Friday, August 30, 2013

Freebies on Friday - August 30, 2013

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you enjoy the wonderful freebies I've found for you.  See you Monday!

Baking Basics and Beyond: Learn These Simple Techniques and Bake Like a Pro

Heaven Hears: The True Story of What Happened When Pat Boone Asked the World to Pray for His Grandson's Survival

Little Kids Big Money: Tools for Teaching Kid Friendly Finance

Handmade Peach Soap - Fill out a brief questionnaire and get a free sample of their handmade soap.
Mom Bumper Sticker
Survival or Camping Food Samples - this one is amazing, but it does have a $9.95 shipping fee because you get all the stuff listed below. They cover the cost of the food - you pay the shipping.

  • 1 Creamy Tuscan Pasta (4 servings) $10.95
  • 1 Chicken Cheddar Rice (4 servings – Gluten-Free) $10.95
  • 1 Western Potato Chowder (4 servings – Gluten-Free) $8.95
  • 1 Kona Coffee (1 serving) $1.78
  • 1 Tropical PiƱa Colada All Natural Energy Shooter (1 serving) $2.21
  • 1 Orange Passion Green Tea (1 serving) $1.96
  • 1 Company Brochure and Product Catalog $1.00
  • 1 Audio CD $3.00
  • 1 Presentation Package (holds all contents) $3.00

Scrapbooking Printables - Lots and lots to choose from.
Make a Tablet for Your Doll - Okay this looks really cool and my daughter has already said she NEEDS this.

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You Are Special

I was listening to a song on the radio that went "you may one of millions, but you are one in a million to me." 

It hit me a while back that so many people try to be famous or special to lots and lots of people. When they should focus on being special to those closest to them. 

Not everyone can be a famous celebrity, but you can be a celebrity to those around you. 

When I worked as a Recess Monitor I would have kids come up to me all the time to say Hi and give hugs. I felt like a celebrity.

Once I quit I felt a little sad. Then God showed me I need to take care of those immediately around me. They think I'm special and unreplaceable.

Be one in a million to those you love!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Goals for the 2013-14 School Year

I'm a stay at home mom with all my kids in school. To be honest, I find it hard to get my home deep cleaned while my kids are home all day during the summer. Some little maintenance projects get put on the back burner, so the kids can get my undivided attention. Plus things like my crafts and blog projects get left by the wayside.

Now that the kids are in school it's time to get back to work "so to speak".

This year I decided to list my goals to accomplish while the kids are in school instead of just winging it. Call it my goals, a honey do list or whatever you want. I just want to get them done. :)

1. Help my youngest master her math facts - 15 min a day Monday - Friday
2. Plan one fun thing to do as a family each quarter. (Sept. - June)
3. Schedule a trip as a family.
4. Reinstate pizza and a movie night once a month.

5. Paint the dining room.
6. Recover my hope chest and stool
7. Clean all the kitchen cabinets fronts or refinish them.

8. Strive to post every Monday - Friday
9. Create at least one new printable every month
10. Write and publish my first e-book

11. Exercise every day 20 minutes minimum (dance, walk, yard work, etc.)
12. Read at least one book every month (Sept. - June)
13. Journal everyday
14. Create one thing every month (craft, sew, quilt, etc.)

15. Fully fund oil for this winter ahead of time
16. Fully fund Christmas ahead of time.
17. Pay off the truck loan
18. Save up for and purchase a new laptop.

These are some of my goals for the school year, but I may probably will add or change them as needed.

I encourage everyone to create goals for themselves. It helps you focus on what you really want in life.  Each of us gets one life - do what you really love. Make sure your time is used most efficiently to make this your and your family's best possible life.

Do you have any goals for this school year? Share them below.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School 2013-14

Today was the first day of school for two of my kids. My youngest child is now a 4th grader. Next I have a 6th grader, and my oldest is entering 8th grade.  The younger two were excited to go back to school mostly to see their friends again.

I love when all my kids are back in school except for the fact that I'm the only one with homework on the first day of school.  The kids all bring home papers for me to read and sign.

