Back to school, back to school…

It’s that time of year again, time for back to school shopping and the highly anticipated first day of school. Whether it’s your first year sending your little one off to preschool or it’s your first year sending your child to college, photos are a must. It’s 2018 and documenting important moments are easier than ever. Just snap a few pictures on your smart phone and within minutes you can send pictures to grandparents in other states or post your pictures to Instagram. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love seeing cute kids on your Facebook feed?!?

I searched Pinterest and found several ideas that were quick and easy. I enlisted the help of my older girls (my littlest lady already started preschool) for a little back to school photo shoot. Manned with sidewalk chalk, printable signs (which I found free on Pinterest) and a few props we headed outside for a little fun! I don’t claim to be an award winning photographer and I was only using my iPhone, but I was able to capture several great photos of my girls.

So get out there and start snapping pictures of your adorable kiddos!

 

  • Kimberly Lasher – SAHM to three beautiful girls, reality TV junkie & ISR advocate. 

Mommy Student

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Going Back to School

So you’re considering going back to school but you just are not sure if you can take the added responsibilities as a mom. I get it, life is already super hectic – but you’re ready to further your career in hopes that maybe you can afford that dream vacation or charming home you’ve always wanted. Going back to school is a huge decision requiring time, money, and a whole of schedule juggling. With the proper plan in place, you can make this happen! Here are a few tips to get you started from a person that earned a bachelors, masters, and now (in process) a doctorate.

  • Be sure of what you want to do. You aren’t fresh out of high school with time and freedom on your side. You now have tiny humans and probably a significant other relying on you and the success of this program. Do your research. See what the job market is like in the field you’re looking into. Make connections with people in the field as well. It’s good to network and find out the skinny on the career you’re looking to launch.
  • Lay out the financial plan. How much will the program cost, what will your payments be when you graduate, and will your income cover it all, plus bills? These are things you need to know. If you already have a degree, you need to see how much more student loans are available to you – there is a max! If you have to find alternative means to fund your education, you need to know up front. Also account for any materials or even time off from work.
  • Plan your plan! Or schedule rather. Not every day will go “as planned”, but in general have a means to get your child to soccer practice when you can’t. Have a dinner schedule laid out. If your children are old enough, have a chore chart. Delegate as much as possible, within reason of course. Using an online calendar that you and your family can access, make changes to, etc., can be extremely helpful. My husband and I use one called Cozi – it’s perfect for scheduling, meal planning, and so much more.

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Going back to school is a huge commitment for the whole family. Make sure to call a family meeting ahead of time and lay out the expectations and what this accomplishment will mean for the family long-term so the kids can be on the same page. If they can see the end-result like you can they might be more eager to pitch in. Bottom line, recruit as much help as possible. There will be many days that you feel like you’re drowning and failing at all aspects of life (mostly motherhood), but your family will appreciate all the effort when you’re walking that stage one day.

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How your family can Celebrate & Honor Black History Month.

February is African American History month. It is a time when we pay tribute to generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to secure equal opportunities in America. It is a time when we recognize that although we are all different, we are really all similar, too. There are many ways to celebrate with your family.

• Visit local museums. It’s likely that February’s premier exhibits will focus on the work of African American creators.

• Sit back, relax and listen to some good, classic jazz. Or go to a jazz concert. Enjoy African American music from the past from Duke Ellington, Zora Neale Hurston, Ethel Waters, and Langston Hughes.

• Read a book together or watch a movie about the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball.

• Join the celebration. Visit cities and towns that enjoy festive cultural celebrations during this month.

• Talk to your kids about diversity and racism. Ask them if they see it in their school and how they feel about it. What can they do to fight it?

• Study your own family’s history and help them see that we all come from another country and culture.

• Head to the library to check out a few books about African American adventures or biographies.

The Bittersweet Goodbye of Preschool

My daughter just started kindergarten. Her father and I walked her to her door, met with her teachers, and said a quick goodbye. I was already emotional over the whole thing- the beginning of a new chapter, a longer school day, the realization that I didn’t have her at home till later in the day. We walked out of the room with tears in our eyes, trying not to do the ugly cry.

