Happy First Birthday Sprout!

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I feel like I blinked and you turned ONE. Just yesterday we were holding you with the feeding tube coming out of your nose and the monitors attached, crying as I left the hospital and you needed to stay a few more days…and now folks look at that round little belly and big grin and would never believe you entered this world 5 1/2 weeks before we had planned. You are PURE JOY little man. Such a people person and you love your mama, daddy & big sister fiercely. We love you so much and know without a doubt that you came into our life in God’s perfect timing. What a gift you are. Watching you grow, learn, play, and just be has been wonderful. We continue to pray over you and ask that God use you to move mountains for him. We know that He has BIG things planned for you Sprout and we anxiously await the day that you root Jesus deep into your heart & begin to follow the path he has set out for you.

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It’s amazing how much you have grown and changed over the past month. You definitely got the memo that you were turning one. My favorite are the open mouth kisses you love to plant on our cheeks (I won’t mention that sometimes they turn into bites…we will work on that!). You crawl toward us with such determination and squeal in pure elation. It is priceless. You are cruising all over the place and standing for a few seconds as you go from one piece of furniture to the next. You are also getting a lot of practice n the walker. I am hoping you start standing/walking soon & praying that means you will be less interested in eating the mulch when we are playing outside! You are making all kinds of squeals, sighs, and sounds but not really saying any words consistently, yet. All in good time, little one. You mastered clapping and wave bye bye most of the time. 

We started supplementing a little formula in with your nighttime bottle and it has made a huge difference in your nighttime sleep. About two weeks before your birthday we started moving your bottle closer and closer to dinner time and you make the transition beautifully. Good work! We also transitioned from nursing 2x a day to 1x and then by the beginning of April you had weaned completely. You began drinking whole milk in a sippy cup around this time and after 2-3 weeks you mastered the straw cup and whole milk was a hit. By April 5th you were weaned off bottles, breastmilk, & formula. Only whole milk and water in a sippy cup from here on out buddy. You continue to be an awesome eater, and eat the same as the rest of us for all your meals! Meats are always a hit & you’ve even started coming around on eggs and avocados. Steamed carrots and sweet potatoes are probably your favorite though.

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 You love playing with your sister, but you are also super content crawling around doing your own thing. You love looking through books and throwing/rolling the ball back and forth. You conquered going down the slide and squeal super loud when you get to swing. You napping has been quite the downfall this month, but I am praying it is a season and that one day you will see the beauty of enjoying a little rest. 

We celebrated your first birthday in Oneonta with family. It was a LION theme and you enjoyed the first half of the party…unfortunately you spiked a fever near the end, and once we knew you were okay I took it as just a little more snuggle time with my baby before he becomes a toddler. We love you soooo much little man and can’t wait to see what God has in store for you this next year!

7 Tips for Keeping Toddlers Entertained in the Car

*Disclosure: The post is sponsored by XFINITY, but opinions as always are all my own! I am thankful to work with companies that provide my family with a little extra spending money and for readers like you who come and see what I have to say. 

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Living in a different state than all of our family means we spend a lot of time in the car. We are lucky that everyone makes the extra effort to travel to us often, but we still spend hours in the car when we head their way. Since we now travel with a one and two year old I wanted to share a few things we do to make the ride a little more enjoyable for everyone!

1. Pack an entertainment bag/box Each of the kids have soft, round Easter baskets. They also make perfect car bags! Before we go on a trip I let Chickadee fill her basket up with all kinds of goodies. She usually chooses several board books, her baby doll, and her Melissa & Doug Water Wow coloring pads (these are amazing & you can find them here (affiliate link)). For Sprout I will also put in a few board books, as well as some squeaky toys, and teething rings.

2. Play music The kids love listening to “their music” in the car. Chickadee will even request a CD change when she hears “daddy’s song.” Their favorite CD is from the music class we attended. The class was pricey, but they sent us home with a CD & it’s amazing. The second we hit play the kids settle down…makes writing the check worth every penny. We also listen to kid’s worship songs & a lot of “Let It Go” Make sure and learn how your stereo system works, it’s nice to turn the music to play in the back of the car!

