Sadly, I wonder if my “no’s” would be more frequent than the “yeses”. I understand there is a fine line to walk between spoiling your child by giving in to their every whim and begin too firm all the time. But somewhere in there I need to make an effort to find a better balance.

I need to realize that it really isn’t a big deal if they have more ketchup. Just squirt a tiny bit more and move on. And if they want a push on the swing, go do it! I’m going to miss their little giggle as they “fly” on the swing. One day I’m going to be wishing they would want me around. I’m going to be the one begging them to spend time with me!

Or instead of saying no to something they want to do, what about offering up something else instead. “Instead of painting before dinner, let’s grab these crayons and you can draw me your plate filled with your favorite foods!” I need to work on finding other ways of saying things so that I can save my “no” for when I truly mean it. I feel that compromising and relaying my message in a more positive way will have a profound impact on who they are and our relationship!

Mom and three daughters all covered in color from the Color Run.

It’s a goal of mine to start making a conscious effort to say yes more often. Life is too short and they are little only this fraction of a time. I’ve got to loosen up. I’ve got to put a more positive spin on how I approach things. I want my No’s to have meaning when I use them.

Leave the dishes, let the table stay dirty, the toys can be picked up later. Go and say yes! Be present! Say yes to the next book they ask to read or the game they have been begging to play. Do it and you may find that you truly enjoyed it as well. It feels good to let go a little.

Mom and three daughters by a scenic river.

Try it out and get back to me! Count the number of times you say “no” to your child. Then the next day try to find a more positive way to approach things. Tell me what you discovered!!

On a side note, if you haven’t checked out Zen Parenting Radio I highly recommend that you take the time to check them out! I listen to their podcasts all the time. I find myself relating to so much they say! They are so real about everything they discuss and make you really ponder how you are thinking and responding to different aspects of your life! Above is a direct link to their website and here is a link to their Facebook account Zen Parenting Facebook.

I try to make it a point to follow ZPR motto: “the best predictor of a child’s well-being is a parent’s self understanding”

Also for more on behaviors and positive parenting, check out our post about how we use a positive behavior plan on Yes, the Principal’s Kid Can Be Naughty!

I’m Sorry Mom-I Get It Now

Things I Realized After Having Kids

  1. Dinner time is a challenge. You worked really hard on that delicious meal. You probably racked your brain trying to come up with something you could throw together. You were careful to make sure it met the criteria–healthy and fast. You spent time prepping it and baking it. And then I wouldn’t eat. I get it now Mom. I get the frustration. I get the debate as to how many bites I must force myself to swallow before being excused. I get the exasperation when I’m hungry and asking for a snack an hour later. We are very strict about the kids eating what we eat in our house. I refuse to cook a special meal for each kid. And for the most part it has worked out just fine. Our kids have a pretty wide range of items that they enjoy eating but, we all have those days where it just seems they won’t eat anything!

2. Everything becomes a hazard or a fear of what might happen. Danger is lurking at every corner. I remember distinctly being unable to grasp why I couldn’t ride my bike around the block myself. I remember climbing up on top of the garage roof and peering at the cars below only to be summoned down by a frantic mom. I didn’t see the big deal then but man do I get it now. I mean seriously, I ordered a travel carbon-monoxide detector because what if they spend the night at a friend’s house and they don’t have one! (That’s a whole other post that I’ll get to another time!) I get it Mom, I couldn’t live with something happening to my children just like you couldn’t live with something happening to me!

I’m serious when I say that everything becomes a hazard. This is from a Frozen microphone. The jack that you use to plug in to your phone or computer somehow got lodged in her head!!!

3. Signing up for every camp, activity, and event that “everyone else is doing” is just not feasible. First of it would cost both arms to afford and secondly who has time for all that running!? While it is crushing as a kid to see “all” your friends in a million fun activities and not to mention the five different summer camps, I now understand.

As an alternative to all the camps and sports clinics, we often find local events around the community for the children to attend. This is from the Maker Faire. The kids got a first hand look at some amazing STEAM projects!

4. You were probably thinking, “You are a pretty cool kid, but NO YOU CAN’T SPEND EVERY WAKING MOMENT WITH ME!” You need a break too. I hear ya! You need a time-out from kids. A chance to just be, to breath, soak in a few minutes of silence and regroup. I mean really, you should be pretty flattered that I wanted to spend that much time with you right?! 😉 But in all seriousness I get it! My kids are amazing and I love them with all my being but sometimes I just need a little time for me.

