Pretty Pink Popsicles

Prettyinpink1

It’s strawberry season, and my transplanted plants have been producing:

Prettyinpink4

I don’t get many berries because usually there is a 2 & 4-year-old following me with beady eyes. But isn’t that why I grow so many berries? 😉

Prettyinpink2

So I made them little ice pops to enjoy –

Prettyinpink1

Pretty Pink Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces coconut milk
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 10 ounces Lemonade

Directions:

If the strawberries are not sweet, sprinkle a little granulated sugar on them and let macerate for an hour before using.

Place 10 3-ounce cups on a small rimmed baking sheet.

Process the coconut milk and strawberries in a blender until mixed. Divide equally between the cups, a shy ¼ cup in each. Put in freezer for 30 minutes. Take out and pour lemonade on top of each cup, gently insert a craft stick or rigid straw into each cup. Return to freezer until hard, at least 4 hours.

To remove, run cups under hot tap water for a few seconds, then rip and peel off cup. Store leftover ice pops in a gallon freezer bag.

Makes about 10 ice pops.

Prettyinpink3

Swimming Pool Garden Beds

PoolGarden1

Last year in early May, I wrote a post on making raised garden beds using inexpensive children’s swimming pools. So did you wonder how that project went? Well, how about we peek in on this year’s garden:

PoolGarden1

I added in a second bed this year. It is playing host to two types of bush beans and a pumpkin plant. The beans are easily encouraged to grow up with various tomato cages, that I run hemp garden twine around (the vines need something to grab on).

PoolGarden2

Last year’s bed is back, filled to the brim with carrots. Walker asks daily “are the carrots ready?” Soon!

So…you just have to try this type of gardening. It exceeded my hopes last year. It is cheap and easy to put together. Go buy a standard kiddie pool, about 4 feet wide and 7 inches deep (buy made in the USA ones!), take home and drill drainage holes. Toss in some rocks at the bottom and about 4½ cubic feet of garden soil/potting mix. As I noted last year, keep the mixture light (not heavy on topsoil!) and it will grow great vegetables. Keep it watered, add in mulch every year and you have about the simplest garden you can make. And yes, the swimming pool survived the winter with no cracking, even with long periods of below freezing temperatures. And survived a move.

*OK, fine, yes…those fancy-pant decorator raised garden beds might look better in the yard, but they are not doing anything more than this one is. And this one runs $9-12 for the pool. Where as the fancy raised beds that are recycled plastic “boards” can set you back $50 to 100! You can always sink these pools into the ground and put bark around them, to hide the uglies. If you must. Or just claim your kids have their own garden 😉

An Open Letter To My Gym

LAF_logo_2C_H

This isn’t what you might think it is. At least not in the way  you might expect. Rather this is how I lost the love for a gym I once loved.

LAF_logo_2C_H

When the shiny new LA Fitness opened in the town over, back in I want to say 2008, I was excited. The LA Fitness gyms are usually nice looking, and well laid out. This one was spot on. It has all the machines and weights one could want. A pool and sauna. Lots of classes. Even a trainer I can stand.

But you know what killed my love of it? The Kids Room. 

Those first years it was great. I enjoyed working out. Then the kids were born. And I noticed something. The daycare room, while bright and cheery, was about the filthiest place you could take kids. Seriously. They pick up head colds, Norovirus (omg…..so gross), pink eye and god knows what else. All it takes is ONE visit and boom, they are sick. And then they give it to me. Or Kirk. I have now been sick for nearly 2 weeks! I HATE summer infections. You know…when it is hot and you are sweating a fever, with a runny nose.

But the worst reason? The lack of safety in the daycare room.

When Walker was a baby, it was OK. But then when I started taking Alistaire, things changed. The first sign was when I picked him up after working out once, and he was all flushed/pink. Little did I know that this was his first allergic reaction. Only later, after he had his first trip to the ER for peanuts did I realize how lucky we were that day! After Alistaire was tested for all his allergies, I became that hovering helicopter Mother. Allergy-Moms freak out so much. We cannot help it. Most people just do not get it. He is everything to me.

B

The daycare is supposed to be food free. It isn’t. It has a high turnover of staff. A few understand it, as they have friends/family with allergies. But the worst are the employees that think I am a nutter. You can see it in their eyes. The inward rolling of the eyes. The fear I feel every time I let them go in that room.

But the final straw for me? A few weeks back I came to get the boys after working out. The lady working says “Oh he has an allergy to peanuts, right?”. And then goes on to tell me that there had been a kid eating PB crackers NEXT to Alistaire. She asked me “how allergic is he”. And how they had watched him, after moving the other kid away.

But no one came and got me. They waited. WTF. I was livid, it took everything in me to not become demon mom and rip heads off.

I knew on that day I would never trust them to do the right thing. I do get that to those without allergies, my reaction was extreme. But it isn’t to allergy parents. Alistaire cannot tell you that he doesn’t feel good! An exposure can go from nothing to “where is the Epi-Pen” in minutes.

Why was a peanut item EVEN allowed in there? Why was the kid allowed to be eating in there, or at minimum, why was he eating in the main play area? When I asked why they didn’t come get me, the lady looked at me like I was “one of those moms”. It isn’t just eating the item, it is then transferred to everything the child touches after! And remember how I said that room never seems to get cleaned? Toys, contaminated, by everything a nut/peanut eating kid touches. It doesn’t go away. Unless you wipe it down or clean it.

It is our duty to remove our allergy child from harm, and if I have to, we pack up and leave. A few months back we were at a playground, I turn around and a kid has a sandwich hanging out of his mouth. I look at his older sibling and asked “is that peanut butter?”. The kid was right next to Alistaire. Older sister said yes, it is. I asked her, can you please ask your brother to back away. She did. And then I rounded up the boys and we left. (Let’s not dwell on why a kid needs a PB sandwich at 10 am, on a playground….)

But for me…I have lost the last bit of confidence in taking them with me to the gym. I don’t enjoy working out there anymore. All I do is worry that something will happen. And I hate that.I don’t expect change from LA Fitness, but I can tell you that I have decided to cancel my membership this month. Not sure what I will do after. But I do not like the fear I feel. It isn’t healthy for me.

Active Moms: Meet SAM & Poise

poise-microliners-package-left

This post is sponsored by Poise, views, thoughts and opinions are mine. For some this may be a highly embarrassing topic but I feel why be ashamed of it! Instead, lets look for a solution – which means you need to hear about SAM!

As a Mom to 3 children, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I have issues with LBL.

LBL what, you say? It isn’t fun or sexy to talk about light bladder leakage, but if you have had kids (like me), the downside is you might have LBL. One in three women experience Light Bladder Leakage (LBL), which can be triggered by everyday occurrences like coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise. Many women rely on feminine care products or nothing at all to manage their little leaks because they don’t know there are solutions designed specifically for LBL or they don’t think incontinence products are for them. As the leader in the light incontinence category, Poise brand offers a variety of pads and liners to make it easy to find protection for every woman’s needs.

poise-microliners-package-left

These thin and surprisingly absorbent liners feature SAM (Super Absorbent Material) to provide discreet Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) protection that helps keep you dry and comfortable all day long so you can manage life’s little leaks with confidence. Poise Microliners are the thinnest liners in the light incontinence category and are designed to absorb wetness, neutralize odor and stay three times drier than period liners.

One of the hardest things for me to overcome in the past 4 years, after having my last two children, has been feeling confident in the gym. I do NOT run, nor do I do any exercise that involves me jumping high or worse, something like jumping jacks. Before I met Poise Microliners, I suffered through it. To the point I have gotten into arguments with my trainer, where I was nearly crying! I am sorry, but you can berate me for not running across a basketball court all you want. It is right up there with praying you won’t spend a week sneezing with a cold!

After? Well…I can tell you it actually makes me want to try exercises I had quit or deemed I couldn’t do. T-h-i-n, portable, and no one will know your secret! OK, running isn’t going to happen (because, sorry, I hate running…hah!) but now I don’t feel embarrassed anymore.

Would you like to try a free sample of Poise Microliners?

Poise

FTC Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

 

Strawberry Ice Pops

Strawberrypopsicle1

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!

Strawberrypopsicle1

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 😉

Strawberrypopsicle2

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

Huggiesclutchnclean

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?

Huggiesclutchnclean

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).

Clutch2

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!).

Clutch1

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.

Wipes

(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.

bob

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

Stonyfield3

 “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?

Stonyfield1

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.

Stonyfield3

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.

Stonyfield2

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

vroom

“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.”

bka-logo

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:

vroom

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

Startingtfromscratch

Startingtfromscratch

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.

Pastasauce

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

bka-logo

“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.”

bka-logo

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!

Boys5

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!

Boys

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!

Boys3

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!)

%d bloggers like this: