The Importance Of Bedtime Stories

This post is sponsored by First 5 California but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories

Ever since my kids were babies there’s one thing we always do. And that’s bedtime stories. From the time they could crawl into our lap for some last minute snuggles before bedtime, they’ve soaked in the time we spend right before shut eye exploring a new book or story. From simple baby board books pointing out different animals or places to go, to us reading them classic Dr. Seuss or Robert Munsch books, to them reading us their first books, this time with our children is cherished.

Books are important. And reading to our kids are just as important. Did you know that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, simply reading to your child every day will give them a higher success rate in school? And by simply having books in the home that are easily accessible, you can encourage your child to read more. We believe in this so much that we have a bookcase in just about every room in the house… including the kitchen!

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories - promoting early reading

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories

By not only having books in the house but reading every day to your child (even just 10-20 minutes a day!) you can encourage literacy in your child and set them up for success. Even if they aren’t reading yet, having the love of hearing a good story from you, and bonding with them in the process, will help them in the long run. Here are a few great stats to prove the importance of bedtime stories:

1. Practice! 

According to the National Education Association, having kids read a lot is one of the crucial components of becoming a good reader. Young readers need to become practiced at recognizing letters and sounds. The only way to get good at it is to practice. Twenty-six percent of children who were read to three or four times in the last week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently. By practicing at home with those who love them, they can have a safe area to practice reading without feeling like they’ll be judged for not knowing a word or a letter.

2. A Partner In Education

As a parent, I want to play an active role in tehir education. By starting to read to them young and creating a a time for us to read as a family during our bedtime routine, we’re sharing our love of reading and learning with our kids. The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Where parental involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average!

3. Finding A Love For Reading

I remember when I first started to love books. The feeling of starting to read a good book that whisks you away into another world, another time, another universe. It’s an amazing feeling. And I cannot wait for my kids to jump in as well and experience that love. The U.S. Department of Education found that, generally, the more students read for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores. Finding that love of reading can impact their future education.

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories - preparing for new situations

Great Bedtime Story Books (4-8 Years Old)


Freddy & Frito And The Clubhouse Rules – Introducing the adorable pair – Freddy, a fox, and Frito, a rart – in a story about the joys and struggles of friendship. In her exuberant debut as author/illustrator, Alison Friend illuminates a truth about friendship: showing that best friends stay together both in fun times and in frustrating ones, too.

The Big Ideas Of Buster Bickles – No one appreciates Buster Bickles’ big ideas until his uncle invents a machine that turns his imagination into reality! Robot dinosaurs and ice cream mountains are only the beginning in Emmy-award winning animator Dave Wasson’s debut picture book – with a “What-If” machine, anything is possible!

School Time

Just a Teacher’s Pet – Join Mercer Mayer’s classic and loveable character, Little Critter, as he learns a special lesson about being a teacher’s pet in this I Can Read story!

Goose Goes To School – Goose is back in an all new school adventure! In this heart-warming follow up to GOOSE, readers will delight in Sophie and Goose’s next fun-filled adventure.

Eva and Sadie And The Best Classroom Ever – Sadie teaches Eva all about school in this adorable follow up to EVA AND SADIE AND THE WORST HAIRCUT EVER! Sadie learns that even though she’s a great teacher, it’s okay for Eva not to know everything before she starts school. After all, that’s what Kindergarten is for.

All About Pets 

Itty Bitty Kitty – Ava wants a pet, but Mom and Dad say she’s too little. So when she finds a kitty, Ava decides to name him Itty Bitty and keep him a secret. There’s just one tiny problem: Itty Bitty starts growing and growing and growing… until he’s neither itty nor bitty!

Who Wants Broccoli? – Meet Broccoli, a lovable but rambunctious dog who wants to find a home. Broccoli lives at Beezley’s Animal Shelter and dreams of playing in a yard with a boy. Will Broccoli find his perfect home? A story inspired by Val Jones’ own adopted labradoodle, Fergus!

Two Girls Want A Puppy – Cadence and Emi desperately want a puppy, but their dad isn’t quite sure they’re ready for all that responsibility. With a little determination and a brilliant plan, the girls show their dad that they are ready to adopt one. Based on a true story abou two sisters and their creative plan to adopt a puppy!

The Berenstain Bears

The Berenstain Bears: When I Grow Up – It’s Career Day at the Bear Country School, but Sister isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up. A friend of the Berenstains, Professor Actual Factual takes Sister and Brother Bear on a special Bear Country job tour. Whether it’s firefighter or artist, farmer or astronaut – there is sure to be a career to capture Sister’s imagination.

