Monday, December 29, 2014

A New Use for Old Christmas Cards

This is a repost from my teaching blog

 A New Use for Old Christmas Cards

Christmas is over.  Now comes dreaded winter.  I don't mind the cold weather in December.  I do mind it January through March.  It's just no fun.  I still look forward to snow days, but after 12+ last year, even snow days got tiresome.

How many of you still receive Christmas cards?  We got a few this year.  Mostly, our friends send photo cards.  It's fun to see the pictures each year, and I usually keep them in a magnetic photo album.  So what do I do with the "old fashioned" cards?  Some of them are so pretty, I hate to just throw them of my hoarding tendencies (I'm working on it, ok?).  So I don't throw them away, I repurpose them!  How many times do you have students come to you asking for a bookmark?  That's right, I cut up those old greeting cards into bookmarks for my students.  A pretty and practical use for the old Christmas cards!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday-The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

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Although I bought this book when it was first released, it is a recent favorite in our home.  Even my husband loves it and my son couldn't wait to take it to school to share with his classmates.

Duncan's crayons have all turned against him.  Some are tired because they're used too much.  Some want to be used more.  Yellow and orange aren't speaking to each other because they both think they are the true color of the sun.  Peach lost his wrapper so now he's naked (my son's favorite part!), and poor pink doesn't want to be known as only a 'girl color'.  They decide to write Duncan a series of letters to voice their complaints.  Duncan listens to his crayons and at the end he colors a beautiful, creative picture using all of his crayons the way they want to be used.

The Day the Crayons Quit has a unique storyline to which all kids can relate.  Each crayon has it's own distinct voice and wishes to be heard.  The message of creativity in this book is truly special, particularly in a day when the arts seem to get left behind.

Everyone in our family highly recommends The Day the Crayons Quit!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Car Seat Safety Tips for Winter

Car seat safety is very important to me.  I was the last of my friends to forward-face my son in his convertible car seat.  We turned him a couple of weeks before his second birthday.  This was before it was actually the law to rear-face until age two.  With winter approaching...well, I'm in Ohio, it's here...I feel it's important to review some car seat safety tips.

No coats in car seats!  My grandmother still to this day tells me that my child needs his coat on in the car.  I have told her until I'm blue in the face that it's not safe.  With a coat on, it is impossible to get the straps tight enough to actually hold your child in the seat in the event of an accident.  I have seen very graphic pictures and videos of a coat left behind in the car seat while the child wearing it was ejected.  I thought this was common sense in this day and age, but I just saw a picture a friend posted on Facebook of her three kids wearing coats while strapped in their car seats.

Tom's Ware Unisex-baby Winter Lamby Hoodie
Tom's Ware Winter Lamby Hoodie
What to do instead:  Have your child wear his coat to the car, remove it before getting in the seat, and cover the child with his coat or blanket.  We always keep a blanket in the car for this purpose.  Yes, it's an extra step and it takes some time, but your child's safety is worth it.  For the non-walking child, you can purchase an all-in-one suit that zips.  I am not talking about a bulky snow suit, rather a light-weight fleece that your child can wear over his regular clothing.  Something similar to the picture to the right would be perfect.

Cozy Cover
Nothing between the infant seat and your child.  There is a popular brand of car seat blanket that goes behind your child and zips up around them.  I'm guilty because I had one with my son.  I didn't know at the time how unsafe it was.  I thought it was an alternative to wearing a coat.  The concept is the same as coats in the car seat, though.  You cannot get the car seat straps tight enough to protect your child during an accident.

What to do instead:  For infant carriers, purchase a cover that goes around the outside of the car seat.  I purchased this cozy cover for my daughter.  It was cheaper than other brands and it fits our Graco Click Connect car seat just fine.

Other tips:  
Warm the car ahead of time.  Most cars have remote start systems, and for those who don't, take the extra five minutes to start your car before you head outside.  (Just remember to raise your garage door!)

Older children can wear a thin coat in the car seat, just make sure to move coat down over the shoulders so it does not come between the straps and the child.  Once buckled, zip the coat up around the child.

A child-size snuggie is perfect for keeping the child warm in the car seat.  After the child is buckled in, have them slip their arms through the sleeves and cover up!  They make fun ones for kids, my son has one that looks like Buzz Lightyear.

You should not be able to "pinch an inch" of the car seat straps.  If you can, the straps are too loose.

Many car seat manufacturers do not recommend any after-market products and the use of after-market products voids the warranty.

