My Not So Perfect Life Book Review

One of my favorite things to do during nap time, or while waiting for kiddos to get out of a class, is to read! I love everything from thrillers to love stories, but I really love a good book that I never want to put down. With school and working 3 jobs it can be hard to find time to read nowadays, so when I do it has to be good. I just finished My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, and it was definitely one of those I never want to put down books! I thought I would share some of my thoughts on it and why it is so perfect for any woman young or old.

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First off the main character is SO relatable! Katie is a 25 year old trying to make her name in the branding world in London. She has put in her time, at not so great jobs, so she could land the perfect one right in the heart of London. She moved from the countryside and adopted a new nickname and personality with it, all in hope of having “the perfect life” in London. While she thinks its going to be fabulous to live in London, she soon learns life in the city is not so glamorous. Katie is such a hard worker (another thing to love about her!) and so determined. This story touches on the idea that you can put out anything you want social media to make your life look perfect. While her life is far from perfect in London her Instagram tells a different story. It shows her drinking chic lattes in hip restaurants and loving the big city life.

The other main character Demeter, Katie’s boss. I think a lot of working moms would find her very relatable. To Katie she seems to have the perfect life but as the story unfolds you, and Katie, learn that things aren’t always as they seem on social media. Demeter is a 40something executive working in branding with a husband and 2 kids at home. In the most unlikely of circumstances Katie and Demeter find out they have much more in common than they thought.

I think the “don’t always believe what you see on social media” idea that this book puts out is so poignant and relevant to today’s world. I know just today I was scrolling through Instagram thinking about this one girl I know, who has amazing pictures from traveling all over the world, must have the most perfect life. This book reminded me though that I have no basis for those thoughts besides her Instagram pictures which don’t necessarily mean she has the best time ever. I find it really hard to not be envious of people on Instagram or Facebook. After reading this book my envy of others through their Facebook or Instagram posts is something I am going to try can care less about, because you never know if their life really is that perfect.

This book also hits on how hard it is to grow up and still stay true to your roots. It is something Katie struggles constantly with throughout the book but luckily with a happy ending proving you can after all find a balance. There is also a love story element to the book which I think is always fun 🙂 The relationship shows a glimpse of the struggles of dating in your twenties.

Overall I thought this book was great! Definitely worth a read. It’s a really easy book to read, lighthearted yet a page turner. I haven’t loved all of Sophie Kinsella’s books but My Not So Perfect Life is a hit. Let me know if you read it and whether or not you like it!

xoxo

Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2017

10 Kid Friendly Fall Activities

Happy fall everybody! I don’t know about you but I LOVE fall. Everything about fall… the chill in the air, apples 24/7, pumpkin spice and everything nice, apple and pumpkin scented anything, and leaves turning beautiful, gorgeous colors! Naturally, I share my love of fall with my nanny kiddos, but it turns out they have a great time doing the fll activities as well. So I decided to put together a list of my favorite fall, kid-friendly, activities!

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The Nanny Guide’s Top 10 Kid Friendly Fall Activities

1. Go to an apple orchard!

Last year me and my boyfriend took Ruby to a local apple orchard, and it is a day she still talks about 1 year later. We all had SO much fun! The local one we went to had apples, apple cider donuts, hay pile jumps, tractor rides, and even more fun things for kids to play on! We went on a cloudy cold day and because it was so much fun forgot all about the cold. Another fun local (aka Minnesota) apple place is Jim’s Apple Barn. I can’t call it an apple orchard because its big draw is that it is Minnesota’s largest candy store haha still a great place for a family outing! They have apples, baked goods, candy, rooters, beef jerky, and a million other fun snacks!

