If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we did a fun little countdown to kindergarten the week leading up to school starting.  But, I thought I’d share it here in more detail.
 
Last year, Lovebug was leaving the daycare/preschool she had attended since she was four months old to attend Pre-K at a different school.  She didn’t know the teachers, the school or any of the students and she was a little sad and anxious about the change.  So, we decided to do a countdown to Pre-K to get her excited about her new school.  We did fun little surprises each day the week before school started, like painting her nails fun designs, putting chalk colors in her hair and taking treats to her preschool.  We just wanted her days to be a little more special so she wouldn’t be so sad.  By the time school started, she was more excited than anxious about the change.  Mission accomplished!
 
This year, Lovebug was already excited about kindergarten, but she was changing schools again so we decided to implement the countdown again, just for fun.   We planned simple, inexpensive and fun activities to surprise her each day of the week leading up to school starting.  
 
 

We started the countdown with donuts for breakfast with 7 days to go…
countdown to school ideas

 

With 6 days left, we had a sleep over and movie in mommy and daddy’s room.  It was fun for her but so very precious to me.  I loved cuddling with my sweet girl thinking about how quickly time has flown by and how my little baby would be starting kindergarten in a few short days.
Countdown to school ideas

 

5 days and counting… We surprised her with bath time fun!  I went to the dollar store and picked up 7 packs of glow sticks.  Each pack had 4 – 6 sticks in it so the tub was full of light.  She had so much fun that bath time took twice as long as normal!
Countdown to school ideas

 
With 4 days left, I took Lovebug to the Disney Store for an Alphabet Scavenger Hunt.  If she could sound out Disney characters or items starting with each letter of the alphabet, she could pick out a prize ($15 or less).  I was so impressed with how many she came up with on her own, but have to admit the end of the alphabet gave us a run for our money. Luckily, the lovely cast members at our local Disney Store helped us out and we were able to come up with all but one letter.  I still gave her a prize and the cast members did too!  She walked away with 101 Dalmatians figures and awesome Disney trading cards!  
Countdown to school ideas
* Free printable of the Disney Store Scavenger Hunt sheet is below.  🙂
 
 
3 days until the big day meant special mini ice cream cone treats for Lovebug and her friends!  Her absolute favorite!
Countdown to School Ideas
 
My Love had won tickets to the Phoenix Mercury game from work and Lovebug loves going to the women’s basketball games.  So, it was the perfect surprise for one of her last couple days before school.
Countdown to school ideas
 
 
We celebrated the last night before school with one of Lovebug’s favorite meals and ended the meal with frozen yogurt, toppings and all!
Countdown to school Ideas
 
 

We had one last surprise for Lovebug on the first day of school.  We decorated the bathroom mirror with encouraging notes using dry erase markers and filled the bathroom with helium balloons.  We just wanted to start her day off with a smile on her face.  And boy did she ever!
Countdown to School Ideas

Lovebug loves school and was already really excited about kindergarten.  But, we wanted to create some fun memories leading up to the big day.  When she thinks back on kindergarten, will she think about this countdown?  Probably not.  But, I know I will always remember it and the excitement on her face as she would ask what her surprise was for that day.  So, maybe the countdown was more for me than for her. But, either way, we had some fun and made some lovely memories.  So, it was worth it.  In fact, it was so worth it that we will likely do a countdown to school every year going forward! 🙂

Here is the free printable for the Disney Store Alphabet Scavenger Hunt.  Just right click and save to your computer.  Then, open it in a word processing program, adjust the size, if necessary, and print.

 
Disney Store Alphabet Scavenger Hunt Final
I hope all your kiddos have a fantastic school year this year!
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Building out Littlebug’s Library – Bookroo Subscription
Littlebug’s two favorite things lately are babies and books.  She loves to take care of her babies by changing their diapers, feeding them and patting their backs while they sleep.  But, even more than that, this kid loves to read!  If she ever gets a little too quiet, I usually find her somewhere with a stack of books surrounding her, “reading” to herself or to her babies.  
 
While we have amassed a decent collection of children’s books over the years, I’ve really wanted to add to the library in Littlebug’s room.  So, when the lovely folks at Bookroo reached out asking if we’d like to participate in a product review, I jumped at the opportunity!  
Bookroo
If you don’t know already, Bookroo is a children’s book subscription service that delivers new books to your door every month.   All you need to do is select the plan that works best for you (month-to-month, 3 months or 6 months) and the type of books you want (3 board books or 2 picture books) and presto!  Books show up at your door like magic!!  
 
Here’s what I love as a parent: The subscription price for the books is less than retail.  So, not only do you get new children’s books at your door, but you’re getting them at a great price too!  Plus, the cost of shipping is included in the subscription price.  So, no added costs!
 
