Monday, August 15, 2016

surviving mondays

Mondays suck.
There's no getting around it.
No way to say it nicely.
Mondays just flat out suck.

We usually walk into crabby kids who didn't get nearly enough sleep.
Toys everywhere even though we left the house spotless on Friday.
Piles of laundry to do.
Maybe even a to do list of stuff to get done that day.
Not to mention getting the kids back in routine, battling out the attitudes, and keeping a smile on your face through it all.
It's all part of the job.

Mondays suck.

So how do we survive?
Here are just a few tips that I've slowly learned over the many many Mondays.

1. Coffee
Lots and lots of coffee.
Monday coffee gets made earlier than every other day coffee.

Pep talk yourself
Pep talk it up in your head or out loud.
Why? Because it's Monday and you got this.

Be comfortable
Monday is the day for your favorite outfit.
If that means yoga pants, hoodie and a messy bun? Do it.
If that means a fancy dress? Do it.

Turn up the music
Gangsta rap? Country? Classical?
Whatever your heart desires... just turn it up a couple extra notches.
Maybe even break out a couple random dance parties mid messy bun creation.

More coffee
Yep. You read that right.
Make it a double dose of coffee.
Triple for those Mondays that are especially rough.
Maybe even a Starbucks field trip is in order!

And lastly...
when you realize you're still grumpy and not ready for the day,
Because it's Monday and you'll survive.
Plaster that smile on your face, sing Twinkle, Twinkle 20x if necessary, but you got this.
And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Nannying has changed me.
It's changed my parenting philosophy,
in a good way.

I used to be a firm believer in tough love.
That's how I was raised and I turned out ok.
It's how I taught and it worked great.
But now that I'm spending most awake time with M, I'm realizing that while it sometimes works, it doesn't always and it's not the most beneficial to either of us.

I don't want to go so far as to say I'm all attachment parenting, because I'm not.
There are still moments where the tough love comes out.
But as the days go on, I see the importance of a secure relationship more and more.

I see the importance of talking about feelings.
I see the importance of acknowledging feelings.
I see the importance of helping.
I see the importance of fostering independence without forcing it on them.
I see the importance of responding instead of reacting.

I admit, there are times where I still react instead of respond.
And I usually have to step back, take a deep breath, and approach the situation differently.

Do you feel like you fall into a couple different parenting types?
Helicopter? Definitely not.
Attachment? Ehh.
Positive? Try to be.
Who knew there were so many parenting styles!

No child is perfect. Just like no nanny or parent is perfect.
And everyone has a different parenting style.
There's nothing wrong with that.
If you'd put me back in the classroom, I'd probably go right back to my tough love philosophy.
In a classroom of 10 preschoolers or 25+ elementary age kids, teachers don't have the time to sit and walk a child through their emotions.
Does that sound horrible? Absolutely.
It's the hard truth.
But I am a changed nanny.

Are you a changed nanny?

P.s. I chose writing this blog over reading the new Harry Potter book at nap time. You should feel ridiculously special.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

i'm up to no good

I thought I'd do a "what I've been reading" type post.
But let's be honest.
I'm re-reading Harry Potter for, like, the bajillionth time.
So instead, I decided to put together a little "Harry Potter theme" for you and your littles!
((I know... why did I not think of this before?!))
So we're including a little bit for everyone!
Art, Games, Books (obviously), Sensory... we're covering all the bases just like normal!

To start, it's important to know what the houses are, and what they stand for.
Are you a Gryffindor lion, a Slytherin serpent, a Hufflepuff badger, or a Ravenclaw eagle?

Then, once you figure out what house you're in, it's time to jump in! Here are some activities to start with:
1. Be sure to write letters to your friends and family telling them the great news! Use the Owl Post to send them!
2. You'll need a wand to move forward with classes. Since Ollivander isn't available right now, make your own!
3. House elves need to be free! Dobby helped out by gathering a bunch of socks for you. Now all you have to do is sort them and find matching pairs to hand out!
4. Would you rather go to the Quidditch World Cup or the Triwizard Tournament? Ask your friends what they would rather do with this FREE printable!
5. Classes will be much easier with a spell book. Make your own copy so you can reference it anytime.
6. Get familiar with the Hogwarts grounds and the wizarding world with a scavenger hunt.
7. Every witch and wizard knows how to play Quidditch! Learn the rules and start playing!

