2017 | NESHEAHOLIC

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Crafts, Recipes, and Activities


Summertime is in full swing. Are there things you wanted to experience this summer that you haven't yet? Are you still looking to make the season special but don't know where to start? I've got your summer inspiration right here!  A great list of amazing summertime food, activities, crafts, and beauty tips. Summertime is for fun and fresh ideas. Try one of these before fall breezes in!

Food

Hawaiian Acai Bowl

Hawaiian Acai Bowl by Wanderzest
Margarita Bark recipe by Mom on the Side
Black Raspberry Frappé by (a)Musing Foodie
Strawberry Cheesecake Puffs by Moore or Less Cooking
Stay Hydrated during Migraines {Natural Pineapple Lime Electrolyte Drink} by Great Contradictions
ICED COCONUT MOCHA WITH STARBUCKS® by One Artsy Mama
Easy Oreo S’mores Ice Pops by Creative Cynchronicity Spiked S’Mores Milkshakes by Sweet Lil You
Tropical Flavored Popsicles Forever Green Mom

Blueberry Mug Cake

Blueberry Microwave Mug Cake by LoveJaime
Cinnamon Roll Peach Bake by Julie Measures
London Broil Marinade Recipe by Saving You Dinero
Blueberry Pie recipe by Chaos Is Bliss

Crafts and Activities

5 Ways to Prepare for a Road Trip with a Toddler by Nesheaholic.com
How to make a Flip Flop Welcome Sign by My UnEntitled Life
Make DIY Slime by Inspiring Momma
Top 10 Things to Pack for a Picnic by Finding Sanity In Our Crazy Life Summer Travel Essentials by A Tiny Traveler Blog

Tie Dye T-shirts

Summer Fun Tie Dye Playdate by Crafty Mama in Me
DIY Patriotic Centerpieces by Happy Family Blog
Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn DIY Plant Pot by Organized 31
Summer Bucket List ideas for families by The Momma Diaries
Homemade Handprint Garden Stones by Ava's Alphabet

DIY Cooler

DIY Industrial Cooler Five Marigolds
Sip Back and Relax Wine Glasses by Happy Go Lucky
Family Pickle Canning — Sharing is Caring by Beauty Brite
Privacy Planters with Lattice DIYDanielle

Entertaining

Pizza

Outdoor family game night by My Life Homemade
The Perfect Tournament Pairing-Modelo and Elotes by Southern Mom Loves
Pink flamingos Birthday Party by Five Marigolds

Barbecue party decor

Chillin’ and Grillin’ Backyard Barbecue by Five Marigolds
Host an Americana Summer Picnic by Revel and Glitter

Beauty and Fashion

DIY: Soothing Orange and Chamomile Body Scrub (W/Free Printable Tea Envelope) Winter and Sparrow
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Our Breastfeeding Story

The end of our nursing journey


Our breastfeeding story

My original breastfeeding goal was six months. Three or four months in I loved breastfeeding and decided I would likely nurse at least a  year. As the months continued I intended to make it to at least 14 months, weaning before my 30th birthday.

Three months to eight months breastfeeding


My daughter started daycare at three months old when my maternity leave was up. At that point I began pumping while at work to produce her daycare bottles. I envied all the breast milk stash shots I saw online. Moms who had freezers full of breast milk for a rainy day. I was not so lucky. My pump output was usually exactly what my daughter needed for the following day, with little to no surplus for a stash.  At around 8 months my pump output started to decline so I had to increase my number of pumping sessions to keep up with what she needed during the day at daycare. Although my pump output went down, when she nursed directly from me she was satisfied.

Beginning to supplement


Around 9 months my pump output became so low that we had to begin supplementing with formula at daycare pretty regularly, usually one bottle a day.  At this point she was still satisfied nursing directly. 

By 10.5 months my pump output was so low that I no longer wanted to take the time at work to do it for just a few ounces. I was still nursing her mornings, nights, and weekends. Because breastfeeding is completely a game of supply and demand, I knew that no longer pumping would decrease demand, and therefore further decrease my supply. 

At about 11.5 months she was no longer satisfied from nursing sessions, and I knew our nursing journey was coming to an end. It was time to wean.

The end of our breastfeeding journey


Weaning was extremely easy for us. She had been off bottles for months and was already drinking from sippy cups. Because she'd been having formula at daycare already she had no problem continuing. She also began transitioning to almond milk and cows milk shortly after weaning and began eating table food regularly so her milk intake in general decreased in favor of solids.

When I stopped nursing I was very fortunate to not get engorged or have any pain, I didn't even leak! My supply waned very easily, thankfully. 

