Kick Off a Happy Birthday with These Easy Tips

Birthday BalloonsWeekday mornings have got to be the busiest time of the day around my home, but when one of the kids has a birthday I have a couple of “go-to” traditions that get the day off to a festive and happy start for the birthday boy or girl… and the rest of us!

The easiest idea is to have some helium balloons floating right beside the birthday child’s bed.  When they first open their eyes on that special day, they are filled with excitement at the sight… such a simple thing, but it really sets the tone from the get-go.  In past years, my husband and I would wait until the kids went to bed the night before the birthday and run out to purchase the balloons.  Now I’ve realized it’s even easier to buy the balloons any time during the day before the birthday and just hide them in the basement or furnace room so that no one gets a peak until the morning when the birthday child awakes.

The second tradition we like to use (especially on a weekday birthday) [Read more...]

A Very Special Graduation Gift Idea

grad luncheon centrepiecesThe countdown is on… less than one month until my first child graduates from Grade 8.  She is feeling so excited; I am feeling so sentimental.

One of the things that has been keeping me busy this year is my involvement with my daughter’s school’s graduation committee.  This committee is comprised primarily of parents of the grade 8 students with occasional assistance and authorizations from the grade 8 teacher and school principal.  At our tiny, small town school with 35 grade 8 graduates this year, we have planned 2 very special events to mark this big turning point for our children.  The first is a grad luncheon which is held at the school during lunch hour for all the graduates along with the entire school staff.  It is a celebration to kick off the graduation week and provide a big thank you for all of the contributions the staff have made to our children over the past 10 years.  I have been the lead on this event, coordinating catering, gifts, and managing the cash in and out in preparation for this event which is scheduled for a couple weeks from now.  It turns out that with a contribution of just $25 per student (plus many thoughtfully contributed donations from parents and graduates alike) we are prepared to host a catered hot luncheon complete with decorations, dessert, favours, and best wishes for all.

Our school’s actual graduation event is being head up by another mom who has contributed much time and enthusiasm to coordinating an offsite, mid-week graduation celebration including presentation of diplomas & awards, a hot meal, and a dance in the theme of “A Hawaiian Sunset”.  As this will be my first “parent of a graduate” experience, I am torn between reminising about my own graduation and how much fun it all was, how much fun I know my daughter and her friends will be having, and the constant reminder that my little girl is not so little any more.  Watching this particular graduation is going to be turning point for me as well, as I battle to let her go and hold her close … a beautiful young woman emerging before my very eyes.

The special graduation gift that I just completed for my daughter and want to share with you today is something that my dear friend and mother of 5 (yes, that is correct mother of 5 children between grades 4 and grade 8!!) proposed to our parent graduation committee. [Read more...]

3 Random Tips for Happier Days

tips & tricks


Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference to how an ordinary day turns out.  Recently I’ve tried a few new tricks to make things run more smoothly around my home, and I’m so happy with the results of these 3 new twists that I figured I’d share them…



Having Trouble Fitting In Time for
Family Games on Busy Weeknights?

Does your family love board games that take a long time to play?  These games go unplayed month after month waiting for a week off of school or a weekend getaway where there is ample opportunity to slow down together. Well bust out the Rumoli or Monopoly!! Here’s an oh-so-logical solution that enables me to fit in some family game time free of technology, phone interruptions, and other distractions even if we have only 20 minutes to spare before dinner or heading out to our evening activities…

Set up the game on a little used table, and here’s the trick… DON’T PACK IT UP!!  Whenever a bit of time comes available, just head to the game table and play a few rounds, then leave it set up to continue where you left off the next day.  No fuss, no muss!  Thanks to this awesome and obvious tip from a friend, we have started a Rumoli game that will wind up at the end of Easter weekend.   Board games are my favourite kinds of quality time together, and without the set up and clean up, we can fit it in almost daily.

Do Your Kids Refuse a Much Needed Nap
the Day After A Late Night of Fun?

