Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gettin' Crafty with Disney Junior: Celebrating Friendship, Bracelets Inspired by Sofia the First

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I've partnered with Disney Junior to share how important it is to keep friends both old and new!

Friendship is an important part of social and emotional development in young children. While there are many ways we can go about teaching children the importance and value of friendship, sometimes it's easiest for them to see it played out by some of their favorite Disney Junior characters. In return, they may internalize some of the behaviors and act them out in similar role play scenarios.

Created for kids ages 2-5 and their families, Sofia the First focuses on creative story lines centered around positive messages and life lessons. Sofia is a little girl whose ordinary life is turned extraordinary when she suddenly becomes a princess overnight. While she lives in a fairy tale world of magic amulets, castles and flying horses, she remains a relatable, down-to-earth role model who experiences many of the same social situations as young children often do. These situations include making new friends, mastering new skills and learning how to fit in.
My boys are still very young and at the ages of 7, 5 and 3 I try to promote kindness and friendship above all else. Along with such positive behaviors, we spend a lot of time focusing on patience, listening and sharing.
In the new episode on August 4th titled, "The Mare of the Mist," Sofia finds herself in a sticky situation where she thinks she must choose between her old friend Minimus and her new friend Skye. Along her journey, complications arise as her friends compete for Sofia's affection. Ultimately Sofia learns that by being true of heart and making space in her life for both her old friend and new, she can complete her mission and everyone wins.

Similarly, when my two older boys started at their small private school last year they worried about what would happen to their lifelong friends who would be starting over at the public school in our town. It was my job to reassure them that while they may not see their "old" friends every day, it didn't mean they would no longer be a part of their lives. I also explained to them that they have so much room in their hearts for old friends and new that nothing should stop them from making as many new friends at school as they desired.
Best of all, because they are such sweet and kind boys, I emphasized that there would be no problem getting everyone together and having everyone get along!

Inspired by Sofia's quest for friends both old and new, the boys decided they wanted to make friendship bracelets for a few of their close friends. Having recently had a stretch of rainy days, I knew this activity would be a good one to keep not only their hands busy but their minds, too, while we waited for the rain to pass.
Together they crafted bracelets inspired by some of their favorite Sofia the First characters. Can you tell which bracelets are inspired by Sofia? James? Sir Bartleby?

As with any type of arts and craft, it's best to do so under close supervision of an adult, especially if the craft includes small beads as this one does. Not only is this a fun activity for a rainy day but it's also an excellent exercise in pattern recognition and fine motor skills!
- All you will need to complete this craft is bracelet-making elastic and beads of your choosing. We used a variety of wood beads purchased online.
- To begin, I had each of the boys choose their favorite Sofia the First character and separate out the corresponding colored beads. While they were sorting, I snipped the elastic to fit their wrists and anchored each piece of elastic with a large wooden bead.
- Once they were ready to start stringing, I encouraged them to do so in whatever pattern their little hearts desired. Once they were complete I finished the bracelets by tying them off and adding a loop at the other end for the anchor bead to pull through.

The boys loved making these bracelets so much that every day they ask if they can "do some beading" again! They cannot wait to package these bracelets up and surprise their friends with them!
Perhaps I see a future junior entrepreneurial endeavor? ;)
Be sure to tune into new episodes of Disney Junior's Sofia the First Friday mornings on Disney Channel all summer long #DisneyJuniorFRiYAY fun!

This is a sponsored post brought to you in partnership with Disney Junior.
All opinions expressed above are honest and my own!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Amazon Prime Day: What To Buy and Where to Find the Best Deals


If you aren't using Amazon Prime we need to have a serious discussion. While it seems as if Amazon is taking over the world... oh, wait.. they kind of are... I guarantee you that you can find at least 90% of whatever it is you're looking to purchase on Amazon. In the last year I have purchased everything from home decor to women's fashion clothing to vitamins and my kids' lunch boxes on Amazon. Isn't that wild?  

In fact, before I check any other website I always head to Amazon first to see if they have what I need and better yet, can get it to me in 1-2 shipping days. Amazon has truly revolutionized the way consumers shop online and as they gear up for their annual Prime Day sales, I wanted to share with you some of the best things I've ever purchased from Amazon, especially since I'm an affiliate for the brand. (Aff links are included in this post). 

So, what is Prime day? Well, it's the third annual online sale of literally hundreds of thousands of items used in every day living. Not only is it discounted items but they also run great promotions on things like the Amazon Baby Registry! For instance, all registrants who add a participating CYBEX Aton 2 infant car seat  between July 5th and July 19th and purchase it by March 31, 2018 receive a $120 credit back to their Amazon account, equivalent to 40% off!

