✨3D Paper Snowflake ❄️ in 6 easy steps✨

3D paper snowflakes ❄️ are easy to make and your kids can help!

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I love doing arts and crafts with my boys. It is a creative outlet for me and a great way to have fun with our kids. Arts and crafts can be a great cure for cabin fever – especially during the colder, wetter and darker months when outside time is limited. There are many child development benefits to doing arts and crafts as well, including encouragement of listening and motor skills and providing a sense of accomplishment, which can boost our children’s confidence and self-esteem!

I have always admired these fabulous 3D paper snowflakes I’ve seen in businesses’ amazing window displays and from ceilings. They are beautiful year-round! But, I always thought that making these snowflakes was well beyond my skill level. I had no idea how easy 3D snowflakes are to make! All you need is 6 square pieces of paper, tape, scissors, and a stapler! And your kids can help! You can use any type of paper you have around the house. I chose to use decorative wrapping paper to give it a little bling!

Step 1 – Folding: Start with one of your squares. Orient your square paper with a point toward you. Fold the bottom point up to the top point, making a triangle. Then, fold the left point to the right point, making a smaller triangle. You will now have a right-angled triangle with the right-angle at the bottom left.

Step 2 – Cutting: Hold on folks here comes a blast from your high school geometry past! This is the hardest part of this project. Keeping your triangle in the same position, you are now going to cut 3 diagonal slits parallel to the hypotenuse side, from the bottom edge (‘adjacent side’) to the left edge (‘opposite side’).

Step 3 – Opening and taping: Now open your triangle back into a square. Starting from the inside cut bend the two points toward each other and tape. Now turn your square over and repeat with the next two cuts. Turn over again and repeat the folding and taping with the third cut points. And finish with the outermost set of cut points. Congratulations, you now have the first of your 6 snowflake arms.

Step 4 – Repeat steps 1-3 with your other 5 squares.

Step 5 – Stapling: Now that you have all six arms of your snowflake it is time to connect them together. First staple the points of two of your snowflake arms. Also staple them at the middle, where their outermost taped pieces that form a cross are touching. Repeat this process with the remaining 4 arms until the snowflake is fully assembled. Voila! You now have your own beautiful 3D snowflake!

Step 6 – Hanging: I have hung them different ways depending on the location. I have threaded a needle with clear thread through one of the points and just tied a knot of varying lengths depending on the hanging location. I’ve also just stuck a Christmas ornament hook through one of the points.

For great visuals for each step, I recommend http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Paper-Snowflake-In-Four-Easy-Steps/. Enjoy – we’d love to see the pictures of your 3D snowflakes!

Thanksgiving traditions and failures: What goes around comes around.

Nostalgia for childhood traditions and some epic fails are part and parcel of our Thanksgiving experiences!

The BIG day is almost here! Whether you are hosting or traveling, likely many of us are spending these last few days bustling around finishing up all the last minute details.

When I was growing up, our family tradition was to travel to my paternal grandmother’s house and gather with my dad’s side of the family. We had a traditional early afternoon meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, rolls and pie. We dressed up, documented our gathering in an extensive family photo session, made turkey carcass noodle soup, and shopped black Friday sales. I have some very fond memories of these gatherings, particularly during my younger years! For example, one year my parents let me get my ears pierced with my older cousins! But, as I grew older, into my late teens and early twenties – when many of us want to start spreading our wings and forging our own new traditions – I started to resent my obligatory Thanksgiving gatherings. However, now that I have kids of my own, some of our beloved family members have passed, and we are living away from my extended family and no longer gather, I can better appreciate and am nostalgic for my family traditions. What goes around comes around…

Our Thanksgiving of today is a nice mix of old and new traditions. We start the day with an indulgent breakfast of our kids’ choosing. I introduced them to Monkey Bread a few years ago – which is an old tradition from my childhood – and this has been a hit ever since. For all you virgins out there, Monkey Bread is a heavenly cinnamon and sugar gooey pull-apart treat made with refrigerated biscuits, butter, cinnamon, granulated sugar and brown sugar. It is not for the faint of heart! As I’ve never been a huge fan of turkey, we generally have ham, deviled eggs, au gratin potatoes and asparagus. For the sake of convenience, we buy a pre-cooked ham and warm it in an electric roaster. We have enough leftovers for sandwiches, omelets and mac-and-cheese. I do miss the stuffing and turkey carcass noodle soup though! We typically eat later in the day and make a point to get out into nature to enjoy fresh air and burn off some calories.

