How to Clean Baseball Pants to Perfection

This isn’t one of those times that I tell you I am a miracle worker except maybe I AM. Especially in the eyes of my small dude. And also maybe in the eyes of the other baseball moms on Coop’s team.

You see, the Rookie’s season just started last Sunday – as in nine days ago. The team played League games on Sunday, on Thursday, and then Tournament games on Friday, two on Saturday and two innings at 8am on Sunday until a torrential downpour and lightening put a halt to the game.  In case you weren’t aware, baseball is a superstitious game. This means, at least in our family, your uniform isn’t washed that often.

Great for players and coaches.

MISERABLE FOR MOMS WHO WASH THE UNIFORMS. Can I get an AMEN?

I proudly wear the shirt to support my guy.

Cooper Baseball Mom Shirt

I cheer loudly. I don’t miss a pitch. I’m there for every slide, every throw, every swing. (read: every grass stain, every mud mess, every after game icee)

Cooper Swing Baseball

This is what Coop’s pants looked like on Sunday night.

The front:

Baseball Pants Dirty Front

And the back:

Baseball Pants Back Dirty

Normally, I would soak them, use Tide with bleach and pray.  But, my friends at Tide sent me Tide OXI Multi Purpose Stain Remover to try. And? As you can imagine, I was AFRAID of what I was facing. Many of the other parents had already been washing their boy’s pants (a few times, I might add) So, I was willing to try something different. I followed the directions, soaking with this new Oxi instead…. and added a little elbow grease (I was AFRAID of those grass/mud/icee stains).

This is what they looked like after one hour of soaking – even before the actual wash.(Crazy, right?)

Baseball Pants Clean

And this? Miracle. After the wash.

Baseball Pants Tide Oxy Clean White

TAKE THAT, BASEBALL MESS. I’ve got you covered.

Five and a half games. No washing in between. To simple, beautiful WHITE, Baseball Perfection.

Mom + Tide OXI = Awesome.

Disclosure: I wasn’t compensated in any way to share this with you. Tide did however, send me a sample to try. As always, the opinions and experiences you see here are mine and mine alone. I couldn’t make this up if I tried :) 

Tips for Teaching Kids a Second Language

Hello again!

I am so happy to be back here again at Extraordinary Mommy. Last time I was here we talked about traveling with kids. Because, well, that’s a really big part of my life and I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked up along the way! Hope you enjoyed it!

If you missed it, my family is made up of a Bahamian-born-and-raised husband, a Southern California girl, and two beautiful little mixed boys. We spend our time between France and California mostly, with visits to The Bahamas when we can. You can read more about me over here.

Living in France on and off for the last 6 years has been incredible. At the beginning I missed home so much. I missed my parents, I missed the weather, and I missed the ease that is America. Now that we’ve been living here for a while, I have fallen in love with the country of France. It’s absolutely gorgeous and has so much to offer. Of course, there is no perfect country out there, and I am still American at my core, but I’ve learned so much living here.

One thing that has become close to my heart is learning a second language. Not so much me, because that has been a serious labor of love, but for my kids. Watching them easily pick up a language and speak it like French born children has been absolutely amazing. It has me thinking too. Why in the world is America one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t start teaching their kids another language at a young age?

I know, I’ve heard the argument that we already speak one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Or if we started pursuing another language, which one would we choose? What if later in life that particular second language isn’t very useful anymore? I started learning Spanish in high school (still a little late) and then years later after studying in college as well, I found out my then boyfriend was moving to France to play basketball. I thought it might be wise to start learning that language instead! I had to switch languages at 22 years old.

But here’s my thing — it doesn’t matter what language kids learn when they’re younger, as long as they’re learning one! Little minds are absolutely amazing and can grasp so much more than we give them credit for. My son started French school at 3 years old without speaking a word of it. He is 6 now and speaks perfectly, without an accent, like a little French boy.

