Summer 2018: a recap

Goodness gracious, what a short summer! While our summer wasn’t super busy, we did do a lot and we made some pretty awesome memories to show for it.

Our summer got off to a late start, due to all the snow days and having to add teacher workdays to the end of our school year.

We went on vacation to the mountains…twice.

We visited my grandmother and rode the train at the park.

We enjoyed my aunt and uncle’s fire pit and roasted some marshmallows.

Both girls enrolled in a six week gymnastics class…Emorie began her fourth year of gymnastics, and Aubrey began her first.

Both girls went to Vacation Bible School at our church and loved it!!

Emorie celebrated her seventh birthday and went to cheer camp at our local high school.

We spent tons of time at the playground.

And even more time in the pool.

We spent time at the local YMCA splash pad, too

Emorie began to learn to play the piano, prompting us to add a piano to our home.

Our garden flourished for most of the summer, and we enjoyed many delicious veggies from it.

We traveled to WV for the day to celebrate my grandpa’s cousin’s 90th birthday AND 70th wedding anniversary.

Aubrey engaged in a lot of mischief…

We remodeled one of our bathrooms.

And lastly, we sent this newly minted second grader off to school, and I took some of my favorite pictures EVER of my girls.

I will be returning to school next week. Stay tuned: changes are on the horizon for Organized and Simplified.

Have a wonderful,blessed school year.

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First day of school…and a super cute photo idea

First day of school…and a super cute photo idea

BACK TO SCHOOL

So, today, we celebrated a “first” in our house. It’s a first that comes around once a year…or twice, if you consider the fact that my daughter doesn’t attend school in the district where I teach. Yep, you guessed it. Today was my oldest daughter’s first day of school.

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably already seen our newly minted second grader with her “back to school” sign and toothless grin.

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Most of us already take a “first day” photo of our kids, and some of us even create a sign or use a prop…

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…and some of us even take a picture at the school, or in front of the school sign.

But what do you do when your school child’s almost three year old little sibling feels left out? Make them a sign, too, of course!

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Little Miss was tickled pink to be a part of the photo-festivities…and we got some super cute shots to use in her yearbook someday.  Her sign reads, “I’ll be here in three years!” Due to her late fall birthday, she’ll start school the fall AFTER she turns five, meaning she’ll turn six during her kindergarten year.

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We even sneaked back over to the school once the traffic died down a bit to take these cute pics in front of the school buses.

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It’s rare that I get a photo of the two of them where Aubrey is cooperating. Even though these two engage in a whole lot of sisterly spats, it’s clear from these pics that they really do love one another.

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And that makes my heart smile.

I hope you all have a wonderful school year, even those of you who (like me) haven’t started back to school yet.

Have a wonderful week, and join us tomorrow for some more “back to school” goodness.

How to plan an organized beach vacation: tips for making your summer family vacation the best one EVER!

How to plan an organized beach vacation: tips for making your summer family vacation the best one EVER!

Picture it: you’ve finally arrived at your destination on your long-awaited yearly family beach vacation…and you’ve arrived to complete and total chaos. Your hotel/accommodations weren’t what you envisioned, you can’t find half of what you’ve packed, your kids are hungry and grumpy, and you’re about to lose your mind. We’ve all been there, and it’s never pleasant. Sometimes, despite our best planning, our vacations don’t always go so well, and sometimes when you book your vacation the following year, you worry you’ll have a repeat experience.

Worry no more, because an organized family beach vacation IS possible.

 

Plan An organized BEach vacation!

The two major things that stress me out the most about vacationing are 1. Spending too much money, and 2. not properly planning for the needs of my family beforehand. Those are the issues I’m going to discuss the most today.

1. Save money before AND during your beach vacation by:

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

a. I’m a big fan of saving money on vacations. Although vacation lodging is expensive,  you can actually save some money. Before booking, browse discount travel websites such as Expedia or Hotels.com. Many chain hotels/motels even offer discounts for military personnel, AAA members, and many other things. Sometimes hotels offer special packages for certain rooms or off site activities that could save you a little cash. You should certainly check to see what reduced rates, discounts, or special rates are available prior to booking your accommodations. 

b. It’s super easy to blow your travel budget on meals if you manage to eat out for every meal. If you’re lucky enough to get a hotel room with a kitchenette, or rent a house/condo, you can utilize your kitchen and refrigerator to cook some lunches and breakfasts yourself. A trip to the grocery store for a few cheap, smaller meals is still cheaper than eating in restaurants for every meal.

c. Kids eat free at some restaurants. If dining out is on your itinerary, you may want to find restaurants that are family friendly. Depending on the age of your children, you may even be able to find a few restaurants in which your kiddo’s meals will be “on the house.”

d. Don’t go shopping. I know this one sounds crazy, as it’s one of the things some of us look forward to when we go to the beach. BUT, before you shop, ask yourself: is this something I can do at home? Is this really something I need to buy right now, on this trip? Are similar stores available back home? If you can answer yes to two of those questions, don’t shop. Wait until you’re home, where prices will likely be less in a “less-touristy” area.

e. Search up discounts before booking excursions or activities. Sometimes your hotel concierge or front desk staff will have an inside scoop on coupons or discounts for local fun and games. You’d be surprised how often you can find discounted rates on aquarium tickets, local mini golf attractions, or amusement park admission via your hotel’s front desk.

