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A 33-Year Old’s Journey to Stop Biting My Nails

It is embarrassing to admit, being a 33-year old mom, wife, and professional, that biting my nails is a habit I am still trying to kick. When someone bites their nails it is typically a sign of boredom, loneliness, nerves, hunger, or anxiety of some sort.

Personally, I have found I bite my nails when I am stressed or anxious, not even realizing I am doing it until I have bit my nails so far down that my fingers are in pain.

My, how I hate admitting that. On May 31, I vowed to stop biting my nails, once and for all.

How I Stopped Biting My Nails

I knew I needed more than just nail strengthener. There is no need in strengthening my nails if I was just going to bite them off. I needed a deterrent that would prevent me from biting them.

I Googled how to stop biting my nails, and the recurring theme was finding a polish that tastes so bad that when you would put your fingers to your mouth, you are disgusted with the taste and start associating biting your nails with a nasty taste.

My first try was amazing! I was nervous that I would have to go through a few different brands before I found one that worked. I ordered the Mavala Stop. The taste is absolutely appalling.

45-day nail transformation: Going from biting my nails, to manicured hands!

In putting this on my nails several times a week, I have not bit my nails since May 30, 2020. I have also realized how often I put my fingers in or around my mouth. Whether it is just sitting at my desk or licking something off my fingers (i.e., food). Every time my fingers touched my lips or went in or near my mouth, it was such a disgusting taste!

Investing in Your Nails: How this helps to stop biting your nails.

I wanted my nails to begin looking nice so that I would be proud in the way they look and would continue to be motivated to stop biting my nails, on top of being deterred by the taste.

The only nail polish I had was an old Essie pink and an OPI topcoat. You see, when you bite your nails all the time, why would you ever buy nail polish just for it to sit in your bathroom?

After several times of painting my nails with this old Essie/OPI combination and hating the way they looked, I decided that I would reward myself with nice new polish, after going several weeks without biting my nails.

So, I began pairing polished nails with the nasty Mavala polish. I am happy to say that I began to be proud of my nails and a lot less self conscious.

Taking the Time with Your Nails

Now that I am on my way to stopping the habit of biting my nails, I have been consistent in my routine of manicuring my nails and adding the Mavala polish. I have not decided when I will stop using that as I do not want to fall back into the habit of biting these nails that are starting to look, dare I say, normal.

Coming from someone who always hated painting her nails, I wanted to learn some tips and tricks that would make me excited to paint my nails and take some time for some self-care.

Through my trial and error, I have found a few things to do and things to avoid.

Buff your nail before applying polish.

This ensures you have a smooth surface for the polish to adhere to. Uneven surfaces can lead to cracks in the polish.

Use a base coat and topcoat.

This is my favorite tip. I can see a huge difference in my nails after utilizing the OPI base and topcoat. This will help prevent chipping or cracking. Base coat allows the polish to adhere to your nails. The topcoat is what seals it all in. Reapply topcoat every other day to prevent cracking.

Do not let your topcoat touch your cuticles.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I got sloppy when I applied the topcoat. Getting the topcoat on your cuticles can cause your polish to lift completely off your nail.

Paint thin coats.

Again, lesson learned the hard way. I would do these big globs of nail polish, only to find chipping and peeling later. The thinner the coats and the longer you let them dry in between coats, the longer the polish will last.

Do not shake the polish.

This was new to me (found on Google), and makes complete sense. Shaking leads to bubbles and bubbles lead to chipping.

Stick with the same brand.

When I first started this nail journey, I was using the Essie and OPI that I had. But then I splurged and bought the OPI base and topcoat, followed by the OPI nail polish. Well, duh, they are meant to be used together! After using all three from OPI, the difference was shocking!

Cuticle serum is your best friend.

Just like I use high quality skin care morning and night, I have started applying cuticle serum daily. This gives my nails the fresh “salon” look, but also has helped prevent me from picking at my polish. Plus, it is super hydrating for my fingers!


I am extremely happy to have finally tackled this awful nail biting habit that I have had since I was a child. The progress I have made is tremendous. I feel I am not out of the woods yet, but every day I am one step closer to never biting my nails again!

