Why I love Cozi and Mint #FamilyOrganized

Why I love Cozi and Mint

Rey and I obsessed over a  marathon of Life or Debt this past weekend and really snapped that our families finances have seriously been neglected since we first moved to Texas. It’s been over a year that we have examined our budgets and financial plan. Clearly it’s a chore we both like to avoid and not one of our strong points.

I have always been a pen and paper kinda gal. I loved taking notes in school with all my different colored pens and decorating my planner till it looked like unicorn vomited on it. That had always been me, until I realized my family financial binder was failing our family and my paper planner couldn’t keep up with my hectic schedule. I needed to go virtual in order to get the time-saving tools I need, as well as the life saving email and text reminders.

I began my search for the best family calendar app. I wanted one that I could access from my laptop and cell phone. I wanted one that could link our entire family. I wanted one with great widgets and reminders. I wanted the impossible-as my hubby always says. Thank goodness I found Cozi because they have truly made it all happen! I learned about Cozi a few years ago and tried it out then but I wasn’t ready to leave my planner yet.

Cozi keeps everyone’s schedules and all your lists in one place the whole family can share. Check the family calendar, set reminders, and see lists from any computer or mobile device (PC/Mac, iOS, Android). Cozi is rated 4.5 stars in Google Play and iTunes and is the winner of multiple awards and accolades: Appy Award for Best Family App, Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal, Named Best App for your Personal Life by Mashable, Named Best App for a Better Life by NBC’s TODAY Show, and more. Cozi remembers everyone’s appointments, makes sure schedules are coordinated, and keeps track of shopping and to do lists—so you have more time for the fun stuff.

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Cozi has so many great features!

A few I love:

  • Color Coding Family Member
  • Multiple Calendar Schedules-that all mash into one
  • Laptop accessible and App with great widgets
  • Email/Text Reminders
  • Linked To Do List & Shopping List

Check out Cozi in this video!

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Now that our schedule was in order I could manage our time better and actually plan time to discuss our financial situation.

I tried Mint in college and decided to look them up again. I googled them and they rated really high on most sites. I logged in, and input all our accounts and instantly got the big picture. IT WAS AMAZING! It saved me SO MUCH TIME! I can access everything and  watch everything at the same time. I absolutely love it! I can literally see where every penny goes. I control it all-it’s very empowering!

Watch the video and give it a try! You seriously have to try it-once you do you will see the light and you will never go back.

I am able to create a budget for everything our family needs. Track those budgets easily and make adjustments to keep us on track. I really love that I can set goals for travel, the kids college savings, and paying off college debt.

They also have a MintBills which is equally awesome, give them a try to see if they can help your family avoid late fees.

Why I love Mint Bills

  • I can see all our bills & accounts in one place-no matter whose name they are under
  • Get reminders when bills are due-avoid late fees
  • Pay on the spot with our online bill payment feature
  • Schedule bill payments for free
  • Receive alerts when funds are low or credit limits are near

 

I hope one of these services can help you and please share what you use to help keep your family organized.

 

Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Preparing for a Smooth Transition

Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Preparing for a Smooth Transition

On Sadie’s first day my first big fear is she may cry for me not to leave her-or even just say, “Mommy will you please stay”…what will I say…Am I even allowed to stay for a while until she is comfortable? Is my want and need to stay beneficial to her?

I know I am not alone in the kindergarten anxiety and would like to share some tips I found helpful for me.

  1. Start a solid routine. Get a good home routine going for back to school a week in advance. Dinner, bath, reading, and bedtime kisses. Don’t forget about the morning routine as well wake up, brush teeth, get dressed, breakfast, backpack, snack, lunch/lunch money, and get to school.
  2. Make sure your child self-reliant.  Are they ready to handle things like the restroom on their own, getting a tissue when needed, buttoning up pants, and tying shoes. Keep in mind the things your child may encounter during lunch for example, can they open their milk or put a straw in their juice box, or open up a plastic bag or sandwich container.
  3. Visit the school. Meet the teacher (establish a good relationship with them give them your email. Let them know if your willing to volunteer, donate needed supplies, or help clean.), secretary, principal, nurse, and lunch service workers. Be sure to take note of all these people’s names (get a business card if available) and talk with your child when they will encounter these people or may need their help.
  4. Go through the classroom’s routine with your child. What they do when they first arrive at school, while in the classroom, what to do if they need to use the restroom, what to do during lunch, and finally what happens when school is over? Will they wait for you at a certain spot, look for grandma, or get on a bus?
  5. Talk about feelings. Allow them to talk about their fears, (you can share some of your well wishes) and reassure them it is okay to be fearful, but also reassure them you know they will be okay as you were on your first day and like an older siblings, cousin, or other family member.
  6. Read about what Kindergarten is like. It is helpful to read stories about starting kindergarten as it will help ease the fear of the unknown. A few great choices are Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, written by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff; Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis;Look out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson; and I Am Too Absolutely Small for School (Charlie and Lola), by Lauren Child.

