Thursday, July 27, 2017

10 Free Ways to Up My Weight Loss

In February when I decided to join WeightWatchers and take back control over my body, I had one fear: that I would have to work-out to lose weight. Before someone thinks I hate working out, I don't. I do however have a bad habit of not doing it as much as I should. In 25 weeks, I've lost nearly 31 pounds thanks to eating healthier and being mindful of food choices. Most of my weight loss is because of the food I'm eating and nothing else. But with month 6 of my yearlong weight loss journey right around the corner, I am eager to focus on new ways to kick up my weight loss.
Each month, I financially invest in my weight-loss. I pay $44 a month to have access to online tools and weekly weigh-ins and meetings at my local WW office. With that monthly fee, I'm eager to find FREE ways to up my weight loss. Here are 10 things I want to put into practice in August, September and October. I'm looking at this as a 90 days challenge. 

1. Add veggies to every single meal. I recently had a broccoli and cheddar omelet and it was so tasty and something I never thought to make myself. Adding vegetables to my breakfast not only allows me to eat more because veggies are 0SP so I won't be using any additional points at the start of the day. 

2. Chug! Chug! Chug! Drinking water is key in weight loss. I go through spurts where I drink a ton and other times we I'll barely get in 50 ounces. I'm setting my goal at 90 ounces per day. 

3. Get more sleep. Try as I might, I cannot break myself of being a night owl. I go to bed between 11PM and midnight and wake up around 7 most days. I would love to be asleep by 11 and up at 6-7. When time falls back, I'd love to get that bedtime closer to 10. 

4. Eat the rainbow. I am aiming to try 1 new food a week. I have really branched out over the last 5 months but will fully admit I need to try harder to eat a variety of foods. With it still being Summer, I need to take full advantage of eating more seasonal fruits and veggies before I no longer have access to them. 

5. Just say no. To pizza. Y'all the struggle is real in our home. We are a pizza lovin' family like no other. We indulge once a week, sometimes twice. It's bad. While I don't have any desire to give up pizza, I think we (I!!) need to cut it back to a twice a month treat. 

6. Move it more. I want to switch up my exercise a bit, from just our morning walks, to WOD to my schedule. We recently purged our basement and I have plenty of space to work-out in. I can do this morning, noon or night, no matter what the weather or time limit I have. I'm eager to see the changes new moves bring to my body. 

7. Prepare! Meal planning is such breeze for me yet I don't do it much. I can meal prep a week full of breakfasts and lunches within an hour yet I don't then find myself starting at the fridge, wasting time.

8. Track every single day, August 1 to October 30. I track every meal with the exception for my cheat meal. I would like to start tracking those as well so that I can get an exact idea of where I stand on my caloric intake. I would like to know my daily calorie average for when I want to move from WW to something else (when that happens).  

9. Watch my sweet treat intake. I've been eating ice cream more than I care to admit. I use SmartPoints for it so it's accounted for but I'd like to try to use my "treats" in point friendly ways. Ice cream uses so many and I can get more food for less points if I was to sub ice cream for yogurt and fruit or something similar. 

10. Embrace the process. I don't know where I'll be at the end of October but I do know I'll be closer to my goal than I am today. More than anything, I want to give myself the grace to be human, to slip up, to enjoy food and to be "normal". I want my relationship with food to be less diet like and more lifestyle orientated. 

I am eager to see where I'll be at the end of October. I had additionally thought that I would be at my goal weight by the end of October but the numbers don't seem to be working out that way as of today. But with this 90-day challenge, I'm hopeful to be a bit closer to my goal. After all, I truly love the process and learning how to push my body in new, healthy ways. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Because Blogging Shouldn't Be Hard

36(ish). The number of times I've seriously considering never writing and publishing another blog post. I'm not being dramatic, I've been on the fence more times than not over the last 12 months. Blogging has been in my life for over 5 years. If you think about it, I was a blogger before a Momma. Which is really hard to imagine. But one thing I know is that blogging shouldn't be hard. It is sometimes and that's when I want to quit. Let me explain.


