Greystone Steakhouse | San Diego Restaurant Week January 15th – 22nd 2017

 

One of the best things about date night in San Diego, besides the weather, is the plethora of dinner options downtown after we head out of the theater. This past weekend our season tickets to Broadway SD took us to see Rent. It was my first time and I loved it. Why hadn’t I seen it before? I have friends who’ve seen it over 5 times (at various theaters)! After the musical, we were invited to try out the delicious sounding Restaurant Week menu at Greystone Steakhouse on 5th Avenue. Neither my husband or I had ever been there but the menu online was quite intriguing. Certified waygu beef straight from the source? Delicious surf and turf options? Yes please! 

Greystone Steakhouse | San Diego Gaslamp

We were able to walk to the restaurant from the civic theater in less than 10 minutes. The perfect distance to take in the city but not feel out of breath getting from one place to another. And once we walked up we were greeted by a host at their outdoor patio. We walked in and went through the bar and up to an intimate seating area. There was another seating area downstairs from where we were that mirrored the same layout. 

Greystone Steakhouse | The Food

To start we ordered the kale cesar salad. It was the perfect ratio of lettuce to cheese to dressing and the crunch of the romaine fit in perfectly with the earthiness of the kale. Shortly after enjoying our salads we were asked if we’d like to try a few of their other options. The wildboar sausage and big eye tuna tartar were brought out for us to sample. I could not get enough of either however my husband preferred the wildboar sausage. Sweet and savory all on one plate! But to be fair, he’s not much of a raw fish person. 

Then our entrees came out. My husband is a huge steak fan and ordered the petite filet where I wanted to try something a little different. Now I know chicken may not sound different but I hadn’t ordered a chicken dish in so long. And the smoked butter-basted chicken breast with leeks, artichokes, and mushrooms sounded too good not to try. I was also pleasantly surprised to find saffron cauliflower mash. Since I’m following a low carb diet, this meal was right up my alley! And for those who are gluten free, almost the entire menu is gluten free as well! There are also select dishes that are dairy free also. What a great find, right? Another delicious side that was brought out for us to try were the bacon fig brussel sprouts. I thought they were a bit too sweet for my taste but my husband enjoyed one or two alongside is mashed potatoes. 

When dessert came, my husband couldn’t decide between the chocolate lava cake (they flambe it!) or the lemoncello sponge cake so our kind waiter talked him into getting both. The tableside flambe really was a treat! And the lemoncello cake came with a shot of lemoncello. I know a few people who would LOVE this dessert. Since I’m not eating sweets right now, we had plenty left over for the kids to help dig into. And boy did they like that. 

Greystone Steakhouse | Restaurant Week Highlights

For San Diego Restaurant Week, Greystone Steakhouse offers 3 different selections for dinner options with them. a $40 person menu, a $50 person menu, and a $60 person menu. You can find all of the selections offered in each menu here

And as I mentioned previously, this restaurant is perfect for those who are gluten free or dairy free and have such a large array of options to fit any dietary needs. The saffron cauliflower mash was amazing and paired perfectly with my chicken (or my husband’s filet). And the food was so full of layered flavor. Definitely a treat for date night! 

San Diego Restaurant Week | January 15th – 22nd 2017

The 13th Annual San Diego Restaurant Week returns Sunday, January 15th through Sunday, January 22nd for an edible extravaganza to ring in the New Year! With over 180 participating restaurants offering prix-fixe menu options throughout San Diego County, you’re sure to find the perfect place to satisfy any craving. San Diego Restaurant Week is proud to announce a very delicious partnership for January 2017 as many of the San Diego Restaurant Week restaurants team up with local Girl Scouts to celebrate the arrival of Girl Scouting in San Diego 100 years ago, as well as the 100th anniversary of delectable, scrumptious, delicious Girl Scout Cookies! To celebrate, chefs are getting creative with America’s favorite cookies to dish out special offerings for SDRW diners.

Over 180 participating restaurants will offer three-course prix-fixe dinner menus for $20, $30, $40 or $50 per person and/or two-course prix-fixe lunch menus for $10, $15 or $20 per person. The participating restaurants span across the county from the South Bay to East County and to the borders of Oceanside and Fallbrook to the North.

Satisfy your cookie cravings early by dining out at participating restaurants offering sweet and savory menu items before Girl Scout Cookie Season begins! Enjoy dishes featuring Thin Mints, Do-si-dos, Trefoils, Samoas, Tagalongs, and Savannah Smiles used in recipes that are sure to surprise you. Naturally, you can expect decadent desserts featuring these beloved cookies – but our restaurants are taking Girl Scout cookies to the next level with dishes like Samoas Crusted Fried Shrimp, Do-si-dos Peanut Thai Chicken, salads featuring toasted Trefoil croutons, and more!

