Helping Your Child With Homework

Posted 09-26-2016 at 01:45 AM by JPMP

stressful homework

 

Oh, homework. How parents often dread the course-work that gets sent home almost as much as their kids do. With school back in full-swing, it’s likely that your kiddo is bringing home math and English assignments almost daily. Some kids are great about sitting down once they get home and completing their work before heading out to play, while others really need an extra push to make sure they get what they need to done. Here are a few tips for how to make “homework-time” more effective.

Set Up A Homework/Study Zone

A quiet room free from distractions is best, meaning no cell-phones, no iPad, and no surfing the web if they’re using a computer. If they’re self-motivated enough, a desk in their bedroom would work great. But if they often get distracted by the toys in their room, maybe setting up a space in an office or even the kitchen table would work best. Make sure that the space you choose is well-lit, and stocked with any school supplies they need.

Establish A Routine

If you require homework to be done before they can go outside and play or watch a TV show make sure you stick with that consistently. Getting homework done right as they get home is great because the material should still be fresh in their mind, and then once they’re finished they can relax and spend the rest of their night having fun.

Provide A Snack

A long day at school often makes for a hungry kid. In order for them to be able to focus on their homework, having a healthy snack is important. Check out our other blog post that includes a few of our favorite nutritious after-school snacks. Spreading some peanut butter on apple slices is better than letting them grab a bag of chips in their ravenous state.

Be Available If They Need Help

Don’t be ashamed if you look at your 3rd Graders’ math book and feel completely perplexed. Trying to remember math that you haven’t used for years is not an easy task! Do your best to help them walk through the problems they don’t understand, and if you’re sure that you don’t know how to help them, encourage them to ask the teacher for help. Also, never rule out getting a tutor if you feel that your child is slipping too far behind.

 

You don’t have to have an office dedicated to homework, or know how to do everything their homework asks for. You simply need to make sure that you stick with a consistent homework schedule and help them with what you can. Homework is a time for kids to learn how to be more autonomous and take ownership of their own work. It can be great to help them learn how to manage their time, and practice concepts that they learned during school. As long as they have a distraction-free environment and the resources they need to succeed, they’ll do great!

 

 

Diaper Swapers

My Favorite Fresh Peach Dump Cake

Posted 09-24-2016 at 01:44 AM by JPMP

peachy

Peaches are my favorite fruit, so you can imagine my excitement when Summer rolls around and peaches come in season. There’s a peach orchard not far from my house, and they harvest peaches there that are to die for. Once they’re ripe, we head over and buy a huge box full. You’d think that we’d be rolling in peaches for months with the amount we buy, but we usually end up eating them all within the first week or so (we freeze a bunch of them so that we can use them in smoothies once we run out of fresh).

Recipes that include peaches are abundant, and we try out a large amount of them each Summer. There are a few recipes that have become family favorites and one of them is this super easy 4-Ingredient Fresh Peach Dump Cake. I love this recipe so much because it can be thrown together in no time, and as long as you have the fresh peaches, it’s pretty likely you already have the other ingredients in your kitchen.

This recipe is a combination of a few recipes I found online. When I first searched for a Peach Dump Cake, I was met with recipe after recipe asking for canned peaches in heavy syrup. Gag. (Okay, not really “gag,” I like canned peaches, too. And using the canned type works great during the winter when peaches go out of season. But I definitely prefer using freshly picked peaches when I have them on hand.) In addition to that, I’ve always loved oats in my cobbler, but I had no luck finding a recipe that included them. Because of that, I decided to experiment a little and come up with my own version. Let me know what you think!

 

4-Ingredient Fresh Peach Dump Cake

Ingredients

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix

1 Stick Butter, Melted

1 Cup Rolled Oats

About 5 Fresh Peaches, Sliced

(Optional: Cinnamon)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan, then add all of the sliced peaches.

In a medium bowl, mix together dry cake mix, oats, and melted butter.

Dump the crumbly cake mix and oat mixture over the top of the peaches, and sprinkle on a little cinnamon.

Place in the oven and let bake for 25 minutes.

