Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Books and Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers To Make Mealtime FUN

Winter can be dreadful as a parent. My kids love playing outside, and it’s just not always possible with three kiddos, especially when it’s close to mealtime and layers of clothing are needed to go out.

Like most parents, our worst time of day is the hours between 4-6 p.m. when I am preparing dinner and the kids want to “help.” So, this winter I’ve made it my goal to do more meal-time theme nights to keep everyone happy. I have found when I give each of my kids a job, meal time runs MUCH smoother, even if it is messier.

After renting TONS of food-related books from our library, here’s what has been on our menu of books and coordinating meals and activities:

Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle

This book is fabulous for starting the discussion of where food comes from.

Meal: Pancakes, of course. My kids also love when I add a few drops of food coloring to make their ‘cakes blue or green.

Activity: Have your child help you stir in the ingredients, or add special additions such a blueberries {perfect for counting} or they can mush bananas to toss in the batter. My kids love using chocolate chips to make faces, too.

Peanut Butter and Jelly by Nadine Bernard Westcott

This book is based on the play rhyme and has illustrations kids love.

Meal: PB&J of course!

Activity: Spread a blanket out on the floor and have a picnic! My kids absolutely love doing this. We usually just coordinate with easy-to-pick-up foods.

Living room picnic

Enjoying a picnic for dinner a few years ago. Yes, that’s MY beer. Sometimes that is needed after a long day!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

This book is perfect for stirring imagination.

Meal: Spaghetti and meatballs

Activity: Use Play-Doh to make pasta! Kids love rolling out the dough and making snake-like pastas. Make a few balls for meatballs too. For older kids, discuss what foods you would like to see fall from the sky. [Read more…]

Share Why #MichiganIsAuto on Social Media and Earn A Chance To Win $500

I was selected for this sponsored post by HayThereSocialMedia.com.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Michigan Is Auto

Do you have a great reason why #MichiganIsAuto? Time to share it!

Every year, one of my favorite things to do on social media is to watch the buzz surrounding the North American International Auto Show {#NAIAS} in Detroit. When I worked downtown, it was so exciting to see the crowds gather at Cobo to check out the cool cars and have a wintertime reason to visit the D. Personally, I enjoy looking at the concept cars — it’s like a glimpse into the future! Walking through the show is truly like walking through an art display, and you can see the passion for the automotive industry in each area.

Amazingly, last year’s NAIAS drew more than 85,000 people, impacting the SE Michigan region with $365 million. To say NAIAS isn’t important to Michigan is crazy. Michigan is synonymous with the auto industry, just like Idaho is to potatoes or Texas is to oil rigs. All Michiganders know *someone* who works in automotive. {Personally, my husband works for a supplier, so I am thankful for the industry!}

As the global automotive industry heads to Detroit this week, MICHauto {the state’s automotive accelerator} is gearing up to reinforce why Michigan is the epicenter of the auto industry.Print

Today through Jan. 23, MICHauto will award two $500 VISA gift cards to the entry that posts the best, most creative reason why #MichiganIsAuto. To enter, post your submission on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #MichiganIsAuto. Be sure to tag MICHauto using the social media handles below:

Please note this contest is not just for people who work in the industry or those who attend preview week — this is inclusive of ANY proud Michigander of any age and particularly all the people who will attend the show during public week! [Read more…]

#ShopSmall With FREE Money from American Express {$30 in Credit!}

#ShopSmall

I don’t know about you all, but I LOVE the Small Business Saturday movement, which is coming to a local street near you this Saturday, Nov. 29.

American Express cardholders can register their cards TODAY for a FREE $10 credit, which can be used a total of three times {at different spots} for $30 in savings, at participating #ShopSmall retailers.

There are LOTS of local spots that participate in this around Michigan :) Check out the MAP here. {For me here in Howell, it is nearly all of our downtown businesses.} I can’t wait to spend this at the stores around me. Bonus since my husband has a card too!

A little snippet of the fine print:

Get ready to Shop Small® on Nov 29. Spend $10 or more in a single, in-store transaction at a qualifying small business appearing on the Shop Small Map. If your transaction qualifies, you will receive a $10 statement credit within 90 days. You can take advantage of this offer up to three times, for a total of up to $30 in statement credits. Online transactions do not qualify.

YOU GUYS. This is FREE money! Plus, it’s just the perfect excuse to spend a day in your hometown checking out amazing small businesses. What’s also cool is that many restaurants participate as well. Holla for $10 off a meal after you shop!

My husband and I are both Amex cardholders {thanks to Costco}, so we have the credit on both of our cards. We did this last year and saw the credit show up on our next month’s statement. Easy peasy! I was super happy to have knocked out a few really cool gifts this way, too.

Even if you are not an American Express card holder, I urge you to shop local this holiday season. You all know I love saving money, but sometimes the feeling you get shopping small far outweighs the financial benefits.

Grab the credit while it’s available, have fun, and be sure to tweet with #ShopSmall!

VISIT HERE TO ENROLL YOUR CARD!

This isn’t sponsored, I just love this promotion and wanted to be sure you all knew about it. 

Where are your favorite Michigan cities to #ShopSmall?

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30 Gift Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers {That Moms Will Love Too!}

Gift Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Post contains affiliate links. When you click on these links and purchase items, you help support this blog.

With three little ones, I often am asked for gift recommendations. Since my oldest is 4, my expertise pretty much ends at the preschool set. But I think I finally have it down as far as which toys get the most love and will be played with for many years.

I’m personally all about experiences over gifts, but sometimes that is just not something grandma wants to hear! She wants to see the look on her grand babies’ faces as they tear open the paper unveiling a new fun item. Understandable, I suppose.

So with that taken into consideration, I decided to put together a fun list of suggestions. These toys are low-tech and offer hours of fun, all the while developing skills or burning energy! Additionally, many of these are easy to find for great prices on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Be on the lookout!

30 GIFT IDEAS FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS

Inexpensive {$15 and under}:

  • Puzzles
  • Craft Kits from the dollar store {My kids love coloring those black fuzzy pictures}
  • ALEX Toys Early Learning Sets – These are great for helping children to learn how to cut, paste, and craft. They have a great variety of kits available for under $10. Alex Toys
  • Stickers! I especially love these big reusable sticker pads from Melissa & Doug
  • Books – You can never have too many ;)
  • Play-Doh and coordinating accessories
  • Animal action figures – I haven’t met a little kid yet who doesn’t enjoy playing with these. Bonus points if you get a great variety and provide a fun container for them to all go into! {This bucket set is super cute!}
  • Dot Markers – These are amazing for the mom who doesn’t have time to clean-up the mess paint creates. Great for helping little hands to practice ‘squeezing’ skills.
  • Bath Toys – Look for water scoopers and animals that can easily be cleaned!
  • Games – Favorites for this age range include Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders and Cootie {These often can be found for $5 on Black Friday}
  • Mr. Potato Head – This toy never goes out of style. Many skills can be learned playing with it, too.
  • Fisher-Price Doodler Pro – This is an excellent toy for learning to draw, and it’s great in the car.
  • Sleds, or any winter fun items.

[Read more…]

Pour It Forward and Help Hungry Michigan Families This Season #PourItForward

Pour It Forward

The post below is sponsored by The United Dairy Industry of Michigan {Milk Means More}. The opinions expressed are my own.

A recent conversation I had with my 4-year-old {pictured above}:

Me: “Did you know some children don’t have enough food to eat?”

Kinley: “You mean they don’t have cheese roll-ups and chocolate milk?”

Me: “No, they definitely do not have those things.”

Kinley: {Thinks for awhile.} “Mom, we should help those kids.”

I agree, kiddo. I agree.

In my pre-kids life, I didn’t have much money, but I had time and could often be found volunteering at local organizations in need. These days, I don’t always have the time to volunteer, but I am happy to give monetary donations when I can. My favorite organizations to give to are local ones helping my neighbors in need.

That’s why I love programs like Pour It Forward. It is an easy way for a busy mom like me to give back to my community, and have a wonderful lesson to teach my children.

The Pour It Forward Campaign is brought to you by Michigan’s dairy farm families, Milk Means More and all of the Kroger stores throughout Michigan. Through December 16, Kroger shoppers can purchase a paper milk gallon for an additional $3 at check-out. In turn, that money will help provide a minimum of one gallon of Pure Michigan® Kroger milk to a local food bank. Last year, the campaign raised more than 32,900 gallons of milk. This is a huge number because milk is something ALL of the food banks always need. 

[Read more…]

Earn Miranda Lambert Swag With CRYSTAL LIGHT Platinum Points #MC #Sponsored

Banner NineI participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for CRYSTAL LIGHT. I received a gift card to purchase CRYSTAL LIGHT products to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #MC

I don’t know about ya’ll, but I absolutely love the ladies of country music. One of my favorites is Miranda Lambert. I’ve seen her in concert and her voice is just as beautiful live as it is on TV. My favorite song of hers is “The House That Built Me.” I just love the raw emotion it evokes when she sings it.

