Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Fun Halloween Costume Ideas For the Whole Family

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012






We are looking forward to another fun Halloween! I wanted to show you our Halloween costumes this year. Outfitting the whole family in costumes can be a challenge, but we tend to embrace it with a lot of enthusiasm.

Emily’s masquerade ballroom gown has to be one of my favorite costumes we have ever gotten her. I found it at Marshall’s for $24.99. I hate spending more than $20 on a costume, but this is one she is planning to use for dress-up play and it is so beautifully made that I am sure we will find many uses for this elegant dress (complete with a hoop skirt, cameo necklace and little masquerade mask).

We found Ethan’s knight costume inexpensively online and I was excited that their requests coordinated this year. Of course, we always manage to make it coordinate for photos, even if it doesn’t always really work!







For a couple that doesn’t really watch a lot of television, we embraced the television themes this year with our costumes. Our favorite show happens to be, “Glee.” I might be alone in this one, but I can’t get enough of that show!  For our couple costume this year, we gleeked it out with a Glee cheerleader costume for me and my husband pulled off the Coach Sue Sylvester costume far better than I could ever imagine.

We partied it up in these hilarious costumes and every time I saw this man out of the corner of my eye, it put me in a fit of giggles. Of course, following this year’s rocking costume party, we were already brainstorming what we would wear next year.

I was able to find these costumes on clearance for $10 each. My best friend altered the costume a bit for me (because one size does NOT fit all). What a rock star best friend to sew my cheap polyester costume for me!


Our Bunco theme this month was also Halloween themed so my best friend and I schemed a costume from our other favorite show, “New Girl,” I have a serious girl crush on Zooey and her character, “Jess,” on this show. For this costume, I just raided my own little retro wardrobe, threw on my nerdy glasses, curled my hair and slipped on a pair of ballet flats. I had the picture frame in my craft supplies and use that like she does in the intro of the show.

Becky went as Cece, Jess’ supermodel bestie  on the show.  Of course she just straightened her hair and wore her most awesome model clothes from her own wardrobe with a killer pair of heels.

You have to love a costume you can create from found items in your closet.

Looking for more last minute Halloween costume inspiration? Be sure to visit my Scary Deals on Halloween Costumes and our easy DIY Halloween Costume round-up with eight great costumes for the whole family. Happy Halloween!

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Preparing for the Holidays

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Photo Credit: Nancy Lary Studios

Preparing for the holidays can be a stressful time for families Planning ahead and breaking the preparation down into manageable steps is key to holiday survival.

This year I will be hosting our family’s Thanksgiving, launching a book, celebrating my daughter’s birthday, celebrating Christmas with two sides of the family, and trying to ring in the New Year. Am I scared? You bet!  Just the very thought of all this could make me break into a sweat and cause me to want to throw the covers back over my head until this is all over. I am already working on my timeline to still have a wonderful holiday and accomplish all I need to and I wanted to share it with you.


This week I am sharing my timeline for preparing for the holiday season over on the Kenmore blog! I am offering an easy timeline to help you get things done and actually enjoy your holidays this year!

Head on over to check out my ideas for accomplishing that holiday to-do list! I hope you’ll join me over there!

Creating Your Own Back to School Traditions

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

I may have mentioned (or spammed you) last week with all of the pictures of my kiddos off for their first day of school. Now that the kids are back to school, I am reminded of all of the wonderful traditions we do in our family to celebrate the back to school season.

This month I am over at the Goodwill Tips blog sharing some fun, easy, and wallet-friendly back to school traditions you can create with your kids, using items you have around your house or found at your local Goodwill store.

If you are a local reader, I also wanted to share the Goodwill Loves Moms Celebration Lunches that are happening in just a couple of short weeks in our area..

Goodwill Loves Moms Celebration

Thursday, September 13th – Windsor Park Conference Center / Mishawaka

Friday, September 14th – Strongbow Inn / Valparaiso

We invite you to join us! Our guest speaker will be,  Lorie Marrero, a Certified Professional Organizer and author of: The Clutter Diet. When you attend one of the celebration lunches, you’ll receive a FREE re-useable Goodwill Loves Moms Donation Bag and Lorie’s book: The Clutter Diet!

