Staying Connected

Staying Connected: 20 Questions to Ask Your Teenage Daughter

Now, that my daughter has officially hit her teenage years, I’ve noticed that just asking how her day was seems to get me less and less.  Last year on Pinterest, I ran across several lists of questions to ask your kids in lieu of How Was Your Day?  And, my girls and I had so much fun with it.  It opened up the door to limitless conversations and a lot of laughter.

So with their help, I decided to come up with a list of my own, in no particular order.

  • Who did you sit with at lunch today?
  • What was for lunch today?
  • Who would you say is your closest friend at school?
  • What school activities are going on this week?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • What is your favorite tv show?
  • What is your favorite song?
  • What is your ideal day?
  • What is your favorite dessert?
  • What was your favorite day?
  • Is there anyone at school that needs your help?
  • Is there anyone at school that needs my help?
  • Do you like your teachers?
  • What is your favorite class?
  • What is your least favorite class and why?
  • What can I do to help you with that class?
  • So far what was the best day of your life?
  • So far what was the worst day of your life?
  • What are you thankful for?

We are always looking for new questions to add to our list, what are some of the questions that you ask your kids to get to know them better?

TODAY I WILL STOP AND LISTEN TO THEIR LAUGHTER. I WILL BREATHE IN THEIR JOY. I WILL PLAY AND BE PART OF THEIR MEMORIES NOT JUST THE MEMORY MAKER.

Planning It All Out

Planning It Out - What To Track In Your Planner

Here’s something that you should know about me, absolutely everything in my life is always a work in progress.  I am very seldom satisfied with the way things are.  I realize that can be a bad thing, but in this case I think it’s OK.  Being part of the planner community has definitely taken me through stages.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that I probably spent way too much money and energy on stickers, stamps, stencils and other things that I thought would make my planner pretty and keep me more organized.  And it definitely made it lovely, but It did not actually make me more functional, which was the whole point.  Don’t get me wrong it was great for Instagram and Facebook posts, and I loved looking at it.  But, it was not helping me to actually achieve my goals or complete my tasks in a timely manner. In addition to that I went through several types of planners and styles, before I finally settled on one that worked for me.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t still get enticed by the planner section in Staples or Office Depot, but ultimately I think that I have found a system that works for me.

My planner has become my life line, as much as I wouldn’t exactly want to admit that at 41 I need little reminders, I do.  I guess I can’t still claim Mommy brain, since my oldest is 7 years old.  But, that is kinda what it feels like, when you have to keep track of what everyone has to do and where everyone has to be.  After lots of trial and error, these are the things that I track in my planner that keep me on top of things.

Health-Wise – I track my:

  • Water Intake
  • Exercise
  • Steps
  • Hours Slept
  • Headaches
  • Weight Loss
  • Weight Gain
  • Prescriptions Filled
  • Vitamins

Family-Wise – I track:

  • Dr’s Appointments
  • Salon Appointments
  • Nail Salon Appointments
  • School Field Trips
  • School Projects
  • Quizzes/Tests
  • Family Trips and Birthdays
  • Family Wish Lists (Things the kids and hubby have been asking for)

Household-Wise – I track:

  • Laundry Detergent/Fabric Softener/Bleach Purchases
  • Cleaning Schedule
  • Spring/Summer/Winter Cleaning
  • Decorating by the Season
  • Household Wish List (Things we want to purchase for the house)

Just Because I am ME – I track:

  • Prayer Lists
  • What I’m Reading
  • What I’m Wearing
  • Moods

“A DREAM WRITTEN DOWN WITH A DATE BECOMES A GOAL.  A GOAL BROKEN DOWN INTO STEPS, BECOMES A PLAN.  A PLAN BACKEd bY ACTION MAKES YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.”

What is something you absolutely have to keep track in your planner or otherwise to be effective?  I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.

2017 Christmas Coloring Sheets

2017 Christmas Coloring Sheets

Less than a Week until Christmas, and this Mommy is exhausted.  But, I am still plugging away.  Meanwhile my baby girl who isn’t getting any homework this week, has a million things that she wants to show me, projects she wants to work on, oh and things she really needs to borrow my phone for.   So I thought I would whip up these Coloring Sheets to keep her busy.  It sounded like a good idea, but she made quick work at it.  I am sure that I am not the only one with little ones under foot.  So, I thought I would share these as this year’s Christmas Coloring Sheets.

