Posts by christy:

My Secrets to Getting Organized This Fall

Secrets to Getting Organized This Fall 1

This week, I want to share some of my secrets to getting organized this Fall…it’s hard to stay on top of things when life gets hectic. About a week ago, I noticed my piles of papers were growing taller, my car was starting to look like we lived in it, and our homework area was getting out of control.

Time to get organized! Here are some things that work for us. Would love to hear the ways you keep your family organized too!

Tips for Fall Organization:

1. Put a large open laundry basket in the trunk of your car.

This is where all of our kid activity “stuff” goes.  Shin guards, soccer balls, required hair ties, extra socks, whatever. We organize (okay, dump) it in the laundry basket so that it’s 1.) Not rolling around. 2.) Easy to find. 3.)  Easy to carry anywhere, if needed.

2. Pack at lunch bag full of snacks for the car and bring an empty grocery bag for trash.

My kids always equate being in the carseat to being hungry. With my family schedule, we’re sometimes in and out of the car all day long so I pack a lunch tote full of snacks and stick in an empty bag for trash. Same with water. Each kid gets an iced water bottle that they work on all day.

3. Make a special folder, box or place for your child’s school artwork.

To cut back on the piles, I take a picture of it and store it electronically, so that it will live “forever.”  Special pieces go on our art wall and rotate in and out. Others go in their special “art folder/box/cupboard.”

Then, once a quarter I go through the art and decide what to keep, what to give to family, and what to (gulp) recycle. There. I said it. I have to, or these art project files get out of control!  And, I’ll always have the electronic pictures.  There is an awesome app for this called, “Artkive. Check it out!  You can organize the artwork electronically by child, grade and age.

4. Organize your kid’s workspace.

My kindergartener now has homework!  So I’ve cleared out a homework space for her, including a little caddy with crayons, markers, safety scissors, a glue stick, tape, and pencils.

I’ve organized stickers in one tubberware bin, craft “fixings” in another, construction paper in another drawer, glue sticks, glitter paint and tape in another…you get the idea.  This makes projects, art and homework time much easier…on both of us.

5. Clean out your wardrobe.

It’s (sort of) starting to feel like fall. Invest an hour or two and go through your closet and drawers, as well as your kids. Move out your summer stuff and move in your fall stuff.  It will make things easier on crazy mornings to grab and go.

6. Have each of your kids fill a bag of toys or clothes to donate.

At least once a quarter, I ask my kids to pick five toys (each) to give (donate) to another kid who would enjoy them.  This concept can be a little difficult for young ones to grasp, but I find that having them pick the toys themselves versus me picking them helps tremendously.

Then, I’ll take time on my own after they are in school, napping or asleep for the evening, to go through anything else that needs it.  Weed out the too small clothes and toys stuck in the bottom of toy bins. De-cluttering is so therapeutic!

7. Make a “kid friendly shelf” in your pantry.

Whatever your kids eat, I suggest making room in your pantry (or a separate drawer) for their favorites.  This makes packing lunches a LOT easier.  Or nabbing snacks on the go.

This is especially important for our family, because both my kids are at schools with “no nut” policies, including food that has been manufactured in the same facility as nuts.  It is very important for me to always pack nut-free lunches…by having everything organized on one shelf, I can easily grab and go.

What are some of your favorite tips for staying organized this Fall?  Share below!

Photo credit:  
http://www.wylio.com: “Fall Foliage,” Jack Newton, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Orange County Pumpkin Patches

Orange County Pumpkin Patches

I can finally, finally see the beautiful signs of Fall arriving…Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes, leaves changing color, cozying up in my sweaters for cooler mornings…and pumpkin patches!!  I just love Fall, don’t you?  Here is a list of some local Orange County pumpkin patches 2013.

Please comment below if you have any other OC pumpkin patches to share!  Happy pumpkin hunting…

Anaheim Pumpkin Patch

Sonshine Pumpkin Patch – (I couldn’t find a website, please call ahead before you go!  If anyone knows if it’s open – please comment.)
1200 N Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92801
Phone: 714-776-6857

Directions: Located south of the 91 freeway on Harbor Blvd. next to Carls Jr. Click here for a map and directions.

