Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's the most important thing on a date?

Date Night!!

Yes, it really does need capitals and exclamation points. Date nights are few and far between at my house so they are cause for excitement.

As I dressed for our recent night out I suddenly realized my thoughts about the evening centered around the restaurant and food, not my husband. It was the cheese fries, steak, and dessert that I anxiously anticipated.

Is a date still a date without food?

What is wrong with me that I'm more excited about greasy potatoes covered in dairy products than I am about 3 hours with the undivided attention of my college sweetheart?!

Isn't a date or night out with friends supposed to be about your relationship, not what you eat?

Wouldn't date night, Girls Night Out, or a party be just as meaningful without food?

That night I realized my attitude toward food and events needed to change.

My handsome husband of 15 years on our date.

Today I'm focusing on relationships at events instead of food. It's a slow change in perspective but one that will help me live a healthier lifestyle. And that's a good thing.

Do you go out with friends for the food or for the relationships?

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Chronicles of Narnia CD Magic

"Look sharp!" shouted Edmund. "all catch hands and keep together. This is magic - I can tell by the feeling. Quick!" ...

"Next moment the luggage, the seat, the platform, and the station had completely vanished. The four children, holding hands and panting, found themselves standing in a woody place."
       - excerpt from Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia

On a recent drive to Stone Zoo we felt ourselves pulled into the world of Narnian magic almost as forcefully and Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.

The Focus on the Family Radio Theatre actors and sound effects crew did a masterful job of creating Narnia in your imagination. You feel the excitement of the children at being back in Narnia. You smell the salt water as they wade out to catch a drifting boat. And you taste the apples that eat for lunch, supper, and breakfast when they first return.

The Chronicles of Narnia Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Series is so well done that we almost didn't want to leave our van and tour the zoo. Almost.

This was not the first time we listened to the series. The Narnia CD series is one of our a favorite road trip activities! We listened to all of the CDs as we drove to Arkansas and Washington, DC. I'm sure we'll listen again on future vacations!

If you have any road trips planned this summer I highly recommend you add to your CD collection with this series! The magic of Narnia makes time fly as miles of countryside whiz by outside your car window.

Which Narnia book is your favorite?

Chronicles of Narnia Reading ChallengeSpecial thanks goes to Carrie from Reading to Know for hosting the Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge every July!

You give me a reason (as if I needed one) to indulge in the wonder of Narnia every year.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Save Money Grocery Shopping with Cut It Out! ebook

How much do you spend each month on groceries to feed your family?

$700?  $800?  $1,000?!

Kate Megill feeds her family of 10 on $500 a month. And she does it WITHOUT coupons.

Cut It Out! by Kate Megill

Yep. You read that correctly. $500 a month for a family of 10. I thought I did really well by spending $500 a month for my family of 6!

Kate recently offered her ebook in exchange for a review to the members of a Facebook group I participate in. I jumped at the chance to read Cut It Out!

I considered myself a frugal grocery shopping expert but watched my grocery budget inch upwards in recent years. I wanted to learn Kate's grocery shopping tips so I can lower my budget again.

Basic tips and tricks for saving money on groceries.  

In Cut It Out! Kate suggests you:
  • Create a master list of meals. 
  • Write out a menu plan based on those meals. 
  • Track supermarket prices in a price book. 
  • Invest in a well-stocked pantry. 
  • And a whole lot more.

I came away from Cut It Out! with a renewed goal of lowering our grocery budget. I already menu plan and shop sales but I could do a much better job of this. Kate reminded me of the basic steps to frugal food shopping that I've been skipping.

Would you like to save money at the grocery store? 

I strongly suggest you purchase Cut It Out! and implement Kate's method for saving money!

From today through August 3, 2012, Cut It Out! is only $1.99. After August 3 the price will increase to $3.99.

If you are a newcomer to frugal grocery shopping, or an expert seeking encouragement that you're on the right path, I recommend you buy Cut It Out! today!

Are you a frugal newbie or a frugal expert? What is your best money saving tip?

