Monday, December 15, 2014

Eat the Rainbow Punch Cards for Kids

We are a family of healthy conscious eaters.
That being said, the holiday sugar bug has bitten all of us and as a result almost all my kids are sick. 

We already eat a diet high in produce and we try to abstain from sugar, dairy,  most meat, and processed foods but I got to thinking..... I spend almost all my time explaining and reminding my kids why we should try to refrain from those things instead of focusing on what we SHOULD be eating and why! 

Why not focus on the positive instead of the negative right?!

So I tinkered in Photoshop until I came up with a way to encourage my children to eat more fruits and veggies and this is what I came up with:


The punch card is 7 days worth of eating the entire rainbow every day. (I've included a list of suggested produce below)

I combined blue and purple for 2 reasons: 1- There is a fine line between what produce is blue and what produce is purple. And 2- this is the hardest color to shop for (in my experience). Regardless- the Phytonutrients that come from either color are nearly identical regardless.

Brown could also include white produce such as onions and cauliflower OR you could have that be their healthy grains if you eat them such as oats, barley, rye, rice, etc. 

Eating the Rainbow every day is the best way to ensure you are getting all the various vitamins and minerals Mother Nature has to offer as each color has different phytonutrients. - which in turn keeps your body healthy and capable of fighting off all the winter bugs that float around.
What kind of foods make up a rainbow diet?

The punch cards are $3 in my Etsy shop. 4 cards per page- print as many as you like:)

However.....

if you don't want to/can't purchase the punch cards I've included a free printable chart you can laminate and hang on a fridge or wall. (OR put in the Responsibility/Chore Binders I made!)
This chart would be great for adults or older children!

Here's to a healthy new year!

Happy Parenting!


Friday, December 12, 2014

Dear Poppins... Explaining Pregnancy to Children









First of all, kudos for wanting to be honest with your son. Ignoring your son's requests for answers,lying, or using make believe (such as the stork delivering babies), destroys the trust and communication you need to have a healthy relationship together.

Generally speaking, when children ask a question they are ready for an answer. Therefore, if your son was not asking questions it wouldn't be as prudent to fill him in on the miracle of life just yet. But given his curiosity, now is the ideal time to begin fostering open communication on topics that may be a little uncomfortable for you to divulge in.


The rule of thumb is as follows:

If the discussion involves genitalia always use anatomically correct body terms. (to learn why click here).

The older the child the more likely you will need to divulge more information. Statistically speaking psychologists agree that by the age of 8 children are cognitively ready for a full explanation of the birds and the bees. If they don't get the information from you this is about the age where they will begin to get it from their peers and/or the media.
This makes it all the more important for you to begin these small chats at a young age and to continue to follow up with booster talks throughout their entire adolescence.

So for example, if your son asks you how the baby is going to come out you could calmly state, "The baby gets pushed out of my vagina. That's how all mammals give birth."

If he asks how the baby got in your tummy you could answer by saying, "Daddy has seeds and Mommy has eggs inside her belly. Once the seed is planted in the egg a baby begins to grow."

At the tender of 4 most simple answers should satisfy his curiosity. If it doesn't, and he wants more information I highly recommend the following children's books to help him understand a little better.






Best of luck with the conversation(s) you are about to have with your son. What an exciting time for you to begin fostering mutual trust and open communication! And of course, good luck with your pregnancy!

Sincerely,


Now it's your turn to pipe in!
  Readers, how did you discuss this topic with your children? Do you have any suggestions for this Mom?




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top 10 Best Children's Picture Books



I am an avid children's book collector and over the years have gathered quite the library as a result. I shop almost exclusively at thrift stores for said books because my love/need for new children's literature would break the bank if I had to pay full price.

That being said, here are my top 10 favorite children's picture books that I discovered in  2014:

This is one of our families favorites. Little Chicken wants a bedtime story but has a cute little bad habit of interrupting each story that Papa attempts to read. 



By Mo Willems. (One of my favorite authors)
We like to read all the Pigeon books with a funny voice:)



by Mo Willems

Another book by my favorite author. 


By BJ Novak

If you haven't heard of this book I've included a YouTube snippet for you to get a taste of just how amazing this book is for early literacy. I've always loved picture books with no words, it seems only natural that I would love a "picture book" with no pictures:)



ONCE UPON A BANANA
By Jennifer Armstrong

A book without sentences, but plenty of cleverly placed words to help you follow the tale of a banana peel, a monkey, and a city full of  colorful citizens.



