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Recent blog posts

Wondering how you can take care of your vision and help a child in need of vision care? One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem.

Right now, when you purchase an individual vision insurance plan from VSP Direct™ for as low as $17/month, a child in need receives a free eye exam and glasses, up to a retail value of $1 million. Find out more at VSPDirect.com/EyeGiveBackThanks to VSP for sponsoring this post.

 

When’s the last time your child has their eyes checked?

If you’re anything like me, I’ll bet you said “at school, when they do the yearly eye check-up”

Every Fall, my kids have the nurse at school give them an eye exam.

Trying to get kids to sit still in the dentist's chair pushes me to my limit but an eye exam?  I didn't think I needed to worry about that until they were much older.

When my daughter was in 3rd grade, she came home one October day announcing that she had “perfect vision”!  

Great!  All was well so I just put it out of my mind and figured we’d have her eyes checked again the following Fall when she was back at school.

Oh, if life were just that easy ...

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When our kids were 6 & 12, we took a trip to a local observatory for one of their public viewing nights.

Talk about a view!

We were each brought up a very tall set of circular stairs to peek into a HUGE telescope.

What did we see?

A triple star, a galaxy "far, far away", nebula and the moons of Jupiter!

It was an awesome experience for my 12-year-old -- one of the scientists showed him a dead star -- a star that was no longer emitting light HOWEVER we could still see the star's light because it was so far away (light-years away) that to us, it still looked like it was a shining star.

He asked questions for days about what we saw and what other possibilities might exist.

And he started reading tons of books about space.

He's now a teenager who follows SpaceX launches, listens to Neil deGrasse Tyson and is heading to college to study engineering physics next year.

You just never know what's going to spark your child's interest and impact their life.

 

Many of us were raised at a time when space travel was new and exciting! 

You know, back when Pluto was still a planet :)

So to encourage this continued interest and wonder with future generations, our newest book list includes some out-of-this-world reads about space! 

 

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The library is a magical place for kids!

So many wonderful books holding everything you've ever wanted to know -- and some things you never knew you wanted to know until you get lost in a book.

But sometimes the library can be a little overwhemling for kids, especially when they are looking for specific information.

Where should I look for books about animals? 

I want to learn a new magic trick - is there a book on that?

Mom, I need to read everything about Greek Myths!

 

The non-fiction section has a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be discovered!

My kids really enjoy non-ficiton books -- especially ones that have beautiful illustrations and engaging text. 

I promise, not all non-fiction books are boring ;)

In order to keep the magic in those library visits, we're sharing a fun printable to help kids learn how to navigate the Dewey Decimal System and non-fiction section of the library.

 

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Planning a family camping trip this year? 

Or just pitching a tent in the backyard? 

Camping with the kids can be tons of fun -- sleeping under the stars, cooking over a campfire and spending some time unplugged to enjoy one another's company.

Not to mention all those great life skills the kids learn -- how to pitch a tent, navigate the trails and entertain themselves without electricity!

Plus marshmallows and flashlights -- always a big hit when you're a kid :)

Spring is a great time for a camping adventure with the cooler weather and longer daylight hours.  So I wanted to share a few fun ideas for (FREE!) family-friendly places to pitch a tent along with a great booklist to take along with you.

 

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This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. As always, all opinions & ideas are mine alone. #NaturalGoodness

 

When my son had his first overnight at a friend’s house, the phone rang at 10 pm.

"Mom? I forgot my inhaler".

"No problem", I told him, "I’ll run it over".

Good thing he was right next door :)

So I hop over to the neighbors where I’m greeted at the door by two very awake boys.

"He also forgot his toothpaste," announced his friend, "so I let him borrow mine".

I thought things might be a little more organized with my daughter since she was older at her first sleep-over.  But when I got there to bring her home the next morning, I could tell a few things hadn’t gotten into her overnight bag.

"Any chance you packed a brush?"

"Nope.  But I remembered my toothbrush!" (score 1 for no cavities after cake & ice cream) – one of the other girls had forgotten hers and it looked like two others had also forgotten their hairbrush :)

Packing for a night away from home is something all kids need help with the first few times – it’s a life skill that will serve them  well as they grow up and once they become more proficient packers, it’s a lot easier to get everyone ready for family vacations too.

But remembering what to bring can be difficult – especially when you’re excited to get to a sleep-over or head over the Grandma’s for the night (where I’m sure the kids will get spoiled just a little ;)

Today we’re sharing the skills needed to successfully pack a bathroom bag along with some free printables the kids can use as they get ready for their next sleep-over. 

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April is Earth Month -- with Earth Day celebrated on April 22nd!

It's a great time to teach the kids about going green, eco-friendly behaviors and ways they can help the environment.

When we were young, environmental issues weren't as well discussed or researched -- now, our kids learn about these issues in school as part of the curriculum and are inspired to do small things that will benefit the Earth.

