Kids Fashion Motherhood Parenting

6 Ways to Make the First Day of School Special

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I’m getting ready to send my oldest off to kindergarten.  The day I’ve been preparing for since before he was born.  Culturally, it’s an important day, the first step out of the nest. This year, things look a little different.  I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster for months now, and school has added another element.  Letting him go into this big world looks a little different than it did 5 months ago, but I’m still determined to make this a special day.  Part of me is so very excited, I can’t wait for him to experience all the things that a kindergartner needs to experience. And the other part of me, is sitting in the car with an aching heart, tears streaming down my face, sad to let him go into the big, scary world.

Here are some things we are doing to get ready for this wonderful, exciting “rite of passage”.


One, we talk about it, a LOT.  Anytime something comes up that I can relate back to school, I talk about.  I ALWAYS act excited, talking in a voice that conveys my excitement for him.  From learning to read, do math, eat lunch at school and even drink from his brand new water bottle.

Second, we made school supplies shopping a fun thing to do together, a mommy and Luke “date”.  We printed out the list (which is totally unnecessary but made it more fun. We grabbed cake pops from Starbucks and then walked around Target, picking out all the supplies we needed.  Getting a new backpack was the icing on the cake.  Here’s a list of some of my favorite backpacks. 

Third, we have been reading books together about kindergarten. There are so many cute books out there that give kids the general framework about what kindergarten will look like.  Here are some of my favorites.

Kindergarten, Here I come 

The Night Before Kindergarten

On The First Day of Kindergarten

The Pigeon Has to Go to School

Fourth, I usually buy him a special shirt or outfit to wear on the first day.  We usually go together to pick something out that we both like (harder that it sounds).  This year, he has to wear a uniform, so I got him special “back to school” pajamas to wear the night before his first day!


Fifth, I plan a special breakfast with all of his favorite foods.  My buddy loves sweet things so this year, I’m thinking I’ll make sheet pan pancakes with sprinkles.

Lastly,  my favorite thing, the thing that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about, is I will read this book The Kissing Hand to him the few nights leading up to school.


I got him this bracelet that says “I love you” so he can look down and be reminded that I love him, all day long.  Bracelet linked here.


This year, school doesn’t look anything like we thought it might. Let me know what you’re doing this year to make it special for your kids!

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How to Stay Busy at Home with your Preschooler

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting burnt out by the daily grind of staying home every day, all day.  Now that our playgrounds are finally opening, we will be able to get outside of our home and play.  But there will still be rainy days and with cool weather coming (hard to believe I know), we will be spending more time inside, so I rounded up some my favorite non-screen time activities.  All of these activities can be done with more than one kid (hello, mom of three here) and I need everyone to be doing the same time sometimes!  These activities range from basic home materials to more planned out/material gathering time.

Sensory Play


Bathtub Playdough

Too hot to go outside? Raining? But your kids want to play in the water? Make a batch of this stuff and let them play!


Soft Homemade Playdough

Do you see a trend here? We love sensory play.  But we take the softest playdough up one notch by adding essential oils to add a fun scent to our playdough.

Rainbow Rice Sensory Bin

So easy to make and seriously provides up to hours of entertainment.  We’ve had the same bag of rice for several months too!  

Play snow

We love play snow over here!  Not sure if it’s because we have serious Frozen fans or what, but my kids could play with snow forever.  We have two favorites, one we purchase and the second one, we make.  

We love this stuff.  It lasts FOREVER, never ever dries and is so much fun for all ages. 






If you prefer to make homemade, here is a great recipe. 

Homemade Play Snow

Mix to combine…easiest recipe ever

Kinetic Sand

Ok, so I have mixed feelings about kinetic sand.  Some days I love it, and some days I hate it.  Right now, I’m loving it so I’m adding to the list!  




Rice and Bean Sensory Bin

This is such a cheap and easy sensory bin idea.  I buy bags of rice and beans, add to bin and play.  It’s really fun to add trucks and construction vehicles. 

Here’s a huge bag of rice and beans. Construction vehicles are so much fun! 



Building/Gross Motor

Foam Building Blocks 

These are so much fun!  My kids use these so many different ways, they build forts, use with our Nugget Comfort Couch, throw at each other (insert eye roll) and more!  Totally worth the price!


Make a fort

Ok, I have to admit, fort building is NOT my favorite, it stresses me out, mostly because I don’t love getting blankets and pillows out from their beds, BUT, once in a while, I’ll be a “fun mom” and let them make a fort.  We have these to aid in our structures




Magnetic tiles

These are a hit every time I bring them out!  We have several kits that we’ve collected over the years and they all work together!  I’ve seen these be used outside on a metal garage door, on sheet pans and

here’s a few different sets,,

Stepping Stones

If you’ve been here for a minute, you have heard me talk about these awesome stepping stones. We got these to go with our Nugget Comfort Couch and have so much fun with them.  I love the various heights of stones that come in this pack. 