Miranda Lambert recently paired up with CRYSTAL LIGHT for their Platinum Points program. This program helps to reward CRYSTAL LIGHT purchasers with Miranda Lambert swag. As a country music fan and CRYSTAL LIGHT fan, this sounds awesome! This program coincides with Miranda’s Platinum tour that she is currently on. Using the program is easy — just purchase CRYSTAL LIGHT from Walmart, take a picture of your receipt with your smartphone, and choose your Miranda-themed reward. To sign up for the CRYSTAL LIGHT and Miranda Lambert Platinum Points program, just click this link. I promise it’s simple!

To give you a head start, use the code mirandaic for 30 free points. You can also earn 10 points for each friend that signs up with your referral link.
Crystal Light and Miranda Lambert at Walmart

[Read more…]

Fall Lawn Care Tips With Lush Lawn

Lush LawnThe post below is sponsored by Lush Lawn. Opinions expressed are my own.

There’s one thing these cooler temps mean: Time to wind down for the winter by pulling out the dead stuff and raking leaves off the lawn! Since taking care of the health of our lawn is not my favorite task, I am happy to have Lush Lawn help us out by prepping our lawn for cooler temps and nicer grass heading into 2015.

And let’s not even talk about the creepy crawly things starting to find their way indoors…ICK. Definitely not my favorite part of fall either. Thankfully, Lush Lawn can spray for those, too!

I received these tips from Lush Lawn to serve as a great reminder of what we all should be proactively be doing in the fall:

Fall Lawn Care Tips

1. FERTILIZE. Fertilizing in fall is great for the grass because the lower temperatures and increased rain cause the grass to thrive, and with that, the grass uses up a lot of nutrients, so replenishing those nutrients through fertilization is very important.

2. SEEDINGS. Doing seedings this time of year are great because of the weather conditions, too. Sometimes young grass is killed by intense summer heat when planted in the spring because it hasn’t had enough time to develop. If you seed in fall, you have fall and spring for the grass to grow and develop before summertime, so it tends to be stronger and more resilient.

3. SPRAY FOR BUGS. Right now is one of the most important times to spray for insects around your home and for bug proofing your home. As the temperatures dip, a lot of bugs will seek refuge in your home because it is much warmer than outside. This time of year in Michigan brings spiders indoors. Getting a good perimeter pest spray around the home will stop this problem.

4. CUT GRASS APPROPRIATELY. The last time you cut your grass in preparation for winter, it should be cut at 2 inches and not higher. Most the year, 3 to 4 inches length is great, but going into the dormant season, you want the grass to be cut shorter in order to reduce winter snow mold and other diseases that develop easier in long matted down grasses over the winter.

Lush Lawn is a family owned company based in Michigan that specializes in lawn care, pest control and tree services. They have offices in Brighton, Grand Blanc and Rochester Hills and offer services in those surrounding areas. Visit this link for a FREE quote and tell them I sent you!

How are your prepping your lawn for fall?

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12 Tips for Natural Childbirth {One Mom’s Experience}

“Birth sticks with a woman, remaining in her bone and her flesh as an embodied memory long after the baby has left her womb.” – Pamela E. Klassen

When I posted on my Facebook that Miles was born, I contemplated whether or not I should add that it was a drug-free birth. I went back and forth, hoping it wouldn’t come across as bragging, since lord knows us moms need to feel inferior about something else.

I asked the husband, and he said after all I went through during my first two labors, I deserved to brag. So I did it. Because you know what? I am damn proud. Proud my body, heart and head finally aligned for our third and final baby.

After two births that were traumatic to me, I finally have the story I am proud to share.

Before this, when I thought of my births, I had a bit of hostility…Why didn’t my body just allow birth to happen? Why did an epidural not provide me relief? Why did I need the vacuum during my first birth, pitocin during my second, and painful episiotomies both times when I didn’t have many friends who experienced these medical interventions? Of course, I was elated when my girls arrived healthy, but thinking of the entire process, I felt bitter, especially as I grew more educated about birth.

These factors are one of the reasons I chose a midwife for my third baby {in a hospital setting}. After studying what they do different, I knew that would be the route I should go to avoid having a repeat of my first two births where I didn’t feel in control at all.

During my first meeting with my midwife, I spoke nervously to her about my past birth experiences and she suggested I had postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder and should consider talking to a therapist. I am not above seeking help when needed, but I knew I could overcome my birthing fears on my own if I educated myself more.

Having a natural birth was such a healing process for me, so I want to share 12 things I did differently this time around.
[Read more…]

Baby Week + New mPerks Features for Meijer Shoppers

Attention Meijer shoppers! There are some BIG changes happening over in Meijer land today that just may officially make me a forever loyal Meijer shopper.

