My 15 Easiest On the Go Snacks!

Alright… this post is for everyone, but, as a mom, I definitely think about this much more now than I did before I had kids. It never fails that the day I forget my snacks is the day the breakdowns happen 😉 and I’m referring to breakdowns in kids more-so than in vehicles 😛

So here is my list (this would start once past the puree baby food stage, with the exception of bananas and pureed fruit pouches):

1. Bananas ~ as I said before, I’ve got big fans over here

2. Raisins~ they come in these great snack sized boxes

3. Blueberries~ just put in a ziplock and go!

4. Grapes~ again, just put in a ziplock and go!

5. Clementines~ super easy to peel and my boys devour these things

6. Pretzels~ again, the ziplock bag

7. Pureed fruit and applesauce pouches~ Don’t let them fool you, the applesauce ones are great for adults too!

8. Crackers~ You could add peanut butter to them to make them extra tasty 🙂

9. Cheerios~ perfect for adults and kids or maybe I’m the only crazy adult who likes them (especially honey nut)

10. Protein bars (more-so for the adults although you could make them for your kids!)

11. Any dried fruit

12. Nuts

13. Apples

14. Trail Mix (homemade is best for kids- I love a combination of craisins, cheerios, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and nuts if your kids are old enough)

15.  Carrots with a small tupperware of hummus

Let me know if you have any other suggestions! And be sure to follow my blog if you like what you read 🙂

Have a great Tuesday!

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A few of my favorite baby food recipes!

A friend asked me if I would blog about a few of my favorite baby food recipes so here goes…

First of all, I typically use the wholesome baby food website at http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/

This site is fabulous for finding unique recipes and learning what is appropriate for each age.

Let me just say that my boys LOOOOVE bananas… It’s a staple food around our house.

We buy about 18 bananas a week because they go crazy over them.

With that said, one of my favorite recipes on this site is Oat & ‘Naner Drops found under the Teething Biscuits section: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/teethingbiscuits.htm#.UX77thwlt5d and freeze these to keep for a long time!

As far as pureed food goes, some favorite combinations have been: Blueberries and peaches; Pears, bananas, and avocado; and Apple, pear, and oatmeal. I just cook the pears and apples by cutting them in half and placing them face down on a piece of foil on a baking sheet. I then use my Magic Bullet and puree them together. I then add the oats to thicken anything up as needed. Very easy and delicious!

Another simple suggestion, although not an actual recipe, but Gabe devours pumpkin out of a can! This is such an easy food to serve… No work required… And what mom doesn’t love that?

I also made Cale’s First Birthday Smash Cake using a recipe from this site. See the Applesauce Spice Cake and Sugar-free Cream Cheese Frosting at this link: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/tipFirstBDay.htm#.UX7-ABwlt5c. It didn’t have any sugar in it 😉 We figured why introduce it before he could ask for it? But….

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…I’d say he loved it 😉

Another favorite snack idea that my friend Alex introduced us to today are Sweet Potato Fries or Chips found here: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/babyfingerfood.htm#.UX78hBwlt5c

Cale didn’t get into these as much because they weren’t a typical snack 😉 but Gabe gobbled them up.

I’ll include a few more recipes in future posts! But this is a good starting place.

Have a great Monday!

On Being My Little Boy’s First Love

What does it mean to be my little boys’ first love? As a mommy of two little boys, I often reflect on what this means. But it has NEVER hit me as hard as it did this past weekend… as my sweet Cale would “only” hold “mommy’s” hand as we walked along the beach and then the pier. This much loved little baby is now turning into a sweet little man who has…

..Stolen…

…His Mother’s Heart.

I can’t even begin to explain to you the great joy I have being his mother and the fact that he clings to me and shows his love for me in so many ways. This very independent child is still dependent on his mommy for affection and to fulfill his very obvious love language: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION…

This post is about what I can do as his first love… How I can be his mommy and show him both how to love and be loved in return. I am constantly seeing articles and posts about how fathers should show daughters the way they should be loved, but…

Shouldn’t mothers do the same for their sons?

I understand that men care more about respect than love, but, for those who are married, do your husbands not also need love?

Of course they do.

They need to both give love and receive love (this is the language of people all over the world). Hence, the void that is left when this does not happen.

So, as a mommy to little boys who I want to grow into strong and protective men of God, I want to serve them as their very first love.