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Disclosure: I received a free copy of Cut It Out! in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own. I truly believe this book will help anyone looking to save money on groceries.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Barbie, Hot Wheels Double Dare Snare, and a GIVEAWAY!

I stood near the open door of my bedroom chatting with my husband who sat on the far side of our bed. Two neatly stacked boxes sat on the edge of the bed nearest me.

As we chatted, my soon-to-be-six year old daughter wandered into the room. I have the nosiest children in the world so I KNEW Ellie would pick up the box and look to see what it contained.

Curious how she would react when seeing the Barbie Doll inside, I watched her.

Ellie pulled the box off the bed. Her eyes scanned the Barbie doll (Australia Barbie from the Dolls of the World Collection), then shot in my direction.

Next her eyes grew wide and a guilty expression appeared on her face. She quickly returned the box to its position on the bed. As she made a beeline for the bedroom door, she glanced at me one more time to see if I had noticed her actions.

After leaving my room Ellie walked directly to her brother's bed, sat down with her hands in her lap, grinned from ear-to-ear, and bounced up and down. As she bounced she quietly said, "I'm getting a Barbie Doll for my birthday! I'm getting a Barbie Doll for my birthday!"

Hearing her sing-song announcement I burst into laughter and called her back into my room. Her guilty expression caused me to laugh even more.

I'm not sure if she felt happy or disappointed when I informed her that Mattel sent the Barbie for me to blog about and that it was NOT her birthday present. Either way, opening the box and playing with Australia Barbie later that afternoon eliminated any negative emotions she might suffered!

Ellie, Australia Barbie, and Veterinarian Barbie

As you can see, Ellie enjoyed playing with the Koala Bear that came with Australia Barbie. Unfortunately, the Koala fell ill and required a visit to Veterinarian Barbie (who she already owned). But don't worry! He made a full recovery.

In addition to Australia Barbie, Mattel sent Team Hot Wheels Double Dare Snare for my boys.

Ben, Sam and Ellie put together the track without help!

Team Hot Wheels Double Dare Snare is cool!! (According to my sons.) My 7 year old son snapped the whole thing together in about 20 minutes. Then the fighting began.

Fighting? Oh, yes. The set only comes with one car but the tracks make a double loop. Naturally the boys fought over who used the new car and whose turn it was.

It didn't help matters that not all of our other Matchbox cars worked on the 2nd track. Many of our cars are older models so the metal is heavier. Heavier cars fall to the floor part way up the loop.

But we turned lemons into lemonade and used the plummeting cars as an opportunity to teach about gravity and physics. We even had fun testing to see which cars were light enough to complete the loop and which were too heavy and fell to the floor.

Once we worked out a system of sharing the cars the fighting stopped and everyone enjoyed playing with the new track. In fact, my 3 year old surprised me by playing with the track for several days in a row. It really captured his attention!

If you are attending a million kid's summer birthday parties like we are (OK. Only 5.), I recommend you give a doll from the Dolls of the World Barbie Collection or the Team Hot Wheels Double Dare Snare! Both are sure to be a hit with the birthday girl or boy. They were with my birthday girl!

You can receive some awesome toys from Mattel as well! Just enter on the Rafflecopter below to WIN either a Girls' Prize Pack or a Boys' Prize Pack! 

Girl Prize Pack Includes: Barbie Dress & Design Studio ($21.99 APR), A Barbie Doll of the World ($29.95 APR) & Barbie I Can Be... Fashion Designer ($13.99 APR) 
Boys Prize Pack Includes: Matchbox Big Boots Fire Truck ($25.99 APR), Hot Wheels Wall Tracks ($24.99 APR) & Hot Wheels Ballistiks ($24.99 APR)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out Mattel on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you visit the following ladies from RI Digital Media Women (#RIDMW) as well to see their fantastic reviews of Mattel Products!  
Baby Gators Den, Savoring the ThymeCira's Lyrics,
Learning to Juggle,  When The Kids Go To Bed,
Mama Luvs Books, Keekoin 

Disclosure: Some of the products in this post were provided to facilitate my review. The opinions and stories are my own based on our experiences with the toys. Thank you, Mattel, for allowing us to review your toys!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Am I flirting on the edge of healthy?