First, if you don’t use mPerks and shop at Meijer, go get it now. You can register by visiting mperks.meijer.com or by downloading the mPerks app for free in the iTunes App Store and in the Google Play Android app store. I love having it on my phone because I can easily scan through and grab savings while in the car before heading into to store. There’s also the ability to make a list, which makes it easier to shop.

mPerks personalized rewards First, if you log into your account TODAY, you will notice that mPerks is launching a Personalized Rewards update which includes:

  • Rolling start dates which give customers four weeks to earn after they clip their reward {with that said, don’t clip the reward until you are about to go to the store!}
  • Ability to earn towards any or all rewards at the same time — in the categories of your choosing {produce, paper products, health/beauty, etc.}
  • No waiting until the next month—when customers complete a reward, they can start a new one {This is helpful because I always would forget otherwise!}

new rewards 2

Once a reward is earned and clipped, they are located in a new ‘earned rewards’ section of the site, which makes it easy to keep track of all the savings. Updates are available at mPerks.com and on the Meijer mobile app. If you already have the app, be sure to download the update to gain access to mPerks Rewards 2.0.

[Read more…]

Calm Preschool Anxiety With These Books

The post below contains Amazon affiliate links. When you make purchases through my links, it helps my family.

Calm Preschool Anxiety With These 7 Books

Something nobody warned me about when we starting approaching 4 years old…ANXIETY.

My daughter has always been the shy and cautious type. There’s no way around it — if she’s uncomfortable in a situation, she will let us know. Otherwise, she can be very loud, opinionated and sing…a lot. This makes waking up each day interesting because we never know which Kinley we’re going to get!

When we started chatting about what was going to happen at school this fall, she went into worry mode. With her being an October birthday, we already know she won’t attend kindergarten until she’s 6. We did a 2-year-old program last year {despite her being 3 most of the year}, where it was structured like preschool, but I was there to help if she needed me.

This year, she will be going alone. And she is SO worried about it. Even though she did great on her own last year, will have the same teacher and some of the same kids in her class.

There’s only so much I can tell her to calm her fears, so I have turned to books to help explain how much fun school can really be. We have read LOTS and LOTS of books, and these are the ones I felt resonated with her the best. Of course, these can apply to any child heading to school, but since I have a preschooler, I focused on ones that were most suitable for her age group {3-5}.

Help calm preschool anxiety with these books! Here’s my list of 7 great reads perfect for showing your preschool-aged child there’s nothing to fear at school:

I Love You All Day Long

I Love You All Day Long

Owen’s anxious question prompts this heartwarming, comforting tale of how a parent’s love stays with a child whether they are together or apart — all day long.

{I already plan to use this concept when dropping her off at school those first nerve-wracking days!}
[Read more…]

Think Walgreens for Back-To-School Immunizations + Tips for Anxiety! #GiveaShot #CollectiveBias

Walgreens Logo

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

Back-to-School time means back to the doctor in every mom’s world for vaccinations. Not sure about you all, but we spend SO much time at the doctor these days for check-ups between me and my three kiddos. Unfortunately this time of year means I have to fight for good appointment times since the pediatrician is flooded with physicals for school age kids.

Walgreens Give A Shot

Enter Walgreens. I am so thankful places that are a convenient spot for moms to go for immunizations. They make it quick, easy and painless since NO appointment is needed {soooo awesome since only YOU know when your kid is in the best mood for a shot!}. Additionally, most insurances are accepted and I love that they will report back to your primary care physician to let them know your child’s immunization record has been updated.

Walgreens Pharmacy for Immunizations

Working with doctors for my job, I have truly learned the importance of vaccinations and yes, I am one of those moms who shout from the rooftops their importance. I believe everyone should have the right to choose as a parent, but I encourage you to get educated by reading medical journal articles and not just a random blog post or from a “doctor” who isn’t backed up by trusted organizations like the CDC.
[Read more…]

Disney On Ice Princesses & Heroes Presale Code {In Auburn Hills Oct. 16-19}

Disney On Ice is one of our favorite shows to attend each year. I just received the special pre-sale code for the Disney On Ice presents Princesses & Heroes show, coming to The Palace of Auburn Hills October 16-19, 2014. {See image below}

Many of you will be thrilled to know that this show now features the beloved characters from FROZEN!

Get tickets here at Ticketmaster.

Disney On Ice Princesses & Heroes - Palace of Auburn Hills

Enjoy! I hope to share more about the show in the months ahead, so stay tuned :)

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