Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop (My First)

Welcome, friends! If you subscribe to my newsletter I told you all about this fun new addition to the blog-the Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop! I am thrilled to be a co-host along with 11 beautiful ladies to bring you a really nice variety of ideas each week linked up by so many blogs.

You can link up your amazing posts below if you are a blogger, and I will always feature a few favorites of my own along with the included posts that are featured on all of the co-hosts' blogs. 

Please look through their blogs as you have time and follow them-each are sharing fun, useful and creative ideas. I am excited to be following along and getting to share!

From this past week, I saw this really cute idea

20+ Toddler Activities to do at Home

Toddlers. They can be tricky! Not quite ready for sitting down and doing focused learning activities, this group is active, always exploring and needs their own fun activities to keep them (I don't like the term busy) investigating the right things rather than getting into the wrong ones.

It does not take complicated activities to get toddlers interested in fun play. If you are looking for some indoor activities for your toddler (1-3 year old), I have a list of over 20 right from the blog here! They are simple, play and learning activities that my toddlers have loved.

Check them out and let me know how they work for you!

Learning to Write the Alphabet with Cotton Swab Painting

Teaching children to write letters and numbers does not always require a pencil or other writing tool. We use paint and paint brushes for a fun alternative to learning to write!

Even my second child who is a bit more resistant to try out learning activities was interested in this activity because it involves painting-her love! Try a cotton swab for an easy-to-cleanup activity for painting letters and/or numbers. Here is how we did it:

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure.

Homemade Valentine's for Kids to Make (When They Have Not-so-Crafty Moms!)

Are you a crafty mom or are you craft-challenged? Neither determines whether you are a good mom or a bad mom, but it can cause holiday times to be a bit stressful when you see the crafty moms are pinning to Pinterest like crazy! 

I admit, crafting is fun for me, but I tend to not do elaborately crafty activities with my kids. Time, money, and time (did I mention that already) are my main factors for choosing to keep things pretty simple.

It is fun to encourage kids to create and especially to give to others. Whether you make or buy Valentine's this year, you are teaching your child to give and consider others, to love others. That is a win! 

If you are looking for a way to engage your child in making Valentines without having to buy extra supplies or even channel your inner Pinterest-perfect strength, I have an idea for you. 

Are you not a very crafty mom? Or looking for a really simple homemade Valentine idea? This will work!

This activity is great for preschool and school age kids. It has countless ways it can be personalized and embellished to take it from simple (or plain) to fancy. 

No feeling bad not-so-crafty moms! I have shared this just for you...and any other crafty moms who just want the kids to make the Valentines, because we moms have enough going on!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure

Calendar Photo Crawl Activity for Infants and Toddlers

Did you happen to save your 2014 calendar? Does it have a few big images of animals, or trucks, or even nature scenes? You can use it for this simple learning activity that can be adapted for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Even my first grader had some fun with it.

No leftover calendar? I have some options for you in the post.

I try to create activities that can be adapted for multiple age groups, because I have children in multiple age groups! It is much easier to do an activity that can be interesting to all of them at once than try to always have three different learning activities ready to go.

Calendar photo indoor activity to get crawling infants and toddlers learning and moving. There are adaptations listed for different ages so multiple age children can "play" together. So simple from The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide.

This calendar photo crawl activity uses two supplies-that's it!

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure.

Household Budget: H&R Block Tax Preparation Services

Being a full-time mom means caring for the house, the kids, and often puts moms in the prime position to keep watch over the family budget. Every household is different, but in my house, I am the bill payer, budget balancer and tax preparer. 

I am not a financial wiz. I told you about how I learned to set up a household budget and maintain it even as a child. As parents we have to teach our children about finances or they will struggle with it later in life. Taxes are a part of being financially aware because we do not get to choose to pay them or not.

I do not have a degree or credentials in finance. My dad taught me a lot about money management, but when it comes to filing our household taxes, I need help. H&R Block Tax Preparation Services online has been really helpful for me.

Take an active role in your family's finances-tax preparation and H&R Block Online Preparation Services are a great resource for tax filing.

