Jun 30, 2017

Summer Journals - How to work on Writing Skills over the Summer

Blame the teacher in me, but I just can't let my kids go through a whole summer without writing. Reading is easy for my kids since they all like to read but writing is another story.

Enter summer journals.

This is our second summer making journals and I'm getting the same push back this summer from my kids. Whining, complaining, making me want to scream at them.

You know, they're being kids.

I finally got a brilliant idea and pulled out last years journals for them to look through. And to quote my daughter Isabella "oh now I get it, we are recording our memories so we will know what we did during the summer."

Big spender with my 10 cent notebooks I stock up on at the beginning of the year.

Yes, and working on writing all summer long.

Here's how our journals work. I print out pictures of what we are doing that week. I glue the pictures to the top of the page and they write about it. Some days we are just hanging around the house and I don't have the kids journal on those days. But usually we do something worth printing a picture over a few times a week. Sometimes the picture isn't something special but it's a picture of the cool bug they caught at the park.

They aren't writing everyday and that's OK with me. But they are writing 3-4 times a week and they will have a great memento of their summers to look back on one day.

This was an entry from Molly's journal last year after finishing Kindergarten.

"When we went tubing we saw a ??? and we had fun"

And this her first journal entry this summer after finishing 1st grade.

I love seeing her growth! She was pretty amazed too. I'm hoping today was a turning point for my kids and they'll stop fighting me on these journals. Either way, we are doing them so they might as well have a happy heart about it.

How do you encourage summer reading with your kids?

Jun 10, 2017

Food Lover and Nexium 24HR Relief

My husband jokes that I don't have a culinary style, I just like food. In fact I've been known to plan the next meal while eating the current meal. It's ok, I usually eat healthy and exercise so I'm not in any trouble with my love of food. Yet.

But as I get older my favorite foods no longer love me back quite like they did in the past. The delicious Tex-Mex that I love with all my heart, now turns into heartburn.  So does almost anything fried, buttery, or spicy.

Not cool food, what did I ever do to you?

Thankfully I don't have to live in pain. I can take Nexium 24HR for heartburn relief. This blog post is sponsored from Smily360 in exchange for my honest review. I received a promotional kit in exchange for my review, all opinions are mine.

The perfect grill set for camping!

Nexium 24HR treats frequent heartburn and can take 1-4 days for full effect. You only take one pill every 24 hours, which is great when you know you're having a weekend filled with trigger foods. With Nexium 24HR, you can treat your heartburn before you feel the pain. Nexium 24HR is only approved for adults over 18.

Yesterday was the last day of school and we went to our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant to celebrate. Here in Cary, NC it's hard to find spicy salsa and where we went the salsa is good and spicy. The queso has a little kick too. I love it, and my kids do too.

In the summer we are all about grilling out on the weekends. It's too hot to cook indoors and food just tastes better off the grill. Tonight we are having cheeseburgers with all the fixings. I just love a homemade cheeseburger loaded with toppings. And nothing says summer quite like grilled corn on the cob.

This meal needed a big grill. 

Mmmm jalapeno popper stuffed burger, so tasty. 

Just a plain cheeseburger for this young man though. 

On Sunday our pool is having a summer kick off party with a BBQ potluck. I love potlucks since you can take several sample sizes of different foods. I always bring spicy beans to potlucks. My family loves them and since they cook in a Crock Pot it's an easy no fuss side dish.

After dinner, they are stuffed to the gills. 

We had a great weekend kicking off the beginning of summer. Thanks to Nexium 24HR, I didn't feel any pain from my indulgent weekend. You can learn more about Nexium 24HR here so you can #SeeHeartburnDifferently

I received these products for free from Smily360 in exchange for my honest review. You can join Smily360 at www.smiley360.com. 

May 11, 2017

Buy P&G at Costco

I love Costco! It is the greatest store. You can buy food, clothes, and cleaning supplies all in one trip. On my last trip I bought my kids bathing suits, food, and picked up cleaning supplies. I love that I can buy almost anything I need in one place. Plus when you're a twin mom like myself the lure of the double child seat is almost enough to make you want to shop there.

Another reason why I love Costco is that it's one of the few stores my kids enjoy. For them the lure is the samples, checking out the middle section where the toys are located, and taking home a box to color and use in whatever imaginary game they are playing.

