Playing With Purpose

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.)

When my kids were smaller it was always a joy to sit down on the floor with them and play. I noticed how much they progressed and learned just by playing with their baby toys and crawling around exploring the space around them. Bonding time with them through play at that age was priceless.

Today I am happy to announce a special fundraising and awareness campaign from Toys“R”Us, in partnership with Save the Children (a nonprofit committed to ensuring all U.S. children have a healthy start). Together, they are embarking on a mission to provide children in impoverished regions of the country with opportunities and resources to integrate purposeful play into their everyday lives; a factor proven critical in children’s emotional, physical and cognitive development and future growth.  The Play With Purpose campaign is designed to support Save the Children’s early childhood development programs – Early Steps to School Success, Literacy/Healthy Choices and the SummerBoost Initiative – which help children in some of America’s most underprivileged areas thrive. I love this special project because it will help all parents enjoy the bonding times through play that I enjoyed with my children.

From February 17 – April 17, customers can make cash donations at any Toys“R”Us or Babies“R”Us store, or online at Toysrus.com/PlayWithPurpose, to help bring learning through play to kids in need. Please take the time to watch this Save the Children video. It is worth everyone’s time to see it and share the video on social media using #PlayWithPurpose and tagging @Toysrus.

 

In 2014, Save the Children worked in 120 countries, including the United States, and helped more than 166 million children — including more than 55 million children directly. Together with the tremendous support of our donors and partners, we transformed children’s lives and the future we share. No one knows when or where the next crisis will hit. But we do know that children are disproportionally affected in times of crisis — and often suffer the most. That’s why Save the Children is dedicated to providing child-focused emergency readiness, relief and recovery in the United States and around the world.

Visit Toysrus.com/PlayWithPurpose to learn more about the program and make a donation. Donations will support Save the Children’s early childhood development programs, which help children in some of America’s most underprivileged areas thrive.

When my boys were younger our favorite way to play was stacking blocks and building elaborate train track configurations for trains. How about you and your kids?

 

Safer Car Rides

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Our family loves road trips, whether it’s to visit family or to discover a new town. In the summer we love to drive with the windows down to enjoy the warm breeze on our way to the beach. In the Fall we enjoy driving through the nearby forest preserves to look at the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. The biggest thing that makes road trips more enjoyable is that in the back of my mind I know my kids are safe in their car seats for the whole ride. Fortunately car travel has revolutionized itself since the time I was a toddler.

New parents might have lots of questions about which car seats are the best and as the children grow bigger more questions arise. In my case I always want to know if my boys are in appropriate seats for their individual sizes.  Luckily for all parents we have a great store we can shop at, with people that can help answer our questions, called Babies“R”Us.

Babies“R”Us and Evenflo, both advocates in child product safety, have come together to announce the newest innovation in car seat safety – the SafeMax™ All-in-One Car Seat, now available at Babies“R”Us stores nationwide and online at Babiesrus.com. I want to check it out because I think it would be a great fit for both my boys. Designed and tested for structural integrity at energy levels approximately twice the federal crash test standard, the SafeMax™ All-in-One is the first car seat that has been dynamically rollover tested. I love that The SafeMax™ All-in-One Car Seat is appropriate for infants and children from 5 to 120 lbs or up to 57 inches in height, in three positions – rear facing, forward facing and booster seating. Beyond just safety, this car seat offers SafeZone™ Headrest: A combination of premium materials designed to absorb and dissipate crash forces, providing advanced protection where your child needs it most.

Evenflo believes car seat installation is so important that they give Evenflo car seat owners access to live video chat help when installing their car seat. I think that’s an awesome service! You can also find a free car seat inspection station near you here.

Want to get one of these new car seats? It’s the perfect time because the popular “Great Trade-In” event is back at Babies“R”Us and Toys“R”Us stores nationwide! Through this national safety event, Toys“R”Us, Inc. provides people with its latest call to action to rid their homes of potentially unsafe, old and secondhand baby gear and furniture in exchange for savings on a new item that meets the latest safety standards. Since August 2009, the company’s Great Trade-In event has resulted in the removal of more than 1.1 million pieces of used and potentially unsafe cribs, car seats and more from homes, garages and attics nationwide.

During the event the following deals can be found:

  • 25% savings with trade-in of a used gear or furniture item
  • 30% discount when using an “R”Us Credit Card
  • No trade-in? No problem! 15% off with an in-store and online coupon available online

Make sure to visit any Babies“R”Us and Toys“R”Us stores nationwide Monday, February 1st through Monday, February 29th to participate in this promotion. To learn more, please visit Babiesrus.com/GreatTradeIn.

What I Learned About My Kids While Away From My Kids

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The summer of 2015 flew by too quickly for me. Most people say the older one gets, the faster the time goes by. I find that to be true now that I am a parent more than ever before. The summer of 2015 was going to be a great summer for me and my boys. Jurassic World was going to be in the  movie theaters, Six Flags created a special deal that featured 6 dollar season passes. And Bikes would be ridden and pools visited and lots of trips taken. My 2 boys could hardly wait until school was out and fun began.

Life however had different plans and we actually spent most of the summer apart. My daytime job is a restaurant manager. In every way I can I always try to sharpen my skills to improve my management style and be the best I can be. Most importantly long term goal is to always be relevant and be the face of the company. An opportunity came up rather quickly and urgently for me to help another restaurant out and show what an asset I am. Alas this meant I will be in Omaha, Nebraska away from my kids and all the fun we were supposed to have.

The biggest take away for me was the opportunity to see my kids in a different light. I learned so much, and most importantly I know not to take my kids for granted and time with them is most important. My boys taught me they are very resilient and strong. I felt really guilty about being away at first but on my first visit home my heart was happy to find an absence of tears and sad kids. The boys focused on learning at camp and having fun with their friends more than they did on me not being home.

Another thing I learned about my kids is that their personalities are emerging more so than ever. They are becoming men. They are becoming their own unique persons. And it seems they are big fans of popular pop hits thanks to the park district pool. The boys taught me how much they value me being home and the chance to regale me with stories of their adventures.

If given the chance I would still go because seeing them grow and change was priceless. Their faces and minds expanded. Their smiles and ways they talk and think changed for the better. And even we were apart we grew closer together forever.

More Time To Make Memories

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.)

Food is a big part of the holidays and usually what I’m still needing to shop for the couple days before Christmas. Creating delicious meals and party favorites brings joy to many but unfortunately, shopping and preparing foods during the holidays can get hectic and add more stress to an already busy season. I love grocery shopping and sometimes lose myself while walking down the aisles looking for ideas and foods to inspire me but sometimes that leads to me spending too much time in stores which is not something I have an abundance of this time of year.

For over a decade I have enjoyed shopping at Sam’s Club to save time and money around the holidays. I can find a great variety of quality foods and save even more time this year with their new Club Pickup. Their Club Pickup is a free, “personal shopper” service that is focused on making shopping more convenient for members. Club Pickup provides an easy and quick pickup option through seamless ordering online at SamsClub.com from any computer or mobile device. The service is available at all 653 Sam’s Club locations. I love how this is done. In this tech-savvy world we all use apps and online shopping so Club Pickup is something that is very simple to do. I can place the order on my phone while waiting for the kids in the car pick up lane at school. During very hectic times (like this week!) there is also an easy reorder feature as well which is a great tool that lets me order go-to items quickly by creating a list of my past purchases.

One thing about Christmas that rings true is the plentiful parties and meals. Fantastic desserts and treats and great recipes that bring smiles to all.  That is one of the biggest reasons I shop at Sam’s Club around the holidays. I can stock up on all kinds of party favorites and new side dishes that also guarantee I will have leftovers (which is one of my favorite things about hosting).

This year we tried some new side dishes like sweet potatoes with pecan butter and marshmallows. We also bought the staples like scalloped potatoes. Sam’s Club has something for everyone.

The 200% satisfaction guarantee on high-quality produce, meat and baked goods is the number one reason I keep going back and why I am always eager to try new offerings at Sams club.

We also purchased Holiday decor from Sam’s Club including Christmas plates and a festive, fresh wreath for the front door. Being able to check one thing off the to-do list without leaving the couch gives me more time to make memories with my kids.

Two Gift Ideas For Creative Kids

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

With the holidays here my mind has been on Christmas shopping. Each of my kids has a list of things that they hope to get. From video games to building sets to puzzles, everything they see in the commercials seems to end up on their lists. Most of their wish lists are similar but Lucas has a lot more variety on his. Lucas loves everything from cars to dolls and I love this about him because he is his own person and likes what he likes, no matter what other kids might say.

Some of his favorite activities are arts and crafts which he developed a love for at summer camp. He loves colors and has a keen spirit for all things creative and playful. In order to make Lucas happy and encourage his artful side I introduced some new crafty kits to him this week. The two kits are TEXT COOL Bracelet Studio and the The KNIT’S COOL Knitting Studio.

Lucas loves to dress himself in unique outfits and now he can send the ultimate fashion statement message with a bracelet. He loves being in control and designing his own things and this kit makes it as easy as 1-2-3 to create. Just turn, reveal, and press! He can even make message bracelets to share with his friends by using TEXT COOL. Text Cool includes an easy to use Bracelet Studio, featuring over 60 letters and emoticons and 35 bracelets to wear and share. Text Cool lets Luke get his creative messages on his wrists for the world to see! He is overjoyed to create and show his creativity with Text Cool.