Commanded to stay out of the kitchen, he stands at the edge of the hall carpet watching as I move about the kitchen preparing dinner. The other rooms, filled with toys, books, and sibling playmates, hold no interest for him. Only this room, the one temporarily off limits, will satisfy.

He thinks I'm not watching, but I am.

Slowly, carefully, his pudgy little toes inch across the gold metallic strip marking the boundary between hallway and kitchen. He tests just how far he can go before suffering the negative consequences promised for crossing the line.

I continue to prepare supper, not acknowledging his toe-sized offense. He looks up at me. I can tell he's wondering if I notice his toes.

Slowly, carefully, he places his entire pudgy little foot onto the vinyl kitchen flooring. There can be no doubt of his challenge to my instructions.

Now I am faced with a choice. Do I issue the consequences I promised or do I wait until both feet are across the line? Or wait even longer until he stands at my side?

I am like my son.

When it comes to weight gain/loss, eating nutritious food, and exercising I am like my young son. I test just how far into the unhealthy zone I can go before I suffer the consequences of my actions.

  • I drink a glass pitcher of sweet tea each day.
  • I skips workouts.
  • I eat chicken strips and french fries for supper.
  • I binge on bread sticks and 3 meals worth of pasta drenched in cream sauce at my favorite Italian restaurant.

My boys and a friend flirting with the edge of a huge boulder!

How far can I go before I suffer the consequences of my choices? 

Before I can no longer keep up with my children? Before I have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a heart attack?

Will I suffer negative consequences for staying ten pounds overweight

Probably not. But why take the risk? Why flirt with the edge of being healthy just as my son flirted with the edge of the hall carpet? Why not step back from the edge and be completely healthy?

While my son endured a spanking for his choice to step over the line, I don't want to endure the consequences of my unhealthy choices. So, I'm going to back away from the edge of healthy and place myself solidly in healthy territory. Will you join me?

Do you flirt on the edge of healthy? In what ways?

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Our Visit to Franklin Park Zoo for Free Fun Friday

We are a zoo loving family, but after last week's crowd of people and crazy parking at Stone Zoo, my husband and I questioned if we should attend Free Fun Friday at Franklin Park Zoo.

I researched Franklin Park Zoo online and discovered they possess lions, tigers, and other big cats that "our" zoo does not. Big Cats are a favorite of our family.

The drive looked doable, just an hour from our house to the outskirts of Boston. The parking seemed ample. The Zoo appeared larger than Stone Zoo and therefore better able to handle the mass of people.

So a plan was made: leave home at 1 PM and arrive about the time most zoo goers exited.

It was a GOOD plan. Truly it was! And it would have worked if Boston police hadn't decided to make traffic "better" by altering the traffic pattern on the main street leading to the park entrance.

Think I'm kidding?

Ellie was more than a little tired of sitting in traffic!

Our drive home took 1 hour 15 minutes. Our drive to Franklin Park Zoo took 2 hours 30 minutes. Half of that time was spent within 5 miles of the park.

After parking we had exactly 1 hour to tour the zoo before they closed for the night. So my husband scanned the zoo map, made a plan to visit our must-see animals, and off we went.

One of the big cats we watched at Franklin Park Zoo.

We squeezed our way through the crowd to see the sleeping lion, a white tiger keeping cool in a pool, a few other big cats, and assorted smaller animals. We tried to visit the gorillas but the indoor exhibit closed before we made our way across the park.

Overall it was a terrible, rotten experience.

Let me be quick to add that our experience is not a reflection on the quality of the zoo. It may be a good zoo. We don't really know because time constraints and hordes of people kept us from enjoying our visit.

The Stephanie's Mommy Brain Zoo animals!

We arrived home tired, hungry, and frustrated. But at least we spent the day together and created a memory we'll look back on and laugh at. Maybe.

I suppose we could return to Franklin Park Zoo on a less crowded day and pay the entrance fee. Except that we still feel a little traumatized and don't want to pay $78 for admission for our family of 6. Frankly, $78 is a whole lot of money for our family!

For now we'll stay close to home and find a nice secluded park to hike instead of participating in Free Fun Fridays!

Have you visited Franklin Park Zoo? Is it worth spending the money to go back?

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Ultimate Kid's Boredom Solution

I know my daughter did NOT say she's bored!
I stood in front of the scratched kitchen sink scrubbing the remains of last night's supper from the rim of a pot. Hot water streamed from the faucet, over my hands, and loosened stubborn bits of spaghetti sauce.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched Ellie meander around the kitchen, pause momentarily to gaze through the window at the deserted bird feeders, and then dejectedly slide her petite 5 year old self onto the kitchen table bench.

Shoulders slumped, she sighed. And then IT happened.

The "B" Word

Out of that sweet little mouth came the "B" word.

Suspending my attack on the crusty pot I half-turned to face my daughter. "Excuse me! WHAT did you say?!" The words flew out of my mouth as my mind raced to form more constructive responses.

"I'm bored," Ellie repeated. "There's nuthin' to do." She pitifully looked up at me, forehead knitted and mouth down-turned .

9 Kid's Boredom Busters

Ben turning cartwheels in the wiggly sprinklers.

Rapidly my mind flicked through the list of "I'm bored" responses gathered in the previous seconds:

  • Stop my own activities and play a board game with her?
  • Pop a DVD in for a little screen time?
  • Boot her into the backyard with sidewalk chalk or bubbles?
  • Send her down the hall to build LEGO ships with her brothers?
  • Pull out the foot tall stack of Melissa and Doug puzzles from her closet?
  • Retrieve the butcher paper from the basement and ask her draw life-size pictures of our family?
  • Turn on the backyard sprinkler for water play?
  • Listen to our Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Chronicles of Narnia CDs?
  • Set her up on Daddy's computer to play Reading Eggs?

Nah. No. Nope.

These boredom busting ideas, all good and useful at times, only satisfied her desire to be entertained by someone else. Not the boredom solution I sought. I wanted her to use creativity and entertain herself.

The Ultimate Boredom Solution

Mowing the front yard is 9 yr old Will's chore this summer.

And then I got a wonderful, awful idea!

As nonchalantly as possible I said, "I'm sorry you're bored. You can play with your dolls? ... Outside? .. With the brothers? ... Read books? ... No? ... You don't want to do any of those things?"

"Well, I guess there's only one thing left to do - WORK."

"I'll get you a wet washcloth and you can scrub your dirty footprints off the wall beside your bed. Then you can clean the grubby handprints off the hall walls. And when that's done, the kitchen wall behind the trash can needs washing."

Ellie quickly declined my wet washcloth offer and made her way back down the hall before my suggestion became a command. Within seconds I heard her happily bossing the littlest brother in a pretend game of "Mommy-Baby;" her boredom cured by a simple invitation to work.

As I returned to scrubbing the pot in the sink I just might have chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Mommy trick!"

What Mom tricks do you have for curing kids' boredom?

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Is it OK to be overweight?

Is it OK to be overweight? 

Stephanie in April 2012
Several years ago I bemoaned my extra pounds to an older friend who replied, "Welcome to the Four Kid Club." She meant because I've birthed 4 babies I will be overweight for the rest of my life. It's accepted. It's justified. It's OK.

But is it really?

I'm just wondering because choosing food that nourishes my body over choosing food that satisfies my cravings is not fun!

And choosing to get out of my comfy bed earlier than necessary so I can go run is proving to be a huge challenge.

So, I need to know, is all this hard work necessary? Or is it OK that I'm 10 pounds overweight?

What do you think?

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Monday, July 16, 2012

A Winning Olympics Children's Book

Olympics Kid's Book
My children are finally big enough to understand and enjoy the Olympic Games so we are a tad Olympics-crazy at our house, as you'll see from posts over the next few weeks.