Our meet the teacher day is tomorrow! 🙂

If you have any tips please share in the comments below!

Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Skills to Master

Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Skills to Master

 

In the midst of the two really long post Getting Ready for Kindergarten-An Overview and Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Professionals weigh in on what a Kindergartner should know.  I thought it would be helpful to have a simple list of skills a child  needs. Simple here is italicized because if you know me-nothing I do can be quite simple, so rather I present you with a detailed list of skills, organized by content area, collected from the Arizona State Standards.

Don’t be alarmed as you read through you will began to notice your child is probably already doing many of these things, and keep in mind, I did not list all of the items this is just a snap shot of the items listed in the Arizona State Standards.

Social Emotional:

  1. Shows an awareness of similarities and differences between self and others. Says, “I am bigger than you.”
  2. Associates emotions with words, facial expressions and body language. Describes the emotions of a character in a book.
  3. Manages transitions, daily routines and unexpected events. Moves to the next activity independently.
  4. Separates from familiar adult with minimal distress. Continues to paint after acknowledging a family member’s arrival, or cries briefly or doesn’t cry when dropped off at school or child care provider’s home.
  5. Demonstrates positive ways to resolve conflict. Asks for a turn when they want a toy another child is playing with.
  6. Respects the rights and property of others. Walks around a block structure built by another child.

Language and Literacy:

  1. Actively engages in finger-plays, rhymes, chants, poems, conversations, and stories. Claps when prompted with, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.”
  2. Speaks clearly and understandably to express ideas, feelings and needs. Combines words into simple sentences – “Is it time to go home?” Or “More milk please.”
  3. With modeling and support, uses acceptable language and social rules including appropriate tone, volume and inflection to
    express ideas, feelings, and needs. With reminder, child uses inside voice when going into the classroom.
  4. With modeling and support, uses age-appropriate vocabulary across many topic areas and demonstrates a wide variety
    of words and their meanings with each area; e.g., world knowledge, names of body parts, feelings, colors, shapes,
    jobs, plants, animals and their habitats, and foods; words that describe: adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. Says, “Let me listen to your heart with a stethoscope.” while in dramatic play.
  5. Recognizes own written name and the written names of friends and family. Reads job chart naming his classmates.
  6. Understands a book has a title, author and/or illustrator. Makes a book and says, “My book is called My Mom and I’m the author.”
  7. With modeling and support, produces rhyming words. Child whose name is Joy, while playing, spontaneously says, “Joy, noy, boy, loy, toy.”
  8. With modeling and support, identifies and discriminates syllables in words. Claps each syllable of a name during a name game or name song. (Ben-ja-min = clap, clap, clap)
  9. Uses letter-sound knowledge identifying the sounds of a few letters and producing the correct sounds for as many as 10 letters, with modeling and support. While writing the child’s name, Taylor makes the “t” sound and then prints the letter.
  10. With prompting and support, identifies characters and major events in a story. Provides details about the characters and actions after listening to a story.
  11. With prompting and support, identifies events and details in the story and makes predictions. Predicts what happens next in a story.
  12. With modeling and support, retells or reenacts a story in sequence with pictures or props. Uses felt board to retell story of The Hungry Caterpillar.
  13. Uses a variety of writing tools, materials, and surfaces to create drawings or symbols. Draws or writes using pencils, letter stamps, markers, crayons, paint, and/or shaving cream on paper, cardboard, chalkboard, and/or dry erase board.
  14. With prompting and support, forms letters starting with large motor (sky writing, paint brush and water, sidewalk
    chalk) progressing to fine motor (paper and pencil). Writes letter-like forms on a page and says, “This is a note for my mommy.”

