make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn desserts with kids (they're not perfect and still pretty)

make easy candy corn desserts with kids (they're not perfect and still pretty)Halloween’s almost here, but candy corn and tons of sweet treats have been in the grocery stores for what seems like weeks now.

Cora and I took that Halloween spirit and ran with it, creating our own, easy candy corn desserts.

It’s always fun to experiment in the kitchen, but when you can let your kids take the lead and use their creativity a bit, it’s all the better.

We wanted to have something fun and sweet here for when Aunt Katie and Asher visited this past weekend (so fun!), and that we did. Even though I can’t say that these were perfect for a toddler (we used our tiny fancy glasses–not smart!), he sure seemed to like what his mom gave him on his spoon.

Cora was uber-proud.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Make Easy Candy Corn Desserts With Kids: Really, when I say these are easy, I’m not even joking.

And they’re so pretty.

What I love most about these is that they’re totally imperfect. So far from the images on Pinterest and all over the internet of picture-perfect holiday treats, it’s laughable.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

But we loved them.

Even though the marshmallows got really soggy and squishy on day two. But who cares?

All you need for these babies are a few things: orange jell-o, vanilla instant pudding, and marshmallows. Bam.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

We pulled out our fancy glasses–the ones we used for our Royal Wedding party way back when and the ones we used for Cora’s Frozen birthday bash.

Cora and I knew we wanted to use pudding that we had already made for our treats–pudding that was in the fridge and wasn’t moving. We made it two days before, and no one seemed to go for it like I hoped.

So we drew a tiny candy corn on a piece of paper to keep us centered and focused on the task at hand–we wanted to recreate candy corn parfait-type treats using marshmallows, jell-o, and pudding.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Cora mixed the Jell-O, which she and I are both trying to each more frequently because our nails are total junk.

And doesn’t everyone want strong nails? We do.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Making the parfaits was easy. Cora decided that in order to make the treats look most like candy corn, we had to start with marshmallows, then put in the yellowish pudding, then put in the orange Jell-O.

So that’s what we did.

And it was a wee bit tricky.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

What made it tough for us was our small, fancy glasses.

But I bet if you want to do these for a class party or Halloween get-together with lots of tiny kids, using a clear plastic tumbler would totally work–and then you could more easily pour in the orange Jell-O.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

We put them all in the fridge.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

And though they all looked a little different from each other, they all looked so pretty.

We knew that Aunt Katie and Asher would love them–which they totally did.

 

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Were they picture-perfect? Nope.

Did they taste like food of the angels? Not at all.

Was every single one of them gorgeous? Oh my gosh, no.

Did we love them? Sure did.

make easy candy corn dessert with kids (not perfect and still cool)

 

Because above all, my tiniest was way proud of her work in the kitchen–her creativity, thought, and patience.

And so was I.

And really? We all need to celebrate a little more of the perfect imperfections in life. It’s not all pinteresty-perfect, friends!

Want a few more fun halloween party ideas?

 

Let me know how you’ve gotten your kiddos involved in preparing for this spooky holiday–I’d love to hear it!

sleepover at the national archives: 3 reasons your family will love it

national archives sleepover teachmama.com

We did it.national archives sleepover  teachmama.com

We slept at the National Archives.

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC.

Slept. In the museum. All night long.

With sleeping bags and pillows all bundled up in the famous rotunda.  Snoozing near the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

So crazy, right? So fun.

The super-cool thing is that there will be more sleepovers at the National Archives in the next few months, and you can go.

And? I’ve got a discount for you for you to use at the National Archives store if a sleepover’s not your thing.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Sleepover at the National Archives–3 Reasons Your Family Will Love It:

The National Archives Museum Sleepover was the perfect amount of time: 6:30pm -8:30am.

national archives sleepover | teachmama.com

national archives sleepover | teachmama.com

Our schedule Saturday:

7:15 — orientation

7:45-9:15 –activity stations and snacks (activities included a scavenger hunt, crafts, games, dancing, learning about explorers, and more)

9:20-10:10 — interview an explorer

10:15-10:45 — storytime and movies

10:15-10:45 — get ready for bed

11:00 — lights out!

*****

Our schedule Sunday:

7:15-8:30 — breakfast

7:30-9:00 — historic chocolate demonstration

8:00-8:30 — trivia game

9:00 — departure

national archives sleepover | teachmama.com

It was an evenly timed event. Just enough activity mixed with just enough time to move at our own pace and enjoy the event.

Here are three reasons I’m betting your family will love the event, too:

 national archives sleepover | teachmama.com

1. You will learn a few cool things about our country’s history.

The focus of our sleepover was Heroes, History, & Treasures, so we learned a bunch about Matthew Henson, Meriwether Lewis, and Louise Arner Boyd-three heroes of exploration–along with others and their contributions to our country.

Throughout the night, all of our activities in some way reflected the Heroes, History, & Treasures theme.  Adventurers and explorers, and all the cool stuff they find.

national archives sleepover |photo from u.s. national archives

national archives sleepover |photo from u.s. national archives

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

You know I love life when things are organized like this in a pretty little package.