2. Head to a Pumpkin Patch! 

Take the kiddos to a pumpkin patch! Usually this can be combined with an apple orchard trip but I thought it deserved its own line 🙂 This is a great place to take your family pumpkin-patch-desktop-wallpaper-5653-5939-hd-wallpapersChristmas card at if you’re looking to get that crossed off your list early! It’s also just a fun time to let the kids explore. Kids are fascinated with all the bumps, lumps, sizes, and colors of pumpkins. Once you’ve picked some out, bring them home to decorate! You can go the traditional route of carving pumpkins which if you know what your doing is fun. However I’m not a big fan of pumpkin carving… Too much mess, slime, and really hard to do right. I love decorating the pumpkins with marker, paint, pom poms, and any other arts and craft decoration. I also have found that this is easier for kids to be included in this way. The knives and tools involved in caring are not so kid friendly, but to each their own! 

3. Make a leaf pile and play! 

img_9177This one is pretty self explanatory. Rake up the fallen leaves in your yard and jump on in the pile! Kids find this so fun! I have some great memories as a child of jumping into leaf piles. It’s an easy and free way to have some good old fashion outdoor fun. I also used to take leaves and make houses out of them by making lines on leaves for rooms. Kinda hard to explain but my point is let your kids imagination go wild with the leaves!

4. Make a bonfire

If you have a bonfire pit or access to one, this is fun way to stay warm on the chilly fall days. A fun learning experience is to have your child find different things in nature (think leaves, sticks, pinecones, etc) then you can throw them in the fire pit and listen to the different sizzles! After you’ve had enough time hanging around the fire you can always add to the day by roasting marshmallows and making s’mores 🙂

5. Walk through an area with trees!

You can go anywhere whether that be a forest, nature reserve, or neighborhood. As you walk talk through the trees spend some time talking about the different colors your child sees. This helps practice color recognition. If your children are older it can be interesting to stop and tell them about the different types of trees they see and what colors each tree turns.

6. Go to a Football Game!

This does not have to a NFL game! I actually suggest you don’t go to an NFL game haha. This is because the fans can be very aggressive and shouting profanities. My suggestion is to go to a local college football game! This can still be just as satisfying for your kids as an NFL game. They can cheer on the team and spend some quality time with you, all while being a less expensive day out for you 🙂

7. Walk through a corn maze

Once again this might be able to be accomplished at an apple orchard, but sometimes you need to go elsewhere. A local Minnesota one, Seever’s Corn Maze, provides hours of fun! Kids learn trial and error when getting stuck trying to find their way out of the maze.

8. Bake something fall with them! Pumpkin pies, apple crisps, anything! 

img_3744It’s always fun for a child to be involved in baking something sugary and sweet! When children are involved in the process they feel a sense of accomplishment, and they can physically see what they helped create. Baking with your child also enhances their math skills by counting cups and tablespoons. It also helps enhance gross motor skills with stirring or rolling. When I was little we used to make pies every year with my mom! I always include Ruby when baking anything, and she loves it! It’s a great bonding time. Because patience isn’t usually a child’s strong suit, when Ruby and I bake I usually plan it so the food bakes while she naps! However if you want to practice patience then do it during play time! You can turn on the oven light and they can watch the bread grow or muffins puff up.

9. Taste test some caramel apples 🙂

Carmel apples are my favorite fall treat. Anytime I have an option to get one I do! I think they all can taste a little bit different too. Pick up various caramel apples from local grocery stores or caramel dips and have a taste test! Other places such as Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory make really fun gourmet caramel apples with chocolate, peanut butter, M and M’s, and so much more. So you can always get even more creative! You can ask them before which one they think might be the best and write that down. Then after they test them all, ask again, and see if it changes! To keep this from your kid taking in too much sugar, cut the apples into slices and try each one with just that one slice.

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10. Have a fall family or nanny night in!

Cook a fun fall meal (maybe chill or chicken apple sausages), make some warm apple cider, have a yummy fall treat for dessert, and cozy up on the couch and watch a movie! This is a great way to spend quality time with your kiddos and catch up on life with them. If you are a nanny you can do this in the morning or afternoon with them! Instead of dinner, you could make a snack (maybe apples, or pumpkin bread), have some apple cider, and cozy up and watch a movie then!

