Stuff Steph Loves – Kindergarten Toolkit

Kindergarten ToolkitIn my “Stuff Steph Loves” blog posts, I like to feature products or businesses that enrich my life. Whether it is because I love their product, what they stand for, or if they make my life easier, I like to spread the love to my readers. Gotta help Mamas out, right?

With Kindergarten Toolkit, I hit the trifecta because it hits all three. The Kindergarten Toolkit was developed by my good friend and a former Kindergarten teacher, Carrie.

I remember feeling a TON of pressure as my kids were approaching Kindergarten. Let’s be honest. Kindergarten today is nothing like my childhood Kindergarten. It is more like the 80s 1st grade…minus the Trapper Keeper and Roos! Kids today are expected to start Kindergarten knowing what we learned in our first year of elementary school. Yikes!

Before my kids started Kindergarten, I would stay up at night thinking… Are they ready? Do they know everything they need to know? What if they are behind? Oh my goodness. If they start behind, how will we ever catch up? Are going to be living in my basement at 30 years old?? I am not a teacher. How in the world can I help them learn everything they need to know?!?  

If you have ever thought any of those things too, the Kindergarten Toolkit is for you. Here are a few ways that the Kindergarten Toolkit can turn you, Mama, into the Teacher of the Year!

  • Designed specifically for preschoolers. You can start with your child at two and it will grow with them all the way through Kindergarten.
  • Builds a foundation of learning throughout the preschool years to promote Kindergarten readiness! Confident kids = happy Mamas.  It is perfect for those off days of preschool and summer vacation!
  • The Toolkit focuses on 10 main goals based on what kids will be assessed on to ensure your kids are confident and comfortable when they started Kindergarten.
  • Each of the 10 main goals has 3-4 mini lessons on how to teach that goal. There are also “Toolkit on the Go” ideas for when you are out and about. Follow Kindergarten Toolkit on Instagram and FB to get great ideas about how to use your Toolkit in a ton of creative ways! I am constantly amazed about how simple Carrie makes it and the kids are having FUN!
  • Designed so that anyone can work with the child and the tools in the Toolkit. No education degree required! Parent, Kindergarten Toolkit fun learningGrandparent, or babysitter…anyone can easily use the tools.
  • One stop shop….everything you will need in one box!! No more searching for random learning tools around the house…..flashcards, workbooks, lined paper etc.
  • Got 5 minutes to kill while you are waiting? Lessons can be that quick. Perfect for your preschooler’s short attention span! Have fun learning instead of trying to keep them from licking everything is sight 😉
  • Only one Toolkit per one family needed. Items included in the toolkit are:
    • The Toolkit booklet – 3-4 mini lessons for each of the 10 Kindergarten goals. There are also supplemental pages in the back that are designed to be copied for future assessments and lessons, so you can use it for multiple children!
    • Four sets of flashcards – Upper and lower case letters, Numbers 1-20, 25 Kindergarten sight words,10 colors and shapes
    • Whiteboard and pen
  • Last and certainly not least, the Kindergarten Toolkit was created to foster one-on-one learning time with your child.  Quality, special, sit down learning time…that isn’t at Preschool, from an iPad or the TV. Those can all play a very important part, but you are establishing yourself as a partner in their education.

To order your Kindergarten Toolkit, visit: . Use coupon code: SLM15 thru 9/6 to receive 15% off!

Follow Kindergarten Toolkit on social media for lots of great learning ideas:



Happy Learning, Mamas!!!

Stuff Steph Loves – 7 Steps to Taming Curly Hair!!

Stuff Steph Loves - 7 Steps to Taming Curly HairMy best features are my feet and my hair. Everything in between is so-so 😉

I have little feet that look good in most shoes. And I am also the only one in my household that doesn’t have jacked up toes. (High standards here!) I love my feet and have a shoe wardrobe that confirms that.

I also have long, thick, wavy/curly hair. The funny thing is that I have straightened it most of my life. I could do another blog post about embracing who you are and not fighting it. (Oh no wait – I already did! Right Here 🙂

It took my husband having over a foot of his colon removed for me to realize I should embrace the hair that God gave me. What does my husband’s semi colon have to do with my hair? (Bada bump! Semi Colon!! Get it??!! It is my dad’s joke and it never gets old!!)

But I digress, it was a serious surgery that landed Eric in the hospital for almost a week. Our parents were wonderful to help with our three kids, so I could stay with him in the hospital. I rushed home to shower and kiss the kids before I went back to the hospital each day. One day I skipped drying my hair because it just took too long. I had never gotten so many compliments on hair as when I left it curly. Well that was all it took for me to embrace my natural hair. Looks better and was a heckuva lot easier? Yes, please!!

Curly hair is tough to figure out how to work with though. And I am not at all saying that I have mastered it! However, I have found what works best for me. I have been asked several times to write down the products I use or to send a picture of my stash. So voila. Instant blog post.

Here Are My 7 Steps to Taming Curly Hair:

  1. Get a Good Hair Stylist – I think the most important thing with curly hair is to find a good stylist. My hairstylist, Audrey, is so good with curly hair. She knows just how to cut it so that it lightens the weight and my curls aren’t weighed down. She does it just right so that it doesn’t look choppy either. I find the best way to find a good stylist is to ask someone who has similar hair that you love!
  1. Quit Washing Your Hair – Well not all together because that would just be gross. My stylist was also able to educate me on how best to take care of my hair so that it doesn’t get too frizzy. I found out that I was washing my hair way too much and it was stripping the natural oils from my hair. I had been washing my hair every day. I liked a wet palette 😉 Now I wash my hair Sunday morning (Jesus deserves clean hair) and Wednesday morning. That in itself made a HUGE difference with the frizz factor. 
  1. Dry Shampoo is Your Friend, Dirty Girl– The transition was hard for me when I stopped washing my hair every day. My Batiste Dry Shampoofriend, Ginger, introduced me to dry shampoo and that helped a TON. I found that I love Batiste. Being a brunette, I absolutely love that they have a formula specifically for dark hair so you don’t get white/grey spots. Nothing worse than having a granny spot from your dry shampoo! Make sure you hold the can about 6 inches from your roots when you spray. I spray then flip my head upside down use my fingers to work it into my roots. Flip back over – instant “clean hair” with a little more golume and it smells AMAZING.
  1. My BB Concoction – On days that I wash my hair or even just wet it, I have magical little BumblB&B productse and Bumble concoction that I use. First I towel dry my hair – patting not rubbing – think frizz!! In the summer I use three products: Bb Curl Conscious Calming Crème, Bb Curl Conscious Defining Crème, and Bb Grooming Crème. (I add the Calming Crème in the more humid months to give my hair an extra frizz fighter!) I squeeze a dime size of each in my palm and mix them all together. I have a lot of hair, so you may not need as much. I work them into my hair from the ends to my roots. These products are awesome, but they are expensive. We are talking around $30 a pop which is kind of crazy. However, you don’t use a lot so they will last you a long time…like several months. And I don’t use them every day. If I wear my hair up, I use my drug store go to – L’Oreal Curve It. Works well with no crunchy curls, but it just doesn’t define my curls as well. But who cares? My hair is up!
  1. Get a good diffuser. I generally blow dry my hair. If I let it air dry, it won’t be dry until I go to bed since I have so much hair! When I do let it air dry, my hair is more wavy than curly. The diffuser helps my curls spring up a bit more. I don’t have a fancy one. I just got whatever hairdryer had a diffuser that attached at Target. When I dry my hair, I flip my head over to dry the top then flip it back to do the bottom layer.
  1. My Secret Weapon – Audrey introduced me to my favorite product ever this spring. It is Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray. ISurf Spray spray it on my hair when it is about 85% dry. You gotta be careful with this though! Not too heavy or you will look like you have been taken out by a wave not gently spritzed with the ocean surf 😉 We are heading to the beach next week and we will see who does a better job – The Ocean or my Surf Spray!
  1. Finishing Touches – On days that I want to be a little fancier – and let’s be honest, that’s most days – I go the extra mile. I have a 1.5” curling iron that I spiral curl the top layer of hair. The important thing to do if you curl, is to rotate the way you curl, so they don’t stick together in one big ole curly cue. So I curl one forward then the next towards the back. I focus on the ones around my face and the top layer around the rest of my head. Flip my head, fluff so they don’t look so sculpted, and Voila! On days that I did not wash my hair, I spray the dry shampoo on before I fluff and separate the curls.

From the time I step into the shower to when I step in front of the kitchen island to start my duties as short order breakfast cook, it takes me an hour. Maybe a little longer if I am reading my Kindle while I am getting ready and I am at a good part 😉 Of course as I mentioned, that is because I have a lot of hair. On days I need to get up and go a little more quickly, I have a few easy up-do’s that are easy and look fancier than a ponytail.

Because if you can’t tell, I am a little high maintenance. But that is ok, I am embracing who I am. High maintenance with pretty cute curly hair.

Steph Close Up

Stuff Steph Loves – BANDED

I don’t know about you, but when I find stuff that I love, I want to tell my girlfriends all about it. I often text my best friend, Jodi, a picture of something that I discovered I can’t live without. I can’t text you all, but I can have a regular post where I write “Stuff Steph Loves!”

I will highlight things that make my life either easier or more rich. In some instances, you find something that does both. BAM!  First example – Banded hair bands. ( My friend, Laura, introduced me to Banded this year.

Banded headband & Scarf

Here are a few reasons why Steph LOVES Banded:

  1. They fit my peanut head and STAY. I have a lot of hair, but my actual head is pretty small. I can still wear a child sized hat J It is impossible for me to find a band that fits my head and isn’t too loose. In fact, my 8-year old daughter has enjoyed wearing her Banded too! (Of course, she prefers the sparkly ones!) I wore one on Saturday from when I got up at 5:30 all the way until I passed out that night. I never had to adjust it once. That was through a work out, pool time, yard work and a run. Never touched it once. And if you have a big head – no worries. I made Eric try it on and he rocked it too 😉
  1. It tamed the Sloth Hair. I have this little half-inch section of hair right in the front that has been dubbed my “sloth hair.” It can wiggle its way free from any hairstyle I do. No matter how many bobby pins or how tight I braid my hair, it will wiggle out. It got its name when I was in college. I was being goofy with my roommates who were several floors below in a parking lot. I stuck my head out the window and yelled, “Heeey Yoooou Guuuuys!!” like Sloth on The Goonies. (Because that is what you do when you have finals to study for and don’t want to.) The hair had wiggled out and was flapping in the wind. Hence my annoying hair’s nickname “Sloth.” Anywho – Sloth was tamed and I never had to tuck or pin it back all day.
  1. I can be fancy and still be lazy. I am notorious for being overdressed for everything. I can’t help it. I like to be put together. My Banded instantly makes my ponytail fancy pants. They have so many different styles, widths, and colors. It is tough to narrow it down! I loved the wild prints, where my daughter, Ella, went straight for the bling in the glitter ones. If you aren’t as glitzy as us, they have sweet and simple too 😉
  1. No Pain. And Speaking of my sweet girl, Ella, she suffers from migraineGirls in the Banded!s.  Because of this, she usually can’t wear her hair in a headband or even in a ponytail for very long before it makes her head start to hurt.  She didn’t have the first issue with her Banded.  She wore it all day pain-free.  She forgot she even had it on at bath time!  For a little girl who has been longing to accessorize – this is HUGE!  For a mama who has wanted to be able to do something to get her hair out of her face – this is HUGE!
  1. They are not just headbands. I love me a good headband, but that isn’t all there is to Banded! They have expanded their product line to include scarves, tees and more. I have the Beach Party Layered scarf and it is fabulous. It is sooo soft and lightweight. Their tees are also made out of super soft fabric that is down right luxurious.
  1. Rewards for their Customers. Not only are they generous with these charities, they are generous with their customers. They have a referral program to help spread the word. When you become a BANDED Ambassador, you receive a $3 reward for EVERY friend that purchases through your referral! It’s as simple as that and there is no limit to how many friends you can refer or how many rewards you can earn!
  1. Absolutely GREAT cause. That last but certainly not the least reason I LOVE Banded is because they support 2 wonderful ministries. The first is Amazima Ministries, that helps provide meals for children in Uganda. Each product purchased provides 3 Meals for Amazima’s daily feeding programs. So far this year Banded customers have helped provide over 1.6 MILLION meals! And their goal is to provide 5 MILLION this year – it is their 5/15 campaign. How AWESOME is that? They also give 10% of all on-line purchases to the T.J. Martell Foundation. The T.J. Martell Foundation is the music industry’s largest foundation that funds innovative medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS.  I don’t know about you, but the idea of getting a quality product that is incredibly stylish AND gives back in a very BIG way, is awesome!

Check them out!!

Edited to Add January 2016:

More reasons to LOVE Banded!!!  They have further broadened their line of fab headbands.  Case and point – my new Winter headband that kept my ears toasty (and stylish) while Ethan and I went sledding yesterday. Southern Lady-7 I also got my little hands on their new athletic hand bands that are coming out.  Y’all….so cute and so comfortable.  One is made with a special wicking fabric that is reversible.  Two headbands in one!!  While another one has an exclusive odor reducing liner made with bamboo fabric.  You read that right…bamboo.

Totally stepped up my workout gear, so I look really serious about my fitness instead of being too lazy to get dressed 😉