Creating a Summer Schedule for Kids

I received a set of Chalkola markers to facilitate this post. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas are my own.

With five kids at home during the summer, I have to keep things running as smoothly as I can around these parts. As rural desert dwellers, we have limited choices of places to visit and we have to keep our outside play to a minimum (thanks to the desert heat). A lover of organization and schedules, I tap into those strengths to help ensure my children aren’t just entertained during summer break, but also engaged, active, and studious. Creating a summer schedule for kids plays a big part in keeping everyone occupied without taking away too much of the lazy summer days they look forward to during the school year. Over the years, I’ve developed a schedule and system that keep all five of my kiddos happy and healthy during the long desert summer days.

It all starts with a chalkboard. I bought a medium sized board. I flipped it over and used some super glue to attach several strong magnet to the back. This allows me to display our summer schedule on the fridge for the kids to have easy reference to.

I mapped out our daily schedule and a list of must-do activities on a piece of paper before arranging them into time periods. This is where I took into account my family’s personal needs. For instance, all five kiddos can’t shower at one time period or we’ll run out of hot water. My solution was to give the girls time in the morning and the boys time in the evening. I also create a list of activities for us to complete each year, a sort of summer bucket list, and the kids love to do them when dad is home, so I arranged our activity of the day to be done after he returns home from work each day.

Using my favorite chalk markers from Chalkola (seriously, I’m a pen/marker addict and I’ve tried them ALL), I copied over the schedule I had created to my chalk board. I love how smooth they write and how vibrant the colors come through. We love rainbows around here (read: mama loves rainbows) and I love being able to write our schedules (yes, I create a school year one too!) in the colorful hues. These markers (get 15% off with code 15OFFSTR) from Chalkola can also be used on metal, mason jars, glass, mugs, or even as dry erase markers. They’re super fun; especially for moms and teachers since they’re so versatile.

I may have five kiddos home during the summer, but I believe that creating these summer schedules for kids is helpful for families with any number of children. The key is making it flexible enough to accommodate summer spontaneity, but also adding some structure to the kiddos so you can still get through your own to do list each day.

Order your own set of Chalkola markers on Amazon. Also be sure to follow @ourhollydays on Instagram where I’ll be sharing all of our summer adventures and activities here in the High Desert.

How to Prepare for Weekly Family Meetings


I grew up in a blended family of six. With everyone on different schedules and in different activities throughout the week, my parents opened up lines of communication between us all through weekly family meetings. This was a time each week where we gathered together as a family and my parents shared what would be happening throughout the week, dole out chores, and address any conflicts or issues within our family together. As a child, I remember feeling like I was heard, important, and had some input in what was going on in our daily lives.

Now that I’m raising my own blended family, I’ve implemented my own family meetings to give my children the feeling that they’re part of a team and that we’re all doing this life thing together. Being in a blended family isn’t a prerequisite to holding weekly family meetings; in fact, I believe all families benefit from meeting together weekly to talk, hash out anything going on, and schedule out the upcoming week.

In this post, I’m going to share a few tips to help start weekly family meetings in your own family, along with some topics to address in your first meeting together in hopes it will inspire you to start your own weekly huddle with your family.

Set a day for the meetings


My husband works rotating shifts, so we have to adjust our family meetings accordingly. Currently we meet every Sunday after church. I schedule out the time in our family calendar and we ensure that we have a solid hour to devote to the meeting.

Create a list of topics to address


While children don’t need to be involved in every decision (especially smaller children), I think it’s important that they feel included in some family choice making. For instance, I take dinner requests into account from my two six year olds. And from the older girls, when they’re with us, they get to help with larger decisions like doling out chores. And we also use the time to address anything major happening in our lives. For instance, a few years back Jacob was injured at work and we needed to adjust schedules to get him to and from the doctor. I spent a few minutes each week on the day before our meeting making a list of topics to address as a family.

Consider a talking stick


Family meetings are a safe place where everyone gets a chance to be heard, but if you’re in a big family like mine that can be pretty noisy. Using a talking stick or ball or toy is a fun tool that allows whomever is holding it to have the floor. If the person holding the talking stick is speaking, everyone else gives that person their undivided attention. This is especially helpful with my small children.

