Celebrating Valentine’s Day at School

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February 14th is a day full of love, and there are many ways to celebrate with your loved ones, especially your kids. Multiple activities are available to create excitement around Valentine’s Day at home and at school. However, it can get overwhelming deciding on the perfect Valentine for your child to send to their classmates. To help ease some of the stress of finding the right Valentine to send to school, below are some ideas for you to use.

  • It is common to send a card and candy with your kids to give to their classmates, but sometimes that can get a little confusing, especially with food allergies. If you are going this route, double-check with your child’s teacher and/or other parents to scope out what type of food allergies are in the class. Easier types of candy to include are chocolate or conversation hearts. Don’t be afraid to branch out from doing traditional candy. Popcorn, pretzels, and cheese puffs are great ideas, as well. One of my favorite ideas is attaching a bag of lifesavers to the card with the caption, “Your friendship is a lifesaver.”
  • Candy or food doesn’t have to go with the card. Instead, try adding a colorful pencil, small notebook; a fun toy, such as a Hot Wheels car for boys and a bracelet for girls; or a miniature animal or Legos. Let your child decide on the cute treat to include with their classmates’ Valentines.
  • Most kids love doing arts and crafts. Create a small DIY project for a Valentine. Provide the materials and instructions on the card or a decorative tag. Take it up a notch and let the students make the craft project during their Valentine’s Day party at school. Arrange this activity by talking with the teacher or party coordinator. They will thank you for taking care of this element. Plus, it is an interactive, hands-on way to engage kids in celebrating the day. A quick Internet search or trip onto Pinterest will give you multiple projects for all ages. Remember to scout out projects where you can purchase the items in bulk, such as construction paper and popsicle sticks. Plus, if anything needs to be cut out, go ahead and prepare that for the classmates. When giving Valentines to a class, it is never okay to leave a student out. Think about materials you can get in quantities from 20–35. The “Bumble bee on a Stick Puppet” activity is a perfect example. All you need is:
    • Paper – yellow, black, and red for the antennas.
    • Black marker
    • Glue dots
    • Popsicle stick
  • Then, cut out two circles in yellow paper, about 2and 1½” wide respectively, for the body and head. Attach the smaller circle, the head, to the bigger one with a glue dot. Using the black paper, cut two or three ¼”-wide and 5″-long strips for the bee’s stripes. Attach to the body with glue dots. Cut off any excess black from the body and place it on the back of the head as the antennas. Create a small flower of red out of the red paper to attach to the top of the antennas for a pop of color. Then, add the bee’s stingers with small black triangles to the body. Then, turn the bee into a puppet by gluing the insect to a popsicle stick. Lastly, add some decoration, personality, and a cute face to your bee. Ta-da!
  • Other fun ideas to make into Valentine’s Day gifts include watercolor paints, bubbles, finger paint, Play-Doh, glow sticks, fake tattoos, and coloring pages.

Valentine’s Day is a sweet holiday whose meaning is centered on love. These ideas are awesome in helping to bring the holiday’s meaning to school with your kids. Just remember the goal is to make the Valentine’s Day fun, creative, and exciting for the receivers.

xoxo,

Megan

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Becoming…A Better Me in 2019 (Part 1)

Last night, as the clock ticked towards midnight, I found myself crying. It was happy tears that came pouring from my eyes. 2018 was a tough year, but when I started thinking about it, the year was probably one of the best ones yet.

Just to give you an overview of what happened in the now “last” year…

  • In January, my grandmother battled the flu and pneumonia. My family heard twice in the course of two weeks that she might succumb to the sickness.
  • Throughout the year, especially in the fall, she had numerous hospital visits and rehabilitation stays. We almost lost her when they had to do emergency surgery to drain fluid from her heart. In addition, it has been hard to watch someone you love so much, be so much in pain. We have had multiple doctors’ visits and waiting for test results. Lastly, my family has felt the emotions and tough love of being caregivers.
  • There has been financial stress. At times, we worried how we would make it to the end of the month.