In my area only kids in 1st-5th, 6th and 9th started today. The rest start tomorrow or are staggered days (Kindergarten). Since my oldest daughter is entering 8th grade, she had the day off and came to the bus stop say "bye" to her little sis. 

So tomorrow starts "Mom Time" for me. It's what I do during the day while they are all in school. It's my time to work on my home, my crafts, my blog, etc. Tune in tomorrow for my "Goals for 2013-14".

Friday, August 23, 2013

Freebies on Friday - August 23, 2013

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you enjoy the wonderful freebies I've found for you.  See you Monday!


How to Build Up Your Child Instead of Repairing Your Teenager

Real Clever Ideas and Solutions: Hints and Tips to Save You Effort, Time and Money

A Beginner's Guide To Paracord: How To Make 4 Easy Survival Bracelet Styles

Dramamine - free sample of the motion sickness relief medicine
Elf on the Shelf Kit - This one is for teachers only, but you can mention it to your child's teacher.
Fit Crunch Bars - Whey Protein bar. The caramel nut flavor looks delicious.

Back to school printables k-12 - created by Sugar Tot Designs for
July-2013-Dec-2015 Editable Calendars - created by Wise Owl Factory
Cool Math 4 Kids - With kids heading back to school here is a great website to help kids with math.

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Meet the Teacher Event

Today was my younger daughter's "Meet the Teacher" event at school. It's a 2 hour period where families can come and see where their child's class is located. Most importantly they can meet the teacher. They can also bring in their school supplies, so they don't have to haul everything on the bus.

I wish every elementary school would do this. It allows kids to get familiar with their classroom and not feel so nervous the first day of school. Plus they get to see which of their friends will be in their class with them.

One trick I learned last year was when I visited my child's classroom is to look for their daily schedule. I just used my iPhone camera  to take a photo - quick and easy. Now I know when she goes to lunch, specials, etc. in case I need to schedule a doctor or dentist appointment during the school.

Another trick I've learned is to take a photo of her in front of her locker, so she can remember her locker number on the first day of school.

If you have any tips or tricks to share for the first week of school feel free to leave a message. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week #12 Weight Watchers Online 360

It is week #12 on Weight Watchers 360° and unfortunately I gained this week*. It wasn't much of a surprise to me because I was on vacation and pretty much ate whatever I wanted.  I'm not too worried though because I know now what to do to get the weight back off.

That's one thing I really like about Weight Watchers, it teaches you how to eat in the real world. I can eat whatever I have available - it's all about the portion sizes. Of course, I try to eat healthier foods because they do a better job of helping me feel full. I treat myself to a small treat everyday, so I don't feel like I'm dieting. Plus I have more energy so I can play more with my kids and have less aches and pains.

I only have one week left on my free trial and I plan to stay on it on my own. I do plan to lose about 50 more to be down to my ideal weight.

All in all I have to say if you are overweight, feel tired a lot and can't get motivated. Give Weight Watchers a try because I've noticed I feel more energetic and happier just from losing 10 pounds.

Sorry, not trying to sound like a commercial only sharing my personal experience. I would honestly recommend Weight Watchers and I plan to continue using their online program as I have in the past. I will post updates less frequently (probably monthly).

* This post is sponsored by Weight, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kate Middleton's Post Baby Wardrobe

(photo: Michael Middleton)

Okay so I don't usually comment on pop culture stuff, but I had to send kudos to Kate Middleton for this latest "news".

Prince William and Kate Middleton posed with their new bundle of joy and Kate was wearing her maternity clothes.  A couple weeks after the baby was born.  Say it isn't so. LOL!

I applaud Kate Middleton because she didn't give in to the pressures of the media. I feel it makes her seem more relate able.  More like a normal mom and less like a celebrity who has fitness trainers, nannies, chefs, etc. (Though she may have all three).

This is only news because some newspapers and television outlets try to pressure celebrity moms  to feel as though they need to have their pre-baby bodies back within days after having their baby.  Plus they seem to negatively highlight any weight gain while pregnant. I feel as long as the mom and baby are healthy and their doctor isn't concerned - it's none of the public's business.

