5 Simple Ways to Show Your Children Kindness

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If you’re like me then you love your kid(s) to the moon! So it should be easy to show them kindness right? Well, yes and no, not really no but, when life gets hectic and there are a million things tugging at you, kindness can fall by the wayside. Luckily for us, our kids are pretty forgiving. Kindness doesn’t have to come through grand gestures, it doesn’t cost money, it’s the simple things that you can do that will speak volumes to your children.

Here are 5 Simple Ways to Show Kindness to Your Kids Everyday:

Be Present: Put down the phone, shut the laptop, stop doing 10 things at once and simply sit in their presence. Maybe it is just watching a movie with them without being distracted by the text coming through, or talking to them without running from one room to the next finishing up chores, or sitting down with milk and cookies and being completely absorbed in what they are saying without your mind racing.  Simply just practice being in their presence and being present with them.

Show Them You’re Interested in Them: Being interested is more than just being present, it is being curious about their very essence. It is asking questions, digging below the surface, and developing a bond with the person they are evolving into as they grow through childhood.  It’s easy to get caught up into routine and have the same stale conversation day in and day out. When this happens we miss out on discovering  who our child really is. When you show your child you are interested in them you convey that you care about them as an individual.

Give Them a Hug and Kiss: I find one of the easiest and sweetest way to show my child kindness is with a big hug and kiss. Don’t underestimate physical contact! Your body language says so much to your child. I know the older they get they might shy away, but I say do it anyway! Sneak it in whenever you can and I believe they will appreciate mom’s touch.

Be Forgiving and Show Grace: When we give our children forgiveness and grace we show them our pure unconditional love for them, not to mention we model Jesus. Forgiveness is kindness. It says yes, there may be consequences, but I love you anyway. When we give our child grace we show the softness that Jesus shows us.

Say, “I Love You”: These three words so simple yet so full of kindness and power. Tell your child you love them, whenever you can. Let them know how you feel and that they are loved. There is no greater gift to a child then to say those words.

Looking for a Fun Bonding Experience? Visit Lake Needwood!

I always feel at home near the water or on the water. My preference is the ocean, but if one isn’t near, I’ll take a lake. Especially, if it is a gorgeous day and I’m with my favorite girl! If you’re looking for an inexpensive outdoor activity, and live in Maryland, visit Lake Needwood.

It’s a beautiful serene 75 acre lake where you can rent kayaks, row boats, canoes, pedal boats, or even take a tour on a Pontoon boat. We decided on the pedal boat. They provide everyone with a life jacket and at least 4 people can fit in the boat.  We paid $9.50 for a half an hour and was on the lake for about an hour and a half. We paid under $20 bucks which was a great price for all the fun we had!

The first time I went to Lake Needwood I was pregnant which was 10 years ago! Now, my girl is 10 and can help pedal the boat! What better way to celebrate a glorious Sunday then hop into a pedal boat on a lake? It was a ton of fun and I totally recommend going with your kids. It was a sweet bonding experience just being out on the glistening lake, talking, laughing and pedaling.

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For a complete list of prices and park hours, Visit: http://www.montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/lake-needwood-boats/

15700 Needwood Lake Circle
Rockville, MD 20855

Free Hospitality Printable PDF Resource!

I’ll be organizing a homemaking workshop for girls ages 8-11 this year and I’m busy organizing all the resources! I wanted to share this quick Hospitality Resource I created. Feel free to  print this resource for yourself or your family. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Download (PDF, 50KB)

Back to School Tax Holidays! Find Savings in Your State!

 

 

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If you’re like most parents you keep your eyes open for any discounts that will save you a few bucks! Every year I try to post some resources that may save you a few dollars. This is one of my favorite resources from Bankrate, which is a list of each state and the days you can shop for school supplies, clothes and more…tax free. Check out the list below and start shopping!