Here’s what the kids love about it:  They are getting new books.  And the books arrive wrapped up like presents! 
Bookroo 1
Who doesn’t love opening presents?  It makes the whole experience so much more exciting!Bookroo 3

The Bookroo team selects books based on personal experience and recommendations from parents.  So, you can feel confident that the books will be fun and entertaining.  Ours certainly were!  I think we read our two picture books at least 20 times in the first week and they are still in pretty heavy rotation!Bookroo 5
The kids couldn’t get enough!  If they weren’t listening to us reading their new books to them, they were flipping through the books on their own.  Bookroo 7

And sometimes, they would settle in together and Lovebug would read to Littlebug.  Books and sisters are the best!Book 4

And if you get a book you already have, you just send the awesome Bookroo team a picture of you giving the book to someone else and they’ll give you a $5 credit on your next subscription!  They’ve thought of everything!Bookroo 8

Want more good news?  Right now Bookroo is running a buy one, give one promotion for new customers!  So, you can not only get a subscription for yourself, but you can gift one free!  How awesome is that!?  

If you have a young book lover in your life or if you are trying to inspire a future book lover, head on over to Bookroo’s website and give this subscription a try.  I promise you will not be sorry!
 
To the Jane and Bookroo team – THANK YOU for helping us build out Littlebug’s book collection!  You made my little book lovers so happy!
 
NOTE: This is a sponsored post, however all comments and opinions are my own.
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Preschool Graduation Gift Idea for Girls

Lovebug has graduated from Pre-K!  Next stop, KINDERGARTEN!!!!  Woot woot!!

I really wanted to get her something special and sentimental to celebrate her preschool graduation.  But, what?   I racked my brain (and the internet) and kept coming up short.   Then, I randomly remembered an interaction from high school and just like that I had her gift figured out.

The perfect preschool graduation gift for girls is a charm bracelet!!!

 
 
Trust me, its’ true.  And here’s how I know…
 
On one of the last days of high school, I was chatting with a classmate and commented on her cute bracelet.  She wasn’t a particularly girl-y girl, so it caught my attention.  She told me it was a charm bracelet that her parents had given her when she was younger to celebrate something she had accomplished (I don’t recall what the initial accomplishment was).  Over the years, they would recognize her hard work by adding charms to her bracelet.  By the time I had seen it, her bracelet was covered in charms (some loops were even doubled up with charms) and she went through each and every one proudly telling me what it was, when she got it and what it represented.  There were charms for swim meets, spelling bees, dance recitals, trips, gymnastics meets, little things she had done that her parents were proud of, special events, challenges she overcame, etc.

Her charm bracelet really told the story of her life and it was obvious to me that she cherished it more than anything.  She was beaming with pride as she talked to me about it and she happened to be wearing it that week in anticipation of the new graduation cap charm she was looking forward to getting for our high school graduation.  
 
I loved everything about that bracelet and her story and knew I wanted to do the same thing for my girls, should I be lucky enough to have them one day.  And here I am, years later, with two precious girls and the perfect opportunity to start the same thing.
 
So, we got Lovebug a simple bracelet with an adjustable clasp so that she could grow into it.
 
 
We also picked out the first charm for her bracelet.  A book with ABC inscribed on it. 
Charm Bracelet 1
 
Throughout preschool, particularly this year as she started to read, learning her ABC’s was the main focus.  So, this cute book seemed like the perfect charm to represent this occasion.  
 
We surprised her with dinner at one of her favorite restaurants and presented her gift.  She loved it and I’m sure she will treasure it more as we add to it over the years, just as my friend from high school did.

I couldn’t be more proud of the sweet, intelligent, funny, strong willed, independent, thoughtful and caring young lady she has become and I feel so blessed to be able to witness her successes in life and the challenges she faces and overcomes.   The little keepsake charms that will eventually fill out this bracelet will be a lovely reminder of her journey.

Note: Neither the bracelet nor the charm were particularly expensive.  Altogether, we paid about $25 for this gift.  Based on my research, any additional charms we get her will be under $10, unless we get them engraved, which we may do on occasion.  

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If You Give a Teacher a Student…  (Teacher Appreciation Gift)


Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week and, as usual, I picked up gift cards for each of Lovebug and Littlebug’s teachers.  While I know that gift cards are the most practical gifts for teachers, I find them to be really impersonal.  So, I like to include something thoughtful (like
this, this or this) to convey how much we truly appreciate the fabulous teachers we have been blessed to have in our lives.

This year, I made cards based on the popular children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff.  Have you read the book?  It is so clever and fun for kids of all ages!

Lovebug’s loves this book (check out some of Lovebug’s other favorite books here) so it was fitting to create a card based on the same concept.  After lots of thought and many iterations, I ended up with a heartfelt card that, I feel, reflects the role teachers play in their students lives.

I couldn’t be happier with how the cards turned out and our teachers loved them!!