I've known many moms and very few has been able to slip right back into their pre-baby clothes. To me that's normal. Though I don't know a mom who wouldn't mind magically being thinner after giving birth.

Many moms stay physically active throughout their entire pregnancy, but still cannot fit into their pre-baby clothes. Your body can change shape after you've been pregnant. Hips can become wider, a small stomach where there wasn't one before, even a bigger or smaller bust.

I was always told it took 9 months for your body to get ready to have the baby and will probably take 9 months before it returns to "normal". That normal may or may not be the same as before.

I don't know about you, but my doctor said not to exercise my stomach muscles for week 4-6 after delivery. Normally your doctor can recommend some gentle exercises like walking or yoga to help you stay healthy, but I was told sit-ups, crunches, etc were off limits.

Remember every person is different and every pregnancy is different.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back from Vacation

The past week my family and I were on vacation in Avon, NC with my hubby's family. This is the first time I've ever been to the Outer Banks. It is sure was beautiful.

We visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It's a very pretty lighthouse. You are able to climb to the top and look around for $8 per person. We decided to stay on the ground, because there was a hour wait to climb it. There was also a really interesting museum that was fr#ee to the public.

We got some fishing in. My daughter caught a fish and my son caught a fish and a crab.  My hubby even helped a man get a baby shark off his hook. He technically wrestled a shark. LOL

We went fishing from the Avon Fishing Pier and let me say we won't be doing that again. The pier isn't exactly the sturdiest pier I've ever been on. It swayed pretty bad with the wind and it looked and felt like a kid built it.  It's really wavy.

As we were driving down Rt. 13 past Hatteras we saw this awesome looking space ship. I had to get a photo of it, because it was so big and even had photos of aliens in some of the windows. Too funny!

On our way home we had to stop by Digger's Dungeon - Home of Grave Digger. We are Monster Jam fans and this was really great! Hubby and little girl even rode a monster truck over a school bus. She really got a kick out of that. It only cost $5 per person to ride. We got to see a Grave Digger truck up close and they even have a diner, a shop, a small zoo (farm animals), and a playground. It was very family friendly.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend going to Avon, NC as a family unless you are die hard beach or water sports fans. That area is more quiet than family oriented. I have to say if we were to go back we would stay in Kill Devil or Nags Head. There was much more stuff to do - like mini golf, laser tag, shops, etc.

Well glad I'm glad to be home. Now I have a week to get the kids ready to start school on Monday. So much to do.  See you tomorrow.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Freebies on Friday - August 16, 2013

Happy Friday everyone! This week I found a couple e-books being offered some wonderful ladies.  Hope you enjoy them.


The Family That Serves: Growing a Heart for Service and Outreach in Your Family by Sarah Nuss

Natural Green Home Cleaning For Beginners:Best Innovative Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solutions for Your Home from Kitchen, to Children's Toys, and Even Your Car and Microfiber Cleaning

The Frugal Guide to Cutting the Cable Cord (And Saving $$$)

Murad Rapid Age Spot Free Sample
Beech-Nut Toddler Welcome Kit
Calvin Klein Beauty Perfume Sample

Project Life Printables by Becky Higgins
Back to School Printables K-12 - From These are K-12 signs. We use these on first day of school photos.
Back To School free photo checklist
Printable Play Money (US and Canadian)

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stuff to Do on Vacation Rainy Days

You and your family are on vacation and unfortunately it starts to rain. Whether it rains for a couple hours or couple days. Your vacation isn't ruined just because it's raining. Here are a couple activities your family can do when the rain comes down.

Find a local art gallery and view works by local artists. There are many children's museums throughout the country as well as lots of historical museums. Just be mindful that many other people will have the same idea, so plan for crowds or get there early. 

Laser Tag
For more active folks, try an indoor laser tag facility. Kids and adults can run around hunting the other team in hopes of winning. There are usually a limited number of people that can be on a team, which works out when other places are really crowded.