Emotionally, I was sad for a few days. I really enjoyed breastfeeding, and I had hoped to make it a few more months. Initially I felt like a failure for not making it as long as I wanted to, but then I had to congratulate myself for making it as far as I did. The commitment to breastfeeding is not always easy, and I made it 11 months. I'm proud of me. 


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ham and Cheese Quesadilla Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EckrichFlavor #AskForEckrich  #CollectiveBias

I wish I had the time to create extravagant meals every day for my family. The reality is on week nights there is a short window between when we get home and bedtime. I don't want to spend all that time at the stove. I love creating simple, quick, and filling recipes for week nights, especially during seasons when we have a lot of extracurricular activities going on. One of these quick and simple recipes is a ham and cheddar quesadilla.

ham and cheddar quesadilla

Three simple ingredients: 


Eckrich Honey Cured Ham
Shredded mild cheddar cheese
Whole wheat tortillas

Eckrich is making it easy to get your deli meat at your local Walmart - enter for a chance to win a $100 Walmart gift card!

#EckrichFlavor #Sweepstakes (7/11 to 8/18)

Eckrich Deli Meats is about tradition, flavor, and affordability. Their hams are specially trimmed for consistent quality and feature a wide selection of flavors. Their products are gluten free, and they have a full line of quality natural smoked and natural juice hams.

I love shopping the deli counter at Walmart for recipe ingredients. One of my favorite memories as a child was visiting the deli counter with my grandfather and being able to test the first slice of cheese or meat the deli attendant sliced to check the thickness. It was a tradition with me and my grandfather, and now I get to share that with my daughter, who happily dances in the deli section eating her ham or cheese.

How to make a ham and cheddar quesadilla

ham and cheddar quesadilla recipe

Spray your skillet with non-stick cooking spray and warm to medium-high heat. Place one of your tortillas on the warmed skillet. Layer cheese on top of the tortilla. Place slices of ham on top of your cheese and then sprinkle with just a little more cheese on top of your ham, and place your second tortilla on top. The second layer of cheese acts as glue between the ham and your top tortilla. Because of the water in the ham the tortilla and ham won't stick without a little bit of cheese!

Plated ham and cheddar quesadilla


Cook your quesadilla for two minutes on each side until brown. Pro-tip: the best way to cut your quesadilla neatly is using a pizza cutter.

I serve this to my daughter with chips, veggies, or fruit. Ham and cheddar quesadillas are great warm, but they are also good room temperature - a great choice for school lunch boxes!

quesadilla with grapes

Visit the Ask for Eckrich site for more back-to-school recipe inspiration. 

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How to Prepare for a Road Trip with a Toddler

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias


5 ways to prepare for a road trip with a toddler


We are headed on a road trip to Virginia Beach at the end of the month. This will be our longest road trip with a toddler! Road trips with a toddler can definitely cause a bit of trepidation so we're planning early to make the trip go as smooth as possible.

5 Ways to Prepare for a Road Trip with a Toddler

Prepare Your Car

bmw

Make sure your car is in good working order. No matter how much you plan, an unexpected detour to the side of the road can throw all of your preparation out of the window. Make sure your car is in tip-top shape. I took my car to Walmart's Automotive Care Center to get my oil changed with Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil. The great thing about dropping your car at Walmart's Automotive Care Center is that you can get your road trip shopping done while your car is being worked on. Definitely a time saver.

walmart auto care center

back of walmart auto care center

The mileage on my car just passed 75,000 miles so opted for the Pennzoil® High Mileage Vehicle® motor oil which is specifically designed for vehicles with over 75,000 miles, with the mission of keeping engines running clean and going strong.

Visit the Walmart Automotive Care Center Rollback page for the current discount.

Walmart Automotive Care Center Rollback page


Grab new small toys

A great trick for keeping your toddler entertained on long trips is having a stash of new small toys that you can pull out when you feel their patience is getting low. Choose toys of their favorite characters or with a mechanic that you know they like. You don't want something with many pieces that your child could drop in the back seat. Great choices are a small doll with a brush so you child can brush their hair, small coloring books with just a few crayons, toys that function with magnets so they stay together well, etc.

Stock Up the iPad

toddler with ipad

If there is ever an occasion for screen time it is when you're on a road trip with a toddler. Stock up the iPad or similar device with their favorite games and if possible new episodes of their favorite shows. If there aren't new episodes choose their favorite episodes and episodes that deal with travel, road trips, waiting, and patience. You can also choose episodes that relate to where you are headed. Going to a beach destination? Choose the beach episodes of their favorite shows. Headed to an amusement park? Find the episode where their favorite character rides a roller-coaster. This way you can engage them in conversation about where they're headed.