So I’m on a mission. I’m on a mission to encourage parents in America to start teaching their kids another language at a younger age. Wait, what’s this you say? You don’t speak another language? No problem. It can still be done. I’m going to make a few suggestions to get your kids started on their second language.

tips for teaching kids another language

Disclaimer: my kids speak fluently and it happened quickly because we live in France and they go to French school. So obviously being totally immersed made the process faster. My point of this post isn’t to suggest your kids should be fluent in three years. But the idea of exposing them early to a second language and making it a part of their world is what I’m getting at. It will help them in so many ways later in life.

YouTube

YouTube is a great resource and has many language options to chose from. I have a friend who is teaching her 3-year-old daughter Mandarin using a YouTube channel. She went through quite a few channels until her daughter really connected with the teacher and loved watching. It’s a fun, simple way to bring another language into the home.

Muzzy

Muzzy is a fun little cartoon that is used to teach kids another language. It started as a program to teach English as a second language and now you can learn French, Spanish, Italian, German, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Esperanto and Portuguese. We tried French for a bit when my first son was younger. When presented in a fun way that the kids enjoy, it doesn’t feel like learning. But it is, they are soaking up those words like we can’t even imagine!

Videos/TV in the second language

This one is a little tougher as kids get older, so I would suggest starting from the very beginning. My kids still prefer to watch films in English but love watching cartoons in French – who knew! They have only ever watched cartoons in French so it’s normal to them and films have always been in English. So if you start when your kids are young and whenever something comes on TV it’s in the language you’re choosing to teach them, it will be normal to them. They won’t even really know there is another option and will be understanding it, maybe even speaking it, before you know it!

Au Pair/Nanny/Babysitter

I realize this might not be an option available to everyone, but I thought I’d include it anyway. You can hire a live-in au pair (like a nanny who comes from another country) for less than $100 a week. Just ask them to only speak their native tongue to the children and they can use their English with you. You will be in absolute awe of the progress you will see in your kids.

If an au pair isn’t an option, think about hiring a bilingual babysitter or nanny. Even if it’s just a couple times a week/month, your kids will still be getting the opportunity to be exposed to another language. That’s really key at such a young age.

Tutor/Class

See if there is a group or class in your area that teaches another language. I know that when I was young I took a Spanish class for children. I remember it well and perhaps that could have been what spurred on my love for languages! It would also be a fun activity for your kids.

Get Help

Do you know a family that speaks more than one language in the home? Maybe one parent is from another country? Ask your friends to help out with their language skills or to only speak in that language to them. I only speak French to one of my friends’ daughters. We also have friends here who are Swedish and speak Swedish at home, and their kids are learning French at school and they speak English with us. English is their weakest language but when it does come along (and it will, everyone speaks English in Sweden) he will immediately have three languages! Amazing!

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is a great learning option for a foreign language. For adults as well! We have had our kids doing Rosetta Stone in French just to make sure to brush up on the language and it’s been great. The reason this program is great is because it teaches the language like a child would be learning a first language — with pictures and listening. If they are children that are motivated by completing projects & levels, this could be great.

Immersion School

Once again, I know this might not be practical for everyone; it most certainly wouldn’t be for us if we lived in the States because it can be rather pricey. However, if you have the means, it’s an absolutely fantastic idea to send your kids to an immersion school. I know in Los Angeles they have a few French immersion schools where they are exactly the same as French schools, same curriculum, same breaks, and it’s all in French. Our neighbors in America send their kids to one and they are now fluent in French and English. It’s amazing. And you know what? Those kids don’t know any different; they are just naturally speaking another language like it’s nothing to them. What an incredible thing!!

A few side notes that I have learned along the way.