Healthy Recipes for Picky Teenagers

If you’re like me and raising teenagers, you know the challenge of having home-cooked meals that everyone in the house will like and eat. It’s easy for them to grab unhealthy food through the day, so I’ve had to be flexible and creative to lure them back to family mealtime.

Easy Meals for the Whole Fam

I’ve gotten pretty crafty in the kitchen with my twin 14-year-olds, and when I asked them to share their favorite go-to meals at home, the following is what they told me.

Quinoa Bowls:

Super easy. Cook up some quinoa, then just have your kids dump what they love in it. Two of mine like to add some salt, pepper, and garlic, then top it with black beans, sour cream, and cheese. The third child wouldn’t dream of anything other than some sauteed chicken, topped with a little steamed broccoli and teriyaki sauce.

French Bread Pizza:

Actually, French bread anything! Dip the bread in oil and parmesan, load it up with turkey and cheese, or put some pizza sauce on and add toppings. During family movie nights, this is one of our family favorites. Every member of the family likes something different, so we have an array of toppings. Pop these in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes, and you’re in French bread pizza heaven!

Rice Anything:

We’re a “add anything to rice” family. I make a large pot of rice in the cooker once per week then use it to make up various things. For example, add some diced chicken, a couple of fried eggs, and a few leftover veggies (minced up small so the kids will eat them), then add some soy sauce and you’re good to go. Or, make your rice like you’d make oatmeal. Add some butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and milk, and enjoy! For the kids who don’t like quinoa, or for a variation, add diced chicken with some teriyaki sauce (or other sauce of your choice).

Egg Anything:

My kids love eggs! Egg salad, deviled eggs, boiled whole eggs, poached eggs, and scrambled eggs. Because my teens are old enough to cook for themselves, this is a meal they put together pretty quickly. In our family of five, we go through about 36 eggs per week—most of those are for my growing teenagers! Also, plop a poached or fried egg over your rice bowls or quinoa bowls. Finally, if your teens eat Ramen as mine do, add an egg to the boiling water for some protein. 

Oatmeal with All-the-Things:

One of my teens cooks oatmeal pretty regularly. On top, add some banana drizzled with honey, blueberries, raspberries, or granola. Pretty up your oatmeal with some butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and milk. Finally, add in some healthy ingredients they won’t even know are there, like flaxseed.

Peanut Butter Toast with a Side of Banana:

Does this need any introduction at all? And, do you need permission to serve this as a whole meal? If so, here it is. I give you permission. You’ll feel better knowing there is some excellent protein here, plus you can add sliced banana on the side and you’ve just made a five-minute meal!

DIY Salads:

I realize not all teens will eat salads, but if yours are like mine, they’ll eat ONE kind of salad, and I’m okay with it because at least there’s one. You can get pre-made bagged salads, or stock your fridge with things your kids will love. You can make this fun by letting kids add in their own colors of the rainbow. I highly suggest adding in fruit: plums, grapes, diced apples, and even avocado. The kids love the sweetness of the fruit, and it almost covers up the fact that they’re eating a salad.

Pasta Bar:

Again, we have various ingredients our kids can add to their pasta. For example, rather than making a full pan of spaghetti with meat sauce, we’ll have a pan of spaghetti noodles, another with sauce, another with meat, and yet another with some extra toppings (like cheese, meatballs, or even veggie noodles). 

Picking My Battles with Picky Eaters

My kids hardly eat meat, even though I’m a solid omnivore. They’re also very picky about the veggies they eat—they’ll eat broccoli and edamame like it’s their last meal. One of them eats raw carrots, another loves Caesar salad, another child loves green beans. They don’t all love the same things; they don’t all hate the same things. However, I’ve found ways to create food bars and DIY dishes to all be together and have some fun while we’re having meals. 

When your kids are picky, more than anything, I suggest inclusivity and honoring what they naturally want to eat. It’s a bit different for really young kids, whom I suggest try everything at least once. But for the teens, they’re already pretty set and as you know, we’re struggling with other more pertinent teen issues. Food is the last battle I’m interested in fighting! 

What are some healthy recipes for picky teenagers that have worked for you?