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

2. Plan ahead as much as possible by…

a. Researching the area before you book your trip. If you’re headed to a destination you’re already familiar with, skip this step. BUT, if you’re traveling somewhere new, you may want to make sure your family will have plenty to do. Make sure there are lots of fun activities that aren’t too costly your family can enjoy.  You also want to research the area so you’ll know where nearby drug stores, minute clinics and pharmacies are in case you need them. Familiarize yourself with the area so you will not have to spend so much time looking for streets and landmarks.

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Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

b. Create checklists. Before you start packing, write out a checklist for each family member and what you’ll need to pack. Be mindful of any planned activities or excursions you’ll be participating in as you’re thinking about your packing list. Create a checklist as well for what you’ll need while traveling to your destination. For your kiddos, it’s a good idea to have some snacks and quiet activities on hand to curb boredom. Make sure when you pack that you aren’t rushed. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll be more likely to forget things.  See also What to pack in your toddler’s pool bag! and Vacationing with kids: How to simplify.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

c. Pack your vehicle the night before your trip, if possible. Packing the night before will save you some time, will cause you to be less stressed when you leave for your destination, and will give you time to realize you may have left something behind.

I hope you have enjoyed our travel tips. Tune in next week for our favorite products for traveling to the beach.

 

I apologize for the light posting schedule lately. I am finally out of school for the summer. I was hoping to resume regular schedule today, but I am currently doing this. I am taking some time to decompress and just enjoy my children and life. Regular posting to resume soon 🙂

What to pack in your toddler’s pool bag

What to pack in your toddler’s pool bag

Summer is quickly approaching, and for most of us, summer means pool and beach trips. Those of us with more than one child have a pretty good idea about what your tiny tot will need for a trip to the pool, but if you aren’t sure, I decided to share what’s in our pool bag.

We are a family of four, so our pool bag is this giant monogrammed Land’s End tote with a zipper top. It holds everything we need for some fun in the sun and I love it!

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For our toddler, we always pack the following items:

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  1. A snack (not pictured). We try to always bring a healthy snack for both kids no matter where we go. Dry cereal works well, as do small fruits (grapes) or veggies (carrot sticks), and things like granola bars or Belvita biscuits.
  2. A swimsuit, a cover up (a hooded towel will work well for a small child), and sunglasses
  3. A sunscreen for sensitive skin
  4. Swim diapers and wipes (if your toddler isn’t quite potty trained. Ours is not).
  5. Diaper ointment and lotion. Some kids’ skin is sensitive to chlorine, so it’s a good idea to have some lotion on hand to replenish their skin’s moisture
  6. Pool shoes and goggles
  7. Something to drink in a plastic, lidded cup
  8. Detangler and a hairbrush (not pictured)

I always feel the most organized and prepared for anything when I create a checklist beforehand, run down my list, and physically check it off. I decided to share that list with you as well. To download it, simply right click on the picture below, save it to your device, and then print it. For best results, do not print larger than 8X10 inches.

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Enjoy your pool and beach trips this summer!

 

Why I Started Blogging

Why I Started Blogging

I’m often asked why I started blogging. The simple answer is that I first started blogging as a means to document our pregnancy and birth of our firstborn. Our firstborn is now almost a sassy, intelligent seven year old.

We’ve also added another sassy little lady to the brood.

We are still blogging, but our focus has changed. I’ve always loved making crafts, decorating my home and redoing furniture.

I came to realize at some point there were tons of blogs about these very things. And if they could share their homes, projects and ideas with the world, I could as well.

I started a blog about a passion of mine: getting organized and simplifying your life. I made a lot of online friends, I shared my ideas, and I made a little money.

I’ve learned so much about life and about myself. There have been times when blogging has been difficult and frustrating, but I’ve never regretted starting up this little o’ blog.

I’ve now been blogging almost seven years. It’s been a great seven years and I can’t wait to see what the next seven hold. Stay tuned, friends. Big things they are a comin’.

Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Simplify Saturday: vacationing with kids

Vacationing can be relaxing and fun, but it can be stressful as well. The trick to vacationing with your little children is to be as organized as possible. With the following tips, your family vacation will run much more smoothly.

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1. Plan ahead as much as possible.

Where will you be going? How long will you be there? What will you need to take with you?

Make a checklist so you will be less likely to forget to pack the things you’ll need. If there are things you need to buy, make sure you create a shopping list as well.

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2. Pack snacks for the trip itself.

Hungry kids are grumpy kids, and sometimes it’s hard to stop for snacks. Pack a small bag of non-messy snacks to keep your kiddos happy while you’re driving or flying.

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3. Pack a “boredom box.”

Take along coloring books, puzzle books, something to read, or anything else to combat boredom. No one likes hearing, “Are we there yet?” every few minutes. If you have a DVD player in your vehicle, bring movies. An occupied child is less likely to get bored and get in trouble.

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4. Explore the area amenities before you book.

If you’re staying somewhere unfamiliar, check into local attractions before you book. This way, you’ll already know what is available to your family before you book your trip, and you can plan accordingly.

Remember to plan outings for everyone. Plan fun things to do with your kids, but don’t forget to include some fun for yourselves as well. Being less stressed means you can relax and enjoy one another more.

Have a wonderful weekend.