We spent time in the Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures exhibit, and our scavenger hunt took place here. It was a fun and interactive way to experience it.

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national archives sleepover | teachmama.com

2. You will find activities that speak to each person in your family.

As an educator, I’m always aware of the fact that each person has different learning needs, and those needs can vary greatly within families.

One person learns best by doing; another learns best by listening. Others may learn best by reading or watching. We’re all different that way.

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

national archives sleepover |photo from u.s. national archives

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

So the music and singing, the dancing, the hands-on games and drama, mixed with the reading and watching that we did was the ideal recipe for learning and fun.

Some individual activities and some group activities. It was a great mix.

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

national archives sleepover | teachmama.com

3.  You will have a truly unforgettable experience.  

Undoubtedly, a sleepover at the National Archives is something your family will never forget.

From the anticipation leading up to the event to the event itself, your kids will feel connected to one of the most important buildings in our Nation’s Capital.

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

The small group–100 participants total–really allows you to feel like you’re an integral part of the event. Any time we had a question, there were at least two or three Archives workers there to assist us.

I loved having so many hands in the kitchen; it made me feel like there were a lot of eyes on our kids–which made me feel so much more at ease.

And having all children be between the ages of 8-12 years old means that for the most part, all of the kids were on the same playing field.

 

national archives sleepover |photo from u.s. national archives

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

We met a bunch of great people from–surprisingly–all around our country.  Most families were from the DC Metro area, but some came as far north as Maine or as far west as California!

It was a really cool experience.

national archives sleepover | photo from u.s. national archives

national archives sleepover | photo from us national archives

 

The Archivist of the United States, Honorable David S. Ferriero, made pancakes for us in the morning!

He had some help, but to be honest, his chocolate chip pancakes were fabulous! (And you want to know why I really like the AOTUS? He writes a blog!)

 

archives sleepover AOTUS pancakes

 

 

Check out more photos from the National Archives sleepover (August 2014): 

 

What would I suggest that families do if they’re planning on attending? 

  • Definitely read the information from the National Archives about what to bring for the sleepover. And bring what they suggest!
  • Have some easy way of transporting your sleeping bag, pillow, overnight bag. Whether a loved one drops  you off at the building and then picks you up in the morning or if you simply arrange all of your gear in a simple way, do it. The hardest part for Maddy, Owen, and me was the walk from the parking garage to the Archives and then from the Archives to the parking garage in the morning.

 

national archives sleepover | photo from u.s. national archives

 

  • Look for an overnight garage. We also didn’t plan this part well, so we had to do a little city driving and searching before the event. We ended up using LAZ parking at 616 E St. for about $45, but definitely check best parking to find what will be best for you.
  • Consider bringing earplugs. Seriously. I can sleep anywhere, any time. But lighter sleepers may need these.
  • Bring books or something for the kids to read before bed. I totally forgot these, and though I can fall asleep anywhere, any time, Maddy and Owen needed their books. #momfail
  • Prepare your kids. Even if it’s just a little bit. I printed out a bunch from the National Archives website, and we simply had it around to read and talk about in the days leading up to the event. I wanted the kids to have an idea about why this building was important and what we’d see when we were there.

national archives sleepover | teachmama.com

 

And now? If you’re interested in attending the next sleepover, visit the National Archives Sleepover page.  The next one is scheduled for October 18, 2014.

If the sleepover isn’t your thing, then do some shopping! Check out the National Archives store– myarchivesstore.org –and use the code 14SLEEP14 for a 15% discount on your purchases until 8/15/14. Enjoy!

The feather pen in the picture above? My kids have been rockin’ them for the last few days, doing what they can to make their mark. Grab one at the Archives store!

Pretty cool if you ask me!

 

Stay connected:

What questions do you have? I’d love to help! 

 

fyi: I was given three tickets to the National Archives August sleepover in exchange for sharing my honest opinions in a blog post and via social media. As always, opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator and by my two little explorers.  

History, Heroes & Treasures is supported by the Foundation for the National Archives; John Hancock Financial; Ridgewells Catering; Control Video; American Heritage Chocolate; Mars, Incorporated; The Coca-Cola Company; Minute Maid; and DASANI.

Many of the photos (most unwatermarked) in this post are from the National Archives and are in the public domain. 

mother’s day giveaway: $100 at-home spa kit (& win 20 more gifts for Mom!)

at home spa kit giveaway from whole foods mother's day giveaway series teachmama.com

at home spa kit giveaway from whole foods | mother's day giveaway series teachmama.com

Mother’s Day is the ideal time to treat yourself–or your mama–to something relaxing, peaceful, calming.

It’s a day to celebrate and thank your mom–and your grandma, Nana, great grandma, mother-in-law–any and all those rockstar mother figures in your life.

And this year, I’m taking a break from the crafts and cards and homemade gifts for Mom (I’ll get to them later, I promise!), and right now I’m thrilled to share a rockin Mother’s Day Giveaway Series.

Much like the Holiday Giveaway we did in December, this Mother’s Day Giveaway Series will take you on a round-the-net tour of 20+ top-notch, superstar, veteran bloggers’ sites, each with her own Mother’s Day Giveaway. Seriously.

