Help Kids be a Champion at Their New School

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg Company, J.M. Smucker Company, and The HERSHEY’S Company. All opinions are mine alone. #StartSchoolLikeAChampion #CollectiveBias

Back to School time has arrived already! Like always, we are anxiously awaiting the first day of school. But this year, there may be a few more first day jitters than usual as the boys are starting a new school.

I’ve thought about ways we can calm their nerves (and mine too!) in this new situation. I don’t want it to be stressful for them and I’d love to share a few tips for anyone starting a new school this year.

Ask About Their Fears:

Of course, they may be harboring some fears as the first day gets closer. It’s only natural when a big change is involved! We started talking about this change early on and recommend inviting them to ask questions before the first day. It’s nice to be able to address any concerns before school starts rather than after.

With the 2016 Olympic Games on right now, it has been a great way to talk about being brave in new situations. Because you know these athletes are nervous too! Team USA sponsors have teamed up with Scholastic to create the Walmart exclusive “Start School Like a Champion” program. This year, they want to make sure your champs start the year like one by providing a free Scholastic book for every purchase of select products at Walmart.

Have a Dress Rehearsal:

That’s right! Pretend it’s the first day and talk about your new routine. My kids are bus riders so we talk about where their new bus stop is and remind them they will be arriving at a new school this year. Have them pick out their first day of school outfits. Something that makes them feel confident!

Ask them what they want to eat for breakfast on the first day of school. Be prepared with their favorite foods. Make sure there is plenty of time for them to sit and enjoy breakfast. Talk excitedly about all the things they will get to experience at their new school. Including meeting lots of new friends!

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My kids love Kellogg’s Eggo waffles with JIF peanut butter and fruit on top!

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Add in some yummy Minute Maid Apple Juice and they’re set with a delicious, nutritious breakfast.

Send Them to School With a Surprise in Their Lunch:

It never hurts to send them a goodie in their lunch box. I love sending them special little notes to remind them they are doing great and that I love and miss them. This year I’m sending them an extra kiss in the middle of the day with HERSHEY’S KISSES chocolates. Just a small gesture to show them I care. I know it’s not easy being the “new kid.”

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I want my kids to start school like a champion. You can earn a free Scholastic book by purchasing any of the over 100 participating Coca-Cola, HERSHEY’S, Kellogg’s, or J.M. Smucker’s product at Walmart between 6/29/16 – 9/30/16. Here’s how to claim your books!

  • Buy any participating Coca-Cola, HERSHEY’S, Kellogg’s, or J.M. Smucker product at Walmart between 6/29/16 and 9/30/16. For a full list of participating products, refer to StartSchoolLikeAChampion.com.
  • Join or log in to Kellogg’s Family Rewards.
  • Upload your receipt within 30 days of purchase.
  • Choose or donate your free book.

How do you get your kids ready for school?

All-American Sweetie

Fourth of July is my favorite holiday! I love fireworks, BBQ’s and being with family in the summer heat. It’s going to be a great weekend, as always! Here are a few photos of our little All-American Sweetie in her new red, white & blue dress. She still loves Minnie Mouse so I knew she would love it! The boys had shirts to wear too but did not cooperate with my photo session :)

Happy Fourth, everyone!

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Linking up for Star Spangled Kids.

Planning When You’re Not a Planner

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I have to admit it – I am not a planner. I never have been. In my 37 years I have never used a paper planner to keep track of anything. I’m not really sure how I’ve survived this long. But my memory was always good enough for me to remember things. Until it wasn’t.

I’ve tried to use a calendar app on my phone and until recently it had been working pretty well. I would set up reminders to pop up a day before an appointment or assignment was due. And my husband was able to put in his work schedule so I would always know where he was for that day. But for some reason the app started randomly logging me out and I was missing things right and left!

I realized I was going to have to change my system because it wasn’t working anymore.

Instead of ordering a really fancy, expensive planner I went to my trusty Target and found a cute little planner called a Day Designer. I also bought myself some nice pens thinking it might help me get into this whole planning thing. I realize some people take their paper planners very seriously. Like, they spend a ton of time adding stickers and washi tape and um, yeah. I don’t think I could keep up with all of that.

But so far my minimalist approach is working pretty well. Each day I take a look at what is going on for the week/month ahead. At the top of the weekly pages it has “This Week’s Top Three” and I love being able to pick the three most important things I must focus on each week. It doesn’t overwhelm me.

I chose a small planner because I wanted it to fit into my purse and take it with me. That way I can pull it out and write in anything new while on the go. If my planner sat at home I wouldn’t remember to write anything in it. So a small planner works best for me.

I am really hoping this will help me stay more organized instead of looking like a fool when I miss an appointment or have no clue what is going on.

Tell me, are you a paper planner? Phone planner? Or both? I would love some tips on how to make planning work for me!

When Your Therapist Finally Says the Words You Want to Hear

I met with my therapist this week, just as I have been doing every week for over a year now. And for the first time in a long time I ran out of things to say. She said this is the best I’ve looked and sounded since I started coming to her last May. At first I was shocked to hear those words. After all I’ve been through I never thought I would hear those words. But then I realized, no, it’s not a shock. I’ve been taking better care of myself and it has clearly paid off.

We actually ended our session ten minutes early. Better yet, she thought it would be okay to stretch my next appointment out to mid-July. Mostly because of Fourth of July. But still, it’s pretty awesome that she feels I’m safe to go three weeks without seeing her.

I honestly feel like celebrating!

So what changed? Why am I doing better?

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First, our big move helped immensely. We were both SO stressed all the time. While the actual moving process was terribly stressful on our entire family, once we got here, it ended up being one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

Moving to this new house means I can work from home doing the things I love so much – writing and photography. The freedom to pursue my passions is a true blessing. Seriously, I am so so so grateful to get to do what I love and to own my time while doing it.

The week after we moved I finally laced up and went for a run in our new neighborhood. It was such a difficult but beautiful run. Once again, I felt free to pursue another passion of mine – running. I stopped doing it regularly last fall. I hadn’t realized it but with the depression I had gained a whopping 18 pounds! Thanks a lot, depression!!! I guess it was basically a free-for-all with food and zero activity for about five months. Not good.

So now I’ve been running every other day for a month and I can already feel my body (and my brain) changing. I’ve got those happy endorphins back! I think they have made such a huge difference in my recovery. I’ve also been eating healthier and completely kicked my diet coke addiction. I’m drinking a ton of water now! I’m not looking to get skinny. I’m looking to get strong. Both physically and mentally.

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I’m also trying to get enough sleep. That’s tough with Sawyer wanting to wake up at 5:30 a.m. now. But it just means an earlier bedtime for me. Sleep is so important to my well-being. I can’t stress enough how dangerous lack of sleep is for me. It is a big trigger for my moods so I have to make sure I’m getting enough.

I’ve been following through with taking my meds every day. I kind of hate being so reliant on drugs to keep me going but I am trying to find peace with it. They save my life every single day. I should absolutely love them, not hate them!

Finally, writing again has been very therapeutic for me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this space to write and to connect with all of my readers. It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life! Telling stories will always be a part of who I am. And I’m so glad you want to read them.

It’s good to be back. It really is.

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3 Ways to Revolutionize Dinnertime

3 Ways to Revolutionize Dinnertime

Dinnertime in our household is definitely one of the most chaotic times for us. I’ve heard this from a lot of my family and friends. When the kids get home from school and the work day ends, so begins the challenge to get dinner on the table.

I’m not going to lie – it can be a bit of a mess. Sometimes the kids are tired and there’s whining about homework. Sometimes, and let’s be real, it’s me who’s doing the whining. When tummies are growling and people are exhausted it makes sense that our moods would plummet.

Growing up my mom always had a nice dinner ready for everyone. God bless her, I don’t know how she did it. But I have good memories of dinnertime and I really really want the same for my kids.

I’m probably not alone in this, am I?

Over the years of parenting we have found some things that have worked to make this time of day better for us.

3 Ways to Revolutionize Dinnertime

Push dinnertime back

Now, I know what you might be thinking. They are begging you for food at 5:00 p.m. and you’ve got to get a meal on the table. This is why snack time is your friend. When kids get home from school you need to give them something that will fill them up for awhile. That way, you’re not rushed to make dinner right when everyone gets home. I personally like to eat early. But I’ve noticed if I push dinner back just by thirty minutes, everyone eats better. Plus, you don’t feel like a chicken with your head cut off!

Say no to technology

Resist the urge to let your children play with their phones/tablets at the table. You may obviously get some push back on this but I really put my foot down on this rule. I mean, we have all day to be on technology. We should have a few times that are super important to actually look at each other and connect. Family meals should be one of those. All technology is turned off and put away while eating dinner. And one person can’t get up until all the others have eaten.

Implement “Good Things”

Sometimes you need to spark a conversation so we started what we call “Good Things.” We simply go around the table and say at least one good thing that happened that day. This puts an immediate positive spin on things no matter what happened throughout the day. I know I’ve been sitting there before thinking, ugh, nothing good can come of this day. But when we start “Good Things” it forces me to think of something. Even if it’s just, “sitting here with my family eating dinner.” That’s a very good thing! The kids absolutely love this and now if we forget to do it they will remind us :)

So see, just a few simple things that can truly revolutionize your family dinnertime experience!