Mathematics: 

  1.  Counts out loud to 10. Sings counting songs.
  2. Identifies numerals one to 10. Names some numerals while child is reading a book.
  3. Counts a collection of up to 10 items using the last counting word to tell, “How many?” Counts out six eggs. When adult asks, “How many?” the child responds, “six.”
  4. Compares two sets of objects using terms such as more, fewer, or the same. Looks at friend’s blocks and says, “I have more blocks than you.”
  5. Demonstrates an understanding that adding increases the number of objects in a group. Adds one block to her pile of blocks and says, “Now I have more.”
  6. Demonstrates an understanding that taking away decreases the number of objects in a group. Participates in stories and rhymes involving subtraction; e.g., Five Little Monkeys.
  7. Recognizes patterns in the real world. Follows and remembers movements in familiar songs and rhymes.
  8. Creates simple patterns. Builds a road alternating long and short unit blocks.
  9. Sorts and classifies objects by one or more attributes (e.g., size, color, shape, texture, use). Picks all the books about bugs out of the library.
  10. Asks questions to gather information. Surveys the classroom asking, “Do you like chocolate milk or white milk?”
  11. Uses descriptive language to compare data in picture graphs or other concrete representations. Looks at picture graph of selected fruit and says, “A lot of kids like bananas.”
  12. Compares objects and uses terms such as longer-shorter, hotter-colder, and faster-slower. Says, “My car is going faster than yours.”
  13. Uses appropriate vocabulary to describe time and sequence related to daily routines. Says, “After snack, we go outside.”
  14. Describes the position or location of objects in relation to self or to other objects. Plays with a car on a road constructed out of blocks and says, “The car is on the road.”

Science: 

  1. Identifies attributes of objects, living things, and natural events in the environment. Notices bean seeds planted in clear bags have sprouted into plants with roots and a stem. Moves in the sunlight and realizes that her own shadow moves when she moves.
  2. Begins to describe the similarities, differences and relationships between objects, living things and natural events. Places a picture of a baby chick with a hen. Says, “Your rock is smooth and mine is rough.”
  3. Makes predictions and checks them through hands-on investigation with adult support. Predicts that the rock will sink when placed in water.
  4. Adjusts the experiment if results are different than expected and continues testing. Continues to mix different colors of paint to try to make purple.
  5. Identifies cause and effect relationships. Says, “It fell because I let go of the string” while using a pulley to hoist a bucket.
  6. Constructs explanation about investigations. Says, “Your plant died because you didn’t water it.”
  7. Displays and interprets data. Places all floating materials on one tray and all sinking items on another tray during a sink/float activity.
  8. Conducts further investigation based on prior experience and information gained. Says, “Next time I want to see what happens if I water the plant every day.”

Social Studies: 

  1. Identifies family members; e.g., mother, father, sister, brother, grandparents, cousins, etc. Draws a picture of her family.
  2. Identifies similarities and differences in their family composition and the families of others. Participates in a chart-making activity showing the number of siblings in each family.
  3. Shows knowledge of family members’ roles and responsibilities in the home. Says, “My big brother cleans up the kitchen after we eat.”
  4. Recognizes that places where people live are made up of individuals from different cultures and who speak
    different languages. Says, “Your uncle speaks Navajo.”
  5. Describes some characteristics (e.g., clothing, food, jobs) of the people in their community.Talks about the firefighter they met at their neighborhood fire station.
  6. Shows an understanding of how to care for the environment. Picks up trash outside and puts paper in the recycling container.
  7. Describes the purpose of rules. Reminds a classmate to use “walking feet” while in the classroom so he won’t be hurt.
  8. Describes some physical features of the environment in which the child lives; e.g., bodies of water, mountains,
    weather. Says, “There are a lot of mountains where I live.”
  9. Demonstrates an understanding of time in the context of daily experiences. Tells her mom that her friend was sick yesterday and not at school.
  10. Understands that events happened in the past and how these events relate to one’s self, family and community. Describes a family snow trip while reading The Snowy Day.

Gross & Fine Motor Development: 

  1. Moves with control (e.g., walks, runs, skips, jumps, gallops, hops). Runs during a game of tag, slowing and accelerating as needed to maneuver around equipment and people.
  2. Moves with coordination. Kicks, throws and catches a ball.
  3. Uses fingers, hands, and wrists to manipulate a variety of tools and materials, (e.g., crayons, markers, chalk,
    sponges, paint brushes, scissors, pencils, silverware). Tears paper into pieces to make a collage.
  4. Uses fine motor skills in daily living. Buttons, unbuttons, snaps, buckles, laces or ties shoe.

In the next post I will share my tips for an Easy Transition to Kindergarten and later my Top 5 things needed for Kindergarten as well as great resources.

Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Professionals weigh in on what a Kindergartner should know.

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

 This is a heavy post, but I think it will hopefully help parents navigate what their child needs to know before kindergarten.

As an Early Childhood Major I had the wonderful experience of being in the classroom as part of my training. I was placed in a private school in a Pre-K setting, and in a public school,  in a Kindergarten classroom. I really wanted to share with you all-from a professional in the fields eyes what is expected of your child because being out of the classroom for 2 years now, I am feeling really anxious about kindergarten readiness. I can’t wait to ease your mind and help you prepare your child. I was able to connect with a Home Visitor for Early Head Start (I also worked as an Early Head Start teacher for 7 months), a Pre-K Teacher, a Kindergarten Aid, and a Kindergarten teacher to bring you what a is expected of your incoming student.