Prime Day: Early voice shopping deals 

On July 10th, 2017 the official launch of Prime Day 2017 begins. In order to take advantage of the sales you must be a Prime Membership holder. This costs roughly $100/year. Should you sign up for a membership? Here's what I think: 

We signed up for Prime to get free two-day shipping on hundreds of thousands of items that we use every day. Let's say you place roughly 15-20 orders on Amazon within one year and upgrade your shipping to two-day for the sake of last minute Linda's like myself. The cost of a Prime membership is definitely worth it in this scenario. It's even more worth it if you use some of the add-ons such as Amazon's video and music streaming services or their Kindle e-reader like we do.

Customers shopping with a gadget equipped with Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa will get access to Prime Day deals two hours before anyone else. These voice shoppers will also get access to more than 100 exclusive pre-Prime Day offers beginning yesterday, July 5th.

If people shopping with Alexa place an order for one of the deals before July 9th, they can also get a $10 Amazon credit, if it's the first time they've placed an order via Alexa. Note, too, that Amazon will run two types of deals on Prime Day: traditional deals that last all day and lightening deals that will expire after a set amount of time or when stock runs out.

Get a $10 credit, when you order an Alexa Deal

So, what sorts of things should you keep an eye out for during Prime Day sales? Here's just a few things to check out. In the coming days, I will be updating this post with more and more amazing deals as they are released to me. 

Click here to see all of Amazon's Prime Day Deals for Baby and Kids. There are some great buys on everything from diapers to video monitors, strollers and bottle kits!

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Chores for Kids :: How We Encourage and Reward Our Kids To Help Around the House

I feel like we started off summer real strong. Activities aplenty, supplementary workbook pages completed (and enjoyed!!) left and right and we even managed to cross off two of the three book reports on my oldest son's summer reading list long before their September deadline.

Eventually, however, the momentum waned and recently I'd begun to notice the boys were slacking off not only on some school work but also their expected chores. I'll take some of the blame, after all, I'd definitely stopped encouraging them first thing in the morning in favor of a few extra minutes of shut-eye and once my feet hit the floor, we'd be off and running through the various days' events. Their responsibilities around the house took on the lazy-days-of-summer attitude that we all quickly adopted...

In order to kick this lazy spell to the curb, I decided a refresh was in order for the boys' chore charts which are conveniently located in our mudroom. A face lift in the form of a snazzy free printable off Pinterest and a few new packs of stickers later, their enthusiasm to do their household duties was reignited. 

That's not to say there won't be some teeth gnashing and whining in the coming weeks when reminded to complete their chores but for now I'm going to bask in this new found excitement for as long as humanly possible. 

I recently shared a glimpse of their chore charts over on my Instastories and received quite a few questions about age-appropriate chores, our personal expectations and the reward system we currently have going in our home. The easiest way for me to tackle these questions, of course, is a blog post! I'll be sure to link all resources below! 

Free Chore Chart Printable c/o Leah Remillet

Clipboards, Pack of 5

We initiated "chores" when my oldest turned 4. Now, by "chores" I really mean fun things that he already enjoyed doing around the house that when drawn onto a sheet of paper and taped to the wall boosted his excitement ten-fold to complete them, earning himself a sticker which he then got to plop on his chart. These "chores" included brushing his teeth, watering the garden, feeding the dog and cleaning up his toys. 

As the boys age, so do our expectations of them which you can clearly note in the various chores listed on each of their charts. For reference Carter is almost 7, Mac is 5 and Collins is 3. Obviously Collins and Mac require a little extra direction when it comes to marking up their charts due to their inability to read ;) While I easily could've printed off picture versions of their chores, I prefer to keep everything as uniform as possible. 

After downloading the free printable to my computer I used a free online PDF conversion tool to convert the file from .pdf to .jpg. I then uploaded the file to Canva, a free digital design service in which I was able to customize the chart with their name and age-appropriate activities. To get a head start on the coming weeks I then printed 10 copies of each chart and secured them to the corresponding clipboard. (Don't forget to save each copy to your computer for quick retrieval when the time comes!) 

As for our reward system, for the most part, we don't really reward the boys with anything other than heaps of praise. Both my husband and I are of the mindset that being part of a family means you chip in and help do your part to keep the household running successfully. In today's society of entitlement and immediate gratification, we try every day to ensure we're teaching our boys the value of hard work. 

That said, when we do witness the boys going above and beyond their typical chores they are absolutely rewarded with a little extra money for their piggy banks. While the two little boys are satisfied with handfuls of loose change, we've started to tackle the power of money and the importance of saving with our oldest and in order to differentiate his abilities from the little boys, he is often given a dollar or two at the end of the week should he put in a little extra elbow work around the house or act exponentially kind towards his brothers. 