I hope you all enjoy theses activities and have some great fall fun with your kiddos! This is just my list of fall fun, and I would love to know your families favorite fall activities!

xoxo

Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

Who Am I?: Animal Edition. A Educational Game for Kids

Hi parents and nannies! Happy Wednesday! I hope the new year is treating you all well. Today I wanted to share a fun interactive, adaptive game I created for a job interview recently. It is suitable for young toddlers, as well as preschool age kiddos. It’s called Who Am I?: Animal Edition.

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I created this as an activity to bring to a job interview that could be played with children from 1 to 5. You can practice remembering animal sounds and fine motor skills with the young kiddos, and practice spelling and more complicated, recognition questions with older, preschool age kids. This game is easy and inexpensive to make on your own. Here’s how it’s done!

What you need:

  • Foam poster board
  • Animal picture printouts (I just googled clip art of each animal)
  • Markers
  • Index cards
  • Multiple purpose fasteners (aka velcro stickers)
  • Scissors
  • Tape/ Adhesive

How to create:

  1. Google each animal you want. I chose horse, chicken, cow, pig, cat, dog, duck, elephant, lion, and frog. Once you have found the pictures, print them out, and cut them apart.
  2. Begin with the poster board flat on the ground and lay each animal along the sides.
  3. Once you are satisfied with the layout, tape each animal down to the board. IMG_3566
  4. Take your index cards and clearly write out each animal name. I chose capital letters because those are the letters most children recognize and learn first.
  5. Take an index card and adhere two sets of velcro to the back of it. Then stick it on the poster board next to its respective animal. (If you use the Scotch brand of velcro it WILL feel like you have to rip it off the board really hard, but it gets easier the more you use it!)
  6. Write the title of the game at the top of the board with a marker. Mine is on blue paper because I messed up the writing the first time haha so just go with it!
  7. Viola! You have a fun, easy to use game.

How to play:

  • Easy: Take all of the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Show your kid the first card and say what animal says woof woof? If they can’t talk yet, have them point to the animal. If they can talk, have them say the animal name and point. If they get it correct celebrate it and show them where to place it on the board. Keep going until all the cards are on the board correctly. This version of the game will help with memory, recognition, fine motor, and recall skills.
  • Medium: Take all the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Look at the animal name on the card and give your child clues about it. For example, if it is COW I would say, I have black and white spots. I provide you with milk. I can be found hanging out on a farm. If they don’t get it by that point then you could say I go moo. Once they guess the animal correctly hand them the card and tell them to place it next to the animal on the board. Keep going until all the cards are on the board. This version of the game really helps test children’s long term memory of facts about animals. It will make them recall information they have stored in their brain.
  • Hard: Take all the cards off the board and hold them in your hands. Hand the first card to your child and tell them to sound out the word. You can help them if needed. Once they have sounded it out ask them to place it on the board next to the animal. Celebrate each mini victory until they have gone through all the cards. Obviously elephant or chicken are not going to be super easy ones to get, but each time they see them and repeat them they will get more comfortable with the word and more practice. After they place the card on the board you can tell them to point to each letter and spell the word back to you as well. It is important to have them point to the letter (or you yourself point) because this will help them associate the proper letter sound with letter.

As I said above this is a fun, adaptable, and engaging for kids of a wide age range! I hope you all have an easy time making this game and a fun time playing it.