Now it's time for classes to begin:

First, you have Care of Magical Creatures.
In this class you must watch out for your stuffed animal and protect them while they're being tossed about in a parachute!
(You can use a sheet as well)
Make sure your animal stays on the parachute so they don't get hurt!


Next you have Charms.
1. Practice writing messages to each other in Invisible Ink!
2. Practice the wingardium leviosa spell by keeping the balloon up in the air! (instead of paper plate paddles, use your wands!)
3. Practice the reducto spell by drawing on ShrinkFilm and watching it shrink in the oven!

Run to Transfiguration... you can' be late to McGonagall's class!
In this class you'll be practicing turning your playdough into something else.
What will it turn into? That's for you to decide!

It's time for your favorite class...
Defense Against the Dark Arts!
Today's lesson: expecto patronum.
Time to beat those nasty dementors!

That was intense, wasn't it!
Well, now it's time to head out to the greenhouses for Herbology.
1. Play a round of Nature Hunt Bingo to get familiar with the "greenhouses."
2. Try your hand at planting and growing some plants!

Easy peasy, right?
I think you got that herbology class down!
Now it's time to head all the way into the north tower for Divination where you will get to ask the mystical ball for answers...

Did you learn anything about the future?!
Unfortunately, that leads us to our least favorite class all the way down in the dungeons.
I love mixing ingredients, but Snape is a tough professor.
Today's potions are Exploding Polyjuice Potion, and Veritaserum.
HERE is the key and recipes.

How did you do?
Did you make the potions correct the first time?

After all those classes, I bet you're starving!
Here are some fun treats for you:
1. Frozen ButterBeer
2. Pumpkin Juice
3. Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans - can you name the flavor?!
4. Chocolate Frogs
5. Gilly Water


Now for the important part. The books.
And yes, there's more than the original 7.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Illustrated version
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Illustrated version
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Quidditch Through the Ages
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Now don't you just want to read them all over again yourself?!
Have a magical day, friends!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

adventure awaits

You know what's weird?
It's cold here.
Ok, not cold cold. But definitely not summer temps.
I can't lie though, I kinda love it.
Probably because fall is my favorite!

But that oddly enough halfway leads me to today's point.
Kinda sorta.
Cooler temps means summer adventures have to change!

Today I want to share about another Usborne book... Muddle and Match Adventure!

This is just one of a four book set!
The set includes:

So what are these fascinating books?
They can be a regular story about different characters....

Or they can be a "create your own" character story!

So how can these be a learning tool for your littles?
They're perfect for expanding those imaginations!
Create your own Muddle and Match games and let your little come up with a story about each character!
Here are some pre-made mix and match games that you can print off:
((click on each image to go to the direct link!))

Encourage your littles to use adjectives and expand their vocabularies as well!
Older kiddos can even write their own character stories!

Interested in getting them for your littles?
You can buy them HERE!


If you'd like to stay up to date on my Usborne book journey, get the latest hostess and customer specials, or just get to know about the books, join my Facebook group - Steph's Bookies!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

i'm a dirty dinosaur

I'm not really a dirty dinosaur.
M probably wishes I was a dinosaur, but I'm not.

Just kidding...
(about that being that big announcement, not that I'm not a dirty dinosaur. Or a dinosaur at all.)
Anyway, my big announcement is this:
I'm officially an Usborne Books & More consultant!

So what does that mean for you?
Nothing really.
Unless you want free books or to purchase books.
Either way, there's no pressure whatsoever.
But I will be doing some more book review blog posts!
Simply to show off some of the ridiculously fun books you can purchase for you little if you'd like!

Now here's where the dirty dinosaur comes in...

I'm a Dirty Dinosaur
by Janeen Brian & Ann James

You guessed it... it's a story about a dirty dinosaur!
See, it all starts with a dirty snout and he progressively get's more and more dirty until...
he's covered in dirt!
Oh no!
What will he do once he's all covered in dirt and mud?!
You'll have to read it to find out!

The story is full of action and just gets more and more silly along the way!

 And the illustrations are just plain awesome!
Look at the texture!
((I couldn't give away the ending now could I?))


How can you turn this into a learning experience for your littles?
Here are some fun ideas!

Paint your own dirty dinosaur.
Draw your own dinosaur, or if you're creatively challenged like me, print out a template.
Mix some potting soil into brown paint, and you have yourself some dirt/mud!

When you come to an action page, act it out!
Shake, pat, and slide it all out together!

