Friday, April 28, 2017

My Active Motherhood & My Go To Outfit

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that there is one blog title I don't hold nor do I think I will ever strive for: fashion blogger. As a busy SAHM I find comfort more important than being stylish. But when comfort and style meet and I find clothing that allows me to keep up with Connor's never-ending level of energy and still feel good about what I am wearing, then I'm all for it. I may have had a baby 4 and a half years ago but I'm still trying to get my body and groove back.

Because I need clothes that I can move in, fit me through a couple size stages AND that are comfortable I am often wearing leggings/workout pants, comfy tees and light weight hoodies. Like I said I want to spend my days feeling comfortable. PACT Organic clothing not only gives me the comfort and functionality that I love in clothing but is a company with purpose. 

PACT Organic clothing is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified, Organic Content Standard (OCS) certified, and Fair Trade Certified. The organic cotton doesn’t pollute the soil or air and uses 71% less water and 62% less energy than conventional cotton. They use organic farming practices that don’t pollute the soil or water while partnering with organizations that protect the well-being of the people who make the clothes.

Bottom line: while I'm out living life, making memories with Connor, pouring love and energy into my marriage, learning to love my body again, I am wearing clothes made from a company that supports and honors the world we are bringing our son up in. 

PACT Organic isn't just for the moms out there that fully stand behind the "leggings are pants" motto. The company also offers amazing quality tights, tops, pants, dresses, lounge wear, hoodies, and underwear. For men, there are pants, shorts, tops, sleepwear and lounge wear. There’s even snapsters (bodysuits), pants, socks and bibs in sizes 0-18 months for the little ones in your life.

I've been on a journey to love my body again, to invest in my heath. When we were taking these photos, I was a bit apprehensive of how I would feel about seeing myself in full body shots. But you know what? I am loving the changes I see. I celebrate the way my body moves and feels in clothes. More than anything it was exciting to be sent clothes that I knew would fit thanks to my weight loss. These may be staged photos but they are ones that I'll treasure forever because they are of Connor and I. 

If you'd like to try PACT clothing for yourself - their sports bras and socks are behind soft! - use promo code MOMMYME25 to SAVE 25% off your entire order (Expires 8/31/17).

Connect with PACT Organic to learn more about them and their amazing products here: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagram. Show them some love! Thank you for supporting the brands that support me and support fair trade.
I received this product for free from Moms Meet, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Move with Me May FitBit Challenge

Good morning! I hadn't planned on blogging today but wanted to invite those of you with FitBit to join me for a move your body challenge in May.

As you know, I've been doing Weight Watchers. For the last 90 days, I've been focusing on food and haven't worked out or thought of my daily steps. That's about to change. With my weight loss now at -21 pounds, I want to start working on adding exercise to my routine. The easiest way for me to do this is to wear my FitBit and hit my daily step goal.

I would love for you to join me in a step challenge. Move with Me May kicks off on Monday, May 1st (which just so happens to be my half birthday!). One lucky participate is going to walk (pun intended) away with a $25 PayPal reward! 

To follow me on Fitbit, just friend my HERE. The challenge kicks off on Monday. I am aiming to hit 55,000 steps a week. At the end of each week (May 7, 14, 21, 28) I'll be sharing my weekly numbers on my Facebook and Instagram. You can share yours there too, just use the hashtag #mwmmstepchallenge on social media so I can find your posts and cheer on your hard work. If you don't have a FitBit, you can still join us. Track your steps and share them online with photos and this challenge's specific hashtag.

Who's joining me? And better yet... what is your goal going to be? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mommy & Me Week | Spring Day in the Life

Last Summer I decided I wanted to do quarterly day in the life style posts. These can be either loved or hated by readers because of all the details that can go into them but as a mom blogger who uses their blog as their child's baby book, they are a must. So with all that in mind, I started sharing a day in the life with you all and it's been fun sharing every day life. Here are the recaps of Summer 2015Winter 2016Summer 2016Fall 2016 and Winter 2017And now, here is a typical Spring day when I'm solo parenting.

Many ask how I survive solo parenting. I often want to shrug my shoulders and say "I just do" but really, I've mastered parenting by myself. As Connor has gotten older, it's actually gotten much easier. Toddlers are way less work than infants. This is pretty much what a normal Thursday looks like for us since Connor doesn't have school those days and our schedule is a bit more relaxed. Also the photos included in today's posts are straight from my phone so they are as unedited as they come.

