“It’s Almost Halloween!!

As my kids keep reminding me, “It’s Almost Halloween!”  The six weeks leading up to Halloween always feel like an eternity, as the kids can’t wait to done their costumes and collect their candy.

Luckily for them, I love Halloween, too, and have worked to put together some tips and tricks for making it a great day.  Here are some Halloween-themed guides that I put together for Ebay:

Tips and Tricks for a Great Halloween

Trick-or-Treat Tips to Support Children with Food Allergies

Tips and Tricks for a Great Halloween

Filed Under: Real Life with Lindsay

Back to School with Office Depot

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Office Depot. All opinions are 100% mine.

Ready or not, the new school year is right around the corner!  My kids have just a few more weeks before they start 4th grade (Zack) and Kindergarten (Emma).  Ack!  And Woot!

That means that it’s time to for back to school shopping.  Luckily, my kids’ school offers a “school supply box,” where you prepay to have all of their required school supplies delivered directly to the classroom.  But, that box only covers the school district’s requirements.  I still have to gather the other necessities that the kids need for school, like backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, and supplies to have on hand for homework.

This year, I turned to Office Depot for our back to school shopping.  It’s one of my favorite stores ever.  I mean, what kid’s favorite store is Office Depot?  Yep, it was mine…and the love affair has continued well into adulthood.

Instead of the craziness of a big box store, we headed to Office Depot one afternoon so that the kids could pick out some back to school items – a few things they wanted and a few things I knew they needed.

Their first stop was the puzzle erasers, which is a big favorite in our house.  They both selected a package of macaron erasers and pizza erasers.  Zack also grabbed a package of shark pencil grips, so of course, Emma had to have some, too.  Luckily, all of those items were only $1 each, so I felt like I could say “yes!” to all of their wants.

Next, we headed to the lunch aisle, because I needed them to pick out lunch containers to put into their lunch boxes.  They went with the Sistema Lunch to Go, because it has a place for a sandwich and then divided containers for fruits and vegetables.  I made them pick the same color, so that it would make my mornings much easier.  I’ve been known to accidentally pack Zack’s lunch in Emma’s pink lunch bag.  Oops!

Speaking of easy mornings, I couldn’t leave Office Depot without a box of my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla K-Cups.  Let’s be honest, back to school after a lazy summer means Mama will need A LOT of coffee!

Filed Under: Giveaways & Product Reviews, Real Life with Lindsay

Taking On the World though Destination Imagination {Part II}

If you missed Part 1 of this series, please read it here.

When we last left our team of creative kids and their fearless (and tired) leaders, they had just won 1st place in the Capital Region Destination Imagination tournament and advanced to the Texas state competition.  We had been so ready for DI to be over for the year, but that win completely excited the kids (and us) into getting ready for the state competition.

Destination Imagination - why I think you and your child should get involved

The kids had a little over a month to prepare for State.  We immediately knew that we would go in as one of the top teams to beat.  The Capital region is the largest region in the state, so we essentially had to beat the most other teams to qualify.  The kids knew that they were now “kinda a big deal,” so they starting talking about going to Globals (the competition after state), They just knew they were going to go.  As managers, we kept encouraging them to produce “Globals ready” work for the State competition, but it was more a ploy on our part to teach them that they can do really hard things if they are persistent.  They upgraded their costumes, props and backdrop and made a new structure to take to competition.

We are really lucky to live in a school district that is supportive of DI.  The district paid for our entry fee into the tournament, hotel accommodations for the kids and even gave them a stipend for food while we were gone.  We rented a U-haul trailer (their backdrop was huge) and made our way to the state tournament in Dallas.

The State tournament was a completely different experience for us than our experience at Regionals. NOTHING seemed to go our way.  The tournament site was pretty hectic and disorganized.  The team performing before us had some kind of rules violation and ran like 30 minutes long, so our kids were standing in the sun in their costumes getting more and more anxious about what was going on.  We saw other team managers repairing their team’s props and helping put on costumes (which is a HUGE no-no in DI).  When we were trying to check-in, another team manager brought his team up behind us and they were singing and clapping so that our kids couldn’t hear instructions (I mean, c’mon).  So many other teams were in the audience of our performance room that there wasn’t room for Tom and I to even sit down.

And then there was the performance itself.

Our team did just okay.  Their performance was fine, but some little things went wrong.  A sign was upside down.  Zack’s hat was itching him, so he kept taking it off and throwing it on the floor.  Our structure creaked and cracked like it was going to come crashing down.  And our prop that was supposed to transform (I talked about that in Part I) just flat out didn’t work.

We came out of it feeling pretty bummed.  The kids had worked so hard, but at this level, little mistakes are costly.  They did very well in the Instant Challenge part of the competition, but we didn’t think they had done well enough to make up for the mistakes.