The Berenstain Bears Are Superbears! – When Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear pretend to be their favorite superhero characters, they use their imaginations to find adventure all around the house. But when a neighbor falls off his bike, the SuperBears discover the true power of lending a helping paw in this brand new I Can Read story!

The Berenstain Bears Get Ready For School – It’s a busy morning in the Bear family house. Brother and Sister are getting ready for school, and they need lots of help finding their backpack, books and pencils in time to catch the bus. Share in the hustle and bustle with this exciting new lift-the-flap storybook.

The Importance Of Bedtime Stories - finding new interests

Start Reading Early

Need more ideas on how to interest your child in reading OR to find great resources on the importance of reading to your little ones early? First 5 California is on a statewide mission to inform, educate and inspire parents and caregivers to talk, read and sing to their little ones starting from the day they are born.

Science tells us that 90% of the brain is formed by the age of 5, and recent research also reveals that more than 80% of a child’s brain is formed by age 3. As you know from being a parent, these early years are the most formative and life-impacting. You want your child to have a larger vocabulary not only do better in school, but are significantly less likely to make poor choices in the future.

The experts at First 5 California refer to the brain as a muscle that needs exercise – and that means “working out” through talking, reading and singing regularly. Talking can be as simple as narrating the day; reading doesn’t always need to be via books; recipes, newspapers and road signs are great (aim for 30 min/day total – can be broken up into 5-10 min increments throughout the day) and singing doesn’t require carrying a tune (First 5 California has a great children’s radio station on Pandora that can help!).

You can rely on First 5 California as a free trusted resource and partner to help give their children the best possible start to life. is full of informative tips and activities – everything from brain development facts/myths and brain-stimulating activities for ages 0-5 to healthy, easy-to-make recipes and general wellness information.

Need a comfy spot for your little ones to read in? Check out my Kids Reading Nook Ideas (and other great ways to encourage reading) by clicking on the photo below!

Kids Reading Nook Ideas

What’s your child’s favorite book? What’s yours?

Mom’s Night In: Halloween Inspired Book Club Party

Mom's Night In Halloween Style

Sitting back with friends enjoying delicious glass of wine and some yummy goodies is one of the best ways, I find, to unwind and relax after a long week. There’s something about the conversation with friends and laughter that follows that warms my heart and leaves me feeling relaxed. As I mentioned previously, I hosted a girls night in recently. We hadn’t done a book club get together and it was about time we started up again!

By the way… you don’t actually HAVE to finish (or even start) the book to attend book club. It’s more of an excuse to get out and do something with friends instead of staying at home. But I have found that it’s very motivating to at least try and finish a book before the next meeting. Even when that means reading during nap time, or right before bed while my husband reads my kids stories.

This time of year is perfect for Halloween-inspired books, so if you’re looking for a great book club suggestion, check out the various lists of Halloween books perfect for adults to indulge in and scare the crap out of you.

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club with Woodbridge wine

I may have alluded to the fact that wine is a staple at every book club meet up. While it’s not necessary, it does make the night a bit more fun! Especially as we chat about the happenings around us as well as discuss the books we’ve (tried to) read. I love having both a red and a white on hand to satisfy everyone. I personally love this cabernet sauvignon!

And paired with the wine is the delicious food. I opted to make some “Bloody Fingers” in the form of steak and brie sandwiches with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce on a puff pastry. Literally that simple. 4 ingredients and they pair so well with the cabernet sauvignon. Also served was an artichoke spinach dip (recipe coming soon!) and for a little dessert, the chocolate peanut butter ball monsters I made. It was the perfect amount of food for our little group!

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club bloody fingers steak & brie sandwiches

“Bloody Fingers” Steak and Brie Bites

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 steak, cooked and sliced thinly
  • 1 wheel of brie cheese
  • Sriracha sauce

Defrost puff pastry. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper. Grab one sheet of puff pastry and unroll/unfold. Using a knife, cut into half length-wise and thirds on the fold lines. Then cut each third into half. You should have 12 rectangles. put rectangles on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Once finished, carefully pull baked puff pastry apart into two pieces. Top each piece with steak, a slice of brie, and drizzle with Sriracha sauce. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club chocolate peanut butter ballsMom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club dip

I also got a little festive with my chalk markers and the plastic wine glasses I picked up at the dollar store around the corner from our house. Non breakable and easy to decorate! The best part? The designs wiped right off with a baby wipe.

My girlfriends told me that next time they want to decorate their glasses so I plan on making it a thing now to put out the chalk markers and let the guests doodle on their glasses to mark which one is which.

