DIY Large Confetti Balloons

Are you looking for a large, statement party decoration? Why not confetti balloons?! An easy, customizable DIY that makes a huge impact on your party.

A couple months ago, I started planning my daughter’s first birthday party (cue tears…how can she possibly be one?!) I came across the concept of clear balloons filled with confetti and I knew it was something I wanted to recreate. First I had to decide how big I wanted to go and I chose huge because everything I do for a first birthday party is unnecessarily over the top. 🙂  To be exact, I went with 36-inch balloons, standard balloons are about 12 inches. Next, I picked out colors for the confetti that coordinate with the mermaid themed party (a lot more on that party to come over the new few weeks!). A little bit of time in front of the TV, punching holes while nursing (multi-tasking at its best) and these balloons are ready to fly! more “DIY Large Confetti Balloons”

How I Went From Junk Food Fanatic to Clean Eating Enthusiast (and lost 6 pounds!)

Like most women, my weight has always been a struggle.  I’ve had more ups and downs than a Six Flags roller coaster.  But it wasn’t until recently, after coming home from a family vacation, that I truly for the first time in my life….felt like garbage.

I knew I needed a serious change.  I found one book, one plan, and although it seemed like an impossible feat, it ended up changing my entire well being – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

And BONUS – I lost SIX pounds in the process!

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Family Olympic Games

I hope you enjoyed my post sharing all the shenanigans of my family’s Olympic Games weekend. If you’re looking for more details on the games so you can play them too, this post is for you! Today I’m sharing some coordination tips and how to play this years’ games and some of our favorite Family Olympic games from past years too.

While my family is wonderful, it can be hard to get their attention and even harder to keep it. For my group, I’ve learned they like relay games best and their attention span lasts for about 3 games. (Especially when there’s copious amounts of beer involved!)

Through trial and error, I’ve determined 4-5 person teams are the ideal size. We’ve tried as few as 2 and as many as 6-7. Teams are drawn at random. I buy a different color fabric for each team, not a lot is needed, ¼ yd per color, and cut it into strips. I throw all the strips into a bag and have each person grab one without looking. Bonus: everyone loves wearing the fabric strips. They tie them around their heads, arms, ankles – you name it – showing team pride. more “Family Olympic Games”

Starting Chapter 2: Off to School

I’ve always been someone who was sentimental about change.  The future is unquestionably exciting, but I still get weepy thinking about how quickly time escapes me and how fast things change.  Crawling to walking.  Words to sentences.  Dependent to “I can do it by myself”.  I look forward to the journey ahead, but I can’t deny that the last 4 years at home with Jackson were the most incredible years of my life.

As I thought about this first chapter closing and sending Jackson off to school, I thought about all the lessons and advice I still needed to teach him before he was away from me all day.  Then suddenly I realized he was going to be just fine.  Because while I was so focused on teaching him, I failed to recognize what he had actually taught me along the way.  It turns out that my remarkable little guy ended up shaping me into a better version of myself, a version that makes me proud to be his mama.

So to my dearest little Jackson, I’m fresh out of advice, BUT before I send you off to start chapter 2, there are a few thank you’s that I must say to YOU.

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5 Ways to Have a Great First Day Back to School

For many of my friends I’m the designated ‘teacher friend’ and with a new school year approaching, many of them have been asking me for back-to-school advice (it’s solicited, I promise!).  Things that come as second nature to me were things they had no idea about .  “Do I really need to bring in Ziploc bags?”, “What should I work on at home?”, “How much do they have to read at night?”.  This prompted me to ask some of my trusted teacher pals the TOP tips they would give to parents to ensure a successful start of the school year for their child.

You’ve read other lists, but here’s the REAL advice from ACTUAL teachers on how to prepare yourself and your child for a new school year:    

