Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot dogs are a baseball game must for 9 yr old boys!

Will and Dad at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game!

On Tuesday I mentioned that my husband and oldest son visited Fenway Park last week. There was a little more to the story.

Will is a huge Red Sox fan so we decided his gift for his 9th birthday would be tickets for him and dad to go see a game. His initial response was a little eh... but the closer we got to the game the more excited he got.

Being a blogger I sent them off with orders to take lots and lots of pictures. I specifically asked for photos of Will with the baseball field in the background. My husband took a few of those, though my favorite is the one above. The quality isn't great but you can see they are having fun.

Will eating a Fenway Frank.

What I did not expect was a ton of pictures of Will eating. Well, ton might be an exaggeration, I counted 6, out of 69 total. For some reason this makes me laugh. Maybe because wanting to eat a lot is typical of a nine year old boy?

Swallowing the last of the frank and moving on to cotton candy!

Pizza time!

Yes, he ate a hot dog, cotton candy, and soda before the game started. Then partway through the game ate a giant slice of pizza.

The really funny thing was listening to him complain about spending nearly $5 of HIS money on a hot dog.

A lot of memories were made on that trip to watch the Red Sox play and food definitely has it's place among them. For some reason that makes me laugh. I hope it amuses you, too!

What do you eat at a ballgame?

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

How do you store toilet paper?

When I come home with a new package of toilet paper, I unwrap the rolls and store them under the sink in the bathrooms (or in our hall linen closet if I'm really stockpiling).

I've used this system for years and my family knows where to look for a new roll when they need it. Even the 3 year old knows!

Why store toilet paper unwrapped?

  • Unwrapped toilet paper saves time and aggravation later. Seriously, have you ever tried to sit on the toilet, wrestle a giant package of toilet paper out from under the sink, and pry a roll out? All at 2 AM in the morning, while trying not to wake a sleeping baby in the next room?
  • Children will never unwrap toilet paper and put it on the roll. 
  • Children MIGHT pull an unwrapped roll of toilet paper out of the cabinet and set it on the counter if they use the last of the current roll.

Trust me! It's a good system!

What is your toilet paper storage system?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meal Plans Help Me Make Healthy Food Choices

Last week I asked, "How do I make healthy food choices?" This week I want to elaborate on my answer: Make food choices ahead of time.

In the context of last week's post I implied that I am making food choices before visiting a restaurant. I've only recently started that, and I'm certainly NOT consistent with planning before I enter a restaurant.

But I am fairly consistent with weekly meal planning for our at-home meals.

Why weekly menu plans?

If I don't plan our meals each week then I end up preparing my "go-to" meals of toast and scrambled eggs or quesadillas and fruit. Or, even worse, we end up eating out.

Weekly meal plans help me prepare healthy meals for my family.

How do you plan a weekly menu?

I've written a menu planning tutorial that is very detailed and takes prices as well as nutrition into consideration. You are welcome to read and/or print the tutorial.

The simple way of menu planning is to just make a list of the foods you want to eat each day. Just this week I ran across an wonderful menu planner download from Teaching What Is Good. (The owner of Teaching What Is Good has given me permission to use her image and for you to download and print her planner.)

Image from Teaching What Is Good

If you are new to menu planning this is a very simple template to use. Just fill in the foods you plan to eat for each meal. The only thing it doesn't have is a place to plan snacks but you could use 'special notes' for that. 

I especially like the shopping list down the side. Occasionally I get to the store and they are out of an ingredient I need. By having the shopping list attached to my menu I can remember what meal I needed the ingredient for and make adjustments.

If you are trying to change eating habits or add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, I highly recommend you plan your meals in advance. Meal planning helps me stay focused on my goals when time and energy at at a premium. A plan keeps me from reverting back to old habits.

Are you a meal planning newbie or pro?

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What is America's Most Beloved Ballpark?

Pop Quiz time!

