The Very Hungry Caterpillar

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Oopsy daisy Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Oopsy daisy Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

In 1969, Eric Carle was working with a simple, handheld hole puncher while organizing his office. Inadvertently, he punched through two pieces of paper at the same time, prompting the brainchild we now know as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Originally, the caterpillar (and the book) was named Willie the Worm, but Carle’s editor helped him see that a worm wouldn’t be a very lovable protagonist (Thank God for editors.) Although it took him a long time to find a publisher willing to take on such a sizable production, he did eventually find someone who saw the potential in his work and in his unorthodox style.

Here we are, forty-six years later celebrating the anniversary of what is considered to be a classic in children’s literature. It is estimated that there is a copy of this book sold every minute of every day, 365 days a year. Don’t you just know those publishers who initially turned down Carle’s book are kicking themselves now!

Believe it or not, the multitude of publishers who turned him down were concerned that no one would want a book with such irregular pages in them, nor were they sure about the art of collage being a style of illustration children could relate to.

Boy were they wrong.

Not only do the books sell like crazy, but Very Hungry Caterpillar themed products, including children’s furniture and caterpillar clothing are also a part of the charm (and marketing bonanza) that go along with Carle’s book.

Recently, my twin six-year-olds and I used The Very Hungry Caterpillar to talk about healthy eating habits. Think about it, in the story, the caterpillar only eats fruit in the beginning. But then his wayward hunger and desire to binge eat takes over and before you know it, he’s eating everything from chocolate cake and pickles, to lollipops and salami, (boy can I relate to that).

We used the story to discuss how occasionally having a treat is okay, but how if we just eat anything and everything, we feel yucky on the inside and the outside. We also made notice of the fact that in the end, he returned to eating fresh fruits and veggies, took a good long nap, and awakened a beautiful butterfly. As a mom, you should always work in the importance of a good nap. (wink)

So this year, in honor of Eric Carle’s masterpiece anniversary, we are going to read the story, have a healthy picnic and take a good long nap. Who knows, maybe we’ll all wake up as beautiful butterflies too. A girl can hope.

#sweetretreatkids #veryhungrycaterpillar #ericcarle #childrensbook

Very Hungry Caterpillar Furniture Set

Very Hungry Caterpillar Furniture Set

Everyone loves a good fairy tales!

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National Fairy Tale Day

You may not be aware, but February 26th, 2015, is National Tell a Fairy Tale day. I have long wondered who makes up these weird holidays and how in the world they arrive at the distinction of being a “national” holiday.

For example, did you know there is a National Dress Up Your Pets Day? And there is a National Streaking Day? Or how about “National Cheesecake Day?” (Okay, that’s a good one, actually.) Some of them I think are just kooky, but I love that with all these wacky national holidays, you can really make life fun if you want to be intentional about celebrating small things.

Because I have two little girls who pretty much live in a land of fairy tales anyway, I thought we would celebrate National Fairy Tale Day in style.

First, let’s be clear about what a fairy tale is. According to Wikipedia: A fairy tale is a fictional story that may feature folkloric characters such as fairies, goblins, elves,  trolls, giants, mermaids or gnomes and usually magic or enchantments. The term is also used to describe something blessed with unusual happiness, as in “fairy tale ending” (a happy ending) or “fairy tale romance” (though not all fairy tales end happily). A “fairy tale” or “fairy story” can also mean any far-fetched story or tall tale; it’s used especially of any story that not only isn’t true, but couldn’t possibly be true.”

In our land of make-believe, all good fairy tales must start with “Once upon a time,” and they all end with “and they lived happily ever after.” Our fairy tales come complete with castles adorned with fairy tale art, and bridges adorned with fairy tale trolls. The good guys (girls) always win, and the bad guys always see the error of their ways. And if somehow they can work a kiss into the story, you can bet there will be one!

So for National Fairy Tale Day, we are going to make up an elaborate story, write it down, illustrate it, and then act it out! It’s going to be a fun day. We’d love to hear your made up fairy tales too!

Enjoy 10% off everything fairy tale.  Just click this link and take a look around. www.SweetRetreatKids.com.

#sweetretreatkids #oopsydaisy

 

FairyTale Fleur de Pink

FairyTale Fleur de Pink

Fairy Tale Personalized Once Upon a Time Canvas Artwork

Personalized Once Upon a Time Canvas Artwork

 

Fairy Tale Happily Ever After Personalized Artwork

Happily Ever After Personalized Artwork

 

Sleeping Safely on Raised Maxtrix Kids Beds

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Triple Bunk Bed by Maxtrix Kids

Maxtrix Kids bunk beds and loft beds are about as fun as a kid’s bed can get. Of course, safety is an equal priority, so let’s talk mattress options.

“Will my child be safe on the top bunk?”

Your Maxtrix Kids bed will accommodate any standard twin or full size mattress, depending on your bed size, but there’s more to the story. The main thing to keep in mind is the mattress thickness. A thinner mattress offers more protection from the safety rail because it covers less of it. Maxtrix Kids makes your child’s safety a priority by making their guard rail extend a full 16.25” above the mattress support. This is higher than any kids’ bed manufacturer we’ve found. They also offer a 5” safety height mattress for optimum protection. This is the mattress pictured on all of the Maxtrix Kids beds on our site, so the bed photos will give you a good visual reference. Their eco-friendly mattresses are made with BioFoam and Organic Cotton and are available in 4 styles. While the Maxtrix Kids mattresses are a great option, you aren’t limited to the Maxtrix brand. If you prefer to purchase a different mattress brand, we recommend staying in the range of 5-8″ in thickness. If you already own a mattress that you would like to use, we suggest an absolute maximum thickness of 10″. Please note that these recommendations apply to Maxtrix Kids beds only. If your loft bed or bunk bed has a lower safety rail, you’ll want a thinner mattress to ensure safety. Sleep safe and contact us with any questions you might have. 281-516-9222

Maxtrix Mattress

Maxtrix Castle Bunk Bed Now Available

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Custom Maxtrix Castle Bunk Bed

Exclusively at Sweet Retreat Kids

Maxtrix Castle Bunk Bed? Yep, we can do it!

So you love the look of the Maxtrix castle beds, but you really need a castle bunk bed? Maybe you’ve been told that this configuration doesn’t exist, but we have good news. We’ve got a Maxtrix castle bunk bed listed exclusively at Sweet Retreat Kids.

We teamed with a talented designer to create an amazing little girl’s room using this fun configuration. The Maxtrix castle tower was designed to fit their low loft configuration, so it isn’t long enough to reach the floor on a bunk bed. Lucky for you, the castle tower lines up with the underbed curtains so perfectly that you wouldn’t want it any longer.

Now it’s possible to get a castle theme on a Maxtrix LOW or MEDIUM bunk bed. It’s the perfect addition over a slide. So, it’s official. You CAN get a Maxtrix Kids Castle Bunk Bed with Slide.

Even better, you can customize the wood color, fabric color, ladder style, and bed end style, so don’t worry if the sample bed pictured isn’t your style. We have options for boys and girls. It’s even available with a staircase.Let us know how we can help you design the perfect castle bunk bed.

#sweetretreatkids #maxtrixkids

Kids storage beds RULE

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Low loft storage bed by Maxtrix

Maxtrix Kids Low Loft Bed w/ Built In Dresser & Bookcase

I have a serious dilemma these days, and by serious I mean I don’t want to have to do what I’m thinking about doing, but I know I need to, so I am seriously dragging my feet.

(How’s that for a build up?)

I need to put my twin girls in separate bedrooms. There, I said it, so it’s practically already decided . . . mostly.

It’s a serious decision for many reasons. One, they are twins and they have slept together since the womb, literally. So separating them is kind of a big deal. Two, they are six-year-olds, and though I pictured at some point they’d want to have separate rooms, I didn’t think the day would come so soon. And three, our remaining “extra” bedroom is small, and it will require some creative storage options if I am going to make it work.

I know you are asking yourself, “Well, if it is such a big deal to separate them, why are you doing it?” And you would be perfectly justified in your question, so I’ll answer it this way. One of the girls is a, how should I say it . . . a very noisy sleeper, and by very noisy, I want you to imagine someone building furniture in your bedroom, in the middle of the night, every night. And then I want you to picture what it would be like to try to sleep through that.

Not fun.

So, I saw these cool Maxtrix storage beds the other day, the ones with the built in dressers and desks, and I was thinking this might be an option for my space problem. I want to put a bed in the very small room, but the room is definitely NOT big enough for a bed, a dresser, and a book/toy shelf, so I need a way to create space in a small room.

They have a super cute one that has some under-the-bed type storage, which I could totally use as a dresser. They also have one that has a bookshelf at the end of it, which would be great too! I can use it now for toys, and later for books and a great place for homework! (Can you tell I’m trying to talk myself into this?!)

Now that I have my mind wrapped around this, I’m actually kind of excited about it! The girls are going to have so much fun playing in each other’s rooms. I can picture it now, the tea parties, the parades back and forth between rooms, the trail of toys leading from one room to the other . . . wait . . . what am I thinking?!!!

LOL. Oh well, at least their rooms will be organized.

High Storage Bed in Chestnut by Maxtrix Kids

Maxtrix Kids HIGH Loft Bed with Storage Dressers

Mid loft storage bed in natural by Maxtrix Kids

Maxtrix Kids Mid Loft Storage Bed for Boys

Strawberry Napoleon Tart

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Strawberry Napoleon Tart

Strawberry Napoleon Tart

Sweet Eats Series – Strawberry Napoleon Tarts

Here’s another great idea from our Sweet Eats series. Surprise your little ones this Valentines morning with these fabulous Strawberry Napoleon Tart treats. Or spend the morning making them together. This Sweet Eats comes from Driscoll’s, who has over 100 years of experience growing some of the finest berries on the planet. Although any berries and fruits will work for this project, we definitely recommend the Driscoll brand.

INGREDIENTS:

1 ready-to-roll pie crust
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 package (16 ounces) Driscoll’s Strawberries
2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
fresh mint leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Unroll pie crust on a lightly floured surface. Cut 6 hearts with a 4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

Meanwhile, beat heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Melt chocolate chips in microwave. Cut one strawberry in half. Set aside. Hull remaining strawberries and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Place one baked heart on a serving plate. Top with one quarter whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Top with second heart and repeat. Top with third heart and strawberry half. Drizzle with melted chocolate and garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Send us your photos after trying this crazy fun Sweet Eats! We’d love to see them!

#timetogether #sweeteats #itsreallyaday #sweetretreatkids

Brought to you by Sweet Retreat Kids

Want to allow your little one to help make this delicious recipe with you?  Consider The Learning Tower in Apple Green by Sweet Retreat Kids.  It will help you create a safe environment so she can help in the kitchen. Creating a love for cooking, and making healthy food choices, at a early age, will teach him valuable lessons and they will love you for it.

The Learning Tower in Apple Green

The Learning Tower in Apple Green

Breastfeeding in Public Worries? We have the solution!

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What’s are the Best Ways of Breastfeeding in Cooler Temps?

Nursing in Public Worries

The beautiful crisp fall weather is here, officially. The leaves have changed colors, which if you live in east Texas just means they changed from green to brown, but regardless, it’s fall, and we celebrate every single cold front that blows our way.

There are so many incredible things I look forward to when cooler weather finally makes its way south to us. I love a cozy fire, yummy soups, snuggling under blankets, ponchos and boots, nice warm hats and big slouchy sweaters. And I love that we can finally play at the park.

It’s crazy but true that here in my part of Texas, the weather is usually way too hot to enjoy the park. The slides get ridiculously hot, the handles on the ladder are too hot to hold (you get the picture) . . . it’s misery.

Recently, I was at our local park with the girls. It was crispy cool and while the girls were running around, screaming and laughing, I was snuggled up in a big warm poncho sipping hot chocolate from my favorite travel mug (I have kind of a travel mug obsession).  While we were there, a young woman sat down next to me with a newborn in her lap. Her rambunctious toddler ran to play with my girls.

The young woman looked at me and asked politely if I minded if she breastfed her baby. (Of course I was fine with it.) For quite a few minutes she struggled to unlayer herself as she got ready to nurse her baby. You could tell it was her first time to nurse in cooler weather and that she was unprepared. She took off her outer sweater, leaving her wearing just a thin button-up shirt. Then she took out a lightweight nursing blanket (which was super cute by the way and  threw it over her shoulder. All I could think was “Woman, you are going to freeze.”  (Okay, it wasn’t that cold, but to us Texans it might as well have been 10 below!)

I wanted to help her but wasn’t really sure how to go about it. I thought I could offer to watch her toddler while she went to her car and nursed her baby, but I knew that wouldn’t work. There was no way I’d leave my kiddos with a complete stranger. So I did the next best thing. I asked her if she’d like to borrow my poncho while she nursed her baby.

Look y’all. I know that sounds weird, but this young mommy looked miserable. There she sat, half-undressed and shivering, a hungry newborn in her lap with a restless toddler who needed to burn off some energy. I’m too much of a helper-bee not to do something. So I took off my poncho and insisted she use it while she nursed her baby.

Judge me if you will, but she loved it. AND, I think I just totally invented the next new breastfeeding cover-up gadget. We can call it the “Totcho” a poncho for nursing your tiny tot.  Okay, that’s a terrible name.  But still, if you have any friends who are about to become breastfeeding mommies, you should totally get them a super cute monogrammed poncho! You can pretend like it was a great idea that you came up with all on your own. I don’t need any credit at all . . . unless you decide to call it a Totcho or take it on Shark Tank. In that case, we should talk!

Personalized Poncho by Butterscotch Blankee

Personalized Totcho (okay. . . Poncho). Available in 24 colors

Using Time Out Effectively

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Using Time Out Effectively

9 Life Altering Tips on Using Time Out Effectively (I’ll Bet You’ll Be Shocked by #3!)

When my boys were little, which admittedly was a long, long time ago, time out was a new thing.  Oh my goodness, I still remember the heat I took from my dad when one of my sons misbehaved, and I put him in his time out chair. (Is it time out chair or timeout chair, I can never remember!)

Anyway, back to my dad. He exclaimed, “Time out? His punishment is to sit down in a special chair? What in the world is THAT gonna teach him?” LOL.

I agree that sitting in a time out chair and being still for a prescribed number of minutes doesn’t seem like much in the way of redirecting behavior, but if you do it right, it can be incredibly effective.

Now I could bore you with all the “rules” that you’ve probably already read, heard, and practiced related to time out. But that wouldn’t help you at all, and I like to make it a practice to always be helpful whenever possible. It’s a southern thing. I’m a southern girl.

Also, I’m going to try not to be wordy, but I’ve got a lot to say about this, so grab a cup of coffee, or whatever you grab when you’re about to read something life changing, and we’ll get started.

First off, let me say that I know there is a ton of talk going on in the momosphere about the pros and cons of time out. And I’m just going to go out on a limb and say, “I’m pro.” There. I said it. It’s out there, and I feel free having said it.  I’m pro timeout.

And as a pro-timeouter, here are some things I think you should know.

9 Life Altering Tips on Using Time Out Effectively

  1. Don’t isolate your child.
    Time out does not and should not mean “out of sight.” I like to practice what I call “time in” with our 5 year old twins. They can see me, I can see them. Isolation can trigger all sorts of detrimental things in a child, which can totally take the focus off of why they are there in the first place. I equate time out in an isolated area to locking your child in a closet. It’s not safe, and it’s not helpful. In my book, this is the most important thing for you to remember. (It’s why I made it number 1. I’m organized like that.)
  2. Don’t use time out for everything.
    As with anything else, if you use it all of the time, it will lose its effectiveness.  Time out should ideally be used as a way to help a child who is out of control collect himself, emotionally and physically; not for every little indiscretion (or big indiscretion for that matter.)
  3. Don’t use the one-minute-for-every-year-of-age thing.
    What? I know you’re freaking out right now. Isn’t this the ONE THING you thought you knew for sure about time out? The point of time out is for a child to collect himself. What if that takes longer than one minute for every year? What if it takes less time?
  4. Don’t tell your child to “sit there and think about what you’ve done.
    Most grown-ups aren’t capable of doing this, so no way a three year old can do it. Oh sure, they’ll start out thinking about the misbehavior, but then they’ll see a loose string on their shoe or a bug on the carpet, and then all bets are off.
  5. Do designate a time out place.
    You want timeout to be in a room where you will be during the time out. We like to use a special timeout chair for this because it just keeps things easy. Also, the chair can go with us when we travel, which is good. We place the chair in our hallway, fully visible from the kitchen or living area.
  6. Decide what behaviors warrant a time out and use it only for those behaviors.
    For us, we use timeout when our girls are out of control (having a fit, hitting out of frustration, yelling, etc.) any behavior that tells us the child is emotionally or physically out of control. We say, “When you are calm and ready to act appropriately, you can get out of time out.” I know you’re thinking that your child will just say, “I’m ready” and get up. But training will help conquer this pretty quickly.  If the child says she is ready, let her up. If you can see she isn’t ready, have her sit back down. Eventually, she will understand what “calm and ready to act appropriately” looks like.
  7. Use specific language about the time out.
    “Please go sit in time out for yelling at your sister in anger. When you are calm and ready to act appropriately, you can get up.” Or, “Please go sit in time out for talking disrespectfully to your dad. When you are calm and ready to speak nicely, you can get up.” You get the idea.
  8. Skip the Apology
    I know I’m going to get some heat for this one, but hear me out. Most parents typically end time out with some sort of an apology.  I’m not saying apologies are bad, but rarely are they meaningful when they are coerced. Instead of sending the offending child to apologize right away, give them the time to want to do it on their own. I know, I know, you think it will never happen, but it will, and when it does, it will be genuine. We usually say something like, “I’ll bet that really hurt your sister’s feelings when you yelled at her. When you’re ready, and you really mean it, you should talk to her about it.  More often than not, I find that they apologize on their own, and it comes from the heart.
  9. How to End
    When it’s time for the child to leave their time out chair (when they have calmed down and collected themselves) it’s a good idea to take a moment and talk about the behavior.
  • Child indicates they are ready to get up
  • You discuss how their behavior hurt someone else
  • If they are old enough, ask them if they can tell you why they are feeling out of control
  • End with these words, “I’m not mad at you. I love you.” Hug.
  • And then usually a reminder to go talk to the person they offended.

Okay, that’s it. And that’s a lot.  But if you begin practicing these new steps to time out, you’ll be amazed at what an effective tool it is in your parenting toolkit!

Do you have any great timeout tips you have as well? I’d love to know what they are, so head on down to the comments section and share, share, share!

Brought to you by Sweet Retreat Kids.

Join our mailing list and receive up to $75 off your next purchase

#sweetretreatkids #timeout

Jolly Jungle Time Out Chair

Jolly Jungle Time Out Chair

 

Using Time Out Effectively

Freddy Frog Time Out Chair

9th annual Nutella Day

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Nutella Hot Chocolate

Nutella Hot Chocolate

World Nutella Day 2015!

Now this is a holiday worth celebrating!  In fact, we would venture to say that most childhood memories include a Nutella story or two.  So, to celebrate “World Nutella Day 2015″ we thought we would kindly share a hot chocolate recipe we’ve passed around our family for many years now.  It’s so easy to make, it almost doesn’t make sense not to try it.

Prep Time: 1 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup serving

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup milk
2 tbsp Nutella
1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Just a pinch of sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine milk, Nutella and cocoa powder.

2. Stir until smooth, frothy and warm.

3. Add a pinch of sea salt just before it’s done.  This makes all the difference in the world.  A little salty, a little sweet!

4. Pour into your child’s favorite mug.  Then top with cocoa powder, mini marshmallows, cinnamon, chocolate shavings, or go crazy and pile whip cream high on top!

Send us your photos after trying this delicious Sweet Eats! We’d love to see them!

#timetogether #sweeteats #sweetretreatkids

Love this recipe and want to make it along side your little one?  Consider The Learning Tower by Sweet Retreat Kids.  It will help you create a safe environment for your little one to help in the kitchen. Create a love for cooking and teach them how to make healthy food choice early in their life.  They will love you for it.  It’s a win win.

The Learning Tower in Cherry

The Learning Tower in Cherry

 

Resolutions – Getting Back on Track

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New Year resolutions

Declare February 1st your “New” New Years Day

In a recent conversation with my six year old, she asked what New Year’s Day was for. We were at the grocery store purchasing food for our annual Happy New Year’s Day Foodfest (as we like to call it!) I explained to her that New Year’s Day was a day that we set aside to celebrate that it was a new year. She asked, “But WHY do we celebrate it?” I said, “Well, it’s a day for people to recognize that an entire year has passed, and a day to decide to make some good changes in their lives?”

She continued, “But why don’t they just make good changes in their lives every day? Is it because we can’t have that many holidays? Is there a rule about how many holidays you can have?”

Kids. They sure know how to ask the tough questions don’t they? Her point is valid though.

It seems kind of arbitrary to set aside an entire day, deem it a National Holiday, and watch as the world around us (and sometimes us included) parties like rock stars, and then makes resolutions about the good, the bad, and the ugly in their lives.

I used to think resolutions were dumb, because, well, I didn’t know too many people who kept them. And then I realized something. People are more likely to reach a goal if they set one in the first place. AND, if they set a goal, they are more likely to reach it if they write it down. And lastly, if they set a goal and write it down, they are more likely to reach it if they tell someone about it.

Now, I love it when people tell me they’ve made a resolution (or several) for the New Year. It means they care enough about their lives to go about making necessary changes.

So how about you, did you set goals as part of your New Year’s celebration? And if so, how are you doing at keeping them? If you’re like 97% of all Americans who made New Year’s resolutions, you’ve probably abandoned some if not all of them by now. But that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You still have almost eleven full months to reach those goals!

If you’ve gotten off track, here’s how to get back on the road to success!

  1. Go back and review your resolutions. Are they s.m.a.r.t. goals (goals that are small, that you can measure, and that are realistic for your life)? For example, let’s say you said you weren’t going to eat any fast food all year and then you realize that is just not realistic for your crazy, busy lifestyle. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air and ordering that giant burger with giant fries and a giant soda, adjust your goals. There’s no shame in that. Adjusting your goals is a smart way to be successful. For example, you could adjust your goal to something like this: “If I have to eat fast food, I will drink water instead of a soft drink, and I will get the fruit instead of the fries.”
  2. If you didn’t write your goals down, do that now. Several studies have shown how this tremendously increases your chances of success.
  3. Tell someone about your goals. You don’t have to broadcast them on Facebook, but tell a couple of close friends what you are working on changing this year. We all get by with a little help from our friends.
  4. Reward yourself when you achieve a SMART goal. When you set a goal, and you reach the goal, have some way to reward the fact that you reached a goal! The more you celebrate success, the more you will want to have future success!

If you made resolutions and you haven’t quite kept up with them, no worries. Declare February 1st your New Year’s Day and start over. Go rogue, make up your own holiday, live on the edge. Studies also show that risk takers have a higher percentage of reaching their goals and vacationing in Hawaii . . . okay I made that up . . . but my point is YOU get to decide. So why not decide to declare it a new day and get back on track changing your life for you?!

Brought to you by Sweet Retreat Kids

#sweetretreatkids #newyearsresolutions