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I loved preschool. We all loved preschool. It was a small, cozy place with a class size of less than fifteen students. There were two teachers in the room, plenty of toys and lots of space to move around. It was the perfect place for creativity and imaginative play. Kindergarten used to be that way and might still be in many places, but as the years go by, I continue to hear more and more how kindergarten is the new first grade. There are less toys, more of a focus on academics, and not much time for free play. It was a hard realization for me to come too. I worried, and still do worry, if she will have the same opportunities she did in preschool to be a kid.

Fast forward to three weeks later and my daughter can recognize sight words, has learned several new songs and routines. She loves to run around and play outside and socialize with her classmates in the cafeteria. One day she came home and told me all about a science experiment that involved a balance scale and a variety of objects. The class had to guess which item was the heaviest. As she rattled off the details I was amazed by how focused she must have been during the lesson. She remembered every detail. She’s learning, she’s engaged. I can see her wheels turning. And that is a wonderful feeling.

I’ll miss her messy preschool crafts. I’ll miss the laid back schedule we had (where tardiness and attendance was a little more lenient). The fact is, as we adjust to our new way of life, I can see that she is ready. I may not have been at first, as it’s hard to say goodbye to any stage in parenting, but now I am. I’m ready to help her grow and thrive and become the best little kindergartner she can be.

Pinterest Picks: Winter Break Crafts

Winter Break is right around the corner and that means LOTS of time alone with your kids asking “what are we doing today?”

Fill in those days with some winter break crafts!

So far, these are the ones we’ve done:

Name Recognition Lights 

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                     Pinterest version                                                                    My version

I cut the lights out (freehand) out of construction paper and drew the bases of the lights with permanent marker. I took a piece of paper and folded and cut it in half and drew a squiggly line for the lights.

Then, I gave them glue sticks and let them go to town.

Lights (Patterns for older kids)

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        Pinterest Version                                      My version

I found this idea here and she used wine corks for the paint, but I had Do-A-Dot art pens laying around and used those! Much easier and less to clean up afterwards!

Cutting Practice trees

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     Pinterest version                                      My version

This one was super easy: Just draw triangle-shaped trees on a green piece of construction paper and let the kids cut them out! My girls actually used the Do-A-Dot makers again since they were laying around and “decorated” the trees.

With all the crafting, your kids are bound to get hungry. So, in addition to our crafts, here are some Pinterest picks for some holiday snacks and food:

Rudolph pancakes

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                   Pinterest version.                                                     My version

I buy pre-made frozen chocolate chip and mini pancakes just for breakfasts like these!

I bought a HUGE bag of holiday M&Ms (which I’ve read I can save and use the red ones for Valentine’s Day and the green ones for St. Patrick’s Day).

I used one red M&M for the nose, two chocolate chips for the eyes and pretzel sticks broken up for the antlers.

Muddy Buddies

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           Pinterest version                                               My version 

Did you know you can buy these pre-made now?! Genius!

I just dumped a bag of muddy buddies, holiday M&Ms and pretzel sticks in a gallon sized Ziplok baggie and mixed it up!

Ruldolph PBJ

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Pinterest version                                 My version

Once again, red M&M and two chocolate chips for the face!

I’ve pretty much figured out that if I put 3 pieces of candy on anything, my kids will eat it ALL!

I cut the shape with my butter knife (it was supposed to be a heart-shape) and put mini pretzels in between the bread.

And just for some LOLZ and to show you that everything doesn’t always turn out just like Pinterest, here is my Pinterest FAIL!

Snowman pancakes 

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Pinterest version                                           My version

I had seen this lady’s post on a cute snowman breakfast and tried to replicate it.

She used mini chocolate chips and apparently, mine are enormous.

I used 3 green M&Ms for the buttons and pretzel sticks for the arms. Mini marshmallows for the snow beneath the feet.

Then, it went terribly wrong. I didn’t have anything cute to use for the nose. I attempted to use a candy corn, but then my snowman just looked like a penguin!

Oh well, the kids still ate them!

Happy Winter Break!

