Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

My oldest daughter cannot get enough of graphic novels. Her favorite author is Raina Telgemeier. Miss Telgemeier has a great bibliography of some really fun and thought provoking books. Of course my kid has all of them. When we found out that she would be releasing a new book in September we didn't just order it, we PRE-ORDERED it.

When the book finally arrived my daughter devoured it in just a few hours. After she read it a few more times she left it on my bedside. That is the sign that she wanted me to read it.

I settled in and I was pleasantly surprised at the plot of the story.


Yup I was completely shocked to find that the story revolves around one of my favorite holidays. 2 young sisters move to a new town near the coast. This town just happens to be the perfect place for ghosts to meet.

As the girls and their new friends deal with trying to get their heads around mortality they learn all about the beautiful traditions of Dia de los Muertos.

I highly recommend this book for anyone! The images are gorgeous and the story is heartwarming.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fun and Easy Halloween Treats

Chocolate and pretzels are just a sure fire winning combination! It's one of my favorite because it combnines the classic sweet and salty. And I was surprised how super easy it is to make at home!

Your basic ingredients are...

  • melting chocolate (you can find it at craft stores in all kinds of colors)
  • pretzels
  • wax paper
  • a fork
And the basic recipe is...
  • Melt chocolate per instructions on the bag.
  • Dip pretzels in the melted chocolate
  • Use a fork to remove pretzel from chocolate and place on wax paper
  • Chill
There are some great way to personalize and turn this simple recipe into something for any holiday or occassion. 

Make cute little jack-o-lantern ones by using orange melting chocolate and adding a green M&M as a stem, Apply when the chocolate is still wet! 

Turn your pretzel treat into a zombie or alien. Use white or even green melting chocolate to cover the pretzel. Then after you placed it onto the wax paper, fill the holes in with different colors for the eyes. You can even add different color sprinkles or candy eyeballs!

These fun treats are sure to go fast. Like scarey fast! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chinese Tents of Love

They sound like something a couple would rent for a romantic getaway.  They are so not that.

In China these "Tents of Love" are starting to show up on university campuses. And no they are not for students. They are for parents.

Yes the parents. As a way to help students and parents transition to living away for the first time, colleges are allowing parents to stay on campus, in a tent so they can be near by. Is this the ultimate in helicopter parenting?

I remember when I left home for university. This was the first time I was moving away from home. I went to UCSB and my parents drove up in my Dad's truck and I drove my little white Dodge Neon. I remember singing "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks. It just felt right.

We moved all my stuff in and by the later afternoon my parents said "later" and drove home. There was hugs, kisses, advice given but they left. No part of them wanted to stay in a tent in the parking lot and I didn't want them to,

So why is this idea of "tents of love" popping up all over China? One theory is that thanks to laws that limit the number of children families can have at 1 it's harder for parents to let go. And because they are growing up as only children it's harder for students to let go!

As a college student would you have wanted your parents to stay on campus for a few days? As a parent would you sleep in a tent in the gym when your child goes to college?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kindergarten Blues: Embracing Homework

My almost five year old began transitional kindergarten wanting nothing to do with homework...

A few things that worked for us to turn this attitude around:

• Pick a usual spot to do work and keep work - this spot they may dread for a little while but before you know it they independently gravitate to this space at homework time. It helps to pick the same time of day to do homework daily.
• Have a cooperative older child set the example - the key here is having an independent child work in front of the child and not distract the apprehensive little one.
• Celebrate even the smallest wins - my husband would chant excitedly after all small victories. He'd say "you got this" and suddenly my little one would say to me "don't help me mom... I got this!"

Those tips seem simple enough and yet they may not work right away.

Keep in mind, a child will be frazzled if you are. The most important thing here is to keep your cool and stay patient even when you find yourself frustrated by homework woes.  It is most critical  that they enjoy homework time eventually and this will happen at whatever speed works best for them. Plus, you don't want to create a mood of resistance for homteurk year after year based on how the time was set early on!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

School Apps

So school is now in full swing. We have settled into our routine. In our house my oldest went from homeschool to full-time junior high this year. It was a big transition but she is doing great and loving school. The charter school she is at uses the website PowerSchool to record grades and communicate with parents. There is even an app for my phone.

