Strawberry Ice Pops

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Last winter I found Crayola Freezer Pops on super-clearance, so I bought a package. We had broken more than a few popsicle molds last summer, mostly due to me yanking on them too hard. Oops. Walker found my copy of 200 Best Ice Pop Recipes and was flipping through it, looking for a “red” one. I asked if he wanted Strawberry, and yes he did. So we walked to town and picked up fresh berries and a lemon.

Two happy boys!

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The molds release easily with a run under hot water – and yep, look just like crayons. Even if Alistaire kept grabbing his by the pop. Lol….poor kid was sticky and red by the end ;-)

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Strawberry Ice Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1 lemon, juiced and strained, about 3 Tablespoons
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup raw honey or agave
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions:

Add the ingredients to a blender, process on medium until mostly smooth. Pour into ice pop molds. If using one with caps, insert, otherwise freeze for an hour or so before putting in popsicle sticks. Freeze for a total of 4 hours, or longer, before serving. To remove from molds, run quickly under hot tap water.

How many you get depends on mold size, recipe makes about 3 cups total.

Stylish Baby Wipes For Looking Good On The Go

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FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Huggies. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

If you have kids, there is something you nearly always have with you: baby wipes. Heck, even if you don’t have kids you should have them along! I always have a package of wipes in the van, in the truck, travel packs in my purse, my hiking backpack and so on. But what do all of them have in common, besides cleaning up messes so easily? Those packages are soooo unattractive! Especially as your kids get older, or if you are like me and you don’t carry a diaper bag….

So how about a more stylish baby wipe? One that doesn’t say baby all over it. And that is ready to grab and take with you? Or to hang in the van, off the headrest?

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What I really liked about the new Huggies Clutch ‘n’ Clean packages is the prints are adult and modern, the packaging is rugged, yet smooth (and no plastic-y odor either) and they come loaded with a 32 count pack of fragrance free Triple Clean Layers wipes. They are easily refilled with whatever wipe you prefer (I always use the fragrance free ones).

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In 3 prints, there is plenty to choose from (I got the stripes for the boys, but I want the flower one for the van!).

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With 2 sticky-fingered little boys, every time we get back to the van, it is hand-wiping time. Walker always walks to the back to get the package, but now we can hang them from the van’s headrest, so he can get them out for him and Alistaire.

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(Please ignore the loaded n’ messy van!)

Or like Friday, when Alistaire squeezed out half a juice box on his toddler snack tray in the BOB Stroller while we were out hiking. Yeesh! Baby wipes to the rescue, no sticky residue left behind.

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And where was the wipes? Not buried anymore! Rather, they were tucked into the storage pocket, proudly displayed and locked into place with the strap. Simple. Pretty. Functional!

The Boys Cannot Get Enough of The New Stonyfield Yogurt Pouches

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 “I participated in a Blogger Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Stonyfield. I received coupons to facilitate my shopping trip and a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

Have you seen the new Stonyfield YoBaby, YoToddler, and YoKid yogurt pouches?

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Alistaire (and Walker as well) are part of the “pouch generation”, both having grown up on squeeze pouches from before they could hold onto them. I love them for car rides and outdoor activities: no spoons, no mess! I have seen other yogurt pouches, but all have been shelf-stable, sold in the baby food aisle, and just are not yogurt, but rather fruit/berries with a yogurt base. Stonyfield is the first refrigerated organic yogurt pouch available. If you already purchase Stonyfield yogurt for your young ones, this is even better! No artificial colors, flavors or high fructose corn syrup. I appreciate knowing that when we travel I can find a quick-serve snack for the boys, especially Alistaire, that I know is safe for him – and is organic as well.

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Alistaire couldn’t get enough of the pouches! He was in love with them from first sip, be it with Baby, Toddler or Kid varieties.

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The YoBaby comes in 4 flavors (Blueberry, Mango, Vanilla and Sweet Potato), YoToddler in 2 flavors (Strawberry Beet Raspberry and Pear Spinach Mango) and YoKids in 3 flavors (Strawberry, Blueberry and Strawberry Banana). I found the pouches in the yogurt section of our local grocery stores (different stores had different flavors!). Our Safeway mingles organic items with regular, Fred Meyer’s carries them in the “natural” food section.

As for the fun flavors? He liked the sweet potato YoBaby the best, The YoToddler Strawberry Beet Raspberry he kept sucking on to make sure it was empty , although he wasn’t a fan of the Pear Spinach Mango. The YoKids I tried and really liked the Strawberry – it was vibrant tasting.

PS: If you love yogurt, check out Stonyfield’s Pintrest page. It’ll give you so much inspiration!

Pull-Ups First Flush Ambassador: The Hard Months

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“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Pull-Ups. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

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I have enjoyed being part of the Pull-Ups® First Flush Ambassador Program these past months, because it has helped me to understand my child a lot better.

I learned some painful (to me) lessons, while attempting to potty-train my middle child. And I say attempt, because some of what I tried failed pretty miserably. He regressed a bit, becoming whiny and clingy, while I kept pushing. This wasn’t my normally pretty happy child. It took some real thinking to realize I was pushing too hard. Every child is different. He wanted nothing to do with a potty but will use the real toilet. Where as the youngest is highly fascinated with the toddler potty. Although I think he’d have loved this:

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How cute is that? The First Years has a line of awesome 3 in 1 potties that convert for bigger kids – and make sounds. Training potty, big kid seat and a step stool. In a Cars design! I have a feeling that Alistaire will be getting one like this, it is very user-friendly. (Bonus? If you buy a specialty potty system from First Years, you receive a free sample of Pull-Ups Training Pants to get you started!) Where I found my middle child pulling back, and digging in, the youngest is excited to get started. My advice? If you get resistance, pull back and wait a week or two, then start again. Yes, being consistent is important, but pressing too hard (as I did), can do more damage. Make it fun for them. Set goals for things they need to be potty trained for. For Walker it has been that once he is trained fully, he can hang out in the ball pit at IKEA, at the play area at our local grocery store, he can go backpacking with me. Big Kid prizes really! I also get down to his level and we talk about all the things he can do that his baby brother cannot. Like how he doesn’t have to nap, because he is a big boy.

So as we work on it, I know we are far from being done, but I also know that child three will be a cinch, once I have mastered child two. And at least learned what not to do ;-)

Do you need ideas? Help? Advice? Check out the Big Kid Academy online and Pull-ups Twitter and Facebook pages!

Starting From Scratch: Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce

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Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking is a food manifesto that helps young readers relate to what they eat, inspiring both budding chefs and budding food lovers in the process. Beginning with an exploration of taste and how it works, author and food activist Sarah Elton explains how ingredients have been on the move for centuries, resulting in the unique fusion of flavors we love today. She breaks down the science of food and cooking into bite-sized and easily digestible pieces of information that cover the chemistry of heat versus cold, fat versus acid, and salt versus sweet. Both practical and philosophical in its approach, Starting from Scratch demystifies food and cooking by boiling it down to the basics. Young chefs learn to make sense of recipes, measure and substitute ingredients, and stock a pantry, and discover that food is more than just a prepackaged meal. Using simple and universal examples, Starting from Scratch inspires children to eat better, try new flavors, and understand what’s on their plate. Even reluctant chefs will gain an improved sense of where food comes from and be able to join in on a conversation that continues from snack time to dinnertime.

After reading through the book, and sharing it with Walker (who has become my helper in the kitchen), we decided to try the Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce recipe, and adapt it to our taste. Fun, easy and yes, it tasted great! Even at 3 or 4 years old, children can be in the kitchen learning from us.

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Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce (As adapted from page 90)

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes (used unsalted with basil)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • Pinch sugar, to taste
  • Fine sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat a large saucepan over medium, add oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes (with any liquid) to the pan. Add Italian seasoning, vinegar, capers and pinch of salt. Break up tomatoes with a potato masher. Cook over medium-low, on a low simmer, for 20 or so minutes, stirring often. Season to taste with sugar (to cut the bite of the acid in tomatoes), salt and pepper, to taste.

Dresses 16 ounces of cooked spaghetti.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy.

A Month in Big Kid Academy

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“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Pull-Ups. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

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Walker was very excited to receive a “review package” that was all his. He happily brought the box into the house and showed it to his little brother. Especially being it was the Cars designs!

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Last month I posted about being a Pull-Ups® First Flush Ambassador and my efforts to potty train my middle and youngest children, and that yes, it had been very frustrating before having this chance.

Well…maybe a month can bring a turning point. Instead of pushing the middle child, and him digging in his feet, I put my energy into treating him as a “big kid”. He might not be potty trained yet, but he grew up so much in this past month. We got the two boys an IKEA bed setup, and hacked into bunk beds. Walker happily took to it, settling into his penthouse suite above. The “baby”, who turned 2 in February, has left his crib as well, and sleeps below. Sometimes Walker wakes up and goes down his ladder, and crawls into his little brothers bed and they snuggle. It really makes me so happy to see them like that.

The biggest thing I noticed was a few days into the month he told me he did not want help in dressing anymore (although he reserved the right if he needed help!). Suddenly he was picking out his outfits, putting on socks and shoes, but most of all? He was changing his Pull-Ups as if they were underwear. With the Pull-Ups he knows which side is which, and doesn’t have to ask for help with it.

No fighting or crying. And he was getting dressed while standing up, the changing pad is for babies according to him. So, maybe I did find out what might work for him!

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I took the boys to the Lego Store this week as a treat, for both being such big boys. They had so much fun, and Walker couldn’t believe there was a whole store of Legos ;-) Rewards can be fun, but also can be the unexpected. Big boys get treated like big boys!

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Pull-Ups has a mobile app as well that looks fantastic, unfortunately it is for iphone and Android formats, and I run on a Windows phone. If anyone gets a chance to play on it, please let me what you think of it! The “Big Kid Checklist” for bedtime and potty timers would be so handy to have in my pocket.

Learn more about Big Kids Academy and visit Twitter and Facebook for even more help. I will see you in a month, and hopefully by then my “plan” will have worked – and have a happy potty trained child (or two – the little one is all excited to try it!)

Book Review: Max’s Magnificent Choice & The Tacky Box

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Our two youngest boys love being read to. Like really love it. If you let them, they will keep bringing book after book. Kirk settles them into bed almost every night by reading 1 or 2 books. It makes me smile, because they enjoy it so much. So when a new book came recently, and it had a little treasure chest (oops, Tacky Box!), Walker was after me to read it to him. We curled up on our bed and had story time. And I noticed something as I read. The boys were quietly laying there with me. No goofing off, falling off the bed or wrestling. They really loved this book. What was it?

Max’s Magnificent Choice - A book to spread the message of a Campaign for Kindness. Can one person help others to be more kind? Can one person create a ripple effect? That by treating others as you would like to be treated, you will show others they too can. I’d like to think they can! They do well with manners, such as opening doors for strangers (and those known), saying please and thank you but as for words, I think we can all do better.

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The tale of a handsome and smart monkey (with a great choice in head gear!), who unfortunately has a habit of insulting other animals in the jungle. This leaves him quite sad as he doesn’t understand that the words he uses are insulting and hurtful, and that is why no one wants to play with him. And yes, there is a story for girls as well! Margo’s Magnificent Choice. Max is very sad, as he doesn’t get why the other animals reject him.

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He meets a wise owl who tells him why he is being shunned, and how he can make things better. The owl explains that bad or hurtful words are “Tacky”. Max is given a box to store these bad things, so that he won’t think of them again. The book comes with a very own Tacky Box for the child. To have, to decorate, and to use. If a bad word is used, or they hear a word that is mean/hurtful, they can write it on paper, and store it inside. What a wonderful idea.

And then Kirk pipes up and says “Maybe you need a jumbo Tacky Box for when you drive.” Harharhar. Although, OK, he is right. Having little ones who repeat everything has led me to see how bad my own mouth can be!

The story behind how it came to be, from the mouth of a babe, is a learning lesson. Handle it well, and the child can learn from it.

The Tacky Box? Slowly, Walker and I are writing words on the pad of Tacky paper (that is included) and tucking them away. This weekend we will paint the box together. Walker has picked out a deep blue, metallic gold and silver paints from my craft supplies. And snuggle up and read about Max again! And talk about why mean words can hurt so much, and why we should try to use them less.

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The little box is neat. Unfinished wood, with a little closure that even little fingers can open easily, it holds the pad of paper and a pencil, with lots of space for thoughts.

Walker says “Abra Cadamera” when he opens it, and puts a pice of paper in it. Then closes it, latches it down and says “Bye-bye paper, see you later!” (Which I find pretty funny, the abra-cadamera….I’d love to know how he picked that one up! So much cuter than what he should be saying!)

I will continue to think more actively about how what I say affects my children, my husband and how that ripples out to them, and then out of our house. And also help them make better choices in what they say.

FTC Disclosure: We received a copy for review.  #TackyBoxKindness

Challenge your diaper with Huggies Snug & Dry

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When my middle son, Walker, was born in 2010 I never questioned what brand of diapers I would use. It would be Huggies, and nothing else. Kirk was scratching his head over that I am sure, but even with 12 years between Walker and Ford, I knew what I liked. With my oldest son, Ford, I had tried the store brands and other name brands, in the quest of “saving” money, only to learn my lesson. Huggies were often as economical, and many times less money. And I didn’t waste 3 to 4 outfits a day to the dirty laundry basket, all because of ill-fitting diapers that leaked. When Alistaire, our youngest, was born I took a pack of Huggies with me to the hospital, knowing the hospital only provided a sad excuse for diapers (scented…yuck, which gave him a skin rash). By then Kirk knew to load up the cart with red and white boxes of Snug & Dry. Good man!

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“I can keep drinking all the juice I want if I get the good diapers!”

What were the features that caused total brand loyalty for me? 

  • No perfume. Seriously, who puts scents in diapers? The same people who scent toilet paper? Not only can I not use scented products, but I don’t want this on my children’s sensitive skin.
  • Side tabs that don’t rip off. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to put a store brand diaper and right as I go to bring the side tab over the front, the whole tab rips off. Yeah, because I don’t enjoy throwing away a NEW diaper that was a “saving” at 17 cents a diaper. No, I just wasted 17 cents! One batch of store brand diapers I had 10 of them do this in ONE package. I was steaming over it.
  • No plastic feeling outer cover. They leave the baby all sweaty. The even worse combination? Plastic cover and scented. Oy. That should be banned!
  • Diapers oddly cut. For me, somehow nearly no other brand is cut right. When they are newborns you don’t want thigh gap!
  • Preemie and Newborn diapers that are like velvet on their skin. When my oldest was born a month early, this was so amazing.
  • Not leaking, even on long car rides and sitting in backpack carriers while hiking. Like a happy Alistaire below!

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I learned early on that when hiking with wee ones, you put them in the best. Otherwise, having a soggy diaper on a baby, especially when front carrying, is something you do NOT want to experience.

In addition to the same trusted Leak Lock® protection parents have come to love, only Huggies® Snug & Dry Diapers have SureFit*Design, to provide long-lasting fit for up to 12 hours of leakage protection.

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Features include:
• SnugFit* Waistband for All-Around Fit
• Now closer-to-body fit to move with baby’s twists and turns
• Now softer outer cover
• Vibrant, modern Mickey Mouse graphics

Available in 6 sizes, from Size 1 (up to 14 lbs) through Size 6 (over 35 lbs).

Suggested retail price of $9.99 for a Jumbo Pack and $19.99 for a Big Pack (diaper count varies based on diaper size). Available nationwide at retail outlets where diapers are sold.

And want a fun time-waster, that your kids will love to play with you? That can also help others?

Visit the Huggies Challenge website to take the Huggies® Challenge – complete challenges and win prizes. For every new challenge completed (4 are added each month!), Huggies Every Little Bottom will donate diapers to a baby in need. Which to me, is an amazing thing! I realize only too well how hard it is when you can’t buy enough diapers for your little one. I was a single mom to my oldest son, so it hits a spot in me hard. It is a horrible choice too many parents are forced to make.

Have fun, help others! Please visit, every baby deserves a dry bottom, and if you have a few minutes free time you can help out.

Like The Blueberry Breakfast game, that challenges you to find differences in the scene:

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And yes, look who got her badge. I had fun, learned about products and helped out a child in need :-) And I kept playing games with Walker, he was having lots of fun.

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When you take the Huggies Challenge, you can win Huggies Rewards Points, which can be used towards free diapers and free samples. Also, two lucky Testers will win Huggies Diapers & Wipes for an entire year! Drawings for these prizes will take place on May 12th and August 25th.

Until then, let your babes have fun goofing off – and not worrying. This diaper can handle it!

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FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Huggies, but my love for Snug & Dry is all my own.

Big Kid Academy

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“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Pull-Ups. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

I recently was offered to become a Pull-Ups® First Flush Ambassador and after thinking it over, decided I could use the help! If anything, talking about our “adventure” might mean we get to the end of it! I’d love to be free of diapers.

You’d think potty-training two small children would be easy since I have done it once before…but you know it isn’t. If anything, it is harder. Because I know I have done it before, but yeesh, so many years have passed I don’t remember how I did it! When you start talking a dozen or so years….it doesn’t get any easier. And the oldest of the two young ones isn’t exactly happy with being potty-trained. He is fighting it every step of the way, and if it continues this way, his younger brother may be there first. Basically I am trying to get both of them trained at the same time, since the youngest seems interested. My theory is that they will get competitive and I win (maniacal laugh inserted here).

Have you checked out The Big Kids Academy? It has so much helpful information, that you will get inspired to try (or try again for the 20th time on a child).

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A few weeks back, frustrated by a child that has ZERO interest in potty-training, I printed the Potty Training Progress Chart and have it posted in their bathroom. You cannot print out too many copies of this!

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I backed off a bit, to let Walker settle into the idea, and to work on my training techniques. Obviously what I was doing was not working for him. It worked for Alistaire, but not for him. It can be so much easier to just cave, and let them wear diapers. And then that fear comes up “This kid isn’t going to be trained by school!”.

So…in the next month or so I am hoping that we will be a happy family, and find ways to get the boys to being big kids. Now…I am off to read up on rewards. And I think there is a large bag of Skittles needed. I am OK with bribery.

You can also find more help on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

PS: Moms, I’d love to hear your feedback, on what worked for you. Or how you worked with one that didn’t want to?

Wee Houses

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I am SO feeling the season this year! Something about Walker being old enough to do food crafts makes it so much more fun.

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It works as gingerbread houses in their own right, or for me, to get Walker warmed up, so he wouldn’t get too worked up while we did the “real” houses. He was mellow by then!

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A box of brand name graham crackers, a tub of plain frosting, some powdered sugar and toppings. Why commercial frosting? It works easy, no dyes in this one and I find I like it better than homemade for graham crackers – by adding powdered sugar it becomes very paste like and sets fast. Beyond that, The Frosting Creations frosting is allergy safe for my youngest.

I used a square flat plate for the base, but built each house separately, then added them once dry. Take about half the frosting out, into a bowl. Stir in enough powdered sugar till the frosting is thick. Spread frosting on a whole cracker (this makes the base). Carefully snap another cracker in half. Frost one side of each half, and one short end of each. Make a pyramid on the base as you like, then fill out the frosting gently (I find a thin butter knife works well). Add pretzel sticks if you like for decorations. Walker had seen gingerbread marshmallows, which we added as well. Sprinkle on crystal sparkling decorating sugar (Wilton), mini marshmallows and whatever else one likes. Let dry overnight.

The next day place the houses on the plate. Sugar Pearls make a neat pathway. Shredded coconut (the sweetened kind) makes a lovely snow. Decorate as one likes….and have fun!

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