Back to School Supplies

Mastering the Back-to-School Supplies List

It’s that time of year to start preparing for the kids to head back to school again. On the first day, our kids will head to school with their new backpacks, new clothes and be ready to tackle another year in style! We also know that when they come home on that first day, they will bring the dreaded list of supplies. Teachers will tell our children that while they don’t have to have the supplies by tomorrow, it would be awesome if they did.

Back to School Supplies

If your kids are like mine, they will come home and insist they will need those supply list items…TONIGHT! That they want to start the year off right! And if you’re like me, you will get in the car, drive to Target, WalMart or any other store that might still have those items in stock. You will rummage through what is left in the ‘Back to School’ section of the store, then head to the craft section, and then the home office section. When you have exhausted all departments in that store, and still don’t have everything you need, you will go to the next store. You will continue this process until you find everything on the list.

Get your Back to the School Supply List

Click here to receive your child’s Back to School Supply list basics.

Well, I am here to tell you there is a better way to tackle the dreaded Back to School Supply List. It’s Amazon! If you are looking at a more efficient way to shop for back to school items, start shopping before school starts. Use Amazon to purchase items that are typical for your child’s new grade. Make sure that those items offer free returns, if it turns out that your child’s teacher does not require a specific item. Then, when your child brings home their list, they will have many of the items already on the list. If there are items required that have not been purchased yet, you can get them through Amazon Prime and they will have the final few items before the end of the first week of school! MOM WIN!

School Supply List

So how do you know what your child’s teacher may require in their back to school list? That’s a great question. I can provide you with a list of the grade-specific standard items. Just let me know you’re interested in receiving it by sign up here. Your grade-specific school supply list will be delivered directly to your inbox!

Try Amazon Prime for Free!

I started using Amazon Prime avidly about 3 years ago. Where I live, we have a limited number of stores close to us to shop, for everything. When it comes time to get back to school supplies, unless you were there Monday afternoon, there was no way to to find everything on your child’s list. Enter Amazon.

I hadn’t used Amazon too much before then, because I didn’t want to pay shipping fees. I saw an advertisement for 1-month free trial of Amazon Prime (free 2-day shipping) and decided it would be good time to try it. At the very least, I could get free 2-day shipping on school supplies, clothes, etc. Needless today, I fell in love, and have not stopped using Amazon Prime since then! If your interested in trying Amazon Prime for 30-days for free, click the link below:

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

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Cancun All Inclusive Resort

Cancun Resort – The Grand at Moon Palace Review

Sun, sand and warm water is all we wanted when we decided to plan a family vacation this summer. We also wanted the ease of an all-inclusive resort because of the freedom that it would give our kids, and us, for that matter! After doing some major research, we decided on The Grand at Moon Palace in Cancun. If your like me, you like to know exactly what you’re getting when you book a vacation. I decided to share my experience in hopes that it might be helpful to someone else!

The Basics

The Resort

There are 3 hotels located at the Moon Place Resort in Cancun; The Grand, Nizuc and Sunrise.  The Grand is the newest of the 3, having been completed early in 2017.  While staying at The Grand, one can move freely to all 3 hotels, which includes restaurants, pools, stores and other activities. When staying at Nizuc or Sunrise, one can move between the two freely, but can only enter The Grand with the purchase of a day pass.

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Mayan Adventure Snorkeling Tour

Cancun – Mayan Adventure Snorkeling Tour Review

First of all, I would like to state that this is not a paid review.  Our family chose to experience this snorkeling tour as it seemed like a great one to try. The review that is below is my honest opinion, which includes what we liked and what we didn’t like. My intent in all of my reviews is to share with my readers my experiences, in hopes that it will help when conducting your own research on a specific topic.

Our family recently vacationed in Cancun, Mexico.  We had a checklist of things that we wanted to do while on vacation and snorkeling was one of them. While we stayed at our all-inclusive resort the entire time, the snorkeling wasn’t very good there, so we had schedule an excursion. We chose the Mayan Adventure Snorkeling Tour through Aventuras Mayas.  This tour consists of snorkeling at 3 stops; a Caleta (Ocean inlet), a Cenote (cavern) and a Cenote Abierto (open cavern).  Each stop was unique and offered a fun new experience.