The other kit Lucas liked is KNIT’S COOL. The Knit’s Cool Knitting Studio is an amazing new tool that makes learning to knit super easy. With the Knit’s CoolStudio, any kid can easily design their favorite fashions – like scarves, headbands, bags and more. The knitting studio kit has everything you need to start knitting right away, including fashion yarn, patterns and accessories to make three complete Knit’s Cool™ projects. Lucas is excited to see his Auntie over the weekend and make a phone case with her. Anyone can learn to craft fun and fashionable accessories with Knit’s Cool by watching the easy How-To videos online!

Do you have a child who loves art and crafts? These would make a great gift for the holidays!

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

Fresh Seafood Anytime

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Seafood meals are my favorite. Something about seafood reminds me of home and summers spent on the Adriatic Sea riviera. Fish and seafood always sounds great for lunch or dinner. I love going out to seafood restaurants but since I have a busy schedule that’s very rare and only reserved for special occasions. Recently I have discovered Bumble Bee’s SuperFresh® line of products and it has been a life changing culinary experience for me. Now I can serve my family delicious seafood meals on a regular basis- without having to leave home!

Bumble Bee SuperFresh® is a complete line of naturally-seasoned, restaurant quality, “fish-forward” prepared seafood solutions for the home. It raises the bar for what seafood lovers can expect from frozen food! Bumble Bee SuperFresh seafood is no mess, and no fuss; just pure perfection, time after time. Their premium Salmon and Tilapia come with their own parchment paper baking pouch and go from freezer to table in under 25 minutes. High in protein, richly seasoned with pure and simple ingredients that let the fish shine through! I could hardly wait until it was on my plate while I was cooking. The smell that filled the house was amazing and the flavors were beyond words. The biggest reason I fell in love with Bumble Bee SuperFresh line is that Bumble Bee SuperFresh® offers unparalleled quality. The seafood is “fish forward” – with nothing to hide under heavy breading, sauces, or a long list of unpronounceable ingredients.

The meals can be made in less than 30 minutes which is great. I can have lunch ready quickly on my days home from work to have a middle of the day getaway from the honey do list. The new line is frozen fresh and comes with specially made parchment paper envelopes for each fillet so the fish stays juicy while baking quickly. Suddenly I was a top chef.

The first creation I made was the Tilapia with Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It was so easy to enjoy a delicious Premium Tilapia fillet! Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Tilapia has ground black pepper, fresh garlic, sea salt and extra olive oil – making every flaky bite fantastic! For me it naturally made sense to jazz it up with some salsa and pair it with a side of spanish rice and beans for a tex-mex flavor that would make an amazing lunch.

The next one I tried was Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Salmon with Garden Pesto. Salmon is my favorite fish. I could literally eat salmon every day. Bumble Bee SuperFresh® Salmon with Garden Pesto is richly satisfying with Parmesan cheese, basil, almonds and a touch of garlic. It is so flavorful, made with all natural ingredients and has no preservatives. I paired it with a fresh garden salad with tuscan dressing and cheese tortellini in a light red sauce. The whole meal felt like an upscale dinner I’d eat at a restaurant but was super affordable and quick to prepare in my own home.

A long time ago I had a friend and I told them seafood is awesome, but they disagreed. My response was let me cook you a seafood meal and change your mind. Now I wish I had Bumble Bee SuperFresh® to help. Unfortunately I can not cook for everyone, but I can do something better. I want you to visit the Bumble Bee SuperFresh® website for a coupon so you can try these delicious SuperFresh® products for yourself! Leave a comment below telling me which product you’d try first.

<p><i>I was selected for this opportunity as a member of <a href="http://clvr.li/OHjC82" target="_blank">Clever Girls</a> and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.</i></p>


Feeling At Home With Endless Shrimp

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As a boy I loved going to the fish market. Looking at all the varieties of fish and thinking of the great ways to prepare it was almost more fun than eating the fish. No matter what the occasion, shrimp has always been a food I could not turn down. As I have my own kids now I love that I can introduce the world of shrimp and tasty flavors to them. I cherish family time and love going out to dinner so I choose Red Lobster to help me enjoy both tasty seafood and time with my kids trying to get them to fall in love with some of my favorite foods from the sea. Now is a great time to do so as Red Lobster is celebrating the return of endless shrimp.

Endless Shrimp is going on now for a limited time at Red Lobster! At Red Lobster, Endless Shrimp is the number one guest-requested event. Guests don’t have to choose just one sauce or flavor – they can enjoy as much shrimp as they like, any way they like, and can even mix-and-match different preparations. This year, guests can choose two out of five shrimp preparations for their initial order, including NEW! Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites, featuring a balance of sweet and spicy flavors, and guest favorite Teriyaki Grilled Shrimp. Knowing all this, I got the kids hyped up and issued a challenge (my boys love competition) to see who can taste more flavors. Ok, I win, but in the long term we are all winners at Red Lobster and my kids get a taste of awesome shrimp flavors.

I started my meal by ordering the Sweet Teriyaki grilled shrimp and Pineapple Habanero Coconut Bites. It was an amazing flavor meant for a spicy food lover. The sweet Teriyaki shrimp also comes with wild rice so that enriches the meal.

The next serving of endless shrimp was the Shrimp Linguini Alfredo. It was creamy and delicious and almost too big of a serving for this Dad.

As the night moved forward I ordered delicious Garlic Shrimp Scampi and Hand-Breaded Shrimp with cocktail sauce. So much flavor and even more shrimp. It was a never-ending celebration of shrimp on my plate.

The best way to make Endless Shrimp better is to have a great drink with the meal. Red Lobster serves all sorts of beverages, wines and cocktails. I am a big beer lover so I tend to stick to beer if I’m drinking. This time Red Lobster got my attention with their new beer based cocktails.

 

Red Lobster introduced two new beer-based cocktails that pair perfectly with Endless Shrimp dishes – the Seaside Shandy and Angry Lobster, available exclusively during Endless Shrimp. Crisp and refreshing, the Seaside Shandy features Shock Top Belgian White Ale, Cointreau and fresh citrus. Bold and spicy, the Angry Lobster features Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider, tropical fruit juices and a kick of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. Both cocktails are served in a beer can-shaped commemorative glass with the Red Lobster logo that patrons can take home with them. Since I am a very busy Dad I took this opportunity to try them both and have a relaxing evening with my family. Both cocktails were good and enhanced my dinner.

As we wrapped dinner up the kids were left wondering what new flavors of shrimp they can order next time. My oldest especially, as he is starting to like some seafood. Red Lobster is always a great destination and it will make you feel like home away from home without taking a vacation. I can not wait to see what new flavors they will come up with next and what exciting new cocktails show up.

 

 

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

The Power Of Unlimited Data

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Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation. #MoveForward #SprintMom Or really- #SprintDad ;)

I am someone who uses over 30 gigs of data monthly. There is almost nothing I do not do on my cell phone. Besides the usual emails and social networking, I stream my music apps, catch up on TV shows and let my kids watch movies on it. Luckily I have a great LTE network with unlimited data and outstanding coverage. For over a decade I have been a Sprint customer and the experience just keeps getting better.


Recently I had a chance to learn more about sprint and it’s line of products and future plans. As someone who is always on the go and uses so much data I was anxious to learn more about the inner workings of the innovative data strong network.

The signal keeps getting stronger and there is so much room to grow with Sprint versus their competitors.
In order to enjoy all the latest apps and advancement in today’s technology, it is important to be able to get the latest and best devices right away to stay relevant. With Sprint that is almost too easy. Sprint has several options and product lines for everyone. Customers can choose great plans for not just data but also for phone upgrades and replacement.
Lets talk iPhone which is the phone I have. With Sprint, one can get the latest iPhone anytime one is available with the iPhone Forever plan. Sprint has the best value on cost of devices and pricing plans.

Sprint offers consumers the most affordable way to get:
iPhone 6s 16GB – $15 per month with trade-in
iPhone 6s Plus 16 GB – $19 per month with trade-in
Customers can pair iPhone Forever with the best Unlimited and Family Share Plans among national carriers.

As my kids grow older and I think about getting them a pre-paid phone in order to teach them about money management and allowances, Sprint is there to help. Sprint is a leader in prepaid and has a multi-brand prepaid strategy that offers plans and handsets to meet different customers’ needs. Boost Mobile is one of the best values in the prepaid wireless industry with the $30 Data Boost Up plan. After signing up for automatic payments with Auto Re-Boost, consumers can get unlimited talk, text and data with 2GB of high-speed data for $30 per month. Virgin Mobile Unlimited plans now include more high-speed data as well. Starting at $35/month, you get unlimited talk, text and data with 1GB of high-speed data. Now available in national retailers, Sprint Prepaid offers great value and flexibility without annual contracts. All plans have unlimited talk and text with your choice of data options.

So once you decide to switch, maybe one line or even a whole family, you might need some help and Sprint has got you covered with the Sprint Direct 2 You program. Sprint brings the store experience whenever and wherever you want it. Customers can choose the service in their home, office or any other location. Sprint offers the most convenient way to upgrade or get their new device. With Sprint Direct 2 You, they will bring it right to your front door and set it up while you wait. So now even grandma can have a high tech phone as easy as pie.

Though I am currently an iPhone user, I have used Android phones and like them. At the moment I am trying to check out a cool new Droid phone. The LG G4 is the next generation G series smartphone from LG that takes selfies to a new level of fun with two cameras to make it easier than ever to capture the most exciting moments of your life. LG G4 is the first smartphone from Sprint with a total of 24 megapixels of crisp photo clarity – a 16MP Rear-Facing camera and an 8MP Front-Facing selfie camera. It is fully loaded with great apps as well. The G4 is being hailed as the best phone of 2015.