 

How COVID Affected My Child’s Mental Health

Honestly, my head just spins as I sit here and think about the word “COVID-19.” I think the wildest thing that I just can’t wrap my head around is that it has literally affected every single person…dare I say, all over the WORLD, in one way or another? Yes, some more dramatically than others, but in my life, I have never witnessed an event that has completely affected almost every human in every corner of the globe. From job loss, to empty food banks, to cancelled plans, to delayed/missed medical treatments, to stressful home life, and even the most severe—the loss of a loved one—the ripple effects are never-ending. And my heart breaks equally for all of it.

There were many contributors that caused my family to hit “next-level stress”, including the uncertainty that my husband’s company would survive this, and the fact that we pretty much weren’t going to go anywhere for God knows how long. (FYI: I processed this by crying AT LEAST once a week, while my husband just gets his head in the game and crunches numbers.) I assumed that my husband and I were bearing the brunt of the stress of uncertainty week after week, and honestly, I was thankful that my kids seemed to be having the time of their lives. However, I had no idea of the silent and increasing affect that all this had on my son’s mental health.

My sweet boy is almost six years old. He is the kindest, silliest, most imaginary child. I have always thought of him as so “adaptable”, but then again, I have also never seen him with his world turned upside down.

Right around the time that COVID-19 hit, he had just gone through a normal “monsters-under-my-bed” scared phase that all kids go through. Just like all other phases in my son’s life, he seemed to leave it as quick as it began. Then a month or so into quarantine, he started getting very anxious any time either my husband or me left, even if for just a few minutes, like to walk the dog. He would cry (with a mix of screaming), and make a big deal of our “goodbye,” wanting to do a bunch of kisses and hugs, again, knowing I would be back in a few minutes. We assumed it was just his reaction to us being together ALL.THE. TIME.

Then bedtimes started getting SUPER drawn out; he was making everything take forever, making up a million excuses of things he needed, or adding “rituals” to his routine. We honestly dreaded bedtime so much. Then we noticed he was having a really hard time making decisions…SMALL decisions, like “Do you want toast or cereal for breakfast?” They would turn into complete meltdowns. Additionally, EVERY prayer he would say would be about God healing Coronavirus, and honestly, we didn’t even talk about it a lot around him, so we had no idea how or why he was so anxious about it.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 seemed to ease up a little bit mid-summer, so our families visited us and we also went to visit them in Mississippi. Both times the goodbyes were excruciatingly hard for him. Then after we returned from Mississippi, the bedtime situation exploded, and he was almost inconsolable. Night after night for a week, we tried everything we knew to do: console, ignore, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, we did it all. For a kid who has literally slept through the night in his own room since he was six months old, we were at a loss. We had no idea what to do other than to drag a mattress into his room. And that’s where one of us slept for an entire month.

We realized it was definitely time to get some outside help, so we called our pediatrician. She assured us that they were seeing A LOT of out-of-ordinary behavior and that this was affecting children more than we could imagine. She reminded us that his entire world was completely changed within a matter of days. School, playdates, parks, friends, all were taken from him for reasons that we couldn’t even fully explain. She encouraged us to seek out a therapist, ensuring it would be good for the whole family.

With a two-page recommendation list in hand, I stayed up half the night reading bios to find the right fit for my son/family. (My sister-in law, also a therapist, encouraged us to specifically look for a play therapist.) I landed on one that I liked, and two days later, we had a parent consultation. The therapist was SO KIND, comforting, and encouraging. She assured us that this “not normal” behavior was normal given the circumstances. She was genuinely interested in learning about WHO my son is and all about his personality, tendencies, etc. It felt like she was absorbing everything about him and how he processes things.

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to see her smiling face as she took my son’s hand and walked him into his first session. As a parent, the worst feeling in the world is not knowing how to help when your child has a problem. It felt so good to throw that life preserver.

Fast forward five weeks, and my son has been to six sessions of play therapy. He absolutely loves it and looks forward to it! Nighttimes are calmer, decisions seem easier, and we are out of his room and finally back in our own bed together!

I’m still learning about play therapy myself, and I’m not saying it’s some quick fix. Truth is, I can look back and now see some of my son’s minor anxious tendencies were amplified by this pandemic and season of uncertainty. But I know that learning how to work through these anxieties and gaining some tools as parents will help tremendously in the future. I’ve already learned so much about how to talk to him in a more logical (and empathetic) way.

