Fundraise Smarter with SmartRaiser

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SmartRaiser Mobile Discount Card for Fundraising

How many of you are familiar with the credit card-sized, plastic community discount cards? For those not familiar, it’s a card with reusable deal or promotion for card holders and groups sell the cards to raise money for their cause.

The concept is a great one, because who doesn’t love a win-win? You feel good by supporting a local group and get to save money at local businesses, and the fundraising group makes money.

But there’s always been one little problem with me. I have bought these cards over the years, but often don’t take advantage of the deals on the card because the print is really small and I forget what’s on there.

Or, even if I remember a company is on there, I often don’t have the card on me. Frustrating. Which is why I think this company is SO brilliant!

SmartRaiser Mobile Discount Card 

Enter SmartRaiser, an Orange County based company that created an easy-to-use mobile discount cardwhere you always have your mobile discount card on you, because these days, no one goes anywhere without their phone!

SoCal moms and families with kids in groups that fundraise, you will want to run to get the SmartRaiser fundraising program started in your school or organization.

How it Works

SmartRaiserScreen The SmartRaiser folks have canvased SoCal to get hundreds of deals groups can use to customize a card for their fundraiser.

In case you were wondering, there is no cost to the business. I personally love supporting my local businesses – especially when I know they are active in helping the community.

Each mobile discount card has on average around 50 reusable deals which groups can use to sell and raise money for their organization.

The mobile discount card sells for $20 for 12 months and out of that, the fundraising group makes 70%! The group will also make a percentage on renewals giving them the the opportunity for a continuous revenue stream.

How AWESOME is that?!

To make it even more personal, groups can brand their own mobile discount card.

For example, say your mascot is the Lion.  Your school could sell their own customized Lion Mobile Discount Card.

And since it is mobile, you can sell your card online, through social media and also in person.

It’s a No Cost / No Risk Fundraiser 

SmartRaiser makes it free for a fundraising group to sign on to their program and there are no set-up fees or minimums to get started. Plus, since it is totally mobile, there are no costs for printing and no inventory to hold on to.  It’s one of the truly risk free fundraising programs out there.

Never Forget to Use Your Discounts Again 

When users download the app, you can easily scroll through and check out the amazing deals. I love the clean and user-friendly interface.

After you purchase the mobile discount card, you simply show the deal screen at the business to redeem your savings over and over and over again for a whole entire year! 

Plus, your mobile discount card doesn’t de-value over time, it is good for 12- notifications months from the date of activation.

Now I am going to get a little techie on you because I think this is one of the coolest features. The app puts a geofence around the business’s location and a (not annoying) reminder will pop up on your phone when you are near or in the location reminding you of the deal!

Do you want to implement this risk free fundraiser? 

If you are involved in a group that has a fundraising need and are interested in learning more about how you can get your group’s own customized mobile discount card to sell to raise money contact:

Jim Shirley
Vice President
jimshirley @

If you own a Southern California business and would like the opportunity to discuss featuring a special deal or promotion on SmartRaiser to help local groups raise money contact:

Ryan Oriza
Account Executive
ryanoriza @

Don’t fundraise harder. Fundraise Smarter.

Visit to learn more!

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Adorable Teacher Gift Ideas

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End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas

Okay mamas, we’re in the home stretch.  You know what I’m talking about.  The beloved tradition of counting down the number of schools days left until…SUMMER!  And it’s not too early to start thinking about teacher gift ideas for the end of the year.  Because if you think we’re tired…they have to be exhausted!!!  Let’s show them our love and appreciation.

Recently our “Thanks for Helping Me Grow” end of the year succulent gift was featured in a round up of DIY Thank You Gifts for Teachers, so check out those cute ideas, and here are some more adorable end of year teacher gift ideas to celebrate your child’s teachers this year.