Mini Golf
Most popular tourist destinations have at least one indoor mini golf place, so you can play regardless of the weather outside. This is always a good option, because family members of almost all ages can play.

Aquariums are always a nice option. Walk around and view all the animals at your own pace. Many will allow strollers and even have interactive displays for younger children.

Art/Craft Businesses
For a more hands-on activity try a local arts and crafts business. Some offer make and paint pottery, while others offer make your own jewelry or scrapbooking classes.

Of course, shopping is always an option when it's raining. It's a nice time to find a souvenir to bring home. Just be warned that the stores are usually crowded on rainy days. Try smaller specialty shops or boutiques to find unique gifts as opposed to big malls or chain stores.

If being outside in the rain doesn't bother you - you can always go fishing (you may need a license). The fish really don't care if it's raining.

There are lots of rainy day activities to choose from when you are on a family vacation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Week #11 on Weight Watchers 360

It is week #11 on Weight Watchers 360° and I lost another pound. Slow and steady is my motto.

With summer almost over many people will be taking one last vacation. But then I thought what would you do when you are away from home on Weight Watchers? Eating out in unusual places most of the time.

Staying in a Hotel
When staying in a hotel you don't have much choice in where you eat.  It's almost always out in a restaurant.  Here are a couple tips to help you stay on track.

  • Special Order meals - for example asking for sauces on the side of your dish
  • Fill up on fresh fruits
  • Store perishable items in your sink full of ice from the ice machine.

Staying in a Rental Home
If you and your family are going to stay in a rental home you have a bit more options. You can shop at a local grocery store and prepare meals you are used to in a regular kitchen. You can choose to eat out if you wish or eat in if you choose.

No matter where you are staying on vacation stick with meals that you know are healthier, in general, to stay in line with your diet.

* This post is sponsored by Weight, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How We Went From Verge of Bankruptcy to Savings Success

It seems like we've always struggled with money. I balanced our checkbook once a month when our statement came in, but we were kinda clueless the rest of the month.

Then in January 2011 the S*@T hit the fan. We received a notice from the bank saying they were starting foreclosure on our home and another saying they were repossessing our truck. Things got serious real quick!!!

My hubby was making a great income. I was a stay at home mom with 3 kids in school. We were dealing with past due bills, medical bills, collection agencies (for other medical bills) and keeping up with all the day-to-day bills.

We didn't have lots of credit cards or loans. We just fell behind on our regular bills. We didn't have a plan or any organization.

Our Plan
I have to give complete credit to my hubby on this one. He searched all over the web and finally came up with a plan that got us out of the financial mess and on stable ground.

First, we wrote up a list of everything we owed. I mean everything.
* Who we owed (ex. mortgage, hospital, electric co.)
* How much we needed to pay to get caught up
* Total amount needed to be completely paid off
* Due date

After seeing everything listed in one place we printed out a blank monthly calendar for the remainder of the year. We wrote in all the bills that weren't due yet on the dates they were due. Some people prefer to write them in on a day or two ahead of their due date, so they are paid early.

With the list of our debts, we were now ready to look at the money coming in. We got out hubby's paycheck and sat down together. To figure this out.

We had a blank notebook laying around and opened to a blank page. On the top of the page we wrote the week's date. Hubby gets paid every week so that is how often we create a budget. We create a new budget each and every week.

On the first line we wrote the amount of his check (actual amount deposited).

Under that we write any money left in the bank account after it has been balanced. Total it up after each line.

Next we take out the money we need for gasoline. My hubby can't make any money for the next week if he can't get to work. So this is important.

Another thing we do right off the bat is deduct for food. Usually $100 - $150 a week, but sometimes it got as low as $50 a week for our family of 5 plus 2 dogs and 2 cats. Those weeks were really, really rough. Find out how we stick to our food budget here.

After those two things we always take out for our home mortgage. We arranged with our mortgage company to have 1/4 of our payment deducted from our account every week. For us it was easier than trying to come up with a big lump sum every month.

Now with the remaining balance (after mortgage, food and gas), we look at the calendar and see what else we can pay. If there is any money left over after that week's bills are paid - it get's put into savings or taken out of the bank and put in an envelope for a special fund.

