live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

 

 

live focused in 2015 teachmama.com

Happy New Year, friends.

As we move into the new year, I want you to know that I am so very thankful for each one of you.

Really.

I thank you for reading. I thank you for subscribing. I thank you for hanging in with me through the years.

I love writing, I love creating, and I love sharing, so I’m a million times grateful that this–blogging–has become my job.

And the most important thing here is that it wouldn’t be a job if it weren’t for you.

So hugely, from the bottom of my heart, gracias.

But what I’ve noticed in the past year is that this space is changing, I am changing, and we are changing.

And so we are going to make some serious changes over here.

Changes that I think will be really, truly beneficial to us all.

I hope that you’ll join us for this ride.  We’ll all benefit–I promise.

Your kids. Your spouse. Your friends. Your neighbors. Your family.

You. And me.

It’s about living with focus in 2015. Living intentionally.

Because we get one life.

So let’s do it up.  Woot.

Here’s the skinny. . .

 

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com small

Live Focused in 2015–Give Yourself a Fresh Start and Live with Intention

My friends.

I promise I’m not going all sappy nutty on you. I’m really not.

I’m actually already half nutty from this parenting gig, so that’s nothing new.

And I’ve always been emotional and sappy.

But what I will promise is that this year is going to be a year of change.

And I’d love for you to come along with me for the ride.

I’m not promising perfect because perfect’s impossible.

I’m not guaranteeing greatness because greatness is fleeting.

I’m not encouraging immediate awesome because, well, everything worthwhile seems to take some time.

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

 

What I am suggesting is that together we do what we can to live with more intention, more focus, in 2015.

I started this blog way back in 2008 to encourage parents everywhere to do what they can to sneak in some learning into their kids’ every day. And for a long time, that worked.

We had little ones at home, for hours and hours and hours, and I knew that there were fun, cool things that parents could to do help build a foundation for learning, all with minimal effort and huge returns.

And together we got our kids off to the wilds of Kindergarten, then year by year, one by one, into elementary school.

But now? Things are different.

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

 

Though our kids are in school for most of the day, we’re still so busy.  We’re working, we’re scheduling, we’re volunteering.  We’re grocery shopping, coupon-clipping, and bill paying. We’re turning in permission slips, cutting our box tops, collecting donations, and packing lunches.

We’re crock-potting, speed cleaning, and skimming.

We’re running ourselves ragged schlepping kids to and from sports and activities, orthodontist appointments, and ‘hangouts’ (because goodness knows they’re too old for ‘playdates’).

We’re dashing. Dancing. Moving. Skating. Jogging. Swimming. Through. Life. 

And we’re not really thinking.  We’re just doing. Moving.

And friends, before we know it, it’ll all be a blur.

And we’ll be standing in the driveway staring at a packed Suburban, filled with luggage and linens and books and baskets, getting ready to send our baby off to college and wondering where the heck all the time went.

Sob. I can’t even.

So this year, I’m trying to take it back.

 

live focused in 2015 | teachmama.com

I’m going to take back the reigns of my life, and try–try as best as I can–to live more intentionally, to live focused in 2015. 

I’m doing this because I really need it. Believe me.

And I’d love for you to join me.

So I’m getting refocused in this here bloggy blog. I’m going to focus on the same goal I set forth back in 2008:

to share the tools and resources parents need to be the best teachers they can be for their children.

I’m still going to focus on learning in the every day.

And I’m going to focus on family, literacy, and what we can do to support our digital kids.

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com focus

But I’m going to post a bit less frequently and instead focus on quality over quantity.

Less really is more sometimes.

Because the content here is free for you, I’m going to still have to do some sponsored posts, but my focus is to create longterm partnerships with brands that really matter. With brands that really rock.

And I’m going to really, truly focus on you–my subscribers

So we’re going to rock it out with a bunch of subscriber-only giveaways.  That means nothing if you already subscribe except that you’re awesome and starting now you should read to the very end of the post (or at least scroll all the way down and check the box after the post for a whole lot of happy).

But it also means that if you don’t already subscribe, then you’ll definitely want to:

  • subscribe either to our rockstar emails and get 2-3 posts each week the day after they’re published, or
  • subscribe to our newsy-newsletter and get one email each Tuesday with all of the posts from the week. Either works.

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As far as the whole focused in 2015 is concerned, I’ve come to some conclusions:

1.  As our children get older, we’ve got to show them that we, as parents, are doing the best we can to live this life to its fullest.

We’ve got to show them that we are doing our best to live focused and intentionally.

We’ve got to show them that we are trying to be organized.

We’re nurturing relationships.

We’re taking care of ourselves.

We’re listening and loving and moving through life with a plan.

We do this so that our kids do the same.

live focused in 2015 teachmama.com

2. This is the year I’ll also be focusing on what we are doing to live intentionally, to live focused in 2015.

I’ll still share the cool stuff I usually do, but each month, I’ll also include a focus.

January- organization: in routine, in schedule, in home

It’s time to get on it. Get your house in order and create routine that works for your family. Life is too short to let it pass you by, and it’s time to climb out from under the mess and live intentionally. But in order to live intentionally, you’ve got to get organized.

February-friendship: with spouse, colleagues, siblings, parents, kids, girlfriends

What do you do to nurture your friendships? How much time do you actually put into keeping up with your oldest pals? Do you ever organize a girls’ night out? A date night? How well do you really know your kids?

March-clarity: of thought, words, action

Sometimes we need a re-start in the way we’re thinking, speaking, and interacting with others.  Let’s make sure our in-house behavior systems, rules, and guidelines are established and clear.  Let’s get refocused in the way we speak to our kids, spouse, and friends. Let’s try to align our thoughts and actions.

April-growth: emotional, mental, physical

Face it. we all need to grow in some way, shape, or form. Learning never needs to cease. Have you really worked your brain lately? What do you need to do to stay up to date with work or well-being? April is a month to learn how to better care for ourselves, kids, family.

May-self: you, you, you

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. When was the last time you took time out for you? What do you really, truly love to do? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out. If you know and haven’t done it for a while, now’s the time to get rolling with it.

live focused in 2015 months  teachmama.com

 

June-family: make family time count

School’s out. Time to really unplug and spend time with your kids now that they’re out of school. Our tabletop surprises will keep you constantly filled with ideas for creative, innovative ways to spend time with your kids.

July-breath: because breathing really helps

Sure, it’s summer. And a whole lot happens in summer that makes us forget about our New Year intentions and focus. But let’s check in on January organization. Do you need a restart? How are things going with friends, growth, or your self-care?  Before we freak out, we’re going to make breathing a focus this month as we slowly get back on track.

