5 Tips for Motivating Your Toddler

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Have you ever struggled with getting your toddler to do something, accomplish a new task, or tried everything you can to avoid a meltdown? I definitely have, and these are some of the things I have tried and succeeded at with my toddler

1. Potty Training Motivators

I tried using a Potty Chart rather than a typical behavior chart when I was potty training my son. He is in love with Lightening McQueen and Mater from the Cars movie so I created my own little chart. I cut out some of the characters to place on the chart as he peed, pooped, washed his hands, sat on the potty, and told me he had to go potty.  My son is pretty stubborn, and wasn’t quite ready for the whole potty training experience when I used this chart so I was not able to fully execute on the chart, but in the beginning he was really excited to earn his treats, then he decided he just wasn’t ready to continue the potty training process and regressed so we stopped for a few months.  While we didn’t continue to use this method, it was working while we were using it.  I feel like it was a great motivational tool for my son while he was interested in potty training.

Fast forward about 4 months (2 weeks before his 3rd birthday) he decided he was ready, but I took a different approach as daycare was a big help.  Not necessarily the teachers themselves, but he had a friend who was also potty training and was doing really well with it.  The teachers would send the two boys to the bathroom together so my son could learn from his friend.  After a few days, my son decided he wanted to be just like his friend.  I only wish I could have taken his friend home with me as he would not go potty without his friend.  He held it all evening, night, and morning until his friend got to daycare.  This happened for about 7 days, and then it started to click and within 3 weeks of going potty with his friend at school he was fully potty trained.  He had been staying dry at night since he was about a year and a half so the hard part was already done naturally.  Who would have thought daytime training would be the tough part, but it was?

The best motivators for him were:

  1. Being really ready
  2. Having a friend to learn from even though he is in the bathroom EVERY time I go and learns from me too. Sometimes they just need that peer level connection to make things happen.

Sometimes motivators come in all forms and are not the expected concept we would think of so think outside the box to help your toddlers learn a new task or developmental milestone.


2. Special Food Treats

Above I talked about my son earning special treats when he was potty training. I don’t typically give him candy and if I do it is for a birthday party or a special occasion.  He was so excited to earn 1 piece of Reese’s Pieces for going pee, 2 for going poop, and 3 if he went both pee and poop.  He was so excited and would jump up and down when he earned one.  When the potty chart stopped working for me we went the food rout straight away rather than earning 5 cars on the chart to get the candy.  This helped, but as I said above he regressed and we stopped.  The best motivator for him was


3. Give Transitional Warnings

I have found that giving my son a warning on when we will be going somewhere, cleaning up, getting into the bath, or going to bed sets a level of expectation that motivates him to complete what he is working on. If he is playing and I tell him “Okay 5 more minutes until we have to get in the bath.”  He is a lot more receptive to changing activities when he is given a warning.  Sometimes he will ask me to set the timer so he knows when time is up.  Setting the timer and giving transitional warnings has helped with meltdowns and tantrums a lot.  He knows what is going to happen and when.  I usually will set the timer for 5 mins.  When it goes off he asks for 2 more minutes so we set it for another 2 minutes, and then another minute.  I can hear some people saying, “Oh My Gosh! You are totally letting him run the show.” Not at all.  I know he likes to do this as it makes him feel empowered and important and grown up.  I deliberately set the 5 minute timer 10 minutes before we need to move on to the next task/ or activity.  This gives us that extra time to set the timer for the additional minutes.


4. Change location to get a task completed

So one of my biggest struggles with this strong willed child is teeth brushing. You would think I was causing real harm to him while attempting to brush his teeth the way he would cry or scream or try to get away from me. Every time we would brush his teeth he would have the biggest fit.  I would have him stand on his step stool and almost every night he would fall off while fighting me.  I didn’t feel safe having him stand on the step stool any more so I had to find another location to safely brush his teeth.  It finally dawned on me the alternate location was in our bed.  I always brush my teeth, get my hair dried, etc. while he plays with his cars in our bed so he is already laying there.  I thought one night why don’t I just have him lay back on the pillows while I brush his teeth.  This was a magical moment!  He was watching the tablet on this particular night, and I was able to brush his teeth 3 or 4 times without a fight, a tear shed, or him falling off the step stool.  We had a break through!  I now brush his teeth in the bed every night without much argument.  Don’t get me wrong he still pushes my hand away, but this is a big improvement from doing it on the step stool in the bathroom.