One thing we do that most people do not is we use cash. I always get out cash to go grocery shopping and for gasoline for the vehicle. That way I definitely have to stay within my budget.

When we have special items we need to save up for, we withdraw the money from our bank and put it in an envelope. We've learned the hard way if it stays in the bank - it get's spent, so we take it out and sock it away.  Some things we save up for include: Christmas, back to school supplies, heating oil, birthdays, clothing, auto repairs.

Once we were able to get caught up on all our bills; we've started to pay down our debts. We are constantly between paying down/off our debt and saving for special items.

This process has worked pretty well for us for the past 2 1/2 years. We've paid off lots of medical bills, almost paid off hubby's truck, and paid cash for vehicle repairs, plus lots more.

The main reason it works so well for us is we communicate with each other every week about our financial goals. We prioritize our expenses (what we need and want). We always talk over major purchases and we try to keep a healthy balance between things we need and stuff we want.

I'm not saying this will work for everyone, but if you are in a similar situation our plan is something you could consider.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School and Separation Anxiety

It's almost that time again. Time for kids to head back to school.

We've all see it. Kids crying their eyes out because they don't want to be left at school. Moms making it even harder on the kids by getting teary eyed, saying lots of good-bye and giving way too many hugs. Poor little ones think they are being left someplace really terrible or worse they aren't going to see their parents ever again.

Let's make it easy on the kids by following a few simple tips.

Get to Know Their School
Most schools will allow you to bring your kids on a tour (at some point) prior to the start of the school year. Your child will see where their classroom will be, where the lunchroom is, and most importantly where they will be having recess.

If possible, arrange a play date with other kids that will be attending school with your child. That way they will already have someone they know on the first day of school.

Keep Your Emotions In Check
It's fine to miss your children while they are away at school, but don't let them see you get all misty eyed. Wait till the kids are gone otherwise they will think there is something wrong with going to school.

Be consistent
Kids feel safer when they know what to expect. Each school day they go to school to see the same teachers, students and staff. They know that the same person will pick them up after school. They know mom or dad will fix dinner around 6 and bedtime is at 8:30.  Change is fine, but not everyday. Be as consistent as possible. Even if it means dinner is sometime between 4-6 and bedtime is always before 9:30 p.m. 

Create a Good-bye Ritual
A simple hug and kiss or a wave with a quick "See you later" can help kids know you love them and will see them later.

When my son started preschool he didn't want to leave his favorite security blanket. For the first couple weeks of preschool he carried around a small piece of the blanket, so he could always reach into his pocket and feel the blanket without anyone seeing.

My youngest just didn't want to go to school. The guidance counselor recommended reading "The Kissing Hand" with her. It an adorable story about a little raccoon going off to school who misses his mother.

Help you child ease back to school by preparing them ahead of time by letting them know what to expect. Create a routine, so they know what to expect to happen. Plus a quick and simple good-bye lets kids know there is nothing to worry about and that you will see them later. These simple things can make your child's back to school experience that much better.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Freebies on Friday - August 9, 2013

Happy Friday everyone! I've found a couple fun and useful freebies for you. Hope you enjoy them.


Farm Girl Country Cooking: Hearty Meals for the Active Family

Autism By Hand

How to Work for Yourself: 100 Ways to Make the Time, Energy and Priorities to Start a Business, Book or Blog

Lance Crackers - in case you missed it. Here is a coupon to get a box of Lance peanut butter crackers. You can even print out 2 to get two boxes. These are the Xtra Fulls and they are delicious. - This says they will send you a free plant, seeds or bulb free anywhere in the world. I didn't enter phone or mobile and it was still accepted. I requested an apple tree (seed or plant).
Jelly Kidz - multiple vitamins in jelly bean form for kids.

Lowes Build and Grow Clinics  - Disney Planes themed projects available
Back to school printable kit - Creative Mamma put together a really cute set of printables.

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Tips for A Safe Summer Road Trip

Are you getting ready for a fun end of summer road trip?

