Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Tips for Exercising with Your Kids

For the past almost 10 years, my exercise routine has been centered around my kids.  I'm home with them full time so I have to figure out how to exercise with them or at nap time.  My current exercise routine is walking with my toddler in tow.  We walk almost every day as long as the weather cooperates.  We also go on family walks in the evenings.

I thought I'd share some tips with you in case you find yourself in the same boat as me.  I've walked with single strollers, double stroller loaded with kids, biked with kids on bikes and walked with kids on scooters.  There is no magic formula.  Just figure out what works best for you and your family to get outside.  We like to walk in our neighborhood.  There is no commute - just walk out the door and go.

Tip #1 - Dress in layers.  It was cold enough for jackets this day but my toddler didn't want to wear one.  He was happiest without so I just went with it.  If it's cold I'll bring a hat for him or a blanket.  Then I have it if he asks for it.  He pulls the sunshade down if he needs it or if it's a windy day.  I try to be flexible and now that he's almost 3 let him figure out what he wants to stay comfortable on our walk.

Tip #2 - Pair something fun with your exercise routine.  I try to always build in time for bikes/scooters on the patio after our walks.  That way if Leo asks for his scooter, I can remind him that we'll walk and then scooter.  I usually grab a book and my water bottle while he plays in the backyard.

Tip #3 - Bring whatever you want on our walk.  Some days he brings construction vehicles to check on the construction sites, this day he brought a garden tool and some days he asks for a snack.  We only walk 30-45 minutes close to lunch time so I don't usually bring a snack.  I do keep emergency Dum Dums in my stroller just in case he needs a little extra treat.

Tip #4 - Plan ahead with a snack or with lunch.  We usually end up walking close to lunch time.  We walk, play outside and then come in hungry.  I have found that it's much easier if I take a few minutes to prep his lunch plate earlier in the morning.  That way I can just have him wash his hands and his plate is ready to go.  Then I can focus on making my own lunch while he's eating.  It felt stressful to come up with lunch if I waited until the last minute and he was starving.  This trick helps eliminate stress from lunch time.

Tip #5 - Chat and enjoy your time together.  I do not wear ear buds on my walks with the kids and I never hand him my phone to watch a show while we walk.  I save ear buds for solo walks.  And we don't do screen time outside.  We chat about all the sights and sounds around the neighborhood, stop to look at the creatures we see and sometimes hold hands as we walk.  We've just started playing I Spy and Leo really likes that.  Some days one of us is not excited about our walk and is whiny, but usually we both enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

What's your current exercise routine?

I keep reading how good daily walks are for your overall health and I know I feel better every day that we make walking a priority.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Must Make Pork Carnitas

I am so excited to tell you about these Must Make Pork Carnitas!


My family loved this pork carnita meat and it was the easiest dinner to prepare.

I grabbed a package of Pork Carnitas meat from Sams after seeing it in their monthly mailer.  This 2lb package is $13.98 and I figured it was worth a try.  It was delicious!  It has a good, subtle flavor that can easily be enhanced with delicious toppings.  I can't wait to stock up on more next time I go to Sams since it says Limited Time Offering on the package.

You get one package of meat and you can heat it up so easily in a 9x13 pan in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or so.  I heated it up, let it rest, shredded it with my hands and removed any fat.  There was very little fat and the meat was so tender.

Here's what the pork look like after I shredded it and left it to soak up any remaining juices.

The kids enjoyed eating the meat plain and on nachos.

The adults loved making soft tacos and nachos.  I had lots of toppings to choose from - picked red onions, queso fresco cheese and all our usual taco favorites - lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese and taco sauce/salsa.  I love dinners like this where the meat is so easy to heat up/prepare and I just have to add on the sides.

The whole family (minus the toddler) loved this dinner!  We all ate generous servings and still had leftover meat.  It reheats perfectly.  I will definitely buy it again.

Would your family enjoy this meal?

Friday, February 24, 2023

February Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope you've had a good week.  Ours flew by after a long weekend.  We packed in lots of fun and can't believe it'll be March next week.  That will kick off birthday season at our house.  Fletcher turns 7 in March, Leo turns 3 in April and Olive turns 10 in May.  7 + 3 = 10 :)  I'm already working on some fun things for their parties.

Did you catch my blog posts this week?

Teacher Mom: Toddlers - I started a new series showcasing fun learning activities you can do at home!  I'm showcasing some toddler favorites this month.  Come see some cute Easter basket filler ideas that the toddlers in your life might love.

I Need Your Help - I'd love to hear from you!

Now on to my February Favorites:

1 // Aldi Rainbow Rug

I finally found one of these cute Aldi rainbow rugs!  It was only $7.99 and looks perfect for St. Patrick's Day on my front porch.  It's been so warm in the Midwest that I had to take down my snowflake and move on to the next holiday a little early.  I love this lavender wreath from Home Goods.  I can't wait to add planters and pretty pots to my porch, but it's too early to be thinking of that since the weather can and probably will get cold again before Spring arrives.