End of Year Teacher Gift Ideas Round-Up

Picture Flower Bouquet
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Picture Flower Bouquet

How darling is this?!  If you plan far enough in advance, you can ask each parent to bring in a small headshot picture of their child…or “sneak in” one day during class time and take individual pictures, then have them printed. What a fun and creative way to say thank you to your favorite teacher!

“Thank You Teacher” Free Printable
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Thank You Teacher Free Printable

I just love this idea because it’s such a cute keepsake.  You can have each child in class fill out this adorable free printable and have them either attach a picture…or draw one themselves.  Then have the printables bound or put in cute folder booklet.

Hands Down Teacher Appreciation Gift
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Hands Down Best Teacher

Sweet-smelling soap, a cute little gift tag, and your child’s cut out handprint with their name.  Super simple, super cute, super sweet.

Summertime Basket
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Easy Teacher Gift Idea - Summertime

I love theme baskets, and I thought this one was really cute for summer. Doesn’t it make you want to have a nice cold glass of lemonade?  Take a peek at all of the items, add your own, and personalize it to what you know your teacher will love and/or use.

Cute Cups and & Printable Tags
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Teacher appreciation ideas - Cups

What I love about these super cute cups and tags?  They are summery, totally usable…and you can put just about any gift card, candy, bath salts, confetti, etc. that you want to jazz it up.  Voila!

Thank You for Helping Me Grow
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Thank You for Helping Me Grow

I know how much my teacher loves gardening, so this would be such a sweet gift for her. What a fun spin on giving a pretty bouquet of flowers.

Manicure Jar Teacher Appreciation Gift
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Who doesn’t love a mani?!  Such a cute mason jar idea, especially with the free printable tag to go with it.  A manicure in a jar!

Teacher Summer Relaxation Kit
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How charming is this?  You can “build” your teacher a beach or pool bag with all of her summer “relaxation essentials.”  Lots of room to customize, depending on what your teacher likes.

Coffee Lovers Basket
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Teacher Gifts - Coffee Gift

Ah, the best “go-to” gift in my opinion.  A Starbucks cards.  You can never go wrong with a Starbucks card!  And I love that the card “holder” is actually a Starbucks cup.  A clever and cute way to snazz up the gift presentation.

Free (Funny!) Teacher Appreciation Cards
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Free Funny Teacher Appreciation Cards

And finally…if Pinterest and crafty projects aren’t your deal, take a look at these hilarious teacher appreciation cards on Chickabug!  Print ’em out, slap on a gift card, and you’re good to go.  Done and done!

Do you have any fun or cute end of year gifts ideas to celebrate teachers?  If so, please share below!  And hang in there mamas (and teachers!), it’s almost SUMMER!!!

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5 Tips to Help with End of School Burn Out

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end of school burn out

Every year about this time I start to see the classic “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever” post circulate around because this time of the school year most moms can relate to a feeling of just being OVER IT. I am talking about the end of school burn out.

That’s me right now. I’m over it.

I am over drop offs and pick ups.

I am over rushing. The school week feels like we are either rushing to get out the door to school or rushing to come home to get someone or rushing to do homework.

I am over papers. Papers about school events, school work papers, school lunch papers, papers, papers EVERYWHERE. The school papers are killing me right about now along with the trees.

I am over after school snacks. My kinder gets out at 1:30p this year and my 3rd grader gets out at 3:10p. That means I have two rounds of after school snacks. Just after I finish serving and cleaning up little one’s, the oldest is home and ready for a snack.

I am over making lunches and trying to think of new healthy lunch items they will actually eat.

I am over emptying said lunchbox after school with nothing eaten.

On that note, I am over the lunch boxes and backpacks all together. No matter how hard I tried this year to get the girls in the habit of coming home, emptying their backpack and lunchbox, I failed. After school it is like an explosion of backpacks, folders, papers, lunch boxes, sweatshirts, socks, shoes, everywhere. I am ready to burn the backpacks and never see them again.

