5 Unique Photo Ideas to Capture the First Day of School

Every year, the night before school starts, my kids and I pick out their first day of school outfit so they can start the new school year off right. When they were little I got to pick the outfit and of course I made them look super cute (in my opinion). Once they hit second grade though, I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut on what I thought was the best outfit. They hated anything I recommended. “Really, Mom? A skirt!?!”

But for all of the work we put into buying and choosing the first day of school outfit, I soon came to realize that I didn’t put any time and thought into the PHOTO to capture the moment. I usually scrambled to try and get them to pose in front of the door as we were running out the door. Or, I tried to get all the kids to line up in front of the bus while the bus driver impatiently glared at me. Boring! As you can see in my example. So, this year I wanted to plan ahead and creatively capture the moment. I wish I had done some of these when they first started school, but it’s never too late. Here are some creative, unique photo ideas to remember your child on their first day of school.

1. Chalk isn’t just for chalkboards. I love this idea from Kim at TheCelebrationShoppe.com where she writes the grade on the driveway with chalk and then photographs her child from above standing next to it. Click over and see how easy and yet impactful this photo can be. She also has some wonderful Back-to-School printables on her site so definitely check out her site.

2. A Cookie of a Tradition. This idea combines a photo idea and a back-to-school tradition that I’m sure your kids will love. At HowDoesShe.com you’ll find a recipe for a giant chocolate chip cookie that a Mom made for her kids every year. She used frosting to write the grade and year on the cookie and it was a special treat for the kids when they got home from their first day of school. However, it’s also a great photo opportunity to show your child holding the cookie with their grade and date in the photo.

3. Hanging on to Kindergarten. As a fun way to show how much your child has grown, when you take their picture this year, have them hold a framed photo of their first day of kindergarten. It’s funny to see how cute and young they looked when they started kindergarten and how much they have grown since then. Or to show year-to-year growth, have them hold a framed photo of last year’s first day of school photo.

4. Giving Props to Good Photos. TheLittleStyleFile.com has some adorable photo ideas for capturing your kids on the first day of school. I really like KJaneDesign.com’s idea of using shiny, red apples piled up in front of your child. The number of apples equals the grade number.

5. Put a frame on it. I like the Back-to-School frame that Crissy’s Crafts created for her child. It’s easy, you can spend time crafting it with your child, and it’s a wonderful prop for your first day of school photo. A winner!

If you need first day of school printable photo props, Spoonful.com has rounded up 12 cute options. Best yet, they are free!

Finally, for a little humor, I found this photo on Pinterest and loved it. Definitely add a photo of Mom and Dad on the first day of school to your photo albums.

Do you take first day of school photos every year? Any other creative ideas you’d like to share? I’d love to see them!

Check out all of my Back-to-School Tips & Ideas to make this school season fun and easy, or check out my Back-to-School board on Pinterest.

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Tags: Back to School Tips

Mom’s Ultimate Back-to-School Survival Guide

Back-to-School season is in full swing and that means a lot of shopping, planning, and paperwork for Mom. Don’t let this hectic season steal your smile! Over the years we’ve put together some great tips and ideas on how to make the Back-to-School season stress-free and even fun for both kids and parents. Here are some of our top blog posts to help you get the kids back to school with ease this year. Think of it as your Ultimate Sanity- Saving, Back-to-School Guide!

Before School Even Starts

Back-to-School Shopping

First Day of School

School’s in Session

I hope you and your kids have a great school year full of Chocolate Cake Moments!

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Tags: Back to School Tips

8 Easy Back-to-School Money Saving Tips

The Back-to-School shopping season is off and running! Stores have swapped their summer merchandise for fall clothing and back-to-school essentials, so I hope you don’t need any summer clothes anymore. The National Retail Federation estimates that parents of school-age children will spend $635 on back-to-school shopping this year. That’s a boatload of money and I don’t know about you but I would rather keep more of that in my pocket this year.