August-time: take control

How are you using your time? Life is moving quickly.  Are you making sure you’re living each day to the fullest? Parenting is hard—there’s no doubt about that. And juggling a spouse, work, and a household makes it even more difficult.  But even if we spend a few minutes each week giving our days some focus, we’re taking control. We’re still in charge.

September-learning: back to school means everyone learns

Back to school means we’re all learning a whole new routine and system.  How are we, as parents, best interacting with our kids, their teachers, and schools? Are we supporting them the best we are able? What do we need to learn in order to do so? New strategies? New concepts?

October-honesty: with ourselves and others

Halloween means that our kids are on a quest to find disguises, but let’s be honest this month with ourselves before the holiday season begins. Let’s be honest about how we think and feel, and let’s do what we can to make sure we’re sharing are true and awesome selves with the world.

November-giving: set an example of gratitude

We all have so much for which we should be thankful, so let’s give what we can to those who need it. Setting an example of giving and gratitude for our children is super-important from the start, especially during their formative elementary years. No better time than now to give to the world the best we have.

December-peace: finding beauty in the basics

It’s so very difficult not to get caught up in the holiday whirlwind, trying to create a perfectly pinteresting holiday for our family. But we don’t need to go crazy. We really don’t. Let’s focus on the important things and strive for more peace in our 2015 holiday seasons.

 

live focused in 2015  teachmama.com share

Never fear, friends.

I’m not going to leave you high and dry here. We’re doing this together. Baby steps.

Each month I plan to:

  • share printables which will help us get focused and live intentionally;
  • do some fun giveaways, freebies, and contests for subscribers only–that means you!;
  • invite experts in to share their ideas and suggestions;
  • create videos with tricks, tools, and ideas for our topics;
  • share the normal, awesome content you have come to expect, with the #livefocused added in as a bonus (yay!);
  • use our Facebook page as a place to support each other, chat, and share high-fives (like a freebie, fab support group);
  • share photos from my journey on Instagram and Twitter using #livefocused;
  • do round-ups of your photos, ideas, and experiences across platforms;
  • quite honestly, learn as I go–from you and from others!;
  • offer follow-ups and extensions that may help you in this adventure.

live focused in 2015: give yourself a fresh start and live with intention

I’m excited. I’ve got so much planned, and it’s only the first Monday of the month.

I cannot wait to really embrace 2015. Watch out world, crazy things can happen when a bunch of smart women (and men!) are a little more focused!

Here. We. GO!

Check it all out video-style:

 And? If you don’t already subscribe to teachmama.com’s YouTube channel, you totally want to!

Are you in? Let me know, friends. I need to know I’m not walking alone on this journey!

  • share any of the photos here on your facebook page
  • share any of the photos here on your twitter or instagram page
  • share any of the photos here on your google + page or blog!

Tweet this:

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new year’s family plan: 100 good deeds

new year's family plan: 100 good deeds teachmama.com

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new year's family plan: 100 good deeds teachmama.com

I’ve long stopped creating New Year’s Resolutions because, well, they always seem to be broken.

Instead, we, as a family, try to make some positive changes at the beginning of each year.

We use the time to get refocused.

We use the time to check in with each other.

We use the time to start some healthier routines.

Not always easy–this I know.

This year, we’re all starting the 100 Good Deeds plan.

As a family.

And it’s a pretty cool way of kicking off the New Year.

Join us.

Here’s the skinny. . .

We’re not alone in our 100 Good Deeds Plan; in fact, we’re part of a huger than huge campaign geared toward making some positive change.

The premise is that the wearer of the bracelet does good deeds–just put more good into the world.

The Rules of the Game? 

A ‘good deed’ means you’ve gone out of our way to help someone, and it only counts if the deed remains anonymous.

Each time you do a good deed, you move the rubber ring one bead closer toward the 1GD button.

new year's family plan: 100 good deeds

The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet was created by Mary Fisher – artist, author, advocate – who spent a decade partnering with at-risk women in Africa and around the world, designing jewelry made by the women to earn a dignified livelihood.

Fisher, a leader in global social change, launched The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet, a handcrafted collection that symbolizes a commitment to perform good deeds and bring about positive change in the world.

aFrF-s8D2yuz1pZrvHBma1iSk1fqQKmAL_Y30i9ZzBIFisher says,“The motivation behind The 100 Good Deeds Bracelet collection is to inspire simple acts of kindness around the world.

Each bracelet is a reminder to spread positive change through action and fulfill our mission to Do Good, One Deed, One Bead, One Act of Kindness at a Time.

I LOVE this.

Don’t you?new year's family resolution 100 good deeds  teachmama.com blank

 

Want to grab your own 100 Good Deeds bracelet? Yes you do.

Check it out: 100 Good Deeds site

And please remember, to join the #DeedADay movement, share one of these images on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest using hashtag #DeedADay and tagging the 100 Good Deeds Bracelet. That’s it.

NA-DOK-4pvLfsUP692gjF76l-fcqsmMdwCTywPAQ3HI

These Bracelets are made by vulnerable women who’ve been trained for this work in Uganda, India, Indonesia, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda, IniInand Haiti. This project gives a women a way to support their families through earnings, while empowering them to also contribute to good deeds around the world.

Join me.

Actually, have your whole family join us–and together, we’ll make some serious change.

Join the movement. Buy your bracelet. Make #DeedADay your plan for the year.

Imagine the example we’ll be setting for our kids!

 

fyi: I was gifted this 100 Good Deeds bracelet to review and share with my readers. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year

26 fun family traditions to start this year teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions to start this year  teachmama.com

I’m all about family traditions.

Not only does it make your life as a parent easier, but having traditions gives your kids something to hold on to.

Traditions give kids the feeling of security.

Traditions give kids the feeling of safety and comfort.

Traditions give kids the feeling of strength of family.

And yes, often there are years that traditions also teach kids about flexibility.

Especially when for whatever reason you can’t make the Flag Cake or you can’t organize a St. Patty’s Day Scavenger Hunt.

I’ve gathered 26 cool, fun, new family traditions to start in the new year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 26 Cool, New Family Traditions to Start in the New Year:

 Here they are.