2 // Farm 57

We tried a new coffee shop with some friends this week.  I loved the bread and Leo loved smiling at all the ladies at tables around ours.

3 // Go Aces!

Kevin took the kids to the last Aces game of the season.  They had a blast going with him this season and all of their fan dreams came true when they caught a t-shirt that was thrown into the crowd and earned free pizzas from Azzip.

4 // Bible Study Buddy

Leo and I had Bible Study this week and it's always a highlight of our week.  We get to chat with friends, learn about Jesus and it's wonderful.

5 // 4th Grade Rocks

Olive has been getting some really cool opportunities at school lately.  Her choir as chosen to sing the national anthem at a basketball game, she's crushing her recorder song goals and they built circuits in class this week.  She's learning a ton and we're so proud of her!

6 // 3 Day Weekend

We visited our favorite park with scooters on Monday.  The weather was great and we found some new trails.  We grabbed their favorite lunch on the way home - Culvers.  Kevin had to work so I was in charge of being the fun parent for the day.

This picture is 100% Fletcher - always inventing and creating the funniest things.  This is his fry straw that he was very proud of.

7 // Cookies

I baked Oatmeal Butterscotch (Leo's favorite) and launched some fun rainbow cookies on my March menu for St. Patrick's Day.

8 // Cousin Birthday Party

One of our littlest cousins turned 2 and the kids had a blast at his Lightning McQueen party.  Leo is our only cake loving kid.  I need to take a video of his reaction to a plate of cake.

9 // Zoo Day

We took the kids to the zoo over their long weekend.  We check out a new area - Amazonia - and it was AMAZING.  We finally found the Axolotl creature that Olive loves.  She thinks they're so cute.  The otters were busy and so much fun to watch.  It was a great day to be at the zoo.  We love going in the Fall and Winter.

10 // Olive was thrilled Penny picked her as her favorite snuggle person.  She said she couldn't move until Penny moved.

11 // If you need Fletcher, he's probably out metal detecting in our yard.  He's found the craziest "treasures" and now needs to learn the art of refilling all the holes he's been digging since Christmas.

12 // Leo's favorite spot is always in the middle of whatever is going on.  He was eager to help Fletch make muffins.  We couldn't quit laughing about his determination to get in on the action.

I hope you have the best weekend!  I will see you back here on Monday.

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

I Need Your Help

Hey Friends!

It's been gorgeous in the Midwest this week.  Is there anything better than sunny skies and jean jacket wearing temperatures!?  I'm sitting on my patio doing some blog work and I need your help today. 


I've been working on my 2023 blog calendar and I'm curious - What do want to read on my blog?  What types of post get you excited to click on and read?

Do you have any topics or questions or projects you want me to cover?  I'd love to have your input.  Comment on this post with your post ideas. Or comment and tell me your favorite type of blog posts.  I will do my best to add them to my schedule this year.

I'm eager to hear from my favorite blog friends - those who comment often as well as those who rarely comment.  Thanks for being here.  And thanks so much for your help!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Teacher Mom: Toddlers

Hey Friends!  I hope you had a nice weekend.  We had a good weekend here.  I've got a fun new series to start with you today - Teacher Mom.  I'm going to be sharing homework tips, toddler learning tips as well as fun learning activities that you can do at home with your kids, your friends or even your grand kids.

I hope to encourage you that learning at home can be fun and that you don't have to rush your kids into preschool unless you really want or need them to be there.  We typically wait to send kids to preschool until PreK at age 4 (even though there is lots of pressure out there to start formal preschool ASAP).  We enjoy lots of fun learning opportunities at home and in our community.  You can definitely do the same if you aren't interested in starting formal school with them just yet.

I've got 3 favorite toddler learning activities to do with little ones today.  I'll link as much as I can with Amazon affiliate links below each activity description.  Thanks for supporting PDP!

Teacher Mom: Toddlers

1 // Flash Card Fun

All of my kids have loved looking through flash cards.  It's always been a fun naming game for us and never anything strict or stressful.  The big kids love this Guess in 10 animal clue game and Leo uses the cards to learn animal names.  He initiated it and gets it out often.  

All of my kids have loved these Touch and Feel Flashcards.  We have every set they make.  They're on sturdy cards and the kids love feeling the textured spot on each flash card.  They last for years or for multiple children.   We have used and loved our sets since Olive was a toddler 7+ years ago.

These would be the perfect addition to your child's Easter basket, too!


2 // Play-Doh Playtime

Leo loves to play with Play-Doh.  Now that he's almost 3 I can trust him to play and not eat the Play-Doh.  He loves to roll out snakes, chop with butter knives, match Play-Doh balls with the right lid colors and create.  He also enjoys driving cars through the Play-Doh or stamping dinosaur foot prints in it.  Can you see the flag that he made and was so proud of?  This is such a good fine motor activity.  It builds those little hand muscles so well.  Especially since he wants zero help opening the containers and removing the Play-Doh.  He isn't really into the tools yet.  He just loves using plastic knives or butter knives to chop.