Get some sensory fun going by creating mud (dirt + water) in a big plastic container.
Throw some toys in and let the littles have some fun squishing, pouring, digging and squashing it.
When they're done, wash the toys off to get them all clean again!

You can also make Oreo Dirt Cups for a yummy snack!

Sound fun?
Think your littles would enjoy this story?
You can purchase it HERE!

Have any questions about the story, activities, or what I do with Usborne?
Ask away!
You can also join my new Facebook group, Steph's Bookies, to stay up to date on book reviews, new releases, and hostess incentives!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

in the words of the little....


Yup. That's M running away from the dinosaurs.
Which happens about 20 times a day.
Why are the dinosaurs chasing him you ask?
Well, because that's what dinosaurs do.
Oh, and they eat you.

You see, it all started probably a year ago. Possibly even longer than that.
Long before dinosaurs were even on the radar in this house.
J bought the mightiest T-Rex he could find.
Why? Because he's the mightiest T-Rex, obviously. And M would need him.
This T-Rex sat on the shelf. Lonely. For months.
Then a couple months ago, that all changed.
Mr. Triceratops was added and the rest is history.
You know how Andy loved Woody and took him everywhere? That's what happened here.
Only it was this T-Rex. And M takes him everywhere.

Now since summer has finally arrived and we have a little bit more free time,
I thought M would love to have some dino-tivities to do!
So I jumped on Amazon and Pinterest to find some fun ideas and manipulatives.

Here's what I found for manipulatives:

The Learning Resources Mini Dino Counters came in handy for a couple different dino-tivities!
Plus they're the new favorite to read stories to!

We sorted by dinosaur type.
We sorted by color.
(Nanny Steph forgot her color sorting cups. Whoops.)

We also played hide-n-go-seek with them in colored rice.
Some of them were super tricky to find!
Can you find them all?

Then we busted out the Vinyl Mini Dinosaurs.
In this bundle there are multiple of each dino so it was perfect to find matches!
(Some even have three of the same!)
Oh, and we spruced it up with some "real rocks" this time.
(aka pebbles for fish tanks)

And again, we had to play hide-and-seek with these dinosaurs.
Because real rocks make it 10x better than rice.

Finally I found some ridiculously cute dinosaur card printables.
And yes, they're FREE!
You can go snag your own set from Fun-A-Day.
The set comes with 4 of each dino, plus she gives ideas on how to use them.
But here's what we did with them:

Left: We searched for dinosaurs in colored rice
Top Right: Matching!
Bottom Right: Sorting by type or color.

I also found these awesome dinosaur counting cards from The Kindergarten Connection.
We haven't used them yet, but they'll be a fun tool to use in the car!

I hope these inspire you and give you some ideas of the many ways you can use manipulatives!
I realize they can sometimes be expensive, but the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

since you been gone

...or since I've been gone.
Seriously, has it really been since February?!
What can I say... life got crazy busy/overwhelming.
But I miss blogging and the crazy stability it brought to my life.
So I'm back! Woohoo!

So this blog writing session may be happening like this...

Yup. This happened.
Because one of my bffs is amazing and went to Target to get the last 2 in stock.
And if you've been living in a hole and don't know what I'm talking about, watch this.
Or if you do know what I'm talking about, enjoy another laugh!

So now that my awkwardness is out of the way, let's move on.
I have plans.
I have blogging topics I want to cover, I have themes/activities I want to cover, I have trainings and conferences I want to talk about...

Plus, Sue Downey (the brains behind Nannypalooza) posted the other day,
"Ask yourself this- if you could finish just one bucket list project, achieve just one pie in the sky goal, complete one of the many things that you have always wanted to attempt but haven't even started yet…. what would that thing be? What would it look like?"
And then I thought... why am I not working on that?
You see, one of my biggest bucket list projects is writing my own curriculum.
And blogging helps me head in that direction.
So here I am.

Life is still chaotic, so bear with me.
We got a new puppy.

He's quite the exhausting handful.
But ridiculously cute and smart.
Meet Gary.
Aka Gary Busey, Jr.

M is on the go... a lot.
So he's also exhausting.
Basically I just need an IV of caffeine.

Oh, and not to mention summer has finally decided to show up here in Indiana.
And it's about flipping time too!
So pardon me while I spend my weekends in the sunshine and water.

So while this didn't really accomplish anything yet,
I'm back.
And I just wanted you to know that.
Also, look for a blog revamp coming soon.
Because I need some freshness around here.

P.s. Come visit me in other places on the interwebs!