Blog

Brace Yourself, There’s A New Breed of Grandmothers

Oh how times have changed! I don’t know about you, but this is the picture I get in my head when I think about grandmothers.

Grandmothers
When Grandmothers Looked Like Grandmothers

Memories of my own grandmother include feeling terrified the first time I found her teeth in a glass, hours of gin rummy, and absolute giddiness anticipating her visits. I also remember she had breasts so pendulous you hesitated to hug her if you knew she wasn’t wearing a bra. (I could really do without that memory.) Continue reading “Brace Yourself, There’s A New Breed of Grandmothers”

STEM activities

Kiwi Crate: STEM Activities for Preschoolers

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means (at no additional cost to you) I receive a small commission when you purchase through these links.

Because we’re a blended family, our grandchildren have multiple grandparents. Four of them are even blessed with very active and involved great-grandparents. And then there’s the doting great-aunts. Needless to say, there is a lot of love and a LOT of toys. You can never have too much love, but you can have too many toys.  So when the oldest grandchild’s birthday rolled around, we wanted to do something different (and we were forbidden to buy more toys). If we couldn’t buy toys, we wanted to make sure we got something that was at least fun. It was by accident that I stumbled across Kiwi Crate  STEM activities for preschoolers, but I’m so glad I did.

Play and learn

This was my first experience with a subscription type of product (except for my beloved Rodan and Fields). Unsure of what to expect I chose the 3-month package.  Right from the beginning it was a hit. This is the first time he had gotten a package in the mail.  I could have sent an empty box and he would have still squealed with delight. This may be a genetic quality that I passed on to him as I also get pretty excited when a box comes in the mail.

His first crate was the ocean crate, which was perfect because we spend a lot of time talking about octopuses (I have no idea why). The items are really quite simple, but they have been thoughtfully chosen to inspire learning through play. The box included creative materials for craft activities, a little magazine just for kids, and a parent guide. More related DIY resources are also available online which is a nice way for us to extend the fun until the next crate arrives.

STEM activities for preschoolers isn’t novel or new.

Science, Math and Engineering concepts may seem more suited for the big kids, but truthfully, preschoolers just naturally do STEM things. Building forts, playing with Legos, helping in the kitchen, etc. all are opportunities to connect those Science, Math, Engineering and Technology dots.  This type of play helps them build critical thinking skills and goodness knows we all need more of that.

Unboxing the crate

Unboxing Kiwi Crate
Unboxing the Crate

We had almost as much fun opening the box as we did doing the activities. Not being a very crafty person, I really appreciated that everything we needed was already in the box.

I didn’t have to spend hours on Pinterest trying to find age appropriate crafts. Yes, hours because who can jump on Pinterest and jump right back off? Best of all, no trip to Michaels (the store where I would rather remove my eyelids, douse my head in honey then jump into a fire ant bed, rather than go).

I also like that it’s not a one trick pony. The  crate contains mutliple activities that kept him engaged much longer than I anticipated.

There’s also the added bonus that “crate time” is a reprieve from playtime with the very realistic sounding fire trucks. Yeah, there’s that!

Yay or Nay?

Kiwi Crate Fan
Happy Kiwi Crate Fan

We’re a Kiwi crate fan for sure!

  1. Just the excitement of getting a special package in the mail was worth seeing.
  2. The activities really inspired his creativity. You could almost see the ideas bouncing around in his head.
  3. The crate is our little thing. It’s bonding plus learning plus playing. Win. Win. Win.

Seeing it first hand inspired me to become one of their affiliate partners. This means I make a small commission every time someone orders through my links – but it doesn’t change the price for you. In fact, occasionally I’m able to offer special pricing through our partnership like this 40% discount on your first order. Just use the promo code BDAY17.

STEM/STEAM is so much more than just educational buzzwords. These Kiwi Crates have done a beautiful job of integrating little snippets of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math in to everyday play and keeps their little STEM minds churning. It’s worth a visit to Kiwico.com to see all of the options. There is something for almost every age group, even newborns.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Eat Free on Your Birthday: Morning, Noon and Night

Yay! It’s my birthday month. I love, love, love my birthday and try to stretch out the celebration as much as I can – like all month long. This year I decided to pay a little more attention to all those birthday freebies available and be more strategic in my pursuit. Whoa! I’ve truly been missing out. So you don’t miss out too I’ve created this How to Eat Free on Your Birthday Guide.

