7 Ways to Encourage and Empower Your Kids This Year

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This fall, my daughter will join soccer and Girls on the Run, and my son will start kindergarten and join a T-Ball league. I’ll be their strong mama, always. Thank you to Hefty® for sponsoring this post and aligning with our family values/lifestyle.

My kids will be busy with school/after-school activities and I hope I've inspired them as a strong mama so far. Here are 7 tips to empower kids this year AD

No doubt, this will be a big school year for this family. I can feel it in my bones!

I was talking to a fellow school parent recently at the library’s summer reading raffle drawing (Scarlet totally won one of the prizes!) and we were chatting about anything school-related under the sun. People we both knew, school haircuts, school schedules, new (to us) teachers, after school classes, after school activities, and the kinds of teachers we dream about our kids having. After all, I think many of us can pinpoint one teacher or two – who set the course of our lives on new paths.

I can tell you about my fourth grade teacher who told me I had a gift for expressing myself. I can tell you about my fifth grade English teacher who told me if I didn’t become a writer one day, she’d eat her own arm! Then there was my 6th grade teacher, a gifted man, who saw something in me that I didn’t yet see. It was strength. He thought I was Ultra Strong!

(Athena’s face here!!)

The thing is, it’s natural to want the best for your kids, because we can all remember the best we’ve had. They’re going to forge their own paths no matter what, though. And while school is a big part of life, home life takes up a larger expanse of time, effort, love, strength. And it’s not just what I say – it’s what I DO. My kids will tell me stories of things I did when they were three, that they considered strong or unique or fun. I love that! While building a family, I’m helping to shape their self-images, and their decision-making skills. This is so powerful, and so inspiring. I hope they like what they see and hear.

I’m a strong mama – doing the best I can. And the thing is, there’s always room for higher. Let’s talk about that!

My kids will be busy with school/after-school activities and I hope I've inspired them as a strong mama so far. Here are 7 tips to empower kids this year AD

As you can see below, I juggle a LOT. I have a lot of Hefty® strength.

And this photo doesn’t even show the adorable cat, the 11 chickens, and that I work 2-4 jobs year-round, to help keep us surviving and thriving! There are a ton of indoor and outdoor chores on this homestead, and my husband always buys Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags. And I think that’s great because Hefty® is celebrating strong moms, and my husband does too! Wait until you hear how special he made my birthday last week! Not only are we all celebrating strong moms, but John Cena is here to remind us that Hefty® has the best bags ever, at a lower price than the competition! Quadruple win!

And John Cena’s mom – Carol Cena – proves that mom knows best when it comes to ultra-strength and ultra-savings.

I mean, life itself is a big job, and you’re going to want the reinforcements to tackle everyday life and strong everyday messes. Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags have ARM & HAMMER™ patented odor neutralizer and active, tear-resistant technology for better puncture-resistance. (remember: we live in the woods and really need that puncture-resistance.) There’s also a break-resistant grip drawstring that prevents the bags from falling inside the trash can. Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags also have fresh, invigorating scents. We are Citrus Twist™ fans ourselves! And there’s a 100% satisfaction guarantee here that Hefty® can handle all your trash bag needs, or you get your money back! How cool is that??

My kids will be busy with school/after-school activities and I hope I've inspired them as a strong mama so far. Here are 7 tips to empower kids this year AD

Here are my 7 Ways to Encourage and Empower My Kids This Year, as well as how Hefty® helps!

1 – I model strength for them. Cassidy and I model our individual selves as strong, as well our partnership. It’s not perfect but we’re trying. We do chores together. We take the trash out together. We have systems in place for a good life.

2 – Teach kindness, charity, good deeds. Scarlet likes to pay for cars behind us at the drive-through, and she keeps Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags in the car to clean up places without trash cans. We also use them to gather toys/games/clothes and more for the local women’s shelter, as well as personal care products for our survival center in town.

3 – Help them develop a positive, but realistic self-image. When your kids make a drawing, instead of saying it’s the best drawing in the world, focus more on the efforts they put into their creation, and how they persevered through obstacles.

4 – Teach them that their uniqueness is their superhero power. It’s important that kids know from a young age that what makes them different, makes them special, and is an asset. Encourage them to take pride in it, and never stop dreaming.