Open: October 9th to October 31st; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Brea Pumpkin Patch

Enchanted Pumpkin Patch
480 N State College Blvd, Brea, CA 92822

Click here for a map and directions.

Open: Monday to Thursday from Noon – 8 p.m.;
Friday from Noon – 10 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Fountain Valley Pumpkin Patch

Fountain Valley Pumpkin Patch
18811 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley
(Couldn’t find online info. on opening date – if anyone knows if it’s open – please comment.)

Irvine Pumpkin Patches

Irvine Pumpkin Patch
Enchanted Pumpkin Patch
5840 Walnut Ave. Irvine

Off the 5 freeway at Jeffrey Rd., Irvine

Open: Monday to Thursday from Noon – 8 p.m.;
Friday from Noon – 10 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Johnson Brothers
15500 Jeffrey Road, Irvine, CA  92618
Corner of Jeffrey Road and Irvine Center Drive in Irvine.

Open: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday, seven days a week;
Open everyday, October 1st until October 31st Halloween

Click here for a Johnson Brothers pumpkin patch coupons.

Tanaka Farms
5380 3/4 University Road, Irvine

Open:  9 a.m. – 6 p.m. everyday
Gates close at 5:30 p.m. everyday

[You can check out Jen’s post on her visit years ago – super fun pumpkin patch!]

Laguna Hills Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin City’s Pumpkin Farm at Laguna Hills Mall
24155 Laguna Hills Mall Road, Laguna Hills (Laguna Hills Mall)

Open: Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday: 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Long Beach Pumpkin Patch

Pa’s Pumpkin Patch
6701 E. P.C.H. Long Beach

Sept. 28, 2013 to Oct. 17, 2013
Monday – Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

October 18-30, 2013
Monday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

October 31, 2013
10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Follow on Facebook for Pa’s Pumpkin Patch coupons and special offers

Orange Pumpkin Patch

Irvine Park Railroad
Open daily 10am
Weekends 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. / Weekdays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Click HERE to download Irvine Park Railroad pumpkin patch coupons, including $$ off your pumpkin purchase.   Click HERE to download a Halloween coloring sheet.  Every child that brings their coloring sheet back to the train station will receive a free small gift.

Rancho Santa Margarita Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin City’s Pumpkin Farm
30606 Santa Margarita Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita

Open: Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Monday – Thursday: 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday: 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

San Juan Capistrano Pumpkin Patches 

Pumpkinpalooza at Zoomar’s 
Open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
3171 Los Rios Street, San Juan Capistrano

[For a really fun time, consider taking the train!  See Jen’s previous post on this outing!]

Mountain Pines Christmas Tree Lot
29932 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Open: Pumpkin season begins October 5 through October 31;
Monday – Thursday, 1:00pm to dusk
Friday – 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 8 p.m..

Santa Ana Pumpkin Patch

The Pumpkin Factory
92879 Westfield Main Place Mall, 2800 n. Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92705

Open: Click here for specific days and times.

Westminster Pumpkin Patch 

The Pumpkin Factory
1025 Westminster Mall, Westminster
(Westminster Mall is located off the 405 freeway. The pumpkin patch is in the parking lot between Sears and JC Pennys.)

Open:  Monday – Thursday: 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
(Closes at 8 p.m. on Halloween night)

Lots of great information and a consolidated list can be found on Pumpkin Patches & More, where you can find a pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay ride, and Halloween events near you!

Also visit OrangeCounty.net for an absolutely AWESOME consolidated list of fun 2013 Halloween events in Orange County!

What is your favorite Orange County Halloween event?  Your favorite pumpkin patch? Comment below and share!

Word of advice: Some of this info is a little hard to find and confirm online. I would

suggest calling ahead of time and confirming the address, etc. before you go!

My Mom’s Words of Wisdom – Mom Was Right!

Moms Words of Wisdom 2

To quote an oldie, but goodie song…mama said there’d be days like this…and she was right.  Actually, my mom was right about a LOT of things.  (Thanks mom!).

