Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kid's Veggie Trays


I know I'm not the first mother to wish my kids would eat more of them.

We have recently had some success in this endeavor thanks to an adorable container I found at Target.

I wanted to make the veggies more readily available for two reasons.  Yes, I wanted the kids to be able to graze on them, but I also needed it to be easy for me to serve.

At the beginning of the week, I prep what turns out to be the perfect amount of crudités for our family to snack on.

Now at meal time and in between, I simply put the try out.  It's even peaked the curiosity of my more apprehensive veggie eaters.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Mom Summit is Now Mom Conference & Date Change

This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on them helps our family pay for our excessive GF lifestyle J.  You can read more details in my disclosure policy.  Thanks!

If you signed up for the Mom Summit, you probably already know this.  If you didn't have a chance to sign up yet, you've got some more time.

Due to legalese, the name of the conference has changed, but the great speakers and information has not.

The other important change is the date.  Instead of starting today, it will begin April 7 & run through the 14th. 

Find out more about this FREE event!

The Mom Conference

Sign up today!
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Science Anyone?

Check out the latest issue of's virtual magazine!  It's the first ever science edition and yours truly is featured on pages 10-12. 

Take a minute to get some great science ideas from to freshen up your homeschooling this spring!
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The Mom Summit - A Free Online Event!

This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on them helps our family pay for our excessive GF lifestyle J.  You can read more details in my disclosure policy.  Thanks!

I cannot wait to tell you this...

There is a Mom Summit happening. 
One week.  Thirty Presenters.  An unlimited amount of information for moms like us.

Moms talking about mom stuff: marriage, kids, real food, business, home keeping, and much more.

There'll be big names like Amy McCready from Positive Parenting Solutions and Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food and many more.

For free.

Yup, free.

On your sofa, in your yoga pants, hot cup of coffee in hand (being interrupted every 3-5 minutes by the kids and the dog needing to go outside...I had to keep this visual realistic). 

Kick off is March 31 and the free video is only available for 24 hours so make sure you remember to sign on. 

Sign up today...and did I mention, FOR FREE?!
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Our Homeschool Schedule: an Update

This post may contain affiliate links.  Clicking on them helps our family pay for our excessive GF lifestyle J.  You can read more details in my disclosure policy.  Thanks!

When I created our schedule in the fall, I knew full well adding a baby would change that schedule. 

Midway through the year (if you can call it that, considering we homeschool year round...), I believe we've finally fallen into a routine that works for our high needs family.

6:30 a.m.: Me: Quiet time/AM routine (mine is modified)
                    when boys wake up: Play/TV time
8:00 a.m.: Breakfast/
                   AM routine: prayer, pledge, review boys' schedule with them, memory time, read alouds

8:30 a.m.:
Get Ready: get dressed, dirty clothes in hamper, brush teeth, make bed, morning chores
9:00 a..m.- Noon: Therapy, Errands & To-do’s…

Monday                  Tuesday                       Wednesday                       Thursday             Friday      

Library                   Me: Baking & Food Prep      1st & 3rd of month:                                       Me: weekly plan  (cleaning stuff)
  O.T.                        Boys: Free Time                             Sci-Quest                                                   Boys: Free time >>>>>>>>>
                                  All: Yoga *coming soonJ    homeschool classes                                  All: Yoga                          Errands/
                                  Speech Therapy                      Free time                                                Speech Therapy              Play dates/

12:30 p.m.: Lunch & Read Alouds.  Boys’ AM routine if we missed it (because yes, sometimes we do)
1:00 p.m.: Me: Blog/
weekly plan (cleaning stuff)
Silent reading/outside time
2:00 p.m.: Me: continue blog/weekly plan
                  Boys: Outside time
2:30 p.m.: snack/*electives/workboxes &  1-on-1
*our current electives are puzzles/patterns, board game/play doh, lego build, bean bucket/beads. During this time, we listen to music, as well.
4:00 p.m.: Me: finish any weekly plan/start PM routine
                  Boys: Free play/Computer time (if earned)
4:30 p.m.: Start Dinner (boys help & play)
5:30 p.m.: Dinner
6:00 p.m.: Me: PM Routine/Personal Commitments/Walk Dogs/Run Errands (Fridays)
                 Boys: Wind down play/bike ride/boys’ commitments (soccer, lego class, etc.)
7:00 p.m.: boys: Start bedtime routine: “beat the timer” clean up-
lego room & bedroom; bath, bed
8:00 p.m.: me: Finish PM routine, Hubby time, Personal time, Blog, Read, Shower, Drink some Sleepytime Tea, Stretch, etc. Bed by 11ish...hopefully :).
Free play is an intentional part of our day at this age.  It is SO important for kids to grow their imagination and learn important social skills like communication, getting along with others and problem solving. 
You will not see the baby mentioned here because we are not big on scheduling babies; I nurse as needed and she takes many of her naps in a baby wrap or sling J.
I should stress that this is our goal and most days we stick pretty closely to it.  Of course, there are days this whole thing flies out the window. with small children.
Do you stick with a  schedule?
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Newbie's Guide to Starting a Garden...with FREE Printable

This post may contain affiliate links.  Clicking on them helps our family pay for our excessive GF lifestyle J.  You can read more details in my disclosure policy.  Thanks!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember my year long commitment to growing a garden.  ...
By no means have I moved from novice to expert in that time, but I have got down a basic understanding behind the steps to getting started. 

