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Our kids spend a lot of their lives in their classrooms, and each day teachers work with their students to maximize learning. Those teachers often work tirelessly, and with limited resources, to create an engaging learning environment. To know a teacher is to know someone who makes personal sacrifices to help make their classroom a better place for their students. Grants Available to California Schools

Scholar Dollars gives classrooms a boost

The California State Treasurer, John Chiang, recently announced the Scholar Dollars program, administered by ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan. Scholar Dollars will award 20 grants of up to $25,000 each to eligible K-8 public and charter schools in California. Grant amounts depend on school size, and recipients enjoy a great deal of flexibility regarding use of grant funds. Schools can spend their grant money on musical instruments, computers, library books, sports equipment, or support enrichment programs such as tutoring labs, student counseling, science and technology and many other activities

Scholar Dollars

Details about Scholar Dollars

First, during the Scholar Dollars registration period, school administrators can register for the program and apply for grants. All registered schools will appear on an online ballot, along with respective details on how each plans to use the funds if they are selected.

Then, during March, parents, relatives, boosters, and community supporters can vote for their school. Top vote-getters in each category will receive an award, and grant recipients will be announced in early April.

How to get Scholar Dollars into your school

If you happen to be a school administrator, you can register your own school. If you’re a parent or community member, contact school administration about registering your school. Let your school know about the grant program and encourage them to register. Then get to work rallying votes for your school.

Since most of us aren’t school administrators, we did some brainstorming. We hope you’ll consider our ideas about how to spread the word about Scholar Dollars. Remember, eligible schools in your California community have until February 22 to register.

  • Contact your school administrators directly
  • Get in touch with your PTA/PTO
  • Share the Scholar Dollars information on social media
  • Talk to your child’s teacher

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your teachers for all the work they do in the classroom. Just think of the additional programs your students will benefit from with a Scholar Dollars grant in place.

Learn more about the Scholar Dollars program

Do you know of a school that could benefit from the Scholar Dollars program?

This post was developed in partnership with Scholar Share. All ideas are our own.

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New year, new gear. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be more excited. From strollers to breast pumps and everything in between, 2017 looks as though it will be bringing us some of the best products we’ve ever seen in the baby gear market. While there are some secrets to be had when it comes to upcoming products, I was able to get my little hands on information regarding some exciting new releases to be hitting store shelves in the upcoming year. Get ready to bookmark this page, take notes and start your wish lists because you’re going to love this!

What’s new in high chairs

New Highchairs for 2017

Two big players in the baby world are stepping out this year with their very first high chairs and both will be a welcome addition to the market. First off, we have the Tuo Convertible High Chair by Skip Hop, a gorgeous convertible high chair that will grow with your child from 6 months all the way up to 60 pounds. (Currently available)

Cybex Baby, whom we already know for their stunning luxury strollers and car seats, is throwing their hat into the high chair ring with their whimsical collaboration with Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. This fun collaboration will include a modern style high chair in addition to a baby rocker. Be on the lookout for these to come sometime in the spring. 

Baby bottles to add to your registry in 2017

Coming Soon: Baby Brezza Baby Bottles

Baby Brezza, who brought you the awesome products like the Formula Pro and my personal favorite, the Bottle Washer, is launching their first line of baby bottles. These bottles will stand out from their crowd because of their unique two-piece design and wide mouth which means less to clean and easier to hold and fill. (Available February 2017)

LUX is a newer company looking to turn the bottle business on its head with an all now concept in baby bottles: silicone. These soft bottles have a special dual anti-colic venting system and a wide nipple base along with the soft body, all to mimic mom’s beast which makes this ideal for those who want to prevent nipple confusion for babies who transition back and forth between nursing and bottles.

Hey, stroller mamas

 

New strollers for 2017

It’s no secret that strollers are my absolute favorite, which is why I was so excited to see all the new models about to hit the road near you. Rumors are swirling about Diono — a name familiar for their outstanding car seats — releasing a stroller and infant car seat combo soon and from what I’ve seen you will not be disappointed. And seems as though GB Child heard your concerns and will be putting out an all new version of their hit Pockit stroller called the Pockit+, which will have a much-needed recline and the ability to snap on car seat adapters transforming it into the world’s smallest travel system. OXO, a brand known for smart, modern feeding accessories, is dipping their toes into the stroller game with the brand new Cubby stroller.

A new year, a new diaper bag

New Diaper Bags Coming Out in 2017

If diaper bags are more your cup of tea, well then hang on to your tea cup ladies because two major companies will be releasing their very first diaper bags. Itzy Ritzy is releasing their first line of diaper bags in late spring bold patterns and smart designs, which is what you would expect from a company we already rely on for great accessories. Next, we have Ergo – yes, the same company who makes your favorite baby carrier. They debuted their line of diaper bags in 2017, which includes a backpack, shoulder bag and a tote. All adorable and all available now.