  1. Encourage a work/play balance. Most parents don’t know that teachers actually want our students to have a comfortable work/play balance at home; meaning, we don’t want your child’s entire night devoted solely to reading and homework.  GASP!  No, it’s the TRUTH.  Run outside, join a club, play sports, try a new board game, help cook in the kitchen, make a craft, design, build, create – these activities actually help facilitate learning so leave time for them….PLEASE!
  2. How is your child going home?  We will (frantically) ask your child 720283465 times during the 1st day of school, ‘how are you getting home?’ This is by far the most challenging part of the first day; making sure each brand new face gets to their designated place (I’m officially coining that phrase).  After care, bus (including number or color and destination), bus after care, walker, car, or bike rider?  Know your plan and keep it consistent for week 1. Make sure your child feels confident that they know exactly how they’re getting home, whose getting them there, whose going with them (siblings or friends), and what will change if we’re involved in a rainy day dismissal situation.
  3. Start a NEW back-to-school tradition.  Make the first day of school more than memorable for your family.  Go out for ice cream, have a picnic at your favorite park, take a walk on the beach, or enjoy dinner out.  THIS is the beginning of a new year – set goals, make plans, and enjoy the newness of the fresh new year!
  4. Ask TARGETED questions.  Instead of “How was your day?” try these questions that are more likely to solicit better conversation about your child’s school day.  “What skill did you learn in math?”  “What books did you read/listen to?”  “What did you work on in fine arts?”  “Who did you play with at recess?”  Please I beg of you…never, EVER, under any circumstances, email, text, or utter the following words to your child’s teacher….”he said that you guys did nothing today”.
  5. Set technology boundaries.  Implement a time limit (1-2 hours a day) and encourage breaks (every 30 minutes).  Establish rules for who your child can message or chat with and encourage the use of the golden rule while using social media or chatting sites.  You can delete, but you never fully erase the words you type to someone.  Secure your child’s access by blocking inappropriate sites and using Google’s safe search.  Your school district’s website will have teacher approved websites that are designed to reinforce skills taught in the classroom.

Last thoughts

  • Some supplies WILL end up as community supplies.  I know, hot button alert.  I recently saw a post that went viral on Facebook, showing a teacher on the side of the road asking for school supply donations for her classroom.  So please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say, because teachers appreciate any and all supplies.  With that said, no one, I repeat, NO ONE loves school supplies as much as I do.  Nothing makes me happier than a new pack of bold Crayola markers, highlighter crayons, and a 36-pack of freshly sharpened colored pencils.  So why would someone with such adoration towards specialized school supplies turn it into community property?  Here’s why.  Like it or not, community supplies saves time, something teachers don’t have enough of as it is.  It creates an opportunity for more INSTRUCTIONAL time.  I would rather read another chapter or answer questions for an extra 10 minutes than spend that time locating and opening 18 individual boxes of crayons.  HOWEVER, I do feel your pain on not getting to use YOUR prized school supplies.  So here’s the deal: If you want your child to use a certain pack of crayons, leave those in his/her backpack or use them at home.  Write your child’s name on the themed folder if its special to them.  But beyond that – just know, the Elmer’s glue with your cuties name on it is definitely going into a ‘glue’ labeled bin with the other 40 glues.
  • Teamwork will in fact make the DREAM WORK!  You, your child, and your child’s teacher are all part of spectacular team that is responsible for child’s school success.  If you need help or have concerns – talk to YOUR child’s teacher.  Occasionally, friends will ask me for advice and the first thing I ALWAYS say is, “did you talk to the teacher?”.  Even if you don’t always agree, remember, you’re still on the same team and you share the same goals.  And lastly, my BEST tidbit of advice, it’s never too early for your child to take responsibility for his/her educational success.  Being accountable for turning in homework assignments, completing classwork, and asking for help are all skills that will ensure long term success in school.

Family Olympics

I come from a large Irish-Italian family. We’re loud, we like to eat, like to drink, and LOVE being together. Growing up there wasn’t a holiday that went by that we didn’t celebrate as a group, a summer we didn’t vacation at the beach together. There’s no such thing as a “small birthday party” when your family alone is over 30 people. But then we continued to grow up, people moved further away, schedules got more hectic. We still got together but it wasn’t as frequent and someone was always missing.

One of my favorite pictures my Grandma – shows her fun loving spirit!

In May of 2014, the matriarch of this crazy family, my grandma, passed away. Almost all of us were by her side in her final moments. My grandma was truly at her happiest when we were all together. As you can imagine it was a blow to our family.

To honor my grandma, I was determined to get my WHOLE FAMILY together. No excuses, everyone had to be there. And so began our Kelly Family Olympics weekend! This year we celebrated our 3rd Family Olympics, which is essentially a family reunion sleepover party where just our family gets together to bond, have fun, and celebrate the memory of my grandma and the others whom have passed. Plus a little light-hearted competitiveness.  more “Family Olympics”

4 Ways I Survived the “Three-nager” Days

If you’ve ever sobbed over quartered grapes that took you 15 min to precisely cut because your child DEMANDED grapes only to be disgusted by them when actually served…then you may know the term THREE-NAGER.

