tweens

Mabel’s Labels and More

Mabel’s Labels and More

Or How I got my ducks in a row.

Yes, I do find September challenging, thank you for asking. It’s not as crazy as June for the sheer number of events and activities, but it makes up for it in the way it ramps up, making me pull it together and getting the family on board with a whole new schedule. Yeah, I don’t love September.

What I do love is the preparation, which interestingly enough, one of the ways I mentally prepare for the change and challenges the new school year brings. Remember back to school shopping? It used to be all corduroys and sweaters, not sure why (global warming?) but it’s still summer weather here so those clothes can wait. What can’t wait is the back to school supplies. Sometimes you get an assist from the school in a list but sometimes it’s just you and your children in an office supply store. Overwhelming.

It’s helpful for me to make lists, get organized and label things! It gives us me a sense of order and the planning makes us me, at least, relax a little. I’ve found that things get lost less often when they are labeled – sometimes kindly people return the items (soccer balls, jackets), and somehow, sometimes, kids remember the stuff when it has their name on it. Not always, but more often than not and I like the odds.

Since I would label everything if I could, it’s great to have so many choices that are durable and colorful. The site is easy to navigate and to see all the lovely choices (the tough part is deciding) and to preview your choice.

We went with the Stylish Scholars and loved the choices like quatrefoil, chevron, faux bois and peony, and check out all of the color choices, too.

 

screenshot from mabel's labels
screenshot from Mabel’s Labels

 

We labeled everything, well, almost everything – like the ipad mini, the phone, the clear plastic shoe boxes that I got on sale for storing all sorts of stuff (in school and at home), the backpacks (with the sweet metal tags that clip right on), folders, binders, notebooks, water bottles and my favorite back to school item, the pencil case. I stopped just shy of labeling the pencils because my kids are older but I would definitely label them for little ones. Let them put the stickers on- it;s a great school readiness activity.

We do tend to misplace things around here so this is one of my strategies for holding on to the stuff we I care about. These Back to School labels are available until September 30th – so go check out Mabel’s Labels on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram or here on their website.

Started in 2003 by four super smart moms who were frustrated with their children losing items (aren’t we all) that they sent to school or camp. Read the about page here.

Disclaimer: I received a package of labels from Mabel’s Labels for this review. All opinions are, as always, my own.

 

 

 

Three Ways to Keep Your Schedule Together

From a scheduling standpoint, mostly I do fineokay… hardly mess up at all, although we missed the very first music lesson this year. Hey, in my defense, we had switched days (after years of having it on Tuesday, we moved it to Wednesday) and I was thrown.  We have it down now, the lesson day, that is.capability mom blog back to school keeping the schedule with teens

How do you get and stay organized? Here’s what I do.

First, use the calendar feature on your phone (if you have one it’s great, I almost never forget my phone).  I input appointments while I am making them at the orthodontist/dentist or set up recurring music lessons/soccer practices at the beginning of the year, and (this is key) use the reminder feature.

Second, check with (better organized) friends for their ideas – always a great source of information. Some use wall calendars where every family member writes their stuff in, some share electronic calendars, and some families have one person to maintain the calendar – guess who that would be in my house? I think when the kids are younger, it’s fine to have one calendar keeper but as they get older and have more responsibility and greater independence, they should take some part of this super fun task. What? I am helping them to become responsible adults, not just shirking my duties.

Third, look online. I found a really great suggestion from the  They suggest having 30 minute family meetings to keep everyone on the same page – great idea! If everyone shares info, it’s so much easier to keep up with the week.

Caution:  Schedules with tweens and teens are subject to sudden and/or last minute changes.

The guide also has some great printables –  weekly planner and a monthly calendar if you like to kick it old school (I like both apps and a back up written calendar). Check it out for great ideas about recharging, fundraising, study habits and, my favorite, keeping the schedule.

This is a sponsored post for Tyson but opinions are, as always, my own.

Surviving the Teen Years…

When your children are younger (preschool and elementary school age), you drive the bus, both literally and figuratively. You choose the type and number of activities, to say nothing of duration and location of said activities and while you can be quite busy, it usually of your own doing. And homework – oh, for the diorama years!