Pack Snacks

Snacks are essential on a road trip. Something about sitting still makes toddlers more hungry than usual. Pack your child's favorite snacks, but nothing that is too messy. We love pouches and beanie snacks. To make snack distribution easier pre-pack one serving portions so that you can easily hand your child their food at snack time. Also included in packing snacks is making sure you have mess free cups on hand, at least two, one for water and one for another beverage. Of course, if you bring beverages into the equation you'll have more frequent bathroom stops so give beverages sparingly.

Plan Your Stops Strategically 

mother and daughter in back of bmw

We have a five hour ride ahead of us and we know there is very little chance that we'll be able to go straight through without giving our toddler a break to run around a bit. Research rest stops ahead of time but also be flexible to your child's disposition and possible naps. We're planning for a stop at rest stops that offers picnic tables and space to run around or a restaurant with an indoor play space. Knowing where these stops are ahead of time gives you some options to choose from when you make your stop, which you should plan for after your child wakes up from a nap, or after around two and a half hours for us on this five hour trip.

I don't want to feel like I can't travel until my daughter is older. With these strategies on how to prepare for a road trip with a toddler I feel like we'll have a great road trip and a fun time together once we reach our destination.
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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

4 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Wardrobe


You own more clothes than you wear. You get comfortable wearing your favorite pieces from week to week. Here are some steps to help your look be more diverse, make your clothes last longer, and help you purge yourself of unneeded/unwanted clothes. 

Four ways to get the most out of your wardrobe: 


Turn Your Hangers Around

Once you've worn a piece that hangs up, turn the hanger backwards, to signify that it's been worn. Try to go through your clothes until all items have been worn. You'll find gems that you forgot you had. 

Clean out a Drawer

For your folded clothes, have a cleaned out drawer that items go to once you've worn them. This leaves clothes you need to wear in your other drawers. When is the last time you've made it to the bottom of your drawer? Use this opportunity to really see what's been sitting in your dresser. 

Start Your Outfit with an Unworn Item 

Start your outfit planning with a clothing item that hasn't been worn yet in order to insure you get at least one thing you haven't worn recently into your clothing rotation. 

Sell, Giveaway and Throw Away

Through this process you will undoubtedly come across things you know you don't want or need any more. Get rid of them instead of taking up valuable space. If it's in bad shape, throw it away or turn it into a rag for cleaning. If it's in good shape but no longer your style or fit, sell it or donate it. I usually donate to Purple Heart. You can set up the donation online and they come to your house and pick up the items.  

This process really makes me think outside my usual box when creating outfits. It's also helped me find pieces I forgot I even had, and to get rid of things I know I'll never wear again. 

How are YOU getting the most out of your wardrobe?
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Why you should get pregnant in January

This post contains affiliate links. 
why you should get pregnant in January

My husband and I are avid planners. There aren't many decisions we make that aren't planned out and we have spreadsheets for most parts of our lives. When we decided to have a child we aimed to knock me up at the beginning of the year. I purposely got pregnant in January. Starting your pregnancy in January means: 

You'll be the most pregnant in summer.  

On the surface this sounds like a horrible thing, but being the biggest in the summer means spending way less money on maternity clothes than you would in the winter. Maternity clothes are expensive, and the more fabric you need to clothe yourself, the more expensive they're going to be. There is no need to buy maternity outerwear or sweaters when you're pregnant in the summer. I was able to stretch many of my summer dresses into maternity dresses. Also, flip flops. By the end of my pregnancy the only shoes I could fit were my Nike flip flops, I don't know what I would have done if I needed to wear closed shoes. 

You'll start breastfeeding in colder months. 

This is going to come in handy because you can get away with draped and heavy fabrics in the cooler months which can help you cover up while feeding if needed, and hide those wacky breast pads or surprise leaks.

You'll still be bundled up while you lose the baby weight. 

 I was glad to have a few months before I had to be in a tank top again. The fall/winter months gave me a chance to shed some of the baby weight before less clothes and thinner fabrics were a must. 

No matter what month you get pregnant in, you get a baby at the end, and that is spectacular. 



When did you get pregnant? What were the advantages of the time frame?
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Sunday, June 11, 2017

3 Ways to Keep Kids Interested in Their Toys


It used to feel like BabyCakes had a boatload of toys but we still found ourselves trying to figure out ways to entertain her. We do have a lot of toys, but they weren't keeping her interest. I stopped buying new toys and tried three things have that proven to keep her playing with the toys she does have.

