My 10 Favorite Family Traditions

These are traditions that I love and that i want to share with my children.

  1. Making gingerbread houses on Thanksgiving. I’m not sure when this tradition started but we love it. It is kind of a competition to see how weird our house me can be.
  2. Making my Grandmas recipe for apple, pumpkin, and cherry pie. Pumpkin is my favorite though
  3. Cutting down our own Christmas tree. Though I can’t have a live tree because of my allergies, we still help my parents cut their tree down every year.
  4. Breakfast with Santa. This is an awesome tradition. The kids love seeing Santa, there is no line since we are called up by table, and I get to eat pancakes I didn’t make.
  5. Sending out Christmas cards. This one was a hard one for me when Princess was little. We always sent out Christmas cards and I wanted to include her even though she wasn’t officially part of the family. These days I just take pictures of me and all the kids and we send out cards to friends and family. Even if the kids won’t be living in my home next year they live with me now.
  6. Going to Zoo lights. We haven’t done this since I was little. We are going to start this up again since I’m a member of the zoo now.
  7. Going to Mass at the Old Church. It is this beautiful chapel where I work. My grandma loved it and I always feel like she is there with me when we are there.
  8. Going to look at Christmas lights. After mass we alway drive around to look at Christmas lights. My dad always finds some to surprise us.
  9. Getting pajamas for Christmas Eve. This is a tradition I love. I started having the kids and I have matching pajamas, it is a lot of fun.
  10. Eating French toast for breakfast Christmas morning. I love this tradition. However, my parents always made us eat before we could open presents and I do it backwards.

10 Things I’m Thankful For

  1. My children. No matter how long they are in my home they will always be in my heart.
  2. My parents. For everything they do for me and my children. They are both incredibly self less.
  3. For my sister. Though we are far apart I can always count on her. I am so excited she is in town for a couple days!!!!
  4. My best friends. I am incredibly blessed to have a group of friends I can count on during the good and bad times.
  5. My students. Working with them is the best part of my day. I enjoy their humor and I love their perseverance to overcome what ever challenges life throws at them.
  6. My coworkers (especially the ones I share an office with) They are amazing people who are always helping me.
  7. Princesses Dad and step mom. I will be forever grateful that they let me continue to be in her life and work really hard to make sure she is involved in our family activities.
  8. My children’s parents. For loving their children and including me in their family.
  9. Good TV shows. Watching tv is the way I relax and I am thankful for heartwarming shows like This is Us and the Chicago Shows.
  10. Food that delivers. I’m so thankful that more and more places deliver these days.

10 Ways to Teach Young Kids to be Thankful

Bubba is at the age where he understands more about the Holidays. We have been working hard this month on teaching him to be Thankful for things.

  1. Teach them to say thank you. This is the first step to teaching children to be thankful. We are even working with Z on saying thank you in sign language.
  2. Thank them. Show them that you are thankful for them and what they do for the family.
  3. Model being thankful. I say things like I am thankful for Bubba, baby Z, hot chocolate, etc.
  4. Talk about what you are thankful during dinner. This helps me model it but it allows him to practice and he even says funny things like hamburgers and hotdogs.
  5. Prayer. Praying to God and thanking him for what we are thankful for is a great way to model being thankful.
  6. Go on a nature walk. Teach kids to be thankful for what is in nature.
  7. Have them do something for their siblings. And teach them not to expect anything in return.
  8. Have them pack up some toys to give to kids in need. This helps clean out your house for Christmas as well.
  9. Make food in a food kitchen. If your children are old enough.
  10. Have them do chores (and thank them for it instead of pay them). This might seem like a weird one but it shows kids to appreciate all the work that is done in the house.

Weekly update November 19

  1. Bubba started tracing his name.
  2. Bubba is becoming way more independent. He cleaned the whole living room by himself! It was awesome
  3. Princess built two robots get first week of homeschool and says she enjoys it.
  4. Our family Christmas photos came back. Omg do I have cute kids.
  5. Z reached out for me to hold him for the first time ever. But now when anyone else is holding him he reaches out for me.
  6. Z learned how to pull himself in things and has tried to climb the stairs a couple times. Uh oh
  7. Z is going through a growth spurt and has done nothing but eat and sleep for 2 days.
  8. We did absolutely nothing all weekend except nap and it was amazing. We played and had fun together.
  9. For the first time in weeks I am all caught up on laundry. Seriously this is amazing.
  10. I have decided to read the Harry Potter books again. Anyone else want to join me?

