Tackle The Sports Stains with ESPRO {giveaway, too!}

This sports stain post has been brought to you by ESPRO.  All opinions are mine.


The Captain is almost 7, and L-O-V-E-S sports.  He started playing soccer when he was almost 4 and he is currently on his 5th season.  He played his first season of baseball and basketball this year, too, and loves his gymnastics class, as well.  We have found that it is impossible to slow him down!  D loves being active, too, but the competition bug hasn't seemed to bite him yet.  He played one season of soccer last year and liked it, but he says he would rather run, and that's fine with us…whatever helps keep him active and have fun.

Tackle the Sports Stains with ESPRO

Washing sports clothes has become more difficult as the boys get older.  Soccer and basketball clothes rarely are difficult to clean, but baseball clothes…oh my!  There is no telling what stains the Captain would come home with when he was playing baseball, and of COURSE his team had to have white pants! Tackle the Sports Stains with ESPRO

 The funny thing about kids' sports clothes is, to me at least, trying to decode the different stains.  Grass, dirt, clay, red sports drink, mustard from the hamburger he ate after the game….ha!  Having a stain remover that works on different stains is essential, and I'm happy to say that ESPRO sports cleaner does just that.

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Homemade Mini Caramel Apple Suckers – A Sweet Treat for Halloween!

contains affiliate links

Homemade Mini Caramel Apple Suckers

One of my absolute favorite Halloween candies is caramel apple suckers.  I adore these sweet, sour, sticky suckers, but do I really need a whole bag?  Noooo!  I had some of these yummy caramel bits on hand from our Mickey Mouse caramel apples and mini silicon candy molds, and I was surprised with how easy it was!  They're small enough to be satisfyingly sweet, but perfect for portion control and little ones!


  • about 10 green apple Jolly Ranchers candies
  • about 30 Kraft caramel bits

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Taking Time to Listen To The Hippopotamus

Taking Time To Listen To The Hippopotamus

Baby Brother is 22 months old, so not really a baby anymore, but he is our baby.  He is likely more…dare I say it…spoiled…than the other two were, only because he has two adoring older brothers who think he is the funniest, cutest, BEST baby brother anyone could possibly have.  Hubby and I have also loosened up on some things that would never have flown when the Captain or D were this age, simply because we have had to.  No rigid nap or bedtime schedules because it just isn't possible and never has been with three kids.  (And let me tell you, that has made life a LOT less stressful!)  We also give him more sweets than the older two ever had at this age.  Oh, and gum.  It wasn't our intention to give him gum at this age.  I think the Captain was 3 before we ever let him chew gum and even then, he was very closely monitored!  He was our first child, and we were learning.  But with Baby Brother….he is so tall and so curious…he finds gum, sometimes chewed, sometimes unchewed..ick…and has at it.  He also gets ice cream in the carseat and makes an absolute mess because, well, it's mean to not let a one-year-old have ice cream and watch his brothers eat theirs!  

Baby Brother has a bit of a hitting problem, however, and that's not something we take lightly.  I think the Captain hit me once in his lifetime, when he was angry.  I told him if he was mad, he could hit the bed or couch, but he could never, ever hit another person and since he is usually obedient, he listened.  He didn't hit back when D was a toddler and lashed out when he got mad.  And of course he doesn't hit Baby Brother when he hits….for no reason.  Baby Brother hits a lot, you see.  He likes to hit, the boys laugh at him, and so this is our life.  He mainly targets D, and sometimes he hurts him.  He also throws things at him and kicks him.  He gets appropriate punishment and has to apologize, but it's a slow, slow process and a seemingly never-ending phase.  That's the thing about phases though…they WILL come to an end!

For a few weeks now, Baby Brother has been saying "hit bubbas!" and laughing.  I'll say "no, we do not hit our brothers."  I also say "it's not funny to hit." to which he replies with "funny."  He's a stinker, but he's almost two and I constantly  have to remind myself that yes, some things he "gets" and some things he doesn't.  He hears the word "funny" and repeats it.  He's not saying "yes, Mommy, actually it IS funny to hit them!" (At least I hope not.)

This past Sunday, I was staying in the nursery during church and Baby Brother grabbed a toy hippo.  It was pretty much all he played with for a good 15  minutes.  It was the heavier type of animal toy and he liked banging it on the table.  I was scared he was going to launch it at one of the babies, but he never did, thank goodness.