I’m sure this is not the end of journey—we still have a lot of work to do, but I am beyond thankful that we reached a place of help and hope. At the end of the day, we can’t keep our kids from going through hard things…we can only hold their hands and provide them with the help they need to grow.

Funny thing is, he is helping me grow just as much. Maybe I’ll get my own therapist!

P.S. For those of you going through a similar situation for a season, or if this is has been your story for years, please know my prayers are with you, mamas.

3 Ways to Actually #SavetheChildren

If you’ve been anywhere near social media the last few weeks, you’ve likely seen the hashtag #savethechildren trending. It seems to be the latest social justice movement picked up by celebrities, bloggers, and businesses alike to unify us on their platforms. 

Let me first say this loud and clear—I LOVE that we are growing our awareness of child trafficking on social platforms. Awareness is the first domino that needs to fall if we are going to actually do something about this massive global problem.

BUT, if we are truly going to save the children, a social media post alone isn’t going to cut it.

Here’s the thing—have you ever stopped and really wondered why we need to create awareness for issues like these? When educational posts are executed correctly, awareness leads us to compassion.

Most of us need to have our hearts softened for the vulnerable. For many of us who live in suburban bubbles, we don’t really think about those outside of it. It’s easy to not have your heart break for the homeless if you never see them. We don’t have to worry about people living under downtown bridges or teens aging out of the foster care system or young boys trapped in forced labor in the Congo because we don’t expose ourselves to them.

So, awareness is a good start. We need to open our eyes. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. Search the hashtag on Twitter or Instagram, and you’ll find a whole slew of awareness posts that can accomplish that.

They’ve covered the what. What I want to address here is the SO WHAT NOW. Our compassion needs to lead us to ACTION if we truly want to help.

GET INVOLVED WITH FOSTER CARE OR AT-RISK YOUTH

We’ve all read those creepy stories online about the guy following around a young girl in Hobby Lobby, right? I’m not going to debate whether or not those viral stories are true or not, but it’s important to know that those types of encounters are very atypical for traffickers.

Most traffickers prey on two types of people: those who are desperate and those who have no support systems. For teenagers in foster care, this is a recipe for disaster, especially those who have come from backgrounds of abuse. And with many living in group homes with no mentors, they are a prime target to be coerced or tricked into these trafficking schemes.

Not all of us can adopt or foster children in our homes, but we CAN support those who do. Volunteer your time with an organization like CASA or Embrace. Mentor an at-risk youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters, your church, or your local high school. Even if we can’t open our homes, we can get involved and help those who do. More info here on being a CASA advocate.

RELENTLESSLY MONITOR YOUR CHILDREN’S MEDIA CONSUMPTION

I’ll be the first to admit that my children do not yet have their own devices, much to their chagrin. But what my kids do know now at five, seven, and nine, is that they must do two things to have screen time. First, ask permission, and second, no secrets. Establishing boundaries and trust with devices has to start young. My kids know that they have a few Mom-approved channels on YouTube. If they want to watch anything else, they must get permission, and I will be watching with them at first.

As they get older, we build from there. Texts and social media accounts have to be monitored. We will not allow our children to accept friend requests from people they don’t know in real life. Nor will they be allowed to share anything personal online.

It sounds like an invasion of privacy, and it is. But at the end of the day, our kids don’t need privacy. They need protection. If you need more tips and guidance in this specific area for your own family, check out one of my favorite resources here.

RETHINK WHERE YOU SPEND YOUR DOLLAR

Last spring, I traveled to the Dominican Republic and had the opportunity to spend time in the International Justice Mission field office on that trip. As I listened to the leaders there describe their process of investigating, rescuing, and rehabilitating trafficking victims, one thing they said really stuck with me: traffickers are in it for the money. That’s it. When it’s no longer profitable, they’ll find something else to do.

So what does that mean for us? We need to stop buying $4 t-shirts. Think about that cost for a second. Of those $4, some went to the supplier. Some went to the retailer. And if that’s the price they asked you to pay, they made a profit.

How much do we think the maker made? It is 100% impossible that the person who made that shirt was paid a fair wage, if they were paid anything at all. Fast fashion is a major contributor to both adult and child trafficking, and it’s happening everywhere—even right here on American soil.

If we quit demanding the sweatshop pieces, they’ll stop trafficking people to make them.