 

Give a teacher a student 2

Here’s how I made them…
Materials:

Paper
Printer
If you give a teacher a student poem (below)
Scissors
Colorful card stock, cut to 5 1/2 x 8 and folded in half so the 5 1/2 sides meet
Glue stick
Envelopes

Instructions:

Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures as I went along. But, the process was pretty easy so I’m pretty sure an explanation will suffice.

I simply printed the poem on paper, setting the paper size 1/4 inch smaller than my card stock  on all sides.  I ended up spreading the poem over 2 pages, leaving room on the bottom of the second page for a hand written note.  I also created a simple cover for the card.

Then, I cut the paper and glued the poem onto the card stock.

We signed the cards with a little note, tucked the gift card inside and sealed the cards into our envelopes.  

Easy-peasy and super cute!


If You Give a Teacher a Student
Based on the book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

If you give a teacher a student, they’re going to teach them things like math, science and grammar.
 
When they teach these subjects, the students will get smart and excited about learning.
 
When they get excited about learning, they will become curious about other subjects.
So, the teachers will indulge their curiosity through experiments and hands on learning.
 
As they teach their students, teachers will realize that they don’t just spend their day teaching, but they spend time coaching, loving and nurturing too.
 
So, they’ll probably give their students praise and positive reinforcement.
 
They’ll get carried away and they may even end up giving hugs and affection too!
 
When teachers are done, students will have a solid foundation of education to build upon.
 
Then, the students will apply their education in their careers. 
They might be successful engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses or teachers.
 
And chances are, if the students are successful in the future,
They have a teacher, like you, to thank for it.


I used the poem in a card, but it would be adorable tucked in a frame as well.   Plus, you can edit the poem to personalize it even more, if you like.  The possibilities are endless!
  
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How to Clean Disney Mouse Ear Hats
Remember how I told you that we went to Disneyland back in December?  Did I mention that it was the wettest day ever?  Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the wettest day on record.  But, there was steady rain throughout the day with the only breaks in the steady drizzle being heavy downpours.  So, we got wet. Really wet.
 
We ended up purchasing Disneyland ponchos for ourselves and also for our stroller so we could keep it and the contents in it dry, shortly after we entered the park.  Only, our master plan didn’t work out so well.  I swear the rain must have been coming down sideways and upside down because our stroller and everything in it were soaked through.   By noon, Littlebug wasn’t able to use the stroller any longer.  But, I guess it was for the best because I could keep her warmer and dryer by wearing her in our carrier.  
 
Anyway, when we got home, I realized that my beloved mouse ear hat had not only gotten soaked but  also really dirty in the rain.  I had tucked them into the stroller when I realized mouse ears and rain don’t mix.  But, they fell onto the ground at one point and, like everything else in our stroller, they were dripping wet by the end of the day.   So, I did some research online to figure out how to clean my mouse ears without ruining them.  But, I came up with nothing.  Literally not one tutorial for cleaning Disney mouse ears.  I couldn’t believe it!  
 
I had to do something so I decided to come up with my own method for cleaning them.  I knew that mild soap would probably work best, but what type?  Dish soap?  Laundry detergent?  And then it hit me…  The hat sits on my head and sometimes my hair is damp or wet when I put the ears on.   So, shampoo would be the most logical option.   So, I held my breath and gave it a whirl.
 
I’m happy to report it worked like a charm!  My ears look like brand new and they smell good too!  
 
 
Here’s how I did it:
Let me start by showing you what my ears looked like before I cleaned them.

Do you see all that dirt on the bottom left of the picture?  Not to mention the dust on the ears!  This hat has seen better days!

To clean my hat, I poured about a tablespoon of mild shampoo in a bowl and added about 1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water, mixing with my hand to make sure the shampoo dissolves.

 

Then, I dipped a washcloth into the mixture and squeezed most of the moisture out.  I started wiping my hat with the damp washcloth, using soft delicate strokes.  I continued dipping, squeezing and wiping and that took care of most of the dirt.  But some areas required more scrubbing.  So, I applied a little more pressure and was a little more aggressive and that seemed to take care of it.  The hat is made of felt and seemed pretty resilient so I would bet that a soft bristle toothbrush would also work on really stubborn stains.

I ended up cleaning both the outside and inside of my hat and wiped down the ears as well.  I kept the washcloth pretty dry so that my hat wouldn’t get soaked through again.  So, it wasn’t really wet, but I still set it outside for 30 minutes to dry, just to be sure.  After it dried, I noticed a couple spots that didn’t clean completely so I touched them up, using the same method, and let it dry again.

And that’s it!  My hat looks as good as new!   Here’s a side by side before and after so you can see the difference.

 

Mickey Ears Before & after

Time to book our next trip to Disney!  Hopefully it won’t rain this time!
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