Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Product Reviews: Label Daddy

I recently received the opportunity to create labels through Label Daddy. This opportunity couldn't have presented itself at a more perfect time, because I have been wanting to create packaging labels for outgoing orders as some extra blog promotion. Label Daddy labels are wearable, washable and totally affordable. Perfect for parents who want to keep track of family items without having to worry about damaging them with permanent marker. 

Label Daddy offers a variety of label types and sizes.  There's a label for everything! Clothing, backpack, shoes, lunchboxes, food containers and more are covered by Label Daddy labels.  If labels aren't enough, there are also luggage tags and zipper tags. It's a labeling frenzy!  I also love that the company offers "packs." The school pack is perfect for the back-to-school crowd and offers an assortment of labels to make sure your kids are covered when back in the classroom. 

I love the way my labels turned out despite not being able to preview them before hitting the submit button. The labels seem durable and of high quality. My only complaints is that the website falls a bit on the lackluster side. The ability to edit labels is limited, and some selections don't offer previews which make it difficult to envision the final product when ordering. The site would also benefit from an increase in the selection of graphics to add to the labels. Even with the website limitations, I am quite pleased at the final result of the product. I can't wait to start slapping these labels on all my outgoing packages!


Want to snag some labels for yourself? Save 20% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Head to http://www.usfamily20.labeldaddy.com and use code USFAMILY20 at checkout. You must use the usfamily link in order to receive the discount.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Parenting: Reducing Back-to-School Anxiety

As we enter the last month of summer, and September creeps upon us, many parents will be sending their little ones to school, and many will be sending them for the first time ever.  In most cases it's the parents that have the hardest time with this transition, but it's not uncommon for kids to experience their share of fear and anxiety regarding the first day of school. Parents of anxious kids can take a few steps to emotionally prepare their child in this last month of summer and the beginning weeks of school in order to make it the best start possible.

1. Have Discussions About School - Begin talking to your children about school and what to expect in a typical school day. Discuss the social aspects of school in addition to the academic aspects.  Talk about lunch time, recess, peers and what drop-off/pick-up will be like. Head to your local library or bookstore and select books about going to school to read during the remainder of the summer.  Talk about your own positive experiences from school. Dig up your old class pictures if you have any to add a few laughs to the discussion.

2. Check Out The School - Most school's have orientation days for new students that include a tour of the school. If your school does not offer this, call your school or district board of education and arrange for a tour of the school or a meeting with your child's teacher to establish some familiarity. At the very least, prior to the start of the school year, take a trip with your child to the school to allow him/her to see the building up close. Walk around as much of the school grounds as you can and point out areas that would be of interest to your child, such as the playground. Visit the school more than once if possible for a particularly anxious child.

3. Schedule Playtime With Future Classmates - If your child is entering school for the first time, scope out your neighborhood for potential classmates and arrange for some play time. If you are unable to find potential classmates, explain the unknown peers as a fun "surprise". Make a game out of it and have your child guess the number of boys and girls that will be in their class and the possible names of some classmates. If your child has been to school before but hasn't had contact with classmates since the summer started, invite a few school friends over for lunch or a play date. Acquainting your child with a few classmates will decrease feelings of anxiety regarding peer interactions. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, host a small "back to school" party the week before class starts.

4. Involve Your Child in Back To School Shopping - Get your child involved in school supply list shopping and other back-to-school items.  Present your child with choices on such items as backpacks, lunchboxes and clothing. Have your child help you plan out his/her lunch menu for the first few weeks. These small activities will allow your feelings a greater sense of control, which is important a child who is anxious.

5. Role Play - If your child has a particular anxiety (bullies, riding the school bus, interacting with peers, navigating a large school, etc), role play the event with your child.  For example, if your child has anxieties about riding the school bus, practice walking to the bus stop together. Have a relative or friend play bus driver and have them drive up to the bus stop. Practice saying goodbye and putting your child on the "bus."  If possible, have your friend or relative drive your child to school just like the bus would and drive back to the bus stop to practice drop off with your waiting. Coming up with a plan and brain storming coping skills for your child's fears will help him/her feel more confident when faced with the event. Practice often and problem solve potential solutions together.