10 favorite stem toys for kids

This week I’m splitting up the lists into 5 stem toys for Bubba’s age group (3-6) and five stem toys for Princess’ age group (7-12)

Ages 3-6

  1. Code-a-pillar Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ASVD2L4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_0rDdAbDTEZYHB
  2. Magnetic building blocks Magnetic Blocks STEM Educational Toys Magnet Building Block Tiles Set for Boys and Girls by Coodoo-24pcs https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WJ59FH2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_9sDdAbWC1730S
  3. Dinosaur take apart toys Dinosaur Toys Take Apart Toys With Tools (Pack of 6 Dinosaurs – 218 pieces) – Construction Engineering STEM Learning Toy Building Play Set – Best Toy for Boys & Girls Age 3 – 12 years old. colors very https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XMYWVGJ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_TtDdAbCTCFQVB
  4. Design and drill Educational Insights Design & Drill Activity Center https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00012O42W/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_KuDdAbYYTYSH6
  5. Automobile engineer Kids First Automobile Engineer Kit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TF8ZF94/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_BwDdAbJ75VXKW

Ages 7-12

  1. Mini telescope Meade Instruments Infinity 50mm AZ Refractor Telescope https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LY8JCII/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_ImDdAbDVQPR5D
  2. Kitchen Science 4M Kitchen Science Kit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004NEP7NE?ref=yo_pop_ma_swf
  3. Osmo Osmo Genius Kit (Newer version available) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015ELZCJS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_svDdAb77M90JP
  4. Star Wars droid inventors kit Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XYD1LRN/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_ayDdAbCWKVXRR
  5. Microscope Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope and Activity Journal – Award Winning Science Toys https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B1Z6EXU/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_UyDdAbDCVE7NJ

10 things that made me smile this week

I have had a very stressful but overall good week. The week before conferences is always a little crazy. But there was a lot of laughter and smiles this week.

  1. I got a lovely note from Baby Zs parents thanking me for sending pictures and taking care of him. This is why I foster.
  2. Bubba is going to get more visit time with his parent and siblings!!!
  3. Bubba has started saying how much he misses Baby Z during the day and it’s so sweet.
  4. When I ask him if he missed me he says no. Hey at least he is honest.
  5. One of my 7th grade students walked in and introduced himself to the student working at the table. They have math group together once a week and have been to school together since preschool. Oh and they are also identical twins. I could not stop laughing at this one.
  6. My 8th grade student did amazing on a major project that he did 95% of on his own. (Seriously this is amazing)
  7. I had students asking to work with. (That never happens)
  8. I learned that there is a car bottle warmer (seriously best thing I have ever bought on amazon)
  9. I found a hot wheels advent calendar for Bubba.
  10. My sister comes home in 5 days!!!!

10 ways I save time

After Thursday’s post I got thinking and I realized that there are a lot of little things I do to help my self save time and maybe get some extra time to myself or extra sleep. Here are 10 ways I save time.

  1.  Having groceries delivered. Though it usually is an extra charge the last thing I want to do when I’m exhausted and stressed is take two kids to the store.
  2.  Getting my house cleaned. We keep our house pretty clean but once a month someone comes in and deep cleans my house. It saves me so much time. Though cleaning services are expensive you can try trading with a friend, they clean your hous and you babysit or mow their lawn or sow thing. I hate deep cleaning and would rather do anything else.
  3. Setting out clothes. After I do laundry on Saturday I set out everyone’s clothes for the week. I even check the weather to make sure we dress appropriate. This saves us so much time in the morning and I get 5 extra minutes of sleep.
  4. Making my lunches for the week on Sunday. I put every thing together in the fridge and just put it in my lunch box every morning.
  5.  Cooking in a crock pot. When I get home from a long day of work and something isn’t already prepared for dinner I will end up just ordering something. However, if something delicious and healthy is waiting for me in the crock pot I will save money and calories.
  6. Shower at night. I have said this before but if I didn’t shower at night I would be one crabby person in the morning.
  7. Have an automatic start in my car. Not only does this save time because I don’t have to take a trip out to the car but it’s probably safer then keeping my keys in my car.
  8. Amazon prime. I’m absolutely in love with amazon 🙂
  9. Not wearing make up. Okay I honestly do this because I have super sensitive skin and I haven’t found a single type of make up that doesn’t make me look like a giant red tomato after wearing it all day.
  10. Not sweating the small stuff. When I’m really stressed. Like this week. I just work on making sure I get everything done that needs to get done and don’t worry about the little things. Like the fact one of our toilets is broken.

