Friday, June 23, 2017

How to Potty Train Your Toddler Without Losing Your Mind

I recently took on the challenge of potty training my youngest, and to my surprise, things went pretty smoothly.  I'm definitely no expert in the field of potty training, considering I've only had to do it twice, but I thought I'd share what worked for us in hopes that it might possibly help out someone else who is struggling!


Wait until the child is ready
This seems pretty obvious, but I know there are some parents out there who have a certain age in mind to get their kiddos out of diapers.  Don't get hung up on that.  I actually waited until Beckham was over 3 to even attempt potty training.  Some over-achiever parents might judge, but let them judge away.  If waiting a few more months will save you power struggle arguments and temper tantrums, then JUST WAIT!   Kids will show you signs that they are ready: becoming more independent, hiding to dirty their diaper privately, showing interest in you using the toilet, and being bothered by wearing a dirty diaper are a few of the common ones.  Believe me, I get it...after changing diapers for 2+ years you are anxious to move on, but waiting until they are ready will serve everyone well in the long run.  Now, I'm definitely not saying every child should be 3 years old, because there are lots of kids out there who are ready a whole heck of a lot earlier.  I am just advising to pay attention to signals from your child instead of getting hung up on a certain age.

Dedicate at least 3 days of your life to nothing but potty training
I realize this isn't feasible for some of you who work out of the home, but I feel that after 3 days, the kids usually have a good grip on their new life without diapers.  Try and attempt it over the weekend and plan on being home-bound for the time which you are training.  It's so much easier and less stressful to run to your own bathroom every 10 minutes vs sprinting through Target with a cart full of frozen food in hopes of making it before an accident happens.  

Push the fluids
Their entire lives, they have been able to use the bathroom whenever, wherever.  So, you have to retrain their little brains to pay attention and stop subconsciously peeing.  This is a new concept for them, so it takes a lot of practice to change the old habit.
The more they drink, the more they pee, and the more they pee, the quicker they will get the hang of using the toilet instead of the diaper.   We don't drink a lot of soft drinks, but for those first few days, I let him have Sprite, orange juice, apple juice...basically all of the things that are usually considered treats.  He will drink a sip or two of water when I hand him his canteen, but if I give him a cup of juice, it's gone in a flash!  You could always water down the juice if you are concerned about sugar intake.  Again, the more they drink, the more they pee...and peeing a LOT is the goal the first few days!

If possible, let them be naked, at least for the first few days
With my first born, I quickly learned that if anything was down there around his bottom, he became very confused and just assumed it was a diaper that he could pee in.  After a few days of accidents, we decided to just let him run around naked (at home of course) and it totally worked!  If nothing is down there to catch the pee (or poop), then he was more easily able to recognize that he had the urge to use the restroom and he needed to locate the toilet.  When it came time to potty train my youngest, I planned to wait until the weather was warm enough that he could just be naked for a few days.  We stayed home for 3-4 days...no errands, no parks, no playdates.  Our only exception to the rule was dropping off and picking up big brother from school.


Reward the positive and let the accidents slide
Remember that their entire life has been peeing/pooping in a diaper, so try not to get too upset when accidents happen.  They WILL happen.  Try to focus on rewarding the times when he/she uses the potty the right way.  We used a sticker chart to track his progress.  Each time he peed, he got to put a sticker on the chart (He earned 2 stickers for pooping in the potty), and when the chart was full, he got to choose a prize from the prize basket.  Our chart only had 12 stickers on each page to complete it, so he was able to earn prizes fairly quickly, which then motivated him to continue doing what it takes to earn more stickers!  Get cheap little prizes from the Dollar Store, or since my little guy was into tractors, I ordered some little ones from Amazon and wrapped them up individually.


Some helpful tools:
Puppy pee pads--These come in handy in the car.  When we had to go pick big brother up from school, I didn't want to put a diaper on to confuse him, but I didn't trust that he wouldn't have an accident.  If you put a pee pad down under their bottom then it saves you from having to wash the carseat should an accident happen!  
Potty books--We like this one and this one.  I started reading them to him a few months before I was ready to attempt potty training.  Once we started training, I kept the books in the bathroom and we would read them while we were waiting for something to happen...because sometimes you just have to be patient.  ;)
Reward chart--The charts I used for Beckham were leftover from when Chase was potty training, so they aren't available anymore.  But, here is a similar one!
Rewards--Get whatever you think will motivate your child.  I found that the instant gratification of opening a physical gift worked better than "we can go to the movies next week".   I purchased these and these
Little Urinal--We inherited a similar one as a hand me down from a cousin.  My older son was a little on the short side and had to use a stool to reach the toilet, so he loved this pint sized urinal!  But, my younger son wasn't really interested in peeing in it.  He could reach the toilet and preferred to use it, I think because he wanted to be like Daddy.  Like most things in life, they have very different interests!
Built in Potty Seat--This is super handy because you don't have a separate child potty seat to take on and off...just lift the seat for yourself, and lower it for the child!
Potty stool--to help them reach!

Look at this proud boy!  He should be proud!  He earned each and every one of those stickers!

I keep my kids in a crib longer then most people do...Chase was 4 before we converted him to a big bed.  Because of that, I do still put pull-ups on Beckham at nighttime.  Considering he can't get out to use the restroom, I haven't even attempted nighttime potty training yet!   But whenever we do, I'll let you know if I have any groundbreaking revelations regarding the subject!  ;)


***Some of the links are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay, but it does help me maintain my blog, so thank you!


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Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Bucket List

Well, call me a slacker because I should have gotten this post up at the BEGINNING of the summer. Buuuuuut, obviously that didn't happen.  #bloggerfail.  However, I thought instead of scrapping it altogether, I would go ahead and post it because maybe some of you need a little inspiration after being home with your kids for a month or so now.  Maybe, just maybe, some of you have crossed off everything on your summer bucket list and you need some fresh ideas!  (ahem, overachievers!) And if you don't need any fresh ideas, then you can just breeze past this post because obviously you have your shit together, unlike me.  ha!



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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DIY Flag Pallet (And Some Other Patriotic Crafts)

Happy Flag Day!  Did you even know it was Flag Day?  Well, it is.  This has been ingrained in my brain for the past 36 years because my brother's birthday happens to fall on Flag Day.  (Happy Birthday Drew!)  Every year, despite the ninja turtle party he probably wanted, my mom would decorate in red, white, and blue and put sparklers on his flag-inspired cake.  I'm thankful my birthday doesn't fall on any sort of holiday!  It allows for a little more party variety ;)


At any rate, the 4th of July is right around the corner, and I wanted to share some fun red, white, and blue DIY's with you!  I found this super cute pallet style flag DIY in one of those Lowes catalogs that comes through the mail.  I don't even know if they send them out anymore, but luckily I was able to find the instructions online for those of you who want to duplicate it!   Gosh, I just really love the internet!  Anything you want is just a few clicks away.  I am always looking for large items to decorate my mantle, and this one is perfect.  I distressed mine a little bit, but you could keep it crisp or get crazy with the sandpaper for an even more distressed/farmhouse-y look.


That vase with the sunflowers in it was a steal from the Target Dollar Spot this year!  So cute!  And then, I just stuffed some burlap ribbon in a tall glass vase and stuck some flags in it.  Easy peasy.


If you don't already follow me on Pinterest, you should!  What are you waiting for?  (wink wink)  I don't have a ton of things pinned to my 4th of July board, but there are a few things on there that I've already tried and have turned out really cute!  One of my faves is SUPER easy and fun for the kiddos...and it will give you a memento to keep and use as a decoration each year.  This firework canvas is made with drinking straws!  Genius!


And how fun and EASY is this idea?  Spray painting stars on your grass would be so festive and fun if you're having friends and family over for a BBQ.


Check out my 4th of July Pinterest board for more inso!



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Monday, June 5, 2017

May Roundup

Hey friends!  I am trying something new, which is exciting, but I'm also a little nervous about the learning curve!  I thought I would try and do a monthly roundup of outfits I post on social media so you would have one place to come and look for inspo and also shop the look if you are interested.

I wear a mix of old and new items, so if something is old, or sold out, I will do my best to try and find a similar item so that you can put the look together even if the items aren't exactly the same as what I'm wearing.  I love seeing what other people are wearing so I share some of my outfits (on days I actually get dressed) to hopefully provide a little bit of inspiration for you to try something new with your existing wardrobe as well as show you what's trending out there in the stores I frequent.

So, underneath each picture, there should be a "shop my look" section with each individual item shown.  You can scroll from left to right if there are more items that don't fit on the screen, then just click on the item you are interested in and it should take you directly to the retailer!  (Hopefully!  Fingers crossed I did this correctly)

Ok, here we go!


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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I Have a Flair for Flare

In a world of skinny jeans and jeggings, I have never stopped loving the flare.  Call me old fashioned (or hippie), but I think flare cut pants are flattering on all body types and they help elongate your legs.  Who wouldn't want that?  At any rate, these wide legged jeans and pants have been rather hard to find until recently.  Flare is making a comeback and I couldn't be happier about it!

I ordered several pairs from American Eagle, which has quickly become my new favorite place to shop.  I love my Tom Girl jeans that I picked up a couple of months ago, so I thought I would give them a shot at some flare jeans.  Here are my reviews on the pairs I ordered, along with a couple of real-life photos because I think it helps to see them on a real body instead of a 6', size 0 model! ;)
A-line Flare:
These have a super wide flare at the bottom.  They are extremely stretchy and soft, which make them very comfortable, but you would definitely need to size down.  They fit snuggly around the thighs but then start to get loose above the  knee.  I think I would have liked them a little bit better if they were a little more snug around the knee and then started flaring under the knee.  At any rate, overall, they were :very cute.  The hem has cute detail with a fade line and a rough hem.  I don't know that I'll keep this pair simply because I think they look best with a wedge or a heel and at this stage in my life, those types of shoes are merely collecting dust in my closet.   Momin' in heels is hard.
Kick Boot:
I liked these a lot.  They were also very stretchy, but fit true to size.  Even though they claimed to be mid rise, I thought they were a little lower on the back rise then the Artist A-Line, but not too terribly low.  However, the waist band seemed a little too large for my body and they didn't stay in place when I bent over or sat down.  I tried down-sizing, but the smaller size was too snug on my thighs and rear.  I thought these were super comfy though, and I really wished the waist was just a tad more tapered.  They might be perfect for you, especially if you are looking for a wider leg jean, without going full on flare.
Skinny Kick:
These fit true to size but didn't have as much stretch as the Kick Boot.  If you waiver between sizes, you may even have to size up.  They were pretty snug, but my regular size seemed to fit perfectly.  The leg opening was smaller then the Kick Boot, and I was wishing it was just a little bit wider.  I like this pair a lot, and I think these will be the ones I ultilmatly end up keeping, but they aren't exactly the flare style I was originally looking for.  They would be a good every day jean for when you aren't in the skinny leg mood.  I liked the wash, it was a little on the casual side.

Vintage Hi- Rise Flare:
Ok, these are freaking CUTE!  I didn't order them to try because they are 100% cotton and this mama needs a little stretch in her jeans.  But, if you don't mind that they aren't stretchy, I love the look of them and the distressing is way cool!

And, I wish they had THESE in my size.  I'm keeping an eye on them because I think the skinnier upper leg, with a flare opening is the ticket to the perfect pair!

American Eagle also has some other flare/bootcut jeans available, that weren't necessarily available in my size when I ordered.  Overall, I have been impressed with most everything I have purchased there recently!  Here are a few of my other faves:
Softest tee in the world
Lightweight cowl sweater
Ruffle tunic

So...I need to know...have you found any flare jeans that you love?  I'm still on the lookout for the perfect pair!

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!  So, thank you!

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Friday, May 26, 2017

School's Out For Summer

Whelp, that's a wrap folks!  School has officially ended for my kiddos.  And, that means we will be spending a lot more time together, be that good or bad.  I am excited for summer break...less of a schedule, more fun activities, outdoor adventures, swimming, fun with friends, and on and on.  But, that also means I will have a WHOLE lot less time of my own to do things like take a shower, pee alone, and work on this blog.


So, I'm not abandoning you guys forever, but just hang in there with me while I figure out how I'm going to manage everything!  I do have several half-completed posts in the works, so hopefully I can find a few spare minutes here and there to complete them.  At any rate, it's been a fun adventure and I definitely want to continue working on this little online space whenever I can find the time!
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale--My Fave Finds

The Memorial Day sales are starting to pop up, and this one ranks up there with the best!  Nordstrom has TONS of stuff on sale right now!  The absolute best thing about shopping at Nordstrom.com is that they have free shipping AND free returns!  Yep!  So, you don't live close to a store?  No problem...they will ship it to you!  Don't know what size to order?  No worries...order multiple sizes and return the ones that don't fit FOR FREE!  It's impossible to go through everything in this sale (I think they have over 20,000 items marked down!), but I rounded up some of my favorites below:



Tunic (Runs large, so size down)
Rebecca Minkoff hobo
Peep toe booties
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

DIY: Rustic Farmhouse Sconces

Hey there peeps!  How goes it?  I've been doing some gradual decorating here and there in our master bedroom, and I'm almost to a stopping point.  Almost.  I'm not sure I'll ever quite be totally finished.  I am always on the lookout for something cool to incorporate into my decor.  But, I finally feel like this room is pretty much put together.   I don't know the technical terms for the style of decorating I have.  Eclectic maybe?  Random?  Definitely.  If I like it, then I find a way to make it work.  I have some modern stuff, some rustic stuff, and lots of random things in-between.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pineapple Express

Hi friends!  I hope your day has been going well!  I spent my morning trying to unload a lot of my crap onto other people at a garage sale.  I always forget how time consuming and how much work goes into prepping for a garage sale.  Each time I have one, I think "never again"... then a few years pass, more junk is collected in my basement, my memory fades, and I attempt it again.  Much like childbirth. 🤔

Moving on.  I've been seeing pineapples popping up everywhere for spring and summer!  They are so fun, and they seem to be on everything...home decor, clothing, jewelry, and even phone cases!

I rounded up a few of my favorite pineapple finds and down below I am admitting to a horrific DIY pineapple tank FAIL.  Boohoo.  I attempt a lot of DIY projects because I like the craftiness and creativity.  It helps keep the crazies away.  But, not all of them are successes.  This one was especially bad!  And, I'm totally bummed because I ruined an awesome tank doing it.  Luckily it wasn't super expensive, but still!  It's the point!  Anyway, let's do the good news first.  Pineapple fun!



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Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day:

I hope you mamas had a great day with your families!  Mine started out great...I got to sleep in, was greeted with lots of hugs and kisses when I woke, I got a pretty tulip bouquet and a "Best Mom Ever" crown ;)  It was pretty special!  


Then the morning ended with me in tears in the parking lot of Home Depot.  Let me explain. 

I was gifted manual labor, the gift of getting rid of our hideous front yard witch's cauldron and replacing it with something slightly more appealing to the eye.  We headed to Home Depot in search of items to complete this project and a few other random things.  Adam  was busy in the garden center getting the pavers, mulch, etc, so I took the boys inside to get the miscellaneous items.  "Now, I expect you boys to behave and act politely while we are in the store".  I literally said those exact words.  Fast forward a whole five minutes and they are antagonizing each other, being too loud, hitting each other, and basically doing everything I had just asked them not to do.  I gave them several reminders that they need to be polite and have good behavior, followed by taking away privileges when they did not listen.  Things continued to escalate and I finally had to hold Beckham while pushing Chase who held onto the cart.  When I couldn't take it any more, we went straight to the checkout line, even though I didn't have everything on my list.  As I was checking out, I set B down so I could get my credit card, and the little f***ing punk took off like a rocket.  He ran out of the checkout area and out of my sight.  I ran after him, but I didn't see where he went.  He had 2 choices: back through the main entrance or out into the parking lot.  I panicked.  My heart stopped and my stomach was in my throat.  I ran faster and I tried to look out the glass doors to see if my child was smashed on the pavement.  Just as I was about to make a mad dash outside, I saw his blonde curls around the opposite corner.  He was hiding by the customer service desk.  I wanted so badly to beat the crap out of him and smother him with kisses at the same time.  I was thankful he was safe and unharmed, but boy was I furious.  We immediately went to the car,  I strapped them in their seats, waited for Adam, and then I melted down right there...in the parking lot of Home Depot.  I got my shit together and Adam stayed with the boys in the car while I went back in ALONE and got what I needed. 

I think my expectations for this day of appreciating mothers was maybe a tad unrealistic.  For some reason I thought my children would realize that on this day, they were supposed to behave like angels and not fight or argue with each other.  I thought they'd know to talk politely to me and not sass or roll their eyes.  I thought they would listen and obey my every command.  But this was just like any other day, and yet I found myself getting more frustrated at them then usual, more angry that they weren't doing what I asked. 

A not-so-subtle reminder that motherhood never quits.  You can't take a day off, even on Mother's Day.  Not that I want to quit, I don't!  I love my boys more then life itself, but they are exhausting.  They try my patience.  They push my buttons.  They test all limits, over and over again.  Motherhood is constant.  It's constantly giving answers to questions.  It's constantly reminding them to use their manners.  It's constantly giving them what they need.  It's constantly testing my level of patience. 
But it's also constant love.  Love like I've never experienced before.  Love that is 100% unconditional.  Love that sends me into a panic when my child races out of my sight.  Love that is so deep I can feel it with my whole body and soul.  And for that I am thankful. 


I saw all of these perfect mother/child pictures on social media, and I debated...should I post a perfect picture too?  I really do love them so so much.  Or do I post a real picture of the day...tears streaming down from underneath my sunglasses while I wait for my husband to rescue me.  I didn't post anything.  But I want you to know that if your Mother's Day wasn't how you dreamt it, you are not alone.  Today is another day.  Another day for snuggles and books.  Another day for building forts and digging for worms.  Another chance to be their mom and tell them how much I love them!  







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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Workin' It Wednesday: Planning/Prepping for Your Summer Vacation

Hey everyone!  Happy hump day!  I hope you're all doing well and looking forward to our next installment of Workin' It Wednesday.  I'm linking up with Erika and Shay today to talk about Planning and Prepping for Summer Vacations!

We don't have any big vacations planned for this summer.  I am sure we will venture down to Arkansas to see my family at some point this summer, but as for grand vacations, there are none on the books for this bunch.  I previously posted some tips for traveling with toddlers, so be sure to check those out if you missed it!



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Friday, May 5, 2017

Fashion Friday! Splurge vs. Steal

It's no secret I love shopping, but I also love finding a great deal on something!  Sometimes it's easy to spot a cheap item of clothing or poorly made shoes, but other times it's virtually impossible to tell the difference!  I love finding an item that makes me happy, while also making my pocketbook smile.

I decided to round up some items that are similar in style, but different in price, to show you that you don't have to spend a lot of money to look like you did!

The items from the splurge category aren't overly expensive, but I wanted this to be realistic.  Sure, I could search and find some jeans for $1500, but that's not something I would even consider buying, so I'm guessing most of you wouldn't either.  The purpose of this post is to lend some inspiration.  If you see a look you like, but don't want to spend the money on it, hopefully this will inspire you to pursue finding your look elsewhere because you can probably find something extremely similar at the price point you are looking for!  Splurge items are all from Nordstrom and Save items are all from Target.


So, what do you think?  Can you tell a huge difference between the splurge and the steal items?  I included 2 different types of earrings because I couldn't decide.  They were both so cute!  Here are the details from each outfit:

Splurge
Chambray shirt
distressed white jeans
metallic footbed sandals
mint tote
tassel earrings
silver earrings

Save
Chambray shirt
distressed white jeans
metallic footbed sandals
mint tote
tassel earrings
silver earrings

What are some items you are willing to splurge on?  And, on the flip side, where do you like to save your money when it comes to fashion?


**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!  Thank you!
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Yearly Tradition: A Snapshot of What They Love

Several years ago, when Pinterest was just becoming popular, my sister in law, Sara, found this super cute idea.  I loved how you could get a good feel for who the child was in just a matter of seconds.  With a picture and a grouping of their favorite things all together in one place, it was a good way to summarize their personality and freeze that moment in time.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Healthy Food Swaps

I'm not the healthiest person on the planet.  I've repeatedly admitted my love of all things sweet.  However, I like to think I do a fairly good job of eating somewhat healthy foods the majority of the time.  I do believe in balance and not depriving oneself because if I tell myself something is completely off limits then I just find myself wanting it even more.  The "always want what you can't have" mentality I suppose.  It's difficult to cook "healthy" meals for a family who doesn't share the same desire to avoid certain foods.  Pasta for example.   I like pasta, but that's one thing I could eat a lot less of and be completely happy.  I'd rather skip the noodles and have a glass of wine instead.  My family on the other hand would never dream of eating zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash with their marinara sauce.  So, I've learned a few simple swaps that I have been able to incorporate in our daily meals...some of which we all eat and others I swap out just for me.  Making a few simple swaps makes me feel better about indulging in delicious treats like this and this and this!


Pasta:
I already briefly touched on this swap, but it's one I use quite a bit because it's easy for me to make whole wheat pasta noodles for the boys, and then quickly spiralize a zucchini for myself.  I have and love this spiralizer.  A lot of people boil their zucchini noddles, but I find that makes them very soggy.   I prefer the crunchy texture of raw zoodles, and by the time I pour the hot spaghetti sauce over them they soften just enough for my liking.

Spaghetti squash is also another delicious swap for standard pasta.  I use this one less often simply because it requires me to really plan and think about cooking the squash in advance...and I usually don't have my act together to do that. It's really not that hard, it just means I have to throw it in the oven earlier then I would normally start dinner so that it's fully cooked and ready when it's time to eat.

Sour Cream:
We have been using plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream for a long time, and NO one has complained about it.  That's a huge win for this household and our picky eaters!

Flour:
I have been using whole wheat flour in place of all purpose flour on most things I bake for a while, but it was definitely one of those swaps I could tell a difference in.  Things weren't as fluffy or airy as they were with regular white flour.  But, that all changed when I discovered whole wheat pastry flour!  I love this stuff!  It's so finely ground and it's really hard to tell a difference between this flour and all purpose.

Oil / Butter:
There are several good swaps for vegetable/canola oil.  For baking, applesauce is a popular swap.  I also often use extra light olive oil in place of vegetable oil.  It has a very mild flavor, if any flavor at all and is great for muffins, pancakes, breads, etc where you definitely don't want an olive taste coming through.  Of course regular extra virgin olive oil is great for cooking.  Other oil swaps I love for cooking are coconut oil, sesame oil, and avocado oil.  I love this avocado oil spray instead of Pam!

Rice:
Brown rice is an easy substitution for regular white rice.  The downside of brown rice is that it takes a lot longer to cook.  Usually about 40-45 min on the stovetop.  I have been using my Instant Pot a lot lately to make brown rice in 22 min!  Such a time saver if I don't have time to wait.  Another grain I use in place of rice is quinoa.  Quinoa has a nutty flavor, which I love, but my husband isn't such a fan.  So, if I'm subbing rice for quinoa in something, I usually make sure there are lots of spices to help mask the flavor.  Mexican casserole type dishes are great!  If I'm in a rush, I like this brown rice/quinoa blend.  It's pre-cooked, so I can throw it in a casserole quickly and move on with my day!   I've also seen it available at Target.  A 3rd sub for rice is cauliflower.  This one requires a little more prep work because you have to cut/wash the cauliflower then run it through the food processor or grate it by hand.  A few weeks ago I happened to see pre-grated cauliflower in the produce section of Hy-Vee!  Oh happy day!  So much of a time saver!  Now it's so much easier to make this simple swap, especially if I'm preparing cauliflower rice just for myself.

Bread:
Whole wheat bread is delicious!  This is one thing my boys eat and love.  I can't even remember the last time I purchased regular white bread (with the exception of hamburger buns).  Aldi and Sprouts both have a good organic whole grain bread that isn't terrible expensive.  We don't go through it super fast, so I keep it in the freezer and that helps the freshness since there are no preservatives.

Mayonnaise:
Sometimes for a quick lunch, I'll whip up some tuna salad, but using so much mayonnaise does not exactly make a healthy meal.  If I have an avocado handy, I'll mash it up and use much less mayo, if any at all.  I also like to use dijon mustard to help less the amount of mayo I use.  I love dijon and avocado in egg salad as well.  When I do use mayonnaise, I have been loving this avocado mayo!

Popcorn:
Popcorn can be a great healthy snack, but the microwave kind is junk.  Along with lots of added calories and fat, most microwave popcorns contain chemicals in the ingredients as well as in the bags themselves.  When exposed to high heat (i.e. the microwave), the grease-repelling chemicals that line the popcorn bag, can leach into your popcorn.  Yuck!  We have this air popper and the boys love to much on freshly popped popcorn with a little salt and real butter.  Another treat is to cook popcorn on the stovetop with a little bit of coconut oil!  Delish!

Milk:
This is one of those swaps that I do on my own in this household.  No one else seems to share my love of nut milks, but I LOVE almond, coconut, and cashew milks!  LOVE!  I mostly use them for smoothies, but every now and then I'll use them for baking and no one has caught onto me yet. ;)  My current fave for making smoothies and chai tea lattes is Silk Unsweetened Coconut & Almond.  Only 35 calories per cup!

Potatoes:
Short and sweet...sweet potatoes have a higher amount of antioxidants and nutrients then regular russet potatoes.  So, while I don't see anything wrong in having regular white potatoes from time to time, swapping them for sweet potatoes in beef stew, roast, or just as a baked potato, would give your meal an added nutritional boost.

Salt:
Regular table salt tastes good, but that's about it.  It doesn't do much nutritionally for your body.  Switching it for celtic sea salt is such an easy swap, and another one that no one has rebelled against at Casa de French.  Celtic sea salt contains lots and lots of trace minerals.  Our bodies need some salt to maintain sufficient sodium levels and ensure there is proper fluid balance in our cells.  Sea salt contains natural electrolytes which are important for our health.  Not getting enough salt in your diet could actually hurt your digestive health by throwing off your production of stomach acid.  If you want to get really fancy, you could get pink himalayan sea salt, which contains all of the 84 elements found in our bodies.  Celtic sea salt contains around 60 elements.  It is grayish in color and is often moist to the touch.

Cocoa powder:
Trading out your regular Hershey's cocoa powder for the more natural cacao powder will be nutritionally beneficial without sacrificing on flavor.  Regular cocoa powder is made by roasting the beans at a high temperature, which in turn lowers the overall nutritional value.  Cacao powder is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cocoa beans, thereby maintaining the natural, nutritional value.  Those studies you've heard of that claim chocolate is good for you are not referring to the chocolate bar at the checkout counter.   Sorry.  They are referring to natural cacao powder.  Cacao is high is antioxidants and contains several minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, manganese, and copper.  And the best part is...you can't taste the difference!

What are some of the healthy food swaps you make?

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Beckham's 3rd Birthday: Tractors

Finally, I am getting around to sharing Beckham's 3rd birthday with you all!  This little munchkin is obsessed with tractors of ALL kinds...farm tractors as well as any sort of construction vehicles.  It's amazing how many I pass on a daily basis, just driving down the road.  I never paid any attention until I had a little guy in the back seat point and holler at every.single.one!  He has as much excitement to see the 987th tractor as he did the first one of the day.  So, you guessed it...tractor party it is!


When I first asked Beckham what he wanted for his birthday party, he was very specific..."I want a John Deere tractor party with 'nilla cupcakes and girls there".  This was great!  I love a kid who can make decisions!  However, a couple of weeks later, he started changing his tune.  He decided that he did NOT want a party.  NO cake, NO ice cream, NO girls!  Typical 2 year old, #amiright?  "NO, NO, NO!"  I'm honestly not sure what changed his mind, but he was dead set on not having a party at all.  As a mom who loves throwing parties for her kids, I couldn't let his birthday pass without a party.  Maybe it was a little selfish on my part, but I planned on having a party whether he wanted to or not.  He eventually suggested that maybe it could be Mama's party and I would share my presents with him.  I tried to explain that for Mama's birthday, I usually get presents like earrings and shoes...but he was confident that for this party I would be getting tractors and I would share with him.  And, he was right ;)


So, we went with it!  Our guest list was just family and close friends, so I really didn't care if he ended up throwing a huge fit the day of his party, but he actually did very well!  He was rather frowny-faced in the beginning, mainly because everyone had arrived before he woke up from nap, so he was greeted by a large crowd and he wasn't fond of that.  But, he quickly warmed up and enjoyed himself.  When it came time to open presents, he had forgotten it was supposed to be Mama's party, and had no problems ripping the paper off to see what was inside!


Cake time proved to be a little more of a challenge.  He was excited to see his tractor cake with 'nilla cupcakes, but when everyone started singing "Happy Birthday", he hung his head and covered his face!  I've never seen a kid do that before!  It was funny, cute, and puzzling all at the same time.  He's not usually a shy kid, so this was rather unusual behavior.


At any rate, once the song was over, he perked right back up and devoured some cake!


Let's talk about the cake:  The tractor was made up of 39 cupcakes.  I covered a large, flattened cardboard box with aluminum foil and used it as the cake board.  All in all, it was pretty easy to ice the cupcakes and arrange them in the right order.  I iced each cupcake individually and then just smushed them together slightly once they were in place.  I piped icing directly onto the cake board for the exhaust pipe and smoke.  I happened to have some leftover Wilton Sugar Sheets so I piped "John Deere" on the sugar sheet and laid it over the yellow strip of icing on the tractor.  You could definitely pipe straight onto the icing, but I used the sheet since I already had it.


Food:  We went with farm-themed, Beckham-approved, finger foods for this party.  They included Lil Smokies (Pig Pen), Rice Krispie treats (hay bales), fruit tray (produce stance), corn on the cob (corn field), guac and chips (rubble and muck), and deviled eggs (farm fresh eggs).  I found the free printable labels here on pinterest and just photoshopped the food titles onto each one before printing.


Decor:  Yellow and green crepe paper were flanked by yellow and green balloons to get everyone in a tractor mood!  Despite his aversion to having a party, Beckham really enjoyed helping me decorate, so I had to leave his contribution ;)  


Other fun touches:
Yellow plastic silverware wrapped in green napkins to look like corn
Lemonade "fueling station"
Tractor plates and napkins


Party Favors:  Small pots with flower seeds and tractor stickers were available for guests to take home.  A dump truck carried fruit punch pouches for the kiddos to grab if they got thirsty.


I usually make my kiddos a shirt each year for their birthday (you can see my tutorial here), but I came across this one and I just could't resist.  It was too perfect for him, so I broke my tradition and bought it.


And, you know by now that the Frenches can't have a birthday party without our beloved bounce house!  It's always a crowd pleaser!  We bought ours a few years ago and it has been worth every penny!  We have it set up in our basement and the kids go down there on rainy or cold days to burn some energy.  It's expensive, but if you consider the cost of renting one a couple of times a year, it more then pays for itself in the first year you own it.  Best purchase ever!

All in all it was a pretty fun party!  I can't believe my baby is THREE!  It just doesn't seem possible.  Love you Beckham!  You definitely make life a lot more fun!

Related Posts:
**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if items are purchased.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!  Thank you!



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Friday, April 21, 2017

Fluffy Slime

We are BIG into sensory play around here.  My kiddos love kinetic sand and play with it on the daily.  It's become a permanent part of my kitchen counter because every time I attempt to put it away, they drag it out again within an hour.  We prefer the Kinetic Build sand because it sticks together a little bit better and makes less of a mess (yay!).  They also love play-doh, Mad Matter, Floam, DIY slime, and anything else that is squishy.  We make our slime recipe quite often and if you haven't attempted it yet, you should really check it out!

My mom recently came across a recipe for fluffy slime, so of course we had to give it a whirl.  It was so fun and the boys LOVED it!

Ingredients:

3 cups shaving cream
2-2.5 Tbs contact lens solution (MUST contain boric acid)
2 (4 oz) containers Elmer's white glue
food coloring (optional)



Directions:

In a large bowl, measure the shaving cream, then add glue and mix to combine.




If you are adding food coloring, add it before you add the contact solution.   It will be easier to mix the color thoroughly prior to adding the slime activating ingredient!


Slowly add contact solution, continuing to stir until you get the desired consistency.  The original recipe called for 5 tablespoons of contact solution, but we ended up using a lot less then that.  2-2 1/2 tablespoons seemed perfect for us.  That's the thing about slime though...I don't think there is a perfect recipe that comes out exactly the same each time.  So, you just have to mix and feel and decide when it seems like it's a good consistency.  Measuring out shaving cream is not an exact science, so use the measurements as an approximate guide and wing it!


We questioned whether the shave gel would work as well as the shave cream, and honestly we couldn't tell a difference!  They both seemed to have the same consistency once everything was mixed together.


Another interesting find was that it turns into regular slime after a while.  We put it in baggies to store it and a few days later it appeared to have lost it's fluff and was more the texture of standard slime.  Here's a pic of the freshly made fluffy slime (right) and the week old slime (left)  Can you see the difference?  The good news is that it was still super fun to play with even after it lost it's fluff, so you basically get 2 slimes in 1!


If your kids like squishing things through their little fingers, then you should definitely add this to your "to do" list for the weekend!  It would be perfect for a rainy day to keep the boredom at bay!

Side note, this slime was pretty easy to clean up.  It washed off easily with soap and water, and the little bit that did get on their clothes, washed out.  However, if you are adding food coloring, the coloring might stain, so it's probably best to have them wear play clothes!

 **Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!




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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

DIY: Tassel Earrings


Hey everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!  We spent ours with family and friends, which is always nice...ate some yummy food (too much I might add); kiddos hunted some eggs, had a water balloon fight, and ate their share of candy.  It was super fun, and we were so lucky to have great weather!


Moving onto today's topic, TASSELS!  Tassels are hot right now, appearing on everything from purses, to shoes, to shirts, and more!  They are fun and flouncy and are an easy way to add pops of color to your wardrobe.  It's hard to tell in the pic, buy I am wearing my DIY tassel earrings in our Easter picture above.


Today I am going to show you how I made these super cute tassle earrings!  It's so easy, I'm kind of embarrassed to even explain it to you.

I found these premade tassels at Joann Crafts, and they come in a 2 pack.  At my store, they also had a few other colors:


I went with blue because I always choose blue.  Always.  I have more blue in my closet then any other color!  Blue has been my favorite color for as long as I can remember, so I always choose blue!

You'll need tassels, earring hooks, jump rings (small metal rings, also sold in the jewelry aisle), and needle nose pliers.

So, remember when I said this is so simple it's almost embarrassing to tell you about it?  Well, here are the instructions:

1. Using the pliers, open the jump ring slightly
2. Slide the earring hook and the hassle onto the jump ring
3. Close the jump ring with the pliers
4. Insert into your ear and marvel at your craftiness!


Super easy, huh?  This would be a fun teacher gift...teacher appreciation week is coming up!  These tassels would also be fun at the end of a long necklace.  So many possibilities.......



**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog.  Thank you!


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