All these things out may not seem much to you, but to me, they are what made me stronger. You may also be thinking “why was this year one of the bests?” Well, because of this…

  • I received a graduate certificate in middle grades education and accomplished my goal of becoming a teacher.
  • The opportunity of student teaching and getting a job at two great schools have made that dream and goal all the more of a reality. In these positions, I have been challenged and overcame obstacles that made me a better educator.
  • My sister got engaged and married in a beautiful ceremony.
  • Above all, my grandmother survived all the health scares. She is flourishing and doing marvelous for an 85 year old.

In fact, we all survived. And we are all here; stronger and ready to take on the next 365 days. So, yes, 2018 was a pretty great year.

Xoxo,

Megan

When is the Best Time to Buy…?

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Once again the holidays have come and gone and it’s almost a brand new year. Spending money on new purchases is probably the last thing on your mind. However, never fear, because you can plan your wish list around the months of the year. After all, a great bargain never goes out of style. Each month is known for its special deals on different items. According to experts, these deals are based on sale cycles, but some exceptions include fluctuations in prices and a retailer’s inventory. In addition, some products have seasonal specials, as well as being on sale at different times of the year.

January:

  • Holiday Decorations
  • Calendars and Planners
  • Toys
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Televisions
  • Bicycles
  • Houses
  • Small Appliances
  • Air-conditioning

February: President’s Day is a great time for retailers to have sales.

  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Cameras
  • Televisions (especially big-screens)

March:

  • Winter Clothing
  • Luggage
  • Camping Equipment
  • Toys
  • Outdoor Furniture

April:

  • Snow Blowers and Shovels
  • Computers
  • Electronics
  • Car Care Supplies
  • Home Improvement Supplies
  • Vacuums
  • Cookware
  • Auto Parts

May:

  • Easter Decorations
  • Grilling Tools
  • Mattresses
  • Pet Supplies
  • Refrigerators
  • Cookware
  • Vacuums
  • Gym Memberships
  • Party Supplies

June:

  • Gym Memberships
  • Tools
  • Dishes

July:

  • Jeans
  • Winter Coats
  • Furniture
  • Party Supplies
  • Grilling Tools

August:

  • School and Office Supplies
  • College Textbooks
  • Kitchen Accessories
  • Pool Supplies
  • Pillows
  • Linens
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Outdoor Toys
  • Outdoor Furniture

September:

  • Computers
  • Swimsuits
  • Pool Toys
  • Summer Clothing and Shoes
  • Large Appliances
  • Cars
  • Trees, Shrubs and Bulbs
  • iPhones
  • Lawn Mowers

October:

  • Air-conditioning
  • Lawn Mowers
  • Patio Furniture
  • Large Appliances
  • Tires
  • Jeans
  • Grills

November: Don’t forget about Black Friday!

  • Flooring and Carpeting
  • Grills
  • Halloween Decorations
  • Cookware
  • Electronics
  • Tools

December:

  • Cars
  • Golf Clubs
  • Gift Cards
  • Computers
  • Cell Phones
  • Flooring and Carpeting
  • Electronics
  • Winter Clothes

Before any shopping trip, it helps to do your research, especially when it comes to making larger purchases, such as digital cameras or cars. Websites, including consumerreports.org and amazon.com are great places to start. On these sites, you can read customer reviews and learn more about the product. There is nothing wrong with shopping around, whether at stores or online. Shopping around allows you to see where you can get the same product for the best price.

Along with doing your research, it’s important to plan things out. Buy a calendar or make a list of when to buy different things. This is helpful particularly for larger shopping trips. A calendar and list are great for keeping coupons in order, too. Coupons are available in the Sunday newspaper, online and through phone apps. Another option is looking at coupons.com for deals. If you are shopping online, search for the store’s name and coupon codes before making a purchase. If you are a frequent shopper at a certain shop, ask about their loyalty rewards program. Most likely they will have one and it will be beneficial to join. Many of these programs give their members special deals and coupons to use. In addition, some programs give a percent back or discount on your purchases.

Try to schedule your shopping trips around holiday and seasonal specials. Holidays, such as Presidents’ Day, Black Friday, and Memorial Day, are known for their big sales and special deals. When it comes to sales, no matter if it is a special time of the year or not, it’s helpful to read the sales advertisements and flyers carefully. The small print could contain information that would limit or prevent a deal. Lastly, the days of the week also play a factor in when products are discounted.

Sunday:

  • Groceries
  • Major Appliances

Monday:

  • Cars
  • Electronics

Tuesday:

  • Movies
  • Airline Tickets

Wednesday:

  • Groceries
  • Jewelry

Thursday:

  • Clothes
  • Handbags

Friday:

  • Gas
  • Accessories

Saturday:

  • Department Store Items
  • Jackets, Coats and Outerwear

Shopping can be fun and hectic, especially when it comes to larger shopping trips or purchasing bigger products. It is important to remember and use some of the tried and true shopping tips. These tips can help take some of the stress out of the adventure. After all, shopping is supposed to be retail therapy, right?

xoxo,

Megan

TBT: Frozen Hot Chocolate


It is throwback Thursday time with a post from 2017!

I LOVE, LOVE a good cup of hot chocolate, but sometimes I don’t want it hot. I want it….well, cold or more like frozen. Try this recipe the next time you want this chocolatey drink. Works great for summertime, too!

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp hot cocoa mix
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 4 1/2 cups ice
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, cocoa mix, and butter in the top of a double boiler. Stir until melted.
  2. Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix until mixture is smooth.
  3. Slowly add in 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine chocolate mixture with the remaining evaporated milk and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into frosty glasses and top with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate chips,  if desired.

Enjoy!

Xoxo,

Megan

On the 5th Day of Christmas…

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There is nothing better than your house smelling like Christmas during the holidays. An easy way to do that is by making this simple cranberry orange stovetop potpourri. Plus, it makes a great present for teachers, hostess gifts, and more! It takes a little more planning and assembling than other presents, but definitely worth it, and you can also make one for yourself! All you need is:

  • 1–16 oz. Mason jar with lid
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 slices of an orange
  • 23 cinnamon sticks
  • Nutmeg
  • Water
  • Burlap
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Gift tag

Then, fill the jar with the ingredients and immerse in water. Decorate the outside with the burlap, ribbon or twine, and add a gift tag with instructions on how to use. The instructions should say something like: “Pour contents into a small sauce pan and simmer over low heat. Add water as needed. Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Care for the Caregiver

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November is National Family Caregiver month. Each year, caregivers are celebrated for their contributions and efforts in assisting others. This month also raises awareness for the stress caregivers experience while putting others before themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States are caregivers, and a caregiver can be defined as anyone actively helping others. This includes family members providing for older adults. While the job is wonderful, selfless, and rewarding, many caregivers experience emotional and physical stress. They may feel overwhelmed, constantly worried and tired, have frequent headaches, gain or lose weight, deal with depression, and become easily irritated or angry. If you are a caretaker and are showing some of the symptoms below, it might be time to reenergize. Below are some tips to help manage some of the caregiver stress.