I have e-filed our taxes using H&R Block for about 6 years now. (Long before agreeing to write this post on behalf of H&R Block as a member of the Shopathome.com Blogger Team.) I have been working through each tax season using their online services.

As a stay-at-home-mom, participating in managing the family finances is important. My husband earns a paycheck, but by managing it I make sure that it is viewed as our money.

Taxes do not have to be intimidating. The online filing services provided by H&R Block are simple to follow-the program walks you through a series of simple questions that you answer. It is very easy. Plus, if you get stuck (which I did when my husband was deployed), you have access to real-time help directly from H&R Block (in store or online).

They are offering some deals as you prep for this year's tax season.

This post was sponsored by the Shopathome.com Blogger Team on behalf of H&R Block. I only review and share products and services that I would use in my home in hopes that it can be helpful for you with your children. Please view my disclosure

Can Babies Be Bad News?

Was your baby good news or bad news? 

Until my twin pregnancy, I never thought pregnancy and a baby were anything other than blessings. They are gifts from God, rewards one verse calls them. That is what I thought until we traveled down the road of genetic testing with the twins.

I was asked by a genetic counselor if the news about my babies was "good news" and all I could think of was what about the parents who get the bad news? Genetic testing can affect our outlook on becoming a parent. Is it worth it?

I still remember the phone call like it happened yesterday:

"Hello, may I speak with Mrs. Erickson?"

"Yes, this is she."

"I am one of the genetic counselors at the [clinic]. I wanted to call because I have the results of your screening tests."

My heart started racing. I was not near tears, but my palms started to get clammy. I had been mentally preparing for whatever the results were going to show. Talking myself into wanting these babies no matter the results. 

I was at the point of almost hoping there would be some abnormality as if looking past it would prove my love for these babies...yep, that is where my mind went.

"All of the results are negative."

Silence on my end...a long silence. 

I was absorbing her words. Tossing them around in my head. Relieved...and sad that I felt relief. 

I had to hold back my emotions, but my voice was unsteady.

"Oh, ok, thank you."

My voice did not sound convincing.

"That is good news, I hope."

Wait, what? Good news? 

Yes, of course healthy babies are good news.

But, what if we had been given the other possibility?

Are babies with health challenges bad news? My heart and emotions fell apart for the parents of those babies when I hung up the phone. The ones who have to face that someone thinks their baby is bad news. How could anyone think that?

The Indispensability of the Stay-at-Home Mom {Guest Post}

Being a stay-at-home-mom is important. We don't choose it because we are rich, or lazy, we choose it because of the benefits it provides our family. We are valuable.

Did you hear the President’s recent gaffe about stay-at-home moms? He wants to liberate you from having to deal with those pesky babies of yours so you can earn a paycheck and become “full and equal participants in our economy.” 

Isn’t that great? 

No matter how you read the President’s statement, in context or out, the result is the same: you are the enemy. At-home moms keep him from getting as many children enrolled in daycare as possible.

Personally, I’m glad the President said what he did because it shows how far this nation has fallen. It’s no longer enough to respect women’s choices when it comes to work and family. 

Now we’re supposed to support the idea that daycare is comparable or even superior to being home with one’s mother. 

Who believes that garbage?

Not most Americans. 

According to Public Agenda, 70% of parents with children under age five believe “having a parent at home is best.” And 63% disagree that children in daycare receive “just as good” care and attention as with a stay-at-home parent. 

These findings are commensurate with 2014 Pew data that shows 60% of Americans say children are “better off when a parent stays home to focus on the family.”

Such attitudes are reflected in the number of parents choosing to stay home. In 2012, the share of at-home mothers rose to 29%, up from a modern-era low of 23% in 1999. This rise represents a reversal of the long-term decline in this group that had persisted for the last three decades of the 20th century.

One reason for the turnaround is America’s ambivalence about the effects of a mother’s absence from the home. Another is women’s exasperation in trying to keep up with the demands of full-time work and childrearing. 

You may recall Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic that went viral in 2012. In “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” she writes, “A rude epiphany hit me: juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible.”