Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Farewell, Sweet Summer

Now let's be clear - I hang on to summer until the very end. (And I'm talking right up until the real first day of fall, which is still over 6 weeks away.) But tomorrow, my daughter starts Kindergarten, so as a family enjoying the bliss of summer's freedom, today is the last day. I could write a novel on the bittersweet mixed emotions I'm feeling about her going on to her first full days of school (and/or my feelings on why I think this is too early for kids to start the school year), but instead I thought I'd share just a few of my favorite pictures we snapped this summer as a family.

I also wanted to mention that today, my sweet Emmett is officially 3 year seizure free. For those who don't know his story, you can read about that right here. We are endlessly grateful for the fact that he beat such a horrific disease, and we will continue to celebrate (and also make ourselves available to other IS parents) for the rest of our lives.

Who else has kids going back to school this week? When do you consider summer to be over?


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Dog Bone Sugar Cookies

Dog Bone Sugar Cookies

"Dog" was my daughter's first word, and everyday since she learned how to talk, she has asked me when we're getting one. I absolutely love dogs, as those of you who have been reading here for a long time know. (I mean, the "Bubby" and "Bean" behind Bubby and Bean were my dog Leary and my sister's dog!) And I look forward to getting another rescue in the future. I just need my 3 year old to stop destroying everything that comes into his path so I can find some room in my brain to care for another living creature, and then we're on it.

In the meantime, we do lots of doggy inspired activities in our house, like playing dog (my son pretends he's my sister's Husky Odin and my daughter pretends she's their other Husky Laika on the daily), doing dog-related crafts, and our favorite, making these dog bone sugar cookies. I actually shared a similar recipe here a few years ago (hence the older photos; look how little my babes were!), but this updated version is our current go to. They're so much fun to make and decorate together, and they're ridiculously delicious.

Dog Bone Sugar Cookies

Dog Bone Sugar Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cookie icing pouches (1 chocolate and 1 vanilla)
chocolate sprinkles

Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slower add the dry mixture in the bowl with the wet ingredients until well combined. Chill dough mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the surface you'll be using with flour to prevent sticking, and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Use a dog bone shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes, and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or when edges just begin to turn golden. Cool completely on a cooling rack, then decorate. We use store-bought pouches of cookie icing/royal icing with chocolate sprinkles, but you can decorate them however you'd like.

Dog Bone Sugar Cookies
Dog Bone Sugar Cookies
Dog Bone Sugar Cookies

Enjoy! And don't worry... As soon as we finally get another doggy, you all will be the first-ish to know.


Monday, August 5, 2019

9 Adorable Kids' Sweaters Under $18

9 Adorable Kids' Sweaters Under $18
1. Polka Dot Kids Sweater ($12.99)   |    2. Mustard Hearts Kids Sweatshirt ($12.99)   |   3. Navy Hearts Kids Sweater ($12.99)   |   4. Striped Hooded Kids Jacket ($17.99)   |   5. Rainbow Sequin Kids Sweater ($17.99)   |   6. Mustard Texture Knit Kids Cardigan ($17.99)   |   7. Navy Stars Kids Sweatshirt ($12.99)   |   8. Pink Striped Kids Sweater with Bow ($12.99)   |   9. Unicorn Fine-Knit Kids Sweater ($12.99)

Let me start this off by saying I am nowhere near ready for 'sweater weather.' No no no. I feel ragey even typing out those words. It is still very much summer, thank you very much. That said, it is back-to-school time for the little ones (Essley starts kindergarten next week which I can't even fathom), and whether or not I'm ready for it, it's coming. To ease my pain, I have started to get their closets ready for fall. I really enjoy clothes shopping for the kids, and I also know my days of doing so without them freaking out over my choices are numbered, so I'm focusing on the positive here.

While looking for some new sweaters and sweatshirts for Essley, I came upon these super cute numbers you see above, which are all $18 or less. I liked so many of them that I thought I'd share. I just ordered #5 for Ess.  And I wish #1 came in my size! So cute.

Have you started any fall shopping yet?


Thursday, August 1, 2019

6 Ways To Help Kids Get Excited For Kindergarten

This post is sponsored by General Mills and Nestle, but all opinions are my own.

