Friday, August 18, 2017

Family Matters: You're Never Too Busy To Eat Together.

Let's face it, we're all pretty busy people. Busy parents, busy kids, sometimes being busy together, but mostly being busy with our own self-serving schedules. We as parents are dialed-in, over-worked, volunteered-out; dedicated to making sure we raise well-rounded, contributing members of society, a society that, to no surprise, glorifies busy, too often making it feel as if our worth is measured by our level of "busyness." 

The truth is, no matter how busy we think we are, we all have time for things that are important to us. 

Growing up my family always ate dinner together. Always. Which in retrospect, makes me wonder how my mother ever did it. How she managed to be the class parent, the school board volunteer, the chauffeur between sports practices, the cheerleader at all our games and the maker of a delicious dinner on the table every single night. While I swear she had super human parent powers, she too clearly realized how important sharing a meal together was and so she made it a priority each night where the four of us came together and connected as whole. 

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. I say it's where my heart gathers. Although we may not make it to the table every night for dinner together as a family, we have, as a family, made it a priority to eat at least one meal together each day. Some days it's during the breakfast hour that we gather around the table as a whole- on nights that we aren't juggling a sports practice (or three), it's dinner that brings us together. No matter when we come together, while it's rarely Pinterest-perfect- juice is spilled, pancakes are burned and someone always has something less than savory to say about the menu- it's always deeply savored. 

Why? Because there is so much beauty in this mess. 

Conversation is unpredictable. Tiny, raspy morning voices clamor to tell jokes, recant dreams and fight over the last cinnamon roll. Sometimes at the end of a long day we need an icebreaker to get the stories rolling but once we do, it's even more difficult to get our boys to stop talking long enough to take a bite of food.

It's our hope as parents that by sharing family meals, our boys understand that the kitchen table is safe space for them to open up and share their feelings. In a busy world with super schedules and the bombardment of technology at our fingertips, this screen-free zone allows us to come together as a whole, power down to connect and invest in ourselves as a family unit.

While I'm not saying a casserole has the powers to transform a family dynamic (wouldn't that be amazing?), it's the interpersonal moments shared among us over a meal that will hopefully create stronger connections between our family away from the table. 

Dinner tables have always been the focal point of kitchens and ours is certainly no different. I have such fond memories of our kitchen table growing up- whether we gathered around it for family dinners, family game night or at the last minute to complete a school project the night before it was due, that table became synonymous with my childhood. 

I want our table to be that same safe, remarkable space for our boys. I want it to be a place where they gather around to tell me about their school day. Their winning goals. Their science fair failures. I want them to bring their friends over, littering that table with pizza boxes and candy wrappers and one day, inviting their very first girlfriends over to join us for dinner at that table.

I know one day too soon I will miss this beautiful mess. The spilled juice, the food on the floor, the incessant reminders to use manners and clear plates but it's these moments and all of the small moments in between that I am truly, deeply grateful for and it's with gratitude and hope that I look forward to many shared family meals around our table to come.

Dining Table Furnishings c/o Wolf Furniture
Sources: Concrete Table | X-Back Chairs | Upholstered Side Chairs
Runner, Candlesticks: HomeGoods

Shop Local
Gardiner Wolf Furniture is a local retailer with brick and mortar locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. For a discount on your next online or in-store purchase, my friends at Gardiner Wolf have to put together this amazing promotion for all I Love You More Than Carrots readers! 

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Get Back To School Ready with Kohl's!

This post is sponsored by Kohl's. 
I received the included back to school clothes and essentials as compensation.

The year was 1990. Two weeks after going back to school shopping, picking out hoards of pretty, playful dresses, I walked into the kitchen and politely stated, to the complete shock of my mother, "I'm not wearing dresses any more." While I hadn't given my mother a reason just then (spoiler alert: the boys had taken an interest in looking up the girls' dresses while on the monkey bars), she quickly replaced all of those brand new dresses with stirrup pants, over-sized t-shirts and all of the slouchy Wigwam socks my 8 year old heart desired.

I imagine her surprise that day felt a lot like several weeks ago when my oldest informed me that he's only going to wear "shirts and pants that are Under Armour," naturally prompting our middle little to follow suit as he exclaimed, "Yeah Mom! I'm only wearing soft shorts forever!"   