Our biggest Thanksgiving failure happened on a rare occasion when my brother’s family did travel far to gather with us. A few hours after putting the ham in the oven, I realized I hadn’t yet started to smell its sweet and smoky aroma. Turns out this was because we had failed to turn the oven on when we put the Thanksgiving ham in! Needless to say, our Thanksgiving dinner was a little later than planned that year!

Whatever Thanksgiving Day holds for you, we wish you much joy and happiness! Although Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time of gathering with friends and/or family to indulge in tradition, thankfulness and a gluttonous feast, it can also be overwhelming and exhausting. To all you moms out there, although it may seem impossible, hopefully you can take a little time out for yourself over the next few days to recharge. May I suggest hiding in the bathroom for a few minutes? If our husbands can get away with it so can we! We’d love to hear about if and how your childhood Thanksgiving traditions have come back around and about any of your funny failures!

Epic Santa Fail – ho-ho-horror!

Photos with Santa can be a symbol of all the JOY and MAGIC of Christmas.🎄🎅 But some kids find Santa to be downright freaky! Do you do Santa pictures? If so, what has your experience been?

Thanksgiving is this week. In addition to gathering with friends and family to give THANKS and stuff ourselves into a food coma, this means it is Christmas card go-time!

Pre-kid, my MO was to shop the after Christmas sales at Target for the perfect printed cards. Post-kid, I wholeheartedly jumped on the photo card bandwagon. I have used Costco, Walmart, and a few times have splurged on Shutterfly and Tiny Prints. I have been happy with them all! But my all-time favorite has been the tri-fold card from Shutterfly (and this is not a sponsored post). The tri-fold card was certainly the most expensive. But, it can be fun to splurge sometimes and Shutterfly always runs 40-50% off specials this time of the year. Here is a link to an example of a tri-fold card: https://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-cards/merry-burlap-snowflake-christmas-card-5×7-trifold?productCode=1220288&categoryCode=93476&skuCode=1220289&cid=SEGSH.CARDS&mpch=ads&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxYzJ-ofQ1wIVF8pkCh0q5gX6EAYYAiABEgJ0hPD_BwE

For the images, on one side I usually like to have some family photos from throughout the year and on the other side, some Christmas photos. The pièce de résistance of our Christmas themed side is the requisite Santa photo. Our first Santa experience with my then 10-month son went well. He was good-natured and full of wonderment about the jolly old fellow. So, I was pumped 12 months later when we then had a 22-month old and a 1-month old. I couldn’t wait to capture a photo of my two little angels with Santa as a symbol of all the JOY and MAGIC that Christmas was sure to bring. How cute was that going to be!?!

Turns out not so much! To our 22-month old, jolly old Santa was downright freaky! The photographer got off one shot of our boys before my 22-month old evacuated the scene in ho-ho-horror. All the while, our 1-month-old slept through the whole thing. Part of me was fearful that in my effort to get the “perfect” Christmas card, I had scarred my 22-month-old for life! The other part was disappointed that I wasn’t going to have the “perfect” Christmas card.

A fear of Santa is normal among children my son’s age at that time. Who could blame them? To some kids, Santa isn’t a symbol of joy, but just a fat, bearded scary stranger.

So, what did I do about my Christmas card? I decided to stay real and go with it. I think many parents could relate with our authentic experience. It may not have been “perfection”, but it was “real”. As most kids do, our son got over his fear of Santa by the next year. And we always cherish our ho-ho-horror photo!

Do you do Christmas cards? If so, what is your strategy? How have your kids reacted to Santa?

How do you find time for holiday decorating with young kids?

How to decorate with a small budget, little time and no training…

I am a 45-year-old working mom of 2 boys – ages 4 and 5. Pre-kid, I fancied myself as creative and organized. I loved decorating for the holidays. Post-kid, not so much. Life has been moving at warp speed and we are hectic and tired most of the time. I hate to admit that a few Christmases have passed with little more than a haphazardly decorated tree and no outdoor lights. After all, who wants to drag 1 or more kids with the attention spans of fruit flies and the impulse control of puppies to a craft store to browse for holiday decorations? They’d be like bulls in a china shop. Pure insanity. How did I find time for holiday decorating with young kids – I just didn’t.

I vowed this year would be different. I’d had enough lackluster Christmases!

Where to begin? I decided to start small by picking one spot to focus on. We live in a rustic log home with a natural log mantel embedded in a river rock wall that has just been begging for some lovin’. This seemed like a perfect place to start.

