May 232016
 

Marshmallow Boo Boo Ice Pack

I am a boy mom and while they are not so little anymore (le sigh), boys are naturally prone to all sorts of cuts, scrapes and bruises. They love playing outside all summer long, so we definitely see our fair share of boo boos.  I have to bust out an ice pack at least once a day every day from the day they get out of school in June until they go back to school in September.  I’m not exaggerating at all.

The thing about ice packs is that they can be messy.  They drip everywhere once they start to melt and if one of the kids hurts someplace like their knee or elbow, ice packs aren’t flexible so they don’t really work well for jointed areas.  Well, here’s an awesome summer hack for you.  Make a cold pack out of marshmallows!  Yes, I said marshmallows.  Marshmallows get cold, but won’t be hard so they can mold to the body. Plus they are way more fun for the kids.

It only takes a few minutes to make and trust me, it will make the kids forget all about their boo boos in no time.

Here’s what you need:

  • Ziploc bag
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups of mini marshmallows (will depend on the size of your bag)
  • Food coloring in choice of color
  • Masking tape or washi tape (optional)
  • Bowl for mixing
  • Plate or cookie sheet

Continue reading »

May 222016
 

6 Reasons to Visit Massachusetts Pioneer Valley

When someone mentions Massachusetts to you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Boston?  Cape Cod? Those places are both great, but there is a lot of fun located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, too. There are so many fun-filled attractions in the western part of the state and they are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for some family fun this summer.

1. Six Flags New England

Did you know that Six Flags New England is the Coaster Capital of New England?  Six Flags New England is home to the New England SkyScreamer, Flashback, Pandemonium, Mind Eraser, Batman the Dark Knight, Goliath, Wicked Cyclone and the brand new Fireball, which just opened this year. Six Flag New England also relaunched the BIZARRO coaster this season.  It’s now SUPERMAN™ the Ride.

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If coasters aren’t your thing, you are not alone.  I don’t like them either, but fear not – there is a ton of other stuff to do at the park. For the little ones, there are four areas specifically dedicated to kids including Looney Tunes Movie Town, Kidzopolis, Whistlestop Park and Splash Island (in the water park).  There are tons of rides in those areas including bumper cars, a carousel, the scrambler and many more classics. Continue reading »

May 182016
 

How to Talk to Your Child About Strangers

From tackling peer pressure to learning to achieve five whole minutes without a cell phone in hand, addressing tough topics with your kids head-on can be hard. Even with the littlest ones, it’s not always easy to explain why you can’t get them that cute puppy and why they need to be nice to their sister. But with Netflix, your kid’s favorite shows can open the door for these tricky, sometimes awkward (hello parents of tweens and teens!), conversations.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids came with a stranger danger warning attached to their brain? Every parent wants to instill the common sense of staying away from strangers into their children. However, every parent knows that isn’t possible. I wanted to share some tips with how you can talk to your children about the danger of strangers.

Talk about adults you can trust.

Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for, but it’s still important to talk to them about adults they can trust. Talk to your child about who they can trust and who they can’t trust. I’m pretty straightforward with my kids and tell them that no one else will pick them up, unless I tell them that personally. I tell them that if they don’t feel right about something, then go with their gut instinct.

Talk about acceptable behavior.

It’s best to be honest with your child than to sugar coat anything. Stranger danger doesn’t just happen when your child is on his or her way home from school. Stranger danger can happen anywhere. It’s important that kids know what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Continue reading »

May 172016
 

5 Ways To Take Control of Your Laundry

Do you have piles of laundry on your closet floor? Behind your bedroom door? Under your children’s beds? Are your laundry baskets overflowing? Do you find yourself questioning which pile is the clean pile?

You need to take control of your laundry… yesterday!

Taking control of your laundry can only be accomplished if you have a fully functioning washing machine and dryer. If either of your machines are misbehaving frequently, the first step you will need to take is to find a replacement. Failure to work with proper equipment will result in laundry failures despite your best efforts.

Now that you are up and running, let’s get started!

1. Purge Your Closet

The top signal that it is time to do laundry is when there are no more clothes to wear. When this happens, you are forced to pull out the spray freshener or do a load of laundry (dire situations may require you do both – wink).