I teach them to both give and receive love by:

  • Speaking to them on their level and desiring to understand them with my whole heart.
  • Allowing them to hold my hand as we walk through scary situations together
  • Disciplining them with my firm, but understanding approach to their disobedience
  • Exploring the world with them while they are still under my loving protection
  • Teaching them, through my example, that they should both give and earn respect
  • Reading with them
  • Telling them “I Love You” at least 50 times a day 😉
  • Helping them learn to love/respect their bodies by forming healthy eating/exercise habits and through my example in this area
  • Teaching them to love the world around them by showing them how to use their brains and learn by using them everyday
  • Giving them a hope for their future by teaching them about Jesus’ love and showing them through my relationship with Him

What does this look like on a daily basis?

This means that I seek to talk to them, hold their hand, discipline, explore, compel them to respect adults and other children with their words and their actions, read with them, tell them I love them, give them healthy food and run and play, go out and discover the real world as well as do learning activities at home, and talk about Jesus with them…

…Both when they do ask for it and, especially, … when they don’t.

So, in the end, what does it mean to be a little boy’s first love?

It means living life together… in one beautiful harmony of experiences…

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Cute Anniversary and Teething Kids Snack Ideas!

Because my family took a weekend trip to the beach and decided to take the boys and me along, we’ve had limited Internet access and are just on our way home now! So here’s some little ideas you can do for your significant other and kiddos!
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I got this idea from a friend who did the same for her husband! I loved it and thought I’d pass it on!

The second idea is a snack great for teething kids! A friend posted this on her Facebook and I tried it out last week!

Frozen Greek yogurt drops! You just take Greek yogurt with fruit in it, put it into a ziploc bag, cut a corner off and squeeze out little drops onto wax paper, put into the freezer and, when frozen, move to a freezer bag. It’s pretty easy and my boys think they’re candy!

Have a great Saturday night!

Did the 3DayPottyTraining.com Method Work for Us?

Well… as those of you that I am friends with on Facebook know (based on my picture that I posted last night concerning Cale being trained) and we’re probably expecting, I was going to write a completely different post this morning, but now I’m so grateful I waited to write. As we’re now on the 4th day of our second trial run of the 3 Day Potty Training Method, here is the premise of the method (though I can’t go into great detail as she asks that you purchase her program and take advantage of her mentoring program) and my final thoughts:

First of all, potty training is hard work….DUH ARIEL…

I mean, why wouldn’t it be? Every other type of training that we participate in is. Whether we’re running a 5k, 10k, marathon, competing in the Olympics, being a professional athlete, pursuing a career, etc. Every type of training that we do in our life requires varying degrees of hard work. It doesn’t just happen overnight.

Cale Playing During Potty Training Day 2

(Cale playing during potty training day 2)

As a mom of a boy, I have been told (for as long as I can remember) that boys are so much harder to train than girls and that it’ll take much longer. Well, I admit…

…I wasn’t buying it.

And especially not after I had two friends tell me about their experiences training their BOYS in 3 days with this potty training method. I like to follow what I know has worked for others so I followed suit and purchased this program.

Here’s the general premise:

You stay at home with your child for 3 days and are with them CONSTANTLY. This is tough with a super independent child, but he also seemed to love the extra attention. I can’t give away too much else as I don’t want to create any copyright issues.

But, I think you probably know… Based on my previous posts… that staying home for 3 days straight is some major boot camp for me!

Some of the positives about the program:

  1. Although yesterday he seemed to be fully trained (He didn’t have an accident from 9/9:30 am- 4:30/5 pm) and today he has had mostly accidents and is not doing as well, he still fully recognizes when he goes potty, even if not always beforehand. Though I didn’t believe it would, it did seem to click in some way.
  2. It is ONLY 3 days so if, in the end, it didn’t work (though she claims that it works for every child), you’veonly given up 3 days of your time.
  3. It is great that she doesn’t transition from diapers to pull-ups and then to underwear. It is much more straightforward and encourages discipline from both the parents and child.

Some of the negatives about the program:

  1. She says the perfect age is 22 months and that the range of 22-30 months is a great time to use the training; however, I tried it when Cale was 22 months and 1 week and he didn’t catch on. Now, at 23 months, he seems to have much more understanding.
  2. The mentoring program, that is highly encouraged and that you must use if you desire to request a refund, though encouraging, didn’t offer much more info than the book itself. Just encouragement for the most part, although there wassome advice.
  3. It costs money. It is about $25, but should you decide to do it, you can get a promo code by typing in 3 Day Potty Training Promo Code into Google.
  4. Your child may not be fully trained at the end of 3 days despite the guarantee.

Overall, I wouldn’t say Cale is fully trained in 3 days (although, I admit, I felt that he was yesterday when I posted a photo to Facebook about it :/ because he was doing so great!). Today, we are struggling more (mostly accidents all day while saying “Potty”), but I do like that he is on the right track.

And some great news, he stayed DRY ALL NIGHT last night!

Anyways, hope this offers some honest perspective and that you understand my feelings go both ways concerning my beliefs in this program.

Cale and Gabe sippy cups

My two boys gulping their water during one of the potty training days.

Have a great Friday and Happy Weekend! Check back for my post tomorrow!

Did Baby Wise work for me?

For anyone who knows me, they know I’m a big fan of the Baby Wise method…

… in moderation.

As a work from home mom, I need my boys on a schedule so I can work when they sleep. Last night, I read Ava Neyer’s post about sleep training that went viral recently. And all I gotta say in response to that is… Baby Wise worked for me! But I also didn’t overwhelm myself with reading multiple sleep books. I followed a method that worked for the lady I nannied for before I had kids, threw in some of my own common sense, and just went with it.

A few days ago, a friend from college sent me a message on Facebook asking for some newborn advice. It made me feel so good that she came to me for advice and I LOVE helping out where I can. Needless to say, I recommended Baby Wise since she wants her baby on a schedule. I admit, it’s …. Not for everyone, but…

I think using any ideas in moderation is a great thing.

And I can’t imagine..

LIVING WITHOUT IT!

I have two very different boys who have very different personalities and sleeping habits as I mentioned before, but Baby Wise still offered me some SANITY without having them “cry it out.”

For those that don’t know, the main premise of Baby Wise is the Eat, Wake, Sleep cycle. When your baby wakes up for the day, you feed him or her, followed by wake time, and then sleep time. Then the cycle.. wait for it..

starts over!! 😉

It’s pretty simple and it’s about understanding that you, as a parent and adult, know what your baby needs more than your baby does and it’s about helping find your own schedule.

With each baby, I started Baby Wise around 2 weeks and the feedings were 2 hours apart at that time quickly followed by a 3 hour schedule. Here’s an example of both our 2 and 3 hour schedules:

2 Hour Schedule for the Youngest Newborns:

8:30am- Wake-up and Eat

8:30-9am- Wake time

9-10:30am-Sleep time

Then start over again! In the evenings, we kept them up for a few hours so they’d be extra tired when they went to bed.

Our 3 hour schedule looked like this:

8:30am-Wake-up and eat

8:30-9:30/10am- Wake time

9:30/10am-11:30am- Sleep time

Then, in case you were unaware, start over again 😉

When I said “in moderation” above, I mean… If your baby is clearly hungry before the cycle is completed… feed him or her and begin the cycle over. It will take some time for a “feed on demand” baby to get the hang of your schedule.

At night, the book suggests that you feed them quietly, do not turn on any lights, and immediately lay them back down so they understand nighttime is for sleeping.

We also eliminated 1 feeding at a time (never more than that) by putting the paci in when they’d wake up for that feeding. If your baby will not take a paci, then I suggest just practicing the above recommendations for night and go from there.

While Gabe didn’t get this pattern quite as quickly as Cale, he is also 9 months old and goes down for most every nap and for bed without any frustration. He understands his bed means sleep time and easily goes down.

Anyways… just thought this would be helpful for some of my first time mom friends or even 2nd and 3rd and 4th time moms, etc. since I know schedules become even more important the more kiddos you have!

Good luck and please leave your comments or questions below! I’m always here to help!

8 Ways I Save Money in a Spending World

I’ve been thinking today about some of the things that make me unique and how life’s circumstances have actually created these in me in the past few years. My husband would say that one of those things is some of the ways I save money.

The reason why this is unique is because I didn’t grow up in a family that “needed” to save money. My dad has done well in his career and let’s just say that I could (or rather my parents could)…

..BUY me most anything I wanted…. within reason 😉

Then.. Michael and I got married when I was 20 (almost 21).. we were still in college and well, let’s just say that marrying an aspiring pastor and now church planter has completely changed that ability 😉

And, in all honesty, I am actually very grateful that I have been forced to learn money saving techniques in my daily life. I think my friends who knew me prior to now would be surprised at the very different approach I take to money, but, if one day, Michael and I are able to spend more in the future, I still have no desire to spend what I don’t have to.