The night before Connor and I both went to bed early so I set my alarm for 6:00 so that I can get a jump on the day. I do a few things upstairs and then at 6:24 head downstairs. Connor is still sleeping and will probably sleep for another another hour or so. This leaves me time to clean up a bit and do any blog work I want to do. I've been trying to blog when C is sleeping or at school as to not eat up our time together online.

I don't like clutter and disorder and that's what I woke up to. I decided that I would clean the living room and dining room table. I know that it's going to be a mess by the end of the day but at least this way it's a mess I can handle. We aren't going to be home a lot this day so I don't want to have a mess waiting on me after C goes to bed.

I prep chili for lunch for me for the entire week. I like not having to think about lunch and anything I can toss in the crockpot is a win in my book. If I don't make my shredded taco chicken, I make chili. Bonus points for it being made with Aldi products making it a super cheap lunch for me for 5 total days.

Around 7:20 I hear a noise and look in the living room to discover Connor is up and has grabbed his iPad. I tell him to pause it that he needs to go upstairs potty, brush his teeth and get dressed for the day. We make breakfast and I let him watch a show on his computer while I do a few more things around the house.

We have a play date at 9:30 so I jump in the shower and get ready for the day. While I'm getting ready Connor finishes breakfast and plays with toys in the living room. I have been making more of an effort to do my hair and makeup so this morning, I succeed.

We head to MOPS for our drive-in movie. We bring the movie of choice "Moana". This is one of my favorite play dates. It's a great way to let the little ones play a bit while the Mommas chit chat.

Connor has a rocket ship car with the best personalized license plate ever: WANTHUGS. I asked him what he wanted it to say and he quickly replied "Want free hugs?". This kid is the best.

After our play date we have a bit of time till we need to head home for lunch. I try to keep our meals at the same time so that Connor eats well when food is given. Lunch for us is around 1PM. To eat up a bit of time, we go through the car wash. Which wasn't planned very well because it later stormed like crazy that evening.

We make a quick top at the library to pick up a few requests I have waiting for me. While I browse the shelves, Connor plays in the story corner. He is the only child there this afternoon so I allow him to play for 15 minutes before packing up. We typically visit the library once a week.

We get home, have lunch and it's time for quiet time. Connor wants to play Legos in his room (which is a new big boy activity he has started) so I get him settled in there and sit to read a new book I picked up. I ended up finishing this book in 3 days. So good! And there is a TV show on go90 that you can watch too for free! It's just 7 quick episodes (19-24 minutes each).

We visit Kari, Mark and Macie in later that afternoon. The kids play outside with C's new bubble machine and then we join them for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel is surprisingly easy on my WW SmartPoints. This evening I opted for a salad. We let the kids play checkers for a bit before heading our separate ways.

By 8:42 Connor has been bathed, read to and put to bed. This is a bit later than usual but that happens more and more lately because it's still so light outside at his typical bedtime. Bedtime is usually closer to 8 but it's been around 8:30-8:45 since about mid-March.

Once Connor is bed, I sit down to read a bit more and answer some emails. If I don't get to bed before 11, I'll be up late (think 1AM!) so I set a timer for myself and make myself go upstairs and prep for bed and turn in around 10:45.

There you have it. That's a day in the life for Connor and I when James is traveling. It's pretty much the same kind of day with James home. We don't dine out much as a family during the work week so that's the only difference. We usually save eating out for the weekends and special occasions. Overall, it's nothing too exciting but I love photographing and sharing our daily lives. These are the days I'll miss when this time next year we'll have a 5 year old in pre-K so I'll forever cherish our days of being home together!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

3 Ingredient Crockpot Shredded Taco Chicken

If there is one meal my family eats more than any other it's tacos. We love it so much that when we had friends on over this weekend we knew we would be setting up a taco bar. One dish that we served was my shredded chicken. While we think and know it's delicious, I was surprised when others started asking me for the recipe, especially my 15 year old niece - Hey Mackenzie! I love it so that I wanted to share it with you all today. It's just 3 basic ingredients but I promise you'll be making this dish over and over again, maybe even for Cinco de Mayo.

You'll need to pick up one pound of chicken breast, a jar of salsa and one package of taco seasoning. Any brand will work. I usually just pick up what's on sale when grocery shopping. If making for a large crowd, I would suggest one pack of seasoning and one jar of salsa per 1.5 pounds. We made 5 pounds on Saturday for 15 people and have left overs for the week. 

Preparing the chicken takes little to no effort. Maybe that's why I love it so! Place the chicken in the crockpot, pour the salsa on top and sprinkle the full pouch of seasoning. Mix a bit and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 on low. When the chicken is finished cooking simply shred with a fork and knife while the chicken is still in the crockpot. Allow the chicken to settle and soak up the salsa for 30 minutes then serve. 

I have made a large batch of this on Sunday and had it for lunch in a wrap, with nachos or in the wheat taco bowls you see above. The best part is that my lunch (pictured above) was just 10 SmartPoints. I added black beans to my chicken, topped with cheese and served with grapes. Having this chicken on hand is a great solution to dinner when you don't have a lot of extra time to prep. 

Now you tell me -- what's your favorite taco dish?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Faves: Organic Clothes, Sugar Highs and Swim Shenanigans

Thank you MomsMeet for sponsoring my prAna review. All opinions are my own. As always I only share products that I fully support and enjoy sharing with you!

Happy Friday friends! What a busy week it's been in our home. I've been solo parenting which always makes a busy week a bit more crazy because not only am I on my own this week but I am also the only one around to keep Connor busy which makes for long days. But hey, the Mister comes home this evening so there's an end in sight. Here are some highlights and random thoughts for this week.

ONE | Dressing My Changing Body

The last time I had to dress a changing body, I was pregnant with Connor. Since then I've put comfort over style but thanks to losing a bit of weight, I've been enjoying shopping more and finding new clothing to wear. With Summer fast approaching it's time for me to embrace something other than tees and yoga/workout pants.

When I was given the chance to try prAna clothing*, I was really eager. I love the idea of trying new brands but am often worried that they just won't fit my body. Lucky for me, I scored the cutest top with a pretty color and pants that are both comfortable and fitted. Clothing made from sustainable materials isn't something I normally see in the department stores or online yet both pieces are so comfortable and go with other pieces in my closet. I've been wearing the Midtown Capri in black and the Nelly Top in cargo green both made from recycled materials on a weekly basis.

TWO | Lego Travel Box DIY

Many of you have asked me how I made Connor's Travel Lego Box and I wanted to make sure Lizzie from This Happy Life Blog got the credit. When she shared her boxes, I knew I would want one for Connor. I didn't put as much time in ours as Lizzie did the two she made but Connor doesn't seem to mind. He has played with his box non-stop since Easter morning. Visit Lizzie's blog for all the details on the project.

THREE | Happy Little Camper Wipes

Will there ever be a point when I am not in need of baby wipes? I recently received these Happy Little Camper wipes and I am in love. Not only do they clean up after messy Connor will ease, they are flushable. We have been allowing Connor to handle his own business in the bathroom these days and this have helped keep things tidy if you know what I mean. The best part is they are 100% organic cotton wipes with no harmful chemicals or toxins.

FOUR | Adios Candy

I haven't had sweets once in the last 10 weeks so when this overflowing bucket of candy was just sitting on my kitchen counter, calling my name, I knew it had to go! I kept a few things for James and Connor but for the most part, over half of that basket is in the trash can. I am so proud of myself for surviving Easter without going into a sugar coma. Now if I can just stick with Halo Top ice cream this Summer, I will feel pretty good about the progress I've made in regards to my sweet tooth.

FIVE | Swim Lesson Shenanigans 

I have a love/hate relationship with swim lessons. I love the important skills, the life saving skills, that Connor has gained and continues to learn. However the pre-class antics and time of day just leave me feeling less than excited for class. Connor can't keep his hands to himself while waiting for classes to start and since we have school during the week, our sessions are at 5:05 P.M. which is just horrible timing. #firstworldproblems I know but I just wish Connor would be still and that class was at a more reasonable time of day.

Here is a recap of this week's posts in case you've missed any of them...
Monday: $10 at Target: Fashion Edition
Tuesday: "The Tiny Seed" Flower Craft & Field Trip
Wednesday: Happy 9th Year {Fun Couple Q&A}
Thursday: My Dream Dinners Experience

I hope each of you had a fantastic week. Happy weekend friends!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Dream Dinners Experience

Last week I had the opportunity to visit a Dream Dinners location near me for a Dream Taste event. Have you heard of Dream Dinners before? Let me fill you in.

Dream Dinners allows you to meal prep meals in store that you will later cook at home. You view their monthly menu online, place your order, select a prep time and visit the store when ready to put together your meals. Once you arrive you put together a month's worth of meals for your family in about an hour. The prep work and clean-up is taken care of for you; you just assemble the meals.

