Happy New Year!

2017-gold-1473177563gn8My kids are just beside themselves with anticipation and glee. I daresay they might like New Years Eve more than Christmas or birthdays. Ok, that might be a stretch, but today is such a fun day for them.

I’ll admit, as I’ve gotten older, watching holidays come and go through my children’s eyes has given me joy in ways I didn’t think possible. What they understand, what they comprehend; what they treasure and remember. Their wide-eyed wonderment never ceases to amaze me.

They’ll look forward to Dance Party Marathon tonight – and streamers and balloons. They’ll get to pop little balloons and toot horns with glee. And they’ll talk about it for weeks to come. I’ll forget half of it – but for them, it’s seared on their heart with tremendous joy.

NYE might be a huge thing in your home – it may be quiet, subdued, celebrated at 8pm in lieu of midnight – or unobserved (for your sanity and theirs!). In any event, the close of one year and the start of a fresh one gives us a chance to say thanks. Or more like

THANK YOU!!!

…for supporting our charities, for helping us in our desire to serve West Michigan families. Thank you for becoming friends with us – sharing your own journey as we all walk through life. Thank you for supporting us in ways that we didn’t think conceivable.

It’s a fresh year – a blank page where anything and everything is possible. We wish you joy and happiness – love in our homes and peace for us all.

Happy New Year to you and yours – we’ll see you soon!

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New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

What a great post from Parents.com about helping your kids create resolutions of their own. Championing the best in our children and watching them grow – can’t think of a better way to start out a fresh year.


For the entire article, click the link above.

party-balloons-1416258716nioNew Year’s Day is the traditional time to celebrate a new beginning, and kids ages 7-12 are at the ideal stage to learn to make resolutions, experts say. “They’re still young enough that their habits are not firm,” says Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, and a teacher for an online class on helping kids develop happiness habits. “They’re old enough to think about what a New Year’s resolution is and to make their own — yet parents can still help guide them. They’re not going to get the same backlash as from a teenager.”

Jennifer Kolari, a parent and child therapist and author of Connected Parenting, says, “They’re beginning to be mindful and to understand others’ perspectives. They’re doing more independently, and they’re starting to open up to broader goals of how to become their best selves.”

Making resolutions with your children can be fun and exciting, a time for growth and change, and an opportunity for family bonding. Read our eight tips on how to make New Year’s resolutions a positive experience for kids and to help them keep in touch with their goals all year long.

Get a Move On – It’s Not All Bugs

emc2To a little child, the world around them is fascinating. Their budding curiosity will help them grow in areas beyond bug catching and worm hunting. Their ability to practice scientific skills, knowledge and methods give them the confidence to wonder why the sky is blue or how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Check to see if your child is on track in the building blocks of science skills:

Scientific Skills & Methods

  • Begins to use all five senses
  • Begins to participate in simple investigations to test observations and form generalizations
  • Begins to describe and discuss predictions, explanations and generalizations based on experience

Scientific Knowledge

  • Expands knowledge of and respect for their bodies and environment
  • Develops growing awareness of ideas and language related to time and temperature

Should you have any concerns about your budding scientist, please contact your pediatrician.


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

Spotlight on Safety – Recall Notice

There is a recall out on the Fisher Price highchairs: Healthy Care, Easy Clean and Close to Me. Each of these highchairs have pegs on the back for tray storage and there was an issue with lacerations in little ones when they fell or rubbed up against these pegs.

graco-highchair

For more information, a repair kit or to speak to customer service, please contact them via their website: http://www.service.mattel.com

Decorating on a Budget

As a girl who just completely bedazzled her Ugly Sweater for less than $5 (including the sweater!) – I’m in love with fun ideas that can be accomplished on a budget or with some careful “I Spy” throughout the year. Here’s a fun post from the JBF Corporate Blog about decorating your home on a budget. Enjoy!


With the holidays are quickly approaching I know it can get a bit overwhelming. You’re trying to Christmas shop for the kiddos while preparing delicious meals along with making sure the house is fully decorated. Whoosh! Who has the time to decorate? I want to share with you some easy décor ideas that are cheap and easy to put up.

Easy Christmas Decor

Fill up some glass vases and bowls with ornaments
Easy Christmas Decor

image via Pinterest.com

Some pretty ornaments sitting on a bed of simple greens
Easy Christmas Decor

image via Pinterest.com

Light up your table with vases or bowls full of delicate micro strands of light.

Use the lights either on their own or with some other holiday decor elements you have laying around.

Easy Christmas Decor
image via Pinterest.com
Candy Flower Vase. Fill the bottom of a container with candy

Easy Christmas Decor

image via http://iwannatalkaboutbrooke.blogspot.com/

These are just a few fun ideas to help decorate your house. You don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars to make your house look amazing during the Holiday season.