Fast forward to last night.  He was staying up late with Daddy and me, as he often does so he will actually sleep through the night and not wake me up early, and he brought a toy elephant to me.  He said "hit bubbas!" and it clicked.  He was never saying "hit bubbas!"  He was saying "hippopotamus!"  I said "do you think that's a hippopotamus?" and he smiled and said "hit bubbas," which is really more like "hip pobbas" now that I actually listened closely.  He was so thrilled that Mommy finally knew what he was talking about!!!  I told him that he was actually holding an elephant, but it did look a lot like a hippopotamus.  Then I started wondering what else he has been saying that I haven't taken the time to actually listen to what he's trying to say.  Mom guilt, anyone?

Here's Baby Brother, saying "hippopotamus:"

So, while he does still hit and knows how to say "hit," he also knows how to say other words, like HIPPOPOTAMUS and Mommy is going to try her best to listen to him from now on!

Thank you, Lord, for always listening to us, even when we don't always take the time to actually listen to what you're trying to say!

Seven Things You Should Do Before Getting Pregnant

7 Things You Should Do Before Getting PregnantI always knew I wanted to become a mother.  Some of my earliest memories involve dolls and playing house.  I often thought about what I would name my children, how many I would have, and who I would marry and what kind of dad he would be.  I also loved to baby-sit and work in the church nursery.  I just loved babies and could not wait until I had one of my own!  

When Ben and I got married, I knew that we needed to wait a few years until we had kids, but would have started trying right away if he wanted to!  We finally agreed to wait three years until we started trying, which turned into two years, but it was almost 3 1/2 years before we actually had the Captain.  

I do wish, now that, we had done more things as a couple before we had kids.  I feel like we spent so much time working and not enough time just hanging out with each other and enjoying each other's company.  His job was pretty stressful at times, as was mine, and we were spending too much time without really "unwinding."  You see, we both started our first "grown-up" jobs right after getting married.  I don't feel like our marriage suffered because of our job, but we definitely should have taken a few more breaks than we did.  "Breaks" for us was going to Walmart or out to eat…seriously!  So, here are some things that I should have done and also some things I did do and I'm glad about it.  As you begin trying to conceive and having kids, know that you will need to start taking advice with a grain of salt, because the advice will FLOOD in.  With that said, this is only my personal advice so feel free to take it or leave it.  

Please leave your "I wish I would have" or "must do before pregnancy"…in the comments section.

7 Things You Should Do Before TTC

1.  Go on a trip with your husband.  I had heard lots of people talking about a "baby moon," which is defined as "a relaxing or romantic vacation taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born."  That's great and all, but I wasn't a very good pregnant traveler.  I was nauseated all day, every day for the first trimester, had to pee every hour, was uncomfortable, had heartburn, needed lots of sleep, and probably was more unpleasant than I actually remember.  PLUS, I was paranoid about having the baby early (haha!) and felt I needed to stay close to home.  Needless to say, traveling while pregnant wasn't a good idea for me, at all.  What I wish that we would have done is taken a long, leisurely vacation before we got pregnant.  We had been married for 2+ years when we decided to start trying to conceive, and a cruise or other relaxing vacation would have been nice.  Now we have been married for 10+ years, have three kids, and while family vacations are awesome, I don't see us taking a couples' vacation alone for awhile.  It just would have been something nice to create extra bonding time and memories.  

2.  Take a look at your diet.  Now, I'm not saying go all out and google "pregnancy diet" and start an extreme fruits and veggies diet.  If you want to, then go for it, but you really don't have to eat anything specific to get pregnant.  Some women say that losing weight and exercising helped, but it's not a necessity.  DO look at what you're eating and see where you could make better choices to make yourself healthier and your baby-to-be healthier, too.  If your diet consists of packaged, processed foods, consider swapping out some with real food.  If nothing else, you will feel better.  And, it might make morning sickness easier and make it easier to eat healthy during pregnancy if you start now.

3.  Look at your budget, spending habits, and insurance.  I don't think you can ever have "enough" money to have a baby, but I do think couples need to have an idea of their spending habits and see if there are any ways they could cut costs if they need to.  You don't want to pay for a baby with credit, so make sure you understand your maternity insurance and decide if you need to cut out a luxury.  10 months of extra cable channels could give you a nice chunk of change that you can spend on hospital or midwife bills when the time comes.  Just be smart when you're spending.

4.  Start taking a good prenatal vitamin.  There are a lot of great, non-prescription options, in many different forms.  Liquids, powders, capsules, and the traditional pill form.  Read the labels, talk to your doctor or nurse, make sure it has enough folic acid, and choose real food vitamins whenever possible.

5.  Don't read any pregnancy books….yet.  Again, this is just my personal advice, but 40 weeks is a loooooooooong time when you are pregant and anxiously anticipating your arrival.  Unless you have a high stress job or hobby, you WILL have enough time to read a few books, magazines, and online articles about everything pregnancy, babies, and beyond.  There's really no need to read about the different types of baby poop when you aren't pregnant yet…unless you just really want to!