  • It doesn’t really matter what mode you’re doing as long as you’re doing it. Some would obviously take longer to develop the language than others, but just the fact that you are presenting another language to your kids is genius.
  • Make it fun. Learning another language can be and is fun! Find what ignites interest in your little one and do it. If they feel like it’s another thing they have to do or if it has a negative connotation, languages might be something they hate forever.
  • It’s really easier than you think. If you don’t speak a second language, this whole thing probably sounds pretty intimidating. Trust me, I know! My 6-year-old speaks better French than I do! But once you start, I think you’ll be amazed at your kid and at the whole process.
  • Not everyone enjoys languages. I include this because everyone thinks differently. My husband hates speaking French and has no real desire to learn it except to understand his kids. He would rather do a math problem. Me, if someone sat me down and made me do math, I’d curl up into a little ball and cry. I still would suggest introducing it to your child, but maybe going slow and presenting it in a way that appeals to them. Maybe as a game or a competition (if they’re competitive), or even with a rewards system.
  • You never know where it could lead. For one, you just don’t know the potential of your child with languages until they start; and, two, you never know what you could ignite in them through this process. What if one little YouTube video spurs your child on to learn 3 or 4 languages and become an ambassador or work as a translator or humanitarian? The options are endless and you’re giving your kids a truly remarkable gift.

I cannot stress enough how important I think this is. Americans need to catch up! I am getting my diploma in French class at the University nearby and the other Americans and I are the only ones in the class who are only on their second language. Everyone else is learning French as a third or fourth language!! My son’s first grade class here in France does English and I teach English in my 3-year-old’s class!! American’s don’t start until so much later that it is so much harder for us to learn. And most of us (myself included) start so late that we will always have an accent in the other language.

Well, that’s all I have for you today! I hope you’re inspired to give it a try!

EXM Natalia Simmons Bio

 

The Truth About Community and Stolen Content: A Lesson from The St. Louis Observer

On Friday I felt the punch in the gut that comes with seeing your site’s hard work appear, stolen, on someone else’s site. And not a sentence, not a quote, not just one picture (and I don’t think ANY of those are acceptable either) but I first saw one full post – a post that had been written by Kelli Stuart, one of the contributors I pay to write here for ExtraordinaryMommy.

ExtraordinaryMommy Content On St Louis Observer1

And then I learned there was another post.

ExtraordinaryMommy Content On St Louis Observer2

 And then another.

ExtraordinaryMommy Content On St Louis Observer3

(this above post  had appeared here on our site that very morning) Then I learned that there was a full Google Proxy feed running right from my site to this site, the St. Louis Observer. This, my friends, is stealing.

ExtraordinaryMommy Content On St Louis Observer4

This theft had apparently been happening since February. Every post that appeared here on ExtraordinaryMommy instantly then appeared on the St. Louis Observer. (note the screen shot above: search results for ‘ExtraordinaryMommy’) And then? Each post was auto-tweeted from @StLouisObserver to direct you to MY CONTENT on THEIR SITE. (amazingly – this twitter account is still auto-tweeting non-existent content).

I then realized I wasn’t alone. This local, St. Louis site was running full feeds from DOZENS of local blogs and news sites to their ‘newspaper’.

I called the Editor The St. Louis Observer. Twice. The first time after I realized one post was on their site and the second after I realized they were running the feed.

I mentioned it on Facebook.

Facebook Stolen Content Share

I tweeted about it.

Twitter Stolen Content ScreenShot

But this post I’m writing here? Is less about stolen content and more about the power and beauty of community.

Because THAT is what I felt on Friday afternoon and evening. I felt surrounded by a strong community of people who love and respect this space, who value the work that we collectively do, who understand that the content I create, that YOU create, that WE create, is worth protecting.

I went to bed on Friday night, not sick to my stomach that this happened, but PROUD and GRATEFUL that so many people were willing to add their voice to mine to stand up for what is right – to spend time with me on Twitter and Facebook to say that it matters and that they, too, know the difference between right and wrong.

Within minutes, so many of you joined the online conversation, helping me to make the point: Stealing Content Is Not Ok.

Twitter Stolen Content St Louis Observer

Twitter Stolen Content St Louis Observer

This isn’t about writers, photographers and videographers in the digital space stomping their feet like children and refusing to share – this is about protecting our work. Legally. The content we create belongs to us. You can’t simply take it and claim it as yours. There are, in fact, laws to protect us. Copyright and DCMA. And no, what the St. Louis Observer was doing WAS NOT CURATION.

They weren’t mentioning awesome content and linking to it. They weren’t sharing links to topics they thought were fabulous. They were re-posting FULL POSTS. And some of the posts they were re-posting were ones I had PAID FOR. That is stealing. Additionally, their Contributors page said they would syndicate local blogs at the ‘blog owners request’.

St Louis Observer Contributor PageOr maybe not. There was no permission granted by me or by the dozens of others who responded to me. Many of whom had previously requested their content be removed and had never heard back.

Though the editor of the St. Louis Observer did not return my calls, my content and many other’s did begin to disappear within hours on Friday night – for which I was grateful.

Twitter Content DisappearingLater in the evening, I received this email through my contact form:

Danielle–I apologize for the mistake on the St. Louis Observer site. It was supposed to just pull in the RSS feed which was supposed to only put the title of your post and a link to your site. I have removed ALL posts and have removed your feed entirely from the site. I am sincerely sorry for the error and never meant to steal your work.

Angie Atkinson

To be clear, I never authorized the St. Louis Observer to pull in any RSS Feed of my site at all.

On Saturday, the entire St. Louis Observer site was put on hiatus and an official apology was posted. I saw the apology and announcement via Twitter.

St Louis Observer Apology

While I am incredibly grateful to Editor Angela Atkinson for taking this extreme step, I will admit to being disappointed that she didn’t return my calls and I am hesitant to believe that it was a ‘plug-in malfunction’ that was pulling in all of my content (and many others) for upwards of four months. In order to believe that, I would have to believe that Angela NEVER visited her own site in order to see that each and every one of my posts, in their entirety were appearing on her site – each day. And again, I never authorized her site to pull in my content to begin with.

Again, I respect Angela’s decision and appreciate her attempt to make things right – especially since she has taken down ALL content – not just mine – at least temporarily.

Finally, I cannot say enough about my extreme gratitude for the support of this community. I so appreciate how quickly bloggers and digital publishers were to recognize how important it is to stand together to protect the hard work we create. It was a amazing to see the right thing happen – and so quickly.

I’m beyond grateful.

To this Community – A Million Thank You’s….

Home Organizational Tips to bring out the Extraordinary Mom in You

A Guest Post by Steven Athea

For the everyday parent on the go, it can sometimes be difficult to keep your living space orderly and tidy. Maintaining a clean and organized atmosphere does not mean having to lose out on modern day décor. There are innovative ways to keep your home well kept, while still being stylish in your own right. From getting a handle on the craziness in the children’s playroom to organizing your personal bedroom. I would recommend these practical everyday tips to make your home as functional and clutter free as possible.

Organizational Tips to bring out the Extraordinary Mom in You

1. Play Room Madness

It can be challenging keeping a home clean and organized with little ones constantly running around the house. Often, parents can feel as though they are continually picking up after them. A great and stylish way to keep the mess off your floors in the kid’s playroom area is to incorporate decorative shelving, such as this Ikea Expedit Shelving Unit. These sturdy shelves are a useful way to divide up large rooms, as well as provide extra shelf space to place kids toys and even family photos on. As your family grows and gets older, we tend to still hold on to old furniture pieces that we aren’t quite sure what to do with. A fun DIY project that will provide a unique twist on organizational shelving as well as utilize your children’s old plastic play chairs is to nail the foot of the chairs to the wall. The back support of the chair will face down and provide a flat space to place stuffed animals and decorative pieces.

2. Mommy Time

As a parent, your children have a tendency to come first, and at times you can neglect your own space. Don’t just add organizational pieces to the kid’s rooms, bring it into your bedroom as well! Purchasing large under the bed storage containers is an extraordinary way to keep seasonal clothing out of the way, and allow for additional room in your closet. Hanging shoe racks have freed up an abundance of space in my own closet. I have found it doesn’t have to be utilized for only shoes, it can be used for organizing belts or even scarves. Each cubby has enough space to keep your accessories in order. If your jewelry area is beginning to look a bit too crowded for your liking, invest in jewelry tree’s to hang anything from long necklaces to multiple bracelets and keep from misplacing your pieces of jewelry.