To read more about how you can make more socially-conscious fashion choices, check out my article here.

And if you want to take your dollar even further, organize a fundraiser for an anti-trafficking organization like A21, IJM, or Unicef.

Child trafficking is a big deal, but we can take steps to actually save our children far beyond a hashtag, friends. Tell me in the comments what steps you are going to take with your own family! I’d love to hear!

A Guide to Fall Events in Collin County

At this point you know the drill—many of the annual events we’ve been looking forward to have been either cancelled or reimagined for these socially distant times. But all is not lost! Fall means cooler weather and cooler weather means outdoor activities. As we all know, outside is the place to be during COVID. Let’s take a look at what kind of fall fun we can find in Collin County this year. Stay safe!

FALL FESTIVALS :: PUMPKIN PATCHES & FARMS :: CARNIVALS & TRICK OR TREATING

 

FALL FESTIVALS

Shades of Green Pumpkin Painting

They had to cancel their annual Fall Festival, but they’ll still offer free pumpkin painting for kids ages 10 and under. Pumpkins and decorations are free. Donations to Grace Bridge Food Bank are appreciated but not required. To keep numbers appropriate, please sign up for one of the sessions offered at 9am, 11am, 1pm, or 3pm. More details at the event link.

Location :: Shades of Green, Frisco

Date :: (Fridays and Saturdays) September 18–October 31, 2020

Cost :: FREE


Prosper Pumpkinfest

Prosper’s 6th annual fall festival comes complete with live music, a kids zone with inflatables, food trucks, shopping, and pumpkins galore. Note: no mention of COVID protocols on the event page.

Location :: Frontier Park

Date :: October 17, 2020; 3-7pm

Cost :: FREE


Celina Oktoberfest

Celina has done away with their old fall balloon festival and switched over to bier instead. Live music, fair foods, costume contests for kids and adults, cookie and pumpkin decorating, games, a kids zone, and more. FYI: free parking and shuttles from Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy. Note: currently no mention of COVID protocols on the event page.

Location :: Historic Downtown Square, Celina

Date :: October 10, 2020; 11am-10pm

Cost :: $5/adults; 12 and under are free. (*Free admission if you wear traditional lederhosen or dirndl.)


Perry Pumpkin Patch

I know this sounds like it should be in the “Pumpkin Patch” section, but it’s actually a one-time fall festival event. Details are still being finalized, but there’ll be something for everyone at the A.W. Perry Homestead Museum. Note: currently no mention of COVID protocols on the event page.

Location :: A.W. Perry Homestead Museum, Carrollton

Date :: October 17, 2020; 11am-1pm

Cost :: FREE


PUMPKIN PATCHES & FARMS


Dallas Arboretum

Ah, Pumpkin Village, the perennial crowd-pleaser with over 90,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash in which to pose and play. This year’s theme is The Art of the Pumpkin, which is intriguingly mysterious. To visit the Arboretum these days you need to reserve tickets ahead of time on a specific date and time slot. Masks are required in indoor spaces and recommended in the garden when within six feet of other guests.

Location :: 8525 Garland Rd., Dallas 75218

Open :: September 19–November 1, 2020; 9am-5pm daily

Cost :: Tickets $11-16 (Parking $15)


Elves Farm

Elves Farm brings in over 100,000 pounds of pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn and specialty pumpkins every year. So…they’ve got a lot. The pumpkin patch also has hayrides, a maze, farm zoo, hay jump, and dress-your-own-scarecrow stations. They even do pumpkin sling shots for an additional charge, which is definitely something to consider! Note: currently no mention of COVID protocols for visitors.

Location :: 601 Harvey Ln., Denison 75020

Open :: October 3-31, 2020; weekends only! Saturday: 10am-5pm, Sunday: 1pm-5pm

Cost :: $10/person–includes all activities and one pumpkin from the patch, or $5/person if you don’t want a pumpkin. FREE admission if you’re just coming to buy a pumpkin.


Pumpkins on the Prairie (Grace Avenue UMC)

This is not your average church pumpkin patch. And what’s more, all their activities are free (in the past this included hay rides, corn maze, bounce house, face painting, etc.). In light of COVID, they are assessing how hold this beloved annual event in the safest possible fashion. Details will be announced on their event page as soon as they become available.