If you’re considering holding your own family meetings, there are some topics that would be helpful for you to address during your first gathering. It will help set the foundation for your future meetings and for your family as a whole. These are some topics we discussed before our first family meeting and during the first session together.

Family chores


Everyone does their part in our home. From the three-year-old who helps with laundry transfer to the twelve-year-old who sweeps and mops the kitchen. We all do our part to make our home a clean and happy environment. Consider writing a list of chores that need to be done weekly or daily and then during the family meeting, assign (or let the kiddos volunteer) one to each person.

Supplemental insurance


Supplemental insurance is designed to complement our major medical insurance and fill any holes our health care may not cover. Most of us aren’t prepared to pay for deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious accident or illness. Instead of paying for those expenses out of our own pockets, we can use supplemental insurance to help fill in the holes. Supplemental insurance from Aflac pays cash when we’re sick or hurt so we can focus on recovery, not financial stress. When my husband was injured at work those years ago, we were fortunate that he was only out for a couple of days. Had he been hurt any worse or out of work for any longer, we would have been in a pretty bad situation. Aflac is designed to help with situations like ours, because while major medical policies pay doctors and hospitals, Aflac pays cash directly to the insured (unless otherwise assigned), who can decide how to best use the benefits. Their goal is to help Aflac policyholders maintain their lifestyle during recovery. While this was a subject my husband and I discussed together outside of family meetings, we wanted to share the information with our children so that they knew our family was looking into ways to cover ourselves financially in any future events. We’re also hoping involving them in this discussion will show them the importance of supplemental insurance for their own families.

A living will

Creating a living will together and then addressing it with our children during a family meeting was important to us. Because our family is blended, that means there could be separation of siblings, so we need to be detailed and specific in our documents in case anything should happen to one or both of us.

Ask your human resources manager which Aflac supplemental insurance policies are available to you. Be sure to also check out Aflac’s Benefits Estimator to calculate the amount Aflac can provide to help with out-of-pocket costs not covered by your major medical insurance:

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Policies may not be available in all states. Limitations and exclusions may apply. Benefits are determined by state and plan level selected. Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999.

Z161056Y                                                                                                                                                                                                       11/16

Guest Bedroom, From Kid-Friendly to Guest-Welcoming

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BigLotsHome #CollectiveBias


The holidays are coming and I’m already practicing my best fa-la-la and jingle bells. The holidays make me feel nostalgic, warm, and they’re always filled with anticipation of seeing family and friends I’ve gone far too long without laying my eyes on. In our blended family, we have plenty of relatives who pay their visits and bring their best cuddles for the kiddos. I’ve found over the years that transforming a little boy’s bedroom into a guest oasis is easier than one would think. Creating a space that feels adult-like and less like a ninja turtle could be stowed away in the covers makes my guests feel welcomed and at ease during the holidays so they can spend more time cuddling and less time digging super heroes out from their sheets.

This holiday season, I prepped with supplies from my local Big Lots to transform my son, Collin’s, bedroom into a guest sanctuary. I purchased a bedding set reserved only for my guests that I can swap out with his brightly colored bed clothing. I picked up a scented candle. We all know October is an ode to all things pumpkin, so naturally I went with a Yankee Candle in pumpkin scent. And perhaps the biggest change and upgrade was a brand new bookshelf to store Collin’s little library and toys away from sight. Now the room can be transformed with just a few quick armfuls of toys placed in their new little bins.




And yes, even his stinky boy closet got organized and ready for the holidays. In a grand adventure one evening, Collin and his brother managed to totally demolish his original bookshelf. They worked off the expense with yard work and plenty of weed pulling (little do they know I got the new one at Big Lots at a great deal). While they worked to buy a new shelf, Collin’s entire library had to be stored up in his closet, keeping most of his books well out of reach. He also previously was using one of my old craft racks as shoe storage and had a laundry bin that had no handles left on it after years of use had cracked them off one by one. It wasn’t really a place I felt would say, “Welcome to our home. Come as you are. Stay as long as you want.” Instead, it said more of, “This is where we keep broken home goods and stinky socks. Oh, and kids don’t need to read. Read schmead. Books are much better used out of reach.”


Thankfully, I was able to grab everything I needed to tackle Collin’s closet at Big Lots without going over my budget. I got an actual shoe rack to corral his shoes, a new laundry basket that actually functions, and a coat rack for the inside door of his closet. The books were finally removed from closet jail and placed neatly in their new bookshelf home along with the pumpkin candle. The coat hanger now keeps coats and hats off of the floor while also giving guests somewhere to hang towels, belts, or anything they need. The closet now feel strangely empty. In a great way because that means there is plenty of space for guests to be able to make themselves right at home. Big Lots has everything I need for organization projects like this one. Plus, they’re employees are the most helpful! One of the gentleman who was working there when I purchased my new bookshelf even wheeled it out to my car and loaded it for me. From a new bookshelf to a scented candle, they’ve got all my needs covered (even snacks!) this holiday season.



Shop your space and prep your home for the upcoming holidays with Big Lots by visiting their Shop By Space page on their website for inspiration, ideas, and more.

Fall Cleaning Checklist | Planner Pages

This review was made possible by iConnect Influencer Management, Febreze, and Swiffer was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

I feel like fall cleaning doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Spring takes all the glory for herself and leaves fall behind in her dust. For me, I much prefer fall cleaning to spring cleaning. I like to purge and deep clean before the weather drives us all indoors for the winter so we can enjoy a clutter-free holiday season and start with a fresh slate before decorating for fall. Move over spring cleaning, fall is here to announce her arrival.

Never one to tackle a project without a handy list, I took to my trusty planner to create a helpful rundown of everything I want to accomplish before the end of October. From purging closets to refreshing with Febreze, this planner page keeps my thoughts organized so I can execute everything without overwhelming myself.

Starting with some basics sets a foundation for me and gets my home feeling more fresh before the fall weather drives us all inside. Cleaning all the places that go neglected all year like door knobs, baseboards, and even the washer and dryer. I also like to use my Swiffer WetJet Mop for wood floors and give my kitchen floors a nice bath, too. The stronger pad attachment keeps my cleaning pad in place as I clean and the new solution formula helps me to get those stubborn spot up with ease.

Once I complete my basics, I start getting a littler deeper into my home. Emptying and purging cupboards, closets, bookshelves, and anywhere else that needs to be decluttered.


Lastly, I complete the traditional fall tasks like flipping the mattresses, washing curtains, cleaning gutters, and more. But my grand finale is always and will always be a lovely little spritzing of Febreze. For fall, the Febreze in Big Sur scent is the perfect mix of citrus and spice that makes me feel like I’m relaxing on a hammock in between two sandalwood trees, cozied up with a cable knit blanket, and reading a book. While this is how I like to wrap up my fall cleaning, let’s be honest here, I do this at least every other day, ha!


My home always feels more refreshed, clean, and welcoming after I go through my fall cleaning checklist and then do my little Febreze dance around the house. Carpets and upholstery are freshened, my stinky boy’s closet is de-mustified, and my dog’s bed is stank-free. Plus my cabinets are de-cluttered and reorganized to help us get through the cold seasons with minimum frustrations.

Want to try out Febreze in Big Sur scent and Swiffer WetJet Mop for yourself? You can find both products in most retail stores near you. In the meantime, you can also enter to win a prize pack featuring both products. To enter, simply comment below with your favorite thing about fall. Entries will close on September 30th, 2016.

Are you Team Spring or Team Fall? Let me know in the comments below! And be sure to visit the Febreze page via Facebook for more ideas like this one.

How to Protect Your Couches

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ProtectYourEverything #CollectiveBias

protect your couches007

As a family of five, our home is not ever going to be a picture of perfection. We have walls that have been colored on, curtain rods that are slightly bent from little hands pulling on them, and our couches have taken quite a beating over the years. As a self-proclaimed neat freak, it’s been quite the growing experience for me to learn how to accept my home’s little personality traits. But it also doesn’t mean that I don’t do my best to protect what I can to ensure we get the most life out of our upholstered furniture while also embracing the new wall art my three year old made after discovering a rogue marker.

Of all the furniture in our home, our couches have taken on the worst wear and tear. With small children still growing and making messes, we aren’t ready to make the move to purchase new ones. Instead we hire cleaners to come steam clean them every year or so and afterwards I protect the fresh fabric with a coat of Scotchgard™ Fabric & Upholstery Protector. It’s pure magic for people like me who cringe at a spilled sippy cup or a clumsy husband with a fresh milkshake on the couch.

Print off a coupon for $2.00 off Scotchgard™ Fabric Protector here.

Scotchgard™ Fabric Protector keeps my couches looking their best by repeling liquids and by blocking stains by pushing them away from the fabric fibers so stains release easily. It doesn’t change the look, feel or breathability of fabrics and it’s safe to use on delicate and dry clean fabrics. It’s a perfect solution for families like mine (or really anyone!) who wants to get the most out of their stuff while the kiddos are still little destroyers, ha!

protect your couches004

protect your couches002

To apply I simply shake the can and apply a light coat over the upholstery of the couch (after removing blankets and other fabrics, of course). I pay special attention to the areas with the most wear and tear like the arms.

protect your couches005

protect your couches006

Using a slow, sweeping motion I cover the couch with one light coat and then let it dry before applying an additional light coat.

protect your couches001

Because I have small kiddos, we have plenty of fabrics and upholstery that needs protection from accidental spills and they’re all protected with a layer of Scotchgard™ Fabric Protector. We use it on our bean bags, desk chairs, curtains, backpacks, and my boys’ hats. It’s so versatile and because it works so well, I want to apply it on ALL THE THINGS! Plus it’s available at Target, which we moms know is pretty much a daily stop.

For more information on how to protect your everything with Scotchgard™ Fabric & Upholstery Protector, be sure to visit them here.

Journaling Bible | Bible Tabs by Halin

I received a set of Bible tabs to facilitate this post.

bible tabs008

Bible journaling has become one of my favorite ways to connect with the Bible. While I believe strongly in daily scripture writing and reading, this sort of hybrid art/scrapbooking version of worship is close to my heart. It’s where I get to combine my love of art and creating with my Creator’s Word. When I’m painting or doodling in the margins I’m mediating on His Word and praying. It’s a form of worship where I’m at my most stripped down for Him. Journaling inside my Bible is one of the first ways I was encouraged to go deeper and learn more about the truth in the pages.

I’ve always been a fan of Bible tabs. In fact, I think every Bible I own (four!) has tabs to divide each book. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I still occasionally struggle with where exactly each book is when my pastor asks us to open our Bibles in church. Having tabs helps me to navigate a little more quickly as I clumsily fumble through the pages. While plain tabs work perfectly fine in my study Bible, I knew I wanted something much more fun and a little extra special for my journaling Bible.

These beautifully created tabs were made by my friend, Halin. She has an Etsy shop where she creates tabs by hand for people like me who rely on our tabs to navigate our Bibles. She offers them in a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Each tab is crafted carefully by her, trimmed out to size, and then laminated for protection and durability. My favorite part is that they come completely ready to peel and stick right into my Bible.

bible tabs001

bible tabs004

I spent the afternoon yesterday sitting by a window, mediating on God’s Word, and sticking these Bible tabs by Halin in their proper place inside my journaling Bible. Every so often, I would stop to read a small passage and pray. I am so grateful for God’s grace and that each and every day, knowing I need salvation, that it’s given to me. I’m so grateful to even have a Bible in my hands when we have entire missions dedicated to getting Bibles into the hands of people who have never seen one.

bible tabs007

bible tabs010

Friends, I encourage you to find a method of Bible study or worship that speaks to your passions as I have. There’s no greater fun to be had than sharing that passion with Jesus Christ and using it as a form of worship.


To check out the variety of Bible tabs by Halin, visit her shop on Etsy where you can purchase your own set or browse through her other creations like bookmarks, Bible covers, and more.

3 Back to School Hacks Every Kid Should Know

back to school hacks005

Be prepared this back to school season by brushing up on your life hacks. These back to school hacks every kid should know are simple solutions to help you start off the year with your best foot forward. From saving money to preventing smelly shoes, these tips cover all aspects of school life.

Shop with PayPal

back to school hacks004

Using the PayPal app to pay for back to school supplies is convenient and safe. With PayPal One Touch, there is no need for you to type in credit card information or usernames and passwords on every app or website where you pay with PayPal. Get ahead of the class with PayPal and take advantage of their exclusive offers with select retailers that can make your Back to School shopping even more affordable. Plus they make giving back to your favorite causes easy with the PayPal Giving Fund using the in-app donation feature. Donations made through the PayPal Giving Fund will receive a 1% match from PayPal during Back-to-School Season from August 12 through August 31, 2016 to charities like Let Girls Learn, YMCA, and Boys & Girls Club of America.

Remember your schedule

back to school hacks001

Use your phone to take a picture of your schedule on your first day of school and set it as the lock screen. Your classes and all their info will be available whenever you need to reference it right at your fingertips!

Reference handy note taking tips

back to school hacks003

Keeping your notes organized and neat will allow you to study them later without having to rewrite or reorganize terms, definitions, and thoughts. Research note taking tips that work with your learning style. Adopt the methods that you know will help you to better retain information and be able to read your notes later without difficulty.

Stop smelly gym shoes

back to school hacks002

Use dry tea bags in your favorite flavor and place them inside your gym shoes to keep them from smelling stank. We’ve all experienced musty gym shoes and this solution keeps things fresh. Your locker will thank you.

Use these back to school hacks this year to help keep you organized, smell-free, and on track for your best year yet! Have any tips or back to school hacks we should know about? Share with everyone in the comments below.

To learn more about the PayPal Giving Fund and how to donate, visit

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Organization | Tackling the Junk Drawer


junk drawer006

It’s time to start preparing my home for all the insane early mornings that the new school year will bring. As a self-proclaimed organization junkie, I like to try to tackle any small projects that need to be done before the school year starts to ensure our mornings aren’t spent searching for a pen to write a note to a teacher or tape to fix a rip in homework papers. One of our most used and oddly, most neglected, places in our home is our junk drawer. Inspired by Wayfair’s campaign to Make Mornings Manageable, I decided to tackle the abyss and I’m happy to say I survived.

Here’s an idea of what I started with. Appropriately enough, a drawer filled with junk.

junk drawer001

The best way to begin an organization project is to start from scratch, so I completely empties the drawer onto my counter.

junk drawer002
A clean slate is so satisfying. Though it might be time for a new drawer organizer.

junk drawer003

A little organization tip to make things feel more put together is to line your drawers with contact paper (some of my faves).

junk drawer004

I went through the contents of the junk drawer item by item. Reassigning items like light bulbs and thumbtacks to my small tool bag and designating compartments in the organizer for things like batteries and tape.

Some ideas for junk drawer essentials to keep on hand:

  • a flashlight
  • matches
  • scissors
  • a small blade or box cutter
  • tape
  • pens/pencils
  • a pad of paper
  • batteries
  • a sewing kit

junk drawer005

The project took me less than 30 minutes and I felt accomplished. It gave me sweet satisfaction only a good purging can give. And now at least this often used drawer will be efficient, even if I can’t get the rest of the morning together, we’ll at least be able to find a pen with ease!

Check out my Junk Drawer Organization Idea Board on Wayfair for my favorite picks to help you organize your own junk drawer.


Holly S.

Junk Drawer Organization
Holly S.


Toilet Cabinet Organization

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DesignedMega #CollectiveBias

toilet cabinet organization012

Many of us have that above the toilet cabinet that we stash things away in. Extra toilet paper, hair pomades and sprays, extra toiletries. Usually there is no rhyme or reason, it’s just there. Filled with whatever we shove inside it. With kids home for the summer, our toilet cabinet has taken a little extra wear and tear. It was getting a little out of hand so I decided to give it a small overhaul and put all those random items into some kind of order with a little toilet cabinet organization.

toilet cabinet organization001

To keep small hands away from consuming all of the toilet paper, I stashed the extra rolls on the top shelf. You guys, how do kids go through so much toilet paper? Do they eat it? I mean…where does it go? My kids go through almost an entire roll daily. Daily. I’ve been using Quilted Northern® because their Mega Rolls have 4x more sheets and can last us an extra day or two.

quilted northern002

toilet cabinet organization005

Next I gathered my guest hand towels, rolled them up spa-style (is that a thing?) and placed them inside a galvanized bucket with a small bottle of lotion.

toilet cabinet organization006

As for the miscellaneous hair products, I corralled them all in a basket that’s easy to pull out and place back when I’m done.

toilet cabinet organization002

On the bottom shelf I also added a small drawer organizer and used one drawer for feminine products and another to store extra soap.

toilet cabinet organization003

toilet cabinet organization004

I was able to purchase everything for this mini makeover at my local Target. Haaaayyyyy dollar spot! With back to school season here, all of this organization and dorm stuff is easy to find. Just these few small updates created mega impact and helped to declutter the mish mash of items that found their way to my toilet cabinet.

toilet cabinet organization007

toilet cabinet organization008

toilet cabinet organization009

toilet cabinet organization011

With as much toilet paper as my children go through, it’s been a convenient solution to use Target’s Subscription service to have staple items like Quilted Northern delivered regularly. Next time you’re in your local Target, use the Cartwheel app to save on your next purchase of Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong Mega Rolls.

Enter below for a chance to win a $50 Target gift card.

#DesignedMega Quilted Northern Sweepstakes

Be sure to visit Quilted Northern on Facebook for more information on Mega Rolls along with silly posts and fun facts.

quilted northern001

Laundry Room Caddy

This post was sponsored by NEW! Tide purclean as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.


laundry room caddy002

Organization is kind of my thing. Everything has a home (for the most part) in my house and I’d definitely say I have a type-a personality when it comes to keeping things together. My laundry room is no exception and I try to keep things easy to navigate in there so that when laundry day comes around, I can get in and out and be finished with my least favorite chore.

I keep a Laundry Room Caddy on top of my dryer that holds all of the essentials for laundry day. It’s a great way to keep things corralled together and a helpful solution to ensuring nothing falls behind the black hole that lies in the space behind the dryer. Inside the caddy, I keep dryer sheets, vinegar (great for getting extra smelly clothes clean), stain removers, bleach, static cling spray, fabric freshening spray, and of course, laundry detergent.

laundry room caddy003

I would consider myself a mom who tries to be aware of the products I use for my family. I buy all natural or organic shampoos and conditioners, I’m careful about the produce I purchase, and I care about what goes into our laundry and how it effects our environment. But as equally as important as environmentally friendly ingredients is that the products I use are effective for my family of seven. Tide purclean is a new bio-based detergent made with the cleaning power of Tide* (*65% bio-based ingredients). And since it’s available at Target (the motherland!), it’s the perfect solution for my family’s laundry needs while also satisfying our environmental concerns.

laundry room caddy004

Tide purclean is made at a zero manufacturing waste to landfill site with 100% renewable electricity and it’s certified by the USDA BioPreferred Program. And while that’s all important to me, I also need a product that’s effective and I’m excited to report that Tide purclean is as, if not more effective, than other detergents I’ve tried that aren’t bio-based. And if you know me, you know how I feel about lavender, right? The Honey Lavender scent is just the loveliest thing ever, friends! At my local Target, it was easy to spot on a display in the end cap of the laundry aisle, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the same.

laundry room caddy001

Use the Cartwheel app while shopping at Target to redeem 5% off new Tide purclean now through 7/30/2016. Use in combination with the neckhanger coupon for $1.00 off to maximize your discount to try the detergent for yourself.