The days of just a corny off-tune birthday song with chocolate syrup over vanilla ice cream are over. I mean, it’s my birthday and a  girl’s gotta eat. So why not eat for free?  All. Day. Long! Continue reading “Eat Free on Your Birthday: Morning, Noon and Night”

Sign Language for Babies: Pre-verbal Communication

Sign Language for Babies
Signing “More”

You may be wondering why anyone would want to teach sign language for babies. When I first heard about it, I wondered the same thing. Several years ago I met a woman who was quite passionate about educating people about the benefits of sign language for hearing babies. Her passion piqued my interest enough that I began to research it more. It turns out that there are quite a few benefits not only for the child but for the parents as well.

Recently I had a very frightening experience. My car lost complete power without any warning. It was early morning, still dark and I was stranded at an intersection without headlights, brake lights or emergency flashers. Worse, I couldn’t unlock the doors or even roll down the windows to get out of the car. Needless to say, I had a total freak out moment not knowing if the cars coming behind me would know my car was stopped at a green light. Fast forward…. $800 and a new alternator and battery and I’m back in business. Or so I thought. A week later, my car was being towed back to the dealership.

What does this have to do with sign language for babies? Nothing, but it has to do with communication. As hard as I tried, I could not adequately explain to the mechanic what happened to my car before it shut down. Between my lack of vocabulary for the correct terms, my limited knowledge of proper names for the gauges and equipment affected, and my “post traumatic stress” from the initial incident the communication was less than effective. When the person you’re speaking with doesn’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, it’s frustrating, even stressful. The natural reaction is to keep repeating the same thing over and over, just louder. As you know, this only results in increased frustration, not resolution. Continue reading “Sign Language for Babies: Pre-verbal Communication”

Join Amazon Student Prime – Free 6 months Trial!

Join Amazon Student Prime now and get a 6-month trial free!

You can cancel at the end of 6 months but if you decide to keep it, you get 50% off of Amazon Prime including all Prime benefits for four years or until you graduate, whichever comes first.

Here’s a list of all of the goodies you get with your membership:

  • Free 2 day shipping (holla)
  • Prime Video: Unlimited streaming of  thousands of movies and TV shows
  • Prime Photo: Unlimited photo storage
  • Twitch Prime: I’m not even going to pretend I know what this is. (Free game content and exclusive emotes) -What? Anyway, I’m sure it’s good.

After the trial, you get 50% off of Amazon Prime which unlocks all the goodies.

You get all of the above plus Prime music. You also get the ability to refer a friend to Prime Student and receive $10.

Join Prime Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students

Save

Save

Save

Best Gifts for New Grandmothers – Your Search Begins Here

Best Gifts for New GrandmothersAre you looking for a thoughtful pregnancy reveal gift or new Grandmother gift? Whether you’re making the announcement to your own parents or celebrating the excitement with one of your friends, your search for the best gifts for new grandmothers begins here. Either is certainly an occasion worthy of a “grand” gesture.

No doubt, times have definitely changed. Today, nearly all of life’s major (and minor) moments are celebrated in elaborate fashion. From prom proposals to gender-reveal parties and everything in between. Maybe you’re thinking that things have gotten out of control. Some may even argue that these events have become over the top exaggerated but the truth is our brains recall memories with the most emotional connection. When these occasions are commemorated, our mind bookmarks these memories and files them in the “save for later” folder. That’s why things like photos, videos, and gifts trigger those warm and fuzzy feelings. They allow us to re-live these happy times again and again. Lucky for us there’s scientific evidence to support parties, picture taking, and gift giving. Continue reading “Best Gifts for New Grandmothers – Your Search Begins Here”

The Best Lotion for Feet – How to Keep Your Feet Baby Soft.

baby feet on sand
Baby Soft Feet

Are you always searching for the best lotion for feet?

It seems as though I’m forever on the hunt for the best lotion for feet. I’m not difficult or hard to please, I just want a lotion that will keep my feet baby soft, but isn’t too watery, too greasy or too perfume-y.