WONDER BEAR
by Tao Nyeu

The illustrations in this book are incredible. A bear and a boy plant a seed which grows into a vine that they (naturally) decide to climb, which leads to the most amazing adventure. One of my favorite wordless books of all time. 



by Herve Tullet

My sister turned me on to this author. This book of his is my 3 year old's current favorite. It's amazing how much fun reading can be when you follow such simple instructions as pressing a button.



by James Mayhew

This is my Nephews favorite book right now. This little dragon needs a home... but no one seems to want him. Will he find a permanent place to call home?



by  Aaron Reynolds

This was our Halloween book of choice this year. Follow the tail of a bunny who is sure the carrots are out to get him.



by Jon Klassen

Funny tale about a bear who desperately wants his hat back. Great illustrations.


What are your favorite children's books? I'm always hunting for great new authors and illustrators to add to our collection!

Happy Reading!!

-Steph

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Responsibility Binders- A New Way to Do Chores!




It's here.
The Chore System you've been waiting for!
But wait... this is SO MUCH MORE than just a way to handle your household chores! This is a way to manage your family's developmental progress both on an individual level and as a team.

FAMILY DEVELOPMENT & RESPONSIBILITY BINDERS



It's a chore system that will GROW WITH YOUR CHILD and can be introduced as early as age 2.

It's a system that gets those annoying chore charts (that don't match your decor and clutter up your walls) OFF your walls and INTO THE HANDS OF YOUR CHILD. And when not in use sits neatly on a shelf or bookcase.

It's a system that goes BEYOND CHORES and teaches your child skills that are real life applicable:

*Going to work and getting paid on pay day
*Taking care of your non-paying responsibilities 
*Goal setting
*Working as a team
*Personal planning

It's a system that WORKS. One I've used with my own children for the past 4 years and am now sharing with you.

So what exactly does this system include??






Then we move on to the Chore Section which includes:


And get this....
the Chore Cards pictured above fit perfectly into Trading Card Protector Pages!
It's the perfect way to organize, store, and assign chores to each child on an individual basis.





AND it's picture based so even non-readers can participate!

The Chore Cards are even color coded based off of how often they need attention so when stored neatly in your Parent Control Binder you can easily sort and see what needs attention and remind yourself of those tasks that occasionally slip your mind- like rotating seasonal clothes out!

Dark Blue = Daily/Weekly chores
Light Blue = Bi-Weekly/Monthly chores
Lightest Blue= Seasonal Chores.


Now onto the Responsibility Section. 


Here is a sneak peak of all the pages of the Responsibility Section! 


Pretty neat right??
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WANNA SEE SOME OF THE PAGES UP CLOSE?








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DOWNLOAD YOUR FAMILY DEVELOPMENT BINDER KIT NOW!
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Get the ENTIRE Parent Control Binder package as an instant download 
(that's 98 pages of binder pages & the chore cards with full color picture based instructions that covers printing, assembly, & suggested ways to incorporate the system into your home.)
for only $10!

NEW COUPON ALERT: $5.00 OFF your $10 dollar binder instant download kit- making it just $5 until December 25th 2014!! Simply enter HALFOFF4FRIENDS at checkout. 


Want just the 234 chore cards (that's 26 pages!) so you can create your own system? - $5

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This system works. 

It is a fantastic tool to help guide your children to becoming responsible adults and keep your home neat and organized while working WITH your child instead of against your child. 

BUY IT NOW as an Instant Download by clicking here or any of the above links!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON WHY THIS SYSTEM WORKS AND IDEAS ON HOW TO IMPLEMENT IT INTO YOUR OWN HOME.



Why I Don't Pay My Kids to Clean Their Room - Chore Binder System Explained.



About 5 years ago when my oldest child was 5 I began my quest for a chore system that would fit our families needs.

I ran into 2 main problems:

1. All the chore systems out there were wall or fridge based. At the time I was a major decor junkie and I couldn't stand that all the chore systems had to clutter up my wall or fridge space- and that most of them didn't match. Don't worry- I've progressed past that OCD stage but deep down inside I'm still a little obsessed about order and visual aesthetics- even though my home is rarely a reflection of that due to 4 little people that do their darnedest to make sure that my house is ever a reflection of a massive toy and art explosion
2. Most of the chore systems out there were based around a system that involved paying your children to do things that I felt were a responsibility. For example- I don't think that kids should be paid to clean their room. Or brush their teeth. Or the systems rewarded kids with stickers, treats, or cash but didn't integrate life skills and autonomy.

So what's an OCD Mommy of 4 armed with ambition and Photoshop to do? Why design her OWN chore system of course!

After over a year of twerking and making necessary changes based off of what was working and what wasn't- I had an entire system in place that was color coded per child, fit neatly on a shelf, and 4 happy children who LOVED doing their chores!