  • Focus on how you can assist and what care you are able to provide: No one can be there to help with everything all the time. The important thing to understand is that you are doing the best you can and shouldn’t feel guilty about not being the perfect caregiver.
  • Ask for and accept help: There is no shame in asking for others to assist you. Create a list of things others can do and let them decide on the task. For example, the helper could cook dinner one night, or run an errand. You never know who will lend a helping hand until you reach out.
  • Find support for yourself: Most communities have caregiver resources. Types of aid include support groups, caregiving services (transportation, meal delivery, etc.), and health professionals. Also, stay in touch with your family and friends. Your loved ones can offer emotional support without being judgmental.
  • Practice self-care: Sometimes there is nothing better than a hot bath after a long day. Set aside time each week to focus on yourself and relax. Go for a walk each night, read a book before bed, etc. It is important to create a good sleep routine, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. Don’t forget to be physically active at least three times during the week.
  • Talk to your doctor: Before starting, make sure you are up to date on vaccines and your yearly physical. Plus, this helps establish a deeper relationship with you and your physician. That way, whenever something occurs, or you need someone to talk to, your doctor is able to offer assistance.

In addition, establish a relationship between you, the care recipient and the care recipient’s physician. Most of the time, the caregiver takes the care recipient to doctors’ appointments. Because of this, the caretaker needs to be on top of medications and treatments. Creating this relationship allows for more communication and understanding of how to better provide for the care recipient. If needed, prepare questions before the appointments to make sure the caregiver understands the care recipient’s healthcare plan. Lastly, don’t be afraid to call nurses or doctors with any questions or concerns.

If you are a caregiver and feeling stressed, try some of these activities. Remember to take time for yourself and relax. After all, you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself.

xoxo,

Megan

Why T.V. is Rebooting the Classics

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They say the classics never die and that is exactly true when it comes to television shows. There’s Full House, Charmed, Will & Grace, Murphy Brown, and The Odd Couple. What do all these shows have in common? They are all TV series that have been rebooted. Within recent years, there has been a revival of classic television with the majority of the original cast members. However, there is one question that needs answering: why do we love shows so much that, after they have ended, we are excited to see them rebooted?

Recently, I saw an article titled “Before TV ‘Revivals,’ There Were Just Endless Spin-Offs.” In this piece, writer Becky Little describes that revisiting past series is a “timeless feature of television.” Back in the last few decades, spin-offs became big. This concept allows for the networks to still make money on popular shows, but with a new twist and elements of the existing show. For example, from All in the Family came The Jeffersons, Maude, and Good Times. However, throughout history, there have been good and bad spin-offs. When a previous show is reimagined, fans are able to connect once again with their favorite characters and elements of their beloved shows. Today, a reboot is an updated version of a spin-off.

Just like spin-offs, reboots bring back a sense of nostalgia and comfort to viewers. In today’s world, throwbacks (bringing back the past) is a popular trend, so why not create throwback TV shows? In his article, Why Network TV’s Obsession with Reboots Isn’t a Bad Thing,” Josef Adalian describes three reasons why reboots work on major networks. Think about it: most reboots have come back on their original home network, such as NBC and ABC.

First, Adalian states that the goal of network TV is all about establishing relationships between a show and its audience. After all, a show is considered a success if it has high ratings, right? A reboot allows shows to pick up where it ended. Let’s take Fuller House. This reboot of the original show Full House is set in today’s time but follows the lives of now grown-up daughters D.J., Stephanie, and their friend Kimmy, as well as their children. If you loved watching the Tanners in the 1980s, you will probably enjoy seeing what happened to them and how their lives worked out in the 2010s. It is like you are reconnecting with old friends and catching up. According to Adalian, “Returning to the shows that made us comfortable in an earlier time is either an intended or unintended consequence of all these reboots.” Let’s face it – being comfortable is a favored feeling by most people.

In addition, reboots don’t prevent other shows from being produced. While there are multiple reboots coming back to network TV, there are also multiple new series and original ideas. No matter how many revisited shows there are, pilot shows will never stop being produced, because most people like a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. I’ll admit it – regardless of how much I like a show, sometimes I want to see something unique and a new storyline. With this point, Adalian is telling viewers that the future for reboots isn’t a network takeover. If you aren’t a fan of watching an updated version of a past show, don’t worry. There will always be a handful of new shows to catch your interest.