Scheduling and Transportation

We scheduled and paid for our Aventuras Mayas excursion through our all-inclusive resort, which was very convenient.  The vacation planner at the resort called Aventuras Mayas directly to ask for availability and booked it for us.  They were able to charge the excursion to our room, so we just paid for it when we checked out. Pricing was reasonable, around $115 for adults and around $90 for kids, considering the 3 stops you get.

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Salt Lake City Utah

Our Favorite Spots in Salt Lake City, Utah in the Summer

I have to admit that I was less than thrilled when my husband said that we were going to Salt Lake City, Utah for vacation in the middle of summer.  I didn’t know too much about the area, but knew that it would be really hot.  My husband, however, had been working on his Master’s Degree in Business from Western Governors University and completed all of the required courses in May.  So, whether I wanted to or not, we were headed to Salt Lake City in July for him to walk in the commencement ceremony.

We started doing some research on what we could do while visiting.  We began asking friends and family who were familiar with the area what their suggestions would be.  As we started to discover all the sites that Salt Lake City had to offer, we began to get excited about the various things that we would be able to do.

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Packing for vacation

Moms Guide to Packing for Vacation

If you’re like me, I am always looking for the most efficient way to pack the family as we head out on vacation.  And, if you’re like me, you have to pack for the entire family; the husband, the kids, the toiletries, the entertainment in the car/plane.  Yep!  I have to make sure we take it all. I used to completely stress out about packing, and still do a bit, but I have been able to put together a system that works well for me over the years.

Be Prepared

Being prepared is the key to efficient packing and ensuring that you don’t forget anything.  I begin preparing the packing list ahead of time, usually 3-4 days ahead of time, depending on how long the trip is.  This trip we have coming up will be 11 days long, with hotel stays in 3 cities, so I started my list about a week before departure time.

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The list created for each member of the family and is very detailed.  It includes the items needed and the number that should be packed. This allows me to give the list to the kids and let them pull out the clothes that they want to take.  If the trip is short, or in a convenient location, I may just let them put their stuff in the suitcase and call it done.  When we get to the destination if they don’t have an item, they can either live without or we can go pick it up.  If the trip is longer or not in a convenient location, I will double check the contents to ensure nothing is missing.

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Sibling Rivalry

Why We Should Let Our Kids Argue

Believe it or not, sibling rivalry is an important part of our children’s growth.  While we, as moms, hate to hear our kids argue and not get along, it helps our children develop the capacity to deal with conflict in a safe setting.  Let’s face it, being a kid is hard!  Not only are they still learning how to deal with their emotions surrounding conflict, they are asked to do it in a mature manner at school.  I am always amazed at the situations that my kids are dealing with at school with their peers.  Not all of these interactions are pleasant.  I want my children to be able to stand up for themselves in an appropriate way.  They learn that day-to-day with each other.

Stages of Sibling Rivalry

In my experience, there are various stages of sibling rivalry.  And at each stage, our interactions as moms must change and adapt as well.  For instance, as toddlers, we should supervise and intervene, while at the teen-age level, we act more like more of a referee!

Toddler stage

At the toddler stage, our children aren’t self-aware.  They don’t understand how their actions affect others.  So when there is an argument between our children at this age, it’s our job to jump in.  We should explain what went wrong in the situation and educate our children on the proper way to handle it next time.  For example, if your toddler’s are arguing over a toy, it’s your job as the parent to let them know that they should share the toy (Sharing is Caring!) and that they each can have 5 minutes with the toy, which is fair.

It’s a difficult lesson for little ones to learn.  And they will probably forget the lesson in a matter of minutes!  However, as you continue to step into these arguments, simply explain situations and offer simple solutions, they begin to build the knowledge on how to deal with disagreements in a more productive manner.

Grammar School Stage

As our children enter the grammar school years, they should already have some knowledge of how to deal with conflict.  This, for many, will be their first opportunity to put their knowledge to use.  Let’s face it, kids can be cruel!  I have seen first-hand how mean kids can be and you want your child to be able to approach conflict at school with confidence and composure.  The more moments of education they have had with siblings or play dates, the better equipped they will be when they start school.