Organizational Tips to bring out the Extraordinary Mom in You

3. Too Many Hands in the Pot

It’s never bad to have extra hands in the kitchen assisting you, but it can get a little crowded if your cooking area isn’t organized. Visit your nearest container store and purchase plastic and reusable containers that have a space in the front for labeling individual products. From your cereal to your pasta, this will remove the clutter of large boxes, and keep your pantry clean and neat. Don’t think we forgot about that junk drawer that you have, unfortunately I myself am guilty of having one. While you’re at the container store, pick up a drawer organizational piece to help harmonize the disorder in that pesky junk drawer. This tiny detail will make it easier to find extra batteries, Chinese take-out menus, or any other loose ends you have in there! Do you have extra space near your stove top or on an empty wall in the kitchen? An alternative way to decorate this area, as well as add practicality to your kitchen accessories, is by nailing hooks on the wall to hang your pots, pans and even oven mitts for easy everyday access.

Organizational Tips to bring out the Extraordinary Mom in You

4. Living Room De-cluttering

Living rooms are the central focus for a variety of homes. This is the comforting area where everyone gathers around for some quality time. From watching movies with the kids to entertaining guests, it can sometimes seem like your living room is not only cluttered with things, but numerous amounts of people. How many times prior to guests coming over, have you had to rush to clear away the kid’s toys, hide magazines or blankets from site? Pieces such as a Coffee Table with a Lift-Top from Wayfair.com is a dream furniture piece. This table provides a stylish way to tuck away your conventional items that are not necessarily needed while entertaining guest. Additionally this table even doubles as an added area to place hors d’oeuvres for your dinner parties!

In order to achieve a dynamic livable space, you must think outside of the box in terms of decorating. Don’t stick to the norm! Incorporate DIY projects throughout the house in which your little ones can help with, and add a personal touch to your living space. As parents we know our children come first in the household, so it is important we provide them a space that is functional for both them as well as you.

Steven Athea is the co-founder of Modani, a contemporary furniture store with locations across the U.S. Steven has a degree in Design and Architecture from The Architecture School of Antibes in France. He has designed and decorated several high-end night clubs and restaurants in Miami Beach. Steven’s eye for design has helped launch Modani into a national success, attracting the attention of celebrities such as Sean Combs, the Kardashians and Lady Gaga.

Rice Krispie Easter Egg Surprise Treats

Breakfast time in our house is truly one of my favorite times of day. We are all in the kitchen – all talking – all planning for the day. With the number of sports my small people play, this has become the time I truly connect with them. I aim for family dinners, but practice-practice-game-practice dominates our evenings. Soccer, baseball, softball and football are all part of our weekly repertoire.

So, just how fancy are our morning breakfasts? Do I get up at 5am to make pancakes and cook eggs and bacon. Nope. We are a cereal family. There are always a half-dozen boxes of cereal in my pantry. But you know what I love? Cereal – though a morning staple for us – is good for so much more than breakfast.

This post is the first in a series of ways I’m excited to share how you can use cereal for other meals as well. In this case?

Dessert. Treats. Goodies. Fun.

As I have long been a partner with Kellogg’s – their cereals – Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K, and Frosted Flakes are always within reach. And they have been since I was a little girl.

With Easter just around the corner, I wanted to share a favorite recipe for making a holiday-specific treat – and one that my small people adore. (though I will always contend that my sweet Grammy makes the best Rice Krispie treats on the planet – I think my version is passable.)

