A NEW Look At Gymboree! What Makes You Smile?

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This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post. 

We just got back from the Oregon Coast to be with family. Being with family always makes me smile. These 2 grandchildren below live in New York so we do not get to see them much.  We smiled a lot while we were together.

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Our adorable Morgan makes us smile all the time. This is the first time she was able to visit the beach. She loved it!! She tells me I am her Bestest Grandma. I have to agree. 🙂

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My son and his family live in Oregon still and they have 3 kids we adore (one was missing) Being a grandparent puts smiles on your faces everyday.

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Now GYMBOREE is asking  you, “What makes you and your family smile?” Tell your stories and share them with the hashtag #MadeYouSmile!

What has you family done today that #MadeYouSmile?   That is what the New Gymboree is all about! 
The new pieces are now endlessly versatile and mixable, creating big possibilities for kids to create their own looks.
Dialed up the comfort, softness and attention to detail in each piece—Gymboree want to be known for great quality once again!
The best kids’ jeans ever—super comfortable, soft and durable.

More for baby with the coziest, comfiest fabrics, more neutrals and modern details.

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Most importantly,  Gymboree is making all these changes for YOU. Gymboree asked modern moms and families what they wanted most for their kids’ clothes, and they delivered. Gymboree wants to make YOU smile!

Gymboree Sale On Now!

 With the style, versatility, and quality of the NEW Gymboree clothes  they’ll be a great fit for your kids this back-to-school season.

Right now, you can win one of more than 150,000 prizes with Gymboree’s Made You Smile campaign! Download the App, head to your local store, and spin to win a local prize.

 

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Gymboree has been celebrating childhood for over 30 years, dressing kids from newborn to 12 years old. They offer colorful, head-to-toe clothing and accessory collections—quality clothes that let kids be kids.

Gymboree Sale On Now!
At Gymboree, they’re proud to dress your family for the moments that matter most – offering everything from quality playwear that stands the test of playtime to coordinated dressy looks for the perfect family photo. 

Gymboree Sale On Now!

Kids and Grandkids Just LOVE Gymboree! Get Started With You Back-To-Shopping Today!

Thank You Gymboree for letting me be part of your #MadeYouSmile campaign!!

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Hooray! Happy Father’s Day!

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A day to celebrate fatherhood, Father’s Day is observed on the third Sunday in the month of June in most countries around the world. The occasion gives an opportunity to express love and affection to all fathers and fatherly figures.

Today Is Father’s Day Are You Ready? Have You Been So Busy That You Do Not Have Anything For Dad?

If you are still scrabbling for something to get Dad Let me help with a few ideas I found…..

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Easy Father’s Day Gift Idea that is Super easy, Quick To Make With Wordle, and Will Be Loved By Any Man Lucky Enough To Receive One

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You Could Make a Shirt Pocket Card from Holiday Crafts and Creations (Free Printable) and Put a Gift Card In The Pocket Dad Will Love.

 

fathers day cards

 

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Father’s Day “Tee-rrific” Gift Idea! {and Free Printable} by Lindsey From Inspiring Creations at Tatertots & Jello.

Father’s Day "Tee-rrific" Gift Idea! {and free printable} by Lindsey from Inspiring Creations at Tatertots & Jello

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How About A Father’s Day Gift {Treat Jar} + Printable from My Sister’s Suitcase.

Father's Day Gift {Treat Jar} + Printable from My Sister's Suitcase

 

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I Love This Video….Dad, You’re My Hero – Tribute from a daughter to her father.

 

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Every Dad Would Love a Little Pot Of Candy And You Can’t Forget The Tie!

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Give Dad a Photo Puzzle, Which Makes a Great Visual Reminder Of The Kids He Loves….via eHow.

Father's Day Photo Gift Idea from eHow

 

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With this caramel crunch brownie recipe from Bakerella, you’ll have Dad raving on the first bite. 

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Fill pages of a this FUN Coupon Book with gifts of thing dad likes to do. Dad will appreciate all of the thoughtful ideas.  Turn the Page and check out We R Memory Keepers to learn how to make one.
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I hope this has helped you with some ideas you can still do to make this Father’s Day more special for Dad. 