For more information, visit

Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas at Disney-A Truly Magical Experience

I have had the opportunity to experience Walt Disney World at Christmas time three times.  The first time I went to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Spectacle of Lights.  The second time, my son was 18 months old, and we spent about four days at Disney.  This past year we went again as sort of a "last vacation as a family-of-three."  We stayed on property for five days and purchased the Dining Plan.  Of course, this was my favorite of all three trips.  There is just something so special about Disney at Christmastime.  If you can get past the crowds (I can, it is more difficult for my husband), it is truly magical.  All three times we actually went after Christmas, so we have never gotten to experience Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  Maybe one of these days we will make it down before Christmas (and before the crowds).  That's the curse of being a teacher, we can't travel during off-season.  The Fast Pass + helped us a lot with the crowds.  We have been to Disney so many times that I knew which rides we would need Fast Passes for and which we wouldn't.  I also knew which rides were "must-do" for my son.  We booked pretty late, but we were still able to get dining at most of the restaurants that we wanted, and we were also forced to try some new restaurants as well.  We ate at Biergarten in the Germany pavilion at Epcot and the dimming of the lights while entire restaurant sang Silent Night together was truly something spectacular.

While it's tough to choose a favorite, I would have to say my favorite park at Christmas is Hollywood Studios.  The Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights is something that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.  It was so fun watching my son see it when he was 18 months old, and even more fun watching him see it as a five-year-old.  We had a lot of fun walking through and trying to count all the hidden Mickeys.  I can't remember exactly, but I think we found almost all of them!

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The Osborne Family's Spectacle of Dancing Lights
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Once Upon a Christmastime Parade
To see Cinderella's castle lit up for Christmas is absolutely breathtaking.  This past week, Disney lit the castle for the season and seeing pictures of it gave me chills.  That's just in pictures!  Seeing it in person is even better!  The Christmas parade is also fun to watch because it's something different from the Electrical Parade that we have seen so many times before.

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Christmas Tree at Animal Kingdom

One thing that I really wanted to do this time was resort-hop to see all of the decorations.  The Grand Floridian was beautiful, as always, and they featured a magnificent life-size gingerbread house.  The Beach Club Resort had an incredible gingerbread carousel.  Each resort also featured Christmas trees specific to the resort theme.  For example, a Christmas tree at the Polynesian featured hibiscus flowers.  I think my favorite Christmas tree, though, was at the entrance to Animal Kingdom.  The animal-themed ornaments were amazing.

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Gingerbread Carousel at Beach Club Resort
Due to the crowds at Christmastime, this is the perfect occasion to experience Disney in ways you may not have before.  There is so much more to Disney than the rides.  While I personally love the Hall of Presidents, not many people do, so remove yourself from the crowds for a bit and take in a little history.  We also explored Tom Sawyer Island, which we have skipped many times in the past.  While my husband and son rode Star Tours for the umpteenth time, I took the opportunity to view the "One Man's Dream" exhibit about Walt Disney.

I highly recommend everyone go to Walt Disney World at Christmas at least once in their lifetime.  If you're like me, you'll be hooked.  I can't wait to go back in a few years and take baby girl.  (Don't tell my husband, though....)
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Our family at Magic Kingdom

Thursday, November 13, 2014

So...You Want to Breastfeed?

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I am a proud breastfeeding momma.  I nursed my son until he was a year old and my daughter is six months old and still going strong.  I went back to work when my son was six weeks old, so I pumped milk for him and he got it through the bottle.  Neither of my children have ever had a drop of formula.  I'm not into playing "Mommy Wars" but I really feel like if you truly want to breastfeed your children, you can and will.  I hate hearing "Oh, I really wanted to breastfeed, but my milk didn't come in" or "I breastfed for two weeks before I dried up."  Sorry, I don't buy that.  I'm going on 19 months in my breastfeeding career, if you will, and I've never had those concerns.  There are very few health impairments that would cause a mother not to breastfeed their children.  I have more respect for the women who choose not to breastfeed because it's just not for them than those who make up every excuse in the book about why it didn't work.  In my opinion, it's more of a perceived convenience problem for those mothers.  For some reason that I truly do not understand, people believe it is more convenient to bottle feed their child.  I'm really not sure what is more convenient than breasts you have with you everywhere you go...

If you truly want to breastfeed your children whether it be for the health benefits of both you and your child, the bonding, the convenience of it, or all of the above, this post is for you.

Take a class.  When I was pregnant with my son, a breastfeeding class was offered along with our childbirth classes.  This class was given by a nurse who was also a lactation consultant.  We watched videos, practiced different holds, and were given many valuable resources.  Though you don't truly know what to expect until you are holding that little baby in your arms trying to teach her to nurse, it really helps to be prepared.  My hospital also offered a class after the baby was born.  I attended that as well, but the one I took prior to birth was more informative.