Because I have no interior design training and a small budget, I knew Hobby Lobby was the place to go. In my neck of the woods, compared with JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels, Hobby Lobby has the best selection of and most affordable seasonal merchandise and trending home décor. Hobby Lobby is like Interior Design for Dummies. They have all the Christmas décor organized by color scheme. They did not let me down. I even took my 4-year-old munchkin with me and he “helped” me out. I promised him that if he looked with his eyes and not his fingers, he could earn a reward of 10 marbles for his marble jar. Some call it bribery, I call it positive reinforcement!

The blog post photo shows what I ended up with, all for around $70. I selected the silver and white color scheme so it would really pop out in contrast against our dark rock wall. I love the multipurpose chalkboard sign and banner and the mini galvanized tub with white hydrangea that I can reuse throughout the year. My favorite piece is the blinged out silver glitter deer mount. The deer bust was regularly priced at $24. But, because all holiday décor is already 50% off, I got it for $12. Then, I spent another $2 on the wooden mount. I painted it white and my handy hubby attached the bust to the mount. All it needs is its own silver and white scarf.

Over the past few years, I have been equal parts envious of all those moms out there who seem to have their holiday decorating game down and too tired to care. Mommin’ ain’t easy and you can only do what you can do. But, I think I’m finally babystepping my way toward bringing some bling back into my life. I’d love to hear your stories about how you have or have not tackled holiday decorating this year!

4 “TRUTHS” Kindergarten Teachers Want Us To Know…

A lot goes into shaping our kindergarteners’ little minds and futures!

My oldest son started Kindergarten this year. It has been bittersweet, with all the feels. We love watching him get excited about learning. But, this important ‘first with our first’ milestone is a sure sign that he is not our baby anymore. It is just another in a long series of emotional goodbyes.😢

Luckily, our son has a fabulous teacher who has definitely helped us with the transition to Kindergarten. For Mrs. Danielle White at Three Rivers School in Bend, Oregon, teaching Kindergarten is her calling and a work of her heart! With teachers as parents and grandparents, Mrs. White comes from a long line of educators. Ever since she was a little girl, Mrs. White always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She has always loved kids and started her ‘helping’ career with babysitting at age 14 years.

Talking to Mrs. White about the following 4 Kindergarten teacher “truths” has definitely increased my appreciation of all that goes into shaping our children’s little minds and futures! These “truths” are also great reasons to give thanks to our teachers! 🙏

  1. Our kindergarteners are hilarious! 😂 They are so excited about learning and their joy is contagious! At least for Mrs. White, a lot of the time she is having so much fun that it doesn’t feel like it is “work”.
  2. But being a surrogate parent to 20+ kindergarteners for the day can take an emotional toll. For teachers like Mrs. White, they not only pour their hearts and souls into helping our children learn, but they also genuinely care about each and every one of their students. Mrs. White puts band aids on our kindergarteners’ boo-boos, gives our kindergarteners hugs when they are having a bad day, and is one of their biggest cheerleaders! We’re not the only ones waking up at 2 AM thinking about our children, our kindergarten teachers sometimes do too! But caring so much requires a lot of energy, which can take an emotional toll on our teachers. Getting their summers off might seem like a sweet gig to us, but our teachers need that time to unplug and recharge their emotional batteries.
  3. You can help by backing off the coddling and teach your kids self-sufficiency!Our kindergarteners may still be our ‘babies’, but really aren’t babies any longer. We would be doing our teachers (and our kids) a great service by cutting the cord! Whether it be out of a need to feel needed or just out of habit, some of us parents are guilty of coddling our kindergarteners. Some of us do too much for our kindergarteners – still doing tasks for them that they are perfectly capable of doing themselves; like zipping up their jackets and putting on their gloves. Helping our kids may be second nature for us parents at home. But, multiply that by 20+ for our kindergarten teachers and that becomes a big time suck for them! Spending a little time teaching our kindergarteners self-sufficiency will not only help their teachers, but pay us parents off in the long run too by increasing our kids’ self-confidence and saving us time at home as well!
  4. The more we can help our children develop basic skills before Kindergarten the better! Our teachers completely understand the challenges of getting our 2- to 5-year olds to cooperate with anything, let alone learning a new unfamiliar skill like writing. It requires all the patience and sometimes we will feel like we want to pull our hair out! But our preschoolers are quick learners and if we just spend a few minutes each day with them, they will be able to recognize and write letters, numbers, colors and shapes in no time! Our teachers can tell which parents work with their children and which don’t! As with #3 above, with a whole classroom of children who each need skills support in different areas, sending our Kindergarteners to school literally not knowing any numbers or letters can require extra time from their teachers and can be disruptive to the learning flow of the overall class. Spending time prepping your kindergartener at home will not only encourage their success, but will also help our teachers. It’s a win-win!