So this one is for you, mom.  A blog devoted to my favorite pieces of advice from YOU.  A collection of some of my favorites…and many that I didn’t understand until I became a mom myself.

My Mom’s Words of Wisdom – Mom Was Right!

Mom Advice #1 – You can never spoil a child with enough love.  

Things, yes.  Love, no.

Mom Advice #2 – Your children will make liars out of you.

Try to avoid using phrases like, “My child would never…” or “My child always…”  No absolutes.  Because they will almost always make a liar out of you!

Mom Advice #3 – Kids crave boundaries.  So set them and stick with them.

You are their parent, their role model, the person they look to for everything.  Whatever you decide is best for your family, stick to it.  You will teach them boundaries, rules, consistency, and love.

Mom Advice #4 – As long as we’re talking about “sticking with something,” be consistent with your boundaries, rules and discipline.  

This is a hard one to always implement.  But do your best.

Mom Advice #5 – Your children’s friends (and their families) will become your friends.

Choose wisely (for both of you).

Mom Advice #6 – When you make a mistake, take responsibility.

Own it.  Apologize.  Make it right.  Move on.  (Love this one.)  Set the example!

Mom Advice #7 – When your kids ask you a HARD question (Which they will.  Multiple times.  Actually, at the worst times possible), always ask them what they think “it” [whatever the topic] is first.  

Don’t panic.  It may be something simple.  My mom LOVES recounting the story that I announced in my kindergarten carpool (to three other five-year-olds) that I knew what sex was.  The carpool mom freaked and called my mom.  Instead of freaking out too, she asked me what I thought it meant.  My sassy five-year-old self smugly said, “kissing.”  Easily explained.  Easy to move on. Thankfully, I was let back into carpool.

Mom Advice #8 – Kids will continually go through emotional growth spurts.

Just when you think you have them figured out, they will move to the next milestone “stage” and you’ll have to start all over again.  This stinks, but it’s true.

Mom Advice #9 – Treat your kids like little people with real feelings.  

The issue they are dealing with may seem little to you now, but to them it is a BIG deal.  Listen.  Talk to them.  Develop that trust.  One day, they will need to talk to you about the BIG things.

Mom Advice #10 – If your child is going through something, no matter how difficult, you need to be right there going through it with them.

Don’t fall back on, “I’m just not ready for this stage yet.”  If they are, you should too. (Gulp.  I have a feeling this will apply more in the tween/teen years.  Which I am not emotionally prepared to deal with yet.).

Mom Advice #11 – Be your child’s biggest advocate.  

If you don’t, who will?  You are their mommy.  You know them best.

Mom Advice #12 – Do as I do, say as I say.

Oh.my.goodness.  This is a BIG one for my mom.  She is all about setting the example.  Mom…I promise I’m trying!

Thanks mom, for all of the great advice!   Being a mama is certainly the most challenging, rewarding, fun, AMAZING experience that I’ve ever had, and I am so happy to lean on you for advice and encouragement!  Thank you for being the best role model, confidant, hug when I need it, shoulder to whine on, sounding board, and advice giver…to me, my babies and our family.

What is the best advice you’ve received from your mom, a role model in your family, a mom of older kiddos, or a fellow mama in the trenches? Share below!

6 Reader Recommended Label Companies

Labels for Kids Stuff

This post on labels for kids stuff was inspired by some great feedback we received on Tiny Oranges’ Facebook page.  And by the way, if any of the labels in the graphic above caught your eye, you can find them here on one of our cute affiliate sites, Mabel’s Labels. Aren’t those butterfly shoe stickers so cute?

The inspiration for this post came from comment from a 1st grade teacher, explaining how important it was to label all of your kid’s belongings at school.

She explained so many parents take special care in handpicking their kiddos special new (and sometimes pricey!) lunch bags, sweatshirts, hair accessories, etc.  Because without your kid’s name on them, they can end up in the black abyss of lost and found, donated, or in someone else’s closet.

So we put it out there to our readers on Facebook to ask which labels for kids stuff they use and love, here are the companies they suggested:

(affiliate link ->) Mabel’s Labels  

Label Daddy 

Name Bubbles 

Kiddo Tags 

Oliver’s Labels

Stuck on You 

Please note, I have not personally used any of these products myself.  I’m in the same boat as you!  Looking for fun, practical and quality new products that will make life easier!  I’m excited to check out these companies, as recommended by our readers.

We hope your first month of school went well, and that your kiddos are adjusting.  I know my family is still getting used to earlier bedtimes and earlier mornings.  Cheers to a GREAT school year with your kids!

Feel free to share any other great labeling tips below! 

Sick Day Activities To Do With Your Little Ones

Sick Day Activities 6

Cure boredom and blahs, while keeping them happy and occupied!

I was recently reminded how crummy sick days are with your kiddos…especially by day two or day three.  So here are my sick day activities to do with your little ones.

Not only do your babies feel awful, but you’re also quarantined at home. With sick kiddos. Who are cranky, tired, blah…and antsy.

Yes, antsy.  Just last week, my little man was fighting a virus  Day one = sleep and snuggles. Day two and three = antsy, with side of cabin fever.

Too sick to leave home, he was crawling up the walls.  And so was I.

There are hundreds of ideas to entertain your kids during sick days at home…and here are a few of my favorites I keep in my back pocket.

Play Doh

Keep little hands busy with this very chill activity.  I break out every Play Doh tub we have, add in a few of my little guy’s favorite trucks or trains, and we create roads, bridges, animals, shapes, and different colors all over our kitchen table.

We also like to include our cookie cutters from all of our different holiday collections…he gets such a kick out of pushing down and making a cool shape.  Especially a snowman in August.

Catch Up on Your Cards

Instead of the typical coloring book activity, why don’t you catch up on any thank-you notes?  Have your kiddo draw a picture, leaving room for your handwritten note.  If your child is old enough, have them practice writing simple sentences.

Or, have them color or create pictures for future birthday cards or any upcoming holiday cards.  Get as creative as you’d like – stickers, markers, crayons, glitter…whatever you have in your craft/junk drawer.

Then, file them away for when you need them – an easy way to finally get ahead on correspondence. 

Still Feeling Crafty?  Make Your Own Memory Game! 

Help your kiddo pick a category…depending on their age and what they need to work on.  Ideas include shapes, colors, numbers, letters, etc.

You can make this as simple or as challenging as you’d like.  For example, I’d have my five-year-old pick out construction paper, practice tracing squares, then cutting the “cards.”  Once you have 20-30 cards (close to the same size, if possible), have them draw their chosen items on one side of the cards, mimicking the traditional “memory” game format (i.e.  two cards with circles, two cards with hearts, two cards with triangles, etc.).

Mix them up, lay them out face-down, and voila!  Your own homemade memory game.  The creative process will keep them busy for a little while…then they actually get to play a game!

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

What about a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt…at home?  My kiddos LOVE finding things…especially when it’s a little competitive.  Make a list of fun things around the house, give them each a bucket or bag, and let your little ones find everything on their list.  Each kid that completes the list gets a small prize. (of mom’s choosing).

Here are some ideas to include:

– Something fuzzy (really anything sensory…hard, soft, bumpy, etc.)
– Something that is a [insert shape, color, etc.]
– A book with an “N” in it’s title (or whatever letter you want)
– Something with their name on it
– Something that smells good
– Something that they would find in a pocket
– Something from under their bed
– Something they’ve made

Really, the sky’s the limit…it also depends on your child’s age.  Make it easy or challenging.  Just have fun with it!

Play with Chop Sticks

This is such a fun idea that I am borrowing from a wonderful friend…who is also a fabulous homeschool teacher and mama of three. She filled a big mixing bowl with small craft “pom poms.”  Then she ordered easy-to-squeeze kid chopsticks from Amazon (see the picture below).

Munchkins can use these chopsticks to pick up the pom poms…an excellent activity to practice fine motor skills for eventually writing!  Both my toddler AND my kindergartener loved this activity.

Sick Day Activities 1

What are your sick day go-to’s?  Share below so we can all benefit from each other’s tips!  

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