How to create conversation with your child after school

Being a parent can bring obstacles. One of those obstacles is ensuring you are having engaging conversations with your child about their school days. Unfortunately, bullying is a big problem in schools today. That sentence hurts my heart so much. I don’t understand how kids can be so mean. It is our job as parents to make sure we are staying engaged so we can help our children through any bullying problems.

Once you are with your child after school, ask them questions that will make them talk to you. Don’t just ask.. “How was your day?” Of course, your child will usually just answer with one word. You need to ask questions such as:

What are three things that you learned in class today?

What are your three favorite things about class today?

Who did you sit with at lunch today?

How was everyone treating each other at school today?

Who are your friends in class?

The questions can vary each day so you are not sounding like a broken record each evening. It is crucial that you get inside your child’s head so they are not holding in emotions and keeping to themselves. We need to be involved in our child’s life and let them know that we are always there for them. Take time away from your phone, your laptop or any other distraction and just spend one-on-one time with your child. It will be good for your soul and your child’s soul. Also, you will be surprised at what your child opens up to you about their life. Communication is so healthy in all relationships. We all can be more effective communicators and that includes with our children.

I heard of a child being bullied today at my girls’ school. My heart breaks for this child and I just want to give her the biggest hug. If you hear your child talk about bullying going on at the school, I would not hesitate to contact the school principal and alert them of the situation. Bullying should be a zero-tolerance policy and needs to be put to a stop ASAP!

Let’s all bond together parents and put a STOP to bullying!

Making a Keepsake Journal of Child’s First School Days

It is so hard to believe that summer is over for us. I’m not sure how it is over as it seems it just started. It has been a weird summer with lots and lots of rain. Our yard has been flooded a few times but thankfully we are all safe.

The girls went back to school last week. The first week was a success which makes this mommy very happy. I always worry when the girls start a new year as I hope it is a good personality mix with the teachers. If the first week is any precursor to the rest of the year, then I think it is going to be a great year!

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Each year, I always take the girls picture on their first day of school. Even looking back on all their pictures now, I want to start crying all over again. Life is going by too fast and I wish I could slow down time. It is just hard to believe that they are in 5th and 3rd grade this year.

My plan is to make the girls a photo album of all their first day school pictures. Hallmark is making that super each with their Pics “n” Props school days activity kit. The chalkboard the girls are holding in their pictures are from this activity kit. Super creative right? The kit includes:

* A red frame with pre-designed signs (preschool through 12th grade) for kids to hold while saying “cheese!”

* Journaling cards with questions for each school year, including “Who’s your teacher?”, “Who are your friends?” and more

* A “My First Day!” photo album to store each year’s photo and journaling card

This kit helps parents have an all-in-one memory kit to help you document these special days of your child’s life. It helps make the photos fun and crafty. You can choose this kit and many more types of memory kits at Hallmark.com or at your local Hallmark store.

Now, I will pass the tissue as your celebrate your child’s first day of school. Here’s to a great year!

Disclosure: Hallmark provided me with an Activity Kit in order to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

I just transitioned to…

It is official. I am no longer a work at home mom. It has been an amazing journey. Blessed is what I will always feel for being able to work at home for the last 11 years. Each milestone that M and L met as babies were watched and greeted by ME. The last 11 years will always be cherished forever by me.

The time has come though and I started my job outside of the home yesterday. The last two days have been a blessing. I have shed tears, laughed a lot and shared so many stories with my new co-workers and bosses. It really means so much to have great co-workers along with great bosses.

Check out my new office.

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This is a little seating area that my co-workers can come visit me or visitors to the ministry can come talk with me.

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My little home away from home during the day. I need to decorate and will as the days go by. Today, pictures were placed on my desk so I can always look at my sweet family during the day.

Hubby and I went out and celebrated my first day with Starbucks. I love him so much.

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The past two days, I keep thanking the good Lord above for placing me in this position. At first, I wasn’t sure this was a great fit for me but I knew I wanted to follow God’s will for me. This is absolutely the right place for me right now. The ministry just warms my heart so much and I will continue to pray for the Lord’s will be done and for let me to shine for HIM!

