Our Fave Books For Boys

 

Our Fave Books For Boys.pngBeing a boy mom is definitely a different type of motherhood, I know it sounds silly, but its true!

I think boys  (mostly) are not super interested in reading naturally so I always am in search of books that are fun to read together at night or independently to help their reading fluency.

I will preface by saying my older (9 year old) couldn’t care less about reading and thats a struggle to find books (and now chapter books) that he loves to read.

Below I will post our faves that can either be read TO your kiddos, or they can attempt on their own depending on their abilities.

Boy moms will for sure appreciate the recommendations, and I’m sure girls would enjoy these as well.

** MOM TIPS**

  • Utilize your library. I request books on an app straight from my phone and I go to the library and pick up the physical books I requested.
  • You can get physical books, digital books, or even audio books through your library- ALL FREE! No more clutter and books you have to store and manage (thats a struggle in my house)

     Links for my local moms-

           Library App to request, renew and manage books.

         App for digital books too. I have both on my phone.

  • If you’re big into buying books, check out the used option on Amazon when checking out, or thriftbooks.com for cheaper options.

 

 

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1-Dragon Masters 2- How To Train Your Dragon 3- Galaxy Zack 4- Haggis And Tank 5- Unicorn and Yeti 6- Princess Pink  7- Eerie Elementary 8- Press Start! 9-The Notebook of Doom 10- The Last Kids On Earth 11- Hardy Boys 12- Ben Braver 

 

Look for Scholastic Acorn & Branches books

They are great books as your kids get  into chapter books, and there are great comprehension questions at the end of every book. I love that even for older kiddos, there are still pictures on every page- thats KEY for my older one.

Look for the logo in the top right corner- Acorn books are aimed at children who are learning to read. With easy-to-read text, a short-story format, plenty of humor, and full-color artwork on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and fluency. Acorn books plant a love of reading and help readers grow!

Branches are aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!


 

Dragon Masters- There are over 10 books in this series, each under 100 pages and pictures on each page. The story is a fun magical ride for the younger kids.

How To Train Your Dragon Series- Keeping with the dragon theme, we love How to Train Your Dragon! There are 11 of these books, and I loved the fact that the books DO NOT follow the same plot line as the movies. Same characters, different stories. They are about a 5th grade reading level, they don’t have a lot of pictures, but my younger one is really into listening to me read them to him at night.

 Galaxy Zack- There are SO many of these books, I believe over 15! This series is fun, its about a boy named Zack (who is 8 years old, right up our alley here) who has to go with his family and live on a new planet called Nebulon. He loves pizza, like my oldest and I think its a really fun story. I’m looking forward to reading more of these this summer.

Haggis And Tank- This is an acorn scholastic book, and there are more in the series. It follows a Scottish terrier (Haggis) and a Great Dane (Tank) as they go on make believe adventures. There are questions at the end of the book to go back over and pick up on different parts of the story, like the use of homophones and key points in that story.

Yeti And Unicorn- Another acorn scholastic book with questions and some drawing directions at the back. This follows the friendship between Yeti and Unicorn and its so cute!

Princess Pink- Now this is a deceiving title. It is a book with the name PRINCESS in it, but I love how these stories create a fun spin on classic fairytales like the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Little Red Riding Hood. Even though it says Princess- its still a fun twist on stories for the boys.

A Friend For Dragon Another Acorn book I forgot to picture, was written by the author of DogMan and Captain Underpants (Dav Pilkey) and the few books he wrote surround Dragon and him finding a friend (which is an apple) having a fat  cat (it was super funny) and problem solving. They were really cute and funny.

Eerie Elementary- My oldest really got into these, they are not my favorite but if he is engaged and interested I’ll help facilitate that interest. The plot line in this series follows a group of kids as they protect the school “Eerie Elementary” and its students from different things that come to life and haunts it;  like the swingset or the science experiments.

Press Start! I will say this is my FAVORITE find for boys so far. These books take place inside a video game that a boy in the story plays. There are 12 books, and each has a different obstacle to overcome. The villian wanting to (like all video games) destroy the innocent. It reminded me of Bowser in all of the Mario Bros. games. My oldest loved these!! They are at an almost 3rd grade reading level, and he was able to and interested in reading them ALL ALONE!

The Notebook Of Doom- We checked this out from the library, there were multiple books in the series, and from what I saw it reminded me of Eerie Elementary, but we didn’t read it yet. It seemed great for my older reader.

The Last Kids On Earth- This book was another good pick for my oldest. It follows some kids as they navigate their way through a post apocalyptic (without being overly mature or graphic) Earth. There are multiple in the series, and it was a good read. This is a realistic chapter book, with very little pictures, and was a good one to read TO them at night.

Hardy Boys- Another pick for the older readers. This is an obvious remake on the classic Hardy Boys books, but with a modern spin on their missions. The first in the series was kind of flat, but this (book #6) was much more appealing to both my son and husband. They reported back that this was better than #1.

Ben Braver- This was a favorite of my oldest as well. There are two books in the series, and we read the first. The second is on its way to our library. It follows a boy (Ben Braver) as he attends a school for kids with super powers and he tries to find his own, but ends up not having “super powers”. He was still able to save the school and make a difference without them. It had a good message.

 

 

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I hope this helps you select some fun books for your kiddos!

-XoXo

Hannah

Pistachio Children

Parenting is complicated, the roads it takes us on are never straight, the journey is relentless, and sometimes (lets be honest, most times) we don’t see an end in sight that is comforting.

After momming for nearly a decade, I can safely say with complete certainty that parenting will be the hardest battle I ever fight. There will be days when there is great joy, huge sorrow, tears, laughter, doors slamming, hurt feelings, timeouts, and lots of other emotions as this life we live changes with our phases of life.

I wanted to talk about an analogy that I heard that blew my mind a little bit. It hit home for several reasons, one of them being that we are a farming family, and the other just the simple fact that I am a mom who works tirelessly for her children; like all moms!

So here is the big mind-blowing analogy- the pistachio tree. Thats right, a pistachio tree. When you are a farmer, you are aware of all sorts of scenarios that affect your bottom line and being “profitable” like any other business. I can relate to this because, this our life. So as I sat and listened to this analogy it made total sense to me because we are literal farmers.

Lets imagine you go from being an almond farmer (and we are almond growers) to growing  pistachios.

When you grow pistachios, you hopefully are aware that this is not a typical crop that yields harvestable nuts like new almonds do  in a matter or 2-3 years. Pistachio trees are harvestable in about 7-10 years, thats quite a bit longer!

If you were once a farmer, who saw almost immediate fruits of your labor and now switch gears to now having to wait 7 years longer than expected, if you’re not prepared, or have unrealistic expectations this could be catastrophic!

You will have to PLAN to be patient, persistent, and diligent about your crop year after year, after year, after year, and still you may start to feel impatient, or discouraged. It will take constant work to maintain the new crop you planted to not see any nuts for almost a decade! That is some hard work and determination!

If you are farming with expectations of almond trees while farming your pistachios you may give up completely, or go bankrupt if you didn’t prepare well in advance.

Don’t compare your pistachios to your former almond crop, because you will be disappointed. Even though they are both trees, they have completely different maturity rates.

Parenting is like the pistachio farmer. You work diligently, tirelessly, day in and day out, and while you may EXPECT to see fruits of your labor, you may have a pistachio child not yielding any visible fruit. Heck you may have several pistachio children!

We need to realize that this may be a season that we are in that DOESN’T yield any fruit. It may take YEARS of our quiet maintenance to our children, which are like the pistachio farmer’s crop, before we ever feel like we see the true fruits of our labor.

Even though we may not SEE anything remarkable happening, changes are happening behind the scenes. Just like a tree growing, roots are taking hold underground in the dark quiet places that we will never see. Roots that will make the tree strong, and one day fruitful.

Yet we still persevere. We show up. We tend to our crop, we stand back and admire its beauty, its imperfectness. One day God willing, we will admire a beautiful tree, a tree full of good fruit, and we can breathe easy knowing that our labor and prayers didn’t go unnoticed or unanswered. 