3. Snacks I try to hold out on snacks as long as I can. However, in my opinion snacks almost always end up being a must! Make sure your child is capable of eating the snack you choose to give them with limited supervision since you will probably be up front. If you are uncomfortable giving a snack in the car you can wait until you make a pit stop or have an adult sit in the back with them. We use the snack catcher snack cups that have the soft flaps on the lid that the kids can push their hands through to retrieve whatever it is I have packed for them. They also always have water cups!

4. Car Games We often play games in the car with Chickadee to keep her occupied, and Sprout tends to enjoy listening to the conversation that comes along with a game. Eye Spy is a favorite. She also likes looking for different color or types of cars. Animal Sounds are always fun. We will take turns making them and letting Chickadee guess which animal sound we are making.

5. Stop If you can stop along the way. One idea is to pack the meal you will be eating on the road. YOu can then stop at a playground or rest stop to eat a picnic meal and let the kids run around and burn off their energy. If you aren’t sure about a park/playground stopping at a restaurant with an indoor playground is another great options!

6. Sleep This one is tricky, so you need to know your kid’s sleep habits. For us it took some trial and error. Our kids usually like conditions “just so” to sleep. Chickadee & Sprout are rarely a car sleeper and has to be an hour or two past her nap to even have a shot at falling asleep in the car. We have found they actually do better if they are well rested. So leaving in the morning or right after a nap we have found usually works best for us. If your kids are good car sleepers, I’m jealous!

7. Show/Movies With technology the way it is these days, allowing your children to watch their favorite show or movie in the car is now an option. You can bring DVDs and use a portable DVD player or if you are an XFINITY subscriber start counting your lucky stars! XFINITY has you covered, thanks to X1 DVR! With X1 DVR, you can watch your recorded shows from anywhere – Google Fiber can’t offer that kind of flexibility. With X1 DVR, you can take your kid’s favorite recordings on the go to enjoy anywhere. Download shows and movies to keep the kids entertained for part of your next trip. The cloud technology from X1 allows for 500 GB of storage, meaning you’ve got tons of shows you can load up. For Chickadee I would definitely make sure I had plenty of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Curious George loaded up! I wouldn’t be able to do this with Google Fiber.

Do you have any other tips for road tripping it with toddlers? My last piece of advice would to be to not give everything out too soon!! Our little ones will go at least 30-45 minutes just looking out the window and making each other laugh. Save all of your goodies until you need them! Happy Travels!

Guy’s Birthday Gift Idea

III, sometimes, is hard to shop for when it comes to his birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc. He usually asks for things like shirts or newspaper subscriptions. While I am sure they make his eyes light up, they just aren’t any fun to shop for. So this year in addition to a lovely button down dress shirt I added a little fun to his birthday bag.

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I bought Little Debbie Spring Cakes (like the Christmas trees from Christmas but the sprinkles are spring colors), Highlighters, Nutter Butters & Coffee. All things that III loves! Then on PicMonkey I created these little signs to attach to each one. I included the signs I made (just right click and save the image), but you can create your own too.

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Here are a few other gift ideas…

Socks – We make a great pair!

Chips – You are all that and a bag of chips!

Snickers Bar – You always make me snicker!

Gift card – You are such a gift!

Beer, Wine Opener, Wine – You make me weak in the knees!

Nuts – We are nuts about you! (We did this one for Father’s Day a few years ago…so cute!)

So, get creative when you are buying your guy’s gift…he’ll love it just as much as his new sprinkler head.

4 Tips for Preparing Family Dinners

Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. The opinions and text are all mine.
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Dinner around the table with my family is very important to me. So no matter how busy life gets (and I know it will continue to get busier) III and I have made a commitment to always try and make family dinner a priority. I will be the first to admit this is no easy task. Right now, we have young children and our biggest obstacles are III making it home from work by 6 and me finding the time during a crazy day with a one and two year old to prep. Most days we are able to eat together, and here are a few strategies I’ve learned that help make this happen!
 
