Guest Blogs

Thank You Note Tips for Kids By Emma

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Thank You Note Tips for Kids

Thank You Note Tips for Kids

My name is Emma and my mom let me write this guest post for her. I hope you will share it with your kids. I am 9 years old and in 4th grade. I noticed that adults get really happy when you show that you appreciate your gift. When we receive gifts my mom is always asking for me to write a thank you note. I have had lots of experience writing thank you notes, so I decided to write a post on how to write the perfect thank you note for kids.

Step 1.

When you write your thank you note you always have to write the date in the top right hand corner. Not just 1-6-16 you want to actually want to write it out. For example, January 11, 2016.

Step 2.

To show that you are writing to them you want to start with dear. Like this, Dear Emma. After you write your dear whoever you are writing to you add a comma. For example, Dear Emma,. Then you skip a line and indent. Indenting is when you don’t start at the end of the line, you start your word two fingers in from the edge.

Step 3.

To start your thank you note you start with an opener. For example, Thank you so much for whatever they got you. After that you could just go on and say why you like it, but I think it is nice to say something like, I appreciate you getting it for me, or I use it all the time. So the person that is reading it will think that you really enjoyed it!

Step 4.

You should always tell the person why you loved the gift so much, or what you love to do with the gift. You could say, I wear my new dress all the time! Or I love to draw with my markers all the time! But don’t just copy me, say what you loved about your gift.

Step 5.

You need a closer. A closer is a sentence that wraps up your writing. You could say, thank you so much again! Or you could say, I hope I see you again soon. Whatever you want to say to wrap your writing up.

Step 6.

End you writing with Love, Emma, but with your name. You could also say sincerely, gratefully, your friend, or yours truly. There are so many other things you could say but I couldn’t name them all because there’s so many. Thank you for reading my post! I hope you share it with your kids!

Here is an example of one of my thank you notes:



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Guest Blog: How to Organize a Caroling Party

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How To Organize A Neighborhood Kids Caroling Party

Between the parties, presents, and so many twinkle-lit opportunities to celebrate the season, Orange County kids aren’t lacking for holiday activities. But as much fun as it is to partake in the big events around town, sometimes we all crave something a little simpler and closer to home.

Last year I helped organize an evening of old fashioned, door-to-door caroling for the kids in our neighborhood. It was so much fun – and ridiculously low-stress – that we’re doing it again this year, with a few improvements.

Here are 7 tips for organizing a kids caroling party in your neighborhood:

1. Save the date

December fills up fast, so it helps to touch base with a few neighbors ahead of time to set a date. We chose a Sunday evening mid-month, avoiding the party-heavy Friday and Saturday nights and ensuring a good amount of people would be at home in the evening. After settling on the date we sent around a casual save-the-date email and asked people to pass it along.

2. Spread the word

About a week ahead of time, we distributed fliers in every mailbox on our street. The invitation asked people to RSVP so that we’d know how many kids to expect, and also to help provide cookies, hot chocolate, cups, plates and napkins for the post-caroling gathering (which was held in my garage!). This year we’re adding a note letting neighbors who don’t have children know that we’ll be knocking on their door that evening so they’re more likely to answer and be ready to be serenaded.

3. Prep the singers

We held zero rehearsals for our informal caroling party, but we did want the kids to come across as prepared (and also avoid any rogue “Batman smells” improvisations). We sent lyrics to four classic (and easy-to-remember) carols along with the invitation and had printed copies when we gathered in my driveway. Before we set out, we had the kids practice each song a couple of times and reminded them to use their best manners and nicest singing voices. It helped to have a good number of older kids who could read mixed in with the little ones.

4. Start out on the right foot

The biggest mistake we made last year was not knowing if neighbors were at home when we started knocking on doors! The kids were so excited and ready to sing and we had to try three or four homes before someone opened the door. This year we’ll stack the deck in our favor, finding out in advance which neighbors are planning to answer the door. That way if nobody’s home at the fourth or fifth house, we’ll at least have started out successfully.


5. Be inclusive

We chose non-religious songs for our repertoire, and our flier encouraged families of all celebrating traditions to join in. While nobody spliced hairs over shouting “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays” as we paraded down the street, I do think it helped to set an inclusive tone and encourage participation from anyone who wanted to come along.