In order to collect the information from these professionals I created a questionnaire for them to fill out. Below you will find the questions along with the results and then my thoughts on them based on what I learned from the Arizona State Standards.

You can find my previous post on the Standards and Early Childhood here.

Should they be able to write their name? On this question I had 3/4 Yes’s. One stated it was not mandatory, but it is according to Arizona state standards because the work they will complete must have their name. Their cubby, or coat rack will have their name, and they must be able to know where those things are located. When finding something that belongs to them after recess (*reminder* Label Everything) they must be able to read their name. Below are three great ideas to help children learn their name. 1. Rainbow Names from Mama’s Like Me. 2. Rock your Socks from Time to Play and 3. Learning your Name from Pickle Bums.

Learning your name

How high should they be able to count? On this question I got two answers 20 and 10 at least. I think aiming for 20 is safe, because according to Arizona state standards they should be able to count to 10 by end of preschool, but getting to 20 is what kids struggle with the most. They must also know the numerals so practice with the numbers in print as well.

Should they be able to sing the ABC’s? I received 2 yes’s and 2 no’s. I believe because in the state standards it says a child should be able to identify 10 letters, no the difference between a letter and a number, and know 10 letter sounds. For example if I asked Sadie “What is the first sound in your name?” she would be able to make the “ssss” sound. I would focus on the letters in the child’s name then build from there like the letter in their favorite shape, color, and the letters in Mom, Dad, and family member’s names. Never do the standards talk about singing the ABC’s, but rather they focus on the fundamentals of the ABC’s.

Should they be able to write the ABC’s? I received 1 yes and 3 no’s. I did cover a little of this in the previous question, but as far as writing goes they are not required to know how to write their ABC’s, but must know how to write their own name, hold a pencil correctly, and know that print is written from left to right.

Should they be able to name shapes? I received all yes’s. The state standards are pretty clear as well as the professionals, they must know basic 2 dimensional shapes and their characteristics such as 4 sides and 3 corners/points. Below is a poster with some shapes to start with, and this Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock was one of Sadie’s favorite toys! I love that this toys covers colors, shapes, and numbers.

                shapes         melissa-doug-wooden-shape-sorting-learning-clock1

Should they be able to draw shapes? I received 2 yes’s and 2 “It would be nice, but it is not mandatory”. According to state standards they must be able to draw basic shapes as well, and trust me once you have introduced the shapes through play, started pointing them out in their surroundings, (they will happily do the same-every time we passed a stop sign, Mommy, Mommy look an octagon), as well as start drawing them out of interest. I love this activity from Teaching Boys because it is hands on which kids LOVE, messy (of course they love messy), and great for learning. It can also be done inside of a dollar store cookie sheet for minimal mess.

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Should they know the colors? In this question I received all yes’s. Likewise the standards never address colors specifically but in the science standards it states children “must be able to describe objects color, position, roundness, shape,
size, number of corners, etc.”

Should they know how to use scissors? I received one yes and 3 “It would be nice, but it is not mandatory”. In the Arizona State Standards I did not find anywhere that it stated a child must be able to use a pair of scissors by the end of preschool, but it did state under the fine arts strand that a child must be able to “use a variety of materials/media, tools and techniques to create original works of art”.

What other task do you think a kindergartener should be prepared with? One teacher said, “Proper pencil grip is the most important thing they can learn before kindergarten.” Another stated, “Phonics. Sounds of letters. Beginning easy reading. 1-2 word sentences with 8 pages. Bob’s Books are great.” Another stated, “Know left from right, body parts, birthday, phone number, and address. Those are a big plus when starting. Personal space and boundaries is a big one too.”

What would you like to see during story time and what can parents do to help prepare their children for that expectation? One teacher said, “I believe during story time children should be able to sit and at least enjoy the story. Parents should read with their children often so they develop an interest in stories.”

What would you like to see at recess and how can parents help prepare their children for that? One teacher said, “Children who can play well together. Parents can expose their children to play experiences with other children their child’s age.”

What would you like to see at lunch and how can parents help their children be ready for that? One teacher said, “Send lunches they can (and will) eat with in the allotted time. Send ready to eat food. Warming up foods is okay (in some schools) but it limits their time to eat their food (because of lines). You want them to have a full stomach so they have the energy to learn.”

