School Supply Shopping Tips + 2 Ways to Get Your Kids in School Mode

School is your child’s career and summer is their vacation.  After 2 months of no school, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things (for you and your child).  These tips will help make the transition back to school go smooth.

Supply Shopping Tips

Especially in elementary school, I LOVED school supply shopping.  There was something about picking out a sparkly notebook and matching pencils that was awesome!  This kind of shopping can be fun, but it can also be stressful.  In order to calm things down, it would be helpful to bring only 1-2 kids at a time so you can keep track of the lists and what all is entering the cart.

Towards middle school, I began to have a hard time keeping track of which textbook and notebook went with which subject.  My mom helped my create a system that worked for me.  We color coded all my textbooks with solid color book covers and all my notebooks matched.  That way all your child has to do is think, I have math. Math is red. *grabs everything red.

color coded ssupplies

But… sometimes the fun part is picking cool book covers.  That’s ok, too.  Another way to organize your child’s books is to have themes.  Maybe their science book cover has a giraffe on it.  Then their science notebook might have a picture of a safari.  All they have to think is, I have science. Animals are science. *grabs giraffe book  A nature safari is science. *grabs safari notebook.

Another very important part to school supply shopping is knowing what you already have. Go through your child’s supplies from last year and see if anything is worth reusing.  Notebooks probably have to be replaced, but last year’s ruler probably still works fine.  Also, give away good supplies that your children don’t need anymore to other families!  Sharing is caring!

After shopping, odds are those supplies will sit around in a corner until it’s time to take them in.  No!  Those supplies need to be labeled!  Label just about everything with your child’s name and room number.  You can even label book covers and notebooks with the subject they belong to.

After your child’s supplies are labeled, keep them separated from your other kids’ supplies by putting them in different colored bags.  If you have your supplies in grocery bags, tie a different colored ribbon around the handle.  So Kelly’s supplies have a red ribbon and Frank’s have blue.

blue ribbon on ssupplies

Plus: 2 Ways to Get Kids in School Mode

If your child has to set an alarm for school, have them practice beforehand.
If your child has to set an alarm for school, have them practice beforehand.
  1. Prevent TOO much sleeping in.  If your children have to get up at 7 on a school day, have them get up by 8 on most days.  Let them go to bed at a reasonable time.  About a week or so away from school, treat every day like a school day where they go to bed at __ and get up at __.
  2. Do summer homework during the summer…not a week before school starts.  Reading or doing math problems all summer will keep their brains fresh and will make getting homework again less of a shock.  If your child doesn’t have homework, summer workbooks are an awesome way to keep their heads in the game!

5 Commonly Missed Items Kids Need to Pack

Summer is finally here!!! It’s time for vacation!  When packing for a vacation, I’ve found there are 5 items that kids need, but are commonly forgotten.

  1. Sunglasses – With all the time kids spend in the sun, sunglasses are VERY important.  Your kids only get one pair of eyes and it is important to take care of them.  If your kids get to pick out their sunglasses or jazz them up with some fun stickers, they might be excited about wearing them.
  2. Towel – Even if you are not planning on going to the beach, you never know when you will come across a stream worth dipping your toes in.  Kids like to get messy!  Let it happen!  Towels are also great for having picnics or keeping little bodies warm.
  3. Sunscreen – Just like sunglasses, sunscreen plays a crucial part in keeping kids safe from the sun!  Many times, it is thought that if you’re child is in the pool or in the shade, they don’t need sunscreen.  This is WRONG!  Whenever your child is outside, they should be wearing sunscreen!
  4. Home Object – For kids, it is hard to be away from home, even for short periods of time.  Having an object that is a reminder of home can be a big comfort.  This can be something like a blanket or pillowcase.  It could also be a book or stuffed animal.  It’s better to bring something small, so it doesn’t take up too much room (but definitely not too small where it gets lost).
  5. Summer Workbook – Yes, school is “over”.  But you never stop learning!!!  I love giving kids summer workbooks, which are not intended to challenge a whole lot.  The purpose is more to keep the skills that they learned this year fresh in their minds.  If you don’t have a summer workbook, another thing I like is a  summer journal.  Have kids simply write about their day or give them a prompt.  they’ll get creative from there!

in the summer time

Traveling with kids is an adventure, but hopefully packing these items will make your vacation go a little smoother!  Happy Summer!

BTT: Teaching Kids Responsibility

“Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”      -Galatians 6:5

Responsibility is needed in life, especially in adulthood.  But kids need to learn responsibility in their own lives to prepare them for higher education and the rest of their lives (and now, because even 3 year olds have responsibilities).

There are 3 keys to teaching responsibility.  They are:

  1. Accountability
  2. Consequence
  3. Example

-Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.-

Accountability

Being accountable is extremely important.  People need to be able to trust you and know you are going to be responsible for your own actions.

When trying to explain this to a young child, you could use daily chores or duties.  If your 4 year old has to make their bed every morning, then they are accountable for the bed being made.  If it hasn’t been made, then we know who didn’t make it.

They have to be answerable.  Especially with school aged children, owning up to your actions is essential.  If your child doesn’t turn in their homework, then it is their fault and they must take responsibility for that action.

When teaching accountability, it is important to be patient.   Kids need time to practice this kind of liability.

Explain that accountability is a good quality in a person.  It’s ok if your child struggles at first, but don’t let them test the boundaries too much.

Consequence

Punishing can be hard.  And it is not fun.  There are times though, when punishment is necessary.

With consequence, timing is key.  When teaching something, you don’t hand out the test first.  You explain, practice, and then evaluate.

If your accountable child were to forget their homework once, it might not be that big of a deal, especially if they hold themselves to high standards.  But, if your child isn’t very accountable and consistently forgets their homework even after reminders, then consequence is the best step.

A consequence is simply a tool.  A learning tool used to promote better choices/behaviors/actions and stop the bad ones.  In the case of responsibility, consequences need to be consistent!

A consistent punishment isn’t getting on your child every time they make a mistake.  It is setting priorities straight and removing anything that may be a distraction.

If your child doesn’t turn in their homework for the whole week, they may get a game taken away, or they may need to write a note of reminder.  Consequences must be kept up with.  Don’t say that you will take the video game away for a week and then give it back the next day.  Show that responsibility is serious, but doesn’t have to be a pain.

The best way to show how to be responsible is through example.

Example

Your children are always watching you.  And that is a great thing!  Parents are the best influence on kids!

Make sure you are being responsible!  Pay attention to the things you need to get done throughout the day and stay on top of them.

Give your child examples like, “It is my responsibility to pay the water bill every month.”  Or “It is my job to pick up my children from school.  If I don’t, your teachers would have to drive you to our house.”

Apply real world examples.  You are the real world example.

Responsibility quote

Enjoy the teaching moments in life!  Happy Tuesday!

My Good Friday Prayer

Dear Lord,

About 2,000 years ago at this time, You were hanging on the cross for me, and the person reading this, and everyone else in the world.  You suffered and were mocked. You didn’t have to die. You could have stopped the hurt, but You didn’t because You wanted to spend forever with those who believe.

Thank You, Jesus, for going through all the agony and pain for me.  By making the ultimate sacrifice for us, You opened the doors to Heaven.  I now have the peace of knowing that one day, when You call me, I will fly through those pearly gates and hold Your hand for all eternity.

I’m sorry for sinning everyday and nailing You to that cross.  Fill us with Your grace and strengthen us daily, Lord, so that all Christians will proclaim the Good News to the whole world.

I love you, Jesus.  I am hopeful about Your Resurrection and Second Coming.

Amen.

isaiah 53 5

Minty Mousse Trifle For St. Patrick’s Day

13 days!  I cannot believe it has been almost 2 weeks since my last post.  It’s been wild and fun around here!

St. Patrick’s Day is just a couple days away!  Lot’s of things come to mind when I think of this holiday’s food, but two specific things are green and mint!

Recently, I’ve developed a thing for mint.  I love mint cookies, mint brownies, mint chocolate, the  mint color… EVERYTHING mint!  I like enhancing the flavor mint in different ways, and what better way than in a trifle!

I have made probably 4 types of trifles and this one is by far my favorite!

Minty Mousse Trifle

Yields about 6 trifles per cake

You Will Need:

  • White or Yellow Boxed Cake Mix (and all ingredients required to make the cake)
  • Green Food Coloring
  • Instant Chocolate Mousse Mix (and the milk it requires)
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Mint or Mint Chocolate Chips

How to Make:

First, I sprayed two 8 inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.  Then, I followed the directions on the box, making the cake batter.  Before pouring the batter into the rounds, add about 6 big drops of green food coloring into the mixer with the batter.  Let it mix in for a couple of seconds, then pour the batter evenly into the pans.

green cake mix

Bake the cakes according to the directions on the box.  The cakes will go in looking green and come out of the oven looking…brown.  That’s ok!  The inside is still the green we’re looking for!

2 cakes

While the cakes cool, make your mousse using the powder mix and milk.  Typically, you will mix the mousse for 5 minutes.  When you have about thirty seconds left of mixing, add about 1/2 cup of the mint chips.  This will give it a nice minty taste.  Chill mousse in the freezer for 15 minutes.

mint chips

mixing mousse

I only had 4 people who were ready to eat my trifles, so I ended up using only one of the cakes, but we’ll get back to that later.

Crumble the cakes in a large bowl.  You want to have chunks that are not to big and not to small.  Basically, if you can pick it up with two fingers, it’s what we’re looking for.  Pull out the chilled mousse, and grab the ice cream (you will have to serve immediately).

awesome pic of green cake

crumbled cake

ice cream

Grab  some cups and prepare to get stacking!  The bottom layer is cake.  Cover the bottom of the cups so no big patches of glass are visible.  Then, add a scoop of ice cream.  Next, add a large spoonful of mousse.  Repeat one more time.  Then, sprinkle some green cake on top for a decorative touch!

trifle

top trifle

Other Tips

  • Chill the cups to keep the ice cream from melting a little longer.
  • Use mint ice cream for even more mint flavor.
  • Make miniature trifles in tiny cups for the kids!

mousse cake

Because I didn’t use the second cake, I used the leftover mousse as an icing!  It was amazing!  Serve with a side of ice cream and you have basically deconstructed your trifle!  Yum!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful St. Patty’s day!

BTT: God Forgives My Sins (Bible Activity)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”     – 1 John 1:9

We all, as imperfect children of God, sin everyday!  Thankfully, God loves us so much that He forgives our sins and redeemed us by sending His Son to die for us.  For smaller kids, that’s hard to understand.  They may not know what sins are, or how and why God forgives us.  I like to use visual representations to help explain these hard to grasp concepts.

God Forgives My Sins

Sinning is when we choose to turn away from God by making a bad/wrong decision.  When we pray and ask God to forgive us because we know we did wrong, He does.  God pours out His unending mercy and cleanses our hearts.  We should always try to do better and strive to live pure lives.

To Do This Activity, You’ll Need:

  • White Board + Dry Erase Markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Tape
  • Sharpie
  • Scissors

How To:

First, before you round up your kids, cut out (about 5 per child) 1″ x 3″ rectangles from the paper.  Also, draw a heart on the whiteboard.  Call over the kiddos.  Explain how when we sin, we turn away from God.  All of these sins give us impure hearts.

heart whitebrd

Each child should write down a sin that they have committed on the rectangles.  For Example – lying, saying mean things, not obeying parents, etc.  These don’t have to be big things.  Show how these sins make our hearts unclean by coloring the heart in with a black (or dark colored) marker.

heart sins close

black heart

Have each child tape their sins onto the shaded in heart.  Say a prayer with your kids, apologizing for your sins and asking for forgiveness.  Ask your kids why they are sorry.  Do they feel bad about what happened?  Do they want to do better?

There is good news!  Jesus died on the cross for their (and everyone else’s) sins.  Describe how we are redeemed and will spend eternity with God in Heaven.  Take off the sins and set them aside.  Erase the shaded section of the heart.

After you have erased the heart, there will be some outlines of the shaded areas or erased parts of the heart.  This symbolizes our imperfectness.  No matter how hard we try, we will always sin.  We ask God for His help.  He mends our hearts.

imperfect heart

When we are sorry, we promise to try to do better.  On the back of each sin, write a good action that is opposite of the sin.  This can be a quality or a good deed.  For example – lying -> be truthful, saying rude things -> be uplifting.

sin lyingbe truthful opposite

Tape the now improved rectangles onto the clean heart.  Because of God’s love and Jesus’ death, we are able to spend eternity with Him.  We are thankful Jesus forgives our sins!

transformed sin

Like 1 John 1:9 says, God is faithful and just.  Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and forgiveness.

What To Do Instead of Yelling (For You & Your Kids)

“Put your toys away!”

“For the third time…”

“Are you even listening?”

“Ugh!”

Heard these before?  Said these before?  Lot’s of times when dealing with kids, we loose our temper.  Kids lose their tempers, too.  It happens, it’s going to happen.  The amount of times it happens is something we can change.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”   Today, I want to crack this verse open.

In my opinion, unwholesome talk is anything not uplifting, relevant, or praiseworthy.  Now,  in NO way am I saying that every word we say must be serious and down to business…..Trust me, I laugh more in this house and I like being silly.  But, unwholesome talk is wrong.  That means yelling and gossip is not good.  As this verse says, whatever we say should benefit those who hear it.  Yelling is not helpful.

Yelling occurs mostly out of anger.  We are going to get angry every once in a while.  When dealing with our anger, yelling is not the option.  There are ways to prevent yelling and exploding in anger.