Pour yourself a cuppa, sit back, relax, and check ‘em out.

But first? Huge and happy thanks to Whole Foods for partnering with me for my giveaway. I am a huge fan of pampering myself (I work hard, so I deserve it!), and you should be too. This parenting gig? Hard.  So give yourself a break.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Mother’s Day Giveaway–$100 at-home spa kit (& Win 20 More Gifts for Mom–or YOU!)

The super cool thing is that this giveaway is part of a rockstar fabulous Mother’s Day Giveaway Series.  Each of the blogs in the linky is hosting a giveaway for one prize, and each person will select one winner.

Enter each giveaway that you want a chance at winning. SO cool, right? There will be 23 total winners! Your chances of winning are big.

Check out the linky below this post for over 20 more giveaways that you can–and should!–enter.  I’m thrilled to be a part of it, along with the amazing women below. 

mothers day giveaway series | teachmama.com

 

Okay, back to our giveaway.  Whole Foods was super-kind enough to send me a bunch of the goodies they’re going to send my winner, and I love this stuff.  Like really, truly love it.

IMG_5248

Even when it comes to something as simple as handwash, you really should be using a product that you love. Think about how many times a day you use it. It should make you happy. This Lavender Hand Soap & Lotion Duo? Love.  It sits right by our sink in the kitchen, and it smells great and looks sleek.

Our prize includes some of the best and latest items for beauty and wellness–and there’s bound to be something you, too, will really love.

 

at home spa mother's day giveaway | teachmama.com

IMG_5252

IMG_5249

The teachmama.com winner will receive the Mineral Fusion nailpolish, Acure Argan Oil Bar Soap, 365 Everyday Value Bubble Bath, Acure Moroccan Argan Oil, Whole Foods Market Lavender Hand Soap & Lotion Duo, 365 Everyday Maximum Moisture Lotion, and more. It’s a $100 value.

All. For. You!

So go ahead. Enter. And cross your fingers! You’re doing so much for your kids, your work, and your spouse–time to treat you.

(Items will come via mail, without the basket or bowl in pictures.)

 

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: $100 at-home spa kit from Whole Foods!

Do you want to win $100 at-home spa kit from Whole Foods? (check it out below!)  Yes, yes you do.

 

at home spa kit giveaway from whole foods  mother's day giveaway series teachmama.com.png

 

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules. This giveaway ends Friday, May 2, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 05/02/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply. 

 

 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, and my opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, educator, and fashion-forward gal.  I did receive components of the DIY-At-Home Spa Kit from the company, but it was my choice to include them in this giveaway.  

 


kids doing laundry: 3 secrets to success

kids and laundry 3 secrets to success teachmama.com.png

sponsored post

 

 

 

We are about six weeks into our laundry re-vamp, and things are going well.kids and laundry | 3 secrets to success | teachmama.com

To be 100% honest, we have had some roadblocks.  A traveling weekend here and an activity-filled weekend there forced the laundry job to fall on my shoulders for two consecutive weeks, since I am home eating bon-bons all day.  Ha!

But aside from that, the kids have pretty much taken over the laundry job.

Friends have asked for my secret:

  • They handle the whole laundry, from start to finish? What do you do–pay them a million bucks?
  • What  I wouldn’t do to have this job shared by my family  and not rest on my lap—I hate laundry.
  • There’s no way my kids would do laundry. How do I even begin?

After thinking about it, I realized that getting kids to do laundry isn’t top-secret material. It’s just a few things we’re doing to make laundry more enticing. More approachable. More kid-friendly.

Like a lot of what we try over here, it’s about setting our kids up for success. Because really? Don’t we all want to do things well?

And it’s also about consistency, follow-through, and support.  Three things that are really, really hard for busy families. But we’re trying.

The bottom line is that if our family can have kids doing laundry, any family can do it.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Kids Doing Laundry–3 Secrets to Success:  Granted, like most of parenting, getting kids to do laundry–and like it!–is a work in progress.

Each day is different.

But for the most part, these are our three secrets to success.

kids and laundry  3 secrets to success jobs  teachmama.com.png.png

1.  Give them jobs.

Give your kids specific, clear, manageable jobs.

We have our Wash Warrior poster up on the wall in our laundry room so the kids can reference it at any time, and it helps.

The Wash Warrior, Super-Fly Dry Guy, and Put ‘Em Away Triple Play jobs each have distinct components with step-by-step directions. That way, there’s no question.

And if they hit a roadblock–a stain!– the Stain Fighter information is right there, too.

Bottom line is that though the jobs are outlined and info right there, they know that they can call for help (me!) at any point in the process. We’ve made the laundry job light, fun, and not at all scary for them.

 kids and laundry 3 secrets to success technology teachmama.com.

2. Get techy.

Adding a bit o’ tech to the mix has helped make this job more kid-friendly as well.

Whirlpool’s Wash Squad app seriously rocks. And it only takes a minute to learn.  It allows kids to sign in, get their job assignments, and then earn points when they’ve finished their job.

