First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

Can you believe kids are heading back to school already?

For me, this summer has flown by.

Are you ready? 

One of my favorite things to do on the first day of school is snap a quick picture of each child with a sign telling what grade they are in.

The photos are cute, but it may also be for selfish reasons – the signs in the photo help me keep the photos organized. Each already tells me if it was the first or last day, and what grade it was from.

In the past, I’ve used a small chalkboard for these photos.

Last year, during the busy season of having a newborn, the first and last days of school snuck up on me.

On both mornings, while the kids got ready for school, I ran around like a crazy lady trying to find our chalkboard. And a piece of chalk.

Apparently not an easy task – be prepared mamas!

It made everything feel hectic, not like an exciting day. Definitely not what I was hoping to offer them.

This year, to make it easier for me and all of you, the signs are already made and ready to be printed.

Below are free printable signs for the ‘First Day of School’, along with matching ‘Last Day of School’ signs. You’ll find matching signs for Preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten – 12th grade.

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

Just in case these signs don’t fit your school situation, there is also a generic ‘First Day of School’ and ‘Last Day of School’ sign for 2017-2018.

Whatever grade your kids are in – we’ve got you covered!

Each sign can be printed on standard 8.5×11 card stock or paper. Just download the PDF and print in color.

Don’t forget to Pin this post to save it so you can print the matching ‘Last Day of School’ signs in the spring!

You can also stay up to date on new free printables and all of my favorite things by following  thisgratefulmama on Pinterest.

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of School and Last Day of School

First Day of Preschool and Last Day of Preschool

First Day of Pre-K and Last Day of Pre-K

First Day of Kindergarten and Last Day of Kindergarten

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 1st Grade and Last Day of 1st Grade

First Day of 2nd Grade and Last Day of 2nd Grade

First Day of 3rd Grade and Last Day of 3rd Grade

First Day of 4th Grade and Last Day of 4th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 5th Grade and Last Day of 5th Grade

First Day of 6th Grade and Last Day of 6th Grade

First Day of 7th Grade and Last Day of 7th Grade

First Day of 8th Grade and Last Day of 8th Grade

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

First Day of 9th Grade and Last Day of 9th Grade

First Day of 10th Grade and Last Day of 10th Grade

First Day of 11th Grade and Last Day of 11th Grade

First Day of 12th Grade and Last Day of 12th Grade

Have a great first (and last) day of school!

First Day of School Sign Free Printable (with Matching Last Day of School Signs) for Preschool through 12th Grade | thisgratefulmama.com

5 Questions to Consider When Setting Your Family’s Fall Schedule

It isn’t September quite yet but I’m already seeing pictures of the first day of school. Do you struggle with the fall schedule? How do you decide what stays and what goes?

this grateful mama

5 Questions To Consider When Setting Your Family's Fall Schedule | thisgratefulmama.com

Hello September.

I can’t believe my second summer as a stay-at-home mom is finished already. Unlike last year, our mornings were free since our daughter dropped her morning nap. With no scheduled activities, we kept a very loose schedule.

The freedom…It. Was. Lovely.

We met friends at parks, went to the zoo (A LOT), ran errands on rainy days, and spent a lot of time relaxing, reading books, and playing at home.

My husband and I allowed bed and nap times to be more flexible than the rest of the year. If neighbor children were outside, we allowed the kids to play longer, and stayed later at events. We also allowed our little one to even skip naps for special family events (although she and WE all paid for that!).

The loose schedule did sometimes yield overtired, overstimulated, unruly and exhausted children. But, because it was summer, we simply stayed home the next day (or two) to get back on…

View original post 1,024 more words

DIY Mudroom Bench and Locker Reveal

Months ago, our winter organization project started with a bunch of common boards. After gluing, staining and sealing, they became our DIY Mudroom Bench.

DIY Mudroom Bench and Locker Reveal | thisgratefulmama.com

Finally, today is the big reveal of what we did with that bench.

Mudroom Lockers.

