Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

Have you ever painted pumpkins with acrylic paints before? This was my first time painting our pumpkins this way and it could not be easier. I wanted to create a pumpkin display that would be perfect for the entire fall season and wanted to show you a cute way to display your pumpkins this year!

I am not big on decorating for Halloween and would prefer to skip right on over that part of the fall decorating. This month’s challenge was to create a Halloween display so I wanted to create a minimalistic display that would give a nod to the season, but complement our decor until it is time to deck the halls.

Let’s get painting!

How to Paint Pumpkins With Acrylic Paint

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (all of these supplies can be found at Walmart!)

Any size you like of their faux pumpkins- the small ones are just $.98!! (you could also do real pumpkins!)

Waverly Inspirations Acrylic Paints in Elephant, Plaster, Pool, & White

Waverly Inspirations 4-piece wide brush set

Cup with water, paper towels, and something to cover the surface while painting

Wooden Crate (I got this one with a chalkboard on the side)

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Directions for Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints

1. Remove the labels from the pumpkins and protect your surface with cardboard while painting.

2. With a clean wide brush, begin painting your pumpkins,using the stalk of the pumpkin as a handle to work around the surface. Paint the entire pumpkin and then set it aside to dry. Drying time can take anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour, depending on how thickly you applied the paint. Repeat this process as many times as you like to achieve the hue you are going for. I found the gray pumpkins only required a single coat, while the white pumpkins required two coats. Once dry,sprinkle these pumpkins throughout your house or create a crate display like I have done.
Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

Painting Pumpkins With Acrylic Paints with MomAdvice.com

I love how these pumpkins spill out onto some of my favorite childhood reads. The chalkboard side on this crate gives me the chance to make this display feel a little more Halloween and then can be replaced with a different label later in the fall.  I added my knitted leaf centerpiece to the side of the table- I can’t believe how well these branches have held up over the years!

For a corner in our home that used to have nothing, this has quickly become my favorite focal point in our living room.

Do you want more craft inspiration from Waverly? Try these!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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How To Make Smoothie Bowls (GIVEAWAY with Mamma Chia!!)

Monday, September 19th, 2016

How to Make Smoothie Bowls Tutorial This post is sponsored by Mamma Chia.  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this site possible! 

I am always on the hunt for great post-workout snacks that can keep me fueled throughout the day.  Today I wanted to share with you how to make two delicious smoothie bowls and I am pairing them with a fun new drink from Mamma Chia, called Chia Energy Beverages,  that you can now find on Walmart shelves.  Doesn’t that sound like a delicious pairing?

Mamma Chia at Walmart

I always struggle with finding new things at the store so, in case you are on the hunt, I wanted to show you where you can find them at Walmart. These drinks can be found in the produce section at the front of the store.  Our drinks were on full display on the top shelves and come in 4 flavors: Grape Power, Cherry Charge, Blackberry Blast, & Raspberry Razz. These drinks are the first beverage that combine chia with the energy of guayusa.

For those of us with a coffee addiction (ahem!), these are a great way to get energy for the day without that caffeine crash.

Caffeine crashes are THE WORST.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com As you know, I have been struggling with my health and I am really committed to eating better so that I can improve how I feel. The founder of Mamma Chia, Janie Hoffman, was also struggling with many debilitating autoimmune disorders and found a great deal of relief from adding chia into her diet. Her mission was to share that gift with others so that they can experience the health benefits too. I also love that the company donates a portion of their proceeds to support farmers, community groups, & organizations that build healthy, local food systems. 

It makes you feel doubly good about your purchase!

Today I thought I would incorporate the power of chia, not only in our drink, but as a topping in a healthy smoothie bowl. Chia is actually considered a superfood because chia seeds are rich in omega-3’s, fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. They also help you to sustain energy levels naturally while helping you stay fuller longer.

Today we are topping our smoothie bowls with chia. If you haven’t had a smoothie bowl before, you are in for a treat.  I understand that many fancy-schmancy breakfast joints serve these now.

How lucky are you that you can save some money and make these at home for a fraction of the cost?

Let me share two recipes for smoothie bowsl with you and don’t forget to stick around to the bottom of this post for our giveaway with Mamma Chia- yay! 

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

The idea is to make the smoothie thicker (make sure you have a powerful blender for this one) by using less liquid to create a thicker consistency. The fun part is the layering of delicious additions on top.

On this Chocolate Cherry Bowl, I have topped it with fresh raspberries, toasted coconut, & more chia. Try any combination of flavors you like though!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 bowls
 
Smoothie bowls make the perfect snack or breakfast. Top with your favorite oatmeal toppings or try our suggestions for a healthy start to your day.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ¼ cup avocado
  • ¼ plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Toppings: toasted coconut, berries, chia
Instructions
  1. Combine all smoothie bowl ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

I love berry anything and I loved pairing a Raspberry Smoothie Bowl with the delicious flavor of the Chia Energy Blackberry Blast drink. I still wanted some of the chocolate flavor in this one so I topped it with a chocolate granola, and chia.  The vibrant hue from the raspberries in this one make such a pretty bowl, don’t they?