5. Lead by Example

If you want your child to be motivated to do something, then by all means lead by example. If you mention you need to get something completed then do not procrastinate, do not complain about getting it done, just do it and do it with a smile.  Do it with enjoyment so that they can see house cleaning is not “all that bad” even though we as adults dread it every time we have to do it…or maybe that is just me. If you are doing dishes ask them if they want to help, or outside sweeping off the patio ask them to help.  Toddlers can do “chores” too.  We can encourage them by letting the help.  This gives them a feeling of being a big kid and that they are helping mommy or daddy.


What toddler motivators do you use? Let us know your tips and tricks for motivating you toddlers, tweens, or teens in the comments. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest too for more tips.


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Why I Do Yoga

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It’s January (whhhaaat already?!) that means a refocus on my physical and mental health and overall wellbeing. Every person has what works well for them be it running, dance party in the living room with their kids, going to a gym or a home gym. For me it’s the dynamic and widely available practice of yoga. There are so many types of yoga and it’s no surprise since this is a practice that is over 5000 years old.


My Fav Practices

Here are a few high level details on some of the more common practices to help understand what kind of vibe to expect. I have personally tried each of these and hope my impressions aid in finding the right style for you to try. Not all practices are listed in this post, there are easily an additional ten styles. There is sure to be a right one for you!

Bikram famous for sweating it out in a room set to 105 degrees with extreme (well extreme to me) humidity of around 40%. The use of the heat helps to limber up and sweat – whoops I mean shimmer! Expect the same sequence of poses in each class, as this practice is based on the same set of movements for about an hour. This type is typically in a standalone studio due to the temperature needs.

Hatha is the type of poses and movements you can expect at a standard gym class and includes most of the common (warrior, tree, crow, dancer…) asanas (or yoga poses). This can include the practices associated Ashtanga, that has a more specific focus, versus just movements. It is not uncommon to see a yoga studio specializing in Ashtanga practice.

Iyengar focuses on the use of props, to help with ensuring perfect alignment. This practice could be a great option for someone with physical constrictions or a brand new yogi.

Kundalini is a great way to start a day, with its energy boosting effects from continuous movement and fun poses.

Restorative or as I refer to it as literally a legitimate way to nap in a room with other people. In one hour you can move into as many as 4 poses. This is not to be confused with Sivananda that has a few more poses, at a faster pace than Restorative, but still relaxing while focusing on breathing and positivity none the less.


My Fav Threads

Now that you know what kind to do, what do you need to do it? Basically, all you need is a spot on the floor and comfortable clothing. The clothing can be anything that you are comfortable in and allows for a full range of motion with modesty. I have to make a caveat to the modesty especially with Bikram. Think European beach vacation…I personally wore a thin sweat wicking tank and 70s style running shorts such as these. T-shirts and pants heavy with cotton might feel suffocating in 105 degrees. When at a gym class setting, think about this, you are putting your head by your feet and your elbows by your knees with a wall of glass behind you. I tend to wear layers, this way if my baggy shirt flips over, I’m covered and not fighting with my shirt while standing on one foot. The other thing, is the thickness of your pants. You may be squatting in front of a bunch of people, make sure your pants stay up, and don’t get thread bare when stretched to the max. Do a few test squats and folds forward and backward when trying on clothing in the store. If you are practicing at home, with a cat or dog and a video as your only audience you can wear whatever you want!


My Fav Gear

If you are going to a class, most places supply mats, blankets, straps, blocks and Clorox wipes. If you are in the mood to express your personal style with a mat check this fun mat  from Amazon. Otherwise they are sold pretty much at all the big box stores especially this time of year and range in price from $10 to $50. If you want to maximize on your purchase, snag a mat that also includes a strap. This works in two ways, making toting your mat around easy, plus you can use the strap as part of our practice. Here is a nice option, also from Amazon. Yoga Blocks are a great way to ensure you are holding a pose with more accuracy as you build on your flexibility. There are all kinds of items to get to keep you motivated and healthy. Bags to store you mat and strap with a water bottle holder. Even  No Slip Yoga Socks might be a great option is you sweat a lot to reduce the risk of slipping.