6. Keep it short

The entire event lasted from about 5:30pm until 7. This wasn’t a marathon trick-or-treating session or giant block party. We gathered in my driveway, practiced a couple of times, and then sang at maybe eight or ten houses total. By this point the little ones were getting tired of “Silent Night” and everybody was cold and hungry. Back in my garage we passed out hot chocolate and cookies (nobody set foot inside, making it the easiest holiday gathering to host ever!) and everybody was gone by 7:00pm.

7. Think festive, not perfect

This isn’t the event to take a perfect photo (too dark anyway) or show off a polished performance (not gonna happen). This is about kids and community, neighbors and music. Aside from letting the kids know we expected them to be respectful and cheerful, we let them interpret the experience in their own way. Some shook bells and tambourines; some dressed in their party dresses, others in PJs and reindeer antlers. Many messed up the words or got stage fright when the doors opened. But everybody returned with flushed cheeks and giant grins, and it didn’t have to be perfect to be a party.

The best part of the evening for us mamas was standing back at the curb and watching neighbors’ faces light up at the sight of 15 children singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It didn’t cost a thing, was just steps away from home, and about as full of holiday magic as any other thing we did that season.



Sarah Powers is a writer, editor, and co-host of The Mom Hour podcast. She lives in Orange County with her husband and three young kids. Find more of Sarah’s writing by following her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Guest Blog: &*it Happens.

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I asked my brave sister to share her unfortunate experience with potty accidents in older children to help any moms who might be experiencing the same challenges.  Because I KNOW she is not the only one who has had to deal with this parenting issue.

Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing.

Potty Accidents in Older Children

Here is her story…

So, we all know potty training can be one of the WORST parts of parenting. Like, ever. The messes, the anxiety of accidents in the car or in public, the “I don’t have to go!” we hear from our kids thousands of times when you KNOW they have to go.  Even less fun is when your formerly potty-trained child regresses, but potty training regression in older kids can make life a living nightmare.

I know because it happened to us.

However, there is hope! With the help of our pediatrician, we nipped the problem in the butt (hee hee) so I felt compelled to share our experience with you.  I also feel that this regimen will help us immensely when I am ready to tackle getting our younger one to go on the potty!

Our initial try at potty training was pretty much a success.  My son was 2 years, 9 months when we spent a weekend in the backyard au natural. I was on bedrest with my second son and it was Mother’s Day weekend.  Good times.

He finally decided he wanted to wear his big boy Yo Gabba Gabba! underwear and we went for it.  I was pretty impressed how quickly it did happen with going #1 and #2 still took a few more weeks (I may have been blocking it out…it may have been a few months!).  So I thought we were finished potty training.

He went off to preschool a few months later and only had one tiny accident there in 2 years.

Flash forward to summer…

Pool Time = Poo Time (YIKES!) 

At 4 years old and totally potty trained for over a year, that summer during every trip to a public pool (or my parent’s jacuzzi…sorry mom and dad…) resulted in massive #2 accidents.  It was HORRIFYING.

I felt so out of control of the situation.  And since he was a BIG 4 year old, they don’t make disposable swim diapers that size. Luckily we found these swim diapers for big kids online and began to call them his swim underwear.

I could’t make sense of the situation because it seemed he was regularly going #2.  I thought he was maybe swallowing too much chlorinated water???  Whatever the case, we took a break from the pool.

[You’re welcome.]

So along comes the following summer and now he’s FIVE.

We had been having a lot of struggles in the #2 department over the previous months.  He began to hold it in because of a few instances where he was a tad constipated.  There is actually a term for holding poop in ~ encopresis.  Yep, always something new for us to learn in parenting, isn’t there?

The fear of going became a constant struggle between us.


Then, matters were made worse when I unknowingly gave him an accidental “juice cleanse”  with my excitement over my new  NutriBullet “smoothies” (affiliate link).

Let’s just say that more than one kale smoothie a day CAN be a little too much of a good thing.

So then he became fearful after having diarrhea and would hold it in also.  I was at the end of my rope with what to do.

Kindergarten Is Coming (Time to PANIC)

He was starting kindergarten in 4 weeks. The thought of him having consistent accidents there was giving me the worst anxiety.

The pool time accidents were still happening. He was (in our opinion!) old enough to know when he had to go and run to the stairs in time.  But it seemed as if he had no bodily control of it once he was in the water. It was one of the hardest parenting issues we have had to deal with.