Now is your time to dine with over 150,000 fellow diners to celebrate San Diego’s thriving culinary scene. Tickets are not necessary for this delectable week of discounted dining, but reservations are recommended! Visit SanDiegoRestaurantWeek.com for more information, including a list of participating restaurants, or to make your reservations in advance!

What restaurant are you looking forward to trying?

Here are a few we’ve tried in the past: 

Double Standard

SHIMBASHI Izakaya

The Hake Restaurant & Bar

Grant Grill

Oceanaire Seafood Room

 

10 Tips To Teach Children The Basics of Organization

These 10 tips to teach children the basics of organization can help get your kids to start picking up after themselves and stop leaving messes all over the house. 

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Teaching your child how to organize can be comparable to brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. As much as parents like to do things themselves, there comes a point where children must learn to do things on their own. And now is about the time that my kids need to start picking up after themselves and learning how to keep their areas organized. 

After two weeks home with the kids and little messes made in every.single.room of the house over the holiday break,  I was done. And at one point I’m pretty sure I grabbed a big black trash bag and threatened to pick up everything I see on the ground and give it away. Mama was over it. And the kids picked up on that. 

Our house is set up so that our children can let their inner creativity shine. BUT at 6 and 7 years old I think they’re old enough to start learning how to start organizing their things. Putting stuff away once they are done using them so that they’re not in every corner of our home. Or so that they don’t end up in a pile on their bed or bedroom floor. 

Starting with the basics is one way to help your child learn how to organize. And that’s exactly where we’re starting. 

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10 Tips To Teach Children The Basics of Organization

#1. Simplicity

Teach your child that organization doesn’t need to be complicated. Organization should be used as a tool to make everything simpler.

#2. It Takes Time

One thing a child should know about organization is that it takes time. Even the most basic forms of organization will take some time.

#3. Limits

Your child should know that to be successful in organization there has to be limits put on things. You can’t collect every single paper you bring home from preschool.

#4. Donations

It’s amazing how much one person can collect overtime. Teaching your child the basics about donations will help them learn about organization. They should know that when a person has extra of something, it’s okay to donate to someone else less fortunate.

#5. Bring one in Take one Out

One rule a child should know about organization is the value of doing it “as you go.” If you buy something new and bring it home, then the rule is that something else has to leave. Learning to let go of items can be a hard lesson.

#6. Everything Has a Home

I think one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn in organizing is that everything has a home. You don’t need to leave everything out on the floor, simply put it away. When everything has a home the basics of organization seem pretty simple.

#7. Teamwork

Teach your child that it’s okay to ask for help when they need it. Sometimes organizing can be incredibly overwhelming. Teaching your child to ask for help is a tip they’ll need to carry with them for a long time.

#8. Know Their Limits

A child should be taught the basics of organization, but there is no need to be incredibly pushy about it. There should be a happy medium between proper organization and overzealous organization. 

Your child doesn’t need to spend every waking moment organizing their room. Have your child set a 15 minute timer for their organizing time. When that time is over, they get to take a break.

#9. Prioritize

Organizing can be overwhelming because sometimes there’s too much to do and not enough time. Teach your child how to prioritize one task over another. For example—The floor needs cleaned up before you can sweep.

#10. Get Creative

There are no rules to organizing. One family’s idea of organizing is different than another. Teach your child the basics behind organizing and they should be good to go. Also teach them that getting creative with the resources is a smart move. For example—You don’t need to go out and buy organizing items, you can use what you have at home. Use a milk crate for a toy box and etc. 

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Try to refrain from getting frustrated or yelling when you’re teaching your child about organizing. Children should grow up to love this sort of exercise, not grow to hate it.

How do you get your kids involved in the organization process? 

Creative Ways To Find Bonding Time With Your Kids



This post featuring creative ways to find bonding time with your kids is sponsored by K’NEX. 

creative-ways-to-find-bonding-time-with-your-kids

As the kids grow older they start to become more of their own person. Family game nights aren’t always as easy as they were before and choosing something each child likes to do can be downright hard. So I’ve started thinking outside the box when I want to find bonding time with the kids. When we were sent the K’NEX Wild Whiplash Roller Coaster I knew  I could get creative and find a way to turn this fun toy into a way to spend more time with my oldest.

You can find a few tips on more creative ways to find bonding time with your kids below. 

creative-ways-to-find-bonding-time-with-your-kids-figuring-out-a-puzzle

Creative Ways To Find Bonding Time With Your Kids

When I had my son I was so excited to start planning all of the fun activities we’d do together. I planned zoo trips, playdates, and as he got older, I purchased games we could play together. But as he got older, and as his siblings arrived, I realized that one on one time with him was getting fewer and farther between. So I started to make an effort to spend time – quality time – with him (and his siblings) one on one. Sure we have a lot of family outings and activities, but spending that time just the two of us is so important. And every time I’m with him I learn more about the person he’s becoming. 

creative-ways-to-find-bonding-time-with-your-kids-through-teamwork

Plan Ahead

The first step in making sure bonding time actually happens is to schedule it. Look at your family calendar and talk with your significant other to plan a day or a few hours where they hang out with the other kids so you can enjoy one on one time. If this is something you want to do regularly, keep it on the calendar and repeat it once a month. 

Find Fun Activities

While it may be hard to find fun activities that both of you enjoy together, there’s always something out there. I start by seeing what my son is interested in and suggesting we do something centered around his likes. Then after a few times of playing video games, or building fun K’NEX sets, I start suggesting other activities. And by planning ahead, I can find projects we can work on together, places we can visit, and other things we can do just the two of us. 

Get Outdoors

When all else fails, get outdoors! My son loves staying holed up in his room playing on the tablet but when I actually get him outside the house or doing an activity, he starts opening up and actually enjoys himself. Even when we’re short on time, I’ll grab him and ask if he’ll go for a walk around the neighborhood with me. Pretty soon he’s finding a bug or tracking a lizard and talking about everything he knows about them. I love it! 

creative-ways-to-find-bonding-time-with-your-kids-completing-projects

Over the past weekend my son and I tackled our next project together. We built an awesome roller coaster! The Wild Whiplash Roller Coaster stands over 2 1/2 feet high when built and provided hours of amusement for us. We worked on problem-solving with plenty of brainteasers for my son and I to tackle together. And while my head may have hurt at times, it was so worth it to complete this set with my son and watch his joy as the roller coaster finally worked and took the car up and down the tracks!

You can find this set exclusively at Walmart. It’s a great gift for kids ages 9+. But my 7 year old was able to complete it with my help which made it even more awesome. 

How do you find bonding time with your kids? 

creative-ways-to-find-bonding-time-with-your-kids-through-play

Where Do Babies Come From? And Other Questions Brought On By The Storks Movie

STORKS

Storks deliver babies…or at least they used to according to the animated adventure “Storks” staring Andy Samberg. Now they deliver packages for global internet retail giant Cornerstore.com. Junior (Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, is about to be promoted when the Baby Factory is accidentally activated on his watch, producing an adorable – and wholly unauthorized – baby girl.

Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble before the boss gets wise, Junior and his friend Tulip, the only human on Stork Mountain, race to make their first-ever baby drop, in a wild and revealing journey that could make more than one family whole and restore the storks’ true mission in the world.

When we were invited to check out the film, I knew the kids would want to go see it. Every time they saw a trailer, they immediately asked when it was coming to the theater. And when the day finally came for our screening, both kids were happy to finish up their homework and eat dinner early so we could take off to the theater. They were prepared for a great time. I was not prepared for the barrage of questions I would get after the movie showed. 

STORKS

A few questions that were hurled at me as we drove home: 

  • Where do babies really come from? 
  • Why would someone not have a mommy and daddy?
  • How would a stork know how to find a baby’s family?
  • What is an orphan? 
  • Are there really orphans out there without a mommy or daddy? 
  • Why can’t you be their mommy? 
  • Why can’t we get another brother or sister? 
  • Can we put a slide on our roof too? 

You get the point. 

STORKS

While most movies do bring on a lot of questions from our kids, especially the middle child, I was definitely not prepared for the questions they wanted to know after we saw Storks. And had a done my due diligence and really paid attention to the trailers, I would have been able to prepare myself to what was to come. And, hey, maybe you won’t get the same questions I did. 

Note: If you have a child who is adopted or was, at one point, an orphan, please read this post from our friend over at Highlights Along The Way. This movie may have possible triggers that can affect your child and/or yourself. 

Other than the questions we received, and tried to answer as best as we could (for their ages), the movie was a fun-filled movie with great animation and a fun storyline for the kids. They loved watching Tulip and Junior on their adventure and laughed out loud for most of the movie. Their favorite part? When a pack of wolves turned themselves into a submarine. Quite entertaining! 

STORKS

The Storks movie hit theaters on September 23rd and is rated PG

Pool Party Etiquette + A Simple Solution To Party Gifts

We’re sharing some tips on pool party etiquette and our simple solution to picking the perfect party gift with help from our partner Google Express. Also? You can score a free 6-month membership by using code FREETIME when signing up!  More savings at the bottom of this post including $15 off your first order.

Pool Party Etiquette plus A Simple Solution To Party Gifts

This past week was very busy. It was the first week the kids didn’t have camp and things were a bit… busy… in our home. Not only was I working from home while the kids tried to entertain themselves, but we are also preparing for vacation. 

And that means extra work, extra things on my to-do list (what items did we need for our trip?) and extra chores. You see, I hate leaving the house un-tidy when we leave for vacation. It’s just not fun to come back from being away and not having things perfect at home. Does that make sense?  Basically I had to do all.the.things in one week. 

Pool Party Etiquette - bring your own gear

So when we were invited to a pool party for my son’s friend that weekend, I wasn’t sure if I could do one more thing. But luckily with the help of Google Express, I was able to not only tackle my to-do list from my house, but I was also able to pick up pool supplies and a gift for my son’s friend all from the comforts of my home. And it was all delivered with time to spare. That means less running from one store to the next to the next and more spending time at home getting things ready here. 

Checking off things on my to-do list not only give me personal satisfaction but also free up time during my day so I can do fun things with the kids. Total win in my book! 

I just perused the site (and over 25+ stores) and added what I needed to my cart. Sunscreen, cell phone tripod, sea bands for the trip. A LEGO for my son’s friend’s gift. And cleaning supplies for the house. All within 15-20 minutes of looking for what I needed. That would have taken me a lot more time driving to a few different stores. In two days the items arrived at my doorstep and I was able to continue to go about checking off everything on my list before our trip. And next month when we need more sunscreen I know exactly where to go! 

Pool Party Etiquette - watch your kids Pool Party Etiquette - plan other activities

Pool Party Etiquette

1. Bring Your Own Towel

And goggles, and floaties, and change of clothes, and… you get what I mean. Don’t expect the host to provide anything you might need at the party. I also find that it’s helpful to bring a wet bag to put the wet clothes in after the kids get out of the pool and dry off. 

2. Make Sure To Designate Supervision

For me, personally, if my kids are in the pool, so am I. While my son is a strong swimmer, my daughter still lacks the confidence to swim for a long period of time without me close by. Even if I’m not right there in the pool, I’m on the side of the pool with bathing suit on just in case. If you’re dropping your child off at a pool party, don’t feel weird asking the host how many parents will be watching the kids and if the parents will be in the pool. 

3. Go Over Pool Rules

Before you leave the house, remember to go over the pool rules with the kids so they’re up on pool safety and what’s to be expected of them. Make sure they understand who’s in charge, what is ok and not ok, and what to do if they need something. I find that the kids actually remember the rules when I go over them a few times. 

4. Remember Sunscreen

It may be obvious but for our family we stock up on sunscreen like it’s going out of style. And then we buy more. Because even when wearing sunscreen I will burn. So I am that parent who will re-apply my kid’s sunscreen every 1-2 hours. I’m also the parent that has extra for the kids who forgot their sunscreen. It’s an important part of the pool party equation. 

5. Have Fun!

Whether it’s fun in the pool or out, the key to any good party is to have fun. And that means SAFE fun. Plan a few activities for the kids to do outside of the pool so that when they’re done playing in the water, they have a safe activity to participate in. 

Pool Party Etiquette - water balloons

Great Gift Ideas with Google Express

With over 25 stores to choose from, you can find everything from pool toys from Target, to LEGO sets from Toys R Us , to books from Barnes and Noble. And don’t get me started on the awesome Costco finds I was perusing! There are so many great gift ideas all in one place. 

Plus, you get same-day, overnight or 2-day delivery from these stores with Google Express. It’s your everyday, delivered. We’re at Target or Costco at least once or twice a week so the fact that we can shop at these stores all in one place, add items to our cart, choose when we want delivery from each store, and check out using Google Payments makes everything so much easier. One place, not 10.  

With a Google Express membership, you can get fast and free delivery on eligible orders. For non-members, delivery starts at $4.99 per store for eligible orders which is definitely reasonable for what you’re getting. 

Google Express delivered to your door

 Want to check out Google Express yourself? Sign up for a FREE 6 month membership by using code FREETIME. Just click on the Try It Free button after following the link. Then you can shop and use BJK8N924Z at checkout for $15 off first purchase. You will need to sign up first with code FREETIME before you can use the $15 off referral code. 

Once you’ve enjoyed the freedom Google Express brings, post a comment or photo of your Saturday on social media with the #MyNewSaturday and #GoogleExpress hashtags to share how you’re spending your newfound free time!

How will you spend your free time this summer?

Give $15, Get $15: Offer may end at any time/valid until 08/31/2016 while your account is active. Limited to Google Express accounts that received the offer from Google. Each valid referral gets you a $15 courtesy credit when the new users you referred place their first order using your referral code. Alcohol, gift cards, membership costs, and shipping & service fees excluded. Credits you give are subject to these terms. Credits you get are subject to these terms.*

Making Friends In Your Thirties: The Hard Truth No One Told Me About

Making Friends In Your Thirties The Hard Truth No One Told Me About

I’ve always been somewhat outgoing. I’ve always been able to easily strike up a conversation or find something I could relate to the other person. My my has stories of me making friends with other kids on the McDonalds playground or just about anywhere else we went. As I went through school and into my 20s, I had no problems finding friends and people to hang out with. But I didn’t realize how different it’d be once I hit thirty. 

The biggest thing, I think, was the realization that it’s SO much harder to find a solid tribe as you get older. 

One thing I’ve learned, after the many friendships I’ve held, is that I have become more selective in who I bring into my tribe. Sure I have a lot of acquaintances but there are few I let into my life. And even though I’m more selective, I’ve found that the friendships I make are stronger and easier. On a recent trip I was invited on courtesy of Kia, I was able to strengthen some of those friendships I hold dearest to me. The unexpected ones. 

Making Friends In Your Thirties - girl time

I packed my new luggage up with cute outfits and a band t-shirt – Sublime of course – and headed down to the Hardrock Hotel San Diego to spend a few days with Kia and a few girlfriends – old and new. Now I thought I was just heading down to learn more about Kia and their brand, but what I also learned was how important I hold these relationships I’ve forged online. And how much girl time really means when you work full time and care for kids full time. Those two days saved my sanity when I needed it most. 

KiaSanDiego-309

Even though we hardly ever see each other in person – sometimes only every few years – each time we meet up it’s as if we’ve never been apart. I don’t have to censor myself, I don’t have to think about what I’m going to say next. Because these friends I’ve formed bonds with get me. They get my world. 

Finding friendship in my thirties has been hard but it’s also been the most rewarding.

So as I headed out to tour my dear city in a Kia Sedona with friend and fellow blogger, Heather Reese, I got to enjoy the smooth ride, adaptive cruise control, and heightened visibility while we talked about everything from our childhoods to our futures. We were able to simply relax and be ourselves even when we were sharing in a brand experience. Because that’s Kia. Down to earth, easy, and fun. Not to mention very, very comfortable. I may or may not have seen myself as a converted minivan mom. Can’t wait to see how the carseats fit in the back! 

Making Friends In Your Thirties - Kia bringing us together

Making Friends In Your Thirties - new adventures

Making Friends In Your Thirties - Horton Plaza Park

When we arrived back to the hotel after driving around and experiencing a bit of everything San Diego has to offer – from sea to mountains to desert – we spent a little more time with Kia. We enjoyed the Harman Kardon sound system as we rocked out and watched the talent that was around us. Live band karaoke and amazing videos created by the influencers as they cruised around in the various Kia vehicles available to us to test drive. 

If there’s one thing that can bring friends together, it’s music. We belted out tunes together and enjoyed the talent of those around us who took to the mic. I may or may not have also stepped up on stage. After, we were able to chat more into the night and simply enjoy time together as friends. And it was exactly what I needed. 

I know how important it is to carve out time for friendships. To continue growing those friendships and focusing on the good people around me. While I don’t have as many friends as I once did in my teens and twenties, I know that the friendships I do have are stronger than ever. And I’m already planning my next girls night…

Making Friends In Your Thirties - firsts in singing karaoke

Have you found it difficult to make friends as you get older? What are the changes you’ve seen? 

While at The New Kia event we were introduced to two new vehicles from Kia to hit the market soon. The new Kia Niro and Kia Cadenza. The Kia Niro is a hybrid utility vehicle – the first of it’s kind and the first Kia to be built from the ground up as a hybrid. We cannot wait to test drive it once it hit’s the market. This is exactly what my husband’s been looking for! 

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Thanks again to Kia for inviting me to The New Kia event! 

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Stop Swim Lessons After Summer

We’re about 1/2 way through summer and I can tell you that we’ve spent a lot of time at the pool or the beach already. Because we live in Southern California, I found it really important to teach my children how to swim from an early age. And I’ve found the importance of continuing swim lessons even after summer has ended. With the help of our partner, SafeSplash Swim School, I’m sharing 9 reasons why you shouldn’t stop swim lessons after summer. 

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer

As soon as my kids took interest in the water, and from a young age, I wanted to teach them water safety. It wasn’t just about learning how to swim, or feeling comfortable in the water. I wanted to make sure that if something happened and they found  themselves in the water, they would know how to safely react until help arrived. 

For the first two kids we tried a few different variations of swim classes. From the rec center down the street to the local YMCA, we couldn’t find something that we absolutely loved for all of the kids. And especially for babies. 

Luckily, we found SafeSplash swim school this year for my youngest’s first experience in the water. And I have to tell you, I think we have another water baby on our hands! Not only did she LOVE being in the water, now she enjoys practicing the skills she’s learning any time we are in the pool. And I’ve realized the importance of continuing swim lessons even after summer has ended.  

Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer - getting used to the water

9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Stop Swim Lessons After Summer

1. Stick with a Routine – I’ve found that while we don’t care for busy schedules in our home, a routine is a good thing. And when my kids do the same thing frequently, they come to realize the important of a routine. By taking them to swim every week they’ve started to get excited about going and genuinely look forward to their next lesson. 

2. Safety First – Just because it’s not summer doesn’t mean children aren’t near water. Whether it’s ponds, lakes, the ocean, etc, or even a pool in their friend’s back yard, continuing to learn swim techniques and becoming a stronger swimmer can help reduce the chance of an accident should a child fall into a body of water. 

3. Swim Parties – If you live in SoCal like we do, swim parties can pop up throughout the year. And if your child is rusty on their swim techniques, they may not be as confident in their swimming skills when a party comes around. By continuing their swimming lessons, they’ll be a pro at the next swim party. 

4. Reiterate What You’ve Learned – Practice makes perfect, right? As each lesson passes, children will learn to become a stronger swimmer and gain confidence in their ability in the pool. There won’t be any down time to get rusty! 

5. Creating A Love of Swimming – My children are water babies. As soon as they see water they get excited. I can only hope that by continuing swim lessons, they’ve created a love of swimming that will last their whole lives. 

6. Great Exercise – Swimming is a great stress reliever but it’s also great exercise as well. Plus? It’s not hard on joints or bones so it’s great for all ages. And there are so many ways to challenge oneself in the water. From underwater weights, to water aerobics, to laps, there are great opportunities to strengthen and stay fit. 

7. Individual and Team Sports – With a love of water, and great exercise, comes great opportunities. From water polo, to competitive swim, there are so many different sports for children to learn after they’ve mastered the basics of swimming. This can help them greatly in the years to come.  

8. Helps Kids In School – Your kids’ time in the pool can translate to higher grades in school. Swimming has been scientifically linked to an better academic performance. Studies have found that children who swam during their developmental years achieved several physical and mental milestones faster than their non-swimming counterparts. How cool is that? 

9. It’s Fun! – I don’t know about you but some of the best memories I have of the water are good ones. My friends and I playing marco polo, or siblings diving off my Grandma’s diving board into her pool. Running into the ocean and swimming out just a tad farther than I could touch and riding the waves back into shore while body surfing. Water can be fun when you have the skills to do so. 

Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer - becoming a stronger swimmer

With over 150 locations across the US and Mexico, The SafeSplash/Swimtastic brand family is the largest and fastest growing group of swim schools for kids in North America. At each one of their swim schools, they understand swimming is a life skill® that is extremely important to your child’s safety and development.

To learn more about SafeSplash swim schools and see if there’s a location near you, check out www.safesplash.com and www.swimtastic.com. You can also check out their blogs at https://www.safesplash.com/blog and http://blog.swimtastic.com.

Why You Shouldn't Stop Swim Lessons After Summer - floating

Are your kids in swim lessons?

Want to read more? Consider these articles: 

Water Safety Tips for Kids

Water Safety Tips for Kids

5 Reasons to Drink Water For Kids

5 Reasons to Drink Water for Kids

Water Activities Kids Will Love

15 Water Activities for Kids

How I’m Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter

How I'm Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter #SaySomething

Things have been quiet over here. My family and I are on the road driving back home from a week away. We were in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a blogging conference and I decided it’d be fun to turn it into a family road trip. While we were away we learned of the horrific tragedies that took place in the US. Brutal, un-provoked murders of yet two more men. Black men. 

We were sitting in a McDonalds for one of our many pit stops during the long drive and a TV was on and turned to the news. The first thing we saw were the headlines. Alton Sterling, a 37 year old black father of 5, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the back and chest after a homeless man called 911 outside of a convenience store. 

I’m sure by now, many have been able to read and research this shooting along with that of Philando Castile. Philando. A man who was in the car with his girlfriend and 4 year old child. Stopped for a broken tail light. Both incidents filmed and shared on social media. 

In that moment, with the tv on and my middle child right there listening to everything, I knew that I had to do something. Even if it was as small as what I chose to do. Because this is just too much. I turned to my daughter (as my son ate his chicken nuggets and played on my husband’s phone a few inches away within ear shot) and watched her reaction. Watched her take in the information she was hearing and seeing. And I allowed asked questions – as she does about everything. I tried my best to answer. I was open with her. I was honest. And I voiced my opinion. 

I am a white woman who fully acknowledges that I live with the white privilege I was born with. And I didn’t fully realize this until earlier last year after speaking with and reading comments from friends and colleagues. I have not stopped reading, watching, and listening to the pain my friends are crying out on social media. The outrage, the anger, and the helplessness they feel. And with this witness to their raw emotion I cannot help but feel drawn towards wanting to do something – anything – to acknowledge it. 

And I’m trying to do the only thing I can at the moment. I will try to share those voices, to talk with my black friends, and to educate my children on the inbred racism that not only exists in this country but in our own daily lives. I want them to see me challenge racist comments made by strangers and/or family members. I want them to hear me when I explain their white privilege and how they can use it for good. I am teaching my children to speak up and speak out for and with their black friends. Even if that means calling out a family member or feeling uncomfortable. Or coming to talk to me about it. Because I am teaching my children to respect and to love. To be less judgmental. To be accepting of those who appear different. And to question the events going on around them. 

How I'm Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter too

How I’m Teaching My White Children That Black Lives Matter

Here’s what we’re doing more of: 

Asking Questions

While my son is still very much in his own world and doing his own thing, my daughter is very aware of the outside world. She hears and sees everything and there’s not much you can keep from her. She’s also pretty darn smart. Now I’m not saying that my son isn’t smart, he’s just not as vocal as she is. With her increased desire to experience the world around her, she asks a lot of questions. A lot. And I’ve tried my very best to be open to her questions and helping her find the answers. 

I’ve realized that I can’t shield her from the news. I can’t shield her from hearing the bad that is happening in the world right now. I can’t shield her from her emotions after hearing someone has been shot and died and his kids don’t have a daddy anymore. All I can do is provide a listening ear and help share the information I can find with her. Even if that means I don’t have all of the answers.  

Saying “I Don’t Know”

Because I am a white woman, I cannot possibly fully understand what some of my friends are going through right now. The fear they feel as their black husbands walk out the door. The concern they have for their black son’s future. So when I run into a question from my children that I don’t know, I am more than welcome to acknowledge that I don’t have an answer. But I offer to research and read more to help educate us all. I will continue to read personal stories and reactions from those around me and keep my eyes open to what is going on around us.  

Acknowledging Our Situation

And with listening and answering my kids questions, as well as helping learn more about what is going on, I also will acknowledge our part in what is going on. I will acknowledge that I cannot speak for those affected. I cannot can only share their voice. And I can teach my children to do the same. I can teach them that there is power in stepping aside and allowing others to speak in our place. Because we can’t even begin to understand what our friends have had to live with their whole lives. And we can only help that by sharing our platform that we can educate others and open their eyes to what is going on right in front of us. 

Black Lives Matter. 

Lets teach our children to be advocates for change. Let us end unnecessary violence and killings. 

Trevor Noah The Daily Beast

And just so it’s clear… I am pro-cop and pro-black. And I am also raising my children to respect law enforcement. I acknowledge the fear that families of law enforcement also live with and appreciate all that those officers and families sacrifice for my family’s safety. Trevor Noah said it better than I could in the statement in the picture above. This statement may be why I’ve only discussed this topic and others with my family and close friends and not publicly. Along with the fact that I’m admittedly really uncomfortable with controversy. Especially when I don’t have all of the answers. I like to be prepared. And I’m not.  And it makes me feel uneasy. But if that’s all I have to feel while others feel so, so much more, then I can’t stay silent. 

All I ask is that you open your minds and your hearts to hear what the black community has to say. 

 

A few words from my friends and colleagues. I hope you’ll watch and read.  

Speak Up. Say Something. #AltonSterlingBrandi Riley

It’s Time For You To Say Something #AltonSterling – Amiyrah Martin

This Is Bullshit #AltonSterling – Amber Dorsey

Groundhog Day of Police Brutality Bullshit. ‪#‎AltonSterling‬ – Awesomely Luvvie

10 Reasons I Don’t Want To Be Your White Ally – Colleen Mitchell

Please feel free to link to your posts below in the comments as you #SaySomething and I’ll share. 

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer + a free chore chart printable

Kids are getting way too much screen time these days. With the help of this free chore chart printable and our sponsor, Walmart and SheSpeaks, we’ve create a way to trade clean time for screen time in an effort of reducing screen time and getting the kids more involved in the household chores!

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer + a free chore chart printable

My son has been out of school for two weeks now and my daughter graduates preschool tomorrow. To say that we’re in full summer mode is pretty accurate. And when you work from home, that means you have to get creative with ways to keep them busy without resorting to letting them watch tv all day. Because what’s that going to do for them when they get back to school, right?

In an effort to lessen the amount of times I hear, “I’m bored,” and to try and ramp up the kids involvement in household chores after starting them slow with cleaning their rooms, I created a system where they earn screen time (up to 2 hours a day) in exchange for doing certain tasks. And in an effort to better keep track of those hours – because it was getting quite difficult in my head – I created a free chore chart printable as well.

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer with Walmart

Once we got going I realized we needed to restock the cleaning cabinet so I headed over to www.avoidtheoops.com and grabbed a few essentials including:

  • Dawn dish soap
  • Mr. Clean magic erasers
  • Cascade detergent pods
  • Swiffer refill pads
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Febreeze spray

I was able to order everything online and, with orders of $50+, get shipping to my door free. Took the hassle out of bringing all of the kids to the store with me and trying to haul everything around! The best part is we were able to stock up on larger sizes and simply refill our smaller bottles and keep the larger sizes in the garage. This means we’re less likely to run out without a back up. And when we do run out? Walmart.com will be there to help!

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer doing the dishes

How to Trade Clean Time for Screen Time

  • Come up with a list of tasks your children can do or help with
  • Assign a minute value to each task
  • Create a max number of minutes the children can earn each day (sometimes we even throw in a bonus or two)
  • Stock up on cleaning supplies from Walmart.com
  • Let the kids start tackling things on the list
  • Put the responsibility of tracking in the kids hands – have them check off tasks as they complete them
  • Once the kids are done with accruing their minutes, let them know how much screen time they have for the next day (this is key)
  • Start the whole process over the next day

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer cleaning the living room

What I’ve found over these past few weeks after instilling this system in our home is the following: 

  • My kids really hate cleaning but REALLY love their tv and tablet time.
  • My son has been more eager to help when we offer to find new games on the tablet for him to play as well (including educational games).
  • Making sure they know that the time they earn that day is for the NEXT day is really important. And, hopefully, it’s teaching them delayed gratification.
  • Our limit of 2 hours max has still yet to be met. The kids usually earn between 30-55 minutes each day.
  • We still need to re-evaluate our weekend tv and screen time rule. That might change as we move forward.
  • Family movie time or family shows watched together is not counted against their earned time.
  • If mom or dad turns on the tv, they don’t lose their earned time.
  • The kids are really getting creative in finding ways to keep them entertained AND they’re actually playing together!
  • This means a whole lot of oops moments. Spills, messes, general disaster areas in various rooms of the house. But that’s OK! With the help of our www.avoidtheoops.com supplies and their willingness to earn more time for the next day, most of the oopses are picked up.
  • Their moods have improved. We have less fighting, less bickering, and more helping.

 

Grab your free chore chart printable here!

(or click the photo below)

Trading Clean Time for Screen Time This Summer free chore chart printable

How do you get your kids involved in household chores? What age do you start?

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers: Creating a Toddler Room To Grow

This post brought to you by Disney Junior. The content and opinions expressed below are that of mine alone.

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow

Babies turn into toddlers quite quickly. One minute they’re crawling on the ground and cooing and laughing and the next minute they’re running down the hall pointing at an object and saying (kind of) words. Their little brains are working so hard and so fast that if you don’t keep a look out for the changes, it may happen without you even knowing it!

Luckily we’ve been through this a few times before and it’s come to my attention over the past few weeks that my 15 month old has officially changed from a baby into a toddler. It almost feels like overnight. She’s still very much a baby but through her actions and reactions to our everyday adventures she is starting to act a whole lot more like me and her sister. She’s definitely our little MinnieMe.

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Playing with Siblings

From wanting to help us bake and cook, to demanding that we read her a favorite book before bed as we cuddle on her new full size bed with cute new Minnie Mouse bedding, to insisting she wear the same thing as her older sister like her new adorable Minnie Mouse Toddler Girl 2-Fer Dress, or use the same Disney Minnie Mouse Bows and Dots Beach Towel after bath time, our little toddler loves to try and keep up with us no matter what we’re doing.

I cannot believe how much or how fast she is changing. And I don’t know if I can keep up! I feel like she went from not caring one bit about walking to going non-stop in her own direction. She definitely takes after us and I know she’ll be just as energetic and opinionated as her sister. 

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers - bedtime routines

So the time has come for us to give our baby turned toddler her own space. We’ve fixed up a new room for her brother upstairs and have begun creating a room just for her. Inspired by her baby shower and her first birthday, we’ve used elements from Minnie Mouse to create a fun, playful atmosphere for her to learn and grow in. 

This Mother’s Day reminded me of how quickly these kids change and how much we need to preserve our memories with them. So as I transform her room for her, I want to share what we change and what we add to encourage her journey into toddlerhood. 

Tips on creating a toddler room to grow: 

  1. Purchase a twin or full size bed. Toddler beds are not comfortable… let me tell you! And when we transitioned the kids into their own beds, it was much easier to give them a full size bed then a small bed. And we didn’t have to buy another bed when they outgrew the toddler bed! 
  2. Get a full size dresser and add a changing table box with pad to the top of it instead of using a separate changing table. Again… one less piece of furniture to buy! 
  3. Utilize photos or memorabilia from your child’s baby shower, birthdays, etc to decorate the room. We were able to repurpose her name sign from her baby shower as wall art.

Here’s a sneak peek at her almost finished toddler room:

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow with Disney Baby

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow #MinnieMe

When Babies Turn Into Toddlers Creating a Toddler Room To Grow changing table

Looking to create a fun toddler room of your own?

Check out these adorable Disney Junior Minnie Mouse items and grab a few things that would work for your explorative toddler! Not quite ready for a full size bed? Check out this Disney Minnie Mouse Bow Power 4-piece Toddler Bedding Set! So cute.

Watching my two little “MinnieMe’s” grow has been one of the greatest joys in my life. This time together with them goes quickly and I’m definitely soaking up every minute of it!

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