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Enjoy the Day, Show someone some Love…. If your Dad is looking down from Heaven upon you his child, (mine is) after you have taken the time to Thank him, look for a Dad that is need of a friendly voice a hug a kind gesture and pass that Love along… heart - Hooray! Happy Father’s Day!
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Canvas Champ Review and a Giveaway

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Disclaimer: I received free product in exchange for my review from Canvas Champ.

My daughter has a birthday coming up and I was contacted by Canvas Champ to review  a 16×20 picture.  So I went and took a family picture I thought she would love on her wall. I was a little bit nervous because I had taken the picture on my phone. I was so pleased with the quality of the print!! It was ten times better than I expected.

Can I say I Love,  Canvas Champ! The quality of the Canvas Art turned a beautiful family photo into a work of art!

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 Turn  your photos into canvas with Canvas Champ.  Absolutely brilliant service from start to finish. As you can see below  it looks beautiful on her wall.

The process to make a canvas is so easy in just a few clicks (there are lots to choose from) just upload your picture, choose the size, pay for it, and that is it. My picture arrived in one week and I was notified it was on its way.

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(About Canvas Champ…..
We as Canvas Champ Home décor company and At Canvas Champ, we do much more than just print photos on canvas. We help our customers create their own personalized art in the most innovative, simple and fun way possible.
We’re passionate about quality – that’s why we guarantee our canvas prints for life, use only the highest quality materials.
Our mission is to surprise and delight our customers in everything we do. From our quality products to our amazing website and our obsessive customer service, we’re here to make you happy.)

 

Canvas Champ offers Wood Printing, Metal Prints, and Acrylic Prints. You can put your photos on pillows, photo mugs, calendars, framed prints and more.

With Graduation coming up Make a Memory with a Canvas At Canvas Champ.

Good Luck,

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Now For Some Fun The wonderful people at Canvas Champ are allowing you to enter to win a 16″ x 20″  canvas! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to get your entries in.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There is one prize of a 16″x 20″ photo canvas from Canvas Champ.

A winner will be chosen at random using the widget
The winner will be notified via email within 5 days of the closing date and must respond within 21 days.

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Hi there! Thanks for visiting. We’d LOVE for you to hang around!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Saying Thank You To Mom On Mother’s Day

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It’s  Mother’s Day 2018!  When I think back to honoring my mother on this day we always had the homemade gifts we would make and I think as a mother of 6 kids those are always my favorite gifts.

I am a mother of 6 AWESOME KIDS and 19 GRANDKIDS. I feel so blessed as a mom and grandma. As they send me gifts I cherish everyone and they always touch my heart.

 I go and see my 88 year old mother every month. She is 5 hours from me but what an honor it is to take care of her in her aging years.

I think I have gotten to know more about her than I ever did when I was growing up.  Sometimes she is very frustrating but then I realize she is fighting to stay independent and that is hard when your sight is almost gone and you have a back that is way bent over with Scoliosis.

I remember when she had to get a NEW knee.  I went up to take care of her and as she tried to lay on her couch and I on the loveseat, what memories we made that night.

She grew up very poor and her mom died when she was only 10 years old. She taught me a lot growing up from putting me in 4-H, (won a lot of first place ribbons at the fair) piano lessons for 10 years, some singing lessons and always tell the truth.

This year with my siblings we wanted to get something different so we purchase an Alexa. She said she wanted someone to talk to, as my dad died 18 years ago. I really think she will love it.

Lets go out and Celebrate Our Mothers this year and really show them how much they mean to us.

Now lets talk about other ways to celebrate mom this year…..

 

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Incredible Paper Peonies By Dreamy Posy……Can you believe that these beautiful paper peonies were made with Printer Paper!?

Turn the Page  To See How To Make a Beautiful Bouquet for Mom.

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A simple step by step tutorial shows you how to make a Beautiful Handmade DIY Birds Nest Necklace that looks absolutely stunning from Busy Creating Memories.

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DIY Mother’s Day Gift: Edible Fruit Flower Arrangement From Divas Can Cook. 