Got Ideas?

The JBF National Conference is just a few short weeks away – and we’re really looking forward to all the new tidbits we can learn to make our GR and Kzoo sales a larger success in 2017. From round tables to expert advice, no topic is off limits.

So – that leads us to wondering if there were ideas you had, questions that always plagued you or things that just made you go “hmmmm….” {for those of you in the appropriate age range, feel free to start singing C+C Music Factory at any time}.

singer-microphoneWe’d love to find out what topics interest you – thoughts you may have – questions you’d like answered. This conference is a perfect time for us to take these questions and ask the 150 other franchises their opinions, giving us the best way to respond and act!

So speak up! Let us know! We want to hear from you!

{Feel free to keep on singing, too!}

Get a Move On – The Numbers Game

Do you remember “One, two, buckle my shoe!” Do you end each day with “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed?” Little songs that help children learn to count are invaluable to their growth in mathematics. However, just as important as counting to 10 is their ability to see things spatially and be able to find patterns. Check out your child’s mathematics skills with the following benchmarks:

Numbers & Operations

  • Develops ability to count in order to 10 and beyond
  • Begins to use language to compare numbers of objects with terms such as more, less, greater than, less than

Geometry & Spatial Sense

  • Progresses in ability to put together and take apart shapes
  • Increasingly aware of up, down, over, under, top, bottom, inside and outside

Patterns & Measurement

  • Increasing ability to match, sort, put in a series and regroup objects
  • Begins to make comparisons between objects on a single attribute

Don’t forget to add movement to your counting! Perhaps they don’t need to be jumping on the bed – but counting stairs – or how many times they can reach for the sky while you cook dinner – every little bit counts. And the added perk? You just might tire them out a little faster for bedtime! Who doesn’t love bedtime!!


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

Kids in the Kitchen

As I whipped up a batch of brownies today, my little one was desperate to help. I love that my kids want to get in on baking, cooking, measuring, and the all-important tasting. Keeping a box of something handy is a great way to get that aroma of the holidays to fill your home – and to engage with your child in a meaningful way. Which is why I thought it to be providential that this weekends JBF Corporate Blog had a post about making cookies with your kids. Enjoy – in more ways than one!


christmas-cookies-553457_1280-1024x682Who doesn’t love yummy holiday cookies? Especially homemade cookies! The best part about these cookies is they are so delicious and super easy to make. These are festive, yummy, and perfect for the holiday.

INGREDIENTS

• 1 Box of White Cake Mix
• 1/3 Cup Oil
• 2 Eggs
• 2 Tbs Sprinkles
• 1 Cup mini M&Ms
INSTRUCTIONS

• Preheat oven to 350º F.
• Instead of following the instruction on the cake mix box combine the dry cake mix powder, 1/3 cup oil and 2 eggs together.
• Stir with a SPOON until it’s thoroughly moist.
• Add the sprinkles to the cake batter and mix together.
• Shape dough into 1″ balls. Place them about 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
• With the bottom of a glass dipped in flour, flatten to approximately 1/4″ thick.
• Gently press a bunch of mini M&Ms on top of each cookie.
• Bake them at 350º F for 7 to 8 minutes. Do not overcook them; they will get harder as they dry.

I promise these will be your kids new favorite holiday treat. They will be asking for them even when the holiday season is over.

On Listening

I wanted to call my mom today and ask her a question. My five year old had already asked me 37 questions and it was only 9am. I was probably going to lose all my marbles by 9:05am, so I needed to distract myself. I figured one question to my mom at forty-mummble-mumble years old wouldn’t be too out of line. She is a pro on handling a gazillion questions.

I think I could write a lengthy post about how parenting isn’t easy – sometimes question number 38 is really just going to break the camel’s back. There’s so much going on right now – the slide into the holidays, the last few days of school, presents or trips or dinners or in-laws or missing loved ones. It can be a time of joy – and a time of great stress.

But it was this familiar little saying that prompted this post to begin with:

listen-to-your-children-every-time-550x733

It’s a quote from Catherine Wallace found on movemequotes.com – and it sums up how at times we just have to suck it up if we hit question 38 before Word World comes on at 9:30am. (Friends, if you have not found Word World out by now… get thee to PBS; Dog, Ant, Duck, Pig and Sheep are the best!!)

The holidays will come and go. The snow will melt. They’ll get back into schooling rhythms soon! But take time to listen. It is one of the best gifts you can give them.

(And if you feel like you just want to scream – come share it on our VIP Facebook page – as we will surround you with love, compassion, acceptance and maybe even a beverage of your choice!)