This is certainly a powerful motivator to get my workout done so I can enjoy this snack when I get home.

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2 bowls
 
Give me all the berries! This Raspberry Smoothie Bowl is packed with berries and can be topped with crunchy granola, chia, and more berries for a fun post-workout treat.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ¼ of an avocado
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • Toppings: granola, raspberries, blueberries, and chia
Instructions
  1. Place all smoothie ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings.

Mamma Chia Energy Beverages

Today I’m giving away to one lucky winner a $50 prize pack from Mamma Chia that will include one each of the Mamma Chia’s new organic Chia Energy Beverages and some of their other delicious products. Please enter the giveaway in the widget below and I hope this post inspires you to give these new drinks a try!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl from MomAdvice.com This post was sponsored by Mamma Chia.  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this site possible! 

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How to Make Elephant Toothpaste

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

This post was sponsored by Bayer. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

If we are only doing science with our kids when the science fair rolls around, I feel like we are missing the boat. Every day is an opportunity to teach something about science with our kids through simple routine moments throughout our day. From baking bread to why their bath tub toys float to how swinging at the park really works…that’s all science (and pretty amazing!).

Simple daily activities are a great way to incorporate science into our daily routines and most parents have a desire for that. In fact, in Bayer’s recent back-to-school survey, nearly all (95%) parents surveyed agree that it would be helpful to have tips for turning simple activities into science learning opportunities for their children, which is why Bayer decided to create a program to address this need.

So many of these teaching moments are overlooked in our house so I am excited to partner with Bayer as they work to improve science literacy in kids through their award-winning program, Making Science Make Sense (MSMS). In this program, Bayer creates hands-on lessons to kids to seriously think about science and fostering the seeds of science in our kids even when they are small. It inspired our family to take a science challenge of our own and gave us a TRULY fun moment with our daughter while teaching her a really important science lesson in the process.

I honestly don’t know who was more excited- my daughter or my husband.

Who doesn’t love a crazy chemical reaction?

If you don’t want to take on our experiment, you can tackle so many easy and fun experiments through the MSMS science library exploring topics like what happens when water boils, where the light from sun comes, and why do oil and water not mix. Not only are these fun things to talk through together, they could also definitely round out a homeschool curriculum.

Since we have middle school kids, we have found it takes a lot to wow them so I wanted to create some science fun that they had never seen before. Grab your safety glasses and dive into a fun science experiment with us as we make Elephant Toothpaste and learn a heck of a lot of science in the process.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste

 

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed:

1 Cookie Sheet

1 Empty 2-liter container

1 Tablespoon of Dry Yeast

3 Tablespoons Warm Water

Small Cup For Mixing

Liquid Dish Soap

1/2 cup 20-volume hydrogen peroxide liquid (20-volume is a 6% solution and not available at drugstores so make sure you get the type we are linking to)

Food Coloring

Rubber Gloves

Funnel

Safety Goggles (we bought these and they fit perfectly)

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

 Directions for Making Elephant Toothpaste

 Please note: We advise parents do the pouring of the hydrogen peroxide as it can irritate the skin and eyes.

1. In a clean 2-liter bottle add 8 drops of food coloring. We picked blue to look like toothpaste!

2. Next have an adult add the hydrogen peroxide to the mixture. A funnel really helps with this step!

2. Add one tablespoon of your liquid dish soap to the bottle. Have your child swish the bottle gently.

3. In a separate cup, mix together the dry yeast and warm water. Mix, mix, mix for 30 seconds.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

4. Place the funnel on top and then pour the yeast mixture into the bottle.

5. Watch in amazement as this starts foaming and overflowing from the bottle. Be sure to put your gloved hands around the bottle to feel the heat that the bottle is giving off.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

Doesn’t that look like toothpaste? We were all amazed at this chemical reaction.

What’s the Science Behind This Elephant Toothpaste?

Each foam bubble is filled with oxygen. The yeast acts as a catalyst to remove the oxygen from the hydrogen peroxide. Since we did this process so fast, it created lots of bubbles quickly.

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

 

We also created an Exothermic Reaction which means you created heat with this reaction. How cool is that? We thought that part was almost as amazing as the foam that we created!

How to Make Elephant Toothpaste from MomAdvice.com

She was absolutely miserable.

Clearly.

Science is awful.

Just look at that face!

Just kidding, she was in science heaven in our backyard lab.

Although experiments are grand, I hope the takeaway is that we have the opportunity to share science with our kids every single day. I hope this idea and the many, many ideas from Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense give you lots of chances to talk about science each and every day.

Do you have any tips on how to share science at home with your children? What hurdles do you experience in encouraging STEM learning beyond the classroom? I would love to hear them!

This post was sponsored by Bayer. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

August 2016 Must-Reads

Friday, September 9th, 2016

August Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

My reading time was limited this month with the whole getting everyone back to school, buying all the things, filling out all the things, driving to all the things. I am finding that audiobooks are my jam again as I run my kids back and forth to activities and school. If I have to be driving, it is so nice to take advantage of those pockets of time in the car!  I have so many must-read picks for you for August and am already working on my next stack for reviewing.