Location :: 3521 Main St., Frisco 75034

Open :: TBD
Last year it was September 28 – October 31; Monday-Friday: 1-7pm or sunset, Saturday & Sunday*: 9am-7pm or sunset (*activities begin after 12pm)

Cost :: FREE


Hall’s Pumpkin Farm & Corn Maze

This farm has pumpkins on the vine and tons of photo ops. If you’re serious about corn mazes, this is THE place. And if you have bold and daring children, bring a flashlight and try the two-acre maze after dark. Please keep in mind this is a cash-only business. Note: currently no mention of COVID protocols for visitors.

Location :: 3420 Hall Johnson Rd., Grapevine 76051

Open :: October 2-31, 2020; Tuesday-Thursday: 3-8pm, Friday: 3-9pm, Saturday: 10am-9pm, Sunday: 1-8pm. CLOSED MONDAYS.

Cost :: FREE general admission, $5/person corn maze, $5/person hayrides ($3 after dark). CASH ONLY.


Preston Trail Farms

Just a few years ago, the family-owned Big Orange Pumpkin Farm of Celina moved a few miles north to a bigger location. They’ve got all the farm-y stuff you’re looking for: hay bales, mazes, and pumpkins for photos (and purchase), plus a petting zoo full of farm animals. Note: other than info on peak times, currently no mention of COVID protocols for visitors.

Location :: 15102 TX-289, Gunter 75078

Open :: September 26–November 25, 2020; 8am-8pm, daily

Cost :: $10/person; children under 2 are free. Includes feed for petting farm, hayride, roping pen, hay maze, plus one small pumpkin (M-F) and farm train ride (weekends).


Storybook’s Pumpkin Patch

Established in 1887 as a working cattle ranch, Storybook now operates as a horse sanctuary complete with a old Western town comprised of 15 actual buildings from the 1800s. Head to Storybook Ranch for pumpkin patch fun with a side of Texas history. COVID-conscious with masks required; see list of protocols at the link.

Location :: Storybook Ranch, 3701 S. Custer, McKinney 75070

Open :: September 26–November 1, 2020; Thursday-Sunday: 10am-dark (~7pm)

Cost :: $15/child: includes hay maze, pony rides, petting zoo, bounce houses, and wagon ride through 1800s Dry Bones Town, $5/adult: includes petting zoo and 1800s wagon ride tour. Kids under 2 are free but does not include pony rides.


Yesterland Farm

Canton is obviously a bit of a drive, but Yesterland Farm makes for a really solid day trip. It’s basically a pumpkin patch/farm/major carnival all-in-one. Rock-climbing walls, forts, pony rides, amusement rides, face painting, and the new sunflower field, not to mention the pumpkin patch, corn maze, petting zoo, etc. Check the link for all the details because there are tons of attractions. They also do Spooktacular Nights after dark if you’re brave enough! COVID protocols detailed here.

Location ::15410 Interstate 20, Canton 75103

Open :: September 19–November 8, 2020 on Saturdays & Sundays, plus Fridays only in October
October hours are Fridays: 6-10pm, Saturday: 10am-10pm, Sunday: 10am-7pm. September and November hours are Saturday & Sunday: 10am-6pm.

Cost :: Pricing packages available; $24.95 at the gate with discounts for online purchase (ages 2 and under free): admission ticket includes over a dozen farm attractions/activities plus tokens and unlimited amusement park rides.


HALLOWEEN CARNIVALS & TRICK-OR-TREATING


Little Elm Halloween Carnival

Come out for an old-fashioned carnival with games, prizes, and candy. And don’t miss Pumpkin Hollow, a trail of 1,000 carved jack o’ lanterns glowing in the night. Even better, carve some pumpkins with the family and drop them off for display along the Pumpkin Hollow trail. Note: currently no mention of COVID protocols for the event.

Location :: Little Elm Park, Johnny Broyles Nature Trail

Date :: October 22-24, 2020; Friday: 6-9pm, Saturday & Sunday: 6-10pm

Cost :: FREE


Beware! Of The Square

The city of Celina invites the young and young at heart to dress in costume and visit various merchants and retailers along the square for free goodies. They’ll also have a haunted attraction, Thriller dance lessons, a scary movie, and other spooky fun. Note: currently no mention of COVID protocols for the event.