Not many people can say they want to get up and go to work, but for this to be my first job outside of the house in 11 years… it has been amazing so far. God is good isn’t he? :)

Don’t worry.. I will not stop blogging. I love to write and love to blog… so I will still be here. I hope you follow along with me during this transition from work at home mom to work out of the home mom.

My daughter said…

Today during a sweet lunch with my girls at Panera Bread, L had an enlightening conversation with me.

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Most everyone knows that L is a mommy’s girl. She does not let me out of her sight for long. For example tonight, I was at M’s fiddle lessons for an hour and L cried the entire time for me. My husband called and said get home. Next time, I will just take her with me. A big change is getting ready to take place and I think that is playing part into the separation anxiety too.

Since she is so close to me, this conversation was not a big shock but still made me giggle. She let it be known that she was not having kids and not getting married. She was going to live at home with her mommy and daddy. M told her that she would change her mind once she got in high school. L popped up and said,

“No I will not because I will not have a boyfriend since I am not going to kiss a stranger.”

HA!

I am just happy that I will never have to experience the empty nest syndrome. All kidding aside, it will be neat to tell her about this conversation when she brings her first boyfriend home.

Both girls are growing into their own personalities so much and although it aches me to see them grow up so fast, I do enjoy our conversations so much. You just never know what they are going to say, especially L!

Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Florida {Travel Review}

Fun in the sun. You can’t go to Florida and not enjoy the beautiful sunshine. Once we walked through the doors at the Holiday Inn Resort at Lake Buena Vista, we were treated so nicely.

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The Director of Marketing went out of his way to have in depth conversations all about Disney World with us when we arrived. He definitely was very informative.

As we were waiting on our room, the girls thoroughly enjoyed the game room. It is a pretty spacious game room with a good variety for all ages, including adults.

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It was time for us to take a peek into our room. We were very impressed. The kid’s suite is perfect for a traveling family. Mom and Dad have their little area and then the kids have their little area.

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The room was very modern with the decor. As we are traveling on our trips, that is one thing we look for on how well hotels decorate their rooms and keep them updated. It makes the traveling experience so much more comforting and relaxing. The bathrooms in the lobby were just as amazing with their modern decor. Check out these beautiful sinks!

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The suite was complete with a mini fridge and a microwave. We used the fridge to keep our water and fruit cold. Each day, we enjoyed the parks but made sure we carried plenty of water with us to stay hydrated.

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Our room was overlooking the pool which was a great view. Also, the first night we arrived back at the hotel around 9pm from the Disney Parks and had the perfect view of fireworks from our room. Sitting there and looking out the window over the pool to see the fireworks was priceless.

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Each day during the summer, family activities are planned at the pool. The schedule is always posted at the hotel lobby desk. Just an extra perk that Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista Resort provides to their guests.

There are times on vacation, you arrive back to your room and really do not want to think about a drive to feed the family. This Holiday Inn Resort has an Applebees on-site.

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Kids 12 and under eat free each meal. Adults can purchase their meals when they book their room or just pay separate once they order during each meal. At breakfast, a full buffet is provided or children can order off the menu. The breakfast buffet is the better deal and very delicious.

Each day a Disney Park shuttle runs frequently throughout the day. The shuttle will pick you up right outside from the hotel lobby. The bus is very spacious and will deliver you right to the park gates so you do not have to worry about riding the tram. There is a shuttle schedule posted at the hotel lobby. The departure and return times are listed. This was a big convenience for us as we did not have to worry about using our gas or dealing with the traffic.

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Overall, we were very impressed with our stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Lake Buena Vista. It gives you a great option to stay off-site from the Disney Parks but still enjoy the great luxury of a resort hotel. We all highly recommend this hotel and will return to stay again. KUDOS to the entire staff and housekeeping for truly a wonderful stay.

Disclosure: We were provided two nights stay in order to facilitate this review thoroughly. All thoughts and opinions are our own and honest!

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld Family Travel Review

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As you first walk into a hotel room and see this as your greeting, it is comforting to know this is your home away from home. On our recent trip to Orlando, Florida, we were honored to be the guests of Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld for two nights.

This hotel worked out perfectly as we were spending two days at SeaWorld. You do not have to worry about parking or waiting in traffic to drive your car out of the parking lot at closing. As we finished each night in the park, we walked to the SeaWorld parking lot, took a short walk across the road and we were at the entrance of the hotel. Also, if you wanted to take a break for nap time during the day, you only had a short trip to your room.

Since the Renaissance is a SeaWorld® Official Hotel Partner, your family receives awesome exclusive benefits.

* Complimentary Quick Queue at SeaWorld (limited front of the line access based on daily allotments)

* Complimentary Transportation to SeaWorld, Aquatica, Discovery Cove, & Universal Orlando (reservations required)

* Complimentary access to the SeaWorld Rescue Tour (reservations and admission into SeaWorld required)

* Park discounts, including:

- 10% off Dining at SeaWorld and Aquatica

- 10% off merchandise purchases of $50 or more at SeaWorld and Aquatica

- Early Entry into SeaWorld and Aquatica on select dates.

During our stay, we were treated to a corner suite. The room was very spacious with classy modern decor. A desk area along with a living room area is included in the corner suite.

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The little guy that was included at the bathtub was an extra bonus for L. She is a huge animal lover and was quite smitten with the find once we walked into the bathroom. The double sinks were perfect as well as it allowed more than one person in the bathroom to get ready each morning.

The corner suite allows you to connect to another room if you have a big party. The sectional sofa has a pull-out sofa bed. We used the sofa bed each night. Perfect for the kids unless the kids are so tired from SeaWorld and they immediately fall asleep once you walk into your room.

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Comfortable bed is all it takes for L to fall asleep. The bed slept so well and we were very  happy with all the pillows that was available on the bed.

Snuggle Into Ultraplush Revive© Bedding at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

You’ll feel the difference Revive bedding makes: A lavish topper on a thick, premium mattress. Smooth 300-thread count sheets. A dreamy down comforter inside a custom duvet cover. An abundance of fluffy pillows. Revive your dreams. And wake up to the Orlando Renaissance possibilities. It’s so refreshing.

A mini refrigerator and coffee maker is available in the suite. Coffee and tea is furnished complimentary. Two thumbs up for the coffee. It was very tasty!

One night we came back early to experience the family friendly water park. Renaissance has water areas that are family friendly and adult only. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the break from the heat to escape the super fun water park.

As we wrapped up the night, we all sat around our window as a family and enjoy the fireworks from SeaWorld. We had the perfect view!

There are several dining options available on-site so you never have to leave your room for food. We partake in the delicious Starbucks on-site each morning and enjoyed the ice cream parlor in the evenings. Win-win for our family.

This hotel definitely receives a high recommendation from all of us. The family friendly hotel and with it being so close to SeaWorld is what won us over immediately.

Disclosure: We were provided two nights complimentary in order to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions are of our own.

Two Big Milestones for M and L

We are back from a wonderful family vacation to Florida. Seeing my in-laws always brings so many smiles for us and it is always so sad when we leave them. I wish the miles in between us were not so many. Over the next few days, I will be doing a recap of our vacation. We kicked off the vacation with time at the lake.

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After experiencing rain and rain and rain, we were all not quite sure what to do with the bright state of Florida. The in-laws knew exactly what to do… head to the lake. The views were absolutely beautiful. Relaxation was very high up on our priority list that day.

The lake brought lots of joy for the girls. M experienced tubing behind a boat for the first time. The squeals of delight could be heard for miles, I’m sure.

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She was screaming the entire time but we knew she was having so much fun since she loves a great thrill ride. They came in from their ride and they all agreed they wanted to go out again.

While M was experiencing all the fun in the lake with the boat and tubing, L was just as excited to experience fishing for the first time. She has begged her Daddy to take her fishing for the longest time. This was her big day! This video cracks me up, every time we watch it.

Guess what her bait was? A piece of bread! That’s right. She caught about 10 fish and was on cloud nine the rest of the day.

