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Cooking with Kids: Chop Chop Cooking Challenges

[…]their new creations out.  Then, go to the website, leave your comments with a picture of your kids with their tasty treats and that’s it!  Badge earned.     Would your kids love having their own cooking challenge where they can earn badges?  We call this cooking class 🙂   Be sure to check out the rest of the Cooking with Kids series.  To be a guest contributor for our weekly series, fill out this form. […]
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Cooking with Kids : A New Weekly Series Seeking Guest Writers – That’s You!

[…] Anyways, for quite awhile now I have been thinking about starting a new series called cooking with kids.  My three year old loves to cook and help me in the kitchen, even if it is just washing dishes.  I’m hoping this series will be tips for helping kids cook, types of jobs they can help with in the kitchen, and even meals that are easy for them to make. To start with, let me introduce my little helpers in case you are new around here.  Meet Maggie, my five year old little singer. Meet Charlie, my three year old, always wanting to help in the kitchen guy. Meet Henry, my 16 month old little hambone who just wants to eat everything in the kitchen. During any meal you can likely find at least one of these guys out there with a stool or chair helping with something.  While I have a ton of ideas on what I want to share with you guys over the course of this {hopefully} weekly series, I am hoping that some of you, my dear readers, as well as some of my blogging buddies will want to contribute.  You can fill out the form below to be a guest writer on my site.  Even if you don’t write a blog, you can still share your knowledge of cooking with kids.  I’m so excited about it and I can’t wait to hear what you all have to share. Loading… This week is just an introduction.  Now it’s your turn, I’d love to hear how young your little helpers are, as well as any specific thoughts, ideas or topics you may […]
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Cooking with Kids: Cookbooks

[…]tip of the iceberg when it comes to cookbooks for kids. Follow along each week for more cooking with kids fun.  The best part of the kids having their own cookbooks is they love picking out recipes and if they pick out their own recipes is that they are more willing to try new foods. […]

Cooking With Kids: Granola Topped Blueberry Pecan Muffins Recipe

[…]we all have to eat, right?  That’s why I’m so excited about this {not quite} weekly cooking with kids feature. Life can get busy sometimes, and having a snack with at least some nutrition in it feels like a win to me.  Maggie is always begging for something different than our usual yogurt, cheese, fruits, veggies, that kind of stuff.  Her current favorite is peanuts dipped in peanut butter.  I don’t get it.  Anyways, she has been wanting to bake something for awhile, so today we got around to it.  We made these delicious granola topped blueberry pecan muffins. I love giving the kids the chance to measure out the ingredients themselves – and if you are a homeschool family, this is a great way to get in some math lessons.  So, Maggie and I got busy measuring out ingredients.  For these muffins, you will need: INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 tbsp honey 2 large eggs 1/2 cup vanilla or blueberry greek yogurt 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 3/4 cups all purposed flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup milk 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries For the streusel: 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup Quaker® Real Medleys SuperGrains Blueberry Pecan 2 tbsp honey   Maggie had so much fun measuring things and the only big oops was when she dropped the container of yogurt on the floor and it spilled open and spilled all over the floor.  The dog was thrilled!  I wasn’t originally planning to add in honey, but Maggie loves honey and thinks that it should go on everything.  {She now wants to make peanut butter, honey strawberries}.   INSTRUCTIONS Let’s heat things up, shall we?  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill two cupcake pans with liners. I prefer my electric mixer, but go ahead and bust out the wooden spoon if you want.  Beat the butter until it is smooth. Add in sugar and brown sugar and mix until creamy. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla extract and honey. In a second bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. A little at a time add in the mixture from the first bowl. Add in the milk, mixing until smooth. Now comes the good stuff – add in the blueberries and the pecans and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Add mixture to lined cupcake pan, filling each one half way. Mix streusel ingredients together in a bowl and top each muffin. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. I recommend eating warm because they are so tasty but they also freeze great so you can make up a big batch and save some for a later date. When deciding what to cook up with the kids, I like to make something that has at least some nutritional value to it.  While Maggie likes to add honey to everything, I like to sneak in other wholesome goodness.  While we were shopping at Walmart, we came across something new that I knew would be perfect for our house.   Since Maggie is always begging for something different to eat for snacks, I wanted to find a compromise for us.  She wanted tasty and I was determined to give it to her.  When I found the Quaker® Real Medleys SuperGrains Blueberry Pecan and Quaker® Real Medleys SuperGrains Cinnamon Apple Walnut, I fell in love.  The Real Medleys SuperGrains Granola is a special blend of seven super grains and seeds and fruits and nuts providing fiber, omega-3’s and whole grains. Print Yum Cooking With Kids: Granola Topped Blueberry Pecan Muffins Recipe Ingredients1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 tbsp honey 2 large eggs 1/2 cup vanilla or blueberry greek yogurt 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 3/4 cups all purposed flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup milk 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries For the streusel: 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1/2 cup walnuts 1/2 cup Quaker® Real Medleys SuperGrains Blueberry Pecan 2 tbsp honey Instructions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill two cupcake pans with liners. I prefer my electric mixer, but go ahead and bust out the wooden spoon if you want. Beat the butter until it is smooth. Add in sugar and brown sugar and mix until creamy. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla extract and honey. In a second bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. A little at a time add in the mixture from the first bowl. Add in the milk, mixing until smooth. Now comes the good stuff - add in the blueberries and the walnuts and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Add mixture to lined cupcake pan, filling each one half way. Mix streusel ingredients together in a bowl and top each muffin. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes0.1 Now, whether we have time to sit down and be silly at breakfast or we are in a hurry, I know that we can start our day off right.  Not only are these blueberry pecan muffins great for breakfast, but they are great for snacking too.  The muffins are a great snack or breakfast for us, and the Quaker® Real Medleys SuperGrains make a great treat for anytime.  Maggie is pretty proud of how her muffins turned out {did I mention they are delicious?} Be sure to check out our weekly cooking with kids feature for more kid made foods, tips for cooking with kids or who knows what else!   What are your favorite ways to ensure you have ready to eat snacks for your family, no matter how busy life […]
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My week of vacation…..or not….

[…]aren’t mine. I am not being sarcastic either. I used to live 10 minutes from my sister and her kids got to stay with me a lot. Now I live 45 minutes away, so sick days and single days off of school aren’t quite as convenient. But still, when they have a few days or spring break or whatever, the kids have the option to come stay with Auntie or go to A + at school. I bet you can guess what they choose….ME!!!!! Why wouldn’t they, not only am I awesome (hahaha) but I have a fun little toddler and two dogs. Plus, not nearly as many rules. This week is spring break. Now, the biggest problem we face, is that we only have 2 bedrooms. Since my daughter is possibly the worlds worst sleeper, okay, not the worst, but definitely not the best, I have moved her into my bedroom for the week. This is messing with naps especially! We have room darkening curtains in her room which have seemed to improve nap time so much, but we don’t have these in my room. This means moving the rocking chair back and forth between the rooms because I still rock my 17 month old to sleep, or at least mostly to sleep. The other trouble is that my 5 year old niece doesn’t want to listen to me when I say it’s time to settle down because it’s almost time for Maggie to go to bed. So instead of quieting down, she throws the ball for the dog. So now instead of 10 minutes to get Maggie to sleep, it takes an hour……not liking this at all. It is seriously cutting into my me time…and I only get this at night as it is. Nap time usually involves waking up numerous times. On the plus side, my 10 year old nephew loves to cook and has been cooking all of our meals so far. Now…to get him to clean the kitchen when he is done. This is a huge help though, I hate cooking! Oh well, come back next week and hear all about our […]

Cooking with Kids: Summer Blast Trail Mix

[…]with the things they picked out in the store.  Pure brilliance, am I right?!  I love cooking with kids, but I really love that sometimes, cooking doesn’t involve a lot of work like this Summer Blast Trail Mix recipe.  Anyways, I took a few trays from my kitchen and filled each part with something different. I arranged the bags of Goldfish crackers along the back of my makeshift snack station and added a few containers for the kids to use.  They chose their favorite flavor of Goldfish crackers and then topped it off with whatever they choose to add in.  They had so much fun making their own trail mix for today.  We also mixed up a big batch to store for the week so we could just refill our reusable snack bags when we needed to head out for the day.  The kids and I had so much fun choosing our own mix ins for our Summer Blast Trail Mix, this was a win for everyone.   Gather your ingredients. Goldfish crackers in your favorite flavors.  If you all share a favorite, the bulk packs would be perfect and are on Rollback at Walmart for $5.98. Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) Bolthouse Farms® 10 oz. Baby Carrots or Bolthouse Farms(® 11 oz. juice when you buy any ONE (1) Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish® crackers 30 oz. or larger.   Nuts – we used  mixed nuts Dried Fruit – we love dried pineapple and dried cranberries Mini Marshmallows Pretzels Build your own Summer Blast Trail Mix just the way you like it. Start with your favorite Goldfish crackers.  Add in your favorites.  I love to mix the cheddar goldfish with some pretzels, mini marshmallows, dried fruit and nuts….so yeah, basically a little of everything.  Shake it up a little and get snacking.  Serve up your Summer Blast Trail Mix alongside your favorite fresh fruits and vegetables to some of your favorite people and let the memory making begin.  They had so much fun building their own snack that I know they will be begging to make some again very soon.  If you need me, I’ll be over here having a picnic  with the kids and eating some fresh strawberries and  trail mix.  See you soon! What are your favorite trail mix […]

Enter the Grand Walk In Wood Kitchen Giveaway

[…]set already, but if you want to add more accessories to your kitchen, Step2 has you covered with the Cooking Essentials 10-PC Stainless Steel Set and a 101 piece Play Food Assortment. Cooking Essentials 10-PC Stainless Steel Set This Step2 Cooking Set includes mini stainless cookware that will bring a new level of realism to your child’s pretend cooking time. This play set will go great with any play kitchen or playhouse. These pots and pans are sized to fit little hands and are crafted with a quality that will last for years! Made in China. Classic pots and pans are styled for realism Includes stock pot and two large pots with interchangeable lids, sauce pan, colander, spatula and two potholders Dishwasher safe Play Food Assortment This Step2 Play Food Set is a 101-pieces of pretend food that is a must have for playtime cooking. More accessories means more creative ideas from your little one when they play with their kitchen set. They’ll expand their imaginations as they cook up some fun treats with this accessory set! Play food set includes a variety of foods from fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, breakfast items, snacks and desserts Food assortment contents may vary per order Enhances playtime experiences with Step2 kitchens and playhouses I’m so excited to team up with Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy and a few other great bloggers to bring you a giveaway for the Step2 Grand Walk-In Wood Kitchen PLUS the Cooking Essentials 10-PC Stainless Steel Set and the Play Food Assortment! If you’d like a chance to win, just enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below. Giveaway is open to residents of the lower 48 US states who are 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 13th, 2017. Good luck! Entry Form Disclosure: Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy and the participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Images and item description are courtesy of Step2. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited. Please contact thriftyniftymommy {at} with any questions about this […]

Cooking Up Some Family Favorites with Jumbo Stuffed Shells #recipe

[…]favorites that we love to make, and the kids know their jobs! As a parent, any meal loaded with veggies that the kids love is a win, and our Jumbo Stuffed Shells recipe is just the thing.  In the summer, it is even more fun because we hit up the garden or the farmer’s market for some really fresh vegetables to add in.  The kids {sort of} help cut up the vegetables.  Most of the time, I have all of the ingredients for this already in the cupboard from our weekly shopping trips to Walmart.  Have you ever noticed that the pasta aisle is the busiest aisle in the store? To get started, gather all of your ingredients: 1 Box Jumbo Stuffed Shells 1 Jar Classico Pasta Sauce 2 tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream 1 lb. Mozzarella Shredded  Cheese Assorted vegetables, meat, whatever you want to add  We tried this Classico #FamilyFavorites sauce this time and it was a huge hit!  Not only is it a great price, but it is also made with real meat ingredients and the Parmesan & Romano had such a great flavor.   Cook the jumbo shells according to package directions.  While they are cooking, prepare the sauce mixture.  Chop up the vegetables to the size you prefer.  I like a smoother sauce, so we use a food processor.  Mix sauce, vegetables, heavy whipping cream and 1/2 cup of mozzarella shredded cheese in a saucepan.  Stir until warm.   Drain noodles.  I prefer to spray them with cold water to cool them off so we don’t burn our fingers trying to stuff them.  Now, this is where the kids can really get involved.  Using spoons, scoop sauce mixture into each individual shell.  The kids love this part, and the result is usually a bit of a mess.  Top each shell with shredded mozzarella cheese. Cool at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.  Scoop onto plates and dig in.  One of the things that really makes this a family favorite is that we can add whatever we want.  We could add meat, different vegetables, or whatever else sounds good that night.  This will always be a favorite meal because it gets the whole family involved in a healthy, family dinner that we can all enjoy.  Aside from that, it is a proven fact, at least in our house, that the kids are more excited for dinner when they  helped make it. Get some great money saving coupons on Classico sauce here when you buy 2 jars.   Are your kids little kitchen helpers?  What would you add to this stuffed shells […]
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Spring Cleaning Room by Room Day 3 – Kitchen

[…]blinds, light fixtures and ceilings. Spot clean any wall surfaces that have been splattered by cooking Use a wood cleaner to scour grease or cooking residue from cabinetry Clean oven thoroughly Remove knobs from the stove and clean all burners, handles, and surface.  Also clean the range hood  If food has accumulated in the dishwasher catch, dran and remove Wipe down surfaces of all appliances and clean the interior of the microwave Wash draperies Sweep and mop the floor Organize and sort through pantry, discarding expired items Remove dishes and wipe down shelves, also empty drawers and wipes them out Read the entire list here. What are your kitchen cleaning […]
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Yum yum yum

These two demolished the pomegranate while I was cooking dinner the other night.  So good for them and so yummy!   I’m pretty sure this is their new favorite food!  That is my treat after dinner and they ate it […]

#FluffyXmas Sponsor Spotlight *Source*

[…]in Connecticut.  She is a big cloth diaper and natural baby products advocate.  She believes in cooking with local, naturally produced foods and is involved in the local Farmer’s Market. Source diapers offers side snapping fitted diapers, AI2 diapers, wool and designer bibs and burp cloths.    Be sure to check out Source on Hyena Cart to see the latest and greatest she has to offer.  Or follow Source on Facebook to stay up to date.  I love this!!! Which diaper do you like best from the Hyena Cart shop?  Do you prefer fitted or AI2 diapers?  Have you ever tried wool?   Oh yeah, don’t forget to enter to win your choice of boy, girl or gender neutral diaper during Merry Fluffy Christmas! […]

Menu Plan Monday

[…]mac and cheese – super easy and fast and yummy. Spaghetti and green beans Homemade potato soup with cheese and bacon BLT’sGrilled ham and cheese and tomato soup Tator tot hotdish with bacon and cheese What are you having for dinner?  I would love to hear your ideas, we need something new.  I struggle with this however because I don’t like […]

Ham, Kale and Navy Bean Stew #Recipe

[…](16-oz) package fully cooked cubed ham 1 (32-oz) carton chicken broth GRITS: 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits 1 (8-oz) package shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese 2 tablespoons butter For Stew: Combine carrots, onion and potato in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Top with beans, kale, tomatoes and ham; pour in broth. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. For Grits: Cook grits according to package directions; stir in cheese and butter until blended and smooth. Serve stew over […]

Menu Plan Monday

[…]crock pot 🙂Wednesday:  Steak, potatoes and baked beansThursday:  Homemade macaroni and cheese with hamFriday:  Honey pecan pork chops and baked sweet potatoesSaturday:  Italian Soup in the crockpotSunday:  Chicken and rice hotdish – a big deal for me….I hate chicken…but that doesn’t mean my daughter has to 🙂 When I make dinner, I hope for either a meal made for two or something that freezes well.  I’m not a fan of leftovers, so I like meals where I can make it and freeze half or it for a later date.  Most nights for dinner it’s just the munchkin and I, so we don’t need a ton of food, but I want it to be somewhat healthy.  The problem is….I am a very picky eater!  I love cereal.  I could actually live off of cereal.  I would like to make oatmeal and eggs and other yummy breakfasts, but my daughter loves cereal as much as me, so mostly, that’s what we have for breakfast.  John makes eggs alot when he’s home, but the smell of them makes me sick with this pregnancy. I would love to hear your dinner ideas.  Anything you want to […]

Roasted Asparagus and Chicken Pesto Recipe

[…]and chicken pesto recipe turned out way better than the last pesto meal we had. In letting the kids help choose what we made with pesto, one chose fettuccini noodles, one chose chicken and one chose asparagus. I pretty much recreated one of my comfort food meals with all different things. The kids even helped me to prepare the meal and we had a great time making AND eating it. I’m happy to say, we found a way to love pesto and I still had leftovers for the next night. First, we gathered our ingredients. 1 jar Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto 1 box Barilla fettuccini pasta {or whatever style noodles you prefer} 1/2 stick butter 1 bunch asparagus  3 chicken breasts  Now that we have everything we need, let’s cook.   First, cook chicken however you prefer.  We pan fry it with some salt and pepper.   While the chicken is cooking, boil water and prepare pasta according to directions.  Mix together some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic salt and coat asparagus.  Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and add asparagus. Roast asparagus in over at 350 for about 20 minutes. I’m pretty flexible with the time.  I throw it in when I start the chicken and pasta and take it out when the chicken and pasta is ready.   Heat up Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto.  You can skip this step if you want, I just prefer it warm.  It will seem like very little sauce.  Do not add more.  With pesto, a little goes a long way!  I repeat – DO NOT ADD IN ANOTHER JAR! Drain pasta.  Dice chicken.  Add pasta to serving dish and slice up butter to mix in.  Then add asparagus, diced chicken and pesto sauce.  Serve warm. Save Print Roasted Asparagus and Chicken Pesto Recipe Ingredients 1 jar Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto 1 box Barilla fettuccini pasta {or whatever pasta style you prefer} ½ stick butter 1 bunch asparagus 3 chicken breasts Instructions Cook chicken Cook pasta according to package While the chicken and pasta are cooking, cut up asparagus into small pieces. Mix olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and coat asparagus with it. Add tinfoil to a baking sheet and roast asparagus at 350 for about 20 minutes. At this point, I also heat up the Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto but you can skip this step if you want. Dice chicken Drain pasta and add to serving dish. Mix half stick of butter to pasta until it melts. Add in chicken and asparagus chunks. Add Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto and mix all ingredients together. Serve warm. 3.5.3251 Now, remember when I say that I didn’t like the last pesto that I tried.  Let me tell you why.  The taste was so overpowering!  This is so much better because it has so much flavor.  Not only is the flavor amazing, but it is more of a creamy, smooth texture.  I have heard that you can use pesto on breads, as a marinade, or so much more but never would have even considered it.  The idea of using this as a dip for breads sounds fantastic and you can bet I’ll be trying that soon.   Knowing that all five kids knew that there was pesto sauce and all very much remembering our last experience, I didn’t hold out a load of hope that they would be open-minded about trying this recipe.  I hoped that the kids helped choose what to make and prepare it would help.  It was a hit.  While not all five kids loved it, they all ate it and most of them had seconds.  It was a great meal that we are happy to add into our rotation. […]

#TreatYourself with this Kids’ My Very Own Chef Set {Giveaway}

[…]reader will win a My Very Own Chef Set from Learning Resources.  My kids are having a blast cooking {play dough} with this set.  Durable, fun, and a favorite toy.  Check out just what my kids think about it here. Entry-Form   Be sure to enter to win this grand prize package, and then hop around to the other 60 or so blogs! Thanks for entering a chance to treat yourself to my giveaway, now it’s time to hop around to all the others, including the delicious Grand Prize. One lucky Winner will be treating themselves to a Year’s Supply of YumEarth Organic Candy, a Roku 3 Streaming Media Player, and 4 yummy bags of Lovely Candy Co. Superfruit Chews, Fruit Chews, Chocolate Swirl Caramels, and Chewy Original Caramels! ENTER THE GRAND PRIZE Treat yourself some more and enter on all of the participating blogs! Viva Veltoro, So Easy Being Green, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Treat Yourself participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize […]
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The Best Garden Fresh Pasta Salad Recipe

[…]bath night and everyone needs to get to bed.  The kind of beautiful where you need something with real flavor real fast.  The real trick – getting all three kids to eat it.  That’s why I love having some old favorites to fall back on like Smithfield Roasted Garlic & Herb Loin Filet and Garden Fresh Pasta Salad. Our garden is a huge production every year and we are so excited to plant for this year.  There is nothing like heading to the garden to pick fresh vegetables for dinner.  This time we didn’t quite get fresh picked from the garden veggies for our pasta salad but it was almost as good.  Today we spent the entire day outside.  The kids got to play but I was busy getting ready for the garage sale when my cousin said she had to leave to go to dinner.  Ahh!  Dinner – you guys!!!!  I wasn’t really prepared for this.  Because transitions like people leaving leads to the kids suddenly realizing how hungry they are, it gets pretty crazy so I had to think – and FAST!  Then I realized I could whip up dinner and spend the time outside, not inside where they were sure to get crabby.  Let’s get to the recipe. Garden Fresh Pasta Salad Ingredients One box of tri-colored rotini pasta 1-2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese 1 Green Pepper 1 Cucumber Handful of Cherry Tomatoes About 50 Slices of Pepperoni 1/2 – 1 Cup Zesty Italian Dressing {I’m working on perfecting a homemade recipe, I’ll let you know when I get it right} Cook the box of pasta according to directions. While the pasta cooks, get the grill ready.  Once it’s hot, check the package of the Smithfield Roasted Garlic & Herb Loin Filet for fast cooking tips.  Your meat will be done quick, after all, we’re shooting for dinner in under 30 minutes.   While your meat and your pasta are cooking, let’s get the garden fresh veggies ready for the pasta salad.  Wash and dice the green pepper.  Peel {or don’t peel} the cucumber.  Cut into slices, then each piece into fourths.  Wash tomatoes.   Drain noodles.  Tip:  After you drain the noodles, spray them with cold water.  They don’t get hard and all lumped together.   Now let’s add it all together.  In large bowl, add noodles, veggies, cheese and dressing and mix.  If your salad is ready before the pork loin, stick it in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. As a bonus – this dinner makes fantastic leftovers.  There wasn’t much left but John is taking a pork loin sandwich to work with a side of pasta salad.  He’s pretty happy to have something different for lunch.   Having something that all of the kids will eat isn’t always easy.  Maggie is kind of picky but LOVES pork.  That makes me love that Smithfield® offers a variety of marinated fresh pork products.  I can feel good about it because it’s 100% pork and delicious any way we cook it.  Next time you hit up Walmart, head to the meat section and grab your favorite variety of Smithfield marinated pork for a delicious and easy dinner.   How do you handle dinner on  those oops, it’s time for dinner kind of […]

Spring Cleaning Room By Room

[…]blinds, light fixtures and ceilings. Spot clean any wall surfaces that have been splattered by cooking. use a wood cleaner to scour grease or cooking residue from cabinetry. Apply oven cleaner to the stove or run the self – cleaning cycle. Remove the knobs from the stove top and clean the surface and burners.  Don’t forget to also clean the range hood. See if any food has accumulated in the dishwasher catch drain.  Remove. Wipe down the surfaces of all other appliances, and clean the interior of the microwave. Launder draperies. Sweep and mop the floor. Organize or sort through pantry items for expired ones. Living / Dining Room   The bulk of cleaning in these rooms will likely entail dusting and surface cleaning. Dust down all artwork, lampshades, furniture, ceiling corners, fans, fixtures, etc. Move furniture down the walls. Vacuum furniture, including under sofa cushions. Remove draperies and launder. Remove books from bookcases and dust. Clean electronics after unplugging. Dust decorative accents. Swap throw pillows and blankets for lighter hues. Remove items from china cabinets and clean. Polish silver flatware. Thoroughly vacuum flooring, carpeting and accent rugs. Steam clean or shampoo the carpet. I hope you find this checklist helpful.   Happy Spring!      […]

Save Big with Campbell’s for a Limited Time

[…]Picante Sauce: Genuine Southwest flavor. Guaranteed to add a kick to your snacking and cooking. Made with handpicked vegetables. V8® Fusion® + Energy: Refreshing energy drink powered Natural Green Tea to provide the boost you need to get through your busy day Campbell’s® Chicken Noodle and other select Campbell’s Soups: Soups that taste great and nourish the entire family. A quick and easy option for mealtime that pleases everyone. Prego® Italian Sauces: Rooted in Italian American heritage. Homemade tasting. The perfect balance of sweet and savory Italian flavor. You can also save on these products that make back to school a little easier! Campbell’s® Ready Meals SpaghettiOs® V8® Splash® Click here for great savings on your back-to-school […]

Day 22 #30things My future holds:

[…]school and sports.  Hopefully we will have paid off our house as well and began saving for the kids’ college! In 15 years, since the kids will be older, I hope to get back to playing poker.  I have really missed it a lot!  I’m sure I should have more goals that don’t revolve around the kids, but I don’t, and i like it that way. What about you, what are your goals for the next 5, 10 or 15 […]

Quality drinking water without the bottle

[…]except at our cabin, so I really have no idea if it is good water.  We cook with it, we fill the kids’ water cups with it, I assume it’s good for them.  But I wanted to know for sure, so we scheduled the test.   We have a water cooler that we get most of our drinking water from.  Recently, we have ran out of jugs for the water cooler more times than I can count.  We have had to make runs to the store just for another one, which means a 25 minute drive each way {wasting gas, time, energy} just so we have some jugs of water to drink.   Having a water filtration system would eliminate those trips to the store for water.  We were undecided if we really wanted to bother with one, but then, he did that fancy water test.  The one that showed that we had 198ppm in our water…yuck!  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s all of the gunk that is in our water that, well, isn’t water.  The good news is that there aren’t nitrates or nitrites in it, but it still looks nasty.  After seeing it next to the water from the portable water filtrations system that was our water only clean; I realized I wouldn’t be filling the kids’ cups from there again.  To say the least, I was grossed out!  What goes into my families body is important, and 198 ppm isn’t quite what I had in mind.  We may just be installing this because I’m not sure I want to use the tap water for cooking.   Did I also mention that we have very hard water?  As in off the charts?  Yep.  Know what that means?  Water spots, no soap suds, a dirty film on everything.  The system the guys said would work best for us would take care of all of these problems.  That means saving money on soaps, cleaners, lotions.  Plus, no more paying for jugs of water for the water cooler.  We always have clean drinking water without the waste of the jugs.   If you are in the Coppell, Texas area and are ready to get the quality drinking water that you deserve, give Reeves Family Plumbing Inc a call.  What goes into your body counts.  Be sure it’s good for you.  Right now, new customers can get $50 […]

If You Were Me and Lived In…{Review}

[…]children, favorite places, money, favorite activities, foods, special days, school and more.  My kids absolutely loved being exposed to different languages but their favorite part was learning about common names in different countries. What a fun way to introduce young children to different countries! If you can’t tell – we are so excited to have these books and cannot wait to add more of these titles to our list. My daughter picked them up and randomly would read through them which was great. I wanted to take it a little further though. I read them – one after another – which led to great discussions about the differences from one country to another {Norway to Australia was a great comparison}. It gave us a great opportunity to point the countries out on the globe and discuss what makes their temperatures the way they are. We learned so much more than just where the country is though, being able to glimpse into the culture of that country made learning even more fun. For added fun – we love to try cooking a traditional meal from different countries as we learn about them. Carole P. Roman has other amazing titles. Click the link below to read some more […]

Starting Out Camping

[…]had any sleeping bags. We stayed warm enough and had an absolute blast! The best part was – the kids woke up the next day and excitedly said, “We want to do this again next year but for two days with all of the same people!” So, now I’m shopping for a few more things to get us ready for our trip. Working on some sleeping bags for all four of us, some sleeping pads,  and a cast iron pan for cooking over the fire. That’s what we are getting for Christmas this year, camping gear! If you are a camping family – what are your must haves or tips to make this a fun and memorable experience for us? Any must see places in Ohio? We are for sure going to Hocking Hills but after that, not sure what all we will do yet. I love the Roadtrippers app so what do I need to add to our things to do on vacation […]

Let’s Go Geography Review

[…]and Create.  At the end of the weekly lesson, you will find printable pages that go along with that week. I love that each lesson contains a variety of activities. I want to share with you how we use this throughout the week. We work through the beginning part together – reading about the place and she does the mapping activity. {She is nine and could absolutely work through this part on her own, but I don’t want to print out every page and my computer is riding the struggle bus, so the less the kids use it, the happier I am}. She can choose to color the flag, do the coloring page, the craft or the writing at any point in the week.  I also add in any books about that place or anything about that place that we have.  We have a few atlas books that also have some information about wherever we are learning about.  If it’s some place where I have been, we look through my photo album and money or anything else I have related to the area.  We have a fun cooking around the world book so we cook some of the traditional foods for that country. Designed to be used by a variety of ages – K-5th grade, this allows you to do all or some of the activities in each lesson based on your child’s skill level.  As we read through the first few pages of the lesson, we like to compare the size and population of different countries to the United States. I absolutely love that everything is clearly laid out.  You can even find the call number to look up books related to that country at the library.  Day one of the program guides you in setting up a travel journal – a three-ring binder.  As we go, we use a three-hole punch and add all of the pages in the binder.  These are separated by continent and are a great way to keep track of what you have done and the countries you have learned about. Since Maggie is nine-years-old and is doing the work – I tend to ask her opinion on things.  Since I have been giving thought to what we will be using next year, I wanted to know what she thought about Let’s Go Geography.  Her opinion – “I love it!”  She is very much a project / activity-based person so this is a great geography curriculum for her, so her response was no surprise.  This has been a fantastic jump into geography for us and I love that she has the freedom to choose what activities she does when during the week.  Working on Honduras, she is already asking where we are learning about next week. If you would like to hear what some others have to say about Let’s Go Geography – click the image […]

Become a dining daredevil in 2014

[…]Fork Diners’ growing eco-awareness and their desire for the wholesome simplicity of home-style cooking and minimally- processed foods is on the rise. Riding this wave, restaurants are returning to their predecessors’ roots, sourcing fresh produce and natural ingredients and cooking them up in a style that more closely resembles the authentic recipes that graced Grandma’s kitchen table rather than modern, industrial food products. We dare you: When people hear “farm to fork,” they immediately think of steamed vegetables, but this trend encompasses more than just radishes and such. Tender meat alternatives and locally produced cheeses are two items to look for on the menu. Don’t be afraid to order something with a beet or two for an added super food bonus! 3. Tea Time, All the Time Once confined primarily to Asian restaurants, tea is an increasingly popular beverage. In 2014, you’ll find tea used for novel and surprising purposes. For example, ground teas like matcha and chai can be used as dry rubs and marinades for beef, chicken or veggies. Tea-smoked salmon and pork will both make headway in the new year, and English-style tea-time gatherings at local cafes will also be big. We dare you: To find these tea-fusion meals, take a trip to an Asian fusion restaurant near you and keep an eye out for tea-smoked pork, ribs, or stir fry. For an added bonus, try one of our other favorite food trends of 2014, a hot sauce like sriracha. Feeling brave? Why not tackle the rest of our top food trend list on the blog: Your tummy will thank you! Be social with Twitter – Facebook – Blog – Google+ *Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of  All opinions are 100% my […]

#Win dad an iPod Nano {Giveaway}

[…]Nano?? One lucky reader will receive an iPod Nano (MSRP $149)!!TO BE ELIGIBLE: Create a registry with at least 3 items on (or add an item to an existing registry if you already have an account). Use “MOMMY” in the “Referred By” field. All other entries in the Rafflecopter are optional.Sponsored by! Hosted by Bay Area Mommy, Katie’s Krazy Savings, & Filipino Cooking Recipes. Giveaway ends June 14 at 11:59pm EST. Open to US residents only. Must be at least 18 years old to be eligible. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment. will send the prize directly to the winner chosen randomly. See full terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter form. For questions regarding this giveaway, contact Bay Area […]

Prepare and Clean Up Lasagna the Easy Way

[…]sauce over that Layer with uncooked noodles again Spread the rest of the hamburger around Cover with cheese Cover with tinfoil Cook 40 minutes {approximately} Take tinfoil off and cook 5-10 more minutes until cheese is golden Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich […]

Cooking with Kids: Salty and Sweet Trail Mix

[…]favorites and some other goodies Mini Marshmallows Pretzels Chocolate Candies Directions Start with the Goldfish crackers.  We started with one cup of Goldfish crackers.  We added in about 1/2 cup mini marshmallows, 1/4 cup chocolate candies, and 3/4 cup pretzels.  See – a great way to talk about the different measurements, or for the younger kids, which is more / less than the others.  It involves a lot of conversation and even more giggles when somebody sneaks a bite before we are finished, after all, that is half the fun, right?! Anyways, after our {not so} precise measurements, we shook it up really well, then added in more of anything we decided we wanted more of in it.  We had so much fun working together and being silly and even more fun eating it.  You can bet that when it was time for Maggie to do her writing assignments, she made sure she had a bowlful of fresh fruit and a few handfuls of her new favorite trail mix.  Now her brain was ready to get to writing.   What stories will you create when you let your imagination run […]

Some common and not so common uses for coconut oil {Giveaway}

[…]minutes or until chips are lightly brown.  Add salt if you want.  Can be eaten plain or served with salsa or dip. Replace vegetable oil in recipes with coconut oil. Use in place of butter. Homemade coconut granola. Check out more coconut oil recipes here. Skin Care Shaving lotion – works as a moisturizer at the same time. Body Scrub Homemade deoderant – I am trying this! Homemade lip balm – trying this one too!  I go through a ton of chapstick. Diaper rash cream Nipple cream for breastfeeding Mix it in the bathwater and soak in it. Hair Care Leave in conditioner – trying this too, I have a lot of hair! Tame those flyways Other uses Natural toothpaste.   Aromatherapy Protecting a cut or scrape.  We have used it this way a lot since Maggie is constantly falling and scraping her knees. Feed it to your dog or cat. For more information on coconut oil: check out this video. For more information, visit: Tropical Traditions Gold Label What is Virgin Coconut Oil How to Use Coconut Oil Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil: Giveaway open to US and Canada.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on September 7, 2013.  Good luck!   Entry-Form Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.   If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring […]
Read more » Some common and not so common uses for coconut oil {Giveaway}

Chocolatey Pecan Pie Harvest Bars + Fall Party

[…]cup Mott’s® Apple Juice 1gallon  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray.  Separate just over 1/3 of the cake mix and set the rest aside.  Add 1 egg and melted butter, 2 tbsp brown sugar and mix until smooth.  Spread into bottom of pan and cook for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.  While that is cooking, mix remaining cake mix with 3 eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, Mott’s® Apple Juice, corn syrup, brown sugar and stir until mostly smooth.  Pour over the first layer after it finishes cooking. Crush  M&M’s® Pecan Pie 9.9oz and sprinkle over mixture in pan.  Sprinkle finely crushed pecans over mixture as well. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until sticking a toothpick in comes out clean.  Let cool. Top with Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Cream Cheese Icing and serve.   I hope you are enjoying the kickoff to fall this year.  The leaves are starting to turn, football is on and it’s time to really harvest our garden.  Soon we will have the cool, crisp air and bright colors on the trees.  What more can a girl ask for?  What are you cooking up this fall? Save Print Chocolatey Pecan Pie Harvest Bars Recipe type: Dessert Prep time:  15 mins Cook time:  60 mins Total time:  1 hour 15 mins Ingredients ~Pillsbury™ Moist Supreme® Cake Mix - I chose the yellow cake mix but whatever tickles your fancy ~1/2 cup butter, melted ~4 eggs ~1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar ~16 oz bottle light corn syrup ~2 teaspoon vanilla ~3/4 teaspoon cinnamon ~1 cup finely chopped pecans ~1 cup crushed M&M's® Pecan Pie 9.9oz ~Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Cream Cheese Icing or whipped topping ~1/2 cup Mott's® Apple Juice 1gallon Instructions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray. Separate just over ⅓ of the cake mix and set the rest aside. Add 1 egg and melted butter and 2 tbsp brown sugar and mix until smooth. Spread into bottom of pan and cook for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. While that is cooking, mix remaining cake mix with 3 eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, Mott's® Apple Juice, corn syrup, brown sugar and stir until mostly smooth. Poor over first layer after it finishes cooking. Crush M&M's® Pecan Pie 9.9oz and sprinkle over mixture in pan. Sprinkle finely crushed pecans over mixture as well. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until sticking a toothpick in comes out clean. Let cool. Top with Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Cream Cheese Icing and serve. No worries, there won't be leftovers. […]
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Sombrero Fiesta Dip Cups #Recipe

[…]is anything like ours, your kids love to snack, and you like to make it fun.  I love teaching the kids about all of the holidays and celebrating it with them.  Sometimes I go all out, and sometimes, I like to keep it simple.  Since Cinco De Mayo is coming up, I thought it would be fun to have a snack to go along with it.  It’s been a little hectic around here, so I opted for keep it simple. The kids begged me, so I picked up some Delimex Chicken Taquitos and some Delimex beef and cheese tacos on our last trip to Walmart.  We have had some rolled taco dippers before and I remembered how much they loved them so I knew they would be a hit!  Even though they gobble them up without anything else, I wanted to make it extra fun.  I thought about it for a few days, and then I realized that I could whip up a batch of Sombrero Fiesta Dip and I was sure that I had everything I needed on hand already.   Gather your ingredients. ~Chunky salsa ~8 ounces sour cream ~8 ounces cream cheese ~shredded cheddar ~shredded lettuce ~tomatoes ~green onions Now make it:    Mix the sour cream and cream cheese together.  Spread in bottom of dish. Add a layer of salsa. Add lettuce. Add cheese. Garnish with tomatoes and green onions.   Optional:  Jalenpenos, olives, taco seasoning, refried beans, corn My kids think these are the prettiest things in the world and are convinced that the cream cheese and sour cream is really ice cream.  They are weird, haha.  They couldn’t wait for the Delimex chicken taquitos and the beef and cheese tacos to finish cooking so they could dig into their fiesta dip cups.  Even dad can’t wait to dig in with them.   Do you make special foods to celebrate holidays?  What are some of your favorite foods to celebrate Cinco De […]

Passport to China + Review

[…]really loved the variety of different drawings and I had a lot of fun doing the activities with them {and I am NO artist}. Legos has become the kids’ very favorite thing to do when we are home.  I like to try to find a building challenge anytime we study a landmark from a certain place.  We all worked together to build the Great Wall of China.  Don’t just see Quicksketch and look at the picture.  Be sure to read through it for some learning challenges.  This quicksketch introduces them to the concept of depth in a picture.  Draw yourself in the front, draw yourself in the background.  Are they different?  It also includes an explanation on why the two should look different.  Before each section in the book you can also find facts on each continent. If you are a homeschool family or just want to bring more culture into your home, you will love the culture bundle.  What state or country will you learn about next?  What is your favorite thing about […]

When your kids room doubles as…… {Tuesdays Toddler Tales linky}

[…]works for us, at least right now.  The bedrooms are huge, and serve as multipurpose rooms. Both kids have slept with us since they were born.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It has worked for us and I love it.  As they get a little older and started sleeping better, I began putting them to bed in their crib, which is in our room.  Then, with Maggie, at one point, I moved her crib into her room {through the bathroom so still very close by}.  When she wakes up, she comes to bed with us.  The same will be true for Charlie, and all of the rest of our kids. However, we love to have company, and often times, that company stays the night.  We have an oversized queen mattress that we throw down on the floor in the kids’ room whenever we have company.  Then, Maggie just goes to bed in our room, which she loves!  A few weeks ago, we had my sister, her husband and the new baby staying with us, so we moved Maggie’s toddler bed into our room, the crib into our room because we are starting to use it with Charlie once in awhile.  Our room is also housing our exercise equipment so it’s pretty packed in there. Having the beds out of the kids’ rooms got us thinking.  Maybe, just maybe, we would make it a toy room only in there.  Right now, most of the toys are in the living room, but that makes the house look messy often times, and now that Maggie is a bit older, we let her play upstairs alone more often. I would really love to share more about our bedrooms with pictures, but they are so unbelievably messy right now, that I am not brave enough to show them to you!  So for now, the rooms are both jam packed with things and we can’t make up our minds on what we want to do.  In the mean time, there bedroom is decorated with these awesome jungle stickers that Maggie loves!  Each week, you will find the Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky with a different topic.  This weeks topic is our kids’ bedrooms.  Next week, stop back and link up your mommy confessions, these should be good. What do you want to share about your kids’ rooms?  Is it just a bedroom, or does it also double as a toy room?  Do your kids share a room?  Did you decorate with a theme you are in love […]
Read more » When your kids room doubles as…… {Tuesdays Toddler Tales linky}

We have a kids paradise kind of yard

[…]what we just got for FREE on Craigslist.   While John and his friend were reassembling this, the kids had to help!    Now I just have to survive the mini heart attacks I have when Charlie decides he is fearless and tries to JUMP from the top of […]

Effortless Caramel Apple Pies Recipe

[…]snack.  I knew the Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crusts would be a hit with the kids and get them in the kitchen helping mix up some goodness.  Let’s face it, if you are going to have pies, you need to have some Reddi-wip®, right?! The last thing I had to decide was what could we fill them with that the kids could do completely on their own.  I left that thought to rumble in my head while we shopped.  We ALWAYS have to pick up a gazillion containers of yogurt or I’m fairly sure we will all starve to death.  We always have our favorites but I couldn’t help but grab a few new flavors that are the perfect fall flavors AND would make the perfect filling for our tasty treats we were going to be making.  Dannon® Greek Yogurt; Oikos® Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt and Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt.  With the thought of caramel apples on my brain, I picked up some caramel and couldn’t wait to make these.   Since Friday was Maggie’s 5th birthday {what, seriously, how did this happen?}, that felt like the perfect time for a treat.  Now, we generally have tons of different types of yogurt in our house, but you will almost never see me eating greek yogurt, I am just not a fan.  Until now.  I’m serious here folks, the Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt is so delicious that I’m now converted.  Okay, I know you are now dying to know how to make these, so enough chit chat.   Here you go! Save Print Effortless Caramel Apple Pies Recipe Simple 5 ingredient caramel apple pie recipe. Recipe type: Dessert Ingredients Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crusts {they come in a 6 count package so you have to make 6. It's the rules} Reddi-wip® Dannon® Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt Caramel Sauce - I like the small cups for apple dipping just because they are the perfect size. Small apple Instructions Put caramel sauce in bottom of pie crust. Spoon Dannon® Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt into crust to fill. Add Reddi-wip® Top with an apple slice. 3.4.3177   Effortless Caramel Apple Pies Ingredients Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crusts {they come in a 6 count package so you have to make 6.  It’s the rules} Reddi-wip® Dannon® Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt Caramel Sauce – I like the small cups for apple dipping just because they are the perfect size. Small apple Directions Start with Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crusts Spread a layer of caramel sauce on the bottom of pie crusts Spoon Dannon® Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt to fill pie crust Add Reddi-wip® Use an apple slicer to core and slice apple.  Add apple slice to top of pie.  Not only are apples just tasty but they make a great spoon too. Serve them up to your favorite people and enjoy. The kids had so much fun making them but even more fun eating them.  It was a total win-win for her birthday celebration.  They got to have a delicious pie treat and I got away with a pretty healthy dessert for us all.  See the process from start to delicious finish. Everyone will love these Caramel Apple Pies that take less than a minute to make and taste amazing. #EffortlessPies AD #yummy #dessert #recipe #ontheblog #ourpieceofearthblog A video posted by Our Piece of Earth (@summers1405) on Oct 12, 2015 at 12:51pm PDT Leave a comment letting me know some of your favorite quick and easy fall recipes that the kids can help with.   Find more effortless pies recipes the whole family will […]

10 Ways We Use Lemon Oil

[…]kick that cough.  We use this a lot in the diffuser in the kids’ room if they have a cough. Cooking Lemon oil can be used in cooking for marinades to add that delicious lemon flavor. When applying lemon oil to the skin, direct exposure of that area of the skin to sunlight should be avoided for at least 12 hours. Edited to add:  My niece had tons of blackheads in her ears.  I applied a drop of lemon oil to the tip of a q-tip and rubbed it on the blackheads.  Within 2 days, almost all of them were gone.  This was after they had tried multiple other things with no results.   Disclosure:  None of the information available on Our Piece of Earth has been evaluated or approved by the FDA.  These articles should not replace using personal judgment or seeking medical treatment when needed.  They are also not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Talk with your health care provider or a certified aromatherapist before using essential oils.  All essential oils are not created equal, so do your research prior to using.   These are just some of the many uses for lemon oil.  This is absolutely one of my must have oils.  What are your favorite uses? If you are ready to pick up some lemon oil and put it to work at your house, you can find out how to order these oils here.  You can find more great articles on essential oils by visiting this page.  As always, if you have questions, please use the contact me here. Related articles 10 Ways We Use Thieves Oil Orange and Lemon Essential Oil #Giveaway 10 Ways We Use Lavender Essential […]

Games with your kids – 1

[…]it, I will start a weekly linky. This week, I decided to pick one of my favorite songs to sing with my kids.  Maggie and I have been doing this since she was just a few months old, and we sang it with Charlie the other day and got lots of smiles from him.  Warning:  Your baby should have decent head control, otherwise, be sure to hold your hands behind baby’s head. Hold your baby facing you and sway back and forth while singing: Tick Tock, Tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock Tick tock, tick tock, now I’m striking one o’clock Coo coo! (Gently raise baby into the air and back down one time) Tick tock tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock Tick tock, tick tock, now I’m striking two o’clock Coo coo!  Coo coo!  (repeat actions 2 times) Tick tock, tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock Tick tock, tick tock, now I’m striking three o’clock Coo coo!  Coo coo!  Coo coo!  (repeat actions 3 times) I hope your kids enjoy singing this as much as we do! Feel free to comment with a favorite song or game you play with your little ones.  And let me know if you would be interested in a linky each week to share songs and games with […]

Games with your kids – 1

[…]it, I will start a weekly linky. This week, I decided to pick one of my favorite songs to sing with my kids.  Maggie and I have been doing this since she was just a few months old, and we sang it with Charlie the other day and got lots of smiles from him.  Warning:  Your baby should have decent head control, otherwise, be sure to hold your hands behind baby’s head. Hold your baby facing you and sway back and forth while singing: Tick Tock, Tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock Tick tock, tick tock, now I’m striking one o’clock Coo coo! (Gently raise baby into the air and back down one time) Tick tock tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock Tick tock, tick tock, now I’m striking two o’clock Coo coo!  Coo coo!  (repeat actions 2 times) Tick tock, tick tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock Tick tock, tick tock, now I’m striking three o’clock Coo coo!  Coo coo!  Coo coo!  (repeat actions 3 times) I hope your kids enjoy singing this as much as we do! Feel free to comment with a favorite song or game you play with your little ones.  And let me know if you would be interested in a linky each week to share songs and games with […]

Design a Creative Art Space Kids Will Love

[…]to paint it first, I also wanted a more functional art space so pink it is. I stock the top shelf with coloring books and art books the kids can use for inspiration and new ideas. Some days, they use them a ton, other days they just use their creative minds. Some days for homeschool, I introduce a famous artist to the kids and we work on a painting that he/she has done. The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas may be their favorite. It is a great way for me to just leave a new art idea out for them and let them explore. The middle shelf is full of different types of papers. Printer paper, construction paper, watercolor paper, cardboard and more. There are also various different writing utensils. Pens, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, markers, oil pastels, watercolors, acrylic paint, tempera paint, bingo dobbers, wax crayons and more. I change up what I have on the shelf periodically. I add in more fun things to go with the holidays or seasons. Keeping it updated and fresh keeps the kids excited and makes their art projects more fun. The bottom shelf has different scissors, glue sticks, glue bottles, glitter glue, stickers, art stamps, stencils and more. I keep a basket with various things to use – craft sticks, yarn, hold punches, pom-pom balls, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, art aprons, paint brushes and whatever other random art things we have or find. The kids’ favorite part is having a place to hang their artwork when it’s finished. The cutest part is that Henry – who is four-years-old – asked me one day to build him a thing to hang his pictures on. So I am working on that – I will share it as soon as it’s finished. That is how we built an awesome creative art station the kids love to spend time at. If there is an art medium that the kids recently learned about, I try to add in those supplies and encourage them to experiment with it. Hours of fun every day and the table is the perfect size for all of the kids. Do you have an art center in your home? What items are your must-haves? What are your kids’ […]

What shall I do with the kids today? *Giveaway*

[…]own BabbaBox or order it for a niece or nephew, friend, busy mom that wants to do these things with the kids.   Right now, you can enter to win a years subscription of BabbaBoxes or a $500 gift certificate to crew cuts by J. Crew!  Head on over and like BabbaCo on Facebook and post your family’s holiday photo for a chance to win!  Give the gift that keeps giving all year long!   *Disclosure:  This article is sponsored by BabbaCo..  All opinions are 100% my […]
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Summer #BlogChallenge July 29 – Life in a nutshell

[…]of them since they were with us 40+ hours a week).  I am a Realtor, I work from home, take the kids with me to show houses, and get to spend my days with my little ones.  This means the world to me.   I did expect to have John home helping me, but the only way it works right now, is if he stays at his job, which means a lot of traveling out of state.   Odd as it may seem, I feel like life is way better than I ever could have imagined when I was growing up.  How about you?  How does your life compare to what you expected growing […]
Read more » Summer #BlogChallenge July 29 – Life in a nutshell

Our quest on raising drug free kids

[…]that we have kids of our own, I have noticed our dislike for people that want to give kids drug for everything.  We have given our kids medicine, but are trying to find more natural remedies.  I am becoming more knowledgeable.  There is a lot I still don’t know.  I love that we have a doctor who understands and respects our choices and doesn’t try to get us to give our kids medicine when it is something that isn’t necessary.  Our goal?  To be 100% drug free.  If you are looking for a  naturopathic physician in Scottsdale, be sure to check out Dr. Krystal Tellier.  We have a house down in Arizona, and I know that I would definitely give her a phone call if we needed a doctor in the area.   *Disclosure:  I was compensated for this post from […]

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Broccoli with a Twist

[…]broccoli from the giant stem so that it’s all in small, bite size pieces. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Add broccoli to pan. Drizzle olive oil over the top of broccoli. Dice garlic and sprinkle over the broccoli. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over the broccoli as well. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. {About 5 minutes in would be a good time to start cooking your LEAN CUISINE® Marketplace Collection Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese Empty into a serving dish if desired. Sprinkle with fresh shredded parmesan cheese. Go ahead – eat it all, we aren’t judging you. On a side note, I really contemplated adding bacon to it, wouldn’t that be amazing?! I love that it only takes minutes to prepare. It only takes minutes to eat too. Pairing this roasted garlic parmesan broccoli with the LEAN CUISINE® Marketplace Collection Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese made dinner a snap on busy nights. I love that there are organic ingredient options so I know we are getting a more balanced meal. We are using the LEAN CUISINE® Marketplace Collection to help us keep up with a balanced, satisfying meal plan for 2016. I’m telling you – this is going to be the best year ever. Print Yum Roasted Garlic Parmesan Broccoli with a Twist Ingredients3 bunches of broccoli 4 tbsp olive oil 1/2 cup fresh shredded parmesan 1/4 cup sunflower seeds 4 cloves garlic, mincedInstructionsLightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut broccoli into bite size pieces and spread onto baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil onto broccoli. Add minced garlic and sunflower seeds to broccoli. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh shredded parmesan.Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes0.1 How are you ensuring that your family has balanced meals this year? I’d love to hear your tips, ideas and quick meals. For more ideas, you are going to want to check out the Flavorful Moments Pinterest Board. Before you go though, leave a comment with your favorite tips for balanced […]

Save Now with Banquet and Chef Boyardee Rollback at Walmart

[…]#CollectiveBias I won’t say that I love cooking, but I do enjoy having a home cooked meal with the family.  But the fact is, it’s a busy time of year {well, it’s always a busy time of year} and I’m making it easy in the kitchen with Banquet dinners and pot pies and Chef Boyardee. After all, everybody needs a night off from dinner duty, and the rollback prices on frozen Banquet dinners and pot pies and Chef Boyardee cans makes it easy to save and spend less time in the kitchen. The rollback prices are just $0.80 for each frozen Banquet dinner and pot pie now through February 24, 2015 and $0.75 for each 14.5-15 oz can of Chef Boyardee February 9 – April 6, 2015. Tasty meals like Banquet salisbury steak and Chef Boyardee raviolis make dinner easy and delicious! Be sure to head to Walmart and stock up on this great deal while supplies last! See the entire list of meals on rollback price: Frozen Banquet dinners:   Chef Boyardee cans:   While shopping at Walmart, be sure to look for the Rollback signs for Banquet in the freezer section and Chef Boyardee in the Canned Food […]
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5 Ways to Explore Pretend Play

[…]so we have had a lot of picnics. Encourage conversation and role play.  I use to fight bedtime with the kids and wanted them to just be quiet.  Soon enough I realized that just wasn’t going to work.  We started having bedtime chats where we talk about what made us happy, sad and mad.  Then we talk about absolutely anything else.  My kids spin some crazy tales when they get going, and sometimes, 20 minutes later, I have to tell them it is time to stop.  We have the plush toys from the Inside Out movie that we use to talk about things from our day and role play through our feelings.   Play workshop.  Or hair salon.  Or spa day, etc.  Our tool bench is always a favorite, especially when we are using real tools for a project.  The kids will run and get their tools and try to help us out.  This is always a favorite and I love when they continue on with the workshop long after our projects have been completed.  We have spent the last few days playing beauty salon.  Today, I saw clumps of my hair on the ground from the {not really all that} gentle brushing.  It’s alright though, I have plenty and they have a blast!  Charlie gave me a beauty makeover for a solid hour.  The good news?  He kept telling me how pretty and beautiful he was making me.   Just talk with them.  Start a story and let them take over.  You will love where the adventure takes you.  And read.  Reading encourages creative thinking and will always be a favorite reason to snuggle around here. How about a doctor kit?  Doc McStuffins really brought that to life in our house.  The kids will spend endless hours fixing up their toys, each other, I get a check-up quite often too.   There are endless ways to encourage pretend play.  All you really need is your imagination.    So, put on your chef hat and let the fun begin.  What are some favorite ways to pretend at your […]

Step2 Great Gourmet Kitchen Set Giveaway

[…]Viva Veltoro recently posted a review of the Step2 Great Gourmet Kitchen Set in Neutral and her kids have been cooking up a storm. Be sure to check out her full review to see more photos and all the great details of this set. Information about the Great Gourmet Kitchen Set from Step2: Little ones will be cookin’ up smiles for years to come with the Great Gourmet Kitchen Set. With a spacious countertop, youngsters will be able to share the pretend play fun of their play kitchen with friends. This kid’s play kitchen features a contemporary, upscale design to match today’s modern home décor, including a double oven for twice the make and bake fun! The imaginative play fun never ends with this sturdy Step2 play kitchen. Made in USA of US and imported parts. Electronic stovetop burner features working lights and sounds, adding to the realistic role play. Modern-style kitchen features a double oven for extra pretend play fun! Play kitchen features a chalkboard for little ones to keep track of their grocery list. Realistic microwave, refrigerator and oven doors enhance the imaginative play. Large storage bins and extra cabinet space make clean up time quick and easy! Available in Neutral or Pink Requires 2-AA batteries, not included Recommended age: 2 and Up Exclusively available at Toys “R” Us for $129.99 Open to the continental US only. Ends 8/19/16 at 11:59 PM EST. Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck! Entry-Form Disclosure: Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy and the participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Images and item description are courtesy of Step2. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Please allow 4-6 weeks for prize delivery. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where […]

Raising Healthy Kids to Become Healthy Adults

[…]water volleyball.  Better yet, do it together and it will always be fun. Eat well.  I struggle with this but I’m always doing my best and keep our fridge stocked with lots of fruits and veggies.  Get your family in the kitchen together cooking, it’s more fun that way. Drink up.  Water, water, water.   Take the right supplements.  This can be the hardest part. Do you ever walk down the vitamin aisle and feel completely lost?  My friend, you are not alone.  I’ve felt that way so many times.  Whether I’m going in for one specific vitamin or stocking up, I’m always looking for the healthiest option but sometimes I have no clue what that means.  The labels can be so confusing.  Just last week, I went to Walmart to get some more and the number of options is very overwhelming. Click through the link below to find out more.  Whether we are talking food, vitamins or something else; labels should be easy to read and understand. Well, I have good news!  Now it is easy.  Nature Made, my favorite brand {and the #1 Pharmacist recommended vitamin and supplement brand*} is making finding the right product AND knowing what’s in it easy with their new labels.  I’ve been purchasing Nature Made Omega-3’s for years now and I absolutely love that they are rolling out new labels to make it very clear what you are purchasing.  They are taking the guesswork out of buying your Omega-3’s. The omega-3s naturally found in fish oil (EPA & DHA) have been studied extensively for their important roles in supporting heart health.1-2,† Not only that, but they are making them better.  Nature Made now features a variety of “burpless” Omega-3’s.  The special coating means no more fishy odor or aftertaste.  Nature Made® Omega-3 Full Strength Mini, 500mg EPA+DHA, Burplessare my new go-to. Nature Made® fish oil supply only comes from wild caught ocean fish, not farm raised fish.  With no added colors, artificial flavors, yeast, starch; gluten-free and purified to remove mercury‡, you can feel confident in your vitamins.   You can {and should} text OMEGA3 to 555888and watch a quick video from Nature Made to learn more about your Heart Health and Omega-3s at Walmart.  After all – you matter and so does what you put into your body.   †These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. * Based on a survey of pharmacists who recommend branded vitamins and supplements. ‡State-of-the-art purification processes to remove PCBs, dioxins andfurans, and mercury to ensure purity levels below 0.09 ppm, 2 ppt WHO TEQs, and 0.1 ppm respectively. 1 Delgado-Lista J, et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. British J of Nutr. 2012;107:S201-S203. 2 Mozaffarian D, Wu JHY. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. […]

Talking to your kids about strangers {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

[…]but especially dogs.  If we go to a park, or sporting event, or anything, where there are people with dogs, the kids immediately run up and ask if they can pet their dog.  Okay, not quite immediately, Maggie always tells me she wants to pet the dog, and I tell her she can go ask.  In these situations, I know that they are safe, but what about when I’m not always right there?  How can I really talk to my toddlers about this? One thing we do A LOT, is point out safe strangers, like police officers, fire fighters, or if we are at school, teachers.  Lately, we have had many opportunities to use these situations to show the kids what we mean.  We have been out and about and seen a few police officers over the last few weeks.  My kiddos love to say hi to people, and most of the time, people say hi back.  The police officers we have run across lately have also stopped and taken a second to say hi, which allows me to say…..Maggie and Charlie, this is a police officer.  If you are ever lost, or scared, or need help, you can go to a police officer and ask for help.   Bad strangers come in all shapes and sizes.  They don’t have to look scary to be dangerous.   Teach them to follow their instincts.  If somebody is making them uncomfortable, tell somebody they trust, right away.     Teach them to be assertive – NO, GO, YELL, TELL from the National Crime Prevention Council.  If they are uncomfortable or being put in a dangerous situation, teach them to say NO!  Run away, yell as loud as possible, and tell somebody they trust.   Talking to your kids about these things often to help them remember them if they are ever in a situation where they need it. Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is Stranger Danger.  Next week’s topic is Calling All Sports Fans.   How do you teach your children about stranger […]
Read more » Talking to your kids about strangers {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

Orange and Lemon Essential Oil #Giveaway

[…]Up in March Giveaway Hop Event, hosted by Lindsey Blogs and Viva Veltoro. We’re mixing up March, with a host of other bloggers, by bringing you fun (and in some cases delicious) giveaways in this Food and Kitchen themed Giveaway Hop! Be sure to hop around to them all and don’t miss the amazing Grand Prizes – a Born Free Bottle Genius™ on Lindsey Blogs and a Step2 Mixin’ Up Magic Play Kitchen at Viva Veltoro!   MY GIVEAWAY One lucky reader will win a 15mL bottle of Young Living Orange and Lemon oils.  2 of my favorite scents for so many things around the house.  Cooking, cleaning, or adding to water.  What will you use it for?  Can’t wait?  Need a bottle now? Entry-Form So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, and the Mix It Up in March participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize […]

Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Education Toys for Christmas

[…]out, Henry LOVES the broccoli {but beware with children under 3 because of choking hazards}.  The kids love this set that comes with peppers, peas, onions, carrots, celery pieces, broccoli, a fortune cookie, tongs, spoon for stirring, and the wok to cook it all in.  But, it wouldn’t be complete without the container to put it all in.  All three kids are always in the kitchen cooking it up, and Maggie never complains she doesn’t like something when it comes from their kitchen! While I think these 3 things are awesome gift ideas, there are a few other things from Learning Resources that I’m adding to the kids’ wish list for this year.  The Mental Blox and the Create-a-Maze.  What is on your kids’ wish lists from Learning […]
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Home School in the Woods Review

[…]penmanship quotes, note booking activities, lap book activities, maps, movies, activities that fit with the time period, fact file cards, cooking activities and so much more.  We use the vocabulary words as part of a matching game.   We begin each lesson by reading the text for the day that covers that day’s topic. Then we do the timeline and choose one or two other activities for that day. Maggie loves the timelines because it is simple and I love it because she always wants to talk about it as she adds them to the timeline. We always add in living books that we can read together and love finding videos that fit what we are learning about. I really love using The Daily Bugle as part of our daily writing.  I love that it also suggests for them to write a first draft on a regular sheet of paper, edit it as many times as necessary and then write it on the newspaper.  My daughter really loves that at the end of the unit, we get to have a Tribute to the Revolution party. Home School in the Woods has so many different topics to learn about.  Click the picture below to see  reviews on some of the other topics – I can’t wait to check them out myself!  Leave me a comment below and let me know what topic you want to study […]

Baby Brezza #Giveaway

[…]participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, or Instagram. Please contact thriftyniftymommy{at} with any questions about this giveaway. Information and images are courtesy of […]

Grilled Garlic and Red Pepper Potatoes Recipe

[…]was no stopping me.  I sat outside while the coals got white hot and played tennis and softball with the kids.  When it was time, I threw the Smithfield Garlic & Herb on the grill, put the cover back onl and went back to playing for awhile.  About a 45 minutes later I sliced up the potatoes by slicing each potato multiple times but not quite cutting all of the way through and placing them on some tinfoil.  Then I sliced up a stick of butter and placed it throughout the potatoes.  I mixed together some olive oil, garlic salt and Italian seasoning and brushed it onto the potatoes, making sure to get it into every slice of the potatoes.  Then I chopped up a red pepper – some I diced, some I cut into strips – placing them throughout the potatoes.  Then I wrapped it all up tight and added it to the grill for another 45 minutes.   I went back to playing with the kids and enjoying the gorgeous weather we have been having. And – the verdict is in – it tastes every bit as delicious as it smells.  I can’t wait to check out some of the other Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork to cook again.  It is perfect for grilling.  No mess, no fuss and I don’t have to sacrifice taste.  I am a believer and hope to pick up the Smithfield Peppercorn Garlic Sirloin next time. You can do so much with Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork.  Check out this delicious Smithfield Pork and Potato Planks Recipe! What are your favorite no fuss grill recipes?   Print Yum Grilled Red Pepper and Garlic Potatoes Ingredients12 Red Potatoes 1 Stick Butter 5 TBSP Olive Oil Garlic Salt Italian Seasoning 2 Medium Sized Red Peppers InstructionsSlice potatoes 3-4 times most but not all the way through and place on tinfoil Slice stick of butter and place throughout potatoes Mix olive oil, garlic salt and Italian seasoning in small bowl. Brush onto potatoes, getting into each slice Slice red peppers into strips and place throughout Cover in tinfoil Grill for approximately 45 minutesSchema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich […]

Books We Love: Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean

[…]your kids will love!  While the giveaway may be over, I am so excited to share one of those books with you.  Henry and I have been reading the Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean as a bedtime story.  He is five, almost six and absolutely loves our bedtime story time ritual.  If he had his way, we would read all night long! We read about two or three of the ocean creatures listed in this book.  You will first notice the gorgeous pictures throughout the book.  The ocean creatures are presented by the different oceans they are found in.  We are reading through the Pacific Ocean creatures and absolutely loving it!  Throughout the pages are fact boxes with details about the specific kind of animal, home, size and other amazing facts.  There are interactive questions in each section that lead to great conversations about the different animals.  There are also pop-up facts with other interesting facts about each of the animals. The parent tips in the back give you fun activities to do with your children to enhance your child’s learning. The colorful ocean map lists the animals found in each of the oceans.  There’s also a glossary in the back. We love love love the National Geographic Kids books and love adding new ones to our collection.  The First Big Book collection is definitely one we want to own all of!  This will be a great addition to our marine biology unit for this year. Each week we share a different book we love – see you next […]
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Doc McMaggie

I love when I catch the kids doing something adorable.  I love it even more when the camera doesn’t stop them from it.  I happen to like Doc McStuffins, so watching Maggie give Charlie’s new toy tractor a checkup was the cutest thing.   Are your kids big Doc McStuffins fans? Do they love to fix their toys […]

A Fun Way for One on One Bonding Time with Kids

[…]quiet activity for our one on one bonding time during nap.  I love having the one on one time with my kids and am so excited to share one way we have fun and bonding all at once. Let me share a secret with you.  You can thank me later.  Ready?  Spending one on one time with your kids, even with other kids in the house, doesn’t have to be difficult.  Amazing, right?!  It’s true.  Maggie and I tend to play games while the boys are napping, but I have to get a little more creative to have that time with Charlie.  Sometimes Maggie is playing games online, sometimes she is busy playing with her horses or princesses.  Another thing we do is each kid gets to stay up late once or twice a month to play a game, watch a movie, color, etc.. with me for some extra one on one time.  Charlie will just randomly come up to me with a game and ask me if I have time to play.  I DO!  If I don’t, I’ll make time.  These moments matter so much.  Not only are we making memories that will last a lifetime, we practice taking turns and he gets to learn how to be a good winner and a good sport if he loses the game. I made the kids some fun little tic-tac-toe bags for Christmas and we love to take them wherever we go.  They each have one and we switch out what we use for x’s and o’s every now and then.  Well, this time, we were going to be playing some serious tic-tac-toe and I was ready.  I picked up a package of OREO double stuf cookies that I knew the kids would be thrilled about, we had plenty of milk – GAME ON! What I didn’t tell them about yet was the #OREODunkChallenge but I knew they were going to love it.  I told them that we were going to have an #OREODunkChallenge so we had to try dunking our OREO in different ways.  The reality of it all – I have dainty dippers.  I didn’t know that was a thing.  It was hilarious to watch them dunk their OREO in their milk.  I am NOT a dainty dipper, in case you are wondering.  Usually they hear me telling them to get their fork out of their milk or something else just as silly, today I told them do it, do it.  We all had fun playing our one on one games. It’s a good thing I always have a package of OREO double stuf in the cupboard because I guarantee, the next game day, they will be asking for more.  Grab yourself some OREO’s from your local Supervalu using this store locator and let the #OREODunkChallenge begin.  How will you […]
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Salsa Mac & Cheese: Dinner on a Budget with Kraft Coupons

[…]meal in under 20 minutes so you can get back to the important things in life – like playing with the family outside.  We have on occasion used our homemade salsa for this which the kids really love because then they get to help cook dinner. What are your favorite summertime meals to get you and your family back enjoying the beautiful […]
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Summer #BlogChallenge August 14 Piece of advice to new parents

[…]born, I had said, I will never have my children sleep in my arms / on my lap.  I won’t rock my kids to sleep when they are almost 2.  My kids will cry it out and sleep in their bed.  I will give breastfeeding a shot.  Kids should be off the bottle by the time they are 1.  Ok.  Reality check!  From day 1, she slept with me in my bed.  What was I thinking?  I don’t want my baby to cry.  I want her close.  I LOVE breastfeeding her.  When she wants it, not when the clock says to.  I never imagined that I would still be nursing her at 22 months or that it would be important throughout that first year and after.   So that’s it folks.  Do what is best for your family.  Even when it goes against the norm.  In your heart, you will figure out what is the right thing to do for your kiddos and you and your family.  What you think you will do when you have a baby may just get blown out of the water by what you actually choose to do when that baby arrives.  That’s okay!   So, what piece of advice do you have for new parents?  (You are all wonderful readers, so I know you will be respectful of others advice / […]
Read more » Summer #BlogChallenge August 14 Piece of advice to new parents

Books We Love : The Beginner’s Bible

[…]me read from it pretty much every single day!  Seriously, if you are looking for a bible for your kids, or even one that would make a great gift, this is a perfect one!  The Beginner’s Bible By Mission City Press Illustrated by Kelly Pulley Have you found a children’s bible that you and your kids absolutely […]

Please a Hungry Crowd with this New Year’s Eve Kabobs Recipe

[…]toothpick flags. Now you know one of the foods we will serving this New Year’s Eve, whether home with just the kids or if some friends come out.  Grab this money saving coupon and let me know what you will be cooking up to celebrate the new […]
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What this girl does when it is -50 outside

[…]winter.  Since having two kids, I’ve adjusted a little.  While getting in and out of the truck with one kids wasn’t a big deal, two kids in carseats meant more time outside.  I had to protect my feet, so now, if it’s below zero and we are going somewhere, I put on really shoes and socks.  It really sucks.  No joke – I hate having to wear shoes and socks. Anyways, since I can’t remember a time where the temps were this low, I had to put on my flip flops and head outside for a picture.  Kind of looks like I’m on a white sand beach, doesn’t it?   What kind of crazy quirks do you […]

Keeping kids entertained on the go

[…] When it’s time to put it away, just roll it up and tie it shut with the ribbon attached.  My kids are obsessed with this thing!  They love chalk, so this doesn’t come as a shock to me.  And, at $10.00, it’s affordable and will get a ton of use!   Jeni Lynn Designs is one of my favorite Etsy shops.  Last year, I had the opportunity to review her car seat ponchos and we loved it so much we bought our son one too.   Between November 15 – 22, 2-13, you can win a $25 gift certificate to Jeni Lynn Designs!   How do you keep your little ones entertained when you are on the go, whether it is out to eat, the doctor’s office, or just waiting somewhere?   *Disclosure:  I received the car wallet and chalkboard roll complimentary for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and only influenced by my experience with the product and […]

Pocket Sous Chef + $100 Amazon Gift Card #Giveaway

[…]by Your Life After 25 blogazine founder Da Vinci, is a cookbook that promotes falling in love with cooking again! Da Vinci wanted to write an easy to follow cookbook that was jam packed with a variety of recipes as well as useful tips and guides. The Pocket Sous Chef has over 60 recipes that all feature an image. In addition, readers will find an accessory list, shopping tips, conversion charts and more. The Pocket Sous Chef was written with small families, singles, newlyweds/couples, students and busy professionals in mind. No longer will you need to slave over a hot stove just to make one meal for yourself or smaller portions of food. The Pocket Sous Chef would make the perfect gift for the holidays, bridal showers, Valentine’s day, or any other occasion for a fellow foodie or home cook. To launch the site and give you the opportunity to pre-order a SIGNED copy of The Pocket Sous Chef, we’re giving THREE lucky fans a chance to WIN a “The Pocket Sous Chef Prize Pack.” And because we appreciate all your love and support, everyone who signs up for our monthly newsletter during the giveaway period will receive a FREE $5 coupon for You can use it for the cookbook, one of our fabulous limited edition aprons, or our sassy wine glasses – the choice is yours! Twitter Party Details: RSVP here- Date: October 15 Time: 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm EST Hosts: @PocketSousChef, @YourLifeAfter25, @KristaMarieB Prizes: Ikea, Macy’s, Amazon Gift Cards, and The Pocket Sous Chef coupons. Hashtag: #PocketSousChef About The Author Da Vinci is a lifestyle blogger and author who works to “Entertain – Educate – Empower” her audience. With her desire to help people and passion for food Da Vinci hopes to enrich the lives of her fellow home cooks while letting everyone know you can cook and be fabulous. For more information, please visit or Follow Da Vinci on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram @PocketSousChef. Da Vinci is all about giving back! She is even doing something for Breast Cancer! Her wine glasses have very cute pink stems! Good Luck To You All And Please Help Spread The Word! The Pocket Sous Chef Launch Giveaway • 3 Prizes Available; Grand Prize: $100 Amazon gift card + $20 The Pocket Sous Chef e-gift., 2nd Prize: $50 Amazon gift card + $20 The Pocket Sous Chef e-gift., 3rd Prize: $50 Amazon gift card + $10 The Pocket Sous Chef e-gift. • Open to US & Canada. • Winners will be chosen at random through Gleam. • Giveaway ends October 17th at 11:59pm ET. • Winners will be notified via email or Twitter DM. • Each winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. • Mom Powered Media & associated bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. • Must be 18 years or older to enter. • Unlimited Entries • Void where prohibited. • Entering the giveaway means you agree to terms above. • Good Luck! Win A $100 & More for The Pocket Sous Chef’s Site Launch Giveaway! Win A $100 & More for The Pocket Sous Chef's Site Launch Giveaway! Disclaimer: Purple Monster Coupons did not receive compensation for this post. Facebook, twitter, pinterest etc are NOT responsible or liable in anyway! Purple Monster Coupons and all participating bloggers are not responsible for the prizes in anyway! If you have questions or want to work with us message Natasha at […]
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3 Ways to Have an Even Better Popcorn and Movie Night {Introducing the Perfect Pop App}

[…]5+ on iOS 7+.  Then, put the bag of Pop Secret popcorn into the microwave and enter the suggested cooking time located on the package.  This app is designed to only work with Pop Secret popcorn.  Then, turn up the volume on your iPhone.  Point the phone’s speaker towards the microwave and keep within 3 feet.  Start the microwave, then start the app.  While the popcorn is popping, keep your eyes on your iPhone for some fun facts and trivia.  The app listens to your popcorn popping and tells you the precise moment when your popcorn is perfect! You can say Goodbye to burned popcorn and hello to the best movie nights ever! Pop Secret is really excited about the new Perfect Pop app.  Not only do they want you to go download the FREE app, but they would love for you to take this quick, one question  brand survey.   What do you do to make movie night even better in your house?  What are some of your favorite […]
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Too Scoops Kids 2013 Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway Event

[…]ones (and a few indulgences for mom, too). You can win prizes from top brands such as: Binkd Kids, Cherished Moments, Chloe Pink, Cuipo, EarZings, Envie de Fraises, Flik Flops, Giraffe Bath and Body, Golly Gee-pers, Guzzie and Guss, Intelligent Potty, Isossy Children, Jubilee Collection, Kickboard USA, Little Poco, Manhattan Toy Company Matilda Jane Clothing, Millions of Color, MiniJoops, Mom’s Kisses and many more. Join us for a Pinterest Holiday Bash on December 18th to “Pin for a Chance to Win” prizes from our Holiday Gift Guide. Create a board “Too Scoops Kids Holiday Wish List” using hashtag #TSKHolidayGuide. a Rafflecopter […]
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30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me #30things

[…]a parent?20. Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.21. Describe your relationship with your parents.22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?23. What’s your favorite holiday and why?24. What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about parenthood?25. If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?26. What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?28. What’s your favorite quality in your spouse?29. What are your hopes and dreams for your prosperity?30. List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for. Want to join in?  It will be […]
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Cheesy Potato and Ham Casserole Recipe

[…]I want to eliminate baked on messes on my pots and pans or clean my counters and stove top  without scratching, I’ve got the solution.  The Scotch-Brite® Heavy Duty Scrub Dots Sponge  made cleaning up that baked on cheesy goodness a breeze.  The and the Scotch-Brite® Heavy Duty Scrub Dots Dishwand filled with dish soap allows me to easily clean-up the rest of the dishes in a snap.  The Scotch-Brite® Non-Scratch Scrub Dots Sponge cleans my counter tops and stove top in seconds.  Almost no elbow grease and almost no time at all and my pan was clean again.  Anytime I can get dinner cleaned up before any of the kids start falling apart is a win in my book.  The Scotch-Brite® Scrub Dots scrub the worst of messes fast and rinse clean for next time. What are your secret weapons for easy […]

#Win an Organic Cotton Bodysuit or Dress from Nohi Kids #GreenSchool

[…]GIVEAWAY One lucky reader will win their choice of in stock dress or bodysuit from Nohi Kids.  Not only will your kids look amazing, but they will be sporting some gorgeous organic clothing from a fun kids line.  I let my daughter pick out her own dress from Nohi Kids online and she wanted every single one of them. Check out my full review here and find out about the differences between organic and conventional cotton. Giveaway open to US only.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 19, 2014.  Good luck!   Entry-Form Be sure to enter the grand prize giveaway! One winner will receive an eco-friendly bookcase from Tidy Books; a Back to School outfit from KicKee Pants; a Waste Free Lunch Kit from Kids Konserve; $50 worth of YumEarth products; a $50 Gift Card to and a $50 Gift Certificate to Enter here. Disclosure: This contest will run through August 19, 2014 at 8:59 pm PST (11:59 pm EST). The winner will be chosen the following day and announced on Our Piece of Earth. No purchase necessary. US entries only. Must be 18 years or older to win. The sponsors provided me with free samples of these products to review, and I was under no obligation to review them if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to this blog and not to Facebook. Please note that Happy Mothering, Easy Green Mom, Brittleby’s Corner, the Green Moms Network and the Green Your School Year event bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. We have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. We will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 4-6 weeks for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist […]
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#Win a Keekaroo Height Right Kids Chair {Giveaway}

[…]way up to adults, this chair can hold up to 250 lbs! Stylish, beautifully crafted & added comfort with the Comfort Cushions, the Keekaroo Height Right Kids Chair can be used at the kitchen table or the bar, everyone in your family will want their own!   One lucky reader will win a Keekaroo Height Right Kids Chair & Comfort Cushion, valued at $229!    Open to the US only, use the rafflecopter to enter! Good luck!   a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this post & I am not responsible for the prize […]
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Day 16 #30things My 5 Greatest Accomplishments

[…]Accomplishments.  When I sit down to type this.  I can’t think of a thing.   1.  My kids.  They are still works in progress and I can’t wait to see who I helped to mold. 2.  My college degree.  I love having them.  I worked very hard for them and spent many sleepless nights to get them. 3.  The scrapbooks I have actually finished.  Someday, I will actually start both of my kids’ books. 4.  Selling my very first house as a real estate agent.  I worked so hard on that one and wasn’t quite sure what I was doing yet.  I was so proud of it.   5.  My blog.  Did you think I would forget to add that in?  I haven’t had my blog that long…not quite a year that I have actually been blogging regularly.   Those are the 5 that I can think of.  I imagine that there are bigger accomplishments, but I honestly can’t think of anything else right now.   What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?  Or even one of them, come on, spill the […]
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#30Things Day 2 My fears

[…]would happen to them?  Nobody can parent my children the way I do.  Would somebody else let my kids play the sports they want?  Keep in touch with their family?  Remember me? My other fear that I can think of is a fear of failing in front of my family.  I love them all so much, but sometimes I feel like we have to have the best and be the best.  There’s no real reason for it.  As far as I know, we aren’t in a competition.  Yet, somehow I feel like if we fail and admit our failures to our extended family, then we really are failures.   I guess these are the two things that I have come up with.  What are some of your fears?  How did they become your […]

Healthy eating made fun with Bento-Ware and Copy Kids {Giveaway}

[…]Giveaway Hop hosted by Mommy’s Favorite Things and Mama’s Baby Cupcakes. Anything goes with this hop, so you never know what goodies are hiding behind each link below.  After you enter my giveaway, be sure to check them all out for many more chances to win {think Christmas is coming}.  Each prize is valued at $25 or more. MY GIVEAWAY One of you lucky readers will win a prize pack worth $44.  You will win a Bento-Ware Laptop Lunches lunch box, as well as a Copy Kids DVD.  {Clicking on the names will take you to the review posts} Giveaway open to US only.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 11, 2013.  Good luck!   Entry-Form     DISCLOSURE: Mama’s Baby Cupcakes, Mommy’s Favorite Things and the “Whatever Goes” participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize […]
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Outdoor Gifts for Kids Who Love the Outdoors

[…]have these.  I started looking over Black Friday – but there are tons of them for great prices with great reviews. Trekking Poles. We do have one or two that we’ve bought on vacation and the kids fought over them. There were plenty of times when we were out in Glacier that I wished we all had some. I like the ones that adjust to a small size and fit on our water backpacks. Water Backpacks. Yeah, I bought these for our trip to Glacier and what a great decision that was! The backpacks have room for a few snacks and they can tuck a sweatshirt inside also. Plus – we add ice to ours and it makes a huge difference in how cold the water gets. Mine is bigger and holds our first aid kit, benadryl, water filter system just in case and whatever else I need.  You  can  read  more  about  the  differences  in  the  ones  I  bought  for  us  all  here. Snowshoes. I probably wouldn’t have thought of these but my eight-year-old asked for some today and I realized they really are fun. I have a few pairs but they are too big for him and we are planning to take them with us on our dogsledding adventure. {We are also going to Canada for a day to explore, so we will use them I’m sure}. Skis. My kids all enjoy skiing and my crew will ski all around the yard every day. We’ve found some for a good price at garage sales. Snow tubes or sleds or snowboards. Yeah, living in Minnesota, these are a must and we’ve gotten a bunch of fresh snow lately. The kids have lived outside!  It’s almost dark out and they just keep playing night after night. I was going to stop at mostly winter things but then I remembered a few of our favorites. Paddle Boards.  Our cabin is in a bay and we spend a ton of time there.  The kids love that they can paddle around by themselves. Kayaks.  We use these a ton at the cabin as well.  Maybe my sisters and I kayaked out one day and ended up at the bar…it could happen.     I realize I could go on and on with this list, but I’m skipping the things like good hiking shoes or winter boots, great outdoor wear, and lots more. However, I’m adding just a few things that came to mind when I think of gifts we would enjoy to use on our outings. What would you add to this list? You know…so I can start shopping for next […]

Bacon Cheddar Pull Apart Bread Recipe

[…]as well. Our party food was a hit, no surprise there.  How could it be anything but fantastic with pizza, pies and bread with bacon.  I’m clearly winning as a hostess this time!  One friend who was here commented on the crust of the pepperoni and when I started eating, I realized she was right.  It was crust perfection in every bite.  We were all salivating waiting for the bread to finish cooking and couldn’t wait to dig in.  To top off our game day party, we had a delicious Edwards Frozen Pie.  It was love!  I spent virtually no time in the kitchen and a lot of time watching some football and socializing.  I can’t wait to share the recipe for the bread with you, so keep reading. Ingredients Loaf of Italian bread 1 lb bacon 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 4 ounces cream cheese 1 stick butter, melted 1 tsp garlic powder I’ve got your attention, don’t I?!  Okay, so let’s whip this up real quick before our guests arrive, okay? Cook your bacon.  I prefer to have John cook it because I am a bacon burner but I had to do it myself this time so I tossed it in the oven. While the bacon is cooking, mix together the butter, cream cheese and garlic powder.  It doesn’t need to be smooth but make sure it’s all mixed together. Now, take your loaf of bread and cut diagonal lines about 3/4 of the way down the loaf, be sure not to cut all the way through the bottom of the loaf.  Continue making diagonal slits about an inch apart all the way down the loaf. After you have gone from one end to the other, turn your loaf a bit and make diagonal lines the opposite way from one end of the loaf to the other. Now it’s time for the good stuff.  Take your butter, cream cheese and garlic powder mixture and, using a knife, butter the bread throughout the slits of the bread.  Go both directions so all of the cut marks are buttered.  It doesn’t have to be neat, so go ahead and be quick, after all, there’s a party to get to, right? Now, repeat the process by stuffing bacon into the slits throughout the bread. Lastly, repeat again using the cheese, stuffing it into the slits. Wrap the bread in tinfoil and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted.  I like my cheese brown and bubbly so after 20 minutes or so, I unwrap the top of the loaf and cook it for a couple more minutes.   If you want some garlic dipping sauce, it takes seconds!  I used a few tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon or two of garlic powder and some oregano.  Mix it well, dip and enjoy. This bacon cheese pull apart bread is the perfect party food.  No worries about having enough slices of bread,  dig in and pull apart some delicious goodness.  Serve with some Red Baron Classic Crust Pepperoni and an Edwards frozen pie and amaze your guests with your hostess skills.  What are you waiting for?  Get in there and cheer your team on! Print Yum Bacon Cheddar Pull Apart Bread Recipe IngredientsLoaf of Italian bread 1 lb bacon 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 4 ounces cream cheese 1 stick butter, melted 1 tsp garlic powderInstructionsFry bacon. Mix cream cheese, melted butter and garlic powder until mixed well, may still be some lumps. Cut bread diagonally about every inch, cut only 3/4 of the way down. Cut again in the same way going the opposite way. Spread cream cheese and butter and garlic powder mixture into all of the cuts of the bread. Stuff bacon into bread. Stuff cheese into bread. Wrap in tinfoil, cook at 350 for 20 minutes. For browned cheese, cook about 5 more minutes uncovered.Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes0.1 What are your favorite party foods to serve?  Are you a pizza addict like I […]

Day 9 #30things People who have influenced me

[…]that I just can’t seem to tap into, but they made me who I am.  Some are things I want to do with my kids, and some are things I don’t.  They coached us in softball, I would love to do that!  But they fought a lot, I don’t want to do that.  When they died, it had a lasting impact on me (duh, right?) and my life took a crazy turn.  Because of the courage they gave me, I was able to get through it pretty well, at least I think so. 9.  Clare.  He is this older guy who was living in the nursing home right across from our school growing up.  My sisters and I would walk past there every day and he would come out to visit.  He always brought us a treat too.  A few years ago, he found our numbers and he still loves to call and chat.   10.  God.  I try to live my life in a manner he would approve of.  It doesn’t always happen, but I try.  I’m sure I am forgetting something important, but it’s late, I’m tired.   Who are some people who have influenced your life?  How did they influence […]

Books We Love: Barn Storm

[…]again, and to be honest, it is one of my favorites as well.  Plus, it rhymes.  I like that in a kids book. In this story, a twister hits Farmer Brown’s farm, setting off a silly, entertaining chain of events sure to have your kids giggling, pointing and asking for more. What is your child’s favorite book to read […]

Finally – the kids Cook It! with My Very Own Chef Set

[…]of veggies and now, they cook them in the pots.  They really love the two spoons that come with the pans, they can stir their food just like me.  The pans have such fun colors that the kids love.  They have soft, rubberized parts so even when Charlie bangs them on the walls, the floors, whatever, there is at least a little protection.  The easy to grip handles are just perfect for their small hands to hold onto, and the lid even has a spot for their finger to make it easy to lift.  The Cook It set comes with a pan, strainer, pot, lid, slotted spoon and serving spoon.  The lid fits both of the pans, and the pieces can all be stacked together for storage.  To keep from losing the spoons, we just tuck them into each of the handles.  Because they are toddlers, and they will put these in their mouth, they are dishwasher safe for easy clean up {the real dishwasher even}, but the smooth surface makes it easy to hand wash them as well.   The Cook It set will definitely last through the fun my kids will put it through!  Yet another Learning Resources product that I love!  You can buy your own here, or, enter to win one here.   What Learning Resources toys would you love to have for your […]
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DIY: Royal Silverware for Princess Party

[…]fork ~Press gem onto glue dot. ~Let dry. *Craft Tip* I prefer to put glue on a paint tray for the kids so they don’t make a huge mess with the bottle, and to keep them from covering the entire forks. They can use the paintbrushes to spread the glue around or place it where they want it.  Less mess and less waste. Tada!  Simple, easy royal forks that any princess will be dying to use.  Maggie actually took a few and saved them to use over and over {or until the gems fell off} because she loved them so much.  And, the kids were proud to show off their hard work at the […]

Enter to #win 3 Step2 Fall Collection Toys

[…]with “granite-look” counter tops. Toddlers will have hours of fun make believing that they are cooking in their very own play kitchen. With so many accessories and electronic features, multiple children can play together at the same time. Framed window with working overhead light and dish rack will encourage kids to make believe they are washing the dishes and play food while in their play kitchen Five electronic features: play phone, stove top burner, overhead light, oven keypad, and microwave keypad 37-piece accessory set included (colors of accessories and play food may vary) WonderBall Fun House: Your kiddos will have a ball with the Step2 WonderBall Fun House! Toddlers will enhance their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they toss the balls onto the roof. This magical playhouse has a bright color scheme and open design that will fascinate children. The compact frame of the fun house will fit inside a playroom or outside in the yard. The WonderBall Fun House will keep your kids active for hours! On the outside, toss balls on the roof and watch as they fall through the maze of activities, making fun plinking sounds as they go! On the inside, place balls on the planks and watch the fun “plinko” effect Working Dutch door provides open and close play Flip the balls into the house or into the maze with the included flipper Open design provides parents with a view of all the laughter and fun taking place Bottom basin is the perfect place to store the balls once playtime is over 12-piece accessory set included Lifestyle Custom Kitchen: The Step2 LifeStyle Custom Kitchen is a kid’s kitchen set that is designed to match today’s décor trends. It features a compact design that will look great in your little chef’s bedroom or playroom and includes plenty of accessories for multiple youngsters to play with. Toddlers and preschoolers will love the fun electronic sounds that resemble the noises of real appliances that you would find in an actual kitchen! “Stainless steel” oven, microwave and refrigerator enhance children’s play and provide valuable storage space Fun electronic cooking and microwave sounds Special frying pan and boiling pot with lid activate electronic frying and boiling water sounds in stove’s front burner Upscale, granite-look counter tops Decorative plate rack, storage shelf and sink with faucet Recycle bin and pull-out drawer Includes 20-piece accessory set Easygoing Wagon: Open a world of adventure and enjoy the ride with the by Step2 Easygoing Wagon, available in Pink or Blue. This innovative child’s wagon provides tots with a comfortable joyride as you take them on a stroll around the neighborhood, park or zoo. Kiddos will love the captivating colors and unique door that they can open and close when the wagon isn’t moving. A favorite feature of the Easygoing Wagon for parents is the seatbelts that will keep the little ones secure when the riding toy is in motion. Let the cruising fun begin with this durable wagon by Step2! Molded-in high seatbacks for comfort Four reflector decals for safety Easy-latch door makes it simple for a toddler or preschooler to get in and out of the wagon, while remaining secure when it’s moving Features Whisper Wheels™ for a comfortable ride Two seat belts included Large, easy-pull handle that folds for easy storage Two molded-in cup holders Mighty My Size Table and Chairs: Step2’s Mighty My Size Table & Chairs Set is an all-purpose table and chairs set that can be used inside a kiddos’s playroom, bedroom or outside in the yard. It’s designed with durability and style in mind to fascinate both parents and children. This compact activity table is perfect for arts and crafts, a pretend tea party, snack time and so much more! It features a large table surface that easily wipes clean. It comes with two chairs that store nicely underneath the table. Grand Walk-In Kitchen: The Step2 Grand Walk-In Kitchen will turn your toddler’s playroom or bedroom will turn into their own pretend restaurant. Cook up some fun with the electronic features, realistic appliances and spacious countertops to keep your little chefs entertained for hours. It provides plenty of room so multiple children can partake in interactive play fun! Includes three electronic features from the microwave, stove top and phone Attached dining area encourages multi-child play inside and out Spacious “granite-look” counter tops Large sink has realistic swivel faucet with push button Realistic “oak hardwood” foam flooring provides realism and comfort Includes 103-pc. accessory set Home Depot Pro Play Workshop & Utility Bench: The Home Depot® Pro Play Workshop & Utility Bench by Step2 is the ultimate toy workshop for little construction workers! Assembling birdhouses and other realistic wooden structures will enhance your preschooler’s fine motor skills. With so many ways to play, youngsters will be hard at work for hours of building fun. Pull-out utility bench expands and features a molded-in table saw with additional storage Electronic drill press will “drill” the perfect hole every time Working vice keeps projects stable while little ones are hard at work Utility sink and foam building pieces add to workshop realism Peg board lets kids hang their tools and doubles as storage when playtime is over Storage bins and cabinet space keep accessories neat and tidy Drill and nail holes are molded-in to the top of the workshop letting kids practice their hand-eye coordination and improving their fine motor skills Includes 76-piece accessory set Garden Fresh Kitchen: Bring the freshness of your very own “garden” indoors! This kitchen will help teach kids the importance of healthy eating by “planting” their very own veggies! “Chop” the plush veggies with the included “chopping knife” to cook up something scrumptious! “Working” spray nozzle arm can be moved left and right to “wash” the dishes and “water” the plants. The oven and fridge double as storage space when playtime fun is done. This kitchen set includes a 29-piece accessory set. Push Along Buddy: The Step2 Push Along Buddy is a cute parent-powered character riding toy for enjoyable push and ride fun. This compact red ride-on will be great for a stroll around the park, mall or neighborhood with your little one. Mini drivers will love pretending to steer the car and honk the horn on the wheel. The Push Along Buddy will make transitioning from a stroller to a buggy a breeze! Pretend steering wheel with honking horn Wide grip handle for easy maneuverability with two hands Durable construction wipes clean easily and lasts for years Included seat belt for safety Please use this paragraph to talk about your favorite item(s) in the lineup, for SEO purposes One lucky reader will win his or her choice of any 3 of the brand new Fall 2015 Step2 products! Which 3 will you choose if you win?! Open to the continental US only. Ends 9/4/15 at 11:59 PM EST. Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck! Entry-Form Disclosure: Viva Veltoro, Thrifty Nifty Mommy and the participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Images and item description are courtesy of Step2. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The winner must choose 3 different products from the 10 items mentioned above. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. Void where prohibited. Please contact thriftyniftymommy {at} with any questions about this […]

Peanut Butter Thank You Bars Recipe

[…]the next person, but I won’t forget how some families are spending their day.  I promised the kids that we would make some Peanut Butter Thank You Bars when we came home from the cabin and I couldn’t wait! When we were driving to finish up a ton of errands last week, the kids kept yelling out, “Our flag, our flag” every time they saw the USA flag.  It was incredibly adorable AND the perfect lead in for a conversation about Memorial Day and what it stands for.  Our conversation went something like this: Maggie:  Remember Taylor?  Umm, her soldier didn’t die, right? Me:  You mean Auntie Rachel, Taylor’s Mommy?  No, she didn’t die sweetie. Maggie:  Okay, good. So, we finished our conversation.  On the drive home from the cabin, she talked about Memorial Day a little more and I realized that what we really needed to do was make Auntie Rachel something special.  I’m working on a really awesome Navy sign for her but it isn’t done yet {a shame since it is suppose to be for her birthday which is THIS WEEK}.  Treats it is! You may have read a time or ten that I love M&M’s® and I love finding ways to add them into any recipe that I can.  This time was no different, here’s why.  When we were at Walmart shopping, we discovered something AMAZING. 1 For You, 1 For The Troops Seriously, as if I needed another reason to LOVE M&M’s®!  Well, I don’t need any more reasons, but here is another.  Did you know that M&M’s® were originally created for the troops?  Keep the tradition going and buy M&M’s® at Walmart or  You can check your local store to see if the representatives will be there sharing information on the 1 For You, 1 For The Troops campaign where MARS / Wrigley is showing appreciation of our troops by donating M&M’s® to the troops for every bag purchased at Walmart.  You can find specially marked packages of M&M’s® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate, 42 OZ, M&M’s® Red, White, & Blue Peanut, 42 OZ, and Skittles® Red, White, & Blue, 41 OZ {all are also available in the 11.4 or 14 oz sizes as well} in a special display. I found mine in the seasonal aisle. Alright, enough chit chat.  I’ve eaten half a pan of these already and now I’ll have to make more.  Are you ready for the recipe?  Here it is. Peanut Butter Thank You Bars Peanut Butter Thank You Bars Ingredients M&M’s® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate, 42 OZ 6 cups corn cereal 1 cup sugar 2 cups peanut butter 1 cup corn syrup 1 bag milk chocolate chip Directions Crush 2 cups of M&M’s® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate and spread on bottom of 9 x 13 pan Sort M&M’s® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate by color Melt sugar, peanut butter and corn syrup together on medium heat Add in corn cereal and mix thoroughly Spread in pan and pat firmly Melt chocolate chips over medium heat.  Spread on top of peanut butter mixture Arrange M&M’s® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate in a flag pattern Cool While these Peanut Butter Thank You Bars are cooling, fill some party bags with M&M’s® Red, White, & Blue Peanut or Skittles® Red, White, & Blue.  Print out the Thank You tags below and hole punch the center of each one.  Using red, white and blue ribbons, attach tags to each bag.  Use end of scissors to curl the ribbon.  These are the perfect gift to hand out to your favorite military  families or to box up and send to your favorite soldiers. These are so delicious, you should probably just make two pans so you don’t feel so bad when you eat them!   Here are the printable Thank You tags. What are your favorite ways to support our troops?  Do you have a favorite patriotic recipe?   Print Yum Peanut Butter Thank You Bars Recipe IngredientsM&M's® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate 6 cups Corn cereal 1 cup sugar 2 cups peanut butter 1 cup corn syrup 1 bag milk chocolate chipsInstructionsCrush 2 cups M&M's® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate and spread in bottom of 9 x 13 pan Sort M&M's® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate by color Melt sugar, corn syrup and peanut butter in pan over medium heat Add in corn cereal and mix thoroughly Spread on top of crushed M&M's® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate and pat firmly Melt milk chocolate chips over medium heat. Spread over peanut butter mixture Arrange M&M's® Red, White, & Blue Milk Chocolate in a flag pattern CoolSchema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich […]

Books We Love: Waiting for Winter

[…]winter arrives, and snow is falling….or is it? With page after page of fun illustrations, the kids will love the “snow” that they find.  I read this at a storytime and the kids all loved this story so much.  Follow squirrel and his friends as they go Waiting for Winter.   Books We Love is a weekly feature post.  You can check them out on our Books We Love […]

Books We Love: Time Travel History Chapter Books for Kids

[…]in these stories. Magic Tree House – I have to be honest – these have never been a hit with my kids. I know kids everywhere seem to love them, not sure what my youngest thinks yet, we haven’t read one of them. These books take Jack and Annie on an adventure every time the magic tree house appears in the woods. Where will they go next? The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. You may have heard of these, I’ve mentioned them a few times before. We really enjoyed this series. Peter, Mary and their dog, Hank discover ancient scrolls that transport them back to periods of time in biblical history. Each book takes readers on a journey through different Bible stories. There is also a dark force in each book trying to stop them. I’ve loved everything about this series!  Want to read a more in depth review, we have written about them twice.   Ranger in Time. Ranger is a time-traveling golden retriever who transports back in time to some great adventure. We discovered this series when a friend’s kid was reading one for a school assignment. You had us at the word dog! Anything animal related will always sit well with my kids and these stories are no exception. Wherever Ranger goes, there ends up being trouble but Ranger is there to save the day! These time-travel history chapter books are so fun for kids to read {or listen to you read} because they are about kids around their age going on these super exciting adventures! I KNOW that I haven’t discovered all of the amazing books that we need to so please – let me know if you have discovered a time-travel book that we need to check out! Looking for more great books to read? Check out weekly books we love feature. What should we read […]
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Books We Love: I Survived

*Disclosure:  Affiliate links may be included.* Raise your hand if you have kids who love these I Survived books! I’ve been reading them to my five and seven-year-olds at bedtime and they beg for more chapters every night. These exciting adventures take them back in time to real events that have taken place. Page after page, your kids will be begging for more. For more Books We Love, come back weekly to see the latest book. […]

Sharp objects and gender stereotypes

[…]cars.  On Monday, I saw 3 different posts asking about gender specific toys and if you let your kids play with certain things.  My answer is a resounding yes!  Both of my kids love their baby dolls as much as their toy cars. And, look who is learning to cut her food all by herself!  Such a big […]

Books We Love: Amazing Women

[…]those words and successes of others in front of my kids every day. One of the books I love reading with the kids is Amazing Women. There are over 100 women in this book. Each page talks about the life and accomplishment of each of them in short little snippets. Each week we feature books we love and I love sharing them with you all. Who is one woman who has inspired you in your […]

Make it With Kids: DIY Tie Blanket

[…]the knots.  Now, i’ve gotta run, there’s a game on and I have some little cuties to cuddle up with.  Go Pack Go!   Looking for more football day fun ideas the kids will love?  Check out this DIY football backdrop we set up for a last minute game day party.   What fabrics will you […]

Help Kids Through Their Emotions with a DIY Feelings Shelf

[…] A very brilliant lady taught me this game many years ago because she had these conversations with her kids.  I love that it gives the kids a name for their feelings and emotions as well as an outlet to talk about them.  Not only that, but I think it is a great way to relive parts of the day and catch glimpses into what they remember from the days.  I love when they ask me the questions too. Every night I ask, “Did anything happen today to make you happy?” My favorite part though, is some nights, Charlie will be sitting there and ask me, “Mom – you know what made me happy, sad, mad?  Do you want to talk about that?”  While I have loved making this a part of our bedtime routine, I wanted something else to help him express how he is feeling through the day.  The new Disney Inside Out movie game me a perfect platform to help him {and Maggie}.  Since the kids love stuffed toys, I headed out to Walmart to pick up all of the character plush toys from Inside Out – anger, disgust, fear, sadness, and joy.  You guys, these things are SO STINKING ADORABLE!!! I love hearing them talk with the toys, each other, and even their friends about how something made them feel.  Being able to express that helps them to have more fun with their friends and it boosts their self esteem because they are able to problem solve when those emotions come on strong.  Since the Inside Out plush toys have become such a big part of their days, I wanted to make them a special place to store them {you know, for those rare occasions they aren’t dragging them around with them}.  Below you will find instructions on how to do that.  But – do you know what else we found?  Inside Out fruit snacks!!!  If you can’t tell, I am excited.  I love love love fruit snacks and the kids think it is awesome because they wanted the Inside Out ones and I said YES! Gather your materials. ~Wooden board for top of hanging shelf. ~Wooden piece for bottom of shelf. ~Ribbon to hang it ~Wooden Letters ~Paint ~Hot glue gun, wood glue, whichever you prefer ~Stapler or screw gun ~Clothespin ~Fabric {optional}   To start with, we painted the letters and clothespin.   Glue them onto the larger board.   Then, we attached the thinner piece of ribbon to the wider piece.  I used two sided tape, but you could use clear glue, hot glue, or whatever else strikes your fancy.   Next, we used the screw gun to attach the ribbon to the front of the board.  We rolled the end of the ribbons 2 times, then screwed under the top so the screw isn’t visible because the ribbon covers it.     This next step was the trickiest part for me.  I didn’t have anything glued in place yet, because I still needed to attach the ribbon to the back of the wood panel.  I laid out the board with the ribbon attached to the front.  Laid the fabric down where I wanted it, had John helping me so I could  hold the shelf in place at the bottom and he could pull the fabric down and around to secure it at the back.  This step works best if you have an extra set of hands to hold it in place, otherwise, you could get it uneven.  We used clamps to hold it in place.Then, he screwed the ribbon in place on the back.  The next step is easiest when you hang it up first.  I used double sided tape at first, but then redid it with hot glue.  Whatever you choose, you want to attach the fabric to the back piece of ribbon to form a sort of backing for the shelf.  We also hot glued the wood to the ribbon and attached some of the extra fabric at the bottom to the underside of the shelf.     After that, you are ready to hang it wherever you choose and put those adorable plush toys on.  We use the clothespin to hang whichever character represents how we are feeling.  Some of them hang easier than others.  Anger and fear are the easiest.  With Disgust and Sadness, we are able to clothespin their head, but with Joy, we usually clothespin her arm. The kids love this. We hung it up in our living room in a quiet corner.  It gets changed quite a few times a day even though they drag the toys around with them wherever we go.  The kids are super excited to go see the movie on Monday.   How to you handle those big big feelings that little kids {and adults} have?  Would a feelings board help your little ones deal with their […]
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Getting Crafty with Green Kids Crafts

[…]and easy to read instructions.   On the back of each instruction sheet is another activity to do with your kids.  So far, we have only made the tile coaster, but tonight will plant our organic basil garden and sprout garden.  Maggie had a lot of fun making her tile coaster…especially when I walked out of the room to change her brother and she opened the glue on her own….and proceeded to dump it out and start without me.  Her tile coaster still turned out pretty good – see?  She did a great job and had fun!  The only activity in our Discovery Box that she needed a lot of help with was the fishing game because it involves tracing and cutting which she isn’t so good at just yet.  Once I do that activity for her though, I think she will have lots of fun playing with it.  Plus, once we have completed everything, we still have the box, which of course doubles as a toy to be played with every single day!   If you are looking for an easier way to get some craft time in without taking time away from your kids to find ideas, check out Green Kid Crafts.  You can teach them about our environment while having lots of fun together.    Be sure to check out Green Kid Crafts on Facebook for  more eco friendly craft ideas and a sneak peek at the boxes on their way!  Enter to win a 6 month subscription to Green Kid Crafts AND $100 to Michaels.  *Disclosure:  I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are 100% my own and influenced only by my experience with the products and […]

Getting Crafty with Green Kids Crafts

[…]and easy to read instructions.   On the back of each instruction sheet is another activity to do with your kids.  So far, we have only made the tile coaster, but tonight will plant our organic basil garden and sprout garden.  Maggie had a lot of fun making her tile coaster…especially when I walked out of the room to change her brother and she opened the glue on her own….and proceeded to dump it out and start without me.  Her tile coaster still turned out pretty good – see?  She did a great job and had fun!  The only activity in our Discovery Box that she needed a lot of help with was the fishing game because it involves tracing and cutting which she isn’t so good at just yet.  Once I do that activity for her though, I think she will have lots of fun playing with it.  Plus, once we have completed everything, we still have the box, which of course doubles as a toy to be played with every single day!   If you are looking for an easier way to get some craft time in without taking time away from your kids to find ideas, check out Green Kid Crafts.  You can teach them about our environment while having lots of fun together.    Be sure to check out Green Kid Crafts on Facebook for  more eco friendly craft ideas and a sneak peek at the boxes on their way!  Enter to win a 6 month subscription to Green Kid Crafts AND $100 to Michaels.  *Disclosure:  I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are 100% my own and influenced only by my experience with the products and […]

My little cowboy/cowgirl

This was the second time now that we have gone over to our friend Heather’s for the kids to ride the horses.  My niece, Madison loves horses, and so does Maggie.  They have so much fun getting to ride the horses and learn to do things on their own.  I wasn’t really sure how Charlie would react because he is scared of random things lately.  He would reach to pet the horses, then want to get away, and repeat that over and over.  At one point, I told Heather that when the girls switched horses again, I wanted to see if Charlie would sit up there for a picture or two.  Much to my surprise, he lunged for the horse shortly after I said that.  I sat him up there with Maggie and he loved it!  And then, he lurched forward to come down.  It was so cute, don’t you […]

Colgate Kids Crib Mattress #Giveaway

[…]flame retardants, and is available in three modern designs. To see a full review of the Colgate Kids Nuzzle Snuze, use this link!  To Purchase: Visit Colgate Kids to shop their variety of crib mattresses, or grab a Nuzzle Snuze for $389! To Win: Mommy’s Obsessions and Colgate Kids want to give one lucky winner a Nuzzle Snuze Crib Mattress of their own! Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 25, 2014.  Open to US only.  Good luck!   Entry-Form   The Giveaway will close late on the evening of August 25th. The winner will be chosen at random through  Giveaway Tools. The winner will be announced both on Giveaway Tools form as well as notified by email and announced on Mommy’s Obsessions Facebook. Winner must respond within 48 hours of receiving their winner’s email otherwise they will forfeit their prize and a new winner will be chosen. The winner will have their prize sent to them by Colgate Kids. Mommy’s Obsessions and other participating bloggers are not responsible for prize shipment. Must be 18 years and older. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google are in no way affiliated with this giveaway. No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited by law. US Only. For any questions contact Mommy’s Obsessions. Mommys Obsessions did receive compensation or product in exchange for the promotion of this event. This blog did not receive compensation for the promotion of this […]

Books We Love: Count to 100

[…]ask questions.  The questions have them searching the pages for answers so they don’t get bored with just counting their way through the book.  They get them thinking and talking and learning about so much.  Younger readers can learn to count, but as they grow, the book grows with them and they can work on multiplication.   While I AM an Usborne Books & More consultant and do get commission on any orders through my links, I truly share these books because above all, I’m a mom.  A mom who loves to see my kids succeed and grow and I love that books are such a large part of that for us. Count to 100   To purchase this book, visit the website and click on the party name or anytime orders.   I recently wrote about early math books for young learners.  It will be a series by age, I will try to update this post with the rest as soon as they are […]

My first garden is a success

[…]is my first time.  When I saw the first plants sprout, I got so excited!  Today I went out and with the kids help, we weeded the garden.  Now it looks great.  So far, we have green beans, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, snap peas and watermelon.  I think that is everything.  We also have tomatoes and peppers that aren’t outside yet.  I’m so stoked that my garden isn’t failing {yet, anyways}. And, I just couldn’t help but share this picture of the sky from earlier this evening.  It is so beautiful! How many of you are growing gardens this year?  What are you growing?  Feel free to share your tips with […]

Day 26 #30things People have the wrong idea

[…]themselves right away. To be honest, I fail at pretty much all of those things!  I “spoil” my kids so much.  I feed on demand, they sleep with me, I pretty much never let them cry it out.  If they cry, I give them a minute and then help them.  They still figure things out for themselves, but sometimes, all they want is mama.  The other thing I can think of, which I know as a nation, we are still somewhat divided on is gun control.  I don’t think taking away guns is the answer.  In fact, we have guns.  Lots of them.  All locked up.  A few years ago, when I asked John why we had so many, he said, this way, when the government or somebody else tries to take over, at least we can protect ourselves.  If people plan to kill, they are going to do so one way or another.  You can take away the right to own guns, but do you really think the people that need them taken away are really going to give them up?  I don’t.  They aren’t really the law abiding type.  I’m all for stronger mandates on mental health screening beforehand though.  I like owning guns.  I’d really like my conceal and carry license.  But most of all, I love to shoot.  I don’t even hunt with a gun, just a bow, but I love to shoot.  And where we live, we can go out in our yard and shoot if we so choose.  I would hate to see our right to do so taken away because there are people out there that aren’t using them for good.  Like John says, if they take away our right to bear arms, that makes us targets.  The bad guys will still have them, and we will no longer be able to protect us.  That’s my piece.  Agree or disagree, either way, it’s alright with me.  We are after all, all entitled to our own opinion.  What do you think is the notion that society has […]

Finding my parenting groove

[…]for more patience, more guidance, the right words to fix something, the right actions to teach my kids what I want them to learn.  I don’t get it right every time, but every so often, I find my parenting groove and realize, I’ve got this!  I can do this parenting thing and my kids won’t be too screwed up. When Maggie is crying really hard, and just can’t calm herself down, I always tell her, it’s okay to talk to God and ask him to bring peace and good feelings into your heart so you aren’t so sad anymore.  He will always listen.  This morning, after telling Charlie the same thing for what seemed like the millionth time, I said out loud, I am going to be a rotten mommy today, I can tell.  A few minutes later, this gorgeous, incredible, and completely amazing little 3 year old said to me….   Mommy, you can just ask Jesus to help you not be a rotten mommy today.   The only thing I could say was, “You are right, Maggie.  I will do that.”  And I asked God again for more patience with my little boy who is so curious and has leadership qualities that make me crazy.  It’s been a struggle lately, but amidst all of that, I had tears in my eyes.  I sat there beaming at Maggie, so proud of who she is and how thoughtful she is towards her friends, her brother, and even me.  I realized in that moment, that it’s alright not to be perfect.  That every now and then, I hit that parenting groove and if only for a short while, I’m an awesome mom, and these two are learning from me.  That they are seeing the good more often than the bad and maybe, just maybe I should stop beating myself up over […]

DIY Shaker Eggs + 15 Things to Fill Them With

[…]duct tape. ~Anything else you want!  Check out the list below for ideas on what to fill them with to give your kids a fun sensory experience.  They can learn through hearing and through what it feels like to shake the different things.   How to Make Them Fill plastic egg with items of your choice.   Close egg and tape it together.   Shake. Here are some of the things we fill the shaker eggs with. Rice Beans – we have used lima and kidney beans Pom Poms Googly Eyes Jingle Bells Rocks Beads Buttons Toothpicks Coins Pasta Broken Crayon Pieces Barettes Bobby Pins Sand   Bonus Idea I really love that not only do they make fun sounds when you shake them, but they are great for the older kids too.  I can sit down with my 2 and 4 year old and have a collection of items for them to look at, all things that we have used to fill the shaker eggs.  Then they can shake each egg and guess what is inside of […]

Finding one on one time with your kids

[…]at least for the moment.  I vowed in that moment, that I would always find ways to do something with her that she loves, without her having to think about or include her brother.  Both of my kids deserved one on one time with me, so I began figuring out ways to do it.  While I want to foster their love and support for each other, spending time with me individually is something I feel is important for us both. Plan a date night, each week, month, every other month, whatever works for you.  I don’t leave my kids very often, but just this last weekend, Maggie and I had a date night at the children’s theater.  We had so much fun together!   Find an activity they enjoy and dig in.  For Maggie, that is quite often reading books.  Or, going on magic carpet ride adventures.  Those are the best!  I love where her imagination takes us.   Let them help you cook.  Both of my kids like this, and not always at the same time, so this gives me a chance to involve them in every day life things.   Ask silly questions.  We ask questions that can be anything from what is your favorite vegetable {which is what she asked me during lunch the other day}.  We take turns asking questions, it leads to giggling almost every single time.   Bedtime.  The kids actually have separate bedtimes at the moment, and even when Charlie refuses to sleep and is still awake, he goes into his crib or the pack-n-play unless John is home so that I can have a few minutes with Maggie as I tuck her into bed for the night.  We talk about our day.  What made us happy, sad, mad, or anything else.  We say our bedtime prayers and kiss each other good night.   Take 10.  Or 20.  Fit in the time when you can.  For us, there is usually a short period of time between when Charlie goes to sleep and when Maggie’s nap time is.  We have started playing games together.  Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho Cherrio, Memory, and, one of the new games we have been playing is the Take10 Alphabet Cookies game we received from Learning Resources for review. I love games that help the kids learn in fun ways.  Maggie has really been interested in letters, whether it is identifying them or writing them.  While she doesn’t have all of the letters down yet, she is doing well, and this game is a ton of fun for her to play.  We spread out all of the letters, spin the spinner, then find that letter.  She can find the right letter almost every time.  We even play that you can steal the letter from the other person if they have it already, she is really good at that.  In fact, if you see us play, it seems as though she memorizes what letters I have because those are the ones she finds the fastest.  We just play this way until we have all of the letters.  There isn’t really a declared winner, but then we practice saying the letter names as we put them back into the bucket. Yep, the bucket.  The storage bucket.  I heart toys that come with their own storage container!  This makes this a good toy for us to take with if we are going out to eat.  We can play it as we wait.  It is the perfect amount of time to fill this gap, and still keep her attention.   And while this post is about spending one on one time, and this game is great for ages 3+, Charlie loves to play it with us sometimes.  We just change it up.  We take turns calling out a color and then try to find a letter in that color.  It’s a fun way to teach Charlie colors, and they both get so excited about it.  The colors on these lifelike looking cookies are an added bonus.  Not only are they the fun colors that Learning Resources offers on all of their products, but it can help out when Maggie gets stuck on a letter.  I can give her a hint about the color of the cookie.  Then, she can narrow it down a little bit.  Another thing I noticed, is that all of the vowels are red, making it easy for them to learn the difference between vowels and consonants.   Take10 Alphabet Cookies comes with game suggestions like the first to collect 5 letters, name something that starts with that letter, or find the letter with your eyes closed.  Or, you can just make up your own games too. We practice spelling out simple words, which works good for simple words with no double letters.  Although, we ended up with two of these because our first set was faulty and had 2 of 2 letters and was missing 2 other letters.  Learning Resources shipped out a new set to us immediately when I contacted them about it.   If you are wondering if this would be a good game for younger than 3’s, my answer is yes!  When I use to teach, I had a few 2 year olds who could identify every letter because we practiced every single day!   There are endless games you can play with the Take10 Alphabet Cookies game.  What game will you play?   Buy it:  Visit Learning Resources and pick up your Take10 Alphabet Game or any of the other fantastic letter learning games, or buy it on Amazon.   Be social ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest   Win it:  Learning Resources is giving one of you lucky readers their very own Take10 Alphabet Game! NOTE: If you have won a Learning Resources giveaway on any BLOG during the past 6 months, you are ineligible to win this giveaway! Once 6 months have passed, you can enter again. Thanks!     Open to US only.  Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 13, 2014.  Good luck!  ******Giveaway closed******   *Congratulations Claire R* *Disclosure:  I received compensation in the form of the above mentioned product.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and only influenced by my experience with the product and […]

Is There a Difference Between Cotton and Organic Cotton?

[…]it all starts. Speaking of the dress that she was wearing, you have to check out Nohi Kids.  Nohi Kids is a kids clothing line that carries eco friendly clothing for the little people in your life with sizes ranging from newborn up to 7/8.  I have fallen in love with Nohi Kids and their little girl dresses, and I’m not alone.  When Maggie wears this dress, she will ask me if people will love her pretty dress.  It’s adorable {the dress and the kid}.  The ruffled, layered look of this dress is so cute.   Buy it:  Right now, you can save up to 25% off of your Nohi Kids order with code thankyou25, so get shopping and let me know what you are getting for the little one in your life.   Win it:  From August 5-19, you can win your choice of dress or bodysuit from Nohi Kids.  Enter here.   Do you buy organic and eco friendly clothing for your family? […]
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Books We Love: Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims

[…]you want to leave Europe?  What will you do when we finally see land?  And so much more!  The kids and I enjoy these stories as part of our family read-aloud time.  I get to see things from a different perspective as I read to the kids. Follow along every week as we share books we love.  Have you read the Rush Revere stories?  I’d love to hear which one was your […]
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I have a confession….

[…]sure this is a parenting fail on my part, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!   Do your kids sleep in bed with you?  In their crib?  Some other sleeping […]

I have a confession….

[…]sure this is a parenting fail on my part, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!   Do your kids sleep in bed with you?  In their crib?  Some other sleeping […]


[…]the turn my life has taken.  Ultimately, this is absolutely what is best for the kids and I but with that come many difficult choices.  As we begin 2018, I am struggling with how to go from a stay at home mom to ultimately, being their provider.  I go from having hobbies that I make money at to turning those hobbies into income to provide for us.  This year will be full of so many changes for us.  As we move through January, I hold hope for a great 2018. If you see me – I’ll be the girl filled with hope for this new adventure.  What is your word for […]

Nail Painting Fun

[…]period of time during his day being sick the other day, we sat down to point our toenails.  The kids got to pick out their own colors, they each picked out two.  And they got to paint their own nails.    Maggie picked out purple and then purple sparked.  Charlie picked out a purple and orange so he is ready for halloween. The toughest part for me was reaching my toes long enough to take off the old polish, but now I have a greenish – yellow thing going {Go Packers} .  We had a lot of fun painting our toenails and now the kids keep showing them off every chance they […]

Christian Audio Review: For The Temple

[…]Temple was. Mary in particular created a lot of conversations for us. In large part, because my kids have a fascination with weddings so every time that was mentioned in the story, they couldn’t stop asking questions about it. Throughout the story, they kept asking if they were married yet, the ending was so exciting for them! I love that the study guide is broken up by the different parts of the story. There are three different parts of the study guide. Listening well, Thinking further and Defining Words. Listening well is great for the comprehension of the story. Thinking further encourages them to dig deeper into the story and what really gets them thinking AND talking about the story, and their questions. Then you can talk more about the defining words in that part of the story. The study guide also references different passages of the bible that relate to the story.   We enjoyed the story so much, especially the twists and turns it took near the end.  We were so close to the end of the story and just couldn’t get out of the truck until we finished the last two tracks on the CD.  As soon as we got back in the truck, the kids were asking if there was another CD to hear even more of the story.  I’d say it was a hit!  There are other audio adventures you can listen to – I think With Lee in Virginia will be our next one.  To hear what over 70 others thought about For the Temple – click the image […]

Decorating the kids’ room *My Wonderful Walls Review and Giveaway*

[…]them, know that it has been thoughtfully designed by them, carefully hand made by them, packed with affection and delivered to you with their personal seal of approval!    At My Wonderful Walls, you can find wall stencil kits, stickers, or wall art for that special kid in your life.  I was super excited when they agreed to allow me to do a review!  The hard part now was picking what I wanted.  I so badly wanted to get something cute and girly for Maggie, like the Bugs and Blossoms sticker kit, or something fun and boyish for Charlie, like the Dinosaur sticker kit.  In the end, I went with the Jungle Safari wall stickers kit since they share a room and that’s the theme we have going right now. You can also purchase personalized signs or banners to match!   How fun is that, your kids will love it!  I didn’t think it would be fair to only have one kids name, so I wasn’t going to get it done, but they said they could do both names!       We had recently added some vinyl wall clings to our dining room and it was a bit difficult, so we were nervous that these would be difficult as well.  When they arrived, I was so excited, that of course I had to open it immediately!   I opened it up and realized that this was going to be much easier than my experience with the vinyl wall clings.   First of all, this isn’t some small kit.  The wall mural kit includes 45 large fabric wall stickers!  They are all made from SafeCling fabric that won’t stretch or tear.  They are repositionable, reusable and layerable.  Knowing that, I was still curious, would they work that good or not?  Well, we put them up, and John is pretty artistic, and very much a perfectionist, so it seemed like it took him forever!  I can tell you, I would have had it done much faster!  These stickers were awesome!  They went up easily and stuck right away with no problems.  John layered the tree leaves with the branches and they all still stuck.  I love the handmade paper look of the stickers, and they have no white edges like some stickers do, so it really looks like it is painted on the wall.   The stickers really are peel and stick.  No mess.  So, we got the stickers up, loved it, and had dinner.  Then, Maggie went to play.  John went up in her room to tell her to look at her awesome wall, and …..well, she had already looked at her wall.  And decided to rearrange the stickers.  She said, “Look daddy, I put the elephant down here.”  So.  I bet you are wondering if they really stick to the walls again, right?  Yep, they sure do.  We ended up with dog hair on some of them (we end up with dog hair on everything), and they are still sticking to the walls.  We forgot to take a before picture!!! As John was putting the stickers on the wall, I kept noticing all of the stickers in the kit.  The birds and flowers that I didn’t even notice when I pulled them all out to look at them, the clouds, the little things that made it much more realistic. I love that there are so many, we could have decorated a bigger wall, or even 2 walls, but because of how much stuff is in their shared bedroom right now, we chose to do it this way.  But, because they are movable, we can change it if we decide to change their room!   If you want to see more, check out these videos:wall stickers: stencils: canvas wall art:  Overall, we love our wall mural sticker kit from My Wonderful Walls and will probably get a few different ones when the kids have their own rooms.  If you are looking for some nursery wall art, be sure to visit My Wonderful Walls and get it done in style!  Be social with My Wonderful Walls!Shop now and save 15% of everything with code MOC124 Facebook – Twitter – Pinterest – YouTube Want to win?  One lucky reader will win $100 gift code to My Wonderful Walls.Giveaway open to US and CanadaWill end 11:59 pm EST on February 8, 2013  a Rafflecopter […]
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Cough and Cold Comfort #Giveaway

[…]hands is your number one defense against germs – and Kandoo Foaming Hand Soap makes kids want to wash their hands. The foaming bubbles along with the great scents make handwashing fun! Click here to read more and to download a coupon. 5. Drink lots of fluids Drink, drink, drink! Try to encourage your kids to drink one extra glass of water a day during cough and cold season to help stay healthy. Enter to Win a Cough & Cold Comfort Giveaway Basket Complete the form below to enter to win a cough and cold comfort giveaway basket. One lucky winner will receive a Crane humidifier, a Boogie Wipes and Kandoo care basket and a $50 Amazon gift card. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm ET on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. One winner will be randomly chosen and notified via email. Complete the form below to enter. Good […]

Books We Love: Last Stop on Market Street

[…]been using Beautiful Feet Books Character Training and we absolutely love it because it is packed with so many books that do exactly that – show kids examples of ways they can be amazing people. Last Stop on Market Street shows contrasting character traits – a young boy who complains about the things that are happening or he has to do and his grandmother who finds the good, beautiful things in every situation. I love that! I try so hard to find the good in whatever is happening to us so I can totally relate to the grandmother’s character and how she shines a light on every situation they face. Each week we share books we love and I love to hear your favorites each […]

#Win an iPad Mini

[…]or Google Play. Here at Peachy Keen, we had the pleasure of reviewing the 123 Tracing Free app with Kids Academy and I want you to have the same opportunity. My children also reviewed the 123 Tracing Free App and liked it immensely. They love all the apps offered by this company. Let’s see what you think about it! As mentioned, as a THANK YOU for reviewing this free kids app, Kids Academy is offering my blog readers who review this product, a chance to enter to win an iPad Mini! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! Now, please REMEMBER that you will not be eligible as an entrant, if you do not review the above mentioned app on the iTunes Store. You can download your app for your device wherever you need, but it MUST be reviewed through iTunes. Please review your free app “123 Tracing Free” here and remember to write a quick review, at least TWO SENTENCES. Then you will be able to enter the giveaway for the iPad Mini. It’s THAT simple! You must leave the name that you used when you left a review about the ABC Tracing app on iTunes in the Rafflecopter form. By doing so, you are eligible to win an iPad Mini. The form will open up for a few other easy entries to up your chances of winning. This is also a way for us to verify that you did indeed try out the free app. Please do include your thoughts in a comment if you have any you’d like to be shared. Here’s what you need to do in a nutshell: If you’d like to read up on the company and other Apps they offer. CLICK HERE 1. Download the app onto your device (smartphone or tablet).(Can also download iTunes on your computer if you do not have device that supports iTunes.) 2. Go to the iTunes store and review the app on iTunes APP LINK. You must review on iTunes or your entry will be disqualified. 3. Agree to the terms in the Rafflecopter, that you did in fact download the app and give an honest short 2 sentence review. 4. Leave your name that you reviewed the app under to get credit for your review. It’s awesome that Kids Academy is giving our wonderful readers a chance to review the kids app titled, “123 Tracing Free Educational App” and also for giving them a chance to win an iPad Mini as a thank you for trying the app and giving us your feedback. I know that my kids love the app and I know yours will as well. Good luck to everyone! GIVEAWAY TIME One winner will receive an iPad Mini. US Residents 18 and up. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will be chosen randomly via the Rafflecopter entry form and will be emailed. Check back on It’s Peachy Keen For the winner’s annoucment post.Entries WILL be verified. Any questions. Please direct them to Winner will have 48 hours to claim prize before a new winner is chosen. Giveaway ends February 21 at 11:59pm EST. a Rafflecopter giveaway Sponsored By Kids Academy/ Hosted By /Co-Hosted By […]

Day 11 #30 things Stop doing that!!!

[…]and sit on their smartphones the whole time ignoring each other…especially when they have little kids and pay no attention to them. 7. People that just plain sit on their tushes and watch other people work. 8.  People who push for kids to be put on medicine for ADHD so they sit still and make life easier for the teachers…..I knew a teacher that did this a few years back and it just isn’t right! 9.  Super loud music. 10.  Negativity!!! Okay, this is sort of my list of pet peeves, although it was tricky for me to write.  What are your biggest pet […]

Books We Love: Very First Book of Things to Spot Out and About

[…]or anything.  It was great and all, just not a favorite.  Turns out that it was because my kids weren’t at the awesome age for the book yet.  The other night, Henry {just turned 2} pulled it off the shelf to read at bedtime.  The kids all had fun pointing and talking about the fun pictures throughout the book.  Henry LOVED it and I loved seeing his face searching the page for whatever I asked. Very First Book of Things to Spot Out and About Check out the rest of the Books We […]
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I made the leap to using coconut oil thanks to Tropical Traditions

[…]oil fan and will continue using it in our home.  I can’t wait to try out some yummy recipes with it!   Stay in touch with Tropical Traditions on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.    I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my […]
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Valentine’s Book Giveaway + Free Printable

[…]brave kids can save the world, just by being brave. Thoughtful text from Stacy McAnulty paired with vibrant illustrations from Joanne Lew-Vriethoff encourage kids to be brave in all the ways they can: trying new things, speaking theirmind, confronting bullies, and more. This book will inspire kids to follow their hearts and to have courage, no matter the situation. Beautiful: Every girl is unique, talented, and lovable. . . .Every girl is BEAUTIFUL. Much more than how one looks on the outside, true beauty is found in conquering challenges, showing kindness, and spreading contagious laughter. Beautiful girls are empowered and smart and strong! BEAUTIFUL breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential.  Giveaway ends 2/6/2019 at 11:59 pm EST Open to US and Canada Entry-Form Grab your FREE Valentine’s Day printable […]

Our Sunday Funday

[…]dinner outside.  The neighbors were outside playing and Maggie kept saying she wanted to go play with them.  Now, to be completely honest, we have lived here over 3 years and only even talked to the neighbors a few times.  We just don’t see them that often.  So, we finished eating and went over to say hi.  When all was said and done, it was a few hours later when we walked back to our house.  The kids had a ton of fun.   The neighbors have quite the garden and it is all so delicious!  The snap peas and rhubarb are my favorites!  I’m shocked that I have never eaten fresh rhubarb before!   Here are some pictures from our day. How was your weekend?  Ours was so much fun, you can read about our Saturday fun here. […]

Books We Love: That’s Not My Elephant

[…]Not My Elephant makes my list of favorites AND Henry’s list because the simple repetition paired with the touch and feel pages with different textures on every page make reading and exploring this book so much fun for both him and I.     Not only is this book fun, but there is an entire line of That’s Not My …… books with the same fun, rhythmic repetition that kids love.   To find the rest of the Books We Love features – head on over to this […]

Cleaning isn’t quite as tough thanks to Lysol Power & Free

[…]just about did me in!  So I have been keeping a careful eye out and washing whatever she plays with with Lysol Power & Free wipes, then rinsing them off with water before my kids play with them again. They work great when I just don’t have the time to soak them like I normally would to clean them. My shower:  this is a tough job!  John works in construction and digs in the dirt all day, so needless to say, our shower can get pretty grubby!  Check out the before and after. I only did a quick scrub on the shower and then the kids wanted some attention.  I am impressed with how good it cleaned without using bleach.  John will be going back and giving it a really good scrub with this stuff later tonight to see if it finishes the job when it has time to. What tough job would you tackle with Lysol Power & […]
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Books We Love: I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More

[…]I really love to read it. I bought it back when I use to teach and still enjoy reading it to the kids.  It is a great book to help get kids anticipating the end of the sentence.  They can work on their rhyming skills by figuring out what part of the body the kid is painting in the story.   I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! By Karen Beaumont Illustrated by David Catrow   You can check out some of the other books we love here.   What are your favorite books to read this […]

Supercharged Science Review

[…]the level evaluation to see how much your children have learned. We are having a ton of fun with Supercharged Science and will continue using this curriculum. The kids love it and love being in charge of what experiment we do. You don’t have to take our word for it though – check out what other families are saying about Supercharged Science by clicking the image […]

25 Non Candy Easter Goodies

I really love candy.  So do the kids, but lets face it, I love my sanity too.  The kids are only getting so much candy.  The rest will be other fun goodies.  Here are 25 great Easter basket fillers. Markers Crayons Construction Paper Stickers Googly Eyes Pom Poms Ink Pad Stampers Paint Paintbrushes Crazy paint rollers Glitter Jewelry Water Bottle or Sippy Cup Sidewalk Chalk Bubbles Shovels Sand Pail Ball CD’s Gardening Gloves Money Nail polish Water bottle Barrettes, pony tail holders, headbands   There are so many things to fill those Easter baskets that don’t have candy.  What are some of your favorites?  Keep in mind, this is not an extensive list, so comment with your favorites and next year I will create a bigger and better […]

What’s New in 2019

[…]the interstate isn’t really my style but I’m thankful every day for a nice, safe place to live with the kids. By the grace of God, I’m still able to homeschool the kids. Finding a way to settle into a routine that allows me to get my work done, spend time with the kids and homeschool them was a challenge but we are getting our groove back. That leads me to some really exciting news. This year I will be part of the Homeschool Review Crew which means I will be bringing you more awesome curriculum reviews. I’m so excited about this because I love checking out different options to see what works and doesn’t work for our […]

A Day Out with 3 Kids + Combi Fold N Go Double Stroller Review

[…]always been a big advocate of baby wearing because it is just easier for me most of the time.  With 3 kids now, things are a bit different.  If we plan to be out and about for the day, a stroller for them to plop down in has become a must.  Even if the stroller only holds our stuff most of the day, it is a lifesaver.  When we had a chance to review the Combi Fold N Go Double Stroller, I was thrilled!  After receiving our Combi Shuttle, I kind of fell in love with their products.  I was certain that I would be impressed with this stroller, and when it arrived, I was not let down. To start with, there is some assembly needed.  By some, I mean, clear about 5 minutes {at the most} out of your day because that is as long as it will take you to put it together.  You can check out the video below to see just how simple it is. It was so easy to assemble our @combiusa Fold N Go Double Stroller and the kids couldn’t wait to go for a walk. #ad Read our full review on #ourpieceofearthblog #flipagram Made with @flipagram See full video at A video posted by Our Piece of Earth (@summers1405) on Apr 30, 2015 at 9:09am PDT I barely had it together before the kids were jumping in and begging to head out somewhere.  I figured that since they were SOOOO excited, we would head out for a walk down the street to see if the horses were out.  I had the kids all buckled in and John started asking why I was doing that when I would have to take them out right away since we were still in the house.  He was so certain that it wouldn’t fit through the door.  I tried telling him that it would, but he didn’t believe me.  And…out the front door we went with it. That’s right folks, this double stroller fits through standard doors, making it the perfect stroller for pretty much anywhere, the mall, the store, and wherever else you may need it.   I immediately noticed a few features that I loved.  You know, sometimes, it’s all about the food, am I right?  There are cup holders for both seats, a snack holder in between the seats, as well as a cup holder for the parent.  If we are headed out with the stroller, you can bet we will have our water bottles with us and snacks too.  The adult cup holder is deep enough that my water bottles stay in while we are strolling around.  All of the cup and snack holders are completely removable which makes for easy washing. Not only is there an extra large basket on the bottom, there are also storage pockets on the back of both of the seats.  You can completely remove the basket on the bottom if you need to in just seconds.  I know with a lot of the strollers we have had, there just isn’t enough room to store our things so we hook the diaper bag onto the stroller.  That works great unless nobody is sitting down, then it tips over the stroller.  We haven’t run into that with the Combi Fold n Go Double Stroller.  We had 3 packed lunch boxes, diapers, wipes, a wet bag, our water bottles, sweatshirts, Henry’s blanket, and probably a few other things when we went to the zoo.  There was still room in the basket and we hadn’t even touched the back pockets yet.  This stroller has more storage than any other stroller I have seen.   I also love the 5 point harness buckle system.  When my nephew was a baby, he was a chunkier!  While we were out at the fair, he leaned forward so far that he popped the buckle on that stroller and fell on his noggin.  {He was fine}.  I vowed that day to not have a stroller that didn’t have some sort of lap bar to ensure that never happened again.  While this isn’t a lap bar, it is equally as effective.  It’s perfect for baby Henry.  Since he hasn’t been sitting up by himself all that long, having him very secure if he is sitting in the stroller is very important.  I like that you can still buckle the child but not use the shoulder harness.  That is perfect for the older 2.  The shoulder harness is adjustable to fit both taller and smaller children securely. The easy to use padded reclining seats are awesome.  You can easily slide it back if baby falls asleep or is more comfortable reclined.  To add to the comfort, there is a foot rest built into the front of the stroller so their little legs can rest comfortably. The canopy is very large.  You know how often times things have a canopy but it doesn’t actually cover or protect anything?  Not this time.  This extra large canopy will keep the sun out or shelter them from the rain or snow.  There is a flap on the backside where the parent can flip it up to allow for greater ventilation.  Even with that flap down, it is still well ventilated. Okay, do you love the comfort features?  Keep reading for the other features that make this stroller one of my favorites.   Featuring front wheel suspension with lockable front swivel wheels allowing for easy steering.  No joke, I can spin circles in this with one hand, it steers that well.  The one step linked brake system ensures that you set the brake when you want, and it releases easily when you are ready to get moving again. Probably the biggest WOW factor of the Combi Fold n Go Double Stroller is that it can be fully closed with one hand.  Yes, I said it.  One hand.  Where your child sits, there is a flap. Under that flap is a black handle {Clearly labeled so you can’t miss it}.  To close the stroller, press the red button on the side, grab the black handle and pull up.  Then lock it closed using the black hook on the side.  To lift it, grab the black handle located under the flaps on both seats.  Check out the video below to see how truly easy it is to close one handed. I was already a fan of Combi products, and the Combi Fold n Go Double Stroller didn’t let me down.  From the vibrant colors to the high quality and ease of use, this stroller fits perfectly into our life.  The kids love using it and I love having space for whatever we need.   Packing for an all day outing with 3 kids can be daunting, but here is my shortlist of things you may need. ~Diapers ~Wetbag to hold dirty diapers ~Wet wipes ~Sunscreen ~Hats ~Bug Spray/Lotion ~A few band-aids {Please tell me I’m not the only one who has to have these} ~Water bottles or something to drink ~Lunch or snacks ~Extra clothes ~Formula if necessary ~Camera ~Cell phone ~Wallet ~Blanket depending on what you are doing, where you are going ~Baby Carrier.  Having 3 kids, this makes life so much easier for me.  I can nurse the baby while we continue on with what we were doing.   Our stroller gets its biggest workout on Thursdays during softball season where it is loaded down with 2 kids, my softball bag, snacks, drinks, jackets, blankets, bats, balls, and whatever else we may need to get through an hour or two of softball.   You can check out the Combi Fold n Go Double Stroller and the other Combi products by visiting the Combi website.  To find out about new product releases, reviews, and so much more, be sure to visit Combi on […]
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Books We Love: I Believe in You

[…]you BY MARIANNE RICHMOND I’ll be sharing soon about a few different books on empowering young kids to believe in themselves. Want more books?  Check out our books we love […]

Make lasting memories with this Christmas keepsake

[…]other each year, and some of them just feel cheap and I worry about them breaking.  Our Ornaments with Love ornaments are durable and amazing!  Check it out ~ With the ginormous {is that a word?  spell check didn’t underline it} selection of ornaments, you are sure to find something for everybody.  Whether it’s your kids, pets, friends, as a thanks you gift, you name it, they have got the perfect ornament!  See what others are choosing by checking out their Facebook […]
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Summer #BlogChallenge August 8 – Bucket List

[…]Go Packers!!!  Go to the Superbowl, preferably one where the Packers play and win!  Finish my kids’ scrapbooks.  I scrapbooked a lot before having kids, but now it’s hard to find the time. Go on a helicopter ride over the Grand […]
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Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting ebook Review

[…]letters by practicing writing them. As they progress into words, you will see a reading page with words on them. For example, fat, cat, rat, etc.. Then the writing page will closely follow that with silly sentences using these same types of words. Not only do they practice writing, but reading as well. I used this program in varying levels for all three of the kids and they loved the silly sentences. I love writing and I wish I didn’t have the groans and complaints from the kids when it is time to do some writing and I’m hoping that over time, this will help improve their enjoyment level of writing by hand. Right now, there are still tons of complaints but I can see slight improvements in their letters and in the speed in which they write them. If you would like to read about some other experiences with this program – be sure to read through the links on this […]
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Books We Love: My First Reference Book About How Things Grow

[…]types of plant seeds and how they spread.  The questions at the end of the sections allow kids to quiz themselves and check the answers in the back of the book.  There is a ton of information in this book and it’s laid out in such a fun and engaging way for kids.  {I am a consultant for Usborne books so I get commission on all purchases through my links.  Our family appreciates your support}.   Very First Reference Book About How Things Grow We really love this book and I can’t wait to get the other books in the series.  See the rest of our favorites on our Books We Love […]
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Summer #BlogChallenge August 17 How my kids got their names

[…]our friends were going to visit her in the nursing home.  I remember as she was having trouble with her memory, she would think I was her son (my dad) and talk to me basically playing out a scene that had happened with her and my dad when he was a kid.  Kind of cool, but kind of sad.  We went to take her to bingo one day at the nursing home, and when we got there, she said, ooooh, we are going drinking and dancing!!!   I also remember the day she died.  One of the saddest days of my life.  She told me awhile before that she wanted to die between the ages of x and x ( I don’t remember exactly) and that’s exactly what she did.  My cousin was at a fishing tournament and on his way home because we told him it was time.  It was amazing.  She waited and waited, just barely hanging on until he was there.  Then we all had to let go.  (wow!  haven’t thought about this day in a long time and it’s making me cry) I was standing there with one of my sisters and one of my cousins and said….you know, someday I will have a baby girl and I am going to name her Maggie.   In 2010, I found out I was pregnant.  We didn’t find out the gender ahead of time, but we knew what her name would be if she was a girl.  When I was in labor, my aunt said, “Look, there is a picture of an angel above the bed.”  That’s when I realized we were having a girl and that was my grandma watching over us.  We did have a girl.  And we did name her Maggie after my grandma.  It is too bad that they won’t get to meet but it will be a nice thing for my baby girl to know as she grows up. Fast forward to the end of 2011, we found out we were pregnant again.  Of course we didn’t find out the gender, not our thing.  When we were pregnant the first time around, we had 3 names picked out if Maggie had been a boy, Charlie, Logan and Riley.  This time, we narrowed down the boys name to Charlie, the only name for a boy we could agree on.  There really wasn’t anything behind his name except that we like it.  But…… me, my grandpa was Wayne, but my grandma’s first husband was Charles, but he died long before I ever met him.  I think that is pretty cool. How did your kids get their […]
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Books We Love: Fairy Ponies

While my kids aren’t reading chapter books themselves quite yet, one of our favorites is the Fairy Ponies books.  When I first heard about them, I knew my daughter would be in love!  We started reading the first book in the series and read a chapter or two a night.  I wanted to keep reading!  They are fun adventures of a little girl in fairy pony land.  We are still working our way through the series, but they are a favorite of hers.  **I am a consultant for Usborne books, so any purchases made through my links benefit our family and we thank you greatly for it!**   Fairy Ponies   Want to know more about the books we love?  Check out our weekly series for a complete list of Books We […]

How to Host a Picnic Party that is Baskets of Fun

[…]younger ones to learn their colors. I also made some homemade bug shaped sidewalk chalk for the kids to play with.  If there is one thing my kids love, it is drawing on the sidewalk!   I was really excited to include the dogs in our celebration this time since so often, they just sit there staring at me begging for a scrap of something!  I had picked up some Pedigree Dentastix® in the Original Flavor and the Beef Flavor.  I decided to make them into popsicles using the Dentastix as the popsicle stick.  I first made some beef broth, then poured it into some cups.  As it froze a little bit, I stuck the Dentastix in and let it freeze the rest of the way.  The 3 dogs were so excited to be given a treat instead of just told to get away from the food table this time.  Do you see how happy they are? Decorating the table for the party was so much fun.  I got to use a few things I have had laying around just waiting for me to put to use.  I had this wooden box that I knew would be perfect for a party setup.  I covered it with a scrap of picnic blanket and set our mason jar glasses on it.  I love the finished look. I used some of the checkered fabric I had, removed the lids from the mason jars, hole punched the center of fabric and screwed on the lid.  Then I added a red striped straw to complete the look.  I loved that it created such a fun, festive look without much effort. I saw my cousin sitting around relaxing while I was getting things ready and BEGGED her to help me out by sorting a few bags of Skittles®.  I thought they would make the perfect vase for the flower cookies with Starburst® Minis Unwrapped frosting.  These were super easy to make and they taste amazing!  Here is how: Start with your sugar cookies.  I used a store bought dough this time.  Cut them into flower shapes before cooking {I forgot, and I promise, it isn’t fun to cut sugar cookies into shapes after they are cooked}. Pour the Starburst® Minis Unwrapped into a microwavable bowl.  Cook for 30 seconds at first, then 15, stir and check to see if they are melted yet.  One bag took around 30-40 seconds to melt.   Frost them using the melted Starburst® Minis Unwrapped.  You have to work fast or the Starburst® Minis Unwrapped will harden.  I had to keep reheating the bowl for 5-10 seconds in between frosting cookies. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into the cookie.  Voila!  Flower cookies.  Now, put them into your vase and you are all set. I also frosted a few of the sugar cookies with white frosting and then decorated flowers on them using the Skittles.  These were a hit and so adorable.   Because the M&M’s® Plain 42 oz. bag is a staple in our house, I knew I had to include them in our party.  Since it was going to be so nice out and we had already picked up the SNICKERS® Ice Cream Bars 6-pack and M&M’s® Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches 6-pack, I figured I would just go with it.  I picked up some vanilla and strawberry flavored Greek yogurt.  Using some plastic cups, I put M&M’s in the bottom of the cup, poured in some of the yogurt, and repeated this a few times.  Then I placed a popsicle stick in it.  These delicious yogurt M&M’s pops were a crowd favorite. I didn’t stop there though.  Using the Dr Pepper® Cherry 2-Liters and a bag of Cherries, I made some more frozen pops.  The sweet flavor was so refreshing in the hot sun. No party is complete without some sliced veggies, so we sliced up some carrots and celery, wrapped them in some burlap ribbon and tied them shut with twine.  They looked adorable.   Taking a napkin, wrapping it around the silverware, a scrap of red and white checkered fabric around it and tying it with some twine created the perfect picnic look for the silverware. Even the water bottles got a makeover.  You can grab the free printable below for water bottle labels to match your picnic party decor.  Throw in some meat, cheese, buns and a few bags of chips and your are sure to have everybody stopping by for seconds.   I think my favorite part was the party favors.  Using some small picnic baskets and adding a label to it with the message “Hope you have a basket of fun” and adding a scrap of red and white checkered fabric to it made for some fun, decorative party favors.  We filled them with the Juicy Fruit Starburst® Cherry Gum – 3 pack and the Juicy Fruit Starburst® Strawberry Gum – 3 pack along with some of the Starburst Minis unwrapped.  The labels were a favorite and after the party became stickers for everybody to stick on each other.  My family is a hoot!  Print out your labels at the bottom of the page.   Our PICNIC banner made it clear to anybody else what we were doing and it is really easy to make.  You already have the twine from wrapping the silverware and veggies.  String some of it up above your party table.  Print out the free printable below, trim it down to triangles, and tape it on the twine. My favorite was sitting down on a large picnic blanket with the family to eat some lunch before we started playing games.  It reminded me of being a kid again. Our party was a hit, the weather was fantastic and we even had a few hundred games of bags {I was a winner — woo-hoo}.  For more fun recipes from todays party, stay tuned later this week.     How do you host a picnic party?  What are some of your favorite things to include?  Did you find any new favorites […]
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Books We Love: 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea

[…]to Spot in the Sea is one book in a series of 16 titles.  I love how fun the pages are and my kids are learning so much about different sea animals, different things in the sea habitat, and so much more.  I love that there are so many different titles and we can tie them in with our homeschool curriculum at the time.  *I am an Usborne Books & More consultant.  I earn a commission on all purchases through my link.  That being said, I appreciate your support of our family.  If you are interested in hosting a party or joining my team, please let me know.* 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea   Visit our Books We Love page for more of our favorites. Have you checked out the entire 1001 Things to Spot series?  I’d love to know which book you would choose […]

Having Messy Fun with No Clean Up Worries

[…]extract.  Okay, I was willing to give them a shot.   When I do vendor fairs, I usually have a kids table set up with a fingerprint activities book and I HAVE to have wet wipes for cleaning up messy hands.  These wipes were perfect because they are thick and can clean up big messes…..and we know how to make some big messes. Knowing how easy clean up can be makes these the perfect wipes for our family and must have on all of our adventures and shenanigans.  You can bet we also keep a package of them right in with our art supplies, how do they make such a mess anyways?  Half the time it looks like my kids have been tattooed or maybe they have eaten a surf?  Who knows, but at least they can clean it all up without any trouble.   Right now you have the chance to win one of five $100 Babies”R”Us gift cards.  Enter below.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 18, 2016.  Good luck! WaterWipes Babies”R”Us Giveaway “I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (5 winners).” What big messes will you be making […]

Find Out What Really Happens to Your Recycling

[…]to get anyway.  You just get to purchase them in fully recyclable materials.  Yay!  Since the kids shop with me, they are already learning the benefits and reasons of why we choose one brand or product over another. I’d love to hear how you make recycling a priority in your home so be sure to leave a comment below and let me […]
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Help put a stop to bullying – Join the campaign now!

[…]a shame that something he was excited about and liked changed just like that because of what those kids said.  In the grand scheme of things, I suppose this is a pretty mild form of bullying, but to that sweet little boy, it changed a lot. I can not really remember being bullied growing up.  Either because I just plain never noticed, or I have just forgotten.  For me, the closest thing I remember was when my parents were getting divorced.  My dad dropped us off at school, and hugged us.  I almost told him not to because I figured we would get teased.  The fact was, I did, immediately.  A “friend” Nikki was teasing me.  I told her to shut her face or something equally as eloquent, that they were divorcing and I wouldn’t see him for a few days.  She hugged me and said she was sorry.  That was really about all I remember. Call me lucky, but not everybody is that lucky.  Many people are bullied and it changes their future.  I want to help put a stop to bullying now – and hope neither of my children has to deal with being bullied. Take the pledge to stop bullying now!  Sign the petition and help spread the word.  They want to get 5,000 signatures – let’s help them pass that number up and bring about awareness and stop bullying now. Have you ever been bullied?  Share your story here, on Facebook, or send me a personal message and let me share your story for you.  *Thanks to TakePart for sponsoring today’s […]
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DIY Shaded Outdoor Play Area for Kids

[…]of time with wood and power tools and this year, I am ready.  I’ve been wanting to build the kids an outdoor play center with a sensory wall and a mud kitchen and I’m making it happen.  No more hiding in the garage where there’s no breeze to get out of the sun.  When the weekend hit and we had time, we were getting out there and building our own structure, roof and all. I’m not going to lie.  The planning for this could have gone better, but just for fun, here’s how it went.   Me:  I want to build the kids a mud kitchen and sensory wall for playing outside so they have some shade.   John:  Fun, I like your idea.  Let’s make it bigger.   Seriously, I was planning this on a smaller scale.  It ended up being 16 ft by 6 ft.  They love it, there’s shade, it’s a win.    We are having some super special weather here in Minnesota lately.  It’s a game of so, so, so hot alternating with severe storms and tornado watches, warnings and fun stuff like that.   No joke – they had the city plows out to clear the hail a few days ago….that’s not weird…in June.  Anyways, if it’s nice {or super hot} out, we will be outside, you can count on it and having a shaded area will be a lifesaver.  I know you are dying for some shade too, so let’s get to it, shall we?  Get your game face on, we’re going to Lowe’s to buy some lumber and Timberline® shingles.   Materials needed: (4) 4 x 4  posts (6) 3/4″  plywood (6) 2 x 6 x 16  pine (9) 2 x 4 x 8 2 x 2 posts FeltBuster® Timberline® shingles Natural Shadow® TimberTex® Hip and Ridge Caps 1 ¼” galvanized steel roofing nails 1” – 1 ¼” round plastic cap roofing nail 3″ wood nails 4 x 8 peg board 4-rectangle braces 32 – 90 degree angle braces Something to remember before you get started.  Measure twice, cut once.  Just because you bought a 16′ or 8′ board doesn’t mean it IS that length.  Most of the time they are just a bit longer than that so you may need to trim up the ends.  My disclaimer: I love to build things but I’m not a professional.  Alright, let’s build! Directions The frame: Measure your 16′ boards and cut off any excess.  Take another of the 16′ boards and cut three 69 inch long boards.  Attach one piece to the ends of the 16′ boards to make your frame.  Place the third board in the center.  Using the 3 inch screws, secure each board together with 2 screws in each board. Now, measure your 4 x 4 posts to make sure they are equal length.  How long you want them will depend on if you are cementing them in, anchoring them some other way or just leaving it free standing.  This next step works way better with someone there to help you out.  Have one person hold a post securely in one corner.  Secure it with screws on both sides.  Repeat this for all four corners. Take a piece of 2 x 6 and lay it at an angle on one of the corners.  You are going to build some braces for each corner.  I know there’s a fancy way to do the math here and get the angle, but I have three kids and can’t think that long uninterrupted so what we did was use a marker and dry the line across each end where we wanted to cut it.  {Ours were roughly 2′ on the long side and 1′ on the shorter side}.  Next, use your miter saw to cut each of these boards.  Now, screw them in.  There will be two boards for each corner, so a total of eight boards. For this step, we placed a board from side to side on each end in order to flip it and not have the posts get all bent out of shape {haha} on us.  For some reason, we still haven’t taken these boards off, I’ll have to do that tomorrow. Each step of the way these shingles are staring me down, just waiting to be put on so I can have a little shade!!! The center 16′ board will be raised up to form the peak of the roof.  To do this, we three 2×6 boards roughly two foot in length.  Next, using a jigsaw we cut notches in them the width of the 2 x 6 that were about 2.75 inches deep.  We screwed them up, one on each end and one in the center. Now to cut the rafter boards.  Begin cutting 2 x 4’s into 4′ boards.  You will cut 18 of these, nine for each side.  Now we’ll use my fancy angle technique of holding the wood up and using a marker to draw the line.  Then you can turn your saw to the correct angle and begin cutting one end of each board.  Screw them all up from the center beam out to the edge.  We also secured them with a rectangular brace on each of the four end boards.  We also used an angled brace on every beam on each side. Yay!  It’s time for the roof, so go ahead and happy dance with me.  Before you get to this next step, I recommend making sure you have some muscle because this was THE hardest part of this entire job.  I want you to learn from our mistakes though, so make sure your 4 x 8 plywood boards are straight, it will make all of the rest of this work better.  Okay, all set?  You are going to lift up one of the plywood sheets onto the roof.  Having at least one extra set of hands to hold it up will make this a lot easier because you need to push the board to the end and line it up so that’s it is straight.  Screw it in, I’d just get a little crazy with the screws and do one every 3″ up and down the rafters.  Now, repeat this with the other three boards.   Now roll out the FeltBuster® High-Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt and cut to fit.  Nail that down using the  1” – 1 ¼” round plastic cap roofing nail.  Get as crazy as you want with the nails.  You just want to make sure that you have it secure enough that it won’t blow off while you are working on it. Hang in there, we’re almost there.  This is totally doable in a weekend, maybe even a day.  It’s time for shingles.  I have to admit.  I was a little nervous.  I have built some things, but I’ve never roofed anything, neither has John.   Okay, so when you hit up Lowe’s, you’ll love the roofing department because it’s so easy to find everything.  The endcap display makes choosing the right shingles super easy.  I’m all about products I can count on and companies that are willing to stand behind their products.  Not only is Timberline the best selling shingle in North America, but the warranty is pretty great too. Not only does it look good, it’s extremely durable.  We have the same stuff on our house roof and it’s already survived quite a bit.   Now that you know why I bought the Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles, let’s check it out. If you purchased the Pro-Start™ Starter Strip Shingles, start there.  We opted not to because our calculations said we would have enough regular shingles to do the job.  We began by turning one shingle around and nailing it to the roof using 1 ¼” galvanized steel roofing nails.  If you want a straight roof, you will want to make a chalk line across where you want the shingles to line up.  Finish laying your starter row along the bottom of the roof. Can you see the finish line?  Begin nailing your shingles on with three nails on each shingle.  Continue working toward the top of your peak.  Repeat on the other side.  We opted for an alternating look so we had to go through when we were finished and cut along the sides to make them all even.  I love how it is turning out.  Only one step left! Now let’s do the ridge caps.  Complete this process along the peak of the roof.  Now grab a chair and have a seat IN THE SHADE!  Enjoy your work for a little while before we get to making the fun stuff that the kids care about.  Okay, okay, just kidding.  They are already in your face because they are so excited for you to put the stuff they have been waiting for in, so hop back up, let’s do this! You should have two more 2 x 6 x 16 boards left.  Go ahead and measure and trim them up quick.  Now we’ll screw them onto one side of our structure.  Find a spot toward the bottom on each side and screw them in.  Be sure to measure to make sure you get it straight.  Now, repeat with the second board.   You want the top of the second board to be four feet above the bottom of the first board.  Screw that one in place. Cut a 2 x 4 into a four foot board.  Screw that into your 2 x 6’s midway between the 2 ends.  Take some 2 x 2’s and cut them into four foot boards as well.  Screw them into the 2 x 6’s along one half of the structure.   Screw the peg board on the half of the structure you just put the 2 x 2’s on.  On the backside of this, screw a sheet of plywood.  Now, on the inside of the structure, the side you didn’t put the 2 x 2’s on, screw in your second sheet of plywood.  Tada!  You are pretty much done.  The rest is up to your imagination. I’m going to share my mistake with you here.  Don’t use the pegboard side for a sensory wall, it just isn’t working well for us.  I’ll probably switch up the two sides.  I thought I could use the peg board hooks to put the funnels, PVC, tubes and gutter on, but that didn’t work.  I had to screw it all in and it won’t last long.  If the kids pull on it, it will eventually come out.  Screwing it all to the plywood would have worked way better.  Build and learn, right?!  Either way, they are having so much fun pouring sand, sawdust, small rocks, sticks, pinecones, flowers, whatever they find outside through the different tubes.  The other half of our structure is the kids’ mud kitchen.  They actually wanted me to EAT the mud cake they made me.  I’ll admit, they worked as a team on it, I kind of wanted to try it….. Now, bring on the sun.  We have some shade to hang out in now so we are ready.  Your turn, what are you ready to build with GAF roofing to make summertime even more fun?  What have you already built?  I look forward to hearing all about it.  Happy […]

The #UltimatePlaydate with Juicy Juice and Crayola

[…]at Walmart when we do our weekly shopping trip.  No extra trip and no hassles.   As anybody with kids knows, Juicy Juice and Crayola are always great products sure to be a hit with the kids.  Now, through September, you can find up to $3 off of Crayola products on specially marked Juicy Juice packages.  You can also find $1 off Juicy Juice coupons on specially marked packages of Crayola.   The kids had a blast playing and were excited when they came back another day and got to have Juicy Juice and ice cream floats again.  If you are looking to plan the #UltimatePlaydate, Juicy Juice and Crayola are a few products you are sure to want to have around. What is your favorite thing to do at a playdate?  Or eat and […]
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Books We Love: Nothing

[…]book Nothing by Natalee Creech a WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group book.  I want my kids to feel God’s love within them every day so any book we can read that reinforces that point is a must have in my kids’ library. From the minute I opened the mail I was impressed. With the gorgeous cover that invites you to open it and read immediately – I was hooked already and couldn’t wait to read it to the kids. It got even better from there once I started turning pages in the book. We began reading as we answered the question – Can anything separate me from God’s love? Page after page is filled with the most beautiful illustrations as your child will see one adventure after another and read about how God’s love is so powerful and so strong that you can’t escape it. This message is repeated throughout this adorable story in a beautiful rhyming message. My kids all love when I read this story and it’s the perfect bedtime message. Come – read along as we dig into Romans 8:38-39 and see where your child’s imagination can take them as they learn all about God’s unending love. You can view other blogger opinions about this incredible story by clicking the image […]

Personalized Gifts to Celebrate the New Baby + #Giveaway

[…]and he looks so stinking cute in it!  When we had Henry’s picture done, we got some shots with all of the kids in their matching personalized shirts from Zoey’s Attic.  They turned out so cute.  And since they are personalized to my sweet babies, these shirts won’t end up in the garage sale.  I haven’t decided what I will do with them yet, but I am going to do something with them as a keepsake. Zoey’s Attic has more than just sibling shirts though.  You can get stuff for the kids for every holiday, or even get a shirt to announce big brother or sister status.  Whatever your needs, Zoey’s Attic is bound to have something for your kids. We love our Zoey’s Attic personalized shirts and I know you will too.  That is why I’m so excited to be partnering with them to bring you a chance to win!  One lucky reader will win a $35 credit to Zoey’s Attic {shipping not included}.  Giveaway open Worldwide.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 12, 2015.  Good […]
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7 Simple Children’s Health Tips

[…]work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them.  I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.  Thanks to Molina Health for sponsoring this discussion.*    Soon enough, we will be adding another baby to our family.  October will be here soon enough, and I cannot wait!  Fall is possibly my favorite season anyways.  With football, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, it is so much fun.  But there is also the dreaded cold and flu season approaching after school starts for the year.  Having a new baby only makes me more cautious about keeping the kids healthy.  We do plenty to keep the kids from getting sick, and here are some of the simplest, yet most effective children’s health tips that we practice to stay healthy.  And the best part is that they can help with some of these. Serve plenty of fruits and vegetables, both at meal times and at snack time.  For our family, the easiest ways to get the kids do eat these foods is by letting them help pick them out.  We spent today picking green beans and snap peas from our garden.  They also love to go to the berry patch or farmer’s market, or even just help choose our foods at the grocery store. Teach proper hand washing.  When and how are both important. Encourage active play.  Dance, run, climb, jump or whatever other activity is your favorite.  Which is your favorite way to be active? Get outside.  The fresh air feels amazing, to your body and mind.  Plus it will help everybody to sleep better. Take vitamins {always check with your health care provider first}. Use essential oils to help boost your immune system and fight illness.  Talk to an aromatherapist for more information about these oils, and use a reputable brand. Give them the opportunity to get plenty of rest.  Having proper nap times and bedtimes will help their bodies prepare for sleeping.   As Doc McStuffins has taught Maggie:  Eat healthy foods, get plenty of rest, and wash your hands.  I don’t know about you, but I’m rather happy that those 3 things have stuck in my 3 year olds head to reminder her how to stay healthy.   What children’s health tips do you practice regularly to help your kids learn how to help keep their bodies […]

Create a WORLD YOU LOVE to Live In Preschool Homeschool Curriculum + #Giveaway

[…]can check out here.   I am thrilled to have a homeschool preschool curriculum that both of the kids can benefit from without breaking the bank.  You can {affiliate link} preorder through April 30th for only $79. Not only is the price affordable, there aren’t many materials necessary that will cost you money.  Instead, the majority of what you need can be found outside your front door.  Your kids can help gather what you need, learning in the process.   I am excited to pick up my full copy of WORLD YOU LOVE preschool homeschool curriculum on May 1st, but don’t forget to preorder now before the price goes up to $149.  If you want to see the full unit that we reviewed, you can down load your sample unit here.  Find out more about WORLD YOU LOVE on Facebook and Instagram.   ENTER TO WIN One lucky reader will win the full copy of Create a WORLD YOU LOVE to live in preschool homeschool curriculum.  Giveaway open Worldwide.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on April 30, 2015.  Good […]
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20 Random Facts About Me

[…]it! 15.  I play softball and plan to for as long as I can manage to move! 16.  I am obsessed with the Green Bay Packers. 17.  I scrapbook.  I use to scrapbook a lot.  Now I take lots of pictures of you guys and someday hope to have time to scrapbook them all. 18.  I cosleep with you.  Both of you! 19.  I love the outdoors, fishing, hunting, anything. 20.  I love to play poker! BONUS:  21.  I have a ridiculous love for flip flops. What’s on your list of 20 random things your kids should know about you?  Share one, share them […]

Our Decision to Homeschool

[…]sizes, students are pushed to know more, know it earlier.  I’ve watched my friends and family with school-aged kids.  I see how exhausted they are part way through the week because they are wiped out.  Long school days, after-school sports or extracurricular activities, so much running.  I love the sports, the extra activities, it’s some of my favorite things to do with my days when I can watch them all participate in what they love.  I love that being a work at home mom allows me the ability to give my daughter the very best.  She can get her school work done in the morning, or the afternoon.  She can spend more time with her friends and not be bogged down with homework { I am so shocked by how much homework some of our friends’ kids have in kindergarten and first grade already}.  We have the flexibility to really dig deep into the things she is so interested in while still making sure she is learning the things she should be learning about.  Yet, we only have to spend a very small amount of time doing actual book work.  Her education can be focused on field trips, hands-on learning and just life in general.  She doesn’t have to face early morning wake ups.  For that, I am ever so grateful.  Since giving up her naps, I feel like I could just pour her into bed at night, she is so tired.  I can’t imagine how beat she would be if she had to get up early for school every day.   I’m beyond excited.  The early childhood teacher in me loves knowing that I can instill the love of learning in my kids as they grow.  I love knowing that we can tailor each child’s education to fit their needs and interests.  I would love to say that there is one big, shocking reason for my desire to homeschool my kids but there isn’t.  But in this day and age, I feel like this is the best thing for our kids.  Aside from things like the growing number of school shootings, the rapidly spreading viruses, bullying, the real reason I am choosing to homeschool is my kids.   The truth is, I really enjoy spending time with them.  They won’t be little for long, it has already flown by, how on earth do I have a five-year-old already anyways?  I don’t want to have to ship them off to school for eight hours a day.  I want to spend quality time with them while encouraging and teaching them in a way that works for them.  I love this next great adventure that we are beginning.   I am, however, nervous.  I haven’t even told my family that we are going to be homeschooling the kids.  I’m nervous about their reactions.  I think they will think I’m crazy.  Or ridiculous.  Or who knows what else.  So I’m avoiding the topic entirely.  It won’t change my mind or our plans but it still makes me nervous.  {Update – nobody was really against it.  They asked some questions but they are all supportive.}   To my fellow homeschool readers, what reasons did you have for beginning to homeschool your kids?  Were your families on board or did they think you were making a […]

Holiday Gift Guide: Magformers Review

[…]I really love to play with as well.  I enjoy building things and I love that I can work together with the kids to create tons of things. When I had the opportunity to review the Magformers Neon 60 piece set, I knew the kids would be thrilled!    When I opened the box and pulled out the 60 pieces, Maggie’s eyes got all big with excitement.  Not only did she love the colors and the 6 different shapes but she was having so much fun with them being magnetic.  The set also comes with an instruction guide with pictures of 28 different creatures or things that you can build with this set.  Maggie had so much fun building the different things in the guide – her first project was the gift box.  She made it all by herself following the picture. Her and Charlie both have so much fun making different patterns and shapes or just using only one type of shape to create something.  Every single morning as soon as we woke up she started asking if she could play with the “magnet builders” again.  She was so bummed when I told her that they were going away and that she was only helping me review them for work.  She had spent every moment of the two weeks we had them out playing with them.  She’s going to be ridiculously excited to unwrap them at Christmas.  As a bonus, I also ordered her another set that she doesn’t yet know about.  I am not even joking when I tell you that we want every single one of the sets. The kids don’t like to play with them together too often if they are following the directions to build a certain thing because they end up fighting over certain pieces, so we usually only play with these one kid at a time.  I secretly love this because it gives me the chance to have some fun one on one with each of the kids while watching their brain developments.   If you are looking for something sure to be a hit with just about any kid, Magformers are the perfect gift.  They are Neodymium Rare-Earth Magnets that are guaranteed to connect every time.  There really is a kit for everybody, whether you are a beginning builder, an old pro or anywhere in between.  There are even kits with motion and I can’t wait to check these out.  Magformers have provided us with endless hours of fun and learning.  Every day I get to see their creativity shine.   I’d love to know which Magformers set you would love to have and what you will build.   Looking for more gift ideas?  Our Holiday Gift Guide is packed full of […]

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Book Review

[…]always ask for more than one chapter a night. I love having these amazing stories that I can read with the kids or they can read to themselves. Finding quality stories with good values that I want my kids to read can be challenging but The Secret of the Scrolls totally nails it. The kids and I love the stories. At the end of the book – there will be a few different bible verses you can read that point to different events in the story. In The Lion’s Roar – some of these verses point to the story of David and the Israelites being captured, Daniel in the lion’s den and more. While the story itself is an adventure – it brings into perspective for the kids that the story is really a bible adventure. The story is told in such a fun way that keeps us wanting to read more – and waiting for the newest book to release. Keep your eyes peeled – book 7 all be here soon. Now that you know what these books are all about and how much our family loves reading them – I have a surprise. You can enter to win the entire set – books 1 through 7 AND they are choosing three winners. Awesome, right?! Make sure you enter because you WANT these books in your kids’ hands.   Read what others are saying about The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by clicking the image […]

Encouraging healthy eating in young children

[…]the computer and she sat down.  She gets very little screen time, so she really loved it! Copy Kids DVD is for kids, ages 6 months to 5 years, to watch and hopefully develop good eating habits.  The DVD is made up of 12 segments, 7 minutes each of kids ranging from 9 months to 4 years old eating a fruit or veggie.  The kids just love watching other kids eat, I don’t get it, but they sure do love it.  After only watching this one time, here is what Maggie did {and let me preface this by saying the child has a serious addiction to snacking – she thinks it should happen all day long}.  This happened just a few minutes after watching this.   Maggie:  Mom, I want an apple.  Can I have an apple? Me:  Sure honey, go ahead. Maggie:  {Opens fridge, grabs a tomato} Me:  That’s not an apple honey, it’s a tomato. Maggie:  Oh.  I’m going to eat my apple. Me:  {Curious to see what she thinks b/c she use to love tomatoes, but suddenly wouldn’t eat them} Maggie:  {Finishes the entire tomato}   You can bet my skepticism was gone.  Really, it was that easy to get her to choose something that I want her to eat instead of trying to find crackers or something?  Okay.  Sign me up! I love that the Copy Kids DVD shows different kids, of different ages eating each food.  And, the food isn’t all prepared the same.  Sometimes it is whole, sometimes it is sliced.  These little kids look so cute with a full size pepper that she is chomping on.  To be completely honest with you, it never occurred to me to give my kids bell peppers to snack on.  So, I sliced up a green pepper one day, put it on the kids plates, and wouldn’t you know – turns out to be one of Charlie’s favorites, and one that Maggie routinely asks for.  Bonus points because it turned out to be one of my favorite veggies to snack on!  Not joking here – we had tacos tonight, Maggie helped me cut up the tomatoes and lettuce {hurray for lettuce knives}.  So, I let her dish up her own plate.  She put on some meat, a few tomatoes, a bunch of lettuce, and then…the entire bell pepper.  This cracked me up! The DVD features these 12 fruits and vegetables.  Bell Peppers, bananas, oranges, carrots, strawberries, avocado, raspberries, tomatoes, apples, broccoli, cucumber, and blueberries.  You can also watch the interview with pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon, as well as some entertaining outtakes.     I am so glad that we have this Copy Kids DVD in our arsenal.  While it doesn’t replace teaching them good habits, it is a great tool to help us, as parents to encourage healthy habits.  After all, they aren’t always in the mood to listen to us, but the DVD on the screen has staying power with them!   *Disclosure:  I received the DVD in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are 100% my own and only influenced by our experiences with the product and […]

Do More Than Capture the Memories, Display Them

[…]my kids are adorable and I definitely want to show them off!  I want something to keep long term with pictures of the kids when they were babies.  I was checking out the photo gifts on minted and finally got it narrowed down to just 2, but man, they have some really cool designs.   I can’t decide which of these two I like better, Flourished Milestones or Baby’s First Year.  Which one do you guys prefer? A:  Flourished Milestones B:  Baby’s First Year I have the kids pictures taken every month through the first year, so I know I have some great shots of them all. I do get sidetracked on the website because I love looking at all of the other stuff, you know, birthday invites or Christmas cards {because we all start looking at those in May, right?!}.  There are so many different choices and unique ideas that it takes me awhile.  That and maybe I have trouble committing to some things.     What do you think, A or B?  How do you share your memories?  What are some of your […]
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The Best Green Living Books for Young Kids

[…]and I love that I can steer what we read about.  One topic that I think is so important for the kids to learn about is green living.  Today I am excited to share some great books about green living with you.  Affiliate links are included in this post.  Our family gets a small portion of all sales through these links and we really appreciate it when you shop through them. Just a Gum Wrapper by Mercer Mayer It’s Earth Day – Hooray!  by Stuart J. Murphy It’s Earth Day! (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer Earth Day Every Day by Lisa Bullard Don’t Throw That Away!: A Lift-the-Flap Book about Recycling and Reusing (Little Green Books) by Lara Bergen Compost Stew:  An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals What Does It Mean to Be Green  by Rana DiOri What Does It Mean to Be Green by Artie Knapp All The Way to The Ocean by Joel Harper This is Our World by Emily Sollinger Easy to be Green by Ellie O’Ryan Why Should I Recycle by Jen Green What’s It Like Living Green? by Jill Ammon Vanderwood The Earth Book by Todd Parr One Well by Rochelle Strauss 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser The Curious Garden by Peter Brown Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins The Green Mother Goose by David Davis I Can Save the Earth by Alison Inches The Three R’s by Nuria Roca Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers Green Thumbs by Laurie Carlson The Little Composter by Jan Girardi Recycling Day by Edward Miller The Little Recycler by Jan Gerardi 365 Ways to Live Green by Sheri Amsel   Which books will you check out first to get your kids excited about the easy ways to live green?   This post is part of a weekly series on green living that I co-host.  Check out these other green bloggers for more ways to live a greener life. An InLinkz Link-up If you would like to share the linky, get the code here: get the InLinkz […]

Making Homeschool Fun with National Geographic + Giveaway

[…]to own every National Geographic book out there.   What are some of your favorite books to read with your kids?  Do your kids love to ask questions as you read? One lucky reader will win a set of 11 books as part of the Reading Rocks with National Geographic Kids Giveaway.  Giveaway open to US only.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on September 16, 2015.  Good […]
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Toddler Friendly Chores + {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales link-up}

[…]that will have your little ones pitching in. Putting dishes in the sink – After each meal, the kids both either set their plates down for the dogs, or scrape them in the garbage and then put them in the sink.  They need a little help with this because Charlie has a tendency to just throw the plate in the garbage. Put their dishes away when they are clean – this may not work for everybody, but we have a cupboard that is under the counter where the kids’ dishes are.  When I empty the dishwasher, they put their own dishes away.  In case you are wondering, yes, they also empty the dishes on a regular basis and I often have to rewash dishes, but they are still learning and helping. Pick up their toys – Bins and baskets are lifesavers here.   Kids like to play, so if you make it a game, even the really young toddlers will help clean up toys.  We pick up one thing at a time, blocks, then the doctor kit, etc..  Then they see where each thing goes. Feed the dogs – Maggie loves to help feed the dogs and often times reminds me that they haven’t been fed.  With a cup to scoop the food into their dishes, she is able to feed them easily.  Now that she can open the door – she even lets them out in the morning and lets them in when they scratch at the door. Put dirty laundry in the hamper – makes sense, right?  Charlie loves when I give him clothes to put in the laundry room. Make their own beds. Put their clothes away.  This is one we really don’t do very often.  When they do help me with this, they generally decide to change their clothes a dozen times! What other chores did I miss?  What do your toddlers do to help out around the house? Each week we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This weeks topic is Toddler Chores.  Next week we are talking about Toddler Games / Games for […]
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How I teach my kids about church…and what they learn

[…]and Daddy).  Amen (Amen and BIG smiles)! Now if I forget, she folds her hands and says a prayer without waiting for me.  I am so proud of her, and she reinforced that feeling on Sunday at church.  Sitting in church this week, she was quite loud during the entire service.  To the point where I considered taking her to the nursery.  We toughed it out (no easy task by myself with both of these munchkins).  We were praying and I told her she needed to fold her hands and pray.  She folded her hands and started praying…..Dear God, Thank you…followed by a bunch of things I didn’t understand.  I thought it was absolutely adorable!  It was a wonderful mommy moment for me. We also decided a few weeks ago that we wanted her to learn about giving by putting a dollar into the offering bowl herself.  This is only the second or third time she has gotten to do this.  Now, we sit in the back row at church, and the offering bowls start at the front.  I gave her the dollar right away, and she was dancing with excitement waiting for her turn.  That girl is made of so much cuteness I almost can’t stand it!   How do you teach your children about God (if you do) and incorporate that into their […]
Read more » How I teach my kids about church…and what they learn

How I teach my kids about church…and what they learn

[…]and Daddy).  Amen (Amen and BIG smiles)! Now if I forget, she folds her hands and says a prayer without waiting for me.  I am so proud of her, and she reinforced that feeling on Sunday at church.  Sitting in church this week, she was quite loud during the entire service.  To the point where I considered taking her to the nursery.  We toughed it out (no easy task by myself with both of these munchkins).  We were praying and I told her she needed to fold her hands and pray.  She folded her hands and started praying…..Dear God, Thank you…followed by a bunch of things I didn’t understand.  I thought it was absolutely adorable!  It was a wonderful mommy moment for me. We also decided a few weeks ago that we wanted her to learn about giving by putting a dollar into the offering bowl herself.  This is only the second or third time she has gotten to do this.  Now, we sit in the back row at church, and the offering bowls start at the front.  I gave her the dollar right away, and she was dancing with excitement waiting for her turn.  That girl is made of so much cuteness I almost can’t stand it!   How do you teach your children about God (if you do) and incorporate that into their […]
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Tips for a better bedtime + {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales link-up}

[…]sense that it helps the kids too, right? Play soft music.  I have always played the sound machine with a lullaby on while the kids are in bed.  When we use to get ready for bed upstairs, I turned it on before we started getting ready to signal it was almost time for bed. Help them find a security object.  It could be a blanket, a doll, a shirt of yours, or something else completely. Prayer.  We always say a short bedtime prayer asking God to help them have a peaceful night sleep.  We also use this time to thank God for the things that have happened that day. Have a consistent routine.  For the most part, what you do isn’t as important as you doing it consistently.  PJ’s, potty, brush teeth, stories, bed.  That’s what we do.  As I tuck them into bed, I talk to them for a couple minutes about our day because it provides some extra snuggle time with each child individually.   These are some of my sleep tips.  I can’t wait to hear yours, so spill – what tips do you have for helping toddlers sleep? Each week we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is Bedtime Routines.  Next week we are talking about our stress relievers.  Link up any post, old or […]
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Big Sister / Big Brother Gift Bags

[…]Camera to take their own pictures {had to go to Walgreens to get these} I think the kids will have fun with these bags, and cannot wait to celebrate the new baby with my two little […]

Trick or Treat

[…]went trick or treating in the next town over for the morning business trick or treat event.  The kids had fun.  Charlie just wanted to stop after somebody gave him candy and take everything out of his bucket to decide what he wanted to eat.  It was hilarious.  While we were walking inside one of the strip malls, he grabs the black cauldron decoration and starts walking down the hall with one in each hand.  It was hilarious. Maggie just wanted to stop because I told her she couldn’t have any candy until we were finished.  Okay, I’m ready to be done mom.  Let’s go eat my candy.  Oh, and yes, that is Rainbow Brite….pretty much the coolest costume EVER! What did your little ones dress up as?  Did you dress up as […]

Mother’s Day 2013 {+ Tuesday’s Toddler Tales Linky}

[…]for as long as us 5 kids have been having babies, we always get Grandma Nancy a shirt or something with the kids’ handprints on it.  Since there were 3 new babies this year, we couldn’t wait to get her something with all 10 grandkids and 1 great grandkid on it, but she has a lot of shirts already, so we opted for an apron.  It was tricky to fit all 11 kids on there.  After all, that’s 8 hands, the oldest of which is 21, and 3 sets of baby feet, the youngest being 2 months old.  Of course she loved it!  And, Grandma was super sweet and gave all of us mommy’s some presents arranged in baskets.  All with stuff she found at garage sales that she knew we needed/wanted (like the electric knife we are always wishing we had when everybody gets to our house for holiday meals).  But best of all, we got to all hang out together for Mother’s Day.  It doesn’t get much better than that! I really miss my mom and I promise, I will be sharing that story very soon. What did you do for Mother’s Day this year?  Was it your first Mother’s Day?  Are you a first time mom-to-be?  Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!   Each week, we link up to bring you toddler topics for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week, we are talking about Mother’s Day, and next week’s topic is Grandparents and […]
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Newborn Photo Shoot

Because I think my kids are so darn cute { and I am obviously not biased in any way }, I just have to share a few of my favorite pictures from Henry’s newborn picture session.  Getting this picture of all 3 of them cooperating was so sweet.     Here is Henry posing for us.  Seriously – SO CUTE!   And then there is my mini me who is a pretty good little mommy too.     This picture just steals my heart every single time I look at it.  You can just feel the love that Maggie has for Henry […]

Summer #BlogChallenge July 26 – My superpower would be…..

[…]now, I would say the power to move things with my mind so I can continue to sit on my butt with my baby nursing right now.  Haha!   Actually, the ability to know the future would be kind of nice.  Is that a superpower?  I would love the knowledge that allowed me to protect my kids from something that is coming and will bring them harm.   If you had a superpower, what would it be?  […]
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[…]last year. Some were a big hit and some – not so much. This one was an absolute favorite and my kids ask to do this regularly. If you don’t remember what HIGASFY is – check out my blog post about it. It is so awesome. Captivating stories and fun. All three of the kids sit and listen, laugh, etc.. So check out the sale – HiGASFY Art History Video Series is running a special.  We have our DVDs and Flash Drives on sale at 50% off.  Normally $150 per series is now just $75 while supplies last.  We have also produced a new mini series that is free on youtube.  It is called “I Am A Masterpiece”.  Each Monday Mrs. Beth tells a story about a famous artist.  Tuesday-Friday suggested art activity are presented corresponding to the video.  It is becoming quite popular during this “shelter in place” time.  Check us out on HiGASFY’s youtube channel and […]

15 Ways for Your Family to Eat Healthy in 2015

[…]disease and cancer. Sprinkle on oatmeal, coffee or toast for an added antioxidant boost. Cook with The Kids—Allow your kids to help prepare dinner by getting them involved with age-appropriate kitchen duties. The benefits are innumerable. Not only will they learn about the ingredients, healthy food and measurements, but they’ll also feel a sense of pride when happy eaters compliment them on a job well done.  My kiddos love to help in the kitchen, and no matter what we are making, I can usually find them a job to do.  On a very regular basis, Charlie will eat the veggies up before I even cook them. Plan Ahead—Say goodbye to the angst of having to decide what’s for dinner or making the drive-through the default by planning out your meals. You’ll save time and money—and eat healthier—when the week’s meals are planned ahead and all ingredients are combined into one, easy-to-use shopping list.  I cannot say enough how important this is.  If I don’t have a plan for the week, I will opt for pizza way too often.  I love having a subscription to eMeals, and wish I hadn’t slacked off on using it during the end of my pregnancy.  Right now, you can get a 2 week free trial to see how eMeals can simplify your life. Make Food Fun—Experiment with new cooking methods and flavors to keep healthy food doldrums at bay. Serve vegetables raw, cooked and puréed for a variety of textures. Cut vegetables and fruits into sticks or other handy shapes for kids. Thread florets or chunks onto skewers and serve with healthy dippers like salsa, hummus, yogurt or low-fat Ranch dressing (this works for grown-ups too). Don’t be afraid to try a weekly theme dinner—whether Taco Tuesday, Italian Wednesday or Asian Friday. This is a fun way to introduce new foods and flavors and create an enjoyable dinnertime environment. Give Comfort Foods a Makeover—Cut fat and calories, boost nutrients, and keep all the comfort with these simple tips: • Skip the heavy cream and “cream of” soups when making casseroles. Instead, whip up your own white sauce for a lighter, yet still creamy, base with far less fat and sodium. • Oven-frying allows you to enjoy the crispy, crunchy texture of fried foods without the added fat. Experiment with different breadings, like panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped nuts or flaked unsweetened coconut for a tropical touch. • Use mashed cauliflower, parsnips or turnips in place of carb-heavy potatoes as an alternate for this classic side dish. This easy strategy cuts calories while amping up the fiber and nutrients. Pile on the Veggies—The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we all need to eat more vegetables, which are naturally low in calories and high in hunger-curbing fiber. The best strategy: Fill half your plate with vegetables rather than calorie-rich carbs and meat. Add fresh or dried herbs and citrus zest or juice to veggies for extra flavor without adding extra calories. Be sure to visit local farmers’ markets when possible for the best selection of seasonal, just-picked produce. Pack a Lunch—This is especially true for kids, whose lunch can comprise up to one-third of their nutrition for the day. Whether making lunch for work or school, pick nutrient-rich foods that fuel both brain and body for the afternoon. Avoid the brown bag blues with these timesaving tips for creating healthy lunches: • Use leftovers to stretch your food budget and add variety to the lunchbox menu. Be creative with leftovers, and turn them into something new. Take leftover cooked pasta from last night and add some salad dressing and a few chopped veggies to make a quick pasta salad. Combine leftover cooked meat with fresh vegetables in a colorful spinach wrap. • For kids, use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into fun shapes like dinosaurs and hearts. Make miniature sandwiches using slider buns or mini bagels or prepare mini muffins. Kids love eating with their hands; smaller foods are much more fun to eat. Choose colorful fruits and veggies, and include dips like low-fat Ranch, salsa, peanut butter or hummus. Make your own protein- and calcium-packed dip with low-fat Greek yogurt. Try adding herbs for a veggie dip or cinnamon and honey for a quick and easy fruit dip.  I love making “fun” lunches for the kids.  You can check out some of our lunch ideas for halloween here. • Make lunch interactive. Pack an English muffin, marinara pizza sauce, cheese and different veggies for pizza, or pack corn tortillas, beans, cheese and salsa for tacos. Downsize Your Plate—If there’s one thing you can do to push your weight and health in the right direction, it’s controlling the amount of food you eat. We all tend to eat everything we put on our plates—and usually that’s way too much, especially when dining out. Remember, a standard serving of cooked meat is just 3 ounces—about the size of a deck of cards. If you’re worried that smaller portions will leave you unsatisfied, have no fear: A well-portioned diet should actually leave you feeling more energetic and truly satisfy your hunger. Go for Good Fats—While all fats (oils and butter included) contain comparable amounts of calories and total fat, the distribution of fats varies significantly. Banish butter and bacon grease and replace them with healthy fats like canola and olive oil—a key ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet, which may reduce your LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol and lower your risk of developing heart disease. Switch to Low-Fat Dairy—Choose skim or 1% milk as your default, and go for low-fat yogurt, sour cream and cheese. Switch out heavy cream in soups and sauces for low-fat evaporated milk. Bonus Tip: Instead of using low-fat cheeses (which don’t always melt well and often lack flavor), use a smaller amount of flavorful, full-fat cheese. Go with (Whole) Grains—The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making half your grains whole, so trade in refined grains like white rice, regular pasta and white bread for trendy whole grains like quinoa, farro, whole-wheat couscous (once found only in specialty stores, now easily found on most grocery store shelves). Swap Out Soda—All of the calories in soda and sugary drinks are empty calories, meaning they contribute no healthy nutrients. Switch soda for calorie-free beverages like water or sparkling water (add a splash of lemon or lime for flavor), or beverages with some nutritional value, like skim milk or small amounts of 100 percent fruit juice. Slow and Steady Wins The Race—If you’re trying to lose weight, there are plenty of diet plans, weight-loss products and miracle foods that promise to deliver quick and easy results. How do you know if a diet or product is too good to be true? Watch out for these three signs: • Promises weight loss of more than 1 pound per week: Weight loss of ½ to 1 pound per week is a practical goal and is best for your health. Setting a goal of losing weight more quickly will be hard to achieve, leaving you feeling defeated. Set yourself up for success by starting with an attainable goal. • Claims to change the way the body works: No one food, magical combination of foods, or supplement can change your genetic code or change the way the body processes food. Any diet that promises to “melt away fat” or cause your body to become a “fat-burning machine” is definitely too good to be true. • Advertises “no need to exercise:” Diet plans that promise you’ll lose weight quickly without exercise may sound appealing, but they’re taking the focus off living an overall healthy lifestyle. Exercise is a valuable tool in helping you achieve your weight-loss goals, plus it’s also good for your heart, can help maintain bone mass, and help prevent chronic diseases.   What are ways that you help your entire family eat healthy?  What are your goals for […]
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Shopping with Toddlers {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linkup}

[…]requiring you to make a trip back across the store.   Get the fun cart!  This never lasts long with my kids, but I see a lot of kids that love them.   Bring a snack.  Or, if you shop at Walmart for your groceries {and probably plenty of other stores}, hit up the bakery and they will give your kids a free cookie!  It keeps them busy, and sitting still in the cart for a few minutes.   Let them help.  I know, I touched on this a bit, but when we are in the produce section, the kids get to help pick out the fruits and vegetables.  It’s probably their favorite part, and the hardest to keep them from eating before we are done.   Know their limits.  And yours.  You know how long you have before they start having meltdowns, or stop listening.  Grocery shopping is exhausting {or maybe that’s just me?}.  Get in, get out, get on with your life.   Have a baby carrier of some sort.  Charlie would rather walk, but there are days where, no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t be a listener.  He runs off, or grabs onto everything in the store.  When that happens, my patience dwindles.  He ends up in the carrier and will sometimes fall asleep.   Plan around nap time and lunch time.  This should probably be at the top of the list because it is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT THING when shopping with toddlers. Make a scavenger hunt.  Give them things to search for.  Make it fun for them, and it keeps them busy.   Remember you are still a mom.  There have been plenty of times I have sang with the kids as we walked down the aisles.  Recently, I danced down the cereal aisle with Maggie because we were princesses at a grand ball.  This stuff really happens people!  Haha.  We get a few crazy looks, but mostly, people think it’s adorable.  And if they don’t.  Oh well, they could always find a higher end grocery store.  Or, avoid us.  We don’t mind.   What do you do to get you through grocery shopping with toddlers? Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week we are talking about shopping with toddlers.  Next week’s topic is all about our St. Patrick’s Day plans, treats, or other […]
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DIY Christmas Photo Shoot Featuring a Santa Suit, Elf Costume and Mrs. Clause

[…]little cake platter for $3.00 the other day, I decided to put some cookies on it and set it down with the kids.  It worked and we got two of them to sit for pictures.  They were having a fabulous time eating all of the cookies. I STILL need to get our Christmas cards ordered for this year and now that I have our pictures back, I can get to the business of picking out my favorites and sending them out to friends and family.  You can pick up your holiday costumes at the Costume Supercenter.   ***As a parent of three little kids, I have learned the importance of being able to do quick diaper changes.  Both the red and white striped bodysuit as well as the green bodysuit both have crotches that can be completely unsnapped.***   I’d love to hear how you do Christmas pictures.  Will you be dressing up one of the littles in an elf costume this […]
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New Year, Better Me

[…]kids on the sled or going up and down the sled hill with them. I can get my steps in by having fun with the kids. The move minutes and heart points keep me active in all the right ways. I choose my workout and can track how my body is doing. This watch has allowed me to make every minute matter. My kids get more of my attention and I get more done. Christmas season is the busiest time of year for my craft business and being able to see my notifications without taking off my stain-covered gloves made it so easy to be efficient and get my orders out quickly. The Google Assistant keeps me on top of my day every day. I know what is happening and when with a quick glance at my wrist. I can do all of these things with a beautiful and stylish watch. Whether I’m dressing up or going about my day to day life or getting my fitness on, I can feel put together and stay motivated. 2019 better watch out because I’m ready to make some changes for my health and my life and our […]

The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set Review

[…]them and to discover… will have to read it to find out. These early readers are geared for kids ages 5-7 {grades K-2}.  My son is reading them and is in second grade.  He started reading within the last year and these are still challenging to him but he has really enjoyed having more books to read that feel like bigger kid books for him.  The illustrations throughout the book are captivating and he can sit and stare at the pictures trying to take it all in. My son still tends to fight me on sitting down to read.  He would much rather have a sword fight with anybody willing {or unwilling}!  However, when I can give him a reward at the end of a book, that always helps.  We loved that we were able to watch Surprise Island when he finished reading the book.  My daughter loved the stories so much and has read through them all over and over. You can read what other bloggers had to say about The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set by clicking the image […]

Ornaments with Love *Review*

[…]he won’t make it until next Christmas (sad face) so I wanted to be sure to get an ornament with our entire family – John and I, both kids, and both dogs. We ended up choosing the Personalized fireplace Christmas ornament with dogs and cats.  It is adorable – and I love the dog bones for the dogs.  It really is the perfect ornament for us with lots of personalization.  The top of the fireplace has our name, the fire has the year, the stockings have our names and the dog bones have the dogs names. The only thing I did notice was that on the 4th stocking, it isn’t centered, but unless you look at it close, you don’t notice it.  Close up, you can see that the stocking isn’t centered, but if you look at it hanging on the tree, you can’t see it. Ordering from Ornaments with Love was so easy!  The categories are easy to navigate and narrow down so you don’t have to look through tons of ornaments that you aren’t looking for.  There is a line that is clearly marked for everything you need to type.  Both of our dogs are black, and the order form has lines for each colored dog or cat, so I left a comment asking to have 2 black dogs instead and that is exactly what I received!  Plus, the ornaments shipped really fast and arrived in just a few days.  This ornament is so easy to customize to your family size, allowing for up to 8 stockings and however many dogs and cats you need.  I can’t wait to get the lights on our Christmas tree so we can hang our ornament! Be sure to check out the fun individualized ornaments too.  They even have an archery ornament that I love!  I haven’t found an archery ornament anywhere else.  With such a wide selection – you will find tons that you want to add to your tree.  Start shopping now!Facebook –  Twitter Do you buy personalized ornaments each year?  Which one is your favorite? *Disclosure:  I received the above mentioned products for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are 100%  my own  and only influenced by my experience with the company and […]

Snowman Math FREE Preschool Printable Activity

[…]things about this activity is the buttons.  Buttons are just fun, right?  He loves doing things with his hands so he has fun with this.  He doesn’t recognize all of the numbers yet so I help him with that – so does Maggie. To use this activity, print out the activity sheet below.  Cut the pieces out and set them on a learning tray with a bowl of buttons.  Place a hat on the snowman and have your little learner add the corresponding number of buttons. I hope your kids enjoy this activity as much as mine have.  I’d love to know what other printables you would like to see.   Download your FREE Snowman Math Activity      Remember – sharing is caring.  If you love this post, others will […]
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Put an end to #bullying – take the pledge today

[…]the pledge today – it really only takes a second and can make a difference, in your life, your kids’ life, and some day, in your grandchildren’s lives.  Head on over to this post and sign the pledge. Thank you so much for taking a second out of your day for something that is really important.  You only have a few more days to take the pledge – ends April […]
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Do you have a picky eater? {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

[…]important, and something many people struggle with.  The good news is… can get past this with your kids.  Together, with time and a good example, you can change their habits into healthy ones.  Here are some of my favorite ways to get my kids to eat healthy.   ~Lead by Example ~Have a wide variety of healthy choices ~Let them pick it out, whether at the store, or just at mealtime ~Go buy fresh.  Really fresh.  Like Farmer’s Market fresh ~Be consistent in your mealtime and snack time rules ~Tell them why healthy foods are good for their body, what it does for them ~Let them watch Copy Kids DVD ~Let them play with it in the play kitchen     There are so many more ways to get your kids making great food choices on their own.  The best part is, they can all be done together!  Make meal time preparation family time sometimes.  Let them help.   Right now, I am fairly certain the kids are both going through growth spurts.  They are constantly hungry.  They get to choose one snack a day that is not the healthiest choice, crackers, maybe a cookie or something like that.  Then, the rest of the day, their snack choices have to come from the fresh fruit and vegetables drawer, or can be yogurt or cottage cheese, or just cheese.  Now, at 3 and 1 1/2, they both know, they can eat whenever they are hungry as long as their choice of food comes from that drawer.  I question myself all of the time on whether that is a good rule or not.  I do want them hungry for meal time, but I figure if they are full because they ate half a bag of carrots or snap peas or celery….they are gonna be just fine!   There are also a ton of ways to sneak healthy foods into meals they love.  I add carrots, celery, onion and green peppers to my spaghetti sauce.  It makes it taste even better and we get a bunch more vitamins.  I prefer to just give them the vegetables, but it’s nice to add them in too.  One of our favorite things to make with added vegetables is Chicken Noodle Bake.   How do you handle picky eaters?  Do you have one?  I’m sure you know of one.  Are you one? Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is picky eaters.  Next week is all things Valentine’s Day.  Link up your posts, old or […]
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#Win the Ultimate in Winter Babywearing Gear from Rain or Shine Kids

[…]prize!   One lucky reader will win the ultimate in winter gear for your baby.  Rain or Shine Kids is giving away a Pouch and a Woobee blanket for one lucky baby!  Check out my top winter baby wearing gear post to find out more about this helpful pouch.   Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 16, 2015.  Open Worldwide.  Good luck!   Entry-Form MY GIVEAWAY So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the BMN Loves Giveaways participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize […]
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Discover How You Can Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

[…]it to the clearly labeled water line.  You can add in water conditioner {a few small samples came with ours}.  Add in the fan, replace the cover.  Plug it in and place it about 18″ from the wall.  Press the button on top and know your air will be cleaner.  Now, you may have to go check to make sure it is actually on because it is very quiet.  Like, whisper quiet.  I cannot even hear it running in the kids’ bedroom. The other thing I really love is that you can use it to diffuse essential oils in the room.  Venta recommends only using their brand of essential oils.  This means you can not only clean, but also freshen the air.  There are plenty of different oils that I like to diffuse at bedtime.     Now, since you are following my blog, you probably know that we love finding products that also are eco-friendly.  The Venta air washers are made from recyclable materials and made with 100% green energy. Our family loves our Venta Airwasher and the many benefits of it.  I love knowing we are breathing in clean air as we get our rest.  Or just snuggle up in bed.  How could you benefit from having a Venta Airwasher in your home or […]
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NatureGlo’s eScience Review

[…]kind of geeking out with excitement about it.    I would love to see the live class where the kids could chime in with their favorite animal or ask questions, but they are learning a lot from the recorded classes and seeing the other kids on the videos keeps it more interesting for them.  Another fun part to the classes is that you can comment on the lessons and other kids can comment back as well.  We are having lots of silly fun…oh, and learning, they just don’t realize it because they love what they are learning about!  You can hear more about this amazing bundle we are reviewing from other bloggers.  Drop me a comment to let me know what you think about this, I’d love to hear from […]

NickMom + Wine + Friends = Mom’s Night In

[…] Confused by that one? Every Sunday, starting at 10 pm, Nick Jr turns into NickMom with new episodes of Instant Mom starring Tia Mowry-Hardrict, party girl Stephanie who married older dad Charlie, become and instant mom to his 3 kids.   Imagine the #MotherFunny laughs as the entire family transitions into the new normal.   Thanks to NickMom, I now have some fun cocktail recipes to try out…starting with playdate punch, to be accompanied by the game “Every time you hear the word mom, take a sip” on our next playdate.  Now I bet you want an invite, don’t you!  For now, we settled on some yummy wine, trail mix, cookies {thanks Lindsey}, Instant Mom, and a lot of laughs.  After all, we are funny ladies. If you are in need of some #MotherFunny after the kids are in bed, make NickMom your go-to channel.   How do you have a fun girls night […]

July 4th fun {+Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

[…]bug, made a bird feeder, and Charlie just kept going and going.  We do games every year for the kids and adults.  I will post more about them later, but for now, here are the pictures I did get before the battery died on my camera.Here are some pictures from our 4th of July. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget to show off the kids’ awesome new toddler bed from my friend Katie. Did I mention that we played a lot of card games?  Seriously, A LOT!  I even got to win a few of them. What did you do to celebrate Independence day? Each week we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This weeks topic is 4th of July fun.  Next week’s topic is on fostering […]
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Books We Love: Freedom Crossing

*Disclosure: Affiliate links are included.* Have you ever read a book to your kids that you just can’t put down? That was this book for me. Freedom Crossing had me hooked. As we ended our chapters for the night – I wanted to just keep reading. Or, I would pause as I was reading to the kids to read ahead while they were waiting…it’s a great story. The book takes you on a young slave’s journey in the underground railroad. It goes even further though and you feel as if you are Laura in the story, feeling what she is feeling, imagining what she sees, thinks, etc. and seeing how her opinion changes throughout the story. This was recommended as extra reading for my son’s Notgrass history and I’m so glad we aren’t skipping out because the books are amazing! You can see other Books We love that we have featured. Leave me a comment and recommend another book for us to […]

Family Winter {Outdoor} Bucket List

[…]check out my winter bucket list for outdoor winter fun. Build a snowman – I love what the kids did with our snowman this year.  Charlie built the snowman mostly on his own.  A few days later, we had some friends over and the kids hollowed out the bottom of the snowman to make a tunnel.  How fun! Build an igloo.  Have you seen the idea where you stack pallets so that when it snows, you have an igloo? Make ice marbles Do the hot water challenge or whatever it’s called where you throw hot water outside when it’s like a million below zero.  I live in Minnesota, it’s been a million below zero since Christmas Eve.  The big thaw is coming – we’ll be at 29 later this week!  Heat wave! Go ice skating.  So fun and often times, you can find free rinks. Go downhill skiing.  I won’t lie, this really isn’t my thing.  I hear people love it, I’m just not one of them. Go cross country skiing.  This one, I’d do.  Winter is so beautiful and we live near a wildlife refuge so there are tons of trails to ski on. Go show shoeing!  The wildlife refuge holds an event every winter when the weather cooperates and you can borrow snowshoes for kids and adults and they take you on a trek around the refuge.  It’s so much fun and we learn a ton. Get polar bear feet.  I don’t really know what these things are called but they strap on the kids’ feet and when they walk around, they leave polar bear tracks {or whatever else is on the shoes}.  We have three different ones and the kids love them. Look for animal tracks.  Snow is the perfect thing for tracking the animals.  I love these printable animal track cards.  We take them into the refuge and look at the tracks we find, then figure out what they are from on the cards. Go ice fishing!!!  This is hands down Charlie’s favorite part of winter.  He talks about it all the time. See ice castles.  We did this a few years ago and it was awesome!  If you have a chance, check out some ice castles. Build a snow sculpture.  There is someone about 45 minutes away from here and they create the coolest snow sculptures every year.  I think last year it was a dragon. The one they create is enormous but creating one on a smaller scale would be fun with the kids. Make snow angels. Go sledding Go snowboarding Play hockey. Go snowmobiling Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride.  This is maybe a seasonal thing but I know leading up to Christmas, there were lots of events with rides. Have a snowball fight! Go to a winter carnival. Create ice luminaries Read a book in an igloo Make a giant snowhill.   Have hot cocoa around a campfire. What is on your winter family bucket list?  I am excited for a warm up in a few days so we can check a few more things off our […]

Fun at the Minnesota Children’s Museum

[…]weekend, we loaded up the kids and headed out for a day of fun at the children’s museum.  The kids had a blast and we were all exhausted by the end.  World Works is always a favorite, especially because of all of the water play.   I am pretty sure this is the cutest ice fishing picture ever!!!  What you don’t see is that just minutes before this picture, Charlie smacked the side of his head on a wood railing because he is pretty much the least graceful child ever!  This was the distraction I found.  He kept trying to pull the fish up through the ice.  If another kid wanted to play there and took the seat cover off, he would have them stand up so he could put it back on there.  It was so cute.     Maggie had a blast playing in the water and watching the balls flow through the tubes.  One of her favorite parts was the shadow room, but I didn’t take any pictures there.     The first room we hit up was {I forget the real name} healthy room.  Full of activities for the kids to be active while a stationary replica copies their movement on the bike or the boat.  There were also lots of food activities.  They could weigh an activity and a food and try to get them to balance.  Maggie loved this computer program where she learned about what foods to eat in a day.  As you can see, Charlie was dying to have a turn.   Do you have a children’s museum nearby that your family goes to?  It’s a bit of a drive for us so we don’t go often, but it’s fun when we […]

6 Non-Toy Gifts for 2 Year Olds

[…]it, our children don’t need every single toy out there, but people love to give fun gifts to kids.  Over time, I added some things to the kids’ birthday lists that were not toys.  I thought maybe you would all be interested in what some of those things are. A magazine subscription  I love reading and love to encourage it in any way possible.  Having a magazine subscription to something they will love makes a great gift that they get over and over throughout the year.  This year, my sister is getting Charlie one for Christmas.  I don’t know what exactly, but I think she said it is baby animals and he will love it! Art Supplies  We love to do art projects around here, which means we go through a decent amount of supplies.  Whether it is paint, glue, crayons, markers, etc..  There are so many choices and your kids will love them and be so excited for the next project! Stickers are another winner in the art category.  Charlie loves these stickers of his from I See Me!  He loves to tell me about the objects on them, and remind me that they are his.  Not only are these stickers adorable and personalized, but the different shapes are fun for the kids. Clothes  Okay, so this one is probably a given.  Kids need clothes, and each year, they will outgrow what they have and need more.  Maybe this isn’t the funnest gift idea, but it is practical and helpful. Snacks  One of my family members usually includes a snack or juice of some sort as part of the kids’ presents.  They love it and when they eat or drink it, they tell me over and over that so and so gave it to them.  What a fun idea. Museum passes, zoo, etc.  There are so many fun activities to take kids to do, but often the cost gets overwhelming for the parents.  Giving the kids a museum pass or zoo pass or pool, whatever it may be, is a fun gift they will talk about for awhile. Personalized Books  I love books, have I mentioned that?  But more than that, I love personalized books, and so do the kids!  Personalized birthday books make great gifts.  One of my favorite places to get personalized books is from I See Me!  We have a few different ones in our house and they are those books that never get put away and brought out at a later time.  We are constantly reading them and the kids just love that they focus on them.  For Charlie’s 2nd birthday, we got “Charlie’s Very Happy 2nd Birthday!” Book.  I love that it is personalized including a picture of him on the inside of the front cover.  It’s a fun, rhyming, easy to follow and get excited about book.  This isn’t our first book from I See Me!  You can check out my original review here. I See Me!  would love for you to follow along on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for upcoming deals and promotions, and to see the latest products.  Personalized gifts are also a great way to keep your child’s things from getting lost and not returned.  You can also choose from lunch boxes, stickers, growth charts, puzzles, and so much more! Not only are these gifts that they can enjoy for quite awhile, but they are so much fun! What are your favorite gift ideas for 2 year […]

How to Get the Best Air Quality with the Venta Airwasher

[…]add water, there are a few steps to take to help keep it working like it is brand new.  To begin with, once every 6 months or so, you will want to use a bottle of Venta Cleaner.  Fill the lower housing with water as normal and empty the entire contents of the bottle in.  Run on the lowest cycle for 2 hours.  Then drain and rinse with warm water.  If you are storing the Venta Airwasher, you will also want to run a cleaning cycle on it prior to storage.   About every 10-14 days, you will want to add in some of the water treatment additive.  Fill your lower housing as normal, and add in a dose of Water Treatment Additive.  This is a great time to also wipe down the inside of the lower house.  Using the water treatment additive improves the hygiene of the unit as well as improving the evaporation process.  It not only helps to prevent calcium and lime buildup but also helps to keep the water more antibacterial.   That really is all there is to taking care of your Venta Airwasher to keep it running in tip top shape for years to come.  Happy clean air […]
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It is a week of 100 degrees – find out how we will beat the heat {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

[…]isn’t anybody else there. Hose  This one thing is a source of a lot of tears and fights.  The kids both want to play with it to fill the dogs dish, the pool, or water the plants.  But….they sometimes spray each other, not on purpose either, and whoever just got soaked, {which may be the same person who is in control of the hose} starts to yell and cry.  That water is cold! Pool  We are working on setting up the big pool, but for now, they have their little kiddie pools.  They go back and forth with whether they like the pools or not.  When their friends are here, they get used a lot more.   Ice Cream  Who doesn’t love a cool down treat on those hot days?  Ice cream, freeze pop, you name it, the kids and I love it!   Not sure if you figured this out yet, but we love to play in the water!  Sometimes, I don’t even dress them when we go outside because we would only have to change as soon as we come in. Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is Beat the Heat.  Next week’s topic is all about our Labor Day fun {the holiday, not the birthing part}.   What did I miss?  What are your favorite ways to beat the heat? […]
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My "other" job {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

[…]the most part, there are a few exceptions. So, that’s my “other” job.  Selling real estate with two kids in tow.  It’s fun, and exciting to share in that experience with other people.  Plus, I have a couple of realtor in trainings! Each week we will be talking about a different toddler topic for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is Our Other Job, or past jobs.  Next week’s topic is what is our Mommy Time activity.  I’d love for you to link up, your old or new post related to the topic.  Please link directly to the post.  Visit here for a list of future topics and please – if you have an idea for a topic, leave a comment or email me!  Aside from being a mommy, which is the best job on Earth, do you have another job? […]
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The Action Bible Anytime Devotions

[…]I did this last week reviewing The Action Bible Anytime Devotions. This is a scary time for our kids and finding ways to encourage them is a wonderful feeling. This allows them to connect with God on certain topics that they need at that moment. Here’s the full […]

Your babies skin is perfect, let’s keep it that way.

[…]be using on their skin and she began her mission of trying to create products she was comfortable with her kids using.  All of TruKid products are made using only natural ingredients and essential oils.  Children love the scents, plus they could learn how to take care of their bodies.   Beginning in the fall, Jennifer is planning to launch TruKid Foundation.  An organization for kids, by kids and it will focus on charity work in the Bay Area, including product donations, outreach activities, and educational projects.  All of these things will help with the TruKid mission – helping children learn to care for themselves.   If you are ready to give your kids products that will help teach them to take care of their own bodies, while using natural products that you don’t have to worry about harming their skin, check out TruKid.   Right now, my amazing readers can get a FREE Sunny Days SPF 30+ Face & Body Stick with any order of $30 or more using code sunnymom. (1 per customer). Find TruKid on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.   Have you used TruKid products before?  Which ones are your favorites?   Giveaway open to US. Ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 27, 2013.  Good luck!   *Edited:  This giveaway has ended.* ***This rafflecopter form is run directly by TruKid.  Any information collected will be viewed by only […]
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Our Bedtime Routine + Tips for helping your kids develop good sleep habits

[…]Charlie into a toddler bed, I could leave the Wonder Bumpers on the crib.  The set comes complete with a blanket, bedskirt and sheet, so it will grow with your baby into their toddler years.  Aside from just the bumpers, you can get teething guards, blankets, or just about anything to match your nursery.  I know when I lay my baby down in the crib with Wonder Bumpers, that they will be safe while they sleep.   Buy it:  If you are ready to pick up some Wonder Bumpers of your own, use code SHANNON10 for a 10% discount.  {discount excludes sale items}.   What are your sleep tips?  What has worked or hasn’t worked for you?  Were all of your kids […]
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We are going on a camping adventure!

[…]designed to hold them.   You know what is really awesome about Casey the Camper Van?  It grows with your kids.  It says 1 1/2 -5, but even daddy thinks it is pretty fun.  The kids love it.  They will fight over whose turn it is to push it.  Charlie just pushes it.  He likes to flip open the doors too, but mostly, just loves to push it and let go and see it keep driving on its own.  Maggie has such a great imagination and loves to play pretend, so the removable pieces are so much fun for her to play with.  We go on a lot of adventures in our daily lives {mostly without ever leaving the yard, ha}, and playing with Casey the Camper Van is no different.  Maggie will sit down to play with it and tell me to come on, we are going on an adventure.   I know that most play is also learning for kids, and this is no different.  Maggie and Charlie learn through sensory stimulation, motor skill development, discover and learning, social interaction, as well as role play and exploration.   One of my favorite things about Casey the Camper Van is that the pieces can all be stored inside.  Don’t let that fool you, we have lost the removable picnic table and I still cannot find it!   Every piece of this toy is sturdy.  Looking at it online, I worried that with the opening hatches, that it would get broke at some point while they were playing with it.  When it arrived and I was checking it out, I realized how sturdy the pieces are.  Each piece is colorful and fun and will hold your childs attention. We have had a lot of fun with Casey and are so glad he is part of our family.  He has taken up a permanent residence in our living room and I don’t see him leaving for quite awhile. Get your kids Casey the Camper Van in time for Christmas {don’t hate me}.  All of the toys are PVC free and no batteries required!  Or check out WOW toys and let me know your favorite toy.  Have some fun with WOW on Facebook!   Now, through October 3, 2013, you can win a Casey the Camper Van toy from WOW toys.   What is your favorite WOW toy?   I mean, your kids’ […]

Say No More to the “Oops – I Peed a Little” Moments + #Coupon

[…]can I run the bases worry free and be my {not really} speedy self again, but I can get out there with the kids and have some fun.  After all, who doesn’t love to jump on the trampoline……as long as you don’t have to worry about peeing yourself. What will you do now that you don’t have to worry about the oh crap – I peed a little […]
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Online Homeschool: IXL Learning Review

Having three young kids, I need to be able to dedicate some time to one-on-one work with the kids – especially my oldest. One way I’ve found to make this work for us is by having some sort of online back-up that is still education but the kids get excited about it. I am excited to share the full annual membership for the IXL Learning program we have been reviewing. IXL is a personalized learning program for kids ages preschool-12th grade. They can work on math, language arts and for those at a second grade or higher level – social studies and science as well.  My youngest wants to be the big kid so much, so he absolutely loves that he gets to do his own classes too. My kids have been “speaking” Spanish for a while so they were excited to see that they could work on learning Spanish. To get started, your child answers some questions in different categories. This will give you an idea of where your child should start working. Once your child starts working, they can click on the Recommendations tab that will get them working on some math or language art skills they still need help in. Another feature here that I think is great is that you can click on the MN standards page. If you want your child working on what will be on the state testing, they can click on any of the different study areas listed to work on problems related to that. One thing I love when trying to decide what I want the kids working on that day is that I can hover over a topic and see what type of questions it covers without clicking that page open. When your child is working, the screen will show a few different things. First, you will see the question your child is working on with an answer box and a green submit button below it. On the right side of the screen is the part that my kids get so excited about. There are three parts to this – questions answered, time lapsed and SmartScore. As your child progresses through the questions, they can earn ribbons under the SmartScore. My kids seriously love this part – trying to get that 100 score is their goal every time. The best part of this section though is that below the question is a section that allows your child to work on the skills leading up to that question if it’s a question your child isn’t ready or able to do yet.  I absolutely love this because the concepts build on one another to progressively get more difficult or challenging for each child. Often times, I let them choose what they want to work on, but when I know there is something I want them to work on, or we have learned or are working on something that they are struggling with, I can select that topic for them to work on.  You can also look up their troubled spots, check their progress, see skills they are working on and so much more from the analytics section. You can guarantee that every day when they log on they are looking at their awards center to see how many badges they have earned. They can also earn certificates for their achievements. As a parent, having an easy way to keep track of what your child is working on is important. You get regular emails letting you know your child has reached a new certificate. You can also log in under yourself and check your child’s practice times and what they have been working on. If your child is younger – a tablet of some sort will probably be easier for them.  I know Henry – my four-year-old struggled to navigate the mouse when he was trying to use the computer but once he got on the tablet – he loves it and gets so happy every time he gets an answer right.   One thing to mention about IXL is that if your child is younger than 2nd grade, there is only the math and language arts option.  Charlie – my first-grader still does some of the science and social-studies activities as well.  It is much more challenging for him but if that’s what he feels like working on, that’s what he works on.   All three of my kids enjoy using IXL almost every day.  I especially love knowing they are still getting some learning time in even if I’m not the one helping with it.  You don’t have to just take my word for it though – check out some more of my fellow CREW members reviews by clicking the image […]

Give Extra with this Thank You Gift

[…]who taught them what to do, how to act, and what not to do.  Now I know how to talk about it with the kids, and even baby Henry as he grows up.   I use to play softball with a bunch of firefighters and I have a huge appreciation for the things that they do.  I want the kids to grow up appreciating the risks that firefighters take, and to show their appreciation in big ways and small ways.  I thought it would be a blast to give these firefighters something extra special this Christmas season. With this fun and easy to make gift idea, we can show our thanks to firefighter Adam and the rest of the crew. What you will need: Basket with handle Scissors Tape Red and Orange construction paper or tissue paper + one medium size piece of red paper Extra gum Ribbon {optional} Directions: Cut up red and orange construction paper or tissue paper and spread in the bottom of the basket. Tape Extra together in the shape of a fire ladder and tape to basket handle Using the red construction paper, cut out a fire hydrant to use as the card or note Give it away! Who would you love to give Extra to this holiday […]

Healthy Family Giveaway

[…]& Spin straw cup is a cute gift and a fun way to keep kids hydrated… Hydration Motivation! kidSTAT Prize: kidSTAT First Aid Kit Heathy Family Giveaway – kidSTAT – Mommy Scene kidSTAT is targeted for active toddlers and kids. This kit is equipped with hospital-grade products to treat the most common childhood emergencies: aches+sprains, bites+burns, and cuts+scrapes. kidSTAT has easy-to-follow, first-aid instructions to reassure you when your child is in distress. Together with “red flags” warnings on when to seek medical attention, this comprehensive kit was designed by moms, who happen to be ER doctors, too. kidSTAT contains: 91 items Doctor-written, step-by-step instructions Full-sized items, latex & BPA free Hospital-grade products Red flags to go to the ER Emergency contact/Pediatric CPR card Pacific Baby Prize: Natural Feeding Starter Set – Green Heathy Family Giveaway – Pacific Baby – Mommy Scene Made from Natural Bamboo. Safe & Healthy. Machine Washable and Biodegradable. Yummi Pouch Prize: Yummi Pouch Brights Reusable Food Pouches Heathy Family Giveaway – Yummi Pouch – Mommy Scene Yummi Pouch Brights (Set of 4) combine style and convenience in an eco-friendly container you can fill with homemade smoothies and blended snacks! Easy to fill and clean through the top zipper opening and enjoyed by drinking from the side spout, Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches are great for kids taking healthy snacks on the go. Includes set of 4 assorted patterns. Enter to win these great prizes!  Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 8, 2015.  Open to US residents only. a Rafflecopter giveaway This contest is sponsored by Mommy Scene and is open to US entries. One winner will be chosen and displayed on the giveaway widget after the contest ends on Oct. 8th, 2015. Mommy Scene and participating blogs are not responsible for fulfilling brand-sponsored prizes. Prizes will be shipped directly from each […]

Toddler mealtime manners {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

[…]everything on your plate if you want more of something.  I dine by these rules and encourage my kids to. True story to go alone with this picture….we were sitting down to dinner the other night and Maggie says, Mama, green beans aren’t my favorite.  She really made me giggle when she went ahead and ate one.     I also only put on their plate what I expect them to eat.  An idea I got from my very bestest friend.  It solves the negotiating to eat just one more bite problem.  Aside from all of that, they eat a lot of fruits and veggies {thank you farmer’s market}.  If they are still hungry, they will get a snack soon enough, and most of the time, it will be a healthy snack that they will dig into.   These things lead to happy, full bellies, most of the time.  Let’s face it, kids aren’t machines and won’t always do what you want.  Even the best laid plans will fail every now and then. That’s okay.  My kids will almost always scarf down that one bite of whatever it may be to get more of what they want. Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This weeks topic is mealtime rules and manners.  Next week’s topic is taming tantrums.  Link up your post, old or new.   What are your mealtime rules or manners? […]
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Making food fun and easy

[…]ages and you’ll appreciate the cost savings of DIY…Save up to hundreds of dollars annually! With Squooshi you can store, freeze, and serve all from the same container. Use Code FAMILYGUIDE for a FREE set of replacement caps at Squooshi food pouches are reusable and uniquely designed so they are fun for kids, helpful for parents, and better for our environment. *I received compensation for this […]

Behind the scenes with #PapaMurphysMoms

[…]the Counter tour with Larry over at the Blaine Papa Murphy’s.  I had planned to drop off the kids with a friend, but we were running late so they got to come with, and I am really glad they did.  I think it was pretty fun for all of us.  To make it even more fun, I got to meet some other local blogger mamas and their kids.   I’ve been to Papa Murphy’s plenty of times.  You know the deal, walk in, watch them make your pizza, go home, cook it, and eat.  But this time, we got to see so much more.  We got to see the entire process from start to finish.  But, before we got started, we got some yummy cinnamon wheel treats.  The kids and the mommies were happy about that!   We saw how they make the dough in this ginormous mixer {that’s the technical term, right?}.  It makes enough dough for 40 pizzas at one time.  They even let the kids help with that a little bit.  Did you know that it only takes 8 minutes for the dough to be made?  Then it is sliced into dough balls and refrigerated overnight.   Then we got to see how it is actually turned into a pizza crust.  It goes through this roller machine and then it is formed into a pizza crust and covered.  Each crust is dated for use and must be used within 2 days.  Maggie was fascinated by this part of the process!   Did you know that Papa Murphy’s gets FRESH ingredients delivered very regularly to ensure that every single ingredient that goes onto your pizza is as fresh as possible?  Things like green peppers will never sit for more than 2 days in the refrigerator or they won’t be used on your pizza.  They hand process the vegetables, pulling out the parts they don’t use like the stems on the peppers.  Then, they are sliced using a fancy slicer and an awesome employee to get the job done.   One thing that was really impressive to me was that they shred all of the cheese at the store so that it can be at its freshest when it goes onto your pizza.  We didn’t get to see that part today, but there is nothing like fresh grated cheese!     We were also given the opportunity to hand make our very own pizza for dinner.  Deciding what to make was a tough choice, but I decided on the Gourmet Chicken Garlic Alfredo.  That white sauce is amazing!  They even made up some Mini Murph Kits for all of the kids that were there.  We have been wanting to try these, so it was really exciting for the kids.  Charlie was so proud to carry his and Maggie’s around.  Muscle man!     I’ve known that Papa Murphy’s uses fresh ingredients, and that I love their pizzas.  What I don’t always think about is how involved in the community Papa Murphy’s is.  This Papa Murphy’s likes to take part in one event a week.  That’s really a lot of community involvement.  I love that there is a fundraising option because seriously, who doesn’t love Papa Murphy’s?  For example, coming up on June 7th is the Girl Scouts food drive.  Bring in donations and get a discount off of your order.  That’s a win-win for everybody!     The staff was all so friendly and answered all of our questions.  It really shows that they love their community and kids.  I wish I lived closer to this store, and it really makes me wish I knew the staff a little better at our local store.     No Papa Murphy’s meal is complete without some Cheesy Bread and a dessert though, so we had to pick those up too.  We went home, had nap time, and then made the Mini Murph kits for dinner.     If you haven’t tried Papa Murphy’s lately, you have to check it out.  It has been a dinner lifesaver for me on more than one occasion.  Plus, $10 Tuesdays mean that every pizza is $10 or less! […]

$100 Walmart Gift Card #Giveaway

[…]don’t forget the Kandoo Funny Berry Handsoap for only $1.97 (when you combine the rollback with this coupon.) Your kids will love the great smell of the purple foam bubbles as they scrub their hands. Trust us – they’ll be begging to wash their hands. Enter to Win a $100 Walmart Gift Card If you’re on Instagram, enter your information below to enter to win a $100 Walmart gift card. Giveaway ends Friday, December 19, 2014 at midnight. Good […]

When Easter gets a little crazy {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales Linkup}

[…]in a bag with shaving cream and food coloring.  Maggie wasn’t really interested, but the older kids had some fun with it.  Charlie thought it was a bat or something.  He just held on and whipped the bag all over the place, he was pretty excited.  The egg looked pretty neat, but was dented in quite a few places!  But hey, he got to dye eggs for his first Easter! We had 25 people here for Easter.  Of course, there was a yummy dinner, and the best part about having dinner at our house – we all fit together at one table!  Well, actually, 2 tables together, but still, pretty awesome!  We weren’t going to search for our Easter baskets, but when the Easter bunny hid Maggie’s, I suggested a spot where she wouldn’t be until after we ate, but wouldn’t you know, she for some reason went into the back dining room when we were getting dinner ready and found her basket all by herself.  I thought that was pretty awesome.  Since I will assume that only adults are reading this, I will share the Easter bunny story with you.  Since we have always had it at my aunt and uncles, we had tons of new hiding spots this year.   My aunt said, everybody hide a basket or two (because yes, even the adults get one, we are very lucky).  Well, I went to go hide one in a suitcase in the laundry room, and all of a sudden, my sister walks back there and says, hey, I was going to hide a basket in there.  Now, the funny part, I was hiding her and her husbands basket at that moment.  The even funnier part, I found out the next day that she had mine and John’s basket and was planning to hide it in that same suitcase.  Really?!  How did I find that out?  We couldn’t find ours when we were looking because we had already looked places, only to find out that once my aunt heard what happened, she went and moved our basket!  Man, this girl wanted some chocolate!  Charlie didn’t want to get down and crawl, so he didn’t find his basket, but everybody else did!  It was pretty cute.  During our Easter egg hunt, we had a ton of snow!  It was pretty chilly out too.  Charlie did his egg hunting in babywearing style.  Maggie was first being pulled around by my nephew in the sled and he would pull them up to the eggs.  Then, she got out and walked.  I asked if she saw any eggs, to which she replied:  I do, and another one, and another one, and another one.  It was so cute!  I had so much fun egg hunting with everybody.  Did I mention that while we were having pictures taken, the dogs were eating the hardboiled eggs? We were suppose to go to a baptism Easter Sunday, but the kids and I were all sick {sad face} so we stayed home.  Then John went to his moms and picked up the kids’ Easter baskets.  His mom also packed 60 eggs full of treats and toys and coins for the kids so they got to have an egg hunt when he got home.  They thought that was pretty fun.  Charlie could even just crawl on over to the eggs.  Tomorrow, we will finally let the kids find their Easter baskets from this Easter bunny.  I finally felt well enough to put their things together.  Boohoo for being sick, but who doesn’t love celebrating holidays an extra day? Each week we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is Easter.  Next week:  your kids’ room(s).  You can link up an old post or new, but please include the button and help spread the word!  How did you and your family celebrate […]
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Saturday Night Game Night

[…]tonight and got a lot of questions which made me think – hey Shannon – why not share them with you readers too? So, here we are. I’ll try to post weekly but, who knows! Tonight, the kids and I played three games – Allowance, Professor Noggin’s Horses, and a new game – Froggy Fractions {like, real new – it showed up from Amazon as we were playing games tonight}. Here’s a little bit about them. But first – the kids ages may be useful to you. We have a houseful – 10, 8, 8, 7, and 6 years old. Pretty great grouping for some family game time. Allowance is a great game to count money. This is how my older two learned to count money. We skipped right over the stuff in the workbooks to learn it and just played games. They are great at counting money so I say this game works.  As you travel around the game board, you earn money or pay money all as you try to be the first player to collect $20 to win the game.   Professor Noggin’s Horses is an awesome game. We were lucky enough to get ours for free because it is out of print but I know I’ve seen it on Amazon before so I’m sharing the link.  As of this moment that I type this, it’s unavailable but I’m sure that will change.  It’s a fun trivia game about horses.  Roll the dice, choose easy or hard and answer the numbered question.  Get it right, keep the card.  Get it wrong, add it back to the deck.  Whoever gets the most cards, wins!  Simple enough and easy to play with any number of players.  We love the Professor Noggin’s games and play them in the car when we have to go somewhere.  My daughter reads them and we take turns answering them.  There are tons of different topics from animals, to presidents, history, science, art and more. Froggy Fractions I just ordered because when my daughter was doing her review the other day, you could tell she forgot some of what she had learned.  I figured what better refresher than a new game!  This is like 7 games in one – lots of variations.  And while it says ages 9+, there are versions in the instructions for 7+. The games vary a lot so even kids just getting introduced to fractions can play.  There are also two sided squares shaded different colors for you to use as manipulative as you learn.   So – these are our Saturday night games for this week.  Tune in next week to see what we are playing.  I’m considering becoming a Simply Fun games consultant – I’d love to hear your thoughts about that.  See you next […]

Quiet Time Activities with Smithsonian Readers

[…]is interesting and he remembers it all.  I won’t lie – I’m learning quite a bit along with the kids, the cards are so much fun.  Plus, they are separated by categories {well, were separated, until Charlie pulled them all out to read} so you can easily find the topics you are looking for and learning about.   Smithsonian will be a part of our homeschool library from now on.  With engaging pictures, fun facts for the kids to learn and quizzes to see just how much they remember, these books are fun for all.  I love that the books advance in reading levels to not only keep your child engaged, but let them do the reading and learning in a fun way. I’m also a huge fan of how easy it is for the kids to tell what topics are in that book even before they can read.  The bright, vivid images on the front covers of the books make it easy to find the topic you want.   I’m so excited to have found these books, and so our the kids.   What types of things do your kids love reading about?  Have you discovered things that interest them that you never knew about until you saw it in a […]
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Making time for mommy {+ Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

Once you have kids, Mommy time can be hard to come by.  I know for me, it sure can be difficult to find time to do me things.  That is part of why I started blogging.  It was a fun outlet for me to talk.  It’s turned into so much more though.  I’ve met some wonderful ladies through my blog and discovered some fantastic products that I probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise.  Once the kids are in bed, this is my baby.  I love and nurture it as often as possible. There are other mommy time activities I do though.  If you read this post – you know that I love my hot tub, a glass of wine and a good book, although it has been awhile since I relaxed in there.  I use to have other activities I considered mommy time activities, like scrapbooking, making greeting cards and playing poker.  Those are the things I just don’t have much time for these days though.  Now, I scrapbook digitally, almost never play poker, but still try to make cards for everybody’s birthday and anniversaries or just because. And let’s not forget – I love to enter giveaways.  There are some things that I make it a goal to win.  Silly, I know!   Each week, we are linking up to talk about a different topic.  This week is Mommy Time activities and I would love for you to link up and share.  Next week we are talking about your child’s favorite character.   What is your favorite Mommy Time […]
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Keep lunch time fun when your kids go back to school {+Giveaway}

[…]peasy!   So what’s up with this lunch thing?  If your kid is bringing their lunch to school with them, likely, you send them with sandwiches…day after day after day.  And then, they start bringing home half eaten sandwiches because they are bored with the same thing every day.  You are in luck!  Emeals even has a lunch plan that is both easy and fun!  Some of the meals can even be made ahead {yay, I can hear you shaking your head thinking this is just what you have been looking for}.   Check out emeals Back-to-School-Survival-Kit.  It’s packed full of a checklist to prepare you for the beginning of the school year, a one week lunch menu plan, and fun notes to stick in their lunch box to brighten their day and liven up lunch time even more. Right now, use code SCHOOL15 for 15% off of any new purchase of […]
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Day 8 #30things 5 Passions that I have

[…]and I miss it. 2.  Scrapbooking 3.  Playing piano.  I am not that good but I sure love it. 4.  Kids.  Especially mine.   5.  Being outdoors.  Fishing especially.  Playing softball, the beach, anything. What are some of your passions?  I’m exhausted and pretty sure I am forgetting something very important to me. […]

Books We Love: Bear Grylls Adventures: The Jungle Challenge

[…]it and got sick of waiting for me so he was trying to read it on his own.  I was bubbling over with joy from that moment.  He isn’t reading yet but this is so motivating to him. I’m enjoying the story as much as the kids are.  Plus, the Bear Grylls Adventures are packed full of facts.  I was even learning so much in The Jungle Challenge about how to survive in the jungle.  There are fantastic illustrations throughout the books and some of them have questions at the end to test your survival knowledge.   I love having my kids yell at me that I can’t stop – I HAVE to read the next chapter!  If you have an outdoor adventure kind of kid, you have to check this adventure series […]
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Taking it to the beach {+ Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

I had hoped for tons and tons of beach days for the kids and I this summer, but so far, that hasn’t happened.  We have only had a handful of beach days so far this year, but it sure has been fun! Maggie has begun to love laying in the water and kicking her legs.  Mostly though, she builds sand castles!  Charlie, however, loves to be in the water every chance he gets.  Just this last weekend while we were fishing, both kids wanted to be held over the boat and kick in the water…..then, Charlie just decided he would try to do it himself….luckily we caught him.   Have you had some beach fun this summer? Each week we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is Taking it to the Beach.  Next week we are talking about some recent toddler challenges we are […]
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Reading Eggs Review

[…]they can.  The driving tests also allow them to practice their math skills while having fun.   Without question – my kids give Reading Eggs two thumbs up with a big grin.  You don’t have to take our word for it though – see what others have to say about it! […]

Feeling like a little girl again ~ Disney on Ice Let’s Celebrate!

[…]quite like going to Disney on Ice.  I’m still not entirely sure who had more fun……me or the kids.  As we sat there, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Charlie.  He was watching the dancing brooms and was a little scared, but kept saying, “Wow” over and over again.  It was so precious to see him do that. Maggie couldn’t take her eyes off the show.  When the princesses came out with their princes, we had so much fun naming them and squealing like little girls!  It was so much fun to see the princesses all out skating together.  It still makes this momma feel like a little girl living in a fairy tale! The end of the show was so much fun and so exciting!  Even John said that it was the best Disney on Ice yet!  And, as we were driving home, Maggie got really sad {just like last time} because the princesses didn’t hug her.  I really wish they would make time to hug Maggie so she isn’t sad afterwards! Did I mention that Toy Story is one of my favorites!  I was so excited to see these guys! Have you been to Disney on Ice? […]
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To heaven with love: Celebrating the loss of loved ones with your children

[…]of my own, I realize the need for ways to help them celebrate and remember a loved one. I want my kids to know about my parents, even if they won’t get to meet them. Write notes on balloons and release them into the air. Plant a garden and on holidays, add a birthday ribbon or a piece of candy – we did this for John’s dad after he passed away. Have a birthday party for that person – I mean, another reason to have cake, hehe Plant a tree. Adopt a road, park, etc. Go to a church service on the anniversary of their death, or even a birthday. Make a special meal with candles.  Leave one candle unlit in rememberance Do something that person loved.  A dance party to their favorite music, go sailboat watching if they were into that, etc. Draw a picture of what that person may be doing in heaven Have dinner {or breakfast or lunch} at their favorite restaurant   A special thanks to my sister for some of these great […]
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3 Steps to Finding Afternoon Energy + $2,500 Walmart Gift Card #Giveaway

[…]need to get back on track again.  I need to find that feel good energy so I can keep up with the kids and the rest of my life all day long.  After all, swapping one drink for another isn’t that hard to do, right? I decided to start doing some yoga while the kids watch their show before nap.  I also have a V8 V-Fusion + Energy Drink to see if that would help me feel more alert.  I tried the Orange – Pineapple and the Black Cherry flavors, but the Blueberry-Pomegranate is my very favorite.  I wanted to try the Peach-Mango flavor as well, but they were all out.  I thought that it wouldn’t hurt if I tried to really increase our fruit and vegetable intake some more, or at least my intake, so we have been eating a lot more berries and some vegetables in the morning.  I seriously CAN NOT WAIT until our garden is ready to be picked. For this busy mom, not only do I need something to keep my eyeballs open and my body moving while I’m at home, but I need something to keep my energy up when we are on the go.  Between the kids’ t-ball, my softball, playdates, field trips, and anything else we decide to do, I love being able to grab a can of V8 V-Fusion + Energy, toss it in the diaper bag, and have it on hand when I’m ready for some natural energy. How do you give yourself that natural energy boost to keep you going in what often feels like a never ending day?   V8 V-Fusion + Energy wants to give you a giant energy boost with a chance to win $2,500 in Walmart gift cards.  Giveaway open to US only.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on 7/1/2015.  Good luck! V8 V-Fusion+Energy #V8EnergyBoost $2,500 […]
Read more » 3 Steps to Finding Afternoon Energy + $2,500 Walmart Gift Card #Giveaway

Crafty Croc Liquid Chalk Markers and Reusable Labels Review

[…]but is just as happy to do some silly, messy art to learn things.  Charlie wants nothing to do with them.  I plan to homeschool the kids, so I’m always looking for new, fun ways to teach the same concept.  When I had the chance to review the Crafty Croc Liquid Chalk Markers and Chalkboard Labels, of course I was excited.  I couldn’t wait to try these markers out, and as it turns out, they are way more fun than I was expecting. Charlie is my outdoors guy.  He loves all things outdoors.  When we go places, before he can get back in the truck he will pick up a few rocks to bring home.  I have no clue where his rock stash is, but I know he loves collecting them.  One day on a garage sale site, a lady was selling a big old bag of river rock and I jumped at them, they were cheap enough.  I had an idea in mind for Charlie for awhile now, so this would make me actually get around to it.  The rocks sat there for a month or two waiting for me to finish this for Charlie.  When the Crafty Croc Liquid Chalk Markers and Chalkboard Labels arrived, I finally got around to finishing it.  I made him a matching set of upper and lower case rock letters.     The fun didn’t stop there though.  I told the kids they could go ahead and draw on the mirrors in the bathroom hallway.  Their eyes got all big, they were so excited.  They drew for hours.  They drew for hours the next day, and the next day, and the next day.  They even let me play!  If you haven’t ever drawn on your hallway mirror with markers, you need these.  They are so much fun!  It’s also a great learning tool.  They can write their letters and names, draw pictures and trace what you make. The markers have reversible tips, so I changed them all to the rounded edge to make it easier for the kids.  I also don’t allow them to put the markers on themselves.  Charlie just uses brute force and I was worried he would ruin the markers that way. I love the labels too.  I’ve been trying so hard to get organized and it feels like I’m fighting an uphill battle.  Some of it is permanent, but some of it is temporary.  I used some of the chalkboard labels to add to the containers that the kids’ toys are in so that they {I} can read what is in them if I can’t see through the container.  I just put up shelves last week for their toys to be stored on so that Henry can’t dump everything out on the floor. I’ve also added the labels to my crafting table bins.  I have a tough time remembering what vinyl is what, so this way I can clearly mark the different types or whatever else I have stored in the bins.  I also like that I can wipe the labels off if I change my mind, or even move the labels from place to place.   We have had so much fun with the Crafty Croc Liquid Chalk Markers and Chalkboard Labels.  How will your family spend quality time together with […]
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Books We Love: Art Books

[…]often for art class in our homeschool day. I introduce an artist from the book and we follow it up with creating our own artwork using that artist’s technique. The kids have a bunch of different How to Draw books. These are step-by-step instructions on how to draw people or animals or whatever else may be in that book. Nature’s Art Box is another book we love. We spend so much time outside and this is just another way of bringing us closer to nature. Each week we are chatting about books we love.  Check them all out on our feature page. These books are all a fun addition to any art area. Do you have a favorite art book that I should add to our […]

Tips for keeping your little ones safe this summer {+Tuesday’s Toddler Tales Linky}

[…]of our tips on staying safe during summer. ~ Dump out pools, buckets, water tables, etc.  Young kids can drown in very small amounts of water.  From one day to the next, you may forget about the water in the bucket outside but your little one is sure to find it.  If you are worried about having ice cold pool water from refilling it each day, add a pot of hot water to warm it up.  Don’t leave your kids alone in or by a pool. ~ Wear sunscreen and insect repellent.  None of us want to add anymore toxins to our little ones skin than we have to.  There are some great all natural sunscreens and bug repellents.  We have used TruKid and All Terrain.  Wearing light colored clothing makes it easier to see if ticks are on their clothes. ~ Stay hydrated.  Water really is your friend! ~ Check playground equipment before allowing children to play on it. ~ Wear a bike helmet. Keep your summer fun, and that means, paying attention to what your children are doing.  They are bound to find something to stick in their mouth, or hurt themself on.  And, they are attracted to water.   Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is summer safety.  Next week we will be sharing our 4th of July fun.  Link up any post, old or new.   What are your summer safety tips? […]
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A Christmas gift they will keep forever – I See Me Personalized Books

[…]very excited as we read the book.   At the end of the story, there is a fun game you can play with your kids. The Animal Encyclopedia tells them a little about each of the animals. Then, we go back through the book and try to find a few each time we read it.   Did I mention the quality of the book and pages?  Much more durable than your average kids book and the glossy pages the kids will love.  The pages will stand up over time {don’t let that fool you into thinking I let Charlie touch it unsupervised, the kid is a destroyer}.  It’s a fun, easy read with rhyming phrasing to keep kids attention throughout the entire story.  With the gorgeous pictures, your kids will find so much to look at and comment on as you read the story with them.   When I say that we REALLY love this book, I am not exaggerating.  We are actually planning to buy 5 more I See Me books as gifts.  We had 5 babies born between our families this last year or so, starting with Charlie, and want to get each of those babies one of these books all their own.  It is that awesome!  Added bonus:  they are made here in Minnesota!   Visit I See Me and discover all of the personalized story books you and your children can enjoy.  Want to know about new releases and deals?   Win a personalized storybook of your choice {excluding gift sets} starting now through November 30th.  Open to US only.  Giveaway will end at 11:59 pm EST on November 30th.   Good luck! Entry-Form Disclosure:  I received this book for the purpose of this review.  However, all opinions are 100 % my own and may differ from […]
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Books We Love: Fire Truck

[…]first discovered it when I was teaching 2 year olds and loved it then. One day I played it for my kids and they LOVE it. And beg for it quite often. The book is not available for purchase now. Well, mostly not. I’ve found a copy available for like $1,000. Be sure to check out the rest of the Books We Love.  Have you ever heard this book […]

History Made Fun with the HEROES OF HISTORY Series {Review}

[…]the first few pages, I had to keep going. It felt like I was right there, experiencing it all with Clara. I was sure the kids would like it and we started reading it that night. We all snuggle up in my bed and read for about an hour every night. Best time of the day you guys!!! My six-year-old really enjoyed reading this book and started doing something awesome as I was reading. He started drawing pictures of what I was reading to him. I’m talking page after page after page of what he took away from the story about Clara Barton.  He would stop me every now and then to write a description about the picture for him and then go right back to working hard. He has started a journal of sorts to go along with the story now, such a cool idea! I’m always looking for activities for my boys to do while I read aloud because they can get each other wound up, I never knew one of them would come up with the solution. I really enjoyed hearing the kids’ questions, observations or thoughts about what we were reading. This brings me to something else to love about these books. You can get a study guide to go along with them. The study guide is PACKED full of activities and ways to get more out of the story. The questions are separated by chapter which was super helpful for us. I kept the printed pages of questions by our book and would glance through it before I started reading that chapter. Often times, the kids’ questions, were related to a question so we would stop and discuss it. I love the essay questions in here and will probably use them in the next year with my oldest but for now, the creative writing questions are perfect for her. I wish we had started mapping out the activities on the maps in the study guide, but we didn’t get around to it and we love map activities. The information is separated by what you are learning about – geography, social studies, science, ect.. It is way more information than you will use so you can pick and choose what works best for your family. I had my daughter put together a trifold display about Clara Barton. She was free to include whatever she wanted on it. I especially love that she decided to include the current temperature for where Clara was born. I helped her write things out on the timeline but she did all the rest of it on her own. While she was working on it, she reminded me that we still had to do school work today. She had no clue she was doing school work – she thought it was so much fun! It turned out great and I loved seeing what she remembered about the story. She absolutely loved Clara’s resourcefulness when she used the empty tin cans to put food in for the soldiers when they were out of dishes. We learned a lot about not only Clara Barton but also other figures from that time period in history, places they took place and so much more. I think we will read about HEROES OF HISTORY Abraham Lincoln next.  I think in a couple of years – the kids will read these on their own as part of their history lessons. You can read about some other HEROES OF HISTORY reviews if you click the image […]
Read more » History Made Fun with the HEROES OF HISTORY Series {Review}

A Day at the Beach + FREE Kick Off Summer Cookbook

[…]out the little video on how to make them}.   Let Kraft help you plan the perfect celebration with the FREE “Kick Off Your Summer” cookbook! #CookingUpSummer  Click on the picture below to get started.   What will you make […]
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Making learning fun – Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky

[…]using every day activities, whether it is painting letters that we are talking about, dotting them with bingo robbers, using rocks or sticks to paint on or with are just a few more of our ideas. But, I have to say, my favorite way for learning to be fun is to read.  And we read a lot.  It is Maggie’s favorite thing to do, pretty sure she gets that from me.  And let’s not forget our friend, technology.  I know my kids love any chance to use my smart phone or the computer. Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales.  This week’s topic is Toddler Educational Fun.  Next week’s topic – Toddler’s Prayers / Faith / Religion.  Link up your post – old or new and feel free to grab the button from the sidebar for your post.   What ways do you have of making learning fun for your […]
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A Disney gift your princess or prince will love #DisneyClassicsBox

[…]as they create fully orchestrated songs. Now, I can enjoy some of my favorite Disney songs along with my kids!  We can sing, dance and just plain make beautiful memories together. Order your Disney Classics Box Collection now for $49.98 and start making your own memories today! What is your favorite Disney […]
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Winter Fun at the Ice Castles

[…]even talking about.  We were pretty excited too.  By the time we pulled into Miller Park, the kids were extremely antsy and couldn’t wait to get out of the truck.  I’ll be honest with you, once I saw the front of the ice castles, I was in a hurry to get out of the truck and dressed in our winter gear. Do you see the creeper face in the background of this picture we had taken at the entrance to the ice castles? We were all in awe from the beginning.  This place is amazing.  We were barely in the entrance when the kids were entranced by the icicles.  It only got better for them from that point on.  As soon as you enter, you will notice the stunning waterfall, made even more impressive by the LED lights built into the ice, giving it a gorgeous color.  With the colors changing throughout the castles, you can’t help but be mesmerized. We quickly discovered the ice slide.  And there we stayed for quite some time.  Even John took a turn down the slide.  Then we moved on to this ice tunnel.  I think claustrophobic, but the kids couldn’t get enough of it! Everywhere you walk, there are thrones, benches, caves and more that you will find almost hidden in the ice castle itself.   From something that began in Bill Christensen’s backyard, the ice castles now span an acre, featuring about 2,100 tons of ice, 5 million gallons of water.  With “ice farmers” growing ice and then harvesting it for the ice castles, between 5 and 20 tons of ice are added each night.  These icicles are sculpted into the existing ice formations, and drenched with water creating a one of a kind look.  As the ice castles melt, the water will flow to a lake located next to the park. If you are looking for a fun, family activity, a romantic date night, or just fun with friends, visit the ice castles located in 4 different states across the US.   Have you ever visited an ice castle like this before?  What are some of your favorite winter […]

Learning About Our State with the Chronicles of Minnesota State Notebook

One of my favorite things about homeschooling my kids is the ability to let them lead the way. One thing my daughter has recently been asking to study is our state so the opportunity to review the Chronicles of __ State History Notebook, Grades 3-8 from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources came at the perfect time. While she is maybe a little on the younger side {technically end of 2nd grade} for this, she has been loving it. One thing she has been learning a lot is how to not only research the information you need, but also to only include the relevant information instead of every single word and fact that she finds about something. I’ve been enjoying learning about the changes to our state flag along with her. What you receive is a binder full of activity type pages for your child to complete.  We aren’t even a quarter of the way through this yet and my daughter is already planning to do one for Wisconsin, then Florida so it’s safe to say that she likes it. This Chronicles of Minnesota book encourages my daughter to dig deeper than just what the state flag, flower, bird, etc. is. It is broken down into different sections – Facts, symbols and emblems; Geography and population; Industries and Jobs; History and Government; Misc., Field Trips and Photographs and an award at the end. I love that it encourages your child to interview different people in the state. What a great way to discover how things have changed from the past to the present by interviewing and elderly person born in the state and a newer resident. Not only do they research but they also get to create their own things. They have the opportunity to create a historical skit, a state newsletter, and so much more. I really love that there is a spot in the history section to create a timeline of your state. We have a wall of timelines so we will add this when it’s finished. The field trip section is awesome. The pages for different field trip ideas include preliminary research, questions to ask, new vocabulary and follow-up activities for it. Pretty much everything you can think of to learn about your state is included in an easy to complete binder. The best part is that you don’t have to go in order. If you are visiting the state capital – go through some of the government pages to learn more about it beforehand. Hewitt Homeschooling Resources offers more than just this Chronicles of your State notebook. Find out what some other folks have to say about the products they reviewed by clicking the image […]
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They bring each other so much joy. {+Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

[…]a short time before they wake up the other one.  As any mom knows, that tends to lead to crabby kids.  With Maggie and Charlie, it does, and for a second, the kid that was woken up will cry….and then, see the other one which leads to two little monkeys laughing in bed.  It really is a great way to wake up every day! Maggie is {usually} very good at sharing.  Just today, Charlie wanted more cheese with his lunch, and as I went to get him some from the fridge, Maggie tells me, it’s okay mom, I gave him some of mine.  So sweet, especially considering how much she loves her cheese.  Being the big sister, Maggie can always be found trying to “help” Charlie.  Sometimes, it is by holding his hand and walking with him.  Other times, she {eek} picks him up, usually by the head.  She just loves him and wants to help him so much.   Dinner time itself, usually leads to lots of giggles from across the table.  They are both eating peacefully, and then suddenly, one of them thinks the other is funny.  After a few seconds, they both end up laughing, then, mom and dad both end up laughing.  Could life be any better?  The answer – NO!   I know that it won’t always be this way.  There will be fighting at some point, but for now, I will kick back and enjoy the laughter and joy when they make eye contact with each other.  There is no doubt in mind that they are best buds and love each other so much.  I’ll skip the sibling rivalry in hands for sibling love right now.   When we found out we were pregnant with Charlie, people thought we were crazy – that 20 months would be too close together and cause problems.  That hasn’t been the case.  It has been love from the start.  My sister and I are 18 months apart and great friends […]
Read more » They bring each other so much joy. {+Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linky}

Books We Love: The War That Saved My Life

[…]the stories I choose. The system works great for us and allows plenty of one-on-one snuggling with each of the kids. My daughter {12 years old} chose this book as a reward for the library’s summer reading program. She was reading it to herself at bedtime and THE SECOND that she finished reading it, she walked over, handed it to me and said, “You have to read this to Charlie!” As soon as we finished whatever book I had been reading, we started The War That Saved My Life. My daughter sat there listening again to the story every single night. We were hooked from the start – such an amazing story!!! I knew there was a sequel to it so as we neared the end, I put in a request for the next one. Well, as we finished this book, the next one wasn’t ready yet. Charlie {my ten-year-old} exclaimed, “Let’s just read this again. Start from the beginning.” Seriously, it’s that good of a book. Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read to the kids and I have read a lot of great books. I’d love to hear from you. What book have you read lately that you […]

Quick Snacks They Can Make Themselves {+ How to Create a DIY Pizza Bar}

[…]Tacos, and they gobbled them up!  Maggie and Charlie love dipping things.  They had so much fun with these fun snacks. Whatever age our kids may be, these are a few great options for #AfterSchoolSnacks that the whole family can enjoy.   You can also get some Bagel Bites coupons and Delimex coupons and scoop up the savings on your next shopping trip.   What are some of your favorite quick snacks for after […]
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Thanks to Frecklebox, Maggie is learning to spell her name! #EggsInTheBasket

[…]Grand Prize packages for Eggs In The Basket and get a head start on Easter. What do you think your kids would love from Frecklebox? *Disclosure:  I received the above mentioned products for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are 100% my own and only influenced by my experience with the product and company and may differ from […]
Read more » Thanks to Frecklebox, Maggie is learning to spell her name! #EggsInTheBasket

Stay Fit and Active as a Family

[…]to teach your kids the love of the game and it can grow with them even once they are adults.  My kids love going to softball with me each week and played t-ball for the first time this year.   Now that you have a few ideas on how to get out there and have some fitness fun with your family, the next step is eating right.  We all know that we need enough fruits and vegetables in our diet, but what about protein?  If you are like me, you hit that brick wall right around nap time.  The problem is that you don’t get a nap every day {or at least I don’t}.  It was leading to some horrible caffeine habits that I was struggling to break free from.  I picked up some EAS Complete Protein Powder and some EAS Complete Protein Ready to Drink when we were at Walmart.  Not only is this packed full of protein, but it is also supplemented with calcium, fiber, vitamins and minerals to help me be the best me I can be.  I like that it’s a not only a big container, but it also holds the scoop in the lid so you don’t have to stick your entire hand in there every time.  I’m counting on this to be the missing thing that will give me the energy I need to get through my day.  Since I know I don’t get enough protein as it is, this is just what I need. The EAS Complete Protein Ready to Drink cartons are perfect for when I’m on the go and want one for later.  Plus, I can get both the powder and the shakes in delicious chocolate or vanilla flavors.   These are a few of the ways that families can stay active together.  What are your favorite ways for your family to be fit together?  Do you also incorporate EAS Complete Protein to fit in with your busy, active […]

Take early learning to the next level

[…]work that teachers put in.  EmbarK12 would save you tons of time, allowing you to spend that time with your kids. Check out this video for more information.   Right now, you can  get your EmbarK12 Online 12 month subscription {normally $59} for $29.50 for 7 days only, using code EmbarkSpecial, saving you 50%.  Purchase the EmbarK12 Comprehensive for $286 a year, including all upgrade kits, even hands-on manipulatives.  Check out  Kindergarten readiness programs by K12. Try a sample activity today. What is your child{ren}s favorite thing to learn […]

Fin-tastic Book Giveaway

[…]tidbits, animal profiles, and up-to-date science, each chapter combines stunning photography with fun, accessible text. Perfect for curious kids, ocean lovers, young explorers, and the classroom. Extreme Ocean reveals the mystery, majesty, danger, and — above all –the importance of our ocean.   So Cool! Sharks (ages 3-7, hardcover, $6.99 ) – Sharks are among the world’s top predators, but that’s just ONE reason why they are SO COOL. So who wouldn’t want to hang out with them to learn more! These books blend awesome animal photos with silly quips and info that will delight young readers and animal enthusiasts. For example, kids can catch the hunting habits of a great white shark while learning that its true nature is as chill as a frozen fish stick. This is the perfect little reader to get their brain buzzing and keep them laughing during their downtime.   On behalf of National Geographic Kids Books, we are giving away a “Fin-tastic Grand Prize Pack” which consists of all 5 titles listed above (total ARV $60).   U.S. Only.  To enter – head on over to our Facebook page and comment with your favorite shark […]

Break up this long winter with some indoor fun

[…]is easy, simply pull out the clips and move the hoop up or down.  That means this will grow with your kids.  Right now, we have it on the second setting and it is just perfect for my 1 1/2 and my 3 year old.  They can reach up to put the ball in, but they also can practice throwing it to make baskets. Hands down, the kids’ favorite part of the basketball set is the rainbow lights and sound. There is an orange sensor that sticks out into the rim and when you make a basket, it sets off the lights and it cheers for you.  Charlie loves the cheering feature and will stop and clap with it, it is super adorable.  Every once in awhile, when you make a basket, the sensor doesn’t go off.  I’m not quite sure why, but the kids just go tap it so it goes off. The basketball set comes with a 6″ basketball {that needs to be aired up}.  I love the ball.  I was a little concerned since we would be playing it inside, but it isn’t super hard.  I don’t have to worry that they are going to break a window with it, and it is a perfect size for those little hands.  We have a bunch of other balls that we use with the hoop too, and usually, we have about 6 balls laying around just waiting to be tossed around. The base of the basketball hoop has 2 built in holders for drinks or ball storage, which is just perfect for the extra balls to sit. I had some concerns originally as I watched my 12 year old nephew play basketball when he was here.  I was worried the rim was going to get broken because he would pull on it as he showed the kids how he could dunk it.  I have no doubt that over time, my little man is going to realize that he can hang or pull on it, so I want to know it is sturdy and will hold up.  As if I should have been concerned, this is Step2!  It is still in perfect shape after all of the roughhousing that has happened with it already.  The net is sturdy too, no flimsy material, using a real woven net.  It is easy for the kids to get the bigger balls that don’t fall all the way through, but their little fingers don’t get stuck or tangled.  I love that it includes a bright orange marking to put on the sturdy backboard.  We can bounce balls off of the backboard all day long and it isn’t going to bust into pieces.   I was a little intimidated when it arrived because of that whole, some assembly required thing.  Assembly isn’t my best feature, but this was a breeze.  To start with, fill the base with either sand or water to make it sturdy so the kids don’t get hurt.  Then, add the adjustable stand pieces.  The most time consuming, yet reasonable easy {I have horrible small motor skills} part was attaching the rainbow lights and sound piece inside the rim.  There are about a dozen small screws to put in.  Then, put in your batteries {not included} and attach the rim to the backboard.  Then, attach the backboard.  The final piece is to put the net on which is incredibly easy, and each spot snaps up so it won’t come lose when those little hands tug on it. We love our Step2 Lights-It-Up basketball set and cannot wait until we can take it outside! Best of all, as my kids grow, so will the basketball hoop.  No more having to replace it every few years because they have outgrown it.  This is an amazing product that everybody in the family can enjoy.  We even used painters tape to draw the basketball court lines on the floor just to make it a little more fun for us.  Sometimes, the kids throw the balls to us on the other side of the room and tell us to shoot.  They get so excited when we make it.  Fact:  I am awful at basketball.  Even with this awesome hoop!  It’s a good thing nobody minds me missing most of the time.  Haha.   Even more fun is watching Charlie learn what balls {or balloons} are too big.  It is also great for teaching kids good sportsmanship.  As you can hear in the video, you can hear the kids cheering each other on and encouraging each other with comments like, “You almost did it.”   Buy it:  You can pick up your very own Step2 Light-It-Up Junior Basketball Set today because, I promise, spring is really coming!   *Disclosure:  I received complimentary product in exchange for this honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and only influenced by my experience with the product and […]
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Father’s Day fun {+Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linkup}

[…]name, so we gave him that too.  He even knew about it, but forgot all about it.  As soon as the kids woke up, they grabbed the bag of presents for him and jumped on him to wake him up.  He was very surprised! Since it was nice out, we headed out for a beach day with my family to finish our Father’s Day celebration.  All of the dad’s on my side of the family were there.  Lots of grilled food and goodies, some games, and some water fun.   Each week, we are linking up for Tuesday’s Toddler Tales with a different topic each week.  This week we are sharing our Father’s Day Fun.  Next week’s topic, Sibling Love/Rivalry.   How did your family celebrate Father’s […]
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LightHeaded Bed Giveaway

[…]right now the set up process and building the bed was too easy. I could have done it home alone with three kids and hardly any tools. It was a matter of lifting I think. Once we got it together and also put the trundle together, also really simple. The kids were ready for a sleep over. Since we have bunk beds. We thought how fun would this bed be at the in laws. They get to have one bed in a room for two kids. The fact that it has a matching pull out trundle is extra convenient. Perfect for their house. They can grow into the bed. You can change out the headboard image from anything to fit in with a toddler bed all the way up to your teens. Well you can even change it to fit your adult likes with patterns and more. LightHeaded beds are amazing. Some people have mentioned the price point. They are more expensive then those plastic toddler beds but this is no more then a normal quality wood framed bed. Your getting amazing quality with this bed too. Also are getting all the fun. The kids will be excited to go to sleep. While I have your attention. They also have a remote with the headboard so easy for parents to turn on and off. You can dim the lights which is awesome when you are trying to get kids to sleep. The remote also has a timer on it so no worrying about it being left on all night. It’s such a unique, awesome bed. It’s well worth the money. LightHeaded Beds have styles of beds to fit into anyone’s style. This is a purchase you will not regret. It will last from first bed to the last bed. Well at least till you want a queen or king sized bed. They do have plans to introduce larger beds in the coming future. This is the main tool and also a screw driver! Check out LightHeaded Beds for everything they have to offer. They even have a special offer for you amazing readers. If anyone does in fact want to buy a bed, They have a coupon code for you! 20% off any bed at LightHeaded Bed.The offer is Valid through 5/13/2015 So check them out and if you do buy one. Let me know and tell me how easy it was to set up. FACT- The headboard backgrounds have all sorts of patterns, nature, colors, Disney, holiday, and so much more! You can make your bed fit whatever mood you are in. Giveaway YES! They are offering one lucky reader the chance to win one LightHeaded Bed for their very own house. You can win a Canterbury Twin Bed. Open to Continental US. 18+ or over to enter and win. Winner will be chosen Midnight EST. They will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. This blog is not responsible for giveaway prize, shipping mishaps, or fulfillment. This is being hosted by  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 4, 2015.  Good luck! a Rafflecopter […]

Books We Love: Snuggle Puppy!

[…]a song.  Or at least when I read it it is.  It’s seriously such an adorable story and the kids just love it.  The end is so much fun.  I whisper sing it and then on the last page we all shout it out together.  What kid doesn’t LOVE that, right?!  I love it because not only is it a fun story to read all together, but it is a board book so I can let Henry play with it and try to eat it after we finish reading it.  {This is an affiliate link, our family thanks you for ordering through it}.   Snuggle Puppy!     To discover the other stories we love to read, be sure to visit our Books We Love page. […]

A lunch box any child {or adult} will be proud to show off

[…] Even if we aren’t using it for lunch, the covered containers are perfect for snacks to take with us. The best part is, the lunchbox works no matter what your age or appetite.  For my kids, the containers are only filled part of the way.  If packing it for myself, I can fill the containers up a little more.  Or….I can fill it all the way up and this one lunchbox fits enough food for all of us! You can buy one now and kick start those lunch ideas, or, win one here through November 11, 2013. What is your favorite lunchbox from Laptop Lunches?  Did you also check out the accessories to make that lunch even more fun?   *Disclosure:  I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review.  All  opinions are 100% my own and only influenced by my experience with the product and […]
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Surviving Halloween Chaos One Pizza at a Time

[…]I have all sorts of boxes to unpack but LIFE is still happening so there they sit.     Now the kids are like, “Oh hey mom, remember last November when we bought my costume for this Halloween?  I need the glove that goes with my swamp zombie costume.  Where is it?”  Ummmm…..probably in a box somewhere but I couldn’t tell you where.  There are two boxes of dress-up clothes.  Let’s check there first.  Not there?  Okay, maybe in that massive pile of boxes of things everyone helped pack up at the last minute that we have no clue what is actually in the boxes. I mean, needle in a haystack, right?  Did I mention we have just barely a half hour to find it and eat?  You know, because kids think they need to eat multiple times a day EVERY DAY!     This is why there is always frozen pizza in my freezer.  ALWAYS.  You guys – sometimes life just doesn’t go your way.  Look like a Halloween hero every time when you break out everyone’s favorite – PIZZA!   Pizza night is my favorite.  Everyone eats and I don’t have to put in much effort.    This gave me time to throw the pizza in the oven and go rapidly searching through a houseful of things that are in various states of unpacking and find that random swamp zombie glove so we can go about our Halloween fun.  Let’s not forget the adorable three-year-old who can’t decide which superhero he wants to be for Halloween so we have to find all parts to all of them.  I mean, at this point, I’m just assuming that my seven-year-old is figuring this stuff out on her own tonight because I’m clearly not helping her at all. Thank goodness for Red Baron Brick Oven Pepperoni Pizza to get us through the hard part and onto the fun part.  The Classic Crust is actually my daughter’s favorite but we outvoted her this time.    Whew, we made it!  On time even – amazing after the chaos of today. Sometimes adventures don’t quite start out as planned and it feels like every Halloween is one of those days.  Some weird part of the costume vanishes at the last minute.  Do you have some Halloween war stories?  I’d love to hear about them so drop me a line below so we can laugh about them […]

Using Nature to Learn with this Alphabet Matching Game

[…]    We use the rocks for so many activities.  I am also putting stickers on some of them with an object that begins with that letter sound.  Maggie is also able to read some words on the rocks.  I think their favorite activity though is writing on the rocks themselves.   We also have a lot of fun using the rocks to form the letter shape.   What are your favorite ways to use nature for learning?  Do you have a rock lover who would have fun learning letters with this […]
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Summer #BlogChallenge August What I love about them….

[…]and learn all the time.  I get told “mama sit” a million times a day so she can read books with me or play with toys.  She’s pretending so much and I love watching as she figures something out for the first time. This is only a short list of reasons why I love them so much. Charlie and Maggie are the best little people I could imagine!  They are so amazing and fun and absolutely the most important people in my […]
Read more » Summer #BlogChallenge August What I love about them….

Summer #BlogChallenge August What I love about them….

[…]and learn all the time.  I get told “mama sit” a million times a day so she can read books with me or play with toys.  She’s pretending so much and I love watching as she figures something out for the first time. This is only a short list of reasons why I love them so much. Charlie and Maggie are the best little people I could imagine!  They are so amazing and fun and absolutely the most important people in my […]
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Day 14 #30things Strengths and weaknesses

[…]throughout my life.   My strengths: 1.  I have a ton of patience!!! 2.  I am really awesome with kids. 3.  I don’t worry about things I can’t change.4.  I am a fast learner.5.  I make friends easily. My weaknesses: 1.  I hate making decisions.  This use to be a strength of mine.  Things have changed. 2.  I expect a lot from people. 3.  I don’t like change. 4.  I have a bad habit of waiting until the last minute.5.  I often forget about things in other peoples lives and don’t ask about them.  Unintentional.  I think about them, but forget when I am talking to them. Those are my lists.  What’s on your list of strengths and […]

Summer Fun at Noah’s Ark Waterpark #NoahsArkDells

[…]it was funny. We strolled around a little and ended up at the Big Kahuna Kiddie Area.  The kids have fun with the swings in the water, and the horses in the water to ride.  Charlie couldn’t help himself, he just had to stomp on the water shooting up because he thinks it is so funny to do. The kids were obsessed with the tubes, so we all hopped on a double tube in the Endless River and relaxed for awhile.  I use the term relaxed quite loosely.  The kids kept trying to grab the empty tubes that floated by and flip them over onto us.  Entertaining, that is for sure. The entire time, Maggie kept saying how she wanted to go to Octo Explorers so that is where we headed next.  She was so excited, and then so bummed when it turned out to be one of the attractions that were closed for the day.  We didn’t really know what it would be like, but she was sure excited about the name of it.  We got a glimpse of it when we were leaving the park, and then she was even more bummed that we couldn’t play there.   There were a few other things we wanted to hit up that day, but because of my growing baby belly and the kids being ready for nap, we had to call it a day.  I was hoping John would be really excited to take them on the Bumper Boats because that sounded like fun to me, but he passed it up.  There was so much to do for older kids too!   All in all, we had a blast there playing in the water.  The weather was fantastic, although a bit windy.  With so much water fun to be had, Noah’s Ark is a great place to go, no matter what your age {or your kids’}.  We will have to visit Noah’s Ark in the Wisconsin Dells in the future, especially when I’m not pregnant and I can hit up some of the water slides. If you are looking for a great, local, family friendly vacation, the Wisconsin Dells is sure to be a hit for the whole family.  Don’t miss out on the fun at Noah’s Ark Waterpark, there really is something for everyone. Right now, you can pick up one day general admission tickets for $32.99 + tax {online only}, saving $6 off the gate price.  Order your tickets today and start your summer fun! Be social with Noah’s Ark […]
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Homeschool Elections Unit

[…]what is happening and will be happening in the next few weeks all taught in a fun way that ends with your very own newspaper about elections, your kids will have so much fun! When we finish this unit, we will be doing the United States Presidency unit. We also read through bits and pieces of the Usborne Understanding Politics and Government book. There is so much information in this book, all laid out in the amazing way that Usborne always does. My daughter will just randomly pick it up and read through it. I am reading the book Rush Revere and the Presidency . We love this series about a silly talking horse as they travel back in time to learn about the Presidency. I recently ordered the Election Night! game and the kids and I are having so much fun playing it! I love about a million things about this game but I’ll tell you just a few. You can play with addition or multiplication so it’s great for multiple ages. Your kids learn geography, a little about the populations of different states as they realize that some states are worth more electoral votes than others. They will also learn strategy for many different reasons. Even my newly turned six-year-old plays it, although he just loves to color in the circles on the board and picks any random state when I give him the options. We love game schooling so this is a perfect game for us. Earlier this year we did […]

When clean isn’t clean enough

[…]they are also donating a one year membership to some deserving family.  What a great program.  Kids need to learn how to stay healthy, and that starts with hygiene and cleaning.  From the automatic soap dispenser to the disinfecting wipes, LYSOL is working to make Healthing a regular part of every household and help stop the spread of germs.  Are you ready to join LYSOL, the YMCA, and my family by taking the LYSOL Healthing Initiative?  Find more information on LYSOL’s website, Facebook page, or get ideas on how to initiate Healthing in your home with their guidebook.  What ways can you start Healthing with your family? “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for LYSOL®. I received a promotional item to thank me for […]

How We Are Giving Immune Support This Holiday Season

[…]through Caribou and get a gift card because whenever we manage it, this friend and I leave the kids with the dads for a little while and sit and chat for a bit, so I wanted to make sure we did it this time too.  You never know when you will wake up thirsty, so I wanted to leave a bottle out for them.  The kids decided we needed to leave some of the Andes mints we had left from our cookie baking as a special treat {that no doubt their 4 year old will eat}. I wanted to give it a holiday feel, so we got some wintery hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.  I figured it would be a great idea to add in some hand sanitizer and some Ester-C.  If you haven’t added Ester-C to your winter routine yet, you should check it out on Facebook and Twitter.   It is a great way to support your immune system no matter what time of year.  I have started taking Ester-C to support my immunity.  My immune system needs some round the clock support to keep up with the kids, and I know our friends could use the extra support as well.  My goal with this guest basket is to support our friends health as we dive into the holiday season and into the New Year, and being able to feature a product we know and trust makes it easy to share with them.     Do you have guest baskets for family and friends?  What do you include in these baskets {or would include}?       Picture will say “Creating Warmth, Comfort and Health this […]
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A much needed getaway to Arrowwood Resort

[…]and Conference Center was so much fun!  I think John and I enjoyed the watermark as much as the kids did.  It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, there is a part of the waterpark just perfect for them!  If you are looking for a fun getaway for the whole family, Arrowwood Resort is a great place to check out.   What fun family getaways does your family enjoy?   *Disclosure:  We received a complimentary stay in exchange for this post.  All opinions and thoughts are 100% my own and only influenced by our experiences with Arrowwood […]

Memorial Day Book Pack

[…]the Memorial Day book pack and order for next year or any other military holiday. Fantastic books with terrific conversation starters to get your kids thinking and talking about what they just listened to. Each story also has some activities or recipes to complete along with it. The Poppy Lady by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh One woman’s inspiration to do more for the soldiers is a wonderful way to encourage your own kids to do more for their community. Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven The kids absolutely love this book about one pilot and his mission to bring some joy to children in a really sad, scary situation. America’s White Table by Margot Their Raven This book had me choking back some tears {I am very emotional though so maybe it’s not a normal reaction to reading this book?}. Such a great way to introduce the idea of MIA and POW to your children and the incredible symbolism the white table stands for. We will be creating our own white table at the cabin this weekend for Memorial Day. The Wall by Eve Bunting We are reading this tomorrow so I don’t have a personal tidbit to share with it yet. Learn about the Vietnam Memorial Wall along with what it stands for and why people go to look at the wall. Rolling Thunder by Kate Messner I’m sure this book will be fantastic – we love Kate Messner stories. This leads to great discussions on how to honor Veteran’s in your area and talks about political movements. I can’t wait to read it. All proceeds for the Memorial Day Book Guide from Beautiful Feet Books goes to Wounded Warrior Family Support. Bonus – it’s super […]

Books We Love: Cuddle Bear

*As an Usborne Books & More consultant, I receive commission on all orders through these links.  Our family appreciates your support as you enjoy reading.* I can’t tell you enough how much I love this book.  Not only is it a great message, but the illustrations in this book are so stinking adorable.  I’m talking beautiful pictures that keep a smile on your face as you read the story. Cuddle Bear Available for purchase on my website but you can get it FREE by hosting a party!  Message me about the current specials.  Who will you cuddle today? Check out the rest of the Books We […]

Encourage Problem Solving {Top Toy Alert} + Giveaway

[…]the kids’} all time favorites.  Gears! Gears! Gears! Sweet Shop Building Set not only gets my kids thinking but it also gets them working together. Using STEM- supporting skills, your kids can not only build fun creations but also build confidence, perseverance and self esteem.  Nothing feels quit as good as success and watching my 3 and 4 year old work together to build something and have it all turn like they planned.  My kids are so different in what they like and how they learn, but they both love STEM type learning, especially when it is hands on.  While I was watching them the other day as they built up their own version of the sweet shop using every single piece.  They put together their own sweet shop and Charlie said, “Get ready and they will all turn.”  He turned the crank and only one section was turning.  It gave us a great opportunity to discuss why it wasn’t turning them all.  They began problem solving right away trying different things to get all of the pieces to work.  They were so excited at the end when they got it all to turn with one handle. I loved the instructions for putting together the sweet shop.  There are 84 pieces, and the instructions were easy to follow for me.  The kids didn’t even bother looking at them, they had bigger and better plans already.  I love that every time they sit down to play they create something new.  They can be as creative as they want and they put so much thought into making it work just right.  The bright colors are so much fun once it is put together and I seriously want to reach over and grab me an ice cream cone each time.  Plus, I know I can count on Learning Resources products to last through all of my kids. What are you waiting for?  Pick up your Gears! Gears! Gears!  Sweet Shop Building Set and have yourself a tasty treat – lollipops, cupcakes or ice cream cones.   This set will be a welcome addition to our homeschool tools.  We can use it to work on so many different skills all while they are playing.  I love when we can make learning fun. Yummy!  If you aren’t into tasty treats, be sure to check out the other fun Gears! Gears! Gears! sets for endless hours of learning and fun for the entire family.  You can stay up to date with new products from Learning Resources on their Facebook page.   Learning Resources knows that you will love this set as much as we do so they are giving one of you lucky readers a chance to win!  Giveaway open to US and Canada.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on September 14, 2014.  Good luck! […]
Read more » Encourage Problem Solving {Top Toy Alert} + Giveaway

Nature Inspired Sensory Bin

[…]learning math without even knowing it} they can use their imagination to create fun outdoor scenes with bugs.  My kids could do this all day!  They absolutely love digging into a sensory bin and I love when they get to have just as much fun making it as they do playing with it.  I love that not only can I feed them a lunch made with organic pasta but that they also have so much fun playing with it.  Want more sensory play ideas? Check out this ultimate sensory bin list.   What would your kids include in a nature inspired sensory […]

Tips to De-Clutter the Toy Room

[…] I liked that they send toys for both of the kids ages so they both got something new to play with.  The kids love the toys that we received, two of them are a huge hit around here, 1 being a new favorite.  I love it because it’s a toy I haven’t heard of before and it is a ton of fun {for all of us}.  This toy, Magic Moves, is so much fun!   SparkBox Toys may be the solution to a clutter filled toy room.  Open package, play, return.  Buy what you love and want to keep.  Wait for next package.  Ready to try SparkBox out?  Get started with a free 14 day trial today!   You can also stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, or check out the fun people are having on Instagram and Pinterest.   What are your tips for keeping a clutter free, easy to play in toy […]

Small steps to better eating with Stonyfield

[…]and leave with googly eyes.  It can be confusing, but we are taking small steps to better eating with Stonyfield yogurt.  My kids and I love yogurt.  I’m not sure I actually know how much yogurt we eat a week, but I always try to keep a drawer full. If you have been to the yogurt section, you know that there are a lot of options.  It’s really nice to know that there are healthy options available for our family.  I have heard about Stonyfield yogurt for quite some time, but I haven’t actually tried it until recently.  We had the opportunity to try some YoBaby, YoToddler and YoKid organic yogurt pouches.  I like to eat organic foods, but it isn’t something we do all of the time yet.  I hadn’t given food much thought until having children, and now, it is something that is on my mind every time I’m making a meal or choosing a snack.  Some foods have so much “yuck” added to them.  I have to force myself to not think about it as I eat it.  Making a simple change, especially about something that our family eats so much of is a huge deal for us.   Stonyfield organic yogurt pouches are the first refrigerated organic yogurt pouch available, and contain pure organic ingredients without adding high fructose corn syrup or any artificial flavors.  I was always pretty grossed out by yogurt pouches that sit on a shelf for months.  How could that possibly be good?  Stonyfield has live active cultures and won’t last forever, but around here, that never happens anyways. I let the kids pick out the favors, and as usual, Maggie picked out YoKid strawberry banana, Charlie picked out some YoToddler Strawberry Beet Raspberry, and they picked YoBaby blueberry and mango flavors.  I would love to try the vanilla.  I’m not sure the kids have a favorite, but they sure love them.   My kids haven’t met a yogurt they don’t like, so I was pretty sure they would gobble this stuff right up, and they did.  I know that there are some people who buy the yogurt pouches regularly, and I don’t do it very often.  Maggie and Charlie sat down at the table and I gave them their pouches.  Before I could even snap some pictures, Charlie had eaten the entire pouch!  I’m thinking that I am a believer!  Not only in Stonyfield, but in the pouches.  He actually focused and ate without getting sidetracked and making a big old mess.  I like that Charlie eats them mess free.  Now I know I can freeze them to take with on our trips to the zoo or wherever else we may go, and not have to worry about him being a huge mess when lunch is over. Our family loves the new Stonyfield organic yogurt pouches.  Not only are they a healthy option for one of our favorite snacks, but they are delicious.  And, available in flavors you don’t normally see.  I especially like the YoToddler flavors, packing in a little extra punch of protein in strawberry beet raspberry and pear spinach mango.  Now that I know Stonyfield is actually available at a store near me { I had thought the nearest place was almost an hour away}, we will definitely be making this switch a permanent one in our house.   To see a complete list of Stonyfield products, as well as see where Stonyfield organic yogurt pouches are sold near you, visit their website and show them a little social media love.   Facebook – Twitter – Pinterest – Instagram   Have you tried Stonyfield products before?  Will you be heading out to pick up some of the Stonyfield organic yogurt pouches for your family?   “I participated in a Blogger Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Stonyfield. I received coupons to facilitate my shopping trip and a promotional item to thank me for […]

An artist, a gymnast and a helmet oh my!

[…]have wildlife mounts throughout the store, my favorite of which is probably the African safari with the elephants.  Maggie even pointed out a mount of a zebra which I had never noticed before.  As you can see, the kids had a blast and so did we.  We try to go do this every so often because we love it just as much as they do.   Other things – I’m thinking of putting Maggie in dance classes when she turns 3 {yikes, that’s really going to happen isn’t it?}.  Some friends came over the other day and had to leave so their daughter could go to dance.  I’m guessing that she was doing her dance moves and Maggie was watching because she has been doing dance moves for the last few days.  The problem {or what I consider a problem} is that it’s $30 a month!!!!  I know, it’s not a ridiculous amount, but she will only be 3!  Do any of your kids play sports that are this young or am I crazy? Reviews and giveaways you don’t want to missTickle Toes Turtle by Nuby {Review}   Zumu 3 in 1 Bike Trailer/Jogging Stroller {Giveaway}Conscious Box 3 month subscription {Giveaway}Yoga Pants from Aurorae Yoga {Giveaway}Pish Posh Baby $50 GC {Giveaway} $100 GC {Giveaway}Lalabee Bathworks {Review} More Good ReadsA picture of my BIG familyThe kids’ rooms {Tuesdays Toddler Tales} Please please please go sign the pledge to end bullying!  What have you and your family been up to this […]

An artist, a gymnast and a helmet oh my!

[…]have wildlife mounts throughout the store, my favorite of which is probably the African safari with the elephants.  Maggie even pointed out a mount of a zebra which I had never noticed before.  As you can see, the kids had a blast and so did we.  We try to go do this every so often because we love it just as much as they do.   Other things – I’m thinking of putting Maggie in dance classes when she turns 3 {yikes, that’s really going to happen isn’t it?}.  Some friends came over the other day and had to leave so their daughter could go to dance.  I’m guessing that she was doing her dance moves and Maggie was watching because she has been doing dance moves for the last few days.  The problem {or what I consider a problem} is that it’s $30 a month!!!!  I know, it’s not a ridiculous amount, but she will only be 3!  Do any of your kids play sports that are this young or am I crazy? Reviews and giveaways you don’t want to missTickle Toes Turtle by Nuby {Review}   Zumu 3 in 1 Bike Trailer/Jogging Stroller {Giveaway}Conscious Box 3 month subscription {Giveaway}Yoga Pants from Aurorae Yoga {Giveaway}Pish Posh Baby $50 GC {Giveaway} $100 GC {Giveaway}Lalabee Bathworks {Review} More Good ReadsA picture of my BIG familyThe kids’ rooms {Tuesdays Toddler Tales} Please please please go sign the pledge to end bullying!  What have you and your family been up to this […]

Do you want to build a snowman?

[…]constant….and that is without the music and just our little cuties singing away.  Recently, the kids have repurposed my 8 pound medicine balls.  They stack them and create a snowman using other random things she finds around the house.  I’m pretty impressed with her work.  Notice the eyes, mouth, hat, arms and buttons?  And this was just the one I got a picture […]