1. Complete the New Year’s Interview.  One of our all-time faves.

2. Volunteer on MLK, Jr. Day.  Spend the day doing something that counts.

3.  Make Surprise Notes for your neighbors.  It doesn’t matter when; it doesn’t matter which ones. Just do it.

4. Host a January Favorite Junk Food Party.  Everyone brings one thing: his or her favorite snacky junk food.

5. Make crafts for Meals on WheelsSimple crafts, pretty notes just to brighten someone’s day.

26 cool traditions for family - teachmama.com

6. Participate in a fundraising walk. For whatever cause speaks to your heart. We’ve got some starting points on our blog 4 cause post.

7. Make Valentines for classmates and friends.  We think that homemade is best. They don’t have to be fancy.

8. Do an Earth Day park clean-up. It can be as simple or as involved as you like, with one person or ten.

9. Use the Special Plate to celebrated good days.  The Special Plate makes every one of us smile. It’s a good day when you get to use the Special Plate.

10. Have ice-cream for dinner on the last day of school. Because why not? It’s SUMMER!

11.  Allow everyone to choose his or her birthday dinner. If the birthday boy (or girl) has a party, it’s a dinner in, and Mom and Dad cook a meal of choice. If there’s no party, it’s a dinner out.

12. Celebrate Golden Birthdays, when your age matches the date.  Maddy and Owen both celebrated their Golden Birthday on their 9th year; Cora will celebrate hers when she’s 23, but we’ll most likely celebrate a Half-Golden Birthday when she’s 11 1/2 years old.

13. Eat fondue on New Year’s Day.  Do it up. Cheese, bouillon, and chocolate with fancy glasses and sparkling cider.

14. Make a July 4th Flag Cake.  Strawberries, blueberries, whipped icing, and yum.

 

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year

15. Have a St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt.  Quick and easy, around the house.  At the end? A little pot o’ gold, of course. Or at least a fun little goodie bag.

16.  Make an Easter Bunny Cake. Round cakes, licorice, and jelly beans make this a special Easter treat.

17.  Organize a neighborhood Egg Hunt.  The eggs don’t have to be filled with jewels–kids love to find anything in their eggs–wrapped candy, pennies, you name it!

18. Have a 1st Day of Summer Cook-Out. Back yard, with hotdogs, chips, and watermelon.  Neighbors and friends. Make it a potluck so it’s easy on you.

19. Make Mom breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. Awwwwhhh, one of my favorite things ever is when the kids make me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Who cares if the coffee’s cold and toast is burnt? Not I!

20. Go on a family hike for Father’s Day. Let Dad pick the hike, or kids can surprise him. Pack a lunch, drinks, and a blanket. Enjoy!

21. Make Candy Wreaths for your schools.  Because who doesn’t love candy? And really, every single school staff member will love you for it.

26 fun family traditions to start this year  teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions teachmama.com WHITE

 

22. Open new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  One gift before the big day, and it’s always pj’s. Fresh, cozy, new jammies for the big night. And everyone will have matching pjs on for Christmas morning photos.

23. Have the kids make dinner for parents on their anniversary. We haven’t done this yet, but man. I really want to.

24. Schedule a surprise no-school, Cookie-Baking Day in December. Hands down, it’s our absolute favorite day of the holiday season. Well, almost.

25. Boo! your friends in October. Even more fun if you gather a group of pals to do the ‘boo-ing’ with!

26. Make shoebox gifts for the needy at holiday time.  We do this every year, and every year it gets more fun for the kids and more meaningful.  Our church is a drop-off point, but many local newspapers also advertise places that they take these important boxes.

And that’s it!

I’d love to hear what traditions you celebrate and honor each year–there’s always room for more!

Want to download the fancy-schmancy 26 cool, new family traditions poster: 26 fun family traditions teachmama.com BKGD

26 cool, new family traditions to start in the new year | teachmama.com

26 fun family traditions teachmama.com BKGD

All I ask is that if you choose to share this post, please link to this post and not the attachment page–thank you!

 

Check out a few other posts that may help you develop strong and healthy habits for your family:

 

special holiday deals for teachmama.com readers

special holiday deals for teachmama.com readers

holiday deals for teachmama.com subscribers

 

Thank you so much for subscribing to teachmama.com!

As a thank you for being a loyal (or new!) email subscriber, here are a few goodies for you that I will update several times each week as promotions come and go.

Here and there, where applicable, I will use affiliate links.

SPECIAL CURRENT DEALS: 

  • fashionABLE, 15% off the entire order this week, with code BEMERRY [until 12/19/14]
  • fashionABLE, FREE SHIPPING on domestic orders over $20 this week, too, with guaranteed delivery if ordered by noon on Thursday 12/18

  • fashionABLE, (Wednesday, 12/17 ONLY) we’re offering 30% off popular Meselu scarf in the beautiful charcoal + teal color

Tiny Prints Cyber Monday
Doodle Crate >>

Online Knitting Class
Online Sewing Class

 

  • Kidorable, Free Umbrella with $20.00 purchase. Use Code:UMBFR  [Need over $20 without umbrella cost. Coupon code cannot be combined with any other promotion. until 12/31/14]

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giftwrap teachmama.com

 

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giftwrap teachmama.com

 

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

photo books for kids and family: 15 best, coolest, most clever and creative

photo books for kids and family: 15 best, coolest, most clever and creative

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the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

 

I’m a hardcore fan of the photo book.

Actually, I’m a fan of any book, but photo books have a special spot in my heart because I love to make them, and I love to get them.

And? They have happily replaced the ole book o’ photos that once took me for-ev-er and a day to assemble.

Photo books are super as gifts, and they’re super as learning tools for kids.

Once you get those creative juices flowin’ you can really come up with some pretty awesome ways to use photo books, each one more cute and clever than the next.

I like the photo books on Mixbook and Shutterfly personally, but you check them out and see what works best for you.

Both very frequently have rockstar sales going on.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Photo Books for Kids & Family–15 Best, Coolest, Most Clever & Creative:

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

1. Sports Season: A super idea for a coach’s gift, a sports season is a super-cool photo book in itself.

Really. Take a few photos at each game, then add them to a folder on your computer each time you sync your photos.

Head to a few of the practices and get some shots there.

unique and cool photo book ideas  teachmama.com

Be there for team photo day, and hang out around the photographer. Most likely if you explain that you’re making a gift for the coach, he or she won’t mind if you sneak a photo of each kid on the team. Put each kid’s photo around the team photo (see above!), and the book is sure to be a win.

Don’t sweat it if you can’t remember every child’s name. You don’t even really need text to make this book a hit.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

2. Holiday Decorations:  Last year, we made a ‘Christmas at Nana’s House book for my nana, and she loves it. LOVES it.

We took tons and tons pictures at Christmastime last year and saved them for a Mother’s Day book. She didn’t even really notice that as she and the kids were eating Munchkins at her kitchen table, I was snapping shots all around the house.

