How To Get On Schedule Before School Starts

backtoschoolschedule

Summer is full of fun, late nights, and spontaneous activities. However, school means it’s time for structure and schedules. Making that transition before school starts is key to starting the school year off right. Here’s how to get on schedule before school starts!

Start Out with a Bedtime

Bedtime seems to come whenever during the summer, but as the school year gets closer, it’s important to start setting a bedtime. You can gradually move the bedtime earlier and earlier. Start putting the kids to bed an hour earlier.

Get Up Early

Start getting up earlier. Instead of letting the kids sleep in until 10, 11, or even noon, start waking them up earlier each day. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn, but gradually waking yourself and the kids up at earlier times will help get you back on schedule.

Set a Time for Dinner

Get into the habit of having dinner ready at the same time each night. This will help you get back on schedule when school starts. Pick a time that will work with your summer schedule as well as your back to school schedule. 6:00 P.M. typically works well at our house; not too late and not too early.

Limit Screen Time

Screens are stimulating which means the more you or your kids are on them, the more stimulated your brain is at bedtime. Limit screen time to only a couple hours a day. This will help your kids get ready to a decrease in screen time at school as well as help them sleep better at night.

Use a Picture Chart

Use a picture chart to start getting on a daily routine. Wake up, do chores, eat dinner, incorporate quiet time, and go to bed. Having a visual schedule before school starts will help kids to stay on schedule when school starts.

What other tips do you have for getting your kids back on schedule before school starts? Share them in the comments below!

Advertisements

Red Velvet Loaf with Cream Cheese Drizzle

redvelvetloaf

Red Velvet Cake is one of my favorite desserts that I could enjoy all the time. To make it even better, instead of topping it with cream cheese frosting, we are going to make a Cream Cheese Drizzle. I absolutely love cream cheese type frosting, but it can be a bit heavy and I actually want to taste the red velvet cake every once in while!

Making this red velvet cake from scratch instead of a box mix can leave room for a red dye mess so just be careful that you don’t let that stain anywhere in the kitchen if you happen to make a tiny spill. Red Velvet Cakes are not just for the holidays. You should always enjoy them year round because who couldn’t use a sweet treat with Cream Cheese Drizzle every day of the year.

Without further delay here is what you will need to make this scrumptious cake for yourself.

INGREDIENTS:
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon red food coloring
DRIZZLE:
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

redvelvetloaf2
RECIPE:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at at time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and red food coloring.
Beat ⅓ of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Continue by adding another ⅓ of the flour, the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining flour, beating just until combined.
Pour the the red velvet batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake until a tester comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let cool completely before drizzling with cream cheese.
For the cream cheese drizzle, mix together all ingredients and adjust the consistency by adding more sugar or more corn syrup.

Now all that is left to do is to ENJOY! 

redvelvetloaf3

9 Ways to Help Those with Depression

9WaysDepression.jpg

Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. Since September is suicide awareness month, I wanted to take a step back and discuss depression. Depression isn’t just sadness. It’s real and it effects friends and loved ones in many different ways.

When I was a teenager I suffered with depression and now as an adult have experienced a best friend losing their loved one to suicide. Depression is one of those emotions that can be hidden and you may not even know that there was a problem in the first place. Make sure that you are looking out for the signs and also helping those that you may suspect are suffering in silence from depression.

Here are 9 ways to help those with depression:

#1 Keep Treatment Options in Mind
As a friend or family member, you may want to help the person with depression, but depression is a medical condition that can’t always be treated at home. Support your loved ones by keeping treatment options in mind.

#2 Listen to them
One of the best solutions to depression is to just listen. The person with depression needs an outlet. They need someone they can go to and talk to when life gets tough. Be that support person that just listens without talking.

#3 Stay in Contact with the Person
Call the person each day, drop by for a visit, or take them out to dinner. Many people who are depressed don’t want to bother other people and become isolated. This isolation can lead to further depression. Stay connected to help alleviate some depression.

#4 Stay Alert to Changing Situations
If the person who is depressed suddenly starts talking about wanting to end their life, loses interest in previously loved activities, or is abusing drugs and alcohol. These can all be signs depression is getting worse and may lead to something else. Seek help from a professional at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK

#5 Ask the Right Questions
You never want a depressed person to feel attacked or like they are doing something wrong. If you need to get answers, here are a few questions you can ask:
When did you start feeling this way?
How can I help you?
Have you thought about talking to a doctor or therapist?
What would make you feel better?

#6 Be Encouraging and Supporting
A person who is feeling depressed doesn’t need to feel worse. As you listen to your friend or loved one, use sentences like this:
I am here for you no matter what.
I am sorry you are feeling this way, but it is going to get better!
I don’t know exactly how you feel, but I love you and I want to help you get through this.
I care about you and your life is important to me.

#7 Help with Small Tasks
It may take every ounce of strength for a depressed person to get out of bed and put on their clothes. Help them with small tasks such as vacuuming, washing the dishes, or doing a load of laundry. Keeping up on things will prevent the depression from sinking its teeth in further.

#8 Make Sure They Keep Doctor Appointments
If your friend or family member has already sought out help, make sure they get to their appointments. Offer to give them a ride and or pick them up from their appointments. Encourage them to go even if they start to feel better.

#9 Take Care of Yourself
You won’t be any good to your loved one or friend if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Keep your spirits up by doing things you enjoy, eating healthy meals, and maintaining your hygiene. The last thing you need is to become depressed yourself.
Depression is not something to be ignored. If you or a friend are suffering from depression, get help National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Do you have any advice or tips to add? Has depression or suicide touched you personally? I would love if you would share this post with your friends and family or even post a short comment with advice or a tidbit of wisdom to raise awareness. Suicide and depression are real and they could affect anyone.

 

7 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

7WaysPrepareKindergarten

School is right around the corner, and Kindergarten is not only a big step for your little one, but a big step for you. Whether this is the first time your child has been away from you for the whole day or not, starting Kindergarten is an emotional step in both of your lives. That is why it is so important to prepare your child for their first day. Here are 7 ways to prepare your child for their first day of kindergarten!

#1 Talk about it
The best way to prepare your child for their first day of Kindergarten is to talk to them about it. Let your little one know how Kindergarten will work, who their teacher is, and when you will see them.

#2 Read Stories
Reading is a great way to bond with your child. Not only is reading stories great for you and your child, but it helps prepare your child to focus for longer periods of time before Kindergarten. Stories are very important part of Kindergarten.

#3 Work on Fine Motor Skills
Developing hand writing skills is a key part of Kindergarten. Get your child ready for Kindergarten by teaching them how to hold a pencil correctly, write their name correctly, and focus on fine motor skills such as gluing, cutting, and coloring.

#4 Encourage Independence
As your child starts Kindergarten, he will not only be expected to spend time away from you, but to make decisions on his own. Encourage your child to make decisions, do things on his own, and entertain himself.

#5 Practice Letters
Your child needs to know at least 13 upper and lowercase letters. Play games to encourage letter recognition and sounds. There are many educational apps out there that teach letters without your child knowing it.

#6 Practice Numbers
Your child will need to know how to count as well as number recognition. Have your child practice counting snacks, toys, and items in the house. Have a scavenger hunt to find numbers.

#7 Work on your Address and Phone Number
As your little one prepares to leave you all day, it is important for them to know their phone number, address, and full name. Work on these skills with your child, so if anything were to happen, your child can get back to you safely.

What other ways have you prepared your child for Kindergarten? Share your Kindergarten readiness tips in the comments below!

Quadruple Chocolate Donuts

quadchocdonuts
So you have a craving for a donut but you really don’t want to go to the local place to get some, right? Do I have the recipe for you that will satisfy that urge to have donuts and is super easy! Introducing you to your new craving is going to make you either love me or hate me. So here we go! Quadruple Chocolate Donuts!
I know that sometimes I find myself wanting something sweet for breakfast or even as a dessert but I just don’t want cake or pie. You can easily also substitute making the cake here for a box cake mix if you find that would be easier.
All in all there are so many ways that you could decorate these Quadruple Chocolate Donuts, but who wouldn’t want all of this chocolate goodness?!