Visit Goodwill Loves Moms to learn more about purchasing tickets and more about the event!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to School ’12

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

It’s back to school day today. We have crammed in a whole summer full of fun.  I am going to miss these two little ones!  I hope! everyone is having a great start to their school year and wanted to share with you a few pictures today!

I was a smart mom this year and we did all of our pictures the day before school so we could really focus on getting ready for our day without any interruptions. It also gave us a good practice run in our uniforms before the big day.

xo,
Amy

DIY Lunchbox Creation Station

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Next week my kids will be heading back to school and I am in preparation mode to get our family organized & back on track for the big day. One area that I am always working on organizing is streamlining our lunchbox routines. I am excited to share with you my DIY lunchbox creation station that you can create in a corner of your home to streamline your lunch routines. You won’t believe how easy this is to create and you will love my idea for revamping this into something you can use in the summer months too!

For this craft you will need (all found at Walmart):

3-6 Sterlite Medium Modular Drawer- $8.76 each

Krylon Chalkboard Spray Paint (in the home improvement section)- $3.97

Avery Removable Wall & Window Signage Sheets (over by the office supplies)- $9.97 for 5 sheets

16 count chalk (in office supplies)- $.47

Large circle hole punch or a jar or glass that you can use for tracing your circles (I had this in my craft supplies at home)

We are going to start this craft by creating our cute Chalkboard labels first.  You may recall that we made these easy chalkboard labels before when making my super cute Chalkboard Conversation Bubble Cookie Jars. We are going to do the same thing that we did in that craft for this one, but we are cutting them into circles instead of the conversation bubble!

First, pull out your Avery Sheets. For this craft, we are going to use the Wall Application Side for spraying with chalkboard spray paint. This is the side that has the sticky side that is removable and adjustable… perfect for people who can never get anything on their projects perfectly straight.

In a well-ventilated area covered with newspaper or cardboard, place your Avery sheet. Shake the can vigorously for two minutes. Hold can 10-14 inches away from your project and begin spraying. Spray a thin coat in a sweeping motion beginning off the surface and continuing off the other side. Follow this pattern horizontally and then vertically. Wait fifteen minutes or so and then apply another coat.  They should be dry and ready to cut in about an hour.

Cut these out into circles. One sheet should give you six generous size labels that you can write your labels on. While those are drying, you can begin assembling your drawers.

Your needs for your lunchboxes may be different than my own. I wanted to show you what I did in my drawer though to inspire your own categories for your lunchbox creation station.

I did six drawers because that is what would fit on my pantry floor and would cover all of our lunchbox needs. I have a drawer for snacks, fruit, drinks, chips, water, and a drawer of fun (more about that below). Think of the problem areas in your kitchen and create a drawer to accommodate!

Here is an interior view of my drawers and here are some ideas for items you could keep on hand for your kids.

Snacks- Granola bars, low-fat puddings, natural fruit leathers, nuts, goldfish crackers, rice cakes, wheat crackers, sunflower seeds, homemade cereal mix, fruit snacks.

Fruit- Natural applesauce, yogurt covered raisins, raisins, dried fruit, apples, bananas, oranges.

Drinks- Juice Boxes and organic milk boxes.

Chips- Sweet Potato Chips, Veggie Chips, Pita Chips, Pretzels (I package my chips in tiny Glad containers and have used these a few years now with great success. This drawer also contains my new favorite sandwich cubes that I found at the The Container Store).

H20- This is where I have all of our water bottles so that the kids can grab one in the morning and before extracurricular activities.

Fun- This is where I keep my cookie cutters, homemade play dough, and craft supplies for our kitchen.

Next to the drawers, I nestled a basket for extra snacks to be placed in the drawers as needed and the lunchboxes. Place your designated labels on your drawers and stand back and behold your AWESOMENESS.