What other tips or suggestions would you give to parents to help them make sure their child is successful in kindergarten? One teacher said, “Be patient & communicate with the teacher often. Work on what the teacher is working on at home.” Another said, ” Make sure they know the school and feel comfortable about where they are going to spend their day. If your school allows it have them meet the teacher, have them ask questions, talk about their fears, send them notes in their lunches.”

As you can see a Teacher’s expectations vary from school to school which is why I wanted to add in the State Standards.

I would love to thank all the professionals in the field who so generously gave their time to fill out my questionnaire, and share with us their experience and knowledge.

A special thanks to:

Tessie Duran
Preschool Teacher at
Navajo Elementary

Also be sure to check out Donor’s Choose and help sponsor a Teacher in need.

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Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Fundanoodle Review and Giveaway 7/25-8/16

 I was sent these products in return for my honest review and opinion. 

Getting Ready for Kindergarten Fundanoodle Review and Giveaway

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I am so happy to introduce you all to Fundanoodle, a new company that is changing the way we prepare our children for educational success! Fundanoodle’s products range from writing tablets to multi-activity kits, all designed to make learning a fun and interactive experience. Kids will have so much fun they won’t realize how much they’re learning! Fundanoodle products range from $8.99 to $32.99. My favorite perk-they offer FREE ground shipping on all orders-I love free shipping!

I had the pleasure of reviewing the I Can Build Upper Case Letters Kit and I Can Build Lower Case Letters Kit with the girls. These kits really come with everything you need to help your child learn the letters, but the best part is they won’t only be learning their letters, but other important skills as well I will highlight below. 

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This is what your kit will look like when you open it up-it’s like Christmas so many fun bright things to do the girls and I were so excited to get into it and play. It comes with a magnetic dry erase board, 14 magnetic sticks, one dry erase marker, one writing tablet, and one set of gross motor cards.    Fundanoodle4

These are the gross motor cards you get in your kit. You lay them out with the numbers facing up, the child rolls the dice, and then they pick up the card that has the same number they rolled. The card has an animal and movement that they must now mimic. They really loved this activity and I did too because they practiced taking turns, fine motor skills when picking up the dice and then rolling it, and they also practiced counting and number recognition. They even practiced gross motor skills and did some heavy muscle work that really helps them be able to calm down and focus later on while learning.

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She rolled#4 then we counted the cards until we got to #4. She flipped the #4 card over and got the Kangaroo, and then they are hopped around the living room like Kangaroos!

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The next activity we did was letter building Sadie could not wait to build letters while Cay, younger, could not wait to just get her hands on the magnets and build pictures. They are 14 months apart and really at different stages. Sadie was able to really build almost every letter from memory. Caydence was able to copy Sadie’s letters and then we would take turns thinking of a word that started with that letter.

Fundanoodle

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They began working together to build the letters. I would tell Caydence which color pieces she needed and how many, then Cay would hand them to Sadie who would build them. We did a little more than half of the letters then their attention span was burnt out and that’s okay I let them each make the first letter in their names, then their favorite shapes, then free play. They really enjoyed it. During this activity they practiced fine motor skills picking up and placing the magnets, memory recall, letter recognition and naming, naming colors, counting, and practiced beginning sounds.

Fundanoodle Writing Pad

This is hands down the best writing table I have ever seen and used. The first page talks about Max, Alphie, and goal of the tablet plus gives essential tips for successful writing.
Fundanoodle Writing Pad 1

Fundanoodle Writing Pad2

The instruction page talks about the letter sequence which they selected based on the child’s development of visual and motor skills. It also gives key words to use when describing to your child how to write each letter. These key words are used in the instructions, given by Max on each page, on how to write the letters.  Plus each page has a spot to place a sticker once completed which is a great motivator for my girls!

I would like to talk about the durability of this product, because I feel this company really took the time to create a product that is truly designed for use by children. The magnets are very sturdy and durable. The board is well built and strong. The cards are also coated with a glossy finish which add another layer of durability.

Fundanoodle I can build lower case letters review

The I Can Build Lower Case Letter Kit Sadie is ready for, but I think it would confuse Caydence right now. This is what your kit will look like when you open it up. It comes with a magnetic dry erase board, 17 magnetic sticks, one dry erase marker, one writing tablet, and one set of gross motor cards. In order to keep this post shorter I will just focus on the first kit but the second is just as wonderful just focuses on lowercase letter.

 Thanks to Fundanoodle you all have the opportunity to win these kits for the children in your life!

Fundanoodle Items

*** CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN! ***

Disclosure- Mom254321 was not compensated for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own. Open to the US, must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 24 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. It is at the sole discretion of the admin of the giveaway if the winner has met the rules or not. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of the giveaway. Sponsor will be responsible for prize fulfillment. This event is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions about this giveaway or to have me promote your product, Please email Mom254321@yahoo.com.