Christmas Mouse       Chimney Santa        Baby Jesus        Christmas Candles

Today was officially my kids last day of school for the year, so while they were gone, I finally finished up Our Christmas Basket.  I actually intended to do away with this tradition, simply because Our New Christmas Stockings hold considerably more than last year.  But, since they asked about it, I had to pull them out.  I’ve seen so many versions of this tradition, basically every family seems to put their own spin on it.  And, I think that is just what makes it special.  I try to keep ours relatively simple.

  • Christmas PJ’s
  • Christmas Coloring/Activity Books
  • Classic Christmas Book
  • Candy or Fruit Snacks
  • Novelty Items such as Funky Pens, Folders, Notebooks, Erasers

Christmas Baskets

All About The Stockings..

All About The Stockings

Photo Source: Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez The Image Bank Getty Images

There are less than two weeks left before Christmas.  If you are lucky enough to be done with your shopping and your decorating, the only thing left to do is to Fill those Stockings!!  This just happens to be one of my favorite Christmas Traditions.  When it comes to Christmas gifts, my kids normally give us a general idea of what they like.  But, the Christmas stocking … let’s just say I have free reign where that is concerned.  When my oldest was younger and my pockets were lighter, I stuffed it with things that I knew he LOVED, like Yoo-Hoo’s, mini boxes of his favorite cereals, Candy, and Gum.

As the years went by our Christmas Stockings evolved.  So here are some of the things that I use to fill our Christmas Stockings.

For My Son (21):

  • Dress Socks
  • Hand Lotion
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Gift Cards
  • Mini Tissue Packs
  • Pens
  • Note Pads
  • Batteries

For My Teenage Daughter: 

  • Lip Gloss
  • Hand Lotion
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Hand Wipes
  • Earrings
  • Bracelets
  • Midi Rings*
  • Funky Pens and Pencils
  • Sticker Books
  • Cell Phone Cases
  • Funky Socks
  • Winter Hats
  • Gloves
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Microfiber Cloths

For My Younger Daughter:

  • Legos (Small Box Sets)
  • Pencil Top Erasers
  • Socks
  • Gloves
  • Winter Hats
  • Coloring Books
  • Crayons
  • Colored Pencils
  • Art Supplies
  • Sketch Books
  • Fidget Spinners
  • Hair Barrettes and Hair Bows
  • Frilly Church Socks
  • Stockings/Tights
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunglasses Case
  • Dry Erase Markers

Hubby:

    • Dress Socks
    • Regular Socks
    • Phone Cases
    • Pens
    • Gift Cards
    • Mini Liquor Bottles
    • Play Station Games
    • Car Chargers
    • USB Chargers
    • Lotion
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Hand Wipes
    • Mini Tissue Packs
    • Razors
    • Batteries

Favorite Places to Shop for Stocking Stuffers:

  • Five and Below
  • The Dollar Store
  • Kroger/Publix
  • Bath and Body Works
  • Ross
  • TJmaxx
  • Marshalls
  • Home Goods
  • Brookstones

FUN FACT:

According to the St. Nicholas Center Organization, St. Nicholas aided the poor, especially those girls whose families could not afford to give them dowries, by dropping gold down chimneys or through windows. This money would land in stockings that were hung up to dry. Another story says that the stocking tradition began when children would leave their shoes out filled with hay for Santa Claus’s horse. He then would replace the hay with gifts.

St. Nicholas was reputedly born in the third century in Patara, a place that is now Demre, Turkey. His parents, who raised him as a Christian in what was then a Grecian province, died in an epidemic. Nicholas used what was left of the family fortune to help those less fortunate. He eventually became the Bishop of Myra where he continued his good works. He died on December 6, on what is now known as St. Nicholas Day. Many countries, such as Poland, celebrate this day with gift giving and feasts.

What are some of the things that you use to stuff your Christmas Stockings?  I would love to hear about it, in the comment section below.

Dividing The Work Load

As a Mom, I feel like I am tasked with the job of teaching my children responsibility while still allowing them to be children.  It is never my desire for them to feel like they are in the army, but it is my desire for them to realize how much more can be accomplished when we all pull our own weight.  I love my Mom to death, but I think that part of her aggravation when we were children came from her doing everything herself.  I realize how easy it is to fall into that pattern, especially if you are like me and you want things done a certain way.  But, now that my own daughters are getting older, I have decided that it is high time, we all have our own chores that we are responsible.  Confession Time:  For years, I have introduced chores and then pulled back from them.  But, I don’t think i am doing them any favors by allowing them an opt out clause, or myself for that matter.