I don’t do yoga daily, though I know I would benefit immensely if I did. I do this, when I can and when I’m able. I do this to be the best possible version me. What do you do to be the best possible you?


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Time Management for the New Year

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With the New Year upon us there is no better time than now to start a new routine to try out some time management techniques to be more organized. The key to figuring this out is with some time management techniques that work best for you and your family.  In this post I will share what works best for me and my family, and hopefully you can use some of the same techniques.

Plan Your Week

The most important thing I do is prepare for the week on Sundays. One thing I like to do is get my sons clothes all together and bring them into my room since he sleeps with me and his clothes are nearby in morning. I hang them next to my bed. Each night when I change his clothes, I let him choose from the shirts I have picked for the week so I can avoid any meltdowns and he feels like he has a decision in what he is wearing and gets to show his independence.  (Yes he sleeps in his shirt he will wear the next day ha ha.)  I have recently had to bring in a few extra shirts to choose from because he would get to the last shirt for the week and if he isn’t happy with that choice all heck breaks loose.  So I have learned to bring in some extras.  I really need to be better at picking out my clothes for the week ahead of time because all heck breaks out in the morning if I don’t like any of my choices either, but this is something I plan to work on in the New Year.

I also plan out the week as far as what we will be eating for lunch and dinner each day (Monday – Sunday) and do my meal planning and meal prep. This is probably the biggest help to keep the week running smoothly. When I am doing a Whole30 this is the key to my success.  I also feel more organized and a sense of relief, because I don’t have to think about what we will eat once I have it written down and prepped.  If you want to learn more about The Whole30 program and my experience please check out my previous post HERE.

Do you plan out your week, or do you work it out each and every day as life brings it?

Schedule Your Priorities

I recently came across a saying that I completely agree with and try to follow in my daily adventures.

The key is not to prioritize your schedule,

But to schedule your priorities.

By writing down your To Do List and prioritizing the tasks, you can then put them on your calendar and schedule them so you can be sure to complete the most important tasks first. If I didn’t do this I would be a wreck and life would be very messy. (I am a list maker and a big planner.) I have 3 calendars right now that I use daily. I use the calendar in my cell phone for personal tasks and priorities, my electronic calendar for work with all of my meetings and things I need to get done for projects I am working on, and then I have a paper calendar on my cubicle wall where I write down really important reminders (like my vacation days LOL) so I can see them at a quick glance while I am on a call or just need to glance super-fast and see what I am looking for. You may be saying “WOW! 3 calendars! How do you keep up with them?” This is a system that works best for me.  You will want to find a system that works best for you.

Do you schedule priorities, or do you prioritize your schedule?

Cleaning Schedule and De-Cluttering

In a previous post I discussed how I created a cleaning schedule for myself so I could spend more time with my son and family on the weekends. This helps to knock out those mundane chores we all need to complete throughout the week, yet I don’t feel like a slave to my house by spending a chunk of time doing it all at one time.  If you want to take a peek at my Free Printable check out the post HERE.

We have also talked about how we de-clutter our spaces. This is a huge help with time management. Once you have de-cluttered your entire home you will feel such a sense of accomplishment and calm.  I know I always feel so much better after I de-clutter a room and especially the entire house (which typically I don’t ever get to do these days with a three-year old running around and wanting my full attention).  If you want to check out Christine’s previous post on De-Cluttering Your Home click HERE.

Do you have any tips or techniques to help with cleaning and de-cluttering your space?


I just found out about batching a couple weeks ago, and I have already been doing it but I never knew there was an actual term for what I was doing. When you create your To Do List and start to prioritize your tasks, batch similar tasks together so you can do these tasks at the same time.  One thing I know I can work on in this category is when I am working on pictures for my blog posts.  I should schedule time to work on pictures for my next 2-4 blog posts.  This will allow me to do all of my picture taking and editing all at one time.  I am also going to do the same thing when it comes to writing my blog posts.  If I write 2-3 at one time I feel like I will be able to produce a better product, for you our readers, since I will be in the mind frame of writing and won’t have to get started 2-4 times and get into that writing groove each time.  I know for me once I get started on something it is much easier to just keep going.  So I will be following this practice in 2017.

What some things you do often that can be batched into one task or timeframe?