5. No, the laundry didn’t get done today and we will be lucky if it gets done tomorrow. Your favorite pair of jeans are not clean and if you want to wear them to school you will have to wash them yourself. I GET IT NOW LAUNDRY IS NEVER ENDING!!!! My current view is three heaping baskets of laundry that need to be folded and put away and lord knows I’m being honest when I say that they have been that way for days now.

The Laundry Monster is one of our favorite books to read when the laundry is piled up for a few days. We now joke about our own “Laundry Monster” coming to get Mommy!
We are starting early learning how to fold, hang laundry, and match up socks! As Daniel Tiger says, “We are all BIG helpers in our family!”.

6. Going to see your Great Aunt Betty Jo Lee is important. She may be slightly senile and have a hard time hearing. She may have a thousand breakables that you are only aloud to look at and not touch. But you still need to do it. As a kid this can be so hard to understand! You just want to be outside or nose deep in a book or really anywhere but there. I get it now. Family is so important and one day you will regret not investing as many hours as you possibly could with those people. Life is short and unexpected. They may not be here tomorrow and we can’t take that for granted.

7. You picked our town to live in even though the winters are brutal and you never moved and now I see why. As a kid I swore I would get out of here as soon as I possibly could! I’d go somewhere warm with sunshine year round! Nope. I stayed put and as my husband would say, “my roots are planted deep here.” Our family is here and if you read number five you understand the strong feelings I have come to realize about being around your family. I need my family around and if that means taking more vitamin D pills a day to get my dose of sunshine then so be it!

 

I have a feeling this list has only just begun. I probably haven’t said this enough but Mom, your job was hard. Thank you for sticking with it and for doing everything you could to raise us to the best of your ability. You have shown us a strength and love unlike anyone else. I know so the reason for so many things that as a child I never could understand.

What is something that your parents did that, after becoming a parent yourself, you were able to reflect on and see in a much clearer light?

My mom and me on my 1st birthday!

Mom Resume: SAHM Re-Entering the Workforce

If you are anything like me the thought of going back into the work force is petrifying! Change can be so challenging sometimes and there are so may “what ifs” that can plague you. But before you can even go back you have to apply. Where do you even begin? What do you put on your resume?

I’ve only been out of the workforce for two years, technically less, since I took a “leave of absence” for some time. Check out the post Finding Me for more about my journey from the classroom to SAHM. Yet, even in that time I feel like many employers would disregard me considering I have no “Job” during this time.

I was recently notified of a local company looking for a very part time gig blogging. Immediately my ears perked up but my fear of rejection and change kicked in just as fast. The job description was very vague and so I wasn’t quite sure the type of person they were looking for. Being vague was actually probably pretty smart on their part in order to get a wide variety of applicants. However, my inner voice was saying “I’m sure you aren’t what they are looking for”. Then I stopped myself. I’ve been reading the book “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown in which it talks about “showing up and daring greatly”. She is both a researcher and story teller on the topic of vulnerability. She defines vulnerability as “the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome”. So I decided I must throw myself out there and see what happens.

Building the Resume:

I was easily able to complete a letter of interest stating why the job would be a good fit for me but the resume still plagued me. I think my husband could just sense my reservations and knew that I felt my resume was a daunting task. At one point I even told him “I have nothing.” Being a guy he wanted a solution, a fix to how I was feeling so that night he sat down with my old resume and chopped it up and helped me put it back together as whole new document.

And you must be asking yourself, “What did she put on as her current occupation?” We hemmed and hawed over if I should put “homemaker” or “stay at home mom” or what title would fit. Finally we decided on “In-home Early Child Educator” and I think that suites me well. Although in the teaching world I’m officially licensed as a 1-8 Educator, I am still an educator and currently my “students” range from 10 months to 4 years old.

Of course you need some descriptors regarding what skills you have gained from that job. We mentioned manages all scheduling, finances, and logistics of a family of five. We also included implement educational activities as important descriptors of my “job”.  All of which are valuable skills sets for both my household and for many occupations. It was decided. My current job was on the resume with a title that fit me just fine.