Location :: Historic Downtown Square, Celina

Date :: October 24, 2020; Time TBD (last year was 4-6pm)

Cost :: FREE


Trick or Treat Trail

Safe, friendly Halloween fun for all ages at Towne Lake Park in McKinney. Local businesses and organizations will line the trail along Towne Lake to hand out candy and treats. They’ll have costume contests, crafts, music, and a kids zone with inflatables and rides. Food truck vendors will be onsite and the evening concludes with an outdoor movie at the Rec Center at dusk. Note: currently no mention of COVID protocols for the event.

Location :: Towne Lake Park, McKinney

Date :: October 24, 2020; Time TBD (last year was 4:30-7pm)

Cost :: FREE

Any fun fall events that we missed? Let us know below!

My Attempts at Raising Bilingual Kids

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I am trying to raise bilingual kids, two of them, actually. I know I’m crazy; how am I going teach rambunctious boys a language that is even foreign to me sometimes? I am semi-fluent in Chinese and I grew up in a bilingual home, but as a kid I was apprehensive about speaking to my parents in Chinese because I didn’t want to stand out to my friends or people when we were out.

I told myself that my firstborn would be totally bilingual and know two languages and be able to communicate with my family in Chinese…and that definitely didn’t happen. Now with my second, I am going easier on myself and implementing a new action plan. Hopefully they are both able to embrace their culture and heritage by learning a language that is important to our heritage.

Teaching Kids a Second Language Action Plan

Make it fun- Learning a new language should be a fun and eye-opening experience for everyone. Don’t try to use one way to learn a new language. Expose your children to books, games, songs, and apps in the new language. I love the Duolingo app, and my kids love how easy and fun the app is…I have even started to re-learn as well. Learning should always be fun for kids, and learning a new language shouldn’t be any different.

Get connected- Social media will be your friend in this experience, find a group online that is learning the same language and connect. Finding a group in the same boat as you will definitely ease the stress and make learning a new language fun and less isolating.

Let your kids lead- Don’t be too rigid when learning a new language! Sitting everyday for a set amount of time might not be ideal for some kids when learning a new language. Let your kids lead; try to make learning a new language a fun experience and not a chore. Skipping a day or two won’t hurt the overall goal and won’t make your kids resist this new adventure.

Group effort- I know with my experience with my kids, I needed help from family when teaching my kids a new language. I know not everyone has that opportunity, but if possible, make learning a family affair. Get friends and family involved with learning a new language. Having everyone invested will make it more bearable and fun for kids.

Learning should always be fun, and learning a new language will open so many doors for your kids and hopefully give them more career and life opportunities for the future.

12 Books to Help Kids with Anxiety

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As we begin this very weird school year with a lot of unknowns, it is inevitable that many of our kids’ anxieties will spike. Anxiety is not just something experienced by adults. Many children suffer from anxiety but it looks different and is often missed by adults. Being anxious means that you experience worry over something unknown and out of your control. If that doesn’t sum up a lot of childhood, I’m not sure what does. Realistically much of their day is mapped out for them and they don’t even understand when they feel worry over the unknown. I’ve learned that the more opportunities to have control and make decisions, the more kids feel in charge of some aspects of their lives. 

My oldest son has always shown signs of anxiety, and his questions and curiosity are never ending. I realized when he was little that I couldn’t explain everything, so I turned to books. Over the years we have found a lot of books to help us through the topics he brings up. As we transition out of preschool and into kindergarten there is a lot of change already, add COVID to the mix and we are literally surviving day by day over here. We have been reading a lot of books on tough-to-explain topics recently and I wanted to share.

12 Books to Help Kids with Anxiety

Anxious Ninja by Mary Nhin 

  • This is an outstanding series of all different ninjas and their “thing.” Positive Ninja, Perfect Ninja, Kind Ninja, Compassionate Ninja; there are so many ninjas and each has an amazing lesson to teach kids. 

Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelley Becker

Glad Monster Sad Monster by Ed Emberly

  • Another great book about feelings. This included some masks, so kids can pretend to be the emotion while talking about it. 

What Should Danny Do (The Power to Choose Series) by Adir Levy

  • This is an awesome series about making choices and their consequences, both good and bad. 

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

  • Walks you through many different feelings and some of the ways your body can feel while experiencing them. 