Morning and Evening Routines

As I said above I am a planner. Each evening, I try to get as prepared for the next day as possible.  The most important thing for me is preparing and packing up my lunch the night before.  I work in a downtown area, and places to eat out at are pretty pricey if you need to eat out every day or most days.  I try to bring my lunch every day and then I have the occasional day where I want…ummm I mean…NEEEEED Chipotle for lunch. I try to limit my eating out for lunch to 3 times or less per month.  By getting my lunch together the night before I probably save myself 10-15 minutes (and a lot of money) in the morning.  I already have everything out while picking up my dinner so I pack some up for lunch as I get my dinner plated.

In the morning, I typically get up and get myself ready and get my water and coffee made and all my bags gathered into one place, or put them into the car before I wake up my son. I usually already have him in his shirt that he will wear for the day so I finish getting him dressed while he is asleep (so much easier this way LOL).  Then I get him on the potty and make him a quick snack (a frozen waffle or a pancake I made ahead of time and freeze. I make batches of each and freeze them so I always have them on hand.)  I pop them into the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm up, butter them, and cut with a pizza cutter and wa-la he has a breakfast snack.  They don’t eat breakfast at daycare until about 7:30am and he wakes up at 5:45 am so I like to give him something on the way to school.  I do all of this in a matter of 30-40 minutes.  I very rarely feel rushed unless the threenager feel like he needs to derail our routine.

Everyone’s evening and morning routines will be different so I am not going to go into great detail about everything I do. I wanted to hit on the key things that help me and work best for us.

What are you Evening and Morning routines?

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please leave your comments with your time management techniques, tips, and tricks.


Everyone have a great New Year! Let’s make it a great one!

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Happy Holidays from E and C

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Thank you for all the support and blessing you have bestowed upon us in 2016. We look forward to bringing you all new content and sharing in this fun journey as we head into 2017.

Take this time to be with loved ones and cherish the moment.

Wishing you and yours a safe and bright holiday.

Cheers –

Erika and Christine

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5 Fun Winter Holiday Traditions

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Each family has a special way of celebrating December and all the joys that come with this festive month, and each family is set up completely differently. Things change from year to year with an addition of a little one, or even a furry little one. Or a not so little one goes off to college. A family might up and move from a climate of feet of snow to triple digit summers. Here are 5 fun options to check out if you are looking for a new tradition. These 5 could possibly be ways to modify a tradition based on changes in your family or location. Hopefully these fun and simple ways work for you to bring your group of loved ones together and make memories.

Season of Giving

There are a ton of options to do a bit of good in your area. Some of them cost money while some of them only cost time, some options might even cost a little bit of both. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping, traveling and working extra hours to afford everything for everyone on your gift list. Giving is a great opportunity to teach lessons to little ones and bond as a family or group. While you are at the mall, visit the Angel Tree and pick out a little something for someone who has little to nothing. Adopt a family, and share in this season of joy and love by helping provide basic essentials to those who need it. Food banks are often in need of supplies and volunteer hours. Everything from organizing incoming donations, assembling and distributing food for groups or individuals. These are just a few ideas in a world of many.

All the Pretty Lights

Speaking of options – The list of types of lights to see is endless. Do you live by the water? Maybe you catch a boat parade. Do you live in a large city where they decorate electric cars and do an electric light parade? Check out the local zoo or botanical garden. They may get involved to do walkways of luminaries or make shapes of animals out of strings of lights. As mentioned in the past E and I live in a warm climate, but our city embraces the fun activities this time of year celebrates. A few shopping centers offer a pop up ice skating rink, and decorate the area with all kinds of lights. This makes for a romantic date night, hilarious girls night out (after a few drinks) or a fun family activity. A good ‘ol classic is making thermos of hot cocoa, piling everyone in a car and driving around to see the neighborhood lights. Many communities participate in decorating contests. See if those nearby neighborhoods offer a Facebook page and plan a route to visit some incredible houses.

Matching Pajamas

This is such a fun trend, to the point they even make a matching outfit for the fur baby too. They are available at most large box retailers such as Target and even Amazon. Click here to see my favorite set from Amazon. These footy pajamas are just darling, and of course had the matching outfit for the pup. You could even ship a matching item to a family member that might be away at school, and Skype or Face Time when opening presents. I started wearing mine when I made my first batch of cookies. Want to get all the use out of it that I can Ha.