 

2016 Sales Tax Holidays
State Date Details
Alabama Aug. 5-7
  • Books: $30 or less.
  • School supplies: $50 or less.
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Computers and software: $750 or less.
  • Alabama cities and counties can opt out of the holiday. They also can participate on a limited basis, meaning only a portion of the locality’s total sales tax is exempted.
Arkansas Aug. 6-7
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Apparel accessories: $50 or less.
  • School supplies: no dollar limit (most art materials are considered school supplies).
Connecticut Aug. 21-27
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • Custom orders of $100 or less placed and paid in full during the tax holiday week qualify for tax-free status even if the item is delivered after the holiday ends.
Florida Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $15 or less.
  • Clothing, footwear and accessories: $60 or less (items sold at theme parks or other entertainment complexes, hotels and airports are still taxed).
Georgia July 30-31
  • School supplies: $20 or less.
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less .
  • Computers and computer accessories: $1,000 or less. Computer-related accessories designed for recreational use (e.g., video games and devices) and items used in a trade or business remain taxable.
Iowa Aug. 5-6
  • Clothing and footwear: less than $100.
Louisiana Aug. 5-6
  • Most tangible personal property: $2,500 or less.
  • Holiday reduces the state’s 5% state sales tax (4.97% state sales tax plus 0.03% Louisiana Tourism Promotion District sales tax) to 3% for eligible items. Does not apply to sales taxes levied by parishes, municipalities, school boards and other taxing jurisdictions.
Maryland Aug. 14-20
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • School supplies remain taxable.
Mississippi July 29-30
  • Clothing and footwear: less than $100.

The city of Heidelberg is not participating in the 2016 tax holiday and will collect sales tax during the tax-free period.

Missouri Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $50 or less.
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Computer software: $350 or less.
  • Personal computers and peripheral devices: $1,500 or less.
  • Graphing calculators: $150 or less.

Local jurisdictions can opt out, meaning that they will collect those sales tax amounts, but the state’s 4.225% tax will remain exempt for qualifying items.

New Mexico Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $30, $100 and $200 or less, depending on the type of supply (Classroom materials in the $30 per item category include: notebooks, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, art supplies, staples, staplers, scissors and rulers. School supplies for the $100 or less threshold include backpacks, maps and globes. The $200 or less category covers hand-held calculators.).
  • Clothing: $100 or less.
  • Computer peripheral devices: $500 or less.
  • Computers: $1,000 or less.
Ohio Aug. 5-7
  • Clothing items priced at $75 or less each. (The number of apparel pieces is unlimited as long as each item’s cost is the cap price or less. If an item of clothing sells for more than $75, tax is due on the entire selling price. Accessories and sports equipment still are taxable.).
  • School supplies priced at $20 or less each.
  • School instructional materials priced at $20 or less each.
Oklahoma Aug. 5-7
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • Mail, email, telephone and Internet sales are tax-free as long as the items are ordered and paid for and are available for immediate shipment during the sales tax holiday period, even if the purchases arrive after the holiday ends.
Tennessee July 29-31
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • School supplies: $100 or less.
  • Computers: $1,500 or less.
  • Eligible items purchased but on back order outside the customer’s control will remain tax-free.
Texas Aug. 5-7
  • Clothing and footwear: less than $100.
  • Backpacks: less than $100 (Backpacks with wheels are tax-free as long as they have straps that allow them to be worn as a traditional backpack).
  • School supplies: less than $100.
South Carolina Aug. 5-7
  • No maximum price limit is imposed for any of the following items: clothing, accessories, footwear, school supplies, computers, printers and printer supplies, computer software, bed linens and bath accessories.
  • Sales tax still applies to purchases of jewelry, cosmetics, eyewear, wallets, watches and furniture.
Virginia Aug. 5-7
  • School supplies: $20 or less (School supplies are items commonly used by students, including art and music materials, but not computers.).
  • Clothing and footwear: $100 or less.
  • Products that meet Energy Star and WaterSense qualifications and are priced at $2,500 or less Hurricane preparedness items, including portable generators priced at $1,000 or less, gas-powered chainsaws priced at $350 or less, chainsaw accessories priced at $60 or less and other eligible items priced at $60 or less.

Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/sales-tax-holiday.aspx#ixzz4G6hybTdl List provided by Bankrate.

It’s Father’s Day!

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I want to wish all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day! I want to especially wish my dad a wonderful day! I’m so blessed to have a Father who loves me and my daughter with all his heart! I couldn’t have asked for a better father in my life. I also want to wish Anya’s father a Happy Father’s Day as well and thank him for creating this beautiful little human being with me.

 

If any of you are aching on this day, I pray for comfort from Our Father who loves you unconditionally and will take care of your every need, wipe your every tear and is a refuge  in every season of your life. He is the ultimate Father and on this day and every day I give glory to Him in all his awesomeness.

Count Your Blessings While Doing the Chores

Don’t you love chores? NOT! There are those daily chores that are so mundane that they can easily give us a case of the grumps. I have found if I find gratitude in doing them I’m a bit more thankful doing the daily things. When you’re doing chores try saying little prayers of gratitude that relate to that chore. For example, as I was washing the dishes last night with every scrub I gave thanks. It went something like this:

  • Scraping food off the plates- Thank you Lord for providing us with food for our bodies. 
  • Filling the sink with water- Lord, I am grateful for the clean water you provide us with not only to drink but to wash our dishes so that we can eat off of clean plates.
  • Scrubbing the dishes-Thank you Father for giving me the strength and use of my hands to be able wash these dishes. 
  • Drying the dishes and putting them away- I am so blessed to have a warm home where I can put my belongings away.
  • Cleaning off the dining room table- Lord, thank you for allowing my daughter and I to share another dinner together around the table. Thank you for the laughter and conversation, may we always stay this close. 

If we try hard enough we can always find the gratitude and blessings in our day to day routines no matter how mundane they may. The mundane reminds us of how event the simple things are blessings!

There are blessings in the mundane things in our daily lives

There are blessings in the mundane things in our daily lives

School Supplies Are Purchased, But Are We Preparing Their Heart for the New School Year?

There is always a flurry of activity before the new school year arrives of getting school supplies, new clothes, and getting everything ready before the first day, but are we preparing the most important thing for the new year…their heart? I think we need to pay even more attention to our children’s heart then the back to school to do’s, because their heart is going to affect how their school year begins and continues. So in the midst of running around I suggest taking a day to just have some quality time and prayer for the new year. Creating a special day with mom can be a fun tradition for you and your children you can do each year. If you have more than one child you may want to do it separately or all together. Choose something you all enjoy doing, maybe it is a picnic, paddle boating, or catching dinner, whatever it is make it relaxing and in a space where you can talk openly.

When we’re preparing our children’s heart for a new year the first thing I think we need to do is find out what’s on their heart. Ask them if they are excited for the new year, what they are most looking forward to, if there is anything they are worried about, what new activities they want to try or old ones they plan to pursue. Letting your kids talk out loud about what is on their mind may bring up issues that you had no idea they were even thinking about. Talk about goals and what they hope to accomplish you’d be surprised how much changes from year to year.

Most importantly spend some time in prayer with them. Taking time to pray with them about the new school year begins it on a positive note and already puts God in the forefront. Especially if they are nervous about a new teacher, or if they are going to a new school, and if there are issues with friendships they are confronting, it is important for them to give it to God in prayer. Asking God to prepare their heart and minds for the new school year is also sending them a message that prayer is essential to preparation for anything in life and you are establishing prayer habits.

Our kids face so many cultural pressures and they are living in a world that is appearing less safe and more uncertain every day, so by arming and empowering them with the power of prayer we are giving them that safety net that only God can provide. As parents it is so important that we pray for our children in all circumstances and that they know we are praying for them and doing our best to prepare their hearts which is what matters most.