The food spread was simple, wine yummy, and friends amazing. Definitely a night I needed!

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club wine glasses

Mom's Night In Halloween Inspired Book Club food spread

What’s the last book you’ve read while enjoying a glass of wine?

Keeping Baby Entertained On The Go

After having our third kid, we realized that keeping baby entertained on the go isn’t as hard as it was with the first and second child. It’s even easier with Playskool’s new on-the-go line! I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Playskool. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Keeping Baby Entertained On The Go

I don’t know if this is how it is for all third babies but our little Norah has turned out to be very adaptable. She just goes with the flow and takes to change easily. As long as her mama or dada are with her, and she has something to entertain her, she’s pretty cool with just about any new situation. So when I had to have my gallbladder out last week, I wasn’t too concerned about her being without me. Except  for the fact that she hadn’t successfully taken a bottle in quite a while.

Well she did absolutely awesome with her dad when I spent the night at the hospital the night after my surgery. She surprised us in not only taking one bottle, but taking two for her dad. And she was in high spirits when she came to visit me around 9:30am the next morning. Better yet, she just wanted to play! And luckily we saved some new toys for her to enjoy as I recovered.


I have a little confession… Norah really hasn’t had any new toys purchased for her. She plays with a few hand-me-downs from her cousins and friends. And she loves playing with her siblings’ toys. So when my husband busted out a few fun toys from Playskool’s new on-the-go line out of his backpack to keep her entertained at the hospital, she just about tackled her new Dressy Bessy to play with her zipper and button. It was absolutely adorable to see Norah play with Dressy Bessy’s button, then go and find her buttons on her dress as she played in the hospital room.

And? Dressy Bessy comes with a secure clip that we can use to attach to the stroller or my diaper bag. That way we can take her wherever we go and she takes up little to no room. Clipping her onto the stroller also means that Norah can play and have fun and I won’t have to worry about Bessy being thrown overboard. And her Fold N Go Elepant? It folds up into a cute little package for easy storage. Talk about convinience. Great for staycations or travelling around.

Keeping Baby Entertained On The Go - Fold N Go Elephant

Keeping Baby Entertained On The Go

  1. Distractions… er… Toys – Toys are an important part of keeping baby occupied on the go. Whether on a road trip and stopped at a rest stop (toys should not be played with in a moving car), or during a day trip to the park or beach, having a fun toy like Playskool’s Dressy Bessy clipped onto the stroller or the Fold N Go Elephant stashed away in the diaper bag can turn into a great distraction for baby to keep them happy and occupied.
  2. Snacks and Drinks – One of the best ways to keep Norah entertained while we’re out and about is to offer her a sippy cup. It doesn’t even have ot have water in it. At this age she just loves playing and chewing on it. Water makes it more fun. And little snacks like puffs or yogurt melts keeps her distracted and working on her pincer grip for quite some time.
  3. A Change Of Scenery – I’ve found that keeping babies in the same position with little to no change drives them crazy. It’s probably the one reason why my kids always hated the carseat at that age. They couldn’t see the changes taking place outside the window! So whether it’s moving them from the stroller to the carrier (change in view) or simply walking around a bit with them to show them some new cool things to explore, a change of scenery is very inportant when keeping baby entertained on the go.
  4. Music – If you’re trapped in the car for a few hours and can’t resort to toys or snacks, playing a little music and singing along may get baby to focus on the sounds vs. complaining about being trapped in their carseat. We put on a little Hulabaloo and start singing along to get Norah distracted enough to start enjoying herself.
  5. Games – Even though babies might not understand the games, the repetition of some games like patty cake, peek-a-boo, etc can help baby learn how to interact with you and react to what you say. Plus, when you start playing a game that’s familiar to them, they are immediately interested and distracted from what they were doing before. Which is super helpful when you’re on the go.

Keeping Baby Entertained On The Go - Dressy Bessy

How do you keep baby busy on-the-go?

Now your baby can enjoy Playskool’s new on-the-go line too! Influence Central (I-C) is hosting a contest for the new Playskool on-the-go line through which you can enter to win one of five Playskool Prize Packs. Contest opens on September 9, 2015 and closes September 30, 2015

Enter by choosing a social media sharing option from the social media amplification tool below!

Playskool Audience Engagement Tool

*I-C will randomly select five winners from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes.

Tips For Serving The Rainbow: Healthy Breakfast Options For Picky Eaters

Tracking Pixel

Today we’re talking about delicious and healthy ways to help our kids taste the rainbow. I include a few healthy breakfast options for picky eaters that are easy to change up depending on your child’s tastes and pair perfectly with our sponsor, 100% Florida Orange Juice.

