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 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 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.”

Exercise for Busy Moms: Fitfusion Review

An exercise option for busy moms to fit in a variety of workouts at home-no equipment, no commitment, no gym. Great option for busy mom to fit in exercise.

Many people assume we stay-at-home moms have all the time we want to care for our responsibilities and have time left over to spend on ourselves. When I first became a stay at home mom, I thought I would have time. Time to keep the house clean, the kids orderly, and be a fun mom that was fit and healthy.


Even though it is always my goal to be the best I can each day, I don't always get there. There is so much unexpected motherhood work that happens each day that is necessary, but takes time away from what I want to get done. 

Don't get me wrong, I want to care for my family however I need to, but I do have to push aside my hobbies, projects, etc., often. I know it is only the season of motherhood, but it can be hard to set aside that part of me many days. 

Exercise is one way I try to fit in time for myself. I have not been good at fitting in regular exercise since my second child was born. There were no regular nap times to fit in a good workout, but I found a way to have fun working out, on my time, even on the busiest days of being a mom-Fitfusion.

Fitfusion is genius! It is the online rental stop for exercise videos. You can stream any workout video you want in moments. Do an abdominal workout one day, try some cardio dance the other. If you are pregnant or postpartum, there are workouts that help you get back into shape after having a baby.

You can rent individual videos-no subscription needed-or you can subscribe for $9.99 per month and access a huge database of exercise videos for all fitness levels. Workout in your own home, no pretty workout clothes needed!

You can try it for 2 weeks FREE 
and enter to win a one month free trial at the end of this post!

This post was sponsored by Fitfusion. I only review and share products and services that I would use in my home in hopes that it can be helpful for you. All opinions are my own. Please view my disclosure.

Homemade Thank You Notes Using Gift Wrap Scraps

DIY thank you notes and greeting cards for kids to make with recycled wrapping paper scraps. This is a great project for teaching basic skills as well as thankfulness to children at a young age shared at The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide.

I want to teach my children to be thankful for what they receive. The holidays are a time when we have a lot of discussions about how giving can make others feel good just like we feel when we receive gifts. 

We emphasize the Jesus lessons of Christmas, and the story of Saint Nicholas, to teach our children the power of giving. 

When my children receive gifts, I use writing thank you notes as a way to teach gratitude. We explore this with the Thankful Book lesson at Thanksgiving which is a great activity for preschoolers and school age kids, but at Christmas (and every day) being thankful is just as important. 

A fun aspect of Christmas is unwrapping gifts, and recycling the gift wrap teaches good lessons of conservation and care for the environment

I created a little activity for my children to make homemade greeting cards and thank you notes with wrapping paper scraps. You only need 4 simple supplies (that you already have at home) to try this DIY project with your children from preschool age through the school age years:

This post contains affiliate links. Please view my disclosure.

Book-Based Activity and Craft Kits for Kids

Finding the right gifts for kids, within a budget, can be hard. We want to give our children things that they want and at the same time we want that to be money well-spent. How we spend our money is important.

My children have bins of toys, and we sort through them twice a year (at Christmas and at their birthdays) to donate some and trash what is broken and unable to be fixed.

My husband and I want to spend our money on things that will last-that will entertain and last longer than five minutes. Of course we like to give our children things that they will enjoy too. Learning activity and craft kits from Ivy Kids are a great unique gift idea for kids.

I told you about Ivy Kids book-based activity kits for kids back when creator and SAHM Taseea Cruz asked me to review a couple of kits prior to her launching Ivy Kids earlier this year. That review is the 2nd most popular post on this blog! Many of you are enjoying the Ivy Kids kits as much as my family does.

The kits last longer than one try of each activity or craft. They teach valuable skills that children ages 3-8 need to learn. It is "preschool in a box"! 

I recently had the chance to try out another kit with my 6 1/2 year old (first grade) and 3 1/2 year old (preschool). The moment they saw the green cardboard box, they were asking me non-stop when they could try out the activities. 

This post contains affiliate links. This post was sponsored by Ivy Kids, LLC. 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.

Photo Book Gift and Keepsake Ideas: MyPublisher Review

The twins are almost a year old-already! The thick of the baby stage can be so exhausting no matter how many babies you are caring for at one time. The challenges can wear us down, but if we focus on remembering the special moments of being a mom, we can get through it with a positive outlook. 

The memories will be well worth the effort. I made a paper scrapbook for each of my older kids to remember special moments during their first years. Extra time is not something I have much of, so creating a traditional scrapbook for each of the babies right now will not work. I created a photo book of the twins' first year using MyPublisher

Photo Book Gift and Keepsake Ideas-MyPublsher Review PLUS 6 ideas for photo books and an organizational quick tip from The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide.

I was never interested in digital scrapbooking, but considering the lack of time to make a paper scrapbook, the digital version I made with the free MyPublisher software was the right way to go.

I have a coupon for you all and am excited to share 6 photo book gift ideas as well as the unique features that I liked about this program. There is a quick organizational tip at the end of the post as well. 

This post was sponsored by MyPublisher as part of the Shopathome Blogger Team. All opinions are my own. I only review and share products that I would use in my home with the hope that it can be helpful to you. Please view my disclosure.