 

 

Pinterest Picks: Fall Crafts

Written by: Jennifer Silverstein

The first day of autumn has come and gone and we’re still waiting for our cold front here in Florida.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t get into the spirit and participate in some fun fall crafts.

1. Acorn Handprints 

Here’s an easy one we did last year:

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                         Pinterest Version                                                                  My Version

All this required was brown and white paint and paper! I mixed the brown and white together to create the lighter brown color for the bottom of the acorn, which I painted the kids hands with. Once that dried, I painted the tops freehand and wrote each child’s name and the year on the bottom of the paper with gold Sharpie marker.

2. Pumpkin Alphabet (letter recognition)

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                           Pinterest Version                                                 My Version

We are still over here working on our alphabet (LOL). This one, I printed from The Kindergarten Connection. I had my oldest, Emma, color the pumpkins orange and then I cut them all out. Then, we sang the song and she found each letter and glued them down.

3. Black Cat Paper Plate Craft

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Pinterest Version                                                   My Version

This one was quite easy, IMO. I had purchased a package from Amazon a few months ago with small pieces of tissue paper in lots of colors. BEST. PURCHASE. EVER.

I’ve used it for flamingoes, pineapples, a seahorse and more. And I’ve NEVER had to cut tissue paper into tiny little pieces by hand. Thank God.

Any who, for this craft, I used a paint brush to put glue all over the plate and let the girls glue black tissue paper and cover all the white on the paper plate. I cut out 4 black triangles for the ears. We used a heart-shaped button for the nose. I cut out the eyes and mouth from white cardstock and had the girls color the eyes (Emma chose green, Addie blue because that’s the color of her eyes). The whiskers are pipe cleaners.

4. Tracing lines practice (Fall leaves)

 

I printed these out from Education.com.  I have signed up for this website using my email address and saying I am a homeschool mom. You can get many free printable and worksheets from there. This was pretty self explanatory. I simply let the girls trace the lines. (Addie is on the left, Emma on the right) Emma added her name to her 🙂

5. Fall Leaves Handprints 

This was another craft that we did last year. I simply painted the girls’ hands in fall leaf colors: red, yellow, orange and green. Once they dried, I used a marker to draw veins up their fingers, wrote their names and the year.

I hope you try some of these out at home and comment below if you have! I’d love to see YOUR versions!

Jenn from GrowingUpSilverstein

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I’m a Stay-at-Home mom of two little girls. Addie, 2, and Emma, 3. They ARE NOT twins, no matter how many times people ask me. We live on 6 acres and have two dogs, 5 chickens and a tortoise! I’ve been married to my husband, Eric, for 7 years! I have a degree in Journalism, and am currently doing HIPPY Homeschool with my oldest. I’m UBER crafty and ADDICTED to Pinterest.

 

 

Healthy School Lunches

There are so many things to think about when you are getting the young people in your house ready to go back to school. There are supplies to purchase, clothes to pick out, and let’s not forget the all-important finding the right backpack. I still remember the Snoopy debacle of 1992. Mom and I picked out a great Snoopy backpack that I thought would be all the rage, but it turns out Lisa Frank was where it was at and my backpack was the bane of my existence for the entire year. These errands take up a lot of time in the month or so before our kids go back to school, but they are, thankfully, not an ongoing issue (unless you pick the wrong backpack).

There is one task that faces parents and guardians day in and day out – lunch. I don’t know about you, but for some reason my kids require sustenance throughout the day. You’d think they could save the hunger strikes, they go on at home, for school, now and then just to give me a break, but alas, they don’t. Lunch planning has escaped me in the past. Even when I was working out of the house full time, planning ahead on what to take myself for lunch was something that I wasn’t good at. I’d arbitrarily throw together something in the morning that was always a weird conglomeration of leftovers from dinner the night before, a yogurt and some kind of fruit. Now, with little tummies to consider, I’ve made it a point to be more conscious of the food choices I have on hand to send with them. I also consider the containers I use to send their food in, as I like to be eco-friendly and safe, when it comes to what will house our food.