I know that every child grows and develops at their own pace, but I look at my oldest daughter and I know that there are definitely things that she could be doing for herself that would make my day to day life that much easier.  And, so began my need for an Updated Chore Chart.  I don’t know … I may be the only Mommy who struggles with this, but on the off chance that you are just where I am,  grab your free Chore List Printable and make it your own.  In addition, it is a fun way to teach your younger kids about money.  Trust me, they will want to make sure that you are paying them what you owe them.

Click Here for Your Printable Chore List

The Solar Eclipse – A Teachable Moment

If there is anything that I have learned since becoming a parent, it is that every moment is teachable.  And believe it or not on this journey, I am sure that I have learned just as much if not more than they have.  Simply because children are inquisitive and they very rarely accept that you do not have the answers.  And, if in fact you don’t, they expect you to find out.  I am almost convinced that kids are the one that coined the “I’ll Wait” movement.  So in teaching them, I find myself fascinated by things that never even remotely peeked my interest before, such as the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse.  Fueled by the fact that both the School Board and the Internet are making a big deal about it, it has become an ongoing conversation in my home lately. I love watching how my children soak up knowledge and then are able to just spew it back out to you at a later time. may they always be like little sponges.

After discussing the Solar Eclipse with your little ones.  Here is a fun Solar Eclipse Word Search that you can do together or separately.  You can always make it fun, by giving the person who finds the most words a special treat or privilege. In addition to it being a teachable moment, you have now created a fun memory that they won’t soon forget.

Solar Eclipse 2017 : Word Search

Photo Source for Child with Solar Glasses: Clickable Link ©2017 Stage Presents – For Personal Use Only – Do Not Alter, Duplicate or Redistribute without Permission.

For More Fun Facts About the Solar Eclipse click here.

To download your free copy simply Right Click on the Word Search Above and Save.  For other free fun printables click here.

Grab Your Free 2017 Back to School Binder Covers

GRAB YOUR FREE 2017 BACK TO SCHOOL BINDER COVERS 2017 Back to School Binder Covers

The 2017 – 2017 School Year has officially begun here in Atlanta!!  As a child, I always loved the back to school season, the smell of new clothes and new school supplies!!  I am sure that shocks no one, since I am still all about new clothes, new pens, notebooks, etc. etc.  Back in my day… we used to actually carry physical books and bought all different kinds of cool book covers and decorated them to our liking.  But, these days pretty much all of the books are available online.  So, my daughter and I simply dress up her three ring binders.  We love doing this every year, it’s kind of our thing.

This is the third year that we have shared our Binder Covers here on the blog.  To grab these simply right click on the links below.

Back to School Binder 1   

Back to School Binder 2

Back to School Binder 3

Back to School Binder 4

To grab some from the previous years click here and here.

Free Back to School Binder Cover Closeups

Back to School Prep

Here in Atlanta, we have just a few week’s left until the kids head back to school, which brings me a little sadness and a lot of joy!! It also means that it is time to pull out my infamous lists and get ready.  As with anything else Back to School Prep is a process.  Here are  my FAIL PROOF STEPS.

PURGE –

If your kids are anything like mine, they love to hold on to things.  So step one for us is ALWAYS THE PURGE.  This part generally just applies to clothing and where clothes are concerned, a fashion show is in order.  I have the kids pull out all their things and try them on to see what fits and what needs to be sent to Goodwill.  For the most part,  all the short sleeve and warmer weather clothes are generally getting too small but a lot of the fall things can still fit. We normally purchase school clothes twice a year, when school starts and then again before Christmas to take us through the colder months.  You can also use this time to get rid of half used notebooks, old binders, pens and pencils that have seen better days, and ultimately anything that you really don’t need anymore.

MAKE A LIST –

By now, most schools should have provided you with a general list of what your little ones will need for this school year.  Once, you have gotten the Supply List set aside, it’s time to tackle School Clothes. Only you will know just how much your child will need to make it through the year, but as a rule, I always try to do no less than 8 pairs of pants  and 10-12 tops.  My girls haven’t really been interested in dresses or skirts up until now, but this year my middle “schooler” has informed me that she wants to change up her style a little so I will be allotting some money for that, as well as some accessories.  Can I just say that she is growing up .. way too fast?  Speaking of Accessories, I find that it is so easy to forget to add these to the list, but undoubtedly you will need them.  I mean you always need new socks and new under things to start out a new year.. or just always.. am I right?