Back-to-School shopping can be a little daunting but here are some money saving and bargain shopping tips to make this season a little easier on the wallet.

Do you have your school supply list and have you checked it twice?

1. Always have your school supplies list with you. You never know when you’ll run into a bargain somewhere. Start checking off the items as you buy them to avoid duplicates.

2. Only buy what you need. Your kids are constantly growing and while you think their clothes from last year might still fit, they might not. Starting now, have your kids do a fashion show for you to see what in their closet still fits and what can be given away. Now you can make a list of what clothes, shoes, backpacks, and other accessories you need so you don’t over buy.

3. Wait to buy school clothes until after Labor Day. You’ll see more coupons and sales running then. Also, it never ceases to amaze me that after I buy my son new jeans in August, he grows an inch in September. There’s nothing worse than having a bag full of new clothes that your kids suddenly can’t wear. Wait until late September to make sure any last minute growth spurts are out of the way.

4. Search online for coupons to your favorite stores. There are all kinds of coupon sites out there to help you find a code. Don’t forget to check the store’s site directly. Some store sites offer coupons to new customers for signing up for their e-newsletters or listing their own coupons and deals.

5. Conduct a Scavenger Hunt. We just cleaned out our basement and I was amazed at home many unused and even unopened school supplies my kids have brought home every year that were just piling up in boxes out of the way. So, send your kids on a scavenger hunt throughout the house to see if you have pencils, mostly unused notebooks, rulers, binders, index cards, glue sticks, etc. Why spend the money if you don’t have to.

6. Check second-hand clothes shops or garage sales for kids clothes. Many times, these clothes were never worn and still have the tag on them. Some churches and Moms groups have used clothing sales so keep your eye out.

7. Host a neighborhood kids clothes swap. If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids or if you have a lot of friends with kids all different ages, host a clothes swap. Have all the Moms over for some chocolate cake. Tell them to bring their kids’ gently used clothes and see if you can swap. Set up a Yahoo! Group and have your friends and neighbors list their sizes before the swap meet.

8. Finally, remember to write your kid’s name on the tag of their coat/jacket, backpack, lunch bag, etc. Stuff always gets lost but you might have a better chance of reclaiming it from the school Lost and Found box if you label it. Then you won’t have to spend more money replacing items.

So relax, take a deep breath and bring on the Back-to-School Season! Read my other Back-to-School Sanity Saving Tips for Mom for a stress-free season or for some fun ideas, check out my Back-to-School Board on Pinterest.

What other tips do you have for saving money during Back-to-School season?

You Might Also Like:

8 Ways to Make Your Child’s School Lunch Less Boring

How to Ease those Back-to-School Jitters

Family Time Management and Organizational Tips

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Tags: Back to School Tips

5 Life Lessons I Learned from my Dad

My Dad has a milestone birthday coming up and in trying to think of a meaningful gift for him, I thought I’d write about him and how his values have shaped my life.

So, to honor my Dad on his special birthday, I’m going to share the 5 most important life lessons he taught me, that I hope to pass along to my kids.

1. If you want it, work for it. Growing up, our family wanted for nothing. We always had a nice house, went on vacations, had air conditioning, and we definitely had plenty of toys. However, despite being lucky like that, my Dad did teach me that if you really want something, work for it. If there was something I wanted that my parents didn’t feel like just giving me, he told me to go work for the money and buy it myself. So, I would vacuum the house to get extra allowance. I’d bake cookies and sell them to friends to make extra cash. I would babysit (even though I HATED that) and I got a job in high school as soon as I could. So while I’m not the person who squirrels away money for a rainy day, I also NEVER spend more than I have because of Dad’s lesson. Want something? Work for it. Then enjoy. Even though I spoil MY kids, I am working on passing this lesson along to them, as well.

2. Go for the gusto and savor life. My Dad wants to enjoy life, so he does. He works hard and then he indulges in the things that make him happy. Pursuing enjoyment is a noble calling. He taught me to eat great food, travel the world and go to exciting places. Seek out fun so you can laugh heartily. Go to the movies often and be entertained. Dance. He still likes to dance with my Mom. I’ve learned by watching him. Life is too short to sit back and wait. So, start savoring.