 Rice Kripsie Easter Egg Surprise Treats - ExtraordinaryMommy.com

Rice Krispie Easter Egg Surprise Treats

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter (don’t substitute)
  • 5-6 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
  • Marshmallows (10oz bag of the large or about 4 1/2 cups of the Miniature)
  • 1/2-1 cup of ‘treats’  - M&Ms, chocolate chips, jelly beans
  • Pull-apart plastic Easter Egg for mold

Directions:

  • Wash the plastic Easter Egg and spray the inside with cooking spray
  • Melt butter over LOW heat
  • Add marshmallows – stirring constantly until completely melted
  • Pour in Rice Krispies – stir constantly until all are coated with marshmallow
  • Work quickly: Fill Easter Egg with mixture, creating a hollow or hole with your thumb
  • Remove from mold, add decoration to the outside of egg if you so choose.
  • Allow to cool slightly
  • Fill eggs with treats and press gently, but firmly together
  • Surprise everyone you love!

 Rice Krispie Easter Egg Surprise Treats - ExtraordinaryMommy.com

Note: If you allow too much cooling, the eggs will not stick together AND nothing will stick to the outside

I was able to ‘surprise’ my small people with these when they arrived home from school. Motherhood Winning!

Rice Krispie Easter Egg Surprise Treats - ExtraordinaryMommy.com

(Have I ever told you how I lied to my little brother when I was seven – just to keep ALL.THE.RICE.KRISPIE.TREATS.TO.MYSELF? I did. I told him it wasn’t marshmallows but instead? Used chewing gum. Awesome, right? 30+ years later and he is still mad at me.)

Click here for other fun and fabulous recipes featuring Rice Kripsies. Do you have a favorite?

Disclosure: I am proud to have a long-time working relationship with Kellogg’s. This post was prompted by nothing other than my love for my small people, Easter and yes, Kellogg’s. As always, all thoughts, opinions and such are my very own.

Dress Your Bump: 5 Tips for Confident Maternity Style

The first time I birthed a baby, it was 2003. Can we take a quick moment to catalog the changes in how the world operates since then? 

In 2003, there was no Pinterest, I had never heard of blogging, and there was no Facebook. I wasn’t yet on MySpace, and I rarely, if ever, shopped online. I checked email every few days, and on occasion I’d search the web for highly educational and informative articles on the internet, like why Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton divorced, and whether this would, indeed, be the final season of FRIENDS.

I still used film in my camera, and I had a phone that flipped open, which I rarely remembered to keep charged. I also thought texting was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard of. The iPad was still a glimmer in Steve Job’s eye, I did all my work on a desk top computer – I had no clue how to use Wi-Fi, and I saved all my files on disks.

In short – the first time I had a baby, we were still living in the dark ages. I don’t even know how we survived…

It is now 2014, and I am expecting my fourth baby this fall. Can I just tell you how much more fun it is this time around? The planning, the documenting, the surprises and ideas that abound are enough to make a mom giddy.

And perhaps my favorite development of all has been the vast improvement in maternity style. In 2003, maternity clothes looked a lot like glorified nursing scrubs, with wide, flowing shirts, and tops that criss-crossed awkwardly in areas most pregnant women would prefer to keep hidden.

ExMommy

In the last decade, the makers of maternity clothes have finally realized that pregnant women aren’t afraid to show off their growing bellies, and that realization has brought much needed style to the world of maternity fashion. The weight gain that accompanies pregnancy can become discouraging, but with the help of a few stylish pieces, I’m finding that I can walk a little more confidently through this pregnancy.

5 Tips for Confident Maternity Style:

1.) Dresses are your friend.

I live in Florida, and I will be pregnant through the summer. It gets hot in Florida. Very hot. So keeping cool will be the top priority. I’m in love with the current maxi dress trend, particularly as my stomach grows. The dresses are usually light weight, and the material is cool. There is plenty of room for me to grow in these dresses, and paired with a cute pair of sandals, I have an outfit that I can wear anywhere, any time.

 ExMommy2

2.) Skirts and tanks are always a winning combination. 