Anyways, here’s some ways we save money (though we’re learning more everyday and I’ll take any advice anyone wants to offer):

1. I shop at Aldi (I used to coupon and I have some great advice for those who want to- it’s definitely not the long process most people think it is. I also have a few friends who do an excellent job with it~ I’ll write more about that in the future. Once Gabe wasborn, we realized we were eating more and more fresh produceand I can find it for the cheapest prices at Aldi so, if you have one in your area… GO THERE! No questions asked. If you don’t have an Aldi, the best idea is a farmer’s market. It’s fresh produce for cheaper than the average grocery store for the most part.

2. I buy Target brand (Up&Up) diapers (This may seem small to some of you, but the price difference is incredible and these are the best diapers that compare to the brand names in quality. Incredible diapers! HIGHLY recommended.

3. My kids wear second hand clothes (First of all, I can’t take full credit for this because we have been so, so blessed by friends who have given us so many clothes that I’ve rarely had to buy clothes, but when I do, the best ways I purchase them are at consignment sales (we have a huge one at our state fairgrounds twice a year- I get clothes for $1 each), second hand shops (i.e. Once Upon a Child, etc.), yard sales, Craigslist, church consignment sales, and Goodwill.)

Here’s an example of matching outfits I found for my boys both at a consignment shop and passed on from friends.

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4. I buy second hand clothes for myself (I know I know… I can hear it… the shock from my friends from the past. Yes, thisformer Miss Virginia contestant buys second hand clothes. Where do I buy them you ask? Well, second hand shops for the most part~ Plato’s Closet, local ones, etc., but I have also bought some at yard sales and thrift stores.) Don’t get me wrong, I do get new clothes too (when my mom or Michael decide to treat me to a shopping trip ;).

Here’s a cute maternity outfit I found at a yard sale.

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5. I make my own baby food (Oh yes… one of my favorite decisions because you can save an INSANE amount of money and it can be fun. Just be sure to get “The Magic Bullet”. Believe me, it will make your life easier!) I even made some delicious yogurt drops a few days ago that I’ll post about later.

6. We do free or cheap activities (The park, the library, church 😉 open gyms, walks/walking the mall, playgroups at friends’ houses, indoor playgrounds, and barnes and noble (see https://mrsprojectfreedom.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/get-out-with-your-kids/ for some of these ideas)

7. I work from home (I’m still making money, but my boys do not need daycare. I realize that my situation is unique in that my job has specific qualifications, but I have friends that work from home as small business owners who sell on Etsy, craft fairs, etc., home daycare owners, writers, and teachers of their specific skill sets.)

8. And finally, and very obviously, the most important::: DRUMROLL:::

….We have a budget… Gasp! 🙂

But yes, we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University: http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu. Seriously, if you haven’t taken this class before, this is a MUST! We learned so much and have only made it through the past few financially ROUGH years because of following his plan, definitely not the way we should, but we have tried.

So I hope this helps someone out. Let me know if you have any more ideas!

Have a great Wednesday!

A Day in the Life: Potty Training, Separation Anxiety, and a Hip Hop Dancing 23 Month Old

Well folks.. I had all these remarkable ideas for my post today, but when it came down to it, I just had to write about…

.. Our Real Life on April 23rd.

Because isn’t this what it’s all about anyway?

So here’s what’s up in the Tyson household today:

1. We are on day 1 of the 3 day potty training method (with Cale of course. Although, I may need a refresher course on how to take the time to go to the bathroom while chasing after my munchkins). It might be good to also train Cale that privacy is important when going to the bathroom while I’m at it 😉

Ok, back on track… He’s doing great, but I’ll admit that this is our second trial round with this. We attempted it a month ago and, while he didn’t get it in 3 days, he was doing great on days 5 and 6. Then, we had his friend come stay with us while his mommy was in the hospital having a baby and he only wanted to hang out with his buddy the whole time and not take the time to go to the bathroom. At 22 months, I figured we’d give it another shot later. So here we are… It’s currently 2pm and he’s made it into the toilet more than he hasn’t so I am thrilled! The last time we did this, I don’t think he even made it into the toilet until at least the end of the first day. He’s also VERY excited that he gets to wear “Buzz, Cars, and Superman” underwear so that’s been a real selling point. We’ll see how this continues and, if it goes well, then I may recommend the program. So, for now, we’ll say “to be continued..”