I am over working in the classroom. Dear teachers, if you are reading this, I am NOT over you. We love YOU. It’s those crazy kids I am over.  What happens to them mid-May? I am sure they are over it too. And I only have to be around them for 1. 5 hours a week. God bless you teachers. I bow down to you. If I am a parent feeling this over it, I can’t imagine what you feel.

5 Tips to Help with End of School Burn Out 

No matter how much I would love to throw in the towel and be done, reality is, we still have some time to put in. Therefore, I have put together these tips on how to survive end of school burn out.

1. Weeknight Dinners? Whatever.

Most of the year I try to cook something for dinner at home, but this time of year there is no time for fretting over meals. During the last few busy weeks of school, I give myself a break and go for a weeknight take out or restaurant meal as needed depending on my mental state. Or, I will feed my kids something ridiculous like frozen waffles (not actually frozen, but toasted) and eggs for dinner. As long as I get some sort of food in them, I give myself a break and consider it a success.

2. Visit the Nail Salon

If you are feeling burnt out, high tail yourself to the salon and get your nails and toes done. No matter how many things around me are a hot chaotic mess, I always feel more put together when looking down at my manicured hands or pretty toes. And pay $10 for the extra massage while you are at it.

3. Schedule a Weekend Mental Health Block

Why is it that along with the end of the school year hoopla there is ADDITIONAL hoopla to also factor in? I am talking about dance recitals, Mother’s Day, sports banquets, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, what have you. It’s exhausting. That means our weekends also get jam packed and when my weekends are jam packed, I go INTO the week feeling tired, and End of School Burnout Mom does not need that. Even on your busiest weekends, schedule a block of time (don’t tell me you don’t have ANY), even one or two hours to escape by yourself or with your husband to relax. You need it. You deserve it.

4. Make a List

I feel burnt out when I am overwhelmed, and this time of year, the list of things to do is ridiculous.  When things start feeling overwhelming, get a good ole’ piece of lined paper and a pen and write down every single task that is on your mind, current and upcoming. Just let it all flow out in a stream of consciousness, every single thing you have to do, arrange, pick up, buy or prepare.  Then organize the list into chunks of things you can get done together. Finally, cross off those suckers as you complete them.  Nothing beats the feeling of crossing off a task.

5. Spend Time with Your Mommy Friends

And when all else fails, girlfriend time always helps, especially fellow burnt out ones you can call over and not have to apologize for the state of your house. There is something about spending time with your girlfriends that recharges your soul.  That, and a little wine never hurts either.

We are almost there, moms! The Finish Line is in view. What do you do when you start to feel end of school burn out?

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Teachers Pay Teachers

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Teachers Pay Teachers

I was sitting watching my daughters in their Team OC gymnastics class last week when I struck up a conversation with a mom next to me. Her kindergarten aged son was diligently working on worksheets in a binder next to her while we chatted. Being so impressed he was doing doing worksheets and not playing on a device, I took a closer look and noticed the difficulty of the worksheet.

Having a kindergartener myself, and assuming it was his homework, I expressed my shock at the difficulty. She then told me it wasn’t his homework, but Teachers Pay Teachers B.A.T. (Brain’s Always Thinking) Book for 1st grade. Teachers Pay Teachers?

“You haven’t heard of Teachers Pay Teachers?!” she asked as she then professed her love for the site and told me all about it. She herself is a 2nd grade teacher and uses it all the time, professionally and personally.

When means instant blog post for me to share with you.

Teachers Pay Teachers is an educational resource site where teachers have the opportunity to sell their original teaching resources. It is chock full, I mean chock full of the most amazing printables for grades Pre-K through 12th grade.

You can search by grade, subject, Common Core, price, anything. Many downloads have a fee (not huge), but there are also a ton of free educational printables you can find.

If you are on Spring Break this week and have some time to kill, a worksheet or two might come in handy, especially if they don’t think it’s  schoolwork but a fun activity sheet.

And definitely bookmark this site for summer!