Tips For Serving The Rainbow Healthy Breakfast Options For Picky Eaters

Since my kids started school and we found ourselves rushing around during the mornings just trying to get everything ready to start the day, I’ve found that it gets harder and harder to make sure the kids leave the house with a healthy breakfast. So I’ve been trying out different ideas and asking others what they do to keep healthy foods in front of their kids.

I’ve found that having a balance of make ahead recipes and some quick grab-and-go options have helped us full when we head out the door to start our day. Plus the kids aren’t as hungry when snack time rolls around at school. By planning ahead a little and prepping a few things, I’ve been able to offer the full rainbow to the kids and can battle the “I don’t like that” phrase I hear often from the two of them.

Research reports that many children fall short of meeting their daily fruit intake recommendations. One quick way to start the day off is to drink 8 ounces of 100% Florida Orange Juice (it counts as 1 cup of fruit!). Based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate, citrus fruits and 100% fruit juices (including 100% Florida Orange Juice) are considered a fruit serving. Serve it alongside these delicious breakfast options for a great start to your child’s morning! 

Blueberry Granola Muffins with Chex

In the morning I love being able to have a variety of foods for the kids. But sometimes there’s just not enough time. So I’ve started to prep breakfasts on the weekends and in the evenings before I go to bed. What I try and do is include at least one food the kids love. For example, my daughter loves strawberries and blueberries, so when I make muffins I tend to include those in the mix. My son is more of an egg fan so I choose some veggies to add to egg cups or a quiche and he’s a happy camper.

By giving them one thing they love at breakfast, they usually tend to try other things I offer. It’s the same trick I use at dinner when we enjoy family meals at the dinner table. I always have at least one side, or entree, that they love so they can eat one thing for dinner. If they don’t try anything else, that’s ok. As long as it’s offered.

Quick and Easy Egg Bake Recipe with Bacon perfect for brunch

Planning Ahead: Recipes To Make On The Weekend For Weekday Breakfasts

Egg Cups – 

Egg cups are an awesome way to get some protein and veggies into the kids. Plus when you make them ahead on the weekend, all you have to do is heat them up in the toaster oven or microwave in the morning.

Egg Bake/Quiche –

Quiche is just a larger version of the egg cup. But sometimes it’s easier if you have a larger family to just make a quiche (with crust or without) ahead of time to heat up individual portions throughout the week. Plus you can throw just about any veggies or cheeses inside.

Muffins – 

Muffins are an awesome way to sneak in fruit. These blueberry muffins are one of my kids favorites but I’ve also been known to add strawberries, mangos, apples, and more fruit to muffins. I’ve even thrown in a few veggies.

Quick Bread – 

Just like with eggs, instead of muffins, you can also make a quick bread too and incorporate fruit or veggies into the batter. This zucchini bread is super tasty and tastes great on its own or toasted up with a little butter.

Apple Carrot Beet JuiceOatmeal Recipes Quick and Delicious Apple Crisp - cut and core apples

Planning Ahead: Preparing Breakfast The Night Before

Smoothies – 

My son’s favorite breakfast is a smoothie. We use a base of 100% Florida Orange Juice and then I let him choose the fruits he wants to add in. Finish off with either some ice, or some ice and yogurt, and you have a delicious drink that you can take on the go. Plus? Sometimes you can sneak in some spinach.

Parfaits – 

Parfaits are another favorite in our home. We grab some berries or bananans, layer them with yogurt and granola, and can put them in various reusable containers to eat quickly as we make our way to schoool. 

Overnight Oats – 

Now I love cereal for breakfast but this year I’ve been a little obsessed with overnight oats. They’re so quick to make the night before AND are already in a jar ready to go for hte monring. Plus they’re very versatile. 

Weight Watchers Simple Start anytime snack

In addition to these great make-ahead ideas for breakfast and learning more about healthy breakfast options, I was also able to sit down with Dr. Jen Arnold and ask her a few questions about life, kids, and how to stay healthy and active while balancing life and kids.

You can probably tell I was completely nervous in the beginning because… hello! I’m talking to Dr. Arnold of The Little Couple! I may or may not have had a small fan-girl moment and freaked out a little. She was fabulous to talk and I appreciated that i could get a pediatrician’s opinion as well as her own personal experirence as a mom. You can watch our interview below: 

Amazing-5-Glass-Hero Blend-TEXT

For more information on how you can start your day off right with 100% Florida Orange Juice, visit here!

Do you find it difficult to get in a good breakfast?

The Hake Restaurant and Bar | San Diego Restaurant Week September 20th – 27th 2015

The Hake Restaurant in La Jolla

One thing I absolutely love to do is get out and try new restaurants here in San Diego. There are so many options when it comes to quality, delicious restaurants and it seems like new spots pop up every other week. So what I love to do is explore a bit and try new things. The perfect way to do this is to take advantage of San Diego Restaurant Week.

For one week only, September 20th – 27th, San Diego Restaurant Week, presented by Your San Diego County Lexus Dealer, will return to the City with a bang! During San Diego Restaurant Week, participating restaurants will CELEBRATE LOCAL by partnering with local distributors, farmers, vintners, brewers, fishermen and MORE in order to bring local produce and Pacific-caught seafood to your plates. You can choose from over 190 participating restaurants who will be showcasing their top dishes on lunch and dinner prix-fixe menus making your taste buds tingle with choices!

The Hake Restaurant - tables and decorThe Hake Restaurant and BarThe Hake Restaurant - drink wine!

The Hake Kitchen + Bar | Ambiance

My husband and I were invited out to try The Hake Kitchen and Bar to check out their San Diego Restaurant Week menu before it launches next week. Since we hadn’t been there before we weren’t sure what to expect. But that’s what Restaurant Week is there for! Nestled between shops and restaurants off Prospect in La Jolla, The Hake Kitchen is in a prime location. It’s the perfect spot to hit up for lunch on the weekends after a morning at the beach, or a great way to end the day for dinner during the week.

Once you walk in, you’re greeted with smiling faces a warm, friendly atmosphere.As soon as I saw the sign above, I knew I was in the right place. There’s seating inside as well as a few limited tables out on the two patios. There’s also a simple curtain divider to make room for small parties on one side of the restaurant. We chose to sit inside near the front patio and the restaurant was more than accomodating when they saw we brought our little one along. High chairs are available

The Hake Restaurant - wine and cocktail menu
The Hake Restaurant - San Diego Restaurant Week Menu 2015

The Hake Kitchen + Bar | Menu

The delicious menu with fresh seasonal ingredients will have you wanting to order more than one thing to try. Ordering a few starters for the table to share is suggested. That way you can have a bite of everything! There’s also a wide variety of signature cocktails, draft and bottled beers, and mezcal flights – something for everyone. Their most popular signature drink, the One Hot Cucumber, is a fiery drink made with jalapeno tequila, cucumber puree, lime, agave nectar, and finished with a chili rim. Definitely one to try!

The Hake Restaurant and Bar - Mandarin MuleThe Hake Restaurant and Bar - Shaved Rib EyeThe Hake Restaurant and Bar - Shrimp Roll
The Hake Kitchen + Bar | Food

I made the most of our visit and started us off with the Shaved Rib Eye. Paired with sauteed shishito peppers and onions and served with delicious hot tortillas and fresh guacamole, this definitely hit the spot. The rib eye was tender and flavorful and the peppers and onions were perfectly cooked. I’d suggest asking for a few extra tortillas so you can enjoy more of the goodness!

After we enjoyed our starter, the main courses arrived. Since we were there for lunch, we went for their shrimp roll and tuna steak sandwich. Now I was surprised by my husband’s choice of the tuna steak sandwich. Not because he doesn’t eat tuna, but because there was also a 10oz hanger steak with chimichurri sauce and truffle fries on the menu and he didn’t order that! But his tuna steak sandwich looked absolutely delicious. The shrimp roll was  filled with large shrimp and fresh veggies tossed in a light dill mayo and served in a toasted brioche roll. The first bite was rather awkward as it was pretty large but it was so worth it! Absolutely delicious. I loved how fresh and flavorful it was.

To end the meal we went a little crazy and each of us ordered a dessert. Now I’m a chocolate person. So when I saw the chocolate hazelnut cake on the menu I knew I wanted to try it. But since Joseph’s allergic to peanuts, he doesn’t really care for any nuts. So he went for the Key Lime Semifreddo. If I had tried the Key Lime Semifreddo, I would have just eaten that. It was SO good! Not at all what I expected. Not that my chocolate hazelnut cake wasn’t good, it was! Absolutely delicious. And it would pair perfectly with a nice espresso. But the key lime semifreddo? To die for! I now know why why it’s won awards!

The Hake Restaurant and Bar - Key Lime Semifreddo The Hake Restaurant and Bar - Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

San Diego Restaurant Week | September 20th – 27th 2015

To make San Diego dining easier for you ALL YEAR ROUND, San Diego Restaurant Week has launched a new website! The new site has added more extensive search features, a recipes section with local restaurantcontributors, a special offers area that will be updated throughout the year and even a place where you can log your favorites to help you track through the variety of options available for you.  The website will now serve as a tool for San Diego foodies 365 days a year for finding specials, deals and promotions at San Diego restaurants!

Dinner will be served as a three-course, prix-fixe menu for just $20, $30, $40 or $50 per person and lunch will be served as a two-course prix-fixe menu for only $10, $15 or $20 per person. This is meal-stealing, people! Saturday will once again be included as well as an additional Sunday, giving you that extra date night or chance to impress the boss!

What restaurant are you trying during San Diego Restaurant Week?

AD: Date Night At Home with BBQ Asian Cornish Hens + Rice Cooker Fried Rice

This shop featuring BBQ Asian Cornish Hens and a recipe for Rice Cooker Fried Rice has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JuicyGrilledCornish #CollectiveBias

Date Night At Home BBQ Asian Cornish Game Hens + Rice Cooker Fried Rice

With a 6 month old at home (who refuses to take a bottle now) it’s a little hard to get out for date night. But that doesn’t stop my husband and I from spending time together. Instead of heading out for a date night together at a nice restaurant, I try and find delicious, simple meals I can make at home that we can enjoy after the kids go to bed.

Now we don’t let the kids starve, we make them something fun like hot dogs or mac and cheese from the box. They consider that a treat and are happy to eat dinner without us. Once we sucker them into their beds, it’s our time!

Now since it’s summer and I’m already using the stove for the kids meal, I don’t want to have to wait a while to get our meal going. So while the husband is putting the older two to bed, I get the barbecue ready and my rice cooker going. By using something other than the oven to make our dinner, we don’t have to worry about the heat.

Date Night At Home BBQ Asian Cornish Game Hens with Kikkoman

I have to admit. I’ve never considered making cornish hens for dinner. But after seeing them at our local Walmart in the freezer section, I figured I’d give it a shot and try them out. And since Tyson Cornish Hens are All Natural with no artificial ingredients, preservatives, added hormones or steroids, they fit perfectly with our family.

Paired with the Kikkoman stir-fry sauce as a glaze and I’d have a deliciously tasty main course! Kikkoman’s full line of sauces and marinades are perfect for the grilling season. Next time I want to try the sweet & sour sauce! 

Now for the side dish. Since I was going with an Asian themed meat dish I knew I wanted to make some fried rice. But didn’t have any time (or cooked rice) to do so. So in the rice cooker everything went! And it turned out surprisingly well. No sauteeing or cooking ahead. I could make fried rice without having to have leftovers on hand in the fridge to do so. The only thing I had to do was scramble an egg before I put everything in the rice cooker.

Date Night At Home Rice Cooker Fried Rice with KikkomanDate Night At Home Rice Cooker Fried Rice

Rice Cooker Fried Rice

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • 1/2 cup Kikkoman® Soy Sauce
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth

Wash rice thoroughly in a mesh strainer until water is clear. Add to rice cooker.

On top of the rice add frozen vegetables, garlic, ginger, onion powder and scrambled eggs. Top with Kikkoman Soy Sauce and stir to combine.

Add chicken broth and set rice cooker to the brown rice setting OR quick setting if you have a Zojirushi rice cooker.

*makes 6-8 servings

Date Night At Home BBQ Asian Cornish Game Hens with Kikkoman Stir Fry glazeDate Night At Home BBQ Asian Cornish Game Hens on the grill

How to Barbecue Cornish Hens

Barbecuing the hens was easier than I thought! With very few ingredients, and a hot grill, I was able to make two delicious birds in about an hour. Here’s how:

1. Heat up the grill. Make sure the charcoals are white hot before cooking.

2. Take the Tyson® Cornish Hens and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place on grill breast side down. Cook for 30 minutes.

4. Turn over breast side up and glaze with Kikkoman Stir Fry sauce.

5. Cook an additional 20 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees and juices run clear with no blood.

Serve the chicken with the rice cooker fried rice and enjoy a delicious date night meal together with your significant other!

BBQ Asian Cornish Game Hens + Rice Cooker Fried Rice - perfect for date night

How do you make time for your significant other?

Kikkoman sauces at Walmart

You can find Tyson cornish hens in the freezer section of your local Walmart. And right around the corner from the hens, you can find the Kikkoman products in the Asian food aisle or, like in my store, next to the refridgerated meat section.

Dear N: 6 Months Old

Norah 6 Months Old

Oh sweet, happy, precious baby girl! How you light up our lives every single day. You are smart, adventurous, and always wanting to go-go-go. You are scarring us a little with how quickly you are growing and developing. From becoming more mobile to saying your first word, you are changing daily.

You’re laughing and smiling more, you love when Daddy gets home and cuddles you, and you enjoy playing on the ground with your sister and brother. Even though they get a bit rough with you, you take it in stride and never complain… much.

You are still very interested in our food and are having so much fun exploring new tastes and textures. If you aren’t offered what we’re eating you try to lunge and grab after it yourself. It makes us laugh every time. Especially when we’re at a restaurant. Now we make sure to order you something (like a side of whole strawberries or slices of avocado) to keep you occupied.

Norah 6 Months - playing with toysNorah 6 Months Old - almost crawling

You’ve mastered getting up on all fours and are even starting to move your legs forward. But you still don’t know what to do with your hands. Each day you get a little stronger. I’m sure you’ll be crawling within the next month! And even though you aren’t crawling yet, you’re getting more and more mobile. You try and pull yourself up onto your knees, spin around to grab objects, and roll and scoot around. Mostly in the wrong direction but you’ll get it. 

For the past few weeks when you get upset or when you try to get my attention you’ve been saying mmmm, or mamama, but now you say Mom clearly and directly to me. I even got video of it! You’re the first out of your siblings to say mama before dada. And you’re starting to sound out b’s too. We love how vocal you are and how much you love hearing your own voice. You can’t help yourself when you’re in a room that echoes to get a bit loud.

Norah 6 Months Old kneeling

I love how adventurous you are and how well you take every new experience like a champ. You go with the flow and love being with your family. We love being with you too! You make life more exciting and we love learning more and more about you each year.

We love you, Norah!

6 Month Stats:

18lbs 8oz – 90th percentile

27.5 inches – 98th percentile

46cm – 97th percentile

6 Month Comparison

6 Month Comparison

What to Know Before The First Day of First Grade

The first day of first grade can be scary but with these simple tips for first graders, you can make it easier on your child. 

Back to School Tips for First Graders, first day of first grade prep

We are in full back-to-school mode right now in our home and prepping for the first day of first grade. We have the uniforms purchased, are buying supplies off our school supply list, and are making sure our kids are ready to head back to school at the end of August.

While I’m ready for the kids to be back in school, I want to make sure they’re prepared for the transition from summer fun to school mode. Throughout the summer we’ve been reading, working on sight words, practicing our math skills, and writing out our adventures.

But there are a few more things we can do to prepare the kids for their return to school. Especially my daughter who will be going from Kindergarten to First Grade. 

Below you’ll find some great back to school tips for first graders and what you should know before the first day of first grade.

Back to School Tips: What to Know Before The First Day of First Grade

While going back to school can be a scary time for some kids, you can prepare them by reading some books on what they can expect.

The night before the big day, have a checklist all ready to go so nothing gets forgotten or left behind at home.

Have your child help you make & personalize some of their school supplies and accessories, like a pencil box, their own hand sanitizer or personalized notes that you can stick in their lunch box.

Going from Kindergarten to one of the bigger grades can be a big change but creating a before and after school routine will definitely help!

Since there will be more homework this year, keep everything organized and in a quiet place with a DIY Homework Station.

For some kids, first grade means it will be the first time they’re eating lunch at school. Having a list of foods that they love and will eat is a huge help!

If you have the opportunity, take a tour of the school before school starts. Seeing where your child’s classroom is, where they’ll line up & where they’ll eat lunch might calm any nerves. If you’re able to meet the teacher before the first day, that’s a great bonus, too!

During summer, we tend to let our kids stay up a little bit longer. Two weeks before school, start having your child go to sleep at their new bedtime and practice getting up at the time they need to get up, too. It’ll make the first week of school a little easier.

A lot of what kids learned the year before is lost over summer. Help them to do some fun learning activities and it won’t even seem like “homework”, but will help them to maintain what they learned in Kindergarten. Sight Words | Reading | Math

And to get YOU ready for your child heading into first grade, learn tips & tricks from other parents that have been in your shoes before.

How are you preparing for back to school with your first grader?

Want to read more? Here are some great back to school tips to help start your school year off right: 

Tips For A Gassy Baby

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for #LittleRemedies. I received a product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation

Tips for a Gassy Baby

We’re almost 6 months into our new lives as a family of 5 and I have to say that it’s gone a lot smoother than I thought. Sure the baby doesn’t really take a bottle well, and the older two smother her just about every single waking minute of the day, and travel logistics just got a little more complicated. But for the most part I’ve only seen our lives grow richer. Richer with love, compassion, and joy. Oh yes, definitely joy.

With the first few months of having our youngest, there were challenges. I’d constantly get worried when she’d puke, again, after nursing. But always non-challant or with a smile on her face (for those of you who aren’t parents… they call that a “happy puker”). And just like with the other two, for a few weeks we also dealt with tummy troubles. Little gas issues that would leave her squirming and crying in discomfort. Luckily I knew exactly what to do and what to get to soothe her tummy.

Tips for a Gassy Baby - quick, natural relief

Each of the other kids had tummy troubles until they were about 8 weeks as well. I quickly learned about the world of gas relief drops and gripe water. And any time we went anywhere, even as they got older, we still brought our Little Remedies with us in the diaper bag. The same holds true for this time around.

As we prepare for a week of fun family-filled staycation adventures, I know exactly what I’ll be packing along as we visit local theme parks, zoos, parks, and pools.

Do you have a gassy baby? Here are some tips from registered dietician Bridget Swinney:

Tips and Tricks for a Gassy Baby

Having a brand that I know and trust on hand keeps parenting a bit easier when we run into tummy troubles. Little Remedies® Gas Drops quickly relieves tummy pain from excess gas. It’s a safe remedy to gently ease stomach discomfort or bloating. And my little one always ends up with a smile on her face when her tummy stops hurting.

And during our witching hour when the little ones were newborns, the Little Remedies® Gripe Water was the only thing that would ease tummy pain for them. Natural, effective relief for your baby’s upset stomach. This duo is always in my diaper bag.

How was your transition to multiple kids?

Breastfeeding Does Not Equal Losing Weight For Everyone

Breastfeeding Does Not Equal Losing Weight For Everyone

I’m currently snuggling with my littlest as she naps on me and nurses in her sleep. I absolutely love watching her suckle as she dreams away in slumber right at my side. It’s the best feeling in the world.

However for the past few weeks… ok, months… I’ve been doing what I can to eat clean, get more active, and try and lose the weight I put on before I got pregnant (about 20 pounds). Within a few weeks after I had her, I already lost the 20 pound I gained during my third pregnancy. She was a 10 pound baby so most of it was her and the placenta. But the 20 pounds I gained before I was pregnant has been bugging me. As has the shelf I have over my c-section scar. It kind of disgusts me.

Now I’m not one to hate my body. I love my curves, love that I grew three babies with this body, and love that I’ve been able to breastfeed each one without any issues. However with each breastfeeding journey, I’ve found that dropping the weight after pregnancy has been hard work. So much so that I laugh when people tell me how quickly the pounds will drop while I breastfeed.

Breastfeeding DOES NOT equal losing weight for everyone. And especially not me.

I’ve seen the opposite happen. Even if I’m watching the types of foods I eat, counting calories, or even doing programs like Weight Watchers (with added points for breastfeeding moms), I’ve found that especially in the first year I have been unable to lose weight successfully. In fact I’ve found the opposite. All of my hard work is fending off the weight that I would be gaining while breastfeeding had I not been conscious of what I’m eating and drinking.

The same is happening right now. Since Norah turned 3 months old I’ve been watching the foods I eat, staying aware of added calories, removed sugars from my diet, and have limited carbs (my trigger food). And I’ve lost a total of two pounds. Two. One each month to be exact.

I’ve been reading Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It after the advice from my friend, Summer (You can read her story here) and while I really want to jump on board, I’m nervous. Nervous about taking my love of food out of the equation. Nervous about any change in my supply. And nervous that it won’t work while I’m breastfeeding.

I refuse to not breastfeed just to lose weight. Just not worth it.

So I’ve come to a decision that I’m jumping in at the end of the month. I still need to finish the book and don’t want to jump in without doing so. And I need time to come up with a game plan. I need to write out what I’m going to eat and prepare. As well as have shopping lists on hand so I don’t get thrown off track while at the grocery store.

Not everyone can lose weight while breastfeeding, but I’m sure going to try! I miss feeling like myself. I miss fitting into my jeans and not looking like a sausage. And I miss my energy. So on August 1st it’s on. That’s not to say that I won’t be continuing to try and eat clean up until then. And lets hope I can finish the book by then. Trying to read with an infant is near impossible! Might also be the fact that I work AND have 2 other kids but that’s another post…

Did you lose weight while breastfeeding?

And the photos are more that I had my daughter take. I’m having her take at least a few of me a month so I can see how she see’s me 🙂

Mommy and Baby at 5 Months

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