For some kids this might not work because they respond better to #2–the personal celebrations of success and an actual hug, high-five, or shout-out. But for other kids who thrive on earning points and who enjoy playing with numbers, and getting their handds on the iPad, this tech piece is huge.

Again, it’s what works best for your family.

the special plate  celebrate success as a family positive  teachmama.com

3.  Celebrate success. 

Celebrate success if someone totally rocks one load from start to finish–solo–then we really make a big deal of it.

Doing laundry isn’t the quickest job in the world, so it does take time and patience. And Maddy, Owen, and Cora are still little. They need to listen for the buzzers, be aware of the movement from washer to dryer and from dryer to basket and from basket to bedrooms.

So we celebrate in the ways that work for our family: 

Other ideas:

  • a shout-out at mealtime;
  • an extra scoop of ice-cream for dessert;
  • a big hug from Mom or Dad when they return from work;
  • a ‘freebie’ tv show;
  • an extra book at bedtime;
  • . . . whatever works for your family.

For my family, all three of these ideas work together as our ‘secret sauce’.  Each of my kids are so different, that these three pieces seem to work for them all.

And?  Because kids are kids and every day is different, what works one day may not work the next. So having me consistently on the sidelines seems to help tremendously.kids doing laundry laundry can be fun  teachmama.com.png

It’s a win-win. Not only are the kids doing the laundry and helping our family, but they’re also learning a life skill. And maybe when they get to college, they’ll be the stars of their hall because they’ll know how to do laundry from start to finish and can save their pals’ shirts from nasty stains.  We shall see!

 

How does your family manage the laundry? Do the kids help? Run the show? Do tell!  We would LOVE to know!

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also part of this Wash Warrior series:

(click on the image to visit the post!)

teach kids how to do laundry wash warriors teachmama.com.png

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teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

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fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little wash warriors. 

teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

sponsored post

 

 

 

teach kids to be stain fighters: learn laundry from start to finish | teachmama.com

I’ve been working with my friends from Whirlpool, sharing what we’re doing over here to teach our kids to do the laundry.

In just a few short weeks, my kids have become serious Wash Warriors.

Laundry is one of their expected chores, from start to finish. And really? It’s become one of their favorite chores.

This week, we took it a step further and taught Maddy, Owen, and Cora to be Stain Fighters.

Especially with rainy, fussy spring here before we know it, knees will be muddy and grass stains will color pants and skirts alike.

I’ve never been too crazy about making sure my kids’ clothes were stain-free and perfect, and unfortunately I’ve never made a big deal about ‘play clothes’ vs ‘school clothes’. But as the kids get older and clothes become more expensive, it really is a skill that kids should learn.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Teach Kids to Be Stain Fighters– Learn Laundry From Start to Finish:

Expense aside, our kids’ growth starts to level out a bit once they hit elementary school, so taking better care of clothes makes sense.

They need to wear the clothes longer. Plus taking care of their belongings a lifelong skill and responsibility.

Not to mention, stain fighting can be an exciting, at-home, anytime science experiment of sorts.

Through it all, I honestly learned more during our stain fighting than I ever expected.  I (gulp) did not know that you could remove stains without a stain stick. Or stain spray. Not joking.

Check out the how-to of teaching your kids to be Stain Fighters:

The teachmama.com youtube channel is all about sharing quick teaching tips, reading strategies, and parenting tricks with parents and caregivers. It’s about empowering parents to be the best teachers they can be for their children. Subscribe here so you don’t miss a thing!
 

Preparing our stained cloth was probably the most fun.  Deliberately spilling fruit juice, pasta sauce, and mustard on clothes?

Rubbing mud and grass onto clothes? Writing on clothes with a ballpoint pen?

stain fighter kids before | teachmama.com

So fun.

We had a ton of bandanas from Brady’s trips to the groomer, so we used his bandanas for our experiment.

stain fighter kids before after .

stain fighter kids before after .

We followed the How-To’s word for word. Thank goodness that Whirlpool has all of this information online–for anyone and everyone.

I simply grabbed the information from the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science page.  There you can actually search for individual types of stains and material or print out the whole Stain Removal Guide as a pdf, which is what we did.

stain fighter kids before after

Maddy puts in a load of stain-filled into our our Whirlpool Duet.  Mind you, the material is all properly stain-treated! We’ll see how it turns out!

Can you see the folded laundry behind her? My Wash Warriors were hard at work this week!

And of course, our Dr. Seuss hat is close by. It was, remember, Read Across America Day earlier this month!

stain fighter kids before after .png.png

Believe it.

Our stain-fighting helped. Gone is the pasta sauce. Gone are the mud and grass. Gone is the ballpoint ink. Gone is the fruit juice and mustard.

So crazy.

stain fighter kids before after .

stain fighter kids before after .png.png

Are their Stain Fighters in your family? Who takes care of the hard-to-erase stains on your kids’ clothes? 

Would you ever consider letting your kids at ‘em?

I’d love to hear it!

And that’s it–just a wee bit o’ at-home science mixed with some serious life-learning for my kids this week.  I’m thrilled that they’re getting so into doing laundry, and I look forward to lots of clean clothes ahead!