  1. What is America's Most Beloved Ballpark?
  2. Where do you go to see the 'Green Monster'?
  3. Which major league baseball park boasts of 713+ consecutive sellout games?

Know the answer?

Fenway Park, of course! Home of the Red Soxs! The oldest major league baseball park still in use today.

If you are a Red Sox fan you need to buy a copy of F is for Fenway!! Yes, NEED.

F is for Fenway is an alphabet book for kids, grown-ups, and baseball lovers everywhere. Each letter of the alphabet begins a short rhyme about a special Fenway feature.

Also included on each page is a sidebar with additional facts related to the rhyme and colorful, engaging illustrations.

Here's one of my favorite pages:

Just above this image the text says,

G is for Green Monster

The Monster challenges right-handed hitters,
and gives the pitching staff the jitters.
You never know where the ball may fall
when you are up against the wall.

We received this book several weeks ago and my oldest son (9 yrs) POURED over it. He read all of the side bar facts. He studied the pictures. He basically memorized the book.

And then last Thursday, Will and my husband went to Fenway Park.

Will with the Green Monster. ***

Does that look familiar?!

I LOVE it when books come to life. LOVE. IT.

My husband said Will peppered him with Fenway Facts all night. Like spotting the red seat in a sea of green seats where Ted Williams hit the longest home run in Fenway history. Or how they got off the Green Line at Kenmore Square, just like in the book.

If you have a Red Sox fan in your life, F is for Fenway would make a great birthday, Christmas, anniversary, Father's Day, or 'just because' present. I HIGHLY recommend you pick one up today!

Are you a Red Sox fan? Have you visited Fenway Park?

*** You can see more pictures of Will and Joel at Fenway on my Stephanie Kay (Stephanie's Mommy Brain) Facebook page.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of F is for Fenway to aid my review. The opinions and statements are all mine.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Menu Plan Monday :: June 25, 2012

We created a lot of special memories last week! Strawberry picking and ice cream cones with friends to celebrate the 1st day of summer. A Red Sox game at Fenway Park for my husband and oldest son. And homemade popsicles to keep us cool as the temperatures suddenly spiked.

All great ways to kick-off summer!!

Now that my calendar is calming down my menu plans can be a little more thought out.

This week we are eating:

Grilled Chicken on Garden Salad

Grilled BBQ Chicken, Garden Salad, Fruit

Chicken Stuffed Peppers and Fruit
(I'm altering a Turkey Stuffed Peppers recipe.)


Yes, that's a lot of chicken. I bought 2 packages of boneless chicken breasts last week and don't want to pay full price for beef this week. So, I'll do write a post next week - "5 Ways to Use Grilled Chicken." ha!ha!

What are you eating this week?
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reading Eggs Online Reading Program for Kids

I tend to be skeptical about digital learning experiences for my kids. We own a couple of computer "learning" games and I find my kids mainly learn how to use a computer but not so much reading, writing, or math.

So when I saw the opportunity to review Reading Eggs, an online learn to read program, I hesitated.

Could Reading Eggs really help my kids learn to read?

To help me review the program Reading Eggs offered a free trial subscription for one of my children. If it didn't work, I wasn't out any money so I agreed to do the review.

My older boys (ages 7 & 9) are proficient readers already, thanks to traditional methods. My girlie (5 yrs) will start kindergarten this fall and has been asking me to teach her to read, so she's the one I picked for the review.

As you can see from the infographic, there are several levels where you can begin your child. I started Ellie at 'Ready for School' beginner. She already knew the sounds each letter makes but I wanted to reinforce that knowledge before she learned to combine sounds.

Ellie is learning to read with Reading Eggs.

Ellie has been playing Reading Eggs online for about a month. She has progressed to level 40 which requires reading basic sound families (such as AT- cat, bat, sat, etc.) and recognizing a few sight words. For the most part she is really reading the words, not just guessing at the correct answer.