2. Gabe is officially in the separation anxiety stage.. If I didn’t pick the worst time to potty train. It’s a little hard to freak out and get excited with Cale as Gabe is crying his eyes out in the background since we had to rush to the bathroom so fast. He was especially not a fan when it interrupted his nursing session 😉 Cale really knows how to pick those perfect times!

Thankfully, he doesn’t mind me leaving him around those he knows and loves yet (i.e. at church), but I know that’ll probably happen soon. Any advice here is appreciated as I never figured this out with Cale either.

3. While we were stuck indoors potty training, we had a little dance party. For those of you who know Cale, you know that he LOVES to dance, sing, play guitar, and, overall, rock out. So yes, I think you’ll love to see his hip hop dancing skills in his latest video to the song by T.L. The only sad thing is that my camera cut off before the belly dancing began. I guess you could say, based on both Michael’s and my love for dance..

…He gets it honest.

Enjoy!

15 Ways to Get out with your Kids!

A friend posted a status on Facebook the other day about how she feels she’s in solitary confinement as a stay at home mom. I just couldn’t relate because I have to force myself to be home at least 1 day a week in order to be a “Homemaker”… Oh yes.. I said it. The word I think is ridiculous, but I have come to find is actually kind of important 😉

Now.. I write this post as I’m home again today due to Michael’s truck still being broken down. Ha!

Anyways, I keep my schedule busy and I thought to myself, if this friend of mine is feeling this way, how many other women are as well? It could be the fact that my mom always had us on the go that I got used to it…

We were homeschooled… We couldn’t afford to miss out by staying home all the time…

And let’s be honest, my mom needed it for her sanity. Just as I, and most moms, do. So, I thought I’d offer some pointers of some fun places to go and do in your town. Now, I know not all of these activities or places will be in your specific town, but they’re just some ideas of things to look into.

1. The Park (when the weather is nice)

2. Indoor playgrounds (our mall even has one as well as chick-fil-a and there are a few at community centers in my town)

3. Playgroups at friends’ houses (we have AT LEAST 1 a week)

4. The Library (Story Time)

5. Open Gyms (again, at community centers/parks)

6. A children’s museum (You can get a yearly pass at ours and I have friends that go every week)

7. The grocery store (Yes, this is an activity for us)

8. Go on walks

9. The pool in the summer

10. The zoo (ours is about an hour and a half away and we haven’t been yet, but just an idea)

11. Aquariums (Another yearly pass)

12. Bounce houses like Monkey Joes, etc.

13. Barnes and Noble (most have an adorable train table in the children’s area)

14. Walk the mall and get a treat 🙂

15. Classes (music, gymnastics, sports, etc. ~we have a lot of toddler classes in our area)

This is just the beginning. I’m sure that I have friends that could add more to this list and please do if you have more ideas! Make a comment to help others out and let me know your thoughts!

Have a great day!Image

“A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart”

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The other day, a neighbor gave me a plaque that had the above quote on it. It’s beautiful.

But even more beautiful is the meaning behind it.

This meaning is different for each of us as we all have…

Entirely…

Different….

Experiences.

This caused me to reflect upon the reasons why this quote is beautiful to me.

I have friends literally all over the globe. I have best friends that I could only easily get to by a plane, but…

We. Talk. CONSISTENTLY.

The reason for this is not the easy access of Facebook (though this is great). It is not the access to smart phones.

It is…Exactly what this quote means.

They touched my heart so deeply that I can’t help but remain friends.. despite the distance. When I say we talk consistently, this does not mean on a daily or weekly basis. This means we keep up with each other and, when we do talk, it’s as if we never left.

It’s hard to find a true friend. I have had very few throughout the course of my life and haven’t always held on to the ones I had very well, but in my little experience, I can say there are 3 qualities that define a friend like this:

1. They think of you more than themselves (I haven’t always been a true friend to my true friends)

2. When you need them, they will drop what they’re doing (no questions asked)

3. They know what you need and have already done it for you before you have even mentioned it.

I am so grateful for my true friendship. I only pray that I can be a better true friend to others.