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DIY gift ideas for Mothers Day Homemade Raspberry and Lemon Sugar Scrub Recipes via Reasons to Skip the Housework - Saying Thank You To Mom On Mother's Day

DIY Raspberry and Lemon Sugar Scrub Recipes with FREE Printable Gift Labels..via Reasons to Skip the Housework

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DIY Farmhouse Style Flower Pots….. Make cute, quirky flower pots with just some chalk paint and a sharpie! These would be cute herb planters or succulent planters. They are inexpensive – even cheap at less than ten bucks for the whole set! It’s a great gift for Mother’s Day! (Via Our Handcrafted Life)

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A Very Easy Jewelry Project To Make…..DIY Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet.   (Via Everything Etsy)

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Cute Gifts…Crochet Spiral Scrubbies In 5 Minutes Flat, Perfect For Washing Up and In The Shower & Machine Washable..via The Whoot.

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Ladies This Is A Great Mother’s Day Gift For YOU….Get Your Post Spring Box At FABFITFUN ONLY $39.99 With Code SUNSHINE.

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eos Lip Balm Printable Mothers Day Cards… Make The Perfect Card For Your Special Mom. It is a Mother’s Day Card She Can Use! 

(via Skip To My Lou)

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It’s Time To Garden Make Mom Some Gardener’s Bliss Hand Salve…..via Hearth and Vine.

Have a Wonderful Mother’s Day,

 

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 Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission.

 

 

Get Ready For Spring With **Follow Your Art** At Gymboree

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

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There is so much new to see at Gymboree. They  are getting set for spring with hundreds of bright, new styles and fresh ideas—it’s a season full of possibilities.

We are inspired by all the ways kids get creative, from putting their one-of-a-kind spin on an outfit to telling a funny story to painting their own masterpiece. 

We want to know what inspires you and your family. What do your kids want to create this spring? Because it’s the perfect time to #Follow Your Art.

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Check out some of my favorite items for my grandkids.

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About Gymboree
Gymboree has been celebrating childhood for over 30 years, dressing kids from newborn to 12 years old. We offer colorful, head-to-toe clothing and accessory collections—quality clothes that let kids be kids.

At Gymboree, we’re proud to dress your family for the moments that matter most – offering everything from quality playwear that stands the test of playtime to coordinated dressy looks for the perfect family photo. 

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Happy Shopping With Your Kids,

EE597B21A4CECAB7BA426FE13063B9832 - Get Ready For Spring With **Follow Your Art** At Gymboree

 

 

 

Hi there! Thanks for visiting. We’d LOVE for you to hang around! 
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 Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Affordable Ways To Say I Love You On Valentine’s Day

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 Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Love comes in many forms… Appreciation, Admiration, and Friendship, Let me share a few ideas I have found to make this Valentine’s Day Even More Special. ❤ ❤

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Spread Valentine Love With 28 Acts Of Kindness via Craft Create Cook. ❤

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Make a Valentine Tree….To make this a meaningful family activity, each family member could decorate a heart or write a love note....via Simply Kierste.com ❤

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Easy Valentines Day Table Runner and New Sew Too!  (via H2OBungalow) ❤

Easy Valenines Day table runner takes no time at all to whip up and stores easily by rolling up until next year. www.H2OBungalow.com #valentinesday

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These DIY Valentine Stamps will help your kids create loads of Valentine Cards.  (Via Fuzzy Mama) ❤

diy valentine stamp

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Anniversary

 

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Make Some Love Bug Oreo Cookies – Delish Hot & Spicy Cinnamon Oreos dressed to impress for Valentine’s Day.

(via Sarah’s Cake Studio) ❤

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“Our Friendship Rocks” – what more is there to say? Gorgeous Fingerprint Heart Rocks for Valentines. The perfect Classroom Valentines Gift to make with kids…via Red Ted Art. ❤

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Store-Bought Chocolate Repackaged in a Homemade Wrapper — the underside of which reveals a handwritten love note — tastes doubly delicious.  (via Martha Stewart) ❤

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Help your Kids Create a Beautiful Bracelet to Give to all of their Best Friends. The Simple Bracelet is made using Twine and Beads with Heart Drawings.  (via Moms and Crafters) ❤

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Strawberry Cheesecake Lasagna – You love lasagna as a main dish, so why dessert too? Layers of Fresh strawberries, Sweet Cream, and Graham Crackers! (via Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts) ❤