There are lots of projects going on over here (I can’t wait to show you)  and my cheap bluetooth headphones are the next best thing to sliced bread.

NO CORDS?

A game changer for this busy reader!

I am hoping to get back to Sundays With Writers again so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new posts or sign up for our newsletter to get the scoop!

Sorta Awesome Show

I also had the opportunity to join the Sorta Awesome Show and share the best (and worst) in my summer reading. When I tallied up how much I read this summer it totaled 28 (!!!) books. Laura, also known as the Hollywood Housewife, is one of my own go-to resources for books so I couldn’t wait to hear what she had been reading. As soon as we got done, I put everything she mentioned on hold. She’s that good!

One thing we talked about was how the heck do I read so much. This post might be a good one to read if you want to consume more books this year!

If you want to geek out over books too, you won’t want to miss this episode! I’ll be excited to hear if you agree and disagree with our opinions.

6 Must-Read Books from August 2016

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

The Longest Night by Andria Williams

I love historical fiction, especially when that historical fiction involves a story that I had never been aware of. Williams shares the true story of the SN-L Nuclear Reactor and the only fatal nuclear attack to occur in America in her beautiful novel, The Longest Night.

When Nat & Paul Collier move to the town, Paul is not only frustrated with his immoral boss, but he has a growing concern with the safety at the plant. When an altercation sends Paul away, Nat becomes friends with a man in town and lines between friendship and attraction for one another becomes blurred.

Set in Iowa in 1959, Williams builds a beautiful tension between her characters. It reminded me a lot of Mad Men and Masters of Sex. Once you finish the book, you will be running to look up the facts of this little known tragedy to learn more.

I know I was.

4 Out of 5 Stars

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Fans of Defending Jacob will appreciate Walker’s novel,  All Is Not Forgottenas it focuses on what parents will do to keep their children safe.

The book opens with a teenage girl, named Jenny Kramer, who attends a party and is brutally raped. The graphic and shocking nature of the rape is laid out in detail in this story so highly sensitive readers may need to steer clear.

After the rape, Jenny is given a drug that suppresses the memory of this horrific event, in hopes that Jenny can move forward in life. Unfortunately, Jenny just can’t move forward because she has to know what happened to her.  There is one problem through.  What if the person that is supposed to be guiding her to the answers has his own ulterior motive?

It has been a long time since I have read a book told in first person minor and Walker chooses to narrate her story through the psychologist’s eyes. Unfortunately, for lack of better words, this guy is an absolute douchebag. This can be a turn off and, at times, distracts the reader from the plot. The book held my interest, but I was hoping to know more from Jenny’s perspective.

Can you believe MomAdvice called someone a douchebag on here?

Oh, you bet I did!

That said, I always love to read the books before the movies and this one will be hitting the big screen.  I will be curious what Jessica Knoll and Reese Witherspoon’s production team come up with when writing and producing this one for film.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

The Assistants by Camille Perri

The Assistants by Camille Perri

I used this month’s Scribd audio credit on The Assistants, and I am SO glad I did. This book was such a treat from start to finish and a really enjoyable listen, should you be sitting on a little credit too.

Tina Fontana works for the head honcho at her company who is swimming in money. When a technical error occurs with an expense report, Tina uses it to her advantage to pay off her student loan debt…to the tune of $20K.

Only one problem though… other people in the office have been noticing and want their loans paid off too.  More people become involved, more money is funneled, more loans paid, and more stress that Tina will get busted.

Imagine a Robin Hood story, but with a modern twist. This book is just the medicine for anyone who has struggled with student loan debt (raises hand high!). I love this book so much and found the ending to be pure perfection. It certainly was the sweetest literary escape this month for me!

5 Out of 5 Stars

You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Few books have brought me to tears of laughter the way that Tina Fey’s, Bossypants, book did. Lucky for me, You’ll Grow Out of It just so happens to be the kind of book that makes your sides hurt with laughter and has some of that Fey magic that I have been missing in my life.

Klein is a tomboy through and through so her book focuses a lot on the silliness of expectations on women, the unbelievable things we must do to maintain our good looks, the ridiculousness of wedding dress shopping, and even the expectations we feel deciding how we give birth to our children. From her rants about barre classes to the rudeness of being called ma’am, it made me laugh SO MUCH. There are a couple of raunchy chapters I could have done without, but the majority of the book was just incredibly honest and hilarious. I’m so glad I read this one!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

I am a sucker for a good thriller and The Couple Next Door was a really incredible keep-you-up-past-your-bedtime read. The story revolves around parents that are invited to a birthday celebration party with requests that children not attend. When their babysitter cancels, they decide to still attend the party at the neighboring brownstone, leave the baby sleeping in the crib, with an agreement to take turns checking on the baby every half hour. When they check in, later in the evening though, they find the crib empty and the baby is nowhere to be found. The reader is taken on twist after twist as the couple tries to find their baby and the motive behind it.

