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September 30, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
4 Comments

September Instagram Wordless Wednesday

September Instagram

PicMonkey Collage2

September was filled with extremes, it feels. From a happy goodbye to Six Flags for the season to everyone in the house getting sick (including our little Boston Terrier Lucy). From not getting enough materials to finish projects (where was my brain) to loving the little hand prints on my overly dirty car. Yep, just another typical month, folks!

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September 30, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
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How to Help Kids Understand Their Emotions

Emotions can be very big and scary things when you’re a child, and not just for younger children. The emotional upheaval of adolescence can seem overwhelming as well. Helping kids identify, understand, and take ownership of their emotions does them a life-long favor. But how can you do this?

While we may think that kids should be able to identify and communicate how they are feeling, the truth is they have to be taught. Here are some tips on how to help kids understand their emotions.

How to Help Kids Understand Their Emotions | The Jenny Evolution

1. Give the Feelings Names

It’s amazing how often we adults forget that, for small children, emotions are nameless, scary things. We forget that they don’t always know what is happening to them in the middle of an emotional “moment!”

For toddlers and preschoolers, it helps to provide the words that go with the emotion. “Right now you are feeling angry,” you could say. This helps them understand what’s going on: “Anger – so that’s what that is!”

For older kids and teens, it might help to explain some of the changes they are going through and let them know that overwhelming emotions are normal for their age.

2. Feelings Are Not “Wrong”

Sometimes, in our efforts to correct undesirable behavior, parents correct their kids for feeling a certain way. But no one can really control the way he or she feels about something; what we can control is how we act.

Try validating your child’s feelings – “I understand you feel frustrated, and it’s okay to feel frustrated,” while also correcting behavior – “You can feel frustrated, but you can’t throw things.” Then you can offer an alternative. “When you feel frustrated, scream into this pillow,” or “Stomp your feet.” It’s important to provide an outlet and let your kids know what is acceptable behavior, not just what isn’t.

3. Talk about Your Own Feelings

Give your own feelings names, and do it verbally. You can say you feel angry or really excited or whatever emotion causes you to behave in a way that makes your kids take note. Hopefully, you can also model appropriate outlets for those feelings. If you drop the ball on this one, talk about it with your kids. Ask them how Mom/Dad could have handled the emotions better.

4. The Feelings of Others

As your child comes to understand the words that belong to the feelings and, for older kids, some of the reasons behind the big emotions, you can point out that a behavior of theirs makes another person feel a certain way. And your kids will know what that feels like and will likely want to stop whatever behavior makes the other person feel bad.

For instance, you could tell your child you understand she is angry, but she is causing her little brother to be very sad. Your daughter will understand what “sad” feels like, and probably won’t want to keep making her little brother feel that way. This will help your kids in relationships later, too – empathizing with the emotions of others is important to having effective interpersonal relationships.

Books to consider include the following affiliate links:

September 30, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
1 Comment

Talk about Technology with Your Kids: #ShareAwesome Campaign

Today’s families use digital technology in every aspect of life — from learning and socializing, to gaming and shopping. My 5- and 8-year-old boys already know how to pull up YouTube on the computer, play their educational apps on the family iPad and find freebies for Minecraft through Xbox Live. Technology can be awesome, but it also reminds us parents that there are things we need to know to make positive, safe decisions.

One technology decision I have made is you won’t see pictures of my children on The Jenny Evolution. It can be challenging talking about kid crafts and activities without showing some of our great personal photos, but I’ve made the decision for my kids to keep their images private. I’ve heard of too many other bloggers who have had their personal photos stolen and used for other purposes online. Creepy, right? Instead, I choose to share the view of the experience and not my kids. It’s a personal choice, but one I’ve made.

Colorful Colorado Just as beautiful in B&W | The Jenny Evolution

I love sharing our experiences, but rather than displaying my own kiddos, I highlighted the secret fishing hole we discovered. And in case you’re wondering, we discovered this little gem of a spot near the San Isabel National Fored in Central Colorado.

