Family Movie Night With Addams Family

When I divorced my ex husband, I decide to start Friday night family movie and pizza night. Every Friday we do a movie and pizza, no matter what. It was so important for me to give them something to count on when he was not there (and ironically, is not again…eye roll).

Every week we pick a movie to watch and even re watch some of the movies. One of our recent favorites is the new The Addams Family movie! If you are a fan of the original, you can’t miss this animated version! With a family of 7, it can be difficult to find something EVERYONE agrees on and this particular one has been a hit with all of the kids and even such a nostalgic favorite for Payton and me.

One of my favorite parts of The Addams Family movie was how it demonstrated that being unique is okay. With a family full of different personalities, it can be such an important reminders for home life and school life. Not only that, I loved how it should that every family dynamic can be different, but effective which can be so important this day and age. It is a great reminder to not compare ourselves and our lives to those of other people.

The story line really followed the original! It was exciting for me to watch and re-live, as an adult, with my children! Sharing memories from my past in a new and exciting way for them to be entertained is so important to me!

If you haven’t seen The Addams Family from Universal Entertainment, you are missing out! It is super easy to find on Blu Ray or DVD at your local Walmart on shelves or Walmart Online!

-Laura

Hands On Family Fun With Allessimo Puzzles

*This post is sponsored by Allessimo Puzzles. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Anyone else not a fan of electronics for kids? If I am in a room with someone asking this questions, my hand is FLYING in the air. When, and if, Keegan gets any screen time, he completely zones in on it and life turns into a literal nightmare (Yay, autism!). We decided that it really shows how none of them should have screen time and VERY limited television time. So, now what do we do with our free time? Lots of reading, outdoor play, board games and hands on activities. Which makes  Allessimo Puzzles a HUGE hit in our house.

Have you heard of Allessimo Puzzles before? If not let me give you a quick run down on their puzzles. Allessimo Puzzles are 3D puzzles that your children (or you) get to build and paint all on their own! All parts are included in each box, along with the directions, paint and paintbrush. There are tons of different buildable objects so everyone is able to pick something different! These puzzles are a perfect STEM activity for our home!

So how exactly do they work?

First thing, they are approved for ages 5 and up. Keegan is 5 and did require help building his puzzles. He was able to paint them completely on his own. Building them was very easy and a great way for me to get him to follow the directions and see the outcome of following directions. This can be a huge struggle for us with Keegan. With Autism, comes him wanting to do things his way or no way. Allessimo Puzzles is helping him realize that he does have to bend on this a bit.

So how are the pieces packaged?

There are typically 2 wooden boards in your box. The wooden boards contain cut out pieces that become your object when all put together. Our first one to do, was Keegan’s favorite, a dinosaur! It was easy to follow the steps to connect all of the pieces and that brought our dinosaur to life! Allessimo Puzzles very obviously took their time creating these puzzles, making sure each one has pieces that perfectly fit together and end in an exciting masterpiece for the kids.

As if building your own 3D puzzles isn’t exciting enough, it is paintable as well! I set up a white table cloth (I typically keep several of these on hand for projects), opened the paint, grabbed an old cloth and a cup of water and set the table up for Keegan to paint his Allessimo Puzzle. He LOVED it. It was funny to watch because he talked to himself as he painted, I thought it was the cutest act ever.

Once Keegan perfected his dinosaur, we set it up in his room for him to have on display for all of his visitors. His best friend, who doubles as our neighbor, came over and loved Keegan’s creations. Keegan was so proud, he decided to give it to his best friend!! How ADORABLE is that?

RUNNN and get these! Even if you do allow screen time, they are perfect for any family and hands on activities that help with moto skills, patience and following directions, is a win for any family!!

Make sure you tag me on Instagram is your family creates their own Allessimo 3D Puzzles!!