I was surprised the book opens right away with the baby going missing and wondered how the story would ever build out from there when such a big part of the plot happens in the opening chapter. The author crafts plausible (and not so plausible) twists though that takes you on a wild rollercoaster ride with these parents. Just the discussion alone of whether or not the couple should have left their baby would make a great one for book club discussions.

This one brings all the twists and builds great tension. This one is worthy of a reading binge-and I consumed it in a mere 24 hours!  I just loved it!

5 Out of 5 Stars

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall has been on my summer reading bucket list so I was excited to finally make time to dive into this one. The story revolves around a plane crash and the aftermath that happens following the accident.

Many chapters are like individual short stories, sharing the real story of these eleven passengers. The main story though is focused on a down-on-his-luck painter who becomes a hero when he brings one of the plane’s smallest passengers to safety.

In many ways, these stories reminded me of Did You Ever Have a Family, with all of the individual story threads being woven together. There were many moments in the book that I enjoyed and some that dragged a bit for me. The ending, for me, was abrupt and a little disappointing.

I’m glad I read this one, but it read like a slow read for me.

3.5 Out of 5 Stars

Read With Me

Read With Me This Year:

January Must-Reads

February Must-Reads

March Must-Reads

April Must-Reads

May Must-Reads

June 2016 Must-Reads

July 2016 Must-Reads

August Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

What should I be adding to my library bag? Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

I am so excited to share with you these DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions I made today for our kitchen. While we have loved the aesthetics of our metal chairs in our kitchen, some of the bony bottoms in this house haven’t wanted to spend too much time in them. Lest you feel lead astray, it is not my rear that is struggling, thanks to a healthy dose of Sir Mix-A-Lot genes. I just get to hear from other people in my house about their discomforts.

Since I don’t sew (and struggle with exactness and measuring of materials) I wanted to create a DIY chair cushion to comfy up your metal chairs AND I wanted that chair cushion to be able to have two prints so we could switch them around. Not only does this give you two choices, but if you get tired of the print, you can reuse your cushion materials inside and recover them again with a fresh print.

I don’t want to brag, but I also think these are SUPER cute too!

Grab your glue guns and let’s get to work!

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed (everything including these gorgeous fabrics are found at Walmart!!)

Your choice of matching Waverly Inspirations Fabric (measure the dimensions of your chairs to figure out your yardage)

Trim (I purchased two yards for each chair, but this will also depend on your own chair size!)

Fabric Glue

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Mat

Hot Glue Gun & glue sticks

Foam Cushion

Scissors

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

Directions for No-Sew Chair Cushions

1. Begin by place a large piece of parchment over your chair seat to create a template of the sizing of the seat of your chair. Mine had a lip that outlined around it that I followed for tracing. Cut this out and use this as your guide for cutting your foam. Using scissors, cut to the size of your template (Note- if you are worried about your template holding up, you can trace it on heavier paper and then use that as your guide).

2. Grab one of your fabrics and place the foam cushion on top. Cut (with your rotary cutter and on your mat) around the cushion, giving yourself 2″ of wiggle room around the cushioning. Repeat this same step with your second piece of fabric.

3.  Now it is time to glue your pieces. You want one fabric with the print out and one fabric on top with the print in. We will be turning these inside out once they are dry so you want to be sure your fabric is facing the correct direction. Also be mindful what direction your print is going so you can repeat that on each cushion.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

4. Using your fabric glue, glue around the entire square, leaving an opening to slide in your cushion on one side. Repeat this on all of your cushions. Set the cushions aside and let them dry for 24 hours.

5. The next day, carefully open up and turn the cushion covers to the right side. Slide your foam cushion in and then either sew the opening with a needle and thread or (this is my lazy girl way!) line up the fabrics folding it in to match and hot glue that seam shut.

6. Grab your trim and carefully apply your hot glue and then secure your trim. Do this all the way around your cushion. If you have any excess, line the cushion up and figure out where to secure a tie (or two!) for it. You can either secure this to the cushion with a bit of hot glue or you can grab a heavy thread and needle and stitch it to the back.

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

DIY No-Sew Reversible Chair Cushions from MomAdvice.com

I hope these fun cushions bring your bony butts as much joy as they have to our house. We all agree that this also warms up the space a bit and makes it feel a little more homey. I added these coordinating pillows to the end chairs to add a little more warmth to them.

Do you want more fabric craft inspiration? Try these!

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Fabric Wreath & Matching Garland

Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

 

DIY Car Organizing Tips (Giveaway with Big Fat Notebooks!)

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

You know that mom that always has bandages, always has a snack and drink on hand, can pull a pen out at a moment’s notice, has tissues, never forgets an umbrella, utilizes time well between running kids, and keeps a tidy car?

That’s not me.

In fact, I have been pretty embarrassed about just how bad things have gotten. No one really wanted to ride in my car including myself (insert scared face emoji).