As a long-time Sprint user I suggest the network and their great line of phones to everyone. You can’t beat the value of unlimited data. The future is here now and I am excited about it. The Holiday season is on the horizon and Sprint can help create wonderful memories. Stay tuned because soon I’ll be sharing what kind of new apps I discover!

Fueling Up On Game Day

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

We made it through another busy football Sunday. We raced out the door this morning at eight, went through the drive thu for some caffeine, and got Jake to his pre-game practice just on time. By the time the game was starting Lucas had found a friend to play with and we had great seats on the sidelines.

Not more than half way through Jacob’s game and Lucas was already hungry. We gave him a choice of apple slices or pretzels to dip in peanut butter and he chose pretzels first but then changed his mind and picked apples- well really, just the center of the apple slices, and then proceeded to hand peanut butter coated leftovers to me.

Once his tummy was full he was back to his game of tag with his friend and Jake’s game was in the final minutes so my focus was back on him. I like watching him play and seeing how much his skills have grown over the past couple years.

Once the game was over we let the kids play on the playground for a few minutes while I got lunch out of the car. The kids had Uncrustables® Sandwiches, Smucker’s® Fruit-Fulls® Blended Fruit, cheese crackers and juice boxes which I bought from Walmart, our “SNACKATION” destination. Everything was easy to grab on our way out the door and eat on the go. The Uncrustables® were frozen when I put them in the bag but by the time lunch rolled around they were ready to eat which was great and the peanut butter gave them the energy they needed.

Within ten minutes we were back in the car and headed to Luke’s game which was at a field across town. I really love it when they are on the same field but that’s not usually the case. After we got there and unloaded the car again I was ready for a nap but it was time for more football.

This is Luke’s first year playing football and our experience at his games are a lot different. There is a lot more confusion on the field and it’s pretty entertaining. Some of the kids even run the wrong direction (Lucas included). While watching Lucas play, I had to also keep an eye on Jacob who stayed busy playing catch with some of the older kids.

At the end of Luke’s game both were exhausted from running around and it was time to eat again. At this time I was very happy I stocked up on their favorites at Walmart because these boys eat a lot. (And yes, I know they are just going to eat even more as they continue to grow!) Once they were fueled up with Smucker’s® snacks they were ready to go conquer the rest of the day.

 

Getting Ready For Game Day

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

Sundays during the Fall for our family mean one thing- FOOTBALL SEASON! Not only do we love to watch it but my children both play on youth football teams. We love our busy schedule but some days Sundays can get a bit hectic and challenging. There are days when we juggle and everything seems to be done in a time crunch so we spend a lot of time in the car.

Most of our Sunday snacks and lunches are on the go because one kid has a game, then there is a few minutes for them to eat and then the other kid has a game. There is no time for a sit down meal so we rely on easy foods to keep us fueled. Two very helpful allies to us as parents in such times are Walmart and Smuckers.

Walmart is our “SNACKATION” destination for all the busy sport Sundays. Not only do we love their low prices, but it is also convenient. When I went there to pick up extra mouth guards (because the boys chew on them) I stocked up on food for game day.

We like to look for foods we can enjoy either in the car or on the sidelines. Smucker’s® is a great choice for all parents due to their extensive line of products that are both kid approved and made to be enjoyed on the go. From Jif ‘To Go’ Dippers to Smucker’s® Fruit-Fulls® Blended Fruit to Uncrustables® Sandwiches everything is easy to throw in the sports bag for Sunday funday. Add in something to drink, like juice boxes and water, and we are all set for our busy game day.

What snacks do your kids enjoy when you are on the go?

 

The Importance Of Using Sunscreen Year Round

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

In the heat of summer we all know to use sunscreen all the time but as the summer draws to an end, and even through the Fall, most people stop using sun protection. UV rays are just as harmful in the Fall and in order to end the Summer season on a high note, everyone should use skin protection daily. The reason it is so important to always use sunscreen is that 1 in 5 Americans develops skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and with early detection, most skin cancers are curable.

Our kids are very active outside all the way through the end of October, mainly due to sports like baseball and football, but they love playing outside no matter what the weather brings. To better protect ourselves we started using the Neutrogena Wet Skin Collection. It’s the first ever water-resistant lotion sunscreen specifically designed for wet skin application to provide broad spectrum sun protection in wet or dry conditions. It is proven to provide full strength protection even on wet skin and is sweat-resistant and water-resistant which is perfect for my active boys. The best part is that it is available in spray, lotion and stick forms for both kids and adults. My kids are always in a rush so we like the spray option and it works even when they are sweaty from running around.

I worry about Skin Cancer constantly so it is great to know that Wet Skin Kids provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and mists right on for protection from the sun’s harsh rays. It’s the quickest way to fully protect our kids when they are out on the field at games or practices and reapplying during breaks is easy as pie.

As a teenager I always used Neutrogena for their acne and soap products. Now as an adult I continue using it, especially for skin protection. I choose Neutrogena for their quality but also for their level of care for its consumers. Most importantly it suits my kids’ needs while playing sports.

Since its launch in 2009, the Neutrogena – #1 dermatologist recommended sun care brand – has provided more than 11,000 free skin screenings, donated more than $30 million dollars’ worth of sunscreen product to families in need through a Buy 1 Donate 1 program and diagnosed more than one thousand cases of skin cancer in the US alone. The Neutrogena Choose Skin Health campaign, a partnership between Neutrogena and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, is dedicated to fighting skin cancer and saving lives through education, early detection, and empowering people to follow sun safe behaviors. This year, Neutrogena partnered with a variety of celebrity ambassadors, including Kerry Washington, to help spread the word about the importance of sun protection by sharing personal #ChooseSkinHealth testimonials on social media. Neutrogena believes that each story makes a difference – and can even help save a life!

My kids can continue to enjoy their outdoor activities and I can relax knowing they are kept safe with Neutrogena Wet Skin. Nature and good weather should be enjoyed as much as possible so we plan to enjoy it all Fall long. How are you keeping your skin safe as the seasons transition?

Adding Variety To The Lunchbox (Gift Card Giveaway)

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

Back to school is a special time of year for our family. The boys love making new friends and all of the activities the school year brings. They especially love two times of the school day: recess and lunch.

We spent weeks preparing for the school year and buying everything we needed. Most things were one time purchases but we also have daily costs like lunch. We let the boys get school lunch one time a week and then the rest of the week they pack lunch. As with any purchases, we as a family look to save money and time, and we can do both at Save-A-Lot while getting a variety of delicious choices to fill the lunchbox.

Variety is the spice of life. When it comes to my kid’s lunch boxes they love having plenty of choices. With Save-A-Lot our money gets more juice boxes and yogurts and snacks and every lunch is packed with fun. When my youngest tries to make his own lunch for school he always grabs a million things and it feels great seeing his excitement and joy.

We try to give the kids a balanced lunch and a healthy snack for each one that might not be so nutritious. We want them to enjoy eating it but, at the same time, don’t want to pack it full of junk. Save-A-Lot helps the most here because I know that I can find healthier, affordable options at their stores. I also buy bigger bags and we portion them ourselves to save even more money that way.

Another thing that changes during the school year is breakfast. Kids have less time in the mornings now to lounge around but we still want them to eat something before they leave for the day. In our house, cereal is the king of breakfast (mainly because it’s so easy)! We portion cereal in plastic bags so they can eat it while they are getting ready or in the car if we are in a hurry. Cereal serves as a friendly snack as well so we always make sure to have extra boxes on hand.

School is in session and the kids are falling into routines so the days aren’t so hectic. One thing that helps us feel prepared is to have breakfast and lunch snacks ready to go so we start our day off on the right foot. How do you make school days easier?

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Gift Card to Save-A-Lot

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post sharing a back-to-school tip.

For an extra entry, share this post on social media and leave a second comment.

Giveaway ends 9/19/2015 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Sandwiches Are Cool Again (Gift Card Giveaway)

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(Disclosure: Nature’s Harvest® provided me with a gift card and coupons for ingredients so that I could share my thoughts and information about Nature’s Harvest® bread.)

Back to school presents certain challenges. For me, one of the biggest challenges is making the kids school lunches in ways they are always eaten and never boring. Kids get bored with food easily and staying creative can get tough. Luckily I have 2 boys so the easiest creation is a timeless one, the sandwich. Even in today’s times, the sandwich is still king of homemade lunches.

The key ingredient to a great sandwich is not what is in the sandwich, but the bread. My kids love bread so for their sandwiches I have to choose the bread very carefully. As my boys are growing it is important to choose better quality breads and we have discovered a great brand called Nature’s Harvest®Bread . Nature’s Harvest® Bread is Nature’s Gift to your family. Your family gets the wholesome goodness you can feel great about serving them – like oatmeal, stone-ground wheat, honey, grains and seeds- without the high fructose corn syrup you don’t want to give them.

Nature’s Harvest®Bread wants to say “goodbye” to boring school lunches and “hello” to a new and exciting way to lunch!  Nature’s Harvest® Bread is holding its “Nature’s Harvest® Sandwich Art Photo Contest” to encourage moms to have a little whole grain fun with their kids’ lunchboxes.  From now through September 6th, parents can visit the Nature’s Harvest Facebook Page to submit a photo of their sandwich art creations, using Nature’s Harvest® bread, for the chance to win fun prizes!  One grand prize winner will receive a “kitchen crash” from Celebrity Chef Kelsey Nixon, where she’ll cook sandwich-centric meals and provide tips to the winner’s family

My kids tend to like simple sandwiches so I chose a few of their favorite ingredients to make something easy yet flavorful. Both boys like chicken so I chose to go with that for the meat (though turkey probably would have worked as well). Instead of mayo or mustard and cheese I decided to use an herbed cheese spread to give it that creamy taste we all love. The spread is also very kid-friendly so the boys can help make the sandwiches. For a little crunch I added red peppers since Jacob loves them and I thought it would add a little color to the sandwich.

Once the sandwich was made the boys chose their sides and grabbed a juice box and just like that lunch was ready! Nature’s Harvest®Bread has kid approved taste and texture and I love that it’s so good and healthy for them. What do you pack in your kid’s lunch?

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Visa gift card and one (1) coupon, valid for $5.00 off Nature’s Harvest® bread

HOW TO ENTER:

Leave a comment telling me your favorite sandwich filling

For an extra entry, share this posts on a social channel and leave a second comment

Giveaway ends September 20, 2015 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

I Was Born To Be A Parent

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a Dad Ambassador for the March of Dimes #imbornto campaign.

I am a father to two amazing boys. My goal is to guide them to grow up strong and instill the sense of power in them that they can do anything that they want to. I was born to be the best dad I can be for my boys.

My sister, my dad and me

During this time of year I enjoy the attention and affections my children give me but my thoughts also turn to my own father and my childhood. It is during my own childhood that my father helped me see what I was born to do. He taught me to play sports and how to have fun. He indulged me and gave me everything I wanted but he also pushed me not to give up and pushed me to excel in everything I do. Thanks to my dad, I am born to guide my kids to be awesome.

I am also born to make my children proud by advocating on behalf of those who can’t. I’m happy to say that I am a Dad Ambassador for the March of Dimes. For more than 75 years, the March of Dimes has helped babies be born strong and healthy through research, vaccines, education and breakthroughs. Lucas was in the NICU for a week at birth and thanks to the March of Dimes and the developments they’ve helped create in the past years, he made it through and is now a healthy, almost six year old.

The March of Dimes imbornto campaign celebrates the great things babies are born to do and thanks mothers and fathers who are the guardians and protectors of babies’ hopes and dreams. It’s a noble cause and a great calling to help babies and parents around the world. All babies are born to thrive and be healthy and I am privileged to be able to help them get a fighting chance by partnering with March of Dimes.

 

Keeping Up With Healthy Routines This Summer

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Disclosure: I received LISTERINE® Brand products and a Walgreens gift card from Johnson & Johnson  and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Brand Totally Taken Care Of program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

It’s mid-June and our family has been enjoying everything the summer brings. Some families relax during the summer but, for us, summer seems to be even busier than the school year. Alicia and I both work and the kids are in day camp and play sports. When we are home we love to visit the farmer’s market for fresh fruit, grill everything we can and play outside in the backyard.

To make the most of the summer we’ve been trying to travel as many places as we can, taking road trips, camping, exploring nature and heading to places in our area to have great quality time.

Our days are busy but we still try to make sure that the good habits our kids follow during the school year are continued in the summer. Some we are lax on, like going to bed on time and eating dessert before dinner.

Some are non-negotiable. Things like brushing their teeth and wearing sunscreen need to happen no matter how much fun we are all having.

This morning was a big rush for the boys and I, trying to get ready to leave for Jake’s last baseball game and pack for a trip to the city. I assumed once school was done our mornings would be a little more low key but I’ve found that’s not the case. We are still rushing around, whether packing lunches for camp, finding our swimsuits for a day by the lake or grabbing everything we need for a morning at the baseball field.

As we are getting ready to leave I always have to double check that they have everything they need and have brushed their teeth. We have been integrating Listerine Total Care into our families oral care routine for months now so so that all the mouths are totally taken care of but I find that the kids still need reminders. Listerine products are great because of the kid-friendly flavors. The boys may need reminders but at least they don’t fight me on having to use the products.

We’ve found that Walgreens has a great selection of our favorite Listerine and Johnson & Johnson products that keep our family totally taken care of. LISTERINE TOTAL CARE, band-aids and sunscreen are our summer must-haves. What are your’s?

Discover it Miles® Card: Summer Travel

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Thank you Discover for sponsoring this post! Click here to learn more about the amazing rewards and benefits of the Discover it Miles® credit card.

Summer is a time for leisure and a worry free life.  As a family we love traveling in the warmer months, exploring quaint little towns and large cities alike. We go on quite a bit of road trips to towns within a few hours of Chicago and also have enjoyed traveling to the Caribbean.

No matter where you go or what you do with your family the goal is to have fun. In today’s world, traveling brings worries of losing your credit cards and being stranded in unfamiliar locations. Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than being broke.

One card that helps people avoid this hassle is the new Discover it Miles® Card. Besides giving you rewards for travel, Discover has a great 24/7 protection plan and awesome benefits. The Discover it Miles® card features include a no annual fee and miles that never expire. Fly any airline, any time. Just buy a ticket and use miles to credit your statement. My wife loves to plan ahead so having reward miles is great for anyone who loves to plan a perfect vacation.

So take time to travel, see the great sites and tourist attractions. As an introductory offer, Discover it Miles card members will now receive double the amount of miles they’ve earned at the end of their first year – with no spending cap. That gives travelers using the Discover it Miles card the opportunity to determine for themselves the amount of bonus miles they receive in that first year. And even better, Discover It Miles card members can redeem miles at any amount for cash, or as a statement credit toward their travel purchases, including commercial airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, commuter transportation and taxicabs. As a Father that loves to spoil his kids during travel I like the ability to cash in the rewards and get them prizes.

Discover is ranked “highest in customer satisfaction with credit card companies” by J.D. Power. With all the benefits and protection it is clear to see why. There are no fees on foreign transactions which is a big deal and gives members the opportunity to discover little towns or big cities anywhere.

Discover can be used anywhere, and even visits to smaller places, like water parks and zoos, can earn you rewards. Buying gas to travel will not seems so expensive while using Discover either. Summer activities will be fun and you will feel confident when using your Discover card.

It is 80 degrees out today. Take a 10 minute ice cream break with the family or take an overnight getaway. Enjoy the fun the summer brings. Keep up with our family and discover what adventures we find.


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

Making Reading Fun With Disney Story Central

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Thank you Disney Story Central for sponsoring this post. Sign up for Disney Story Central‘s new subscription service today to access the largest collection of digital stories, featuring a wide array of beloved Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love!

Getting my kids to read is tricky business because my boys would rather watch TV or play on electronics. Serious reading is more like a chore to them but luckily I discovered an app to help make reading exciting. Disney created a great app for tablets and phones called Disney Story Central.

 

Disney Story Central is the largest collection of Disney digital stories, featuring a wide array of Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love. The cross-platform experience is available via iPhone and iPad app, tablet-optimized website and Video on Demand. All the titles can be read by the children or the app can read to the child. My boys are excited because summer vacation is underway and they are working on their summer reading lists. Disney Story Central is designed to encourage kids to develop a lifetime love of reading. Disney Story Central gives families the freedom to choose the reading experience that suits them best, whether through an annual subscription service or a-la-carte options, using Disney Book Tokens.

The best part is all the characters the kids already know and love and customizable bookshelves for each member of the family with personalized reading recommendations. A “Browse By Character” carousel lets families easily find books starring their favorite character. spanning all Disney Franchises, including Disney Princess, Disney Classics, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, Cars, and more. My youngest one is the biggest Toy Story fan so he is ecstatic for all the Toy Story selections.

Personalized book recommendations and character-driven navigation make it easy to find new books and to keep the kids reading there are Stars, Ranks, and Trophies that reward kids for reading and encourage them to keep it up. My boys get competitive so this will be a great feature for them.

The Disney Book Token system helps parents empower their kids to pick out the books they WANT to read, allowing them to build their own collection of stories, featuring the characters they love. Tokens work like currency, in which one token is worth one book and are used to download books and that will get my boys to do chores for the tokens. For our family getting a subscription seems to be the better option as the kids get download crazy. The subscription service gives kids unlimited access to Disney Story Central’s expansive library of books for $7.99 a month.

I want to encourage readers to download and access the free Disney Story Central app at Disney Story Central or on iTunes. It will make any child happy and pump up their reading desire. Summers fly by but the reading my boys will do will make them better for a lifetime.

You can even participate in Disney Story Central’s ‘Mid-Summer Light Reads’ Campaign – promoting weekly Disney reading themes — for a chance to unlock free books and enter the sweepstakes! Launching on June 11, the campaign will run through August 13.

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

March of Dimes Dad

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post , but all thoughts are my own.

I am a brother. I am a son. At work I am a manager. When I have time I am a soccer player. We all have many roles in our daily life. My favorite role above all is being a father. I was born to be a good father and make my kids safe and happy. When my boys were born all I wished for was that they would be healthy with all 10 fingers and 10 toes. And whenever I see parents to be I wish the same for them. There is an organization called March Of Dimes that feels the same way.

For more than 75 years, the March of Dimes has been a leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

Founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, of the March of Dimes original mission was to defeat polio. By 1955, with funding from the March of Dimes, the Salk vaccine had been developed and tested, followed by the Sabin oral vaccine in 1962, and polio was on its way out.

Throughout its history, the March of Dimes has tackled infant health problems.Campaigns have supported programs related to polio, birth defects, folic acid, newborn screening and premature birth.

Today, the March of Dimes is inspired by all babies – those born healthy and those who need help to survive and thrive. These babies are the millions of reasons behind our urgent mission and why the March of Dimes:

 

  • supports all important research into the causes and preventions for premature birth and birth defects;
  • fights for health insurance for all pregnant women and children;
  • pushes for expanded newborn screening that could save lives and prevent disabilities;
  • reaches out to women with healthy pregnancy information and services;
  • provides comfort and information to families with a newborn in intensive care.

I am very proud to announce I am a Dad Ambassador for the imbornto campaign for March of Dimes.

imbornto is a national cause marketing campaign that benefits the March of Dimes. It taps into the collective hopes, dreams and aspirations that we have for our babies and ourselves. All babies are born to do something great; something special and theirs alone. But they can’t do it on their own. Thanks to your support, the March of Dimes can help babies be born strong and healthy. The imbornto campaign raises money for the organization’s vital research and programs that improve the lives of babies and families everywhere.

Doing well as a company leads to doing good for the community. March of Dimes has several partners that have created special deals for its customers that wish to support March of Dimes and  #imbornto campaign. With Fathers day on the horizon check out the deals and make Dad happy and proud to help babies.

 

Make the time to visit  www.imbornto.com and http://www.marchofdimes.org to learn more and get involved. Checkout Twitter for the conversation  #imbornto (secondary hashtag: #MoDSquad).

Keep up with me and my kids to see what I get for Fathers day and to learn more about March of Dimes.

Everything We Need For An Active Summer

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Disclosure: I received LISTERINE® Brand products and a Walgreens gift card from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Brand Totally Taken Care Of program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Summertime is a very busy time of the year and we love to cram it full of fun activities. Since we have four unique people in our home we try to do things that everyone wants to do. I enjoy grilling out and relaxing in the backyard, Alicia likes exploring our community and trips to the beach, Jacob likes playing sports and Lucas likes trying to visit every playground that he can. Since we are all so unique we need products that are going to meet our unique health needs as well. One brand that understands that best is LISTERINE® because they offer a wide range of products for a busy family.

As a parent I always encourage my boys to have excellent mouth care habits and we like LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE because it is a complete mouthwash that offers six unique benefits in one bottle. LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE helps prevent cavities and restores enamel, strengthens teeth and freshens breath while killing bad breath germs and completely cleans the whole mouth. LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE ensures completely that my family’s oral care needs are taken care of 100%.

My new favorite is LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE ZERO. All the same six in one bottle benefits but without any alcohol. It’s my last step in my morning routine and easy to swish and go.

The boys have their own favorite flavor too. It is LISTERINE® SMART RINSE®. It is a post brush rinse specifically designed for children between 6 and 12 years of age. Kids are protected up to 12 hours due to the added benefit of fluoride.

Using Listerine gets my whole family and I energized and ready for whatever each summer day will bring whether we are chilling at home or on the go. For everything else there is Johnson & Johnson brand products. We always have some of these with us at all times, including Neutrogena Cool Dry sunscreen spray, Neosporine and Band-Aid Brand Adhesive bandages.

My boys just love running around all day, whether they are playing sports or playing on the slip-n-slide in the backyard. All of these products are must haves!

As our summer will be fun and hectic it is always good to know that in emergency we can always stock up on Johnson & Johnson brand products at our local Walgreen’s. Walgreen’s will make sure the fun never runs out.

What products are you stocking up?

Bath-Time Fun On A Budget

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#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Save-A-Lot. This could include Save-A-Lot providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

It is nearly summer here and all my boys have been talking about lately has been going outside to play. Playing outside for boys means all kinds of sports and games and fun on the playground. Most of all though, it translates into the boys getting dirty as they slide down the field, jump into sand and get covered in grass. After a long day of fun and play my boys need a good bath and a scrub down. Bath-time is after all just another way to have fun and the kids love drawn out baths with lots of bubbles. The only thing that is not fun is spending too much on bath products. Luckily Save-A-Lot and Suave have teamed up to help create bath-time fun on a budget.

For my kids baths mean another chance to get rowdy and splash and throw bubbles everywhere. Usually the kids try to dump extra of whatever they can to make more bubbles. The key to their ongoing happiness is to use tear free products so when the bath water splashes into their eyes it doesn’t sting. Suave has a great line that includes a tear free 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner along with a body wash.

Spending less, means more bottles and more bubbles and happiness (Prices may vary on location). For my kids that just means more fun before bed.

Kids get silly and splash and they are happy. The only thing that makes them crabby after a bath is their unruly hair. Luckily Save-A-Lot and  Suave have a detangler made just for kids and the aroma of apple makes it very friendly to little noses.

Suave has a lot of kid friendly products but I’ve discovered that there are twice as many products for moms and dads. Save-A-Lot has savings for everyone in the family on Suave.

So as the summer comes and the weather gets hotter let the kids play. Let them enjoy playing outside and getting dirty and let Save-A-Lot and Suave be there at the end of the day to clean and refresh the whole family. To make the summer even more fun, Save-A-Lot is also having an exciting opportunity through their Facebook community, giving customers a chance to win a $25 Save-A-Lot gift card each week. For the chance to win a $25 Save-A-Lot gift card, check out the Smart Shopper Sweepstakes on the Save-A-Lot Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SaveALot.

Be sure to find & follow Save-A-Lot on:

Keep up with me and my family and see what adventures we find and let us know some of yours, too.

Powering Up For The New Marvel Avengers Movie (Giveaway)

marvel avengers movie night

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Meijer.

When you are a parent there are countless movies you end up watching with your kids. One movie that both my kids and I absolutely love and watch over and over is MARVELS AVENGERS. Full of action and adventure and funny lines, it is a memorable family movie. The best part for the kids is all the superheroes are in it together.

As the new AVENGERS:AGE OF ULTRON movie comes to theaters May 1st we decided to have a family movie night and watch the first one again. To make the night more fun we headed to our local Meijer for snacks needed for our Avengers themed party.

My older son Jake was quick to find the Avengers fruit snacks and just had to have them. Luke my youngest hit the cereal aisle and pointed out that there were lots of Kellogg’s cereal boxes with Avengers images on them. Both boys wanted to buy multiple boxes each because they learned they could get free movie tickets. For every six codes collected we could get a ticket to see the movie they are so excited to see.

In preparation for our movie party, Meijer sent us a few items to showcase what is available to buy in their stores. The boys loved the stuffed super heroes and the blankets. Perfect companions for watching movies and bedtime.

For the movie night we wanted to have a tasty snack besides just the popcorn so the boys helped create their own snack mix. We used Kellogg’s Crispix cereal, Nestle Raisinets, pretzels and Kellogg’s Avengers fruit snacks. The boys were thrilled to have created a snack they liked eating.

Spending time with my boys is always very important and bonding over something as simple as a movie just creates special memories. We all wore Avengers T-shirts to celebrate the movie and talked about the heroes and the villains in the first movie. After re-watching it, the boys were telling me all about what they thought is going to happen in the new Marvels Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.

Now we are patiently awaiting May 1st. Everyone is geared up and excited and the boys are already talking about the next movie night we are going to have. Something tells me we might even have a Marvels Avengers theme birthday party this year. Let me know if you have a movie night party with your kids, I would love to hear about it.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win an Avengers prize pack

HOW TO ENTER:

Share this post on a social network and leave a comment with the link below

Giveaway ends May 10, 2015 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident and 21 or older to enter.

 

 

 

Mango Baked Beans Recipe

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The National Mango Board.

The easiest way to break out of a routine is to try something new. That is especially true for food. I enjoy trying new foods and introducing my boys to them.

One fruit I recently introduced to my children were mangoes. In order to learn a bit more about mangoes and how to prepare them easily I went to a cooking presentation with my son Luke. The event was sponsored by The National Mango Board. It was very fun for us both and very enlightening.

Most people do not realize there are 6 variety of mangoes in the USA and that mangoes are one of the few fruits available the whole year round. Besides just being very delicious and versatile when it comes to their use, mangoes are actually very healthy. They have as much Vitamin C as oranges. One cup of diced mango contains 100 calories, 1 gram protein, 0.5 grams fat, 25 grams of carbohydrate (23 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber), 100% of the daily need for vitamin C, 35% for vitamin A, 20% of folate, 10% of vitamin B-6 and 8% of vitamin K and potassium. That’s a lot of goodness in one fruit!

Together, Luke and I learned and created awesome mango snack recipes from a culinary expert.Here are some tips we were given:

  • Selecting: Don’t judge a mango by its color – red does not mean ripe. To find a ripe mango, just squeeze gently. A ripe mango will be slightly soft like a peach or avocado. A firm mango will ripen at room temperature over a few days.
  • Prepping: To cut a mango, simply slice off the sides of the fruit, avoiding the large seed in the center.  Once you have these two sides, you can get to the flesh and slice or dice as needed. Then, simply scoop it out of the skin. For more on how to cut a mango or delicious new recipes, visit Mango.org.
  • Storing: Keep unripe mangoes at room temperature. Never refrigerate mangos before they are ripe. Once ripe, mangoes can be moved to the refrigerator to slow down ripening for several days.

And some fun facts I didn’t know about the tasty Mango:

  • Mangos are one of the most popular fruit in the World
  • Mangos were first grown in India over 5,000 years ago
  • Mango seeds traveled with humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America beginning around 300 or 400 A.D.
  • The paisley pattern, developed in India, is based on the shape of a mango
  • A basket of mangos is considered a gesture of friendship in India
  • Legend says that Buddha meditated under the cool shade of a mango tree
  • Mangos are related to cashews and pistachios
  • A mango tree can grow as tall as 100 feet
  • The bark, leaves, skin and pit of the mango have been used in folk remedies for centuries.

Luke learned how to make a Cinco De Mango Quesadilla and Frozen Yogurt Dipped Mango Pops. At first Luke was shy about the Mangoes but then once he realized how sweet and juicy they were he was hooked. .

As we were both delighted we decided to make a tasty dish with mango at home very soon. We received a great cookbook full of flavorful mango recipes. I chose to try out the Mango Baked Bean recipe this week.