In different seasons of our live, we will feel like the new pistachio farmer who worked and worked to grow a healthy crop. We may feel discouraged, upset, tired and want to give up. If we didn’t have faith that we would one day see the fruits of our labor in tangible and intangible ways we would surely crumble.

I’m so thankful for that analogy, it opened my eyes to the season of life that we are in. I need to not think of my children as an almond trees, when they may actually be a pistachio tree quietly growing and taking root as we pour into them. 

 

John 20:29 ESV  “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

-XoXo

Hannah 

Thanksgiving Tradition

Over the years, we have had some pretty cute traditions with the boys around Thanksgiving.

While you have small kiddos there is only so much you can do to capture their attention or even help them comprehend the certain holiday or its meaning.

Nevertheless, I still try to do fun things that they will hopefully look back on and remember and look forward to each year.

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In years past we have done thankful leaves, where I ask the boys what they are thankful for, I write it down (and now they can write themselves) on a leaf cut out on construction paper and I display it. When we are all done, you step back and see how many things you are thankful for and its so cool. You can add to it and add new things daily, or when you are reminded just keep adding to your leaves. Display them in fun ways, in a big mason jar attached to twigs and hole punched and either tied with twine or slipped onto the branches. Tape them to the wall, make garland out of all of the leaves, there are endless possibilities.

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I wanted to reinvent this tradition this year, and I came across EXACTLY what I was envisioning in my head from a Pier1 post on Pinterest- totally meant to be.  I have a vase that is basically EXACTLY like their picture too- winning!!

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I want to SAVE the leaves, and use the centerpiece year after year, and then look at the leaves from years past. Seeing what we all said we were thankful for that year, recognizing the kiddos handwriting as it improves and it will totally warm my heart. So I’m going to cut out this printable and I will bring back the leaf tradition in a more design friendly way each year. So fun!

The other fun thing we did was cut out these cute turkeys from pinterest.

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Look how tiny they were!

I let the boys cut the printable out and use glue sticks and attach all the pieces. I saved these for years (and still have them) and put them on their doors as thanksgiving approached.

We have made Turkey hats out of construction paper.

I have used from of course, Target, a coloring table cloth for them to draw on.

Its really all about getting them excited for the holiday and lets face it, OCCUPYING them while you are in the kitchen. Don’t make it complicated, seriously just go through the Dollar Spot at Target and grab something fun, these little simple moments are what make it fun. You will look back and laugh at the fun things you did in the midst of basting your turkey and throwing dishes in the oven.

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Hopefully this gives you some ideas for Thanksgiving this week and you make some special memories together. If you missed the Thanksgiving recipes post, and need some ideas you can see that here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Teacher Mason Jar Craft

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FullSizeRenderI love making handmade gifts. If there is a holiday, you can pretty much guarantee I will want to make something to give someone. Call me crazy, or just resourceful because the nearest store with craft supplies (besides a dollar general) is more than 30 miles away; its just easier to make something sometimes!

 

Having some basic craft supplies that you buy for a project once will last for multiple projects. With that being said, I had all of the materials on hand to make these cute little mason jars for the kiddo’s teachers as a beginning of the year gift. This would be perfect to give a teacher anytime! Christmas, Teacher appreciation day, you name it!

 

Materials You Will Need:

  • Acrylic paint in red, pink, yellow, brown, grey, black and green.  Feel free to mix red and white for pink and black and white for grey, if you don’t want to buy all of them. I didn’t have black so I mixed blue red and brown til I got a deep enough color to pass for black
  • Paint brushes, foam brushes are my fave. They always come in a pack and you can just toss them when you are done since they are so cheap.
  • Paint pens if you want to trace the zig zag pattern on the pencil or write No. 2 on it in black or the teachers name
  • Painters tape if you want to have super clean lines by the rim or any areas on the pencil you want to be crisp.
  • Mason jars, I used 16oz
  • Twine
  • Pencils or candy to fill up the cups

I used this image (that had no instructions) from Pinterest, it was a craft I think they did at Michael’s. (its not the best quality, but you get the idea)

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Directions:

For the pencil I used, black, pink, grey, yellow acrylic paint. I actually didn’t have some of the colors, so I mixed red and white to make pink. I didnt have the black either and mixed some blue red and brown to make a deep enough color to pass for black since it was just a small spot on the pencil. You have to be resourceful sometimes

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It took my mason jar and and used some paint pens I already had.