One thing we’ll keep close at hand? The Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science Stain Removal Guide. Printed out and hung right next to our Wash Warrior How to do Laundry sheet. 

Bam.

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also part of this Wash Warrior series:

(click on the image to visit the post!)

teach kids how to do laundry wash warriors teachmama.com.png

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kids and laundry | 3 secrets to success | teachmama.com

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little wash warriors.

toy fair recap: melissa & doug booth 2014

toy fair recap melissa & doug

Toy Fair was last week in NYC, and it was off the hook.toy fair recap 5 fave toys from  melissa & doug

I mean it.

Totally looking forward to sharing what I learned, what I saw, and some common themes through the event, but today? I’m sharing my Toy Fair Recap from the Melissa & Doug Booth, 2014.

My top five favorites for kids and families from Melissa & Doug.

I’ve worked with Melissa & Doug for years and years now, so I’m always pumped to see what new products they create and how they’re growing as a company.

It’s been a blast to connect with all of the great people behind the company–the folks in customer service, sales, personalization, and social media.

It’s cool to chat with the real Melissa and Doug.   They all work so hard.  And they stand so firmly behind their products. It’s awesome.

So for the third year in a row, the creative and crafty Valerie of Inner Child Fun and I were able to spend time together, explore the booth, explore the fair, and meet tons of fabulous people at the Melissa & Doug Media Breakfast that we hosted one morning.

Though there are tons of new products from Melissa & Doug this year, I’ve whittled it down to my top five faves.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Toy Fair Recap–Melissa & Doug Booth 2014:

Check out my top five picks from Melissa & Doug. . .

 


What do you think?

What is your favorite from what I shared? What do you want to learn more about or see more of? Let me know!

Check out all of the photos from the Melissa & Doug booth:


Though not all of the new products have links on the site because they will be released this summer or fall, do check out the Melissa & Doug site and search for the item you’re interested in.

More to come! Looking forward to sharing!

 

melissa doug blog ambassador buttonfyi: This post was written as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program. All opinions are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and longtime toy lover. Huge and happy thanks to Melissa & Doug for their willingness to work with bloggers in this way and for always creating awesome, meaningful products. 

 

teach your kids how to do laundry: become wash warriors

teach kids how to do laundry wash warriors teachmama.com.png

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My kids are learning how to do laundry.teach kids how to do laundry  wash warriors  teachmama.com.

And they love it.  Love it.

No joke.

And I want to dance!

At 10, 8, and 6 years old, I think it’s about time to teach kids how to do laundry. Don’t you?

Actually, it’s more important than we realize that we all teach our kids how to do laundry–and the earlier, the better. There’s no reason our kids should head off into the wilds of ‘real life’ without having mastered this essential skill.

And honestly? There’s no reason that laundry needs to be Mom’s job or Dad’s job. It takes a lot of time, and we all wear the clothes–so it should be the family’s job.

The laundry, like many chores, can be fun. It’s all in the delivery.

And having pretty decent appliances helps, too. We have Whirlpool to thank for that, as we have fallen hard for our Whirlpool Duet.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Teach Your Kids How to do Laundry–Become Wash Warriors:

Maddy, Owen, and Cora have put their clean clothes into their drawers and closet for a while now, and though Cora does need help, they do pretty well with it.

teach kids how to do laundry 2  wash warriors collage 3 teachmama.com.

Aside from the occasional ‘drawer check’ when we make sure clothes are still folded and in  some semblance of order, we kind of let them go with it.

But after our new washer and dryer were delivered last month, my husband and I decided that it was time for our kids to take on a more meaningful role in our family’s laundry. They were going to become–with our help–Wash Warriors.

We started cold turkey. Out of the blue. One totally random Sunday.

teach kids how to do laundry 2  wash warriors collage 3 teachmama.com.

Okay. Everyone downstairs for a lesson in how to rock the laundry and use our fancy new washer and dryer. Dad and I are finished doing all of the laundry. Today? You are all becoming Wash Warriors. 

It wasn’t really enticing enough for them to drop what they were doing and head to the laundry room. So with a few more ‘tugs’ and a little bit of unplugging, I rallied the troops and gave them their first laundry lesson.

You guys have it good. You have great lives, doing lots of awesome activities, and your social life is pretty much awesome. And because all three of you are smart, strong, and healthy, it’s time you became Wash Warriors. 

teach kids how to do laundry 2  wash warriors collage 3 teachmama.com.

Mom. C’mon, Mom. What do you mean? was the collective groan from my small army.

You’re going to be doing the laundry. It’s a job for bigger kids, and you’re bigger kids. It’s a job that requires some patience, and understanding of technology–because you’ll be controlling these two fancy appliances (I patted our Duets). And not every kid gets to do that.   You get me?

They did.

I showed them step-by-step how to rock the laundry. I literally walked them through everything that first day, and they got it. They liked it. They liked pressing the buttons, moving the clothes, and turning the knobs.