Because my nana is getting older and because we all know how important holiday decorating is to her, this is one book we will all cherish for many years to come, especially when she’s too tired to take her hundreds of Santas out for us all to oooh and ahhhh over.

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

3. Capture a Memory, a Life Event.

When Maddy was going into first grade, she had her tonsils and adenoids removed. She was crazy nervous, as was I.

But to make the experience a little lighter, I photographed every single step, from beginning to end. Together, we were making a book, I told her. And we were.

Brave Maddy is not Maddy’s favorite book now, I’ll admit it. She doesn’t like to see her tiny, worried face on the page, nor do I. But I do think that eventually we’ll be happy we have it. Sometimes–on rare occasion–I’ll catch Maddy paging through the book, explaining things to Cora or Owen. Perhaps if there are any surgeries in our future, this book may make the process easier for us.

 

click here for ‘family photo books–quick, easy, and affordable for super-busy moms

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

4. House Snapshot.

My nana has always said she has the prettiest house on her street, so a few summers ago, I took photos of it. In and out, up and down, I shot it all. And then I put it into a book, just like her Christmas one.

And? She loves it.

Yes, her house is beautiful when it’s all decked out for the holidays, but it’s also really gorgeous all year long.

 

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

5. Best Times With Grandparent

My mother-in-law went to New York City with us last year for a blogging event, and it was an absolute blast.

It was the kids’ first time taking the train into the city, skating at Rockefeller Plaza, and staying in a hotel at Christmastime. So we chronicled the whole trip, start to finish.

Then I put it into a book, and we gave it to my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day this year. Sure, it was a few months behind, but it didn’t matter. She still loved it. And so did we.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

6. Baby’s First Year

There’s nothing like a baby’s first year, that is a fact.

So the first year is a great time for a photo book, and for those of us who’d rather not bust out the glue, tons of loose photos, and scrapbooking stuff, photo books are the way to go.

The templates make a first year baby photo book so easy, it’s nuts. And? You can even order a little baggie to go inside the book (or for goodness’ sake, stick an envelope in there if you need to!) so that you can hold onto that coveted first lock of hair.

Bam. Done and done.

 

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

7.  Recipe Book

I love having all of our family’s favorite foods in a photo book.

Why not?

I want my kids to be able to recreate our easy, everyday faves, even if they are simple crockpot recipes.

So start taking photos of your dinners. Take photos of the kids at the table. These everyday memories are ones to be cherished.

And how fun will it be when you can feature your child, apron and all, standing at the stove preparing meals for the next Family Recipe book? Awe-some.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

8. Craft Collage or Art Book

My kids are pretty crafty. Well, Maddy and Cora are.

And though Owen occasionally does do some drawing, he doesn’t craft and create like the girls do.

So having a photo book dedicated to all the kids’ crafts and artwork is a super idea.

You don’t need to be a fancy photographer or have crazy complex lighting to make this work, either. Choose a time mid-day, when the sun is shining, to put your children’s work in the natural light.

Photograph close up and from a distance.

Add the photos to a folder on your computer.

Share the photos with the photo book company, and voila! Photo book in hand in no time. Your kids–especially the crafty crafters–will love you for it.

 

 

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Shutterfly.com

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

9.  LEGO Creations

Or Tinker Toys creations. Or HexBug tracks. Or block towers, Or whatever your kiddo builds, this book is all about those creations.

Play-Doh castles? Crazy-cool marble runs?

Is there a theme? Did he create the entire Ninjago set? Star Wars fighters? LEGO City? Take photos. Make a book.

She (or he!) will love you for it.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

10.  Church, Temple, or School Event

We are part of our church’s Gospel Drama every year, and the kids love it.

Especially if you are heading up a committee like this, having a photo book as a reference for future organizers or committee chairs is a super idea.

It could be a drama production. Maybe it’s a band concert. Perhaps it’s International Night or a Math Night.  It could be the Spring Carnival or Kindergarten Orientation.

What needs to be done first? What’s second? Who is in charge of what?

Take pictures of everything you can, and then upload them to a photo book. The visuals will help in the future, and the book can even stay in the office waiting room and be a great resource to have on hand for new-to-the-school families.

 

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

 

11.  Cool Science Experiment (or Animal Facts!)

Last year, we had the super-awesome opportunity to hatch eggs at our home. It was one of the coolest experiences in our family’s little 11 year existence.

Throughout the entire egg incubation program, we took photos. And of course we made a book.

Kids love to learn about the process of egg hatching, and this little book will bring it all back to us, step by step.  Not only is it a chronicle of something really fun our family did, but it’s a memory maker in the process!

You can really create an animal fact book like this for any animal, at any time.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

12.  Family ABC Book

From A to Z, there’s a photo for every letter. Some were more difficult than others, but we did it.

And so can you. Really, it’s not that hard.

Having kids’ faces in the book is so fun for them, as is including your own pets, toys, car, and clothes.

Want kids to get their ABCs quickly?

Make a Family ABC Book.

 

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

13.  Family Vacation

We don’t do this for every vacation, but for our ‘biggies’ we definitely create photo books!

Each time we went to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we created a book when we got home. And any time we have a question about the park, a ride, or something similar, we reach for one of our Disney books.

So fun.

Man I want to return. . .

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

14.  Book About Love

We create a lot of books for my nana, don’t we?

Nana’s getting old and things are much more difficult for her, but one thing has not changed: Nana loves books. She’s a lifelong reader and writer, so today is no different, even though she’s 91.

The ‘We Love Nana’ book is a simple book with little text. The main message? I love Nana.

The characters? All of us. This one took a bit more planning because I needed photos from three sisters of their five kids, but it all worked out.

A Book About Love can be a teeny book that your preschooler takes to school with him each day so that he remembers Mom is closeby.

A Book About Love can be a chance to spend one full day with one kiddo–a close-up of that one child and how much you love him or her.

It can be everything in your lives that you love, with each family member taking one or two pages to create on his or her own.

Possibilities are endless.

Get your own cool, creative photo book started now at Mixbook.com!

the best, coolest, most clever and creative  | teachmama.com

15. Home Renovation or Family Move

We tore it up in her last year, and we chronicled the entire thing.

We knew that at times though the reno took an eternity, in reality, it only took about six or seven weeks. That’s nothing.

Especially for the kids, it went by in the blink of an eye.

