Teacher Gifts your kids’ teachers want

Teacher gifts – arguably one of the most hot button topics in moms groups as the holidays (and end of the year parties) approach. I’ve polled some teachers and have created a great gift guide for those important teachers in your life!

Teacher gifts your kids' teachers will actually enjoy

The holidays are so amazing, aren’t they?

They certainly can be, but I find that the most stressful part of the holidays is finding the best gifts for everyone on your list. But on the top of almost everyone’s list (outside of family) are those teachers. The people who spend so much time with your kids, whether we’re talking daycare, preschool or elementary school. They are such an important part of your lives and your kids’ lives. We want to treat them right, am I right?

First, let me address the “do I need to get my teacher anything?” question. In short, no. You absolutely do not. To be honest, I did not have a list of who was giving gifts and who wasn’t giving gifts. It doesn’t make a teacher treat your kid differently (yes, I’ve heard that question before from parents!). Anything you decide to give is appreciated – whether it be a tiny piece of chocolate or a $50 Target gift card. It means you and your child were thinking of them and that warms their heart!

In my 10 years of teaching and managing, I have received some of the best and some of the most odd gifts you can imagine. In the mom’s groups I’m a part of on Facebook, every year around this time people are asking what we’re doing for our kids’ teachers. Almost always, you have teachers chime in and tell the moms what to get and what not to get.

With the help of my trusty old memory and my teacher mom friends, I have compiled a list for you. Things to get your kids’ teachers and things to take a hard pass on this year. Also, here is a free printable if you want your teachers to fill it out for you so you can get even better stuff.

Teacher gifts to buy:

  • Gift cards. I think this one is pretty obvious. Every teacher is so different. I always hate giving gift cards because it feels so impersonal to me. But with teachers, I think it is an exception. I have worked with so many teachers with such different personalities. With a gift card, that teacher can spend it on him/herself – and trust me, they appreciate it! Some gift card ideas:
    • Amazon
    • Movie theatre
    • Liquor store
    • Lettuce Entertain You
    • Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks
    • Target
    • Restaraunts
    • Red Box
    • Visa gift card
  • Beverages. But, always ask first! This goes for alcohol and coffee. When I taught, I had stacks and stacks of Starbucks and DD gift cards and you know what? I hated coffee! I didn’t start drinking coffee until I had kids (go figure). As far as the alcohol goes, please make sure they are of drinking age and it’s okay with the higher ups. A gift card might be better in place of an actual bottle of wine 😉 Not every teacher drinks wine and coffee. I know, hard to believe.
  • A nice, thoughtful letter. Teachers want to be appreciated. Sometimes it can be the most thankless job out there. So just write them a letter and if your child is old enough, have them do the same. This one was mentioned a lot and I remember really enjoying reading some I received as well.
  • Pens. Sounds silly, right? Teachers love different colored pens! Teachers go through pens like water because they get used up or stolen/lost. Buy them one of those huge packs from Costco!
  • Personalized blanket. Last year I made these for my son’s preschool teachers (and towels for end of year) and they were a huge hit. I tossed in some warm socks and some R+F stuff for the winter. You can order some personalized ones here (sorry, shameless plug!) but the deadline is 12/1 to make sure they come in time for Christmas break. You could also order some for anyone else!
  • Essential oils. Yes, out comes the weirdo in me. A roller bottle for winter time! Ask your local distributor! A couple teachers I polled said they received roller bottles to help with fighting winter colds and they loved them.
  • Baking mix. I hate baking because I feel like it takes too long and makes such a mess. One year I had a parent (who is now a good friend and our boys are besties – shout out to Karla!) give me the dry ingredients in a really nice glass canister. It had directions on how to make the cookies (just had to add a few wet ingredients). Bonus – I now have a glass canister I use in my kitchen and I think of Zach each time I make rice! 😉

Teacher gifts to avoid:

  • Smelly stuff. Teachers get so much of this. Hand sanitizer, lotions, candles, body washes, etc. A lot of times teachers will get stuff that they do not like. The only exception to this rule is if you know for a fact that they like that scent and want it. I know, I know…”but Melanie, you said get them essential oils!” This is different! Trust me! The oils can help you fight colds.
  • Candy. So much candy. Again, the only exception is if you know they like it and it’s their favorite.
  • Clothes. Yes, this happens. Stick to a gift card to a clothing store if you are really set on clothes.
  • Apple related gifts. Not every teacher likes apples.

So there you have it! A teacher gift guide written by teachers! Have fun 🙂

What Your Wife Really Wants For Mother’s Day

Are you wondering what your wife really wants for mother’s day? Well wonder no more, my friend. I have asked some real life, tired, over worked mothers what they want – and I’m sharing the “secret” with you.