6.  Get a hobby.  It doesn't take much time to create a baby, (wink, wink) but it does come with a LOT of waiting.  If your cycle is regular, you have about 28 days between periods to sit around and you do not just want to sit around waiting for that positive pregnancy test!  I enjoyed gardening to help keep my mind from obsessing about getting pregnant, but I also played games online when Hubby was at work or on a trip during the summers when I wasn't working.  It's very, very easy to be consumed with everything about babies and pregnancy.  Don't let your mind dwell there.  Start a hobby now so you can just continue it after you get pregnant.  Sewing, cooking, crafting, gardening, running, blogging, whatever you love and can get lost in.

7.  Start charting.  I have to conciously try not to get on a soapbox about this, but it helps SO much to know your body.  Read my "Newsflash: Not Everyone Ovulates on Day 14" article to learn more, but just know that if you're one of the ones without a regular cycle, or even if you really DO ovulate on Day 14 every single time, it's important to know your body.  Some women don't ovulate until day 20 (or later) and some never ovulate at all.  Charting and taking your basal body temperature every morning will shed a light on when you need to start trying to get pregnant.

Just ENJOY the days before you start trying to conceive.  Enjoy your husband, get to know yourself, get ready for a completely wonderful, yet life altering change!  And remember that this is the man you will be with after the kids are all grown, so build that relationship now, so it will stand firm during those sleepless nights, long days, and trying times.

When you ARE ready to try to get pregnant, take a deep breath, tell only who you want to know, and try to let life go on around you.  When everything else feels right, look to Astroglide TTC™ to help.  This special formula is made exactly for couples who are trying to conceive, supporting fertility with adjusted pH levels.

Here's a helpful article I wrote to pass along to friends and family, if ttc does stress you out and people's comments are ticking you off:  "What NOT To Say To A Childless Couple Who Is Trying To Conceive.

Do you have any other tips or advice for couples who are not quite ready to start trying to get pregnant?  

Astroglide TTC™ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine


Astroglide TTC™ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine

Real Food and How It Saves You Money

Can Real Food Save You Money?

Does your family eat real food with every meal or are boxed mixes and meals a regular part of your meal table? If you’re spending money on boxed convenience items, you’re not only wasting money, but you’re also probably not feeling the best. Real food, such as fruits, vegetables, fresh eggs and fresh meat on the other hand not only tastes much better, but saves you money over time.

To start, let’s look at the actual savings. A bag of flour, frozen veggies, chicken, soup and some cheese can create around 4 meals alone. You’ll spend around $2.50 for flour, $5 for the chicken, $2 for the vegetables, $1.00 for the soup and $2.50 for the cheese. For just over $10.00 you’ll cook 4 meals meaning that you’ll be paying around $3.25 for one meal.

Catch that word? MEAL. Not per serving.

For a boxed mix, you’ll spend $2.00 on the mix, $3.00 on the hamburger and get one meal. That’s $5.00 for one meal.  $1.75 extra per meal might not seem like a huge amount of money, but over time…it is. That equals out to $12.25 per week, $49.00 per month and $588.00 per year. What would you use it on if you had an extra $588 per year?

If that doesn’t convince you to cook real food, maybe this will:

Boxed meals are packed with chemicals and sodium. Most of them are VERY high in sodium…so high in fact that they can do damage to your body. When you’re not feeling well, you have high bills for medicine and doctors’ visits. Eating real food not only makes you feel better, but it actually keeps you healthier. Lower medical bills will save you money time and time again.

If you’re looking to cut your food bill, consider making the change and eliminating any processed foods in your home. By doing so, you not only save money, but you will feel better, your family will feel better and your wallet and home will be a calmer, happier place.

You can't always eat real food, it's hard, I know.  I strive to cook at home as much as possible, but there is always room for exceptions.  

To help you out, here are a few of my favorite real food recipes:

One Skillet Pork Chops and Orange Vegetables

Coconut Chicken Strips

Queso con Carne without Velveeta!

and for a great substitute in many casseroles:

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Keep Toddlers Entertained with On-The-Go Toys from Playskool

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Playskool. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  #PlaySkoolOntheGo

Playskool On-The-Go Toys (ad)

With three kids, our house and van can get pretty cluttered.  We have so many toys with so many pieces!  We have three backpacks that are full of toys and materials for church that we rotate every few weeks.  For these reasons, I have long hoped for on-the-go toys that are just grab…and go, not toys that I have to search for all the parts and they are all strewn about in different rooms in our house.  I have hoped for toys that are meant for taking with us to soccer practice, doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, and the dreaded car pick-up line at school.  Twenty minutes in a parked car with a toddler in a carseat sometimes feels like an eternity!  I often take books for him, but the other day, Baby Brother ripped out a few pages before I could rescue the sad little book.  