Wilma Jean The Worry Machine by Julia Cook 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

  • Follow along as this little inventor makes her most magnificent thing and learns along the way about perfectionism and making mistakes. 

Tough Guys (have feelings, too) by Keith Negley

Good Night Yoga by Miriam Gates

  • This is a great book to wind down the day, as it teaches kids different yoga poses they can use to regulate themselves. 

Feelings by Aliki

Little Worriers by Holly Brochmann & Leah Bowman

Help You Dragon Deal With Anxiety by Steve Herman

This is just a snapshot of some of the books to help kids with anxiety out there. Take some time and find the kind of characters and stories that speak to your kiddos and go from there. Never underestimate the power that a children’s book can have on a kid. Happy reading! 

4 Tips To Keep Your Move To Collin County Stress-Free

This month marks the two-year anniversary of my family’s move to Collin County. In that time frame, my family and I have adjusted to our new life here in North Texas. We haven’t acclimated to the intensity of a Texas summer, but we have immersed ourselves in the community and it feels as if we’ve always lived here. My husband and I have made great work and social connections. Both of our kids have settled into their school district and have made friends.

When we were considering moving from the Detroit Metro area (Michigan) to Collin County, I was concerned about how stressful the transition would be for our family, especially for our kids. Our oldest was entering her first year of middle school and our youngest was transitioning from being home with me to daycare. So it was vital that we make the move as stress-free as possible. The following tips were the secret sauce that made our transition a lot more manageable.

Also, be sure to check out Collin County Mom’s Suburb Snapshots for a closer look at many of our suburbs in Collin County!

4 Tips To Keep Your Move To Collin County Stress-Free

1. Get To Know Your City.

The main reason for our move was due to my husband’s new job and to be closer to his family who live in Collin County. Once we narrowed down which city we wanted to live in, we planned a week-long Spring break trip to visit the city six months before our move. We checked out the schools the girls would be attending, made sure everything was finalized with our housing, got familiar with the places we would frequent often (grocery stores, mall, post office, etc). My oldest daughter was able to meet a few kids in the area (in her cousin’s neighborhood) who would also be attending her new school. So when she started the school year, she knew a few familiar faces and that helped to make her first day at a new school so much easier.

I got a chance to drive on the local freeways (Collin County has SO many freeways!) and got an idea of the traffic flow at certain times of the day. This was super helpful when we finally moved. I have a small amount of gephyrobia/acrophobia (fear of driving over bridges and heights)…yes, that is a real thing folks. This “preview” really helped make the Tollways, 380, and 121 not as daunting and I was able to navigate them with confidence once we actually moved.

2. Connect With Local Online Neighborhood Groups.

Social media was my best ally when it came to making local social connections. I joined a few locally niched Facebook groups that gave me an idea of what was hot and what was not in the area we were moving to. I also used my interests to help me find a local fitness group to connect with for meetups. A few of the friendships I have today actually came out of the virtual connections in the local online group I joined two years ago!

Collin County Moms actually has many local neighborhood groups that you can connect with and get to know other moms before you move.

3. Join Your Child’s School PTA.

The local PTA at my oldest daughter’s school was a great resource to get me connected with the school and our school district. We moved a few weeks before school started that year and our local PTA guided us through the back-to-school registration process and gave us great inside knowledge on how to navigate the school year as first-time middle school parents. I was able to again make vital connections with local moms that still serve me to this day.

4. Automate As Much As Possible.

We saved a lot of time by automating a lot of the main everyday tasks we would need to address when we moved. Meals, housekeeping, and back-to-school shopping were a few of the everyday tasks that I needed taken off my plate. Meal services (we used Hello Fresh) and curbside grocery orders helped me to get nutritious food on the table quickly so I could focus my attention on unpacking boxes. We paid extra to have a housecleaning service come in the day before our arrival to do an extra cleaning of our townhouse. When my husband’s family reached out and asked us how they could help; we didn’t hesitate and enlisted them to help with the back-to-school shopping for us. Automation saves so much time and effort, and it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to implement.

MOVING CAN BE STRESSFUL AND CHAOTIC FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. THESE TIPS ABOVE CAN HELP MAKE THE TRANSITION GO A LOT SMOOTHER PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY!

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