Seek the help of a lactation consultant.  My firstborn was the toughest to nurse.  We were both learning and I didn't know how to help him.  My hospital is breastfeeding friendly and had lactation consultants on hand to support you in any way possible.  She really helped me with proper positioning and latch.  I didn't need the help with my daughter...she latched on right from the start...but the lactation consultant called my room three different times throughout our 8-day stay to see if I needed her.  I felt so bad telling her no all the time, I almost had her come in anyways!

Have a supportive partner.  My husband is pretty good about trusting my decision making, especially when it comes to the children.  He never once doubted that breastfeeding was what was best.  He never tried to convince me to "just give the baby a bottle."  My baby girl doesn't take to bottles very well so we don't get out much without her, and that is perfectly ok with him.  My husband attended the breastfeeding class with me, and I think that helped as well.  In the beginning with both children, he would help me get situated with pillows, help position the baby, and bring me water and snacks.  I've heard mothers say, "I want the dad to be able to bond with the baby too." There are plenty of other ways for a father to bond with his child.  Nothing would ever compare a nursing baby's bond with his mother.

Where there's a will.  I put it into my mind I was going to breastfeed, and I didn't look back.  I never looked at formula as an option.  In fact, I don't know that we've ever even kept formula in the house.  Anytime my children and I were together, I was breastfeeding.  Not 24/7 of course, but if I was with my children, they did not receive bottles.  I believe that is why I was able to successfully pump for 11 months with my son.  My milk supply was maintained by my child nursing in the evenings and on the weekends because the body responds better to a baby than to a breast pump.

My go-to website for anything breastfeeding related is  This is where I learned that I had a fast let-down and how to curb it.  This site is where I go to check what medications are ok to take while breastfeeding.  I also learned the best pumping techniques and how much milk I would need to pump while I was at work.  Neat little factoid:  Babies only need one ounce of breast milk for each hour they are away from you.  Unlike formula, this never changes!  My son took two four-ounce bottles of breast milk from the time he was an infant until he was a year old.  Your milk changes to meet the baby's cool.   There is also a directory of lactation consultants and a wealth of other information.  I highly recommend you check them out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Crazy for Crochet

In my absence, or more likely, my absence is due to my new pastime--crochet.  I kept seeing all these adorable things on Pinterest, and I finally decided to pick it up.  My grandma tried to teach me to crochet several years ago.  I had some yarn and a hook and one Saturday I sat down with that and my iPad and started watching and practicing along with YouTube videos.  Just a few short days later, I made my first scarf. Please ignore the terrible double chin in the picture.

Then I made a (very ugly) hat for baby girl.  I went to Michaels, bought some more yarn, and made another hat.  It ended up way to big, and I'm still not sure what went wrong, but it was really cute! Maybe her head is smaller than the average six-month-old, I don't know.  Maybe she'll grow into it....

Since then, I made several pairs of booties and slippers.  Actually, I can't even say pairs, because most of the time, the first one didn't turn out so I didn't bother with the second.  I bought some new yarn, a few more hooks, and was determined to make a pair of Mary Jane crochet slippers for my baby girl.  This was the result:
Not bad right?  The strappy part was in two different locations, and I swear I had it right before I finished it off, but I thought they were cute.  They actually ended up a little small, so I'm going to make the next size up before football season is over!  (Notice, they're scarlet & gray...the colors of my Buckeyes!)

Next, I made a hat for my little boy.  (Buckeyes, again!) But somehow, he has ended up stretching it out to the point where it is wayyyy too big on him now.  Any crocheters out there know what I did wrong and what I can do differently next time?  He loved the hat.  He was so sweet.  He kept saying, "Thank you, Mommy for making this hat for me."  My mom said he told everyone at church that Mommy made his hat.
My most favorite creation so far is this Minnie Mouse hat.
Yes, the model is the absolute cutest, but the hat is pretty darn cute too!  I think I found this pattern at but now I can't find it to link to it.  I hope she didn't take it down!  I would love to make another one in the next size up! 