3 Ways to Keep Kids Interested in Their Toys

Rotate Toys 

A great way to keep kids interested in their toys is to rotate them. Don't have all your toys out at once. Have a group of toys out and rotate them occasionally. Because BabyCakes is at school during the day and doesn't play with much during the week we rotate toys about once a month. If there is a long stretch of time when we are stuck in the house I may rotate them more often. Most people suggest 6 weeks as a good amount of time between rotations. This makes kids re-engage with items they haven't played with in a while and it's like they have a new toy!

how to keep kids interested in their toys


Use Toys in a New Way

If your child doesn't seem interested in a toy anymore try using it in a new way. If they are tired of building with blocks try having them sort blocks by color. Create a homemade ramp to race toy vehicles down. Hook vehicles together with pipe cleaners and create a long train of vehicles to push around. Think outside the box!

Play in Different Spaces

Playing with a toy in a different area can be all a child needs to get excited about the toy again. If it's warm bring some toys outside for play. Set up a play space in the kitchen or any other room where your child doesn't normally play. This will give them the opportunity to interact with the toys in a new way!

Even with trying these techniques there may be toys that your child is just not into any more. Check out my tips for decreasing toy clutter.

How do you keep your child interested in their toys?

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Corner Bakery Cafe Giveaway

Corner Bakery Cafe was gracious enough to send me $30 in gift cards and I'd like to gift them to one of the lovely Working Motherhood readers!



Corner Bakery Cafe started in downtown Chicago creating artisan breads and freshly baked sweets. Neighbors began to ask for sandwiches made with that fabulous bread, followed by homemade soups and salads. As guests' requests grew so did their menu and business.

Today they are serving ingredient-inspired, prepared-to-order food in 26 has states. Their menu includes salads, sandwiches, breakfast items, soups, chili, bakery goodies and more. Their kids menu is also very diverse.

Credit: Corner Bakery Cafe Facebook Page

If you live near a Corner Bakery Cafe enter to win $30 in gift cards below!
Giveaway closes midnight June 11, 2017. 

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Monday, May 15, 2017

5 Reasons You Should Go to Therapy

Today's post is in honor of Bloggers for Mental Health Awareness. Follow the hashtag #B4MH for more content from Bloggers in support of Mental Health Awareness. 



I've been going to therapy for six months. There. I said it. Actually, if you interact with me IRL you probably already know this. I am a huge proponent of therapy. I'm not ashamed to say that I need help. I acknowledge that I am privileged in my ability to be comfortable in that confession. For many, having to seek therapy is something taboo or embarrassing.  Life can be overwhelming. Don't be ashamed to seek help. Whether you keep it to yourself or shout it from the rooftops you need therapy. Here are 5 reasons you should go to therapy:

Mental Health is a Part of Self-Care
I am a self-care advocate and an essential part of self-care is mental health wellness. Mental health is just as important as physical wellness. Maintenance of your mental health should be as routine as eating right, going to the gym, and brushing your teeth.

Your Friends, Family, and Spouse are Bias
 Many people think they don't need therapy because they have a vast network of friends and family, or a partner who they can go to to talk about their problems. The issue with this is that friends, family, and partners will always be biased. It is essential to have a person who has no stake in your life helping you to sort through issues. Friends and family, even if unintentionally, will steer you in a direction that is best for them. Your therapist is 100% on your team. They have no biases and function completely to support you and no one else.

Therapists are Professionals
 Another deficit of friends and family is that they are not professionals. Therapists go to school for years to learn methods and tactics to help identify issues and work through them. While it is great to have someone to lend an ear, therapists are professionally equipped to help you. A huge component of their skill is that they are able to help you work through your problems without taking on the emotional burden.

It's the Ultimate in Me-Time
How often do you focus 100% on yourself? Therapy is one of the only times where the focus is completely on you. It is a brief opportunity to focus completely on yourself without distraction. This is very important.

You Need to Get Your Feelings Out to Deal With Them
Keeping your feelings and emotions bottled up inside is not healthy. That practice will leave you extremely unhappy or to an explosion of emotion. I really love journaling as a way to get my feelings out. The combination of journaling and then talking about the things I've journaled in therapy has really been helpful in sorting out emmotions and taking action to change things that make me unhappy.

I can't end this post without acknowledging that everyone cannot afford traditional therapy services. If you fall into that category, please check out this post: 81 Awesome Mental Health Resources when You Can't Afford a Therapist. 
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Monday, May 8, 2017

Unconventional Potty Training Supplies

This post contains affiliate links. For more information view my disclosure policy

We're currently in the process of potty training. While I'd hoped we'd skate through on the three day method it's taking us a little longer than that to really get this potty training thing off the ground. We've had some potty successes, and I've cleaned pee from the floor a few times, but we're getting there!