6. Reward and Reassure - Reward for brave behaviors that your child exhibits. Reward for a successful first day of school. Reward your child for using the coping skills practiced. Now is the time to boost your child's mood and spirits with a special gift or outing in response to positive behaviors.

Sometimes all the planning in the world won't ease an anxious child. An anxious child may exhibit a variety of negative behaviors as the first day of school approaches including physical ailments, withdrawing, fighting with siblings, being defiant towards parents/caregivers, bed wetting, thumb sucking, and other aggressive behavior. Acknowledge that your child is engaging in these behaviors due to school related fears. Normalize your child's fears and anxieties, and encourage your child to discuss those fears and anxieties. Encouraging your child to continually and openly discuss any fears and anxieties with you serves as positive coping skill and gradually increases your child's confidence with continued parental validation and support. If there isn't a noticeable decrease in your child's school anxiety level as the school year progresses, reach out to your school's guidance counselor for additional support and resources.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

At Home Learning: Homeschool Supplies on the Fly

I'm becoming increasingly excited about our decision to home school our PreK aged daughter. The process has become much less overwhelming and now my focus is all on preparation. I was super excited to hit the mother-load in the Target dollar section recently. I officially purchased my first home school supplies on a complete whim, which is something that happens often at Target! I was quite pleased at my finds - jumbo dice, counting blocks, number and alphabet charts, a weather chart and a day of the week chart. What a score! One of my favorite items is a "feelings wheel." I snagged a few extra for work. My little one is already eager to get some use out of that materials. 

I have a decent board racking up ideas on Pinterest, I'm hoping that by the end of next week I'll have a basic curriculum made and a supply list, so the real shopping can begin. I am also going to scour the interwebs for home schooling corner inspiration. I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a dedicated space to materials and supplies for this crazy adventure I'm embarking upon.


For all my homeschooling mamas out there - what is on your "must have" supply list?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Advertisements: Label Daddy

Save 20% on Label Daddy labels! Label Daddy is the number one solution for labeling your belongings! Remember to label all clothing, sports equipment, electronics, and other personal belongings your kids bring to school, camp, sports leagues, day care, vacation, and other places. Label Daddy labels keep them from getting lost or mixed up with others. These labels are great for adults too! -- Put them on your sunglass/eyeglass case, phone, camera, sports equipment, tablet, e-reader, hats, clothing, and more.

These labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels -- they're washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant! Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive. You design your own labels! Pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including Disney and Marvel characters, MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more. Their exclusive laminated coating gives labels an extra layer of protection and is a must for camp! These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide.

Save 20% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFAMILY20 at checkout. http://www.usfamily20.labeldaddy.com

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

At Home Learning: Hello, Homeschool

When I began my parenting journey, homeschooling was never in my plans. In fact, I would cringe at the thought of homeschooling. Homeschooling, I was certain, was not for me. As you can imagine, it was quite the surprise to others - and mostly myself! - that I have made the decision to homeschool my daughter for her last year of preschool beginning in September.

My daughter had attended two years at a co-op preschool up until this past May. We loved our co-op. My oldest son had attended the co-op, the co-op was small and intimate. The teachers knew all of our family of 5 by name and vice versa. The co-op was truly our extended family. We were crushed when the co-op closed it's doors to financial reasons at the end of the last school year. We were also totally thrown for a loop, as the decision to close was announced late in the year. Suddenly I was thrust into a panic of having to find a new school for my daughter, a task I had been able to avoid since my son enrolled in the co-op 4 years prior. 