* They love it because they each get their OWN binder. It is THEIRS. Not mine. 
*They love it because they get paid every week! And with said money they get to spend and budget accordingly and don't have to ask me for money or items anymore. 
*They love it because I'm not nagging them anymore about what to do, when, and how. Not only for their chores but also when it comes to cleaning their room and their daily hygiene.

So why don't I pay my kids to clean their rooms or brush their teeth? It's simple:

I want my home to be a safe and loving reflection of the real world- since that is what they will be entering one day. A place to learn, grow, make mistakes, and prosper, all under my roof and loving guidance


So how do we do that? 

In the real world (generally speaking) you go to work, get paid for going to work, and then come home. And you are expected to fulfill (hopefully happily and willingly) whatever responsibilities are necessary at both places. 
The way I decided to apply that theory and practice  into our home was simple. Their room became their "home" and our home became  their "job". Their physical hygiene is wrapped up in their "home" responsibilities. Because short of being a Trucker I can't think of any other job where it's OK for you to brush your teeth, shower, and get dressed on the job.

So in order to mimic real adult life as much as possible my children were now expected to go to "work" in order to receive a paycheck- which they would now need to purchase all their wants and needs. Before the age of 8 I take care of all their needs. Shoes, school supplies, new outfits, etc. But after the age of 8 they get a pay increase and that responsibility falls on them. And they LOVE it! It does my heart good to see my 8 and 10 year olds get out their shopping lists and budget their wants vs. their needs. Granted, they will make mistakes. Oops- spent all the money at the movies and on that brand new toy they thought they needed...  but it doesn't take them long to figure out that they disappointed themselves by blowing all their money in one place.

The thing is... I WANT them to make those mistakes NOW and not when they are 18 and handed a credit card! By that age the mistakes are usually on a much grander scale with much higher consequences. 

Plus, giving your children the responsibility of their own lives via their own finances builds trust, communication, and self esteem! 
AND they learn to take better care of what they have because if it breaks or gets worn out- they know it's THEIR responsibility to replace it.

This also means that I'm no longer paying for all their wants/needs so our budget has remained the same. The money is simply redirected into their hands instead of my wallet.

About half way through our little binder experiment I realized that I could make this even more life applicable by also giving them the freedom to choose whether or not they wanted to go to work that day. In the real world if you miss a day of work you miss out on a piece of your pay check. And once you're at work- you rarely get to choose what you have to do. You have a list of expectations (whether they are boss given or self directed) and you are supposed to get them done.

So now I don't force my children to go to work. But once they decide to go to work that day- they do all that was assigned. They don't get to pick and choose. In our home my children rarely take a day off. They want their paycheck on Saturday and they don't want it to be smaller than any of their siblings. But of course it happens and when it does, I don't freak out about it anymore. Granted, I may have to pick up their slack, or that chore won't get done at all that day, but that's OK! We are thinking bigger picture here! We are trying to build a life skill now not just keep the house clean and tidy. 

To BUY THIS SYSTEM as an instant download CLICK HERE

To BUY JUST THE CHORE CARDS as an instant download CLICK HERE

To See all that is included in the Responsibility Binders CLICK HERE!

HAPPY PARENTING!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Free Online Educational Classes for Parents

A while back I did a post about Coursera and the classes I had found on it that pertained to parenting.

It was such a hit that I'm going to continue to scour the web for FREE educational  classes for parents.

Here are the latest classes I've found from COURSERA

***This course is for teachers to learn why some children have so much difficulty with reading and writing, often called 'dyslexia', and to learn more about best practice in teaching literacy to all, in light of recent scientific discoveries.

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Child Nutrition and Cooking- by Stanford University- Self Paced

A childhood obesity epidemic is facing the USA and many developed nations. Why are so many foods processed, and what can we do to protect our families? We also explore the six basic ingredients every cook should have on hand!
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How do children overcome hazardous experiences to succeed in life? What can be done to protect young people at risk from trauma, war, disasters, and other adversities? Learn about the importance of fostering resilience in children at risk.


If you missed the dates for these classes don't worry! They cycle through repeatedly. And many of them you can join mid-class since they are free so if it's only been a month since it began.... sign up anyway! Or check COURSERA for their next opening date.

HAPPY PARENTING!

Friday, March 21, 2014

PINTEREST- Teaching Kids

I thought I'd take a quick minute to direct you all to my Pinterest board: 


There are more than 200+ posts and articles regarding positive parenting techniques written by amazing and qualified parents and educators from all over the world. If there is a parenting or early childhood issue you have questions or concerns over you will likely find it there.

HAPPY PARENTING!