Saturday, January 25, 2020

Making Time for Date Nights When you Have Littles

note: amazon links are affiliated

Life has just gotten busy here lately. Hubby's work, sickness, visitors, doctor visits, homeschool events, you name it! My husband told me the other day 'I miss you'. It really struck me, because even though we see each other every day, we haven't gotten to spend much time with each other.

I know this happens to so many of us, especially those with young kids. As the kids get older, I know it can be even more challenging, with extra curricular activities being added to the mix. With all the busyness of life, how can we make time for our spouse?

Set aside a day each month
One of my goals for this year, was to pick a day each month and set aside time to be with each other and plan a 'real' date night (or day). Sometimes this may mean fancy dinner or simply a movie and popcorn. We are very blessed to have family nearby to watch the little ones, and always seem happy (or at least I hope they are!) to let us have some time to ourselves.

Give your undivided attention
It's so easy to whip out your phone, but try to set it aside and really visit with your spouse! This is really the time where you can open up to your spouse and deepen your relationship. Remember, one day the kids will be gone, and it will be just you and your husband again. These moments are perfect for building on your relationship.

Be young again
While I like to think of myself as still young, things are just different now that we have little ones. When we are able to be 'childless' for an afternoon or evening, we go all out. Holding hands, him opening the door for me, go to our favorite bookstore without having to go to the toy section, and ending the date at our local coffee shop.

What are your top tips for having date nights with littles? If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I'll be asking you to share your favorite date night ideas! Also, below in my suggestions, I am sharing my favorite books and resources for couples. I am also sharing a Dave Ramsey book, because having our finances in order has really helped us have peace as a couple, and money for date nights!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Adding Fun into my Homeschool Year: 2020 Goals

note: amazon links are affiliated

 Since starting preschool, I've always tried to make learning fun. We've played games, done puzzles and and art to promote learning. When we started kindergarten, I was really thankful for all the neat activities and ideas that The Playful Pioneers gave, which was perfect for a less than creative person like me. While the curriculum has been great, sometimes we still get bogged down with math facts and reading.

If you read my previous post on 2020 goals, you know that adding fun to our schooling was one of my family goals. This week I've really focused on that, and have loved the results! I am still needing to designate a night a week for game night, but adding games and fun to our schooling is a step in the right direction!

This Animal Snapshots game was a perfect cold and rainy afternoon game! Each picture is detailed and colorful and there are so many ways you can play this game. This time my son and I took turns picking a card and describing the animal (kind, color, climate, etc.) while the other guessed. Another way you can play is by asking the questions printed on the back, or by telling a story based on what you think is going on in the picture. My son was pretty good at this game, thanks to his love of the TV show, Wild Kratts!

The Melissa and Doug fishing game might be a touch too young for my son, as he has mastered both colors and numbers, but it was his choice and my 1 year old enjoyed it just as much as he did. Even though he had a good understanding of numbers and colors, it did help him with following the rules and being a good sport, which are also great things to know!

The final 'fun' thing we did was this Kumon telling time book. While still a workbook, the illustrations are so colorful, and the layout so engaging that here you are seeing my son work on it because he asked me if he could! He is learning a lot but having so much fun doing it!

You can check out these previous reviews of games and activities that we've enjoyed and continuing to enjoy, but this is a snapshot into what we've been doing this week to add fun to our homeschool year in 2020. Check next week to see how some of my other goals are going. 

You can also check out the Timberdoodle Winter Blog Hop that is going on right now to see other activities you can do during this season!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Goal Setting for Non-Planners

I am the opposite of Type A, and a go with the flow kind of a person. More gets accomplished the day before or 30 minutes before an assignment/project etc. than in the weeks I knew about it ahead of time. This is a weakness I've discovered about myself, and the best way to not be my normal self? Just do what needs to be done! I am hoping to be successful in implementing this philosophy in my goals for this year.

Winging my goals was also part of my normal routine, but something Dave Ramsey posted caught my attention 'Unwritten goals are just wishes'. Ouch. So instead of just wishing to accomplish some things this year, I am writing down specific, achievable goals. No fancy color coded planners, and my bullet journal has been sorely neglected. I just got out a plain notebook, wrote down my goals, and I'm allowing you to have a peak so I can have some accountability!