As with all our family activities, I first searched for an Olympics children's book to read with my children and learn about the Games.

Truth be told, I emailed Sleeping Bear Press and begged politely requested to review any Olympics related books they've published.

A week later G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet arrived at my door. And boy, are we glad it did!!

G is for Gold Medal is formatted in classic Sleeping Bear Press alphabet book style: all of the letters are represented in rhyming couplet, each page has a side bar with further information related to the poem, while the illustrations contain bright colors and active scenes.

"U" is one of my favorite pages. The text says,
"U is for an underdog,
so unbelievably bold,
and an unexpected upset
to win Olympic gold."
The sidebar tells the miracle story of 1980 when a group of college-aged amateurs went up against the Soviet team, who had beaten National Hockey League all-stars the year before. Amazingly the American underdogs won the gold medal!

One of the things I love about the Olympics is that you never know what will happen! You never know which athlete's story of hard work and perseverance will shine as bright as the the gold medal he or she wins. 

G is for Gold Medal does an outstanding job of highlighting those personal stories and teaching kids (and parents, too!) Olympic history.

Another of my favorite pages is "L." The poem states,
"A long run starts letter L, 
then a launch, a leap, a landing.
A little gymnast with a large heart.
A gold medal! Outstanding!"
The sidebar tells of Mary Lou Retton who scored a perfect 10 in the 1984 Olympics. In 1984, a 9 year old little girl watched Mary Lou cartwheel her way into the history books. To me, that grow-up little girl, her name is synonymous with the Olympics!

So when I turned the page to "L" and saw Mary Lou on the balance beam wearing the quintessential American leotard I couldn't help smiling. And something deep in my heart longed to join my 5 year old daughter in the gym doing cartwheels and balance beam routines.

Ellie works with Coach Hanna (an Olympic gymnast!) at RISE gymnastics.

I'm sure we will read G is for Gold Medal several times between now and the Olympic closing ceremonies in August. I HIGHLY recommend you read the book also!

What is your favorite Olympic event? Did you dream of going to the Olympics as an athlete?

Disclosure: Thanks to Sleeping Bear Press for providing a copy of G is for Gold Medal for my review! All opinions regarding the book are my own and were not influenced by receiving a review copy.

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Menu Plan Monday :: July 16, 2012

I'm sitting at my table with my calendar, my menu plan, and my computer. I think this Summer O' Fun just might kill me from exhaustion! Seriously.

Sunday to Saturday my calendar tells me I will: attend to blogger events, drive my kids to gymnastics twice, enjoy a date with my husband, and attend 2 kids' birthday parties.

If ever there was a week for take-out it's gonna be THIS one! But, the eating out budget has run dry for this month so I've gotta make the best of things.

This week we'll be eating:

Lemon Pepper Salmon, Broccoli and Carrots, Rice

Ham and Vegetable Stir-fry, Rice

Balsamic Vegetable Stir-fry with Grilled Chicken, Rice

Homemade Pizza and Fruit

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

What are you eating this week?

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Visit to Stone Zoo for Free Fun Friday

It's summer time and we are all about having fun! Whether we're at home, with friends, or on an outing our family is determined to make 2012 the best summer EVER!

To help families in New England maximize their summer fun Highland Street Foundation gave a BUNCH of organizations grants to participate in their Free Fun Fridays program.

These Free Fun Fridays register high on our summer fun checklist. So high, in fact, that my husband scheduled vacation days for most of the Fridays in July and August!

Out of 5 participating kid friendly organizations on the Fun Friday list, we chose to visit Stone Zoo on July 6. Our family LOVES zoos! Even before having children we had a membership at our local RI zoo; that's how much we love them.

Ellie was excited to take a day trip to Stone Zoo!

So Friday morning we packed our picnic lunch, water bottles, and sunscreen and drove to Stone Zoo. For us in Rhode Island the trip took about 1.5 hours. Parking was insane! We ended up parked on the side of the very busy road that leads to the zoo.