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

Be Thankful

Being thankful is something every kid (and adult) can sometimes need a reminder of. I know I try my best to remember how lucky I am for the life I have but life gets crazy and hard sometimes, so I forget. Kids are busy bodies with a million thoughts going through their heads every second. It is easy for them to forget to be thankful as well. While it is good to be thankful year round, Thanksgiving is a good time of year to take a second out of our busy days and remember why/what we are thankful for. It is a good time of year to reflect on your year and life and remember all the things you are lucky to have. It is important to do this with your children as well! Here are a few simple way to break out the gratitude and thankfulness in your little one 🙂

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  • List off all the people who are a part of their life who love them. This is simple and can be done quickly. Ruby and I have done it a few times on longer car trips. I say who loves Ruby? and she starts listing off mommy, daddy, Kelly, grandma, grandpa, etc. After we have listed off a lot I make a point to tell her how lucky she is to have so many people who love her and who she loves. Then I remind her that she should be thankful to have so many people on that list. It always boosts her mood and puts a smile on her face. I then follow that up with “next time you see _____ you should tell them how much you love them.”
  • Make a craft relating to Thanksgiving and being thankful . There are so many options with this, and it is a great way to teach kids the wide range of things they have to be thankful for. It is easy for kids to list off concrete examples like my blankie or my train track, but it’s harder to list of the more abstract ideas like family, friends, education, etc. While doing the craft you can teach them about the more abstract ideas. After they name their first few then you could say something like “well aren’t you thankful for having a nice friend like Abby?” A question like that will prompt their little minds to start thinking of things along that realm. Keep that discussion going! Here is a great list of 7 crafts that can teach kids about being thankful!
  • Remind them how lucky they are to be healthy and have full bellies. A lot of kids don’t know on their own that these are things some people don’t have. It is am important life realization to have because it is part of our reality. You want to be age appropriate in how you describe that there are kids who are sick and in the hospital or that there are kids who don’t always get to eat dinner. If you make things seem too bleak it may not register with them, but they are smarter than you think and can handle a version of the truth about health, food, and wealth. I leave that discretion to you, the nanny or parent. You know your child the best and how you think this discussion should go.
  • Donate food to a local food shelf. Tell your kids that since not everyone can buy all the food they want (or need) you guys are going to help them out! Bring your kids with and ask them what they want to buy. I have done this with Ruby and she usually gives some of her favorite foods. It a good learning moment because it causes her to reflect on what she likes and that well maybe another kid would like some Easy Mac as well! It teaches compassion and social awareness. Have them help you bring the food in to the donation site. Afterward celebrate their charity work with a fun snack or trip to the park. Let them know how proud you are of them, and that they just helped make a lot of people happier.
  • If your kids are old enough- volunteer! I have gone with school groups and my parents since I was young to Feed My Starving Children. At FMSC you pack meals for people in countries all over the world in dire need of food. They present the need for food in age appropriate ways, so you don’t need to be worried about it scaring you child. I have very fond memories of going there as a kid! It’s usually an upbeat environment with lots of laughter and good feelings. If there isn’t a FMSC near you, look for other local places that pack meals for the hungry. They are all over!

A few things I am thankful for this holiday 🙂

  • All my tiny humans!
  • My sweet, loving boyfriend
  • My amazing family
  • My education
  • The ability to travel
  • My best friend (even though she lives 1,000 miles away!)
  • The little opportunities each day brings to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Being thankful for things we have isn’t something that is something that we explicitly say everyday, but hopefully there is a moment each day where you think about it. This is an important thing to instill in your kids. Learning to be thankful teaches kids humility, the importance of giving to others if you can, empathy, love, and a bounty of more skills. It will help them develop into compassionate, helpful, grateful humans.

On that note, I hope you all have a safe, fun-filled Thanksgiving! I leave you all with one of my favorite quotes that isn’t directly related to being thankful, but something I have learned as a result of being thankful.

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The Importance of Reading with Kids

Lazy days (like Sundays 😊) are the perfect days to cuddle up with your cutie pie and read books on books on books! There are so many benefits to reading with and to your little one. Books inspire kids to imagine and dream about things and places you’re reading about. The simple act of reading a book aloud to your child helps them develop in multiple way. It develops their memory skills, especially if at the end you ask them what their favorite part was. In relation to memory, it helps kids work on their attention and patience by having to sit still, for a prolonged period of time, and attend to the words and pictures. Lastly it helps in language development. When reading books kids are exposed to so many words and pronunciations. There are a million more benefits to reading, these are just a few. Given all these benefits make reading a part of your daily life with your kid! It’s easy and it’s fun. This goes for kids of all ages! It doesn’t matter if they are 1 or 12 or 50, reading is always beneficial.

