We love our community – and we love to support those in need right here, around every corner, in small and big ways.

Are you interested in helping an organization or two out? Perhaps an extra $5 made it into your lap this week you’d like to pay forward? Consider our charity partners, we know they’d love your support!

  • In The Image – clothing and resources, free of charge to area residents
  • Alpha Women’s Center – crisis pregnancy support for mom and baby
  • Grand Rapids Public Schools Homeless Program – supporting children through the school with clothing and personal hygiene
  • Kalamazoo Dream Center – clothing and resources, free of charge to area residents

Share the love today – with so many people banding together to make a difference, we can see real, positive change in our community!



Beating the Holiday Blues

christmas-santa-claus-fig-decoration-1024x681It might be the most wonderful time of year – for some, it is. But for some, it’s a bit more difficult to negotiate: stress, missing loved-ones, in-laws, crying babies, tantrum-driven toddlers, work deadlines, you name it. Stress comes in multiple ways – as does depression. The sun simply sliding behind the clouds for extended periods of time can be too much on days when you’re already on overload.

The JBF Corporate Blog had a good article today about managing the holiday blues. Check it out – and if you need help, please reach out, we’ll be happy to point you in some directions to get you the help you need.

Beating the holiday blues can seem like a bit of a challenge upon first glance. However, it is easier than it appears. The holidays are supposed to be the best times of the year. Maybe, you are confused or frustrated with yourself for feeling this way. Let’s start off by saying that it happens to the best of us. We have provided a method of preparation to help beat the holiday blues, however, if your feelings get too intense we recommend visiting your doctor.

If you’re reading this and you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about allow me to explain. The holiday blues are a temporary state in which you feel overly anxious and/or depressed specifically because of the holidays. This seems ironic but it truly makes sense when you look into it further. These feelings can arise from extra stress during the holidays, over-committing yourself, or even from memories that you have from a certain holiday. Like we mentioned above, if these feelings last longer than through the holidays or seem extreme, seek help from your doctor.

The Method:

  • Set a budget before the holiday season: This will help you from feeling financially stressed come crunch time.
  • Make time to exercise: When you exercise your body releases endorphins which boost your mood.
  • Relax in ways you enjoy most: Take a walk, listen to music, shop, or take a bubble bath.
  • Set a reasonable to-do list before going holiday shopping: This is extremely important during Christmas when shopping is in full gear. Shopping a month or two before Christmas is an even smarter idea if you have time.
  • Don’t set ridiculous expectations for yourself: Expecting to have the best parties, holiday cards, and food around is setting your set up for failure. Everyone’s preferences are different so don’t set yourself up to fail.
  • DO NOT drink alcohol if you are already feeling down: Alcohol is a depressant and will only worsen those emotions. Yes, alcohol can become somewhat of a stimulant when consumed in excess, however, good decisions never come from that.
  • Eat in moderation and eat foods that are good for you: Eating like crap the entire holiday will only make you feel worse, physically and mentally, trust us.
  • Stick to a routine: Plan out your holiday so that you don’t run around like a chicken with its head cut off. You don’t need to create any more stress than already accompanies the holidays. This should go without saying but GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Nothing will hurt you more than fatigue.
  • Focus on what’s important: Whether it be family, beliefs, etc. focus on the reason for the season and the people you are spending it with.

The most important thing is to know that the holiday blues are temporary and they will pass. If you can stick to this method as much as possible you will be well on your way to beating the holiday blues, if not totally avoiding them altogether! Take things step by step and day by day and remember to enjoy the moment! Happy holidays!

Spotlight on Safety – Recall Notice

Another recall notice to be aware of – the Eddie Bauer Rocking Wood Bassinet. Manufactured between 2007 and 2011 – these have been recalled due to the chance of infant suffocation.


The company Dorel is the key contact, you can obtain a free repair kit from their website at http://www.djgusa.com. Should you wish to sell this item at a JBF sale, we will need the paperwork showing the repair has been made.

Surviving the Road Trip

Gas prices are down, car trips are up. Plain and simple. But are you ready to survive the onslaught of turkey and tryptophan with your toddlers in tow?

Thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog – check out some ideas for surviving a road trip to Grandma’s house (or Cracker Barrel if the turkey explodes!).

travelling-1348334_1280-1024x682During the holidays, many families plan to take a vacation, but this can be challenging with younger kids. Keeping kids entertained especially at a young age. How many times do they ask “are we there yet?” This is every kid’s favorite question when going on vacation because let’s be honest who isn’t excited to go somewhere new and fun. But I’m here to fill you in a few of my road trip secrets to make the drive more bearable.

  1. Movies

This is crucial to bring. Not only will it keep kids from being loud and impatient but it also puts them to sleep. Even if your vehicle doesn’t come with TVs in it, you more than likely have an Ipad or Iphone. You can find any movie on youtube. Kids LOVE this!

  1. Games

Have you ever heard of the alphabet game? My family can’t go on a single trip without playing this game. It’s super simple and lasts a while. All you have to do is go around the car and everyone has to find a word that starts with an A,B,C..etc. But two people can’t use the same word. The first person to get to Z wins. You can use street signs, license plates, restaurant names and more.