Binge Watch the Classics

As a group in your (above matching) pajamas watch some holiday movies. As soon as Friday after Thanksgiving starts, channels and streaming programs are bubbling with holiday specials. This is a fun way to relax and enjoy time together, or play movies in the background while baking cookies (or wrapping presents… after everyone goes to bed). It’s fun to see all the new movies and shows they come up with. Sometimes they turn into a new favorite. There is something for everyone when even Grumpy Cat has her own holiday movie.

Fun Eats

Count your Blessings not your Calories is a motto to live by this month. Eating is another awesome motivator to get the bunch together and encourage a tradition of cooking and passing down recipes from one generation to the next. Try hosting a cookie baking party or a cookie exchange. In the southwest tamales are always a hit, and take a long time to make even with the group helping. Look to Pinterest and cook up some homemade gifts. Or just have a potluck of everyone’s favorite dishes and share those recipes with family, neighbors or friends. If the party is at your house no one can judge you for wearing those footy pajamas.


Thank you for reading! What fun traditions do you and the family do now, or have done in the past to celebrate this time of year? What is your all-time favorite tradition, please share in the comments.

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Boredom Fighting Busy Bags

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If you are a family, with young kids, who travels frequently or eats out at restaurants then this post is for you. I recently put together about 6 different busy bags for my son.  Since we take quite a few road trips, especially during the summer to go camping, and we like to eat out occasionally, I bought some items to make busy bags for my son.  These busy bags have worked wonders with him in the car, but especially when eating out.

I hit up the Dollar Spot at Target when they had all of the back to school items at the beginning of the school year. I bought 2 stick puzzles, 2 matching games, a note pad and some crayons.  I purchased some inexpensive pouches to keep the supplies in, some magnetic strips, some binder rings, and a small cookie sheet from the dollar store.

Since the pieces are small, especially the stick puzzles, I cut the magnetic strips into small pieces before attaching to the back of each piece. This is where the cookie sheet comes in to play.  When you are on your road trips, your child can play with the puzzles and they won’t lose pieces.  Simply place the pieces on the cookie sheet and they will stick.   This is especially nice for the car so the pieces don’t slide around.   When going to a restaurant I just grab a pack of busy bags to take along and he will play with them as we wait for our order to arrive at the table.  This helps to combat his boredom and restlessness as we wait.

I also made a busy wallet with gift cards for “credit cards”, some stickers with some small pieces of paper to place them on, and you can add some play money to “pay” the waitress at the end of your meal.

I bought some flash cards from the dollar store so I could swap out some of the items to avoid him getting bored with what is in the busy bags. I also bought some of these cute Play Pack Grab & Go packs too.

Rotation is key so they don’t get bored with your boredom fighter busy bags. Share your boredom fighters while on a road trip or out and about at a restaurant or other public place.

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5 Simple Organization Hacks that Look Like Decorations

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We all have every day items that we need to have handy, but don’t always like to look at them. Here are a few simple and inexpensive organization hacks that double as decoration!

A Decorative Bowl or Basket for Throw Blankets

This time of year it’s nice to have blankets handy while on the couch, and you can never have enough fuzzy blankets. But a room can look messy when they are just laying around, or even end up on the floor, or in my case the puppy thinks they ALL belong to him. I have been trying a few options to make the most of my space without adding a lot more stuff or spending a lot of money. Many use a blanket ladder, but I don’t have much wall space. I started to use the decorative bowls and baskets we have around the room to tuck my little fluffs of heaven in. This keeps the blankets from ending up on the floor and minimizes the dust and dog hair that would normally stick, if I just left the blanket on the couch. I noticed this even adds a nice pop of texture and even color to the space.


Bonus Tip: I noticed I had a basket that was the same size as my laptop, I typically have this with me in the evenings on the couch (with my blanket and puppy). I started placing the laptop in the basket and noticed how it keeps it and the cords out of the way. Now I don’t worry so much about my drink spilling. The basket fits perfectly under my end table. This could also work great with a night stand, if you tend to surf the web in bed. This is the Sea Grass basket I use for my laptop.


Full Length Mirrored Jewelry Cabinet

This genius invention double duty. It acts as a full length mirror AND stores tons of jewelry or trinkets. These comes in all colors, shapes, process and styles. I have this one with a stand that fits well in the space. I see other styles that mount to a wall. This hidden gem would be perfect if you have an odd sized room, tons of wall space, or a large closet. Many retailers offer these but here is a universal one from Amazon to check out. The way I have mine set up, no one would ever know what was in it. I get a false sense of security from that if someone were to poke around. Also – this frees up space from a shelf or counter top where I had my old-school jewelry box type box before.


