For many years, our family has used a shared calendar that was web and app-based. Our schedules with work and kids rivals any family that I’ve ever seen. We must have a product that is easy to use, available on desktop, tablet, and mobile (app). A quick search introduced me to Picniic.
My essentials in looking for a shared calendar are:
Easy to use
Color-coded for each family member
Still in active development (I want a product that will continue to be updated)
Push notifications for reminders
Picniic is a next-generation family organizer built with the goal of being the ‘operating system for the family home.’ It serves as a family management dashboard that brings all your activities, tasks and data together in one place, keeping everyone organized and on the same page.
In a nutshell, Picniic has a shared calendar (every family member has their own color); a family locator tool (think “Find My iPhone”); a meal planner, a to-do list, a shopping list, special event calendar (which syncs birthdays and anniversaries onto the shared calendar), and a family info locker where you can store key information like your medical details and other household information.
We have now successfully moved all of our family to Picniic and I’m very happy using it. It’s nice for all of us to have the latest updates – for every member of the family – right in the palm of our hands! No more “Mom, can I have a sleepover on Friday night? Am I busy?” My response is always the same – “Check Picniic!”
I admit that I often struggle with meal planning because it’s such a hassle. The Picniic app is loaded with recipes that are awesome. Type in an ingredient or a common recipe and it pops right up in the palm of your hand. The best part – one simple click at the bottom of the recipe and you can add all of the ingredients to your shopping list! As if that wasn’t good enough, you can also add your own personal or family recipes into the recipe binder. That is super helpful and actually makes it more of a reality that I will meal plan, and come home with every ingredient needed from the grocery store!
Picniic is free to use online or via app, but their are portions that are available by subscription. (I paid $50 for a year.) My suggestion is that you download the free version and use it for a few weeks and see what you think. I used it regularly for nearly a month and was sold!
I am not a Picniic affiliate, but I do love this product.
The movie Cars debuted on my son Avery’s 3rd birthday. My husband and I had seen the trailer months before and knew that Avery would love it … and what better way to celebrate being 3 then to go to a big theater and watch a movie about something you love – CARS! We had no idea when we stepped foot into that theater how the movie would change our lives.
Avery fell in love with Cars. I can’t even put into words how much he loved everything about the movie. The characters, the music, the storyline – our family lived and breathed every minute of the film over and over. One of my fondest childhood memories of Avery is hearing him sing “Life is a Highway” from the Cars soundtrack. His little voice with the perfect mimic of the inflection from Rascal Flatts – it was like a little angel was singing it.
We have had Lightning McQueen birthday parties, Sally birthday parties, Christmases filled with every Cars toy manufactured that year … If it has been made with the Cars logo, I feel confident in saying that we own it.
In April, our family was invited to attend an event called Cars 3: Road to the Races tour. We were excited to see what the new movie would bring and – fingers crossed – we were set to again become the biggest fans of the film.
At the event, we were able to take photos with the new characters and see a trailer of the film. Take a peak:
My husband and son were lucky enough to get to screen the movie on behalf of StephanieClick.com earlier this week. They were blown away at every aspect of the film with my husband even admitting that he teared up a couple of times.
My son, Avery, said “The visuals were stunning, especially the mud. The movie brought us many new characters, who each had their own story to tell. The introduction of each character and place was added in seamlessly and expertly. It brought out emotions I hadn’t seen from Pixar since the original Cars movie. The settings were both visually and emotionally pleasing. I can’t wait to see it again!”
As far as the music, my husband raved about the soundtrack. (It’s available now on Amazon!)
Here’s the jist of the film: Lightning McQueen is back on the big screen, but he’s not a rookie anymore. Blindsided by a new general on of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Piston-Cup champion finds himself suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. “The next-gen racers are cool,” says director Brian Fee. “You can see instantly that cars like Jackson Storm are effortlessly fast. We designed these younger, faster cars to be sleek and aerodynamic—and they’re a sharp contrast to Lightning McQueen.
While Lightning is still the same self-assured, determined and fun loving race car audiences fell in love with, his confidence is being tested by the new cars on the track. “When we first met Lightning McQueen, he was a young rookie—a superhero,” says Fee. “He had his whole life ahead of him. And while he’s done well since we last saw him, he’s not a young hotshot racer anymore. We kept circling the idea of what happens when an athlete like Lightning is in the twilight of his career.
Enter Cruz Ramirez. Tasked with getting Lightning McQueen back on track after a devastating setback, Cruz isn’t shy. Her training style is high-tech, enthusiastic and steadfast—she’s not afraid to apply a little tough love. But there’s more to Cruz than meets the eye. “I love Cruz’s story,” says co-producer Andrea Warren. “She’s such an admirable, likable character. She’s so passionate about racing and her role to create champions. The movie isn’t just about Lightning McQueen—it’s Cruz’s story, in many ways.”
As a mom, I love the fact that there are so many great characters for our kids (and now teens) to fall in love with. This is a movie that everyone can enjoy, laugh, cry and identify with. We need more movies like Cars 3! Although it’s just mid-June, I feel safe labeling this as the “Must-See Movie of the Summer of 2017“!
Another year older and another year of “I can not believe that you are 14.” I know that I sound like a broken record. But, when I’m at a loss for words, I often just revert back to what I know is true and for this circumstance, it’s that I can’t believe you are 14.
So, on this, your 14th birthday, I thought I would list the 14 things that I love about you!
Avery, you are one smart cookie and we’ve known this since you were a little baby. You have always been so curious about the world around you – how things worked, why they worked. Although you have proven yourself to me over and over academically, I’m still so proud. High school will be a tough one. Your schedule the next four years could, quite possibly, be harder then some years of college. Just know when the going gets tough that I don’t care AT ALL what your grades are – YOU are the smartest person I know and nothing will make me think differently.
You wake up with the sun every day. If we believed in past lives, I would think that one of yours had to have been farmer. Getting up early will serve you well in life. There is so much of the day that I miss by laying in bed. I admire that you get up and get going — even if it is only to watch TV. It’s still a great habit to have.
I’m excited that you are sticking with band. You have no idea what you are in for. The friends that you will make over the next 4 years and the experiences that you have will shape your future in ways that you will never expect. And, let’s face it – it’s fun. Friday night football games, contests, trips … I can’t wait for you to experience it all.
I know that I don’t get to pick your future career, but I still think that you would be an amazing vet. You absolutely love Gidget and trust me, the feeling is mutual. If I leave with you, drop you off, then come home without you – she runs outside looking for you. It’s the sweetest. You and Piper found her at the shelter and it was an immediate bond. I know that you’ll always have a dog in your life and that makes me happy.
I know I’ve mentioned in previous years that I love your sense of humor, but I really do. You always get a joke and it doesn’t matter if it’s dry humor, sarcasm, or slapstick – you get it and you laugh with your entire body! It’s impossible not to laugh along with you.
You definitely got my television gene and I’m sure you’ve watched way too many hours in your 14 years of life. With the onset of the DVR generation, like most families, we have the shows that we like to watch together. You will not watch them without all of us being there. (Piper is the same way.) We don’t have a lot of time together as a family, so I appreciate that you value that time & know that it’s something that is special.
Avery, you were born to two Type A parents. We like things done the way we like things done. We are outspoken and overspoken to an absolute fault. We are loud, pushy, and sometimes impossible to deal with. And, I absolutely thank the Lord that you are everything that we are not. You are compassionate, a think-before-you-speak person, full of kindness … I want to be more like you.
You will kill me for writing this, but you have the most perfect, beautifully arched eyebrows; the longest eyelashes; and the fast growing fingernails I have ever seen. Woman pay thousands each year to get eyebrows, eyelashes, and nails like yours. I’ll stop there because I know you are sick of me talking about this! (One of the questions I have for God is why the boys always get the great eyelashes!!!)
You love your downtime. I have no idea how to relax – you could sit and read for a week straight and be perfectly content. You can go days at a time in the summer and never leave the house. You will bounce from reading, to playing PS4, to bingeing Netflix – and be happy as a lark. I envy that about you!
You love your family and you love everyone equally. You value your time with me, your dad, and Piper, as well as each of your grandparents. I especially love how you support Piper in everything that she does. It’s been so great to watch, as your mom, as you have been such a fan of your sister through the years. (And she’s your biggest fan too, just so you know!)
You are the BEST traveler. Roadtrip, flights, Disney, the beach – you make every vacation fun. You can go 24/7 when on vacation and I love it! From roller coasters to water slides, you are an awesome vacation partner!
A lot of people probably don’t know that you are very artistic. You can draw so well. It’s fascinating to watch how you see color, shading, and light. I don’t have this gift at all. You see the world and every shape with a different lense. What a gift.
Well you are 14. I’ve mentioned that if I had $1 for every time you’ve rolled your eyes this year, I would be laying on a beach in Hawaii. But, you never roll your eyes in disgust. You roll your eyes when your dad and I think we are being cool or funny … and we clearly are neither most of the time. But, never you worry, we’ll keep trying!
Most 14 year olds probably don’t appreciate luxury, but you – my child – certainly do. And, since I’m as cheap and Wal-Mart-esque as they come, I can assure you that this trait did not come from me. Bacon Wrapped Filet at Pappa’s Steakhouse – your favorite; 1st class seats on United – they call your name; Behind the scenes tours at Cirque du Soleil – you fit right in. And, although you might seem haughty to some over this as you get older, I don’t want you to change. Reaching and longing for the finer things in life will assure that you always keep the bar high!
So there we have it, the 14 things that I love most about you on your 14th birthday … I could write 1,000 more! Enjoy high school, live large with your friends, soak in every fun moment that comes your way, and continue to relax every chance you get.
Let’s start by saying “I’m a New Cheer Mom” is something that I never thought would come from my mouth. But here we are …
This road started last fall when Piper started junior high. Our school is huge and unless you are in a club, it’s a hard road to connect and fit in. Piper had asked several times to be on pep squad. With her dance schedule, it’s nearly impossible to do anything that meets in the evenings. But after reviewing the qualifications, we decided that Piper could use her absences allowed for dance and meet the number of games that she needed to attend for the season.
I took Piper to the first game and decided to come inside to watch. After her description, I felt pretty good about what Pep Squad involved, but I was anxious to see for myself. I sat over by a friend and chatted while keeping Piper in the corner of my eye. She cozied right up with her friends & chanted & cheered – she was in heaven. Toward the end of the game, the Pep Squad got to join the cheerleaders on the track to do some chants together. She was in heaven!
I think I knew that night that she was going to ask to try out for cheer. (My friend, also the mom of a serious dancer, even teased me about it. It was that obvious that Piper was having a ball.) Our junior high is double the size of the high school that I graduated from. Everyone needs a group to call home, and I was seeing Piper spending more time with the girls in pep squad.
Football season ended almost as quickly as it came and then basketball season arrived. I should preface by saying that we are basketball people. We watch college basketball on a weekly basis, so it was much more fun to be in Pep Squad for a game that you actually understood!
We once again used our absences and hit up exactly the number of required basketball games. Cheerleaders aren’t allowed on the court during the games, only during time out and halftime. So, it was a very different atmosphere then football, but still fun nonetheless.
As time for cheer tryouts came closer, Piper became more and more excited about the possibility of this new step. She started taking a weekly class that taught the girls how to tryout for cheer. To be honest, I had no idea that there was so much to know – or remember! How to spirit, tips for jumps, voice projection, wrist angles … it was a whole new world for us.
When the week of official tryout clinics actually arrived, Piper was well-prepared. There was a large group her age that were trying out – 27 girls. We knew from our informational meeting that they could only take 12 members max. We also realized that a handful of these 27 girls had been doing cheer as seriously in their life as Piper has been doing dance.
All of our district junior highs tryout on the same day. This allows the district to use judges that aren’t local (a very good thing). Every student must wear the same thing – white shirt, black shorts, no logos anywhere. The parents were not even allowed to come inside the building – a fact that I agreed with 100% until I had to use the restroom as badly I was about to bust!
Once the tryouts concluded, the girls were given a sealed letter containing their fate. The instructions were that your car needed to be off campus before you opened the letter, so we quickly drove to a business right across from the school.
Piper put together a vlog about the day. Watch and see how it went for her. (If you just want to see her reaction to the tryout, skip to the 8 minute mark!)
Needless to say, it was an emotional day for both of us. I was a nervous wreck and honestly, I have no idea why. I guess because I knew that she really wanted to have the experience and try something new. And, also, because I know that this year has had some significant low moments and it would be so great to see her light up. Boy, did she ever! I don’t think either of us will ever forget the joy that came with opening the envelope.
So, without further adieu, Piper went straight into the fitting for her uniform and all accessories. It was exciting and fun. The check will be written next week and practices start immediately. What seems real now will be VERY real this time next week.
The best part of this story is that Piper will be able to continue to train at a high level in dance. Every school has a different schedule and way that they do things, but our school is pretty compact with their practice and tumbling schedule. (Actually, much better than other schools by comparison.) Cheer was never meant to replace dance for Piper. It will be a different way to add conditioning into her routine, be involved in her school, dance and continue to compete! Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers and helping us through this semester of “new”!
I’m so excited for our next chapter. Fingers crossed that it’s a fun one!
I’m absolutely in love with Project Life, a product that was developed by Becky Higgins. I began Project Life in 2010 and I’ve never looked back. Although there are several ways to use Project Life, I have always used it to capture one-photo-a-day. In 2016, I switched to the Project Life app and it has made life even easier.
When Becky says that the Project Life app puts scrapbooking in the palm of your hand, she is telling the truth. The app has the functionality of so many things that you would find in a traditional paper kit. Everything is at the touch of a fingertip.
Here are the steps:
Pick a collage
Import your photos
Choose a kit within the app for additional cards and journaling (there are some free options for kits)
It really is that easy! There are so many collage options and fun kits to choose from!
This is a layout that I did for a week in January. I use the same collage layout for every week during the year. The kits that you can buy within the app all have cards that coordinate, but I tend to mix and match them depending on the topic.
Tip: While I use the app to capture one photo a day for our large family album, some (probably the majority of users, actually) use Project Life layouts to capture a snapshot of each week or month of the year. It’s much less to think about and still gives a good glimpse at what’s happening in your family.
When I do specific layouts on kids or family events, I tend to vary the collages. I always stick with a 12×12 so that all of my albums are the same size.
While I still love traditional paper scrapbooking, I have really grown to love the Project Life App. If you are in a busy season of life and you are already so behind on memory-keeping that you are thinking of giving up, I hereby give you permission to use the app. It IS NOT a cop-out. It is not cheating.
Here’s a quick video from Becky Higgins herself to show you how easy the app is to use:
Finally, let’s talk about what’s next. You’ve made your pages, it’s time to print. You can order prints directly from the Project Life app. The “order prints” bar is at the bottom of the opening screen of the app. You can order in four sizes: 4×6, 6×8, 8×8, 12×12. (My second choice for printing is Persnickety Prints.)
Tip: If you are going to use square collages, always save/export as a 12×12 because the resolution will be suitable for an 8×8 print. But, it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around.
More questions? I’m happy to help. I might not be an expert, but I am an active user! Here’s where you can download (iOS and Android).
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of our favorite family activities each year. We are lucky that the rodeo always falls during our spring break, so you can count on us to take one day and make it a rodeo day.
This year, I needed to work through spring break, so my husband loaded up the kids and took them for the day. They had a fantastic time.
The rodeo with young teens is a lot of fun. They love everything that there is to offer. One of the biggest tips that I have is find a rodeo committee member that is near you to buy half-price carnival tickets when they are available. Most of the bigger rides cost 10-ish tickets, so you can run through tickets quickly. Buying the ticket booklets beforehand can save you a ton of cash.
From the animal pavilion, to the shopping, to the midway and the carnival rides — oh, and the food — the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a must do for every Texan. It matters not if you have children, there really is something for everyone. So, mark your calendars for February 27 – March 18, 2018.
This post is sponsored by Rodeo Houston and US Family Guide. I received rodeo tickets in exchange for my honest opinion.