SHOP –

This year in Georgia, we are not having a Tax Free Weekend, as we have grown accustomed to before the new school year starts.  And, although I am one of the people that found this disappointing, life goes on. Whether you are on a strict budget or not, there is never a good excuse to pass up a good sale.  If you start early enough, you can get pretty much all your School Supplies at severely discounted rates.  Now, keep in mind you may have to hit up a few stores to pull it off.  But, trust me it is worth it.  We always like to buy a little more than is needed to take us through the School Year, and maybe even into the next.   Where clothing is concerned, the hunt maybe a little more intense depending on how picky your little dresser is.  But, generally I have found back to school shopping to be the perfect time to stock up on jeans and tees for great prices.

MENTAL PREP –

My oldest daughter is the most sensitive of my brood.  Transitions tend to be more traumatic for her, even though the older she gets the easier it gets.  But, at my house mental prep starts with readjusting bed times.  Creating new schedules for the upcoming year, discussing expectations and pre-planning as much as we can for the first week.  We also start pulling out our books, going over some of what we learned last year as a refresher and making sure any Summer Projects have been completed.  Don’t be deceived, even though Mommy’s are often the most excited of the bunch, they also need to get their minds right. Especially if you have been at home with the kids all summer , you too have to get used to early drop offs and fitting all that you have to do within that tight time frame, before pick ups occur.  I learned this the hard way, because every year I get so caught up in the joy of my alone time, that I take weeks to get back on track.  This was the first summer that I managed get a lot done, simply because I prepared for what was to come.

What is your process for getting your little one’s ready for the start of a new year?  I would love to hear all about it.  Be sure to share your tips in the comment section below.

Sharing the Gift of Faith with my Tween Daughter

Sharing The Gift OF Faith With My Tween Daughter (through Tween Devotionals and Quality Time)

As a Christian, I am always, always, always, reevaluating my walk with Christ.  I mean lets face it to be like Christ, is no easy feat, I often feel like I am not doing enough.  Basically, it is just me acknowledging that I am a work in progress.  I fall down and get up.. like pretty much everyone else.  But, the constant in my life despite has always been my faith.

That being said,  if I were to tell you what my gift is, I probably would not saying preaching or ministry.  But, as a Mom, I feel like it is my responsibility to share my faith with my children. Growing up religion/faith was taught to me in a very totalitarian way.  There were very few gray areas or room for explanation and or deviation.  I’m not condemning this way of thinking, but, it is is not how I wanted to share my faith with my own children.  I wanted us to be able to talk about it and make sense of it together.

This year my oldest daughter started Middle School.  Since, I do morning drop offs, after dropping off my youngest at elementary school , my older daughter and I would get to her school with about 20 minutes to spare before her day began.  I had no idea that this window, which at first seemed like it would be a pocket of wasted time, would turn out to be such a blessing for the both of us.

She was transitioning from Elementary to Middle School, which means that she was already quite nervous about all the change.  So we prayed about the transition, we prayed about her finding her way through this NEW BIG school.  We prayed about her making friends and being happy.  And, when we came up on some rough patches through the year, we prayed about that too.  Then one morning I had a light bulb moment and started to search for Devotions for “Tweens”.  I am not sure I actually expected that to be a thing, or to find one.  But, I did.   When the first book arrived from Amazon, we were both so excited.  Almost every teen girl .. is equally as excited about the “tween” title.  I skimmed through the book before our first reading together.  And, I knew it would be a good fit for us.

So each morning after pulling into our Spot in the School Parking Lot, we took turns reading to each other from these devotionals and discussing it.  Some days the discussions were deep, some days they skimmed the surface.  Some days we didn’t read we just talked about things that were on our minds.  But, I would not have missed this time for anything.  And, at the end of the day.  I feel like I was able to share with her something that could carry her through anything life had to offer, similar to what my Mom in her own way passed down to me.

These are the two books, that took us through this school year, the links below are clickable.  Do you have any Teen/Tween Devotions that you loved and would like to share?  Leave it in the comments below, we would love to check them out.

