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Family & Parenting

3 Tips to Calm the Holiday Chaos this Year

This post is sponsored by Red Baron but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Boy Eating Pizza near Christmas Tree

Calm the Holiday Chaos

The holidays are a busy time of year for everyone but they are especially busy for us moms who have to prepare our homes for family and guests, shop for presents, and maintain traditions, on top of our everyday busy schedules.  Luckily throughout the years, I have picked up a few tips to save time while keeping everyone happy.

3 Tips for Keeping the Holiday Stress-Free

Make the Lists and Check Them Twice

The quickest way to get overwhelmed and stressed out this holiday season is to go in it without a plan and unorganized.  Take several hours now that the kids are back in school and make all your lists.  A gift list, a Christmas card list, a grocery list if you are hosting a holiday party or dinner, and so on depending on what your holiday plans look like.  I make all the lists!  I even have a list of cleaning to be done over the next month, fun things to do, etc. having everything out of my head and able to be crossed off instantly makes my brainless stressed.

Supreme pizza

Give Yourself a Break with Family Pizza Night!

Find time to relax and take in the beauty of the holiday season.  The one way I find time during the holidays is to streamline our weeknight meals.  I like easy and delicious options that I can count on and Red Barron pizza is my go-to!

Boy eating Pizza for Pizza Night

Pizza Party with Red baron Pizza

At the end of a busy workday, the kids come home from school hungry with backpacks full of homework.  Then there are letters to be mailed to Santa, shopping to do, and of course the holiday fun.  So having easy dinner options on hand that my family loves is imperative!  I always keep a Red Baron Classic Crust Cheese Pizza and a Classic Crust Supreme Pizza in the freezer to helps me calm the mealtime chaos and keep everyone’s belly happy.

Red Baron Pizza

Create Fun and Easy Traditions

Some people enjoy making entire gingerbread houses from scratch, that’s not me.  So I go for the boxed version and enjoy sneaking candy from my kid’s dishes as they decorate.  This is a tradition for us, but it entails little cleanup and no stress on my part.  

Movie nights are another stress-free tradition that we adore.  There is nothing better than cuddling up with the kids and some hot chocolate to watch a holiday movie with the Christmas tree lit up in the background.  

Baking my grandmothers cookie recipe is a tradition I look forward every holiday season, granted it creates quite a mess to clean up but it is still something I absolutely love.  

Choose the traditions you love and get rid of the ones that overwhelm you and stress you out!

Tree with Candy Canes for Stress Free Holiday

How do you calm the crazy and stay festive during the holidays?

 

 

Easy Christmas Craft Idea Santa’s Binoculars

Santa Binoculars Christmas Craft

Santa Binoculars Easy Christmas Craft

This Santa Binoculars craft is perfect for the upcoming Christmas holiday! Your little one will love using them to “spy” Santa!

We all know that Santa sees you when you’re sleeping, so this fun craft is only fair so that your little one can now try and see him! Think how much fun your child will have creating these Santa binoculars from start to finish and then using them to look up at the sky! Will they spy Santa and his reindeer? I don’t know, but it’s sure a cute sight to see.

Not only is this craft really fun, but it’s also crazy simple too. All it takes is a few items, and you and your child are well on your way creating this fun craft.

Add this fun craft to any holiday event! It’s especially fun if you can invite over some of their friends and let them all create together. Throw in a few cookies to decorate and you’ve got yourself a real holiday party!

Make certain that you help your child out with this craft as there are some parts that need a bit of parental assistance!

Boy using Santa Binoculars Christmas Craft

Start the spirit of Christmas early with this adorable craft!

What’s Needed to Make Santa’s Binoculars

2 Empty TP Holders
Red Felt
Gold Scrapbook Paper
White Faux Fur
Black Tape (I used Gorilla)
Ribbon or String
Hot Glue Gun
Scissors

Santa Binoculars Christmas Craft Supplies

Directions to Make Santa’s Binoculars Christmas Craft

Cut 2 rectangles the width of your tp rolls and make sure the length covers the entire roll as well. Wrap each piece around the holders then glue.

Santa Binoculars Christmas Craft Step 1

Place both toilet paper holders together and wrap the end with the black tape. This will hold the binoculars in place.

Santa Binoculars Christmas Craft Step 2Cut a small square out of the gold paper and glue on to the middle of the black tape.

Santa Binoculars Christmas Craft Step 3

Wrap the faux fur around the end of the binoculars and cut to size, then glue on.

Santa Binoculars Christmas Craft Step 4

Cut the ribbon/string to the desired length needed. Glue each end to the inside of the toilet paper holders or between the felt and tp holder.

Take outside and look for Santa!! Have Fun!

Easy Christmas Craft Binoculars

 

5 Benefits of Music Lesson for Kids and Why We Choose Guitar Center

This post is sponsored by Guitar Center and The Motherhood,  All opinions are my own.