In less than two weeks, my little girl starts Kindergarten. Typing that out is pretty surreal, because that whole "time is a thief" cliche people throw around about having kids is absolutely true. I don't feel like she was a baby that long ago, and now she's completed preschool and is off to elementary. It's emotionally intense to think about putting her on a bus and waving goodbye on that first day, but I'm also incredibly happy for her. She is happy too, and can't wait to start at her new school, but she's also admitted to me that she's (understandably) a little nervous for this brand new adventure.

In an attempt to replace anxiety with excitement, we have been doing some things to help get her pumped for Kindergarten. And they seem to be working! So I thought I'd share these tips with all of you, in case you have a little one starting kindergarten (or school for the first time) as well.

1. Attend kindergarten orientation.
Most elementary schools offer some sort of optional orientation and I highly recommend going. My daughter's was a three session program offered once a month for three months in the spring, and we attended all of them. She was very nervous and clingy when we walked in on the first day, even though she is normally quite outgoing and independent. By the end of the first session, her fear was replaced with joy, and by the last session, she couldn't stop talking about starting school. If you can't make the specific date(s) for orientation, most schools will allow you to visit on another day.

2. Read books about starting kindergarten. 
At her kindergarten orientation in the spring, Essley was given a book about starting kindergarten, and since then, we've gotten a few more. Two of our favorites for starting school (that aren't kindergarten specific so they work for preschool too) are The Kissing Hand and Llama Llama Misses Mama. We also love Kindergarten Is Cool!

3. Go school shopping together.
Getting new clothes, supplies, and food for school is one of our favorite ways to get excited for the upcoming school year. We're saving the new backpack shopping trip for last, but we've already gotten some new clothes, shoes, and started stocking up on food for her lunches and school day breakfasts at Sam's Club. A few days ago we grabbed the 96 ounce Bisquick Mix for pancakes and 48 ounce package of Honey Nut Cheerios (her favorite breakfasts),  as well as some of her favorite snacks to add to her lunches (30 count box of Nature Valley Protein bars, 32 count package of GoGurt, and a case of Nestle™ Pure Life Water). One of the things she's been worried about is having lunch at school everyday for the first time, but taking a Sam's Club trip to stock up on some of her most beloved food items has helped set her mind at ease. (Pssst! Right now, you can buy 1 earn 12 Box Tops for Education, exclusively at Sam's Club. See my next tip for more on this...)

4. Start collecting Box Tops for Education.
In the spring, I attended my first PTO meeting at the school where Essley will be attending kindergarten, and Box Tops were mentioned as an easy way to really help out the school. Afterward, I told Essley all about it, and explained how we could make a difference in getting her school what it needs just by purchasing foods we love. She loved this idea, and couldn't wait to get started collecting them. (Every single one of the items we bought at Sam's Club that I mentioned in number 3 above helped us earn Box Tops, by the way.)

And the best part is that now Box Tops are going digital! Instead of having to clip and save actual Box Tops off of items, a quick scan of your receipt with the Box Tops app and it automatically adds to your school's earnings, which you can see online as soon as you do it. So cool, right? If you don't have a lot of extra time or money to devote to your kids' schools, Box Tops are an incredible way to contribute through items that you already have on your grocery list. They're also a great way to get your child involved and excited. Essley loves checking the products we buy for Box Tops, and the more we collect, the more pumped she gets about her new school. As I mentioned above, right now you can buy 1 earn 12 Box Tops, exclusively at Sam's Club. Bonus!

5. Play school.
Children learn from role playing, and pretending we're at kindergarten at home using stuffed animals (and ourselves!) has made our daughter feel not only more comfortable, but also joyful about the upcoming school year. It has been great for practicing writing and math, and has also helped her learn how to handle certain situations that might arise in her new classroom, likes talking to her teacher if she ever feels worried.

6. Talk about it.
As much as we want our little ones to be thrilled about everything in front of them and never feel fear or worry, those emotions are okay too. We have made sure to talk to Essley frequently about her feelings about attending Kindergarten and a new school, have shared stories of our own kindergarten experiences, and have assured her that it's normal to feel apprehensive. We've also told her that even though it might seem scary at first because it's so new, it will get better everyday. This has really helped her to feel excited about the experience (and helped make us more excited too!).

I hope these tips prove as helpful for you as they have for us. And if you have any tips of your own from when your kids started kindergarten, I'd love to hear them!