Aug 222016
 

Last week I headed up to the Merrimack Premium Outlets to spend the day shopping so that I could stock up on all the back-to-school essentials that my kids will need this fall!

Merrimack Premium Outlets is an outdoor shopping center located 35 miles northwest of Boston and easily accessible off Exit 10 of Everett Turnpike (RT 3 from Boston). They have over 100 stores and in New Hampshire, you can enjoy tax free shopping at stores like Banana Republic, Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store, Coach, Elie Tahari, J.Crew, Michael Kors, Nautica, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tommy Hilfiger and more all at saving of 25%-65% everyday.

My 12 year old will only wear Under Armour clothing these days so I was happy to see that they had an Under Armour outlet there. My little guy is into Nike, so I was wicked happy that I could get lots of great clothing for my boys for back to school at discounted prices.

outlets2

For the 2016 back to school season, Simon is encouraging shoppers to ‘find your style’ while reflecting on your past first days of school and the outfits that were the height of fashion in the 80’s and 90’s. Continue reading »

Aug 162016
 

Opened First Aid Kit

When someone thinks of a first aid kit, perhaps only band-aids come to mind. However, a first aid kit is much better off if it has more of the necessities in it. Summer is here and it’s time to ensure you have everything you need in your first aid kid. Here are some ideas:

25 adhesive bandages in various sizes
If you are like me, you go through A LOT of them, so if you are prepared with different sized band-aids, you will be covered for boo-boo’s of all sizes.

Antiseptic Wipes or Alcohol Pads
It’s important to clean the wound before you put on a bandage and keeping wipes in your first aid kit will help you do this quickly and easily.

Antibacterial Ointment
Whenever your child gets a cut or an open wound, it’s important to clean it before putting on a bandage. Using an antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin can help clean the cut and keep the bacteria out. Continue reading »

Aug 082016
 

Small Disclosure

When I was a kid in school my two least favorite subjects were math and science.  I hated math because I am just not good at it (to this day I still stink at it) and I remember being bored in science class.  Now that I am an adult, I wish I had listened more in science because a lot of that knowledge is relevant in my adult life, but hey – I thought I knew it all back then and wouldn’t have listened to my future self anyways.

Anyhow, now I’m the mom and both of my boys love science and math.  They especially like science and because of that, we do lots of science experiments in our house.  It makes my heart happy that they are learning and don’t even know it.  Because my boys love doing science experiments so much, when MEL Science asked me to check out some of their chemistry sets I just couldn’t refuse.  Especially since the kids are on summer vacation and I want to make sure I keep their brains active while they’re away from school.

IMG_9821

MEL Science is changing science education through a subscription service of nearly 100 interactive chemistry sets chocked full of experiments per year with free mobile apps for iPads, iPhones, Android smartphones and tablets. Even cooler, MEL Science kits are VR-based, and the kit’s complementary Google Cardboard device integrates perfectly with VR to emphasize 3D graphics, macro photos, and videos that allow both kids, parents, and science buffs to view molecules up-close. Here’s a YouTube video of the MEL Science chemistry kit in action. Continue reading »

Aug 082016
 

Back to School Morning Routine Hacks

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Tyson Foods, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #JDgreatdays  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Guys, it’s happening – back to school that is.  The kids are going to be out there waiting for the bus before we know it and trust me, I know how chaotic school mornings can be.  It’s important to find ways to cut back on the chaos and make everyone’s lives a little easier and I believe I’ve found the secrets to a smooth morning.

1. Lay out clothes the night before.
Picking out clothes seems like something that shouldn’t take more than five minutes in the morning, however, when you’re in a hurry it can take forever. If you take five minutes the night before and lay out yours & the kids clothes, you will eliminate having to worry about it in the morning.

2. Set the alarm for a few minutes early.
Try getting the family to wake up at least 10-15 minutes earlier than normal on school mornings. Kids can be slow getting around because they are struggling to get used to a routine, so getting up a few minutes earlier will give them a little more time to wake up and get going. This might mean sending the kids to bed a few minutes earlier as well. Continue reading »

Jul 192016
 

the little gym logo

As you know I am the mom of two very active little boys.  Well actually they are not so little anymore. They are going to be 9 & 12 next month and I honestly don’t know where the time went. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was changing diapers and doing midnight feedings, but alas my boys are definitely not babies anymore.

I want to take a second to emphasize something I said before, though.  I said that my boys were active, and on most days that would be an understatement. I strongly believe that a big part of why they are so active today is largely due in to the multiple mommy & me classes that I did with each of them at the Little Gym. I had originally heard about the Little Gym when my oldest son was about five months old and after doing a little research, I found out that they offered classes for children as young as 4 months old.