Costco is the perfect place to stock up on cleaning supplies. A family of five goes through items like laundry detergent and dish detergent fast. It's more practical for me to buy these items in bulk so I'm not constantly running to the store. Thankfully my favorite P&G products are sold at Costco.

I have three children and I do about 6 loads of laundry a week. Even more laundry in the winter is just another reason to love summer.  There's nothing worse than needing to do laundry and being out of detergent, which is why I like to buy it in bulk. I'm better off buying it once every other month than buying small bottles more often. Plus you save money when you buy it in bulk. I love using Gain on my kids' clothes, the stains come out and it makes their clothes smell fresh.  

I also buy dish detergent and dish soap at Costco. I love the convenience of having large containers that don't run out very often. That bottle of Dawn will last for months in my house. It's too big for my counter so I just refill a smaller bottle for everyday use. 

Now the best part about this particular shopping trip is that all four items where on sale. This is the wonderful sign you want to see when shopping at Costco. 

Who doesn't like saving even more money? You're already buying these items at a great price but when there's a coupon the savings are even better. You might think that buying that many Swiffers at once is excessive but it's not. With 3 kids we need to clean the floors everyday. I know it sounds excessive but we essentially live in the woods and our floors take a hit from all the pine tree debris my kids track in.

Make your life a little easier and shop for your favorite P&G supplies at Costco. And follow Proctor and Gamble on Twitter and Facebook.

I received these products for free from Smily360 in exchange for my honest review. You can join Smily360 at www.smiley360.com. 

Apr 11, 2017

Disadvantages to Having 3 Kids

I have three kids. I think that's a fairly normal amount until I see the look of horror on stranger's faces when I tell them I have 3 kids. It might be the fact that I had three kids in 21 months more than the actual number of kids I have, Maybe.


Occasionally I think about what it would be like to only have two kids, the culturally accepted amount of kids. It occurs to me occasionally that there are some disadvantages to having three kids.

Like when

Kids eat free
I love when restaurants have a kids eat free night. Saving money is one of my favorite things to do. But when you have three kids only two meals are free. I get it, it's a one for one kind of thing but it still sucks. Especially since my kids are getting to an age where they can't share kid's meals anymore.

Did you know that the goal for many kids is to sit in the back corner of the elevator? And that there are only two back corners? This is a major source of annoyance for me in every single elevator we get into.

Hotel Rooms
Ahh the pain of the pull out couch. Your hotel room says it sleeps up to 6 but that means two suckers are on the fold out couch. Or in the case of a family of 5 one sucker. No one wants the fold out couch, no one. My poor son, he always gets the couch since the girls don't want to share a bed with him.

Amusement Rides
We just went to Great Wolf Lodge, and we had the best time. But with an odd number of kids we couldn't ride all together on one ride and on the others someone always was alone. Same goes for roller coasters and Disney.

I'm not sure who decided that restaurants should have very few tables that seat more than 4 people. One of our favorite restaurants has exaclty one table that seats more than 4 people. Which means we cram into a small table or try to move tables, not easily done when it's crowded. And don't even get me started when we see a family of 3 sitting at that one table.

Are these things the end of the world? No, they don't even blip on my radar most of the time. But I had some time on my hands today with only two kids and my trip to the store was much easier. Of course later when we picked up my third child from her after school club all was right with the world again.

Mar 30, 2017

Parenting Gold - Anything Goes Thursday

Occasionally I stumble on parenting gold. A few weeks ago I had one of those moments after having a rough day at work and I didn't want to cook dinner. Normally I would ask my husband to cook dinner or grab some takeout but it was a Thursday when he had Bible study and wouldn't be home. I was on my own, tired, with 3 kids who insist on eating dinner. Every night! Every single night!

I know right?

That was when Anything Goes Thursday was born. I told my kids that they could eat anything they could make for dinner. After dinner they needed to clean up the kitchen and once that was done they would get some tablet time.

This is a huge reward since we are a screen free house during the week.

Now imagine if I said kids I'm too tired to cook so make your own dinner and clean up the kitchen.

They would have started a revolution, there's no way they would have gone for that.