This day ranked up there with our “best day ever” days. We are looking forward to doing it again soon!

God Bless the USA!

Happy 4th of July!

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I am so proud to be an American and live in the land of the free. I can gladly show my faith and enjoy our beautiful country. Hope you all will take the time to thank all the soldiers that serve for us each and everyday and also the ones that lost their lives fighting for our freedom. Enjoy this day with your family.

I will leave you with my favorite song for this special holiday. God Bless the USA!

Disney Channel Family Movie Night – {Teen Beach Movie}

Mark your calendars now for a fun family movie night. Disney Channel has produced a magnificent movie for a special movie night with your family. It is perfect for the summer. Grab your popcorn and watch a fun-filled movie. We were sent “Teen Beach Movie” party kit in exchange for a full review. The girls are over the moon excited for July 19th!

“Teen Beach Movie” follows teen surfing sweethearts Brady and McKenzie who together ride the last wave of summer, one that mysteriously takes them into a classic beach party movie, “Wet Side Story.”  There, it’s surfers versus bikers for control of the beach hangout…and everyone spontaneously breaks into song and dance.  Now, Brady and McKenzie must try to return to present day, but their lives may be changed forever when they inadvertently alter the movie’s romantic storyline when handsome surfer Tanner falls for McKenzie and biker girl Lela starts swooning for Brady.

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Check out the awesome movie trailer. It will leave you wanting to watch the movie NOW!

Disney is helping make your movie night a super fun and successful family event.

Download the party kit to receive the following:

Teen Beach Movie Banner

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Friendship Necklace Craft

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Origami Beach Ball

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Party Food Surfboards

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Full-Tank Fruit Skewers

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Hang Ten Hummus

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Throttlin’ Turkey Wheelies

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Rockin’ Raspberry Smoothies

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Surf’s Up! Cake

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You can download theme games, music videos and even more recipes at the Disney Channel website. You will make this a movie night to remember for the entire family. Make sure to tune-in to “Teen Beach Movie” on Disney Channel Friday, July 19 (8:00 p.m. ET/PT). Let the surfin’ good times begin!

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Disclosure: I received Disney Channel “Teen Beach Movie” products in exchange for a post about the film. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Awesome ways to create fun family summer evenings

A couple of years ago, I wrote this post for BabyCenter. It still holds true for our family and we are looking forward to lots of wonderful summer evenings. I just submitted an order to Amazon for a new ice cream maker. We can’t wait till it arrives this week and start making lots of ice cream. Happy Summer to you all!

7 ways to spend summer evenings with your awesome family

1. Campfire with s’mores – Let the sun set, and gather the family around a campfire. Marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Let the s’more making begin.

2. Board games on the lawn – Spread out a blanket on the lawn. Spray everyone down with the bug spray. Dive into your favorite board games and let the fun begin.

3. Make homemade ice cream – Ice cream is a hot item in our household. We love all kinds of ice cream, but I have to admit, there’s nothing that beats homemade. The girls love putting the ice in the ice cream maker and seeing the ice cream form right before our eyes.

4. Sprinkler and water hose fun – Get the kids in their bathing suits (and parents too now) for some some good ol’ family fun with the water hose and a sprinkler. You can even get out the slip-n-slide and have races to see who can slide the fastest. Although they may not admit it, kids secretly love being sprayed by the parents. The laughter will be contagious.

5. Nature walk – Take a little bag with you on a walk around your neighborhood and see how many different items you can find that are a part of nature. Leaves, rocks, flowers … you’ll be surprised how many goodies you can find on a short walk.

6. Lightning bugs – Now, come on, all kids must go on a lightning bug hunt at some point in their lives. My girls are obsessed with who can find the most lightning bugs. We have so much fun running around the yard and filling our containers full of lightning bugs. Just hearing the kids squeal with delight brings the biggest smile my face.

7. Watermelon fun - Slice a watermelon outside and see who can spit the seeds the furthest. Haha, ok, maybe not the best activity, but the kids love it. Just sitting outside and eating a slice of watermelon can be fun too if you love watermelon as much as my oldest daughter and I do!

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