Hallelujah! I just had a total Goldilocks moment! I have finally found the one that is just right. And…. it only cost me $76,485.00.

The $76,485.00 Foot Lotion

Let me explain. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to drive for about 2 weeks following a recent surgery, I tried to stock up on our everyday essentials ahead of time. Unfortunately, lotion didn’t make it to the shopping list.

There is nothing like a hospital stay to make you appreciate and crave the familiar. Your own clothes, your own shower, and especially your own bed feels even more comfortable than you recall. Eager to get my regular routine back on track, disappointment set in when I realized I had forgotten to replenish the lotion I keep on the nightstand. Silently cursing the empty bottle by my bed, I suddenly remembered that “complimentary” bag the hospital sent home with me. Included in the bag were sample size toiletries. There it was. Wait for it. Johnson’s Baby Lotion. Yes, Johnson’s Baby Lotion. It’s not greasy, it’s not smelly, it’s just right! With a fast absorbing formula, it actually soaks in quickly and leaves my skin and feet feeling  – well…. baby soft.

Why, why, why have I not thought of this before? With 5 grandchildren there’s certainly no shortage of baby lotion at my disposal! Face palm! It only took a moment of desperation, and unfortunately, an accompanying $76,485.00 hospital bill to realize the perfect foot lotion has been right under my nose.

Baby Lotion
Johnson’s Baby Lotion

Under different circumstances, (or for the rest of you) this lotion is actually very inexpensive, just over six bucks for 27 ounces.

The moral of the story:

Don’t dismiss the simple things. Sometimes we overlook the simple things right in front of us to chase after something unknown that we think might be better. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll remember it doesn’t always have to be fancy, shiny, or expensive to get the job done.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Easy Valentine Crafts for Kids – Tic Tac Toe Snacks

Easy Valentine Crafts for Kids
Valentine Tic Tac Toe Craft Snack

Don’t you just love it when an idea comes together better than expected? When you find easy Valentine crafts for kids that also double as snack time – you know you’ve got a winner.

This little crafty snack (or snacky craft) is so simple, but so genius. We can even cover sight words, counting, shapes, hand/eye coordination, fine motor/pincer grasp skills and sharing with this little activity. Truthfully, these will probably be gobbled up long before we get any educational benefit – but hey, it sounds good.

When my children were small, there never seemed to be enough hours in the day for this kind of “time stealer”.  I still don’t consider myself a very crafty person, but I have to admit I enjoy these activities more than I thought I would. Now that I have the luxury of interacting in a role that is mostly removed from the day to day grind and responsibilities of parenting, these stolen moments feel pretty special. Laundry, supper, and homework aren’t competing for our time and my brain isn’t secretly screaming “hurry up, there’s still so much to do”. Like the cookie icing needed for these tic tac toe crackers, our play time is the glue that’s building our bond.

The moral of the story:

The old saying is true. Time is money, but more importantly, time is precious and time spent with grandchildren is priceless!

I can’t unscramble eggs. But if I could, I definitely would have spent more time saying “yes, we can play a little longer” and less time saying “not right now, I’m really busy” when my own kids were younger.  Thankfully, I get a chance to do it better.

There’s a reason, this phase of parenting is called grand – because it is!

Tic Tac Toe Graham Crackers – What you’ll need:

Graham Crackers

Wilton Cookie Icing (red, pink, blue or white)

Candy Conversation Hearts

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

12 Gift Exchange Ideas For Under $30

If you have a competitive family like mine then you know bringing just the right gift to the family gift exchange party involves a certain amount of stress. But not this year! Thanks to this list of 12 gift exchange ideas for under $30 dollars you can put your mind at ease. No worries if you also wait until the last minute – that’s what Amazon Prime is for!

Part of the fun of our gift exchange is trying to come up with that one gift everybody will want and “fight” over. It’s not my personality to cause such a ruckus, but trust me, there are people in my family that can certainly win that award. They are champion ruckus makers. Hmm…that’s a thought, maybe we’ll give trophies for “best gift” and “chief ruckus maker” that can be passed on year after year.  (note to self)

Typically, my strategy is to figure out what my kids are hoping to score and secretly plot to get that gift. I’ll let them squirm a bit but deep down they know I’ll eventually give it to them when we get home. So, in reality, they have double the chance of getting the gift they want. This also explains why all of my kids have Yeti tumblers and I have the knock off brand.  (Insert sigh)

This is my 2016 list of 12 gift ideas (under $30) that are sure to be winners. Heck, you might even come home with the “best gift” trophy.

Now you can grab some wine, put your feet up, and click, click, click – you’re done!

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Car Seats Are Not Optional at Grandmother’s House

Britax Convertible Car Seat
Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. We all know that the rules get a little, shall we say, “overlooked” at the grandparents’ house – especially during the holidays (or summer vacations). But there is one hard and fast rule at our house. Car seats are not optional. There is no flexibility, not even a little wiggle room. Nada, none!

I’ve always been somewhat of a safety Nazi anyway, but after my husband went to work in the injury prevention field, I may have gotten a little worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). However, I do feel completely justified. As part of his job duties, he attends State child fatality review hearings. These meetings are hard. The stories are gut wrenching and the most heart-breaking cases are the ones that were most likely preventable.

I like to keep things light-hearted over here on the blog, but this is a serious subject. The facts are conclusive – car seats save lives. It’s not enough to just have a car seat. The right car seat, for the right age, with proper installation and consistent usage is what makes them so effective at keeping kids safe. It’s a little more involved than running to the nearest baby store and picking out the one with the cutest pattern. Do you need an infant seat, a convertible seat, or a booster seat? Wait, what? The type of car, the age, weight and height of the child are all important factors in this decision. Thankfully there are a number of resources that can guide you through the process. Parent Central on the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) website has a wealth of information.

There are many good options, but after extensive research, visits to the manufacturing plant, and a lot of discussion with my husband (our resident certified expert in car seats), we chose the Britax USA Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat and the Britax B Safe Elite 35 Infant Car Seat with additional base. Thankfully, we haven’t personally had to put the safety standards to the test, but I do feel comfortable that we have the best car seats available for our crew of five grands – and one more on the way.

Lastly, every state has certified child passenger safety technicians who can either properly install the car seat for you, check to make sure you have installed it properly, and/or educate you on proper installation. Take advantage of this resource. Click here to find a technician near you.

There’s no better time to be safe rather than sorry.

Britax infant carseat in use
Our first grand bundle of joy leaving the hospital

 

Be Grand Blog Signature

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Blended Family Holidays: The Struggle is Real.

Gold Box HolidaysThe  “most wonderful time of the year” is just around the corner, but some of us know it’s not always so wonderful. Blended family holidays can be uniquely stressful. As a blended family, we’re used to navigating the holidays with multiple families. Now, we’re a blended family with grandchildren – making things a little trickier. There are only so many hours to work with on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Forty-eight to be exact. The struggle is real.

When the kids were little, the holidays included our house (Mom and step-dad), His house (Dad and Stepmom), Her house (Mom and Stepdad) and the Grandparents house. The grandparents’ house was sacred ground. Not once did I consider changing a single thing about this family tradition. It was important for the boys not to have any more “new” than was necessary. Grandmother’s house was the one thing that never changed. It was home base and to some degree, still is.

Twenty years later, we’re still navigating. Our family has grown substantially. We’ve been blessed with four daughters-in-law and five grandchildren and one on the way. Now there are seven sets of parents jumbled in this madness. Not to mention that the kids want to start building their own memories and establishing their own traditions. We will always respect this.

Thanksgiving was a pretty easy transition. We made the Sunday before Thanksgiving our day to celebrate. No pressure, no guilt – and it’s worked nicely.

But Christmas, everybody wants a piece of that day – especially now that there are grandchildren. We managed to coordinate and share time pretty well in the early days, even as the kids got older, even after they married. We even managed to keep our tradition of gathering together early Christmas morning two more seasons after the grandchildren came along.

This year will be the start of a new tradition. One that comes with the sacrifice of letting go. We won’t expect the kids to hurry through their own Christmas morning to rush to our house, just to rush to the next house and the next, and the next. We’ll be celebrating another day, just like we do for Thanksgiving. On Christmas day, there will be a little less hustle and bustle at our house, but the doors will be open for whoever can come, whenever they can come. This holiday will be different, but just as special. No pressure, no guilt.

be-grand-blog-signature

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save