This is a very easy recipe. The prep time is just a few minutes. I started by gathering all the ingredients. I chopped the bacon and onions and the mango. While the bacon was frying, I started to make the sauce.  It’s a very sweet sauce with molasses and brown sugar.

As soon as the bacon was crispy and onions were clear, I added the beans and combined the sauce. The last thing to add was the mango (mango can be pureed or in chunks). Everything needs to be stirred well together and then it needs to be baked in the oven.

While the beans are baking you can go ahead and make anything you wish to use as the main entree. I chose to grill up some steak and shrimp because it was a nice day and fresh grilled meat sounded fantastic.

I hope you are a fan of mangoes. If you just became one, head out to a grocery store and pick up a few. Make a dish, juice them, or best of all eat them freshly cut up. I would love to hear what you came up with.

Stock Up and Save At Walmart (Gift Card Giveaway)

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Disclosure: The Walmart gift cards and information have been provided by P&G.

It is finally spring! For my family this means we are spending more time outdoors. The kids have sports and activities so we are constantly on the go and that means I have less time to run my typical errands, like going to the store. Luckily I shop at Walmart so I can stock up and save on my family’s favorite P&G products with amazing savings. For a limited-time, Walmart has rollbacks and guaranteed low prices on our favorite P&G products, such as Tide laundry detergent, Charmin toilet paper, Bounty paper towels and more. The P&G line of products ranges from laundry detergents and paper towels to baby diapers. The stock up sale runs through Thursday, April 30th, 2015 .

The most important essentials I love to stock up on are paper towels and toilet paper. Everyone knows that when you have smaller children they always overuse both. My boys are 5 and 6 and they go crazy with the toilet paper. Those were the first things I intended to buy in order to stock up and save with Walmart.

Buying paper towels and toilet paper and even laundry detergent is easy. The challenging purchase for any guy is buying tampons. P&G and Walmart definitely make that an easier task. Just stock up and then not only do you save money, but you only have to go to the store once. No more emergency runs to the store to get tampons when she runs out.

No matter what essential items you need to stock up on there are many choices and the shopping is made easy at Walmart’s Stock Up and Save event. So spend less money and time at the store and more time enjoying the warmer weather.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $25 Walmart gift card

HOW TO ENTER:

Share this post on social media and leave a comment below with the link

Giveaway ends April 30, 2015 at 11:59pm. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to enter.

Pasta Carbonara and Tuna Cake Recipes

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This post was sponsored by KRAFT and I was compensated to write it. Regardless, what I have written is my own opinion and experience, and I hope you find it of use.

Dining out at a nice restaurant can be one of the best experiences a family has together but, during the school year and sports season, it can be hard to find the time to dine out with everyone’s hectic schedules. I myself find my own family pressed for time but wish to have a great dinnertime bonding experience over a delicious dinner that was made quickly. I discovered that KRAFT had recipes online that could help me  ‘Twist That Dish’ while saving time and money.

With KRAFT products, many ordinary items that are already in the pantry or the refrigerator can be turned into amazing restaurant quality dinners in just 10 to 15 minutes. When the kids ask for seconds you will know you have won big time. The biggest time saver for me is shopping at Sam’s Club and getting KRAFT products in bulk so at any time I can make many different recipes with a new twist on favorites.

I fell in love with two recipes on the Samsclub.com/kraftrecipes website that when put together create a gourmet dinner worthy of sit down restaurants. I chose PHILADELPHIA Quick Pasta Carbonara and Tuna Cakes.

As with all great dinners a good deal of multitasking is involved but, with recipes provided by KRAFT, everything was simple and easy. I started by mixing the tuna cakes mix. I gathered all the ingredients and mixed them. I did this first because the mix needs to rest in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

While the mix was resting I got started on the Pasta recipe. I cooked the pasta according to the instructions on the box of fettuccine noodles I had in my pantry.

Just before the pasta was completely done I got to working on the sauce. The first step was to fry up the bacon. I used Oscar Mayer Bacon with Maple which made the pasta a bit sweeter (which is my trick for the picky kids).

Once the bacon was done, I stirred the rest of the ingredients in the grease as per the recipe provided by KRAFT. The key to this sauce recipe is to make sure the sauce is creamy and consistent and the cheese does not burn.

Once the sauce was ready I added the cooked noodles and the bacon and stirred well.

Once the pasta and the sauce were combined it was time to fry up the tuna cakes. To do this, use a non-stick skillet and an ice cream scoop to make portions. Cook them on both sides until golden brown.

The hardest thing about creating these KRAFT recipes was trying not to eat anything before plating the food.

 Everything turned out amazing and even the kids loved it. I am glad all KRAFT food products needed for these recipes can be purchased in bulk  online and in-club at my local Sam’s Club. I hope you enjoyed these recipes and will check out samsclub.com/kraftrecipes. Which recipe will you try tonight?

Baby’s First Easter (Babies”R”Us Events Nationwide)

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This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

The biggest joy a parent gets is seeing their child’s firsts. No matter if it is their favorite holiday or baby’s first steps. those are the most precious memories. With spring underway all thoughts turn to Easter and a Baby’s first Easter is a most wonderful time that will turn into a great tradition for years to come.

Easter is a special time for me on a personal level and as a parent. Since we had kids it has become even more so. Lots of great memories and smiles and lots more candy and toys and Easter egg hunts and happiness.

 

My kids favorite part about Easter by far are the Easter baskets because to them it’s treasure. Every year they are filled with something different. As they grow older they try to guess what the Easter bunny will bring them. Most recently we made ‘baskets’ with super hero stuff, Legos and cars. We also included some fun outdoor things like shovels for their sandbox and water guns. All of the things were in big planters so that the fun could continue after Easter when the kids helped plant flowers in them.

When they were younger their baskets were simpler. I remember when we made Jacob’s first Easter basket. We included things like board books, bubbles, crayons and small toys. The little guy was thrilled.

To make things easier for parents, Babies“R”Us is helping celebrate Baby’s First Easter in a big way at stores across the country.  Babies“R”Us stores are stocked with everything parents and gift-givers need to make this Easter special, such as Easter-themed apparel, My First Easter products, gift basket ideas and more.

This Saturday, March 28th from 10-11am, parents can bring their little bunnies – dressed in their Easter best – to Babies“R”Us stores nationwide for festive, interactive activities for the family. Attendees can experience a Bunny Hop around the store, photo opportunities and craft and story time, as well as receive Pampers giveaways (while supplies last), participate in raffles and meet other local families and babies.

What is your favorite memory with your little ones at Easter time?

Worry Free Outdoor Fun

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This is a product-sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound & Skin Cleanser. The opinions and text are all mine.

Today the temperature outside reached 64 in our Chicago suburb. This is very exciting for everyone, especially for active families that will be thrilled to go hiking and biking and play sports outside in the fresh air. For my family this means it is time for baseball, soccer and the playground. This also means it will be a time full of scrapes, cuts and bug bites. As a parent I know this is unavoidable and I hate to see my boys suffer.

To be truly prepared we always have a bag of a few essentials in our vehicles that can help in an emergency. Some of the best things to have in an emergency kit are an instant ice compress, bandages and band aids, extra mouth guards (for football), snacks and Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™

To keep your team from getting sidelined new Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound and Skin Cleanser, the easy first step in first aid that gently and effectively cleans and hydrates minor wounds, wants you to enter the Play to Win with #TeamPuracynPlus Giveaway for the chance to win a  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Emergency Kit, including a $50 gift card to a sporting goods store of your choice and  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ product. One winner announced each Friday on March 13, 20, and 27. #TeamPuarcynPlus (3 winners total).  It will be the best way to kick start the outdoors activities season.

My kids both play soccer and baseball during which they both get scrapes and usually the scrapes are messy from the field. The easy to use, hands free spray application of  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ thoroughly cleans minor cuts and wounds, eliminating the need for running water in the critical first moments of cleaning a wound.

I also like Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ because it is doctor tested and recommended for quick wound treatments and is free of alcohol and steroids. It is so safe that it will not bother them even if it accidentally gets in their eyes or ears. A 4oz bottle can be purchased at Rite Aid and Walgreens for $14.00. It is convenient to carry in your car kit so you will always have  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ in stock for when you really need it.

To learn more about the brand visit www.puracynplus.com and follow the brand on facebook (facebook.com/puracyn) and Pinterest. Another product they have is the Puracyn Plus Foot Wash and Skin Cleanser, a highly effective cleansing solution for healthier feet and wound care. If you or a loved one have diabetes Puracyn Plus Foot wash is essential to help make foot care part of your daily health routine and self care.

We are ready for the warm weather and the outdoors and especially the fun that comes with it. Thanks to Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™  we will be ready for anything that comes our way. So join in the fun and discover fearless life with Puracyn.

To learn more about the Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ , LIKE the brand on Facebook and follow the brand on Pinterest.

This is a product-sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound & Skin Cleanser. The opinions and text are all mine.


Making Breakfast A Habit

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Today I jumped out of bed at 4:30am. Most of my mornings don’t start that early but even on the days I get an hour or two more of sleep, mornings are too hectic to sit down and eat breakfast. Luckily I have discovered belVita Bites. A delicious healthy and fulfilling breakfast for someone on the go like me.

A study by NPD Group Inc. found that Americans have an average of just 12 minutes a day for consuming breakfast. That is about half the time we spend on lunch (28 minutes) or dinner (24 minutes). This is the most important meal of the day and so many people don’t eat a quality breakfast like they should.

