Family Movie Night With Netflix

Family Movie Night

One of my goals for this year is to have one night that is set aside for family time. Honestly, I think we have done a pretty good job of protecting our evenings together. We are definitely busy, but we still have a lot of family time together. But I know that will continue to become challenging as the kids get older and busier. So wouldn’t it be awesome to have one night that is sacred. One night that nothing is allowed to interfere with. One night that is just for our family.

I hereby declare Sunday night to be Family Night. And one of the best ways to celebrate Family Night (maybe with a board game night thrown in here and there). My kids are forever begging to have family movie nights, but they are always begging at 7 o’clock at night right when we are winding down for bed. So spontaneous movie nights are few and far between. But with planned movie nights we can do:

  • Snuggling up in sleeping bags on the floor
  • Getting to eat dinner on TV trays in front of the TV (a definite treat, eating in front of the TV is a giant no-no in our house)
  • Giant bowls of popcorn made on the stove and dripping with butter
  • A chance to watch movies old and new that the whole family will love

I am so thankful that we are Netflix members so there is no running the video store (is that still a thing?) or paying crazy high prices to see over-rated movies. With Netflix, we can watch so many of my childhood favorites as well as tons of movies with the current characters my kids enjoy.

Here are some ideas to get you started with Netflix movies your family will love:

Little Kids

For your little kids:

1. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (a serious family favorite)
2. The Pirate Fairy
3. Hoodwinked
4. Angelina Ballerina
5. Bob the Builder
6. The Muppet Movie (RAINBOW CONNECTION!!!)

Big Kids

For your bigger kids:

1. Strange Hill High
2. The Avengers (Silas is still too young, but he LOVES super heros)
3. The Smurfs 2
4. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
5. Free Birds (this looks soooo funny)
6. Mako Mermaids: An H2O Adventure (mermaids and dolphins? Hannah would FLIP)

Teens and Adults

For your teens (or date night for you and the hubby after the kids are in bed):

  1. Clueless (one of my all time faves)
  2. The Breakfast Club (legitimately my all time fave)
  3. Friday Night Lights (I cannot say enough about this show- OBSESSED)
  4. The Vampire Diaries
  5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (seriously love)
  6. 13 Going on 30 (watch for the Thriller dance off if nothing else)

Do you have a family night that you keep sacred?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix Stream Team Ambassador. I received a free year subscription to Netflix and a Roku. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.


First Day of School the Pinterest Way

Back to School Collage

We still have a week until we head back to school but I know many of you are back already. I have rounded up some of my favorite first day of school gems from Pinterest that are filled with great ideas to make that first day extra special. As for us, we will be taking adorable back to school pictures with these adorable grade signs and having an ice cream social at school.

1. Back to School Checklist: 


Start with this great back to school checklist from Yellow Bliss Road. It starts about 2 months out which won’t work for most of us, but it is never too late to start checking things off the list. We have haircuts and dentist appointments scheduled this week so I can check a few more things off the list.

2. Best Back to School Apps: 

best back to school apps

My friend Candi over at MommyPalooza has rounded up a great list of back to school apps. I am thrilled our middle school has an app that allows me to see Lily’s grades, schedule and assignments (she doesn’t have a smart phone so she can look at it on mine)  all in one place. But if your school doesn’t have such an app, you can find a lot of great ones here.

3. Avoid Clothing Battles With This TipOne of my own tips that desperately needs a new picture since this one got lost in the re-brand. This method has saved me TONS of headaches over the years with my girls. Silas still doesn’t care (thank heavens), but  I am keeping this tip in my back pocket for when that time comes.

4. Back to School Fairy: 

back to school fairy

Tip Junkie has a great round-up of back to school ideas, but my favorite is this visit from the “Back to School Fairy”. You could give your kids any gift you want, but the idea of a diary is so fun. If you did this every year you could do quite the trip down memory lane when your child graduates (sniff, sniff).

5. Back to School Breakfast: 

funfetti panckes

These funfetti pancakes from The Kitchen Magpie are so fun. Breakfast on the first day should  be a party in itself right?

6. Pack a non-boring lunch: 

Lunchbox rut

Did you catch my post about how to make sure your child’s lunch isn’t boring? I have some great (and super yummy) ideas to help you get out of the same old, same old lunches every day.

7. Teacher’s First Aid Kit:

teacher first aid kit

This is an adorable gift to bless your child’s new teacher with some back to school supplies and a few treats. Bee In Our Bonnet has provided all the instructions and printables to put together this simple gift.
8. Invite Your Mommy Friends Over for Coffee: 

back to school coffeeAfter drop off, whether you feel like celebrating or need a shoulder to cry on, gather with your friends and have some coffee. How adorable are these “invitations” from Jacolyn Murphy . I bet you could find some affordable ones at the dollar store.

And then before you know it, the first day of school is over and you are on to the next. Happy first day of school!!

Kids, Eyes and Digital Strain

Eyes Digital Strain

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for the American Optometric Association. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

My poor children. When it comes to their gene pool they are destined to swim through it with four eyes. Both their mama and their dada have some bad eyes. Thankfully mine was corrected long ago with some Lasik, but without that I couldn’t see a thing. And even before I had poor distance vision I battled somewhat of a lazy eye. So.

It did not surprise us in the least when in 3rd grade Lily started to complain about not seeing the board, but honestly I kind of blew her off for awhile not realizing how bad it was. Now by the end of each school year she is starting to complain again despite new glasses the year before. As she grows her eyes are still changing a lot and her vision drastically changes year to year. Her eyes are now worse than Ryan’s.

Hannah recently started to say her eyes were straining to see and sure enough, at her back to school physical yesterday the doctor measured her vision at 20/40. Off to the eye doctor she goes (and while I was at it, I scheduled all the kids for cleanings at the dentist too).

Recently I read how much our children’s time on electronics is affecting their vision. The American Optometric Association did a survey on digital eye strain with kids and this is what they learned:

  • 83% of kids between 10 and 17 estimate that they are on electronic devices for three or more hours a day.
  • Only 40% of parents believe their children use electronic devices for three of more hours a day. Most parents drastically underestimate their kid’s digital usage.
  • 80% of kids report burning, itchy or tired eyes after their electronic device use (suddenly my eyes are burning, itchy and tired…..)

eye strain

These symptoms, along with headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision and head/ neck pain, are classic symptoms of digital eye strain. It is also believed that our children’s constant exposure to computers, tablets and phones is contributing to increased myopia (I’m blaming genetics to ease my mommy guilt).

We need to teach our kids to give their eyes a break!

digital eye strain

A few other easy tips to remember:

  • Checking the height and position of the device. Computer screens should be four to five inches below eye level and 20 to 28 inches away from the eyes. Digital devices should be held a safe distance away from eyes and slightly below eye level.
  • Checking for glare on the screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of a computer monitor. If this happens, turn the desk or computer to prevent glare on the screen. Also consider adjusting the brightness of the screen on your digital device or changing its background color.
  • Reducing the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. A lower-wattage light can be substituted for a bright overhead light or a dimmer switch may be installed to give flexible control of room lighting.
  • Adjusting font size. Increase the size of text on the screen of the device to make it easier on your eyes when reading.
  • Keep blinking. Frequent blinking reduces the chances for developing dry eye by keeping the front surface of the eye moist.

These are clearly good tips for kids or adults.

I also recently learned that the American Optometric Association recommends that kids start having yearly eye exams starting at age three. I have totally dropped the ball here. Don’t fret, children now have the benefit of yearly comprehensive eye exams thanks to the Pediatric Essential Health Benefit in the Affordable Care Act,through age 18.

Eye health is so important as it has been shown time and time again how vision impacts learning in the classroom. Glasses are now a part of our every day life and I have to admit, although they took some getting used to, now I can’t imagine Lily without glasses on her face. Just like all issues with my kid’s health, it is something I have to keep on top of and back to school seems like a perfect time to get everything in order for the upcoming year.

Have you scheduled your kid’s for an eye appointment lately?

For more info check out the American Optometric Association on Facebook and Twitter.

14 Ideas for Back to School Lunches That Are Anything But Boring

Check out Get Out of Your Lunchbox Rut

by Jill Shepherd Anderson at Foodie.com

I wonder how many times between now and the end of August I will start a post with “Can you believe it is back to school time?” Yet it is. And although some days I want summer to slow down and take its time already, other days (like today -WORD), I am ready for my kids to back at school STAT!

One of things I do NOT miss about school is packing lunches. I realize many of you probably have responsible children who pack their own lunches, but if I want my kids to have any sort of healthy anything ever, I need to be slightly in charge of the process. Unless carbs with a side of carbs followed by a sugar chaser is a healthy lunch.

I love this round-up of healthy and fun lunch ideas for when the back to school routine starts up again. Lunches that keep me from getting bored when packing them and lunches that keep my kids from getting bored eating them. Everyone is winning!!

What do you like to pack for lunches to get out of the lunchbox rut?

This post is sponsored by Foodie.com

Live Smarter

I have a Pinterest board titled “Just Great Ideas, Period” where I pin things that are awesome but I am not quite sure where they belong. It is full of amazing tips and tricks that make your life easier. It is one of my favorite boards.

Recently I stumbled upon an e-book that is basically that Pinterest board in book form. Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters is full of “just great ideas, period”.  And the best thing about it is that it gives you tons of uses for things you have around the house that you probably had no idea about.

For instance, have you ever thought of making a deep dish pizza with a springform pan? Speaking of pizza, have you ever used a pizza stone to make a giant cookie? Did you know you could use hydrogen peroxide to make “oxiclean” (and save yourself a bundle? And if you want to be “fun mom” this summer (I have a board for that too), did you know you can use baking soda to make invisible ink?

Creative Ways to Use Just About Everything

Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters was such a fun read and I found myself saying “NO WAY!!” over and over while flipping through it. I kind of want to try something daily because there are so many things I never thought of before. Tara, the author, describes her book like this:

Are you tired of wasting your money on the latest kitchen tools and cleaning products? The things you already own can go the extra mile for you if you let them, saving you all those steps and keeping your money where it belongs – in your wallet. In Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters: Creative Ways to Use Just About Everything, you will find lists of 10 or more new uses for 44 everyday household items. Including everything from using your bundt pan to bake potatoes to making mini meat loafs in your muffin tin to using salt to clean coffee-stained mugs, this book is the answer to questions you didn’t even know you had!

Who doesn’t love saving money, time and sanity?

Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters just came out today!! And this week, you can get it for a steal. You can but it on Amazon for only $4.99 through the 17th (then it will sell for $6.99). If you want it as a PDF (which is how I do my e-books), this Mon and Tues, it will only be $2.99!! Wed- Fri, it will be $4.99 and after that it will be priced at $6.99

Also (said in my best infomercial voice), everyone who buys between 7/14 and 7/20 will get a set of bonuses:

  • 10 pages of printables (a cleaning checklist, a list of recyclable items, and an alphabetic index of all the recipes in the book)
  • Access to a 10-day Getting Started challenge during which they can win a $50 Amazon gift card

I don’t buy e-books that often because honestly I just rarely get around to reading/ using them. But I can honestly say that Coffee Filters to Cheese Graters will be a book I go back to again and again. For $2.99, you would be crazy not to check it out!!