When I started blogging we had just moved from Ohio to Texas and blogging was a lifeline for me. It was a way for me to meet and mingle and create joy when I wasn't too happy with my current situation. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't miserable: I loved my husband and son with my entire being. I just was in a new home in a never been to before state with an 8 week old baby boy and my husband was working more than ever before to support our family in a city that had a higher cost of living. Life was tricky in 2013 but blogging gave me something to pour myself into and I was hooked. I loved it and from then on, I was a mom blogger and proud of every single piece I wrote, every new follower I gained and for each new year of growth.

But then why did I say I've thought about quitting over 30 times? It's simple: blogging stopped being fun and started being work. For me this started to happen in 2015. I was feeling more and more stressed over "having to work" and wasn't enjoying something that was so life giving for me. When I look back on 2015 I see why things started to get hard for me. We moved home in January 2015 and for the first time as an Ohioan, I was no longer working. I was able to spend time with friends and family more, Connor and I started attending more and more play dates, CJ stopped napping and started preschool in the Fall. 2015 brought with it a lot of baggage. When I say baggage, I mean that in the kindest of ways. For the first time as a family of 3, we had the ability to do more since James wasn't carpooling for 2.5+ hours a day. We were home and soaking up every minute of it. But I was really stuck in "blogger" mode and that started to take its toll on me, making blogging so.much.work.

Last year I worked on my blog more and more, just in smarter ways. I used social media more than ever, which was necessary to see any real growth. But Connor was also in school more so I had the chance to spend more time online while he was in class. Over the last 7 months or so, I am often torn between loving blogging and wanting to throw my laptop into incoming traffic. If you are a blogger, you'll get this. Readers, not so much. I couldn't find a balance and that sucked. I don't want to quit blogging because I am good at it. And mostly, it brings me so much joy. It's something that I've worked my tail off on. In 5 years, I've published over 1,260 posts, gained a social media following of over 15,000 and have created friendship with women that are beyond special to me. Bloggers turned friends who will forever be friends long after blogging falls to the wayside.

What prevented me from hanging up my blogging hat is that I gave myself grace. I schedule breaks for entire weeks at a time, allowing me to pack away my laptop for a solid 5-8 days. I took the week off when we went to Disney and another when we went to Mexico. I have a couple other breaks planned, too! I cut back on blogging 5 days a week and have left the need for "Pinterest worthy" posts in the dust. I've chatted with friends who have told me they feel the same way about different roles in their life and that you must give yourself grace. Give yourself a break when needed. Step back and check things out from a new point of view. I quit taking on sponsored content that came with rules and deadlines. Yes, that means I'm not making any money blogging anymore but that's never why I started blogging to begin with. I started sharing more "real life" and "life lately" posts and what do you know? I'm still getting the same amount of traffic and reader interaction. I just went back to the reason I started to blog to begin with: to document life.

I am sure that most of this sounds like rambling and it probably could have been worded better. The truth is I just wanted to get it all off my chest. Blogging doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be filled with constant comparison. 5 years ago, I hit published on the most basic of posts for one reason and I may have forgotten that reason but thanks to my love of writing, the blogging community and a husband who just thinks I'm crazy, I've found my way back and can say that I'm not done blogging. Not yet anyway. That day will come and when it does, I'll be okay with it. But for now, there's more to come. For those of you who feel like this, you know... love it one minute, hate it the next, I'm here with you and I know others are too. I just challenge you to do what you love the way you love to do it. Don't try to be an "it" blogger. Don't make yourself crazy over the number game that is social media. And lastly, don't make it harder than it is. Find the joy and give yourself grace.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Favorite Faves: Soccer Camp, Dentist Visits and YouTube Kids

The last 2 weeks have been so busy for our family. Granted, I'm to blame for our busy schedule but still, it's been a busy 14 days. I've been looking towards this Friday and the weekend for quiet some time. We have plans to tackle a home improvement project, making leaving the house the last thing on our minds. Operation stay home and get things done kicks off tomorrow morning! With so much going on, here are a few highlights and random thoughts for this week.