When you are ready to cook the meal, you thaw, following the directions provided and within about 30 minutes you have a homemade meal ready for your family. Let me share my visit with you along with the meals we've enjoyed and whether or not I think it's something your family should try.

When placing my order online I picked 3 dishes that aren't something we would make if it wasn't for this chance of trying them out. We added the Loaded BBQ Pulled Pork Bites, Chicago Style Chicken with Red Skin Potatoes and Pecan Crusted Pork Chops. I picked the 3 serving option (there is a 6 serving option as well) which was $34.99. This put the cost per serving at a little less than $4 per person per meal. I don't usually cook pork so I was eager to add these meals to our dinner rotation. I think the Mister is getting sick of all the turkey and chicken.

Here are some of the behind the sign photos of my meal prep evening. As part of the Dream Taste I was given the chance to sample the Crispy Salsa Ranch Chicken with Corn Medley.

Each meal station has a laminated card with all the details on what will go in each bag, which size bags to use and the best part - everything is color coded so it's really fool proof. Once you've assembled the meal you place in the freezer to chill. While you move onto a new dish, a Dream Dinners employee cleans up the mess you've made, restocks any necessary ingredients, leaving you the ability to prep meals without the clean-up.

Over the last week we've made each of the Dream Dinners meals I brought home. Each meal was served with two side dishes and made a delicious homemade meal for our family. See for yourself how tasty these dishes look.

I didn't add any additional sides or ingredients.

Pecan Crusted Pork Chops served with sides I had on hand.
(green beans and mashed bacon and cheddar cauliflower)

Loaded BBQ Pulled Pork Bites
(served with green beans and grapes)

I loved the BBQ Pork Bites. I think they were my favorite because who doesn't love carbs and cheese? The pecan crusted pork chops were pleasantly delicious. This was the first time I had ever cooked with a nut before. The Chicago style chicken provided me with 2 veggies in one meal, both which had a ton of flavor. These are dishes that I would love to try again. Here are additional pros and cons from my first Dream Dinner's experience:

  • All three meals provided us with enough for dinner and some leftover. 
  • The price for my Dream Taste was fair. $35 for 3 meals works for our family's budget. 
  • I didn't have to grocery shop or prep any of these meals. Dream Dinners does all that work for you. 
  • No grocery shopping or meal prep is necessary. 
  • Special ingredients like white cooking wine isn't something I normally have on hand yet a recipe called for it. It's nice having special ingredients available as I don't know if I would use cooking wine often (fact: I've never used it before this experience). 
  • Each month the menu changes giving your family a chance to try new dishes on a monthly basis. 
  • You can make substitutes. For example if you don't eat pork you can sub chicken instead. If you have a little one who doesn't like peas, you can omit them in your recipe.
  • Perfect for a busy family who doesn't have the time or the want to spend a lot of time meal planning or prepping. 
  • Not all dishes come with a side item so those have to be either purchased from Dream Dinners or from your local grocery store.
  • Larger families may spend more with Dream Dinners then just shopping their local store. However, the convenience of Dream Dinners is second to none. 
Just one con? Yes! I came home signing all the praises to my husband about the experience. I am responsible for the bulk of my families meals so anything that would allow dinner to be on the table with less work, I am all for. I loved my experience with Dream Dinners so much that I attended a fundraiser event on Monday night and have an appointment again later this month to stock up on meals. I even bought a few items from their fully stocked freezer to try as well. Once we enjoy those, I'll be sure to share my thoughts. 

Dream Dinners isn't just an Ohio operation. There are many locations throughout the country. If you are a busy family, struggling to get a wholesome meal on the table after a hectic day, I urge you to check Dream Dinners' site to find a location near you and schedule your Dream Taste.

Have you meal prepped with Dream Dinners before?
I'd love to hear about your experience!
* I was provided the Dream Taste package at no cost for my honest review*

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy 9th Year {Fun Couple Q&A}

9 years! Today the Mister and I have been together for 9 years. I can't believe it's been that long but at the same time it feel like much longer. To celebrate the fun that is James and I, I've put together a fun Q&A. I learned quiet a bit the Mister and I think some of my answers will surprise you.
If you could spend one day in someone else's shoes, who would it be and why?
James: My materialistic answer is to spend a day as Billy Joel, I’d play all of my favorite songs on the piano. My deeper answer would be spending time as one of the great minds of business, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  

Stephanie: I think I would love to be Annie Leibovitz. Her photographs are amazing and she gets to capture such beautiful moments and people. 

