5 Free Ways to Treat your Valentine

Valentines Day doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are five easy ways to show your love. 

Charming boy posing with heart

1. A totally unsolicited compliment

Go beyond “You look nice”. Be detailed and better yet, put it in writing. Describe the ways your significant other keeps your household running, reminisce on what you made you fall in love, take note of something they’ve achieved recently and express your pride. 

 

2. Take over

You know the coupons you used to make mom for Mother’s Day? Ramp it up a notch. Instead of promising to load the dishwasher, take over something that will really pay dividends–agree to find the kid’s summer camps, handle the weekly grocery shopping, or finally finish that long-awaited project. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

 

3. Implement a new tradition 

Maybe you take the kids for a playdate at the park on Valentines Day. Maybe its the night you take over cooking.Maybe you make a date of watching a cheese rom-com and eating pizza on the floor. Something to shake it up without breaking the bank. 

 

4. Enlist the kid

Have your kids write ten things they love about your spouse. Search Pinterest for cute crafts or ways to use handprints. Taking the time to create something with your kids is an act of love itself and certainly something your spouse will appreciate. 

 

5. Babysitting

Okay, so admittedly this is not always free but you can get one hour free with the coupon CUPID! Just log onto platinumsitters.com and pick your date night! You will be matched with qualified sitters in your area. The rest of the date can be totally free–make some coffee at home and stroll your local bookstore, check your local library for free lectures on fun topics or simply spend some time together doing your regular errands–its always nice to mix it  up!

 

It’s Cold! Need an indoor activity?

Paper Plate Snowflakes- via i heartcraftythings

Supplies:

-Snowflake paper plates (We purchased ours at Target.)

-Push pin

-Steel yarn needle (these don’t have a sharp of a tip as normal needles.)

-Yarn

-Scissors

-Tape

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Directions:

  1. Start by using your push pin to poke holes in all the end points and intersecting points of the snowflake on your paper plate. See picture below. We have found the best way to do this is to place our paper plate on the carpet and then poke the holes. This way the push pin easily goes through the paper plate and you don’t have to worry about the pin scratching or hurting the surface below. (NOTE: if you can’t find these paper plates simply draw a snowflake patter on the front of a regular paper plate.)

Or better yet– let the sitter do it! Our sitters love to craft and engage in fun activities with the kids.

New Year, New Me?

I listened to The Lazy Genius podcast as I headed back to work after an extended holiday break. I was thinking about all of the things I wanted to accomplish–stay ahead of emails, get in my steps for the day, cook the healthy meal I had planned. As I was mentally staying on top of my fresh resolutions, the host, Kendra, was talking about seasons. And something she said really struck me: Everything is a season. Be where you are and learn what it has to teach you. 

Young Hispanic family sitting on sofa reading a book together in their living room

I think the beginning of a new year–and a new decade–can feel like a beautiful fresh start. But it can also bombard us with images and sentiments about a new body, a new outlook, a new approach. What if it’s all…not entirely necessary?

I can admit that I have been guilty of struggling to just be content. When I was a young, single person, I desperately pined for the days when I would have a family. When my children were born, despite wholly knowing how quickly time flies, I would still wish for them to reach milestones, to sleep through the night, to be done with bottles. The area where this hurried approach shines brightest? My treatment of myself. I couldn’t wait to grow up, couldn’t wait to have that big baby bump, to lose the baby weight, to have time for the facial, to just become the next thing. 

 

And…spoiler alert: when you’re constantly trying to become a new person, you never get to enjoy the person you are and the people you have right now. It. Is. Exhausting. It’s well intentioned, sure. The pursuit of a better self is certainly an age old noble one. But, our culture has somehow over glorified the transformation. 

Which brings me back to Kendra’s reminder. I am not a person whose livelihood rests on my glowing skin and rock hard abs (LOL, am I right?). I am a person in a season of being a working mother to two small children, shuffling piles of laundry and crockpot meals.I am in a season of trying to date my husband, getting the doc to the vet and registering for soccer.  I have arrived at a place of having what I have always wanted–so why not slow down and enjoy? Learn what it has to teach me. The temptation is to transform but what is wrong with right here?

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Don’t get me wrong, I still plan to work out. It does wonders for my health. I plan to cook healthy meals when I can because it’s good for all of us. But I don’t think it serves me to make some stringent resolution about losing 30 pounds. Instead I am simply resolving to live in the season, learn what it has to teach me, and give myself some grace. 

Here’s to a new year, a new decade, a new perspective–and good ol’ me.  

 

5 Productivity Apps To Help You Get Things Done

We’ve all been there. You thought your husband was picking up from soccer camp. He thought it was your turn.  No one remembered grocery pick up and you aren’t sure when you’re up for snacks.

There is so. much. going. on. And lets get real–it only gets crazier when school starts back! Here are some great apps you can add to your phone to help keep yourself (and your family) on track.

Trello

Trello is awesome because its entirely what you make it–it can be a way to plan your family vacation with out of town guests, a place to store photos or make grocery lists. Think of it as the modern day kitchen cork board–snap a picture of the book sale flyer, generate your packing list, store your favorite sitter’s info. Then, take it with you!