So with the help of my handy-dandy We are Wash Warriors poster, they seemed to manage fine.

teach kids how to do laundry 2 wash warriors teachmama.com

Want to print it out? Here you go: teach kids how to do laundry 

Owen even asked me to leave the laundry room so he could ‘do his work in peace’.   I did not, but eventually I will.  Once they prove to me that they can work the machines.

We’ve just started using the Wash Squad app to keep things fun and exciting, and so far? It rocks.  Will definitely share more later.

teach kids how to do laundry | family job | teachmama.com

Why has this worked?  Why are my kids digging the fact that they’re ‘Wash Warriors’?

  • We’re empowering our kids to take on a ‘big’ job around the house;
  • We’re showing them that we trust them;
  • We’re making them active stakeholders in an important household chore– their clothes!
  • We’re tying their Wash Warrior duties to their allowance and Gem Jars;
  • We’re making laundry FUN–silly names help!–and who doesn’t want to be a ‘warrior’?
  • We have broken down a big job (laundry) into three more manageable jobs: washing, drying, and putting away
  • We’re setting very specific, clear expectations with jobs and have a reminder sign close;
  • We’re allowing them to use electronics, which they love.

So that’s it. Looking forward to sharing more in the next few weeks.

How does your family manage the laundry? Do the kids help? Run the show? Do tell!

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also part of this Wash Warrior series:

(click on the image to visit the post!)

teach kids to be stain fighters: laundry from start to finish

kids and laundry 3 secrets to success teachmama.com.png

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the Whirlpool Ambassador program. As always, opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little wash warriors.

how to keep your family sane during a kitchen renovation

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno

post contains affiliate links

 

 

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno

It’s been pretty quiet on the blog for the last few weeks, but it’s been insanely busy on the home front.

We’re undergoing a major kitchen renovation.

Combining the dining room, craft room (sob!), and kitchen.  Breaking down some walls.  Opening up the place.

Letting some light in, and trying something new.

I’ll be the first to admit that it hasn’t been all that pretty. But there are a few things we’ve been doing to try to keep our family sane. We’re still not finished, but we’re getting there. We can see the light.

For our family, it’s been absolutely insane.  But fun. Kind of.

Three weeks without appliances. All of our worldly possessions from three rooms shoved into our living room. It’s dusty. It’s a mess. It brings cray-cray to a whole new level.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Keep Your Family Sane During a Kitchen Renovation:  I think any time the kitchen is involved with a renovation, it’s time to pull out all the stops.

The kitchen is the command center of the home. It’s where all the action begins and where it usually ends.

And when the kitchen’s all torn up, life can get a little nutty to say the least.  Though I have not handled this experience as gracefully as I wish I have, I’m doing what I can to maintain my sanity.

Here are my feeble suggestions for others who may soon experience the joy of having their kitchen gutted. . .

 

how to keep family sane during home renovation

1.  Go with it.  Accept the chaos.

Really. My pal who is always on top of things–the one who cleans up after the cleaners, who is always on time for everything, and in whose home we follow the ‘no shoes’ rule–gave me this advice: Go with it. Accept the chaos.

Go with it.

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | go with it | teachmama.com

See me? Don’t I look totally happy just ‘going with it’?

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | go with it | teachmama.com

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | keep kids involved | teachmama.com

But that advice, coming from my friend, really stuck.

Amy, you have to just go with it. Don’t fight it. Accept the chaos and you’ll be fine. You can’t clean. There’s dust everywhere. Just go with it.

I have repeated that phrase over in my head more times than I care to admit: Just go with it. Go with it. Go with it. 

It’s been my mantra.  When my kids see me, the Joe-Cool Mom, just ‘going with it’ and embracing the chaos and ignoring the dust and mess, they are more likely going to be able to ‘go with it’ too.

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5 ways to keep family sane during home reno let it go  teachmama.com

2. Let a lot go.  Let a lot go.

The first few days, I tried to remind the kids to eat over their paper plates and to grab a napkin before they sat in front of the tv to eat their dinner (gasp!), but after a day or two, I let. It. Go. I. Let it go.

You want to walk around the ripped-up kitchen floor, eating potato chips out of the bag? Sure. Go for it.

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | go with it | teachmama.com

There’s Brady. Letting it go.

Cereal for an after school snack? Absolutely. And you want to walk around, bowl in one hand and spoon in the other? Awesome.

No appliances for another weekend, thanks to bad weather? No problem.  ¿Como se dice ‘take-out’?

Maddy, Owen, and Cora, who are allowed to buy lunch one day each week, bought lunch every day for three weeks. While I convinced myself that it was fine, they acted like they won the lottery.  See? It really was fun.

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ways to keep family sane during home reno stick to routine  teachmama.com

3.  Try to stick to the routine.

Because our renovation started a few weeks before winter break and stretched to few weeks after, our routine was pretty much crazy from the start. December is nutty. Always.

But while the kids were in school, I homework in one spot–even if it was the coffee table in the basement.

Through the entire renovation, I kept out a sweet pot of pretty white cyclamen given to me for the holidays from a neighbor. We usually have flowers of some sort out in containers or tiny bud vases, so I really wanted to keep something beautiful around through the ugly parts of the reno.

It helped.