So having a photo book to walk us through everything from clearing out shelves to moving furniture to setting it all back up is really cool.

 

Ooooh, and for fun, make your Family Playing Cards into a photo book this year!

A great way to help your littles learn the spelling and letters of family names, right? Turn it into a photo book (super-totally easy!) and bam. Book. Family Name Book. Awesome.

 

Want a few awesome deals to snag in time for the holidays? SURE you do!

 

What photo books can you think of? Which ones make most sense for you to create? I’d love to hear it!

You know that it’s the thought that counts!

 

please pin it later!

the coolest, most creative photo books for kids and family  teachmama.com BLANK

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles: coasters and more | a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

super-easy, homemade photo tiles: coasters and more | a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there I find that no matter the year, I’m always scrambling for last-minute holiday gifts for family.

Every year we love to give our family homemade ornaments for the tree–preferably ornaments with our crazy kids’ mugs on them.

It’s so much fun every year to unwrap ornaments as we’re decorating the tree and to find photos of our kids when they were younger.

A few years back, however, we thought we’d be tricky and trade the ornies in for tiles.

And they came out really, really cute.

We made sets of coasters for grandparents and tiles for the aunts and uncles.

Honestly, they were the easiest gifts to make, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora loved doing them.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Super-Easy, Homemade Photo Tiles:

When I say, ‘easy’, I mean easy.

These tiles took a bit of time to dry, but that was the most time-consuming part.

To make them, you’ll need:

Making the tiles is super-simple.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles coasters and more  a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there  collage  teachmama.comHonestly, the hardest, most time-consuming part is finding a photo you like.

I chose one photo of all three kids together for the bigger tile and the kids’ school pictures for the smaller tiles.

I personally love school photos. I think there’s something really cool, clean, and classic about them. No matter how my kids’ photos turn out, I always try to use them for something throughout the year.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles coasters and more  a last-minute crafty craft for the non-crafters out there   teachmama.com

1. Grab your Mod Podge and cover the whole tile with it.  Because Mod Podge is essentially glue, all you need to do is paint the tile with Mod Podge and place your photo on top.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

2. Place your photo on top, where you want it on the tile. 

I added a little ‘holiday tag’ with Maddy, Owen, & Cora 2012 on it. Let. It. Dry.

You can download the tag here, of course personalizing it for your own cutiepies: holiday gift tags 2011

I love when kids can add their writing to any masterpiece, so for the tiny coasters, I had Maddy, Owen, and Cora write their names with a sharpie.

Want to know the really hilarious thing? I made these in 2011. Gave them to aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. It was 2011. The photo was from 2011. But I wrote 2012, like a champ. Awesome, right? 

I’m trying to confuse the whole world. Then I won’t feel so crazy.

 

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

3. Mod Podge again. On top. Add a coat of Mod Podge, and Let. It. Dry. 

I told you these took a bit of time only in the waiting.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

super-easy, homemade photo tiles | teachmama.com

4. Add felt to the back. 

So the coasters don’t scratch the tables they’re trying to protect, add felt. Your mother-in-law will thank you.

Just use superglue or hot glue–whatever you have. I personally love my tiny hot glue gun. I keep a bunch of the tiny hot glue refills on hand, and I probably pull this guy out 3-4 times each month to use it for something.

For the larger tile, I added felt to the entire back. Because you’d be able to see the back when it was in its holder, I thought it looked nicer.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

5. Let. It. Dry. Like totally and completely. 

And really? That’s it.

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

super-easy, homemade photo tiles

So easy, and such a fun little personalized, homemade gift.

This year? Cannot wait to share what we have in the works. Cannot. Wait.

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

best books as gifts for kids and family

best books as gifts for kids and family | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

I am so embarrassed about this, but I’ve talked about doing a post like this for years.best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com cover

I think I’ve even promised one the week after each of my 2012 gift guide and 2013 gift guide but never did it.

Ugh.

But this year, finding books for Maddy, Owen, and Cora has been so, so, so much fun.

I’m not sure why.

Maybe because they all can read now?

Maybe because the book choices we have at our fingertips for our kids–and even extended family–are spectacular?

Maybe because

So I’m thrilled to share which books we have loved this year, which books are on our holiday wish lists, and which books will definitely be under our tree this year.

I’ll organize it just like I organized the Gift Guide for Kids and Family–by age.

That might be the most manageable.

So exciting.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Best Books as Gifts for Kids and Family:

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com littlest guys

 

For our littlest guys:

  • Ten Tiny Toes, by Carolyn Jayne Church: babies love the sweet illustrations in these books, and so do parents.  And? there’s counting.  Try Here Comes Christmas for the holidays.
  • Flora and the Flamingo, by Molly Schaar. A wordless picture book, this story shows how Flora and the Flamingo become friends without saying a word. Cool way to talk about body language with kids.  Pair it with a sweet flamingo stuffed animal for a really cute gift.
  • Locomotive, by Brian Floca.  It’s a Caldecott Medal winner which means that this book totally rocks. I love the way this book brings to life the summer of 1869 when the first transcontinental railroad takes its journey from coast to coast.

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

  • The Book With No Pictures, B.J. Novak. 
    Remember Ryan Howard from The Office? Ever-changing dark haired young guy? He wrote this book, and it’s really fun and unique. It plays with language in a way that is engaging, exciting, and new.
  • Blizzard, by John Rocco.  Rocco shares his own memories woven in a story that teaches the important lessons of helping others and celebrating the little things. Based on his experience in the Blizzard of 1978, which some of us may actually remember.
  • Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad, by Henry Cole.  I cannot speak highly enough about this beautiful, wordless picture book. A farm girl helps a young, runaway slave who hides in her barn.
  • Exclamation Mark, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  This book tells the story of Exclamation Mark, who never really felt like he fit in with all of the periods and commas out there. It’s so fun and a great way to play with language and life lessons.
  • Nelson Mandela, by Kadir Nelson.  I love everything that Kadir Nelson writes, but this Coretta Scott King Honor Award winner is inspiring and enlightening.
  • The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös, by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. This book is an interesting reminder that we all are born with different strengths and that one is no better than the next. For math lovers and non-lovers alike, kids will find this book incredibly intriguing.