Reducing the amount of clothing your family owns will help you to maintain the greatest amount of control. No, your son doesn’t need seventy-five collared shirts, and your daughter doesn’t need thirty pairs of jeans. Trust me, I’m a recovering thrift store-oholic that had a son with over seventy-five collared shirts, ten pull overs, and more than fifty t-shirts! That was just the bulk of one of my child’s closets! (Shameful, I know) We have since adopted a twenty shirt rule with an additional requirement that before new clothing comes in, old clothing must come out! Continue reading »

May 162016
 

Make Your Own Strawberry Go-Gurts

My youngest son is a picky eater.  I mean seriously picky.  He’s the kind of kid that will eat something 1000 times and then on the 1001st time, suddenly he hates it. I swear to god. He’s done it with hot dogs, pizza and countless other foods.  It drives me batty, but he’s super cute so I let things like that slide.  There are a few food things that are a constant with him, though. Yogurt is one of them. He has loved yogurt since he was a baby and that makes me happy because I know he’s getting something good for him when he eats it.  He will eat yogurt in pretty much any form (smoothies, frozen, etc), but go-gurts are by far his favorite way to eat them….there’s something about slurping it as opposed to eating it with a spoon apparently.  Anyways, I don’t care how he eats it as long as he continues to like it.

He loves go-gurts so much that we were constantly running out and frankly, it was costing me a small fortune to keep buying box after box of them.  I decided that it would be just as easy to make my own go-gurts and save myself some money in the process.

If your kids love yogurt on the go as much as mine do, why not try making your own like I did?

Here’s what you need to make your go-gurts:

  • 1 Cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Cup fresh washed, sliced strawberries
  • 3 Zipsicle bags
  • 1 Food funnel
  • Blender

*Note: This recipe makes 3 go-gurts, but it’s easily doubled/tripled etc. Continue reading »

May 102016
 

5 Ways to Beat Disney World Exhaustion

Making it through a day at Disney World is almost a feat of human strength, but yet, people manage to do it every day and some folks do it several days in a row. Disney World exhaustion is a real thing, and it plagues so many guests that push their limits and try to get as much in at the parks as possible without giving themselves a break. Knowing how to avoid becoming exhausted while at the parks can mean the difference between really enjoying yourself and not ever wanting to return to Walt Disney World.

Use these 5 tips to beat Disney World exhaustion and really tackle all that the parks have to offer without falling over each night.

Start Taking Naps

We love it when the kids willingly nap, and believe me when I tell you that everyone in the family will learn to love naps at Walt Disney World. No matter how many or little days you have at the parks, you should leave a couple hours midday for relaxing, going back to your hotel room or rental and just relax, nap, snack and recharge. Doing this gives you the energy to get through the rest of the day, and really, midday is the worst time to be in the parks, with crowds thinning out later in the afternoon when you are ready to come back for more fun.

Ride Everything

Besides amusement rides, there are a lot of ride options around the Disney World parks, and you should take advantage of all of them in order to minimize the amount of time that you are on your feet and running around. No matter how well you plan it out, nor the shape you are in, the average guest can walk anywhere from four to eight miles worth of park a day. Even at a slow pace this is a lot when you are doing as much as you are for several days in a row. Take advantage of in park transportation, park to park transportation and even go out of your way to add a slow paced ride option to your itinerary that will give you a new view of the parks. Continue reading »

May 092016
 

How to Throw an Outdoor Movie Party

Spring and summer are a great time to mix up your party styles. You can easily move your typical parties outside to enjoy some fresh air after being cooped up during the dreary winter months! One great way to have some fun outdoors is by hosting an outdoor movie party. If you need some tips on how to throw an outdoor movie party we’ve got you covered! These tips and tricks will have you set up and ready to go in no time; your party is sure to be the talk to the town and a big hit with all your family and friends!

Supplies:

  • Projector
  • Screen (Use a flat white garage door or the side of your house!)
  • DVD Player or Laptop
  • Movies
  • Speakers
  • Extension Cords
  • Snacks
  • Blankets (to sit/lay on)

Continue reading »

May 092016
 

As a former Jordan’s Furniture employee, I can personally attest to the fact that they truly enjoy keeping their customers happy.  The owners, Barry & Eliot had a vision of making visiting the stores more than just furniture shopping – they wanted to make it an experience for the whole family. Now that Barry has retired from the family business, Eliot has kept the family fun aspect of the stores going strong.  I worked at the Avon, MA store, which is the home of MOM (the Motion Odyssey Movie Ride), Enchanted Ice (an indoor skating rink) and the Boston classic, The Enchanted Village.  Families come out in droves for those attractions, but if you are a local you know that each store boasts at least one fun family attraction. In the Reading store, they have the BeanStalk™ Adventure Ropes Course and I was able to head there to check it out with my family last weekend.