What your wife really wants for mother's day. Hint - it isn't flowers!

Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christmas…All of these holidays are to celebrate something, right? Mother’s Day is no exception.

Being in all these mom groups on Facebook, I feel like every single year on Mother’s Day, someone is posting saying they were not celebrated on Mother’s Day. They got nothing.

Yep, you heard that right. NOTHING. When you have small children who don’t know how to express their gratitude (or simply don’t have the money or means to shop), as the partner, you need to step in.

Every year when I read these posts I am baffled. Baffled that there are men out there who do not celebrate their wives/girlfriends on Mother’s Day. If this is you and you are reading this right now, shame on you.

These women made you a father for those kids you love so dearly. These women sacrificed their bodies to become a mother for these littles. They worry all day about them and they bust their asses to be the best mom they can be.

Everyone loves to be appreciated. So I reached out to my mom friends and asked them….What (attainable) thing do you really want for Mother’s Day?

I have compiled some of the best non-material (and material) gifts. What you do with the information is on you. I am here to help 😉

What your wife really wants for Mother’s Day

  • Sleep – A pretty popular one was simple – just let her sleep in. If that means you have to sleep on the kid’s bedroom floor so you can intercept them climbing into bed with mom, then so be it. Whether your wife is a working mom or SAHM, sleeping in is a thing of the past! Maybe even take the kids out of the house early in the morning. Treat them to breakfast (but make sure you bring some home for her!)
  • No Responsibilities – One mom suggested she wants to do their regular outings like they normally do on the weekends, but she doesn’t want to make the plans or pack the diaper bag. She wants her husband to do it all. This idea got the biggest reaction from our group of moms. Someone also said to just spend the day with them – she feels her husband doesn’t spend any time with her and her son.
  • Do It Yourself – In relation to this one, lots of other moms said they want a day (if you’re feeling extra nice, a whole weekend) where no one needs them to tell them what to do. You finish eating? Wash your dishes. Dirty clothes on the floor? Put them in the hamper or just do the laundry.
  • Silence – alone time. Movie by themselves, shopping alone, whatever. Feeling brave? Take the kids out for the whole day. Not just until nap. The whole dang day. And don’t call her to ask her questions. Just figure it out.
  • Other mothers – Moms don’t want to have to worry about other mother’s Mother’s Day plans. Split up your weekend and spend Saturday with the other mothers.
  • Material Gifts
    If your wife’s love language is gifts, here are some ideas for you…
  • Pampering – Spa day, manicure, pedicure, massage. Or all of the above. Send them away for the day and do all the planning for her.
  • Jewelry – The popular theme with jewelry was child related jewelry. So, stackable rings with the kids’ names on them, bracelets with their names, necklaces with their names. Google will be your best friend.
  • Cleanliness – Clean the house. If you don’t trust yourself, spring for a cleaning lady. We just want a day where we don’t have to clean. Or lift a finger, really. Also, a few of the ladies wanted a clean car.
  • Family photos – Moms are usually the ones to schedule these so if you take the initiative, that would be so much more meaningful.

Bottom line, put some thought into it. And involve your kids when you can (handmade cards, painting on a canvas, whatever). Speaking of which, here is a cute printable you can give your kids. Ask them the questions and fill it out for mom. I promise, she’ll smile.

 

 

WHAT. THE. WHAT.

Ugh, you guys…I have been slacking big time. It sucks.

My house is a disaster most of the time and I don’t feel organized at all. Blogging was much easier when I was about 2-3 weeks ahead of myself.

So, I will be blogging less frequently to try to catch up. I have thought about this A LOT. But I don’t have any other solution. Because I’ve found myself just pumping out short quick blog posts with low quality, and that’s not what I want to do. I also have been neglecting my family which is also not what I want to do. When I made the decision to stay home, it wasn’t to blog. It was to spend more time with my kids and do more around my house.

And while this explanation of my temporary absence isn’t necessary, I felt like I needed to elaborate and be honest and real because that’s what I’ve always wanted my blog to be – real!

If I want to make something of this blog some day, this probably isn’t the best move for me. But like I said earlier, I am neglecting my family and my house. That is not the direction I want to take.

So, hang in there with me…I do plan to get back up to blogging 3-4 times a week. But I feel like I need to slow it down a little to get my quality blog posts back up. Bottom line – I’m getting lazy and need to refocus! You understand, right? 😉

I will still be active on my Etsy and Facebook pages (Etsy & Facebook) so watch for me there.

For the record, I am NOT giving up. AT ALL. Blogging has been my dream for a while. I absolutely love to write. I really, really do.

Did I need to make a whole post about this? No, probably not. But now I have to be accountable for my actions and get my shit together.