In preparation for potty training I got all the usual supplies - a potty chair, a potty seat for our standard toilet, panties, etc. Now that we've been in this potty training game for a little over a week there are some other items that have come in handy that I didn't see on anyone's potty training prep list.

Unconventional Potty Training Supplies




Grubhub

Do you know what's extremely stressful? Trying to watch your child for signs they need to use the potty, putting them on the potty at set intervals, and trying to cook, all at the same time. I saved a bit of my sanity a few days by ordering food via Grubhub and putting all my focus on my daughter. It really is an all consuming processes if you're being as present as you should be so not having to cook dinner simultaneously was a weight off my shoulders. Alternatives are planning some freezer meals or crock-pot meals ahead of time, anything that doesn't require you to watch the stove tentatively.

Prefolds

We have prefolds around the house because we started our diapering journey with cloth diapers. I've found prefolds extremely handy during potty training for placing on surfaces like her high chair and car seat. Those are situations where she's seated for a while and not taking a potty break so I feel more comfortable knowing there is a barrier. An alternative I've heard of is people using puppy pads this same way. But prefolds are washable so it's more economical to use them and toss them in the laundry with any other casualties of potty training.

Babylegs

Babylegs are another item we had around the house that we've pulled back out during potty training. You're encouraged to have your child in either nothing or just underwear on bottom when you're at home to make for easy removal when rushing to the potty. When it's cold weather or your have the air conditioner running it's nice to have something covering your child's legs for warmth that doesn't need to be pulled down. And in all honesty, they help to catch pee if accidents to happen as well.

I'm crossing my fingers that we'll be out of the potty training weeds within a month. Please feel free to share any potty training tips, tricks, or resources you may have!

potty training book and potty training chart


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

6 Expired Items In Your Kitchen Right Now

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase I get a small percentage of your order but your price remains the same. 

The other day while dinner was cooking I decided to go through my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator to toss any expired items. I filled almost an entire kitchen trash bag with expired items and I was amazed at how old some of the things I found were! I'm talking items that expired more than two years ago. There were some items that I honestly didn't think even had expiration dates. Here are 6 items to check the expiration date on today:

kitchen


Spices. 

I assumed because salt is said to never expire that all spices had an infinite shelf life, but that is not the case. Spices were the worst offenders in my purge. My issue is that I have so many spices in my cabinet that I often repurchase spices when I don't need them because I forget I already have them. I'm going to grab a couple of these revolving spice racks for my cabinet so I can better see what I have in stock and avoid double purchasing. I really don't need three containers of paprika lol.


Dried herbs. 

Similar to the spices, I often double or triple purchase dried herbs when I'm shopping for recipes because I forget I already have them. While dried herbs last much longer than fresh herbs they do expire! 

Sauces. 

Keep an eye on your sauces for two reasons. First, of course, is the expiration dates. Secondly, be cognizant of whether the sauce is to be kept in the cabinet or in the refrigerator after opening. While I was checking expiration dates I also found items that I'd kept in the cabinet for months that were supposed to be refrigerated after opening so I tossed them. Always rely on the manufacturers recommendation for how to store products. 

Flours. 

If you don't use flour often opt for the smaller bags to fit your specific recipe needs. Getting the big bags may seem cost effective but if 90% of your bag of flour will expire before you can use it it's not worth it. 

Sugars.

In this cabinet purge I ended up tossing all my sugar! I had some brown sugar and coconut sugar that were both expired. I also made the mistake of putting my white sugar in a separate container and not making note of the expiration date on my new container. Don't be like me! Label your items if you move them from their original packaging. 

Teas. 

Who knew tea could expire?! I had such a large tea stash and ended up having to toss a lot of it that had expired. I'm going to stick to sampler or variety packs of tea from now on so I can have flavors to choose from but not such a large volume since I'm the only tea drinker in the house. 

Now that I know these items indeed do have expiration dates I'll make checking them part of my spring cleaning routine each year. 
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia + GIveaway

Thank you to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia for our complimentary tickets and the tickets I'm giving away! 



The new LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia  just opened and we had a chance to visit this weekend. We had such a good time. I love places where BabyCakes can run around and explore to her heart's content. The facility is much bigger than I thought it would be. The 33,000-square-foot Discovery Center features 10 LEGO Play Zones.