I painted the pink eraser part first, then I moved on and and grabbed some painters tape to make a clean line for the metal part of the pencil and used a sharpie paint pen because I didn’t have a grey paint or colors to make grey.FullSizeRender-2

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FullSizeRender-1Then I just freehand traced an outline of the zigzag pattern on pencils with another paint pen (bought them for a previous project and had all the colors) and outlined where the yellow would go and painted that area. I let each section dry in front of the fan before I moved on to the next area. I painted the wood part brown and then I took the mixed colors (purple,blue and brown) to paint the black part of the pencil on the rim of the cup.

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My biggest tip for crafts like this is to let things dry in front of a fan, it will make things dry so much faster! 

 

For the apple, I painted the mason jar red then waited until that was dry and painted the rim brown. I took some of my green paint and painted on a leaf. You could tie some twine or ribbon and cut out a leaf shape from paper or felt if you have it and hole punch it and attach to the twine and tie that on the rim too!

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I popped some pencils in them from Dollar General, and spent under $5 for each jar!

I hope you try these out and give them to the teachers in your life and it makes them smile.

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The Best Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

I have been making these cookies since I was a little girl with my mom. Growing up I remember rolling the cookies into balls, dropping them into some cinnamon and sugar and gently flattening them with this small glass we used only when making these cookies.

I’m UBER picky with snickerdoodles because of this and frankly because these are SO good and better than most. Its really simple, and always tastes so good!

The Best Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

  • Servings: 4 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks of butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

For rolling:

3T sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Combine the four, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in a bowl and set aside.

2. In a separate bowl beat the butter for 30 seconds. Then add sugar and beat until fluffy.

3. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat well.

4. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet mixture.

5. In a separate small bowl mix cinnamon and sugar to roll cookies in.

6. Roll dough into 1” balls, roll into cinnamon sugar mixture and place on a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper 2” apart. You can use a cookie scoop if you have one.

7. Take a small glass and use the bottom to GENTLY flatten the tops of cookies before putting in the oven.

8. Bake at 375 for 8 mins. Let cookies cool for 5 mins on sheet then place on cooling rack.

Cookie Hack

My friend, fellow boy mom and cookie lover told me her cookie dough trick recently. She told me to not bake all the dough, bake a dozen or so, put the rest in a storage container and store in the fridge. Throughout the week bake a few cookies, so you don’t feel like you bake cookies and half go stale. Every time you bake them they are fresh baked! Its genius! I did it this week with the snickerdoodles, and its awesome! So now I bake a few and they are fresh cookies and I love having them to put in the boy’s school lunches.

I know you will love them as much as we do!

The #MOMLIFE reality that isn’t trendy

If you are a new mom, a mom of small children or just in a new phase of life, odds are you are not unfamiliar with the feeling of loneliness.

Everyone always recites that cliché saying “your whole life changes when you become a mom” right? You hear it, and it passes in one ear and out the next. Honestly though, your life changes in ways you totally did NOT see coming. I could write a bazillion, yes I said bazillion, posts about the ways your life changes after being a mom from postpartum bodies, sleep deprivation, to succumbing to a messy house. But what I’m wanting to write about is how you mentally change. Yes, there is postpartum depression and that’s a very real thing that so many women have to deal with, but there are plenty of women who are undiagnosed (and may or may not have ppd) and struggle with LONELINESS.

The loneliness you start to feel creep in is subtle, but its real. Here you are a new mom, you’re adjusting to a whole range of things like how to keep this child alive, how to function on 3 hours of sleep, how to adapt to your changing body, how to breastfeed, how to formula feed if breastfeeding didn’t work out, how to not guilt yourself, its ENDLESS. At the end of the day, I’m sure you are left feeling lonely and like no one else is struggling like you and you’re the only one that understands you in these moments. You probably feel like other moms have this all figured out and they’re just coasting through life with their bffs and loving life. This was one of the lies I let my self believe for too long.