-Laura

Toy Gifts 2019

*Some of these toys were gifted to me, all thoughts and opinions are my own*
With Christmas around the corner, checking off Christmas lists can be a bit frantic. Every year, I struggle with toy ideas for my kids so I decided to put together a some of my favorite toys. Hope you enjoy! (These are in no particular order)
  •  Hape Wooden Toys – Sold in multiple stores, they are easy to find and have tons of wonderful options. Their toys are easily filtered by age range which makes it really easy to find toys suitable for the desired age group. They have large and small toys which covers gift giving of any size. 
  •  Toy Box Monthly – Why not keep the gifts coming all year? Toy Box Monthly is an amazing toy subscription box. They are delivered monthly and geared for children between 4 and 8. You can pick boys, girls or mixed boxes and the price is only $23 per month with FREE shipping!

  •  Owl Crate – Another wonderful subscription box option, but this one gives the gift of reading. Reading is such an important part of our family dynamic so this one is really exciting for me! We were sent the September “Legends of the Deep” themed box and LOVE it. I am including a photo that shows the contents – 2 books, tea bags, a cute fish tea steeper, and a few other fun goodies. Each box contains 4-6 goodies and is geared towards kids 8-12 years old of any gender. The subscription is $27.99 monthly (with discounts for 3, 6 and 12 month prepayments) and shipped world wide (with the exception of Peru, Mexico and Iran). 

  •  WowWee – Baby Sharked out yet? Me too, but my kids sure aren’t. WowWee has ALL of the Baby Shark options your family could ever want! They even have shark stuffed animals that sing the Baby Shark song to you!
  •  Just Play Products – If you don’t know what Ryan’s World or PJ Masks is, are you even a parent. Just Kidding! Or am I? My kids are OBSESSED with them and Just Play Products has them both plus so many other options including Mickey Mouse. On top of that? They are in every Walmart and Target I have ever set foot in!

  •  Octopus Watch by Joy – A smart watch for kids that helps and is cost friendly! It is a win win. It not only helps with time managements and responsibility, the Octopus watch also has a fitness tracker. Check out their website for purchase options and be shocked at how friendly the cost is!
  •  Basic Fun – So many amazingly fun options from them! Cutetitos (stuffed animal burritos), mini PacMan arcade style games and Frozen II snow globes are just a few of our favorite options from them! And yes, I said PacMan, so feel free to check out the other mini arcade games for yourself!

  •  My B Toys – Honestly, you probably already own several of these! I know we did before I even discovered the toy company. These quircky, fun toys are made in 100% recycled packaging which is one of my favorite aspects of these toys. Anything that helps our world a bit makes me feel so much better!
I could put a million more options, but I think these are definitely more than enough! Hope this helps y’all out!!
– Laura

Flying with a baby

Flying is difficult in general, adding a baby into the mix is extra stress!

I recently traveled alone with Rhett on a late night flight! It was a turn around trip to visit someone who has been a father figure to me for many years and is unfortunately not going to beat the cancer battle. We had to drop my other kids off with their dad’s sitter (an hour and a half away from my house) at 1:30 pm and our flight didn’t leave until 8:30 pm on a Friday! Killing that much time was SO difficult!

SHOPPING! One thing I do well is spending money. So we shopped and then ate before we took off to the airport!

I made a HUGE mistake when flying! I opted to carry Rhett in a baby backpack! It was exhausting and my back was killing me by the time our weekend was over, not to mention having a broken hip. I did check the car seat when I retrieved our tickets (it is free to check for anyone traveling with a baby). I had the nicest person assisting me who advised me that it is free to also take a stroller! You can push it all the way to the gate and check it there like valet parking! AMAZING! Next time I will do that!

FORMULA

I was super worried about this!! I didn’t know the regulations or what is allowed! I emptied all bottles before going through security and carried small packets of formula that were pre-measured and sealed. It worked so well and was super easy to make bottles on the plane! I did immediately get through security and buy a bottle of water. As soon as the plane started boarding, I made his “take-off bottle”! A friend on Instagram recommended it! MIRACLE worker! It prevented his ears from getting plugged and put him right to sleep.

SEATING

I opted to have Rhett fly as a lap child. It went really well for me, I think if he was in his own seat, he would be trying to escape. Bigger bonus, it is free this way 🙂

LUGGAGE

Rolling luggage was the way to go for me. I paid extra to check it. I felt as a mom, traveling alone with a baby, this would be the easiest way (plus I checked the car seat so had to hit baggage claim). I was able to easily pull my suitcase with the car seat draped over the top of the handle! It works AMAZINGLY well! I was so proud of myself for discovering it!