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | stick to routine | teachmama.com

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | stick to routine | teachmama.com

We ate dinner as a family, even if it was Chinese take-out.  And it was take-out quite a bit because we don’t have a laundry sink so doing dishes was difficult in the tiny bathroom sink.

Though we totally lost track of whose day it was, I kept our daily schedule up and rolling every day.

And when everything was packed away and I couldn’t find the dry erase markers, I printed out our schedule from our family google calendar on a one-pager and taped it to the tile.

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5 ways to keep family sane during home reno- chronicle the adventure - teachmama

4. Chronicle the adventure.

And in the vein of ‘going with it’, we’ve been chronicling the whole renovation adventure.

Taking pictures every single day and talking about the progress each night.

keep your family sane during a home reno | chronicle adventure | teachmama.com

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | keep kids involved | teachmama.com

keep your family sane during a home reno | chronicle adventure | teachmama.com
When we’re finished, I’ll put it all together in a photo book–the good, bad, and the ugly.

And for a few weeks, a whole lot of it was ugly.

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5 ways to keep family sane during home reno keep kids involved  teachmama.com

 5.  Keep the kids involved.

We have tried to keep the kids involved in every aspect of the process, from beginning to end.

Since this is their house, we wanted them involved in the adventure.  This has meant that we asked for their opinions in all choices we had to make: from cabinet color to countertop, from drawer organization to paint colors.

This isn’t always easy, and some decisions were made even before we asked for opinions (we knew we wanted white cabinets and dark countertops), even inviting the kids to the conversation is important.

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | keep kids involved | teachmama.com

 

Figuring out where to put each item and what drawers made the most sense for us was a hugely fun part for the kids.

I wrote all of the drawers and cabinets we needed on small sticky notes. And we all worked together to figure out where we should put each item.

And then? We all worked together to put the items in the proper places.

Some kids wiped out drawers while others loaded. It made the process move much more quickly, and everyone was a part of it.

5 ways to keep family sane during home reno | keep kids involved | teachmama.com

keep your family sane during a home reno | keep kids involved | teachmama.com

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These five tips should be prefaced by a biggie: Say YES! to offers of meals and help.

We are hugely thankful to my husband’s parents for generously providing us with invites to dinner, with warm, cooked meals, and for support through this.

Huge thanks to many of our friends who invited us over for lunch or dinner or threw a gift card our way to offset the growing cost of eating out each night.

Though it has not been easy and Owen cried hard at the thought of the renovation (But I loooove the kitchen the way it is. I don’t want it to change. We don’t need it to chaaaange.), now that we’re close to the end, everyone is loving the new kitchen and big, open new room.

Have you done this before? What were your secrets to success–and sanity-savers?  Do tell! 

 

fyi: affilliate links are used below

holiday giveaway: 26 fabulous gifts for women (stuff I totally love)

holiday giveaway: 26 fabulous gifts for women (stuff I totally love)

jewelry giveaway from towne and reese cover

Holiday giveaway SERIES, I should say.

That’s right. Twenty-six giveaways, and you’ll love each and every one of them.  It’s a rockstar line-up of 26 bloggers, each of whom is running a giveaway between December 5-17.

Sure, it’s a break from the learning in the every day norm over here.

But because the majority of my readers are women, the majority of whom will be shopping for other women in the next few weeks, and the majority of whom deserve a little something nice for themselves even, I’m thinking that many will love this holiday-happy change.

I sure do. I love nearly every single thing that these gals are giving away.

Not joking.

 

super fab holiday giveaway

But I totally love what I’m giving away–jewelry! scarves! accessories you will love!

I’m giving away $100 to Towne & Reese, my new favorite stop for affordable–but seriously super-cute accessories.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Holiday Giveaway–26 Fabulous Gifts for Women: Towne & Reese is a women-owned brand started by two friends, Christi Pack and Jessica Stanfield, who wanted affordable, cute accessories that wouldn’t break the bank.

The company is named for their two daughters, and each piece celebrates lifelong friendships.  Each product in the line is named for a child of those who are a part of the Towne & Reese extended family.  Love it.

My favorites?

towne and reese giveaway | gift ideas for women

Loooooove the Meredith necklace.

holiday giveaway teachmama.com

Looooove the Jillian earrings in deep teal.

Looooove the Callie bracelet, the Kate earrings, and the Rosie earrings. Love the rings. Scarves. And longer chain necklaces.  Really.

Love. Them. All.

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GIVEAWAY: $100 gift card to Towne & Reese!

Do you want to win $100 gift card to Towne & Reese??!  Yes, yes you do.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules. This giveaway ends Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 12/17/13.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply. 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, and my opinions, as always, are my very own, influenced only by my experience as a parent, educator, and fashion-forward gal.  I did receive several pieces of Towne & Reese jewelry from the company, but it was my choice to include them in this giveaway.

elf, the broadway musical: discount tickets and giveaway- baltimore lyric opera house

elf the broadway musical lyric opera house

post contains affiliate links

 

 

elf the broadway musical lyric opera house

elf, the broadway musical, is coming to the Baltimore Lyric Opera House next week.