In general, I’m not a fan of shorts when pregnant. I’ve never found a pair that I felt flattered my growing figure, and truthfully, when it’s hot outside, I want the fabric as far away from me as possible. Skirts and tanks are loose enough for comfort, but they provide enough form to give me a little shape. This is an effortless style that I can easily get behind.

ExMommy6

3.) Never underestimate the power of a good hair accessory. 

I am addicted to headbands, and head wraps. When I don’t have time to wash my hair, these are the perfect solution. They’re cute, they cover up those pesky roots, and let’s face it – when people are staring at my huge stomach, a head wrap screams, “Hello! I’m up here…” It takes the focus away from the midsection, and near the end of a pregnancy, that is a most welcome distraction.

 Exmommy3

4.) The right jewelry completes the look.

A good necklace and an arm full of cute bracelets pulls an outfit together. This is a confidence booster for those days when you’re feeling sore, and tired, and…big. 

 ExMommy7

5.) Smile, Shoulders back, Head healed high.

You are carrying life inside of you. This is a huge deal. Some women love pregnancy, and they easily embrace the changes in their bodies. Other women, like me, struggle more through this period of motherhood. But the fact remains that pregnancy is a unique time of beauty for women. So pregnant mamas, I encourage you to hold your head high and embrace the fact that you are a walking miracle.

EXMKelliBio

Organize Your Family’s Schedule – The Easy Way!

Hi everyone! Kasey from All Things Mamma here!  Today I’m going to share a simple yet effective way at keeping your family’s schedule organized! On my blog, I’ve shared how we use a Household Management Binder to keep important papers, info, recipes and  our to-do list handy and this is our way to keep our schedule organized for every member in our household. It’s an  easy way to get everyone involved and  keep your agendas straight throughout the year.  Hope it helps  your family! 

When my kids were little, it was pretty easy to keep our schedule straight:

Monday – playdate.  Tuesday – library.  Wednesday – playdate.  Thursday – Dr Appt.  Friday – free day.  Repeat weekly.

But, as my kids got older (and I added more!)  it turned into more of a challenge with homework, after school activities, days off and more!  Trying to keep a family of 5′s schedule organized is a huge task!  But, if you can figure out a way that works for your family that keeps everything organized and straight – you can avoid a lot of stress and missed obligations!

 Organize Your Family's Calendar - The Easy Way!

What I’ve found that works best for my family is using a color coded calendar! This simple yet effective system is a great way to organize your calendar that your entire family can get on board with!  Being organized doesn’t come natural to me,  so I have to work harder at finding systems that work and then stick to them.  But this organizational calendar  makes organization fun AND pretty, therefore I enjoy doing it so much more! By using my my handy dandy colored pens, I  give each family member their own color to be added to the calendar  and I hang it on the wall in a central location so that my entire family can see what they’re doing each day!

Organize Your Family's Calendar - The Easy Way!

Each month I fill in our standing activities – gymnastics, girl scouts, life group, practices, etc…  I find that if I don’t put it on the calendar, I get so caught up in my day with kids, blogging, dinner and homework – that I totally forget things, even though we do some activities weekly!   Even if it’s my 8 year old’s Gymnastics class or 5 year old’s  Flag Football practice that happens every week – it goes on the calendar.  Next, I add in things as they come up – doctor & hair appointments, playdates, meetings, family outings, etc…  I add everything!  That way I am less likely to miss something because it’s right there in front of me (and everyone in the household!).

Organize Your Family's Calendar - The Easy Way!

Another great thing about this simple family organizational calendar is that everyone can quickly take a glance and see if they have something coming up that day.  My big girl knows that her color is pink and if she checks the calendar, she can quickly see what’s on her agenda for the day. No more excuses for forgetting to take your library books to school or sending in a class project either.   It’s a great way to give your big kids ownership and responsibility in the family, too!

Organize Your Family's Calendar - The Easy Way!

Organizing your family’s schedule doesn’t have to be hard or expensive – grab a wall calendar from Target or even the Dollar Store along with some colored pencils or pens and get it down!  Right now you can probably even find calendars on sale since we’re a few months into the year!