4 Ways to Prevent Yelling

  1. Patient 5 – When you or your child feel like you are about to explode, use your hand to guide you.  Using your fingers, follow these five steps to calm down.  On your first finger, close your eyes and take a deep breath.  On the second finger, ask what is truly making you upset.  Be realistic.  On the third finger, put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  What might they be angry about?  On your fourth finger, say a prayer asking for patience and the ability to work out your feelings.  On your last finger, calmly begin a conversation with the other person.
  2. Mouse Voice – At the moment anger is rising, become a mouse.  Speak in a quiet, calm voice.  This tone will help to keep your tempers under control.
  3. Silly Word – Instead of yelling, say a silly word like “Bubbaleepig!”  It’ll take away some tension, too.
  4. Timer – Set a timer for 5 minutes where both arguing parties take a break and collect their thoughts.  Then, have a calm conversation.

patient 5

Have a wonderful day!

Shoe Box Valentine Holder

This Friday (more than likely) is the day in which schools will celebrate Valentine’s Day.  During this, kids usually pass out little (and absolutely adorable) Valentine cards.  With all the cards and no where to put them…..let’s just say that’s a big problem.  I’m writing this today to solve that problem by creating the Shoe Box Valentine Holder.

This box is a super easy and fun way for kids to express creativity while preventing a possible disaster of loose Valentines.

All You Need Is: a shoe box, wrapping paper, and any heart/Valentine decorations!  We  mainly used cut out hearts and glitter stickers!

To Make Your Shoe Box Valentine Holder: Wrap a regular sized shoe box in wrapping paper.  I used red because it looks lovey and it acts as a simple background.

red box

Cut a 3 inch rectangular slit in the middle of the shoe box.  This is where the Valentines will go.

slit

hearts around slit

Then, cut out hearts from construction paper and use stickers to decorate.  I used tape, but glue would work on the wrapping paper.  When decorating the box, try not to cover the slit.  Also, keep in mind that the hearts can overlap and bend over the edges of the box.  Not every part needs to be covered.

hearts cut out

big cut out heart

Be open and let your kids go crazy with creativity!

heart box

heart box angle

heart box side

Plus…..for a little extra fun, “write” your child’s name on their box with duct tape (example below).  You can also use duct tape to make a border on Valentines!

name on heart box

duct tape heart

Wishing you and yours an amazing Valentine’s Day!

happy heart day

P.S.  I may have a duct tape problem/obsession! 🙂

Strawberry Heart Cake + Homemade Icing Recipe

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching!  It’s one of my favorite days because you get to express how much you love someone.  There are many ways to express love, but by far my favorite is in food!  Especially sweets!!!

Today, I’m going to show you how to transform a sweet strawberry box cake into a fantastic heart delight!

You Will Need:

For Cake:

  • Box of Strawberry Cake Mix
  • Heart Shaped Cake Pan
  • Crisco
  • Flour (for dusting pan)

The Following Depend on the Cake Mix You Use:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 3(ish) eggs

For Icing:

  • 1 Cup of  Room Temperature Butter
  • 3 tsp of Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Tbsp of Milk
  • 4 Cups of  Powdered Sugar

To make your box cake, you combine your ingredients in a mixer bowl and blend them for 30 seconds – 1 minute, stir, and then mix for about 3 minutes.  Preheat your oven to temperature on box.  Coat you cake pan with a thin layer of Crisco and dust with flour.  Bake the cake for approximately 30-35 minutes.  Cool for 30 minutes.  Cut off all uneven parts of the cake.  Now…for my favorite part….the icing!

cake batter

batter

crisco

To make you icing…beat (with a hand mixer) the butter, sugar, and vanilla until combined.  Then,  pour in milk and mix for 4 minutes.  I used food coloring to make my icing pink.

icing

icing close

I used a decorating bag and flower tip to make my design on my cake.  First, I Should Have done a thin crumb coat on the cake.  Load some icing into the bag and twist.  Gently squeeze the bag and release after 2 seconds to make the flowers.

cake with icing

cake cool

I hope you and your family have a great Valentines Day!

BTT: Letter to the Insecure Child

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”   -Genesis 1:27

Dear Insecure Child,

I was you…..sometimes I am you.  All those thoughts in your head – forget them.  They aren’t true.  You are beautiful.  You are created in God’s image.  God painted a self portrait when he made you.  When you see yourself in the mirror, you should see a gorgeous creation of God.  Easier said than done – I know.  When the words of hatred pierce your heart, let them roll off your back.  Though your face may have pimples, and you think you’re overweight, reflect on this verse.  It may seem hard now, but you’ll brave the storm.  You are a perfectly made imperfect(sinner) daughter/son of God.

P.S. The best people to talk to about these insecurities are moms and dads.