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Bliss Gardens Air Plant Terrarium Kit , $23.95, Amazon.com  …..Don’t get her a dozen roses this year, make her a Customized Terrarium. This kit that includes a glass vessel, pebbles, an amethyst crystal, a dried thistle and an air plant. Since air plants only need to be watered once a week, they’re super easy to care for so she can keep her mini-garden thriving with ease — even if she doesn’t have a green thumb. ❤

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This easy recipe for a Valentine’s Day Cookie Cake, stuffed with white chocolate chips and an abundance of sprinkles, is sure to be a crowdpleaser! (via Bake du Jour) ❤

 

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Have a Wonderful Valentine’s Day and Remember to say, “I love you To Everyone In Your Family!” ❤

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Hi there! Thanks for visiting. We’d LOVE for you to hang around! 
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 Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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Let Me Be a Child

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Let Me Be A Child


Let me know when I make you proud.
And help me to have pride in my own accomplishments.
Let me earn your trust. Then trust me.
I won’t let you down.
Let me know you love me with a hug or a pat on the back.
Or, when I need it, with a firm but gentle “no”
Let me be. Let me change. Let me grow.
Let me dream. Share my joy when my dreams come true.
Share my tears when they don’t.
Let me feel secure in my home. Help me realize that love is always there.
That I can depend on you no matter what.
Let me run. let me laugh. let me play.
And most of all, let me be a child.

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Sometimes it amazes me the demands that are placed on children these days. While as parents we can all say that we had it “harder” then our kids do now because we had to be creative and play with our imagination where as now there are video games and computers.

Let’s face it, the pressure that is put on our children today to grow up fast is really out of control.

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We have them in multiple sports, we push them to join different clubs, their peers put pressure on them to look more grown up and dress more grown up and the media encourages this.

Take a look at the toys we want our little girls to play with, Bratz and Barbie… or have a look at the style of clothes that are available, do those toys look innocent to you?

Life passes us by quick enough as it is. Let your child be a child, regardless of how old they are. To help make sure your child isn’t robbed of their youth, here are several tips you can follow, one for each day of the week to think about.

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Follow the principle that Regular Playtime is vital for everyone.

 Get in touch with our own playfulness. Kids really do model what they see. Present a picture of adulthood that children will want to grow up to emulate.

Tell the kids it’ll be a laid-back summer. Ask them to create a fun bucket list of which activities they want to keep… and which they want to toss.

Parents may be shocked by what they say they want to quit doing. Sometimes kids do things because we want them to, and somehow we fail to notice their heart hasn’t been in it.

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Arrange low-key times with friends and family. This may mean turning down some invitations and setting aside an evening as family night. Make sure kids have regular opportunities to just hang out with family and friends.

 Encourage free-range (not pre-packaged), natural and spontaneous play— like a sandbox in the backyard, blocks and impromptu neighborhood soccer games, instead of an amusement park, elaborate toys and soccer camp.

 Make sure children also have total down time for lying in the grass looking at the sky, or sitting on the sidewalk sharing a stick of gum with a friend.

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Show trust in giving youngsters some freedom. Have confidence that when a child is off on his own and enjoying and directing himself in activities he chooses, that is his “job”. The chances are that whatever innocent activities he’s doing of his own free will are better than any “enriching” activity we might impose on him.

Children need to play. It’s their work. All mammals play; it’s their way of learning skills they’ll need when they’re full-grown, from finding food to getting along with others. It’s also the way small humans process their emotions.
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Thinking back to our own best childhood memory, it won’t be a class or lesson, but the time we were allowed to just be.

“Children learn through playing, through active exploration that feeds their imagination, not by always having others organize the world for them.”

How can you let your kid just be a kid?

There’s a good chance that your child is, right now, making his own Harry Potter broomstick out of a stick he found in the backyard … and he might prefer it to the pricey vibrating plastic version you were thinking of buying him.

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“Children learn through play — through puzzles, games, and questions and answers. They also learn on the playground — they learn about nature, weather and the seasons, motion, concepts of distance and speed, and cause and effect. They learn how to negotiate and talk with their peers.

If you live in an area where you can let your child run amok with his friends outdoors, let him; if you don’t, remember that just hanging with friends and neighbors indoors can be great too. 

The result sometimes necessitates that you wear earplugs  on a Saturday afternoon but that is preferable to the eerie silence that descends when little kids are locked for hours in the world of video games.

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Providing an environment where family plays and have fun together is not an option, for us it is a must.