The bear entertained us.
The crowd inside the zoo was also insane! Stone Zoo is a very small zoo so the volume of people taking advantage of free admission completely overwhelmed the space. So many groups of kids (day camps and day cares) made viewing the animals difficult.

Even though it was crazy and packed with people I'm glad we attended Free Fun Friday at Stone Zoo. We made a fun family memory and we learned that Stone Zoo is too small to be worth the drive for us.

Don't get me wrong! It's not a bad zoo. We enjoyed watching 2 bears, a leopard, and a panther. But, it is quite a distance from our home compared to the zoo that's 15 minutes from our house.

We're looking forward to attending other Free Fun Friday events this summer. If you're in New England during July or August, you should check the events list! Maybe we'll see you at one of them.

What is your favorite zoo to visit?

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Balsamic Vegetable Stir-fry with Grilled Chicken Recipe

Balsamic Veggie Stir-fry with Grilled Chicken

Balsamic Vegetable Stir-fry with Grilled Chicken is a simple and quick meal to prepare! It's loaded with veggies, which helps with one of my healthy lifestyle goals. AND it's extremely versatile.

My kids even eat this meal. For full disclosure I'll admit that they pick out the veggies that don't particularly like. But, exposing them is the first step, right?!

Here's the recipe:

Balsamic Vegetable Stir-fry with Grilled Chicken

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
salt (to taste)
canola or vegetable oil
Veggies: carrots, onions, summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms
Grilled Chicken (or bite-sized pieces of beef, pork, or even meat-free)

Combine vinegar, honey, and salt in a small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.

Cut up desired veggies and meat to bite-sized pieces. Keep each ingredient separate. Heat oil in a large skillet or pan. Add veggies to the oil in order of cooking time: carrots, squash, onions, peppers, mushrooms. Cook the carrots until almost tender and then start adding the rest.

When the veggies are almost finished, add the balsamic/honey mixture and cooked chicken. Stir to completely coat veggies with mixture and cook until the mixture is evaporated.

Serve immediately as is or with a side of rice.

Note: Use any combination and amounts of veggies. I find 2 cups of carrots, 1 large onion, 1 medium yellow squash, and half of a red bell pepper makes 1 meal (plus a leftover lunch for daddy) for my family of 6.

See? I told you a versatile, quick, and easy recipe. Did I mention delicious? You might also like my Kielbasa Stir-fry Recipe. It's easy to cook but has a different flavor.

What is your favorite stir-fry meal?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 Excuses Not to Exercise

I am the Queen of Excuses when it comes to not exercising. Just ask my husband!

I limited myself to only sharing 10 excuses in this post. I have used every single one of the excuses. I'm not proud of it. Just stating a fact.

Which excuse not to exercise is your favorite?

Creating an exercise habit is one of my personal goals for Project 10. Unfortunately, I've used excuses more than I've exercised and my lack of weight loss reveals that fact.

So, starting today - NO MORE EXCUSES.

I am training for a 5k, NK5K.net using Couch to 5K as a guide. That means I'll run/walk 3 times a week. At least 2 times a week I'll use some other type of body weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, etc.).

To help keep me accountable I've set up a profile on My Fitness Pal. I'm stephmommybrain. Throughout the coming weeks I'll publicly track my food and exercise using this app. Please friend me! The more people checking up on me the better!

Which excuse not to exercise is YOUR favorite? Will you join me on My Fitness Pal?

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Teaching Children to Share Their Thoughts

Ellie after sharing her thoughts and falling asleep.

As I'm tucking Ellie in at bedtime almost every night she asks, "Mom, can you snuggle with me?"

If I say yes she scoots toward the opposite edge of her twin bed and I lie down beside her. Then she props her head up on her 5 year old hand, looks me in the eye and says, "So, what do YOU want to talk about?"

I always counter, "I don't know. What do YOU want to talk about?" Most nights she pauses or shrugs her shoulders. If I wait a few seconds longer she'll start chattering about whatever is on her mind.

The mind of a 5 year old girl is filled with many thoughts! The day's events, a future activity, a desired play date, and her upcoming birthday all make their way into our current conversations.

