Be Smart When Ramping Up Your Workout Routine

wellness-rampup

Are you bored or hitting plateaus in your current workout routine? Maybe you just want to accelerate your fitness efforts but keep injury and body stress out of the equation. Here are three ways to smartly ramp up your workouts while minimizing risk of injury:

Active rest. During workout rest periods, do simple but effective movements on body parts that need them most. For example, if your hamstrings are tight, try a few easy toe touches or inchworms. If your quads are tight, try some butt kicks or easy lunges. Active rest keeps your heart rate in a targeted zone, improves underdeveloped body systems and parts, and helps you to get more out of each workout session.

Try a new skill. Trying new skills keeps you mentally sharp—sometimes just what your body needs. Boxing/kickboxing fitness is easily integrated into any existing workout regimen. Yoga, in- or outdoor rock climbing, and swimming are all other great examples of how you can break out of a workout comfort zone. However, be sure to stay safe and maximize workout benefits by always seeking certified instructors to monitor and help you learn new skills correctly.

Hire a pro. As with most professional services (such as MaidPro home cleaning), professional trainers possess an enormous amount of specialized knowledge. They help you to focus on using correct, high-impact techniques and can show you different moves and how to perform them safely and most effectively. They can also provide the nutritional advice you need to keep your body properly fueled to gain that extra edge. Even if your budget does not allow for regular professional training, investing in a single session can provide invaluable insights into the world of professional fitness.

Workouts don’t always have to be knock-down drag out events. Sometimes a brisk walk, swim, jog, or light stretching is all you need. Kenneth H. Cooper was spot on when he said: “Fitness is a journey, not a destination.” My best advice to clients is to approach exercise with a primary goal of being healthy and keeping your body as functional as possible for the rest of your life. Shake it, don’t break it!

Five Simple Projects to Minimize Back-to-School Stress

backtoschool maidpro

Last year around this time, we offered six tips to Get Organized for Back to School. This year, we’re highlighting five simple home projects that are guaranteed to make your family’s school-day routines flow better, faster, and with much less parental stress.

Make space. Clear out and donate old clothes, sporting equipment, outerwear, and so forth. When you do thisbefore school and fall sports really get rolling, it helps your kids to more easily and independently assess their wardrobe options, decide what to wear, and find what they need under the duress of morning rush. Dirty clothes are also more likely to end up in the laundry, and having sufficient space for clothes smooths laundry workflow overall—yes, things can actually be routinely cleaned, folded, and put away!

Purge and deep-clean the kitchen. When you’re done with closets and drawers move on to your kitchen, inspecting and tossing expired foods and deep-cleaning your fridge, freezer, and cabinets. This will give you space to stock up on nutritious, energizing snacks and fast, easy-to-prepare weeknight meals.

Make several weekday menu plans. Waiting until ‘day of’ to decide what’s for dinner is a recipe for overspending on food, increasing food spoilage and waste, adding to daily mental stress, and falling into food and nutrition ruts. Plan out a few weeks’ worth of rotating weeknight menus and shopping lists to keep things interesting, nutritious, and cost and time efficient.

Take inventory. As you are freeing up space in your home—and before hitting those big back-to-school sales—make an inventory of what you already have and exactly what you need in terms of clothing, athletic gear, school supplies, snack foods, and so forth. This enables you to shop with precision, saving time and avoiding impulse buys.

Make an easy checklist system for kids to manage on their own. A story went viral recently about a school principal in Arkansas who is turning away parents seeking to drop off forgotten items such as lunches and lunch money, gym clothes, and homework. The principal’s goal is to encourage kids to problem-solve on their own. But, some kids are just naturally disorganized. Even if you don’t have a chronic forgetter on your hands, try hanging a dry erase or similar board by your exit door. Encourage your kids to create their own daily checklists and take responsibility for collecting what they need before leaving the house. This has a triple benefit of relieving your personal mental workload, avoiding SOS calls and trips to school to deliver forgotten items, and teaching your kids skills that serve for a lifetime.

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Cleaning odd jobs that will ease your transition back-to-school

15 cleaning odd jobs that will prepare your home for back-to-school.

KITCHEN. Back-to-school means food shopping less frequently, buying more on each excursion, cooking more often and struggling to serve nutritious, healthy meals in less time. Get ready by,

Cleaning out your cabinets, discarding all food items that have gone past their freshness dates and moving older items to the front to ensure they get used first.
Deep cleaning your refrigerator and freezer. This is actually recommended six to 12 times per year; pre back-to-school should definitely be one of those times.
Organizing food storage solutions – sort and neatly stack food containers and lids, discard stained and orphaned items and stock up on freezer, sandwich and snack bags.
Giving your recipe book/box a good purge and sort. The process will inspire meal and snack diversity by reminding you of recipes you haven’t made in a while and making space for new easy and nutritious meal ideas.

BATHROOMS. Bathroom wars are a hallmark of back-to-school as everyone wants to sleep as late as possible and timeframes for morning ablutions become extremely short and inflexible. Promote efficiency by,

Purging, organizing and stocking vanity drawers and cabinets,
Checking expiry dates on all items in your medicine cabinet, and
Taking an annual foray through your linens closet; inspecting and either discarding worn or rarely used items or converting for other uses such as storage padding and cleaning.

OFFICE SPACE. Back-to-school is guaranteed to bring an influx of physical and digital media – forms, notices, artwork, handbooks, emails and so forth – into your home. Get ready by,

Clearing bulletin/note boards of dated content,
Conducting an annual purge of filed papers,
Organizing frequently used phone numbers, email addresses and documents such as birth certificates, physical/vaccination records and emergency contact data,
Deleting or archiving old computer files and emails, and
Setting up folders for keeping new content organized and easy to locate.

OTHER LIVING SPACES. Back-to-school typically means more regular use and churn of more items that can cause a daily clutter explosion in your home. Get ready by,

Making space in storage spaces, including bureaus, under beds, closets, and junk drawers,
Assigning specific places where frequently used items will be considered ‘put away’.
Educating family members about where those places are, so they can be effective when asked to help tidy up.

100 Healthy After-School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Kids young and old need snacks in between meals to keep their bodies healthy and running strong. Making sure those snacks are healthy and provide kids with the nutrients they need to study and learn isn’t always easy, especially for parents who don’t have loads of time to prepare snacks and have kids who are picky about what they eat. Luckily, there are loads of snacks out there that are not only easy to prepare but also provide health benefits your kids need– all while tasting delicious. Check out this list for some great recipes and ideas that will have your kids snacking healthy and loving it.

basic

Basics

These tried and true classics will provide healthy sustenance for your kids. Better yet, many require little or no preparation.

  1. Chips and salsa. Baked tortilla chips paired with a healthy, fresh salsa is a great lo-cal snack for kids and adults alike.
  2. Yogurt popsThrow out the sugary, unhealthy popsicles your kids are currently eating and replace them with these healthy, yogurty ones instead.
  3. Homemade trail mixSome trail mixes come complete with ingredients that are too salty or sweet to be healthy. By making yours at home, you can control what goes into the mix.
  4. Cereal barsIf you’re on-the-go and need a quick snack for your kids, try a pre-packaged cereal bar. While there are healthier options out there, these will definitely work in a pinch.
  5. Yogurt. Lucky for parents, there are tons of brands of yogurt out there that are packaged and marketed to kids, helping them want to eat this healthy and delicious snack.
  6. Granola barsMake your kids this grain-filled snack at home to give them a boost.
  7. Graham crackers. A few of the whole wheat variety of these crackers can make a sweet and delicious snack for kids.
  8. Cottage cheese. Try out this curdy food with your kids as an after school snack. A few slices of fruit on top can also be a great addition.
  9. Unsweetened applesauceIt might not pack the punch that its heavily sweetened cousin does, but unsweetened applesauce can still be a snack kids enjoy.
  10. Fruit cupsWhen you’re in a hurry, fruit cups can be a lifesaver. Make sure you look for those packed with water or light syrup so you won’t pump your kids full of sugar, however. Enterprising parents can make and prepare their own at home in advance as well.

Fruits

Fruit can be a great way to indulge your child’s sweet tooth in a healthy way. Try out these kid-approved ideas for fruity after school snacks.

  1. Cherries with Brown Sugar DipIf cherries are in season why not whip up this dish? Put a little brown sugar on some yogurt to create a yummy dipping sauce for kids.
  2. Sliced apples. One of the most basic snacks out there is still a great choice for those with kids.
  3. Frozen grapesTurn up the appeal of grapes by popping them in the freezer. They’ll be a cool and delicious treat kids will love.
  4. Orange sections. A peeled or cut orange offers up loads of vitamins and flavor for kids.
  5. Pear pinwheelsPears are a great healthy snack and you can make them even more fun for kids with this snack idea.
  6. Apples and peanut butter. Give your apple a dose of protein by offering kids peanut butter for dipping sauce.
  7. Fruit salad. Parents can make up a fruit salad in advance and dole it out to kids after school for a healthy and delicious snack.
  8. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Alternate fruit and yogurt in a glass and top with granola to create this snack.
  9. Mixed berries. Berries are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, so giving your child a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries can be a great way to get nutrition into his or her diet.
  10. Pomegranate. Pomegranates are fun for kids to eat and also pack a heck of a nutritional punch.
  11. Bananas. Bananas are great because they are extremely portable, easy to eat and healthy to boot. Pair them with peanut butter for an added boost.
  12. Apple puzzleMake your child’s apple into a fun game they’ll love eating with this snack idea.
  13. Fruit juice. While you’ll need to watch out for sugar content, juice with 100% real fruit can be a great snack for kids.
  14. Melon balls. If melons are in season, create fun melon balls for kids to snack on or put them on a skewer for fruit kebabs.
  15. Fruity salsaSalsa doesn’t always have to be savory. Try out this fruity, healthy and yummy salsa with your kids.

veggies

Veggies

Fill your kids up on these healthy, veggie-based snacks instead of junk food.

  1. Carrots with peanut dipping sauce. Spice up plain old carrot stick with this recipe for a tasty dipping sauce.
  2. Cucumber yogurt boatsTurn cucumbers into a fun and playful experience for your kids with this great snack idea.
  3. Veggies and hummusGet kids the veggies they need with a healthy dose of protein by pairing hummus with them.
  4. Edamame. Kids will have fun getting these soy beans out of their shells. Simply steam, salt and serve.
  5. Ants on a logMake eating right fun with this classic, playful snack of raisins, peanut butter and celery.
  6. PicklesIf your kids are longing for something salty, let them have a few of these healthy dills. For pickles on the go, consider Pickle Packs.
  7. Celery and carrot sticks. Paired with a veggie dip, your kids won’t be able to resist eating their veggies.
  8. Veggie chipsGet away from the potato and feed your kids chips made with more nutrient rich foods. Better yet, make your own.
  9. Baked sweet potato friesLow in calories and fat and high on taste and nutrition, your kids will enjoy these fun fries that are simple to make.
  10. Corn on the cobLet your kids feel like it’s summertime anytime with frozen corn on the cob.
  11. OlivesNot all kids love olives but those that do will love sticking the treats on their fingers and eating them off. Just make sure they don’t eat too many, as olives are high in salt.
  12. Pita chips and guacamole. Avocados are packed with healthy fats so let your kids indulge with a few baked pita chips.
  13. Lettuce wrapsWrap up veggies and low fat snacks with lettuce for a healthy after school meal.

Whole Grains

Whole grains will help keep your kids fuller for longer, making the most of snack time.

  1. Whole grain bread and peanut butter. A simple piece of toast with peanut butter can make for a great after school snack.
  2. Whole wheat pretzels.Pretzels can actually be a healthy snack for kids if you go for the whole wheat kind.
  3. Whole grain crackers. Crackers that are made of whole grains paired with cheese or peanut butter can make for a good snack, just make sure to watch out for salt and fat content.
  4. Whole wheat mini-bagels. These tiny bagels will fill your kids up with whole grains and are fun to eat.
  5. Sandwich on whole grain bread. A small sandwich or half sandwich can help stave off hunger until dinnertime.
  6. Soft pretzelsWhen you make these treats at home, use whole wheat flour for a healthier pretzel.
  7. Goldfish crackers. This brand of cute goldfish-shaped crackers now makes them in the whole wheat variety– perfect for healthy kids.
  8. Pita crispsStick some whole-wheat pitas in the oven to make this fun and healthy snack.
  9. Multigrain wafflesCraving breakfast for a snack? A waffle topped with jelly or peanut butter is a healthy option.

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Small Snacks

These snacks deliver nutrients by the handful.

  1. Sunflower seedsKids will love chewing up and spitting out these seeds.
  2. Unsalted nuts. Skip the salt to make nuts a healthy snack for kids.
  3. Plain popcorn. Popcorn can feel like a special treat, but without loads of butter and salt it’s actually a pretty healthy snack.
  4. Cereal. Healthy, dry cereals like Cheerios can make a good after school meal.
  5. Rice cakesRice cakes come in lots of flavors to meet the nutritional and taste needs of your kids.
  6. Pumpkin seedsIn the fall, roast up pumpkin seeds to get a healthy snack.
  7. GranolaYou can make your own granola and kids will love helping and sampling the results.
  8. RaisinsGive your kids a little box of raisins for a snack.
  9. Fruit leather. Fruit that has been flattened and dried can make for a healthier alternative to fruit roll-ups.
  10. Dried fruit. Bananas, pineapple, mangoes and more are available dried and ready to snack on.
  11. Toasted almondsAlmonds pack a healthy repertoire of nutrients, so you won’t feel guilty about letting your kids snack on them.

Smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to ensure kids get their daily intake of fruits and veggies.

  1. Banana Fruit SmoothieBlend up a banana and milk to make this delicious smoothie.
  2. Grape and kiwi smoothieTurn kiwis and grapes into a delicious drink using this recipe.
  3. Healthy milkshakeWant a healthy take on milkshakes? This recipe offers it up.
  4. Strawberry smoothieGet all the healthy benefits of strawberries with this smoothie.
  5. Green smoothieKids not keen on veggies? Hide them in this tasty smoothie.
  6. Tropical smoothieHelp your after school snack feel like a day at the beach with this tropical blend.
  7. Berry smoothieBerries in any form, even in a smoothie, are a great healthy snack for kids.
  8. Peach smoothieIf peaches are in season, blend them up using this recipe.

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Sweet but Healthy

Sometimes, kids just want a sweet treat. Here you’ll find some that will satiate their sweet tooth without being too unhealthy.

  1. Monkey bars. Kids will enjoy these healthy but sweet cookie bars.
  2. Walnut-raisin somersaultsThis blend of fruit and nuts tastes so good kids won’t know it’s healthy.
  3. Juice jelly cubesTurn those healthy juices into jiggling treats with this recipe.
  4. Peanut butter power ballsGive your kids a protein-fueled boost with these graham and peanut butter tidbits.
  5. Chocolate dipped bananasHalf of one of these chocolately bananas is a healthier way to eat something sweet.
  6. Microwave Apple PuddingTurn an apple and cinnamon into something irresistible with this idea.
  7. Cranberry muffinsMaking these cranberry muffins doesn’t mean you have to be culinary expert.
  8. Oatmeal cookies. If your kids want cookies, oatmeal is an alternative that offers up some nutrition.
  9. Sugar-free J-ello. It’s not the healthiest snack in the world, but it isn’t the worst either and it’s simple and easy to take with you. If you make it at home, put some fruit in it as well.
  10. Banana breadFilled with bananas and nuts, kids will get nutrients when they snack on this bread.
  11. Carrot barsSneak carrots into a treat with this recipe.

Healthy but Cheesy

Try out these healthy, cheesy snacks that kids will love. If your child can’t eat cheese, try substituting a soy alternative.

  1. Tortilla pizzasTurn a plain old tortilla into a delicious pizza with this recipe.
  2. English muffin pizza. Use a whole wheat muffin as the basis for a pizza for a healthier treat.
  3. Light string cheese. Kids will enjoy pulling strings of this cheese off and eating them.
  4. Low-fat quesadillaThis recipe shows you how to make a quesadilla that’s actually healthy.
  5. Vegetable pita pizzaPizza doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Load it up with veggies instead of fattier options.
  6. Cheese strawsThis simple recipe lets you make fun, tasty snacks for your kids.
  7. Cheese cubes. If you want to go simple, low-fat cheese cubes are a good snack when eaten in moderation.

Mini Meals

If your child is simply starving, consider one of these pre-dinner, snack-sized meals.

  1. Low fat hot dogs and beans. Get a protein boost with this classic snack.
  2. Baked potatoTop your baked potato with salsa for an easy and low-cal snack.
  3. Soft taco. Filled with veggies or chicken breast, soft tacos can be healthy.
  4. Healthy pita. Kids will enjoy filling their whole wheat pita with all kinds of healthy fixins.
  5. Turkey wrap. Adults and kids alike can enjoy these healthy snacks.
  6. Tuna on crackers. Make a low fat tuna salad and spread it on crackers.
  7. Modified PB and JTry this alternative to the standard peanut butter and jelly.
  8. Low-sodium soup. Many soups are loaded with sodium but there are other options out there that can make great snacks.
  9. Small omelet. Eggs and veggies mixed together make a perfect after school snack.
  10. Whole wheat pastaCook the pasta in advance and warm it up with sauce when your kids are begging for a meal.

Miscellaneous

Still searching for the perfect after school snack? These ideas cover a wide variety of foods.

  1. Egg boatsTake a hard boiled egg and add a cheese sail to create this nautical treat.
  2. Glass of milk. A simple glass of milk can make for a healthy snack.
  3. Ham and cheese crepesEnjoy this French-inspired snack when your kids are feeling peckish.
  4. Lean turkey rolls. Turkey is a great snack, and rolled up with cheese, mustard and a pickle it can be a tasty one too.
  5. Chocolate soy milkChocolate soy milk can help your kids get nutrients but still tastes great.
  6. Homemade lunchables. Kids love lunchables but they aren’t always the healthiest option. Cut out small pieces of cheese and meat at home and pair with whole wheat crackers for a healthier take.

Safety tips for bagged lunches

Packing your kids lunches for school is one way to make sure that they are eating the foods you want them to eat. It’s good to pack a nutritious, waste-free lunch, but it’s even better to make sure that the lunch is safe from anything that might make your kids sick. Lunches that sit around for hours in a room temperature locker or cubby need a little extra care.

Here are seven tips to packing a safer lunch:

1. Use a nontoxic insulated lunch bag. It will help keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

2. Buy a BPA-free reusable beverage bottle. If a reusable plastic bottle doesn’t say BPA-free somewhere on its packaging, don’t purchase it.

3. Pack an ice pack with cold foods like sandwiches, yogurts and fruits. (If bringing gel packs to and from school isn’t practical, you can slip a frozen juice box into a lunch box or sack lunch. By the time lunch rolls around, the juice should be thawed enough to drink, but the food should still be cool.)

4. Use a nontoxic insulated thermos for hot foods. You’ll get the most out of your thermos if you fill it with boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes before emptying it and putting in the hot soup, chili, etc.

5. The cooler or hotter a food starts out in a lunchbox, the better. A sandwich prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator until right before it’s time to leave for school will be cooler than a sandwich made and put in a lunchbox an hour before leaving for school. It also means that hot foods should be heated up as to as high a temperature as possible and immediately be put in a thermos right before leaving for school. The timing can be tricky on a hectic school morning, but it’s worth it.

6. Throw away all perishable uneaten food that comes home in the lunchbox. Don’t try to save it for tomorrow. By the end of the school day, even an ice pack or an insulated thermos will have lost its effectiveness.

7. Wash the lunch bag and all containers after each use with hot, soapy water.

Please post any additional tips.

Tips To Get Ready For Back-To-School

Move over, summer–a new school year is coming!

With the start of school, families face new organization challenges. School bells ring–and so do early-morning alarm clocks. Paper piles swell as hand-outs and homework stream into the house.

Shorter autumn days bring a hectic round of sports, activities and events, and calendars fill with cryptic notes. Can the holidays be far behind?

Get organized now for the best school year ever! Use these ideas to prepare your home and family for the busy days ahead:

Ease the family into a school year schedule.

The first day of school is no time for a drastic adjustment of household sleep schedules. Instead, ease children back into a school year routine gradually. During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. Begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they’ll need to rise when school begins.

Don’t neglect mealtimes! Younger children, in particular, need to adapt to new meal routines before the school day demands it of them. Plan meals and snacks to accustom little ones to rituals of the school day before the school year begins.

Create Calendar Central

Each school year floats on a sea of schedules. School functions. Lunch menus. Scout meetings and music lessons. What do you do when you’re drowning in paper?

Nothing calms school year chaos like Calendar Central: a centralized site for all family calendars and schedules. You’ll need a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school programs and volunteer work. Add specialized calendars and schedules, and you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.

Form is less important than function. A paper calendar with large squares lets you enter information easily. Pre-printed white board calendars are easy to revise when necessary. Color-coding entries by family member helps keep busy lives straight.

Paper planner fans dedicate a planner section to serve as Calendar Central, while tech-savvy cybergrrrlz store the info in a smart phone or tablet and sync with multiple computers. Choose a calendar format that works for your family.

Post the family event calendar in a public place near the telephone. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or tack it to a bulletin board.

Add other calendars to Calendar Central: school lunch menus, class assignment sheets, sports practice schedules. When the room mother calls for field trip volunteers, you’ll know at a glance whether you’re free to join the group on the bus that day.

Plan before you shop

August is the second-biggest sales month for clothing retailers. Back to school clothing sales begin as early as July! Are you prepared to run the school clothes gauntlet?

An informed shopper is a savvy shopper, so prepare before you shop. Take an afternoon and assess each child’s clothing needs. Empty drawers and closets of outgrown or worn-out clothing, and either store or donate the discards.

Working with your child, clean and organize clothing storage before new garments are added–and cut down on school morning calls of “Mom! I don’t have any clean . . . . ”

Develop a wardrobe needs list for each child. Check for possible hand-me-downs from older siblings as you make your list. If you discuss the needs list and the family budget with your children before you shop, you’ll avoid in-the-store tantrums.

Similarly, ask the school for classroom supply lists before shopping for school supplies. Forewarned is forearmed … and helps protect the family budget.

Do shop early! With back-to-school sales beginning in mid-July, tardy shoppers have a tough time locating needed supplies among September’s Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations.

Gather your papers

School entry may require documentation from immunization records to report cards from the previous school year. Athletes need proof of medical examination. A little preparation can prevent frantic last-minute searches for a birth certificate or registration confirmation.

Call your child’s school or check the school district Web site beforehand to find out what paperwork will be required–then find it! You won’t be sorry come registration day.

Take aim on morning madness

How are school mornings in your home? Crazed and chaotic, or calm and cheerful? Plan ahead to send your schoolchildren–and yourself!–out the door in a happy frame of mind.

Each evening, think ahead to the following morning; where can you lighten the load? Set the breakfast table as you clear the dinner dishes, and make sure breakfast foods are easy to reach. Lay out children’s clothing the night before. Scan backpacks or launch pad spaces for missing homework, projects or library books. Make sure musical instruments or sports bags are packed and ready to go.

Do “bathroom wars” break out daily among the small fry? Multi-child households may need a bathroom schedule so that everyone gets equal time before the mirror.

Make a practice run

How will children get to school? The first day of school is no time to find out it takes ten minutes–not five–to walk to the nearest bus stop!

Before school begins, make a practice run to get children to the school on time. If they’ll walk, help them learn the route they’ll take and note the needed time. Car-pooling? Make sure the dry run accounts for early-morning traffic! Bus riders will need to be familiar with the location of the bus stop; print and post the bus schedule to prevent a missed bus.

Spiff up household systems

A new school year quickens the tempo of family life. Sports activities, music lessons, church programs and volunteer commitments tap parental time and put new mileage on the mini-van. Get organized! Spiff up your household systems to meet autumn’s faster pace:

Clean house … fast!  Contact MaidPro and have them whip through your household chores in record time.

Cut time in the kitchen: create a menu plan and never again wonder “What’s for dinner?”

Streamline dinner preparations. Try a session of freezer cooking to stock the freezer with prepared entrees for stress-free dinner on sports night.

Conquer the paper pile-up. Set up a basic home filing system to track school paperwork, volunteer activities and household planning

Happy New School Year! Time to swing into a new school year–from an organized home.

Please post any additional comments!