Cake Ingredients

2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Chocolate glaze & add-ons

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate
1 1/2 Tablespoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups icing sugar
1 Tablespoon shortening
1/4 cup chocolate chips, optional
quadchocdonuts2

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease a donut tray and set aside.
Stir sugar with flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, and beat well.
Slowly stir in boiling water until you reach a runny consistency. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, portion out the batter into the donut cavities.
Bake for 15-18 minutes and allow to cool in the pan for one minute before turning out onto the rack.

Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the 1/4 cup of chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately.

Melt the shortening and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts until smooth and runny. Drizzle the chocolate over the donuts quickly.

Sprinkle chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles on the donuts and let set before serving.
I hope that you enjoy these donuts just as much as we do! These make a great treat that you can take to bake sales and even fundraising activities going into the school year.
quadchocdonuts4

10 Radically Fun Amusement Parks in Virginia

amusementparksinVA

 

As you may have known I am a Virginia native. Even though I moved away to North Carolina for a little while, I have now been back in Virginia for a few years. I enjoy everything about my home state (except maybe the bipolar weather sometimes!), but I don’t think I would trade it for anything.

So, who would have thought there were 10 amusement parks in Virginia? Usually, we only hear about the major parks like Busch Gardens and Disney, but we have our fair share of radically fun amusement parks that you probably haven’t ever heard of. Here is my list of 10 radically fun amusement parks in Virginia:

#1 Splash Down Water Park

Located in Manassas, VA Splash Down Water Park has two 4-story pipeline slides with thrilling twists, turns and drops all the way down. Hop like a frog from lily pad to lily pad, float the lazy river or make a splash from the cannonball slide. However, Splash Down Water Park isn’t just for the thrill seekers; young ones will love the Big Kahuna Beach full of sand and the Children’s area where splashing is all part of the fun.

#2 Soak City Waterpark Known as Kings Dominion

Soak City Waterpark opens this summer as a new addition to Kings Dominion. Thrill seekers, fun seekers, and kids of all kinds are going to love the new Hurricane Heights. If you want a good adrenaline rush, Paradise Plunge will drop you in a vertical free fall through loops and twists of all kinds when the floor vanishes from underneath your feet. Of course, the Lil’ Barefoot Beach is perfect for the younger crowd. At Soak City in Doswell, VA everyone can have a little fun!

#3 Water Country USA

Did you know you could get unlimited visits to Water Country USA for only $11 a month per person (while it lasts)? That’s a lot of Cow-A-Bung splashes, adrenaline rushes through the Colossal Curl and epic water ride adventures. Dare to drop down the Vanishing point, whether the 4-foot waves or relax down the lazy river. Whether young or old, kids of all ages can find something fun to do at Water Country USA.

#5 The Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat

Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat only allows those older than 7 with a waiver to participate for safety reasons, but if you want an adrenaline high adventure for the older crowd, this is the place to be. Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat in Farmville, VA offers you over 20 tree soaring zip lines and over 60 obstacle courses for an adventure of a lifetime.

#5 Ocean Breeze Waterpark

Ocean Breeze Waterpark offers a Breeze Pass wristband so you can breeze right past the line for access to the top 10 attractions at the park. Dare to weather the Hurricane as you are drop feet first plummeting through the eye of the hurricane or walk the plank above a 200-foot pitch black tunnel with an exhilarating 50-foot drop you won’t see coming until it’s too late. There is enough fun for everyone at Ocean Breeze Waterpark.

#6 Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole

Opening Memorial Day weekend, Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole is a one of a kind amusement park with a little western hospitality. Tailored to meet all ages, your kids will love the excitement of the Old West’s Gold Rush, an entire acre of slides, showers, sprays and splashing water fun for everyone. Tenderfoot pond is perfect for getting your toddler’s feet in the water while Water Mine Expansion gives your adrenaline thrill seekers just the right amount of adrenaline. If you want a place the whole family can enjoy, Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole is the place to go!