We’d love to hear from you! Please share your kindergarten adjustment stories and/or any “truths” you’ve learned from you kindergarten teachers!

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Presence instead of presents: “Yes day” birthday afternoon with my 4-year-old

“Yes” to the ‘yes day’ or “hell no to the ‘yes’”?

My baby turned 4 today. 4 is big. It is breaking my heart. But, that’s a story for another day. Instead of presents, I gave him (and me) the gift of my presence.

I am a full-time working mom. I love my job and I am proud of all that I have accomplished. But, because of my busy work schedule, I have less time than I would like for basically everything else – my kids, my husband, my household and myself.

Then, when I am with my kids, I sometimes feel like I’m nothing but no’s. No, I can’t do this. No, you can’t do that. Sometimes it’s because I’m just trying to maintain some semblance of order amidst all the chaos. Sometimes it’s because I have to enforce rules and boundaries and help my children learn how to tolerate disappointment, frustration and delay gratification. Sometimes it’s simply because I’m too exhausted in the evenings after a full day of work and household chores to play yet another game of hide-and-go-seek.

However, I often worry that busy mom + nothing but no’s = no fun.

So, when I was brainstorming birthday gift ideas, I decided that my fully-present presence would be better than any material present and that we should have a “YES” afternoon! What’s a “YES” afternoon you ask? It’s an afternoon where parents say “yes” to anything the kids ask! I was introduced to the “yes day” concept a few weeks ago when Jennifer Garner posted an exhausted Instagram pic captioned, “You’ll never need coffee more than the day after ‘Yes Day.'”

I didn’t set any ground rules. I had no idea what to expect. After all, this is a 4-year-old boy we are talking about. But, here’s what happened. We stuck stickers on the walls. We rode bikes in the 47 degree weather until our fingers and noses were frozen. We played hide-and-go-seek a million times. We played at the park. And I chased him around and around so much that my hamstrings were sore the next day!

He didn’t want anything crazy. He didn’t act greedy, selfish or entitled. He didn’t want to overdose on sugar. He didn’t want to do anything destructive. He didn’t want me to buy him new toys. He just wanted to do the fun boy stuff he usually likes to do. But, he wanted to do them with me.It was pure joy for us both.

Some parents say “Hell no to the ‘yes’”, objecting that the idea of a “yes day” is just another excuse to spoil our children who already have way too much. To these parents I say, “to each his own.” Certainly my ‘yes afternoon’ with my 4-year-old out in the country might look a lot different to those parents with older kids in different environments. But, from my own experience, I would say that sometimes it really feels great to #justsayyes to a #yesday and #presenceinsteadofpresents!

Good morning gentle vinegar detox drink

Recipe for morning vinegar detox drink

Our bodies can get pretty dry overnight. Staying hydrated is even harder for many of us living at higher elevations, women who are menstruating or lactating, and those with certain medical conditions and taking certain medications.

For this reason, I’ve recently started the habit of drinking water first thing every day, on an empty stomach, even before coffee. Why? Because experts say this might provide amazing benefits including boosting my metabolism, helping me flush out toxins – which could possibly strengthen my immune system, and may make me feel less hungry. Count me in!

I’m not just drinking plain water, though. I’ve jumped on the detox cleanse bandwagon and I’m adding a few gentle and natural detoxifiers to maximize the benefits to my health. The end result is a light and tasty drink that has an uplifting effect. I dare you to try it for at least a week and share your experience!

Here’s my recipe – enjoy!

8-16 oz warm water: As warm water increases your body temperature, it can in turn promote circulation.

2 drops Lemon essential oil: In addition to its amazing flavor, lemon essential oil contains antioxidants and can aid in digestion

1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (from the Mother!): As with many fermented foods and drinks, vinegar contains “good” bacteria (‘probiotics’) that can help your gut and digestive system kill the “bad” bacteria and help reduce belly bloat.

1/4 tsp turmeric: This is a bright yellow-orange spice that has been used for thousands of years as a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Its many possible benefits include lowering cholesterol and helping to treat inflammatory conditions of the joints, eyes, and GI tract.

Honey to taste: In addition to being a natural sweetener that doesn’t spike our blood sugar levels, honey also contains antioxidants and flavonoids, which are plant metabolites thought to have health benefits such as reducing risks of cancer, heart disease, asthma and stroke.