 

you-re-god-s-girl-a-devotional-for-tweens-wynter-pitts-paperback You’re God’s Girl – Clickable Link For Girls Like You - A Devotional for Tweens - Wynter Pitts

For Girls Like You – Clickable Link

Mommy Hears and Understands

Mommy Hears and Understands

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. Each May, BHSM, provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of the American Speech – Language – Hearing Association in providing life-altering treatments. The theme for this year is “Communication, The Key to Connection.”   I am sure like most people, this month probably has little significance to you.  And up until my eldest daughter was born, it had little significance to me either.  However, in October of 2004, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, with all her fingers and all her toes.  She was perfect in my eyes.  She was more than even my wildest dreams could have conjured up.  She was all sugar and spice rolled into one.  As she grew older, like any parents we anxiously anticipated her first words.  Every mother longs for the day when they hear the words Momma cross their little ones lips.   But, those sweet words would be delayed.  Obviously concerned with the delay, we spoke to her pediatrician and she agreed that our daughter needed to be evaluated by a Speech Language Pathologist.  The tests that were needed were difficult at best for a small child, who was terrified of strangers.  It was a trying time.

After some time, she was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder.  Honestly, they might as well have told me that she had Astronaut’s Disease, because I had no idea what it meant, and or what it entailed.  I consider myself to be pretty bright, but even after they explained it to me, I was still grasping at straws.  If I were to give you a layman’s description of what it is, it would go a little something like this, how she hears and processes sound is different than you and I.  Even with the diagnosis,  I had no idea what lay ahead of us.  At the age of 2, she was assigned her very first Speech Language Pathologist. We could not have known what a significant role her SLP would play in her developmental progress.  She was able to relate to her as her therapist and on an interpersonal level.  Pulling her out of her shell, and getting her to be open up and  try new things was key. She started to attend Speech Therapy twice a week for an hour, and slowly her vocabulary began to grow.  We finally were able to hear and understand her.  But, it was no easy feat.    Learning to pronounce and enunciate her words was difficult for her.  After a while we could understand her, and those that were around her frequently could understand her but it was still hard for a stranger to pick up on what she was saying.

As the years went by, she continued to make progress.  When it was time for her to begin Kindergarten, we let the school know immediately about her speech delay, and provided them with her diagnosis and all the necessary documentation.  Soon into her first year it was evident that she was struggling.  As you know, Speech, Communication and Comprehension are huge components of the educational process.  It literally was hindering every part of her experience and it was heartbreaking.  With the help of an exceptional team, by the first grade she had a functioning IEP (Individualized Education Program).  For the second time, a new SLP was introduced into our lives.  And again, what she brought to the table made ALL the difference in the progress that my daughter would make. The SLP would sit with the teachers to see what they were teaching and how she could help.  She would incorporate the lessons being taught into their daily sessions.  To say she went above and beyond, is a drastic understatement.  She was able to pick up on her moods, her strengths and her weaknesses and she nurtured her in a way that I can not explain.    God knew exactly what we needed to make it through the journey.  And, when it was time for her to retire I was devastated.  I was truly sad to see her go and I was not sure how the change would affect the progress that we had already made.  But, she made the transition seemless and we went from one blessing to another.

The greatest blessing in this test for us, as a family and for our daughter has been receiving Speech Therapy.   We have been extremely blessed to have been paired with SLPs who have become more than what there jobs required, but true friends.  I always say that the way to any parent’s heart is through their children.  It is not often that you run across educators who have a genuine love and concern for your child.    Now, I am coming at this from the Speech side of things, simply because that is where our diagnosis took us.  But, Auditory and Speech issues affect children all across the board.  As is the case with most disabilities, early detection is very important.  There are many programs available to you, if you feel that you child could be struggling in this area.  If you think your child may be struggling with Speech and or Hearing Issues, check out this website, which is full of useful information and resources.

If our journey, that we are still on, has taught me anything it is this, it truly takes a village.  And, we could not be more thankful for ours.  Every Journey will be different, as no individual is the same.  Want to know more about Auditory Processing Disorders?  Here is the first book I read about it at the start of our journey.

“INDIVIDUAL COMMITMENT TO A GROUP EFFORT – THAT IS WHAT MAKES A TEAM WORK, A COMPANY WORK, A SOCIETY WORK, A CIVILIZATION WORK.” – VINCE LOMBARDI