The app is up to the minute and even will send a notification to me through my phone if my child's grade has gone up or down. I thought this was going to be awesome and a great way for me to make sure my junior higher is staying on track and see what things she is studying and what assignments are due and when. 

And this is a great idea, but when left in the hands of a completely obsessive Mom like me it is too much. There was one time when a teacher must have been inputting grades at like 11 at night because at the time, my phone dinged and I got a notification that my kids English grade had dropped from a 100% to an 80%. This was a big drop and I had to get up and look over her assignments and even email the teacher. Yes all this at 11pm. 

When I was in school my Mom only knew what my grades were when reports cards came out. I am seeing my kids grades in real time! I find myself opening and checking this app as much as I do my Instagram! Although this app is suppose to help parents stay informed. It's stressing me out! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Are Donut Walls the New Cupcake Wedding Cake?

Thanks to Pinterest people are planning beautiful and over the top weddings. We have seen trends like wooden signs, puzzle piece guest books, cupcake wedding cakes. Of course things have to evolve and new trends are showing up all the time. So if you planning a wedding or fancy party in the near future let me introduce you to.....

The Donut Wall

Yup by using a wall and pegs you can display these yummy fried treats in a super cute way. Gone is the pink pastry box on the table.

You can color coordinate frosting with your wedding colors.

Now I don't recommend frosted donuts outside on a hot day. You're just asking for dripping chocolate.

And you can believe that you will find lots of selfies with the donut wall when you look through your custom wedding day hashtag on Instagram!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Homework Organizer and Other Tips to Keep you Sane!

For the first time ever I have all of my children in grade school. Once I got over the initial sting of melancholy,  I was already running to keep up with three sets of homework, three teachers' announcements, two separate elementary school drop-offs,  and a flurry of emails. On top of having to keep up with it all, I am a firm believer in volunteering in my children's classrooms. This means carving out time in my workday to be in each of the their classrooms once a month, for some grade levels, even more!

As homework assignments began to flood my virtual and "living room inbox" I began to get myself organized which is the KEY to keeping everyone sane. First things first, for only a few bucks you can buy wall hooks, multicolor maniela folders and a large dry erase wall calendar. Next, dedicate any corner of your home to hang backpacks using wall hooks and empty out backpacks. Then use the folders to have you (or your children) engage in the daily ritual of sorting paperwork. Quite easily you or child should get in the habit of ensuring whatever paperwork is homework is placed in the urgent red folder with their name written in big bold letters or announcements such as picture day order forms are placed in yellow folder (again with their name on it if you have more than one kiddo in school). You can also use a green folder to store all completed work that comes home. For even a few more bucks you can install hanging wall files (one per child)  to store folders, but that's not absolutely necessary.

Next, take time to visually map out important due dates and commitments on a dry erase calendar placed in the same homework sorting corner. How easy is it to on the spot write due dates on a calendar as you read notices? My three children have gotten to the point of having daily assignments and larger one-time due dates that are scattered through the week, which means we have to write it down for all to see or we will all it forget.

This sounds simple enough but having these simple rituals unfold in one centralized place of your home makes everything feel smoother in the mornings and organized through the week.

Other tips to staying organized?

• Create email inbox folders per child or a color coded flagging email system (you'll thank me later). Teachers are great with email these days but so are principals, classroom parents, and so on.  With so much to keep track of feel free to sort that system, too! I have so many school emails to sort every single day. I am sure you do too.

• Create a sharable calendar on google! I know you've written down due dates on your written calendar if you're folllowing along, but what about school commitments such as extra-curricular functions or meetings. To keep your household in the know set up a family calendar that's shared and make sure to set up a default reminder warning you of important commitments beforehand. Multiple children means multiple picture days, award assemblies, and so on! Don't miss an important commitment and use this system with built-in reminders to keep more than one important family member in the loop!

Share your best tips too!

Use the comment section below and let us know what's keeping you organized.