As we introduce eco-friendly behaviors to our children, it's not only important to teach them HOW to do the behavior (such as recycling a plastic bottle) but also critical that we share with them WHY we are doing these things.

Why do we sort out our recycling?

Why shouldn't be let the water run when we brush our teeth?

We sometimes miss the opportunities to discuss the impact our behaviors can have on the world around us.

So today's activity -- an Earth Month Scavenger Hunt -- mixes both the How & Why of choosing to 'go green'!

 

Earth Day Scavenger Hunt printable

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Did you catch our post on Exploring Animal Habitats earlier this year?

Kids just love to explore all the places that animals live and observe their behaviors.

And they love baby animals!

Heck, I love baby animals - they are so darn cute :)

And of course, we get all those wonderful questions --

"How do the animals have babies?"  

"Does the animal have eggs or a live baby?"

"Why does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly?"

There's that wonderful sense of curiosity coming to play again!

So today we're exploring life cycles for all types of animals with some great books, crafts and hands-on science activities!

 

 books and activities that explore animal life cycles

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Thanks to my not-so-quick thinking last Easter, we were treated to an unexpected science experiment!

During my grocery run the week before Easter, I had eggs on my list (of course ;)

Well, I guess everyone else who visited Target had eggs on their list too because when I got to the dairy department, there were only brown eggs left on the shelves.

Being the "get in and out" type of shopper I am, I quickly scooped up a carton of brown eggs knowing that I had a few things I would be baking that week.

And not even thinking about the fact that we dye Easter eggs every year (duh!)

So, home I go and begin to unpack the groceries, when my daughter nearly falls over ...

"Mom!  The eggs are brown?!!!"

So I remind her that yes, eggs come in two colors -- white & brown.

"But can we dye brown eggs?"

Huh, I really had no idea -- and thus our science experiment began ....

 

Can you color Brown Eggs for Easter?

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Best Western. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

Do you know a hard-working Mom who deserves some ME time?

I hope you just said "yes, ME!"

And I'm sure quite a few other names popped into your head --

your sister who's raising three kids all under the age of 6,

your best friend who's managing a full-time job outside of the home and a hectic daycare schedule for her toddler,

or maybe one of the moms in your church group who is taking care of her own family along with her older parents who also need quite a bit of her time.

Life can get busy for us Moms and sometimes we deserve some time for ourselves.

So how can we make Me time more of a priority?

 

Finding more time for yourself

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I'm sure you're familiar with the old saying idiom --

"March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb."

In the month of March, life seems to revolve around the crazy weather. 

And every once in a while, if you're lucky, you are treated to something beautiful ...

 

rainbow

a rainbow!

 

The thing about rainbows is that they are fleeting and something that you can only enjoy with your eyes.

And yet so darn beautiful!

So I thought we'd round up some beautiful color as we close out the month -- 35 rainbows that kids can touch, taste, smell, see and even hear!  

Now you can have rainbows even on those not-so-sunny days.

 

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This past week, I was looking for a fun engineering project for us to do over Spring Break.

Both of my kids loved to build with blocks and Legos when they were younger but as they got older, they were more impressed with 'having a challenge'.

I think it's really important to continue and offer kids various challenges that help them to 'think outside of the box' so to say.  Most kids really enjoy creating and putting things together.

I wanted something that was a challenge but not too much of one (I mean, it was Spring Break -- so kicking back was part of the plan ;)

And also something that would be 'cool' and grab their interest --

So one morning at breakfast, I said ... 

"What do you think about building the Eiffel Tower today? 

Maybe one as big as you?"

And the eyes got as big as saucers :)

"What?!"

"That would be cool!" 

"But how would we do it?"

And there it was .... challenge accepted!

 

engineering activity for kids

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We made it -- today is the official start of Spring!

Woo hoo!

After this crazy winter, we should all pat ourselves on the back :)

Now it's time to enjoy all those things we LOVE about the season --

Birds chirping, warmer temps, the fact that it's usually still light out after dinner and being able to wear flip-flops without freezing your toes off -- plus the kids now hear a "yes" when they ask if they can wear shorts to school.

Spring is also the time to make a few memories together.

So to inspire you to push aside that spring cleaning and enjoy some time with the kids, we've got a list -- one hell of a list -- of fun ways to celebrate the season!

 

101 AWESOME Things to do with the kids this Spring

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I am one of those parents who believes that kids NEED to learn how to do chores.

And not just those "pick up after yourself" kind of jobs -- but the BIG, heavy, put-some-elbow-grease-into-it kind of work.

I know this is not always a universal belief but hear me out for a second ...

When we were all younger, we didn't grow up with many of the conveniences that our kids have today.

Some of us grew up is houses without a dishwasher.

Some of us had to help hang the laundry outside to dry.

NONE of us had the convenience of texting a friend to complain about "all those chores" we had to get done before we could hang out together.