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Disclosure: My family received complimentary tickets for the course in order to provide an honest review of our experience.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

The BeanStalk™ Adventure Ropes Course is a 32-foot tall, 2 level ropes course (12 feet or 24 feet up) complete with 30 exciting activities including zig-zag beams, cargo nets, angled rope ladders, crisscross walks and more. Participants choose their own path through the elements and go at their own pace. No two obstacles are the same! The ropes course is also equipped with a Sky Rail zip line connection measuring 69′ long. which costs $2 more to ride.

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My boys have done rope courses before, so they already knew to empty their pockets before the employees helped them put their safety harnesses on, but for those of you who have never done a course like this – you do need to empty your pockets so nothing falls out on the people on levels below you.  And no, cameras are not allowed on the course, either. Continue reading »

May 082016
 

Strawberry Banana Dixie Cup Frozen Ice Pops

Growing up I loved it when I was outside playing with friends in the backyard and my mom would bring out a try of Dixie cup ice pops outside for us to snack on.  Back then hers were a bit more simple (she made hers from whatever juice was in the fridge), but they were still awesome and definitely refreshing on those super hot days.

Now that I am the mom, it makes my heart happy that my boys love playing outside in the summer as much as I did when I was a kid. Experimenting with different flavor combinations for their ice pops makes this mom happy and the fun flavors we’ve been experimenting with definitely make my boys happy.  They get just as excited to see me coming with an ice pop in each hand as I did back when I was young.

These ice pops that I made from strawberry, orange and banana are fruity, easy to make, healthy and boy do they taste delicious!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 Cup diced strawberries
  • 2 small bananas
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 Cup orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 3oz Dixie style cups
  • Popsicle sticks

Strawberry Banana Dixie Cup Frozen Ice Pops8
Continue reading »

May 032016
 

8 Signs You Are Not Ready to Have Kids

Last week I had a conversation with someone and what they said to me literally made my jaw drop. That conversation is what ended up inspiring me to write this post today. This person is a married adult in his mid 30’s and the conversation progressed from talking about how he wants kids of his own to taking about changing diapers.  As soon as I said it he said that he doesn’t have to worry about changing diapers because his wife will be changing them all.

What??

I tried telling him how that’s completely ignorant, unfair and just plain immature.  His response was, and I quote: “I can’t deal with poop.  I will end up puking all over the baby”.  So, what, he can never be alone with his own child because he won’t change a diaper?  I am sure his attitude will change if he ever becomes a parent himself, but frankly I hope he thinks long and hard before procreating – especially since this same person can barely take care of himself.

Being a parent is the hardest job there is and it’s not for the feint of heart. I was infuriated when I walked away from that conversation and as a result I compiled this list of other signs that someone might not be ready to have children of their own. In addition to not being able to deal with poop.

1. You cringe when you go out to eat and get seated at a table next to a family with small kids.

I’ve been on both sides of this scenario (hey, I was young and immature once upon a time), so I truly do understand how loud kids can get under someone’s skin.  With that being said, I have also been that mom who had to take her child out of a restaurant and wait with him in the car until the rest of her family finished their meals.  It’s one of those things that you don’t fully comprehend until you are a parent and find yourself in that situation. And if you think for one minute that it won’t happen to you – BWAHAHAHA!!!!!! Continue reading »

May 022016
 

A Visit to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in DC

Many of you know that my family recently visited Washington DC for the second year in a row.  Last year we found that a week in DC just wasn’t enough time to be able to see and do everything that we wanted to, so we took the kids back again this year over their April school vacation to we could see the stuff we missed last year. Madame Tussauds Washington, DC was high up on our list and I am so excited that we were able to squeeze in a visit this year.