Share 5 things that make you happy.
J: Spending quality time with you and Connor. Being outdoors. Exploring new towns. Watching Connor experience things for the first time. Live music of any kind.

S: A new book, fresh bread, a cozy blanket, you and Connor and caffeine.
Which celebrity gets on your nerves the most and why?
J: I hesitate to use the word celebrity in this way. However, anyone on any “Housewives of” show gets on my nerves. The pettiness and drama from people that have so much is disgusting.

S: Anne Hathaway. I'm sure this makes me the strangest person on the planet but everything about her annoys me.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
J: President of the United States.

S: First a lawyer then a librarian.
What's the strangest place you have ever gone to potty?
J: I can’t think of any answer that you would actually post to your blog.

S: The side of the road I suppose. I'm sure there is some place stranger, I'm just drawing a blank.

Do you have any strange or unique fears?
J: I am afraid of three things, I don’t think they are strange. Being in natural bodies of water and not being able to see around me. Snakes. Connor choking.

S: I have a real legitimate fear that the following will one day happen - a) that my airplane seat will be sucked out from under me and I'll be ripped out of the airplane and b) that while at a open casket funeral the dead person won't actually be dead but will jump out mid-service.
If you could be any Disney villain, who would you be?
J: Captain Hook. Because, pirate.  

S: Cruella de Vil. I think our love of dogs is similar although I'm not cruel like her; I'm just not a dog person.

If your life was a novel, what would the title be?
J: Fast and Furious.

S: A House of Scorpios

What was your favorite childhood TV show?
J: Pee Wee's Playhouse 

S: MacGyver. I still love that show.
I couldn't ask for a better partner to do life with.
And James is just that... my perfect partner.
Love you Coxy.
"I'm Yours"

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"The Tiny Seed" Flower Craft & Field Trip

April Showers bring May Flowers is how the saying goes. But thanks to our love of reading and Spring, we've ushered in the flowers a bit early this year. Connor has been learning about plants and nature at school this month so I wanted that to be something we focused at home, too. I went to the library and started my search for garden, nature and flower books. It wasn't long till I found the perfect book to read this month -- Eric Carle's "The Tiny Seed".

Have you read Carle's "The Tiny Seed"? The story is such a beautiful one that moves through the life cycle of a seed. Carried aloft by the autumn wind, the tiny seed, along with other bigger seeds, travels far over the world. the journey is perilous: one of the bigger seeds is burned by the sun; another falls into the ocean; still another is eaten by a bird. Even after those that are left have landed on fertile ground and begun to grow, danger is near: one small plant is stepped on; one little flower is picked; but the tiny seed keeps growing almost unnoticed. Young readers will cheer at the happy outcome of this exciting tale. And they will long remember the heartening message of the tiny seed's steadfast perseverance in the face of many hazards and obstacles until its final joyful success.

This book provided Connor, James and I a ton of fun. Not only did we complete a craft, but we took a family trip to Lowe's for a few items for my succulent plant, a flower gift for Mammaw and some items for some home improvement projects. 

I needed to replant by succelent so Connor helped with that while James tackled a project in the basement. Once we finished that, we moved inside and Connor started making flowers of his own. This craft and the material needed are quiet simple; I'll let the photos example the steps.

Supplies needed - white, green, yellow and blue construction paper, twine or brown yarn (roots) glue, scissors Q-tips and paint with paint dish.

Connor had so much fun creating his own flower, starting at the root and working his way up. Along the way I would ask "what's next?" and he would think about it before shouting out "leaves" "flowers" "the sun". As an added element of fun I gave CJ a short quiz and had him label the parts of the flower.

This craft was so simple and one that I just kind of throw together based on the items we had on our craft shelf. I think it was a great way to bring what Connor is learning at school into our play time at home. Along with "The Tiny Seed" we read a handful of other plant themed books this month ...

It's a lot of fun putting story and craft time together for Connor. I try to do it at least once a month. I would love to do it much more but with school 3 days a week, MOPS and swim lessons our down time is limited. Not to mention it's hard to get Connor to sit still long enough to craft. Reading? He loves! Crafting? We are working on enjoying more of as a busy body 4 year old.

These book club post are going to be a monthly occurrence because as this week, I am the new co-host of the Children's Book Club. Jess from Secrets of a SAHM asked me to join her and you all my book lovin' heart couldn't say no! Be sure to grab our new button and join us next month as we read and share crafts, food and overall fun activities all about the book "How to Grow a Friend" by Sara Gillingham.