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  1. Meal Plan: We instituted this new meal planning strategy last fall and it was AMAZING. One of the hardest parts of meal planning for me was always coming up with what to cook. Last fall, we sat down as a family and made a list of 25-30 meals that we love. I wrote them all down as a list and each week I make my way down the list 4-5 meals at a time. I do check sales and try to plan a little around current deals, but not having to rack my brain thinking “what’s for dinner?” has removed so much stress from my life! We plan to make a similar list for spring/summer recipes.
  2. Prep during naps or on the weekends: Moms who work out of the home, you are ROCKSTARS! I’m not sure how you do it all! But from what I’ve heard a lot of you prep meals on the weekends so you can have dinner ready to pop in the oven when you get home. Genius! Moms who stay at home, I find nap time is my best time to prep for dinner if I don’t want to start stressing outcome 5:15ish. Whenever I meal prep immediately before dinner it is always chaotic because the kids are getting crazy and we are all anxious for dad to get home!
  3. Take advantage of Left Overs: I almost ALWAYS make sure I make enough of at least one of our weeknight meals to be able to eat leftovers on the weekends. Lots of meals reheat really well (like pastas) or are great on a sandwich the next day (like pulled pork or meatloaf!). III also really likes taking leftovers to work and getting a break from the pb&j he eats way too many days in a row!tyson_mealkits
  4. Take advantage of Meal Kits/Prepared Meals: Realizing that I can’t do it all myself was life changing for me. Work smarter, not harder, right?  I’ve discovered that serving up a home cooked dinner on the craziest of days can actually be quite simple with a little help from meal kits like those made by Tyson®! We got back in to town the other day after a fun, but exhausting weekend of celebrating Sprout’s 1st birthday. I hadn’t been to the store, but luckily last week I had grabbed Tyson’s® Beef & Cheddar Melt at Publix and had it in the fridge to help me have dinner ready in only 15 minutes! I love that their meal kits are fresh, not frozen. They can actually be found in the fresh meat section at Publix (ours are near the corned beef!). There are several to choose from including Creamy Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, 3 Cheese Chicken Carbonara, Beef & Cheddar Melt, and Beef Marinara Penne.
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Stop by your friendly Publix store and pick up one of these complete Tyson® Meals. You will find them in the ready to cook section of the fresh meat case. From 04/07/16 until 04/13/16 you will find these for just $10.99! (and mine had an additional $2.00 off coupon attached!) Also enter here, through April 30th, for a chance to win a coupon for a FREE Tyson® meal kit!
 
Which Tyson® Meal Kit would you like to try?

Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Sprout’s LION First Birthday | Inspiration

I cannot even believe Sprout will be ONE in less than two weeks! This past year has gone by so very quickly. I’m not sure if it’s because we moved, we were trying to survive two under two or if it’s just how life goes, but the point is…it FLEW.

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I starting brainstorming a theme for his birthday a few weeks ago and came across this amazing cake/cupcake picture from Cake Style. And I just had to make this cake/cupcake creation.

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So all because of this cake…Sprout’s first birthday will be a lion theme! So far I’ve only done the invite and collected thoughts on my Pinterest board…. For the invitation I created my image/text at Picmonkey.com. I then uploaded the image to Walmart’s photo center on their website and printed it out on stationary cardstock. I’m always impressed with their work (we did our Christmas card this way also) & it’s SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than other better known photo websites.

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Since we are celebrating at the playground I don’t have a whole lot to decorate. We have reserved a pavilion so I am thinking of decorating the food table (the party is at 3:30 so just snacks) & then probably a birthday banner, a 12 months banner (using my Silhouette Cameo) and balloons. Here is some of my inspiration.

Veggie Tray

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 Animal Cracker Cones

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Twigs

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Orange & Yellow Fruit

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I love this lion hat I found at Sandys Specialty Shop on Etsy.

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 And I love the colors on this banner from Emerald City Paperie

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If I have time I’d love to make some of these lion lantern’s using these directions from Joann’s.

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 So what do you think? I really wanted to put “Sprout is the Cutest…I’m not LION” on the invite but refrained because I’m not sure every one loves puns as much as me. What do you think? Any other fun ideas for me? I plan to hit up Hobby Lobby later this week!