CARRY ON

I carried a diaper bag that is a backpack style. I love this one by Hafmall! It has TONS of pockets and storage areas! The backside has an easy access zipper. I kept my wallet in there so I was able to easily and quickly get to it without worrying about someone stealing anything! Any it is really trendy and matched my outfit so I liked that part even more!

ADDITIONAL TIPS

Do not forget to get a bottle of water to make baby bottles (unless you are a nursing mother)
Make sure you EAT! Traveling is exhausting!
Stop to use the restroom! You do not want to try to on the plane with the baby if you don’t have to!
Take the stroller all the way to the gate! They have it waiting for you when you get off the plane!
Do not stress if your baby is fussy! Totally normal! Traveling is exhausting for little ones! So much over stimulation!

I can imagine that every time I travel, I will learn new tricks! Luckily, we drive most places! Although, I can’t wait for our next trip and hope we it is longer and for leisure next time!

My Top Car Seat Pick

Lets talk car seats! There are SO many out there, how do you pick the best one for you and your sweet baby?!

I have always been back and forth on how to pick car seats. I try to go as cost efficient as possible while staying within the highest safety rated seats. How do we really know what the safety ratings will be over time?! Everything changes so quickly ALL the time! It really can be so hard!

I recently was gifted a new car seat from Diono and it has drastically changed my views on how to pick a carseat. It is a tad pricier that I would normally pick for my family, but well worth the extra cost. I am absolutely in love with the sturdy build and soft fabric. It is well cushioned and perfect for any baby or child that wants to rude in comfort. It is the nicest, best quality seat we have owned. We couldn’t be happier with it!

The best thing about our new Diono seat? It is a seat that can grow with them! It fits from 5lbs to 120lbs. So when it comes to paying a bit more, it is well worth it to be aging and growing with and child. It easily adjusts into the upgrades sizes as well!

Take a look at how Rhett feels about it!

Just kidding! Really tho! Any mom blogger/influencer can probably relate to how difficult it can be to get a good picture of your baby or child(ren) with the products!

Here is our favorite!

For more on Diono products go to Diono

Surviving Cold & Flu Season Like a Mom of 5

As you can imagine, cold and flu season can get kind of crazy in a home with so many kids. As the years go by, we are getting more and more tricks to make things easier help get through without missing too many school and work days. I am going to give you my favorite things to do and give you a little background on our trials with sicknesses.
1.    I cannot stress to you how good of friends you should be with PROBIOTICS! We take them daily and year round with a regular gummy vitamin! I get my kids the drinkable version, they are like a tasty treat for them! This is what we use and they drink one a day. There is a cheaper brand at Walmart that is just as good (its 5 of these in a pack for $0.99. 
2.    Water. Your kids need a SHIT ton of water. My kids typically have OJ at home and ALOT of milk also. Push fluids. If they do get stuffy, stay clear of dairy (NO milk, not yogurt, etc) .

3.    Get your flu shot. You may disagree and I am not here to start a fight. Keegan has a severe egg allergy and can’t get his flu shot. He gets the flu EVERY year. We all get our flu shots and none of us do. Just saying.

4. Get these throat suckers. Cough drops are not my kids favorite things in the world. These are EFFECTIVE and GOOD! I tried them (when I was not sick) and really liked them! Absolutely worth it. We did them as a collaboration and I will forever buy these! Lolleez are amazingly perfect and gave Caleb the ease to have a goodnight of sleep with a terrible cough.
You can get Lolleez just about anywhere or check out their Instagram.