And honestly, sometimes I get the feeling that because of all the conveniences that exist, kids think that things will just 'automatically' get done for them -- but that won't be the case.

One day, they will leave the house and find out that they won't be able to afford a cook, housekeeper and lawn service on their income (not that most of us can afford those -- but as parents, we often tend to serve in these roles ;)

So at our house, we have this saying "Everyone lives here; everyone chips in to help"!

That goes for weekly chores and also the big, once a year jobs like Spring Cleaning.

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Rocks!

You find them in jacket pockets, lined up on window sills and creating havoc in your dryer.

And yet, when you had one over to the kids and ask them to return it to the yard, their faces gasp in horror ...

"MOM!  This is --

-- the newest in my collection! 

-- a dinosaur fossil!

-- the one that I found on our trip to Grandpa's!"

It's amazing how much promise can be found in one little stone :)

 

Gathering rocks is a right of childhood. 

They are easily found, come in a variety of shapes & sizes and when you're a pint-sized person, they are simply too close to your grasp to not pick up and pocket any time you get the chance.

But what to do with that growing group of gemstones?

We've got a few ideas that will inspire the kids and 'rock' your world (sorry, just couldn't resist ;)

 

Rock crafts and activities for kids

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This #BringingInnovation shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. As always, all opinions are mine alone; we only share items we love and use at home! 

 

"We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children."

~ Lester Brown

 

Being eco-friendly takes on a whole new meaning when you read this statement.

As parents, we all work so hard to provide our kids with a good future -- 

we save money to send them to college

we help them to learn how to eat right and stay healthy.

But sometimes we need to realize that we can't always do FOR them -- it's important to teach them to do for themselves.

And that's exactly what we need to do when it comes to environmental issues.  Teaching our kids how to reduce, reuse and recycle are important life skills that they will use every day.

So today, we're sharing 5 ways to involve kids in eco-friendly behaviors around the house!

 

 teaching kids to reduce, reuse & recycle

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I love getting kids excited about books! 

Sometimes it's not as easy as just handing them a book though.

Getting kids into books isn't just about reading -- it's also about making the story interactive.

And there are quite a few children's book publishers who know this and also love to get kids excited about reading. 

So this week's 5 Fun Finds features some of the top Children's Publishing websites and the amazing games & activities they offer -- all linked to great kids books.

 

 100 Free Books Activities

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Spring is coming!

It is -- I promise :)

And with Spring comes that super nice weather (not too cold, not too hot), those perfect days when we can open the windows, listen to the birds and feel those gentle breezes.

It's a time to toss the kids outside -- watch them run through the yard, climb a tree, chase bugs and explore nature!

So today we have an awesome list of activities, nature crafts and games -- 50 ways to enjoy the outdoors.

PLUS!

Oh, this is a really BIG plus ...

Today is also our awesome SPRING GIVEAWAY -- you can be one of 3 people to win $500!!

 

Best Spring Activities for Kids

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This #BigHero6Release shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. As always, all opinions are mine alone.  We only share items that we love and use at home!

 

My kids love to learn how things work!

You will frequently find them taking things apart or weilding a screwdriver to help Dad with projects around the house.

And yes, we have had our own share of mishaps as a result of their explorations -- but we've learned that those broken items are just a part of life when you're raising curious kids.

In order to give them the opportunity to 'tinker' and explore, we've offered the kids a variety of ways to get hands-on as they build, explore and create new inventions.

One of their favorites is to have their own Tinker Box -- an activity that offers them the opportunity to use tools, learn how things work and engineer to their hearts content!

 

How to Make Your Own Tinker Box & Create Robots

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I don't know about you but I've kinda had it with winter this year -- I am ready to move on to a change of the seasons!

So here's my plan --

I think if we all think 'sunny' thoughts,

and ignore the not-so-great weather,

Mother Nature will certainly notice and Spring will be here before we know it!

Are you in?

In an effort to boost those sunny thoughts, I pulled down our Spring-themed books this week!!  Beautiful pages with illustrations of green grass, leafy trees, cute baby animals and no on in a winter jacket ;)

Kids enjoy reading about the changing of the seasons -- so join me as we ring in Spring with a fun book list that features stories about nature, weather, baby animals and fun ways to explore the season!

 

Spring books kids will love

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My family will tell you that I'm an amateur weather buff -- I like to observe what Mother Nature dishes out to us :)

While watching the Weather Channel one morning, the forecaster was talking about the rain/snow ratio -- basically 1 inch of rain would be equivalent to 13 inches of snow.

Wow!

So I thought it would be interesting to test this during our next snow.

Wouldn't you know it -- we had to wait until mid-February for a good snow to fall!  Which I know is not the case elsewhere this year (apologies to our friends up North & back East who could probably fill up their bathtubs with snow!).

This is such a quick & easy science experiment that kids from preschool to high school will really enjoy -- only 2 minutes to set-up and some GREAT results!

 

snow science experiment

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