I've also made some slippers for myself and this mug cozy:
Picking up crochet has taught me a lot of things about myself.  First, I learned the level of determination I have.  Things have always come pretty easy to me.  I was always pretty decent in school and even when I struggled, it always seemed to work itself out.  I put my mind to learning how to crochet, and I succeeded in making several successful projects in just a few short weeks.  My level of perfectionism took on new heights with crochet.  I'm a Virgo, so I'm a perfectionist.  But I'm a weird Virgo, maybe because I'm on the cusp of Leo, so I'm only a perfectionist about select things.  Writing on the chalkboard has to be straight.  Grammar has to be correct.  My desk, however, does not need to be clean.  With crochet, though, I had to be perfect.  Many times I had a project nearly finished before I realized it wasn't coming out the way I wanted.  I would take it all out and start over again.  I probably drove my husband crazy.  And dropped a few curse words.  I think the perfectionism is what motivates me.  I want to keep trying until I can do it perfectly.  I also learned that crochet is the one thing that I picked up that would take me away from my books.  I can't read a good book and crochet at the same time.  I would have serious internal conflict about which to do when, and it gave me great anxiety.  I'm kidding, but there may be a teensy bit of truth.  I also learned that I do have just a little bit of craftiness inside me.  My mom is the crafty one.  I try, but most of the time, my projects would end up as Pinterest fails.  Don't get me wrong, I've failed several times at my crochet projects, but I'm pretty happy with how a lot has turned out!  If you want to follow my Pinterest Board "Gettin' Crafty" click here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday-Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Halloween book-Room on the Broom || What We're Reading Wednesday || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales 

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is one of our favorite Halloween books and we keep it special because we only get it out in October.  Does anyone else do that?  My son has so many books that we put some away and only get them out at certain times of the year.

  Room on the Broom features one of the nicest witches since Hermione Granger.  While traveling on her broom with her cat one night, her hat blows away.  While directing her broom down to the ground, a dog brings the witch her hat and the witch invites the dog to join them on the broom.  The book follows this pattern until the witch invites so many creatures to join her on the broom that the broom snaps in two!  While on the ground, a dragon chases the witch and decides he wants to eat her.  She is saved by a giant monster, who scares the dragon away.  The monster is, in fact, all of the witch's new friends who are covered in mud.  The witch is so happy to be safe from the dragon, that she uses a spell to create a brand new broom with enough seats for her and all of her friends.  

On the surface, this book is merely a rhyming picture book to read to young children at Halloween-time.  In actuality, this book has an excellent message for young and older readers alike:  helping others will bring rewards.  The golden rule comes to mind.  Because the witch was kind to the creatures and invited them on her broom, they helped her when she was in need.  Room on the Broom also features excellent vocabulary and we are able to use context clues to determine the meaning of the interesting words.  Just tonight my son was able to deduce the meaning of the word 'clambered'.  This is a word we study in fourth grade while reading James and the Giant Peach!  I was quite impressed!  

If you're looking for a book to gift this Halloween (because books are always better than candy!), I highly recommend Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What I'm Pinning This Week - Halloween Crafts

I'm one of the head room moms for my son's kindergarten class.  Basically that means that I help plan the parties.  I'm in charge of the craft for the upcoming Halloween party, so I went to everybody's favorite site for crafty ideas-Pinterest!  Our schools still do Halloween-how fun is that?  No "Fall Parties" or "Harvest Parties" here.  And the kids and teachers still dress up!  See, they haven't taken all the fun out of school!  Here are some of my favorite pins this week-Halloween-craft-style for kids.

DIY Monster Pencils from the36thavenue

How cute are these?  The weirdo teacher in me hates that you ruin a perfectly good eraser, but the erasers on these decorative-type pencils are usually no good anyways.

Fingerprint Bat Silhouette from Crafty Morning

This looks like a fun one.  After I pinned it, I think it was pinned again 12 times!  I probably won't do this at the party, but I might try it with my kids at home.  While finger-painting is fun, you could also use a paint brush, a cotton ball, q-tip, or pencil eraser.  

Scissor Skill Pumpkins from Nurture Store

Scissor skills are HUGE in kindergarten!  My little guy is still working on his skills.  This is a cute craft that incorporates a necessary learning activity.  

Paper Plate Witch by Crafty Morning

Crafty Morning may just be one of my new favorite blogs!  The witch's hair is the kid's hands!  Adorbs.  If I were doing this at school, I would pre-cut pieces for the hat and the eyes to save time.  I would also have the kids color the face with markers instead of paint.  The kids can practice their scissor skills by cutting out their own hands.  A little prep beforehand, and this might just be the perfect halloween party craft! 

Cotton Ball Ghost by 366 days of Pinterest

First of all, what a neat concept for a blog!  I'm just not that crafty or handy to do a Pinterest project for every day of the year.  I guess I could try every day, but I can guarantee you they would not all be successful.  This is cotton ball ghost is probably the craft we will do at the party.  It's simple, it takes very little prep, and will not cost very much money.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Top 5 Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World

In keeping with my little Disney theme here on Must-Have Monday, I have decided to write about the restaurants you must visit while you're at the happiest place on Earth.  It makes me happy to write and think about all things Disney.  I have a little over a month until I get to book my Disney dining reservations for our June 2015 trip and I'm already planning where we will eat!