 

 

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com bigger guys

For the bigger guys:

  • Geronimo Stilton: Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye, by Geronimo Stilton. Geronimo books have been around for a while now, but Cora has recently discovered them and has fallen hard. She laughs out loud at these. Owen does, too. Told by Geronimo, a witty and brave mouse, these stories always involve a mystery, and the engaging print and fonts makes them accessible for younger readers especially.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney. It’s the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Kids love this series.  Greg Heffley is every child. He says what’s on his mind, and he’s funny. And life doesn’t always work out in his favor. This book shares his family’s road trip, and it’s a riot. Want a chunk of the series? Get your young reader a Diary of a Wimpy Kid gift set.
  • Fantasy League, by Mike Lupica. Owen is pretty much obsessed with fantasy football lately, so when we discovered this book by talented sports writer, Mike Lupica, it opened up a world of reading for him. Lupica rocks when it comes to writing books that speak to young athletes. Love this.

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

  • Smile and Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier. And Drama. These award-winning graphic novels are written in Raina’s honest, funny, and engaging voice, are faves of my girls. They’re (shhhhh!) getting Drama this holiday.
  • The 39 Clues series, by Rick Riordan & co. This book series is still a fave of Maddy’s. The books are quick and clever, and they’re full of history. We listen to a 39 Clues audio book just about every time we drive to Pennsylvania.
  • The Spirit Animals series, by Brandon Mull & co. Maddy and Owen have really loved this series. And the cool thing is that there’s a ton of online gaming, support and extensions for each book.
  • The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins. I’ve waited a bit to hand these to Maddy because the content is a bit mature; the Hunger Games are not the kind of game you ever really want your kids to play. It’s about survival and doing anything you can to come out on top in a dystopian society with a totally corrupt government. But Maddy asked and asked, and when I allowed her to read them, she literally read the entire three books in three nights. I’m not sure she slept much, and I had to literally pry the book out of her hands and turn off her lights so she’d rest. It’s a fantastic series if you haven’t read it, and it does allow for a ton of interesting discussion if you can read them alongside your tween.

 

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com family

Every family must-haves:

  • Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton. I have literally gifted this book to almost every adult family member, so of course I needed to add one to our list, too. I am obsessed with Humans of New York. Looking at the photos of everyday people and reading their stories helps me keep things in perspective. I love it, and I’m hoping that it becomes a good eye-opener for Maddy, Owen, and Cora.
  • Little Humans, by Brandon Stanton.  Same as above. But all kids. All kids. Love times a million.

 

best books as gifts  kids and family  teachmama.com

 

 

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com cool books they love

Other cool books that kids love:

  • National Geographic Kids Almanac 2015. This should be a must-purchase for families every single  year. It’s one of those books that once you pick it up, you cannot put it down. Full of fun facts from food to animals to planets, it’s awesome. It’s beautiful.
  • 5,000 AWESOME Facts (About Everything!) 2, by National Geographic Kids. Not even kidding. There are 5,000 facts in this book. And each is cooler and more interesting than the next. The photos, layout, and topics? Super cool.

best books as gifts for family  teachmama.com final cover

 

 

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family | teachmama.com

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Did you celebrate Giving Tuesday?gifts that give back  teachmama.com

It’s a really simple concept: give.

Any way you are able, to anyone. Give.

The concept of giving is especially important at this time of the year, and lucky for us, many organizations have made it super easy–and so meaningful!–to give at holiday time.

Looking at my kids’ bedrooms and our playroom, I see we need very little.

So I’m encouraging all of our family members to do something this year that packs a bit more of a punch: buying gifts that give a little more than the norm.

Though there are thousands of ways to do it–something for every family.

These are the organizations that we will be supporting this year.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Gifts That Give Back–Ideas for Kids and Family:

Though I’m sharing this during holiday time, these gifts can obviously be given at any time of the year, for any occasion.

I encourage you to bookmark this, save it, whatever, and pull it out again for birthdays or other special occasions.

Seriously. Give something life-changing to a family in need. A goat. Some chicks. Some seeds. An education. Clean water.

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family

And give it in the name of one of your kids: Choose a meaningful gift to give a loved one and help children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant. 

The Heifer International Gift Catalog online is super easy to understand and navigate.

You can purchase a share or whole animal for a family: goat, heifer, water buffalo, honeybees.

Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood.

gifts that give back: ideas for kids and family Or you can support women’s empowerment:

If women farmers had access to the same resources as men, more than 150 million additional people would have enough food to eat. We aim to make that a reality. Your gift will provide support for women’s groups, training in gender equality and the means to send girls to school. Help empower women around the world to reach their full potential.

heifer international

Talk to your kids about the fact that so many of these people lack clean water. Can you imagine? Clean water.

And explain how clean water could totally, completely change their lives:

Millions of people around the world still lack access to clean drinking water. In the impoverished communities where Heifer is working, many of the homes lack running water, and some families do not even have a well nearby. Instead, they must spend each day fetching water. This is often a chore left to the children — especially girls — leaving no time for school.

 

gifts that give back | teachmama.com

 

Each gift you choose comes with a little card that you can give to the recipient, an Honor Card.  But more than the card is the impact of the gift on the recipient family.

These gifts are literally changing lives–turning life completely around for people. Equipping them with the tools they need to thrive.

Incredible.

 

 ******************************

gifts that give back | teachmama.com

 

I met the creator of To the Market, Jane Mosbacher Morris, at the AYA Summit this year. She’s awesome.

The premise of To The Market is to combine the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations, in the belief that resilience is more powerful than suffering.  How can you not love it?

You can shop in a number of different ways: by goods, by country, by cause, or by local partners. So you can literally find something for everyone, something that really meets your needs.

gifts that give back TTM ideas for kids and family

I love the Eva Necklace, the Sabrina Sparkle Earrings, and the Bernadette Earrings, both from the Starfish Project.

The Starfish Project is a fair trade jewelry company that cares for and employs exploited women in Asia. Each woman that enters into Starfish has a story of abuse and pain. At Starfish they are employed in legitimate, meaningful work where they start to reclaim the truth that they are capable; through counseling, shelter, education and health care they know they are safe; and through the Starfish community they know they are loved.

I also love the Punjammies–all of them. These are ‘lounge pants’ which I honestly think you could wear for any occasion because they are that beautiful.

PUNJAMMIES™ mission is to create pathways to freedom for women escaping the ravages of sex slavery to achieve lives of hope and dignity; each woman learns a trade (sewing) and practices refining her craftsmanship by producing quality sleep & loungewear called PUNJAMMIES™. The finished product is then exported to the US and sold online to countries all over the world with proceeds coming back to benefit each of the sewing centers.

******************************

Almost all of my scarves are from fashionABLEfashionABLE‘s mission is:

to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job. We offer opportunity to everyone, with a primary focus on empowering women. When we invest in a woman, statistics demonstrate that she will have a life-changing impact on her family and community… and herself.