Playskool has listened to parents like me with ever-changing schedules with their new collection of lightweight, portable products.   These time-saving solutions are great for travel and tough transition times, both for kids and their parents!  Playtime can happen anytime with these grab and go toys!  All of these toys can be easily compacted to stow inside strollers, diaper bags, purses, and some can even fit into a jacket pocket!  Brilliant!  

Dressy Kids Boy

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Make Better Choices on the Beverage Aisle {Plus a Beverage Bands DIY}

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  #SipandBeFit #CollectiveBias

DIY Beverage Bands

If one thing is for certain, our family stays well hydrated.  We all love our drinks, but admittedly, they're not always healthy.  I have made a concious efffort to start drinking more water and when I want a sweet drink, to make it a better beverage choice.  I know the boys are always watching…and waiting to have a sip of my drink, as well!  I need to be making good drink choices not only for me, but for my family.

Walmart has lots of drink choices, and some of my favorite healthier options are in the beverage aisle.  Right now, you can print a money saving coupon on some better-for-you drink options at Walmart.  Also, don't miss this great Ibotta offer.

Making Better Drink Choices

One of my favorite new finds is bai5.  I love the Brasilia Blueberry flavor!  There are only 5 calories per serving and it is non-GMO and naturally sweetened.  It has blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry juices for flavor and even has some caffeine in it (35 mg, like a cup of green tea, so not all that much.)  I also love the taste and convenience of bottled FIJI water!  And the taste of Snapple iced tea is awesome, and there are many different choices to fit your preferences and dietary needs, like the Diet Snapple iced tea.

While we are making healthier drink choices, the issue still exists that we can't keep track of which drink is ours.  That's fine, I guess, since we are all family, but with the holidays and sick season coming up, I wanted to create a way to keep track of our drinks.  The boys and I made some super cute DIY Beverage Bands that were very easy!

Better Drink Choices

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Mummy Letters – Halloween Craft For Kids {Cute, Not Scary!}

Mummy Letters – Halloween Craft for Kids has been brought to you by BurlapFabric.com.  All opinions are mine.  Contains affiliate links

Mummy Letters craft for kids

Since it is already September, I guess it is time to start thinking about Halloween.  It’s not my favorite holiday, but it’s in my favorite season and the day before the Captain’s birthday, so I have learned to love it.  It really is a lot of fun to see the boys dress up in their favorite costume and get candy and little toys.  They love it, so I guess I must, too.  I sound like a hater, but I just don’t like adults trying to scare kids who don’t like to be scared.  Halloween doesn’t have to be full of scary things to be fun!  Maybe I’m just bitter because I was a very sensitive child who scared easily and I have bad memories of Halloween.  ha!

The boys love to make decorations for different holidays, and I like to keep it fun and cute for Halloween.  I came up with the idea to cover cardboard letters with cheesecloth and attach the always adorable googly eyes .  D had the idea to attach a nose on his mummy, so he added a pom pom and it’s pretty cute, I must say.

The Captain volunteered to show exactly how we made it in this time lapse video: [Read more…]

Mickey Mouse Caramel Apples to Celebrate Fall!

Mickey Mouse caramel apples

October is my absolute favorite month of the year.  I am not in love with Halloween, but Fall!  The smells, colors, and flavors of Fall are my amazing and so are the cooler temperatures.  I had only made caramel apples once, but I wanted to try and make some Mickey Mouse caramel apples and while the craftier folks could really put mine to shame, I think they turned out pretty cute and the boys loved them, too.  And of course, they were delicious! [Read more…]

Five Benefits of Using Paper Workbooks and Textbooks in the Digital Age Classroom

This digital age classroom post was brought to you by Follett.  All opinions are my own.

digital age classroom

I remember when the Captain was a baby, it was strongly advised to not let babies see any screens until the age of 2.  We have always practiced moderation with screen time, but I have found that age appropriate, educational shows and games can be very beneficial to little ones.  On top of that, these kids are growing up in the digital age, so they really should be prepared for using technology.  Granted, there is plenty of time to learn how to use technology after the age of 2, but like I said, moderation with screen time and actually talking to and interacting with your kids while they are having screen time is so beneficial!

The Captain started 1st grade in public school last week, and I was happy to see that he still had paper textbooks and workbooks.  I am equally as happy that his school uses desktop computers and tablets in a traveling lab.  I want him to be using technology at school!  I do know that there are some kids who only use digital textbooks, and while that's okay, I have compiled a list of five benefits of using paper workbooks and textbooks in the digital age classroom. 

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