As an adult I was really impressed by MINILAND®. It showcases Philadelphia landmarks recreated from nearly 1.5 million LEGO bricks. It's pretty impressive.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center MINILAND

LEGOLAND Discovery Center MINILAND


There is also the LEGO 4D Cinema, LEGO Racers Build & Test area where you can build a LEGO vehicle and take it to the ramps to test, LEGO® NINJAGO Training Camp and Laser Maze which are great for older kids looking to test out their ninja skills, Pirate Adventure Island which is a really cool pirate themed play area for kids between 36" and 60", and DUPLO® Park which was BabyCakes's favorite area featuring special big soft bricks.


Click here for the full listing of attractions. I was disappointed that the Imagination Express, an interactive LEGO ride, was having technical difficulties while we were there so we didn't get a chance to ride it. I definitely want to do that the next time we visit. 

I highly suggest if you plan to attend that you purchase your tickets and reserve your time-slot ahead of time. There were people attempting to purchase walk-up tickets when we were there at 10am and they were told there were no time-slots available until 2:45pm, so plan ahead!

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia

I'll make getting tickets even easier for you! I will be choosing two winners to receive 4 tickets to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia. Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway closes April 28th. Good luck!

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

I Wasn't Ready to be a Mother to a Toddler

To my recollection I was a good kid. I can recall two spankings in my life - one for cursing, and one for saying our house was "ghetto." Because I was a good kid I assumed I would have a good kid. We had BabyCakes, she's a great sleeper, good eater, and says please and thank you. And then... the Terrible Twos hit.

flower nested in rocks

I suppose I should be grateful that they didn't come until 2 and a half. The tantrums, the intentional defiance, she became a tiny tornado in the house. Her daycare provider commented on her new level of noncooperation.  I had no idea what to do. Because I assumed I would just get a good kid, I hadn't deeply thought about discipline and behavior modification.

The reality is she is still a good kid,  great in fact, but I needed to step my parenting game up. Children NEED discipline, and I'd really only been intentionally disciplining about half the time. The other half I tried to placate  her to attempt to avoid a tantrum. She had been such an easy kid until 2.5 but she now needs more discipline and more structure. The toddler  years are really all about them exploring their boundaries, and if you let them, they will push you to the edge.

I've re-calibrated, and I'm putting more intentional effort into behavior management and I feel like I already see a change. I also picked up the parenting book (affiliate link) 1-2-3 Magic which was recommended by a lot of moms and I'm looking forward to reading it.

This is just one of many times I've wondered if I'm doing any of this motherhood thing right, and it surely won't be the last. Motherhood doesn't come with a manual and every child is different. I may not always know what's right but I'll always do the best I can to take care of BabyCakes and that's all I can do!



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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Why Moms Need a Good Night’s Sleep and How to Get It

I don't know if you could tell, but sleep is very important to me. Hence my posts:

How to get a good night's sleep as a couple & The three stages of pregnancy sleep

It became even more important to get a good night's sleep after I had BabyCakes. I'm the first one up in the morning so I set the tone on getting everyone up and out the door.

Today I'm sharing a contribution from freelance writer Jenny Holt about why moms need a good night's sleep, and how to get it. Jenny is a mother of two. She loves nothing more than getting away from it all and taking her pet Labrador Bruce for long walks, something she can do a lot more now she's left the corporate world behind.

sleeping mother

I used to sleep well. Really well. In fact, a little too well. Years of good, happy sleep felt beyond me after I became a mother. That’s what we do, right? We somehow keep on going, drawing on superhuman supplies of hidden energy to do all the things we need to do, look after the kids, and all without a good night’s sleep. However, this does not have to be the case. We can, get a good night’s rest, and here’s some strategies to help:

  1. Sleep Training for the Kids: Perhaps the most important one is their sleep, not just yours. By training your children early to sleep in predictable patterns and to not wake you up during the night, you too can sleep well. Start at the 4 month old mark and be prepared for sleep training, it won’t be easy.

  2. Make Sure Your Bed is Comfortable: A good bed is a necessity and not just a luxury. You want one which is comfortable, has good, soft sheets, and is a pleasure to lay in. Find a bed which suits your preferences to get the best sleep possible.

  3. Diet: Be careful of what you eat. Some foods, such as those full of sugar or caffeine will inhibit sleep. It’s ok to have a coffee or three in the morning, but keep off the caffeine after midday. Furthermore, promote wholegrains and vitamin rich foods in your diet. It’s ok too to use supplements such as magnesium which promote a natural, good sleep.

  4. Changing our Lifestyles: Exercise as a mother is not normally an issue, but if you feel you’re not getting enough, see if you can find ways to walk more or do fitness classes even if it means giving their father more alone time with the kids. This can make it easier for the body to shut off. A bonus is, if you get a good night’s sleep after exercising it promotes weight loss.

  5. Turning Your Mind Off: The mind can easily become overactive; especially if you are using TV, computers or smartphones late at night. Instead, switch them off an hour before bed, and read or talk instead. Furthermore, try deep breathing meditation as a means of clearing the mind and calming the heart.

  6. Stick to Your Schedule: Create a schedule for yourself, some studies even suggest having the same waking and sleeping schedule everyday of the week be it a work day, a weekend, or a day off. Keep to the schedule so your body falls into a good rhythm.
How are you working to get better sleep at night?
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life

a clean minimal desk

I am overwhelmed.

Is it just me or is it hard to focus on just one thing at a time these days? We're pulled in five different directions, doing three things at once, while two different electronics chirp, beep and buzz at us with reminders and notifications.

As part of my goals for the year I want to live a life of less. I want less of what I don't need so I can enjoy what I have more. I'm working on a minimalist journey. This is happening in multiple ways. I'm getting rid of obligations that don't serve me, I'm getting rid of physical items from our home that we no longer use or need, and I'm simplifying my online life.

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life


Unsubscribe from unwanted e-mails. Making a quick count, I manage four e-mail addresses every day and more than that on occasion. My inbox is one of the most cluttered spaces in my life. I am unsubscribing from e-mail lists from places that I no longer engage, or retailers where I rarely shop. It's very nice to see a manageable number of unread e-mails and not waste time deleting things that don't interest me.

Turn off push notifications on your phone. You don't need notifications every time someone posts into a Facebook group or tags you in a funny meme. Those notifications can easily derail you from your important tasks during the day. My phone only alerts me for calendar reminders, calls, and text messages. Anything else isn't urgent. It's very easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole from getting game or social media notifications. Avoid that all together by turning off push notifications and only engaging in the apps when you have time or when you've planned to. Turning off Facebook notifications in particular has made my life so much better. Speaking of Facebook...

Clean up your Facebook groups. For some reason Facebook allows your friends to add you into Facebook groups without seeking permission. The consequence is consistent notification of postings in a place you didn't opt-in to. Don't feel bad about ditching a group you aren't interested in, even if a good friend invites you.

Clean your work area at the end of each week. This was actually just suggested to me recently and I love it. It is understandable that you don't always have time to clean up your desk as the week gets hectic with deadlines and responsibilities. At the end of each week before you retire into your weekend clean and straighten up your work area. This sets you up to come in to a clean space on Monday morning which will help with your mood and productivity.

Clean out your fridge each week. One of my goals is to get better with eating leftovers. I'm not quite there yet, so I often have one serving of a meal leftover longer than it is edible. Cleaning out your fridge weekly keeps things neat and organized. This makes sure you can see what you have available so you remember to eat them and don't double purchase things.

Clutter - whether digital, physical, or mental - does nothing to serve you. I'm looking forward to getting rid of more excess so I can always be close to what is important. Live more with less.
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Related: Four Ways to Decrease Toy Clutter

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Super Food Smoothie Recipe

I've had a lot of trial and error in developing my super smoothie. I think I've finally settled on a tasty, healthy, super smoothie recipe. Here's what I put in, and why. 

super food smothies

Half a container of plain Greek yogurt: Probiotics, calcium, potassium, protein, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12. This provides a base for a nice thick smoothie. 

Two handfuls of baby spinach OR two frozen spinach cubes: Getting extra veggies in the form of a smoothie is healthy and tasty. Spinach is constantly on "super food" lists. It provides anti-cancer qualities, Vitamins A and K, and fiber, among many other benefits. 

A cup of frozen fruit that generally includes strawberries and blueberries: fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin C. 

One banana, fresh or frozen (I freeze them myself): I HAVE to have a banana in my smoothie. If there is no banana it doesn't have the thickness or sweetness that I like. Bananas are high in potassium, and great for cramps/pain from workouts and PMS. 

One tablespoon of honey (sometimes): I only use honey if the berries I've chosen make the smoothie too tart. 

One tablespoon of flaxeeds: Reduces risk of cancer and diabetes, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids. 

1/2 teaspoon of Matcha Green Tea powder: Super antioxidants and energy booster. 
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Three Stages of Pregnancy Sleep

3 stages of pregnancy sleep.