I like that the program focuses on phonics but also uses some sight words. I believe learning to read requires both. I also like that she can't just guess the pattern or answer in order to progress. The program is repetitive enough that she really does have to figure out the correct answer.

Ellie's having fun and learning to read with Reading Eggs. That's win-win for me.

Is Reading Eggs worth the cost?

I'm not sure if Reading eggs is worth the fee for your family, only YOU can make that decision. There are 3 different fee levels: $9.95 per month; $49.95 for 6 months; $75.00 for a 12 month subscription - for ONE CHILD.

You can add additional children to your account for 50% off. But when you have 4 kids, that's a lot of money!

I recommend purchasing a Reading Eggs subscription if:

  • you have a struggling reader who needs some extra help.
  • you want to keep your child's reading skills sharp during the summer school break.
  • your child loves computer games and you'd like him to learn something during the hours he spends clicking the mouse.

As a home school mom who has taught 2 children to read, I highly recommend the Reading Eggs online learn to read program. Sign up for the FREE 14 DAY TRIAL and see if it's a good resource for your family.

Have you used Reading Eggs? If so, what was your experience?

Disclosure: I received a free subscription for one child to aid me in reviewing the program. The opinions stated are my own and not influenced by anyone.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Skip the cake. Eat the frosting.

Our cake decorating bag still contained a lot of icing, so my husband cut the bag and handed it to Ellie (5 yrs).

We all know cake is just the means of getting the icing to your mouth anyway! Skip the middle man and go straight for the frosting!

Ellie in sugar heaven!

Can't help but smile!

Have you ever let your kids eat just the frosting?

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

NYC's Museum Mile with Chet the Architect

Chet McGraw is a fictional architect who takes children on a journey down New York City's Museum Mile. Featured in two books, Chet the Architect teaches about the diverse architecture of the 9 museums and the simple shapes kids can use to draw pictures of the museums.

Chet the Architect: How to Draw by Kathryn Koller teaches children to draw the outside of each of the 9 museums on NYC's Museum Mile. By using color photographs of the museum and line drawings children learn about simple shapes and how to combine those shapes to draw their own version of the each museum.

I love that my kids can learn simple architecture terms while having fun drawing on the pages provided in this book.

Chet the Architect: Museum Mile Pocket Edition is an accordion style book that provides a few facts about each museum along with a drawing of the building. Among the facts listed are architect, date built, architecture style, and the museum's purpose.

I can see families using these books in a variety of ways:
  • to prepare for a visit to NYC's Museum Mile.
  • to learn how to combine simple shapes to create complex drawings.
  • to introduce architecture styles to children.

I like both books and heartily recommend them. The publisher, Butterfly Artistic Media, recommends Chet the Architect books for ages 4 and up, but (as the mom of 3, 5, 7, 9 yr olds) I recommend these books for ages 7 and up. I'm just not sure that children under 7 would be interested in the architecture aspect of these books.

Have you visited any of the New York Museums listed in these books?

Disclosure: A copy of each book was provided to me in order to facilitate my review. The opinions stated are completely mine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homemade Snack Mix Recipe

I am a snacker. There. I admitted it. I like to snack. Sweet. Salty. Doesn't matter. I am an equally opportunity snack eater.

Finding healthy snacks to eat is a bit of a challenge for me. I think you'll agree that there is only so much fruit a person can eat!

Snack mix is one of my favorite mid-afternoon breaks. Unfortunately, store bought mixes are loaded with calories and salt and everything I'm trying to avoid right now as I create a fitness lifestyle.

So I created my own snack mix recipe:

1 oz whole almonds (not roasted, salt free)
30 chocolate chips (or 15g)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (look on the baking aisle)
Measure ingredients. Combine.

I do NOT recommend you eat the whole bowl in one serving. All 3 items added together totals 360 calories. That is a whole lot of calories for a snack!! 

I pour the snack mix into a Ziploc bag and grab a handful once or twice a day when I feel snackish.

What is your favorite healthy food snack?

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