I called my local Little Gym (which at the time was in Raynham, MA) and set up a free introductory class.  The class was a combination of singing, open gym play, circle time and a basic gymnastic skill (which for the littles were things as simple as rolling over). My little guy had such a fun time in class, I signed him up for the whole 20 week “Bugs” class.

lil gym1

Each week the classes were structured the same way.  We always started the class by sitting in a circle while the instructor sang a welcome song, always naming each child in the song. Then we would learn a new skill for the week (rolling, forward rolls, etc) and then it was time for free play. Each class ended back on the padded mat in a circle with a goodbye song. Miss Lisa was the teacher for all the classes that my boys took at the Little Gym (spanning about six years time) and I was always impressed that she knew every child’s name and always made it a point to compliment each child on their specific achievements during class as they left. Continue reading »

Jun 292016
 

Easy Teacher Appreciation Gift

So we would all love to be able to get our children’s teachers a gift at the end of the year, but lets face it when you have more than one child or more than one teacher it gets expensive. And if your like me you want your gift to mean something not just a flower or another keepsake to collect dust on a shelf. I found the cutest idea for a gift for my daughters teacher this year and cost me right at $10!!!!!!!

gift1

Our theme….. “Orange you glad it’s summer” Continue reading »

Jun 252016
 

My Child Got Diagnosed With ADD - Now What

Last week I told you the story of how my son got diagnosed with ADD. If you didn’t read it, I suggest doing so before you read on – just so you have the backstory. It was a long process and definitely not an easy one. What I didn’t mention before was that when my son got his ADD diagnosis from the neuropsychologist, he was also diagnosed with depression & anxiety. Not only that, the neuropsychologist recommended that my son needed some OT (occupational therapy) and speech therapy. She explained to his father and me that our son had some auditory processing issues and was only catching every one out of 16 words that were spoken to him. The ADD diagnosis was expected when we got the results of his testing and I suppose it wasn’t a huge surprise that he had auditory issues, but the depression and anxiety were certainly news to his father and I.

nathan1

But now that we had an official diagnosis, we could start getting our son the help he needed. A copy of the neuropsychologist’s report was sent to me, his father, his school and his pediatrician and once everyone had a copy, things started happening pretty fast. Appointments were set up with both his school and his pediatrician and I am going to break each one down. Continue reading »

Jun 202016
 

How to Save Money on Theme Park Souvenirs

If you have ever been to a theme park, you know that there are very few ways to do it super frugally. The food can cost a lot, getting in the gate can be ridiculous and then, of course, there are all the things kids (and adults) will want from all the gift shops. If you don’t want to spend far out of your budget on these items, here are some tips on how to save money on souvenirs at theme parks.

How to Save Money on Souvenirs at Theme Parks

Look for discounts at area grocery stores. Many times, you will find discount tickets for getting in the gate, but you can also find park “bucks” (some parks offer them) to use in the park with tickets as a package that you can use to buy your souvenirs.

Buy souvenirs before you go to the park. If you are heading to a place like Disney World, you can buy all kinds of merchandise that could be souvenirs if you buy them right before you go to the park. Buy fun T­-shirts to wear to the park to help stave off the ‘I wants’ when you come across them in stores and gift shops. Continue reading »

Jun 192016
 

Getting An ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Diagnosis

My youngest son, who is going on nine in August is the sweetest little boy I know. He is thoughtful, caring, considerate, polite, adaptable, shrewd, kind and absolutely hilarious. He is definitely one of a kind and frankly, he has so many endearing qualities that I could never possibly list them all.

In case you missed it, his birthday is in August. In the town we live in the cutoff for the school year is September 1st meaning that if you are born by August 31st, you are eligible to start school at age 5, but if your birthday falls after the cutoff, you have to wait a year. Kids born on say September 2nd (and after, of course) end up turning six while they are in kindergarten while my son was barely five when he started and didn’t turn six until right before he started first grade. He’s been the youngest in his class since he started kindergarten, but my other son – who also has an August birthday- did just fine going to kindergarten so young.

Sadly, it was a completely different story for my little guy.

nathes

Before I tell you about what’s going on with school, I want you to know that my son went to preschool for two years prior to starting kindergarten and even though I saw signs that led me to think he might not be ready for kindergarten yet, his preschool teacher insisted he’s do just fine. I should have went with my gut. Continue reading »

Jun 132016
 

Why It's Important To Keep Up A Routine During The Summer

School is finally out for summer and it’s time for some fun in the sun! The end of the school year brings a welcome relief and well needed break from waking up at the crack of dawn, doing homework and early bedtimes – not only for the kids but for the parents as well. I mean, let’s face it, by the time summer vacation begins I am ready to break out a bottle of wine and celebrate, I can only imagine how great my boys feel when the last day of school is finally here.