Eating breakfast sets the tone for the day because it gets our blood sugar up which makes our brain function better the rest of the day. It gets our metabolism going. It reduces cravings later in the day. And it puts us in a better mood.

belVita Bites, paired with fresh fruit and yogurt, are a great way to enjoy a quick breakfast on the go. Each pouch provides: 230 calories, 4g of fiber* and 20g of whole grain. Did you know that dietary fiber from whole grains, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease? That is a great reason to try them.

To encourage breakfast fans to trade in their spoons in favor of a balanced breakfast, belVita is taking over National Cereal Day (March 7). They have teamed up with Registered Dietitian Keri Gans, Life Coach Christine Hassler, and author of Eat It to Beat It David Zinczenko to provide a few tips for a healthy breakfast and a smooth morning routine. Last Wednesday belVita Breakfast Influencers had a breakfast panel to discuss the changing American breakfast and how nutritious, convenient solutions like belVita can help on-the-go families stay energized all morning long.

For someone like me who is always on the go at early hours of the day this is the obvious better choice of breakfast. It was simpler and tastier and healthier. Here are some of the great tips that they shared:

“Being that people today have no time to cook, they are looking for options with nutrition’s latest buzzwords – protein and fiber. belVita paired with a serving of non-fat yogurt and fruit hits on protein, fiber AND whole grains.”-David Zinczenko, New York Times best-selling author of Eat It to Beat It! and the Nutrition and Wellness Editor at ABC News

“Doing something 40 days in a row moves it from a change to a habit. Making a complete breakfast a habit starts today.” -Christine Hassler, life coach and Author

So lets make better choices and form great habits. Let Belvita be a start to a balanced breakfast and join me tomorrow as I trade in my spoon.

10 Things New Parents Learn

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I always knew I would be a dad someday. The plan was I would amass a great amount of wisdom and coolness first in order to be ready. Honestly nothing really prepares anyone for parenthood completely. I personally read books and asked around and truth be told when my first son was born I had tons of questions. I found myself living the dream and somewhere along the lines I learned great things about being a Dad.

So here is my list of 10 things new parents (specifically dads) learn:

1. Children change your life (for the better): All of a sudden staying in is way more important than hanging out with the guys at a bar on Friday night.
2. You learn the importance of sleep: Napping while they nap is awesome and sleeping in while the grandparents take the kids is a must.
3. Changing diapers like a pro: This is repetition meets survival because no one wants pee in their face or a big mess.
4. Your newborn knows who you are: Nothing is sweeter than when you realize your kid knows you and recognizes you and they are excited to be held by you.
5. 3 am feedings are the best bonding time: I worked 2 jobs as a restaurant manger and the hours were crazy but spending time with my kids in the middle of the night to feed them and comfort them was priceless
6. It is never too soon to start a 529 (college savings plan): This one is important. The economy is not what it used to be and no matter your income, college savings plans are best started early.
7. Men get baby fever too: My second son is the result of this but also in seriousness I do have moments when I think our family should be bigger and I wish to have a daughter.
8. It gets easier after the first year: Trust me, things fall into place and routines happen, kids get bigger and life gets easier.
9. Kids are resilient and they truly just need your love : All kids get scrapes and cuts but in the end they heal. Your love and attention is what helps them the most.
10. Kids absorb your every word: Kid’s little brains are like thirsty sponges and they are very aware of everything being said around them and to them.

What did you learn as a new parent?

Staying Confident With Listerine

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

For the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about personal health and wellness, especially oral health. It is completely true that great oral health leads to great health for the whole body and most importantly the heart. Brushing is easy, but when you just brush once in the morning and once before bed is it enough?  To improve my personal oral health I joined the LISTERINE® 21-Day Challenge and it has made an incredible difference in my lifestyle so far.

To succeed in the LISTERINE® 21-Day Challenge I used Listerine throughout the day and I used my phone to set up a daily alarm and reminders to use the mouthwash and to floss, something I don’t always remember to do. Constant repetition has been key during this challenge.

Since brushing alone doesn’t get all the germs in my mouth I rinse with Listerine to ensure that my mouth is completely clean after I brush. The flavor is a strong mint flavor which energizes me in the morning. When I use the mouthwash it feels like I have ten toothbrushes working inside my mouth.

Another Listerine product I like using are the pocket pack breath strips. Working in a restaurant I like to feel confident that my mouth is clean and my breath is fresh since I’m talking to people all day long. I use a strip every couple of hours to maintain a clean feel.

The good people of Listerine emailed me every day. It helped me track my progress and stay focused and encouraged me to succeed. The best part of the emails was that there were health tips every single day included. Here are a few of my favorite days.

Want to participate in the challenge? Walgreens has everything you need to get started and there is even a great deal this week. The week of March 1st purchase LISTERINE® Antiseptic for only $4.49; a great price to help keep you going with your new rinsing habit!

Trying A New Bedtime Routine

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

One of the toughest struggles a parent has is getting their kids to brush their teeth before bed. It takes time and discipline and yes tears are shed. My two boys are the most stubborn kids and I am always looking for ways to get them to develop better brushing habits. Luckily it is National Children’s Dental Health month and Tom’s of Maine teamed up with Oral Health America (OHA) to share healthy brushing habits and oral care prevention information. They have created an amazing way to get kids interested in brushing and bedtime routines. Tom’s of Maine is inviting kids and parents to get creative for a good cause and learn about natural oral care with an engaging coloring book called “Brushing Fun” for kids of all ages. Each free download of the book will donate 10 tubes of Wicked Cool! natural toothpaste in addition to a one-time donation of $50,000 to Oral Health America to OHA in support of its Smiles Across America program.

As a dad I was thrilled because it is a great motivational tool for my boys and all the kids out there. They could not wait to get started on their coloring books and learn more about better oral care.

The overall purpose of the program is to establish good bedtime routines. Brushing is key but other things are also a part of it, like relaxation exercises and journaling.

When I got this yoga book, I wondered about the level of interest my boys would have for yoga. As it turns out they are very much aware of what yoga is. “We learned it in summer camp”, they said. Then they decided to show off their moves. Yoga is great for kids to stretch but also to calm their bodies before bed.

The most exciting part was the coloring book. As the boys both love coloring and storytelling this part was their favorite. They also love their devotionals and daily journal.

Downloading the coloring book is easy. Just visit http://bit.ly/dentalhealthforall to access and download the coloring book. Your child will have so much fun and it will improve the bedtime routine with calming activities.

Shrimp Tacos With Mango Salsa Recipe

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

Getting started on a meal menu plan is not an easy task. When planning meals for the whole family there are so many things to consider especially when you have little kids. As much as I focus on kid friendly meals there is at least one meal a week that is designed for my soul. This week is no different. I personally love fish and would love to eat it every day, so for this week I chose a simple recipe for shrimp tacos with mango salsa. Most of my shopping is done at Jewel and with the help of Jewel’s new app MyMixx. It helps me to remember everything by creating a grocery list and inspires me with recipes and even sends me paperless receipts.

This is a very easy to make recipe and importantly all the ingredients are available fresh year round. All the ingredients blend perfectly together to make you fall in love with your meal. Shrimp is great because it will keep its texture and stays juicy through the cooking process and it can be flavored in so many ways.

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 1 mango
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno fine diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cucumber chopped
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 20-30 medium size shrimp without the tails

Procedure

In a medium bowl combine the onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro with a pinch of salt. Mix well and drain.

Once the mix is drained well add the chopped mango pieces.

 Next add the cucumbers, sugar and the lime juice. Mix everything together so you can see all the colors. Chill the salsa before serving.

While the salsa is being chilled, the shrimp can be prepared. Lightly heat up a teaspoon of olive oil and toss the shrimp in a skillet. Season to taste with either a fajita seasoning or a hot sauce. There is no wrong choice. I chose to make today’s meal not spicy.

Once the shrimp is heated through, heat up the tortillas and serve. Place the shrimp on tortillas and top with mango salsa. Add cheese and sour cream if you wish to.

This was a tasty, light meal. Very easy to create and even easier to buy the ingredients. With Jewel’s MyMixx app I save so much time and I get inspired to create awesome meals using only the finest ingredients. The whole family loves the app and we can’t wait to see more recipes and the deals that come out weekly.

Improving Breakfast With BelVita

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

As the rooster crows, my very hectic day starts (I actually woke up the rooster) and its time for breakfast. Let me tell you- breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me because its gets my energy flowing. It sets the mood and the tone for the day to come. When I do eat the most important thing I want from my breakfast is nutrition that will sustain me and replenish my energy long enough until lunch and sometimes dinner. But honestly, as a foodie I know that great taste is king. Early in the day I will not eat just anything. Great nutrition needs to be key and sometimes every smart person needs a bit of help every now and then, especially when we are on the go because of sports and school and work. I found both great nutrition and sustaining energy combined with great flavors with Belvita. Their breakfast biscuits have always provided great world taste and energized us for the whole day. BelVita Bites Breakfast Biscuits make breakfast easy and fun but also very healthy and nutritious, convenient and delicious.

The new size and packaging makes it fun and easy to have a great breakfast that combined with fresh fruit and some yogurt will make a complete and balanced breakfast. With all the best stuff in it like fiber and whole grain and no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oil and no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. Can we say awesome?

Besides being great, BelVita wants to revolutionize your breakfast. It still holds true that most breakfast meals are cereals even at an age everyone is looking for a healthier choice. March 7 is National Cereal Day and BelVita aims to take over and encourage breakfast fans to trade in their spoons in favor of a balanced breakfast.