It was on my organizing bucket list to tackle this since a good portion of my day is now spent in the car running kids from activity to activity. I spent an afternoon getting us organized for this school year and I wanted to show you how I did that.

Big Fat Notebooks Big Fat Notebooks

The inspiration came from today’s partner, The Big Fat Notebook series. If your kids love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, they will LOVE this new way of learning. When my kids were younger, they were hooked on Brain Quest, but once they hit middle school age, I felt like everything just felt like…Well, work. After a long day at school, the last thing they want to do is browse another textbook. That is why these are so genius. They look fun and teach you something in the process.

There are five books in all, and each is the only book you need for each main subject taught in middle school: Math, Science, American History, English Language Arts, and World History.

They also happen to meet Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and state history standards, and are vetted by National and State Teacher of the Year Award–winning teachers. If you are a homeschooling mama, this would make an excellent addition to your curriculum.

You can find these fantastic books at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound, or Workman.

Big Fat Notebooks

I am not lying when I say that my daughter has become OBSESSED with these. There has been a lot of fact reciting at the dinner table!

We REALLY want to share them with you so please scroll to the end to catch this giveaway!!

I also wanted to figure out a way that we could keep these books on hand for busy days so I used this as an excuse to get my car organized and create caddies for each kid with the things they need. With school supplies on sale right now, it also happens to be quite an affordable time to create these little kits!

DIY Car Organizing Ideas

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

After browsing every type of organizer available, I ended up using these shower caddy organizers for each of my kids because they had great pockets and a wipeable surface in case they get dirty or muddy. I also slipped a plastic cup for each to hold pencils/pens so it would make it easier for them to grab. In each one, I have an umbrella, snacks (that can withstand the hot car),  a water, a couple of Big Fat Notebooks (strategically chosen for the subjects we need to work on!!), and packages of tissues.

car-organizing-tips-2

I had planned to hang them from the backs of the seats, but the width was too deep on our car. I actually think it will be easier to have them on the floor and they can also be moved to the center when they are being used.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

Backpacks can also pile up on the floor so I got these hooks to give these guys a home. It can also be a great place to hang a jacket, hat, or purse. Our backpacks often get dirty and thrown on the floor so I am hoping it helps with that too!

Now that the kids are in better shape, I wanted to work on some problem areas for me. My biggest issue is carrying around gym equipment so I wanted to make that an organizing priority.

diy-car-organizing-ideas-9

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

In my gym equipment stash I have two pairs of shoes (one for dance class and one for cardio), a spare pair of socks, yoga socks, tissues, water, facial cleansing wipes, hair ties, travel brush, and a towel. These are things that I am always forgetting and that I sometimes end up having to buy at the gym.

All of these fit perfectly in this container.

Again, plastic, wipeable, AND breathable.

Not that my feet sweat AT ALL, but I wanted you to know for you. It’s okay. It happens to a lot of people.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

My yoga mat takes up valuable space and I hate that it is always rolling around in our trunk. Again, using those utility hooks to keep it in place along with my hot yoga towel and umbrella.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

To finish up the tour, I wanted to show you just a couple of other things that are helping.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

removable hook for hanging the trash bag- we will see how long this holds!

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

tiny totes for random things- one has receipts and pens, one has snacks for me, one has a mini first aid kit (for a legit one check here!), and the last one has tissues.

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

utilizing the gaps for my phone to save space in my drink holder (similar idea here!)

It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty proud. I feel like I *might* be able to be that mom this year AND my kids will be learning between activities too. High fives all around, friends!

Giveaway Time

Big Fat Notebook

I can’t wait to give someone this whole collection. We are so excited to share this with you! The books included in this giveaway are:

Everything You Need to Ace Math . . . covers everything to get you over any math hump: fractions, decimals, and how to multiply and divide them; ratios, proportions, and percentages; geometry; statistics and probability; expressions and equations; and the coordinate plane and functions.

Everything You Need to Ace Science . . . takes readers from scientific investigation and the engineering design process to the Periodic Table; forces and motion; forms of energy; outer space and the solar system; to earth sciences, biology, body systems, ecology, and more.

Everything You Need to Ace American History . . . covers Native Americans to the war in Iraq. There are units on Colonial America; the Revolutionary War and the founding of a new nation; Jefferson and the expansion west; the Civil War and Reconstruction; and all of the notable events of the 20th century—World Wars, the Depression, the Civil Rights movement, and much more.

Everything You Need to Ace World History . . . kicks off with the Paleolithic Era and  transports the reader to ancient civilizations—in Egypt, Greece, India, China, Africa, Rome; the middle ages across the world; the Renaissance; the age of exploration and colonialization, revolution and imperialism, and the modern world and the wars and movements that shaped it.

Everything You Need to Ace English Language Arts . . . covers everything to get you your best marks: grammar, including parts of speech, active and passive verbs, Greek and Latin roots and affixes; nuances in word meanings; textual analysis, authorship, structure, and other skills for reading fiction and nonfiction; and writing arguments, informative texts, and narratives.