Soap dish for everyday little trinkets

I’m not an interior decorator by any means, but found this little beauty when I was looking for ways to keep my little day to day items safe in my master bathroom. Soap dishes come in every variety you can imagine. I was attracted to this one based on the neutral color, but also the texture and height the stand and design gave it. This is perfect for my badge for work, my everyday watch and wedding ring. Items that I don’t put in the stand jewelry box every night. I even started to expand on this concept using a tumbler cup to hold my hair brushes. At a local store I snagged a matching bowl for all those silly bobby pins and hair bands. These little changes make it easy to disguise my go to items and still keep them handy.

Apothecary jars for bathroom essentials

I have seen this suggestion everywhere. I even ordered this set of three from Amazon and saw the product image with bathroom essentials in it. This is such a classic way to up style a bathroom with items you need access to on a daily basis. Putting these in the jars made a world of difference. Additionally, since each jar features a lid, I know the items will stay as sanitary as possible too, while being on display. There are all kinds of shapes and sizes to fit your needs. If you have a more modern look they also make fun jars out of acrylic. Or for a more country chic style, experiment with all different sizes even colors of mason jars.


These are just a few of my around the house organization hacks. What are a few of yours? Please share in the comments below.

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Teacher Gift Ideas for the Holidays and Beyond

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It is that time of year to think about teacher gifts!  My son attends a formal daycare center and has 2-4 teachers at a given time in his classroom.  I really like to give the teachers a gift at the holidays (and Teacher Appreciation Day), but with that many teachers in a classroom I have to really budget what I am going to spend.  I also do a gift for the director and assistant director so that makes 6 gifts total.  I tend to keep the price of each gift under $10 because it gets pricey really fast. 

I usually look for ideas on Pinterest and then look at the Dollar Tree for inexpensive items to put together a small gift basket style gift.  Some of the gift baskets I have done in the past have been homemade body scrubs.  For this, I bought the small mason jars  and made a hand and body scrub, and filled a third jar with Epsom salts  to soak in the bathtub (or just their feet) after a long day of standing and playing with the kids. I will be making these again this year for Christmas gifts since I had a special request for them again.  These were a big hit with the director and teachers.

Another gift basket I have done was a tumbler cup filled with various drink mixes like Lipton Tea and Crystal Light I bought a box of the tea and a couple boxes of the crystal light and separated all into the 6 different cups.  This was probably the easiest one I have done, and will be a go to in the future for Teacher Appreciation day since it is so hot here is the Southwest Desert in May.

For Teacher Appreciation Day last year, I made some cute command centers for them.  I used 5×7 plastic picture frames and glued a pad of Post-It notes to the frame and used some Velcro to stick a pen to it.  I used some card stock and taped it to the inside of the frame where the picture would normally slide into and tied a piece of ribbon around it to pretty it up a little.

My son just transitioned from the 2’s classroom to the 3’s classroom so I wanted to get the 4 teachers in that class a cute appreciation gift so I am making a gift basket for them.  I got some galvanized pales from Dollar tree, 2 bottles of nail polish  (clear and colored), 2 small nail files and a travel sized bottle of lotion. You can also swap the lotion out or add Nail Polish remover too. These cost me a total of $6 each not including the cost of the tissue paper I used to help fill the pales.


What do you do for teacher gifts at the holidays or for Teacher Appreciation day?  Share your ideas and tips in the comments.

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Top 5 Holiday Stress Relievers

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As we approach the crazy holiday season, here are my top 5 ways I like to destress. These can be as expensive or as free as you want them to be. Cheers!

Get a Fun Mani or Pedi

In my neck of the woods nail salons are more popular than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. This makes it incredibly easy to take a few minutes to sneak away to do a little something for myself. Taking this mental and physical break helps me to distress and do a little something that makes me happy. This time of year it’s fun to look at Pinterest for nail design inspiration and fun colors. Deals always pop up in my area on Groupon and Living Social making it an even sweeter experience knowing I can get a great deal too! Erika and I have been pinning our fun fashionable nails on our sharing some designs from the salon as well as at home. This shows you can achieve a seasonal fun look and a moment of relaxation at home too.