I wanted to be a young mom, to basically do the opposite of my parents (who were older than most parents) and start a family young. When I did though, I of course knew I changed my life, but the change I didn’t see coming was in my friendships. I was the first of my “friends” to get married, first to have kids, and because of those things I was just in a different phase of life than anyone else. That alone separates you and puts you in a different category than your friends. I felt myself not connecting the way I used to, and it just made me feel lonely. I got in my head and questioned if I had made a mistake wanting to make these big life choices earlier than people I knew. I was left feeling empty, lonely, and just sad a lot of the time. Those feelings weighed on me, like a weight on my shoulders I carried around with all of the other things I was juggling at the time… like being a mom and a wife.

So for about 4 years I didn’t really connect with women like I wanted to. I felt different, I didn’t feel like I had any real friends, and I was just bound to my house as a slave to the nap schedule of my child. When we had our second child, our lives had to adjust to the new addition and when he was close to one, someone mentioned to me casually that I should attend a MOPS group. I responded to.. um what the heck is that?!

MOPS stands for Mothers Of Preschoolers. Typically MOPS groups are ran through churches across the nation, but I (at the time) was not a person who had been to church. I did not grow up attending church, and the idea was pretty foreign to me. But, I was feeling lonely, and I thought, there was some promise in the idea that moms met 2 times a month, who were just like me in this unique phase of life with small people to chase after day in and day out. A few months earlier, I had started my first online bible study through some ladies in a direct sales company I worked for at the time, and felt I was semi- prepared to enter into a church environment because I had been doing that for a few weeks. So I asked around on facebook who attended a “MOPS” group, and I did get a couple responses and looked one of them up and went to their park play date sign up. I hesitantly walked up to a table with a big sign and signed myself up for “MOPS” and whatever that was.

I have been apart of MOPS for 5 years now, and unless we have another baby, then this will be my last year. Truthfully, I wish I would have known about it SOONER! That first year, I was a new-ish mom and didn’t have any connections or friendships, I struggled with loneliness, and I became SO connected and had life breathed back into me!

I sat at an amazing table of 7 other women and one mentor mom, who happened to be the head of women’s ministry at that church. It was a life changing year. It sounds so corny, but just going to those meetings, and listening to the speakers, the videos, and other moms at my table and not at my table revitalized me. Suddenly, I was not some leper cast away on an island to live alone, but I was JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. Other moms struggled with not feeling like they are enough, and feeling like they were one timeout away from losing their minds.

That year I made lasting friendships, and to this day, 5 years later I still call most of them great friends. Several of them have “aged out” of MOPS and their kids aren’t in the 0-5 year range, but I still text and connect with them on a pretty regular basis. Each year I met amazing women and it truly opened up a door for me to see that I am not alone.

If you are feeling at all like how I felt, and this is how you are hearing about MOPS, you should look on their website and connect with a local chapter and GO! You can look for a group here. Nothing is holding you back but yourself and your fear. If I hadn’t walked up to that table at that park play date and let fear paralyze me then I wouldn’t have made any of the friendships or connections that I have over these last few years and my life would be SO different. No one can support you, or understand you like a fellow mom. Don’t let yourself live isolate and feeling lonely.

We are meant to live in connection with each other and not apart from each other.

With this most likely being my last year at MOPS, and with it being the beginning of the year, it got me thinking about my time there and left me with the feeling that I needed to write about MOPS. Maybe there is a mom who will read this who is feeling just like I felt.

This year’s theme for MOPS is called “FIND YOUR FIRE”, and its so fitting. Most of us let our fires go out when we become moms because we have to do so many new things and we lose ourselves. Don’t let yourself make that mistake, because our fires were not meant to be extinguished.

“Never let your fire go out. When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. Share with God’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes.” Romans 12:11-1 NIV

Back To School Again

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Where has the summer gone?!

We have a little less than 2 weeks left of summer, and its an emotional year for our household. BOTH boys will be in school all day for the first time.