With this simple system in place, the kids are now in charge of creating their own favorite lunch combination, selecting one item from each of the lunchbox drawers. My kids have already been scheming and dreaming about their daily lunches and are excited to finally be in charge of their own lunch destiny.

When the summer months roll around, I plan to erase the labels and fill them with all of our summer necessities like pool snacks, water bottles, drinks, sunblock and insect repellent, and other items that tend to accumulate on counters and on top of my fridge. I think this is a great organizing solution for all year round!

Designate one day a week (my day is on Sunday) to creating your snack packs and making items that can be tucked into lunchboxes.

To keep your lunches organized and accessible, designate one refrigerator drawer towards lunches. Items like freshly cut fruits and veggies, sandwiches, and Asian lunchbox noodles can all be waiting for the morning in this drawer.  I even tuck commonly forgotten items in the drawer like napkins and spoons to trigger my tired brain to kick in on busy school mornings.

Don’t forget about yourself in all of the hustle bustle of school preparation! I love this DIY Salad Bar to help keep me on track with healthy eating during the school year!

What do items do you love to keep on hand for your child’s lunchbox? I would love to hear your ideas!

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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Glad Mom Made

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

These last few weeks of summer and the beginning of the school year can be a true challenge for moms. This month  I am excited to be partnering with Glad to showcase some great strategies for moms to help keep kids entertained and get your school year off to a great start.

If you read magazines like Taste of Home or Family Circle, you may have spotted a familiar face tucked within the pages of your magazine. I had the opportunity to work with Glad on a fresh initiative arming moms with ideas to keep the kids entertained during the summer months, lunchbox inspiration to breathe life into tired lunches,  and great printables to help you get organized for the back-to-school season.

If you would like to see some of my fun ideas including my favorite bubble recipe, homemade play dough, homemade sidewalk chalk, easy lunchbox noodles, and snag some great free printables to add a little sparkle to your child’s lunchbox, be sure to join Glad’s Facebook Community and click on Glad’s Mom Made tab for tips and tricks to manage the back-to-school madness.  That is just the tip of the iceberg though! Head over to Glad to get the full scoop on all of these fantastic ideas to get your school year started out right.

It thrills me to no end to get to share my ideas with Glad and I can’t wait for you to see what I was hard at work on this summer! Hurry over today for monthly inspiration created by some really fabulous mom bloggers.

 

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Making Face Time a Family Priority

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

When my children were small, it seemed that all they wanted to do was play with me, draw with me, and read with me.

As they get older, it seems that all they want to do is play on the computer, play on the DS, and play on the Wii… and not with me?

What a change in priorities it has been to be so low on the activities totem pole!

I say this tongue in cheek, of course, because I am just as guilty as my kids of making screen time more of a priority than it should be. I could spend hours on my phone checking all of my social networks and being disconnected from the three people that love me most in my life.

One evening I looked around and saw each of us in our respective corners with our screens and I knew that something had to change. I want my children to have their downtime after school, but I also want us spending time together as a family.  I wanted to share with you our solutions for making family time a priority again.

Declare Face Time

When my kids get home from school it is time for snacks and homework. After that, they are free to do screen time alone until 5PM. At 5PM, I declare it, “FACE TIME!” Face time is not FaceTime on the iPhone, instead it means that we will have time together as a family until bedtime.  It means having a family meal together with great family conversation, reading books together, playing a board game, or spending an evening playing outside together.

I thought Face Time was a genius idea, but the first night my husband looked at me and said, “So we are ALL supposed to not be on the computer?” Yes, admittedly, I had to flip my phone upside down because each time the screen popped up; I was dying to know what was happening in the world. The two people that had the hardest time were the two of us and the kids took the change in routine surprisingly well.

Do Screen Time Together

If we use screen time during our Face Time it must be all done together.  Some evenings we spend an evening Wii bowling together and other evenings it is a night of wild dancing on our Just Dance game. I will admit that I often request a rousing round of Band Hero so I can sing with my very own Partridge Family.