I buy this big set of Play-Doh regularly and all the kids enjoy creating with it.  DO NOT BUY the Play-Doh Easter eggs.  They are so difficult to open since each egg is completely sealed shut and the Play-Doh is much more like clay than Play-Doh.  My kids hated them and I hated that I wasted money on them.


3 // Kinetic Sand

This is a little messier than Play-Doh, but it is so fun to hide little treasures in.  Leo will hide, find, rehide and squish this stuff for hours.  I make sure he sits at a place that is easy to sweep up and then give him an assortment of tiny dinosaurs, gems and such to find.  He uses a butter knife here, too.  You can use plastic spoons and knives, but they always seem to snap easily for us.

My big kids and toddler are obsessed with these tiny treasure boxes of Kinetic Sand.  They come with a shovel to dig and several tiny gems to find.  They're gems the size of the kid's fingernails (not the tiny pink dots pictured here) and all the kids enjoy them.


4 // Walk and Talk

Leo and I love to go on a walk and talk about everything we see.  That's getting easier now that the weather is getting a little nicer and there is more sunlight.  It is a really great free learning opportunity.

We name letters on signs.

Name numbers on houses.

Name car colors.

Wave hello and chat with neighbors.

Watch construction equipment work.

Stop and look at bugs and critters.

Collect sticks.

Talk about the planes that fly over, the clouds in the sky and the birds we see.

We practice directions - Do you want to go straight or right?

We practice the names of our neighbors.

We name nature things like pine cones, hawks, bunnies and farm equipment.

Enjoy your busy toddlers!!

Friday, February 17, 2023

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, Friends!  I hope you've had a good, love filled week.  It was a good one here.  

Did you catch my blog posts this week?

Little Love Yous - this was so. much. fun.

Happy Valentine's Day Treat Tray - my kids loved this treat!

Coffee Chat - come chat - I need your help.

Now on to my favorite moments of the week:

1 // Happy Valentine's Day.  We had a fun holiday week.  The kids got their favorites - candy and Squishmallows.  They wore festive outfits and I made holiday treats for them.

2 // Heart Pizza

We started getting heart shaped pizza's on Valentine's Day long before we were parents.  It's been fun to carry on this tradition with the kids.  It works for poor grad students and families with kids.  We did fancy drinks, place cards and a festive table.  I loved it and the kids appreciated the extra fancy table.  Penny loved the fancy table and made herself the centerpiece after dinner.

3 // Valentine's Day at School

Fletcher picked out the perfect pinata for his valentine box and came home with cute valentine's from his first grade buddies.

His valentines - fish ring toss games and fun dips were so cute!  He wrote his name on all of his valentines so fast this year.  He's really growing up!

4 // Valentine Play Date

We had friends over for a valentine get together.  It was fun for everyone!

5 // Jordan Bakery Box - it was a busy baking week here!  Holiday cookies are my favorite.  I did loads of cookies, chocolate dipped pretzels and school spirit cookies.  Yum!  I set a goal for myself for the month of February and I've already hit it.  Yay!

6 // Early Morning Valentines

The kids woke up early on Valentine's Day and were really excited to get a few little surprises.  If your kids love Squishmallows, you'll have to get them some collectors cards.  They are so cute.  My kids love collecting and trading them. Here's my affiliate link:


7 // Cutest sidekick.  Spending my days with him is my favorite.

8 // School valentines.  Olive's class did a neat project for Valentine's Day.  She enjoyed it, but totally missed the class parties of her younger years.

9 // When your valentine knows your favorite colors and ignores all the pink and red.  This bouquet has looked so pretty on my counter all week.

10 // When you're the baby and you say COZY - people jump to make you cozy.  Olive and Fletcher love taking care of him.

11 // Crafty girl.  Olive adores these tiny polka-dot mushrooms.  She got creative this week and decided to make her own dangly earrings.  She was so proud to debut them at school this week.  It was my favorite thing to see her create something unique that she loved.

12 // You know my love for rainbows... this week has been extra sunny which meant lots of rainbow reflections throughout the house.  I don't know exactly what makes them, but we LOVE spotting them and being reminded of God's promises.

13 // Leo got to hang out with Mimi & Papaw this week which is his favorite.

14 // We hosted an impromptu Super Bowl party.  I made all of our favorite game day food and the weather was nice enough to make some s'mores.

15 // Get outside!  We played outside a lot this week.  Leo rides in circles and yells I'M FAST.  Then we went on a walk right after it rained and found the craziest crawdad strolling down the road.  Leo LOVED it.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  My crew has a long 3 day weekend (hooray!!) and I'll see you back here on Tuesday.

Linking up with Momfessionals