At home, we should continue to intervene in conflicts between our children, but as we begin to feel that our children have built the capacity to deal with conflict on their own, we have to let them figure it out for themselves.  As a mom, it’s difficult to determine when that is.  We are the care-takers, the ones who make it all better, and knowing when to just stay out of it is a big learning curve for us.

In my personal experience, I can say that I was definitely one who jumped in a little to much and a little longer than I needed to.  It was difficult for me to realize that my children had built the skills they needed, and that they needed to practice them.  The only thing I hear is argument, and I desperately want them to get along, so I try to solve it for them.  However, this was not allowing them to grow their conflict management skills.

Sibling Rivalry

Pre-teen / Teenage

This is where is gets really interesting, and the stage I am in at my house right now!  For the most part, I try to just let them hash out their differences on their own.  I literally have to tell myself, ‘Let them figure it out!‘, take a deep breath and go back to doing what I was doing.  I listen, of course, to make sure they are being respectful and not physical.  If I do hear this going on, then that is where I jump in to discuss the appropriate way to disagree.  Name calling, put downs, yelling/screaming or getting physical are not acceptable.  I take this opportunity to have a discussion about ‘how’ to come to resolution, but leave it up to them to find resolution themselves.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t happen all the time.  There are definitely times and jump in the middle of an argument and point out who is wrong about what to just shut it down.  Sometimes, I just can’t deal with the arguing.  There are other times where is so clear who is ‘in the right’ and who is ‘in the wrong’, I want to just squash it.  But again, I have to try to bite my lip and let them figure it out for themselves.  It’s important to me that they learn how to stand up for themselves when they know they are right.

There are also times that after their argument ends, I take the opportunity independently to talk to each of them about how they could have handled it better.  Once everyone has calmed down, my ‘mom’ insight it usually better received.

Half Sibling

In our house, we also have the added complexity of having half-siblings.  All three of our children have the same father, and I am only ‘birth’ mom to 2.  Growing up, when there is the additional layer of one sibling being home for a period of time, then being gone for a period of time, it can be confusing to all the children.  When it comes to sibling rivalry with half siblings, there is usually extra caution taken, especially when it comes to the step-parent.  Many times, even if you are being impartial, you will be immediately perceived as taking the ‘side’ of your naturally born child.  The best advice I can offer to moms in this position, is to deal with all situations as equally as you can.  Be impartial, give knowledge on handling conflict, and know you did the right thing.  In the long run, if you consistently do this, the result will be a positive one.

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8-year age gap

Many times, if there is a large age-gap with our kids, our assumption is that they will not argue as much because they may not be interested in the same things at the same time.  This is not a fair and true assumption.  At any age, as children are trying to figure out who they are as people, their place in the world, and their place in the household, there will be conflict.  It’s important at this point, however, to recognize the age difference and expect the appropriate level of interaction.  For instance, if your 5-year old and your 13-year-old are arguing about what’s on TV, it’s appropriate for the 13-year-old to handle the situation in a more mature manner, and possible that your 5-year-old may have a tantrum.  This is where you step in with each of them and discuss the appropriate way to handle the conflict, and it’s also appropriate to expect more from the 13-year-old.

Remember, that as parents, our goal should be to raise our kids to be a positive, contributing members of society.  There are so many skills that they need to learn as they grow and conflict management is one of them.  As difficult as it is to let them ‘hash out’ their differences, by letting them do so, you are giving them the gift of being able to not only deal with disagreement, but also build their confidence.

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4th of July

Firework Safety

4th of July is around the corner and many of us will attending Bar-B-Ques, pool parties, and celebrating with friends and family.  Some areas of the country do not allow fireworks in neighborhoods, while others do.  If you are planning on letting off fireworks, you should always be conscious of Firework Safety for yourself, your kids, your pets and others around you.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends the following:

  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
  • A responsible adult SHOULD supervise all firework activities.  Never give fireworks to children.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.  Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
  • Never carry fireworks in your POCKET or shoot them into METAL or GLASS containers.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
  • FAA regulations PROHIBIT the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

And let’s not forget the safety of our pets!

  • Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
  • If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
  • Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.

To read more about firework safety and visit the National Council on Firework Safety.