So, I completely understand the temptation to let the whole school year routine take a backseat to having a super fun summer. You may consider forgetting bedtimes, chores, curfews and the regular rules of the household and let the kids just be kids and enjoy their summer. You may even think this is a pretty good idea; after all, the routine will always be there when you’re ready to go back to it, right? Now, the routine may still be there, but your sanity as well as the sanity of your children may not be there at that point. That’s why it’s so important to keep up a routine during the summer months.

Like I said earlier, we all need a break. Parents and children deserve to have a break and enjoy their time while they take that break, so I am not saying that you have to stick to the same routine that you follow during the school year. It’s okay to to keep the rules in place and modify them a bit. This allows you to keep the structure that you work so hard on while school is in session while still cutting you all some slack and taking time to experience the joy of a carefree summer. With some of these simple changes to your normal routine you can make it happen easier than you think. Continue reading »

Jun 072016
 

So lets talk laundry detergent… I don’t know about your house, but in ours we ALL have sensitive skin. Trying to find a laundry detergent that all of our skin agreed with was very painful to say the least. It can not have any scents or dyes added to it. No parabens or sulfates…. It is a headache to stand in an aisle and read label after label so I decided to make my own.

DIY Laundry Detergent

I started my research and asked some friends locally who made their own and what they liked. Right away I knew I did not want to mess with the liquid form. Seemed like a lot more work than I wanted to do. So powder it was. Now which of the thousands of recipes did I want to try.

My first recipe contained the Fels Naptha soap in it (picture below). With that recipe you had to shred the bar of soap into your laundry detergent….. So I grabbed the cheese grader…. And lost half of my knuckles I swear. This is a very tough hard bar of soap. But success, between me and my hubby we got 2 of them shredded. Mixed up the recipe and fail. The fels naptha did not dissolve in the water. Instead it stuck to the clothing and I had to run an extra rinse to get it all out. NOPE!! Back to the drawing board. Continue reading »

Jun 052016
 

beach scavenger hunt printable

If you know me in real life, you probably already know that I love the beach. LOVE it. It’s one of my two happy places (the other one is Disney). I always try to make the most of summers here in New England and spend as much time as possible at the beach. I live right off of Cape Cod, but I’m normally found down at First Beach in Newport.  Frankly I don’t get the appeal of the cape and don’t go over the bridge all that often during the summer because it’s too crowded. I get a season parking pass for First Beach year after year and you can usually find me down there several times a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

My family got in our first beach day of the year over Memorial Day weekend and we seriously could not have been happier.

beachhhhh

Sadly, the boys don’t love the beach as much as their mom does, so often times they get bored after a few hours. Continue reading »

May 232016
 

Marshmallow Boo Boo Ice Pack

I am a boy mom and while they are not so little anymore (le sigh), boys are naturally prone to all sorts of cuts, scrapes and bruises. They love playing outside all summer long, so we definitely see our fair share of boo boos.  I have to bust out an ice pack at least once a day every day from the day they get out of school in June until they go back to school in September.  I’m not exaggerating at all.

The thing about ice packs is that they can be messy.  They drip everywhere once they start to melt and if one of the kids hurts someplace like their knee or elbow, ice packs aren’t flexible so they don’t really work well for jointed areas.  Well, here’s an awesome summer hack for you.  Make a cold pack out of marshmallows!  Yes, I said marshmallows.  Marshmallows get cold, but won’t be hard so they can mold to the body. Plus they are way more fun for the kids.

It only takes a few minutes to make and trust me, it will make the kids forget all about their boo boos in no time.

Here’s what you need:

  • Ziploc bag
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups of mini marshmallows (will depend on the size of your bag)
  • Food coloring in choice of color
  • Masking tape or washi tape (optional)
  • Bowl for mixing
  • Plate or cookie sheet

Continue reading »

May 182016
 

How to Talk to Your Child About Strangers

From tackling peer pressure to learning to achieve five whole minutes without a cell phone in hand, addressing tough topics with your kids head-on can be hard. Even with the littlest ones, it’s not always easy to explain why you can’t get them that cute puppy and why they need to be nice to their sister. But with Netflix, your kid’s favorite shows can open the door for these tricky, sometimes awkward (hello parents of tweens and teens!), conversations.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids came with a stranger danger warning attached to their brain? Every parent wants to instill the common sense of staying away from strangers into their children. However, every parent knows that isn’t possible. I wanted to share some tips with how you can talk to your children about the danger of strangers.

Talk about adults you can trust.

Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for, but it’s still important to talk to them about adults they can trust. Talk to your child about who they can trust and who they can’t trust. I’m pretty straightforward with my kids and tell them that no one else will pick them up, unless I tell them that personally. I tell them that if they don’t feel right about something, then go with their gut instinct.

Talk about acceptable behavior.