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Ruby (the little girl I nanny) is 3 so she can’t read any words yet, but still loves when I read aloud to her. This is how me and Ruby have made it apart of our daily life. Every day when Ruby wakes up her nap, we lay in her bed and read 3 or 4 books. She can be a little grumpy and still sleepy when she wakes up, so this is my way of getting her past the “I’m still waking up phase” to the playful Ruby phase. She usually passively takes in the first couple books, but by the 4th book she is super engaged, asking questions, and talking about the pictures. She loves it.

Below are some books we recommend, places we recommend getting them at, and a fun art project! 

Some of our favorite books that we recommend you checking out are:

For the older audience (3 and older): 

Ellie by Mike Wu, a heartwarming story about how everyone is talented in their own unique way. Told with beautiful illustrations and adorable animals!

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Pinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann, a sweet story about a girl who loves pink and being herself no matter what. Perfect for any pink loving little kiddo. (we also suggest Aqualicious and Purplelicious)

The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain, a personal favorite of mine from when I was a kid! With a wide range of stories about everything from becoming a big sister/brother to telling the truth to eating too much junk food, your kids will always come away from these books learning a good lesson.

For the younger audience (3 and under): 

Duck and Goose by Tad Hills, this is a series with multiple books covering many learning domains such as counting, empathy, holidays, colors, emotions, opposites, and many more. Each one is short and simple, but filled with tons of things for kids to learn. Plus they are the cutest little guys!

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield 51q3+u5cenL._SX473_BO1,204,203,200_
Martin, a eloquently written, beautiful book telling the story of something all parents will find meaningful. Every parent (and nanny 😊) wonders about their tiny humans will become one day.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, a quirky, cute story about a giraffe who wants to dance even though he isn’t exactly made to. It shows kids you can do whatever you put your mind to.

IMG_7628You can find all these books and more amazing ones at the LIBRARY! Ruby and I love the library. Our local libraries have fun places to cozy up and read, blocks to play with, and toys to imagine with. It is always a fun morning when we head to one of them. After Ruby got her first library card this summer we decided to make a special library book bag to store and carry all her library books in! Such a fun, easy, practical art project. Directions are below!

What you need: 

1 canvas bag (we found ours at Michael’s craft store for $3)

3D Fabric Paint in favorite colors (found at Michael’s)

Pencil

How to do: 

  1. Place some cardboard inside the bag to prevent the paint from going through to the other side.
  2. Use a pencil to sketch out your design. Draw lightly incase you want to erase and start again 🙂
  3. Gently squeeze the 3D fabric paint over the pencil lines.
  4. Let dry for at least 3 hours!! This is the hardest step for kids to obey. We did ours before nap time so there was no temptation.
  5. Use and enjoy your new personalized book bag! We take ours with overtime we go.

Since Ruby was a little to young to use the paint I had her color on the other side of the bag with fabric markers. This made her feel like she did some too. She also helped pick out the colors and decided which words were what color. If your child is old enough to use the fabric paint let them create their own unique design!

If you like to buy your books to keep them around enroll in IMG_7615Barnes and Noble’s Kids Club! It keeps track of how many books you buy and allows you to enjoy special perks! For every $100 you spend on kids book you get a rewards certificate to redeem in store. They have other fun promotions you can take part in. The store itself is always a fun place for kids to visit too. They have a Lego Duplo area to build for free and a fun storytelling area.

I hope this post encourages you to make reading an important part of you and your kiddos life! I leave you with this quote by a familiar friend

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