First of all, if you stay on property, you MUST book the Disney Dining Plan.  The Quick Service plan is cheaper, but you will want the Table Service.  To be honest, there's really no other way to do Disney.  The meals are just as much a highlight of the trip as the parks, especially for the adults.  We can't travel when free dining is offered, but we always pay for it and it's always worth it.  If you can travel when free dining is offered, then that's just a bonus!  Enjoy!  The following are all table service restaurants that I highly recommend for your next Disney vacation!

These restaurants are my top five, from my personal experience.  There are plenty of restaurants at Walt Disney World that I have never eaten at.  One of these days I will visit them all!  There are also plenty of restaurants that I would not recommend, but that's another post for another day.  That being said, here are what I consider the top five table service restaurants at Disney.

 Best Table Service Dining-Walt Disney World || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales

1. Ohana.  "Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."  Do you know that quote from Lilo & Stitch?  Sidenote, Stitch is probably one of my favorite Disney characters to meet at the parks.  Ohana is in the Polynesian Resort, which is one of the monorail stops. You can park at the Polynesian or park at the Ticket Center and hop on the monorail to get there.  On our last trip, we didn't have time to go back to our resort before dinner, so we took a boat ride from Magic Kingdom.  While Ohana does have a Lilo & Stitch breakfast buffet, we've never attended.  We've always gone for dinner and we probably always will.  There is entertainment at dinner, but it's not a character meal.  Ohana is Polynesian food served family style to your table.  The servers come around with chicken, steak, and pork on skewers and give you as much as you want.  The rice, noodles, and vegetables are also all-you-can-eat.  Come hungry to Ohana, and I promise you will leave stuffed.

Best Table Service Dining-Walt Disney World || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales

2.  Crystal Palace.  This is the Winnie the Pooh character buffet inside Magic Kingdom and the breakfast is delicious.  You really get more bang for your buck when you book buffets, especially when you're on the Disney Dining Plan.  If you're traveling with a child under three, she can eat off your plate as well.  As with all character buffets, each character visits your table, signs autograph books, and poses for pictures.  Bring your own camera, the Photopass photographers don't come to the restaurants.  The character's "handlers" will take pictures for you, though.  Book your reservations early, and you have access to the park before anyone else!  You can even get your pictures taken in front of the castle with no crowds in the background.

3.  Garden Grill.  Garden Grill is in Epcot, inside The Land.  We tried this one for the first time on our last trip because we booked late and it was one of the few restaurants we were able to get reservations for.  We loved it so much, we will probably be going again in June.  The food was clean and fresh.  Most of the vegetables were actually grown in the same greenhouse that the boat ride goes through!  It's a really great lesson in farm-to-table for your kids.  This is also all-you-can-eat, and the server will bring out seconds and thirds of anything you would like.  It's fun because the restaurant rotates.  It goes slow, don't worry about motion sickness, but it's fun to be able to see the inside of The Land attraction.  The bonus?  It's also a character buffet!  Meet Chip & Dale and their friends, which when we went happened to be Farmer Mickey and Pluto.  Dale is probably my second favorite character to meet.  He's so silly and the kids love him.  I have the cutest video of Dale cheering up my very cranky then-three-year-old at Goofy's Kitchen at Disneyland.
 Best Table Service Dining-Walt Disney World || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales

 Best Table Service Dining-Walt Disney World || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales4.  1900 Park Fare.  This is inside probably the fanciest resort on Disney property, The Grand Floridian.  It's so nice inside that I was a little embarrassed going dressed in my shorts and tank top. Everyone is dressed differently, though, so don't be, I'm just weird like that.  1900 Park Fare is the Cinderella dinner, where you meet the Princess herself, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and those evil stepsisters, Drizella and Anastasia.  While the food is good, and the strawberry soup is to die for, this dinner really is all about the characters.  They are amazing.  Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters are so evil and never break character.  They are absolutely hilarious.  They fight with one another over the Prince, and they will plant big red kisses all over your little boy's face.  Cinderella and Prince Charming also dance beautifully in the middle of the ballroom.  Once again, don't forget your autograph books and cameras!