Cozi

Cozi is more geared towards families with multiple users on the app. You can assign tasks and calendars so specific members of your family. That way, your teenage son doesn’t get the notification that you have an OB appointment but your husband knows so he can handle picking up the younger kids.

Grocery IQ

This genius apps lets you share grocery lists and has a barcode function that lets you scan in what you need before you toss the empty. Save yourself a trip for forgotten items and better yet–avoid ending up with two dozen strawberries because you and your husband both grabbed them.

Two Happy Homes

Working with two homes due to custody schedules? This app helps streamline the coordination of playdate, teacher conferences and sports schedule. You can share child-centric information here and not worry about giving access to your personal calendar to co-parents.

OurHome

Delegate! This app allows you to assign various chores and tasks to members of your family. You can follow up to see what has been completed or prove to your kids that you REALLY did ask them to move the laundry.

 

 

Five Baby Products You Absolutely Do Not Need

Look, the internet is going to find out you’re pregnant and start showing you all kinds of unsolicited ads for things you don’t need. Let me save you some hassle and eliminate the following from your registry:

Novelty Pacifiers.

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Very few babies will take these things. More than likely your baby will not take a pacifier or will only take one specific kind. While cute in theory, this is a waste of your time.

The Peepee Teepee.

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The fact that someone has made millions off of this keeps me up at night. This is as added step in the diapering process you just don’t need (and won’t actually use). When your baby is first born, you’ll be too tired to remember and by the time you do, you’ll be at the “wrangling a rabid cat” stage of diapering and this will be useless anyway.

Wiper and/or bottle warmer.

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Again, this will take more time than it is worth. By the time you have warmed the bottle in this contraption or carried your baby across the house to the designated wipe warmer, you’re both crying in frustration. It’s a cold, cold world, baby. Best find out via the wipes, ya know?

Designated Changing Table.

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This may be controversial but I just think this is a waste of space. If you add a changing pad to a dresser, you’re making good use of space. This piece of furniture, on the other hand, will be a thing of the past once you join the ranks of parents who just change the baby on any available flat surface. Trust me, you won’t want to make the trek to the nursery just for this task.

Baby Bath Robes.

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Oh, the are so cute. The animal ears, the fuzziness, the teeny belt. I get the appeal but you will literally never use this and if you try to, you will regret it because you will have a wet, slippery baby who is real mad. Grab a towel and head straight for pajama town.

What would you add to the list?

Water Safety: Having Fun While Staying Alert

The recent devastating news that Granger Smith lost his son in a tragic drowning incident has brought renewed attention to the importance of water safety.  The implications of having small children around water can be dangerous and even deadly but there are practical solutions to help safeguard your family.

More Than Just Pools

Know that kids don’t need a ton of water to be in harm’s way. They can drown in as little as two inches of water–and it happens fast. Many of us are vacationing in new environments–hotels, AirBnBs, beach rentals. Take a minute to make note of potential hazards upon arrival.

Supervision

This can seem like a no brainer but when you have groups of people gathered for a party of event, the adults often relax because there is a false sense of security with so many eyes on the pool. But there is a big difference between active supervision and passive socializing. Someone should be designated to carefully monitor at all times.

Safety Reminders

This article outlines fantastic safety tips but in particular, I loved the idea of briefing your kids before they swim. Outlining when, where and how far they can go helps set expectations and keep them safe.

Prevention

One of the best ways to help your child be safe around water is to get them into swimming lessons at a young age. Knowledge is key and when children complete water safety courses they are more likely to be able to navigate an emergency.

Be Prepared

As much as none of us want to envision the worst case scenario, it is important to be prepared should you find yourself in the presence of a drowning victim. Knowing CPR and First Aid can often greatly improve the outcome of a child’s situation.

Free Stuff For Kids in July

Tomorrow is one of my favorite national holidays: Free Chickfila Day! I am only sort of kidding but I have been dressing myself and my kids up for a free chicken sandwich for a few years now and it serves the dual purpose of feeding them and entertaining them. The deal with the freebie is that you have to show up dressed as a cow. They are fairly lenient on this though so a few cut out black spots taped on a white shirt will get it done. If you want to get really fancy you could follow this tutorial from Make It Love It.

Related image
Via 

Cows not your thing? There are a few other ways to get free stuff in July.

You can get free slurpees on July 11 at 7-11. They do this promotion yearly and it’s a fun one because you can guarantee you’ll need to beat the heat with something cool.

Half drank green slush

Not a total free one but in honor of IHOP’s anniversary Tuesday, July 16, participating restaurants will sell short stacks, or three buttermilk pancakes, for 58 cents from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Stack of pancake with honey and butter on top

Visit McAlister’s Deli Thursday, July 18 for the chain’s annual Free Tea Day and get a free 32-ounce McAlister’s Deli tea sweetened or unsweetened black tea.

Fresh drink

July 21 is National Ice Cream Day. You can get freebies from Dairy Queen, Baskin Robbins, McDonalds and more.

Blue Ice Cream and Sprinkles in a Waffle Cone

To round out the month of goodies, you can hit Cheesecake Factory for half priced cheesecake on July 30 to celebrate National Cheesecake Day. Pro tip: order ahead and pick up to avoid long lines.

How To Roadtrip with Children: 25 Easy Steps

  1. Make extensive list of things to pack for every member of the family.
  2. Attempt to assemble said items while kids “help”.
  3. Time trip so that child will sleep for bulk of the travel time.
  4. Resign yourself to signing nursery rhymes while child #2 screams.
  5. Forty five minutes into your drive, realize you forgot several essentials.
  6. Blame respective spouse on the issue while Amazon Priming items to your destination.
  7. Decide everyone is just really hangry and its time to stop.
  8. Realize after you’ve told kids you’re stopping to eat that you have passed the last viable exit for food for the next 50 miles.
  9. Panic when child #1 says they have less than 5% battery left on their device.
  10. Realize you now have to choose between giving up your phone for the remainder of the trip and giving up silence
  11. Now that you no longer have your phone, attempt to read the novel you purchased for all of your “downtime” this trip.
  12. Dig through your purse for Dramamine because you’re now car sick.
  13. Stop at gas station for gas, Dramamine and potty breaks.
  14. Tell children not to touch anything in the gas station restroom.
  15. Child 2 peeps through bathroom stall while you’re rushing to pee. Make mental note to google “symptoms of conjunctivitis”.  Husband is using restroom alone.
  16. Spend $52 on gas station snacks and drinks.
  17. Spend 14 minutes scrolling through podcasts looking for something you and your spouse can agree on that is also child appropriate.
  18. Push play. Child #2 suddenly has pressing story to tell. Press pause.
  19. All children fall asleep. Briefly enjoy podcast in silence while sitting next to spouse. This is essentially a date.
  20. Arrive at destination 20 minutes after children sleep.
  21. It was bedtime but now children are refreshed.
  22. Keep children from destroying destination. If it’s a hotel, worry about noise complaints. If it’s an Air BNB, worry they’ll break things.
  23. Continue worrying and not sleeping for 7 days.
  24. Pack up to leave. Forget your phone charger.
  25. Repeat steps 1-19.

5 Healthy Treats to Make with Your Kids

One of our favorite things to do together is cook–and with all of the extra time we have during summer break, it is easy to pile up a lot of irresistible desserts. We have been trying to pick healthier things to make that provide lots of energy to get through long days of camp, swimming and playing! Below are a few favorites:

Warm Chocolate Melting Cups

I was shocked to learn that these are only 200 calories apiece. My daughter loves the individual portion size and this recipe has an impressive presentation for something that does not take much time!

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via Taste of Home

 

 

No Bake Healthy Chocolate Chip Blondies

On hot days, who wants to turn on the oven? I love that these are no bake AND only take one bowl!

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via Laura Fuentes

Strawberry Ice Cream

This is perfect for cool days or as a way to use up strawberries after a picking outing!

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 via Country Living

Homemade Goldfish

I kind of rolled my eyes at making these because buying goldfish is so cheap–and isn’t the whole point that they’re an easy snack? But, I stand corrected. These were super fun to make and taste really great.

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via AllRecipes

Homemade Animal Crackers

 Another one that is a huge hit with kids! Bust out the cookie cutters and make this awesome snack. Added bonus: my kiddo makes up stories with the animals during snack time!

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via King Arthur Flour

 

Natural Energy Boosters for Moms on the Go

Maybe it’s the go, go, go pace of summer break or the fact that my baby is up at 5:30 every morning but I have been on the hunt for ways to keep my energy up so we can do all of the fun things, I can keep my house somewhat clean and get dinner on the table. Here are a few ways to get a natural energy boost:

  1. Exercise — I know, I know. Don’t hate me. But it’s true. An early minute walk/run or even chasing the kids around the yard with the sprinkler on is a great way to get your blood pumping, adrenaline running and even burn a few calories. It’s a win/win and the hardest part is usually lacing up your shoes. Try it!
  2. B Vitamins– Most of us mamas are putting our own nutrition behind everyone else’s. Its important to supplement those B vitamins which are integral to turning your food into energy.
  3. Water– Proper hydration boosts your metabolism and in turn combats that sluggish feeling. Pair that with outdoor activities that can leave you feeling drained and getting in those daily ounces is more important than ever.
  4. Essential Oils– They’re all the rage for a reason. A few dabs of peppermint or orange can boost your mood and give you a little energy!
  5. Chocolate–Cocoa contains stimulants that act like caffeine. Break off a small piece of dark chocolate to savor during nap time!
  6. Distractions– A lot of time that afternoon slump comes from ruminating on stressful things. Take 5 minutes to meditate or journal and distract your mind from turning the same problems over and over. You’ll feel refreshed!
  7. Coffee– While this may sound obvious, you may be surprised to know that the specialty drinks we tend to gravitate towards as a “pick-me-up” actually contain less  caffeine than regular drip coffee.