Girl playing guitar for Music lessons

Top Benefits of Music Lessons for Kids

Music has always been a part of my family life.  All of my uncles play the guitar while one is in a band, and several of my cousins play musical instruments and DJ.  Unfortunately, I never got into playing an instrument as a child, and it is something I regret now, so when Anthony came to me asking to take guitar lessons I didn’t hesitate to run to Guitar Center and sign him up.  Anthony has always been a very shy child and building up his self-esteem has not been an easy task, he also has generalized anxiety, so when I learned the benefits of music lessons for kids I realized this was a lot more important than some of the other hobbies we’ve tried in the past.

Boy Playing Guitar

Taking music lessons provides countless benefits for kids from hand-eye coordination to cultural awareness and many of the life skills it provides are phenomenal.

5 benefits of Music Lessons

Increased Social Skills:

When a child plays in a group setting, they need to learn to work together to create the musical goals they are working towards.  Learning to have patience with others and to cheer on their peers will help build stronger social skills 

Academic Improvement and Retention:

Learning to play an instrument is an exercise for the brain and helps teach them how to store and retrieve memories.  This skill can have a profound impact on your child’s academic performance.

Lowers Anxiety:

By building a child’s self-esteem, social skills, and confidence, they are able to feel more relaxed in a social setting. 

Gives a Sense of confidence and self-esteem:

Working hard on something and seeing it through to fruition generates a sense of pride and confidence in everyone including children.  

Helps Create Discipline:

Learning to play an instrument requires patience and hours of practice.  Learning a single note can take countless tries which teaches children to keep trying even when things get hard.

 

Guitars on display for children

Lessons at Guitar Center

The Curriculum

Guitar Center has created a custom curriculum focusing on teaching theory through contemporary music. All curriculum programs are approved by the National Association for Music Education, the world’s largest arts education organization. They can also help tailor curriculum to your goals and interests with a database on thousands of songs to learn.

The Convenience

With over 200 locations nationally, brand-new facilities Guitar Center Lessons is a one-stop shop. From lessons to retail to instrument repairs to supplemental learning materials, Guitar Center can cover any aspiring student’s needs. Plus, their program gives students the ability to continue learning on the go with online resources and the ability to schedule at any location.  

Pro Instructors with a Passion for Music

All Guitar Center Lessons instructors are passionate, playing musicians who want to help you reach your musical goals. Based on your needs and wants.  You are paired with the instructor that is right for you!

Contemporary Instrumentation

You can take any instrument, anywhere. They make sure you have the musical foundation to achieve any level on any instrument.

The Achievement Program

They offer a 6 tiered program to help students monitor their progress.

 

Give the Gift of Lessons with Guitar Center’s Holiday Promotion!

This holiday season when you buy 3 Lessons you’ll receive the 4th Lesson FREE!
(New students only. Not to be used in conjunction with any other coupons, promotions or lessons offers. No cash value. Buy 3 lessons at current Guitar Center market pricing and receive the 4th lesson complimentary. Offer valid at Guitar Center Lessons locations only. Valid November 23-December 26. Registration ($30) must be paid at the time of purchase.)

Boy playing guitar after music lessons

Hey MUGGLES, Check out the New HARRY POTTER Dolls at Walmart!

This post is sponsored by Mattel, but all opinions are my own.

Harry Potter Dolls at Walmart

New Harry Potter™ Dolls at Walmart

Do you have a family full of HARRY POTTER fans like me? My children are huge Harry Potter fans, they have all 8 movies, multiple copies of each Harry Potter book, and quite the collection of wands. Anthony, my oldest son even saved up every dollar he made for over a year to buy an authentic GRYFFINDOR Robe. Now the new Harry Potter dolls are being added to our wizarding collection.

new harry potter dolls at walmartI remember the first time I walked in on Anthony reading one of the Harry Potter stories to his twin brother and sister, my heart melted! As a mom, I love seeing my children bond over their mutual love for this story, however, Aidan certainly has a disappointment coming his way in 2 years when he doesn’t get an invitation to attend HOGWARTS School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on his 11th birthday.

harry potter dolls colection

Collect all 6 Harry Potter Dolls at Walmart

We were thrilled to hear about Mattel’s new line of Harry Potter dolls that are available at Walmart. These dolls give my children a creative outlet while they enjoy alongside each other with their favorite Gryffindor best friends, Harry, and RON WEASLEY.
They spend hours playing with these dolls, either recreating their favorite movie scenes or imagining their own battles against VOLDEMORT while Harry protects all the MUGGLES!
(Muggles is a term used for non-magic users in the Harry Potter universe)
6 Hogwarts friends are together again in this line of Harry Potter Dolls.