The idea of starting a garden can be overwhelming, but I have found only two resources are really necessary...

1. A copy of All New Square Foot Gardening
2. Farmer's Almanac (real or online)

Now for the plan...
  1. Read the book.
  2. Decide what you want to plant. 
    Don't get crazy here...start by making a list of what you already eat and maybe one new veggie.  Let the kiddos help pick, as well.  Flowers are a great addition to your vegetable garden, as well.  They're not just beautiful, but they serve a purpose in many cases, as well.  Did you know marigolds will keep the bugs off your strawberries?  Here's some more ideas like that from Burpee.
  3. Plan
    This is where the Farmer's Almanac comes in.  You can search by your zip code and it will show the best dates for planting seeds as well as the best dates for transplant.

    PRINT THIS to help :)
  4. Layout blueprint
    You don't have to be an artist to do a quick sketch of your backyard.  The goal of this is to simply see where you're putting things.  Also, remember to plot out your garden squares as the book shows.
  5. Buy supplies
    This includes what's needed to make the beds, your seeds and/or plants, and the small amount of tools required (gloves, shovel, pencil, scissors)
  6. Build beds
    If you are not handy with a drill, maybe you could enlist the help of a hottie, like I did
    Sorry, ladies, he's taken ;)
  7. Plant
    Time to get your hands dirty!  Follow the book's instructions for how many plants/seeds per square.  This is a perfect time to get the kids involved :).
  8. Plug in to your routine
    When will you tend to your garden?  I touch base with mine in the morning and early evenings.  It's important to schedule this time just as you would any other chore or else it can easily be neglected.
Are you planning a garden this year?
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Monday, March 10, 2014

Silent Reading for Early Elementary

This post may contain affiliate links.  Clicking on them helps our family pay for our excessive GF lifestyle J.  You can read more details in my disclosure policy.  Thanks!

When I was in sixth grade, my favorite time of day was silent reading.   I was always an avid reader and there was something so tranquil about an entire classroom falling hush for an entire half hour while I poured into a book.

Sounds pleasant, doesn't it?

Now imagine this is your house.

I have been toying with the idea of using a silent reading time to replace our beloved mid-day rest time now that the boys are getting older.  I still firmly believe there needs to be a point in our day where we all refresh and recharge; a time that we hit the pause button.

Silent reading is the answer.

The day I announced this new addition to our schedule, I wasn't sure what to expect but I was sure I needed to be realistic.  Asking three rambunctious boys aged five to seven to sit still and read silently is, well, asking a lot!

What about the kids who can't read?  No worries; you don't have to know how to read to enjoy a good book.  That's what all of those gorgeous picture books are for!

So I laid out the plan...

1. Pick 5 books
This is the core to silent reading...they choose.  This is a time for their love of reading to flourish; for them to find and follow their interests.  This is not a time for you to check off your curriculum list.  The number of books is important, too.  Having a variety anticipates requests for a new book or getting bored with what they have.

2. Tell mom
Accountability is a good thing.  It keeps me from having to track them down in the lego room and redirect!

3. Pick hideout
This is the part they were most excited about.  It's important to make this one really enticing (we also refer to it as their "Super Secret Spot").  I gave them some options to get their wheels turning...a closet, the reading nook, or even the fort outside.  The only rule is they are not allowed to be close enough to see each other.  That will lead to all kinds of distractions.

4. Stay put until timer goes off
The first day we did this, I set the timer for eight minutes (remember, being realistic!).  I have gradually added a minute every day or so and rewarded those who don't yell out "how many minutes left, mom?!"  My goal is to work up to that magical half hour mark, even if it takes a few years.

5. Put books in basket
Three boys times five books times five days a week equals...too many books to be laying around the house.  Instead I have a basket in the hallway where they stash the books until I re-shelf them by category.

How do you work quiet time into your homeschool day?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

All Wrapped Up: My Baby Carrier Picks with Free Printable!

"How many of these things do we own now, hunny?"
This was my husband's response when I told him I'd purchased yet another sling.

I am a bonafide baby wearer and so glad to be. 

It started with the twins.  Most moms get those car seat carriers that pop out so you can carry them around.  I looked at the carriers, times two babies, factored in my 5' 1" frame and decided I wasn't going to get very far that way.  So my husband and I got matching front carriers.

We continued the front carrier with our next son because, well, how else was I going to push a double stroller? 
I loved having the boys close to me and it was convienant, but I didn't really understand what I was doing by babywearing.

Dr. Sears and his wife, Martha, have done extensive research, as well as personal experience with their eight children, in regards to babywearing.

La Leche League International also has some great information on babywearing benefits.

The benefits are numerous, to say the least. 

By the time Little Miss had come along, the front carriers had long ago been consigned.  I knew I wanted one for running errands but as I looked for one at our local consignment shop, I kept hearing more and more about the Moby Wrap.  I was fortunate enough to find a knock off (a.k.a. a really, really...really, long piece of fabric...) as well as a Baby Bjorn front carrier.  Next came the Seven Everyday Sling and my final purchase, the Balboa Baby Dr. Sears Adjustable Sling

Truthfully, I really do love them all for different reasons and use them almost equally.  I've listed how I use each sling and made it into a convenient printable for you as a resource for buying your own baby sling and/or wrap. 

Print it!...Then Share It :)

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Celebrate Seuss Week

This post may contain affiliate links.  Clicking on them helps our family pay for our excessive GF lifestyle J.  You can read more details in my disclosure policy.  Thanks!

Yesterday was Dr. Seuss' birthday so today kicks off Dr. Seuss week!  Elementary schools all over the nation celebrate the works of this great author, but there's so much you can do at home.  Not crafty?  No worries; there's lots you can do without making a signature red and white stripped hat (although that can be fun for the younger kids).  If you are crafty, keep reading and I'll link you to some more great activities that will help you celebrate!
Here's how we are celebrating...

** Read the Rinnagade Top Ten Picks:
  1. Oh, The Places You'll Go!
  2. The Sneetches
  3. Yertle the Turtle
  4. Cat in the Hat
  5. The Lorax
  6. Green Eggs and Ham
  7. Horton Hears a Who!
  8. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
  9. And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street
  10. If I Ran the Zoo
These books can all be found in one of our favorite collections, Your Favorite Seuss.

**Shop Target for a great selection of Seuss books for $5!

**Watch "In Search of Dr. Suess" for an awesome look into the life of Seuss beyond books.  There's even kid-friendly info on WWII and racism.  We bought our copy at Target for $4!! (No, this is not a pitch for Target, I'm just very excited about this sale!)

**Participate in NEA's Read Across America

  1. Plant a Truffula Tree with me!
  2. Dr. Seuss Bingo Game Free Printable
  3. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
  4. The Lorax Nutter Butter Cookies
  5. Dr. Seuss Birthday Cupcakes - Cat in the Hat
  6. The Lorax Flower Pot Craft with Truffula Tree Accents
  7. Cat in the Hat Pancakes
  8. And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street Unit Study
What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Please, Please, Play Soccer

I spent a good part of last week trying to convince one of my seven-year-old twins to play soccer.

You read that right; I'm trying to convince him.

I played a video of kids playing soccer.  We talked about people in our family who've played soccer. 

I had his speech therapist do a social story on soccer.

I have actually pleaded with the Creator of the universe, "please let my kid play soccer...".

My husband and I have long ago accepted the fact that somehow out of a reckless hockey player and dream-chasing writer popped a computer nerd (I say that with much love :)) yet I cannot accept the fact that he will never even attempt a sport.  It can't happen.

Not because I'm obsessed with sports - any one who really knows me knows that is a joke.

But because sports teach things I can't. 

Like how to try something even though you're nervous.

Or team spirit.

Or good sportsmanship.

How to have a good attitude, win  or lose.

And how to make friends.

Sports teach life skills that he needs...

and that do not come easy to kids on the autism spectrum.

So, yes, I spent a good amount of time trying to persuade him.

First, I talked him into going to Academy with us to buy cleats and shin guards for his younger brother, who is also playing. 

Then I said, "just try on a pair...".

I couldn't believe it, but he did.  And then he told me when needed a new soccer ball because the one in our backyard was dirty. 

So we bought a new soccer ball.  And water bottles.  And by the time we paid for everything, he had agreed to go meet the coach. 

At this point, I was still prepared to ask for my money back.

The night before the big day, I talked to him about how it's okay to be nervous when you don't know what to expect in a new situation.  We talked about being brave and things he was scared about in the past that ended up working out just fine.  We talked about making friends and how exciting it would be to have everyone come and watch his games. 

And in the morning, he didn't fuss much about going.  He still claimed he wasn't going to play, though.

When we got to the fields, he asked me to help him put his cleats on.  
Then when his name was called, I walked him by the hand to the coach. 

Hesitant, he turned around.  I gave him a smile, reminding him I was going to be right there watching.  Then the coach took his hand.

And he did great.

He had fun.

So much fun, that when we got back in the van, he asked when he could come back and play again.
 Yup, it's official...

I'm a soccer mom :).

So how do we reach big goals?

Hand in hand, one baby step at a time.

Equally weighed out patience and perseverance. 

How do you help your kids reach their goals?