First, a word about prep. You know how they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Prep is the same way. I find that if I take a few minutes, when I come home from my weekly grocery shopping trip, to consciously wash and prep the fruits and veggies I’ve brought home, they last longer and are much easier to use. It’s no secret that most produce is sprayed with pesticides during the growing process, but did you know that a lot of it (even some organic produce) is sprayed with accelerants that help it to grow and ripen faster? This is good for the farmers who want to produce faster yields, but not so great for the consumer, as it causes the food to continue ripening at an accelerated rate, even in your refrigerator. The secret to getting your fruits and veggies to last longer is to get these products off of them before you store them.

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The good news is that it’s easy to do. Simply fill your kitchen sink ½ to ¾ full of cold water and add around 1 cup of white vinegar to it. Then put all of your fruits and veggies, except berries, into the sink to soak for 20 minutes. Berries go in for 1-2 minutes only, as they will absorb the water if you leave them any longer. After the soaking, pat everything dry with a towel and let it finish drying on the counter before you put it away. Then slice up, portion out and put things away in containers that are easy to grab and throw into lunches throughout the week. All my produce, including fresh berries now stay good for at least a week!

So now that we’re all prepped, let’s check out some of the fun, healthy school lunch ideas I found on pinterest that are a hit around our house:

Tortilla pinwheels. For some reason, if I wrap sandwich ingredients into a tortilla and cut it into pinwheels, my kiddo loves the once mundane “sandwich” concept and gobbles it up. This is my quick and easy go to when the morning is kind of hairy and I need to get us out the door. You can fill your tortilla with whatever you’d like, spinach, cheese, meat, veggies, fruits, cream cheese; the possibilities are endless.

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Image credit to foodformyfamily.com

Another sandwich variation is sandwich kabobs or stackers (the difference lies in whether I have a kabob stick to skewer it with or not). Simply layer cubes of meat, cheese and veggies with cubes of bread and skewer it together (or not). Voila! Sandwich on a stick!

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Image credit to littledairyontheprairie.com

Quick and easy nachos. Simply layer shredded cheese and chicken or beef pieces on top of tortilla chips and add a small container with black beans and sour cream (or a mixture of sour cream and plain yogurt to be a bit healthier). Your kids can dip the chips into the bean and sour cream mixture to create the perfect nacho bite.

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Image credit to whatlisacooks.com

We love bagels as a breakfast staple around here, but they’re also a quick, easy lunch choice too. My little guy likes the mini-bagels so I just slather a couple of those with cream cheese and stick them in his lunch along with some veggies, fruit and yogurt.

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When I have some prep time the day or night before, I love to make crescent roll ups. Simply add your favorite meat or cheese choices to a crescent, roll it up and bake it according to the package directions. For a pizza variety, add pizza or marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.   You can either make these completely the day before and refrigerate or prep them to be ready to bake in the morning before school.

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Image credit to amandascookin.com

Now that you’ve prepped and got your meals all ready, what should you put them into? For my family, I choose glass, silicone or stainless steel options. Glass is great as far as being food safe and eco-friendly, but it’s heavier and breakable so I usually opt for silicone or stainless steel when they need to be portable. Here are a few of the options I’ve found that work best for us:

Silicone

This container is a favorite because it has two compartments and comes with a spork that stores in the lid.

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This little container is perfect for snacks or yogurt.

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Stainless steel

For hot or cold food storage, you can’t beat this insulated container.

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This divided container comes with a divider that slides to size to whatever you’re packing for the day.

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These nesting containers and square containers are great for packing things individually.

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Glass

This glass container is a favorite that we use at home.  I like it because it has the silicone sleeve to protect it.

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I hope these ideas are helpful and that they make it a little easier as you tackle the never ending question, “What’s for lunch?”  Happy eating!

13716016_10153862140698178_5093751296788590959_nSharon is a WAHM of two boys ages 2 years old and 4 months old.  She co-owns WrappedUpTampa.com, a natural parenting online boutique that has carefully chosen products from wooden toys and teethers made by hand, stainless, silicone and glass food storage and various types of wraps and carriers for babywearing.

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest Picks: Back-to-School Edition

Written By: Jennifer Silverstein

While my kids aren’t exactly “school-age” yet, I do try to teach them as much as I can at home- the DIY way. Here are a few DIY/ back to school crafts to re-create with your littles.

  1. Alphabet Cookie Sheet

We are currently working on our alphabet, so when I saw this:

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Pinterest Version

I decided to re-create it myself. And on the cheap.

I didn’t want to use one of my own cookie sheets (because, cookies) so I went to the Dollar Store and bought one. After that, I just used a Sharpie and wrote the letters on it.

Luckily for us, we already had alphabet letters just lying around.

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My Version

2. Parts of a flower (using baking cups) 

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            Pinterest Version                                                     My Version

This one was fairly easy (and used materials I already had around the house/ kitchen). I started by painting the bottom of the paper brown for the dirt (and let it dry), then I had the kids glue down the baking cup while I cut out the stem and leaves for them.  Then, they proceeded to glue down the stem, leaves, “roots” a.k.a. yarn and seeds. The ones in the Pinterest version were sunflower seeds. I didn’t have any of those so I used popcorn kernels.

3. Paper Plate Sunflower 

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                                              Pinterest Version(s)

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                                                             My Version

I have actually purchased a stack of paper plates just for crafting! For this one, I let the kids paint both the outer edge of the plate (yellow) and the inside (brown) for the sunflower.

Then, I put dots of glue all over the brown part of their plate and let them place the corn kernels and black beans on.

Then, I let them cut the edges of the paper plate to make the petals of the flower.

Once the flowers were dried, I hot glued a stem to the back of the flower.

4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Letter & name Recognition) 

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              Pinterest Version                                                    My Version

I had this one saved for a while before we actually got around to doing it, but it was super simple! Probably less that 20 minutes!

I purchased alphabet letters from (you guessed it) the Dollar Store.

I painted brown tree trunks, cut out coconuts using a large hole puncher and cut leave shapes freehand.

I let the kids glue down the leaves and coconuts and then gave them some letters.

I handed them each their name letters and encouraged them to put them on the trunk.

 

I hope these “Pinterest Picks” encourage you to DIY some of YOUR own at home with your kids! Especially with back-to-school coming up!

xoxo

Jenn from GrowingUpSilverstein

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I’m a Stay-at-Home mom of two little girls. Addie, 2, and Emma, 3. They ARE NOT twins, no matter how many times people ask me. We live on 6 acres and have two dogs, 5 chickens and a tortoise! I’ve been married to my husband, Eric, for 7 years! I have a degree in Journalism, and am currently doing HIPPY Homeschool with my oldest. I’m UBER crafty and ADDICTED to Pinterest.

The day I learned the truth about my daughter and how you can avoid being blindsided by your child’s secret life.

By: Anonymous

I believed I was a good parent. I thought the occasional scan of my 13-year-old’s phone was enough to have a strong understanding of what was going on in her life. I assumed that by following her social media pages (that I was aware of) that I was protecting her from bad influences while allowing her some freedom. I expected her to do the right thing in peer pressure situations. With my entire soul I believed that she had a strong sense of self worth, and would not seek the approval of others. I was naïve. I was wrong. I was flat out stupid.

Luckily for her and for me, I found out the truth before it was too late.

Late one night I received a message from her dad who lives six hours away. He had been on his other daughter’s social media app – musical.ly and found our daughter’s profile. If you don’t know already, this app is used to make your own music videos as you lip sync to your favorite tunes. Users can have a lot of fun editing and perfecting their videos before uploading them for all to see. I knew of the app as our daughter has shown me some of her videos (which were all G-rated of course) and had decided that it was a safe avenue for her to have some fun with music and friends while expressing her creativity. Ha! – WRONG! There is no restrictions on who can lip sync to which songs and guess who was singing and dancing to the worst possible lyrics on the planet?? – MY innocent 8th-grade daughter. Her father and I were appalled and even scared for what this meant.

Ok – you might be thinking “So what’s the big deal? She sang a few curse words! Lots of teenagers do that without turning into juvenile delinquents!” Well, that may be true but that unfortunately was just the beginning of our gut-wrenching journey into our daughter’s very secret life. After watching in horror as my daughter cursed through the sex-laden lyrics of songs I’ve never even heard of, that jogged my curiosity which led me to dig a little further. Something told me there was more. I pressed on, and dug deeper –going through her phone with a fine tooth comb. In the past, I had occasionally scanned her phone a few times per month thinking that was enough. What I discovered that night however, was that my daughter did not have the strong sense of self worth that I thought I had instilled in her. What I exposed was a totally different person from the one I thought I knew. This other person wanted to impress other people by proving she was the baddest of them all. She wanted everyone to think she was having sex and doing drugs even though she has had ZERO opportunities to do so. In the past year before this night she had maybe spent the night with a friend twice. In fact, she is always at one of three places – home, school, or her cheerleading gym. Certainly I am aware that kids can find a way to do anything, anywhere these days but something in me, call it wishful thinking if you will, was telling me that this could not be true. Without going into too many details, after a series of tests and doctor’s appointments, we found out the truth – my daughter is a liar who was willing to say anything to her peers for attention.

While I suppose this was the lesser of the two evil outcomes, I knew there was one common denominator – I had failed. I had enabled this behavior through inaction. By not being vigilant through the parenting of my child I created an environment that told my daughter this was acceptable. Children need to be children as long as possible but the world we live in – our culture – tells kids (especially girls) otherwise. With shorter shorts and make-up contouring tutorials, the 13-year-olds of today are like the 18-year-olds of yesterday.

Parents generally tend to feel guilty about an array of things that can sometimes be beyond their control. But this was different. I could not blame anyone for this situation but myself. I know I could have done more to teach her to respect herself. I know I could have taken more time to research my daughter’s life. I have many regrets leading up to this situation and while I can take a lot of corrective measures, the fact is – a lot of damage has already been done. She has already been exposed to so much that cannot be unseen, unspoken, or unheard. If you are reading this and have a child of any age with a smart phone or computer, please allow me to offer these few bits of advice:

  1. Stop giving them the tools to become worldly and mature beyond their years. Smart phones are certainly a key ingredient in that recipe. I’m not saying don’t allow your children to have a phone. I am saying have strict restrictions and always – ALWAYS – stalk them.
  2. Stay up-to-date with the latest of apps and remain in the know about which ones make it easier for your son or daughter to hide things from you. Apps like Snapchat and Kik provide the perfect avenue for this. Ask.fm is another one – kids can ask anonymous questions of each other without fear of anyone knowing who it came from. With raging teenage hormones, I’ll let you imagine the kinds of questions kids ask of one another.
  3. Talk intensively to your children about having respect for themselves and for others. Seek out any programs that are offered in your area that teach kids positive characteristics. One thing that I was most appalled by is how little respect my daughter had for herself, and how little respect boys showed for her. It was truly sickening what she allowed these boys to say to her. Even if your talks with your child end with the ever-endearing teenage eye-roll, wouldn’t you rather know that you had tried rather than assuming that your child will do the right thing behind closed doors?

I wish I knew the absolute right recipe for parenting our children in this world of evolving technology. I pray that not every parent has to endure this – or worse – with their child. I despise that we live in a culture that makes our children feel like they need to do certain things to be cool or popular or pretty or edgy. All I can offer is our very personal experience in hopes that at least one parent will be reached, and the course of at least one other child’s life will be positively affected.

Keep striving. Keep pushing. Never give up on protecting your child even if it means that they won’t like you.

Below are images of what some of the Aps may look like on your Child’s phone.

 

 

Your Child’s Teacher Does NOT Want That!

Ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week from an actual teacher!

Just because a gift looks good does not mean it’s not a Pinterest FAIL!