On March 4th at 11am ET BelVita will be hosting a breakfast panel leading up to National Cereal Day entitled, “The Changing American Breakfast.” Here is all the information:

Twitter Party Details

Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Time: 11:00 AM– 12:00 PM ET

Moderator: @MomCentral

belVita Breakfast Influencers: @ChristinHassler, @Kerigans, and @DaveZinczenko

Topic/Focus: Breakfast has always played an essential role in our diets but times have changed.  As today’s modern family has evolved, consumers’ morning routines and breakfast eating habits have changed as well. A panel of nationally renowned experts will discuss the changing American breakfast and how nutritious, convenient solutions like belVita can help on-the-go families stay energized all morning long

My family is set on trading in our spoons. As a foodie I am excited because I know my day will be better with the tasty BelVita breakfast biscuits and also a healthy nutritious breakfast.


 

Menu Planning With The MyMixx App

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

These days life is too hectic. Making time for family dinners is very important, and making great tasting healthy meals is simplified with Jewel’s MyMixx. During Lent I want my boys age 6 and 5 to eat fish and seafood meals often, and the key to them sticking with it in the future is variety and exciting recipes. MyMixx helps with that tremendously. There are easy to make recipes for  appetizers, breakfast, lunch and dinner. and even more. Everything is searchable and the best part is MyMixx creates a shopping list for each recipe selected.

Since Lent season started my personal search of recipes and ideas is more focused on fish and seafood entrees. The biggest benefit to my family is that seafood is healthy if prepared right. MyMixx basically does all the work and then it saves me money by creating coupons I can use the next time at the store. As this is 2015 my kids are very visual and they love seeing their food as we talk about what will be for dinner. They enjoy scrolling through the pictures of the recipes and especially the desserts.

As parents we encourage our boys to at least try new foods that are introduced to them. So in continuing with that spirit I asked both boys to help me choose a recipe for this post in the MyMixx app.

Jake is the older one. He is almost 7. His tastes are developing more and he does understand healthy eating so he chose a recipe that looks and sounds familiar and safe (and therefore edible to a child). Jake chose Fish tacos, a very tasty recipe he saw on the MyMixx app.

My  younger child is the pickiest child ever, and would choose to eat sweets more than anything. With some bribing and guidance he found a recipe that he liked and also insisted on a dessert recipe. He actually just wanted dessert. One exciting part of all this is that he likes cooking and wants to help prepare the recipe so he is excited.

I truly love the MyMixx app. It saves me time and money. It helps me and my family eat better and with great variety. Most importantly though, the MyMixx app helps me to bond with my kids over technology and with cooking. MyMixx is a powerful app to use to create a life of ease in relation to cooking and grocery shopping. We will be making the two recipes above for a special dinner next week.

 

 

Dads Love Minivans Too

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A big part of becoming a Dad for me was accepting ideas that were not my own to be successful at raising kids and leading a great family. One big rule I always stuck to though was “happy wife, happy life”. A big challenge to that rule came with a decision to buy a minivan. As a guy I felt like minivans were fine vehicles but my car should be macho all the way. I had a collision earlier in the year and at some point I was in need of a new vehicle and I looked at trucks and sport cars, but everything in my heart kept saying happy wife, happy life, so I got a minivan. Alicia’s dream car has been a Chrysler Town and Country ever since she was in junior high school so while she was out of town I set out to get one and surprise her.

Obviously she was thrilled when she came home and the boys were psyched but my opinions on minivans started to change for the better. Soon I was in love with her minivan, but do not tell her that. Driving it home from the lot I noticed the driver sits pretty high up but also it sort of drove like a truck a little bit. I drive an  SUV so I was used to having room but there was extra room between the seats and in the back and there were magical storage spaces under the seats. This just made life easier when shopping and traveling.

My favorite thing about our minivan quickly became the side auto-sliding doors. One day I was leaving Sam’s Club with our youngest child and it started to rain. I carried him, but the real hero of the story were the doors. A simple touch of the button and they were opened and he was inside. The doors make a world of difference when picking up kids from school and dropping them off and at all their other activities.

Sometimes I think the kids love the minivan more than their mom. They have the DVD player and between their seats they have books and car friendly toys. Strangely enough their favorite part is the 3rd row where they can just jump around and pretend they are hiding.

My wife truly loves the car and was happy that was her gift. She was very happy that we had it for our family vacation last April. We drove all the way to Florida from the Midwest. It was a blast for the whole family. The car was comfortable and it completely made every mile wonderful.

It is funny to think a car has such a huge impact on our family but it did wonders to bring us closer together and make life easier for our family. This is one time I am happy I followed the old “Happy Wife, Happy Life” rule and bought her a minivan as a surprise.

Discovering New Recipes With MyMixx And Jewel

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

I enjoy cooking and creating tasty memories but during the busy times, between working all day and kids activities, all the magic disappears. Home cooked meals are very important to me because they are the strong glue to a family bond. Also it is economically more sound and it teaches my kids the basic skills for their futures. These days to save time and to find inspiration I turn to Jewel’s app MyMixx because it helps me find recipes.

MyMixx has featured recipes and all sorts of categories, so there is something for everyone. I love that I can browse recipes and instantly create a shopping list and find coupons to save money all at once at Jewel.  There is also a section called What’s Cooking. There you can find articles and recipes and news on healthy living, special diets and organic foods. You can also learn about special food events happening at your local Jewel.

 As a parent I try to cook as healthy as possible, but also think about heart healthy meal plans for myself. Jewel and MyMixx help me with this greatly. With meal plan recipes that can be customized and articles on healthy diets and food replacement Jewel provides an excellent customer experience with MyMixx.

I am most excited about exploring all the different categories of recipes, especially seafood. I grew up off the coast of the Adriatic sea that connects to the Mediterranean to the south so I enjoy freshly grown cooked meals with plenty of variety. With MyMixx it is easy to find tasty recipes and create great feasts even on a busy weeknight. Jewel has a great offering of fresh fish and meats and awesome veggies for an ultimate surf and turf dinner. And lets not forget the breads and sweets baked fresh daily. And now I am already planning my next meal.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post as I will cook and grill and create recipes with MyMixx and post every tasty savory bit. It will be amazing as Lent is starting soon and Fish is in season.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

Getting Excited About Oral Care With Listerine

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Disclosure: I received LISTERINE® products and a gfit card from The Motherhood as part of my participation in the 21-Day Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Confidence makes the world go round. The simplest way to have a great deal of confidence for me is to have great oral hygiene. I manage a restaurant and I am around people around the clock so my smile and a clean fresh breath are very important. On top of that I am a father of 2 boys who have already had visits from the tooth fairy and need to be in the know on how to completely care for their teeth. Since I have moved to the US over 15 years ago one name stood true to offer extra help with oral care and confidence and that is Listerine. Now as a family we are looking for ways to keep the kids committed to great habits so we are joining the Listerine 21-Day Oral Care challenge.

So typically brushing seems like it should be enough, but it is not. So you need a great mouthwash, and a floss and do not worry what else because Listerine has you covered. Listerine has an extensive line of products and flavors for the whole family. Even kids are happy because there are kid friendly flavors like bubble gum and grape.

Listerine wants us all to be healthy and successful when it comes to oral care so they created the 21 day challenge. It is very easy to sign up. Just go to www.listerine.com/21daychallenge and set up a profile and choose a coach that will inspire you and motivate you daily. We all have busy schedules and rely on our electronic devices so this is the one time electronics at our fingertips will greatly help our health with Listerine.

One place to find everything you need for the challenge is Walgreens. Walgreens offers all sorts of Listerine products but also many products for wellness. Walgreens also has a very user friendly app that can help with achieving wellness goals. I am striving to be successful with the 21 day challenge in order to inspire my kids to take care of their oral health with Listerine. The biggest battle will be to work on the kids flossing habits and using Listerine to rinse. There will be lots of bribing involved but in the future looking back the kids will be happy how they started using Listerine to improve their oral care.


The best part about the Listerine Challenge besides using Listerine, is that there are prizes to keep you engaged and motivated. Great oral health will be the best prize of all but you can be entered in sweepstakes to win prizes such as an Amazon Fire TV and a FitBit.

Check in with us in a few weeks to see the results and all the fun we had through the Listerine Challenge. Feel free to share your successes and leave a comment with questions if you have any.

Jewel-Osco’s New Savings App: MyMixx

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. The opinions and text are all mine.

I am a full time working parent and always short on time to do my grocery shopping. Recently I have discovered a brand new mobile app by Jewel- Osco called MyMixx that will revolutionize my shopping experience. Jewel-Osco is a staple grocery store in our neighborhood and the app will make Jewel our top grocer.

MyMixx is a free app available for apple and droid products. Very user friendly. Once downloaded you will want to choose your neighborhood Jewel-Osco for the updated ad of the week. Once you are signed up MyMixx will do all the work for you beside push the cart. MyMixx sends paperless receipts via email, lets you create a shopping list and discover recipes, and the best exciting part is the electronic coupons directly at your fingertip. It was always hard to find time to clip the coupons and remember to bring them and now I do not have to anymore.

Jewel has absolutely created a very unique personalized shopping app. In a blink of an eye I was hooked. I constantly look for something to do on my phone so now I can do something useful and creative. But most importantly MyMixx saves me time and money.

Looking up recipes and then creating a shopping list is easy and fun. MyMixx remembers your purchases and promptly finds savings on selected items. Redeeming the coupons and savings is easy as pie at the checkout. All someone has to do is enter their phone number they used for signing up. I found this very useful especially at the self checkout.

Over the next few weeks there are several exciting occasions happening such as Valentines Day and beginning of Lent so I will be looking for special recipes and deals to share with everyone. Try the app and let me know what you think and if their shelves are stocked with Sobe let me know.