My mom heart hurts for all kinds of different reasons and yet is excited about this new chapter for our family (more about this later).

I wanted to talk about ALL THINGS BACK TO SCHOOL!

What are some of your back to school traditions, fave shopping spots, and what do you do to prep for getting back into the school year routine. I’ll be sharing what we do. 🙂

Being a boy mom comes with a lot of chaos managing. They’re loud, they’re rough, they’re fearless, they’re messy (but what kids aren’t), and… they’re tough on their clothes!

I’ve been really lucky with the fact that we get some amazing hand-me-downs from good friends of ours which end up going to both boys because they wear the same things in the same seasons; since their birthdays are exactly 3 years and 1 week apart. So, anything we had for our oldest got passed down to our youngest, and our oldest wasn’t really rough on his clothes until he started kindergarten, particularly his jeans! LORD knows how this boy constantly got holes in the knees of his pants.

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As we were constantly repairing and then throwing out his pants we started to buy Cat & Jack jeans at target. They had just started this line, and we always shop at target anyway! So we gave it a shot. The coolest thing though, is that ALL CAT & JACK clothes (shoes too) come with a 1 YEAR GUARANTEE! Like what?! Any defects, damage that your child may do, will be replaced! This was the best thing ever for us and the jean dilemma!

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Save your receipt if you don’t have a Target Redcard, but you really should get one, and then they will honor what you paid for those items up to 12 months later! If you have a Redcard, just take your things into guest services and they will give you credit back to your account or a giftcard for the FULL AMOUNT of the items!! HOLY GUACAMOLE!

This is a little secret from the target employee, Target’s system doesn’t have the capability to look up receipts older than 4 months out. If you used a Redcard, they will give you a giftcard for the full amount and you’re good to go! Now you can replace the clothes, even in a bigger size for the next school year! Or, you could treat yourself to whatever you want since it’s a giftcard! I did this and I was so happy that I was able to take them back and get new jeans for this upcoming school year. Now I won’t worry about how hard he is or isn’t on his jeans! Give Cat & Jack a try!

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This is where I kind of “splurge”, on their backpacks. I started getting cute Pottery Barn backpacks when my oldest went off to preschool, and it became something I looked forward to buying. I just LOVE pottery barn, and I know the backpacks are going to be great quality and last. Last year, I got my a bigger backpack for my oldest (size Large) from Pottery Barn, and this year, I won’t be getting him a new one since its still in amazing shape and is big enough for him to use for a couple more years.  I did get my younger son since he hadn’t gotten a brand “new” one yet and I thought it would be a cute way to commemorate going off to Kindergarten.

I got him this oneScreen Shot 2018-08-03 at 1.51.07 PM.pngand this awesome matching lunch box. I got this really cool hard shell lunch box that was on clearance for my bigger guy (since he is so rough on his lunch pails- I usually get a new one each year).

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I used a 20% off coupon, and they offered free shipping on all backpacks and lunch boxes. I’ll call that a win!

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Now for my favorite tradition for back-to-school (besides picking out PB backpacks), taking first day of school pictures! I know that you know there are a BILLION ways to do this thanks to Pinterest and everyone else you have to see on social media- here is what I did and stick with.  backtoschool

One of our good friends did this and I loved it, and knew when my kids were old enough I would do this too. I used a Crayola Easel we had, and use magnetic letters and numbers to write out their name, what grade, first day of whatever grade, and the date. This is something I love and really look forward to. Its especially amazing when you can compare the LAST day of that school year side by side. By doing this tradition, I plan on having all of their school years like this to remember. Imagine how annoyed and embarrassed HighSchool boys will me when I make them (and I will make them) stand in front of a easel on the first and last day of school! You can use a dry erase board, a letterboard, a banner, you can photoshop pictures and add text to them, there are all kinds of fun ways to mark the beginning of school for your kids, and making those tradition are what is the most fun.

Find what brings you joy, and stick with it!

I’m raising my coffee cup to you mamas and giving you a symbolic cheers to the upcoming school year with some (lets face it) lukewarm coffee!