Every Day is a Good Day to Talk About Technology

Here’s another tech story that if you haven’t run into yet, I’m sure you will soon enough. The other day, my Kindergartener Hbomb was watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. It’s quite this crazy thing where millions of people watch others playing Minecraft. I thought it was a strange thing only my kiddo does, but after talking with parents, it seems to be a common phenomena. When a video ends, YouTube lists other similar suggestions. My boys know which users I have approved and can only watch those particular people.

On this particular day, YouTube pulled up a user that I had not approved with my kids. I looked over at the screen and didn’t recognize the person, so I asked Hbomb who he was watching. He gave me a strange face, so I knew something was up. I immediately walked over and suddenly realized this guy was dropping f-bombs left and right.

My children have definitely heard the F-word… they do, after all, live with me. But the fact that he didn’t turn off the video or come tell me was upsetting. I immediately looked up ways to censor YouTube even more, because I don’t believe that removing the channel will help my kids learn what’s appropriate or not. Instead, I want them to learn how to be responsible and make smart choices.

I’m actually glad this incident happened. It was the perfect excuse to talk to my kids (once again, they will tell you) about how wonderful and fun technology is but only if we use it in smart ways. In the end, my boys had a better understanding that not everyone has their best interest at heart, and that just because it’s available online and they can access it doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate for them. I talked with them that I would never be mad that they came across an inappropriate video, but that I would be disappointed if they didn’t turn it off and tell me.

Get the Technology Dialogue Started

While this conversation was a bit simple, I know that the technology discussion will get more complicated as they get older. How does a parent handle Facebook, Vine, online gamers and goodness knows who else through the technology advances my kids will see in their lifetimes?

This is why I’m happy to tell you that National PTA has partnered with LifeLock to share awesome ways families can create an open, evolving conversation about positive, safe decisions when using digital tools. It’s all part of having a happy, healthy lifestyle. The #ShareAwesome campaign seeks to build an understanding among parents and students that no matter the device, the app or the networking site — the skills we need to be safe and positive online are similar to what you need offline.

Enter to Win!

Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag! Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between Sept. 15 – Nov. 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

September 29, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
4 Comments

Welcome Fall! 10 Picture Books About Pumpkins

10 Picture Books About Pumpkins: Find these books at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. All recommendations are mine.

Welcome Fall! Whenever we think about the Autumn season, my family immediately thinks about pumpkins. Short ones, fat ones, misshapen ones. You name it! To celebrate the Fall season, here are 10 wonderful children’s picture books about pumpkins your own pumpkin is sure to adore.

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Be sure to check out my collection of Halloween tips, ideas, activities, recipes and more for the entire family. Also, I write so often about books, I’ve put them in one central location and created a collection of all of my book lists! Find more great reading book lists here.

10 Children's Picture Books About Pumpkins | The Jenny Evolution

And for an extended list of fun:

Children’s Picture Books About Pumpkins, CLICK HERE.

  1. From Seed to Pumpkin
  2. How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?
  3. Duck & Goose, Find a Pumpkin
  4. Five Little Pumpkins
  5. The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin
  6. Pumpkin Jack
  7. Little Boo
  8. The Pumpkin Smasher
  9. Scaredy-Cat, Splat! (Splat the Cat)
  10. Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden

September 25, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
17 Comments

Friday Flash Blog No. 87 {Plus Features}

Friday Flash Blog is a flash mob of blogs, highlighting the best of bloggers from the week. Be sure to check them out (and the ones I’ve featured) as well as link up your own.

Weekly Thought: Fall has arrived in the Midwest. Today after school we gathered fallen leaves and made leaf rubs. Remember those?!?