It's getting close to the end of summer and maybe you are wanting to take one last family vacation. If you going to traveling by car here are a couple things to consider.

I'm sure you want to bring everything your family will possibly want on your trip, but consider cutting back.

Do you really need to back 8 days worth of clothes or can you simply wash a load of laundry at your rental house or hotel? Could you pick up some of your groceries once you get to your destination instead of trying to pack it all?

We've all seen the cars that have so much stuff packed that other drivers are nervous that stuff will fall off their car and land in the road. Or maybe they just have stuff piled so high in the back of their car that there is no real way the driver can see out the back.

Make sure you can see out all your windows, see all your mirrors and everything is properly secured to vehicle.

Know Your Route
GPS units are really nice, but they aren't always right. Make sure you have some printed directions just to be safe. Even better would be to have an alternate route in case major traffic delays or road closures. When in doubt pull over and ask for directions.

My hubby and I like to use our CB radio because the nice tractor trailer drivers usually know why there are traffic back-ups and how to avoid them.

Stay Alert
Keep your eyes on the road. Hand your cell phones over to a passenger. Let them be in charge of texting or answering calls. You can easily tell them what to type or say.

If you are going to be traveling for a long time make sure you take plenty of breaks. Switch drivers or get out and stretch your legs. Pull over at a rest stop and take a nap if you need to, but don't drive drowsy. It's not just your life that depends on it - think about the person or family you may hit if you fall asleep at the wheel.

Keep Kids Busy
No parent wants to have a kid have to deal with a crying baby or whining toddler for hours in a car. Have plenty of stuff for your little one keep occupied and happy. If you want more tips-for-traveling-with-kids click here.

For more great tips visit


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Week #10 Weight Watchers 360

It is week #10 on Weight Watchers 360° and I lost 1 pound, but again I lost inch-wise. This week I did not stick to my diet though. I went to a birthday party and out to dinner with family. Both times I splurged on yummy (totally bad for me) foods. Yet somehow I still lost 1 pound. Amazing!

While I understand that not sticking strictly to the diet will mean it takes longer to reach my goal weight, I also don't feel like I'm on a diet. I am learning to eat better more often and only splurging occasionally.

This week I wanted to talk about finding healthier versions of stuff my family really likes. I grew up eating home cooked, comfort type foods with a little bit of fast food mixed in, so those are the recipes I looked for.

Macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, ice cream, and more can fit into your healthy lifestyle with a few minor changes.  Portion control is a major part, but also the ingredients you choose are important too.

My major problem before starting this diet has been portion control. I could easily sit down and eat a huge bowl full of ice cream, 4-5 pieces of pizza or even a candy bar or two.  Now I purchase smaller single serving size ice cream and get to eat the whole thing. I also eat 1-2 pieces of pizza with a small salad and occasionally a candy bar - not everyday.

Here are some of my favorite places to find low-fat, low-calorie recipes.  (Paid Membership required)

Once you find a healthier version of your family's favorite foods it will be easier for you to stay on your diet or just to get everyone to eat better.

Short and sweet this week.

* This post is sponsored by Weight, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Must Have Supplies for Back To School

With all the stores having their Back to School sales I thought I would share my must have supplies for back to school. My family has used (and still does) all these products.

Choose one that is sturdy and will fit all their notebooks, binders and supplies. Make sure you know what type of backpacks your child's school allows. Some schools do not allow bags with wheels, some require them to be clear, while other schools only allow drawstring bags.

My kids' middle school only allow drawstring bags carried around the school and the one pictured above was the sturdiest one I've found. We've tried many different ones over the years and this hasn't ripped or tore after using it daily for 6 months (so far).  Plus, it was $7 at Walmart. 

If your child's school doesn't require one, I recommend you purchase a student planner. In it your child should record all his homework as it's assigned. Each night check their planner to insure all their homework and any projects are completed.  This is also a wonderful place to leave messages for their teacher and for them to respond back.

All my kids' schools require planner similar to the ones sold here. Ours are purchased directly from the school for $5 each.