ONE | SOCCER CAMP


Connor completed soccer camp last week and loved every single hot and humid minute of it. When asked what his favorite part of camp was, he said playing in the World Cup and having a British coach. He is so obsessed with all things English lately. Camp ran Monday through Friday for a little over an hour. Connor picked up new skills and was able to play in a mock game with other little boys in his group. What I loved about the camp most was that it was a small group of kids, just 4, giving each participant loads of one on one with the Coach James. Thanks to my partnership with US Family Guide, CJ was able to attend the camp free of cost but because of how awesome it was, we plan to sign him up again for one later this year.

TWO | WEEK AT A GLANCE


Speaking of busy weeks, I've been really struggling remembering what we have when. I know I could easily put "appointments" in my phone but I don't use my phone's calendar so I needed something that I could fill in each week and see our plans at a glance. I recalled Beth sharing a printable last year and visited her blog to print out copies of my own. Her free weekly planner is perfect. I fill it out, stick in on the fridge and BAM! I have my act together again.

THREE | TEETH OBSESSED

In last week's Little Letters I mentioned that I've been obsessing over my dental hygiene routine. Here is why: I've always had good teeth. I never braces as a kid and have had just one small cavity the year after C was born. Last year I had to have a dental procedure done to help fill in my teeth because I was grinding the down, creating valleys. Fast forward to this Spring and I had the same procedure done on the other side. But during both cleanings I was told that I had a lot of plaque. That Connor had some as well and it's often hereditary. I am not a fan of any type of dental work so I've been on high alert with my teeth since then. I brush 3 times a day, floss twice and use mouthwash every morning. One of my favorite toothpastes is Himalaya Botanique Toothpaste.


Their toothpastes combine Neem leaf – which cleans teeth and gives the formulation its sparkle, pomegranate – an astringent fruit that extract that supports healthy looking gums, Triphala – a traditional detox formula in ancient Ayurveda composed of the three myrobalan fruits for clean teeth and a radiant smile, and Xylitol – a tooth-friendly sweetener that has been clinically-studied to support good oral hygiene. Himalaya Botanique Whitening Complete Care Toothpaste also contains Papain and Bromelain, the enzymes from papaya and pineapple to help remove surface stains.

I tried the Whitening Complete Care toothpaste that is supposed to whiten teeth, freshen breath and help remove plaque (my biggest concern). My first impression of the toothpaste is that it tasted and smelled exactly like the products used at my dentists office. I'm eager to use it more and see if my teeth whiten and if my plaque issue is better at my next cleaning in October. This line of toothpaste doesn't have fluoride but at each check-up I have a fluoride treatment done and we drink tap water so I think I'm set there. 

If anyone is curious about this brand, their website offers free samples, or you can get 25% off on Amazon with the code F8DETJQL. Himalaya Botanique Toothpaste is also available at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and Vitamin Cottage as well as regional health food stores including PCC Natural Markets, Central Market, Mother’s Market, Earth Origins, King Soopers, etc.

For More Info on Himalaya Botanique Toothpaste:

FOUR | WILL & GRACE ENCORE


This isn't new news but I can't tell you how excited I am for Will & Grace this Fall. It's coming back to TV on Thursdays on NBC, the same channel that rips my heart out every week with This Is Us. Since I finished Brothers and Sisters, I am now moving onto W&G. I've watched a lot of the episodes but mostly the last 3 seasons. There are 8 seasons total so I have from now till September 28th to watch seasons 1-8 in their entirety and then start fresh with season 9. Which is a little over 190 episodes! Challenge accepted! Who will be watching the encore with me this Fall?