 

Oh my goodness this Caramel Apple Cake looks delectable! Recipe by Upstate Ramblings

Oh my goodness this Caramel Apple Cake looks delectable! Recipe by Upstate Ramblings

Feel like making your own Leather Necklace for Pendants? Terrific tutorial from Jewelry Making Journal

Feel like making your own Leather Necklace for Pendants? Terrific tutorial from Jewelry Making Journal

This looks so fun even I want to take a bath! DIY Edible Bath Paint and Shaving Cream Tutorial by Krafts & Kiddos

This looks so fun even I want to take a bath! DIY Edible Bath Paint and Shaving Cream Tutorial by Krafts & Kiddos

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract. What a great tutorial from Craving Some Creativity

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract. What a great tutorial from Craving Some Creativity

What fun! Build a Cloud Sensory Play from A Little Pinch of Perfect

What fun! Build a Cloud Sensory Play from A Little Pinch of Perfect

Love love love these FREE Fall Patterns from Designs By Miss Mandee

Love love love these FREE Fall Patterns from Designs By Miss Mandee

Bat Window Silhouettes Halloween Craft from The Jenny Evolution

Bat Window Silhouettes Halloween Craft from The Jenny Evolution

 

Friday Flash Blog is a Flash Mob of Blogs

Share ALL Your Favorite Posts of the Week

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September 25, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
32 Comments

$500 Disney Gift Card Giveaway

One winner will receive a $500 Disney Gift Card.

Disney gift card Giveaway ends October 14th at 11:59pm, open to US, ages 18+. Only one entrant per household, per address. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Enter using the giveaway form below. Good luck!

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact teri@mompoweredmedia.com if you have any additional questions or comments.

September 24, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
2 Comments

Healthy Homemade Kettle Corn Recipe with Monk Fruit In The Raw

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Monk Fruit In The Raw. I received product samples to facilitate my post as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

My family are serious snackers, meaning we take our snacking seriously. I rarely let junk food into the house and am always on the search for great tasting snacks without the ridiculous calories. Because if the snack doesn’t taste good, the kids just won’t eat it.

With September being Childhood Obesity Month, what better time to share a healthier version of a favorite snack! In observance, I’m incorporating Monk Fruit In The Raw into some of my recipes as a way to reduce sugar without reducing taste. Monk Fruit In The Raw is a wholesome, no-calorie sweetener, made with real fruit! It has a light, sweet taste that can be used in any recipe that calls for sugar.

Low-Calorie Kettle Corn #Recipe | The Jenny Evolution

Making the Kettle Corn recipe below, the Monk Fruit In The Raw was a perfect blend, adding sweet to the dish without the calories. In fact, this recipe only has 148 calories per serving!

Monk Fruit In The Raw

 

Homemade Kettle Corn Recipe

Making homemade kettle corn is incredibly easy and takes 10 minutes tops. You probably have most of the ingredients already in your kitchen!

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil (or coconut oil)
  • Popcorn kernels (I prefer white popcorn but you can use yellow)
  • Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fine sea salt

Directions:

1. Grab your deep skillet with a cover.

2. Heat 4 teaspoons canola oil over medium-high heat.

3. Sprinkle 1/3 cup popcorn over the bottom of the pot.

4. Sprinkle 4 teaspoons Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag and 4 teaspoons granulated sugar over the popcorn. Cover the skillet.

Homemade Kettle Corn Recipe with Less Calories

Add in the sugars and immediately cover.

5. Hold the skillet just above the heat and shake it constantly to prevent the sugar and popcorn from burning. You may want to grab a good oven mitt — it can get hot!

6. When the popping noticeably slows down, transfer the popcorn immediately to a large bowl.

7. Sprinkle on 1/4 fine sea salt (do more than that and it can get too salty).

8. Toss popcorn to distribute salt and enjoy your healthy homemade kettle corn recipe! (Makes 6 servings with only 148 calories per serving.)

Healthier Homemade Kettle Corn #Recipe | The Jenny Evolution

Tips: Because the sugar can burn easily, be sure to not overheat the skillet. Also, pre-measure the ingredients so you can add them in quickly. In addition, keep the bowl nearby so you can immediately transfer the popcorn to the bowl; otherwise, you’ll burn your beautiful popcorn!

To get an easy print-out of the recipe, visit here.

Monk Fruit In The Raw is available in packets and a Bakers Bag that you measure cup for cup, just like sugar. To find even more great recipes like the Kettle Corn featured here, visit www.intheraw.com.

