Teacher Appreciation Week Printable!

Hey Everyone!

I had my very first teacher appreciation week surprise me by a Monday school-wide informative e-mail. I'm a planner, so I was definitely caught off guard! I quickly brainstormed different options on what I could pull together in a pinch, and created a super cute tag to throw on a Bath and Body Works hand soap!

In case any of you are in a similar pinch, I'm here to save the day!

Just download the printable tag, print it to a 3x5 index card, cut, and attach to your desired hand soap, sanitizer, or what ever you like. :)

4 Steps to Get Involved in your Community

One of the best parts of living in a small town has got to be the ease to get involved in everything. I'm a service-driven kind of gal, it's totally my love language. Getting involved and helping our community is so important to me as a hobby, but also as a mom trying to raise my babies into the young men I hope that they become!

While it may be more difficult to get involved in a larger community, I've learned great tips and tricks on how to get your hands into everything:

1. Research Online: Step one is definitely checking Google for programs that already exist in your community. Our own community has a website with volunteer information already provided for the nursing home, the county park, the park and rec board, the school, the church, and even community garden and farmers markets. Finding these websites and doing the research to track down the right person to get in touch with narrows down your time wandering around and asking everyone how to get involved!

2. Reach Out: After you locate the contact person and information, you need to reach out to them. Be it e-mail or a phone call, if they had resources online, they usually have a system in place for getting new volunteers up and running! If they didn't have an online resource, reaching out the organization directly would be your next logical step. The person you would want to contact would be an outreach coordinator or the actual head or director to point you in the right direction. If you are hoping to help a small organization who doesn't have many resources, it's fairly safe to assume that they'd welcome your help, even in a less-formal way.

3. Make Your Abilities Known: Regardless of any fillable form or what you think an organization might need help with, listing all of your abilities will benefit BOTH of you! For example, I recently reached out to our local county park in hopes of showing my toddlers the value of giving back to a place that we love to visit and enjoy. I contacted them with the intention of helping pull weeds with the boys or doing some planting. Once I revealed all of my abilities with them, it was clear that I would be an asset on the technical side of things instead of physically getting out there once or twice (which I still hope to do). In the end, this organization that my family thoroughly enjoys was in deep need of anyone who understood website, social media, and graphic design, and I was able to fill that void for them! (check out their new Instagram here!)

4. Make Your Own Opportunities: In some cases, there may not be an actual organization or program for you to work with. But, don't let that stop you! If you have an idea or a way to help your community, I encourage you to think creatively to make it happen! My husband is big on fireworks for the 4th of July, and we live in the center of town. On one of our first 4th's in our home, my husband and friend put on some private fireworks in the corn field behind our house. By the end of the display, we had neighbors in lawn chairs watching with us! This got my husband thinking, and after contacting multiple different local organizations, boards, and the town hall, he managed to start our town's legitimate fireworks show hosted at the park. The show has now grown to involve the town's bar hosting a beer tent, live music, and all collaborated with the existing 4th of July day events of a parade, chicken dinner, and silent auction. It's so cool to know that because he was passionate about something, it's now an actual event in our town that draws in a crowd!

There are my 4 tips for getting started in your community. I hope it inspired you to follow your passion and bring it to your neighbors! Do you have a cool story to share about a way you've enriched your community? Please share!

DIY Fine Motor Latch Board for Toddlers

My youngest toddler is the epitome of "give a kid a toy and they play with the box".

Like, seriously.  He has hardly any actual toys that he continually enjoys playing with. His favorite "toys" are remotes, phones, light switches, door knobs, car keys, and his sound machine. So we tried all of the "toy" options of these things: the fisher price toy remote, the Battat actual metal keys (they're pretty cool though), and still, this guy just knows the difference.

My patience is lacking these days... is that a pregnancy symptom? ;) And I was being driven crazy by this toddling fella who wouldn't play with anything and chose to follow me around instead. I saw a few options to purchase a board with all of his favorite things on them, but the price deterred me. A neighbor recommended I check out Home Depot and make my own. Low and behold, it was much easier than I imagined. Full disclaimer: I had my husband drill them onto the board for me.

Want to make your own?

 It's simple! At any local hardware store, you can find toddler fidget-gadget heaven. I found a "medium density fiber board" to use as the backing, and it feels like a very thick and heavy cardboard. I chose it because it's lighter, smoother, and less expensive than wood. This board was precut to a 24"x24" square and was located by the pegboard and chalkboard at our Home Depot.

Once I had the board picked out, I went into the door hardware aisle, the plumbing aisle, and the electrical aisle. I chose whichever gadgets I thought would keep my toddler the busiest. There are so many options to customize it to your child's interests, too!

Total cost was right around $40.

Do you have a kid who prefers ordinary objects over toys?

Why I Make Cards

“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.” Emily Dickinson

I've been sitting on this post for a long, long time. I knew that I needed to think and ponder the exact words to express my feelings on my chosen hobby, here, because I do have a few strong reasons behind my cause.

Most obvious, I enjoy making things. I like to be creative and create art. I've always been interested in drawing, crafting, calligraphy, and journaling (I avoided painting, it's messy). After a big conflict or life event, I often need space to think and process. Usually journaling or writing a letter is the way that I figure out exactly how I feel. On special days like holidays and birthdays, I usually can create a full letter of sentiments and conversation that I've previously kept hidden, making that card a little something of a gift in itself. I'm a private person, but letters and cards were an open and permanent invitation into my specific thoughts. For this reason, I never put a pre-written sentiment inside of the cards I make. I want them filled by the sender with their own thoughts and feelings. That's what matters.

Speaking of the permanence I feel with cards and the expressed written word, I save cards. Again, because of the importance that can be written inside of them. Even if a person's feelings change, life changes, circumstances change, that moment always existed. Those feelings always existed. And you have proof in your own hand. What a powerful idea.

Even more powerful is the gratitude I feel for the people who choose my cards! Selecting the delivery-device for your personal thoughts and feelings is a selective process, and it's humbling to think that any card I've made can be that for someone else. Cards and letters are something that cannot be replaced with time and technology. Nothing can replace the written word.

On the same note, I've found a value in scrapbooking for the same reason. A personally decorated page for a certain event or time, including a written memo and photos- no baby book or photo album can compare to the weight of love within a scrapbook. Along with the meaning is the possibility for creativity. It's an emotional and creative outlet to sit down and create these designs and layouts with meaningful moments from your own life. A scrapbook can be kept forever as a treasure with each page holding a dear memory and feeling, the same as a card, or a note, or a journal.

Do you have a hobby or creative outlet?

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