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Little Hands, Big Skills

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Ways to practice fine motor skills with kids

My little man is going to be entering kindergarten next year (I can’t believe it!), so kinder prep is definitely on my mind! And as part of kindergarten prep,  I am working with him at home to strengthen certain school skills, including his fine motor skills.  Today I’d like to share my favorite ways to practice fine motor skills with kids…and I’d love to hear yours!

Play Doh and Clay

For my kiddo, Play Doh and clay means fun.  It’s also a great way to have your little ones work with their fingers, learning to shape and mold, while strengthening those their finger and hand muscles.  We like to add toy cars, trucks, planes and boats to the Play Doh fun, and my son builds roads, bridges and swimming pools for them.  He loves it!


My son is obsessed with Legos.  Obsessed doesn’t even begin to cover it!  And, I am totally fine with this…because he’s learning to manipulate teeny tiny pieces and fit them together. Especially now, since he’s graduated to the “big kid” Lego sets with those small pieces.  He thinks mom is cool, it’s his “free” play time, and he’s practicing fine motor.  Check, check, and check!

The Coin Game

One of my favorite teachers recommended this game, and my little guy loves it!  Set out a bunch of coins on the table, and have your child practice flipping them over.  That may seem like a simple task, but those little fingers have to work extra hard to pinch and grasp the smaller coins to flip them over.

Bonus: If you’re feeling ambitious, you can practice counting the coins, talking about the different denominations and sorting by size or value.


Again, having your child put together puzzles – especially ones with smaller pieces – is another great way for your kiddo to practice picking up small items, critically thinking about where they go, and work carefully to fit them together.


Also a fun (and messy!) way to help your little one practice their fine motor skills.  Get smaller paint brushes, put little splurts of paint on a paper plate, and ask your child to paint their picture…I usually take a coloring book page or print something off of the Internet.  That way they are trying to carefully stay in the lines.  Their first attempt may be one blob of color, and that’s okay!!  Have them keep at it, and keep practicing!


This includes drawing shapes and letters on blank pieces of paper, doing worksheets…and even iPad apps when we’re on the go!  My son loves tracing letters (and you can get creative here…use pencils, crayons, glitter, Cheerios, etc.), and he also loves tracing lines…think one of those “start here,” and trace to the finish line, worksheets.

My husband also found an app he loaded onto our iPad called, “Little Writer,” which allows a child to trace letters, numbers, shapes and words with their fingers.  I’m sure there are tons of apps that could be helpful – check some out!

Cutting Out Shapes

Like I mentioned above, I have my son either trace…or draw…a shape.  Then, I ask him to cut it out.  And we’re starting with BIG shapes that are easier for him to cut right now.  Holding scissors properly is actually pretty difficult at times for little hands and fingers…and I say, the more practice the better.

Favorite Ways to Practice Fine Motor Skills with Kids

Daily Name Log

Everyday, I ask my son to write his name three times at home.  Just three.  I don’t ask him to sit for an hour practicing his letters (let’s be serious – he’s an active 4.5-year-old boy – just getting him to sit still for 10-15 minutes at a time is a victory!).  But, I find that even this small investment of time and small investment of practice has made a huge difference.  It also gives me the opportunity to see how he is holding his pencil and help correct when needed.

And, here’s what I’m noticing.  There are days he whines about writing his name three times…and we battle.  And, there are days he wants to write his name 10 times, plus asks to do worksheets and art projects.  Progress and baby steps!

Here are some of my favorite fine motor skill activity ideas I got from Pinterest: 

12 Fun Ways to Pratice Handwriting with Preschoolers 

Cutting Practice and Learning Shapes

Fine Motor Activity – Fruit Loop Towers

 Clothes Pins…

Glue Tracing, Pre-Writing Activity

And, don’t forget to ask your child’s teacher for ideas – they always have fun and creative ways to help your child practice their fine motor skills!

Do you have any tips or tricks that work for your kids?  Please share below!


Photo credit:
Flickr, Copyright All rights reserved by Fauxtographical

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