FIVE | YOUTUBE KIDS


I mentioned earlier this week that Connor was grounded from YouTube Kids. Here's the deal... I use computer time to keep Connor busy while I work on blog tasks. I try to keep it to an hour at a time and only once a day. This habit started out harmless but then he would have his iPad for hours on end whenever we needed him to be preoccupied. While this isn't the best parenting technique, sometimes you do what you have to do. Connor started watching videos of families living life, going on vacation, throwing birthday parties along with watching a gamer play videos. So instead of playing with the 1.1 million toys he has, Connor would prefer to watch other kids live life. That alone was annoying enough. But then Connor's behavior started going downhill. James and I finally connected the dots and took YouTube away. That was about 5 months ago. Things improved and he was given YouTube rights again. However, the behavior started again and he became obsessed with his iPad. He would choice it over any and everything. All he wanted to talk about where this YouTube personality or this family or what they had and what he needed because someone on YouTube had. He even went as far as to say that if he didn't get something that insert any kid from any YouTube family had then he didn't want to do it at all. He was under the impression that these kids were living normal lives and his expectations were ridiculous. It's now been a little over a month since he has last watched it and if we have it our way, he won't ever have access to it. To sum it all up, it was like Connor was hanging out with the "bad kids" at school and was picking up their less than desirable behaviors. That doesn't fly with us so removed the negative source and since then, the tantrums and bad attitude have nearly disappeared. Anyone else HATE YouTube Kids?


This weekend we are tackling our basement and I am eager to get started on it and purge, purge, purge! But before we do, Saturday morning we are treating CJ to a trip to the donut shop. Needless to say, I'm eager for tomorrow morning and starting the weekend off with a donut filled sugar high!

Happy weekend, friends!
Disclosure: our family may have received products and services for free in return for our full, honest review. WMMblog only promotes companies we know and love. As always, contact us with any questions on products and services mentioned if you have questions or concerns.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What We Love About You, Connor J!

In just over 3.5 months we are going to be the parents of a 5 year old. I don't even know how that's possible. My mind struggles comprehending the fact that our sweet little CJ is no longer a toddler but a full-fledged preschooler. Because time has been moving quicker and quicker and our days are packed full, I wanted to spend some time this morning reflecting on the little things about Connor that we are loving so much lately.


... Every morning Connor climbs into our bed and sweetly asks to go downstairs. I've never meet someone so eager to get the day started.

... His willingness to try new foods is growing. He recently started eating cereal. Yes, cereal! Up until this point he had no interest in trying it but that's changing. This week alone he tried popcorn shrimp, biscuits/breads (he isn't much of a carb fan) and granola bars.

... "Take my picture please!" is a common request and then he has to see the photo. This is something that is both cute and a bit ridiculous. He has asked to have his photo taken next to a speed limit sign and of himself hugging a tree. Both totally random.

... Big Brother is his current favorite "big kid show". While this isn't the most kid-friendly show to watch with him, he loves it. He picked Kevin, the rodeo clown/cowboy, as his favorite.

... Give him a stack of Legos and he will be set for hours. He loves playing with them and will put his imagination to use for an entire afternoon.

... Soccer and swim are his sports and he thinks he likes swim more than soccer because "being hot isn't fun". He gets his love of cool temps and activities from his Momma no doubt.

... Everywhere we go he makes a friend or two. I've never meet a little person who is so eager to create friendships. I have to tell him often that I don't know how to get a hold of this person or that person because he wants to play with every single kid he crosses paths with. He truly has the sweetest heart.

... When asked what he wanted to do for his birthday he picked out 4 different themes and close to 10 different locations. He can't make up his mind but instead threw out there that we could do a party a day. I know we spoil him but even that is a bit much by my book.

... His school loving heart can not wait to go back to school. We don't go back till August 30th so he still has a bit of his Summer left. When I asked what he is so eager for he replied "I just want to be with my friends again Momma". See?  He really digs his people!

... He has been "grounded" from YouTube (that could be an entire post in itself) for 1 full month and yet still thinks we are going to Europe on vacation one day to meet Ethan Gamer. I was hoping his obsession with YouTube would fade since he no longer has access to it but so far no dice. We are holding strong though and this will be a YouTube free home.

Time is flying by so fast. I'm trying to savor every second of this season. Both the good and bad parts. Because it's not always happy, happy, joy, joy over here. I do have to say that this season has been a pretty good one overall. I'm enjoying the upside of 4 and am eager to see what 5 brings us.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint {Water Play}

Summer has arrived and with it comes the need to stay cool. One way we do just that is to include a bit of water in our day. What I was on a mission to do this month was to find ways to enjoy some water play from the comfort of home. Yes, we could head to the pool and cool off but some days, I don't want to leave the house so we have to get creative in how we stay busy. Using this month's children's book, "The Magic School Bus: At The Waterworks", as our guide, we learned about how water is cleaned, where it's stored and how we have access to it. Then we put it to use with the help of cornstarch and paintbrushes! 