These lockers were a desperately needed storage and organizational solution for the room that was constantly in chaos.

The bench is just over 7 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep. Five lockers were made that are each about 1.3 feet wide. The lockers are just over 8 feet tall from floor to molding.

Here are some in-process photos of the basic lockers before and after painting, caulking and finishing border edges.

DIY Mudroom Bench and Lockers Reveal | thisgratefulmama.com Photo with bins

To give the room a clean, fresh look, we painted the mudroom door and walls.

DIY Mudroom Bench and Lockers Reveal | thisgratefulmama.com. Door painted in Glidden Graphic Charcoal.We chose a dark color for the dirty-looking white door. It was impossible to keep the white door clean with all the tiny dirty hands and shoes that pass through it.

This was my first time painting a 6-panel door so I asked for advice at the store. Home Depot recommended this high-density foam roller to ensure a smooth finish. It worked great!

Since we painted the interior and exterior of the door, they recommended Exterior Flat (paint and primer in one) in Glidden Graphic Charcoal. One quart was more than enough for two coats on both sides of the door.

I am so glad we painted the door – we added a sand box to our yard this month and this color really hides the dirt!

Mudroom and Painted DoorThe walls were painted using Glidden Sea Spray in flat finish. It gives such a bright, cheery feel to the room!

To maximize storage space in the lockers, we purchased fabric Pillowfort Striped Bins from Target in Navy and Aqua to store hats and mittens above each locker. For storage of shoes below the bench, plastic was needed for easy cleaning. Thankfully Target carries the white ITSO Plastic Storage Bin – a perfect fit with a great price of just $6.99 per bin.

I’ve shared my love of indoor/outdoor rugs in hard-working spaces beforewho doesn’t love a rug with instructions to clean with a garden hose?

The Arlo Indoor/Outdoor Rugs from Crate and Barrel are a great solution for mudroom floors. We purchased one 2.5’x8′ runner for the doorway and one 5’x8′ rug to use in front of the lockers. They are easy to clean and look great in the space.

For a final touch, we added the Umbra Wall Organization Board, Half Chalkboard & Half Pin Board to the wall.

Chalk Board

Our DIY Mudroom bench and lockers have transformed a once chaotic and messy mudroom into a functional space for our family.

This is one of the most beneficial DIY projects my husband and I have done yet.DIY Mudroom Bench and Locker Reveal | thisgratefulmama.com

We love our Mudroom lockers. And the fact that they were made together makes them even more special.

Memories of working on this project with my husband will be here with the lockers for years to come.

A Case For Front Yard Living

A Case For Front Yard Living | thisgratefulmama.com

I know most people spend summer on their deck in the back yard, but I want to share about something different.

Front yard living.

At the end of 2013, we moved into a new construction home. When the brutal subzero winter ended, people emerged and we finally met our neighbors.

One of the greatest benefits about living in a new construction neighborhood is everyone is new – especially the first year. There are no cliques – no long-term established friendships.

Everyone seems friendlier and more eager to meet their neighbors.

Since new houses come with dirt yards and gravel driveways, significant time is spent walking the neighborhood and in the front yard. Few homes have decks right away.

Then driveways go in and sod that can’t be walked on.

The driveway is the yard. Initially, front yard living was necessity.

We spent the first three summers in the front. This is our fourth summer and this summer we built a deck.

This spring, when the deck materials were delivered, a neighbor commented in passing – now we’ll never see you guys anymore. Her comment has stuck with me.

With the excitement of having a new deck – we have been spending a lot of time in the back yard. Backyard living has some great benefits –  convenience, privacy, more space, and in our case, a view. But more time in back means less in the front. 

I love our deck, but there is a great case to be made for front-yard living and it has to do with relationships.

A Case For Front Yard Living | thisgratefulmama.com

Simply put, front yard living creates opportunities to build relationships with neighbors. 

A Case For Front Yard Living

Meet Neighbors – As people pass by, on the way to the mail box or on a walk, simply being in the front yard creates an opportunity to greet and meet neighbors in a natural way. Even the most reserved or shy people are usually open to a friendly wave and smile followed by an introduction. Some may move on quickly, but others will surprise you and stay to chat. Many of these chance introductions have turned into hours of conversations and cherished friendships. 

Kids – This neighborhood is crawling with kids. They walk, bike and scooter by on a regular basis. Regular friendly waves and hellos or meeting them briefly when they walk by with their parents let them know we’re safe adults if they need something. We’ve helped with minor scrapes, calling parents, and bike chains.  Front yard living has also helped us build relationships with kids who play with our kids on a regular basis. It is amazing how long a child will stand and talk to us while all the other kids are playing – they tell us stories, about their weekend or school day, and what activities they’re involved in. Relationships with neighborhood kids are important to us – these kids are precious family friends.

Fun – In back, kids are usually in the yard and adults are up on the deck. Separate. (Don’t get me wrong – separate can be lovely). In the front, we’re in close-proximity. Our kids are more likely to invite us to join their fun, or join us if we’re all in the yard. More spontaneous water fights, and games of catch, 4-square, and soccer happen in the front yard with our kids and whoever else joins in. A water table, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk are magnets for other kids and their imaginations.

Regular connections – Being in the front means we see neighbors coming, going and passing by. These brief interactions allow for regular, natural connections. We have the chance to enter into real-life with our neighbors. We learn what is on their minds and what is going on in their lives – the good, bad, sad, stressful, joyful and real happenings of daily life. I am always grateful to learn these things from a face-to-face conversation than on Facebook, Instagram, or text. 

Lend a hand – Being out front means we get to see when others need help – unloading or loading something heavy, watching a small child so they can run into the house for something quick, changing a tire, lending a tool or holding a ladder, or providing a missing ingredient. These chances to help are invaluable gifts – relationships are often forged in these types of experiences. We are blessed to be able to step in and help when we can.

We ARE enjoying our deck and the benefits of back yard living. But, front yard living still holds significant value.

Front yard living has allowed us to join our neighbors in real-life. We have been blessed as so many have stepped into the messiness of life with us through the conversations of front-yard living.

We plan to continue making time to be out front, experiencing and building community in our neighborhood.

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 (ESV)

To love your neighbor as yourself, you have to first get to know them.

A Case For Front Yard Living | thisgratefulmama.com

An Accident – No Longer A Slave To Fear

 

An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.comToday I am choosing to tell this story, not out of self-pity or for attention, but for two very important reasons: First, to raise awareness of Epi-Pen safety, and second, to share how God was faithful, and how His presence gave tangible peace and help in a situation that was very scary for our family. Here goes…

Yesterday was a normal summer day.

The kids and I got up, ate breakfast and took a walk to the park.

Upon returning, we got ready and a neighbor invited our son to join them for the afternoon. The girls and I ran errands and came home for naps.

30 minutes into rest time, I found our 4-year-old sunshine girl on the floor, surrounded by books. We headed downstairs to read the books in the library bag.

We read every single one.

When finished, she asked if there were more books in the bag. Standing, I told her we read them all and walked to the kitchen to start cleaning.

She dropped from the couch to the floor and looked in the bag. I washed one dish. I heard a strangely loud plastic ‘click’ and looked at her.

I couldn’t see what she was doing. She was looking down at something behind the bag on the floor. It was such a strange noise, I asked her if she had broken something.

At my voice, she looked up – her eyes wide, as big as quarters. At her shocked, fearful look I ran.

In her hand was the Epi-Pen Jr. we carry everywhere for our son’s food allergies. It was out of its case, the blue safety cap was on the floor, and the orange end was pressed into her pointer finger.

The blood made it clear it had been activated and injected into her tiny finger.

As I lifted her, clasping her finger in my hand, tears and sobs flowed freely. She cried so hard she was nearly hyperventilating – in fear, in pain, and in shock at a curious moment turned horribly wrong.

A thousand things raced through my mind as I grabbed an entire stack of napkins off of the kitchen table. I cradled her in my arms while applying pressure to her finger.

Did she have epinephrine in her system? Was it too much? Did the needle damage her finger? How could I have been so stupid to leave it in the bag where she could reach it? How could this happen with me 10 feet away?

NOW WHAT?

Familiar words flashed through my head.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. The LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
-Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Deep breath. Thank you, Jesus.

I quickly prayed, Lord just HELP us.

I pressed my forehead to hers and spoke softly, asking her to take deep breaths with me. Needing to hold her, I needed her to be calm enough to call the doctor and have them hear me.

Though her eyes remained wet and fearful, she was able to calm down enough so I could call her doctor. I hoped they would to see her in the clinic.

The nurse quickly asked a doctor what our next steps were. Take her to Children’s Hospital. Now.

Not as I’d hoped. Fear threatened. So many What IFs?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
– Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

I called my mom. She left immediately to come watch the baby.

Then I took a deep breath and called my husband. You guys, I am so thankful to be married to him – he was calm and kind when he did not have to be. He immediately left work to meet me at the emergency room.

As I spoke, explaining to others what happened, she got more and more upset. I kept it as brief as possible, but needed to give enough information to be clear. She could not calm down. We snuggled for a bit and looked at her finger – still bleeding but slower.

Now I could see the wound went THROUGH her finger – in the underside of the joint at the end of her pointer finger and out the top. 

I began to be concerned about damage to her finger along with epinephrine that could be in her system.

We covered it with a band aid. Still holding her, we prayed, thanking God for being with us and asking for His peace and comfort.

I reassured her that she would be ok and that she was not in trouble. 

She told me it hurt. And that she was scared.

My mom arrived. While I grabbed my purse and phone, my mom prayed with our daughter and made sure I was OK to drive. I was, so my mom stayed with the baby and we left.

In the car, I took some deep breaths. The words from a worship song came to mind:

I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.
(No Longer Slaves, Bethel Music)

I recalled how God has worked in my life when it comes to fear over the past few years. This is it. In moments like this I either move forward in faith, demonstrating changed character, or revert to old habits.

I prayed for strength and peace so I could help our daughter calm down and be the mom she needed right now. I prayed that even in this situation, as fear rose up, that it would not paralyze me.

There was no time for that. She needed me.

The Holy Spirit did not disappoint – His presence and peace washed over me. 

Sunshine girl was still very upset in the car. Unable to hug her while driving, I needed to calm her down with words. I couldn’t use the radio because I wanted to be sure I could hear her clearly if anything changed.

I asked her to sing me a song. I often ask her to sing to keep her busy, or to calm her down.

She would not.

So I sang to her – off key, strained, but as happy-sounding as I could manage. I sang her favorite songs from church and BSF. Worship is a powerful thing in fearful circumstances – there is not a lot of room for fear when praising God. I felt calmer, stronger, with each off-key word.

Jesus Loves Me This I Know…Holy, Holy, Holy…Joy to the World…she began whispering the words with me. So I kept going. The Bible Is A Treasure Book…Good Morning God…

Now that she was calm, I tried asking a few questions about what happened.

I asked her if she knew it was the Epi-Pen. She did not. We usually keep them in a black case. This particular pen was ‘extra’ from school, kept in the bag we use for activities, so we never forget to have one with us. (We’ll need a different plan going forward)

I asked what she thought was going to happen. She said she wanted to know what the orange part does and began choking back tears. (I’m grateful it was not closer to her face)

I asked if it surprised her. She closed her eyes and nodded yes.

I asked if it hurt. Fresh tears. Yes. 

I choked back my own tears as I considered how she was just a little girl being curious and then a needle shot through her finger. How it was scary and hurt so bad and how she was also afraid of being in trouble.

I asked if it hurt now. Surprisingly, she smiled and said her finger felt like ‘nothing‘. Upon further questioning, ‘nothing’ meant numb. While glad it didn’t hurt, numb might not be a good thing…

We rounded the corner to the hospital.

I am grateful my husband beat us there. By phone he told me exactly where to go. As we rounded the corner from the parking ramp to the emergency department, his face was kind and concerned – no judgement.

He took our daughter from my tired arms and we walked in together. His presence was a relief, encouraging and strengthening.

They handed us masks because of the recent measles outbreak. We sat with a triage nurse. This was all familiar – I remembered being here before with our son for an asthma event.

Our daughter’s vitals were good. Heart rate wasn’t too fast. Some relief set in.

She was shy but cooperative with the nurse, her bloodshot eyes peeking out over her Mickey Mouse mask.

The nurse asked questions. We answered.

And we waited.

In the room, sunshine girl wanted to sit on the bed and was thrilled to hear she could pick a princess movie.

She sat alone one the bed. She watched carefully, curious about everything the nurse and doctor did. If this child does not go into the medical profession, I will be shocked. She is brave, remarkably calm, curious and excited by every doctor visit. No matter what they ask of her – shots, looking at her injured finger, you name it – she will do it as long as she knows it has a purpose.

For the remainder of the visit – the only time she got upset was when I asked the doctor if we could dispose of the Epi-Pen at the hospital. The sight of it evoked obvious memories of pain and fear.

The doctor examined her finger and asked us all kinds of questions, starting with ‘I’m assuming this was an accident?’ I told him what happened, shoving down the mom-guilt for another day.

Long story short, her X-rays showed no fragments of needle or bone, and it appeared the needle went between the finger bones, through the joint. She could bend it with pain.

The doctor cleaned it up.

The working assumption is epinephrine injected after the needle passed through her finger, leaving behind a doozy of a puncture wound. It was both interesting and scary to learn that if epinephrine is injected in a high dose into the joint, it can cause blood vessels to constrict so much that blood flow is cut off to the finger. This constriction can be so severe, it can lead to necrosis and tissue death.

Eek.

The doctor reassured us this was not the case and sent us home with instructions to use bacitracin and band aids on the wound, give Motrin for pain, and watch for signs of infection.

As we left, the doctor mentioned these injuries are actually very common. I guess we weren’t unique.

Sunshine girl was actually pretty peppy as we left the hospital.  She was more thrilled to wear her Hello Kitty sticker and to bring home printouts of her x-rays to show people her bones.

Here is a photo of all of us in our lovely masks.

An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.com

A few lessons from this story:

  1. Accidents can happen even when a child is being supervised and in the same room with a parent
  2. Epi Pens are life-saving devices but can be quickly activated in the hands of a child with dangerous consequences
  3. While it is important Epi-Pens be accessible to adults – a purse or bag can be accessed by a child – I need to think through where ours will be located at home so we don’t forget it but have it in a safe place
  4. Children’s Hospital in St. Paul has amazing staff who were efficient, kind, and made our daughter and us feel comfortable and well cared for
  5. We have amazing family and friends who showed up and prayed for us when we needed them
  6. God is not distant – His presence and help is real and tangible and He is faithful
  7. God’s word is alive, powerful and active, giving peace and comfort in real-life circumstances
  8. How we respond in a scary circumstance may determine how our child responds
  9. God has made our sunshine girl to be amazingly calm and fascinated in medical situations

We are so very grateful.

An Accident 1 Accident 3 An Accident - No Longer A Slave To Fear | thisgratefulmama.com

When the Fun Is Over – Strategies For Day-After-Fun Blues

Day After Fun Blues

The fourth of July this year was SO. Much. Fun!

Our neighbors rented a bounce house and we had a large neighborhood gathering with water, fun and food. Kids in swim suits were running freely between backyards.

It was a day of giggles, sun, water and all. the. FUN.

An amazing day ended with bug spray, glow bracelets and fireworks.

Our kids were exhausted at 10:30 and fell asleep quickly despite more fireworks just outside their windows.

I’m telling you – NOTHING could wake them. 

A fun-filled day is a wonderful thing, but some times it leaves its mark on the next day – in a not-so-wonderful way.

The morning went fine, but as the day continues…it becomes very evident that everyone is still very tired.

Even this mama.

The next day melt-downs, pouting faces and complaining make one thing very clear – the fun is over.

We knew it was going to be this way. We chose to have a non-stop fun day and make all the memories we could. We chose to encourage and celebrate the joy of being a kid in the summer in a neighborhood filled with kids.

You know what? It was worth it. No matter how hard today becomes.

We expected that today might hold challenges. And it has.

We established a game-plan to make the most of the Day-After-Fun Blues.

When the Fun Is Over – Strategies For Day-After-Fun Blues

1. Sleep As Long As Possible

This is a no-brainer for older kids who love to sleep in. But for those of us with younger kids and babies…a late bedtime does NOT mean small children will sleep in. You can’t guarantee they will recoup any missed sleep but you can try.

Older Kids – If your child can read the clock, tell them they need to go back to sleep until a time of your choosing. Our son is always awake early but stays in bed until 7.  Last night we told him to stay in bed until 8:30. I had no idea if he would go back to sleep or not but HE DID! He slept until 8:45.

Preschoolers and Toddlers – tell them they need to try to sleep until you come get them. Our middle child stayed in bed so they both slept 2 hours later than their normal wake up time. This doesn’t always work but if they are tired enough, it just might.

Baby – No plan will make the baby sleep longer, but you can do your best to set conditions conducive for sleep. Blackout curtains, noise machine and plenty of food/water before bed. Pray they sleep as long as possible and don’t wake the big kids up.

2. Get Out Of The House

Tired siblings seem to get on each other’s nerves and seem prone to boredom. If possible, plan a low-key activity to get out of the house. This morning we got up and went to the Minnesota Zoo using our zoo pass. I know, this might not sound relaxing, but for us it is. We’re there often so are comfortable leaving as soon as the kids seem tired or uninterested. Not up for the Zoo? Head to the park, a walk, the library or even just out to lunch or dinner.

3. REST Time

Older kids may not nap, but ALL kids can take a rest. All of the kids lay down and try to sleep – sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Older kids can get up and play quietly in their rooms – Legos and cars for our son, a doll house and dress up clothes for our daughter. The baby sleeps and this mama takes some time to write.

Practice Gratitude

We may will experience cranky moments. When it happens, if possible, take time to recall the fun. Reflection promotes gratitude, and gratitude promotes an attitude change. Discuss the best parts of the day – fireworks, food or fun. Laugh about the funniest and weirdest things that happened.  Try asking the kids to journal about or draw their favorite memories from the day before. Then praise their creativity and listen to them tell you about it.

Plan A Quiet Evening

No matter how the next day goes, tiredness increases as the day goes on. Plan a low-key evening – an easy meal, movie, puzzle or reading a big stack of library books together can help keep calm until that glorious moment of bedtime.

Grace

When in doubt, remind yourself of how tired you are. Extend grace. Soft words, distraction and prayer will go a long way to overcoming the day-after-fun blues.

Early Bedtime

When the going gets rough, keep looking ahead to today’s early bedtime. Each of our children will hit their pillows at 7pm tonight. Set the time and stick to it!

 

When The Fun Is Over: Strategies For Day-After-Fun Blues | thisgratefulmama.com

How does your family handle the day-after-fun blues? 

A Grateful 4th of July

lightstock_89_medium_elaine_

Today, as we celebrate America, it seems fitting to spend some time lingering in gratitude for our country.

Regardless of our feelings about our current politics and all the other problems in America, there is so much to be grateful for.

5 Things I am grateful for about America

  1. Freedom to own, share and read the Bible and gather together
  2. Despite problems within the system, America is a Democracy
  3. Men, women and their families STILL choose to serve our country and all of us despite GREAT personal sacrifice – thank you
  4. It is not normal for our children to walk past men with machine guns – we are not an occupied military country
  5. Public School

What are you grateful for?

Happy Fourth of July!

 

Photo Credit Lightstock – Free Photo of The Week | http://www.lightstock.com