Homework Folder
This works great for elementary schoolers, but it is used in higher grades as well. Basically, you designate one folder for all homework. That way your child only has to check one place for all their homework - not individual binders/folders.

I highly recommend using a 2 pocket poly folder like the one above. They last a whole lot longer than the paper ones that rip pretty quick with daily use. They even come in a variety of colors and only cost $1 or less.

This one is obvious - keeping a supply of pencils on hand. I try to make sure each of my kids has at least 3 pencils in their backpack each morning. There really is no excuse to lose 3 pencils.

I also want to suggest skipping the pretty designed pencils because they usually are harder to sharpen. After working with many teachers over the year most recommend using Dixon Ticonderoga brand pencils because they are easy to sharpen and good quality. I realize they do cost a bit more, but I've found them to be worth the cost.

These are obviously the basics and there are plenty more supplies that would help your child be even more prepared for school. These are the brands/products that have worked for our family for quite a while and I know they can help your family too.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Personalized Game of Guess Who

My kids had received 2 games of Guess Who, a while back, in a kid's meal from one of their favorite restaurants. They played it once and then it was left sitting for a couple months. Normal unfortunately for kid's meal toys in my house.

I was trying to find fun activities for my kids while we are on vacation next week and wanted to surprise them with a personalized game for them to play.

We had a portable version of the game, but you could easily do this with the regular size game and it would work much better. These pictures are so tiny, but I made it work.

I made one with all our immediate family members. I also made one that has a bunch of Harry Potter characters because we are big Harry Potter fans.

I collected all the photos I wanted to use in a folder on my computer than selected the ones to print. Then I chose "Contact Sheet" or "Index" on the print settings. I will print out a bunch of thumbnail size pictures. I still needed to shrink them a bit so I printed the page out 55% instead of 100% size. You can obviously make the photos whatever size you need.

Hope this inspires some of you to create your own personalized games for your family.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Freebies on Friday - August 2, 2013

Happy Friday everyone! I've found a couple fun and useful freebies for you. Hope you enjoy them.


Peer Pressure vs. True Friendship! Surviving Junior High (An essential guide for teens, parents & teachers)

Practical Solutions to Everyday Household Problems

KEEPING YOUR TWEEN SAFE ON THE INTERNET: Discover The Exact Steps You Need To Take To Keep Your Tween Safe From the Potential Dangers Of The Internet (The Parenting Tweens Series)

Free Quart of Paint - Clark and Kensington Paint at Ace Hardware on August 3, 2013 only
Monkey Bars Chewy Granola - get a voucher for 3 free boxes.
Centrum Flavor Burst Sample - taking medicine doesn't have to taste bad.

Despicable Me 2 coloring pages
Receive a Call from Mike and Sulley to your Potty Training Toddler - from Monsters, Inc and Monster University

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

I've Always Wanted...

I was browsing on and realized there are a couple things I've always wanted. Sometimes it really nice to just daydream, so here are 5 of the things I've really always wanted.

1. A Hidden Room
I always thought it would be really cool to have a hidden room. One to play in or use as a writing room, craft room or I don't know there would be so many fun things to use it for.

2. A Digital Camera with Zoom Lens
I had a nice digital camera, but had to sell it to get out of our financial difficulties a while back. Since then I couldn't see spending $800 or more when we need the money for other things. I really loved being able to zoom in to objects/people real far away. My kids are a bit photo shy.

3. A Dollhouse
When hubby and I first got married he bought me a doll house kit, but I was never able to put it together. I'm not even sure what happened to it, but ever since I was a little girl I've always wanted a doll house to decorate.

4. Visit Walt Disney World
Again actually. My hubby and I went there for our honeymoon 16 years ago. Ever since then I've wanted to go back, especially since we had kids.  Plus at nearby Universal Studios Orlando they have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

5. Project Life
Ever since I've seen this online I've wanted it. They sell Project Life supplies at Michael's craft stores. They look pretty cool. Love the little journaling cards. Plus I'm not very creative when it comes to making scrapbooking pages.

Leave a comment below and share something you've always wanted.