And I’ve got two tickets to give to a teachmama.com reader and a rockin discount code for everyone else.

Not in or around the Baltimore area? No sweat. elf the musical is hitting the whole country.  It’s bound to be near you sometime between now and mid-January.

Not hitting your area? Buy elf, the movie. It’s a total riot. Not the same as elf: the Broadway musical, but hey–I’m trying to get everyone on board now that our family has found elf.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • elf–Broadway Musical: Discount Tickets and Giveaway for Baltimore Lyric Opera House: My family literally just discovered elf, the movie with Will Ferrell, last year.

Not joking.  My sisters and friends were in complete disbelief when I shared on Facebook: Found the BEST holiday movie ever–elf!

Responses:

  • Amy. Are you kidding?
  • Where have you been?
  • You must be joking.
  • You’ve JUST seen it? Have you been living under a rock?
  • That’s the best holiday movie of all time–your poor kids!

Not really sure how that happened that we missed it for so long, but one lucky, day we stumbled upon it.  It was playing as a holiday tv special.  From that day on, we were hooked.

elf really is a hysterical, absolutely silly, totally hilarious movie.

And now? It’s on stage.

elf: the broadway musical

elf the broadway musical

And it’s coming to the Baltimore Lyric Opera House next week. And I’m giving away two tickets to two lucky teachmama readers.  SO fun.

Can’t get there on Friday, November 22? No prob.  Use the code FAMILY to buy one, get one FREE on tickets for Sunday evening, November 24!

 

GIVEAWAY: one set of TWO tickets to elf: the Broadway Musical at the Baltimore Lyric Opera House on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 7:30pm.

Do you want to win TWO tickets to elf: the Broadway Musical at the Baltimore Lyric Opera House on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 7:30pm??!  Yes, yes you do.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at midnight ET and is open to anyone and everyone who can make the Friday 22, 2013 7:30 pm show. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 11/20/13.  Winner must respond within one (1) day of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  Tickets will be picked up at Will Call on 11/22/13.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

fyi: I received a family pack of tickets in exchange for writing this post.  As always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

 

neighborhood toy store day: kick off holiday shopping locally! *sponsored*

neighborhood toy story day

sponsored post

 

 

Did you know?neighborhood toy story day

The 4th annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2013 to help kick off the holiday shopping season!

I have sung the sweet song of my love of my local toy store before, and I’ll sing it again: I love my local toy store!

And honestly? I had no idea that there was a special day to support my neighborhood toy store and all of the other rockstar neighborhood toy stores around the country, but it sure makes me happy. Who knew?

This weekend, many stores around the country will be kicking off the holiday season with cool events for their customers—face painting, crafts, special performances, and great discounts.   Will your toy store be involved?

Read on to find out.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Neighborhood Toy Store Day– Kick Off Holiday Shopping Locally: Though I’m super-sad my personal fave neighborhood toy store isn’t participating  in Neighborhood Toy Store Day, many others in my area are.

It seems to me like it’s a good reason to do some exploring locally to peruse some other local toy stores. I’m betting my kids will love it, too.

To find out whether your local toy store is participating in the event this weekend, visit: yourneighborhoodtoystore.org.

neighborhood toy story day

 

Need a refresher about why neighborhood toy stores totally rock the house?

  • They provide a diverse product selection.  Think: unique toys and specialty brands that you can’t find at national chain store.
  • They provide economic stability!  Think: local jobs and tax dollars
  • They help witih community development. Think: support for a friendly, thriving neighborhood
  • They contribute to reduced environmental impact. Think: less travel, traffic and carbon usage for consumers
  • They provide better customer service. Think: more time to build relationships.

neighborhood toy story day

neighborhood toy story day

Too far from any neighborhood toy store and still want to play at home?  You can!

The good folks at ASTRA are celebrating the fun of shopping for toys at your local toy store with an ‘I Heart My Neighborhood Toy Store’ Sweepstakes.  Believe it.

Through November 8, 2013, log in and win some seriously huge prizes. A family vacation. Crazy toy prizes from fab brands that we all love. Big prizes and lots of ‘em.  All well over $200 each.  Check it out.

Visit www.yourneighborhoodtoystore.org to enter to win the following sweepstakes:

What can you win?

  • A Grand Prize Vacation Package: the family vacation of a lifetime at select all inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
  • One gift basket of Kidoozie products from International Playthings valued at $250
  • One gift basket of Calico Critter products from International Playthings valued at $250
  • One gift basket of earlyears products from International Playthings valued at $250
  • Gift certificates for Playmobil products.  Two winners will receive a $250 Playmobil gift certificate each to be redeemed at an ASTRA-affiliated retailer
  • One gift basket of assorted Best Toys for Kids winning product from ASTRA valued at $250

Learn more at Facebook.com/TheWoohooFactor or on Twitter at @TheWoohooFactor

To check out the full list of this year’s winners and find a local toy store near you, visit YourNeighborhoodToyStore.org

 

fyi: This is a sponsored post, written as part of the ASTRA Blog Ambassador program.  As always, my opinions and ideas reflect my experience as a parent, teacher, and lover of all things done in the name of learning and fun!