A lot of people, upon hearing you're pregnant, throw around the old adage "sleep now, because you won't get any sleep when the baby gets here." This has to be one of the worst pieces of advice ever because most women begin to have sleep issues early on in their pregnancy. Here's how it goes: 

Stage 1: You are newly pregnant and can't sleep because A) your mind is like OMG I'm going to have a baby!, and that can very easily keep you up at night and/or B) the changes in your hormones give you insomnia. 

Stage 2: You can sleep again! BUT, now you are using the bathroom all.the.time. so your deep sleep is interrupted by frequent evening bathroom breaks and sometimes it can be hard to get back to sleep after the trip to the throne. 

Stage 3: You've gotten really good at sleep walking yourself to the bathroom. You can stay mostly asleep, keep your eyes closed, feel your way to the bathroom and make it back to the bed without really waking up. Great right? Yes, except now you have this huge belly, so you can't sleep on your stomach. Doctors recommend not sleeping on your back. So you're down to two sleeping positions, left side or right side. You've lost the ability to comfortably just roll over from side to side, so you have to fully sit up to switch positions when one side gets numb, which is likely to happen. 

One of things that did help with sleep for me was this (affiliate link) pregnancy pillow. Especially towards the end of pregnancy. Being able to have this between my legs and rest my stomach on it was great. 

All this sleeplessness, and the sleeplessness to come, will all be worth it though because you are magic, and you have a life growing inside of you. You are incubating the future, and I'd say that's pretty cool :-D

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

13 Snow Day Activities for Kids

Snow day activities for kids.

We are in the midst of a snow day. Snow days pre-kids meant relaxation. You slept in, made a big breakfast, and caught up on TV. Now the idea of a snow day comes with a little trepidation: how do I entertain my toddler on a snow day?!  Here is a great list of snow day activities for kids, some that I've tried and some I look forward to trying.

1. Read books. Here is my list of our top 10 books for toddlers.

2. Allow for some limited screen time. We love the Kidloland App.

3. Break out your magnet letters.

4. Create a sensory station from household items.

5. Utilize plastic balls.

6. Play with store bought play-dough or make your own play-dough.

7. Create an in-door obstacle course.

8. Try one of these five finger games.

9. Use this printable to play Superhero Tic-Tac-Toe.



10. Create a number path.

11. Do mess-free painting.

12. Paint the snow.

13. Make slime.



BONUS:

7 Sanity-Saving Indoor Play Ideas For Toddlers In Winter

18 Snow Day Activities to Keep Keeps Busy and Happy

20 Engaging Things to Do When You're Stuck in the House

50 Things to Do on a Snow Day with Kids
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Trip to Adventure Aquarium (vlog)

ADVENTURE AQUARIUM

When you have a toddler it feels like a "lazy" Saturday or Sunday is harder to manage than a weekend full of activities. We've been trying to get out and have weekend adventures with BabyCakes on one day of the weekend and then do activities and play at home on the other.

A few weekends ago we were planning to go ice skating/watch the ice skaters and hang out at the Philly Bluecross Riverrink, but because of the unseasonably warm weather in the area the ice was actually broken so the rink was closed. On a whim we decided we would check out Adventure Aquarium in Camden New Jersey and I'm glad we did.

I think I may have been more amazed by the aquarium than BabyCakes. My favorite was the Nemo and Dory tank. It had a tank full of clown fish and one blue tang. It was so cool to see the movies represented in real life. I was also blown away by a GIANT turtle they have in the Ocean Realm exhibit.

We had a really nice time. I think we'll plan to go again during some off hour during the week one day so there are less people and we can browse more leisurely. Here's a vlog from our trip:


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Thursday, March 2, 2017

It's Shamrock Shake Season

It's March already. Two months of the year 2017 are gone. March ushers in spring, March Madness, Lent, St. Patrick's Day and Shamrock Shakes! McDonald's has some new and innovative things happening around the Shamrock Shake this year.

For a limited time McDonald's is offering the Chocolate Shamrock Shake, adding chocolate to the classic minty flavor. In addition to the new flavor there is a new way to DRINK the Shamrock Shake, the STRAW (Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal).

shamrock shake straw


the STRAW was created specifically for effectively drinking Shamrock Shakes. Only 2,000 of these innovative straws were manufactured and guess what? McDonald's sent me two, one for myself, and one to give away to one of my lovely readers along with some other goodies.

shamrock shake prize pack


Now through March 9th enter to win this Shamrock Shake Prize Pack which includes:

1 the STRAW
Small Shamrock Shake T-shirt
McCafe Tumbler
10 Shamrock Shake Coupons (must be used at participating Southeastern PA, Southern NJ and Kent & New Castle Counties DE stores)
$50 McDonald's Arch Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

shamrock shake straw


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