What’s a three-nager?  

It’s a two and a half to four year old child who acts similar to how you behaved when you were a teenager – rollercoaster emotions, hating your parents, debating everything, testing boundaries, not taking no for an answer, asserting your authority, and crying, so.much.crying.

When everything changed…

It was at my son’s 3rd birthday party that I truly realized he had gone from a quiet, mild mannered little angel to a tantrum-throwing, emotionally unstable, unpredictable pre-schooler.  A once cheery boy  wouldn’t greet any of his friends.  Typically even tempered he cried – hysterically – when I wouldn’t allow him to rip off the glued-down decorative construction truck on Playmobil’s dining table.  The boy who ate blueberries, quinoa, and zucchini refused pizza.  He wouldn’t even crack a smile when we sang “Happy Birthday”.  I half-jokingly told all of our friends to enjoy this party because it would surely be his LAST. Then at some point during the party, in between tantrums and screeches, I scooped up my 3 year old, carried him into the bathroom, and started to sob.  I didn’t know who he was anymore, or worse yet, how to help him.

My husband trying to tell my son he can’t keep that truck. You can’t make this stuff up!

Send help…

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Delicious Dill Dip – Your new go-to party appetizer

Dill Dip Recipe

Anyone that loves to host a lot of gatherings and parties has a few go-to recipes in their quiver that hit the bullseye every time. For me that’s dill dip. My mom has made it for as long as I can remember. She got to the point where she stopped making it because she was bored of it and thought her guests were too. (She throws a lot of parties. What can I say, I get it from my momma!)

It turns out, everyone still loves it and devours it every time it’s around. Now I make dill dip for every party I throw.  Why mess with a good thing if it’s working?? This is an easy recipe that is actually best if made a day ahead; one less thing to do the day of a party is a wonderful thing! more “Delicious Dill Dip – Your new go-to party appetizer”

Create Your Own Sequin Sun Hat

Awesome sunnies? Check. Cute sandals? Check. Sequined phrase sun hat? Wait, you don’t have this summer’s hottest accessory yet?!? Good thing I’m here to help!

Sequin Sun Hat

It’s summer and for me that means lots of beach time and sunshine! I was looking for a fun new hat and came across an awesome option by Eugenia Kim but it was slightly outside of my budget. (And by slightly, I mean COMPLETELY.) There are cheaper options out there but I thought this was the perfect opportunity to flex my crafting muscles.

This project is so easy, even the most craft adverse person can handle it! Bonus: it’s cheap, less than $10! My hat was $5 from The Spot section at Target. I’ve seen similar options at Dollar Tree and Walmart. My strand of gold sequins came from Joann’s, also $5 but don’t forget to use you 40% off coupon!

You can download my template for “Shine On!” or use any cheeky phrase you want. more “Create Your Own Sequin Sun Hat”

Our Hip Dysplasia Journey {Part 3 – After the Cast}

 

Our Hip Dysplasia Journey - Part 3

If you missed any previous parts of our hip dysplasia journey, Part 1 documenting our diagnosis can be found here and Part 2, detailing adjusting to life with a Spica cast can be found here

 

“I don’t know how you do it.” A phrase I heard a lot. And the truth is, it wasn’t easy, but my response was, and is, you do it because you have to do it. You do whatever is necessary for your children and their comfort. You do whatever it takes to better their lives.

 

My daughter wanted to be held, allllll the time, and you couldn’t sit down while holding her. And she was heavy in that cast. But I would see her getting so frustrated being stuck just sitting there, trying so desperately to move, so I held her. Maybe some would consider it spoiling, but to me, I just wanted her as comfortable as possible, in an uncomfortable situation.

 

I am very fortunate that I’m a stay-at-home mom. I can’t fathom what this experience would have been like if I was also working; if my little girl was in daycare. The utter exhaustion one would experience between the stress of working, the stress of having a young baby and the stress of dealing with the hip dysplasia diagnosis and Spica cast needs would be overwhelming. I’m sure plenty of parents out there do it (props to you), but I am thankful, I was able to be home and cater to her needs. more “Our Hip Dysplasia Journey {Part 3 – After the Cast}”