Saturday, August 30, 2014

Don't Let Your Kids Lose Their Cool...

Summer is well underway which means that family trips to the local watering hole, whether it’s the beach or the pool, are a plenty. Staying cool doesn't have to take the fun out of your child’s summer but it’s imperative to implement these tips to ensure fun in the sun for kids of all ages. 

Head on over to the MARS Healthy Living Blog to check out these helpful tips for keeping kids cool as well as other encouraging resources for kids and families.

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Whole30: Yes, You Can Do It.

Last month I decided to challenge myself to the Whole30. It was something I had seen being thrown around The Internets and after a long week of feeling particularly sorry about myself three months postpartum, I decided to give it a try. I was so impressed with the stories of other Whole30'ers that I was determined to challenge myself and see what the "program" could do for me.

I chronicled my thirty or so days on Instagram under the hashtag #CarrotsDoesThe30. It's going to sound ridiculous but social media played such an integral role in keeping me motivated, accountable and providing me with ample resources for meal ideas and inspiration.  I will admit, I was leery from the get-go which is why I never took "Before" pictures. I read stories of people dropping anywhere from 10-20 pounds that first thirty days and I thought to myself, "that's insane. There's no way that's going to happen." So? I didn't take pictures. See what I did there? I was already setting myself up to fail. 

Something to keep in mind about Whole30, you're not supposed to weigh yourself during your 30 days. It isn't about that. Yes, you're encouraged to weigh yourself at the beginning and end of your journey, but all the days in the middle? You should be paying attention to more important indicators of success: your energy level, how your clothes fit, your skin and how you feel overall.

I made the mistake of weighing myself after the first week and when I saw a loss of just one, measly pound, I almost threw in the towel right then and there. I'm so glad I stuck it out. Why? Because after thirty days I lost a little over 13 pounds and dropped two pants sizes. 

Holy smokes. 

During my thirty days, I received tons of questions about my decision. "Why Whole30?" "Is it hard?" "Has it affected your milk supply?" and "What happens when it's over?" just to name a few. I hadn't planned on writing about my thirty days but in order to answer some of the questions surrounding them, I figured a post is the easiest way to tackle them. So, here goes: 

What is Whole30? 
Whole30 is not a "diet." It's a lifestyle change designed to work as a nutritional reset for your body. Through the consumption of whole foods, your body naturally cleanses and detoxifies itself in order to restore a healthy metabolism, digestive track and immune system. The program lasts only thirty days but that's because at the end of the program, you're encouraged to continue living a similarly whole lifestyle. If you fall off track, you're encouraged to start another Whole30 or a modified Whole7 or Whole10.  

How much does it cost?
The program is free- You don't need to buy any fancy shakes or meal replacement bars in order to take advantage of it. The expense of the program is the money you spend on groceries, as you would for any ol' regular day to feed you and your family. That said, yes, buying whole foods and a whole lot of them isn't cheap. Our grocery bill increased roughly 5-10% during my 30 days. I also bought a mandolin and a spiralizer before starting. Yes, you need these. 

Where did you find your meal ideas?
The internet. Seriously. Between Pinterest, Instagram and blogs, there were more recipe ideas than I could handle. It made putting together my meal plan each week super simple and ridiculously delicious. Whole30 also supplies you with a shopping list to get you started, although I didn't use it. Favorite Instagram users for quick and easy recipe ideas include: 
@PaleOMG | @Whole30Recipes | @jennaskitchen | @inspiralized | @nomnompaleo |
@healthfest | @planksloveandguacamole
Did it affect your milk supply?
No. I would never encourage doing something that could disrupt feeding your baby. That said, I have heard very mixed reviews on this aspect of the Whole30. Other women have said they had to quit almost immediately after noticing a dip in their supply. For me personally, I was consuming way more calories than I did on a normal basis and much more of those calories were coming from healthy fats and protein. Collins is exclusively breastfed and I didn't notice any dip in my supply. I also made a few adjustments to the program for myself because I'm nursing (like snacking throughout the day when I wasn't eating full meals). 