#7 Atlantic Fun Park

Atlantic Fun Park is Virginia Beach’s #1 amusement park in the state. Located in Virginia Beach, VA, Atlantic Fun Park offers family rides, midway games, and thrill seeking adventures for anyone. Don’t wait for the fair to come into town, enjoy a fair type atmosphere all summer long at the Atlantic Fun Park near you.

#8 Motor World

Not far from Atlantic Fun Park is the incredible Motor World. Enjoy a day of thrilling rides and then head on over a little racing action. With 11 go-kart tracks and 250 go-karts with 16 different styles, you can race until your hearts content. But, don’t stop there! Motor World has one of the most exhilarating coasters on Virginia Beach. If you dare, fly on the Skycoaster 130-feet above the ground at 70 MPH through whips, turns, and drops only the brave in the heart can handle. Check out Kiddie City for the younger crowd as Motor World is fit to cater all family fun.

#9 Great Wolf Lodge

Swim, splash, and slide without worrying about sunburn or rained out fun. The Great Wolf Lodge is the biggest indoor waterpark in Virginia. Ride the waves on the Wolf Rider Wipeout, experience the feeling of being in the eye of a tornado on the Howlin’ Tornado, or let the itty bitty ones enjoy the adventures on Whooping Hallow. There is something for every member of the family, and Great Wolf Lodge offers accommodations so you can stay the whole day or the whole week.

#10 Go Karts Plus Williamsburg Family Fun Center

Are you ready to do the Disk’O’? Go Karts Plus is perfect for adrenaline seekers as you spin, soar, and dive on the infamous Disk’O’ ball! However, even the less adventurous can enjoy blaster boats, a gold rush mini golf tournament, the Kiddie Coaster, or Go Kart fun. When you visit the Williamsburg Family Fun Center, there isn’t much more you can do besides have fun.

When it comes to having a splashing, soaring good time, sometimes the little guys are left out of the loop. Don’t forget to experience all the fun amusement parks in Virginia this year for fun, thrills, and memories you won’t forget.

What’s your favorite amusement park in Virginia? Let us know in the comments below!

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

CinnRolls

A homemade breakfast is always in order on Sundays around my house. It’s the one day of the week that we can slow down and just enjoy the mornings together without having to rush off to be somewhere else. A huge family favorite breakfast is cinnamon rolls. I used to just buy them in the can and be done with it, but then I just knew that there was a way that I could make them myself at home. Now you can do that, too!

Nothing is more comforting or gathers the family to the kitchen for breakfast then some warm cinnamon rolls. I am a huge fan of them and without buying them in the can, I can now make as many as I would like.

For the cinnamon rolls:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, cold, cut into Tablespoons
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, cold

For the cream cheese drizzle:

  • 2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup softened margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

For the cinnamon filling:

  • 1/2 cup softened margarine
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until pea size pieces.
Add the cold buttermilk all at once and mix until dough forms a ball.
Roll dough onto a lightly floured surface, into a large rectangle.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cinnamon filling ingredients.
Spread evenly over the cinnamon roll dough, then roll the shortest ends toward each other.
Cinnrolls2
Cut the cinnamon roll log into 2-3″ pieces and place in a buttered casserole dish.
Cinnrolls3
Cinnrolls4
Bake 18-22 minutes, until golden brown.

While the cinnamon rolls are cooling, whip together the cream cheese drizzle, adding more sugar for a thicker drizzle, or more corn syrup for a lighter drizzle.

Now you have that great cinnamon roll taste that you love, but you made it all from scratch! Nothing came from a can and your family is really going to enjoy these. I am sure that they will be the request for breakfast every weekend like they are in my house. We even like to make these and enjoy them as a dessert after dinner. You can try a different topping or even eat them with ice cream. They are delicious any time of day.
Cinnrolls5