While knowingly I should embrace their self expression and desire to choose their own attire, admittedly there's a small part of me that already misses the days of matching brother sets in varying shades of seersucker and gingham. I totally get it though- it would be a case of the pot calling the kettle black if I didn't admit to spending nearly 95% of my days dressed in some sort of mesh athleisure-wear. Comfort above all else, am I right?

Since August is filling up with last minute travel plans and summer bucket list add-on's, I wanted to get a jump on back to school shopping. Shopping for three kids is no joke but with the help of Kohl's department store, I was able to find everything the boys will need to start the new school year in style, especially super cool athletic gear.

Of course there's always new sneakers to be purchased, backpacks to select and lunchboxes to coordinate and while all three of our boys will be attending private school in the Fall and wearing uniforms most days, they still needed a few basics to get them through the first few months of dress down days, sports practices and after school play.

(Don't tell the boys' school this but let me let you in on a little secret: Kohl's Chaps line boasts the perfect khaki uniform short and pant dupe for the more expensive line peddled by another brand that works in partnership with our school). [Insert all of the praise hands emojis!]

While the boys many not get to express themselves in their every day school attire, there are many other ways in which they can express their personal style, starting with their backpacks and lunch totes. 

Picking out a backpack is a big deal at any age and my oldest's love for Under Armour runs deep. I don't even think the previous school year had ended when he told me that he really wanted an UA backpack for 1st grade and you can imagine my surprise when I started researching sizes and styles! Hello sticker shock! I'm so thankful Kohl's recently picked up the Under Armour line- as if we didn't shop there enough already I now have hundreds of reasons to keep going back. 

While Kohl's provided me with a generous gift card to complete our back to school shopping, I also applied more than $50 in previously earned Kohl's cash to my order, essentially getting my oldest's beloved backpack for free! 

|| On Carter: Top (Similar) Long Sleeve (Similar) / Shorts / Socks / Sneakers ||  c/o Kohl's 
|| On Mac: Top / Shorts / Socks || c/o Kohl's
|| Backpack Backpack & Lunchbox || c/o Kohl's

The best part about shopping Kohl's for all of our back to school needs? 
More Kohl's cash earned! Get ready to save because the best time to get your shopping 
done is during the Kohl's Friends and Family event! 
From August 17th-20th, take 20% off your purchase with code "SAVER." 

Additionally between 8/4 and 8/20, you can get $10 of $50 of kid's clothes including Junior's, Young Men's, Footwear, Character Backpacks and Junior's Accessories! 
Promo code: BTS10
Kohl's Coupons

H A P P Y   S H O P P I N G!

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. Affiliate links are not associated with Kohl's.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Camping with Kids - Yay or Nay?

We bit the bullet. Or rather I got bit by the camping bug. Later this month we'll be taking the boys camping at a very family-friendly campground and I can. not. wait. Am I crazy for wanting to take my three young children out into the wilderness for three nights of "roughing it" cabin-style? My husband thinks so. In fact, I'm almost positive that I'll be dragging him kicking and screaming all the way out to the campground in just a few weeks. 

If you can't yet tell, I am so excited for our upcoming trip. I've wanted to take the boys camping for years and while in previous years the thought of camping with a child under 2 sent shivers down my spine, I can say without a doubt that at 3, 5 and 7 I think we're set to have a blast out in the wilderness. Not to mention that everyone is officially peeing and pooping on the potty! Nary a diaper in sight around these parts and I think it's high time to celebrate by making everyone sleep outside. 

On a more serious note, my husband is kind of making me feel like I'm going to regret this. Where's his sense of adventure? What could possibly go wrong? It's one step above tent camping and we have our own bathroom en suite. The more I think about it, can this even be called camping? All this coming from a guy who made me sleep in a two-person tent without even a mat on the ground while we geared up for a day's worth of white water rafting in our pre-children days. What gives?

While we aren't set to leave for our trip just yet, I've already taken the liberty of printing out several packing lists, making sure not to forget a single necessity while we're busy being one with nature. 

Here's where you come in. Have you taken your kids camping before? I'd love to hear all about any tips or tricks you have for a successful night under the stars. What did you wish you had brought with you but forgotten or didn't think of? What would you have done differently? 

I've already started packing one of those giant Tupperware bins with all of the linens we will need, including extra pillows, bath and pool towels as well as blankets. You know the Hershey's S'mores kit already made its way into my Amazon cart too! 

Spill it. I'd love to hear from you! 

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