This year  I'm making goals for my:

Declutter a little each day. Set aside at least 15 min each day to go through and declutter.
I am planning to redo the plan by Laura Noelle. I started the plan, life got in the way. If you would like to start your own 30 day journey, click this link to her plan! She has other great posts on minimalism. I also follow the Minimal Mom on Youtube, and she has fantastic videos on minimalism, and I feel like our personality types are similar!

1 complete load of laundry a day. Laundry has been my nemesis! I've tried all sorts of 'methods', but I believe the best method is to just do it!

Integrate more fun into learning. I'm not as creative or artsy as some, but I want to add more games and activities to our homeschooling. My specific goal is to do an educational game or science activity at least once a week.

Family game night. Designate one night a week as game night, and add special treats like popcorn to make it even more fun!

I wanted to add traveling to this goal list. With me giving birth during the summer, this may not happen as much this year. I would like to have one good family vacation this year, though!

Make designated date night at least once a month. Having quality time as a couple is so important! Especially when thinking adding another little to the mix.

Read more books! Designate 20  minutes during lunch to read. Rotate genres of book each time. I am also wanting to be on my phone less. I am hoping this will help!

We use the YouVersion app to complete our Bible reading goals. This year my husband and I are doing the chronological Bible in a year! We are also going through Dave Ramsey's Financial baby steps, and using it to help us reach our financial goals.

What are your goals this year? This month I'll be sharing how I'm implementing these goals in my home and family, so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

My Very First Body Book: A Timberdoodle Review

I  am incredibly excited to be telling you about this wonderful book! From the first moments of my son opening up the Timberdoodle box, he excitedly squealed over the bright colors and immediately wanted me to read My Very First Body Book to him. 

We are big fans of Usborne books, and this was no exception.  This was a great addition to our curriculum this year, as we didn't have anything that was specifically 'health' related. 

Each page is filled with information on the human body and how it functions, but never feels too 'wordy', as it's broken up into sections. The formatting and bright illustrations helped keep my son's interest, the whole way through!

Something else I appreciated is that they kept the 'people' in the book very vague and a solid color. It never felt inappropriate or above a preschool/kindergartners level.

My son's favorite page? The one about pooping of course! This is done very well, and merely states matter of factly how our digestive system works. My son was mesmerized, but still giggled a little at the end. He is all boy!

The book covers the skeletal system, muscles, organs, how our body ages, and so much more, yet it stays within its 3+ level. This would be a great jumping point to get your kids interested in learning more about the human body.

Something else I appreciated about this book was that the pages were hard and almost indestructible. This is great when Baby Girl wants to look through the brightly illustrated pages too!

You can click here to see more details of this wonderful book. It is also part of the complete Preschool Curriculum that Timberdoodle puts together. I love that it puts the guess work out of making sure you've covered everything you are supposed to for that grade level. I have loved everything that Timberdoodle has recommended thus far!

I have also added a few items that I would recommend for continuing to study the human body. As usual, these links are affiliate. Anything you purchase I will get a small compensation.
Happy studying!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Family Christmas Tradition Ideas

Note: Amazon links are affiliated
While Christmas at Disney sounds nice, and staying at a decked out 5 star hotel sounds great, the amount you spend doesn't always equate how amazing your memories are as a family. Some of my favorite memories as a kid didn't cost a dime, as we were a family with 6 children and simply couldn't afford anything grand. Today I'm sharing a few ways you can make the Christmas season feel special, but not break the bank doing so!

1. Neighborhood Christmas Lights

When I think of Christmas traditions, I think of being a little girl, getting in the van and scouring the neighborhood for Christmas lights. Now that I have children of my own, my husband and I have taken this up a notch. We set aside an evening and travel to neighborhoods we know have amazing light displays. After we look and ooooo and aaah over every blow up Santa or twinkling icicle light, we head to McDonalds. I am not too fond of McDonalds, myself, so my son sees this as an extra special treat when he gets to go! After driving through we come home to junk food and hot chocolate! We've done this for a few years now, and it really is my favorite Christmas tradition we do as a family!

