Tips For New Soccer Moms

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Soccer can be a great activity for kids who are looking to burn off some energy and learn some new skills. These tips for new soccer moms can make the transition to this sport a bit easier!

Tips for New Soccer Moms

So you’ve signed up for soccer. Now what?

If you’ve never played the sport like me, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering how to help your child succeed in this new sport. And if your child isn’t as athletically inclined as his teammates you might want a few pointers on how to nudge him in the right direction. You never know! She may turn out to be a rockstar on the field after a bit of practice and learning the ropes!

Ever since I found out I was pregnant with my son I had visions of him on the field. I didn’t know what sport he would play but I knew I wanted to share my love of sports with my kid. So when he finally turned 3, and then 4, and then 5 I would ask if he wanted to try this sport or sign up for that. And the answer was always a resounding no. That is until he started kindergarten and found out that all of his friends would be on the soccer team. Then we finally got the commitment we were waiting for. And he’s played for the past two years.

Over these two seasons I’ve come to learn a few things. I’m sharing these tips for new soccer moms as a way to ease you into the game and give you some ideas on how you can help your child transition into a new sport.

Tips For New Soccer Moms - teach techniques

Tips For New Soccer Moms

1. Get Organized

  • When you first get on the team: Use a site like Shutterfly to create a team page (or ask the team parent if they’re going to set it up). Not only is it a great source for information about the players and the schedule, it’ll also send you friendly reminders about practices, games, snack schedules, and just about anything else you add to it! I use this one each year.
  • At the first practice: Create a roster or ask for a roster of players and phone numbers so you have everyone’s contact information. It’s also helpful to have the schedule printed on the bottom of the roster along with any other important information – like the snack schedule – so you can keep it handy on the fridge.
  • Before a game: Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have already inputted the address of the game you’re driving to in Google maps so you have an idea of when to leave your house. There’s been more than one occasion when I didn’t check an address before and assumed the field was only 15 minutes away when it was, in fact, over 30 minutes away!

Tips For New Soccer Moms - remember a snack

2. Be Prepared For Everything

  • Make sure to pack the essentials: chairs, outdoor blanket, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella (you never know!), etc. Keep it all in your soccer bag so that come game day all you have to do is grab the bag and the chairs and head out the door. Or just keep them all in your trunk like I do. You might also want to consider seeing if someone on the team has a pop up tent to set up on the sidelines for the kids who are sitting out that half. One game I even saw a team with this awesome bench of chairs for the kids to sit on!
  • Keep a box of Costco-sized snacks in the trunk: On one or two occasions, one of the parents assigned snack duty will forget. Come to the rescue with some goldfish or even some mandarin oranges and you’ll be the team’s new favorite mom.
  • Bring a first aid kit: I was surprised to find how few people carry first aid kits in their cars these days. Head over to the store and grab a basic first aid kit to keep on the sidelines just in case. It’s also helpful to have a cooler with ice packs too.
  • Have toys on hand for siblings: If you’re like me and have not one but three kids, distractions for the other kids is important. We can get away with distracting them with an extra soccer ball and some fun portable toys to play with the other siblings at the game.

Tips For New Soccer Moms - start young

3. Make Friends (and Carpool Buddies)

  • Chat with the other parents at the game: It helps to know a few parents on the team. Exchange numbers and find out if they live close to you. It might be fun to get together between games to work on skills and build fun friendships outside of school. It also will help if you get in a bind and need someone to help carpool your kid to a practice or game.
  • Plan a fun activity outside of practice and games: build comraderie and coordinate a fun pizza outing or other activity after a game.

Tips For New Soccer Moms - sockit light up soccer trainer

4. Utilize A Few (Inexpensive) Tools

  • Make sure you have the right size ball: Depending on your child’s age and level, you need the right sized ball. Check with the coach to make sure you purchase the right one.
  • Get a pair of cleats and shin guards and a few pair of socks: Take your child in to get fitted for cleats to make sure they’re the right size. The sales associate can make sure you don’t buy the wrong pair and end up with football cleats. There are different kinds of shin guards on the market. There’s one that you just put in your socks as well as one with elastic bands with velcro on them that your child can put around his/her calf. The first season we got the latter and my son HATED them. So this time around we got the one you put in your socks. So much easier for him. Multiple socks are a must if you have a child who loves to get dirty as muc has mine. That way you aren’t sending your kid to practice or a game with stained and dirty socks (yes… I’ve done this before).
  • While not required, having a collapsable goal is nice: We like to practice in the front yard so we picked up a collapsable soccer net that we could put up and down as needed.
  • Grab a Sockit: If your child needs help with their soccer skills, consider grabbing a SOCKIT*. The SOCKIT is a light-up kicking device designed to improve your soccer game so you can level up on form, power, and technique. It’s simple—kick the ball right and it lights up, giving you instant feedback. We’ve been using it for the past week and have loved how it’s taught our son where to aim his foot when he takes a shot. The SOCKIT trainer goes over your child’s cleat and, as I mentioned before, lights up when they kick the ball in the correct place. It’s amazing how motivating the Sockit can be! It lights up with every correct kick so when your child is practicing they can focus on hitting the ball with your foot in the right place. It’s a great tool and easily portable so we could bring it to practice with us.

*You can purchase the SOCKIT here and can get 15% off with code simmworksfamily15. This code expires on 4/30/16 and must be entered at check out.

Tips for New Soccer Moms - sockit

Feeling more confident about starting a new sport? You got this!

Have any tips to add? What sports do your kids play?

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms

Like most moms, my number one priority is my children. Our day to day lives, as well as the decision we make for our future, revolve around them. So when it comes to our health, I also want to make sure I remember to not only take care of the kids but myself as well. By making a few changes to our daily routine I’ve been able to focus on my health without drastically changing how I’m living or taking too much time on one thing. Because we all know if it takes too much time, it isn’t going to happen.

We want to experience more of life’s precious moments. But to do that, we must be healthy in heart and mind. As the American Heart Association reminds us, the heart is where life’s moments are felt most, and the mind is where we relive them again and again. Making healthy living a priority for moms is easy when you have the right tools! By making these changes we can impact better heart and brain health. You have the power to affect real change!

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms - go on adventures

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms

Make Simple Changes 

Healthy living doesn’t mean changing your whole way of living. It means changing a few small things to make a big impact. Here are a few changes you can implement in your daily lives that have big impacts:

  1. Eat more fruits and veggies – Consider joining a CSA or a food delivery program that delivers fresh produce right to your door! We love Farm Fresh to You’s veggie/fruit deliveries.
  2. Eat less sodium – Read labels and see where sodium is hiding. Then reduce the amount you’re eating!
  3. Drink less sugary sweetened beverages – Do you drink soda? Cut down your consumption or switch it for flavored water!
  4. Increase your physical activity – just add a 30-minute walk in a day! Then increase from there.
  5. Check and control blood pressure – regular check ups with your doctor are important for overall health.

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms - spend time with kids

Find a Work-Life Balance

Sometimes the stress in our lives is made when we try and do too much or take on too many tasks. Finding that work/life balance can help ease stress and reduce health problems. Here are some basic changes to make:

  1. Set office hours and stick to them! If you work outside of the home, this may be easy, but if you work from home like me, office hours are a must. This also applies to SAHMs. You can create a schedule around kids activities, focusing on the home, etc so you are using your time more efficiently.
  2. But also, schedule some family/home hours as well. Between school pick-up and bedtime are the times during the week that I focus on the kids and after 10 a.m. on the weekends is family time. I try not to work on holidays as well so I make it clear that I’m not available on those days.
  3. “Me time” is important as well. I make sure to get out once a month and focus on myself. Whether that’s mom’s night out, getting a pedicure, or getting my hair cut, even as little as one hour is enough for me to recharge. You could even consider creating a Moms group where you get together once a month at each other’s houses just to get some mom time in.

AHA

Implement Change One Step At A Time

Don’t rush into these changes all at once. While one or two changes may be ok right now, making too many changes may lead to defeat. Consider adding 1-2 new changes into your routine a week and work from there. By the time you realize it, you may have already implemented some great changes in your life and are already becoming a healthier you.

Remember, these changes are not only for you but for your whole family! Make it fun and challenge the other family members in your home to participate as well! Take a walk at night as a family to tackle increasing physical activity AND spending family time together. Or consider a screen time ban after dinner so you create family time.

Tips On Making Healthy Living A Priority For Moms - mental health days

The American Heart Association (AHA) has resources for healthy living, like recipes, healthy tips and tricks for moms, and information and resources on heart and brain health. They’re working to improve the health of communities by affecting laws through advocacy initiatives. As an organization, the AHA is funding life-saving research and science advances to help people live healthier, longer lives. You can find more resources by visiting Life Is Why.

Looking for more support? The Moms Unite Facebook Group is also a great place for fellow moms to get together in an effort to encourage one another and share tips for leading a healthy life. Check out what they have on Pinterest too!

Everyone has a reason to live a healthier, longer life. What’s yours?

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Sleep Tips for Kids + A Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub Recipe

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Sleep Tips for Kids plus a Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub recipe

Last week I was invited to host and attend a seminar hosted by Radys Children’s Health Network and Children’s Primary Care Medical Group. Cleverly titled, “Good Night, Sleep Tight” the conversations of the night covered the topic of sleep. We were greeted by two local physicians who both chat a lot about sleep with their parents. Dr. Adrienne Lostetter is a pediatrician and member of the Children’s Primary Care Medical Group. And Dr. Rakesh Bhattacharjee is a pediatric pulminologist and director of the Sleep Center at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego.

Both tackled the topic of sleep as Dr. Lostetter covered typical sleep cycles and how to help our kids get to sleep. Dr. Bhattacharjee helped us understand the issues that arise when there are sleep problems (more on that topic later!). Then we had a little fun when Jimbo’s… Naturally! shared some fun sugar scrub recipes with us. Including an adapted version of my Vanilla Mint scrub that the attendees could make and take home with them! I share the peppermint coffee sugar scrub they demonstrated for us below!

Now I know that each kid is different, as is each kid’s sleep patterns. And each family is different too. While below is the advice of Dr. Lostetter, I do want to note that we have co-slept with all three of our kids. I feel that having them near me is the safest when they’re infants and my older two have since transitioned to their own beds in their own rooms easily and without issue. But more on that later!

Sleep Tips for Kids

Sleep Tips for Kids

from Dr. Adrienne Lostetter of Children’s Primary Care Medical Group

Infants & Toddlers

Infant sleep cycles may vary until about 6 months of age. Newborns can sleep about 16-17 hours per day but might only sleep in 1 or 2 hour chunks of time. As babies get older, they need less sleep. However, all babies are different – even each of your own kids are different!

The best sleeping surface is a firm mattress without all of those cute bumper pads and comforters. SIDS is a real concern at this age so make sure they are “back to sleep” in a safe crib.

Toddlers need plenty of sleep as well. About 11-12 hours of sleep a day, including naps, will help them grow up healthy. Like teens, children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese. They also tend to have tired cues and reading these can help prevent bedtime battles.

Preschoolers

Preschoolers need 10-12 hours of sleep a night. Somewhere between ages 3-5, your child will likely stop nap time. This transition can be hard. To make it easier on both parents and kids, move their bedtime earlier slowly over time so they get plenty of sleep. Make sure to establish bedtime routines – kids thrive on routines.

Teens

For adolescents, 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep a night is recommended. Keeping a similar weekday and weekend schedule leads to less fatigue.

Teens who get enough sleep have a reduced risk of being overweight or suffering depression. They are less likely to be involved in automobile accidents and have better grades/higher standardized test scores. Most importantly, they will have an overall better quality of life.

You can find more tips on developing better sleep routines for kids here and a few bedtime tips here.

Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub

Peppermint Coffee Sugar Scrub

Combine all ingredients & mix well. Store in an air-tight container and enjoy in your next bath or shower. Should last 7 days in the shower.

Once you finally get your kids in bed, what’s the first thing you do?

How to Make Reading Fun: Learning to Love Reading Early On


How to Make Reading Fun Learning to Love Reading Early On

Igniting a love for reading in children is important, and the earlier you do so the better! Children who learn to love reading at a young age master sight words quickly, develop larger vocabularies, and tend to read above grade level later in life. And the early years of development between 0-5 years of age are crucial for setting a foundation for a lifelong love of reading and learning. 

I remember the love I had for reading. How I could get lost in a book and transform my world around me into the place I was reading about. It was an amazing way to escape real life and immerse myself into an adventure. The magic that comes from reading a book continued with me and still to this day I can become absolutely consumed with the book I am reading. That passion and love of reading is something I’ve always wanted to pass on to my children. And as my oldest begins his reading journey, I hope to share that love with him. 

If you want to inspire a love for reading in your own child, take a look below at 5 helpful tips on how to make reading fun, and ignite a love for reading early on. These tips can help you inspire their own love for reading and make them readers for life!

 Shared Bedroom Ideas for Brother and Sister - bookshelf

Tips on How to Make Reading Fun

1. Model reading.

Can you recall your own parents being readers? Let your children see you enjoy reading. Keep your own books on hand and next to your bed or on the coffee table. Let them see you enjoying your books, and you can even tell them what your favorite parts where about the book. If you aren’t into novels, even modeling reading the newspaper or magazines is a great start! If they see you reading for pleasure, they are more likely to do the same. You can even do a book club together, and meet over snacks to talk about the book!

2. Let them choose their own texts.

When you explore the library together, let them gravitate towards texts that interest them. Even if the book is above their reading level, let them have practice handling it and exploring it. If they seem to enjoy magazines, short stories, or even online reads, let them lead in navigating. While it is wise to choose skill appropriate texts, giving them some freedom helps keep the experience a more positive one and gives you an idea of what interests them.

3. Find words all around you.

We are surrounded by words, and it is fun and important to point this out to children. Show them words on cereal boxes, billboards, candy wrappers, and anywhere else you may seem them. Invite them to point out words they recognize, and help them with words they don’t or they are curious about. Go on a word hunt and see all of the places in the house you can find words to read. To make your environment really rich in text, make flash cards using the sight words you want to work on. Hang these up all over the house so your child can practice and identify the word as they walk by.

4. Read nightly, and read enthusiastically.

Do you have fond memories of being read to at night? Set aside time each night before bed for at least one book. You can read it, or they can along with you. Don’t let this appear to be a chore but something you enjoy doing. Do the best you can to show enthusiasm, using the voices and any hand motions or props that may make the story better. Make it a wonderful and enjoyable experience that you look forward to each night.

5. Make reading interactive.

Give children sticky notes that they can use in their books to mark pages they enjoy, have questions about, or want to remember to show you. You can also use highlighting tape to highlight words they know or don’t know as they read, or to mark the page number they left off on. You can give them puppets or stuffed animals to read to or act out the stories with, or let them draw about what they read when done. This makes the reading experience interactive, fun, and continues the learning process.

Kids Reading Nook Idea - Access to Books

Reading is such an amazing part of life, and one that you don’t want your child to miss out or get behind on so starting young is important! By talking, reading, & singing with our children, we help them learn and grow in the world around them. The importance of recent brain science in child development cannot be overstated. More than 80% of a child’s brain is developed by age 3, so it’s no wonder that the first three years of a child’s life are referred to as the “Golden Years” for brain development and strengthening. Give these tips a try and see how you can help them find a love for reading that is sure to stay with them throughout their lives.

First 5 California as a great, free resource for information. From activities to use with your children, to PDFs of books and videos that help parents learn how to teach their children in a variety of ways. Plus, there are so many articles to download and use for later.

How do you inspire your children to Talk.Read.Sing.®?

Teaching My Daughter To Find Her Dreams + a DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial

This shop featuring a tutorial on DIY Vertical Toy Storage has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InspireBigDreams #DreamBigPrincess #CollectiveBias

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial

My daughter. She is so strong. She’s always known what she wanted since she was a small child. I’m sure many of my family members remembered how she’d refuse a bottle because she knew she only wanted to nurse. She’d make my husband drive her all the way to my work to nurse her at lunch time. And then would wait until I got home to eat again. She still, to this day, knows exactly what she wants. And for the most part she knows how to get it.

From finishing fun projects she’s set out to start, to learning new things and going on fun exploratory journeys to do so. She is so brave. And so generous. And just the kindest girl I know. Sometimes I look at her and wonder how I got so lucky to have a daughter like her. She’s a lot like some of her favorite Disney Princesses. Inquisitive like Ariel, adventurous like Rapunzel, and smart like Tiana.

The other day she came to me asking if she could help kids who might not have as much as her. We had talked about how blessed we are as a family a few nights prior and how much we have after one of the kids had a meltdown after not getting a toy at a store. We went over how not everyone was blessed enough to have a huge birthday party every year, or is able to go to theme parks with their family, or even get new toys at Christmas and on birthdays. So my sweet girl asked how she could help make sure other kids got the gifts and toys they deserved. How could I not help her with this?

Building a DIY Vertical Toy Storage needs precise measurementsDIY Vertical Toy Storage - glue pieces before screwing together

So we set out to make a list of all of the places we could ask for donations. We also thought about how we could also chip in a bit to purchase new toys. And we came up with a game plan. Any time we head over to Toys ‘R Us to window shop or pick out a gift, we’re going to grab one extra. Guess what Molly’s doing to help? She’s saving up her dollars to use on the extras we purchase. Yup! She thought of that all by herself too. That kid. She makes me proud. 

And then she asked if we could make a toy chest for her room so she could put all of the extra toys we collect somewhere as we collect them. Since I’m not one to squash her ideas and dreams, we set fourth to make a great DIY vertical toy storage with her help, of course.  Why not build up her dreams literally and figuratively? 

DIY Vertical Toy Storage - measure twice cut onceDIY Vertical Toy Storage takes focus to build

With the help of a few princesses, some tiny field mice, a dad’s guiding hand, and a mother’s encouragement our project came together quite nicely. I think it’s absolutely amazing that both of our older kids love helping my husband and me with our projects. Whether it’s sanding, glueing, hammering, and even using a drill, they’re up for the challenge. It doesn’t hurt to have a super handy husband who can make just about anything. So when I drew out my vision he was 100% on board with creating a plan. 

Now her new dolls have a home, and we have designated to top box for new toys we’ve collected to donate. At the end of every quarter we’ll collect up our toys and find a local charity in need to donate them to. 

The best part about all of this? Now my youngest will have her own person to look up to and learn from. And I know her sister is going to teach her every thing she knows about following her dreams. Sure she’s only 1, but it’s never too early to encourage them to be strong and think for themselves even if it is a bit difficult at times. I’m up for the challenge! 

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial top tiers

DIY Vertical Toy Storage Tutorial and twirling with princessesDIY Vertical Toy Storage disney princess royal shimmer dolls

DIY Vertical Toy Storage

What you need:

  • 2 2’x6’x8′ doug fir boards
  • 3 1’x8’x8′ western red cedar boards
  • wood glue
  • miter saw
  • 3/8ths inch drill bit + drill
  • pocket screw jig
  • 12 1 1/2″ pocket screws
  • 12 2 1/2″ 5/16ths bolts
  • 12 5/16ths T nuts
  • 12 5/16ths washers

What you do:

Build 3 Boxes

  1. For the first box, cut one 1 x 8 x 8′ board into the following:
    – 2 – 24″ sections (front and back of boxes),
    – 1 – 22 1/2″ section (bottom),
    – 2 – 7 1/2″ section (sides)
  2. Screw and glue the pieces together. 
  3. Repeat again to make 3 boxes total

Build Side Box Supports

  1. Cut 2 x 6 x 8″ boards to 74″ long. These will become the side supports of your vertical storage.
  2. Lean one of the sides against a wall. Put a straight edge on ground against 2 x 6. Trace angle on 2×6. We used a 50 degree angle. Cut along line you have drawn. Transfer angle to other 2 X 6 and cut to match.
  3. Now put straight edge against wall and trace line on 2 X 6. Cut along line. Repeat for other 2 X 6. Both pieces should be identical.

Attach Boxes

  1. Lay one of the 2 x 6’s flat on the ground. Position one of the boxes in the lowest spot (bottom of box should be about 8-12 inches up from bottom of the board). Make sure to adjust box so that it’s level once it is resting on the wall. Next, lay out the second box. Finally position the third.
  2. When happy with the spacing, use screws to attach box to 2 x 6 side. Now put other 2 x 6 side flat on the ground. Flip partially assembled side to rest on 2 x 6. Attach with screws once lined up.
  3. Reinforce with bolts once unit is assembled with screws.

DIY Vertical Toy Storage close up of boxes DIY Vertical Toy Storage inside of box

DIY Vertical Toy Storage also good for books

If your daughter is interested in following her dreams and ideas, check out this great video from Disney on how she can be a champion too. You can find the full line of Disney Princesses at Toys ‘R Us including my daughter’s favorite Disney Princess Royal Shimmer Dolls and Little Kingdom Ariel’s Sea Castle. They’re easy to find when you look for the dedicated Disney Princesses aisle in store. 

Dream Big Princess Display at Toys R Us

How do you support your daughter’s dreams?

When Babies Find Freedom: Tools For Pre-Walkers

This post featuring tools for pre-walkers is sponsored by Huggies Little Movers Diapers.

When Babies Find Freedom Tools For Pre-Walkers

When I had my first child the only thing I could think about was what he would learn to do next. When would he sit up? When would he crawl? Was he going to walk soon? Once he was standing and walking along the furniture I’d try and get him to take steps to me by standing him up away from the object he was holding onto and letting go. He’d normally just sit back down on his diaper-cushioned butt. I didn’t really get that we had to do this on his terms. He needed to find the balance and confidence on his own. Sure our encouragement could have been helpful, but finding that he could do it himself was more important.

With each additional child, I’ve found myself struggling with taking over or pushing a little too much when it comes to encouraging them to try new things. I want them to grow and explore in new ways so I can keep checking things off my list. But as I watch my 11-month-old (how did that happen??) start to pull up on furniture and move around the house or transfer from the couch to the coffee table right in front of me and wonder when she’ll take her first steps, I remind myself that they’re doing it on their terms, and I shouldn’t push or expect more than what they’re willing to give.

Tools For Pre Walkers - Huggies and Cruising

When babies find freedom – the freedom to move on their own, the freedom to take their first steps, the freedom to start making their own decisions – a whole new world opens up. They gain confidence, strength, and knowledge about the world that they didn’t already have. And it’s amazing to watch. Along with this newfound freedom is the need for tools that help along the way. Now that Norah is at that pre-walking stage, I am trying to make sure she has those tools to ensure success.

Tools For Pre-Walkers - soft soled shoes

Tools For Pre-Walkers

1. Huggies Little Movers Diapers –

Any active baby needs a great diaper to ensure that they will have the freedom of movement as they explore their environment. We’ve come to know Huggies Little Movers Diapers very well over the past few months and love that we can rely on them to keep our little one dry and happy throughout the day even when she’s moving around the house like crazy. They have a Moving Baby System that is made up of three key features including a DryTouch® liner that absorbs on contact, double grip strips for a fit that lasts, and a contoured diaper shape that allows baby to move freely.

I’ve found that the double grip strips are probably my favorite feature. I don’t have to worry about the tab coming undone like I’ve had happen in the past with other diapers. And the contoured diaper shape stays in place and fits securely around her. Plus the fact that we haven’t had any leaks is an added bonus!

2. Push Toys Instead Of Baby Walkers –

While some may think of walkers for their babies to help them, I’ve found that push toys can do the exact same thing but limit the number of injuries possible. The best part about push toys is that you have options. You can go through the various products out there and choose one that fits your house, your life, your baby. There are standard push toys, ride-on push toys, and I’ve even found  walking tables like these that are intuitively designed to provide stability for children while transitioning from sitting to kneeling, standing and walking!

I was at an event a few weeks ago and found a walking table that would have been perfect to get for the kids when they were a little younger. It is the perfect thing to pull up on, help stand and help walk around. I didn’t pull the trigger because we have other push toys available right now and Norah is so close to walking. But had she been younger, that would be the product I’d purchase for her. I just wasn’t sure what we’d do with it when she actually started to walk since it’s really not a seat, it’s a table.

3. Soft Soled Shoes –

While I believe that barefoot is best for beginning or pre-walkers, when out and about where there may be some rough or rocky terrain, I love soft soled shoes. When we go on walks to the park as a family and the ground may be too cold for her little feet, or too wet for socks, soft soled shoes allow her to move around or crawl without hurting her toes. Plus when she does start walking, she can continue to use the soft soled shoes as she gets more comfortable with shoes on her feet. After she becomes more confident in taking steps, we head to the local shoe store to get properly fitted for walking shoes.

When Babies Find Freedom Tools For Pre-Walkers - huggies little movers diapers

What tools do you provide your pre-walker?

Try Huggies Little Movers Diapers today, and share a photo of your active baby using #SetBabyFree for the chance to be featured on Huggies social channels.

Visit the Huggies website for more information.

5 Reasons Why Date Night Helped Our Marriage

5 Reasons Why Date Night Helped Our Marriage

Photo Courtesy of Grin & Share It Photo

I don’t talk much about my marriage here on the blog. It’s something I like to keep just between my husband and myself. But one thing I have shared on here are our date nights. I’ve even offered tips on making date night a priority. Ever since having my son (almost) 7 years ago, it’s been an important part of our marriage and something that allows us to connect with each other a monthly basis.

It’s important to schedule date night in advance if you can. Put it on both of your calendars and set a reminder! We’ve even purchased season tickets to the local theater so we have a built in date night already paid for a few times a year. But date nights don’t have to be elaborate or expensive if you don’t want them. They can be as simple as take out and a bottle of wine at home in front of the TV. As long as the kids are either sleeping over at Grandma’s or fast asleep in their beds. And the tablets, laptops, and phones are put away.

And when the kids are little, consider date afternoons. Since I prefer to put our kids to bed when they’re babies, we move our schedule around and enjoy afternoons together instead of evenings. It still gives us the time together but then we’re home in the evenings with the kids. However when they get older, it’s also nice to schedule 1-2 nights away from the kids as well if you can!

5 Reasons Why Date Night Helped Our Marriage

1. Communication Without Interruption

If you have kids you know why this is so important. Whenever my husband and I have conversations at home and the kids are around it’s in short bursts here and there because we’re constantly getting interrupted to tie a shoelace, get a snack, or stop one kid from beating on the other. Being able to have alone time with one another without interruption is something that’s allowed the both of us to talk about anything and everything that’s been going on lately. Whether it’s the job, finances, our upcoming plans for the next month, or the next birthday, we can start and finish a conversation during date night all in one sitting.

2. No Talking About The Kids (Mostly)

While date night is great for communication without interruption, we try to leave talking about the kids to a minimum. We can do that at home after bedtime. Or via text message throughout the day. Leaving the kid talk to a minimum gives us the opportunity to chat about ourselves. Our relationship cannot just be based on our children, because that wouldn’t be marriage, that’d just be co-parenting. So we take this time to talk about our relationship and the topics we want to discuss but might not have had the chance during our busy days.

3. Finding New Interests

Through date night we’ve both been able to plan events that the other might not necessarily love. I give in to an action movie he wants to see, and he sits through a play I want to see. Or we try a new restaurant out together. It’s fun to explore and create new memories with him that we can share. It keeps the time we spend together interesting.

4. Alone Time

With the craziness of our lives, work, the kids, meetings, after school commitments, sports, etc, sometimes it’s hard to find alone time. There are some days where I see my husband only in passing. And the only conversations we have are about who’s picking up the kids or what bills need to be paid. We’ve realized that with the crazy, we need the calm. We need alone time together so we don’t forget how to talk to one another.

5. Reconnecting

Every date is an opportunity to reconnect with my husband. I get to know him more, we get to talk about what’s important to us (or just chat about nothing at all), and we spend quality time together. And when you’ve been together for 15 years (married for 8.5) that reconnection is what keeps the relationship strong. Sure, there are difficult times. But that doesn’t mean we stop date night. It means we continue to get together even when we’re mad in an effort to continue to keep that conversation going. Because marriage is fluid. Marriage is constantly changing just as we as individuals are. And we need that reconnection, that continuation of growth, to keep our marriage strong.

Do you have regular date nights with your significant other?

Fight Hanger In Kids: After School Snack Hacks

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We’re chatting about my favorite after school snack hacks so I don’t have to deal with hangry kids thanks to our sponsor, Tree Top.

Fight Hanger After School Snack Hacks

Life is crazy right now. Work, volunteering, kids, life. It’s all just overwhelming sometimes. But this year I’m focusing on being more organized. I update my Google calendar with everything going on, even if it’s just a quick 5 minute meeting before or after school. And I try to plan ahead and stick with a routine.

We’ve gotten mornings down to a science. Wake up, brew coffee, make lunches and breakfast while stealing sips, get kids dressed and fed, and nurse the baby while checking email before heading out the door to drop off. I even call out a 5 minute warning so the kids know they need to get their shoes on.

Fight Hanger After School Snack Hacks homework time

But we’re still struggling with afternoons. Between meetings and soccer practice and everything else in between, I try to keep everything written out so that as we’re driving to school I can give the kids a heads up on what to expect after they get out of school. Most days they come straight home but others are spent at after school care or they’re picked up by a relative.

With all of the craziness that our afternoons bring us, I have to remember to pack snacks for the kids and hide them everywhere. Because if I don’t? This is what I have to deal with:

Fight Hanger After School Snack Hacks to fight hanger

Yup. She’s hangry.

Luckily I’ve experienced enough meltdowns that I can sense when they are going to come on and I can whip out a snack so quickly that all of a sudden that frown turns upside down. Want in on how I do it? Check out my after school snack hacks!

Fight Hanger After School Snack Hacks - Tree Top Apple Sauce Pouches

After School Snack Hacks

1. Bowl Of Fruit –

Now I know this sounds like a duh kind of idea but I’ve found that putting a bowl of fruit out on the table or counter puts the responsibility of eating in my kids hands. They know when they feel hungry that all they have to do is go grab something from the fruit bowl. Plus fruit is portable so I can grab a few pieces before heading over to pick up the kids so they can snack on the drive home.

I keep a variety of fruits on hand to satisfy both of the kids tastes. And if they don’t eat it fast enough,  I turn the fruit into muffins! Another awesome snack choice that doubles as a breakfast food.

2. Snack Drawer or Shelf

In the pantry I have a snack shelf filled with great snacks that the kids can grab on their own as soon as they come home from school. This shelf is also used for my go-to lunch items too so I can quickly go in and grab what I need after I finish making sandwiches and grabbing fruit.

One thing I always have on my snack shelf is Tree Top Apple Sauce Pouches. They’re mess-free, taste great and are made with pure USA-grown fruit and local ingredients. No spoon? No problem! Pouches are squeezable and fun, making them perfect for on-the-go snacking.

We also have a snack drawer in our fridge. We purchased the fridge we have because it had a secondary refridgerated door that would be easily accesible for our kids. I keep yogurts, cheese, and other snacks that I don’t mind the kids eating in there along with some bottled water and juices.

3. Roll Ups

When I know the kids are going to sports practice or I have a meeting after school, I make super quick roll ups out of whatever ingredients I have on hand. Depending on the size, I’ll sometimes cut them into wheels or leave them whole.

Here’s a few great ideas for flavors to get you started:

  • PB&J Roll Up – tortilla, peanut butter, jelly | Add some bananas or apples
  • Ham & Swiss Roll Up – pita, sliced ham, sliced swiss cheese | Add some spinach leaves and a spread of ranch dressing or hummus
  • Tuna Roll Up – bread, tuna, mayo | Add some diced celery and dill pickles

4. Cheese Platter

Now don’t laugh but sometimes I just cut up some cheese and open up a package of crackers and call it a day. We even turn to that as a dinner option on crazy busy nights with the addition of some salame or pepperonis. Cheese platters are very versatile. From delicious brie and gouda with fancy crackers to string cheese and gold fish, the possibilities are endless. And when you’re having a bad day, both pair nicely with a glass of wine. For the parents… not the kids.

After School Snack Hacks - Tree Top Apple Sauce Pouches

All of these options can easily be put into a bag and taken with us wherever we go. I have an easy way to keep snacks on hand and the kids don’t get hangry. Win win!

Tree Top knows that avoiding those hangry moments require a quick and reliable solution. We want to see how you help your kids overcome those stressful times! Share a photo of your child’s “hangry2happy” moment on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Make sure to use the #Hangry2Happy hashtag and tag @TreeTopInc in your post, so we can check it out.

You’ll be entered to win one of eight survival kit backpacks full of Tree Top apple sauce Pouches, so you’ll be ready when your kids reach their limit and desperately need a snack. We’ve all been there, and Tree Top wants to help you take your kids from hangry to happy! Official sweepstakes rules can be found here:on.fb.me/1kTw5b5

Fight Hanger After School Snack Hacks on the go

What are your go-to snack hacks to avoid hangry children?

I will be giving away one kids backpack and filled with Tree Top applesauce pouches. Approximate Retail Value of $50.

View Rafflecopter to see the ways in which to enter and show Tree Top your child’s Hangry2Happy Moments!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tree Top.

A Colorful Affair: Adult Coloring Party

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Sometimes you just need to sit down with your girlfriends, mimosa in hand, and color! And that’s just what I did last week at the adult coloring party I hosted with the help of our sponsor, Prismacolor Premier®. Read on to see how easy it is to host an adult coloring party with your friends!

A Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party

Over the past few months, the only thing I’ve heard a handful of my friends talk about is adult coloring. No, not adults coloring. But adult coloring books with beautiful intricate designs and themes for grown-ups to sit down and color with. With this craze comes a little bit of sanity for those who hop on board. It’s been confirmed that those who sit down to enjoy a few minutes of coloring each day have actually found that they’re less stressed!

A Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party coloring books and pensA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party coloring pens and pencils

Since so many of my girlfriends have expressed an interest in adult coloring books, I was pleased to host this adult coloring party for a few local blogger friends with the help of Prismacolor Premier® products last week. It was a wonderful morning filled with great conversation, good food, and relaxing coloring for all. I don’t remember the last time I sat down to color but I’ll be doing it a lot more frequently now that I’m hooked!

A Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party food spreadA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party with brunch foodA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party fruit and cheese tree

Tips for Hosting An Adult Coloring Party

1. Fun and Easy Food

Egg Bake + Cinnamon Pecan Pullapart Bread + Fruit and Cheese Tree

When I host get-togethers for the girls I always have one homemade item, and then the rest store bought. Not only does it make things easier on me as I get ready for things but it also allows me to focus more on the guests the day of because I’m not running around trying to finish up making this or that.

For this event, I chose to make a delicious egg bake with bacon, cheddar, and broccoli. I picked up a cinnamon pecan pull apart bread from the store and made a festive fruit and cheese tree with cubed cheese and grapes. The tree was very easy to make. I added two mandarin oranges to the top as a tree topper and the bottom as a tree stump and then added pretzel crisps to the last layer to use with the cheese for snacking.

The egg bake and pull apart bread were served on the main buffet spread and the fruit and cheese tree was set out on the dining room table so we could munch as we colored. Who doesn’t love to munch along as they color and visit?

A Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party mimosa barA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party with mimosasA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party mimosa bar name tagsA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party mimosas

2. Drink Options

Mimosa Bar

Mimosa bars are perfect for morning get-togethers! They pair perfectly with the breakfast foods I was serving and guests can choose to either pour a mimosa or just drink the juice. For this simple mimosa bar, I grabbed a few glass juice carafes and some champagne glasses.

I paired together orange juice and cranberry juice to bring more color to the spread. As for the champagne, I grabbed my favorite local almond champagne. And some non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice for the non-drinkers.

Grab a few gift tags and Prismacolor Premier markers to make name tags for the drinks!

Hot Cocoa Bar

Another great addition to any brunch or evening event during the winter months is a hot cocoa bar. It adds a little sweetness and some warmth to the event. Plus there are so many fun additions and toppings one can add to their hot cocoa to make it personalized to their taste. Grab a pot of coffee to add to the mix so guests can make mochas too!

I chose to use my single serve coffee machine and some hot cocoa cups I had, however, I’ve also made a delicious batch of slow cooker hot chocolate in the past with this recipe for a little adult fun.  I’ve also passed out these cute hot cocoa snowmen as gifts and favors at parties before.

A Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party hot cocoa barA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party hot cocoa bar toppingsA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party hot cocoa bar and coffee station

3. Adult Coloring Books + Colored Pencils

And, of course, for the star of the event, adult coloring books are a must! Each guest should have either a few adult coloring print-outs or a coloring book of their own to enjoy during the event. Pair with Prismacolor Premier coloring pencils and you have the perfect outlet for moms to relax, de-stress and re-energize during the often-stressful holiday season.

In the living room and the dining room table I put a few coloring books out with packs of Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. I also used a roll of butcher paper as table runners for both the coffee table and dining room table so guests could doodle and find out what colors they wanted to use.

Coloring together allows friends, families and co-workers an opportunity to take a moment together to reflect and reenergize, sparking creativity and inducing productivity. It’s a relaxing way to reconnect with each other. We enjoyed chatting around the table about work, life, and everything else in between.

A Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party coloring with prismacolor pencilsA Colorful Affair Adult Coloring Party coloring in the lines

What do you love to do when you get together with your girlfriends?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Prismacolor Premier®.

Building Your Child’s Holiday Wishlist With Ease: A Tutorial On Using The Amazon App In Store

Building Your Child's Holiday Wishlist With Ease

When I was little I would get excited around this time of year. Because this time of year was when we would start to receive the big catalogues in the mail from various stores and toy companies. My dad would save them up and hand over the big books and the catalogues that came in the mail during the week so that we could go through and circle what we wanted for the holidays and upcoming birthdays.

It was an easy way for him to figure out exactly what we were asking from Santa as well as get some tips on what he should surprise us with as well. He was always good at figuring out exactly what we wanted under the tree each year. That may or may not be a result of him waiting till the night before Christmas to do all of his holiday shopping with those catalogues. So he was limited in what to get us and had to go off of our scribbled down lists and circled items.

Nowadays with my own kids we build a wishlist throughout the year. Constantly changing and removing things. Not just for gifts, but as ways to remind ourselves of what we want to do or get as rewards for other things too. My kids love to save their pennies and cash in to purchase the latest toy they have their eye on. And now making those lists has gotten even easier.

A Tutorial On Using The Amazon App In Store

When I was at Target yesterday perusing the Halloween aisles, my son asked to head up to the toy aisle to take a look. I obliged and the whole family headed over. As I was walking over I realized that I needed a batman mask for my costume (I had just put a batman shirt complete with cape in our basket). Since Target didn’t seem to have any, I hopped onto Amazon and quickly purchased one using my Prime account. Shortly after my son was running up to me asking me to put a Minecraft lego on his list.

Since I already had the Amazon app out, I figured I’d take a look and see if I could just search and add his item quickly while we were in-store. And that’s when I saw it… the option to scan a barcode right from the app to find an item. That way I could not only scan the items the kids wanted to add to their list in-store, I could also note which items were cheaper to purchase on Amazon or in the store! Talk about a win-win. And it’s so simple!

Here’s how:

Using The Amazon App In Store

Building Your Child’s Holiday Wishlist With Ease 

Scan Barcode in-store with Amazon app
As you peruse every single toy aisle with your kids as you do every time you visit the department store – wait, is that just my husband? – let your kids start to choose what they’d like to ask for on their holiday wish lists. As they choose items, grab the item, and using the barcode in the Amazon app, scan the item.

Add Item Found to Amazon Wishlist

Once the correct item is found via the barcode, simply click on the item title and then scroll down to Add to Wish List. Click on the Add to Wish List button.

A list of your current wish lists will appear and then you can select which child’s wishlist you want to add the item to.

Amazon Wishlist Dropdown

As soon as I selected Molly’s Wish List, the baby doll she chose was added. Easy peasy and onto the next item! I don’t know what I’ll do if she asks for a pony but at least I’m covered for most in-store items.

How do you make wish lists easier during the holidays?



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