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Find something that your family will enjoy.

Board games, hiking, fishing, camping, playing sports, biking, reading, watching a movie,

any activity that provides a quality family fun time will unite our children while making memories that they will never forget.

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In my family we spent time together, we had fun together, we played together.

In the end, learning who we are primarily takes place not in the act of doing, but in the quiet spaces between things, when we can reflect upon what we have done and who we are. The more of these quiet spaces families provide for kids, the better.

We must remember they are children and it’s crucial we let them enjoy this part of their lives by letting them just be a kid.

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Memories are not free, however they don’t cost money but time and that is what makes them so valuable.

We can build them around the most simple moments.

It is for us to make each moment count, no matter our circumstances, our past,

or how much or how little we have, we can create a place called home

when every child is entitled to a beautiful childhood.

SO LET’S IMAGINE A MOMENT AND CREATE A MEMORY!

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Memo From a Kid

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When I was a Kid…. Oh what a time it was. I would get up early on a summer morning with nothing to do. I had more toys to play with than all the kids on the block I lived on.

But I still went out to the  kitchen and  complained . “Mom, I’m bored, what should I do?” She  would say. “Well, eat your breakfast, get dressed and go outside to play.” was her reply. “But it’s too hot outside!” I  whined.

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Well, when I was a kid, you were expected to be outside all day long in the hot sun. We didn’t even have a cell phone for mom to check up on us when I went out to play when I was a kid.

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When I was a kid, I wondered when i blew a kiss, if it reached its destination. Now, I still blow a second quiet kiss- willing it to go the distance.

When I was a kid, I waited for mommy or daddy to kiss me goodnight, to tuck me into bed. Now I help them to shut off the light and get to bed.

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When I was a kid, I once wrote on the wall the word ‘CAT’, and then blamed it on my three year old sister. Now, I help my brother and sister write on things with chalk- to make a crazy and pretty pictures.

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When I was a kidI grew excited to hear my Grandmother’s stories, she had special ones for each of us. Now, I ask my Gram to repeat those stories on occasions- when the younger ones aren’t keeping her busy.

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When I was a kid, my cousins were my best friends, two in-particular. Now, I have too many friends to keep up with-
and I miss my best friends.

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When I was a kid, I fell asleep to the rhythm of a back-rub, my Grandparents knew just how to give  me. Now, I quietly day- dream myself to sleep-creating my own imaginative stories. 

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When I was a kid,  I couldn’t understand why teenagers got so caught up in friends and activities, I thought they must hate being at home.

Now, I survive from filling my schedule so full I barely have time to breathe- but all the while all I want is to be home.

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When I was a kid, Home was with the sweet melodies of  family bliss, Where people knew you best. Now, Home is in my heart- with the people that I love and the things that I miss.
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Gee I loved being a kid. Living for the moment, laughing for the sheer joy of doing so, letting my imagination run wild, not trying to be someone I wasn’t, saying “yes I can do that” to everything I wanted to try, even if I wasn’t any good at it. I didn’t have to worry about getting a job, a relationship, or pay off a mortgage.

Nor did I realize that, while I was playing, I was also learning all the basics of life – how to talk, read, write, make my arms, legs and eyes work together, play by the rules that my friends and I made up on the spot and – best of all – negotiation skills, learned by convincing my parents to buy sweets and toys.

Problems were resolved by a motherly kiss or going without dessert. Those were the days my friend, I thought they’d never end.

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But they did.Life became serious. Parents, friends and teachers carefully taught me what I had to do to succeed in the harsh world of reality. Having fun became a waste of time that could be much more usefully put into earning serious money.

I was told to forget silly kid stuff, like jumping, drawing, singing, acting and doing roly-polies down a grassy hill. Instead, look around at what the adults are doing… copy them…don’t be different or people will think you’re dumb. Get a real job.

Become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, engineer – anything that makes people look at you in awe. So I did.

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I started taking courses I didn’t want to do. I did degrees that were going to take me somewhere, but got me nowhere. I started getting assessed – for the right school, right friends, right sport, right university, right job, right partner…the right path to whatever other people told me would take me down that glorious road to success, fulfillment and happiness.

And no, I didn’t always get chosen. I often wasn’t good enough, qualified enough, wealthy enough, talented enough, dressed well enough, intelligent enough, or trained enough.

