Jun 25, 2014

Lunch Time!

So, it's summer here and with two teacher parents and two toddlers, we have officially done more dishes in the past 2 weeks than in the past 2 months combined ;)  Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get the gist.  Eating at home is great - you can choose much more healthy options and really watch what you consume.  We do our BEST to eat whole foods with very little processing, but honestly, it gets hard when you are trying to cram fun stuff in the day, too.

So, with that in mind, I'd like to show you a lunch that I have fed my girls this week with natural options that are easily accessible at the grocery store, take less than 5 minutes to prepare and my girls totally clean their plates. 

1.  Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

There are TONS of options for nut butters (or seed butters if you have a nut allergy).  This particular butter is from Whole Foods, but you might also try Jiff's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter (hydrogenated oil free) or Sunbutter, a Sunflower Seed spread.

For Jelly,  look for your favorite flavor that is organic and does not contain high fructose corn syrup.  Try a local jelly from the Farmer's Market :)

My favorite bread is this recipe from Wholesome Mommy, an awesome home made honey wheat bread.  Be sure to let it cool completely before you slice so that it doesn't smush for sandwiches.  (Confession, this is not home made bread in the photo - I am trying to clean house today for company this afternoon and haven't had time to bake).

Check out this awesome link for a list of Non-GMO condiments (including butters and jellies).

2.  Barbara's Baked White Cheddar Cheese Puffs

Try this cheeto-esque chip that even Daddy Drew approves of.  Non-GMO verified, baked products that are far more healthy than the alternative and tastes good, too!

3.  Fruit

This time it is an organic banana, sometimes it's strawberries, sometimes apple slices, sometimes orange slices... whatever you prefer, get those fruits and veggies into the diet!  We eat fruit with every meal AND for snacks!

4.  Kale Chips

I love anything from Trader Joe's, but you can find Kale Chips anywhere... even on Amazon!  You might try baking your own, too!  Wash and dry your kale, lay out on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Bake at a low temp until dried!  So easy! 

I try hard to serve something green at both dinner and lunch.  Another thing my kids love is raw broccoli with a dip.  To save time, I clean and cut the broccoli when I bring it home from the grocery store and store it in a container in the fridge for easy access.

Lunch time is a great time to have the kids help in the kitchen, too.  Allow them to spread the peanut butter or choose what to put on their plate (with supervision of course).

I also highly recommend that you teach your children to clear their spot at the table when meal time is through.  This is an age appropriate chore that is simple to do and instills a confidence and work ethic in your kiddos from a young age. 

What is YOUR favorite thing to serve your kids for lunch?

Jun 17, 2014

7 Tips for Camping with Kids

Ah, Camping.... I have such fond memories of being outdoors at State Parks with my family when I was a kid.  About a month ago, we took our two toddlers camping for the first time. 

We learned a lot.

I should put that in bold, because the learning curve was steep.  So here in lies the motivation for this blog post.  Being outdoors is INCREDIBLY important, especially when you are young.  Camping shouldn't be a scary task to dread, it should be a fun family bonding experience.  I'd like to share with you 7 tips for Camping with Kids that will make your life much easier (and make the trip a ton of fun!).

7 Tips for Camping with Kids

1.  Prepare your Kiddos

When our babies are used to playing Legos inside or watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates at a certain time each day, camping can be quite a culture shock.  Prepare them and get them excited by talking about what camping is, watching videos, and reading books.  You might even think about a short day trip to a nearby nature preserve or State Park for a day hike to help them get a feel for what camping is like.  Get them excited by talking about the animals and birds you will see, or swimming holes you will visit.

2.  Involve your Kids in the Planning and Packing

Need a few pieces of gear?  Take your kiddos to the sporting goods store to let them help you pick out what you need.  When they are involved in the planning and packing, they take ownership of the trip and everything goes more smoothly.  This is even true for my 3 year old.  She was in charge of the outdoor toys - she had a bag full of buckets and shovels and bubbles and she made sure it got packed and put in the car.  She was proud of herself and it made playing with those toys even more fun!

3.  Pick a Great Campground

Ok, I have done a lot of camping in my life, but camping with kids is a whole different animal.  When we took our girls for their first camping trip, we chose an incredibly beautiful, privately owned campground without reading reviews at all.  When we selected our camp ground, we got our first red flag when our neighbors came over and said "oh, I see you have children.  Please let us know if our partying gets too loud tonight." (Cue the movie Neighbors...)  Needless to say, yes, they were too loud that night, but so was every camp ground in the area.  Rave like music until 2 am is not my idea of a good time, especially when I am in Mama Bear mode and trying to get my babies a good night's sleep.

State Parks are safe bets because they are patrolled by Park Rangers who enforce quiet times and take care of noise complaints. Read reviews on Trip Adviser and  Yelp, ask friends, follow facebook groups who know their stuff - do your research.  I truly believe that the camp ground you select plays a large part in the success of your trip.  Pick a place that has activities and swimming locations.  Check on burn bans before you go if you plan on having a fire.

4.  Bring Toys and/or Friends

During the day, we had no problems keeping our kids entertained with hiking and swimming.  They had a BLAST!  But once it was wind down time in the evening, the sun started to go down, but it wasn't quite bedtime yet, we got bored quickly.  I packed lots of flashlights and my girls truly enjoyed sitting in the tent (they thought the tent was SO cool) and looking at Look and Find books.  Be prepared for some down time at the camp ground with games, outdoor toys, bubbles, and a disposable camera for the kids to use.  If you can go camping with friends with kids the same age as yours, even better!  Camping with friends is the best!

5.  Stay Positive and Stay Flexible

Let me just tell you now - things will not be on a strict schedule, things will not go exactly how you plan them - no matter how many lists you make or how well you prepare, something will go bonkers.  Roll with the flow.  Take a deep breath, remember that you are away from the city, away from responsibility, and just let it go.  If the kids don't nap, it's not a big deal.  If they eat a little dirt, they will have a stronger immune system (so says my Grandma!).  Put a smile on your face (remember, this is supposed to be fun for THEM, too) and Stay Posi (one of my favorite quotes from my husband).

6.  Be a Kid Yourself

Have FUN!  See through the eyes of your child - explore, hop in puddles, get dirty.  Stop and look at the bug or the garden snake slithering along the trail.   Take the time to get on your kids' level and see things from their fresh perspective.  Not only will your kids love this, but you will have a much better time, too!  My girls and I were on our way back to the camp site after a potty break and Izzy spotted a tiny little frog hopping along the trail.  We followed it for a while, and then the rest of the day they hopped like frogs.  It was magical for them!

7.  Be Safe

Be prepared for situations that may arise.  Be sure to pack sunscreen, bug repellant, rain gear and dress for the weather.  Bring lots of water to avoid dehydration.  Also make sure you pack gear for water play - life jackets or puddle jumpers for the little ones.  Keep a balance of relaxation and watchfulness. 

Now tell me... where is your favorite place to go camping??

Jun 15, 2014

Traits of a Good Daddy (And Why My Girls Are So Blessed)

On this special day, Father's Day, I would like to take a second and tell you 5 very important traits of a daddy and why I feel so blessed that my girls have the daddy they have:

1.  Godly

 This is a photo of Drew, Myself, our Pastor and our Children's minister at Olivia's baby dedication.  I love that my husband finds this important - that we present ourselves as a family before our church, vow to raise our children in a Godly home, and ask for support from our church family.  He is a leader in our church, teaching Sunday school, volunteering for nursery duty every so often and even accompanying the youth group on a backpacking trip.  He shows our children by example what it is like to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Taking the girls and I to church is a priority for him, and we are so blessed to have a strong Spiritual leader in our home.

2.  Hardworking

In the nearly 9 years Drew and I have been married, I could count the number of days he has taken off work for personal reasons on one hand.  He is dedicated to his teaching job not for the money (obviously), but for the sheer fact that he has incredible work ethic.  He cares for those he comes in contact with each day (hence the Funniest Teacher Award hanging on his classroom wall) and then comes home and works some more.  He sets an excellent example for our daughters in his work ethic.  I love this photo because it is proof that the girls are watching and learning by his example.  He does it without grumbling, always pushing on even when he is tired or doesn't feel like it. 

3.  Fun

 One of the biggest reasons why I married Drew, and one of the biggest reasons my girls are so blessed to have him as a daddy is that he loves to have FUN!  Whether it be a simple fort in the living room with blankets and dining room chairs, a trip to the park, or a family vacation.  He is showing our daughters that it is important to have fun and what GOOD fun looks like.  I asked Izzy this morning what her favorite thing about her daddy was and she said "he likes to tickle me and then I laugh."  They love his fun loving side, too!  Who wouldn't?

4.  Cares About Education

I love the quote by Emilie Buchwald that says "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." This is certainly true in our home.  Drew makes it a priority to read to the girls before bed, whether it be one book or ten.  We love trips to the library and book stores, too.  Just part of ensuring that our girls find worth in being educated and being a child of God, not in being pretty (even though they are and he does make sure to tell them so).  He is such a great daddy to teach them this valuable truth.

5.   Encouraging and Protective

Our girls feel safe with daddy - they know he will protect them and he always encourages them to try new things, even when it is hard.  Being around daddy makes my oldest, Izzy, fearless.  If he isn't at home at night, she doesn't sleep as well.  He is kind enough to stop on a trail and empty her shoes of dirt, but still encourages her to keep going.  Such a great balance that my girls are lucky to have in their lives.

Drew, we are so blessed by you.  Thank you for your tireless hard work, your dedication to your family and your Heavenly Father and for making us feel safe and loved. 

And to you, reader, Happy Father's Day!  May we recognize the wonderful father's in our lives and help each other raise a generation of boys to be excellent Fathers in the future!

Jun 6, 2014

Essentially Summer: Homemade Ice Cream with Essential Oils

Hi Friends!  If you are joining me from Rooted Blessings, welcome!  I don't know about you, but reading all of these recipes is making my mouth water!  I had a BLAST testing out recipes to contribute for this series - I know you will love them!

The second I signed up to participate in this series, my brain went into over drive with all the amazing possibilities.  I have trimmed them down to three, to hopefully satiate everyone's appetite - even a non-dairy option! 

One of the reasons I was excited to participate in this series is to showcase more uses for essential oils than just a fix to a cold.  Quality essential oils (I can only recommend Young Living) can actually be used to flavor foods! 

The first, Dreamsicle Ice Cream!  Do you remember rummaging through your grandmother's freezer when you were a kid to find the Dreamsicles?  I do!  My mom didn't usually buy them, so when we stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's, they were a treat.  This recipe could not be more simple.  And when I brought it over to a family gathering for a taste test, it was totally a hit!

A variation on a theme, Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.  Using organic ingredients, raw milk and Young Living essential oils, this recipe will take you back to Thanksgiving and make you wish for November!  A summertime take on a classic fall dessert, this ice cream is sure to please!  It was delicious!

 Homemade Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream


  • 1 can organic pureed pumpkin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups raw milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 drops Young Living cinnamon bark essential oil
  • 3 drops Young Living clove essential oil
  • 3 drops Young Living nutmeg essential oil


  • Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved.  Follow the directions for your ice cream maker.
  • Serve immediately for a soft serve consistency or freeze overnight for a more firm consistency.

And finally, for our lactose sensitive friends, Coconut Lime Sorbet.  This one might be my very favorite.  This is a deliciously light, dairy free option.  You can modify it to make it sugar free, too - just use honey or agave instead. 


Are you ready to jump in to this wonderful world of caring for your family with therapeutic grade essential oils? The time is now! Click here to learn more or contact the person who introduced you to the “Essentially Summer” blog recipe series

Next up is Katy @ Goodness Gathering!

Be sure to check out all 35 posts in the "Essentially Summer"  blogger recipe series, click here.

Bon Appetit!