This little trick worked like a charm when my son was 4 – 8 years old, and just this weekend it proved too much for my 6 year old to withstand!! We had overnight guests visit us on Saturday night, and each and every one of us were up WAY too late.  The next morning was a fairly early rise because everyone wanted to maximize the remaining hours of the visit before their departure later that afternoon.  I knew that an afternoon nap was a must for me, and my 6 year old was willing to “try” to nap despite her doubt that she could fall asleep in the middle of the day.  When I went upstairs after about 20 minutes I noticed her eyes were open and she was moving about in her bed… no way to fall asleep!  So I took out my secret, irrestible weapon… [Read more...]

A Birthday Idea for Mom or Dad

About a month ago, I had a birthday.  My husband and kids came up with a thoughtful, creative, and very sweet way to treat me extra special for the day.  I am excited to share this simple little idea with you… along with a FREE PRINTABLE that will make it even quicker and easier for you to pull off in your own home.

Birthday Do's & Don'ts

When I woke up that morning and went about my usual morning routine, I kept bumping into notes that had been left for me.  At each new location (bathroom, hallway, kitchen counter, near my boots, etc) I found 2 pieces of paper.

One said “On this special day, you are definitely allowed to …”
The other paper beside it said “On this special day, you are definitely NOT allowed to …”

They came up with all kinds of great ideas that let me know that THEY knew just what my favourite things to do are, AND just what things I would really appreciate a one-day break from.   You can get your kids in on the fun by printing my FREE TEMPLATE using the link below and then having the whole family brainstorm and write out ideas uniquely suited to your family’s birthday boy or girl. [Read more...]

Bedroom Makeover… Small Cost, BIG Improvement!!

School house room renoWhat’s to do when the whole month is filled day after day with record breaking temperature lows?  This is for sure the coldest winter that I can remember in a LONG time, and my new year’s urge to reorganize and redecorate has been ramped up by my desire to remain toasty warm indoors.

The result:  My 6 year old daughter’s bedroom got a major reorg … and at virtually no cost !!

It seems like I never know it until it’s upon me… that day when I will suddenly become aware that my baby has really outgrown the baby room that we so lovingly created years ago.  Eventually the crib is dismantled for a new, big kid bed, but in our home all the toys that were once paramount parts of a day’s play are mighty hard to let go of.  In fact, we often don’t even realize how much space all that old stuff is taking up… sitting around just in case the urge to play with it on a cold or rainy day comes up again.

One day this past week as I climbed the stairs to our 2nd story, I was struck by what a crazy and overflowing collection of stuff had accumulated in my youngest daughter’s bedroom.  The urge to purge hit me by force, and I gave myself 3 hours to clear the room down to the bare bones. [Read more...]

So… What’s Going On Here?

Well, that was an unexpectedly lengthy break from Simply Fun Families!!
Read below to get the whole scoop…

Confession #1

As December 2014 approached, I promised myself that this year would be different from last.  I was committed to putting down my endless blog & biz “to-do’s” and push pause on my business aspirations in favour of really taking the time to focus on family and reconnect with friends through the month approaching Christmas.  The previous holiday season I had been so caught up in my launch of Simply Fun Families and my online sales of Countdown to Christmas, that December 2013 had been a pure frenzy of exhaustion as I tried to keep up with our family traditions and still navigate through launching an online business in which every new step was foreign territory to me. As fun and exhilerating as each step had been, it took a tole  on my availability for all the rest of life… motherhood, family time, and even sheer wakefulness!!  I was actually still shopping for Christmas gifts on December 23rd, and I vowed that I would not allow myself to fall into that trap in the future.

After writing a few festive blog posts this past November in anticipation of all the holiday fun to be had, I allowed myself the luxury of taking a holiday… a complete pause on even thinking about Simply Fun Families so that I could focus on enjoying the season with my husband, children, extended family & friends.  It was bliss.  I found myself relishing a slower pace, hosting more spontaneous small group gatherings, and enjoying many unrushed visits with family and friends.  My Christmas shopping was thoughtful, and I was so excited to watch people open gifts that I had created or ordered or found that suited them perfectly.  Believe it or not, I actually noticed myself enjoying routine grocery shopping in which I was no longer literally running through the store.  It had apparently become my habit to run through errands and groceries in a race against time because I had an overriding feeling that I was wasting valuable blogging and website update minutes while I conducted these routine errands and chores.

That’s when it started to strike me that perhaps things had swung a bit more out of balance than I had realized… [Read more...]