Visit them online at www.fundanoodle.com!

Getting Ready for Kindergarten-Lunch Box Ideas

This post does contains amazon affiliate links which gives my site a percentage of your purchase.

Getting Ready for Kindergarten Lunch Box Ideas

This school year I am hoping to send the kids to school with more lunches from home. I have been searching for ideas and I can’t wait to share what I found! My first goal was to add more fruits and veggies that the kids will want to eat. Below are ideas I think are perfect for accomplishing this goal.

Fruit5Aren’t these fruit ideas great! I love how pinterest, can pretty much solve any of my food dilemmas! 
Fruit Collage 1 The next thing on my wishlist are these Alphabet Cookie Cutters-they are SO CUTE!

I was able to snag these  Flower Vegetable Cutters and these Freshware 12-Pack Square Silicone Reusable Baking Cups that I am going to use to spruce up the kids lunch.

Lunch Box Tools

Plus I found a ton of great veggie ideas on pinterest too.

VeggieCollage VeggieCollage1

Now the next goal was allowing a little more freedom for the older children and if you have a few older kids like I do, then they will probably want to pack their own lunch. (Then remind you to add the treat.) Here are some great graphics to aid in their lunch packing.

How to pack your own lunchThis graphic was made by Kristen from Rage Against The Mini Van and can really help make sure kids don’t forget anything when packing their lunch.

Sandwichmakerlist

This sandwich guide is super helpful in allowing kids options, but it still makes sure they cover all the basics. This graphic comes from Amy over at Super Healthy Kids.

Our kids normal lunch consist of a nitrate free meat, cheese, and bread. They are not big peanut butter fans, but they sure do love Nutella. Sadie really, really loves tuna salad so I will be adding that to my lunch routine for her. They usually pick a cookie cutter to cut their sandwich and that’s about all the cuteness they get as far as sandwiches go. I did find a few cute variations for this year though which was the last goal-to have a few more sandwich or non-sandwich ideas.

sandwichcollage

And when they get tired of sandwiches I found these Non-Sandwich ideas for their lunch boxes from Keeley McGuire.

easy non-sandwich school lunch box ideas

I also came across this post from Kendra over at Biting the Hand that Feeds You with tons of pizza themed ideas I just know my pizza lovers will adore!

Over 50 different FUN ways to skip the cafeteria and send pizza to school!

I hope you all are inspired to create fun festive lunches for your children! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

Credit for these great ideas and photos that I used in the collages:

Summer DIY Project: Edible Fruit Kabob Place Cards

Creative Food Plates

Chocolate Covered Banana Split Bites

Flower Fruit Pops

Lunch Box Food Ideas – Vegetables

Just for Kix: Veggie Monsters!

Just for Kix: How to Make Simple Veggie Bugs

Mini Veggie Sushi

A Bright and Beautiful Veggie Rainbow 

Bon Voyage! Turn Your Veggies Into Boats

Fun snacks for kids

Fun Back to School Recipes & Ideas from Sara Lee

Getting Ready for Kindergarten-An Overview

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

 

If you have a preschool aged child at home like me, it’s most likely because the HIGH cost of preschool or childcare, or maybe another reason, but regardless we are responsible for preparing them to enter school. What can we do at home to make sure our children are ready to go to school?

I have done some research to help make sure I am up to date on the standards and expectations. Here is what I have learned and would love to share with you.

In early childhood the areas of development that are measured are:

  • Language-Receptive Language Understanding, Expressive Language and Communication Skills, Vocabulary, Early Writing, Writing Processes, and Writing Applications, Concepts of Print, Book Handling Skills, Phonological Awareness, Alphabet Knowledge, Comprehension
  • Physical-Fine Motor Skills (hand muscle development), Gross Motor Skills (all other muscle development), Personal Health and Hygiene Practices, Safety and Injury Prevention
  • Social-Attachment, Social Interactions, Respect
  • Emotional-Self-Awareness, Recognizes and Expresses Feelings, Self-Regulation
  • Cognitive-To be able to know and to think. This would encompass the areas of learning and knowing about Mathematics, History, Science, Art, and Music. 

As I searched through many different sites (Herehere, and here) some group areas together, and some divide them up in further detail, but what I learned in my years of studying Early Childhood Education were these. The National Association for the Education of Young Children or NAEYC’s Positions Statement on Early Learning Standards also state these five must be covered within an accredited program.