2. Christmas Movie Night

This one might be cliche, but making a night of it, is half of what makes it special. And no, I don't mean you have to have a Grinch themed snack food bar with coordinating plates, napkins, and decor (although you could do that if you wanted to!). I mean setting aside a night and picking out a specific movie. Make it special by adding marshmallows to your hot cocoa, or making a picnic in the living room and eat supper and watch the movie. Make popcorn, talk about your favorite part of the movie, and you have a tradition that didn't take much money or thought, but that will be dripping with nostalgia for your children in years to come.

What's your favorite movie? With the kids it's A Muppet's Christmas Carol and Charlie Brown Christmas. For me it's It's a Wonderful Life. I've watched it every year, and I still cry like a baby at the end!

3. Baking Christmas Cookies and Candies

When I thought of my little boy growing up, I imagined us in the kitchen bonding over sugar cookies and sprinkles. What really happened were meltdowns and grouchiness! haha! What I've learned is that as my kids are still pretty young, to have a section of the baking and cooking process that is special to them to do. I make these delicious and easy coconut balls that my son does the sprinkles and that is all. I get it all ready and have his part set out and he really enjoys the task that is 'up to him'. He also helps cut out and put sprinkles on these delicious iced Gingerbread cookies!

4. Making DIY decorations

This area is not my forte, but making crafts with your kids can be a wonderful and fun way to make memories. If you suffer from Pinterest fails, you can always buy an inexpensive craft kit from Hobby Lobby or Amazon. I actually prefer this way, because everything you need comes with it, and clean up is normally easier too. These also can double as grandparent gifts, as they always love things made by their grands!

What is your favorite thing to do as a family? Let me know!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Budget Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Note: Amazon links are affiliated

After sharing non-toy gift ideas, and the few things I am getting my kids for Christmas, you may be wondering what kind of items make it to the list when it comes to stockings, since I am trying to simplify my life. Stocking stuffers are notoriously filled with 'fluff' and basically things that will get destroyed or thrown away in the first day of their being given. If you want your stockings to be less than $20 but not 20 things from the Dollar Tree, I hope you find this post helpful!

In the past I have done whatever random little toys I find on sale throughout the year, like blind bags, mini Paw Patrol figures, and while this is fun, it's also easily lost, and the fun is short lived. I've tried to transition more to fun but practical at the same time. I've started adding things like Paw Patrol socks and pjs, instead of the actual figures, and consumable arts and crafts, instead of breakable cheap toys. 

My son is 5 years old, and here are a few things he is getting in his stocking:
Paw Patrol 3 Card Game Value Pack - This is something we found for about $3 (which would make it $1 a piece) after Easter this past year. I love this because my son will enjoy both the character aspect of it, as well as something we can do as a family. He loves playing games together, and this will be something we can enjoy over and over again.

Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Grab and Go Play Packs (Pack of 12) - This is something I do recommend to get at the dollar store. They carry these grab and go play packs, that have stickers, coloring book, and some crayons. This is something that will be thrown away after one use, but my son loves these when we have long meetings, or during church. The Dollar Tree has all different characters to choose from, so these can be fun for a wide age range! ($1)

Crayola Crayons 24 ct (Pack of 2) - My kids has been so rough on his crayons this year! This would normally be a good thing to buy after school supplies go on sale, but my son has gone through those already-yikes! ( I will be buying 1 pack, so $2 max)

Earlier this year, Scholastic had a sale with $1 books. We got some Magic School Bus books, as well as some early readers. A couple of the books might be considered 'fluff' but I don't mind having a few that are fun and easy for Little Man to read. I have a book about losing teeth (Little Man has a loose tooth, so this is perfect timing!), and a simple reader. I don't have links to these, but I am adding a link to a favorite Magic School Bus book. ($2)
The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System

I am also adding a special hot chocolate packet and some candy (because it's Christmas, right?!). I am also buying Pajamas from Children's place for a about $10. This puts me right at $20!

Here is what Baby Girl, who just turned 1 this past week, is getting in her stocking.