 Best Table Service Dining-Walt Disney World || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales

5.  Raglan Road.  This is one of the many restaurants at Downtown Disney.  Raglan Road is a true Irish pub, and many things in the restaurant are imported from Ireland, including the band and the dancers!  When you book your reservation, make sure you will be there when both are performing., they really do create the atmosphere.  While my husband loves the Shepherd's Pie, my favorite part of the meal is the bread pudding for dessert.  Although it is a pub, it is still very family friendly, so don't hesitate to bring your children.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Centers At Home

My son is on Fall Break.  I loved fall break as a teacher.  It came just at the right time, after long nights of conferences, and with report cards due right around the corner, fall break was a much needed R&R.  My son woke up Thursday morning and groaned when he remembered he didn't have school.  That was my evidence that he has finally adjusted to school and actually likes (dare I say loves?) it!  He was truly disappointed.  I asked him, what is your favorite part of school that you wish you could do today?  Honestly thinking he was going to say gym or recess, I was quite surprised when he said "Centers!"  Centers?  I can totally do centers!  I can do gym and recess too, but centers actually have some learning involved.  It was time to brush off my teaching hat.

First, I asked him what his favorite centers were.  Evidently they have a center called "Farmer's Market."  I still can't fully determine what exactly they do at farmer's market, but I know there is a baby involved.  I'm guessing it has something to do with role playing and perhaps they're shopping?  Either way, our farmer's market was going to take place in the kitchen.  He's got an excellent imagination, he could make it work.  I even tried suggesting C could be his baby.  He didn't like that idea so much.

He also wanted a lego center, science, writing, and coloring center.  I convinced him to also have spelling, reading, and computers.  He wanted me to make him a board with his name on it.  Easy enough.  I found clip art to represent the centers, printed, and laminated it.  Yes, I have a personal laminator.  I'm a teacher, you shouldn't be surprised.  And it comes in handy way more than you would ever think.

At-Home Centers || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales
Center Board
The farmer's market, lego, and coloring centers were easy.  I didn't have to prep anything; he has a lego table in his room and access to paper and markers.  I took to Google for the spelling and writing centers.  For spelling, I created a practice worksheet on using his Kindergarten sight words.  For writing, I printed Kindergarten blank lined paper from Paging Supermom.  Because he loves to draw, I printed the show and tell paper with a space for drawing and blank lines for writing a sentence.

The Science center was the fun one!  Of course, Pinterest has all kinds of great ideas, and I found this Walking Water Experiment from Coffee Cups & Crayons. As soon as we started the experiment, T says to me, "Oh, I know this one! We did this at bible school!"  Of course you did.  You all know I ask him to tell me about the things he does at school, and bible school for that matter.  And because he's five, he doesn't always tell me.  So, we did an experiment that he's already done before.  But, because he's five, he didn't care.

I originally planned for about 10 minutes per center.  Usually the rule of thumb is a kid can keep his attention on something for about one minute per year he is old, but I was pretty certain he could handle ten minutes per activity.  Some activities he wanted to stay at longer, some shorter.  We're on fall break, it's not school, I was ok with that.  We had a great morning; he had fun and we squeezed in some learning!  Overall, I would say very successful!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Must Haves for Airplane Travel with Kids

It's Must-Have Monday!  I'll be honest, I'm starting to struggle coming up with these "must-have" lists.  But, since we just recently booked our next Disney trip (June 2015!), I thought this would be a good topic.  We have traveled with my son since he was a year old.  Our next Disney trip will be his 7th trip!  All seven trips we have taken an airplane.  It's probably safe to say he's been on a plane at least 10 times.  Each time is different.  Once, when I was traveling with him alone (he was two), we had to make a stop at Dulles.  It was just supposed to be a stop--no changing planes.  The best-laid plans right?  Well, as we were taxiing to our gate, our plane got hit by a fuel truck!  No joke!  There was no real emergency, but they did make us exit the plane and wait for a new one before continuing on to our final destination.  I must say, it's always a fun story to tell.  Definitely one for the baby book.

Since I feel like I'm somewhat an expert in the area of flying with kids, here are my must-haves for airplane travel with children.

1.  A Car Seat.  Don't check it; bring it on the plane with you and have your child sit in it.  Number one, it's safer and the FAA recommends it.  Number two, it keeps your kid contained during the entire flight.  I've been on many a flights (remember, we're always going to Disney) where kids are all over the place; in the aisles, standing on the seats, etc.  Not my kid.  He's always well-behaved strapped in his car seat.  Number three, you have your own seat if you are renting a car when you reach your destination.  Your kid will be comfortable and safe.

2.  An iPad or Tablet & Headphones.  You already know that we are an iPad family.  An iPad on an airplane is a must-have because it helps pass the time quickly.  Even our two-hour flights to Florida get a little long, so an iPad allows your kids to watch a movie, play games, read books, listen to music, etc.  Headphones?  Well those are for all the people around you.  Yes, I have actually been on flights where the children were using an iPad without headphones.  Very annoying.  We buy the kid-size ones, not earbuds, they're more comfortable and your kid is more likely to use them.