I spent the next couple of months searching and visiting area preschools only to continually be disappointed and unimpressed. Nothing in our price range measured up to our co-op, and all the pricier dream schools were too far of a trek anyway. I finally settled on an option that was in our town, minutes away from our home, and at the same price range as the co-op. I made the decision somewhat reluctantly. Many people had good things to say about the school, but something about it bugged me. It was dreary. It was lacked the life of the co-op. The kids even looked dreary. Other's dismissed my worries, but I couldn't shake the gut feeling that this was NOT our school. A second pending issue looming in the background, was the new changes to the vaccination mandates in New Jersey. 

The decision to homeschool became more and more and option as I became more and more uncertain about the option we selected.  However, the thought of home schooling was scary. In reality, it's "only" preschool, but the thought of being responsible for my child's education, even a small part, is terrifying. What if I didn't do a good enough job? What if I didn't have enough patience? What is my daughter was bored? What if I couldn't fulfill the social aspect with enough playdates? What if I didn't give her the tools she needed to learn to transition successfully to kindergarten? It was A LOT to consider, especially for someone who had never looked into homeschooling, much less had a desire to homeschool.

In an effort to figure out if homeschooling would be a route I wanted to take, I reached out to a few friends who had also homeschooled through the preschool years. Talking with these moms put a lot of my worries at ease. They made homeschooling sound feasible and manageable. I also talked with our old co-op teacher, and she reminded me that not only had I been helping out in the classroom for years, but my skills as a child and adolescent therapist and my knowledge of child development will not allow me to fail in making sure my daughter is mastering the skills she needs to know. As my confidence and comfort with the idea of homeschooling increased, I became more and more excited about the concept. 

After a talk with my husband, I have officially decided to dip my toes into the world of homeschooling. I feel 100% satisfied with our decision, which was the type of gut satisfaction that I didn't feel from any of the schools we toured. I'm excited for our journey and excited to share it with all of you. I'd also love any feedback or resource shares from any of my readers who homeschool.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Freebie Friday: $25 Darden Restaurant Gift Card

When's the last time you had a date night with your spouse? Or a night out with your bestie? Enter to win a $25 Darden Gift Card restaurant and you won't have an excuse to not enjoy a nice meal out! Darden Gift Cards can be redeemed at any Darden-connected restaurant in the U.S., including Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's, Yard House and Red Lobster. Not a bad deal!

Contest begins July 10, 2015 at 12:00am EST and ends July 17, 2015 at 12:00am EST. Entrants must complete all required actions to win. Entry requirements will be verified for each entrant. One winner will be selected on July 17, 2015. Please return to this post on July 17, 2015 for announcement of winner.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Product Reviews: Adorama Pix

I recently had the opportunity to make a photo book through Adorama Pix. AdoramaPix offers a variety of photo options including prints, books, home decor, calendars and cards. This opportunity presented itself at the right time, since I had been thinking of making a surprise photo book to document my son's first season of soccer.  The Adorama Pix website was easy to use and navigate. I was able to upload and create a 10 page book in under 15 minutes. There were several template options to choose from to assist in the customization of books. The site offers leather, die cut and fabric covers, but I opted for the hardcover. I loved that I was able to have a front and back cover photo on the book to maximize photograph space.

I was pleasantly surprised when the my complete book arrived so quickly!  I ordered on the evening of June 30th, and the book was in my hands on July 6th. Not to shabby, considering mail days were lost due to the holiday weekend. The photo book featured thick, textured photo paper. The paper texture sent me into a tactile frenzy. I couldn't stop touching it. The thickness of the pages is a welcome feature. As a mama of three, I'm always worried my littles will get too aggressive turning the pages of our photo books. With pages this thick and durable, I won't have to worry about ripped pages. The lay-flat binding is a bonus and allows panoramic images to span across two pages without any separation. If I had to complain about something, it would be that the first and last pages are attached to the inside of the front and back cover. But that's more about my own preferences than anything else. It certainly didn't take away from the beauty of the book at all. 


Want your own photo book? Head on over to Adorama Pix  and use code: pxusfam25 to get 25% off  square photo books (6x6,8x8,10x10,12x12). Offer ends 09/30/2015 11:59 pm EST.