Fast forward to middle school and high school when your emerging tweens and teens have their own ideas about what they want to do in their non-school hours. This is good, developmentally appropriate and to be encouraged, except, if you are like me and can’t keep track. No, I really can’t keep track so thank goodness for the calendar on my phone.  Some days are easy and some days have two overlapping carpools to different towns for different children are when my head spins and my car and I have way too much together time.

My favorite days are the ones when they come home (under their own power is best), drop their backpacks and head to the kitchen for a snack. I get to hear bits and pieces about their days while they have some down time.

Need some snack ideas? Start with fruit, an apple or pear with cheese and crackers. Try this refreshing fruit salad; kiwi, clementine and banana (yogurt on the side optional). Or cut up veggies – carrot sticks, cucumber and celery with hummus.  If something more substantial is needed we head to the freezer for chicken bites, mini tacos or even dumplings. Mini sub sandwiches are a hit, just take soft dinner rolls (whole wheat) and add either meatballs or chicken bites, a little tomato sauce and grated cheese. How about English muffin pizzas?  I lived on those in high school (yes, dears, they existed way back them, much like electricity and indoor plumbing).

Then after snack and a bit of screen time, they head to their self-chosen study areas (within calling distance of the kitchen) and start in on homework. Ideally, I start making a decent meal and can answer a question or refill snack plates as needed.

My main frozen food snacks are from Trader Joe’s but just recently a friend introduced us to Any’tizers® and the chicken fries are hugely popular here. Tyson has a great School Year Survival Guide worth checking out. Good tips for good study habits and getting and staying(!) organized.

 

This is a sponsored post for Tyson but opinions and snack ideas are my own.

Gifts for Teens and Tweens – so very challenging

I am writing this post after spending several hours (yes, hours) at the Natick Mall (the words Natick Collection never crossed my lips, glad they changed the name back) in Tween/Teenland. Why? I did it for you, dear reader, so that you may go forth unscathed by pounding music in overly scented and dimly lit stores (really, Hollister?). You are welcome and, thank you, my headache is better now, a full day later. Once your children are past the princess and Lego stage (you only wish it were over if you are still in it), you are required to really work at finding presents that meet your value system (supposing you haven’t bailed on your value system after those years of princesses and Legos), are age appropriate and are what your teen/tween wants. So what to do? Well, I am sure you have an idea about your own teen or tween but what about that tough-to-buy-for niece or nephew? Here are just a few ideas to help you out…

You can go full court press on electronics, Apple, Wii, Xbox and then get all of the games…

panasonic headphones at urban outfitters find by capability mom blog
Urban Outfitters

Uggs are still a wanted item

So what are the hot teen stores? Start at Forever 21 for inexpensive, well, everything. There are $10 jeans in the sale room, $6-10 t-shirts scattered throughout the store, and tons of  scarves, hats, mittens, socks – all so inexpensive and cute. The store in Natick is massive and has separate accessories area. You can get lost in there, well, I did. Got out in time to check out 344 (the outlet and regular store). Cute tanks in bright colors, Converse sneakers, great  feather earrings. On to Urban Outfitters for more great ideas – for girls – great skimmers, terrific basic tees (that I can even still wear, ahem, yes) and fun stocking stuffers, plaid shirts and hats for the guys.

capability mom blog finds cute graphic tees at deliasWhere to next? Delias for cute graphic tees and American Eagle Outfitters  for shirts and jeans – looks like everything is 40% off now, too. More stops, well, we did have lunch at that cute sushi place called Wasabi (it is a chain and has the bonus of serving the food on a conveyor belt for your entertainment – don’t worry – the food is tagged with sensors to tell the kitchen how long it has been out. A nice break and it was good to sit down for a bit. There is more! A quick look in Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table for me…I am looking for a 9 quart cast iron french (dutch? same thing?)  oven that doesn’t cost as much as my first car.

Yes, I went into the dimly-lit, over-perfumed and poundingly loud Hollister (sort of a college bar but without the alcohol). I know I am old but I could not hear even when I got out of the store. Honestly, you have to yell to be heard over the music. Well, that was my tipping point so I headed home to order books (quietly) on-line from Amazon (I had already been by the New England Mobile Book Fair and picked up a bunch there).

Steven Saylor

Rebecca Stead

If you want to do good and give a gift, pick a charity and donate in your teen’s name – there is no shortage of organizations – here are a few:

Heifer International

World Wildlife Fund

The Water Project

Not enough ideas? Head on over to Cool Mom Picks – They have a wonderful gift giving guide.

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