I don't consider these topics important, but Ellie does. 

We definitely discussed swimming in a friend's pool!

I also, don't WANT to snuggle most nights. I'm tired and ready for my children to sleep. But, I'm trying to say yes to Ellie's request more often than I say no.

Because one day her mind will be full of truly important topics.

Topics like a boy she has a crush on, her faith in Jesus, and a painful interaction with a friend will all make their way into our future conversations.

So for now I listen to her chatter, knowing that I'm building a habit and confidence in her that I'll always listen.

Do you have snuggle time? How are you teaching your children to share their thoughts and feelings with you?

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: July 9, 2012

We are in full summer mode! That means lots of salad, veggies, grilling, and the occasional burger or hot dogs.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Garden Salad with Grilled Chicken

Hamburgers and Fruit

Balsamic Vegetables with Grilled Chicken

Homemade Pizza and Fruit

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Spaghetti and Garden Salad


What are you eating this week?

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Peek at July Plans for Stephanie's Mommy Brain

Beware of the boy floating in the pool with a water gun!

Summer 2012 is here! We pushed aside our school books for a few weeks so we can pick strawberries with friends, visit Massachusetts zoos, learn to walk on stilts, and make this the best summer EVER!!

With all the fun activities my family plans to do in July and August I should have plenty of tips, tricks, and ideas to share with you. Rest assured, Stephanie's Mommy Brain will not be taking a hiatus this summer.

In fact, I plan to make July 2012 my best blogging month ever! 

I will continue sharing my weekly menu plan on Mondays and hosting Project 10 on Wednesdays.

I am also planning 3 on-going family projects for July:
  • learn about and celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympics (linked to my Olympics Pinterest board); 
  • and participate in 3rd annual Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge hosted at Reading to Know
Boy, am I covering a wide range of topics this month!

A bear we saw at Stone Zoo.

Mixed in with my usual tips and idea posts will also be review and sponsored posts. 

As Stephanie's Mommy Brain grows in popularity so does the number and quality of products/brands I'm asked to share with you.

Never fear, SMB is in no danger of becoming a review or giveaway blog. Not that there is anything wrong with that kind of blog. It's just not the kind of content I want to write every day.

My commitment to you, my reader, is to only present quality products and brands that I believe you have an interest in learning about.

Already on my calendar for this month is a review and giveaway for Mattel, and a review for Sleeping Bear Press.

I'm really excited to work with these brands to tell you about their products!

If you have a family/mom related brand or product send me an email and we can discuss presenting your company to Stephanie's Mommy Brain readers.

As you can see, there's a lot going on here at Stephanie's Mommy Brain!

What are your plans for July?

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Friday, July 6, 2012

If you take a boy strawberry picking...

If you take a 3 year old boy strawberry picking, 
he's gonna want his own quart container.

Once he gets in the strawberry patch with his container,
he'll start picking strawberries.

As he picks the strawberries, 
he'll probably eat quite a few.

After he starts eating the strawberries, 
his mama will remind him not to eat the stems.

After mama reminds him about the stems, 
he might declare the strawberries, 
stems and all, taste YUMMY!

And chances are good, when the brothers and sister 
have filled their containers, 
the 3 year old boy's will still be empty.

Do you go strawberry picking with your kids?

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Toppling Dominoes

This spring my husband introduced my kids to the fun of toppling dominoes. As expected my hands-on, spatial thinker really took to the activity. He spent hours setting up rows of dominoes.

He learned to arrange the dominoes into shapes, create bridges, and designed curves.

This is my LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys lovin' boy, so I'm not surprised that he enjoyed designing patterns with the dominoes.

When Ben (7 yrs) placed the last domino he called us all in to watch them fall over. This spring he spent a lot of rainy days lining up dominoes and toppling dominoes over and over.

I loved seeing that excited face every time he knocked the dominoes over. I also enjoyed watching him problem solve how to arrange the pieces so they fell correctly. I highly recommend toppling dominoes for an activity when it's too hot or cold to play outside!

Do you topple dominoes?

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