Will you do it again?
Yes. After taking a week off to recoup before school starts back up again and our Fall calendar fills up, I'll be starting a second Whole30 September 1st. You can follow along on Instagram under the hashtag #Whole30WholeSeptember. This month you'll notice a few additional faces there- as I'm encouraging anyone who has been thinking of starting to join our little group. As I mentioned earlier, social media was such a great source of motivation, accountability and inspiration for meal ideas, etc. It truly made a world of difference! 

But how did you drink your coffee?
This was tough but then it wasn't. Prior to Whole30, I drank my creamer with a little coffee in it so I worried high and low about the adjustment. It was recommended to me that I drink "Bulletproof" coffee and although I had my doubts, I tried it and it was amazing. 1/4 cup Whole30 approved coconut milk, a dash of cinnamon and a little Ghee (clarified butter) whipped in the Magic Bullet. I promise, don't knock it until you've tried it. 

What did your family eat?
For the most part, they ate what I did. Lunches for the boys were probably the most difficult as they typically would eat chicken nuggets or peanut butter sandwiches. They continued to eat the foods they were accustomed to that were off limits to me but we all always ate the same dinner. My husband wasn't on board during my first Whole30 but plans to join me in September! 

What happens after you finish? What are your plans?
I plan to continue a primarily clean eating/paleo lifestyle. Of course it won't always be perfect and I've never been a huge fan of depravity so I will indulge when I feel like it. That being said, once I finished my first Whole30, I celebrated with a giant slice of Supreme Pizza topped with a fried egg. Let's just say I didn't feel so hot after binging on cheese and bread after steering clear of it for thirty days. Everything in moderation will be key.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me!    
If you're looking for additional support, check out Jen's blog, Life in the Green House, who completed her first Whole30 the same time I did. Heather is gearing up for her first and has written about some great tips!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School with Boden & $250 Giveaway!

There's just something about Back to School shopping that makes it way more fun than any other kind of shopping out there. Whether it was for a new Trapper Keeper (yes, I went there!) or the much deliberated over First Day of School Outfit, I loved this time of year and always looked forward to it.

Now I get to share that excitement with my boys and believe me, it's just as exciting- if not more! Carter will be heading back to preschool later this month and I'm certain he's been talking about meeting his new teacher and seeing all his old friends since his last day of school back in June. Maclane will also be starting a brand new Learn With Mommy and Me class that meets a couple of days per week so between Carter's new 3 days-a-week program and Maclane's new schedule, big changes lie ahead for all of us!

Now that I think about it, does that mean that I get to buy Back to School clothes for myself?

This year, our boys will heading back to school in mini Boden. I've always been a big fan of Boden's clothes for both myself and my minis so it's no secret that I do much of our back to school shopping with Boden. Their pieces are an investment- the quality is superior as it holds up to regular toddler wear and tear and washes well year after year. I have tops and bottoms that Collins, our third baby, will be able to wear that both of his brothers wore years before him. I can't say that about too many childrens' brands out there! 

Not to mention the bright, bold colors and eye-catching prints that can be seen in many of Boden's clothing lines- I think it's easy to see why we love Boden so much!

Here are the boys wearing a few of our favorite stand out pieces from mini Boden's Fall collection. These have become staples in our wardrobe year after year and will pair well as both basic pieces and finishing pieces for clothing they already have in their wardrobe.

Vest / Big Creature T-shirt / Slim-fit Jeans / Suede Desert Boots

Vest / Vehicle T-shirt / Slim-Fit Jeans /Suede Desert Boots

Vest / Big Creature T-shirt / Slim-fit Jeans / Suede Desert Boots

Vest / Vehicle T-shirt / Slim-Fit Jeans /Suede Desert Boots
Be sure to check out the back to school collection from Boden. The coupon code CHRP will give you 15% off and FREE SHIPPING. I'm really excited to kick off an amazing giveaway from Boden where one lucky reader will receive a $250 gift card! 