One (1) lucky winner will receive:

  • Copies of all 5 titles in the Big Fat Notebooks series
  • Branded school supplies including highlighter/pen combos, a notepad, and jigsaw sticky notes.

Please follow the widget below to enter to win! I hope this post inspires you to get organized. As always, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY Car Organizing Tips from MomAdvice.com

This post was sponsored by Workman Publishing and Big Fat Notebooks. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

 

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DIY Snack Station

Monday, August 15th, 2016

diy-snack-station

This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I became a mom, I began to realize the beauty in one-handed snacks. When my babies were small, I had a hard time holding a baby and feeding myself so I created a basket of one-handed snacks that would keep me fueled throughout the day.

Now that my kids are older, you would think that I would have loads more time to care for myself.  I have found though that although my children aren’t necessarily as demanding as they were, their activity schedule certainly is. I am still struggling to keep myself fueled as we run from activity to activity.

If you struggle with keeping yourself AND your kids fueled, I wanted to share with you a fun snack station we created to encourage ALL of us to grab healthy snacks more regularly. This diy snack station was made with a basic small bar cart and is fully stocked for our whole family.

DIY Snack Station Tutorial

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I headed to my local superstore to gather up four metal pails that had chalkboard labels on front for our little diy snack station and found this sweet little bar cart on summer clearance for 75% off. This is the perfect time to stock up on this summer entertaining accessory and keep it on budget for your family.

We then headed on over to Kroger  (check out the store locator to find one near you!) to grab some healthy options for our snack cart. The beauty in the chalkboard labeling is that you can switch snacks based on what’s in season, what’s on sale, or what you are craving that week. Have your kids be in charge of the labeling to work on mastering their spelling!

Our four pails had bananas (separated for easy grabbing), raisins/nut mixes, Jack Link’s in a few varieties, and crackers with peanut butter. On the bottom tier, I added apples and oranges, a variety of flavored waters, and some fun straws for sipping.

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Snacks with lots of protein are my favorite because they stop the HANGRY from coming on.

Tell me that you know a little about hangry moments too please! I need to know I’m not alone in this!

As someone who fights low blood sugar (as do my children), I have found that protein keeps me from fighting those sugar highs and lows.

Beef jerky can be a great protein-filled option and Jack Link’s is protein-packed with a whopping 12 grams of protein.  I like that you don’t have to be limited to just one flavor because it comes in tons of varieties. From the soy and ginger combo in Teriyaki, to a layer of coarse pepper in their Peppered option, to the smoky mesquite flavoring of their Original turkey, to the bold and savory offerings of their Jack Link’s Original. We are big fans of these options for keeping the hangry at bay.

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For a sweet and savory combo, pair your jerky with fresh fruit for a balanced snack. Bananas always offer a good bang for your buck, apples can be sliced for eating on-the-go, and easy-to-peel clementine’s are always a big favorite in our house. Be sure to look for fruit that is on season for the most affordable (and freshest) options.

We are also really big fans of flavored waters in our house. It makes drinking water a little bit more fun.

A pretty papered straw doesn’t hurt either. What can I say? I am a blogger and paper straws are kind of a requirement over here.

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We hope this post inspires you to create a snack station for your own family! We are thankful to have one at our house as we head back to the grind of school and activities. It is so nice to know that one-handed snacks are on hand for life’s busy moments!

This post has been sponsored by Jack Link’s in partnership with Ahalogy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tech Monitoring In Those Middle School Years

Monday, August 8th, 2016

monitoring-tech-time-with-older-kids

This post is brought to you by CJ Affiliate’s VIP Content Service. Thank you to Norton by Symantec for sponsoring today’s post!

I have tried to live in an honest place as we have disclosed over the years our family’s struggles with filtering web content for our kids and creating a healthy balance of online and offline time. I admit, in these lazy days of summer, I have become a little less stiff with the rules. One thing that will not change though is the need to monitor what sites my kids are visiting. Today I want to talk a little bit about how we monitor tech time in the middle school years.

You see, this is a big transition year for us as parents because we have moved out of the elementary school years and are jumping into middle school. It’s the time where we are letting our oldest have a phone and where the kids are asking to build their own social media presence.

With a mom as a blogger and their father working as a web consultant, you would think we would be really cool about this stuff…but we aren’t.

I don’t feel bad about the overprotection at all though.

The things that they do on social media and the things they are viewing online can often do more harm than good. It can even follow them into adulthood as they are job seeking. I have big dreams for these two and I want to protect them as long as I can.

Although we have many procedures in place for their handheld devices, the content they have been viewing on the computers has been our biggest hurdle. My husband spends evening hours going through their web history and clicking to see what they have been up to. This requires many clicks to Minecraft music videos and hair tutorials.

Isn’t that how every dad wants to spend his time?

I’m pretty sure we would rather be drinking wine and binging on Netflix together.

Since we have been in the trenches with this for some time, I wanted to share with you things that we have been doing to try to do a better job with monitoring our middle school kids on the internet.