Maybe this is good news for you because I was clogging up your news feed or maybe this is bad news because you actually enjoy my posts. I will never know. Just please hold on for me 🙂 I’ll be back to more frequent and HIGH QUALITY posts soon…you just wait.

Rhea Lana’s Consignment Sale

**To enter my giveaway for a FREE early shopping pass for you and a guest (this gets you in FIRST before most of the crowds – Saturday at noon), all you have to do is share this blog post and send me a screenshot of your share. That’s it! 5 people will be chosen at random**  

Hello there!

Have you ever heard of Rhea Lana’s Consignment sale? It happens twice a year and all around the country. We’re coming up to one in September, so I’ve teamed up with the Chicago area sale and am going to do a post for you to learn how to consign and shop with them.

Rhea Lana’s was created by moms and for moms. It helps moms make a little extra money by consigning and it also helps moms to be able to buy good clothes in great condition at a lower price.

I shopped the sale last year and picked up a ton of stuff. A car wash for my son for $5 and a pair of perfectly good Nike’s for $6. They looked like they had never been worn. They are his “super fast gray shoes.” 🙂

If you want to see a list of all the sales in the US in August, September and October, click here.

I met up with my good friend, Melissa, who is a mother of 3 and fellow Etsy shop owner (shameless plug – Molly Rose Quilts! She does custom quilts including t-shirt quilts) who consigns with Rhea Lana’s usually for both sales each year (Chicago does one in April in addition to the September 13th – 19th). I asked if she could explain the process to me and a little bit about how she organizes.

Whenever her kids grow out of things, she brings those items down to her basement into a bin designated to the sale. When the sale gets closer, she starts to set everything up. Before she goes, she organizes everything by gender and then size, because when you get there, you have to put the clothes on the racks and that’s how they are organized in the shop. You create a sign in on the Rhea Lana’s website and enter all of your items. You get to price them as you wish, but they give you guidelines based on their condition and brand. They recommend to price them 30-40% retail. (Something to keep in mind, you get 70% of the sale and you have to give your first $10 back to the company.) You get specific tags to label all of your items. The tags are safety pinned to the clothes. Melissa gets hers on Amazon because sometimes they will sell out in the area as the sale gets closer. She likes to have everything ready to go as much as possible when she drops everything off. Once you are there to drop everything off, you give them your consigner ID (found when you create your account on their website) and they print out your barcodes to stick to the tags. They will also go through everything to make sure they are in good enough shape to sell. No rips, stains or holes. They also only accept fall and winter for the fall sale and spring and summer during the spring sale.

Here is a video and more info on merchandise prep:

http://wchicagoland.rhealana.com/cssmerchandise.asp

Clothes are requested to be $3 or more. So, if you have 2 shirts that are going to be listed for $1.50 each, they need to be pinned together and sold as one. Bundle together outfits! Moms love whole outfits.

They also take toys, cribs, books, baby bouncers, nursing items, car seats (under certain rules), maternity stuff….if you purchase something on the larger size, you have to come around to the back and pick it up. They are crazy organized and everything is so easy to find. It’s amazing.

A really cool aspect of this sale is you can log on and track your sales. If something sells, it will tell you when you log in and you can see how much money you’ve made so far. At the last day or 2 of the sale, you can choose to make all your items 1/2 price. When the sale is over, you can choose to donate your items that didn’t sell or come pick them back up. Your check is usually cut 1-3 days after the sale.

Also, if you sell, you get a pass to shop early which is huge. They take volunteers as well and you also get an early shopping pass for that.

I stopped by a few days before the sale to chat with Christine, one of the co-owners. When you show up to turn your clothes, toys, strollers etc in, they print out your stickers and your inventory list. You match up the stickers (they ask you to bring the items in the order in which you entered them into the system because that’s how the stickers print out – and they are all about getting you in and out quickly) to the item and your inventory list. Before you put on stickers,  they go through them to make sure they are sell-able. No rips, tears or stains. If they find something that they will not sell, they take that sticker and place it on a piece of paper for you. Because each item is guaranteed (meaning they will pay you for it if it is lost or stolen), they want to keep track of the ones that they wouldn’t allow in the sale so no one can say it was lost or stolen.

Then they ask you to place out the items. This sale is crazy organized. When I stopped by to chat with Christine, they had so much stuff already out and still a few days left for people to drop off items. Huge sellers for the fall sale are winter boots, winter coats and Halloween costumes.This is where you want to be next week! You do NOT want to miss this – as long as I haven’t had this baby, I’ll be there! They are already posting items on their facebook page, so go “like” it- and start getting your items together for the Spring sale!