Host the Perfect Halloween Party For Young Kids Without Breaking the Bank | The Jenny Evolution

September 24, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
10 Comments

How to Plan the Perfect Halloween Party for Kids

Planning the perfect Halloween party for young kids can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! And you don’t have to break the bank to have a great party.

My son was born just days before Halloween, so every year we have a Halloween birthday party for him. One thing I’ve learned over the years is you don’t have to go big and crazy to make a big impact. I’m sharing my son’s birthday party from last year so you can see just how easy and simple it can be to host a birthday Halloween party in your home without stressing yourself out.

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Be sure to check out my collection of Halloween tips, ideas, activities, recipes and more for the entire family.

How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party For Young Kids Without Breaking the Bank | The Jenny Evolution  

Embellish to Make Your Cupcakes Pop

Last year I decided I would make our own dessert rather than order a cake. I wanted something that would look great without spending a lot of money.

First, I decided to make cupcakes, which are easy to serve as well as make. To make them stand out, I purchased adorable paper cupcake wrappers which you just pop the cupcake into after you’ve made them.

How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party For Young Kids Without Breaking the Bank | The Jenny Evolution

Second, rather than trying to ice enough cupcakes for 30 kids and adults, I used a dollop of Cool Whip on top of each cupcake. It took minutes rather than hours and looked adorable. I was worried the kids would miss the heavy icing, but I shouldn’t have. The kids were thrilled with the change in pace and parents appreciated the lighter flavor of the Cool Whip.

How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party For Young Kids Without Breaking the Bank | The Jenny Evolution

Don’t these look adorable? Just add a dollop of Cool Whip to cupcakes for quick, easy frosting.

Third, to make the presentation complete, I added simple cupcake toppers. Just stick ‘em in and you’re good to go!

How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party For Young Kids Without Breaking the Bank | The Jenny Evolution Talk about a wow factor! When I handed them out everyone just loved them. And the secret is, they were so simple (and inexpensive) to make.

Have the Kids Make Their Own Takeaway

Here’s a terrific tip that works for any child’s birthday party — have the kids make their own takeaway from the party. Rather than putting together a bag of candy and other cheap items that will get lost or thrown away within a day, figure out a project the kids can participate in at the party and take home.

How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party For Young Kids Without Breaking the Bank | The Jenny Evolution

We chose these wonderful handheld wooden masks, which we found at Michaels. I placed out washable markers and encouraged the kids to make their way to the table. The kids went nuts, having a blast, showing off their creations and then playing with the masks throughout the rest of the party. Thankfully there were a couple of masks left so hubby and I got to make our own after the party!

How to Host the Perfect Halloween Party For Young Kids Without Breaking the Bank | The Jenny Evolution

Go Easy On Halloween Decorations

One thing that can kill your budget quickly are decorations. But little kids don’t require a lot of decorations (and neither do parents). Just choose some inexpensive ones that can set the scene.

We just love swirly hanging decorations that often come in affordable packs and can easily be hung from doorways, windows or your entrance way. Strategically place them throughout the house and that’s it. Seriously. Don’t go overboard. You’ll wonder why you spent all of this money on unneeded decorations once the party is done.

How to Plan the Perfect Halloween Party for Kids | The Jenny Evolution

Strategically place swirly hanging decorations in the house to set the mood. People often go overboard but that isn’t needed for young kiddos. 

 

I also purchased inexpensive plastic Halloween-themed bowls to put snacks in. This way the kids carried around the decor with them and enjoyed the joy of the Halloween theme hands on.

Have a Costume Parade

Part of the reason you can go easy on the decorations is because you’re going to host a costume party… and the costumes really end up being the adorable decorations at the party! What little kid doesn’t love dressing up. Hosting a children’s costume birthday party gets the kids excited and gives them another reason to wear their Halloween costumes somewhere fun. Honestly, as a parent, I just loved loved loved seeing how all of the kiddos were dressed up and remarking on just how cute they were.

The first year we hosted, we just had the kids dress up. The second year, we invited the adults to join in. Some parents decided to go full out — especially the grandparents who put us all to shame!