Then I started to see the light.

What I was getting enough of was stressed, pressured, changed, controlled, confused, uncertain and misguided. The one life I had was slipping by fast. I was reaching each of “the big 0’s” faster and faster. Finally I hit the big 6-0 – when bosses tell you: “you’re too old to work anymore. Go find a nice pasture. Book into God’s waiting room where you can pass the time until you die”.

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That’s when I exploded.

“Enough is enough is enough!!!” It’s time for me to be me – the me I always wanted to be when I was a child.It hit me that life in my 60’s had much in common with life in my childhood. I didn’t have to worry about a job (though I could work if I wanted to), or a mortgage (it was under control) or even a relationship (I was happily married).

I could do anything I felt like doing – even if I wasn’t any good at it. I could become a kid again. And this time it could be even better. I now had the benefit of a lifetime of experiences – good and bad – and even a little money on which to build my childhood dreams, skills, fun, interests and plans.

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So I have become a kid again.

I am free to do as I please, when I want, with whom I want, for as long as I wish and at the pace I like. I don’t have to be good at what I do. I just lose myself in the joy of the moment, laughing for the sheer pleasure of doing so, letting my imagination run wild, being the me I always wanted to be.

I love it. I am learning, growing and blossoming into a truly successful person. I now know happiness is the journey, not the end and life is what you make of it, right this minute.

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You wanna come out and play?

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New Year Beginnings

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Yes another year had com and gone. Not quite sure where it went and If I accomplished all I wanted to, but on to 2018!  Every Single Year People Make Brand New Resolutions, and They Hope Against Hope That They Will Somehow Stick to Them. Somehow that doesn’t  always happen does it?

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Instead of writing New Year Resolutions create a Bucket List  this year– and fill it with all of the fun things you want to do in the upcoming year.

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Instead of a Bucket List Some people write down things that they don’t want to forget on little pieces of paper throughout the year, and then they put the scraps of paper in a “Memory Jar”. On the 31st of December they take out their “Memory Jar” and they go through all the memories that they recorded for the year.

Turn the Page for the FREE PRINTABLES from A Heart Filled Home.

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You could  Launch a 365 Day Project – Choose something you’re going to do every single day in 2018.

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Launch a 365-Day Project has some great ideas for the New Year.

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The first day of the new year is a perfect time to clean out the old and bring in the new. I know it is hard because we downsized to our last home and my husband just wants to hang on to everything. (I Won We Gave a Lot Away 🙂

To make it easier just choose three or four items in your home that need to be replaced. It is amazing how good you will feel when these items are gone.

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Throw a New Year’s Eve Bash filled with lots of FUN!  Make sure to have paper party hats and tiaras, party blowers, and lots of confetti.

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Create a playlist of  FUN music to listen to on the last day of this year and all day on January 1st.

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Enjoy these words from Veronica Hay…..

 A New Year, A New Beginning.

A fresh start once again. A golden treasure box of waiting dreams? unopened. An untouched pathway of freshly, fallen snow.

Where will your footsteps go? Another chapter in the story of your life, to be written on crisp white paper, with purple ink. A song unsung, waiting for the melody of your heart.

When will you start? A meadow bright with dew kissed flowers, reaching for the light, and waiting?

This New Year, I give to you my friend, A clean slate and canvas to paint upon your life.

May your picture be colored with new found joys, brushed with the wonder of simple things, and framed in gentle magic!

 Happy New Year. Blessings to you and your New Year Beginning!

May it be the very BEST year of your life so far!

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A Story Of Christmas Back In 1881

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Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

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It was Christmas Eve, 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside.

I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.
Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see.We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.
But I  knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what.
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Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy.

When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing?

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Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?” “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. The Widow
Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.

Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out of shoes.

Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”

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We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it.

We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt… could we come in for a bit?”

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Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out, one pair at a time.

There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best… shoes that would last. I watched her carefully.
She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said. He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.”

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I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but  after Widow Jensen mentioned it, I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit, and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord, that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. … They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if  has to eat turkey for too many meals.

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We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest… my two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, may the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”

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Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your Ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough.Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.
Your Ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny
sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”I understood alright… and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it.
Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensen’s, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.
Merry Christmas and God bless you!
Unknown Author
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