3. Don’t be afraid to try it. While I remember sitting at the kitchen table for hours refusing to eat vegetables and not being allowed to leave until I had, I did eventually grow up and come to appreciate trying different things. You never know where your new favorite food, movie, book, city, restaurant, exercise class, or idea is going to come from if you don’t experiment and explore. (Except for the Octopus Ice Cream I ate in Mexico once. That was a very bad decision.)

I was very upset when I was 10-years-old and my Dad came home to tell us we were moving to a place where they didn’t speak English. It was unfair! It was inhumane! It would interfere with my budding 10-year-old social life! Dad said “Try it, you’ll like it.” Once we moved to Puerto Rico and then Mexico, I did love it. I learned Spanish. Ate weird food. Met new friends from around the world with different perspectives. I saw true poverty. I came to appreciate what I have. Some of the fondest memories in my life occurred after I got over the fear of the unknown. I wish I could offer the experience of temporarily living in another country to my kids. While we don’t have the opportunity to move overseas, I can encourage them to try new things and explore the world.

4. Loyalty. To my Dad, loyalty and doing your duty means everything. He’s very loyal to family, he was loyal to his employer for so long, and he’s definitely loyal to friends. Sure, there may be disagreements. There may be minor arguments. But that’s what family and friends do. Despite that, you know you can count on him to be there when and if you need help. There’s strength and comfort in knowing that.

5. Dress to impress. As a surly teen, I HATED it when my Dad would make us kids dress up when we were invited along on his business dinners or went out to eat in nice restaurants. (Since we lived overseas, my Dad often took the family along when he was entertaining business people from the States who had come to visit.) Of course, his idea of dressing to impress and a kid’s idea of dressing to impress were completely different. “What do you mean I can’t wear this ripped surfer T-shirt to dinner?” I hated the dress pants he made me wear that made my butt look flat. Now, I would kill for pants that made my butt look flat but then, it was hardly cool. However, it did teach me the important lesson for later in life that if you want to be perceived as successful, you must put your best face forward … or your flat butt, if you have one.

So, Happy Birthday, Dad! Enjoy your day. You’ve deserved it. Love,


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Tags: Parenting Tips · Traditions

Homemade Wreath – Teacher Appreciation Gift

Looking for a unique and memorable teacher’s gift to make for your school art or preschool teacher? How about a fun wreath to decorate the door or classroom? My daughter and I had fun putting this wreath together for an art themed party we had but the wreath turned out so nice we gave it to one of her teachers as a gift.

You’ll Need:

  • A grapevine wreath
  • Colorful ribbon
  • Twist tie or floral wire
  • Art supplies like crayons, colored pencils, paintbrushes, colorful scissors, and maybe a tiny wooden art easel
  • Glue gun

Most of the decorative art supplies were gathered from our own stash so I really only needed to buy the wreath and ribbon.

To assemble:

    1. Tie and knot the ribbon around the wreath to start off. Then keep wrapping the ribbon all the way around the wreath to make a diagonal pattern. Cut the ribbon and tie the loose end to the original knot where you started.

    2. Create a big bow out of the same ribbon with several ends hanging down. Here’s a great video on how to tie a big, beautiful ribbon bow. Attach it to the wreath with the floral wire. (Or you could use the glue gun to glue it. However you might see the glue if your ribbon is sheer.)

    3. Now start decorating with the art supplies. I was able to attach most of the art supplies by inserting them directly into the twisted grapevines or tucking them under the ribbon. For heavier or flatter items we used the glue gun.

Viola! A pretty wreath to give as a homemade end-of-year appreciation gift for your favorite teacher.

Need some more Teacher’s Gift Ideas? Check out:

What gift are you planning to give your child’s teacher this year?

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Tags: Back to School Tips · Mom's Corner

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