We recently added a new screen time feature to our family that we are all absolutely loving. For about seven years now, I have made homemade pizza every Friday night for our evening meal and we have watched a family movie. In the last few months we have changed our pizza night to a, “Docu-Pizza,” night that we have all come to look forward to together. The evening consists of 1 pizza, 1 documentary, and 1 great family conversation afterwards. We have exposed the kids to lots of different cultures and watched documentaries about everything from the art of origami to puppetry to a senior citizen dance crew. It has led to amazing discussions and allowed us to use our screen time in a way that benefits our whole family.

If you are looking for some fun documentaries to add to your family viewing, be sure to follow my Reality Bites Pinterest Board for some fun movie suggestions to incorporate into your very own Docu-Pizza Night.

Screen time done together connects us and the kids are learning to include us in the gaming fun instead of doing the games on their own.

Use a Screen Time Monitoring System

I find it is much easier to monitor screen time hours during the school year since the kids are in school during the day. In the summer months is when screen time can really get out of control.  I wanted a way to monitor their screen time so we decided to create a printable ticket that could be used for just this occasion.

These tech tickets have made us all more aware of how much screen time we are using and have been a great way for us to monitor the amount they are getting. Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week in our house. The chore ticket must be punched before they can start with their first hour of screen time.

Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. We do not count television time as tech time in our house. Kids can watch 2 shows daily on Netflix. We no longer have cable television so that has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out on the television. A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour.  It is as simple as that!

We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They can not, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.

 

My husband and I keep shaking our heads as we see the kids getting back to the root of playing together again. Without the screen distractions, they are playing more outside, playing more together, reading, and creating more. It makes my heart happy to see them getting back to this again and embracing imaginative play.

This is what being a child is about and this is what being a family is about. I am glad we are rediscovering these simple pleasures again.

How do you make Face Time a family priority in your house?

 


 

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Free Printable Chore & Tech Time Tickets

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Today I wanted to share with you a printable that my husband created for our summertime chores and monitoring our computer time with the kids. These tech and chore tickets can be printed and used with a simple hole punch to signify if the child has used their tech time or has completed their chores.

I really wanted to spend quality time with my kids this summer and I find that screen-time really distracts them from our time together. These tech tickets have made us all more aware of how much screen time we are using and have been a great way for us to monitor the amount they are getting.

Each child gets one chore ticket and two tech tickets for the week in our house. The chore ticket must be punched before they can start with their first hour of screen time.

My children are 10 (almost) and 6. This is our current list of chore activities that must be completed. I don’t punch the ticket itself until the end of the day, but morning chores have to be completed to redeem the first hour of time, then evening chores are completed and the second hour can be used.

6 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, sweep (with a quick vac) under the table after each meal, meal helper every other night, (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with laundry sorting.

10 Year Old Chore List- Get dressed, tidy room, make bed, wipe down both bathrooms, meal helper every other night (help prepare and set the table for dinner), 15 minute tidy at the end of the day, and assist mom with loading and unloading of laundry.

Reward- $5 weekly

Tech tickets grant the child one hour of computer or video game time. We do not count television time as tech time in our house. Kids can watch 2 shows daily on Netflix. We no longer have cable television so that has really helped us do a better job of not zoning out on the television.

A timer is set and once it dings, the card is punched for that hour.  It is as simple as that!

We made an agreement that if the child wants to save computer/video game time that they can save and transfer the hours to another day. They can not, however, cash in on an advance on their ticket.

I will not lie, the first day was ROUGH. Two hours does go by quickly for everyone. That said, after the initial two days, we have really been enjoying our time together. We keep busy with fun outings and tackling our summer bucket list together. I find that breaking the day up with an outing seems to make the day go by faster and takes the focus off of the lack of screen time.

Today my son said, “Wow, that hour was really long!”  It was funny how he was whining about the hour being too short the first day. I think we were all losing track of how much time we were spending on our respective screens.

