Friday, September 13, 2013

Rainy Day Crafty Ideas To Keep the Wee Ones Entertained

The school year has just begun and I am already running short on ways of keeping Acadia entertained in our 4 or 5 hours before kindergarten. Our sunny days are shorter and the cool rainy days are sneaking in.

I have resorted to Pinterest and my bloggy pals to inspire me on these long mornings.

Today we made some homemade playdough. I really like that particular recipe because it has such a smooth consistency and seems to stay nice and soft for weeks when we keep it in a ziplock bag.

I thought I might share a few more ideas if you are also caught without things to do on your cool autumn mornings.

• A great way to use those crayon nubs and scraps.
• My girls like these little inchworm likenesses of themselves.
• I just bought cornstarch to try this recipe for finger paint.

I would any other ideas you may like to share to keep my baby girl amused as the cooler weather sets in.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Cereal "Bar": Slumber Party Hit

Ariana turned 13 last month and requested a slumber party for her birthday. That was probably the easiest party I have ever thrown... she really just wanted to hang out with her friends in the basement... so basically throw down some junk food, air mattress, iPod dock for tunes and call it good.

I did, of course, feel the need to Pinterest it up just a bit, so I decided on breakfast for this adventure. I am one to usually cook up a big breakfast after slumber parties. I switched it up a bit though in the name of impressing 13-year-old girls... they simply don't care how fluffy my eggs are.

I decided on a cereal bar. It was simply, yet their eyes lit up just as I hoped when they saw it.

All I did was:
Buy 6 boxes of cereal... even the sugary varieties.
Put them in some cute mason jars.
Add a picher of fresh, cold milk.
Add some bananas, blueberries and strawberries to make myself feel like I had some sort of nutritional value in their breakfast.
Throw some cute bowls on the counter.

Voila... an easy breakfast for some slumber party goers.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

7 Back-to-School Strategies to Help You Stress Less and Simplify Your Life

Well, we are in our 3rd week of school... and now it gets hectic. Soccer started Saturday for 2 girls, dance starts Monday for another, we have attended 2 open houses with a third one coming Thursday. Gah... it's simply too much!

I thought we all may need some helpful simplifying tips to start our year off right, so I am happy to have this guest post from Jessa McFaul- who shares some great strategies that really resonate with me:

7 Back-to-School Strategies to Help You Stress Less and Simplify Your Life 

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, the start of a new school year signified opportunity, a fresh start, and a chance to do things differently. If you’re feeling some anxiety around the all the transitions, adjustments, juggling and driving that usually accompany a new school year, take a deep breath, pause and consider the following ideas for a simpler, less stressful school year. Adopting even one of these ideas could make a huge difference in how you experience this potentially hectic time. Begin with compassion and baby steps as you consider the following:

1.  Identify what’s #1 for your family this fall. What values or new ways of being are most important to you in the upcoming months? Perhaps creating a calm morning routine, eating dinner together, having dedicated family time, developing a good homework routine or mapping out a game plan for regular communication? Consider creating a vision board together around your shared values.

2. Set yourself up for success by enlisting a support team. What type of support do you and your family need to feel nourished and nurtured as you transition into the new season? Perhaps a tutor or parenting coach, a new carpool team, a source for ready-made healthy meals or a couple of back-up baby sitters for monthly dates with your partner? Line up help now and post your “support team” list in your kitchen where the whole family can see it.

3. Schedule replenishing nature respites. Being in nature elicits a relaxation response; it helps us shed worries and restore and replenish our bodies and minds like nothing else. Pull out your calendar and schedule some family hikes, a father/son camping trip, a visit to a country cabin or lake house over a holiday break, or a potluck at a nearby park with your neighbors or friends.

4. Do less to experience more. In our office, we love the mantra, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” A key cause of stress is ambition and trying to do too much. Researchers in the field of positive psychology say we’re happiest when we have fewer options and decisions to make. What can you say “no” to so you can simplify your family’s life? Our quality of life is enhanced not by adding things, but by letting go of that which we don’t need.