Let me know in the comments if you have a special way of keeping your family organized.  I’d love to hear!

 Kasey Schwartz Bio EXM

Doing the Hard Work: She Let Go

She Let Go

Hey you… friends. I get you. Some days are hard. REALLY HARD. And some are beautiful. Somewhere in between the two is the moment when we simply decide to Let Go. Sometimes we do it with help, with a push, with love. And sometimes we take a long hard look in the mirror and do it on our own.

This week, someone I know and love sent me this poem – knowing full well that it would resonate with me and give me the strength I needed.

She was right.

And now, I’m passing that same gift on to you.

For you, I hope it:

Touches. Heals. Pushes. Strengthens. And reminds you that you are Enough.

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~Rev. Safire Rose

Cold Weather Hand Care: Tips for Getting Your Hands Ready for Spring

Beauty: Cold Weather Hand Care Tips: Prep for SpringI don’t know about you, but I am READY FOR SPRING.  In fact, I find myself begging Mother Nature every morning for a reprieve from the cold, the cool, the low temperatures, the tease of 65 degrees that devolves in to 45 in a mere 24 hours.

I have spent the past months doing my best to stay cheery despite the morbid cold. I haven’t always been successful, but I HAVE learned a few things about taking care of myself amidst the chilliness. And as I prep for Spring and fully prepare to leave Winter behind, I wanted to share a few tips for taking care of your hands as we will definitely feel the warmth eventually.

I’m almost positive.

I swear.

Right?

Here are some chilly-weather-heading-to-Spring hand care tips for you to focus on as the temperature works to stabilize in the 70′s. (She says…ever so full of hope).

As a recap…. the tips for caring for your cold weather hands are:

  • Moisturize. Every single day. Multiple times. I’m not just talking about throwing a little lotion on when you hop out of the shower, but rather carry it with you and throw it on whenever you are thinking about it.
  • Vaseline: I know this sounds extreme, but if your hands have been suffering with all of this nasty cold weather, they will thank you.
  • Wear gloves: what? Who still needs to wear gloves in April? Well – those of us in the Midwest – especially if we find ourselves sitting outside on the sidelines of a soccer or softball game on a 32 degree morning. (Also – aren’t Michigan and Minnesota preparing for some RIDICULOUS amount of snow right now?)
  • Take care: I know this sounds simple, but getting an occasional manicure or simply trimming your cuticles can keep the dryness from settling in.
  • Coconut Oil: This has become my go-to for all things body-care. I use it almost every day and the pure velvet in coconut oil will keep you coming back.
  • Drink water: Staying hydrated INTERNALLY can protect your skin EXTERNALLY. Not that surprising, but sometimes we forget, so drink up.

Thank you for watching. Any additional tips to add? I’d love to know.

I’ll be thinking Spring for you!

The Conversations My Small People Inspire

Every day, they make my world a little bit better, they make me stronger or they teach me a new lesson – one I desperately needed.

I’m talking about my small people, but I could just as easily, I imagine, be talking about yours.

I knew parenting wouldn’t be all joy. I knew there would be challenges and crazy times and even times I thought I wasn’t equipped. But I honestly wasn’t prepared for the way I would grow – and not just as their mother, but as a woman, a friend and an individual.

She Knows Expert: 5 Tips After School Parenting

I’ve done a little writing lately about a few of the things I think are important: 5 Lessons for Being an After-School Parent (this is incredibly important to me – especially as someone who both works from home and travels a fair amount) and also – The Power of Being Underestimated. Both of my small people are, in fact, small. It has been so amazing to me to witness how they embrace JUST WHO THEY ARE and recognize the strength that can come when people underestimate you – specifically based on your size. My oldest, Delaney, has been my teacher on this front.

I’m delighted to be on the Expert Panel at SheKnows – that is where you will find both of these posts. Additionally, I would love to thank Mott’s Juice for sponsoring both conversations – I love that I’m able to talk about the things that matter to me – and to other moms.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts.