Ticonderoga Pencils – Official Pencil of Public Schools Everywhere

Ticonderoga Pencils – Official Pencil of Public Schools Everywhere

Ticonderoga Pencils – are these on your school supply lists as well? I’m trying to understand the value. We posted to Facebook today asking a HONEST question.

Ticonderoga PencilsHonest question. WHY Ticonderoga pencils? Do these hold some magical power? Seriously, would love to know why schools prefer these than other brands!

Why Ticonderoga Pencils

There seems to be 2 teams. Pro Ticonderoga and Against Ticonderoga. The Pro team seems to be teachers, and we are all about making teachers happy – so I don’t want this to come off as we are against teachers!  Here are some thoughtful response in the conversation:

Danya:  OMG–the best. Seriously. I stock up when they are on sale! They write and sharpen SOOO nice

Debbie: I’ve bought these because they were advertised to be great, but I really dislike them. Yes, they sharpen great, but they didn’t write dark enough (like, when there is a powder left behind when writing hard). I spent so much on these when my son was in kinder, and I used them myself at school that year. I just went back to mechanical pencils for me and the Target $ bin for my son. Lol

Nancy: I used to wonder the same thing – they really do sharpen better and don’t seem to break as easily. The school requested them and then I started buying them for home. Besides it says right on the package “The World’s Best Pencil.” Sally: Uh grab the cheapest brand and then quickly dump them in the common bucket they all go in anyway. Lol 

Paula: The wood is better quality, the lead doesn’t break as often. When you have 25-30 kids in a classroom with their pencil leads breaking every few seconds, the sound of the sharpener will drive you insane. Not to mention when the lead breaks it breaks the student’s concentration. They have to get up, pass all their friends, act goofy, get the attention of their classmates, sharpen the pencil for 5 minutes because they are wasting time, go back to their seat while making faces and possibly poking or pinching fellow students then take a few minutes to get back on task. Multiply this by 25 students. So much time is wasted at the pencil sharpener. All because of cheap ass pencils.

Teachers Love Them

Hope: As a teacher, I will actually go out and stock up so we can all have Ticonderoga all year. Just what the others said, better erasing, better sharpening, smooth writing. Ticonderoga black is even better. Truly, most others are a complete frustration and waste.

So to there you have it. Apparently these pencils are magic after all. They are specifically called out by brand on the school lists so sounds like there is an actual benefit to purchasing these over the cheap pencils.  

Locally, these pencils are sold out everywhere. Stock up at Amazon, sending a few packs to of our favorite teachers after reading thru why these pencils are so loved!

Sound Off: What are your thoughts on Ticonderoga pencils???

2017 First Day of School SignsFirst Day of School Signs

5 Tips for Talking Puberty with Tween Boys

5 Tips for Talking Puberty with Tween Boys

Talking puberty with tween boys. Mamas and papas, you know you can’t wait to read this one. For some reason there is a lot of information about talking to puberty in girls but not puberty in boys. Let’s change that. Moms and dads, we need to be talking to both our daughters and sons about this life change, the definition of puberty, explaining the signs of puberty, discussing when puberty ends and any other puberty topics that our kids may have. 

Our friends at Old Spice invited us to join them in Los Angeles to talk puberty in boys and introduce us to the School of Swagger. If you have a tween or teen, you know how much fun this subject is. We were happy to learn some tips and tricks to discussing all the things puberty!

talking about puberty in boysTalking Puberty in Boys – 5 Tips!

Old Spice provided us with a plethora of legit resources to help aid our discussion with tween boys. We had a lively discussion and Q&A with Dr. Deborah Gilboa from askdoctorg.com. We also learned the in’s and out’s of body odor, what causes it and how to prevent it with Old Spice Sweat Scientist, Jaime Stahl. Here are 5 tips that we learned that will hopefully help you as you discuss puberty with your boy.

This wasn’t a tip given by Old Spice, but from Digital Mom Blog – drink a glass of wine before starting these discussions. You are welcome.

When to Start Talking to Boys About Puberty

While each parent needs to find the best time to talk to their sons about puberty depending on their stage of puberty, it is recommended that you begin discussions around the age of 10. If you can help educate on good hygiene during the early years, you will help your sons develop healthy hygiene habits! 

Speak Their Language

When talking to your son about puberty, make sure to speak their language. Use words that they will understand and examples that are relatable to them. 

Puberty may be an uncomfortable subject, but a study by Old Spice confirms that these conversations are needed because 81% of moms believe most boys ages 10-13 years old DON’T understand the different stages of puberty … and more than 2/3 of teen boys feel the same. Moms and boys rank the car as the #1 place to “talk,” followed by #2, standing in his bedroom doorway.

Welcome to PubertyUse Humor When Boys Hit Puberty and Before! 

As boys hit puberty, and even before changes start to happen – explain what is going on. Do so in a manner that is informative but that makes them laugh. Boys respond well to humor. Include a fart joke if you must. I mean, for real – what boy doesn’t love a good fart joke. 

Explain Why

A fascinating suggestion was to explain to your son WHY they need to do a certain thing. Here is an interesting fact. Did you know by shampooing, you are reducing the risk of acne? I DIDN’T. This TOTALLY makes sense and explaining this to your son gives them a WHY they need to shower. No kid likes acne. Give them a WHY!

Introduce Them to Swagger School – Puberty Videos That Make Them LOL!

So last week, Old Spice launched The School of Swagger. This is brilliant. They have taken Isaiah Mustafa – the Old Spice guy and developed a series of videos that speak BOY. They go thru the basics of puberty in a way that boys will totally relate to.  There are 4 videos that are hilarious. They are snack size, so your kid won’t be bored and again – THEY SPEAK BOY! 

school of swagger - when do boys hit pubertySend your sons here: schoolofswagger.com

Parents, download the THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, a Wild Guide to Growing Up for Moms and Sons.

School of Swagger Puberty Talk

Tips from Dr. G

There were all types of fascinating tips given about this lovely stage in boyhood. Here are a few more boy puberty tips for moms and dads who are in the midst of this from Dr. G. 

How to Address Difficult Topics with Boys and Puberty

Dr. G Says: Tell him you know it’s awkward, aaaannndd …. we’re doing it anyway. 

You are the parent, it’s best if they hear this stuff from YOU!

  • Ask before you tell (10-13 years old). Tweens are sensitive to being treated like a little kid. Instead of assuming they are clueless about a topic, ask if they’ve heard about it before.
  • Explain what puberty is and the stages of puberty.
  • Respect their boundaries (14-17 years old). If not you, ask him what adult he’d like to talk to [that you agree with]. This may help him open up.

stages of puberty and boy smellsTackling the Puberty Talk

Dr. G Says: Barter that talk for fun time. So, spend 10 minutes on a tough topic … then twice as much time to do something he picks.

What to Do When Your Son Starts to Smell

Dr. G Says: It may sound strange, but CONGRATULATE him on his new smell and that he’s on his way to manhood!

 boys puberty smells

All solid advice. 

Do you have any tips or tricks in regards to talking to tween boys and puberty? Leave them in the comments!

Teens and Social Media

Parent’s Guide to Teens & Social Media

First Day of School Printable Sign – 2017 – Customized Signs from Preschool to College!

First Day of School Printable Sign – 2017 – Customized Signs from Preschool to College!

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PRINTABLE SIGNS  – UPDATED FOR 2017! If you are looking for first day of school signs, here you go! We’ve done these the last few years, this year I just updated this page – all signs say 2017, plus daycare added in!

Free Printable First Day Signs!

First day of school printable signs are always a fun way to start off a new school year. We have taken first day of school photos with signs for the last few years (see 2012 and 2011 and we did them for 2014-2016, but just updated this post).  Last year we added in first day of school signs for daycare and preschool, those were a hit! 

2017 First Day of School SignsI don’t know about you, but with 4 kids – I want to see what grade they are in – so instead of just 1 first day of school sign, I created several!  I hope that these come in handy on your first day of school, as I know they will our’s.  I snapped this photo of our soon-to-be first grader this morning for the blog. In his summer haziness “Mommy, this isn’t’ the first of day of school, is it??” No kid, you have a few more weeks – mommy is just a little bit more prepared for back to school this year (SURPRISED? I am!)

So let’s get to it. I created these back to school signs for each year, preschool to college. Yes, college kids – how sweet would it be to print out a sign and send a photo to your parents on your first day of college? Good luck getting your high schoolers to cooperate. Hoping that my kids won’t be stubborn as I plan on doing this every year, it’s a requirement!

First Day of School Signs – Daycare thru College!

Enjoy! Happy first day of school. I would love to see photos of your kids with these signs! Please post them on facebook.com/digitalmomblog!

Free Printable First Day of School Signs

Just click on the sign you want below – and wa-lah!

Daycare Sign

Preschool Sign

Kindergarten Sign

First Grade Sign

Second Grade Sign

Third Grade Sign

Fourth Grade Sign

Fifth Grade Sign

Sixth Grade Sign

Seventh Grade Sign

Eighth Grade Sign

Ninth Sign

Tenth Sign

Eleventh Sign

Twelfth Sign

College Sign

Happy Back to School!

Post Your First Day of School Photos

Post a photo of your kid with this sign on our Facebook page and we will link up!

Here are my kids, sporting their first day of school signs in 2016:


Here is Teresa’s daughter from Madison’s Learning Blog at her first day of college!

View More Digital Mom Blog Printables:

Easy DIY Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Free Star Wars Printable

4 Cell Phone Etiquette Tips To Teach Your Kids Before Giving Them a Phone

4 Cell Phone Etiquette Tips To Teach Your Kids Before Giving Them a Phone

Cell phone etiquette for kids is a thing. It may seem silly, but before we give our kids a cell phone, we must teach them how to use it properly.

Many years ago, we gave our daughter a cheap cell phone. She was YOUNG, but the phone was cheap and the service was monthly so we thought why not. What we didn’t think about is that our daughter, Z has no idea about the basics of cell phone etiquette. She would call people, take all kinds of photos (like of me, cleaning – please no!) and so on.

The second go around when we gave our kids a phone, we did 2 things.

1. Made our kids sign a cell phone contract.
2. Taught our kids basic tips on cell phone etiquette.

Here are the tips that we shared with our kids. I hope they are helpful to you. Parenting is can be a challenge, but just remember – it’s our job to raise our kids to be good people and show them the right way to do things, even things like how to properly use a cell phone.

Cell Phone Etiquette for Kids

cell phone etiquette for kids

1. Times for Cell Phone Usage

Set times for your kid to use their phone!

Decide when your child can use their phone. My daughter was calling or texting (or BOTH) at 6:30 am in the morning. I am NOT a morning person, so this frustrated me to no end knowing that she was waking people up! I heard ALL about it from family members. While they wanted to hear from Z – they didn’t care to hear from her so darn early in the morning!  This past year, I was reminded of setting cell phone times on phones when my darling niece proceeded to call and text me 10 times early in the morning. “GOOD MORNING” “HAVE Z CALL ME” “ARE YOU AWAKE?” “HELLO?” 10 minutes later “GOOD EVENING”.  It’s really funny and cute – but not when you are sound a sleep.

2. Texting

Explain texting to your child. 

Texting is the new phone call. Teach your child about how to spell b4 they get into the txt habit of short cuts.

On a similar note to the last cell phone etiquette tip, teach your child how to text one time not fifty times. 

3. Photos

Explain to your child what photos are okay to take and what photos you DO NOT take.

While yes, sexting is a NO, teach your child what is appropriate. For instance, taking a photo of your brother’s BUTT is a no, even if it’s covered and even if you think it would be funny to send to a cousin – NO. Decide on boundaries in your house, such as do you allow photos in the bathroom (toilet pics, clothed are a thing and I have no idea why!), or in swim suits or pajamas? Those are answers you will need to come up with and decide best what is for your family.

4. Cell Phone Contacts

Decide who your child can give their phone number to and what contacts will be in their cell phone.

My daughter was giving her cell phone number to everyone she could at school. We quickly nixed this. We put the contacts in her phone of who she could call. We only put contacts in that knew would let us know if she got too annoying with the phone. Those were our rules, decide what is best for your child.

Kids Gotta Learn From Somewhere!

These tips may seem like common sense, but kids really just don’t know. Believe me, your family will thank you if you at least just put a limit on times for usage. Nothing like a niece wake-up call, proceeded by 20 texts. *I really do love my niece, it is just hard for me to show love before 9 am.)

Teaching them kids basic common sense tips for using their phone is what we are talking about today in our kids and technology series

What Cell Phone Etiquette Tips Would You Add to the List?


A Parent’s Guide to Teens and Social Media

A Parent’s Guide to Teens and Social Media

Teens and social media – those words scare me. Why? Because I am now a parent to a teen and as someone who spends A LOT of time on social media, I know what type of trouble they can get themselves into online. 

Teens and Social Media

While we did let our daughter tip-toe into social media as a tween, her exposure was limited.  Teens and social media is an on-going conversation we are going to have here on Digital Mom Blog. Why? Because we are hearing more and more from parents of teenagers about their kids social media usage and we feel it’s an important topic to address. 

We want this to be a guide for parents to reference in regards to teens and social media. Let’s be real. Social media was NOT a thing when we were teens. THANK GOD. CAN YOU IMAGINE? I don’t even want to know the trouble I would have gotten myself into. I was an early internet adopter and online as a teen, but thankfully there was NO social media or camera phone!

Young and Dumb Before Teen and social mediaLike all things we write here on Digital Mom Blog, this is meant to be a guide that you customize for yourself. When I started writing a parenting blog many years ago, I never wanted to readers to feel like my answers were the absolute answers. I want to provide suggestions and real-life guidance on parenting subjects so that parents know how other parents handle situations. I know that each of my kids are individuals and each requires separate discipline and guidance, so take what is said here and make it your own. Tailor to fit each of your kids. And most important, we want to hear your feedback. More on that, let’s talk teens and social media.

From One Parent of a Teen to Another 

This is from me to you. Some of these things may feel stupid and some you just may not even want to talk about with your teenager. But let’s be real. If we don’t talk to our kids about sex, our kids learn on their own. 

Rule for Teens Posting on Social Media

I read some great advice from teen YouTube sensations Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight’s father, Shaun McKnight. He said that the twins have a “three Ps” rule whenever they’re considering what’s appropriate to vlog. “If you wouldn’t say it in front of your parents, pastor and principal, then don’t put it out there,” he said. I love this rule and can be applicable to any of the social networks! (source: Cnet)

Digital Footprint

We often emphasize to our kids that whatever they post online stays online. Teach your kids about their digital footprint – what it is and how it can follow them for MANY years to come.

Teach Digital FootprintA great example to share with your kids is the recent news about how Harvard rescinded admission to 10 students because of offensive Facebook memes. (Read more about this here on Forbes.) Just because you think the conversation or what you are posting is private, it really isn’t. Time and time again, examples of such play out. From hiring to college to in general real life reputation, knowing about your digital footprint and what to post and what not to post is a lifeskill kids NEEDS to know. 


Talking to Teens About Social Media

If we don’t talk to our kids about social media, they WILL learn on their own. Even if your teen doesn’t have a phone, they will have access to social media. This is one of those on-going conversations that you need to have with your kid. This isn’t a talk once, and done. As social media changes, and your teenager experiments – you must be on top of what is going on in their lives. 


Teens Online - Social Media is a beast!Clear Expectations and Understanding

I have always told my kids, whatever they do one their phones, tablets and computers – I have access to. I like setting clear expectations and understanding that they cannot hide things from us. We pay the bills and more so, our job is to be their parent. Being a parent means guiding them on the rights and wrongs in life before they enter the real world. 

Read: Everything You Do Online We Can See

Setting Boundaries with Teens and Social Media

It is important to set boundaries for your teens and social media. 

Set boundaries with your kids onlineFor example, an online boundary that we have setup for our kids is that there is no screens in the bedroom. This puts a clear boundary that smart phones and computers, are not in their bedroom. There is no reason for our kids to need their phones in their room. 

Another post to read is setting boundaries with kids online.  

Sexting Pics

Sexting pics is not something I care to talk to my teen about, but you know what it’s a discussion you must have. As teenagers start experimenting with all things sex, they need to know the consequences for doing stupid things like sexting pics. Make sure you read our post on teen sexting facts. It really bothers me on how clueless teens are when it comes to sexting.

What Apps Are Teens Using?

Check out our post about trending teen apps and learn what teens are using and how.

what apps teens are usingTeens on Snapchat

If you are unfamiliar with Snapchat, familiarize yourself with this app. We have a complete guide to using this app. Read: What is Snapchat?

Teens using snapchat

What you need to know about teens using snap chat and other social media apps.

We don’t want our teen daughter on Snapchat. I know, it’s one of the most popular apps for teens, but guess what – nope. I don’t care if you want to see Kylie Jenner snapchat, it ain’t happening.

Snapchat porn is huge and unnecessary. Online porn access with social media could be an entire post. I’m not going into a lot of detail on that in this post, but just know this is just another reason we are avoiding this teen app. (Actually, it’s not just for teens. Adult usage is huge! I used it for a while, but after a while I stopped using it. I’m an Instagram user for life. 

How many teens are using Snapchat? Despite being an eighth the size of Facebook, Snapchat has almost as many teens as Facebook. 

Instagram offers most of the options of Snapchat now and while yes, there are disappearing photos and what not – we are constantly monitoring her account. This article on a Teen committing suicide because of Snap Chat – this is one of many instances that I’ve read about and nope – we just aren’t going there with our teen. 

What really is disturbing is there are sites dedicated to finding teens on Snapchat. While sure, a teen maybe searching to find other teens on Snapchat. There are also a plethora of pedophiles, sexual predators, weirdos – or whatever you want to call them – that do the same. 



Social Media Bullying

There is a reason online bullying, specifically social media bullying is getting so much attention online. IRL bullying is bad enough, but bullying online – specifically on social media with apps is easy, feels anonymous and is just awful. From comments or reposting inappropriate photos to social media, social media bullying is not one single thing.

Screen Shots - Teens and social media

This is another subject you need to talk to your kids about. Not only do you need to talk about helping them understand that people are online say things they most likely would never say in person. You need to help them understand that what THEY say online needs to be appropriate. 

Make sure your kids know what to do in the event they are bullied online. The school our teen attends has made it a point to stay on top of this subject. 

Read: Why I’m Not Letting My Teen Watch 13 Reasons on Netflix Alone

It Takes a Village to Manage Teens and Social Media

This isn’t an easy task to do. This will be an online going discussion here as we tackle teens and social media. It does take a village. I have a few family friends and family members following my teenager on social media. I regularly receive comments about some of the sweet things she posts online (she is a total motivator!) Then again, I have received a few comments saying “you may want to look at your daughter’s latest posts.”

Embrace both the good and bad, and use that to help in talking to your teen.

Continuing the Discussion

As mentioned, this will be an on-going discussion here on Digital Mom Blog. We feel that we need to keep this discussion relevant and up-to-date as everyday social media grows and changes. And everyday, more and more teens are involved in social media.

What topics in regards to teens and social media do you want to know more about? What advice do you have to parents in regards to their teens online? Let us know! Your input is valued! Leave a comment below. 

As more subjects come up, we will be discussing those topics here – so stay tuned.


Technology Tickets – Limiting Your Child’s Screen Time

Technology Tickets – Limiting Your Child’s Screen Time

Technology tickets and screen time. Let’s discuss.

Recently I attended the Activision Games for Girls Summit and a topic several of the moms were discussing was in regards to whether or not to limit your child’s screen time.

Screen Time and the Kids

In our house, screen time is defined by any electronics for our kids. These can include: TV, computer, iPod, Wii, xBox 360 or iPad.

Limit Screen Time with Technology Tickets

Personally in our family, we have a liberal policy. A few rules we try (hey, we aren’t perfect) to enforce are:

  • No screen time an hour before bed. (Also read: No Screens in the Bedroom!)
    (This is the rule that most likely is to be broken)
  • Homework MUST be complete before any screen time.
  • If anyone is giving attitude or fighting occurs, no one gets screen time.
  • If friends are over, screen time is limited.
  • We really try to encourage educational games.

There have been times where we have thrown are hands in the air, like many parents as to how to control technology with our kids.

Technology Tickets

Recently, I was introduced to the idea of technology tickets. These are tickets that are given to your child at the beginning of the week.  A set number is given to each child and each ticket represents an allotted amount of time with technology.

Mom and Dad can have extra technology tickets to hand out as rewards.

Once a technology ticket is used, that’s it for that ticket until the next week.

Of course rules would need to be put in place per household, such as no using after 7 or only using up to 3 tickets in a row. Depending on each child and each parent a variety of rules could be set.

I love this idea – especially for parents looking for a solution to allowing kids screen time but without being overly strict.

download technology tickets

Moms Who Use Technology Tickets

Here are several blogs talking about using technology tickets, see how they do it!

Technology Tickets – was originally published on December 14, 2011

Read more on Screen Time

How Do You Handle Screen Time with Your Kids?  Have you used technology tickets? Leave a comment and tell us!