5. Be mindful of technology. In a recent survey I did, families across the U.S. said overuse of media was the top culprit for derailing their family’s emotional well-being and sense of connectedness. Consider doing an informal family media use survey (include phones, computers, tablets, TV) and create some clear media guidelines for how and when your kids can be online, play video games or use other devices. Many families also are finding keeping (or getting) a landline helps with screening calls and preserving precious family time in the evenings and on the weekends.

6. Decide how you’ll communicate as a family. Regular, open, heartfelt communication is key to people feeling heard, seen, safe and secure and knowing their ideas matter. Especially when schedules are full. Some families have weekly communication meetings (post an agenda on the fridge and have your children add items to the list that they want to cover), some parents have Sunday evening planning meetings after the kids go to bed and others adopt practices as simple as everyone sharing a “thumbs up and thumbs down” at dinner each night. Do what works for you.

7. Designate weekends for rest and relaxation (as best you can!). While it’s easy to stack our weekends with errands, household cleaning, social activities, sports and more, weekend time is sacred. The primary purpose of this 48 hour break is to rejuvenate and restore your energy reserves so you can return to work and school Monday with a fresh, excited outlook—ready to learn and take on new projects. While spending the weekend in a hammock may be unrealistic, realize rest and relaxation are essential to problem solving, idea generation and creativity. At least a portion of your weekend—and maybe all day Sunday-- should be devoted to physical and emotional renewal.

Now is a great time to mindfully reflect on what has worked and not worked in the past for your family and to explore how you might implement some of these strategies now, so you enter the new school year feeling cool, calm and connected. More ideas, exercises, monthly mediations and inspiration on how to reconnect, stress less and experience more balance and harmony in everyday life in Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life (New World Library 2013) by Renee Trudeau.

I have actually read Nurturing the Soul of Your Family- and it was a great read. Jessa would like to offer up a giveaway of Renee's Book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life or Nurturing the Soul of Your Family to help ease you into this season of stress. All you have to do is leave me a tip on a way you reduce stress during this time of year. I will choose one winner at random on Friday, Septemeber 14.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A great new lunch snack for back to school.

We have been back to school for 3 days... and already my girls are fussing about our lunch and snack choices. It is so hard to keep 3 girls happy with unique lunch ideas... while trying to keep it healthy at that.

I have found a great new snack that the girls like: Smart Fries. They have a bunch of different flavors to choose from. I brought a bag of the Cinnamon Swirl to the beach the other day and my teen and her buddy ate the entire bag! (I did get to sample one measly fry before they snuck off with the bag.) You can see they were very satisfied with their snack:

And I was happy... these fries had 5 ingredients: potato wheat flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and canola oil (and only 3 grams of sugar, at that!). 

My personal favorite are the Garlic Rosemary. I mean, how can you go wrong with rosemary??? Sooo yummy. 

Have you discovered any new snacks so far this year? I would love more new ideas.

I received these fries in exchange for my review. But, even for free fries, I tell it like it is.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

30 Tips to Live Simply #4

It has been a long while since I started my Living Simply series. So... without further ado... here is #4:

Simplify your wardrobe. 

The challenge? Remove 6 items of clothing from your closet/dresser and donate them. I went through my closet and pulled out every single item. I then tried each item on, pairing it with combinations I had never tried. (Who would ever paired that floral top in the top right photo with a green polka dot sweater? Not me, but I ended up loving the combo!) 

I then took photos of these new combinations. I have found it so much quicker to flip back through these photos of myself rather than taking time to try on 8 outfits.

This chore also led me to find some items in my closet that just do not look good with anything... which made it a quick decision to donate them

Want to take it a step further? Donate FIFTEEN items! It will be so much easier than you think and you will breathe a sigh of relief when you open up your closet and have new options and less clutter.

Catch up with my Live Simply project here:

Simplify tip #1 here.
Simplify tip #2 here. 
Simplify tip #3 here.

*As a side note, the floral top pictured above was actually a dress purchased from Goodwill that I cut down to a pretty tank top. I love how it turned out, and for $2.50, how could you go wrong???*