3.  Snacks & Sippy Cup.  If you're on a flight that is only a couple of hours, the flight attendants typically only come around once with snacks and drinks.  If you're traveling through rough air, they may not even reach your seat.  Bring pre-packaged snacks (fruit snacks, small bags of animal crackers or chips, etc.) or package your own in snack bags.  DO NOT bring a huge bag of pretzels!  Bring more than you think you'll need, and don't forget about your return trip.  If your child is sippy cup age, make sure you bring one on the airplane with you (and don't forget to pack a few in your luggage as well). I have even spilled those tiny airplane cups before, so you can imagine the damage a three-year-old can do.  If you are bringing a baby on board a plane, TSA will allow you to bring formula or breast milk through security.  They just have to test it first.

4.  Quiet Activities.  Although I think the rules are starting to change, typically electronic devices cannot be used until you reach 10,000 feet.  This means no iPad until you are well under way.  Bring a small book, a few toys, a coloring book or (even better!) a Color Wonder book.  We brought a latches puzzle with us once, and that was great, but it was kind of bulky in the carry-on.  I've also seen those really neat quiet books that you can make.  I'm thinking about making one for the baby for our trip next June.  Remember, any activities you bring can also double as rainy-day or even restaurant activities when you reach your destination.

5.  Blanket & Travel Pillow.  Airplanes are cold!  Chances are, you're bringing your kid's blanky with you on vacation anyways, so you might as well throw it in your carry-on to bring on the airplane as well.  My son loves his little "Nemo" travel pillow.  You know, the kind that wraps around your neck?  It makes for a comfortable airplane ride, and it's also a special lovey to have at your home-away-from-home for the duration of your trip.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday: Moo, Baa, La La La!

What We're Reading Wednesday photo Screenshot2014-09-22at34012PM.png 

Ok, I'm going to admit it, my What We're Reading Wednesday is kinda lame.  We haven't been to the library the last few weeks, and my son's current (if you count the last 3 years as current) obsession is superheroes, so we've been reading a lot of superhero books lately.  The other day I mentioned that we went to the bookstore.  As much as I encouraged him to get the newest Otis book, we ended up with Guardians of the Galaxy .  There wasn't much argument from me because 1.) he's choosing his own books, that is a great skill to build as he gets older; and 2.) The hardback Otis was like $14.99 and Guardians was $5.99.  We're big-time budgeting, remember?  Actually, I just looked on Amazon and Otis and the Scarecrow is only $10.86.  Halloween present, perhaps?! I said, we ended up with Guardians.  But, now that we have two children, one couldn't get a book and not the other.  I know, she's only five months and doesn't know any different, but that's beside the point.  Momma loves buying books.  What did baby girl end up with?
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton

Yes, this book is as old as me, but it is so cute!  Just look at those animals!  I'm fairly certain this is not the first time that title has entered our household, but I haven't seen it lately, so we now have another copy.  Baby girl is at the age where she L-O-V-E-S funny noises.  She especially loves when her big brother makes those funny noises, so this is the perfect book for him to practice his reading while entertaining little sis.  

So that's what we're reading Wednesday.  I warned you, it's not as fun as Dragons Love Tacos.  And it's probably a title you've either A.) have read once or a thousand times or B.) you could care less about a board book written for a baby.  But, that's my life these days, and I wouldn't change it for the world.  I promise, though, next week's What We're Reading Wednesday is going to be absolutely awesome.  Awesome.

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links**

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chiropractic Care to Cure GERD