Nugget Comfort Couch 

We are completely in love with our Nugget Comfort Couch. Unfortunately, right now, they are difficult to get but if you can snag one, do it!  We burn SO much energy with our Nugget.  My kids are able to set it up in many different configurations.  Their favorite is to set it up and jump off!!  Terrifying to me, but they have so much fun, soooo I guess it’s worth it!  Check them out here


Balance Beam 

We got this foldable balance beam for Easter and it was an instant hit. It’s soft, non slip so easy enough for my 1 and 3 year old to use. It folds up for easy storage, my kind of toy!  Grab a similar one here Shop Balance Beam

Science experiments

Science experiments are also not my first pick, but my kids LOVE them and never seem to bored of the same reaction every time (I wonder what that says about them :-)). Here’s a few tried and true.

  • Ice Cream in a Bag
  • Melting Rainbow Experiment
  • Making Crystals
    • Add 6-8 tablespoons of borax to a measuring cup
    • Wrap a pipe cleaner around a popsicle stick or skewer. Fold the other end to make a shape.  
    • Add 2 cups of boiling water to measuring cup with borax
    • Pour one cup of boiling water into each glass jar
    • Add hanging pipe cleaner to water, making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom
    • Top with book, and let sit for 12 hours



Preschool Homeschool 

Fine motor toys are so important for young kids.  I did a quick round up of some of my favorite fine motor toys for preschoolers here

How can you have a preschool without paint? I love letting my kids paint.  It seriously keeps them so busy! Washable paint in the only paint allowed in my house.  We’ve ruined so many outfits from paint and nothing makes me more mad!  Here’s some of our favorite paint .


Hope this keep you all busy for a little while! I’ll be add to the list as I find my favorites!  If you need something, just ask and of course, let me know what you of the list!







Motherhood Parenting

Positive Parenting Resource Round up

Hope you were able to enjoy our live interview with parent educator and coach, Ashley Luaders Patek, MS, OTR/L.  She is truly a wealth of information.  If you still want to catch the #replay, I have the link here.

Motherhood Parenting

How to Raise Your Child To be Kind

Somehow along the way, it’s become  tolerated to be unkind in this world.  I find this incredibly ironic given that I’ve seen more, now than ever, that we need to be more tolerant, teach love not hate and be more kind.  I see kindness marches, protests against violence and hundreds of social media posts about being kind, but yet here we are, continuing to be mean to one another.  Social media has made this easier, as we are able to hide behind our screens. I’ve felt more than ever that kindness and making the world a better place starts in the home.  Current events have my anxiety higher than ever, worried about what our future world looks like. But when I take a step back, I recognize I can’t change anyone but myself and here’s how I plan to change things for me and my family.  I am hopefully optimistic that starting small can turn into something bigger. Wouldn’t it be great to have the kid that everyone talks about being the “nice one” or the “kind one”, the one who is known for helping the undeserving. Want to join me? Since I’m not an expert in this area, I turned to two of my trusted friends who know more about this topic than I do. My friend and former colleague, Ashley Luaders Patek, MS, OTR/L is a positive parenting educator who contributed to this post. For more information about her and her services, visit her website Guided Parenting Solutions.

1. Work on yourself

We have ALL heard “they are watch”, meaning our littles are watching us.  Remember that old saying “monkey see, monkey do”? This is why it is so important to watch our own behavior first and foremost.  Are we mirroring kindness?   I know for me, I’ve been convicted by this question? I’m I doing the best I can? Do I want them to grow up to be like me, or do I want better for them?  Truth #1, I’m not the best example.  I screw up!  I get easily offended, I yell at my husband, I allow past wounds to stir up emotions inside me that come out in the worst way. I have HORRIBLE road rage, like really bad, I like to say I’m just a superior driver, learning to drive in Chicago, but the truth is, I pretty much cuss out the car in front of me, like every single day.  I’m inpatient in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru and even more impatient at the Walmart checkout.  You get the picture, I’m not the best example, so if I want my kids to become better people, some of the learning has to start with me.  How do I become a kinder person!? I’m someone who is very interested in personal development, so beginning in my mid-twenties, I started to see a counselor for individual therapy.  Once I got started, I fell in love with counseling and will always choose to keep going as an investment in my future. Truth #2, I’ve realized that because of deep wounds that I’ve carried with me for a long time, I’ve demonstrated inappropriate reactions and over the top or exaggerated responses which has affected my friendships, marriage and relationships with my children.  It’s a journey for me and it will probably never be complete, but I keep working and trying so I can be the best version of myself. Once I became a mom, I realized that I couldn’t just “wing” parenting.  I found myself tired, worn out and driving a wedge between me and my kids. It wasn’t because I wasn’t trying, it was that I did not have the tools I needed to make my home the place I wanted it to be.