The Wait and a Lesson Learned:

So we shall see what comes of it. Most importantly, I’ve learned that what I do still matters and is important enough to fit in my resume. And my job is multifaceted and surely valued. I want to work for a company who can see the value in this time that I have dedicated to raising our children.

And I’m beyond thankful for a man who sees me and all that I do as a huge contributor to our family and helps push me to be vulnerable.

My current view as I type this blog…#momblogger

Yes, the Principal’s Kid Can Be Naughty: (PBIS) Behavior Plans and Systems that Work for Us

Only in educator land does the acronym PBIS really mean much. That is unless your Dad is principal and Mom used to be a teacher. Then it becomes a way of life at home. (I’m sorry kids, you got two educators as parents!) I’m writing this blog today because sometimes we get stuck in a rut. We keep running around like a hamster on a wheel trying to correct a behavior or redirect the same thing over and over without much success. We vent at night over a glass of wine as to why nothing is changing yet, we aren’t changing our responses either. I recently visited a good friend’s house and her son was proudly showing me his sticker chart. She was telling me about the bedtime behaviors that were causing headaches at their house and how finally she had decided to pull out the old sticker chart method! Grass roots genius behavior intervention! And it was working! And what did I do, I went right home and made two sticker charts for some problem behaviors that have been driving me crazy! It’s that sharing of what is working that I love so much about the community we have built on the internet. It often reminds us of some really awesome stuff that we know but sometimes forget until we see it again and it jogs our memory! And so coming full circle, here I am writing about some other Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) that we use in our house that have been working. It is nothing Earth shattering, nothing fancy just easy and successful! (As a mom of 3 ages 4 and under, I need something quick and easy!)

Ari is working on being respectful when someone asks her to do something and using her “big girl words” to express how she is feeling or what she needs instead of melting down. Em is working on no accidents all day! The little stars in the bottom corner indicate a little incentive they get. In this case it glow in the dark princesses from the Dollar Store.

In our home we have two mason jars sitting on our counter, visible to all and easy to reach by the older two children. We have filled one of the jars with a bunch of marbles. As we notice our children doing something great we compliment the behavior and tell them to go put a marble in the jar. Then they simply transfer a marble from one jar to the next. Is it every time they do something stellar? No. Do we have to remind each other every once and awhile to up the number of marbles being distributed? You bet! We are human and sometimes we forget. But our kids have held on to this idea and are working as a team to refill the other jar. So if they are sharing nicely, clean up without being asked, follow directions, show acts of kindness, etc. they have the possibility to earn a marble or two. And you are probably wondering what happens when they fill the jar? (Or in our case since our kids are a bit younger we chose to give incentives when the jar is ½ full and when it is completely full to keep them engaged.)

Enter into play our Choices Menu (a.k.a. Marble Mania Menu).

As a family, we brainstormed some ideas of things they thought would be special for them to earn. (Again it is nothing fancy, just a piece of cardstock with circles. Inside the circles are the ideas the children helped us come up with.) As some of you may know from previous blogs, I’m not a big fan of candy and sweets as rewards. Totally a personal preference. Don’t get me wrong we do eat sweets and a few of the ideas they brainstorms were edible which is totally fine, I just didn’t want all of the rewards to be sweets. My husband on the other hand, is not a fan of all the toys and “things” around the house so that eliminated the idea of something tangible most of the time. Therefore we wanted most of the choices to be experiences for the children. They didn’t have to be “big” experiences either. Some of the things on our chart include a mom or dad date, visit the children’s museum, go to the park, paint, bake, spend the night at Mema’s (grandma’s), go to McDonalds, etc. This does mean that some of them are not instantaneous rewards but, when we do get to do the item they chose we make a big deal about making sure they know that they earned this together from all their hard work and good choices. Once we do a choice, the girls color in the circle to eliminate that one from the menu. Pretty simple, yet effective in our house.

Here the girls chose a Popsicle as their reward for the marble jar. It worked out perfect because my middle child had been sick and I was doing anything and everything to get her to drink fluids!

The other thing that we needed to put into place at our house was a voice level chart. After our third baby was born, we felt like we were always telling our children to use quieter voices especially during rest time. We then decided we needed to be a little clearer as to our expectations of their voice level during different times of the day. We hung a poster on our refrigerator so that we could refer to it often. (Refer to the picture below.) We talked about different voice levels and practiced what they sounded like. Then we came up with times that each level should be used. Now they seem to have a clearer idea of what is expected, and I can quickly remind them with a number what level they need to be at. And as an added bonus, they will use the same number/voice system again when they enter school!