  1. Colors and coloring book/paper

This can keep kids entertained for HOURS!! Find a clipboard, some markers and paper and you are set for the longest of road trips. You can even turn it into a game by telling your kids whoever comes up with the most creative drawing gets a prize or candy.

The next time you and your family takes off for a little get away remember these few tips to help you and your husband survive. Don’t let what’s suppose to be family fun time be ruined by crazy kids that ask “are we there yet” every 5 seconds.

Get a Move On – Communication is Key

Your child has been trying to communicate with you since the moment he/she was born. Each cry, each babble all lead to the eventual moment of being able to tell you what they want or need. Is your child’s language developing as it needs to? Check out these specific benchmarks:

Listening & Understanding:

  • Demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories and songs
  • Show progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions
  • Understands an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary

Speaking & Communicating:

  • Develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs and questions
  • Progresses in abilities to initiate and respond appropriately in conversation and discussions with peers and adults
  • Uses an increasingly complex and varied spoken vocabulary

If you are concerned about your child’s ability to listen, understand or speak – please consult your pediatrician.


This is part of the Get a Move On series – keeping your child healthy through activity and movement

Thanksgiving Placemats

Wow, it’s turning into a weekly thing on our GR/Kzoo blog – the Sunday post from the JBF Corporate Blog. This week’s post was so cute, we couldn’t pass it up. And, as I look forward to 28 people in my house for the holiday, something for the little ones to do is a perfect idea. Enjoy!!

With Thanksgiving coming up I want to share with you one of the things I do to keep my kids entertained while home from school during the Thanksgiving holiday. While we all love for our kids to be out of school and getting to spend time with them, it can get a little stressful. Planning Thanksgiving dinner and balancing family coming in while also keeping the kids entertained and out of your hair is difficult.


One way I’ve learned to balance this is by giving them crafting projects to do when I need to focus my attention elsewhere. My favorite craft so far is Thanksgiving placemats. The kids can make these and the use them at the dinner table on Thanksgiving. This can be super easy or a little more in depth. You can simply give your child a piece of paper and markers and let them go at it or you can do what I did.

Check out this site where I got my inspiration:

Thanksgiving Placemat via Coupons are Great.

I went to this website and printed off the costume Thanksgiving placemats. Not only does it keep them entertained while you prepare dinner but it’s fun to see what they come up with. Even cuter, you can save the placemats and have them laminated for future use!

The kids LOVE everything about this idea and so do we. We hope you enjoy this craft as much as we do!

Spotlight on Safety – Recall Notice

For our Spotlight on Safety this week, we’re looking at various Fisher Price toys that have an inflatable ball. We saw these a few times at the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids sales this fall. The ball can be removed – Fisher Price will send you a replacement item – and the toy can be sold.

But, if you still have the ball attached to your item, it is a choking hazard and was recalled by the USCPSC.


This photo shows just two of the items with the ball. The list includes Baby Playzone Crawl & Cruise Playground and Crawl & Slide Arcade. The Ocean Wonders Kick & Crawl Aquarium, 1-2-3 Tetherball and Bat & Score Goal.  You’re always encouraged to visit the website to learn more.

Want to Write?

Are you a member of our Facebook Group: JBF GR/Kzoo VIPs? If not, we’d love you to be! You would have also seen this posted as well,,,

Calling all writers, want-to-be writers, opinionators and dreamers. We’d love for you to be a guest blogger on our blog!

Maybe you’ve read an article recently that touched you – or a funny thing happened to you on the way to the store – or you created a really fun class party idea – or had some experience raising a kid or two! We’d love to hear from you – and help us build content on our blog.

Don’t worry, your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. We’ll help you get it polished! 

Are you interested in helping us post here? We’d love to hear from you – just let us know!

Fun Thanksgiving Wreaths

Another round of thanks to the JBF Corporate Blog for a fun way to engage the kids in a little crafting – decorating your home for Thanksgiving. Check out their great ideas below….and gobble gobble!

Thanksgiving crafts are all the rage during the holidays. Usually, the crafts involve a turkey theme. This craft, however, is something a little different. It is a Thanksgiving wreath and it is a great activity for the whole family.


Supplies needed: brown paint, paint brush, scissors, construction paper, marker, glue, ribbon, and a styrofoam ring.

Step 1: Paint the styrofoam ring brown. Cover the entire surface.

Step 2: Cut various colors of paper in shapes of feathers. You can choose fall colors or multi colors. If your child is young, you may have to help him with this part.

Step 3: Have all of your family members write something they are thankful for on a paper feather.

Step 4: Glue the paper feathers onto the styrofoam ring covering the entire top surface.

Step 5: Cut a piece of ribbon long enough to make a loop and glue to the back of the ring.

Step 6: After the glue dries, hang the wreath and admire all you have to be thankful for.

This Thanksgiving wreath is a fun craft that the whole family can participate. What other crafts do you and your child like to make on Thanksgiving?



Source: familyholiday.net

Source: http://www.teachingwithtlc.com


Tutorial: Shibley Smiles