Rhea Lana’s of West Chicagoland

Sneak Peeks of some of the items….
Rockers / Gliders

Play kitchen

Bikes

Strollers

This is just a few!

Christine also gave me some advice – bring some clothes that fit your child well so you can compare (they respectfully ask that you leave children at home) and trace your child’s foot / shoe before you come. There are so many different brands and as we all know, brand sizes are so different.

Here are the hours to shop: Hours (without early passes, public sale starts on Sunday)

**To enter my giveaway for a FREE early shopping pass for you and a guest (this gets you in FIRST before most of the crowds – Saturday at noon), all you have to do is share this blog post and send me a screenshot of your share. That’s it! 5 people will be chosen at random**

Fantasty Football (hopefully) Simplified

3 years ago I was asked by a good friend if I wanted to join an all girls fantasy football league. My initial answer was “um, no” because I knew nothing about football, let alone fantasy football. All I knew about it was that my husband was in a league with his college buddies and their draft consisted of all of them screaming at each other and drinking beer for hours on end, they played each other every week with the teams that they created and that my husband was the commissioner (the “leader”) which basically meant we had to hold onto a giant (GIANT) piece of paper with stickers on it saying who picked whom. One year the draft was at our apartment in Chicago and one of the said stickers ended up on a picture frame in our place. I think we have D-Man to thank for that one.

Anyway, I decided to do it because my good friend explained that no one knew what they were doing. So I figured it would be fun, and a good excuse for some girls to to get together and have a draft. After listening to my husband’s very few stories about his drafts, doing a little research myself and doing 3 years of football drafts, I thought I’d put together a Fantasy Football Simplified blog post. I told my husband all of my “tips” and “rules” to which I try to stick, he said I should go for it.

**Disclaimer: I am by NO MEANS an expert fantasy football drafter! I am far far from it. This is just what I’ve learned and I’ve been told it’s been pretty helpful. Here goes nothing…

-I start by downloading a list of all the rankings of the players. The one that my husband finds for me has a lot of formulas and mumbo jumbo, but I hide / delete all of that. I can’t figure out how to add it to this post, so email me and I’ll send it to you if you want it 😉 (mostlyundercontrol@gmail.com).

-Each tab is a different position. So we go through the draft and each time someone picks someone, we mark it off on our lists. I highlight them out a different color. It is pretty much required to shout out the position of the player as well as the name in our league. Because we generally have no idea where to look for them on our sheet.

-We randomly pick a drafting order and it goes from 1-10, and then 10 picks again and it goes from 9-1.

-Leagues can vary, but for most leagues, you need on your team:
     -1 Quarterback
     -2 Running backs
     -2 Wide receivers
     -1 Tight end
     -A flex position (ours is a running back OR wide receiver)
     -1 Kicker
     -1 Entire defense (some leagues choose their defense individually….I think this is insane.)
     -5-6 bench players (I’ll get into who you want on your bench in a minute.)

-Your bench:
     -You definitely want another quarterback because they score a lot of points. Each season, your quarter back is going to have a bye week (a week where they don’t play) so you need a back up to play for him when he’s not playing. I found this out the hard way in our first season. I did not have a back up so when my quarterback wasn’t playing one week, I had hardly any points. You don’t want that to happen.
     -My husband makes fun of me because I pick up a back up kicker as well. I guess what most people do is just drop their kicker for their bye week and pick up another for that week. Then you can hold onto that kicker for the rest of the season, or try to pick back up your original. I don’t like dropping and picking up because I hate regret. The only time I drop and pick up is when someone on my team is hurt or questionable (most league systems will tell you) and I don’t think they’re going to be able to play.
     -He also makes fun of me because I pick a back up defense. Pretty much for the same reasons as the back up kicker. This year I did not get a back up defense. I am truly living on the edge.
      -Don’t pick your kicker first. Again, not sure why this is. As a general rule, you pick your kickers and defenses last (even after your bench).
     -The rest of your bench you can do whatever you want. I do another tight end (because you need one for your tight end’s bye week and what if yours gets hurt?) and a few wide receivers so I have about 4-5 total wide receivers and 4-5 total running backs. Remember, your flex position can be either a wide receiver OR running back at any point in the season.
     -You must set up your line up before the first game on Thursday night. I am terrible at this and my husband has to remind me every week.

Some people will go into this knowing who they want on their team. I don’t. Because when someone picks who I want, I get super pissed that it messes with everything and I can’t handle marking off names on my main list and my personal list. Towards the end, I sort of pick guys based off of their cool names. It’s gotten me real far. Not.

I love playing with these girls because we all have no idea what we’re doing. Except my sister. She totally knows. I am not sure who invited her 😉 It’s getting easier as the years go on and I hope we keep playing!