Here is what we’ll be praying about for the new school year:
Safety
Understanding of the coursework
Good relationships with Anya’s teacher and friends
Guidance in peer situations
A kind and compassionate heart
Balance in school and extracurricular activities
Opportunities to serve

I pray all of your children have a wonderful and safe start to the new school year!!!

Tips On Making Going Back to School Easier!

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I can’t believe that in less than a month Anya will be going to the 4th grade! Some of your children may have already started school so this post may be a little late for you all, but for those of you whose children start in the next few weeks there is a lot to get finished before the first day rolls around! I firmly believe the best way to start out a new school year is to be prepared. This is coming from the nerd girl who would write out her goals for the new school year in July! Yes, I was that girl! Now I have my own little girl to get prepared for her 1st day and I won’t lie I still get giddy. But, it can also be a stressful time that can cause a lot of anxiety. So here are a few tips on how to prepare so that you can enjoy the first day too!

Make Separate To Do Lists for Each Child
List A: School Supplies-Including bookbags and lunchboxes
List B: Clothing-If your child has to wear a uniform make sure you have a complete list from the school of everything they need such as the color of socks, the type of shoes, shirts, rompers, pants, gym uniforms, etc. If they do wear a uniform call the Uniform Supplier at least 2 weeks ahead to make sure everything is in stock.
List C: Forms-Some schools may require medical forms make sure you have your child’s medical records available. Also have your emergency contacts ready by ensuring you have correct numbers, emails, and addresses.
List D: Finances- If you have any deposits or tuition payments try to square that away well in advance of the first day of school. If you are getting tuition deducted automatically confirm that the correct amount is being taken out. If there are expenses that you know that are coming up take note of these so you can prepare for them.

Extracurricular Activities
With the start of the new school year comes the beginning of extracurricular activities. My daughter actually starts ballet a day before her first day of school. Make sure that you purchase any specific gear they need a couple weeks beforehand so that you can avoid last minute running around.

Household Preparation
Having your house organized to a degree that will make your mornings easier will be a life saver and save you from being a grump. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep It, Give it Away, or Throw it Away- Take some time before school shopping to have your kids try on clothes and shoes that they normally wear to school. Then decide if you are going to keep it, give it away, or throw it away.
  • Laundry- Have uniforms and clothes washed, ironed and ready to wear for the first week will help you feel like your one step ahead.
  • Labeling-Label clothes, lunchboxes and school supplies as soon as you get them
  • A Space for Stuff-Give your kids a designated area if they don’t already have one to put bookbags, shoes, etc.
  • Grocery Shopping-Try to get to the grocery store and plan in advance the lunches you’ll be making a week before. Get all zip lock baggies, plastic containers, etc. that you’ll need to make lunch.

Save the Dates!
I sometimes find it difficult keeping track of all that goes on with one kid, so I can only imagine if you have a couple kids how scheduling can get hectic. Do yourself a favor and jot down the dates in your calendar whether that is on your phone or in an organizer and if you have a family calendar make sure you update it every month. Many schools have their schedule out for the whole year, take a minute and put them in your calendar. Here are some things you may find schedule worthy:

  • Teacher Meetings
  • Breaks and Holidays
  • School Pictures
  • PTA Meetings
  • Events for parents and grandparents
  • School Events like field day, parades or class parties
  • Extracurricular Activities

If you share weekends or weeks with your child’s father make sure you communicate and share a calendar also keep your kid in the loop they like to know what’s going on.

Car Pools
If you are doing a car pool confirm the schedule, pick up times and drop offs. Be clear on the arrangements and have a back up plan in place. I suggest doing this a few weeks before school begins in case any unexpected changes occur.

Summer Homework
If your kids have any homework over the summer this is the time to make sure that it is getting finished. You may also want to help them sharpen up their skills before they go back. A quick review of the basics will go a long way.