Call Family Meetings- Many family meetings have been called in our home as we do our best to monitor our kid’s technology time. Sometimes the kids want to call their own family meetings to revisit rules and sometimes we have to hold family meetings because rules have been broken.

As parents we are always striving to keep the communication lines open. Whenever we add new security measures or revisit the rules of technology in our home, we want to offer that kind of support and communication (even if they don’t always like the rules we are devising). Making them feel like active participants in the decision-making is really important to both of us.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help on Setting Time Guidelines- When we were struggling to establish the right guidelines for our children, our family consulted with a child psychologist to see what time limits would work best. His advice was one hour of tech time on school nights and two hours on weekends/vacations. We have done our best to adhere to these guidelines to create a good balance of tech time and real-life time together.

Tech Monitoring In Those Middle School Years from MomAdvice.com

Install Internet Monitoring Software to Keep Them Safe- Although we have felt in control of handheld devices, we have felt less in control of the sites they were visiting on our computer. Often the restrictions installed where inhibiting us from doing our own work so we needed a solution that could help keep them safe (and our computers- more on that soon!)

Norton Security Premium

Norton by Symantec sent us a Norton Security Standard membership offering a year protection on ten devices in our home. This version of Norton also includes their family-friendly features (which you can purchase a la carte. We have been using it for the last month and we are both pleasantly surprised at the filtering it can do for web content. This security system goes way beyond just time restriction.

Norton Web Supervision

Norton Security offers another level of web supervision, allowing your kids to explore the web safely by blocking content that you deem unsafe.   It also offers a lot more depth into their search history,  allowing you to see words and phrases your kids are searching. This can help you to see what they are interested in as well as keep on top of  the inappropriate stuff to block.  In fact, you can see it all at a glance. Check out that screenshot above to see the info that will now be right at your fingertips.

Norton Time Management

Want to monitor time usage? Norton can do that for you too!

Just as important as all of that though, once your service is activated, you also have location supervision to monitor your child’s location on your Android & iOS devices so you can see where your kid is (and if they are where they are saying they are going to be- ahem!).  Please note, this option is available only in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand & Japan. The iOS features are available just in the US.

The pricing on all that for the first year costs $49.99 and subsequent years are $99.99. They offer a variety of packages though for your needs including the Norton Security Deluxe (for 5 devices) and the Norton Security Standard (1 device)

Keep Your Computers Safe- Tragically, our computer died last month (R.I.P.) and its tragic death is because of the vulnerability of these computers as our kids played games and (unknowingly) loaded our computers up with malware. My husband had to buy a new computer and we are now relying on Norton to block all the malware.

This installation did not slow down our computers at all and it protects them from the daily Roblox malware attack.  It’s a welcome sight not to see my homepage screen changed or a bunch of random video pop-ups that I can never shut down now off our computer thanks to this security measure. For us, protecting our computers is important for our work and Norton can save us a lot of money to keep these computers functioning at their optimal performance.

To learn more about Norton by Symantec products, visit the Learning Center.

Model the Kind of Behavior You Want to See From Them- My husband & I have to be on our computers and devices a lot for work, our kids know that. This is how we pay our bills. The thing is, we can always do better. By doing a better job with this, we can teach them that social media does not need to be the center of our world. Having a clear work day schedule end time and getting the heck off the computer is now my priority.

These years? Precious. My people? They are precious too and far more precious than any social media interactions that I might be indulging in. I need to show them that and model that for them so they can do that for their own people someday!

Let’s chat! Do you have any tips for tech time monitoring? I’d love hear how you are doing this with your family!

This post is brought to you by CJ Affiliate’s VIP Content Service. Thank you to Norton by Symantec for sponsoring today’s post!

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial

Friday, August 5th, 2016

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

What’s one of the things I dread the most about the new school year?

The papers.

Everywhere.

All the time.

Hey, wasn’t there a kitchen counter here at one point?

In honor of back to school, I wanted to create a place where all those papers, awards, and fun art projects can be displayed so we can all reclaim our counters. Today  I’m making a gorgeous giant fabric bulletin board for the perfect paper storage spot for you or your kiddos. If you haven’t made a diy fabric bulletin board before, you are going to love this simple tutorial that even your big kids can do (with a little help from mom on the stapling!).

Waverly Inspirations Fabric- Paris Print

When I saw this month’s fabric selections from Waverly Inspirations (found at Walmart!), I  kept getting this print out to gaze at it. I just knew there was no way I could not put this in some kind of display especially since my little girl has an obsession with Paris.

I mean, so obsessed she’s been working on teaching herself French this summer.

We really wanted to let this magical fabric be on display in her room.

(PS- She also said she is the beautiful girl in the print with a dress and I am the old lady on the bench.  Thank you, Em- insert crazy-eyed emoji!).

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed to Make A Fabric Covered Bulletin Board

1- Frameless Bulletin Board (found this in the office supplies of the store!)

Upholstery Stapler

Upholstery Staples

Trim (I purchased 2- 3 yard packages to cover this board)

Your choice of matching Waverly Inspirations Fabric (measure the dimensions of your bulletin board to figure out yardage!)