As for the satisfaction of an immediate "job well done!" the boys may choose a sticker from the sticker basket and use it to mark up their completed tasks. If the boys willingly completed most of their chores without too much nagging from either my husband or myself, often times we'll take them out for ice cream or a similar treat at the end of a long week.

I would love to hear how you tackle chores and responsibilities in your home! I'm always learning from my fellow parents and truly appreciate all the tips and tricks we can share. Please leave them in the comment section below or over on my Facebook page!

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It's Almost FRiYAY! Celebrate with DIY Animal Finders and a Badger Ball Toss Inspired by Disney Junior's The Lion Guard

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney Junior.  Our love of all things Disney is all our own.

If you're like me, a child of the 80's, you grew up watching great Disney classics on VHS. In fact, when they talk about releasing movies from "the vault," I'm pretty sure what they're really talking about is my parent's basement back home in New Jersey where you can find just about every Disney movie ever made on tape. 

Hands down, one of my top three favorite Disney classics of all time is The Lion King and no, it wasn't because it meant I could hang a giant poster of 90's heart throb Jonathan Taylor Thomas on my wall (although that was pretty sweet, too). Rather, it had one of the greatest musical scores, in my opinion, in the history of Disney movies. 

Once I became a mom, I couldn't wait to share the magic and nostalgia of The Lion King with my boys and as soon as I thought they were old enough, we all sat down with popcorn in laps to watch the magic unfold. Unfortunately I jumped the gun a little too early on that one and between Mufasa's untimely death and the scarier-than-I-remember hyenas, we ended up turning the movie off before it was through. Chalk that one up to a major Mom-Fail, am I right? I should've taken the hint when my then-4-year-old was wagging his finger at the screen, whimpering "No Scar Mama. No Scar, pwease!" 

Thankfully, a little over a year ago Disney Junior brought to life The Lion Guard, a new series that follows Simba and Nala's son, (prince) Kion, around the African Savannah as he and his animal friends protect the Pride Lands and the Circle of Life. 

It's Kion's friends, Bunga the honey badger, Beshte the hippopotamus, Fuli the cheetah and Ono the egret who make up the Lion Guard. Using their many unique talents, they work together to tackle whatever misadventure may came their way. Without being overly educational, The Lion Guard oozes educational undertones, and many episodes shed light on actual facts about animals of the Serengeti and their habitat. Peppered with lots of age-appropriate jokes and even more great music, it's no secret why my boys, ages 3, 5 and 7 really like this show! 

It was kind of neat to draw the correlation between the two productions; whereas I grew up and started a family of my own, so did Simba and Nala of the original Lion King and better yet, my own children get to share in the magic and fun of the very same Lion King family I fell in love with more than 20 years ago.

Starting July 7th at 8am, you and your family will have the chance to tune into the Disney Junior's FRiYAY line-up to catch Kion and his friends during The Lion Guard's newest episode, "Babysitter Bunga." You might think a honey badger is a terrible candidate to babysit some of the Pride Land's most nearest and dearest offspring but fear not, Bunga has a few tricks up his sleeve and his abilities may shock you!

Inspired by this season of The Lion Guard, the boys and I put together two simple activities that we'd like to share with you today! First up is an incredibly easy and inexpensive craft, DIY Animal Finders! Every good member of the Lion Guard needs to keep careful watch over the Pride Lands and what better way to do so than with a pair of binoculars?


2 Empty Toilet Paper Rolls
Washi Tape, Markers, Crayons, Stickers
Hole Punch

Using markers, paint, or tape, decorate the outside of the toilet paper rolls. Once dry, staple them together to form the barrels of your binoculars. Punch holes in either side and feed the ribbon through, careful to tie off a knot at either end. Before you know it, your kids will be ready to head off and scope out some new animal species right in their own backyard! 

Next up is a fun game that focuses on hand-eye coordination and throwing tiny ping pong balls through poster board. 

We like to call this one, The Bunga Ball Toss!


1 large piece of poster board
Crayons and Markers
X-Acto Knife
Ping Pong Balls

Freehand your favorite Lion Guard member and let everyone have a hand in coloring him or her in. Using an X-acto knife or scissors, trim a hole in your poster board large enough for a ping pong ball to easily pass through. We chose Bunga's big mouth! Have your kids stand behind a marked line and see how many balls they can toss through the hole! We ended up stringing our poster board up in a doorway which gave the boys ample room to toss their ping pong balls! This was a huge summer activity success in our book!

I'd love to hear if you give either of these activities a whirl! Be sure to tune into Disney Junior’s The Lion Guard all summer long for all-new episodes with #DisneyJuniorFRiYAY fun! 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney Junior.

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