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**My family and I were provided complimentary admission to Madame Tussauds in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

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Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Washington DC is definitely not your typical museum.  I had been to the Madame Tussauds wax museums in Vegas and NYC sans kids, but I when I found out there was one in DC – I knew my boys would love it and I was dying to take them there. Continue reading »

May 022016
 

Bra shopping.  Ladies, what comes to mind when I say those words?  A feeling of dread? You’re definitely not alone.  Bra shopping is the worst, right? That’s what I used to think, too, but not anymore. Stay tuned because I am going to tell you how bra shopping can actually be fun. Yes, FUN!

So, here’s what typically happens when I go bra shopping:

1. Walk into Target.
2. Grab a bra in my size (or what ever the size of the last bra I bought was) and buy it without trying it on – because, well, who has time for that?
3. Try it on and spend the next month being uncomfortable until I wash it about 25-30 times and it stretches out and actually fits me half way decently.

Seriously, though. I am a mom and who has time for bra shopping? As long as I have a bra, I am happy. If if doesn’t fit perfectly, so be it – at least I am wearing one, right?

Wrong!!

**I was provided complimentary product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

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I recently discovered Peach and they are on a mission to change bra shopping forever. Peach is on a mission to inspire every woman to feel beautiful and confident in her own skin. They are here to help you fill your top two drawers with bras that actually fit and high quality panties.  The best part is they make it easy and I can’t wait to tell you all about how it works. Continue reading »

May 012016
 

Pink Lemonade Brownies recipe

I am so happy that the warm weather has finally reached us here in New England (well, for the most part).  In my family the summer is filled with birthday celebrations, cookouts, graduations and spending nights out by the fire pit.  And let’s face it, what’s a celebration without a delicious sweet treat?  What I love about these Pink Lemonade Brownies is that they are not only delish, but they are a perfect dessert for any occasion.

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Here’s what you need to make your Pink Lemonade Brownies:

  • 1 box Pink Lemonade cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

Continue reading »

Apr 272016
 

7 Creative Ways to Use Old Crayons

Do you have a bucket of old crayons sitting around? If so, you might be wondering what to do with them. Well don’t pitch them just yet. Instead, take a look at these 7 creative uses for old crayons. You will find that old crayons can actually come in handy. Take a peek!

1. Make your own rainbow crayons.
Peel off the paper and place the crayon bits into cupcake tins. Spray the tins with non stick spray before you do, then bake them at 300 degrees until melted. Remove and allow them to cool. Pop the crayons out and you now have your own crayon discs in all sorts of colors!

2. Make your own fire starter.
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to start a fire, you can use crayons to make your own fire starter. Simply melt the crayons (remove the paper first) in a microwave safe dish. 20-30 seconds in your microwave on high heat should do the job. Then, pour the wax over pinecones. When you are ready to start your fire, just light the pinecone and set it on top of the wood. It will work great!

3. Make some melted crayon art.
Hot glue some peeled crayons to the top of a canvas. Use the hair dryer to melt the crayons, allowing them to drip down the canvas. The end result is some out of this world melted crayon art. Continue reading »

Apr 262016
 

raspberry yogurt muffins #recipe

On the mornings that I workout, I need to make sure that I eat something for breakfast that will fill me up and get me through the entire workout. Few things are worse than when your stomach starts grumbling half way through your spin class, right?  Oy vey! Muffins are my breakfast of choice because I find that after all the morning chaos in my house (and by chaos I mean getting the kids off to school) I need something that I can just grab and take with me on the go. These muffins fit the bill. They fill my tummy and they are perfect on the go!  What’s better is that they are simple to make, which is a major score if you ask me.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup vanilla yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ small ripe banana, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries
  • Turbino sugar for top of muffins

Continue reading »

Apr 252016
 

Off the Beaten Path Travel Spots in Washington DC

If you have ever been to Washington DC you know that there are TONS of historical and monumental places to visit. There are museums, statues, national treasures galore! But for all of those super popular travel destinations there are twice as many awesome off the beaten path travel spots in Washington DC. DC is full of awesome local activities and locations; you can easily pack your travel calendar full of activities that have nothing to do with the main tourist attractions! These ideas are great for any trip but are also really awesome spots to hit if you get to travel to DC more frequently than the “once in a lifetime, camera toting, typical DC tourist”. If you like to check out great local finds, quirky hidden gems, or if you just need a change of pace from the typical tourist loop then these places are definitely for you!