I don’t think that it can get any easier or yummier than this recipe. You basically just “dump” all of the ingredients in a pan and bake it. Talk about my kind of recipe! This is perfect for putting all of those peaches to use, and is a great last-minute dessert if you want to whip something up but are short on time and ingredients. Also, you can always use canned peaches or substitute the peaches out for a different fruit entirely!

Let me know how you like this recipe in the comments!

Back-To-School Sleeping Habits

Posted 09-22-2016 at 01:42 AM by JPMP

The boy is afraid of ghosts at night

How much sleep is enough?

The beginning of school means that establishing good sleep-habits with your elementary-age child is even more important. Summer usually means sleeping in and staying up later than normal, but school requires waking up early and getting into bed early enough to get enough sleep. But how much sleep does your kid really need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 9 to 11 hours of sleep for children between the ages of 6-13. That means that a wake up time of 7 am should require a bedtime of at least 10 pm (though 8 pm would be more ideal). Getting your little boy or girl to head to bed when you want them to is a whole other issue. I’ve done some research and included a few tips for getting your kiddo to stick with their bedtime and get enough sleep at night.

Set the bedtime and stick with it

Consistency is key with kids. Pick an appropriate bedtime and enforce it each night, even on the weekends. This will get their internal clock into rhythm.

No electronics before bed

Some kids may insist that playing on the iPad helps them wind down, but in reality studies have shown that screen-time right before bed actually disrupts the ability to fall asleep and have a restful night. Make sure that screen-time is ended at least an hour before bed, and that other unwinding techniques are included instead.

Make bedtime relaxing

Warm showers, bedtime stories, and chatting with your child about their day before tucking them in are all great ways to make bedtime special and relaxing, increasing the likelihood that they will fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night.

Address their night-time fears

Lots of kids have fears of the dark or that there may be a monster in their closet. Instead of shrugging off their fears, hear them out and do what you can to help them feel more comfortable. This doesn’t necessarily mean letting them sleep with you in bed, but buying a fun night light or investigating their closet isn’t hard to do, and can make all the difference to them.

 

It’s usually the little things that make the biggest improvement for kids getting enough sleep. Simply staying consistent on bedtime and buying a night light may be all you need to help your child get the sleep that he or she needs to do their best at school the next day.

 

Let us know in the comments what you find is most helpful with getting your kids to bed on time, and helping them get the best sleep throughout the night!

 

The Very Best Backwards Cookies

Posted 09-20-2016 at 01:41 AM by JPMP

white chocolate chips

I had a time in my young, middle-school-aged life when I was obsessed with baking. It became a past time of mine that I was very fond of, and my family sure appreciated all of the goodies I’d make throughout the week. Mind you, this was in an age before Pinterest *GASP*, so my recipes all came from my moms old recipe books that she got from her wedding, and the occasional Google search. The real fun recipes that I tried came from food packages though. (Who would’ve thought that Triscuit crackers could be made into so many different appetizers?) This “Backwards Cookie” recipe came from the back of a Nestle White Chocolate Chips bag, and it soon became my signature cookie. I’d make these babies bi-weekly, and they were gobbled up so quickly! Give this recipe a try, and it will be sure to become a family favorite.

(Recipe courtesy of Very Best Baking by Nestle)

WHITE CHIP CHOCOLATE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Turn Those Ugly Plastic Pumpkins into Pretty Planters!

Posted 09-18-2016 at 01:40 AM by JPMP

z9

 

Turn Those Ugly Plastic Pumpkins into Pretty Planters! 

Try saying that 5 times fast. Plastic Pumpkins Into Pretty Planters… Plastic Pumpkins Into Pretty Planters…..

Goodness, could I have picked a better tongue twister for my title?

Anyways, onto the actual post… A couple of days ago I was making my way from one side of our storage room to the other (no easy task, mind you) when I came across a couple of plastic trick-or-treating pumpkin buckets. And by a couple, I mean 5. They were everywhere! After I saw the first one I kept running across another and another! Everywhere I turned there were plastic pumpkins!!!

Okay, it really wasn’t quite that horrifying. I’m being a little over dramatic, but there were more plastic pumpkins than I expected to come across on my trek through the storage space. I began thinking about what I could do with them since they no longer were going to be used. I could toss them out, or find a way to re purpose them. Since I was not feeling creative enough to brainstorm my own ideas I took to Pinterest. Once there, I found an adorable planter idea for the large buckets and just had to include this mini version for your table if you have any of these small pumpkins.

For just a few dollars you can make this absolutely adorable pumpkin centerpiece from Up to Date Interiors. I am not the biggest fan of faux flowers, so I opted to put a little water into the bottom of my pumpkins and trim a few fresh roses. You can do it either way though, and both look great!

If you liked those, you’ll love this larger version for your front porch from Drab to Fab! I just love the color she chose; it looks like an expensive pot! I’m sure you already have a few of those plastic pumpkins somewhere, but if not they shouldn’t cost you more than a couple dollars to buy. You can always use the same can of spray paint for both the large planters and the small pumpkin centerpieces above as well if you want to save another few dollars.

What I love so much about these is that they don’t just have to work for Halloween. Simply turn their pumpkin faces away and they’re perfect for September and November as well.

pumpkins-pinterest-e1442821544638

 

Let me know in the comments below how you ended up liking this easy craft!

 

Why Fall-Cleaning is Better Than Spring-Cleaning

Posted 09-18-2016 at 01:39 AM by JPMP

silver and orange dust pan and brush on white

While most people do most of their cleaning and organizing during the Springtime, I usually feel more inclined to do a big “Fall Clean.” Sure, it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but it works for me. During the colder months you’re often stuck inside the house more, meaning you have to actually live in your cluttered house. If you took care of de-cluttering in the fall, you’ll feel so much better when you’re inside on a snow day. Also, because of the holidays, you’re likely to have more guests coming into your home in the next few months than you do during every other month combined! Don’t worry about aunt Josie seeing your messy closet when she goes to hang up her coat, clean it out now!

I also like to get organized as we head into the holidays so that I can make sure I know where our decorations are located, and it feels nice to get rid of all the junk I’ve accumulated during the year so far (mostly to make room for all the additional junk we’ll accumulate during the next few months of holidays).

As the weather gets crisper there’s less of a need for water balloons and beat up flip-flops, so those types of seasonal items get stored away for next Summer (or thrown away if they’re too beat up, like the above-mentioned flip-flops). We also often have items laying around that are still in good use, but no longer our style or useful to us, so those items get donated. That’s just about it when it comes to how I “Fall Clean.”

  1. I make it my goal to tackle one area or room a day.
  2. I take 3 bins with me. One for storage, another for donating (or to sell in a yard sale if you prefer), and the last for trash.
  3. Go through drawers, under the bed, everything! And toss anything that doesn’t belong into one of those 3 bins.

If you stick to those three steps, in only a matter of weeks you’ll be totally de-cluttered and ready for the fun and stress that accompanies Fall and Winter!

The Best Teacher Gift Ideas!

Posted 09-16-2016 at 01:38 AM by JPMP

Teacher  Day. Hydrangea flowers and copybooks on the teacher's desk.

 

It’s always nice to bring a little something for your child’s teacher when school starts up again. It doesn’t have to be a big gift, just something thoughtful that you and your kiddo pick out. With the craziness of school starting again, learning all the new kids’ names, and making sure they have all of their lesson’s planned, most teachers would really love a small token of your appreciation. I’ve gathered a few inexpensive ideas for something fun for your child to take to the teacher sometime during the first few weeks of school.

Mug

He or she is probably overdosing on coffee this time of year, and would probably love a new mug! (Especially if it has a cute quote on it.) If you don’t want to buy one, grab some sharpies and draw on one yourself! Here are some instructions.

Pencil Holder

Paint a mason jar, or buy one at the store. Having a fresh new holder for their supplies will much appreciated! These two different mason jar pencil holders are so cute, you’ll have to give them a try!

Snacks

A batch of cookies or a few candy bars with a cute note is inexpensive and super sweet! I’m sure they’d love a sweet treat to hide in their desk drawer. I found the cutest printable tags for all kinds of different candies on this blog!

Markers

Sharpies, dry erase, Crayola, the options are endless, and they’re all on the top of most teachers’ lists. Wrap up a handful of Sharpies or a box of Crayola markers with a ribbon, and viola! You have the perfect teacher gift. Head here for some photo inspiration!