All you have to do is enter below using the rafflecopter widget. No purchase necessary to enter. I'm hosting this giveaway with 9 other awesome blogs so be sure to visit their sites to see all of the great Mini Boden Back to School outfits they put together for their children. By visiting all of the blogs, you'll have a chance to see over 25 ways to style the adorable clothes Boden has this season.

Connect with Boden on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Monkeying Around With Bright Starts™ :: Toys for Toddlers

Toddlers are a special breed. They're bursting with energy and curiosity as they spend much of their time embracing both cognitive and imaginative play. Becoming increasingly more mobile with each passing day, they require toys and activities that engage not only their minds but also their busily moving bodies. 
Do you happen to know what else is essential to your toddler's growth and well-being? Laughter. Which is great because the folks over at Bright Starts, where "fun comes first™" have been working on engineering toys determined to increase your baby's B.L.I™ (or Baby Laugh Index™). Do you know what your child's Baby Laugh Index™ is? Do you even know what a Baby Laugh Index™ is? Trust me, it's a hoot! My toddler is most definitely a snorter with a little bit of high-pitched squealer mixed in.
The newest toys from Bright Starts™, the 3-in-1 Step 'n Ride Lion™ and the Hide 'n Spin Monkey, and the Jungle Fun Ball Climber  debuted at the highly popular blogging conference, BlogHer 2014. It was here that moms from all across the country were granted a hands-on speak peek of these giggle-inducing toys. 
Our personal favorite? The Hide n' Spin Monkey™, of course. He's become an irresistible and highly sought-after playmate in our home and not just with my toddler but my preschooler as well! 
With brightly colored balls, flashing lights, music and other fun sounds, this toy appeals to every one of the Toddler Senses. There are buttons to press, lights that flash, songs to sing and balls to chase after! 
As a mom, while I appreciate the silly songs and flashing lights and sounds, I'm particularly fond of how this toy encourages both fine and gross motor skills. Dropping the balls into the barrel as well as hopping up to chase them as they pop out from beneath the barrel makes for a well-engaged and highly-engrossed toddler. At two years old and with the attention span of a field mouse, I can't say that about many things. I also appreciate how there aren't five hundred and seventy-two pieces to clean up after. 
Bright Starts' smart, fresh solutions for parents and their babies deliver convenience, value and most importantly, fun throughout eat day. Thanks to Bright Starts™, my toddler's laugh index has increased immensely!
Bright Starts and myself want to know What's Your Baby Or Toddler's B.L.I™? Share your answer in the comments below for a chance to win one of these Bright Starts toys: Jungle Fun Ball Climber™, Hide 'n Spin Monkey™, or 3-in-1 Step 'n Ride Lion™.

You can also check out these Bright Starts toys on: PinterestFacebookInstagram, YouTube, and Twitter.


Sweepstakes Rules:


No duplicate comments.


You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.


This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.


The Official Rules are available here.


This sweepstakes runs from 8/11 - 9/14.


Be sure to visit the Bright Starts Brand Page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Perfect Movie Night Treat!

I cannot remember the last time we sat in a movie theater and watched a movie. Actually, scratch that. I can remember, I'm just too ashamed to admit it. It was two weeks before Carter was born and if you're keeping track that was way back in the year... 2010. The movie was Marley & Me and yes, we both cried. We also stuffed ourselves silly with movie theater popcorn (seriously, it's never as good anywhere else except the theater) and Milk Duds. But not together in the same bucket. No one mars my popcorn.

With three kids under five, movie night looks much different these days. Most nights, we wait until the kids are fast asleep before beginning the epic movie night movie search. We spend so much time looking through the new release titles that at least one of our kids has woken up and either crept downstairs and scared the bajeezus out of us or from the dimly lit monitor, beckoned me from my comfortable place on the couch for a midnight snack. 

One thing we can agree on, however, is the snacks we'll choose to enjoy our movie with. Sort of like how we often choose a "His and Her movie," we also have "His and Her snacks," and during the warm summer nights, our first choice is always, always ice cream. Perhaps it's the one thing we can agree on without question.  

When it comes to finding the perfect frosty treat to accompany our movie selections, we immediately choose Mars brand. Read on to see what makes our movie night that much better.. 

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