We think good behavior systems need to have balance.
Do our kids at home get a time-out for not cleaning up their toys? Of course. Do they also sometimes get a “marble in the jar” for cleaning up? You bet. But they also will clean up their toys without asking sometimes just to surprise us, because they like the feeling of making us happy. Those are the moral values that we celebrate the most in our house.

So there you have it, our home PBIS. Simple yet effective and best of all keeps a positive spin on behaviors.

Do you have a behavior system that works really well at your house? Share it with us! Leave it in the comments! We would love to hear what you are doing! Also, if you like what you are reading spread the word and feel free to share our blog with others.

 

 

 

 

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

“It takes a village to raise a child.” –Traditional African Proverb

When our first was born five and a half weeks premature those words rang so true to us. We stayed in the hospital that was two hours from our home. I was discharge early (only 24 hours) after an emergency C-section so that we could go be with my baby. My husband still had to work so he would drive up in the evenings and drive back home at night. We bounced from hotel room to hotel room until finally the Ronald McDonald house had an opening. It was something we would wish upon no one. But dang did our village come through for us. People put their lives on pause, took off days of work and stayed with us. They brought us little things to brighten our day or bought us dinner to make sure we took the time to nourish ourselves! Their words and hugs were things that some days we clung to. They were our village. In big moments in life it is easy to see the need to let people help. We know we couldn’t have done it without them.

Today, with a sick two year old, a four year old who just wants to have her playmate back, and a 10 month old who just wants Mommy to hold her ALL the time, I’m reminded again of my village. My poor toddler hasn’t been keeping anything down or refusing to even try to drink anything. As the hours dragged on I was frightened that I may have to take her in for IV fluids. Today, my village came in the form of a close friend yielding Pedialyte, popsicles, and a treat for the rest of us. (She knows me too well. Feeding myself was the last thing on my radar.) Next thing I know another village member comes to swoop up my four year old. She is busy playing with her little guy, eating ALL the popsicles and drinking gallons of chocolate milk, and best of all being smothered in hugs and kisses. I don’t have to have the guilt that I can’t give her the attention she craves. She is happy as be and that is worth so much to me. So the stars have aligned and the baby is actually napping (which if you follow me on Instagram you know this truly NEVER happens), the four year old is busy playing, and I’m able to cuddle this sleeping sick little one who kept a 1/3 a popsicle down! I need you guys and I’m so thankful for YOU!

Often I think we feel like we can do it ourselves. We don’t want to bother anyone else or burden them. But I’m here to tell you that you need your village and that is OKAY! Lean on them. That is what they are here for. And if they are anything like me, they feel good knowing they are needed and can help. Plus, they wouldn’t have offered if they didn’t want to. (Or at least that’s the way I feel…so if you are reading this and offer something, just know I might say yes!) You are human. You are one person trying to do so many things. Let people in. Let them help and I think you will find that not only will you be a happier person but your village and your relationships will strengthen.

 

Egg Dying With a Twist (Shaving Cream, Rice, or Tie-Dye)

Before you start dying eggs this year, I have to share with you this amazing way to get hard-boiled eggs that peel very easily! All you need to do is place eggs in a muffin tin and put in the oven at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Then put the eggs in the sink full of ice and water. Let them soak in the ice bath for 10 minutes. Fast and easy!

Don’t mind the intense pout! That’s what happens when your big sister beats you to the last egg.

Now, on to the fun of dying!

Last year we decided to try dying our Easter eggs using shaving cream. It’s definitely fun and looks awesome but your hands will become stained unless you use gloves!

Materials:

  • Gloves (optional)
  • Cookie sheet or pan with sides
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Food coloring
  • Shaving cream or whipped cream
  • A knife or straw

All you need to do is put shaving cream (or whip cream) on a cookie sheet with edges and put drops of food coloring on the shaving cream.  Using a knife or a straw swirl the colors together. Then let your littles roll the eggs in the shaving cream. Let the eggs sit for 10 minutes and then rinse off the shaving cream.

Here is a picture of the eggs and then a picture of my littles hands after the fact. It just so happened that our pink hands went perfectly with one of our favorite books, Pinkalicious.

      

This year we decided to change it up a bit and try two new methods.