What was I going to do about this problem? I called my amazing pediatrician for help, and she SAVED us.

If you are struggling with potty training accidents in older children, I hope this might help give you some ideas too. I know firsthand just how awful big kid accidents and potty training regression in older kids can be. I only wish we would have done this sooner.

Our Doctor’s Advice 

Our pediatrician helped my son understand the pee and poo are trash in our bodies and we have to take it out.  Every day.

And that when when mommy or daddy say go and you don’t feel like you have any in you…GO and try.

It was so nice to get some back-up on this!

She then explained to me that a pool (or bath) can be like a mini-enema and if he was holding ANY #2 in at that time, it would automatically need to come out once he was in the water.

We needed to get him on a regular bowel movement schedule, so his bowels were being emptied daily to help stop any urge to hold it in.

Operation Bowel Regimen was on.

Yes, a regimen was to be put in place to try to regulate his bowels. We were skeptical, but it WORKED. Moms, it worked. Here’s how we did it.


The goal is to get your child on a bowel regimen to go poop on a schedule, same time daily, with stools that are soft enough to not cause discomfort.

You can use a stool softener like flax seed oil in a smoothie, prune juice, apple juice, dried fruit or we found that fiber gummies worked the best for him [Please ASK YOUR DOCTOR before putting your child on any sort of stool softener FIRST.]

Time to Poop!

After a meal is usually the most successful time to go so choose a time that works for your family.  We chose after breakfast so that he could go before school.

Sit them on the potty with an activity…books, crayons, a small game, etc. whatever they can do to sit an relax.  I wouldn’t suggest an iPhone unless you have an Otterbox on it.  We lost one in this process in the potty.

Then wait.  Until they go.

Then PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE.  Make it a positive experience for them!!!!

It took us a few days of getting the formula right, but now he runs into the bathroom by himself after breakfast and just does his business.  All is right with the world.

I really hope this piece of advice can help someone out there struggling with this!  Do you have any potty training regression in older kids tips to share? Things that worked for you? Please share! 

© Ekostsov | Dreamstime.comToilet Paper On Holder Photo

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Guest Blog: Why Adults Need to Go Out and Play!

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Why Adults Need to Go Out and Play

Today’s post on nature outings in Orange County (for adults!) is written by my friend Michele of I love the reminders of how therapeutic a nature outing can be for all ages – not just our children. Here is what she writes…

Why Adults Need to Go Out and Play

by Michele Whiteaker, Nature Play Trips 

It’s obvious, isn’t it? Because we feel better when we go out on a walk!

Rich Louv, author of The Nature Principle, wrote an excellent blog post about the “Ten Reasons Children and Adults Need Vitamin N.” He sites all sorts of research about how your time out in the wilds of Orange County will make you feel better, unleash your creativity, and help you feel a part of your community.

I get outdoors a lot with my kids, but there are some special places where I go to be alone and take in the quiet. Check out  “Where Mommies Dare to Play” for a few ideas. We just need to make it a habit to go to some of these outdoor places rather than our regular Target or Starbuck’s rut!

On Jen’s Free Daily Charge Ideas list, I was happy to see playing outdoors appear more than once. Jen is awesome at giving ideas on WHAT to do and I’m really good at knowing WHERE.

So let me fill you in on some amazing places you can visit for nature outings in Orange County. Some of these will require you to pay to park – so they aren’t exactly free. But if you carpool with a friend it should only cost $2.50 each and that’s worth a little sanity!

Ideas for Nature Outings in Orange County

Nix  1. Go on a walk with a girlfriend.

Make a plan to meet up with a girlfriend and leave from school drop off to make it simple. Salt Creek Trail is a favorite “with a friend” walk in south county.  San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary fits the bill for central county in Irvine. Yorba Regional Park is a beautiful option for north county with lakes and tall trees.  All my walks tend to be “nature walks” because wherever I am, I find a cute little bluebird or see a white egret flying over.