"The Magic School Bus: At The Waterworks" is the perfect book for those kids who are constantly questioning the how or whys of things work, specifically the waterworks in your city. Join Ms. Frizzle and her students as they follow the trail of water, from its sky-high source to the school bathroom sink on this wet and wild field trip. After parking the school bus on a cloud and shrinking to raindrop size, Ms. Frizzle's class gets to see the waterworks from the water's point of view. If you are a fan of The Magic School Bus this is a fun book to share with your little ones. 

We put a bit of water to use and made sidewalk chalk paint for the first time. It's super simple to mix up a batch and is made with ingredients that are more than likely sitting in your pantry. 


How to Make Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint
Supplies needed are water, cornstarch and food coloring. To make your own sidewalk chalk paint, fill your container of choice halfway with cornstarch. I like using muffin tins from our local grocery store. Add you choice of colors. Add water to the colored cornstarch and give a quick stir. I always add the coloring before the water, because it distributes the color more evenly. I don't measure anymore, but the first time I made sidewalk chalk paint I found that I prefer a ratio of 1 part water to 1.5 parts cornstarch. It is a matter of preference. Some people prefer equal parts. In my opinion, you can't go wrong. If it's too thin add water. If it's too runny add cornstarch. It really is that simple.


Connor loved this activity. Not only did he help with creating the paints, he loved that he could paint the sidewalk and played Tic Tac Toe, a new favorite in our home. The paint dries quickly and looks exactly like chalk. It doesn't rub off easily so that makes creating pretty artwork fun for little artists. 



Cleaning up is simple too. Hand your kiddos the hose and let them spray away the paint, which of course gives you another way to have a bit of water fun. CJ loves using the hose and this was probably the highlight of his day. I would suggest cleaning up the paint quickly as the longer it's in the sun, the harder it is to remove it all from the cement.  


Looking for more ways to have water fun at home?
Check out these suggestions... 


Monday, July 17, 2017

$10 at Target - Busy Hands, Sharp Minds

When shopping for this month's $10 at Target items I had one thing in mind: keep Connor busy! We are two-thirds of the way through Summer and while we've been pretty busy, we've also had our fair share of days spent at home. While we may be taking it "easy", Connor still requires a level of entertainment. But then again, don't most kids? This month's Target haul is dedicated to keeping Connor's hands busy and mind sharp.


I didn't make it past the Dollar Spot this month... yet again! Is it even called the Dollar Spot anyone? Whatever you call it, it's my favorite part of the store. The majority of all my monthly Target posts are fueled by my $1, $3 and $5 finds in this one section of the store. This month we scored...


Gel Window Clings = $2.00
Wooden Fireman Set = $3.00

Connor has put the gel window clings on everything! From windows to a cookie sheet to the fridge, he has loved mixing and matching these 2 sets. The fireman set was such a hit my friend Kristin scooped up 3 others for him. They remind me of something you'd get from Melissa & Doug. C has played "city" every day and it's so fun hearing his imagination at play.


Reading Discovery Books = $4.00

Connor loves learning about the solar system so that book was a must have! The other 3 are topics he isn't so much into but thanks to these quick readers, he has slowly starting loving all things dinosaurs and sea animals. What I love about this book is that they are similar to the "I Can Read" books that you can purchase from big chain bookstores minus the high price tags. 

Oh and this month, we were under budget! Which is a rarity because let's face, you go into Target for a handful of things and you walk out with a cart full of "have to have" items along with a lighter wallet.

Now it's your turn! Share with us your Target finds from this month! Join our party below!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Little Letters | Volume 7

Happy Friday, friends! Today is the day I write letters to people, things, situations to places I've visited, to the thoughts in my head and everything in between. I'll be sharing a letter-filled post with you each month on the second Friday. I'd love for you to join me as I join Kristin from Taz and Belly for this fun new Friday link-up. As Kristin said they can be serious or silly, just cozy up with a cup of joe/tea/wine and share your thoughts in short letter form. Let's begin!


Dear Sleep,
I want more of you. I wish that I could sleep 9PM to 9AM on a daily basis, but that's won't happen till Connor is in college and then again, I would be close to 50 and probably shouldn't waste my "older years" laying around. But really, I wish I could feel rested. I'm just so sleepy these days.

Dear Meal Prep,
While you may seem like a ton of work at the time, you save me so much work and wonder, having dinners and even lunches prepped and ready for the week. While I would love to just wing it when it comes to meals, that's not a possibility and planning dinner every week really takes the guess work out of cooking!

Dear B.Lynn,
You are about to take on such a HUGE change. Not only will this forever change your life but girl, you are beyond brave for making such a huge decision. I am proud of you, always have been! You are going to have the life you've been dreaming of and I will be there every step of the way. Love you always, best secret keeper ever.

Dear Oily Skin,
You annoy me. Enough about that.

Dear Bookshelf,
I keep adding novels I'm dying to read to you and I've read 26 books this year yet you seem to never ever be less packed. I wish more than anything I could sleep and read. What a life that would be? Okay so that's totally unrealistic but I wish I could read more. July's been a slow "book month".

Dear James,
Some of the shows you've started watching are horrible and a waste of TV time. Why don't you just let me watch Brothers and Sisters each evening? The show is so good, you know! You've watched it. Let's do that for now on, skipping "Preacher" and "The Last Man on Earth".

Dear Candy Crush,
You are a complete waste of my time yet I find a way to spend at least 15 minutes with you every single night at bedtime. I am obsessed with completing levels, even if I should be using that time to focus on sleep because well, Little Letter #1.

Dear Dental Hygiene,
I am obsessed with you. From brushing to flossing to using mouthwash, I am determined to have the best dental check-up of my life in October. I am so obsessed about with flossing that I talk about tartar control with James, which is something he could care less about.



Happy weekend, friends!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How To Carry a Lighter Purse with The Ridge Wallet

Remember when I shared this "What's In My Purse?" post detailing my habit of large purses with too much stuff? I am proud to say I've came a long way since then. I've been carrying smaller bags and less junk and it's been freeing. No longer am I digging around in my purse looking for one item or another. But one thing I've struggled with is having a purse small yet large enough to fit some of the Mister's belongings in it too. I've came up with the perfect solution to carrying everything we need and doing so in a crossbody purse.


Crossybodies were never a style that suited my "pack everything with us when leaving the house" motto until about 6 months ago. When prepping for our trip to Disney I knew I would need to carry something but didn't want the hassle of a typical purse. Enter my favorite crossbody from Soul Society (similar purse at a killer deal). I am pleasantly surprised by how much I can fit into this small bag.


I call this the necessities. Wallets, phones, lip product, gum, keys and sunglasses. But the best part is that thanks The Ridge Wallet, James no longer has a bulky wallet and I have room for it in my crossbody along with everything else. The Ridge Wallet consists of an elastic track that gives the wallet its ability to expand and hold all your cash and as many cards as you need. The spring-steel money clip is another way this innovative wallet gets you to your cash easily but also securely, and the RFID blocking components on every wallet lets you travel worldwide with the confidence your cards and information is perfectly safe. 



Whenever we are going to run errands, visit parks and playgrounds or attend a local festival, I use this purse, filled full with the items shared above. It's nice not having a bag that's weighing me down yet still having everything we want and need on hand. Having room for two wallets is fantastic, especially since Jame's Ridge Wallet is so thin compared to his traditional leather tri-fold wallet.

Are you a fun of crossbody purses? Do you need to lighten your purse a bit? Share with me your favorite purse and/or must have items. If you are looking for a way for your guy to cut back on bulky wallets and lighten the strain on your shoulder when carrying their things, check out The Ridge Wallet. We are huge fans!