 I love it.

gifts that give back ideas  fashionABLE
Some products I really love?

  • the Mamuye Tote because it is the perfect size for my laptop and the leather is simply beautiful
  • the Tizita Bracelet which is so affordable and cool–a set of three bracelets (two pewter and one antique gold) crafted from beads repurposed from bullet casings and scrap metal found by farmers in the Entoto mountains.  The Entoto community is a place of healing for those affected by HIV/AIDS, treating them with dignity + respect, and providing a fair opportunity to support their families. Under $30.
  • the Selam Scarf and the Gebeyew Scarf both which I have and both which I have gifted to friends and family numerous times.

******************************

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is driven by the mission to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

gifts that give back  st jude

Everyone is welcome. Everyone. My heart.

Every purchase made from the St. Jude Gift Shop helps St. Jude because 100% of proceeds after all related expenses benefit St. Jude.

They’ve got a ton of celebrity gifts that younger kids especially would love, from their Celebrity Friend Collection: ornaments, jewelry, iPhone cases.

gifts that give back | experience gifts st. jude

You can donate event-based gifts for patients like ‘no mo chemo parties’, holiday parties, and more.

You can donate a things the patients would love, like red wagon (because that’s how little ones move through the hospital–no wheelchairs!), or you can donate art supplies or video games.  Toys, books, or meals for families.

You can donate treatments for the patients. You know they need them. This will help.

It’s an incredible organization, and it’s a great way to give back.

******************************

It’s a lot, I know.

But hey–it’s a great place to start.

My suggestion? Either make a decision yourself over here, or bring the kids over, look at the options with you, and let them decide.

I’m betting they’d love to say, Grandma! We bought some kids a goat in your and Grandpa’s name this year!!

How will you give? What will your family choose this year? 

Let me know! I love more ideas!

gifts that give back teachmama.com

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out: 

 

fyi: The fashionABLE links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This small percentage of money helps offset the costs of hosting this blog, which helps me keep this content free for you. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

true holiday spirit notes for kids: remembering the meaning of the season

true holiday spirit notes for kids: remembering the meaning of the season

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

December is here. true holiday spirit notes for kids: remembering the meaning of the season

I can hardly believe it.

So this season I’m trying a little something different.

Rather than focus on the receiving part of the season, this year, I’m really trying to focus on the giving component. 

The being a good person component.

The remembering the holiday spirit component.

And I’m starting with an Advent Season challenge for my family: to try to incorporate the true holiday spirit into our every day of December.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • True Holiday Spirit Notes for Kids–Remembering the Meaning of the Season:

All month long.

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

We’ll open our Advent Activity Calendar in the morning like we have for the past few years, but at lunchtime, the kids will have a challenge.

A simple but meaningful challenge.

Twenty-five days of incorporating the true holiday spirit into our every day. I’m excited about it and think the kids are, too.

Though Owen is home sick with me today, I introduced the ‘challenge’ to Maddy, Owen, and Cora today at breakfast.

 

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

 

I said, Okay, so you know that for the last few years we’ve done our Advent Activity Calendars–the one on the tree and our cool k-cup advent calendar from last year, right? 

This year, we’re doing something a little different. We’re going to continue to do our Advent Activities like we have in the past. That way we remember to fit in all of the fun things we love to do each holiday season. 

But we’re all going to try a new type of holiday Advent Activity too. A challenge. Just something super small that will help us remember the true meaning of the busy holiday season. 

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

We’ll talk about what we do each evening, but the cool thing about it is that it’s kind of a secret. Like today’s is ‘be extra nice to one person’. 

You’ll be extra nice to one person, but you won’t make a huge, weird deal about it. You’ll decide on who to be nice to, and you’ll do it. 

Maddy asked, Won’t some of our other friends feel left out if they’re not being treated extra nicely? 

http://teachmama.com/?attachment_id=19938

I said, No, not really. Because hopefully you’ll be nice to everyone–you’ll just be extra nice to someone else. 

And then we’ll share our challenge answers at home each night. Does that make sense? Kind of a secret thing that we’ll share as a family.

The kids got it. And they dug it.

 

Here’s our True Holiday Spirit Challenge sheet: true holiday spirit challenge notes teachmama.com

(If you decide to share, please share this post instead of the attachment page. I truly appreciate it!)

true holiday spirit lunchbox notes | teachmama.com

 

true holiday spirit challenge notes teachmama.com

I created the challenge to work as lunchbox notes because my kids love them and look forward to them. I wanted the notes to be small enough that they could read them inside their lunchbox, and I wanted there to be one note for each day of Advent, one for each day of the holiday season.

The notes are numbered–very lightly–from 1-25. And they include things like:

  • be extra inclusive at recess;
  • say ‘thank you’ to someone–and mean it;
  • ask a quiet classmate how he or she is doing;
  • hold the door for someone today;
  • and more.

So we’ll see how it goes.

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com

 

kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com

 

teachmama gift guide 2012

 

 

holiday gift guide | teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

support small business saturday: teachmama faves

small business saturday | teachmama.com

I have always been a huge fan of small businesses, supporting them whenever I possibly can.small business saturday | teachmama.com

It’s a person’s dream. It’s a risk. It’s hard. And often, these smaller businesses are hidden gems.

Really.

Friends, if you are able, it’s so worth heading into your neighborhood Mom & Pop shop to support them during this time of the year.

There’s nothing like walking into a store with your kids and talking to them about all that goes into opening your own toy store or jewelry store or yarn shop or pet store–how rewarding and challenging it can be.

As parents, we have to show our kids that anything is within their reach.

And sure, we all want rockstar deals, but deals are seriously everywhere–even in small businesses.

And sure, we are crazy busy and sometimes it’s easier to order online from the comfort of our homes

So do it.

There are tons of small online business, so this Saturday check ‘em out give em a chance.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Support Small Business Saturday– For Your Kids:

Over the years, Etsy has been one of my go-to’s for finding sweet and meaningful gifts, and I’ve come across a bunch of small businesses that I definitely want to share.

Etsy is a super place to start when you have a talent or totally rock a craft; we want our kids to know that if they have talents, they can follow them and even make money from them.

Start with Etsy.

support small business saturday--for your kids

Love To Create Stamps

I am a huge fan of the self-inking return address stamp.

I grabbed the return address label stamp that I use all of the time, modeled after the one below, from Todd of Love To Create Stamps.

small business saturday | teachmama.com

The cool thing? He’s giving teachmama.com readers a 15% discount to his shop. Use LOVETOSAVE .

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support small business saturday | teachmama faves

Studio Jewel, by The Bead Girl

Years and years ago I met Lisa at a blog conference, and immediately I fell for her simple, cool designs.

She worked with me to create my favorite initial necklace for my kids. I still wear it often and always I get complements on it when I do.

Check out her stacking mothers bangle bracelets. Love, love, love them.

support small business saturday--start here

Lisa is offering a 20% discount to teachmama.com readers with the code: TEACHMAMA20

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Little Lady Bug Press | Christy Allison design

I have dreamed of having a holiday return address stamp for years, and this year? Well I treated myself to one like the one above. I literally danced around the kitchen when it arrived last week, in a sweet little burlap drawstring bag and looking exactly how I wanted it to. Woot!

Cannot wait to get those cards started this year!

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Cookin Cute:

I love Liz’s designs. I worked with cookincute to design the most beautiful apron for Maddy ever. I absolutely love it.

I knew what I wanted but didn’t see it in her shop.

So via email, we found a great pattern, the perfect color, and Maddy reaches for this apron any time she’s baking or cooking in the kitchen.  She also threw in a matching apron for her American Girl doll! Super fun.

 

small business saturday | teachmama

 

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Uniquely Ordinary 

Last year, when Cora was on a ‘personalization’ kick, I ordered a bunch from this store.

Cindi created fabulous plastic straw cup with ‘Cora’ on it from this shop, and she loves it.   All I explained was, ‘I have a 5 yo girl who loves all girly things: hearts, stars, jewels, flowers.  If you could do it in pinks and maybe some black and white to up the cool factor, that’d be awesome. And the 16 oz tumbler we received was perfecto!

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

 

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

I also ordered a super cute personalized cake carrier for Maddy from this shop, and every time we use it, Maddy smiles.  This isn’t the one; we ordered a standard, rectangular cake saver that we love.

The cool thing? Cindi’s giving teachmama.com readers a 10% discount to her shop through the end of January. Use the code: blogger. Woot!

 

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

saffron and saege

Loraleigh creates the most fun pieces of jewelry—necklaces with anything you want, including sweet starfish, initials, animals, and more.

I ordered a gold hashtag necklace for myself this summer. I love it so much that I ordered one for my sister, who helps me so much with work. For anyone—blogger, virtual assistant, or hashtag maven, these are perfect and fun.

I love, love the prices here and variety–I think they’re great for just about anyone but know that Maddy and Cora would love anything from this shop!

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

 

small business saturday | teachmama.com

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

Home of Gem

I love this shop’s simplicity and beauty–and I love the fact that Gem brings ‘old junk back to life’.  Every piece has a story, which is so awesome and fun.

All of the items here are completely unique, which I think always make super gifts and conversation pieces. Great gifts for weddings, anniversaries, and holidays. Birthdays and any day. Indoors and outdoors.

small business saturday | teachmama.com

small business saturday | teachmama.com

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

Baby Elephant

Need an adorable knit hat for your tiny ones? My sister turned me on to this shop which is run by one of my high school friends.

Colleen is one of the coolest gals I know. You will die for any of the things in her shop. The neat thing is that I vividly remember her mom knitting when we were young.  Love it.

small business saturday | teachmama.com

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small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

My sister is in love with Greyson + Cole for baby moccasins:

I want to eat my niece Ruby’s little legs. Especially with these teeny shoes.

small business saturday | greyson and cole small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

 

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And she also loves Sweet Lucy Jack for baby moccasins and headbands and cute hats:

 

small business saturday | teachmama.com

 

sweet lucy  teachmama.com

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What is your favorite small business? I’d love to hear it!

Many thanks for supporting these great businesses!

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out: 

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

Friends.the only black friday deals you need for kids and family

I’m not sure if you’re a wild and crazy Black Friday shopper or not, but in case you are, happy holidays!

Here are a few biggie sales that I’m taking advantage of and that you could, too, so that you are less stressed, closer to being finished with your gift-buying, and securing some pretty decent deals this holiday.

Just a few.

A few deals that will help you and will help me.

Bam.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • The ONLY Black Friday Deals You Need for Kids and Families:

These are the only deals you really need to grab.

So grab them, and then eat all the turkey leftovers your little heart desires.

For kids:

Kiwi Crate, Kiwi Crate Black Friday Offer 
Doodle Crate >>

LOOK at the deals I just scored:

kiwi crate DEALS teachmama.com

 

Little Passports, Little Passports USA Edition: 1 year at $10.95/month

Little Passports, Little Passports World Edition: 1 year at $10.95/month

 

ISeeMe.com, Buy 3 Save $15 and get FREE SHIPPING! Use Code BUY3

ISeeMe.com, Black Friday Offers – Buy 2 Save $10. Use code BUY2

ISeeMe.com, Black Friday Offers – Buy 1 Save $5. Use code BUY1

My Night Before Christmas from ISeeMe

ISEEME personalized Children's Books
 

 The Land of Nod, Nod Chair: Originally $129 Now Only $99

The Land of Nod, Save $56 on The Land of Nod’s High Kids Adjustable Activity Table with Bins and Paper Roller!

The Land of Nod, design for kids and people that used to be kids
 

 

For tweens:

Zazzle, Up to 60% off on Zazzle.com – Use Code: ZWEEKOFDEALS

Customize iPhone cases, puzzles, bags, totes, waterbottles, and more.

Up to 60% off on Zazzle.com

For you (or me):

 

 Craftsy, Pre-Black Friday Sale: Enjoy Big Savings on Yarn, Fabric & Kits

thread art online quilting class at craftsy.com
 

Love With Food, Black Friday Sale
 

Mod Cloth, NEW arrivals at 50% off!
ModCloth
 

Snow Day Welcome Box Offer

For fun:

 Fanatics, Happy Fans-Giving Sale – 25% off plus free shipping on orders over $50

Huge Black Friday Savings at Fanatics.com
 

Cents of Style, Colored Tights $7.98 – 2 Pack Tights $5.58 & FREE SHIPPING

 

Do you subscribe to teachmama.com via email or newsletter?

You should! Often we do have fun perks for our subscribers like free printables and goodies.

subscriber thank you long newsletter | teachmama.com

This month? We’re trying something different: an only-for-teachmama.com-readers curated page full of super-special holiday deals page. 

NO joke.   Subscribe.  Because I love ya.  Subscribe to teachmama.com now

 

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out: 

 

fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy