Memories, Pasta, and Ragu®

Growing up I remember my mom cooking and baking with my mom. We didn’t do it a lot but the times we did were very special to me. I can still remember the time my mom accidentally pulled the beater bar out of the chocolate cake batter before turning it off. I was sitting in my pjs on the counter beside the mixer when it happened. Chocolate went everywhere and I thought it was hilarious! She laughed at herself and took the accident in stride. We cleaned up, baked a cake, and had a great story to tell Dad. Now as a busy mom I want to remember to take time and cook with my kids. The messes and mistakes are worth the memories. Last Saturday, we baked blueberry muffins from scratch along with scrambled eggs. It was fun but it took so long to do that it ended up being brunch.

Pouring Rago Sauce

Ragu Dish

While I don’t have time every day to involve my kid’s in each meal preparation I try to every now and then. Tonight’s dinner was a simple one. Ragu® sauce and bow tie pasta. Easy peasy and my daughter was able to help! She only poured the past in the the pot, poured the cooked pasta into the sauce, stirred it, and added Parmesan cheese to everyone’s dish but I know she felt like a chef. It may have been the chef’s hat and apron she was wearing that made her feel that way but I like to think it was because I spent time with her and allowed her the opportunity to serve her family.

Old World Style Ragu

Occasionally we’ll enjoy “poor man’s pizza”. French bread (from the day old section, hence poor man), Ragu®, cheese, and pepperoni make these little pizzas we heat in our oven. (But don’t forget to toast the bread separately first. It holds the sauce better when toasted.) My grandmother used to make something similar for me after school with a little sandwich press. I can vividly remember watching her make them and finally being old enough to help her make them. Maybe our poor man’s pizzas will bring the same fond memories to my daughter’s mind one day. For spur of the moment poor man’s pizza, I keep the ingredients on hand. Getting them at Kroger with everything else I need is just like a basic staple. I always have Ragu® on hand. I love that it’s ready, and I can have a quick, quality meal made for my family without spending all my time in the kitchen. As much as we love cooking together, having the flexibility to choose where we spend our time together is just as awesome! This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ragu® . The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ragu® . The opinions and text are all mine.

Kid’s Activities for the Car

Kids Activities for the Car

Keeping the kids quiet in the car is more than just keeping your sanity. Often times kids are loud when they aren’t busy. All the busyness means learning. A friend of mine grew up in Africa with a former German Baptist mother who is of the opinion that idleness is not good. This friend grew up being busy. He always had something to read, some productivity to accomplish. These childhood habits have generated a learning-oriented individual with the work ethic of a superhero.

Not that there’s a magic formula, but teaching our children to be busy is important, and car time doesn’t have to dead time. Having cognitive building activities on hand will help you keep your sanity and them their brains.

Puzzles

  • A cheap baking sheet acts as the platform for puzzles which can be adhesive with the aid of magnets. Several puzzles of course can be done this way and your babies will have variety.

To read the rest of this post of mine visit Paul Conte Chevrolet.

Free A to Z Animal Handwriting and Coloring Pages

A-to-Z-Animal-Handwriting-Pages

Download free A to Z animal handwriting and coloring pages.

Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

Baby Days at Sam’s Club + HUGE Giveaway

This post is brought to you on behalf of Procter and Gamble and Acorn Influence. All opinions are my own.

I’ve loved Sam’s Club for years.  In high school I loved their big boxes of frozen pizza bread.  In college their packs of pink highlighters were on my must have list.  Now that I’m a mom I shop there for diapers, cereal, fruit, and yes, still the big boxes of frozen pizza bread.  They are so yummy!  For the most part my highlighting days are behind me and I predict that my one highlighter will suffice for the next few years.

Sams Club Shopping Trip

Recently, we went on a family excursion to Sam’s Club.  My daughter thinks it’s such a treat to have her brother ride beside her and he loves it too.

Pampers at Sams

We stocked up on Pampers Swaddlers (We love their Swaddlers – so soft!!), Pampers Sensitive baby wipes, Charmin toilet paper (or bath tissue as my grandma would say), Bounty, grapes, Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits, Dreft, Cheerios….okay, I’ll quit.  You really don’t care about eeeeverything I bought, do you?  Just know that it is THE place to stock up on baby items at great prices!  From teethers to baby clothes, fresh flowers to Christmas presents, and Cheerios to diapers.

Sams Club Shopping

Speaking of Christmas presents, my daughter has picked out a toy that she wants for Christmas.  It’s a Hello Kitty mini water dispenser to encourage kids to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day.  I love it so much that I’ll probably get it for her before Christmas.  Maybe as a gift for her once we move into our new house?

Sams Club Baby

On this trip we did treat the kids to two books each and my son wouldn’t let his go until we got home and opened it (they have a handheld scanner, we didn’t steal it). 🙂

To celebrate baby month at Sams Club they’re offering you guys the chance to win a $50 gift card! You can win one of the 36 $50 Sams Club gift cards by entering here! Good luck!!

$50 Sam's Club Gift Card Giveaway

Come Out to Play – CLIF Kid

This post was sponsored on behalf of CLIF Kid via One2One Network.  All opinions stated are my own.

Outside play is so important to children, but it’s an integral part of family life too. My friends and I love to play phone Jenga. When we hang out or go out to dinner, we stack our phones up and whoever pulls their phone out first (except for emergency babysitter calls…or a group photo) picks up the dessert tab or has to bring sodas to the next game night. It really helps us focus our time on what we came to do – build genuine face-to-face relationships. Outside play does the same for our family.

Clif Kid

Being outside with each other makes us a lot healthier… extra vitamin D, fresher air, heart rates pumping, good old sweating. As a side note, bring snacks makes all of us have a better time. (Mainly because the kids aka me are not hungry and grouchy.) This proactive measure lets us get our vitamin D and our vitamin C because the kid CLIF bars we bring are high in it. I love the protein bars as well. So many snacks are carb-y and sugary. We need some protein to balance it out, and frankly, I’m sick of cheese sticks (which is really mostly fat).

Clif Kid Straws

 

My daughter hardly ever gets anything sweet (that isn’t fruit) and these CLIF Kid Zfruit tasted like it was a very special treat (even though it was good for her!).  This tangy twisted fruit rope is an excellent source of vitamin C and doesn’t need to be washed or refrigerated so it’s the perfect on the go snack.

We love to go to the pool, but a little variety and creativity is good too. THANK YOU, PINTEREST. We all find tons of ideas there; am I right, ladies? Pool noodle swords, science experiments… I also notices on CLIF’s website that they have a dedication to backyard games. Stuff you can do right at home. I don’t have to drive the munchkins 15-minutes to the pool (and pay $). It’s also nice not to have to search through Pinterest’s broken links to find a game that will actually work.

Going back to growing family time. I want to challenge you to make at least one, only ONE night a week to start with a no tech night. Put everything on lock down and just play. I always remember the best times with my parents were the times we just played together. I’d much rather have that as a child than a new toy.

What’s one way you make time for outdoor play every day?

How to Thrive as a Mom

This is a quick post from Kari, a friend of mine that I’ve known since college.  She has written a book for young moms and wants to tell you a little about it.  This post contains my affiliate links to her book.  I’ll turn it over to her now.

Dirty diapers, fevers, vomit, kisses, snuggles, midnight feedings, more kisses, boo-boos… motherhood is full of so much. Ever since I became a mom 6 years ago, I feel as though I have been stretched in ways I never would have imagined. There have been moments of pure craziness as I attempt to thrive as a mom when most of the time it seems like just surviving the day is enough.

Sometimes surviving is what happens. In my first summer with my little baby and toddler, I felt like I was barely surviving. It was exhausting and challenging. I know that some of you are currently feeling these feelings as well. Your days are filled with reheated coffee and the ups and downs of motherhood. It seems as though you are fighting a never ending battle.

We all know that life with little ones is a brief window of time, but when you are in the depths of this season, it can seem like an eternity. I kept hearing older moms tell me that it will get easier as they watched me push the stroller and contain the toddler. While I knew this was true, I also knew that I didn’t want to wait for it to get better. I wanted to start thriving now- not later.

I want you to know that you can thrive as a mom. There is so much more to life than simply surviving it. You can start thriving right now! Over time, I have started to change some things in my life and I am noticing a difference. It is all based on simple things such as embracing your gifts, letting go of perfection, quitting the comparison game. It is a lot of letting go and doing less- not more. All simple things that produce life changing results.

It can be easy to fall into the habit of holding onto the bad moments.  Cheerios are spilled all over the floor, tantrums are thrown and it seems as though the entire day is over and it isn’t even lunch time!  However, we can learn to stop in our tracks and let go of the bad.
  • 1) Figure out your triggers. What is it that tends to Send you downwards into a bad day? Write these down.
  • 2) Prepare yourself. Now that you know what these triggers are, you can mentally prepare yourself and have a plan. I was having a really hard time with mornings. It seemed like things would constantly go wrong. After some time, I decided to start waking a little earlier. This gave me time to have some coffee and prepare for my day. It is a simple solution and my mindset is ready for what happens. (This is Ashley popping into say that if you want inspiration for waking up early check out MakeOverYourMornings.com – it’s a game changer!)
  • 3) Let go of the bad. It may sound so simple but it is a vital part of thriving. We must let go of the bad moments, and move forward. Holding onto these things will cause us to be blinded to the good moments that are hiding around the corner of a bad moment.
What are some ways you have learned to thrive as a mom?

If you would like to read more on these tips to thrive as a mom, check out my e-book, Why Just Survive When You Can Thrive. It is purposefully written with short, easy to read chapters- perfect for the busy mom. It is currently only $2.99 for the Kindle on Amazon or you can purchase the PDF here.

Why Just Survive When You Can Thrive

* Keri Snyder shares over at Living In This Season where she encourages moms in all different seasons. She is married to her husband Nick and they have three children. They live in Charleston, SC and love beautiful weather and beaches.

Relative Sizes of the Planet – Free Printable

Relative-Sizes-of-Planets

Research Planet has a free Relative Sizes of the Planets printable pack.  My daughter has always loved the moon so this was a fun way to expand her knowledge of our world.

Free Printable Homeschool Planner (200+ pages)

free homeschool planner

Joy from FiveJs.com has a free printable Homeschool Planner with over 200 different pages.  I love planners and I’m just starting homeschooling this year so this is perfect for me.  I hope you’ll find it helpful too!

By the way, if you’re a blogger you should check out FiveJs.com’s designs.  She’s the best!

Thanks, Money Saving Mom for the heads up!

Things No One Tells You About Being a Mom + Starbucks Giveaway!

Thank you to Depend for sponsoring today’s conversation.

Things No One Tells You About Being a

Babies are marvelous aren’t they?  They come into our lives smelling sweetly like only a baby can smell, with soft skin, and tiny fingers.  They are expert cuddlers from the get-go and just as fast they have you wrapped around their finger.  No matter how many parenting books you’ve read, kid’s you’ve babysat, or birth stories you’ve watched, nothing will prepare you for the journey that is motherhood.

Babies are completely worth it but there are several things that no one tells you about motherhood beforehand.  I’ve rounded up a group of mama friends to give you the low-down on embarrassing mom moments no one ever warns you about.  We share these frank experiences, or words of wisdom, to help you to embrace motherhood with a bit more knowledge and confidence.

Names have been changed to protect the embarrassed. 🙂

Courtney: I pee on myself every time I sneeze, laugh, or cough… It’s horrible.

Bethany: My body odor changed.  Like after a workout, I’ll never be able to do anything but immediately shower.

Carrie: Baby happened to prefer the boob that was naturally larger anyways. Now I have huge boob and little boob.

Jenn: Yep, saggy boobs, floppy boobs, mushy boobs…sense a theme here? Lol feet grew a tiny bit with each pregnancy too so I’m now a size 9 instead of an 8. Ummmmm premature balding thanks to hormones….. Definitely cannot run or workout without peeing first haha

Judy: Nursing is a nightmare for the first few months, because my body thinks I have triplets. All I have to do is bend over, and it starts coming!. I remember just standing there in shock, watching this 3-foot spray coming out of me, while my husband just stood there and laughed.

Jenny:  I get SO HOT so easily now. (Not fun when you live in the south and most of the summer is 100* and 100% humidity) I sweat a lot more too and the odor. 🙁 I’m so embarrassed.  Also, I can’t start dishes or anything having to do with water until I go to the bathroom first. 😬

Ashley: Um… Wardrobe malfunctions due to toddlers performing alligator death rolls to escape.

Marcy: I have the inability to hold my pee sometimes.  There are times that I end up cleaning the bathroom floor after a failed attempt to get my pants down fast enough.

Sarah:  Cabin pressure mixed with full boobs equals milk facial for baby. Sorry baby…

Tiffany:  I second the squishy boob comment not to sound weird but I had really great boobs before I got pregnant. Didn’t really realize they’d get so…floppy… Lol

Alexia: with the saggy boobs..and hair loss!! If my hair doesn’t stop falling out, I’m gonna need some rogain soon!!  Oh and the trend where girls shave the side of their heads I’ve achieved that naturally, thank you hormones.

Anne: My boobs. I mean after #3 they just weren’t even close to the same.

Stephanie:  Mommy brain is a real thing! Hubby makes me close my eyes sometimes just to finish a sentence! And one time, I was with a couple of my close guy friends and one of them had to tell me I was leaking through my shirt…

Kristen: This isn’t really a body thing per se, but my child pulled my skirt down to my ankles in front of a window at a restaurant downtown during lunch hour.  Also my dad was there.

Lauren:  This one stretch mark on my boob is perfectly placed so a big blue vein shows through. It looks really funny lol.

Stacie:  My boobs don’t hang evenly. Or they aren’t the same size, not sure which it is.  It started during pregnancy! I need to find some thicker bras now or I’m always wearing patterned shirts to help camouflage the problem!

Ashli:  Jumping jacks are not the best form of exercise any more, unless you enjoy seeing yourself on every jumping Jack.

Catherine: The jiggling. When I jog, it sounds like my body is giving me a standing ovation…..

Brittany: Pretty sure I thought I had regained decent bladder control at 3 months PP but the trampoline park with my husband’s work proved me wrong…

Carla:  Awful hair postpartum! It fell out (as it’s supposed to) but I have curly hair and the new hair growing in at my part is an inch long and always frizzy! Not even hair spray can tame that beast!

Jessica: Feeling like you have an internal canyon just above your belly button from where your abs are trying to come back together.

Abigail: Oh, yeah, Jessica, the way your abs look when you try to do a sit-up. It freaked me out the first time I saw it! My Dr. said he had a patient who was a fitness trainer who tried to sue him because of that!

Crystal:  The loss of the ability to hold my flatulence. Working out, going to the park, making dinner… Seriously, I just cannot control it.

Heather:  The feeling that your insides are going to fall out with every step for the first…oh…2-3 months!  I was anxious to get back to running and when I did (after my 6-wk checkup), I almost looked behind me to be sure I hadn’t left my uterus a few steps back…

Meredith:  Finishing coaching a volleyball game only look down and find 2 ginormous wet circles on each boob. Lovely. Also the hair regrowth that sticks up straight and NOTHING will keep it down.

Hillary:  The fact that I just found a ginormous chunk of pizza that had been in my hair for 3 hours and I had no clue. Also, The faint smell of ketchup that plagues you all day until bed time when you realize that your toddler smeared ketchup across your chest at lunch.

There you have it!  Real life accounts from real moms.  Which was your favorite?

standing ovation

This quote from Catherine was my favorite! It’s also my least favorite because it’s so true!

I noticed a theme throughout these, did you?  Boobs and pee.  I have no advice to help you get your pre-baby boobs back but at least there are products out there to help you with the pee.  Kegels are great but while you’re working those muscles back into shape you might want to look into Depend’s Silhouette Active Fit briefs.  They have a low rise style for young moms.  Did you know that there are more people with bladder leakage in their 20’s than in their 80’s?  Before having kids I would have never believed it!  Want a free sample?  Go here to request your free sample of Depend Silhouette Active Fit.

Motherhood is a journey and as anyone who has ever been on a road trip will attest, it’s more fun with friends.  The best advice I can offer new moms is to befriend other moms, especially veteran moms.  You need someone who understands you and someone that will pick out that food that’s been in your hair all day.

In celebration of motherhood I have a small giveaway for you.  Enter via the Rafflecopter below to win a cup of coffee for you to enjoy the next chance you get a little “mom time” (via a $10 Starbucks gift card).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tips to Prevent Gum Disease

This post is in partnership with SUNSTAR GUM, but opinions are my own.

SUNSTAR GUM Logo

Did you know that about half of Americans 30 and older have gum disease?  I didn’t until recently!  As I’m nearing the big 3-0 I’m starting to take my health more seriously than before.  Mainly because I want to keep my metabolism going as strong as it can but the care of teeth AND gums is important to overall health too!  The main cause of inflammation in the gums is an accumulation of dental plaque.  Plaque doesn’t really hurt teeth at all but it is very bad for gums!  It can cause tooth loss, receding gums, tooth sensitivity and pain.  Gum disease (also known as gingivitis) has even been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses.  When left untreated, gum disease, can lead to tooth loss and can even develop into periodontal disease.  Periodontal disease can harm your teeth themselves and your bones, not just the gums!

Sunstar

Here are simple tips for to maintain healthy gums and fight gum disease:

– Brush your teeth twice a day – Brush gently in circles and gently brush up to the gum line.

– Floss daily – My husband likes to say, “You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep.”  Flossing is important and with the fun flossers they have now a days there’s no excuse to not be practicing good flossing habits with your kids.

– Avoid sugar – Try and limit your consumption of acidic and sugary foods and drinks.

– Visit your dentist – Try to get a cleaning twice a year. Your dentist will not only make your teeth feel brand new but they’ll also keep an eye on any red flags you may have.  It’s always better to catch gum disease and cavities early!

– Don’t smoke – This is a given, right?  Smoking (and snuff) not only yellows your pearly whites but they can have an adverse affect on your gum health.

Gum Disease Prevention

SUNSTAR GUM wants to make sure that adults and children know how and are equipped to protect themselves from gum disease.  In fact, they’re so passionate about gum health that they’ve launched a campaign #YourGumsMatter.

Take pride in your smile and take steps to protect it everyday.  You only get one set of teeth, make them last!