Disclaimer: The Ridge Wallet was kind enough to send us this wallet at no charge to us. However we only share items we know and love with you, our faithful readers. Happy shopping, friends! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July's TKBTB with Connor

Welcome to July's The Kids Behind The Blog linkup. Each month the host and other mommas come together to share a quick Q&A with their little ones. Full details can be found HERE. As a host, I'll share the answers from this month's chat with Connor along with questions that we will be asking in August. Let's get started...





What do you need to make s’mores? Chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers.{how do you cook them?} Melt them with a hot pan or with fire.

What is your favorite summertime treat? Cookies {what kind of cookies?} Chocolate Chip

Would you rather fly in an airplane or ride on a ship? Ride a ship! {how come?} I like ships.

How would you change the world if you could? I would be allowed to eat all the cookies in the world. {if you were president what would you do...} Make everything about video games and food. 

What comes after summer? Winter? {think about when the leaves are no longer on the trees...} FALL!

Answers explained and my thoughts.. Connor was very matter of fact this month. I asked, he answered. When I asked him about his summertime treat, he may or may not have been eating a chocolate chip cookie. If asked about his favorite ice cream, he would say it's chocolate with sprinkles. He has only been on a boat once but apparently digs them. Who know? And I am not one bit surprised that he would have the world revolve around video games and food. Typical boy. We need to work on our seasons a bit, I think. Mostly because Fall is the best season of all and CJ needs to know and respect it. #pumpkinspiceeverything

Here are August's questions. Be sure to interview your little ones and come back and share your answers with us on August 9th!


If you could change one of your family's rule, what would change?
Are you a good friend? Why or why not? 
Where is your favorite place in the whole world? 
If you could invent anything int he world, what would it be? 
What are you most excited about this year in school? 

Grab our button and join us this month and next (August 9th) with the cute, sassiness that is life with a child. You never know what will come out of a little person's mouth. We would love it if you shared such gems with us.


September 13 | October 11
November 8 | December 13


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Favorite Trader Joe's Items

For the bulk of our grocery needs I shop at Kroger. But when looking for a handful of "specialty" items, I shop Trader Joe's. I usually go once a month to stock up. And when I go, I always pick up the same 5 items. Here are my favorite Trader Joe's items along with SmartPoint values and how I use each product.


ONE | CHICKEN CILANTRO MINI WONTONS


When a Chinese take-out craving hit, I reach for these. For just 4SP you can have 12. They are easy to prepare and are ridiculously tasty. I usually pair this with a homemade chicken and broccoli dish, similar to the General Tso's you'd get at your favorite Chinese restaurant.

TWO | REDUCED < GUILT MAC & CHEESE


I love mac & cheese and this frozen option allows me to still have on of my favorite comfort foods without the guilt of a ton of calories or points used. One box is 8 points and I usually mix in broccoli and chicken or tuna. I've also made this as a side dish for dinner, sharing half with James, cutting the point total in half from 8 to 4.

THREE | TURKEY BURGERS


We don't eat a lot of hamburgers or red meat in general but when we are craving a burger these hit the spot and are perfect for grilling. I haven't had them any other way but can tell you they make fantastic grilled (turkey) burgers. One patty is 4SP which isn't bad for a burger.

FOUR | MASHED CAULIFLOWER


Most veggies are 0SP but this is an exception and one worth using points on. For 1 cup, you'll use 2SP but these are the closest, best tasting faux mashed potatoes you'll find. These cook on the stove-top and you can add more or less water to get the right texture. I've tried other options but they are all more soup like (even though they aren't supposed to be).

FIVE | CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST


This is my favorite new-to-me TJ find. We love pizza in our house and have yet to find a cauliflower product we don't like so this was one we were looking forward to. You can have 1/6 of the pizza for 2SP (before adding sauce and toppings). It's not exactly like "normal" pizza but it's a tasty way to have a healthy pizza. I plan to use my last crust on a Hawaiian Pizza.

And before someone asks if these items taste like "diet" food, they don't! I would never waste money on items that taste bad for the sake of point value. I am more than willing to use more points if it means I get to have good food. Each of these items are full of flavor, making them worth the price and monthly trip to Trader Joe's.

What are you favorite Trader Joe's finds? Share with me in the comments below! 