New Diaper Bags for 2017

Petunia Pickle Bottom is upping the diaper bag game, once again, with the introduction of Intermix, which allows you to create your perfect diaper bag in terms of the bag, print, and now, packing pods. The Intermix bag is backpack style and comes in two patterns, one of which is machine washable and the other is easy to clean and wipeable. Inside you will find the 3-in-1 Grid Caddy that can be removed and clipped on to your stroller and can even be used as nursery storage. From there you have a choice of three different pods (one insulated) for whatever the day calls for. In addition, Petunia Pickle Bottom will be adding a few gorgeous new patterns to their signature bag line including a blue quilted pattern that you will need now.

Bassinets are in for 2017

Baby Products that are IN for 2017

From the doctor behind the Happiest Baby on the Block series comes the Snoo, the most advanced baby bassinet ever. The Snoo will gently rock your baby to sleep, has a white noise machine and even an integrated swaddle to keep your baby safe and cozy. The Snoo will even assist with transiting to the crib with its own gradual weaning feature. While it’s definitely on the pricier side, when you see the full list of features you will surely know why. In the Snoo, newborns are safer and most see better sleeping habits in 1-2 days! (Available now)

2017 breastpumps go high tech

2017 Breast pumps for nursing moms

Medela has added a new pump to their already impressive line of breast pumps with the new Medela Sonata. The Sonata is Medela’s app-enabled (Android and iOS) smart breast pump that will help track pumping and feeding to keep you on target with your breastfeeding goals. Bonus, it’s also the quietest personal-use breast pump ever!

The smartest breast pumps we've ever seen!

And the award for “Why didn’t anyone do this sooner” goes to the Willow, the world’s first cordless, tubeless breast pump! The Willow is a completely wearable breast pump that fits in your bra and efficiently collects breast milk while you go about your day. Now you can pump quietly and conveniently wherever you are with the Willow.

A little something for babies and kids

What's new for babies in 2017

Chewbeads has been a staple in the teething arena and now they are taking silicon to the max. This year Chewbeads will be coming out with a line of silicon MLB licensed bibs for the sports fan, Chewbead necklaces in colors to match your favorite college, a stroller toy, silicon diaper and pacifier pouches and even a line of silicon plates, bowls, and flatware.

Dock-a-Tot hit the market running last year with the genius little bed that can go anywhere. Well, this year they have improved the design with an adorable play bar to keep baby entertained anywhere. We got to see it in person at the 2016 ABC Kids Expo and can’t wait for it to arrive in stores later this year.

What's new for babies, kids and nurseries in 2017

Love your Amazon Echo? Then you’re going to love the Mattel Aristotle by Nabi, the Echo for kids. Starting when you kids are babies, the Aristotle will act as a monitor (comes with the camera), a nightlight and a white noise or music machine. As you child grows it will play games, teach language, colors, and numbers and even help with homework. And because it’s on the Echo network it will have all the same virtual assistant capabilities as the Echo. (Available Summer 2017)

2017 Baby and Kid Gear Your Need in Your Life

Five minutes after my kids get home from school I look around and there are shoes, jackets, and backpacks strewn everywhere. If only there was somewhere I can store all of this stuff! Well, now there is. Little Partners has come out with the My First Cubby, a kid-size cubby system made of the same beautiful wood as their popular Learning Tower. Ample hooks for jackets and backpack, two large cubbies down below for shoes and two smaller cubbies up top for miscellaneous items and a sturdy bench to sit on, all in a compact, high-end functional and stylish design that matches my decor. (Available now)

We didn’t forget about moms

What every mom needs in 2017

This March, Belabumbum expands its ready to wear offerings with a capsule collection featuring everyday basics for snuggling up or strolling around town. Offering five coordinating pieces in black, black stripe and cayenne, the New Mama Essentials collection includes the nursing-friendly Layered Cami, the Nursing V-Neck Top with snap down nursing access, a Relaxed Pant in cotton/modal/spandex, a Nursing V-Neck Dress and a versatile Nursing Poncho.

Project Nursery SmartBand for Moms

The activity tracker to end all other activity trackers just hit stores this month and we can’t wait to try it. From the lovely people at Project Nursery comes the Parent and Baby SmartBand, the last activity tracker you will ever need. This thing will not only track your sleep and movement like a typical fit band, but it will also track fetal movement, breast and bottle feeding, pumping, naps, weight, diaper changes, medication and more. What more could you need? (Available now)  

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DIY Flip Book with Funny Faces

Show me your mad face! Now act surprised!