Fabric Rotary Cutter

Rotary Mat

Hot Glue Gun & glue sticks

Optional (but fun!)- Waverly Paints, Fabric Button Kits, and scrap fabric

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

Directions for Making a Fabric Covered Bulletin Board

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

1. Make sure to press out any wrinkles in your fabric before beginning. Next, lay your fabric right-side out over the bulletin board, making sure to position the pattern so that it has nice straight lines.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

2. After you have centered the fabric, flip the bulletin board over and begin pulling one long side tight to staple it directly into the framing on the back of the board. The most important thing is HOLD TIGHT to create that beautifully smooth surface. Repeat this on the other long side and then fold in the tops, creating neatly folded corners (just as you would with wrapping a package, making sure you are holding tight on each side. Did I mention, hold tight?

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

3. You can now trim the excess fabric around the back of the frame. I lined my rotary mat right up to the edge and trimmed with the fabric rotary cutter. You could just just eyeball it and use a pair of scissors if you don’t have these two items in your craft supplies.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

4. Finish your piece with your choice of trim. I loved the waviness in this one to add a decorative edge. I lined up and glued the two long sides first and then finished by gluing the shorter sides over, creating an overlapped corner. Play around with this with your own favorite trims and ribbons- the possibilities on that are endless.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

5. Finish with your choice of cute decorations. My daughter had fun painting wooden thumbtacks to match the color scheme and if you haven’t used a button making kit before, it is a blast and such a fun way to use up any scraps of fabric (all the instructions are on the back of the packaging!). We glued these buttons on to the thumbtacks to create decorative tacks for our papers.

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

DIY Fabric Bulletin Board Tutorial from MomAdvice.com

We hope you find this idea inspiring for getting organized for another school year! I loved my daughter’s so much, I made one for myself to keep all my work projects organized. This craft can be done in less than an hour (even with making your own fabric tacks!).

Happy crafting!

This post was created in partnership with Waverly Inspirations. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site! 

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Look For The Helpers (Miracles From Heaven)

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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This post is sponsored by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!

Mr. Rogers said it best when he said,“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

It is a quote that has stuck with me for a very long time although I had not realized how much we would need our helpers until we had to call upon them this year. This year’s diagnosis has been tough on our family, but we have gotten through it because of the people that have been our helpers in our lives. Being one who refuses to ask for help (even when I really need it), my friends took it upon themselves to assist our family in the most generous of ways…through a random acts of kindness that would show up on our doorstep.

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I was in crippling pain and extremely depressed.  I have been angry at God and frustrated by my body’s new limitations. One of my girlfriends saw what was happening and organized my friends to do a doorstep delivery each day. One day I came out to a pretty candle from a favorite shop, a gift card to Amazon to buy a book, beautiful stationery, flowers and a meal, a basket of gluten-free treats, a pail of sunshine (with items all in yellow), wine tucked in our mailbox, and fun snacks to enjoy with my wine. Each day, my spirits felt lifted. I felt really and truly loved.

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Not only did they make these gestures, but they kept me busy to help take my mind of the pain. I went for walks, I had friends to join me for yoga classes, coffee invitations, movie dates…It is amazing how much a social outing can pull one out of their slump. There was no time to fixate on my circumstances.

Luckily for me, these past two weeks have been magical thanks to a pill that we have finally found that is finally controlling my pain.

To me, that pill feels like a miracle.

My miracle pales in comparison to the incredible miracle featured in the movie, Miracles from Heaven though. The film, which was just released on DVD,  is based on the true story of the Beam family and their special little girl named Anna who is diagnosed with a very rare and incurable disease.  As if that family had not been through enough, Anna is involved in a terrible accident that should have killed her, but brought an unexpected miracle into their lives that helped to restore their faith.

My daughter & I had a movie day together to watch this one and it lead to a great discussion on our feelings about miracles and about turning away from God when you feel so angry. Although my situation has been mild in comparison, I still can acknowledge that there is anger when you don’t understand why God will let things like this happen.

What stood out to me more about this story though is that there were SO MANY helpers in that family’s life that got them through those difficult moments. Those helpers got their family through some of their most difficult moments from caring for their children to assisting with travel when they needed to be together to working Anna in with the top specialist to make sure she was cared for. Just like me, these helpers are what made many unbearable moments bearable and broke up that desperation that they were feeling.

Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner delivers a truly incredible performance as Anna’s mother. The emotion she is able to deliver is powerful, as is the mother’s determination to try to get the best care for her daughter. I don’t know how anyone could watch this and not be moved.

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If you haven’t checked out the film yet, you can pick up a copy of the DVD at Walmart for a family movie night together. If it is anything like our experience watching it, I am sure your kids will have lots of questions and it will give you a chance to talk about this family’s miracle.

For more information about, Miracles from Heaven, visit the Official Website, give them a Like on Facebook, & follow them on Twitter!

This post is sponsored by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Thank you for supporting the companies that support our site!