Depending on the size of your group, host a mini costume parade where each kid gets to show off his or her costume. Some children may be too shy to participate but that’s okay. If you really want to make an impression, get a picture of each child, print it out after the party and write your thank you note on the back of the picture.

Remember to Have Fun

Having a birthday Halloween party doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Young children don’t need over-the-top decorations or elaborate games. You can still make a memorable party by carefully choosing some things to pop, such as the cupcakes and takeaway. (And by the way, we still have our Halloween masks from the last and use them while playing.)

Some Halloween items you might want to consider (affiliate links):

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Be sure to check out my collection of Halloween tips, ideas, activities, recipes and more for the entire family.

200+ Halloween Tips, Tricks and Treats on The Jenny Evolution

 

September 23, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
31 Comments

Fog in the Mountains Wordless Wednesday

 

Fog in the Adirondack Mountains - Wordless Wednesday

When you mention the word “mountains,” many people think of the jagged and majestic kind, such as the Rocky Mountains. But the Adirondack Mountains, with their soft rolling hills and abundant lakes, are just as beautiful. One morning this summer, we woke up to find a fog had settled onto the lake, which is typical for the area. By the time 8 o’clock rolled around, the fog was gone, the sun was shining and you would never have known there was a blanket of fog just hours before.

Fog in the Adirondack Mountains - Wordless Wednesday

The Jenny Evolution
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September 22, 2014
by Jennifer Hughes
2 Comments

25 DIY Halloween Costumes for Kids You Can Actually Make

Every year I see the most amazing Halloween costumes. And then I think… who on earth could actually make those! This year, I’m going to make your job a little easier and offer up 25 DIY Halloween costumes for kids you can actually make at home. And if this doesn’t give you a enough inspiration, check out last year’s post about the amazing DIY Halloween costumes you can make without being a professional seamstress.

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Be sure to check out my collection of Halloween tips, ideas, activities, recipes and more for the entire family.

  DIY Halloween Costumes for Kids - You can easily make these at home! | The Jenny Evolution

25 DIY Costumes You Can Make at Home

Felt Monarch Butterfly Costume | Buggy and Buddy

DIY Jake and the Never Land Pirates Costume | Marino Bambino

DIY Skeleton Family Costume | B-Inspired Mama

Homemade No Sew Pirate Costume | Artsy Momma

DIY Easy Football Family Halloween Costumes | Bare Feet on the Dashboard

No-Sew Knights Costumes | Chicken Babies

DIY Gnome Costume | Adventure in a Box

DIY Cat in the Cat and Thing 1 & Thing 2 Costumes | Mission to Save

DIY Jedi Knight Star Wars Costume | Mission to Save

How To Make a Princess Wand, Knight’s Sword, Pirate Treasure Map & Pixie Dust | Sweet Bella Roos

Queen of Hearts Makeup Tutorial | Slap Dash Mom

DIY Mermaid Tail Tutu Tutorial | Life With Moore Babies

DIY Micky Mouse Costume | The Chirping Moms

DIY Riddler Costume | Mission to Save

DIY Curious George & the man with the yellow hat Costume | The Chirping Moms

DIY Rainbow Costume | The Chirping Moms

My Little Vampire Costume | Artsy Momma

DIY Vintage-Inspired Flapper Headbands | Marino Bambinos

Handmade Butterfly Fairy Costume | Marino Bambinos

Disney Frozen Movie Queen Elsa Costume Tutorial | Marino Bambinos

Baby’s 1st Halloween Costume | All Done Monkey

Easy DIY Charlie Brown Costume | All Done Monkey

Pretty Peacock Easy DIY Costume | Mama Pea Pod

DIY Dinosaur Costume | Mama Pea Pod

Easy No Sew Scientist Costume | Coffee Cups and Crayons

DIY Buzz Lightyear Costume | Mission To Save


Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Be sure to check out my collection of Halloween tips, ideas, activities, recipes and more for the entire family.   200+ Halloween Tips, Tricks and Treats on The Jenny Evolution

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