  • HARRY POTTER
  • RON WEASLEY
  • HERMIONE GRANGER
  • GINNY WEASLEY
  • ALBUS DUMBLEDORE 
  • MINERVA MCGONAGALL

Each Harry Potter doll is ready to fully play in any scene you want. All dolls come in their Hogwarts uniform with their own personalized wands! When I saw that even the wands were made to replicate there storyline I knew these dolls were impeccably made down to the littlest detail, even featuring Harry Potter’s Lightning bolt scar.

harry potter dolls magic duel

The Harry Potter dolls are also made with eleven moveable joints in the neck, shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, and wrists. This is important when a child is acting out a magic duel!

walmart harry potter dolls magic duel

We currently have both the Harry and Ron dolls, but Harry Potter and his friends are better together. So, I have a deal going on with my kids, I agreed to get them an additional doll for each week they do exceptional at school.
Are you excited about these new Harry Potter dolls? Which doll are you planning a trip to Walmart to get first? Make sure to collect each of your favorite characters and participate in even more of the Harry Potter fun!

harry Potter dolls wizard wanted sign DIY

Creating the Harry Potter Scene

If your children are like mine, they will be creating broomsticks to ride on with their dolls, Bulbadox powder, Spells, Butterbeer, and more to create the scene with their favorite characters by their side. Last weekend they were creating a scene where Harry was being sent to Azkaban Prison for no reason, so they asked me to print out a wanted sign. I did them one better and created a photo prop, so they can all be wanted by the Ministry of Magic and Azkaban Prison.

Harry Potter Azkaban Prison Wanted Sign Photo Prop DIY

Supplies to make Harry Potter Wanted Sign

A thick piece of beige Poster Board
Black Sticker Letters
Black Paint
Scissors or Exacto Knife

Harry Potter Dolls DIY

First, cut out a large square in the center of the posterboard. Make sure it’s large enough for the prisoners face to be seen in the mugshot.
Next, use the large letter stickers to spell out “Have You Seen This Wizard?” on the top of the square, and “Wanted” on the bottom of the square.
After finishing up with the stickers, I used some black paint around the edges of the square to cover up any imperfections in my cutting job. Also, if you have extra space on the board writing “Warning: Use Extreme Caution – Do not attempt to use magic on this Wizard” would look extra magical!
That’s all, this prop only took me about 30 minutes to make but the kids love it and it is adding some extra fun to their magical playtime.

muggles harry potter dolls diy

© & ™ WBEI. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s18)

Why Inclusive Play is Important – Landscape Structures Inclusive Playgrounds

This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Boys Climbing in Inclusive Playground

Why Inclusive Play Is Important

I remember the painful thoughts that ran through my mind when Aidan was diagnosed with Autism, and then again when Lilly’s diagnosis and weak muscle strength began.  Would they be able to make friends and participate in play?  Would they be able to ride a bike?  Would they be able to play with other kids?  These are questions I never imagined thinking about with my oldest son, but they are the never-ending thoughts a parent of children with disabilities has.  When Anthony was a preschooler, I didn’t think twice about spending an afternoon at the playground or think twice about the play equipment, however, when the twins were that age I suddenly needed to think about play structures in an entirely new way.  Which is what makes Landscape Structures Inclusive playgrounds so special to my heart.

Girl at Inclusive Playground

Landscape Structures Inclusive Playgrounds

Kids learn so many life skills on the playground and the foundation of those skills begins at an early age so it is extremely important for children of all abilities to participate in an inclusive play space. Inclusive Play is not just focusing on accessibility,  it brings age, developmental appropriateness, and sensory-stimulating activity into the equation which results in social equity and increasingly diverse social communities.

Lilly’s muscle tone has improved after years of hard work and physical therapy and Aidan’s Autism is high functioning, however I truly believe that the social skills they have now has a lot to do with the inclusive play that they had available throughout the years and now we continue to spend out playground time at Inclusive Playgrounds because I want them to always understand that everyone is made different and beautiful and deserves to be included.

Boy at Inclusive Play Space

3 Important Life Lessons Children Learn on the Playground 

Kids learn how to make friendships by working together and helping one another.

The first place my children made friends, outside of the family, was on the playground. There is something heartwarming about a child being able to run onto the playground and within the blink of an eye, they are jumping around with a group of kids. They help each other and encourage each other to cross the monkey bars or face their fears and go down the high slide. Children learn that working together will make the see-saw work and build sandbox villages faster. They learn that climbing as high as you can is a lot more fun with someone to enjoy the view with.

Kids learn to use their imaginations and collaborate with each other.

The play structure becomes a pirate ship and the slide is a plank into the alligator waters. The climbing dome is a princess castle that is protected by magic. They learn to use their imaginations together and create some amazing play time as each child adds a different aspect to the story.

Kids learn to be leaders and make decisions while celebrating each other.

As they play children learn to make decisions for themselves, which leads them to become leaders and builds their confidence. From deciding who is going to be the captain of the ship to figuring out who is going down the slides together, decisions are made and leaders are built.

Children at inclusive playground

Children learn so much on the playground!  Landscape Structures believes that through inclusive play, kids learn life lessons such as leadership, persistence, support, and empathy.  Which I also believe wholeheartedly making Inclusive Playgrounds so important.

Playground for inclusive play

Find an Inclusive Playground Near You

October is Sensory Awareness Month!  So why not head to a great Inclusive Playground today?  One of our favorite Landscape Structures Inclusive playgrounds is Sims Park in New Port Richey when we are close to home.  We also love to stop at Common Ground Park in Lakeland as a car break on our drives over to Orlando.  Want to find an Inclusive Playground close to you?  Visit the Landscape Structures site and search for the playground that fits your needs!

Inclusive Playground Structure

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