Move a Little or a Lot with Yoga

There are several different types of yoga, one that can help you achieve the level of destress you need. Check out Hot or Birkam Yoga as the temperatures drop, it can be fun to visit a room that is over 90 degrees, this helps your muscles relax and stretch faster. Or check out a restorative yoga class or DVD. This is one of my all-time favorite ways to decompress…. Restorative yoga is practically a socially acceptable way to nap. In an hour, you may only hold only 3 or 4 poses. While you physically unwind, these poses help to mentally unwind as well. No need to sign up at a gym or studio for classic or Hatha yoga, I see instructional classes pop up on my Amazon TV and even some of the channels on my Cable TV subscription.

Window Shopping and Retail Therapy

If you live in an area with outdoor malls, it’s the perfect temperature to take a walk and look at the fun items in the windows. If you are in an area that is already seeing snow, being in an indoor mall might just be a fun fix. Scope out some deals before the mad dash of the seasonal shoppers hits in just a few days. One guilty pleasure of mine for retail therapy is some online shopping. Most of the time I add things to a wish list or cart, and then delete it after I get my fun mental break and shopping fix. Similar to window shopping, this is a great time to check out the ads for the upcoming holiday deals. Place items you anticipate to go on sale in your wish list and check back on them later, see if you can save a few extra bucks.

Spend Time with the People that Make You Happy

Many folks are traveling, taking vacation and enjoying school breaks. Make the best use of this time to visit with those friends and family that bring you joy. Catch up on life and have a few laughs. Take them with you as you check the above items to make holiday destressing that much more special. Spending time with the people that bring you joy doesn’t have to cost money, meet up at someone’s house or hotel to just visit or even start new traditions. You can even use this time to get in the spirit and write out holiday cards or wrap presents. Better yet, as a group or family go do some good. Volunteer your time to help make this time of year special for someone who is in need.

Watch a Feel Good or Holiday Movie to Put You in the Spirit

With all kinds of options to stream, watch and enjoy movies it’s never been easier to take a moment to watch your favorite holiday classic to put you in the right holiday space. Many of the channels are flooded with all kinds of feel good holiday classics. Record a few in your DVR to watch alone or with someone that makes you happy. If you are watching a movie you know well, multi task by writing out your to-do list and gather all the scattered thoughts and deadlines weighing you down. Grab a pair of fuzzy socks and some snacks and just relax.

What do you do to relax and unwind as the crazy holiday season kicks up? Do you have a favorite movie or tradition? Please share in the comments what gets you destressed and ready to take that turkey head on!

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Holiday Saving and Budgeting with Free Printable

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When it comes time to begin thinking about the holidays and you want to buy for your family and friends it can be a daunting thought, especially if money is tight. I don’t know about you, but my bank account always seems to be a bit emptier in the last 2 or 3 months of the year.  This causes me to tighten things up and not spend as much as I would really like to on my family and friends.

Below I will share some of the things I do to save throughout the year so I can stay on budget and buy the gifts I want to buy for everyone on my list.

1. Set up a holiday account

Open an additional account to set aside $10, $20, $50 a pay check. I set up my Holiday Savings account this year, and I have been able to save the money all year.  Now that it is November and I need to start my holiday shopping I can create my budget for each person I want to buy for.  The amount that I saved during the year has become my budget.  I did not set a budget back in January when I opened my account because I didn’t want to feel pressure to set aside that amount and not be able to.  So I said I am going to set aside X dollars per check, and whatever amount I have at the end of the year when I am ready to shop will become my budget.  There have been a few tight months where I wasn’t able to set aside the extra money, and that is ok.  This is money that I WANT to spend on others, not money I NEED to spend on others.  We have to remember the balance between WANT and NEED when it comes to spending our hard earned money.

2.  Set a Budget

Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend. This is important so you don’t over spend or over extend your wallet.  Even if you are setting aside money throughout the year you want to set a budget.  Whether you do what I did above and say whatever is in my account at the time I start spending it is my budget or you decide on a specific dollar amount you, need to have an idea of your budget ahead of time.  If you decide on a specific dollar amount then be sure it is an amount that you can realistically live with.  Think about how much you can really contribute each pay check, and about those times when you might not be able to contribute to your Holiday savings.  To help you out I have created a free printable Holiday  Budgeting Worksheet so you can work through your budget for the holidays.