Written By: Natalie Jean Hutchings

I get the unique experience of teaching at the same school my son attends.  I work in the middle school setting, so not only do I get to hear EVERYTHING that is going on from the hallway conversations, but any gossip that I might have missed out during the day, I get the 4-1-1 on the car ride home. Today’s topic was Teacher Appreciation Week.  My son Alex and his friends are under the assumption that teachers actually WANT Pinterest-homemade gifts.  He went as far to argue with me that it’s “thoughtful,” and his teachers would love something he personally made.  While for a whopping 2 seconds I thought this was sweet and cute that he wanted to make his teachers a gift, I soon realized I was doing my child and teachers everywhere a disservice by not setting him straight!  So here we go…

 

A THOUGHTFUL gift is an item that the person you are gifting to would actually want.  I used the following example: if his sister gave him a paper doll for his birthday, would he appreciate it?  The hours she spent making the interchangeable outfits, the shoes and awesome doll accessories would truly mean nothing because he has no need or want for a paper doll.  Yes, she loves her brother, but the paper doll gift is not a true reflection of her brother’s interests.  Therefore, the gift does not show her true appreciation for Alex and he would never use the gift.

I’m not saying that homemade gifts are out of the question.  I’m simply suggesting to not go Pinterest-crazy.  Instead give a gift that will make your child’s teacher feel like you appreciate the hard work and dedication the job requires.  As a teacher, my favorite gifts are notes from parents (or kids) attached to a giant chocolate bar.  Keep it simple, and keep it personal!  Here are a few more ideas for every budget (and craft-handicapped parents as well).

FREE GIFT:

FREE GIFT:

A note from a parent and/or student.

I have an entire file devoted to student, parent and administration letters.  On those days where I need a pick me up, I break out my positive file, and I read, read, read.  One of my first years teaching, I had a classroom mom that created the “WE LOVE YOU” folder for me.  She had parents and students write me letters, and she put everything together in a brightly colored folder.  I had never thought of the idea before, but it’s genius.  Everyone has days where we feel unloved and under-appreciated.  This folder is a real pick-me-up.  And I must admit, it might take me a week to grade a class set of essays, but I can make it through my folder in a day.

 

LESS EXPENSIVE GIFT:

CHOCOLATE!

Enough said.  Unless your child’s teacher has dietary needs that forbid him/her from eating chocolate, then a simple candy bar with a “You are Sweet” on it is perfect.  Chocolate can be consumed at any time of day and is a simple reminder of the love you have for your child’s teacher.

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Hand Sanitizer

Kids are dirty.  I have seen some cute little sayings for Hand Sanitizer that could easily be added to the bottle, to spruce it up for teacher appreciation week.  “Hands down, you are the best teacher”,  “Germs and Jesus are everywhere, so say your prayers and wash your hands”.  For a Germ-X bottle: “You are an eXcellent teacher”

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STICKY NOTES, PENS, WHITE BOARD MARKERS, SHARPIES

It seems at the end of every year I am buying more sticky notes, pens, sharpies and white board markers. It is nice to receive the occasional restock of supplies.

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BUDGET BREAKER GIFTS:

Gift Cards

Universally, I feel that the gift card is probably your safest bet for a gift.  Whether, you are gifting to your 13 year old son, your crazy mother-in-law or your child’s favorite teacher, gift cards are the way to go.  However, not everyone can afford to give a gift card to 7 different teachers.  Trust me, with a son in middle school I understand.

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Bottom line: 

Teachers do not expect gifts for teacher’s appreciation.  However, I know as parents we want to show our support and appreciation for everything they do. If you are going to spend money on a gift for anyone, not just a beloved teacher, make sure it is a gift that is THOUGHTFUL and not a Pinterest win.  Save the $5.oo you would spend on a glass painted mason jar and give your child’s teacher a pack of pens or a $5.oo gift card to Target.  Besides what teacher would want to display a glass jar in a room full of kids.

Gift smart people!

 

Nat Hello all, I am Natalie Hutchings(34), but most people call me Nat.  I am a mother to the most wonderful son on Earth (Alex – 13) and the most endearing daughter in the Universe (Olivia Jean – 5).  My husband, Allen, and I have been together since July 9, 2005 and he is my rock, my co-pilot, my refuge. I have worked for the Hillsborough County Education system since 2004.  I have taught all grades K-8.  Our household is filled will laughter and love.  We are loud, opinionated and extremely competitive. But most importantly, we are there for each other.  My husband and I believe a strong education is the key to happiness and Sundays belong to the church and golf course.   WE ARE THE HUTCHINGS!