Arlington Farmer’s Market
You can check out the Arlington Farmer’s Market if you are ever in DC on a Saturday! They set up near the Arlington Courthouse (and equally cool place to check out) and have all kinds of local produce and treats. There are tons of samples to be had, local soaps, flowers, ice cream, cider, fruits and veggies! You can find awesome eats and help support the local agriculture at the same time. It is a great activity for a Saturday morning and would be great for anyone who considers themselves a foodie of any level!

C&O Canal
The C&O Canal is an awesome peaceful location that runs parallel with M Street in Washington DC. It’s a great location for a bike ride, walk, or jog. If you need a beautiful and non-crowded place to take a jog or just for a nice picnic and a walk you should check out the C&O Canal. This is a truly amazing location which runs for quite a long distance (184 miles between DC and Bethesda MD). The Canal does run parallel with M Street but is a much less busy alternative for walking, biking, or exploring. On one side of the trail you have the canal and the Potomac River on the other side makes a lovely backdrop. The lock houses remain even though the canal is no longer in operation. Grab some burgers and head out for a picnic and a little exploring, you won’t be disappointed. Continue reading »

Apr 242016
 

Homemade Cinnamon Play Dough

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that play dough is great for kids with sensory issues.  I happen to be the mom of a child with sensory issues and he absolutely loves to play with play dough.  As much as I love the smell of the store bought kind (and I really, really do), I tend to make my own.  The thing is when you make your own, you can get really creative with it. I have made dough in all sorts of colors, added sprinkles and my latest creation: Cinnamon Play Dough.  This recipe will yield 1 cup of all natural, edible cinnamon play dough and since May 5th is quickly approaching, it is a perfect Cinco de Mayo craft!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup boiling hot water

Continue reading »

Apr 212016
 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars Recipe

I pack both of my boys a healthy lunch, but they are growing boys.  Growing tween boys to be exact.  In addition to eating me out of house and home, they both come off the bus hungry every single day.  Actually, scratch that. They come off the bus hangry every single day – especially my youngest!  When he’s hangry, he gives Oscar the Grouch a good run for his money.  Seriously.

Since they come running (literally) off the bus looking for food, I always have a snack ready for them.  Since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are one of their favorites, they love it when they come home and I have peanut butter and jelly bars ready for them as a snack. They are easy to make and they are perfect for anyone who loves PB&J!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars4

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 Cup softened butter
  • 1 Cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Continue reading »

Apr 192016
 

Disney's Best Hidden Bars and Restaurants

For some Disney diners, finding hidden bars and restaurants is all about finding a place to enjoy a meal that isn’t packed to the gills and for others it’s all about being in the know. If either is what you’re after, or if you just want to find another Disney World dining option that isn’t all everyone is talking about, these hidden restaurants and bars are all great options. From sit down to fast food to bars that have complete menus too, there is always something new to discover in your favorite park.

Boatwright’s, Port Orleans Riverside

Resort restaurants tend to go unnoticed if they don’t make it on any of the many top places to dine while at Disney World lists. and Boatwright’s is one of them. This restaurant dining hall can be found at the Riverside option of the resort, and is a great place for southern cooking with plenty of Cajun options that really pack in the flavor. One of the biggest complaints at Disney is that much of the food is bland in order to appeal to the masses, but you won’t find that a problem here. Decor-wise, the restaurant is unique, with a riverside, boat repair shack theme that makes it really feel like you are in the Deep South. Continue reading »

Apr 182016
 

Easy DIY Resuable Swiffer Pads

If you are anything like me, your Swiffer is your best friend. I use mine every single day of my life.  Between the dust that my forced hot air heat blows out in the winter, the dog and the messes my boys track in – I would be completely lost without my Swiffer.  Ok, maybe not lost, but my house would be in a constant state of messiness.  Since I use my Swiffer daily, the disposable pads that are needed to clean with them were adding up fast. Even when I bought in bulk, I was spending tons on the disposable pads and since my house gets so dirty, there was no way I could use them more than once.

But I recently came up with the solution for that problem.  I made my own reusable pads to use and love all the money I am saving not buying the disposable pads.  The reusable pads are really easy to make and you can use any cute fabric you like to make them.

Here’s what you need to make your reusable Swiffer pads:

  • Any flannel fabric
  • Any cotton fabric
  • Sewing pins (optional)
  • Sewing scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine

Continue reading »