3. Look for items around the house you can re-use for decorating

In October, when the Arizona heat starts to subside a bit (except this year when we were still hitting 100 degrees the last week of the month) I like to go through the house and clean out closets, and the bedrooms to make room for things that my son will be getting for his birthday and Christmas. I also like to do it so I can look for things to repurpose.  I may use a glass bowl or plate as a container to hold autumn or Christmas decorations such as pine cones or ornaments to put on a shelf or the dining table.  I recently found some candle sconces in a closet that I took off the wall to hang pictures in place of the sconces.  Now I have a different wall where I can hang the sconces.  I had completely forgotten about them.  If I hadn’t gone through and cleaned out the closets I probably would have spent money I didn’t need to on replacements.

4. Buy gifts throughout the year

As the year goes on keep a plastic tub in a closet where you can place clearance or sale items in that you can use as holiday or birthday gifts. This is also a good way to have hostess gifts on hand at all times as well.  Some good items to look for are toys for the littles in your life.  Targets Dollar spot is a good area to check.  I also like to look for notepads and lotions for the women in my life.  For the men I look for wallets, coffee mugs, or cologne.  At the end of the year or when you are ready to begin your holiday shopping look through your Tub-O-Gifts to see what you can gift to family and friends before spending additional money.  When you select the gifts to give deduct the price of the gift from your budget.  This keeps you from over spending.

5. Comparison shop

When looking online for gifts I always, always, always look at my top 3 retailers (Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target) to compare the prices. I take into account my 5% discount at Target for using my Red Card, and Cartwheel deals and sales.  For Wal-Mart, my mom is an employee and if she purchases the item, she can get a 10% discount so I deduct the discount and compare against the other two retailers.  Whoever has the item for the lowest price over all is the winner of my hard earned money.

6. Shop with a list

I always make a list of what I am going to buy for each person on my Holiday list. This also helps to keep me within my budget.  If I didn’t keep a list for each person I could easily go over budget on all of the girls/ladies on the list.  Women are so much easier to buy for than men/boys.  I always overspent on my niece when she was younger and struggled buying things for my two nephews.  I constantly had to return some of the items I bought for my niece because she was so easy to buy for.  Now that I keep a list for each person I don’t have to waste my time returning things to get that money back into my budget.  This can be very time consuming when time is already a short commodity during the busy holiday season.

7. Track your spending

Use the printable Holiday Budgeting Worksheet to help track your spending and who you are buying for.  This is how you stay on budget and ensure you have gifts for all of the loved ones on your holiday shopping list.  You don’t want to realize on Christmas Eve that you forgot to buy a gift for your husband, wife, son, daughter, mom, or dad.  You also want to keep track of your food budget so you don’t go overboard on buying groceries you already have on hand or wont use.

8. Use Cash

At some stores you can save money by using their credit card such as at Kohl’s or if you have the Target Red Card. If you don’t pay off your credit cards each month do NOT use credit for holiday shopping.  By using credit for holiday shopping you are not staying within your budget because you will end up paying interest on all of those gifts.  The best way to stay on budget is to use cash.  Withdrawal cash from your designated holiday savings account when you plan to go shopping and use it.  Do not use credit!  There is one exception to this I would recommend to save some money.  The Target Red Debit card.  It works just like a regular debit card you get from your bank.  You still have to be disciplined enough and remember to transfer the money from your Holiday savings account into your checking account to cover that cost.

9. Financial Fast – No Spend October

Try doing a Financial Fast where you go an entire 30 days without spending money on things that are WANTS. Do not spend money on Starbucks, eating out, clothing, etc.  The money that you would normally spend on those items set aside in your Holiday savings account to help build up the amount in the account towards the end of the year so you can increase your budget.  You can also do this in the beginning or middle of the year as well.  You don’t have to only wait for the end of the year.  Or if you want to try it a few times a year maybe do a no spend pay period where you go a full pay period without spending money on your Wants.


I hope you enjoyed my tips for staying on budget during the Holiday shopping frenzy. If you have tips and tricks please share in the comments section.  We always love to hear what you do to save money.  E and C try our best to save money wherever possible.  If you enjoyed this post please like our page.  You can also follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.  Happy saving!

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