When a teacher builds her lesson plans, they are based on State Standards, which focus on the developmental areas stated above. The manner she teaches these standards is described as Developmental Appropriate Practice or DAP. DAP is a research based philosophy that says when a teacher meets a child where they are developmentally and assist them on reaching the next level of development is the best practice. In order to really preform DAP, you must know where your child stands within each developmental area. In order to do that you must look at your state’s standards, but you can also reach out to an Early Childhood Specialist in your area to assist you in learning where your child is at and what the next step is. I did find this really helpful checklist you can use also.

Now, after I combed through the Arizona State Standards, this is what I found most helpful for me, when thinking about what I may not have considered my child needed to know:

Language: Can demonstrate and communicate a direction or position (in, out, on, off, under, behind). Recognizes their own written name and the names of family or friends. Can hold a book correctly and understands a book has a title, author, and/or illustrator. With modeling and support, identifies rhyming words. Recognizes as many as 10 letters, especially those in own name, family and friends. Uses a variety of writing tools, materials, and surfaces to create drawings or symbols.

Physical: Walks along the curb without falling off. Walks backward. Kicks, throws and catches a ball. Jumps for height and distance. Tears paper into pieces to make a collage. Hits peg with a wooden hammer. Cuts paper with scissors. Buttons, unbuttons, snaps, buckles, laces or ties shoe.

Social: Seeks security and support from familiar adults. Separates from familiar adult with minimal distress. Demonstrates positive ways to resolve conflict. Example: Asks for a turn when they want a toy another child is playing with. Defends own rights and the rights of others. Example: Tells his friend not to knock down his block structure. Shows respect for learning materials in the learning environment.

Emotional: Demonstrates self-confidence. Example: Acknowledges her own accomplishments and says, “I can hit the ball.” Demonstrates knowledge of self-identity. Example: Declares, “I’m the big brother,” while looking at a family picture.  Identifies, describes and expresses their own feelings. Expresses empathy for others. Manages transitions, daily routines and unexpected events. Example: Moves to the next activity independently. 

Cognitive: The child demonstrates self-direction while participating in a range of activities and routines. The child demonstrates eagerness to learn about and discuss a range of topics, ideas, and activities. The child demonstrates the ability to maintain and sustain a challenging task. Example: Child continuously stacks blocks to duplicate a picture until they no longer tumble down. Recognizes relationships between cause and effect. Uses imagination to generate new ideas. The child demonstrates the ability to seek solutions to problems. Example: When setting the table, child realizes there are not enough cups and says, “We have a problem. There are not enough cups.”

I know this seems like so much! Which is why I gave a few examples, but in the coming days I hope to help you better understand how much you can teach your child within one activity.

 

 

 

Resources:

NAEYC is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children.

http://www.naeyc.org/

PBS

http://www.pbs.org/parents/child-development/preschool-kindergarten/

Arizona Department of Education

http://www.azed.gov/early-childhood/preschool/home-preschool/

Arizona Department of Education Early Learning Standards

http://www.azed.gov/early-childhood/files/2011/11/arizona-early-learning-standards-3rd-edition.pdf

Keep Momming

   I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Shire. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating. #Sponsored

 

As an actress, a public health advocate and former journalist, Holly Robinson Peete has seen it all. And as a mother of four, she’s encountered just about every parenting challenge you can imagine. One of her biggest challenges as mom is building and maintaining a close relationship with her teenage daughter, Ryan.

The mother-daughter relationship is a unique one, and that dynamic can be even trickier during the tween years. Yet sometimes, people dismiss certain behaviors as “typical tween girl behavior” when those behaviors can be symptoms of something more serious. Research suggests that girls are more likely than boys to report having mostly inattentive Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Since inattentive symptoms can be less noticeable than hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, it is important that moms know what to look for.

I’m proud to be joining forces with Shire, CHADD and Holly Robinson Peete to announce the launch of keep momming, a new public service initiative geared towards the moms of tween girls to raise awareness of ADHD.

The campaign is anchored within a new digital hub, KeepMomming.com, where you’ll find tips, tools and other go-to resources for moms, including a checklist to help recognize the symptoms of ADHD – inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity – and then encourages moms to talk to their daughter’s doctor. The keep momming initiative can help moms learn about ADHD and provide ideas on how to spark a conversation and stay connected with their tween.

Don’t miss Holly’s message about the keep momming initiative, and be sure to check out the website at KeepMomming.com.

 

Boys & Girls Clubs of America + #CyberSafety with the #Cybertribe #MC #Sponsored

 

BGCA

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for BGCA. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #CyberSafe #CyberTribe #MC #sponsored

In case you missed it, June is National Internet Safety Month. It’s a great time to brush up on internet safety tips and be aware of issues like cyber-bullying and privacy settings. Here is a great video highlighting some great information about Social Networking from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Cyber Tribe.