Everyone parents differently. This parenting strategy works for us and I hope it will help someone else out there too!

Next week I will share more about something we call, “Face Time,” in our house that requires our kids to be screen-free and to make our family time a priority.

I didn’t want to waste anytime getting these printables out to you though because they are quickly becoming a valuable part of our summer time together and I think they could be valuable to you too!

 

Grab your Printable Chore Tickets.

Grab your Printable Tech Tickets.

 

Notes on the printable- There are three tickets per sheet. These are color tickets, but you can switch your printer settings to black-and-white or draft mode to save on ink.

 

How do you monitor screen time in your house? What does a typical chore list look like for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Instagram Summer Inspiration: 100 days of summer, week 1

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Happy summer to all of our friends on MomAdvice. Our summer officially started on Thursday and we couldn’t wait to get the party started. I met the kids down at the bus stop with silly glasses that I found at the Dollar Store to let them know that the only thing we had our summer agenda was FUN. They giggled all the way home at their mother’s silliness, but it was the perfect way to start our summer.

We kicked off our summer with my husband’s big 5K race. He had been training for months to get ready for it and we wanted to show our support for him and how hard he has worked. We worked hard on signs that we could hold up at the finish line for him. In his words, “I was the only one who had someone holding signs for them.” It was such a fun way to be a part of his big race day with him and the kids were so proud of their dad.

We did swim lessons on our last week of school which was either extremely genius or the worst idea ever since it was the craziest week of our school schedule. At the beginning of the week, Ethan was barely getting in the pool. At the end of the week…well, this happened. He was terrified of the deep end and we had been trying to get him to go off the diving board for years. I was shaking so hard when this moment happened, but he did it.  Then he did it again and again. I still can’t believe it!  It was a fantastic way to kick off the summer.

On the last day of school they happened to have a concert at our local park. We were so proud of both of our kids who both finished the year out with the highest honors and grades this year that we wanted to treat them to an evening of celebration.

We headed to Moe’s Southwest Grill, their favorite taco spot, and loaded our picnic basket with great food and a blanket to sit on. We enjoyed the outdoor concert together and it was such a fun way to finish out their year.

Of course, summer is never complete without our summer list! This was the first year that we let the kids do the whole thing on their own. We made some helpful activity suggestions, but let them take the lead this year.

I am just as excited as them to start tackling all of these fun activities with them.

Each of the kids have also gotten a doodle pad and composition book  to begin documenting their summer. I found these at the dollar store and they already have so much to write about. I loved adding this activity to our summer and can’t wait for them to get to show their teachers next year what a great summer they had!

If you are on Instagram, you can join in on the fun by taking pictures and sharing all of your summer adventures through there. Let’s use the hashtag #100summerdays. My username is momadvice and I am happy to have you follow our adventures and follow along with yours!  

By tagging your photos, it will make it easy to find each other in the group and share the projects we are tackling together. You can add the tags to your caption or you can add them as a comment later. In either scenario, the tag will pull it into our summer group.

Gain some summer inspiration on our Pinterest 100 days of summer (’12) edition where you can get another amazing round-up of 100 ideas to inspire your summer bucket list. 

This list has everything from making homemade butterbeer drinks for those Harry Potter enthusiasts, to making homemade shrinky dinks, to getting back to the basics with great dinner discussions with great family conversation starters.

There is something for everyone on here- boys and girls of all ages and craft levels. The best part is that they are ALL budget-friendly and will cost you very little in supplies.

Happy summer to each of you!

xo,
Amy

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Creative Mother’s Day Gifts on a Budget

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to honor our moms! Each year we try to do something special for my mom and mother-in-law. I have found that often the simplest of gifts are the most treasured, especially if they are hand delivered by my children.

Today I am over at the Kenmore blog sharing a few of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts that are not only creative gifts to create, but they are also very easy on the wallet. Head on over there to get the scoop on my top gifts to give.

Enough about the giving though, let’s talk about the receiving. After all, it is your day too! What is your dream Mother’s Day gift this year?

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