If your kids are anything like mine, they get a huge kick out of making funny faces in the mirror and going through a range of expressions on command. Asking my kids to look confused, sleepy or bored will inevitably lead us all to fits of laughter and them begging me to give them another emotion to try out. They are also intrigued by the facial expressions of people in the books and magazines we read.

I think helping my kids identify emotions on the faces of people they see will also assist them with understanding the emotions of their friends, teachers, parents and themselves.With all this emphasis on understanding emotions from facial expressions, I thought it would be fun to put together a little funny faces flip book with a variety of facial features and see what kind of stories my kids could tell me about the faces they created.

DIY Funny Faces Flip BookFlip book supplies

Making your own funny faces flip book couldn’t be easier — all you need is some cardstock, scissors, a glue stick, hole punch, markers, 3 or 6 binder rings, a piece of cardboard (for the back) and some facial parts (eyes, noses, mouths). I used letter-sized white cardstock, cut in half width-wise and then again in thirds.

For the face parts, you have all kinds of options: (1) Cut them out of magazines (older kids can do this on their own); (2) Use stickers, googly eyes or foam face parts from your local craft store; (3) Print out stock photos of faces from the internet; (4) Draw your own; (5) Use your own photos your kids and family members; or (6) Use our free printable of a few face parts (download the PDF here).

Free Printable Funny Faces

diy funny faces flip book for kidsAssembling the book

With your kids’ help, use a glue stick to place the eyes, noses and mouths on individual pieces of card stock. Punch one or two holes on the left side of each piece of paper. If you use one hole, the paper will slide around in the book more, but it’ll still work. Two holes (spaced wide apart) work best. Stack all the eyes together and place the sheet of cardboard (or card stock or whatever you want to use for the back) behind the eyes and use the ring clips to secure. Do the same for the noses and the mouths. If you have extra card stock, add a few blank cards to the back of the stack of each category and add/draw more as you play. You can also add a front cover if you want (optional).
creating your own funny faces flip bookdiy funny faces flip book

Playing with the book

My preschooler loved this book. He thought it was so much fun making different face combos and then giving each one a name and a silly voice. We talked about the different expressions and what feelings each person we created felt when they made that face. I asked him to make up funny stories about the faces and turned them into characters. We made faces that looked like people we knew and mimicked some the silly expressions we created. If you use facial photos of people you know (kids, parents, grandparents), try to recreate those faces!  My son liked that we had a variety of media in the book – that they were not all photos of real faces, but a mixture of cartoonish features, drawn features and real parts. I wish I would have included some animal face parts (e.g. cat’s nose with whiskers, gorilla eyes, elephant trunk, fish mouth, etc.) because I think that would have made it even more fun for him.
funny faces flip book tutorial and play ideasfunny faces flip bookhow to make your own funny faces flip book for kids This funny faces flip book is a great craft project to make when helping toddlers and preschoolers understand emotions, facial expressions and body parts. It’s a great way to encourage your older kids to use their imagination in creating unique characters, each with their own background story. It could also help when talking to your children of any age about diversity and how every person has their own unique facial features. With so many ways to use this book, it’ll be something that can grow with your child through the years.

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In this season when many of us are resolving to eat cleaner and prioritize our health and how we fuel our bodies, it’s important to have go-to recipes handy. For those moments when you feel your day has been sabotaged by snacking and poor choices, when your kids are giving you a run for your money or when you’re feeling rundown and need a pick me up, I’ve got you covered. This is my go-to green smoothie when I’m looking for something to help me recharge and recover. And trust me, it works!

Pineapple and Mint Green Smoothie Recipe

It’s a simple recipe, but honestly, the combination is so refreshing and cleansing that it tastes much more complicated than it actually is. The mint leaves are fantastic for promoting digestion and cleaning your palette. And while you might not think of a smoothie as a winter option, if you can deal with the cold, it’s actually a great choice for many reasons including being a particularly good cold/cough chaser as its rich is antioxidants and vitamin C. In addition, the mint has the ability to soothe a cough and help relieve congestion.Pineapple Mint Green Smoothie

Pineapple mint green smoothie

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut water
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 generous cup chopped pineapple
1 heaping cup of spinach
Juice from half a lime
1/2 -1 cup of ice, depending on how you like it

Optional:
Add a banana
Swap out coconut milk in place of coconut water for a creamier smoothie
Use frozen pineapple and omit the ice

The BEST green smoothies to kick winter colds

I am constantly making this smoothie and it’s been approved by all members of our family. If you’re working on positive changes in 2017, don’t get discouraged by bad days or sick days because winter can be full of them, take a few minutes, sip a smoothie, refuel and recharge with something that makes you feel good.

Green Smoothies Kids Will LOVE

What’s your go-to smoothie recipe or what’s something you do to help reset yourself?

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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