10 things to do the night before court

Tomorrow I have a big court date for one of my kids. Court dates make me very nervous when I am unsure what is going to happen. This is what I do the night before court to help me get through.

  1. Email the caseworker, casa, and anyone else involved and update on the child. I usually do this a week before so that they can include any new information in the court.
  2. Asks questions. My big problem with tomorrow’s court date is no one has the same information and that is why I’m so stressed out. Don’t be afraid to asks questions and make sure things are clarified.
  3. Ask caseworker to call you after court. If you are like me and cannot go to court talk to the caseworker and ask her to call you after. My caseworkers have always been great about it.
  4. Make sure all of your notes are updated. I’m going to make a post about this eventually but I keep an updated calendar showing when doctors appointments and visits are as well as notes on health, behavior, and developmental milestones.
  5. Update their life book. You don’t know if they are going home or not so make sure everything is updated and they have every pictures and tidbit of information you want them to have.
  6. Cuddle your babies. Give them big hugs. They have no idea that someone they have never met will be making decisions for them tomorrow. But you do. So hold them tight.
  7. Spend the night at home. We are always so busy. Tonight we are just going to stay home and spend time together as a family instead of going out and about.
  8. Pray. I pray every night that what is best for my children happens. I don’t pray for a certain outcome because only God knows what is best.
  9. Relax. Do something to get your mind off of everything going on.
  10. Go on with life as planned. The hardest thing I have had to learn is that you cannot worry about things that you can’t control so just move on.

Weekly update November 12th

  1. We had family pictures. It was amazing that we were able to coordinate with everyone’s schedule and have Princess be there as well. I needed a new picture for my fireplace because the current one is Hailee and I five years ago.
  2. Baby Z learned to crawl and he crawls everywhere. He gets super angry when you are changing his diaper because he can’t crawl.
  3. Baby Z turned 7 months. Not only is he crawling but he is eating solid food and trying to pull himself up off of everything.
  4. Princess is starting homeschool. It is most likely only temporary but I think it is a great idea for her. Does anyone have any good resources?
  5. Bubba learned how to verbally spell his name. We are currently working on pointing and naming the letters of his name. Does anyone have any ideas to help with that or to help him learn how to write it?
  6. I went to the Bears Packers game with my best friends Sunday and it was amazing to have a day without kids. Too bad the bears lost.
  7. It seems like we are all finally getting over our colds. It seems like we have had this thing for months.
  8. I am starting to make everyone’s Christmas lists. I’m so behind because I’m not sure where either kids case is going so I am afraid to buy too much ahead of time. We do the something you want, something to need, something to wear, something to read.
  9. I’m so busy with work that I’m struggling to get things done at home so our house is a little more disorganized then usually. I can’t wait for thanksgiving break.
  10. We got our first snow!!!! It was only a little bit but we got to play outside in it.

10 favorite family friendly activities in Chicago

  1. Navy Pier- Such a fun place to walk around in the summer and a festive place to go in the winter. They also have the children’s museum there. 
  2. The Aquarium- I love animals and so do my kid. And though some of the other attractions are extra, it is worth just to visit with general admission . 
  3. The Planetarium- I haven’t been since I was a kid but Hailee just went on a field trip and loved it. 
  4. The Water  Tower Place- I love this mall. They have an American Girl Doll store inside which the girls love and it has an adorable restaurant inside. 
  5. Lincoln Park Zoo- This is a free zoo in the middle of the city. It is always a fun place to go when you are in the city. 
  6. Brookfield zoo- This zoo costs money and is out of the city. But it is a little bigger and we absolutely adore it. 
  7. Legoland- My kids love Legoland and I do too. 
  8. Botanic Gardens- If you love flowers and trains this is the place for you. Their holiday trains are awesome. 
  9. Riding the train- Whether the “L” or the Metra my kids love to go on the trains
  10. Wrigley Field- Thia is my most favorite place in the world. If you love baseball you have to go to wrigley field.