The first one we did was tie-dyed Easter eggs which look super cool when done! They do take a while to dry so they are not for the impatient egg dyers.

Materials:

  • Paper towel
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Rubber bands or twist ties
  • Food coloring
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Glass pan

 

All you need to do is place a hard-boiled egg in the middle of a paper towel. Fold all the ends up and wrap the egg up in the paper. Twist tie or rubber band the top of the egg. Squeeze drops of food coloring on the egg. (Don’t forget to get the top really good where the band/twist tie is located.) Spray the food color dots with a spray bottle of water. Gently squeeze the egg over the sink to get out any excess water. (Adults should do this part and use gloves if you have them to avoid stained hands!) Place the eggs in a glass pan and let them sit till they are dry. We let our sit for about 3-4 hours before unwrapping them. You will not be disappointed by the results!

   

 

The 3rd method was with rice in a bag! This was the most hands on method for kids that I’ve done with the least amount of mess!

Materials:

  • Small zip-lock bags
  • ½ cup of rice in each bag
  • 5-6 drops of food coloring
  • Hard-boiled eggs

 

Dump ½ cup of rice in a zip-lock bag and add 5-6 drops of food coloring to each bag. We started out keeping each bag a separate color (i.e. a blue bag, a pink bag, etc.) Zip the bag and have your little one mix the dye around by shaking it or rubbing it around. Open the bag and place the egg inside and zip it back up. Remind your little to be gentle as you let them rub the rice around with the egg. Take the egg out and allow it to dry. Then if you want to mix colors take a little of the rice from one color bag and add it to another color bag and repeat the process above. After a few eggs have been dyed in a color bag you may want to add more food coloring to brighten the color back up again.

And the best part to this one is that you can lay the rice out to dry on a cookie sheet and use it again later for a sensory bin with plastic eggs! That’s a double win in my book!

HAPPY EASTER!

-Ashley

Parentingtheprincipal

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Working Mothers Have More Successful Daughter

A Harvard study from businessinsider.com states that researchers find “working mothers have more successful daughters and conscientious sons.” I had read that article awhile back and brushed it off. However, somewhere in my subconscious it had stuck. Reading it had struck a nerve. Made me worried. I have always been amazed by the parents who can go to work and be that super parent in the evening all while still doing the laundry and keeping up with the house. I admire their dedication to their career and strength they have to “get it all done”. I know that when I’m away even for a little bit from my children, my moments with them are much better when I return. I’m a happier, more patient mother to them. I can only imagine that that must be how they feel after picking them up from daycare or on the weekends when they get that precious time together. I’ve reflected a lot lately on my decision to stay home. When I stopped working to be home with our children, I thought for sure we had their best interest in mind. I thought that what I was doing for them and the moments that we had were beyond the worth that any career could offer me personally. I felt so blessed to have the ability and the resources that I had the option to stay home with my babies. I wanted to be the one there for all the little moments, good, bad, or otherwise. My husband and I, as all parents, only want the best for our children. Was me staying home doing that?! According to this study I wasn’t so sure anymore.

And just like that I had to stop myself from that thought. Working parent or stay at home parent, either one is a great option. Both are important and hard. Both are rewarding and frustrating. Both can look at the other and think the grass is greener yet in the end one must do what is best for their situation. And frankly I love my decision. I love being there for all the moments. We have a bond that is unlike anything I could imagine. I’ve witnessed all the moments, I’ve kissed all the ouchies, I’ve read 1,000 books before kindergarten, I’ve taken them on a million different play-dates, I’ve watched them navigate new challenges, and I’ve seen them change and transform in so many different ways. I am not a study from Harvard. I love and value each day that I spend with my children and I’m bound and determined to believe that they will be extremely successful in spite of the fact that I was not a “working” mother. Plus, how are you measuring success anyway? The amount of money they made? Whether they climbed the corporate ladder? As a former teacher, I can tell you that a $$$ isn’t everything. I loved what I did and knew I was making a difference whether my paycheck showed that or not. Or did they measure success in the number of people they positively affect in their lives? Or in how happy they are in their life? Whatever they feel in their measure of “success” I’ve concluded, I’m happy with the choices we’ve made and I’m certain my babies with be very “successful” in many different aspects.

 

Click the link above to read the article for yourself and let me know what you think! Leave me a comment or find me on Instagram or Facebook!