 

Just typing “teacher gifts” into Pinterest had me nearly drowning in adorable ideas. Any teacher receiving any of these sweet gifts is super lucky!

 

Let us know in the comments what you do to let your kids’ teachers know you appreciate them!

 

Do you buy Pampers occasionally? May as well earn rewards!

Posted 09-14-2016 at 08:41 AM by JPMP

3 Delicious French Toast Variations

Posted 09-14-2016 at 01:38 AM by JPMP

Plate of delicious French toast with bananas, walnuts and dripping maple syrup

 

French Toast is one of the reasons why breakfast is the best meal of the day. It’s not even really up for any debate; it’s simply one of the best foods out there. Now, if you’re a waffle or pancake person, I absolutely respect your opinion. But I can’t help by throw a few of these incredible French Toast recipes in your face just to tempt you to join the (better) team. ;)

 

Strawberries and Cream French Toast

Could you think of a better brunch entrée? I think not! This is more of a traditional recipe for French Toast, but boy is it good. I love that it’s made with Brioche bread and that the berries are simmered over the stove to bring out their natural sweetness. If you’re looking to keep with the more original, but still insanely tasty, version of French Toast, I highly recommend this recipe.

 

Coconut Cream Pie French Toast

Now I understand that not everyone is a coconut person, and while I am just as firmly Team Coconut as I am Team French Toast, I get it. It’s an interesting fruit with an interesting texture and flavor that some people just aren’t a fan of. This French Toast is dreamy though, and I believe that even those wary of coconut may love it. Try the coconut milk in the recipe, but skip the toasted coconut garnish on top. That way it’s not terribly coconut-ty (not quite sure that’s a word, but we’ll go with it). If you are a coconut fan, then pile on the coconut at the end, and maybe even try this coconut syrup! I’ve heard it’s delicious.

 Pumpkin French Toast

Some may say that with it being the beginning of September it is too early for Pumpkin. I would have to disagree. I think that Pumpkin should be welcomed at any time of the year, but with school having started and the Halloween Decorations already popping up in some stores, I think that it’s perfectly acceptable to whip up this yummy Pumpkin French Toast this weekend.

 

Those are just a few of my personal favorite recipes if you’re craving French Toast. Go ahead and give them a try and let us know in the comments how they were!

 

How To Fly Without Spending A Fortune

Posted 08-30-2016 at 01:08 AM by JPMP

Aircraft taxiing

 

 

Airline tickets can be so expensive and in some cases it is smarter and easier on your wallet if you simply drive. In the cases when driving is not possible, or you just can’t stand the thought of sitting in the car with screaming kids for hours on end, go ahead and book those airline tickets! But keep in mind that you don’t always have to pay an outrageous amount. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful for keeping flying affordable.

Book your flight early

For in-country flights prices usually skyrocket within 2 weeks from the departure date. International flights usually see increases from about 3 months prior, so be sure to book as early as you can to avoid a price increase.

Don’t book your flight too early

Yes, I’m contradicting myself here. While it is important to stay out of that last 2 weeks or few months for international travel, the prices on tickets fluctuate so much that prices may drop if you wait a bit. This unpredictable waiting game was the worst until I discovered Hopper. It’s an app that sends you notifications for price fluctuations. It also lets you know if it expects prices to drop lower in the future! There may be other programs out there that do the same type of thing, look around and try them out!

Don’t rule out other airports

Simply flying into Orange County vs LAX could save you quite a bit of money, you just may have to drive a little further to your hotel. But if the price is right, you could still end up saving!

Explore your options

Just because one site has a great price doesn’t mean another can’t beat it! Make sure you check multiple sites and airlines before committing.

Limit checked bags

This varies between airlines, but most airlines will allow each person one carry-on and one personal item (a laptop or small bag). Try to pack all of your necessities into the carry-on’s and avoid paying for checked bags. If you do need to take items that need to be checked, try to keep them to a minimum so that you’ll only have to check one bag. If you end up getting on a flight that is full often times they will allow you to gate-check your carry-on bags for free to clear up overhead space. Take advantage of this!

 

Please leave us a comment about what tips you have for flying on the cheap!