Baby Touch and Feel: Baby Animals The DK touch and feel books are some of my favorites for little ones, and they are very inexpensive. I also bought this after Easter, but even on Amazon right now, they are normally around the $5 mark. (I paid about $3)

Colgate My First Baby and Toddler Toothpaste and Toothbrush This is a cliche stocking gift, but this will be Baby Girl's first 'real' toothbrush! This is perfect for a Baby's first Christmas, or even when they get a bit older, and gift it with their favorite character on it. (around $5 for set)

Baby Girl also will be getting a set of pjs ($8) and instead of candy, I will get her some puffs or other baby snack food ($2). This puts me at $18.

If you missed my past posts, click here to check out Non-Toy gifts for Babies and Toddlers.
Click here to check out Non-Toy gifts for the 3-6 age range! These include things that would make great stocking stuffers! My Amazon recommendations are some other things I think would make fun things to put in your child's stocking!

What you putting in your kid's stockings? Do you normally set a budget?

Monday, December 2, 2019

What I am Getting my Kids for Christmas

Note: Amazon links are affiliated

After reading my non-toy gift ideas for babies and toddlers, plus the one for ages 3-6, you may be wondering, what toys DO I get my kids for Christmas? Our goal was $100 per child, and to get things that would be well loved, and help fuel imagination and building and thinking skills. We will probably go over the budget amount, but hopefully only by $10-20 total. Keep reading to see what the kids are getting this year for Christmas!

First off, my kids are getting this play kitchen by Melissa and Doug. It was on sale a few weeks ago for $120 and I could kick myself that I didn't go ahead and get it then. Because it wasn't November yet, our Christmas budget for the month hadn't kicked in, and I didn't want to have to move money around to fit getting such a big item. So here I am, about to spend $20 extra-yikes! 

I feel like this is a perfect time to be getting this kitchen playset. Little Man asked for all kitchen related things for his birthday, and got several of the Melissa and Doug food sets, as well as a little chef's coat and hat. Baby Girl is already pretending to mix the play food in their little cups and bowls. I think it's the only year that they will both appreciate the same thing at the same time. Because of their 4 year gap, I know having the same interests will be few and far between. Even though Little Man may only have a couple of years of play with the kitchen, I think it will be enjoyed for many more by Baby Girl. 

Little Man is getting this Lego set we found for about $10
at Walmart on clearance, right before they set out Christmas things. He loves all things Legos and building! Do your kids love Legos? They can be so expensive, so I am happy we found this set at such a good deal! 

Baby Girl is getting this Melissa and Doug diaper bag to go with the Jenna baby doll we are getting her for her birthday (her birthday is also in December!). We found this at Atwoods on sale after Christmas last year, and I got it half off. I think I paid about $7 for it. 

That is it!!! They will be getting stocking stuffers (and if you were keeping up with the price, I have about $30 left, so I will be sharing budget stocking stuffers with you!) but that is really it. If you are suddenly feeling sorry for my kids and thinking they will be suffering, please don't worry. For one, their grandparents/aunts/uncles make sure that I will be scratching my head over how many toys they received and how in the world I'm going to store them all. Second, part of the Christmas morning surprise is having all the food and cooking toys that we already own, neatly organized, with everything ready for them to begin playing as soon as they wake up on Christmas morning. I have a feeling that the old toys will seem like new, when they are set out for them to see better. Thirdly, kids don't need as much as you think they do! I will let you know how my kids react, but I have a feeling they will be just fine. 

What do you think? Do you like the toys I chose? I tried to get things that promote imaginative play, and thinking skills. Down below I will be sharing toys from Amazon that my kids have that promote just that, and that have been loved and played with for a long time (the camper is the newest version. The version we have was listed for $90!! crazy!). Next week I'll be sharing budget stocking stuffers and what is going in my kids' stockings. It will be featuring some of the non toy gift ideas I shared a couple of weeks ago. 

What are you getting your kids for Christmas? Let me know!

Making Time for Date Nights When you Have Littles

note: amazon links are affiliated Life has just gotten busy here lately. Hubby's work, sickness, visitors, doctor visits, homescho...