Monday, July 10, 2017

The Daily Dime {July 2017}

I started sharing day in the life post in the Summer of 2015. I've been doing these post quarterly as a way to document how quickly things change in our lives and how fast Connor grows and matures in a simple 3 months. Not to mention get 10-12 photos off my phone. When I read of a new monthly link-up titled Daily Dime shared by Sarah from Seeing All Sides, I knew I would be adding it to my blogging rotation. The Daily Dime has just 3 rules - snap 10 photos of a single day, put together a post and share. Easy peasy, right? This monthly posts are going to replace our day in the life posts simply because I want to document every day life more on our blog. Here is July's Daily Dime.


Before I move onto the photo dump, I am hoping these monthly photos will give me a chance to share the behind the scenes of our lives. I am horrible at doing weekend recaps (the last published one was over a year ago!) so this new Daily Dime link-up came at the perfect time. I'm sharing this past weekend with you, Saturday to be exact.


COFFEE
No joke... every single morning starts with coffee. I have been enjoying this protein coffee for the last 4.5 months and on the mornings I skip, I am usually hungry and cranky. Momma needs her protein filled caffeine in the morning. I am thinking of splurging and getting myself a cold brew coffee maker so I can make my own. If I do, I'll be sure to share what I pick.


WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK
Actually, I can't whistle but I can clean like no other. Saturday morning we spent a couple of hours really cleaning and tackling some tasks that have been neglected, like our kitchen floor for example. James was my knight in shining armor and cleaned the bathroom. It's the one chore I just "forget" to do most weeks hoping he will clean it (9 out of 10 times he does!).


BACKSEAT BUDDIES
Connor loves when someone is in the backseat with him. We had company on Saturday and we all drove together to a local festival so I sat with him and my Mom in the back and he was the happiest guy ever.


GIFT CARD PURCHASE
Connor was given a $10 Target gift card from his best girls, Kari and Macie, at his graduation. He has been holding onto it for the "perfect" purchase. He finally found it this weekend when he purchased a "Crossy Roads" character set. He plays the game with James on FireTV so he was excited to find a set to play with.


BABY BROTHER
My Mom and youngest brother came up to spend the day with us and we attended a local Wing Fest festival. This is the second year we've been and it was fun sharing our love of chicken wings with my brother who is a hot sauce lover like no other. I made him take a selfie with me, something he really isn't into but I've been bossy him around since 1991.


ORANGE LEAF
When it comes to cold treats, I prefer frozen yogurt over custard but both over ice cream. My all-time favorite is brownie batter frozen yogurt. I don't really think "what's the points?" when treating myself to this because it's going to be way more than I want but dang, it's so so good!


COOLING OFF
Connor loves my Mom something fierce. The love is mutual for sure. He bosses her around a bit but she doesn't seem to mind much since she comes back for more. I hope that CJ and Mammaw's relationship is always this close and special. My grandparents (on both sides) have passed away so I love that Connor has grandparents to love on and grow with.


BOOKWORM WALL
While out and about we stopped at our favorite book store. 2nd and Charles is such a cool store. It's located next to one of our favorite stores, Trader Joe's and down the hall from Orange Leaf and TJ Maxx. It's safe to say we make sure we visit this store often because not only does it have great books and toys but it allows us to visit our other favorite shops, too! 


OLD SCHOOL ARCADE
Our city just opened up an arcade with vintage games and it's the coolest place. It's free to play as long as you purchase food or drink. A couple of Diet Cokes later and I've played some of my favorite games: Skee Ball, Super Mario, Strike Master and The Simpsons. It's also kid friendly so that's another perk.


ALWAYS "ON"
CJ, your personality is through the roof. I asked for a photo and to give me my favorite (Connor) face and this is what I got. He was such a good kid on Saturday when we ran around town with out of town guests. He stayed up way passed bedtime and was still so chipper Sunday morning. I love this age and how much fun we have together and with friends and family. 

Saturday was a pretty busy day leaving us taking it easy on Sunday. We slept in, had lunch out, took a hike, indulged with a sweet treat then hung out at home before prepping for another busy week!