5. Cart wipes are you best friend. USE them! Think about how many people make runs to the store when they are sick. We can’t just stay home, right? Need soup, 7up, crackers, etc. Wipe your cart EVERYYYY time. 
6. LEMON TEA WITH HONEY. That is all. Drink it. 
7. GARGLE. Sore throat? Gargle with salt water. Your momma wasn’t lying, it it a real thing and it works. 
Let me tell you a little story about the year that Caleb and Connor got pneumonia at the same time and were both hospitalized. It was a NIGHTMARE and I swear, I now suffer from PTSD. This happened when I was married to my ex husband and had very little help. Thank the big man upstairs for my mother who came up and stayed at the hospital during the days so I could go to work. 
Caleb was first to go down. I woke up in the middle of the night to hearing him breathing funny. Felt his head and he was burning up. He had a little cold prior to this. I took him to the hospital and after multiple breathing treatments, they could not get his oxygen levels to stabilize. He was admitted. 
The next day, I got a call that Connor was showing the same signs. The sweet nurse at the hospital agreed to watch Caleb so I could take Con to his Dr. She diagnosed him with pneumonia as well. I asked her to check his oxygen levels and she said “you don’t need to worry about that unless he gets a blue color of becomes unresponsive”. I was soooo angry. They gave him a breathing treatment and I decided I wanted to take him to the ER also. He was given 2 additional treatments and admitted with low oxygen levels. 
The next day, Connor’s lung collapsed and they had to put him on forced oxygen for a week. I should have sure the shit out of his doctor (we switched Drs). 
Both boys healed, THANK GOD. They haven’t been sick like that since and we have been crazy clean freaks and germaphobs since then!
Tell me what you guys do for cold and flu season to help you make it through….

Chore Charts For The Win

Hey guys!

So today, I want to talk about time management and how I deal with life as a mom of 5 (6 if you count Payton…lol…jk).




As you can guess, life for me is so crazy busy and constantly hectic. At one point, I literally would come home from work and cry because of everything that needed to be done (don’t think that this does not still happen sometimes)! Dinner, laundry, dishes, cleaning, baths, brushing teeth, showers, bedtime. So much to do, not enough time. I was stressing more about getting things done then actually spending time doing the things that I needed to do.

Sooooo at some point I realized that my kids also needed to be held accountable! First, I started with a basic chore chart. I bought a whiteboard for my kitchen and wrote out name, day of the week and what chore they were expected to do. Some days it worked, some days it didn’t. So I took some time to think about what might motivate them. I came to one thought. Money.

We all work to live, right? We are motivated by money, right? Why wouldn’t a 10, 8 and 6 year old (Keegan does chores, but isn’t held as accountable since he just turned 4). So now I knew that money would help, but how could I incorporate it?

I asked around to people that I know and googled (my own worst enemy), finally I got a great idea from my boss. She told me a story about how her son and his girlfriend do chore charts for money. I then came up with my own by incorporating their idea.

So I have 3 levels and each is paid differently. First level are daily chores (the have to be done) and they pay $0.25. Everyday, they HAVE to pick up their dirty clothes, make their bed, brush their teeth (I am well aware that these are NOT things we get paid for as adults, but I am trying to get them to hold THEMSELVES accountable). They have the option to do them, without being reminded or nagged, and get paid their rate per day that it is done. If they have to be told to do it, they don’t get their weekly payout.

Level 2 – These are worth $1.00 and are done everyday as well. Some examples are, sweeping the house, mopping the floors, cleaning counters, vacuuming, and cleaning the cat box (there are more), They do NOT have to do them daily, but can and can earn faster.

Last is the $5.00 bracket. This bracket is doing the dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the playroom, cleaning bedrooms and cleaning the living room. These are weekly chores. It is their job to make sure that their area is clean and presentable that entire week.

I give them the option to pick out which chores, if any, they want to do daily. And guess what? They are now fighting over who gets to do the most chores. It is fantastic! Guess who gets to come home and cook and not clean? Even better, they asked to save their money so they can use it to Christmas shop! How CUTE and SWEET is that?!

So now, since my kids cleaned my house….I have time to write this blog and catch up on my Instagram! I am able to come home, deal with homework (they have had it all done lately), make dinner and give baths and then spend time with them! I put them to bed and get time to do what I want. I typically only blog and Instagram on nights that Payton works though. Since his shifts are so long, I prefer to spend as much time with him as I can.

So, do you guys use money to entice your kids? If not how do you do it?