5 – Make your home a safe, comforting and relaxing place. Remove drama, frustration, and chaos whenever possible. Add structure and consistency. Get rid of excess in their bedrooms, and playrooms too. Small changes lead to success.

6 – Don’t overbook their schedules. It’s important that your kid has time to be just that – a kid. Respect their wishes for downtime, and make it part of your routine. Encourage activities that encourage relaxation – free play, yoga, etc.

7 – Teach with positive reinforcement. Rewarding with praise leads to more positive behaviors and better future choices, while building their self-esteem. Treat them with kindness and respect. When there’s struggles, let them struggle. Although it can be difficult, it will teach them perseverance and growth through struggles, mistakes and disappointments.

*Bonus – Teach them to love, above all else. That is their greatest gift/ultra-strength for the world.

Make sure you check out this video to see how NOT to behave at a grocery store!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags.

How will you empower your kids this school year?

Butterfly Fever: Chocolate Pretzel Butterflies

Guys, I’ve got butterfly fever!

Last week at Scarlet’s birthday party, she got a card and a butterfly balloon from her friend. The card said that her gift was on its way and that the balloon was just a hint. Days later, we got a bunch of monarch butterfly chrysalises, a butterfly habitat, and caterpillars/eggs. It’s been fascinating to watch! Cassidy went away for four days to see Phish in NYC and I was single-handedly taking care of two kids, one dog, one cat, 11 chickens (although they mostly take care of themselves at this point), and then the butterfly chrysalises and baby caterpillars. What a weekend! I swear I only developed one twitch. Two?

I hadn’t wanted to pay so much attention to the caterpillars/butterflies, and definitely not enough to make the cat jealous enough to try to eat them and frame the dog, (don’t worry – they’re all fine) but they’re just so.. delicate. They’re so alive.

This Monday morning was SUCH a Monday morning. Cassidy was home after four days away, but we all overslept. Then I was figuring out over-scheduling problems for the week, where Des’ new shoes were (under the slide, obvs), how to work full time and care for Des, and also how to keep these delicate, fine creatures alive and thriving. There was an empty car seat box on the lawn, filled with the last of our five-point latch car seats.. SOB), and we are out of so many groceries, it’s embarrassing. It must have looked like a hot mess, after returning from four days away, but mainly – we held it together.

We held THEM together.

And now I’m trying to breathe. The first butterfly hatched without us, and the second one hatched overnight. When Des and I came home after dropping Scarlet off (AND figuring out the over-scheduling problems), we watched the third butterfly hatch together. Ah, peace. Then we missed the fourth while running around, but the fifth hatching looks imminent. The sixth one looks like it might not be meant to be, but I’m keeping hope alive. I REALLY want Scarlet to see one already!

I dropped Des off at a play date, in a town I’m obsessed with for its restaurants, and then I sat down to a breve latte and a slice of quiche. With home renovations, travel, the BIG KINDERGARTEN, and a potential job change looming closer, I’m losing it a little. So I’m focusing on the butterflies. Their every movement. Their every color. Their gentle tickle. Just them.

Just me.

These treats are not only adorable, but tasty too! Just a few ingredients and easy to make. Great for end of summer parties, and back to school too! #recipe

Chocolate Pretzel Butterflies


1 pkg. Pretzel Sticks
1 pkg. Pretzel Twists
1 Wilton Candy Melts, White
1 pkg. Sixlets Candy
Rope Black Licorice


  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between times, until melted.
  2. Cut the licorice into about ¼ inch pieces.
  3. Dip pretzel sticks into the chocolate until all coated except about ½ inch that you’re holding, and lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Let these set and harden just about halfway, and then press on 5 colored Sixlets for the body and 1 White Sixlet for the head. Place 2 licorice pieces at the top of the pretzel behind the white head to look like antennas.
  5. Now dip the twist pretzels into the chocolate and fully coat them. Place 2 of these on each pretzel stick, one on each side, making sure they are firmly against it.
  6. Let these set so the chocolate hardens, then gently pull off the parchment to serve.


These treats are not only adorable, but tasty too! Just a few ingredients and easy to make. Great for end of summer parties, and back to school too! #recipe