2. Take a walk on the beach.  

Don’t make this too complicated or you won’t do it. I usually pick my “walking beaches” based on ease of parking. And remember you don’t have to do this for exercise, you can do it for fun and still get benefits. Let your toes get wet in the waves and be on the lookout for dolphins in the surf. Seal Beach Pier beach is my north county pick. Parking near Balboa Pavilion on the Peninsula is a great spot to walk by the Balboa Pier and down to The Wedge in central county. Montage beaches feel especially luxurious for south county, but parking can be a pain. So I usually go with Capistrano Beach Park.

3.  Meet a friend for a hike or nature walk.   

You can visit the regional parks site if you want some ideas on where to go. Click hiking trails on the map and then click on one of the pine tree icons for ideas. Most have a “map PDF” where you can see the trails.

4.  Go to the library.

“Go to the library” was on Jen’s list and I know it’s not officially outdoors, but I’m in love with libraries so I need to weigh in here. Oh, Mission Viejo Library is such a find for grown-ups. The Newport Beach Public Library off Avocado near Fashion Island has a nautical theme and park outside for wandering. Yorba Linda Public Library is a reading oasis in north county.

5. Take a bike ride.  

I like to ride on off-street paved paths. Off the top of my head, I’d pick parking at the San Juan Capistrano train station and riding down to Dana Point Harbor. Balboa Peninsula to Huntington Beach has a LONG and flat path that goes right along the ocean. Orange also has an off-street paved path. You can get an OC Bikeways map by contacting OCTA.  This school year, the kids and I are riding to school one day a week. Then I’m riding home by myself. I’ll pick them up later in the day via car (or if it’s cool enough out then I’ll ride my bike back to get them after school).

Hope that empowers you to get out and actually DO some of the ideas on the list.

Are you doing the Daily Charge Challenge? Here are 15 more relaxing things to do outdoors for the rest of the month and beyond.

Sit on the beach and rub your toes in the sand.

Grab a handful of beach rocks and see if you can find sea glass.

Eat a meal outdoors.

Walk somewhere in bare feet – feel the textures beneath your feet.

Swim – float on your back and feel gravity go away.

Walk around a plant nursery and pick something green to grow in your garden or in a container on your porch.

Visit a nature center and chat with a ranger.

Paddle board.

Pick a nature spot and sit. What do you see? What do you hear?

Draw. Keep a nature journal and take the time to sketch something.

Write a poem or a song.

See if you can still do a cartwheel. (Stretch first!)

Spin in circles and get dizzy, then “all fall down.” (People might think you’re nuts, but who cares!)

Look up. Do you see the way the sunlight or the wind hits the trees? Are there birds? Clouds?

Hug a tree. Really. It will make you smile.

Michele Whiteaker @natureplaytrips is a writer, mom, and Certified Interpretive Guide. eases families into the outdoors with travel ideas, kid-friendly nature activities, and play-infused parenting tips.

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Let’s Talk About Sex

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 This is a compensated post written by me on behalf of Sony Pictures. 


Let’s talk about sex.

This is not a topic I normally talk about on my blog, but after seeing the trailer for a hilarious movie called Sex Tape coming to theaters this month, I had to write about it because most of us married with children people will be able to relate. Big time.

The movie is about a couple, Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) who have been married for ten years, two kids, are still very much in love, but well, the passion of the early days has cooled off. In an attempt to bring back the heat to their marriage, they decide to make a sex tape, and the private video is accidentally, shared. Oh, the horror!

You just have to watch the trailer, you will laugh out loud.

Keeping the Passion Alive After Children 

The moment you have children, or actually, the moment you find out you are pregnant, your sex life changes. Dramatically.

I love it in the movie when Annie says, “How the hell do you get it back?” Because I am sure most moms have wondered that exact same thing.

But you can, I am telling you, you can, it just takes a little work.

Now, my husband and I would never be so brave as to make a sex tape like Annie and Jay. Mostly because I would be paranoid about the possibility of it getting viewed by the wrong people (which is why this movie is so funny to me).  But there are some simple ways you can spice things up in your own love life and bring back some of the heat to your marriage.

My Top 5 Tips to Gettin’ It On, Parent Style

In the movie Annie is a successful mommy blogger (LOVE IT) and I felt very honored to be invited to write a guest post on this very topic on Annie’s blog, Who’s Yo Mommy.

Click here to visit Annie’s blog, and look for my guest post on my top 5 Tips to Gettin’ It On, Parent Style.

What do you think?

Do you have any tips on keeping the passion alive after children? Please share in the comments below!

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