Blog Archive

Summer Flash Sale!

Summer is almost here and I am ready to celebrate in the best possible way!  

I don't know what it's been like for you but it's been a LONG school year here.  

Between moving to a new home last summer, setting up a new learning space, living with a lack of furniture, kids' regression because of the move, Sunshine's mental health emergencies...  

I am SO ready to put evertything behind me and enjoy the relaxation, sunsets and fireflies that only summer provides.

To kick off the first day of summer, I'm having a Summer Flash Sale!  

Summer Flash Sale at Every Star Is Different

Summer Flash Sale Details

All products in my shop will be 50% off!  

You do not need a code, the price you see on dates specified reflects the flash sale price.

 The Summer Flash Sale starts at 12:00 AM June 21, 2018 and ends June 11:59 PM June 23, 2018 EST

All you need to do is visit my SHOP, click on the image of the product(s) you're interested in and add them to your cart. Once your cart is ready, check out.  It's that simple.

Is This For Real?

Yes!  Absolutely!

I'm sharing this with you in advance so you don't miss out on such an unprecidented sale.  Take advantage of it and stock up on everything and anything you've ever considered wanting, especially those products that were just a little too expensive for your budget.


First...  The last two months of life have been extremely expensive seeking, fighting for, and obtaining the help that Sunshine so desperately needs.  (If you're not aware of what's been going on, feel free to start with THIS post.)

Just the gas expenses alone are enough to make anyone groan.

The reality is, mental health emergencies are expensive.

Second...  You guys have been amazing and so supportive through this whole ordeal.

The private e-mails, facebook messages, comments, prayers, and more that you sent my way meant everything to me.

I wanted to find a way to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support.

Besides new free printables (which are slowly returning to the blog), this was the next best thing I could think of.

Take Advantage of the Summer Flash Sale today!

Whether you're wanting to encourage summer learning or stocking up for next year in advance, don't miss your chance to purchase items from my shop during my Summer Flash Sale.

This could very well be a one time only offer.  (I sincerely pray we don't have another ongoing mental health emergency that lasts two months and exhausts our savings.)

Be sure to visit our shop between June 21 and June 22, 2018 to take advantage of the amazing 50% discount on all products!

If you are unaware of the mental health crisis Sunshine has endured over the last two months and want to better understand why we're having such a spectacular sale, here is our story.
Call the Police! What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons What Should Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons Check-in-at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital My Daughter is inpatient at a Children's Psych Ward Our First Family Session in a Psych Ward Nine Days This Was Not Okay Miracles

Read More »

A Campfire Themed Birthday Party

Tis the season for spectacular campfires, roasted marshmallows, and friends and family gathered together enjoying the beautiful weather.  

One of the things my kiddos love best about our new home is that there is a fire pit in the backyard ready for spontaneous campfires, S'mores, and parties.

For Bulldozer's ninth birthday, per his request, we hosted a campfire themed birthday party to remember!
A Campfire Themed Birthday Party

Here's how it went!
Outdoor Adventure Hunt
We kicked off the party with an Outdoor Adventure Hunt from Clean and Scentsible.  It was the perfect way to keep people busy while we waited for all of the guests to arrive.  Older kids helped younger kids.  Friends helped friends.  It really was a great activity.

Since we don't have acorns in our yard, I provided one for each person, along with a pencil to check items off on their lists.
Pool Noodle and Balloon Relay Race
Once everyone had arrived, the fire was going, and we had met all of Bulldozer's new friends and families, we started a second game.

The kids started at one end of the lawn using pool noodles to move their balloon into the basket located at the opposite end of the yard.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves until balloons started popping.  You'll notice in the picture that our lawn was quite dry.  Yikes!

Be sure to make sure the grass is soft and well watered before attempting this activity.  Otherwise be prepared for meltdowns from younger kiddos who are obsessed with their balloons.
S'mores goodie bags
Once the game was over, we took a group shot of all of the kids at the party.  Everyone that was having meltdowns over popped balloons recovered.

 It was time to move on to S'mores.

One of my biggest dilemmas with this party was trying to figure out how to actually provide 50 plus people with S'more ingredients outside without them getting everywhere, melting, or falling on the ground.

I came across this wonderful idea from Clean and Scentsible.  A free printable was even provided to spruce up the goodie bags, which I fully took advantage of.

Bags on the tray included plain graham crackers and milk chocolate.  Bags in the bucket included cinnamon graham crackers and dark chocolate.

Before the event I picked up some roasting sticks and then found more sticks around the yard so everyone could have their own.
Roasting marshmallows at a campfire themed birthday party
The S'mores bags were a HUGE hit!  I think the only thing I would do differently if we did this again was to make sure I had lots of baby wipes on hand for sticky hands and faces.  Lol.
The birthday boy at his campfire themed birthday party
The birthday boy was completely in his element.  Bulldozer seriously had the time of his life.
For parents, one of the best parts about the party was the view. The sunset was spectacular.  

After gifts, the nighttime entertainment began!
Pool Noodle and Glowstick Nighttime Games
Picture does not do justice to how incredibly awesome this activity was!
I picked up glow necklaces and bracelets enough for every kiddo to have a few.  The kids took their pool noodles from the previous game, decorated them with glow necklaces and bracelets, and then used the rest as they were intended.

There were so many fun glow-in-the-dark pool noodle wars!

The pool noodles looked so incredibly cool!  Some kids wrapped glow necklaces and bracelets around the pool noodles.  Others poked the pool noodles with them.

I kid you not the kids played for hours with these.

The best part about the activity was that parents could keep an eye on their kids in the dark sky.  We always knew where the kids were.

The party began at 7 PM and continued on through about midnight as everyone was enjoying themselves so much.

Parents sat around the campfire.  Kids played.  It was truly an awesome night!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below:
Free Camping Printables Montessori-inspired Camping Practical Life Activities Children's Books About Camping A Pirate Birthday Party A Fall Kickoff Birthday Party Superhero Week

A Campfire Themed Birthday Party
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Montessori-inspired Continent Activities with Free Printables

Sunshine has shown an intense factuation with geography this year.  She loves learning about land and water forms, continents, oceans, and so forth.

However, she struggles with retaining information from day to day.  Remembering continent names, shapes and colors has been a bit difficult.  This is why I created the Montessori-inspired Continent Activities with Free Printables.  

These activities and printables have given her the extra support that she needs to learn her continents by name, shape, and color.  Not to mention she loves them!

Montessori-inspired Continent Activities with Free Printables

Seven Continent Nomenclature Cards

Seven Continent Nomenclature Cards

The older kids have a classic style globe in our classroom that they use on a regular basis.  Sunshine was quite jealous and begged for her own globe to use.  I purchased her a Montessori globe, which is now one of her most prized possessions.

To help her navigate her globe and use it in the classroom, I created the seven continent nomenclature cards.  Sunshine isn't necessarily a fan of nomenclature cards, but she does love books, so I used the cards and created a book to go with her globe.

Sunshine identifies the continent on the card and finds it on her glob.  She continues with this task until she has found and identified every continent.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my 7 Continents Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie.  See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.

My Book of Continents

My Book of Continents

As I mentioned previously, Sunshine loves books, especially ones she can create.  For this reason I created the book of continents.  Sunshine can color the continents on each page and trace each of their names.

My older children have also enjoyed these books.  There are options to fill in the blank with names of each continent etc.

We tend to laminate our books and use erasable markers to help save on the cost and use of paper in the classroom.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my 7 Continents Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie.  See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.

Continent Play Dough Mats

Continent Play Dough Mats

Sunshine struggles with strength in her hand and finger muscles. One of the best ways I've found to help her develop these strengths is incorporating play dough into activities.  She was so excited about her continent play dough mats.

I made a batch of homemade play dough in each continent color, laminated the printables and she had the time of her life.  

I love that this activity not only helps develop strength in the hands and fingers but also promotes hand-eye coordination skills and fine motor as Sunshine tries to stay in the lines.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my 7 Continents Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie.  See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.

Continent Painting Activity

Continent Painting Activity

Using the continent play dough mat printable (unlaminated) Sunshine has thoroughly enjoyed painting each of her continents.  The activity incorporates art and helps her develop fine motor and hand-eye coordination skills.  Have I mentioned how much Sunshine loves to paint?

Pick up a pack of Crayola Washable Kids Paint, a few paint brushes and you're set!

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my 7 Continents Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie.  See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.

Directions on How to Obtain Subscriber Only Freebies

1. Click on the Subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.
2. Subscribe to our free newsletter.
3. Open the thank you message you receive after subscribing. (Be sure to check your spam folder, as sometimes it ends up there.)
4. Locate the link to our Subscriber Only Freebies page as well as password to access it in the "Thank You" message.
5. Click on link and type in password.
6. Find the printable pack you are looking for listed in alphabetical order, click on it, and viola!

We hope you enjoy your free printable.

Note: If you are already a newsletter subscriber, open your most recent newsletter. At the bottom you will find a link to the Subscriber Only Freebies page, along with the password in case you forgot it.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below:
Continent and Country Activities Asia Unit with Free Printables Montessori-inspired Zoo Scavenger Hunt Montessori-inspired Africa Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired Antarctica Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired Australia/Oceania Unit Printable Pack Bundle
Montessori-inspired Continent Activities with Free Printables

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Miracles (Chapter 9)

The very next morning, which happened to be a Wednesday, the principal of the day program called me.

This was the beginning of a week's worth of miracles.

He had openings.  Summer session started in less than a week.  They wanted her.


We had to go through the school district.

There was a process.

She needed an IEP.  Funding needed to be approved.  The school costs $80,000 a year.

All of this would take time.

We didn't have time.
Miracles-Crazy things that happened in order to help a special needs family receive the help they needed.

Miracle #1

I called the school district immediately sharing our circumstances with the principal.

I begged.

I pleaded.

The principal told me to come to the school to fill out enrollment forms. Once completed she could set up a Child Support Meeting, which was the first step in the process.

I was at the school within thirty minutes.

The Child Support Meeting was scheduled for the very next afternoon, which happened to be a Thursday.  In attendance was the principal of the day program, the principal of the elementary school where the process was initiated, the director of special education, and the school psychologist.

That's when it all happened.

They were under no obligation to do anything for our family.  The process that needed to occur usually takes 30 days.

I didn't have 30 days.

I had a week tops.

Either this worked, or Sunshine had to go to a residential facility.

I was desperate and willing to do whatever it took.

They decided they would try their best to complete the process in a week's time.

Miracle #2

The next step in the process was a full psychological evaluation.  This usually takes five hours and is split up between two different sessions.  We didn't have that time.

The psychologist agreed to come to our home the very next Monday to do everything.  I met with him after the Child Support Meeting to complete the background information interview so that would be out of the way.

Over the weekend he sent me two questionnaires for my husband and I to fill out online.

On Monday morning he arrived just as he said and completed all of the testing.

On top of his willingness to complete his part of the process so quickly, he truly was the best and most objective psychologist we have ever worked with.

Miracle #3

Previous to Sunshine returning home from the children's psych ward, we had been told that there was a meeting we needed to attend to request funding for any services, whether residential, a day program, therapy etc., This meeting was called a FAPT meeting.

To our knowledge, this would not take place for a month at the earliest.  There were eighteen families ahead of us.

The FAPT meeting needed to take place in order for Sunshine to attend the day program.

To my surprise, it was scheduled early, which happened to be the Tuesday after Sunshine's psychological evaluation.

The meeting itself was not pleasant. My wolverine claws most definitely came out, but in the end we did what needed to be done.  Funding was being approved.

Miracle #4

The principal of the day program asked if we would be willing to do a trial run with Sunshine for a day to see if the day program was a good fit.  He wanted to be sure that she didn't need to go straight to residential.

Wednesday was their first day of Summer session.  He asked that she attend, with me there with her the entire day.

So we went.

I can't begin to explain all that went on inside my head as I spent the day there with Sunshine.

This program is for kids like her.  Classmates were either prone to aggression and outbursts or they were nonverbal and severely impaired.

Six teachers are in the classroom with seven children.  That ratio is necessary to keep everyone safe.

This program is not Montessori or even Montessori-inspired.  It's pretty much the opposite.

But at the end of the day, the pros of sending her there outweighed the cons.

The staff that will work with her are amazing.  They go above and beyond to show love for the children they're working with.

And even more amazing, Sunshine had a great day there.

Miracle #5

Two more meetings needed to occur in order for Sunshine to officially start the day program.  The first meeting was to discuss the results of the psychological testing.  A second meeting needed to occur to develop an IEP.

Wednesday evening after spending time at the day program we received word that both of those meetings were scheduled back to back the very next day, Thursday.  If all went well Sunshine would officially start the day program the following Monday.

Reflecting back on that day, I still can't believe everyone involved sacrificed over four hours of their time that afternoon to make this happen for our family.

The meeting to discuss the results of the psychological testing was the best meeting I've ever had with a school district. And again, we've had a ton.

The dreaded IEP meeting was AMAZING.  Never have I felt so supported as a parent of a special needs child who is struggling.

By 5 PM Thursday afternoon, all of the paperwork was faxed to the day program and Sunshine was officially enrolled.

Miracle #6

Many are not aware that my husband and I actually met in the location we are living now.  He had finished his master's degree and accepted a job in the area.  His first position, before we were married, was through the local community services board, working in the school district as a behavioral specialist.

He spent his time in many classrooms, but a significant amount of time was spent in one first grade classroom.  The teacher in this classroom just happened to be the principal of the elementary school we were working with.

She remembered him.  She loved him.  She wanted to help our family.

Miracle #7

The head of the special needs department that we worked with trying to enroll Sunshine into this day program also knew my husband as she had worked with him directly as a behavioral specialist.  Once again she had nothing but fabulous things to say about him.

What made this situation so unique, was that she's set to retire at the end of the month.  She did not have to take on our case, but she did.  In the meeting for funding she was our biggest advocate.  This woman was the one in charge of setting everything in motion.

Miracle #8

We are a one vehicle family.  Where we lived in NY everything was within walking distance.  Here that is not the case.

My husband works full time outside of the home.  I remain at home with the kiddos.  This must be the case until we purchase the home we're living in.

There is no way we could have pulled off all of these meetings, phone calls ,appointments, and so forth on our own.

Our church family stepped in.

They arranged child care.  Meals were brought in.  Transportation was provided for my husband so I could have the vehicle. When he was at work and I was at home with the kiddos, people came in to help so everyone could stay safe as Sunshine was still not okay.

They did this for two weeks along with so much more.  This was after they had helped us while Sunshine was in two different ERs and in the children's psych ward.

To witness so many miracles in such a short amount of time, some being truly unbelievable has been such a comfort to our family.  This experience has been absolutely devastating for all of us.  These miracles made it bearable.  I truly believe these miracles are the reason we are still sane when all is said and done.

These miracles were what allowed us to get Sunshine the help she needs and keep her in the home with her family.

If you enjoyed this post and want to follow our story from the beginning, read the posts below.
Call the Police! What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons What Should Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons Check-in-at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital My Daughter is inpatient at a Children's Psych Ward Our First Family Session in a Psych Ward Nine Days This Was Not Okay
MIracles-The true story of a family with special needs seeking help.

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This was NOT Okay! (Chapter 8)

Thirty-six hours went by before Sunshine slept after returning home from the children's inpatient psychiatric ward.

She chattered in her bed all night long.

Neither my husband or I slept.  Thank goodness he had been able to switch days off to be here with me for the day.

The minute the clock struck 8 AM, I was on the phone calling the psych ward she had just been discharged from as well as our developmental pediatrician.  I also called our in-home therapist.

I wasn't sure who would talk to me.  I just knew I had to talk to someone.

This was NOT okay.

I was fuming.

This was NOT Okay!


The psychiatrist called back first.  Very calmly she explained that Sunshine not sleeping was most likely one of the medications she was given.  One of the side effects is not being able to sleep.

This was exactly why I didn't want her discharged in the first place!

Thankfully the psychiatrist wanted to help.  She recommended changing up the dosage of another med to balance out the reaction.

Then she gave me her e-mail and said she would work with us until our follow up appointment with our developmental pediatrician.

So began daily e-mails back and forth until finding stability with Sunshine's meds.

Aggression and Defiance

But medication wasn't the solution to all that was going on.  Sunshine's aggression and defiance were still out of control.

The first few days she was calm, but once she caught up on sleep...  BEWARE!

It was as if nothing had changed.  In some ways she was worse.

A feeling of despair was felt by everyone.

This was NOT okay!

What were we to do?

Purposeful Behavior

Our in-home therapist was amazing during this time.  When things were at their worst and Sunshine was threatening to harm others beyond the typical aggression, she was right there.

That's when we learned that these new behaviors were purposeful.

Medication can help some things, but not all.

Even worse Sunshine was very aware of her thoughts, words, and actions.  She understood the consequences and did not care.

This was NOT okay!

We were devastated.


Decisions had to be made.  Sunshine was a danger to herself and others.

We could take her back to the ER and move forward with the inpatient experience again.  She would either be sent home after a few days or sent to a residential facility.

We could attempt to access funding quickly and place her in residential if a bed was available.

Or, we could consider a day program that would allow her to stay at home, but be gone during the day.

My husband and I couldn't fathom going through the ER and inpatient experience again so soon.  Emotionally, mentally, and physically we could not pull that off.

I was at peace with residential placement, as devastating as that would be, but we had no idea how long that process would take.

In the end we decided it was extremely important to exhaust ALL of our options before considering residential placement.

We contacted the principal of a day program/special needs school in the area via e-mail and hoped for the best.

If you enjoyed this post and want to follow the rest of our story, read the posts below.
Call the Police! What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons What Should Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons Check-in-at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital My Daughter is inpatient at a Children's Psych Ward Our First Family Session in a Psych Ward Nine Days This Was Not Okay Miracles To Be a Mother of a Young Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder Special Needs Support and Resources
This was NOT Okay!

Read More »

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