Adjust Bedtimes
The laid back days of summer may have meant being laid back on bedtime. For the sake of yourself and your kids, start gradually getting back into the school routine 2 weeks before the first day. This goes for you too! :)

Have a Family Meeting
This doesn’t have to be anything formal or long and drawn out. The idea is talk about the upcoming year. If there are changes to your schedule and your child will be in aftercare an hour longer those are things you want to communicate. This is also a good time to discuss bed time, homework, and just anything that’s on their mind. You’d be surprised how nervous kids get about a new school year and talking about what’s on their mind can help alleviate some of that anxiety. Make the meeting fun, maybe have pizza for dinner or go out to a diner and get a yummy treat afterward.

The more prepared you are the easier it is for everyone! Lastly enjoy the remaining lazy days of summer with your kids!

Late Night Summer Fun! Fun Doesn’t Just Happen In The Day Time!

It’s good to step out of routine for both kids and adults and summer time provides that laid back free landscape we need to do just that! What better time to be spontaneous than at night! I’ve tried to teach my daughter that not every minute has to be planned out and going with the flow can produce some of the best memories. If your days are packed with work and the kids are at summer camp trying to doing a few fun things at night with them. Here are a few things we’ve done that I’d recommend trying on one of those summer evenings!

-Find a late night coffee shop, sit outside and have a treat. Anya and I went to a coffee shop by her school around 8:30 in the evening and just enjoyed the night air with a cupcake and some coffee.

-Go to the bookstore! I can literally go to the bookstore anytime. I really like small bookstores, but they rarely stay open late, but Barnes and Nobles is open until 11:00 pm. One night around 9 I told Anya to hop in the car and we browsed the bookstore and hung out reading and purchasing a couple books.

-Hang out at a late night diner. This is the same idea as the coffee shop but hey who doesn’t love breakfast at night! It’s great bonding time too! We did this one night by going to IHOP and having pancakes.

-Catch an outdoor movie. Check you local area to see if they sponsor a screen on the green. These are so much fun and are normally free. If you can’t find one then try to find a drive in and bring a few pillows and a blanket to cozy up. Nothing says summer to me like the drive in.

-Take a ride. I find myself in the car a lot these days and I love the open road. Load into the car, throw in a great CD and just drive and sing as loudly as  you want and just have a good old laugh with your kids!

-Sleep outside. Surprise the kids one night and tell them everyone is sleeping outdoors! If they are younger most likely they will love the adventure of staying outside all night.

-Is there a special place where the stars and moon shine just a little brighter? Go gazing. Find a great parking space, sit on the top of your cars and just enjoy staring up at the sky! Teaching our kids to appreciate natural beauty is underrated.

-Find a summer concert- Many summer concerts are free so hang and listen to music under the twinkling stars!

-Take a walk in your city. If you live close to a major city take some time to walk around at night to admire how different it looks in the night time. I live near DC and viewing it at night is always a different experience.

-Simply sit on the porch- Enjoy some ice cream delight in your evening.

Okay, so are you ready to become a night owl yet? Of course safety is always first and if any of these suggestions would pose a danger to you or your family by all means don’t do them! You may want to have another mom and her kids come along. The more the merrier right? I guess the point is any time that we get to appreciate one another’s company we should do it, whether if it is in the evening or during the crack of dawn, the goal is to log time with our family and cherish the moment!

Late night at the drive in with gram
Late night run to Baskin Robbins!
Star Gazing

Step Up The Chores for Your Kids and They’ll Rise to the Challenge

This weekend I had to catch up on some serious cleaning because the previous week was crazy busy. One of the chores I despise is cleaning the bathroom. So… why not have my daughter clean it! LOL yes, these kids come in handy don’t they? I let her empty the garbage, clean the sink, the tile on the wall and the toilet…she loved it! I cleaned the tub for safety reasons, but other than that she tidied up the bulk of the bathroom. She really enjoyed using the plunger for the drain in our sink which keeps getting clogged. I wasn’t sure if she would be able to do that with all the pulling up and down, but it was what she excelled at most! Don’t underestimate your kids! Give them more challenging chores as they get older and you’ll be surprised as they rise to the occasion.

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