I have to admit I do consider myself to be pretty cyber savvy as a blogger, but even I didn’t know that 51% of teen said they have given out personal information online and I don’t know more than half of those code words teens are using these days like LMIRL which means “Let’s meet in real life”. Pretty scary right?

The Boys & Girls Club is running it’s Cyber Safe Futures campaign to spread awareness about Internet Safety. This year they have turned the tables have asked real life expert teens, the “CyberTribe,” to answer your cyber safety questions throughout the month of June. Pretty cool right? I know this will get my preteens more interested in cyber safety and I feel like it helps give adults a better view of their world online.

#Cybertribe

As part of the Cyber Safe Futures campaign, parents can ask the Cyber Tribe questions and they can also learn more about cyberbullying, online privacy, social networking, and mobile smarts through an abundance of resources. One resource is an online glossary to help parent stay on top of technology and social network trends. BGCA is also entering everyone who submits a question to the CyberTribe into a raffle to win one of three grand prizes — an iPad and $500 to the Club of your choice!

I encourage you to check out the Cyber Safe site and take advantage of the resources available. While you’re there, make sure you submit your questions to be entered into the raffle!

Are you a Cyber Smart Parent? Take the Cyber Smart Parent Quiz to find out!

2472-14_ParentQuiz_CTA_204x210

Good Cook ProFRESHIONAL Cut Fruit Bowl + Watermelon Cooler + Giveaway #freshfuitbowl #BBBProduct

Good Cook Fresh Fruit Bowl

 

As a part of the Good Cook Blogger program I was sent a ProFreshionals Cut Fruit Bowl and it’s huge! A whole 7 quarts of capacity, I knew I’d be filling that baby with a whole bunch of watermelon because the kids and I LOVE watermelon!

This bowl is perfect for watermelon as you can see from the pictures below it has a strainer built in which allows the juice to drain out and keep your fruit fresher longer!

Good Cook Profreshionals Bowl

In college I worked in food service part time, and there was a very lovely lady named Karen, who taught me how to cut a watermelon. I was the Salad Bar Girl at NM State as Rey would call me. Below you will find the step by step how to.

Good Cook Fresh Fruit Bowl-How to cute a watermelon

 After your watermelon is cut place it into your bowl. I leave it in sticks rather than cut further because it’s easier for the kids to grab and well let’s face it-as much as I would love for them to use a fork they never do.

Sadie+Cay

The watermelon can now be used to make a simple, but refreshing watermelon cooler!

Watermelon Cooler How To

 Recipe for Watermelon Cooler

Ingredients:

  • Watermelon chunks (1/4 of a medium watermelon)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup of ice
  • Sweetener of choice if you desire (optional)

Tools you will need:

  • Knife
  • Strainer
  • Juicing tool for lime
  • Blender
  • Glass to serve
  • Cutting Board
  1. Add ice and watermelon as much as you can to the blender. No need to worry if it doesn’t all fit you can throw in more later.
  2. Juice the lime, I started with half of the lime juice and that was enough for us.
  3. Add a sweetener which is optional. Our watermelon was plenty sweet so no need.
  4. Blend until well mixed. Add more watermelon now if you need too.
  5. Strain into a glass and enjoy!

 

Watermelon Cooler

 

 

If you are looking for a way to keep your cut fruit fresher for longer, you might want to grab your own ProFreshionals Cut Fruit Bowl exclusively at Bed Bath & Beyond (click here to go straight to the Bowl).

Or you can enter to win one here!

Good Cook Profreshionals Bowl

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Prizing and information for this giveaway has been provided by Good Cook; however, all opinions here are my own. The winner will be randomly selected via promosimple. The winner will receive an email from me the day after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to notification email; Prize will be forfeited and Mom 2 54321 will choose a runner up if no response is received in that time frame.

No purchase necessary to enter. The number of eligible entries receives determines the odds of winning. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited. Please allow 8-10 weeks for delivery of your prize.

Good Cook Giveaway Rules:

  • One prize per household for each Good Cook event. For example, if someone wins on 2 or more blogs, they – or their family members – will only receive one prize from that event.
  • If a household has won a prize in a previous Good Cook event, they are not eligible win again for 6 months.
  • If a household has won more than one prize in a previous Good Cook event (prior to the one-win-in-six-months rule), they aren’t eligible win again for 12 months.
    Good Cook Bloggers and Good Cook Kitchen Experts are not eligible to win prizes in Good Cook sponsored events, whether or not they participated in the event or not.
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