But Anything Goes Thursday was a huge success. My kids were so excited about being in charge of their dinner and getting to use tablets on a weekday. Two weeks later when my husband's Bible study rolled around they begged me to have Anything Goes Thursday again.


So now it's what we do when Daddy isn't home. It's nice getting a night off from cooking. Plus I get reading time while they are on their tablets which is a win for me. The best part is they think this is a reward for getting homework done and getting ready for school the next day without bickering.

It's parenting gold. Try it and tell me if it works for you.

Oct 24, 2016

Visit MinuteClinic for Fall Allergy Relief

It's finally beginning to feel like fall here in North Carolina. Last weekend I opened my windows just to have our first fire of the season. I love it when the temperature begins to cool down. I'm not one of those weird people who love winter, but I do love the cool down of fall. One thing I hate about fall is my allergies, which are worse this time of year than in the spring. Thankfully there are several things I can do to fight my allergies, I teamed up with MinuteClinic to write about fall allergies. All opinions are mine.

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish a cold from allergies. If you have a fever, it's not allergies. If you're coughing it's most likely a cold as well since very rarely is a bough a symptom of allergies. A cold lasts 7-10 days so if you don't feel better after 10 days it's probably allergies.

I didn't realize I developed allergies as an adult until I saw a healthcare provider. I just thought my first year teaching was making me sicker than usual. Turns out all the colds I thought I was catching was actually just allergies. Now I know when my allergies are going to bother me. The fall is the worst for me and my misery begins mid-October. Over the years I have learned a few things that help me get through allergy season.

The best way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergen. Sadly for me this means spending more time indoors and not opening the windows to let the air in. While I love the feeling of having all the windows in my house open in the fall, I know it lets the allergens in my house so I don't do it very often. 

Fall is also the time of year when we start snuggling under blankets that have been stored away all summer. Wash your blankets before using them to get rid of dust mites, a common allergen. Clean and change air filters every three months to reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that you come in contact with everyday.

Since I know my allergies are going to start bothering me in mid-October, I start taking allergy medicine at the beginning of October. If I wait for my symptoms to occur before I start taking medicine I feel awful. Allergy symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and over the counter or prescription antihistamines may help relieve symptoms as well. At MinuteClinic, their nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate. If you’re diagnosed with allergies, medication may help relieve your symptoms. 

A great option for getting help from a healthcare provider is going to MinuteClinic located in select CVS Pharmacy. There you can see a nurse practitioner at a convenient time. MinuteClinic is open 7 days a week and they have evening hours too. It's a walk in clinic so no appointment necessary. Find a MinuteClinic near you: http://bit.ly/1tizodF. While you're there, pick up a J&J coupon book and save up to $40 on brands you can trust. 

Oct 13, 2016

Learning Disability and a Huge Win

Last May my son's teacher came to my classroom to talk to me. That is never a good sign. She let me know that it was my choice but she was recommending him for summer school. My heart sank. I did not want to hear that.

Now he wasn't in danger of repeating Kindergarten, but she was afraid that without summer school he would struggle in first grade. My husband and I decided to send him mostly because he's a twin. Down the road if he ever needed to repeat a grade it would be devastating. Plus it was only 13 days long so it wouldn't kill him summer.

Best Decision!

Seriously the best decision.

One of his good friends was in the class so he had fun. Lunch was included and buying lunch at school was the highlight of his day. And not to mention the fact that his reading level went up. At the end of Kindergarten he was a D, and on the second week of first grade he was an E.

And he wasn't there for reading, he was there for writing. His learning disability causes him to have problems writing. But the reading level was a huge win. He struggled all year in reading until the fourth quarter so seeing his reading level go up over the summer was great.

Yes we went to the library every week and they also wrote in a summer journal everyday, but I know summer school made a huge impact. He had an amazing summer school teacher who knows how to push kids. She told me that she saw a night and day difference in Mark between the first few days of school and the last few days of school in his work habits.

Mommy gets books too and sometimes has a cute little creeper. 

Oh how he struggled with work habits in Kindergarten. Being able to work independently in first grade is very important.

This new reading level is a huge win for Mark. He struggled so much in the beginning of Kindergarten and now he's on target right where he should be in first grade. Any special needs parent will tell you that this is the moment they long for. When the progress report only shows good news.

I'm so proud of this little guy!

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