2. Reach out for help with parenting.

I went to school for 4 years undergraduate and 2 years of graduate school to learn my trade as a Speech Language Pathologist. I spent hours, learning, observing, practicing, critiquing and perfecting my trade before ever seeing a real person on my own. I still remember the first swallow evaluation (yes, I evaluate human beings swallowing as a career)! I was terrified and I asked my colleagues advice before ever making a single decision. Years and years of continuing education requirements and self learning have gone into my career and I still don’t know everything. You know how many parenting classes I’ve taken? ZERO. Literally. None. Not one. The most important job I’ll ever do in my life and I’ve been given no education, no training and no expectation to keep learning. No one even taught me how to change a diaper. I got some instruction in how to breastfeed (but this consisted of about 5 minutes) and that’s it. I got some instruction on how to keep my baby alive but absolutely no education on how to raise my kids or help them become the best people they could be. Truth #3, it didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t know what I was doing and needed help. I’m always striving to do better cause I struggle in this area, a LOT!  After searching “parenting tips for toddlers” more times than I can count, I found positive parenting. What is positive parenting? Positive parenting is a model that encourages consistent, developmentally appropriate, non violent guidance to raise your children into successful, well adjusted kids.  Kids who are raised in homes with positive parenting ideals generally have higher levels of empathy, confidence, resilience and compassion.  Schools have studied this as it pertains to anti-bullying for years.  When I look at those adjectives, emphatic, confident, resilient and compassionate, aren’t those ALL the things we SO badly want for our children to be? So how do I achieve this?  I did my research and reached out to many moms who I trust and found there is so many resources available.  Here are some of the most popular resources available.

Read Books

Top Recommended books  
  1. Peaceful Parenting: Happy Kids  2. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame 3. Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide 4. The Whole Brain Child 5. Mindset
If you have read these and still need direction, here are some of our other favorites

Check out Websites and Follow Blogs

A friend and former colleague of mine, Ashley Luaders Patek, MS, OTR/L, is a parent educator and runs her own positive parenting business, Guided Parenting Solutions which has some great information.  You can find out more about her, her services and her blog here

Some of my other favorite websites that I find helpful include Positive Parenting Solutions. This is a course you can purchase but she also has free podcasts and other resources for you.  In addition, I often check out Love and Logic which always has up to date articles and resources for parents and educators. My favorite blogs include, Mindful Generation, Bounce Back Parenting, Raised Good and, Aha Parenting Here are some other favorites that many of my friends follow:


Free Resources to Grab

3. Help your Kids become Emphatic, Compassionate and Self-Confident

Empathy and Compassion According to parenting experts, young babies are capable of emotional empathy, a great example is when babies cry because another baby in the room is crying. Around ages 3-4, children begin to develop a sense of cognitive empathy.  This means they begin to understand that other people have feelings too. Reading is an excellent way to help kids learn about and develop empathy.  Interactive books in particular, help the children to feel like they are part of the stories.  When children connect to stories, they learn to connect with the characters and their feelings. Alison Manahan, M.A., CCC-SLP is a Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in early intervention, working with children ages 2-6 in a clinic in St. Louis. She is also a Usborne book consultant and helped me with a post Teaching Kids Empathy and Compassion through Books, recommending interactive books that focus on building the skills children need to learn empathy and compassion. Self-Confidence Self-confidence is very important and the work needs to start when they are young.  When kids are confident in themselves, they are much more likely to try new things and stand up to injustice, not just for themselves, but others as well. Confidence boosting ideas include the following:
  • allowing kids to do simple/age appropriate chores (win for mom :-)),
  • providing choices,
  • allowing kids to make age appropriate mistakes,
  • avoid calling children names even sarcastically,
  • don’t draw comparisons between your kids
  • spend one-on-one time with your kids
We have been trying most of these at our house and it really is amazing the change I’ve seen in my kids, particularly my daughter. She gains so much confidence from simple chores and one-on-one time with me and/or my husband. Simple tasks such as cutting the vegetables needed for dinner or helping to clear the table after dinner are great chores to give young kids. I hope you have enjoyed this post!  Diving into positive parenting has helped me to parent with more love and logic.