 Chiropractic Care to Cure GERD || Family, Love, and Fairy Tales 

My baby, who was nothing but absolutely perfect while I was recovering in the hospital, developed GERD, or acid reflux, shortly after we arrived home.  She was miserable, I was miserable.  Pretty much the whole family was miserable.  When you have a baby suffering from GERD, the whole house suffers.  My experience with HELLP taught me to be an advocate for my health.  Magnify that times 100 when it comes to one of my kids.  I immediately called the pediatrician.  I told them I understand the difference between a "happy spitter" and an "unhappy spitter," my baby is not happy and she is in pain.  I honestly expected a fight, but I didn't get one.  I must've been pretty assertive.  They told me to give her a 1/2 teaspoon of Maalox before every feeding for 72 hours and call them back with results.  I noticed an immediate change.  She was no longer in pain, she didn't scream at all hours, and she we didn't notice her getting the acid coming back up as much as it was.  (We could tell when she had the acid coming back up because she would get this horrific look on her face and stick her tongue out).  Because of the success she had with the Maalox, she was prescribed Zantac.  Always the scholar, I decided to do some research.  I found a few success stories with chiropractic care in treating GERD.  Right around that time, I was watching a local morning show and a chiropractor performed an adjustment on an infant.  When I saw how gentle it was, I decided we should try it.  My husband's cousin, who is a chiropractor, sent this website:  ICPA 4 Kids, which is the International Pediatric Chiropractor Association.  From this site, I was able to search for a chiropractor in our area who specializes in pediatric chiropractor care.  There were only 13 in a 25 mile radius of my home.  I chose one who was nearby and made an appointment.  Baby girl was only six weeks old.  Meeting Dr. Lisa instantly calmed any fears I was having, which to be honest, weren't a lot.  I've seen a chiropractor before and had great success.  After feeling my baby's spine and muscular area in her back, she determined what needed adjusting.  She had a little tool called an activator that she used for the adjustment, but before touching my baby with it, she let me, my husband, and even my son, feel it on our arms.  It was very gentle, and caused no pain whatsoever.  Baby C did not even flinch when she got adjusted.  In just a couple of weeks, I really noticed a difference.  Having just started the Zantac, however, I didn't know if it was the Zantac or the chiropractor, and I didn't want to take the chance of removing the Zantac quite yet.  At her two month appointment, I told the pediatrician that we were seeing a chiropractor and would she recommend trying to wean from the Zantac.  She actually told me that they tend to see an increase in acid reflux between 4-6 months and she wouldn't recommend it.  She said if I chose to wean from it, that it wouldn't hurt anything if I needed to start it back up again.  At around three months of age, I decided to stop giving the night dosage.  I didn't see any increase in pain or fussiness.  Shortly after, I cut back the morning dosage as well.  While cutting back the dosages, Baby C continued to see Dr. Lisa every two-three weeks.  By four months, she was completely off the Zantac!  We still see Dr. Lisa every few weeks.  She said we could come on an as-needed basis, but we've had so much success that I'm not willing to stop just yet.

Besides curing her acid reflux, Dr. Lisa also helped us in other ways.  Baby girl was sleeping through the night by two months of age.  I'm talking 10-12 hours!  My son didn't sleep through the night until he was weaned from the breast, so this was HUGE!  I'm personally convinced that this is from getting regular adjustments at the chiropractor.  C also had a lot of gas in the beginning and she would grunt constantly in her sleep.  Dr. Lisa suggested I start taking probiotics and that would pass to her through the breast milk.  She was very clear in the type of acidophilus that I needed to take; the kind with live bacteria that is kept refrigerated. I was able to purchase it from Whole Foods.  This enabled the baby to start passing the gas more easily, and again, was in no pain.  I don't think I could ever speak highly enough about how much Dr. Lisa has helped our family.  If your baby is suffering from GERD or acid reflux, I highly suggest finding an ICPA chiropractor!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Best Books for a Baby Shower

Best books to Gift For a Baby Shower || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales

Whether you've been invited to a book shower, you've been asked to bring books to a baby shower, or you just want to give the gift of reading to the new bundle of joy, this list is for you!  I am a reading teacher, so I love books.  Just yesterday, my friend (another teacher) and I took our kids to the movies.  The movie ended up being a tad scary (whoops!) so we left after about five minutes.  Because the kids, who have been best friends since they were under a year old, haven't seen each other a lot lately (darn Kindergarten!), we didn't want to just go home.  We asked the kids, "Do you want to walk down to Barnes & Noble?" and were answered with screams of "YES!!!"  That's when you know you're a teacher's get excited leaving a movie to go to Barnes & Noble.  If only all kids were like that...

Without further ado, here is my semi-educated, but mostly because I love these books, list of best books to gift at a baby shower.

1.  On The Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.  This book explains how everything in the natural world aligned, ready to greet a new baby on the day you were born.  I was given this book at my first baby shower, and we read it every year on his birthday.

2.  Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  "Goodnight room...goodnight moon. " The best bedtime book, hands down.  This is a classic book that many of you might remember from your childhood, and it should continue to be read by generations to come.

3.  Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett.  This is such a fun book!  What kid doesn't love to be tickled?  Kids love the anticipation of the tickle monster coming to attack!  You can also purchase tickle monster gloves to accompany the book.

4.  Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  "I'll love you forever.  I'll like you for always.  As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."  Another classic book that I love.  I cannot read it without crying, but it's still a book that every mother should read to their child.

5.  Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems.  Every kid has their favorite lovey.  For Trixie, it's her Knuffle Bunny.  But when Knuffle Bunny gets left behind, Trixie's world turns upside down.  The pictures in this book, drawings on real black and white photographs, are absolutely amazing.

 Must Have Monday || Family, Love, & Fairy Tales


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