At the awards ceremony, we told them that we hoped they received a medal, but that we just didn’t think it was in the cards.  We told them that win or lose, we were so proud at how much they had learned and accomplished.  We told them that we couldn’t have asked any more from them and they gave it our all.  We told them that they were bright and funny and we knew that they would accomplish big things.  And we took one last team photo for the year.

Destination Imagination - why I think you and your child should get involved

Filed Under: Real Life with Lindsay

Taking On the World though Destination Imagination {Part I}

Y’all.  I feel like I have been away from the blog for so long.  As I’m sure you’ve noticed, my posts and projects have been sporadic over the last few months.  Tomorrow, I’m jumping right back in with plenty of DIY and home decor goodness to make up for it!  But until then, I am dying to update you on what’s been going on in our world.

For the past three years, Tom and I have managed a team (and sometimes more than one team) of elementary school students in a program called Destination Imagination, or DI for short.  DI is a program that teaches kids how to use collaborative problem solving and creative thinking skills to address open-ended challenges.  The teams present their solutions in tournaments around the world.  Kids from Kindergarten through University can participate, and I participated myself when I was in high school. But now as team managers, Tom and I can’t offer suggestions or help to the kids, so the solutions that they showcase are completely theirs and theirs alone.  Sometimes, their solutions excite us, and other times, they make us absolutely crazy.

Destination Imagination - why I think you and your child should get involved

The first two years, our teams struggled in finding the sweet spot in collaboration.  There were arguments and struggles, and they never really placed higher than middle of the pack in our Regional tournament.  These were super creative kids, but they just couldn’t figure out a way to work together without turmoil.  Tom and I were disappointed, because we knew that they had it in them, and we hoped that they would at least be able to look back on DI later in life and remember some of the problem solving skills that we worked on.  Tom always said that if he helped instill that in just one kid, all of the time and resources we put into the teams would be well worth it.  He’s definitely right about that.

This year, we decided that we’d give it one more try.  I don’t know if it was fate or what, but we ended up with a smaller team than usual (5 instead of 7), with only 3 of the team members having participated in DI before.  But after our first few meetings, we knew that this team was going to be different.

Filed Under: Real Life with Lindsay

Spray Paint to Cover Your Grays – No, Really!

I am in no way a fashion, beauty, make-up or hair blogger.  In fact, I really know next to nothing about any of those things, so the fact that I’m writing this little post is pretty hilarious if you know me.  I was going to post this last week, but I was afraid everyone would think it was an April Fools Day joke!

But, I have a new hair product that I just can’t live without, so I wanted to let you know about it, too.  I’m a helper, y’all.

When I was pregnant with Zack (who is now 9), I started getting gray hair.  My gray hair isn’t the type where you have a few strands here and there.  Oh, no!  I have patches of gray on my temples and around my ears.

Sure, everyone (or almost everyone) has some grays, but mine are incredibly stubborn!  It takes about 10 days of me having my hair professionally colored for them to start showing again.  I have learned that if I keep my hair blonde instead of brunette, the grays aren’t quite as obvious, but they still show.

Here’s a shot of me about 2 weeks after a visit to the salon.
Watercolors Root Concealer - spray paint for your gray hair!

Filed Under: Real Life with Lindsay

How to Live with a 3rd Grade Hoarder

Over the past few years, my nearly 9 year old son has earned a new nickname:  Magpie.  Since he was small, Zack would pick up anything shiny he found on the ground.  I would find all sorts of trinkets in the dryer after I did laundry each week.

Recently, I took him to the skating rink and my toe stop fell off of my skate while I was working on some roller derby foot work.  I couldn’t find the lock washer that helped hold it in place once it flew off, so I thought I’d need to pick up another one at Home Depot.  Lo and behold, I found it in the dryer a few days later.  My Magpie had saved the day, although he had no idea that he had picked up something that I was looking for.

While Zack’s shiny object obsession occasionally benefits me, it really causes more problems with clutter than it actually helps.  And as he got older, he began including scraps of paper in his collections, too.  Anything on which he had colored or written – Post-It Notes, children’s menus from restaurants, bits of construction paper left over from other projects – was piled up on his dresser or shoved in his drawers.  Whenever I suggested that he didn’t have to keep every single piece of paper that crossed his path, he got really upset.  I don’t believe that Zack is an actual hoarder per the medical definition – I don’t want you to think that I do or that I’m belittling the disorder.  I do, however, think his collecting habit is just turned up higher than most other kids his age and he has a deeper sentimental attachment to things than he should.

About a year ago, I just couldn’t live with his room like this any longer, so we made a compromise.  I bought him a plastic storage tote and told him that he could keep whatever special things he wanted to keep in it, as long as he could close the lid.  We went through every drawer, his closet, and under the bed, and he chose what things were important enough for him to put in the box.  Everything else, he chose to throw away on his own.

How to Live with a 3rd Grade Hoarder - tips to keep kids' collections organized

He’s a cute little Magpie, though.

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Real Life with Lindsay