Lastly, Adalian’s third and final reason: old TV shows aren’t sacred texts and reinterpreting them isn’t sacrilege. Sometimes it can be hard seeing a treasured show taking an opposite approach when being rebooted. However, keep an open mind, because you never know whether or not you’ll like a revival until you see it. Sometimes it is only the concept that is rebooted, or it might be the characters and a completely different storyline. Whatever it may be, know there will be changes, but always give it a try before you judge.

TV reboots are the latest trend, and the list of shows being revisited keeps growing. At this time next year, who knows how many revivals will be around. As for now, let’s just enjoy the TV blast from the past.

xoxo,

Megan

Finding a Job at Any Age

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It’s a common task that almost everyone has to conquer at some point in their life: the task of finding a job. The reality of hunting for a job, going through numerous searches, and updating your resume and cover letters can be daunting. Then, add in your experience level, and unfortunately, your age, and things might get tricky. Some like to say that finding a job is a full-time job in itself. If you are in the market for a new job, here are some tips to help ease your stress and make your search a little easier, no matter your age.

In Your Twenties: 

You are fresh out of school and ready to take on the world with a new career. But you might come across a few problems, such as your age and experience level. To overcome this, start with polishing up your resume. You may not have much job experience at this stage in your life. To help fill your resume, list any jobs, internships, volunteer positions, honors, skills, and coursework. Be sure to tailor your resume to each position you are applying for and make it relevant to what qualifications the job requires. That way you are highlighting what you could bring to the job. Also, always proofread and correct any typos. Employers usually discard any resumes or cover letters with grammar and spelling mistakes. Lastly, continue learning new skills. The more abilities you have, the more hirable you’ll become. Part of finding a job is getting your foot in the door and networking, especially for the job searchers in their twenties. Bring your resume to various career and networking events held by your college or university, or in your community. Starting to build those professional relationships at the beginning of your hunt will help you secure a position when the time is right.

In Your Thirties and Forties: 

At this point in a person’s life, there are many reasons why someone would be looking for a new job. The first step in your job search in your thirties and forties is determining your strengths and in what career they would be beneficial. Think about what interests you, and what type of career would make you happy. Then, find professionals in that field and network. If you can, complete an internship or “job shadow” a leader in that position to get exposure to the company and job. Another option is to volunteer with a nonprofit in that career field. This opportunity allows you to network with employers, and vice versa, so they will get to know you, which can be helpful when a position in that organization or field opens up. An advantage of exploring a career field while applying for jobs gives you a chance to see if you need to further your education or get qualified for a certain occupation. There are many options available for continuing your studies while working, such as online classes offered through colleges and universities. One downfall to this part of the job search is the time an internship, networking, and job shadowing takes. Be sure to attend different events in your community where you’ll have the chance to network. Also, think about your family and friends. Do they have a professional connection that would help you? It never hurts to ask.

In Your Fifties and Sixties: 

It is a harsh reality that finding a job later in life can be tough and age discrimination does occur in the job search. Some employers view people in their fifties and sixties as being too expensive or not wanting to work or stay for long in an entry-level position. However, this is not true. People in this life stage can offer professionalism and usually have a strong work ethic earned through their maturity. A person 50 or older will automatically have more experience and knowledge, perhaps in a variety of fields. During a job search, this is a quality to highlight on your resume and in your cover letters. Emphasize your accomplishments and where you have been a leader in various occupations. However, you do need to explain in your cover letter any gaps in employment, or why you are applying for a job for which it may seem you are overqualified. Leave off years from your education and shorten your resume to focus on jobs held within the last ten years. Along with your abilities already acquired, show off your skills and interests in current news and events, and how to navigate technology. Try to stop thinking about your age as a burden in the job search, but instead, as an advantage you can bring to the job.

No matter what your age is, all of these tips can be useful in a job search. Be confident in your abilities, skills, and experience, and before you know it, you’ll find the perfect profession for you.

xoxo,

Megan