It’s best to be honest with your child than to sugar coat anything. Stranger danger doesn’t just happen when your child is on his or her way home from school. Stranger danger can happen anywhere. It’s important that kids know what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Continue reading »

May 092016
 

How to Throw an Outdoor Movie Party

Spring and summer are a great time to mix up your party styles. You can easily move your typical parties outside to enjoy some fresh air after being cooped up during the dreary winter months! One great way to have some fun outdoors is by hosting an outdoor movie party. If you need some tips on how to throw an outdoor movie party we’ve got you covered! These tips and tricks will have you set up and ready to go in no time; your party is sure to be the talk to the town and a big hit with all your family and friends!

Supplies:

  • Projector
  • Screen (Use a flat white garage door or the side of your house!)
  • DVD Player or Laptop
  • Movies
  • Speakers
  • Extension Cords
  • Snacks
  • Blankets (to sit/lay on)

Continue reading »

May 032016
 

8 Signs You Are Not Ready to Have Kids

Last week I had a conversation with someone and what they said to me literally made my jaw drop. That conversation is what ended up inspiring me to write this post today. This person is a married adult in his mid 30’s and the conversation progressed from talking about how he wants kids of his own to taking about changing diapers.  As soon as I said it he said that he doesn’t have to worry about changing diapers because his wife will be changing them all.

What??

I tried telling him how that’s completely ignorant, unfair and just plain immature.  His response was, and I quote: “I can’t deal with poop.  I will end up puking all over the baby”.  So, what, he can never be alone with his own child because he won’t change a diaper?  I am sure his attitude will change if he ever becomes a parent himself, but frankly I hope he thinks long and hard before procreating – especially since this same person can barely take care of himself.

Being a parent is the hardest job there is and it’s not for the feint of heart. I was infuriated when I walked away from that conversation and as a result I compiled this list of other signs that someone might not be ready to have children of their own. In addition to not being able to deal with poop.

1. You cringe when you go out to eat and get seated at a table next to a family with small kids.

I’ve been on both sides of this scenario (hey, I was young and immature once upon a time), so I truly do understand how loud kids can get under someone’s skin.  With that being said, I have also been that mom who had to take her child out of a restaurant and wait with him in the car until the rest of her family finished their meals.  It’s one of those things that you don’t fully comprehend until you are a parent and find yourself in that situation. And if you think for one minute that it won’t happen to you – BWAHAHAHA!!!!!! Continue reading »

Apr 272016
 

7 Creative Ways to Use Old Crayons

Do you have a bucket of old crayons sitting around? If so, you might be wondering what to do with them. Well don’t pitch them just yet. Instead, take a look at these 7 creative uses for old crayons. You will find that old crayons can actually come in handy. Take a peek!

1. Make your own rainbow crayons.
Peel off the paper and place the crayon bits into cupcake tins. Spray the tins with non stick spray before you do, then bake them at 300 degrees until melted. Remove and allow them to cool. Pop the crayons out and you now have your own crayon discs in all sorts of colors!

2. Make your own fire starter.
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to start a fire, you can use crayons to make your own fire starter. Simply melt the crayons (remove the paper first) in a microwave safe dish. 20-30 seconds in your microwave on high heat should do the job. Then, pour the wax over pinecones. When you are ready to start your fire, just light the pinecone and set it on top of the wood. It will work great!

3. Make some melted crayon art.
Hot glue some peeled crayons to the top of a canvas. Use the hair dryer to melt the crayons, allowing them to drip down the canvas. The end result is some out of this world melted crayon art. Continue reading »

Apr 242016
 

Homemade Cinnamon Play Dough

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that play dough is great for kids with sensory issues.  I happen to be the mom of a child with sensory issues and he absolutely loves to play with play dough.  As much as I love the smell of the store bought kind (and I really, really do), I tend to make my own.  The thing is when you make your own, you can get really creative with it. I have made dough in all sorts of colors, added sprinkles and my latest creation: Cinnamon Play Dough.  This recipe will yield 1 cup of all natural, edible cinnamon play dough and since May 5th is quickly approaching, it is a perfect Cinco de Mayo craft!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup boiling hot water

Continue reading »

Apr 102016
 

Hot Air Cold Air Science Experiment

Both of my boys are SO into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education) with a huge emphasis on the science part.   It’s funny because I hated Science class when I was in school.  Hated it! Now that I am an adult I have a whole new appreciation for it and am trying to catch up with a lot of what I missed while I was sleeping in class all those years ago.  Lucky for me, my boys love all things science related and get so excited when we do science experiments at home. This hot air/cold air experiment was a lot of fun to do with the kids and the results are absolutely fascinating.

Here’s what you need:

  • Two containers
  • Empty drink bottle
  • Large balloon
  • Ice cubes
  • Hot and cold water

**Note, there is no need for the stick, I just didn’t want my hands blocking your view. Continue reading »