Having Fun at Home Depot

Until we built our home, I can honestly say, I seldom went to Home Depot. Now I feel like I’m there at least once a week. Between gardening supplies, home supplies, building materials, etc, let’s just say we’re there often. On top of all the day to day needs, we also have plans to finish our basement. Currently it's completely unfinished, so basically a enormous concrete room. We’ve been saving to finish it off, because it’s pretty much like building a whole new house, just downstairs. So between pricing out 2X4's, looking at ceramic tile and carpet, to checking out various lighting options, to trying to decide paint schemes, we’ve been doing a lot of our research at Home Depot.

The fun thing about Home Depot is how much fun the kids can have while you’re there. Who would have thought that playing Eye Spy with bathroom faucets would be so fun? In the summer, it’s easier to entertain the kids while shopping with the garden center open. There's always birds flying around to entertain. You can also again play Eye Spy with colors or count how many yellow flowers, etc. Plenty to keep them occupied. The only downfall to Home Depot's garden center is that mom usually ends up with more flowers than she needs in the cart.

Even if the Garden Center is closed, there's plenty of ways to entertain your kids while shopping at Home Depot. Like I said earlier, playing Eye Spy in just about any department is a quick and easy. Another thing we've done if daddy has a lot to shop for is put together a scavenger hunt. I make a list prior to leaving (or on the way). Then while dad is shopping, we see how many items we can find on our scavenger hunt list. You can also stop by the paint section and have your children imagine what colors they'd like their room to be. Let their imaginations go wild!

Something me and the kids have not done yet that I would love to try is one of Home Depot’s various free workshops. Gardening is more my thing than a building or tile project so maybe this summer I can try and fit one in. Someday maybe I’ll be handy enough to build a bird house, but for now it’s pretty much hopeless. I have tiled a flower pot though, that I am pretty proud of! Has anyone tried any of the workshops at Home Depot? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

The kids have been very cooperative during our visits to Home Depot because we make it enjoyable for them to. I'm not saying their jumping for joy when we say "C'mon kids! We're going to Home Depot!", but they aren't asking can we go yet, 2 minutes after walking into the store.

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Kids Scooter Snacks

Snack time is one of my most favorite meals to prepare for the kids. You can have so much fun making snacks for kids. And the best part is, snack time is one of the easiest times to get your children to eat healthy. What other meal will your kids willingly eat vegetables for you day after day? Exactly.

I can’t talk enough about how much I love the Taste of Home Fun Food book. The kid friendly recipes included in this book are unbelievable. The latest recipe I tried out of it for snack time was Scooter Snacks. Below is the recipe. I will say I had some issues with keeping the tomatoes on the pretzels but overall everything else worked perfectly and the kids loved it!

Scooter Snacks

8 slices cucumber or zucchini (1/4 inch thick)
6 pretzel sticks
2 pieces of string cheese
2 pretzel rods cut into 3 inch pieces
2 tablespoons spreadable garden vegetable cream cheese
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 pimiento-stuffed olives, halved

For each of the four axles, thread two zucchini / cucumber slices through a pretzel stick, leaving a 1 inch space in the center. For each scooter, position string cheese between two axles.

Attach a pretzel rod with cream cheese to each scooter; top each with a pretzel stick for handlebars. Add the tomato hubcaps and the olive headlights and taillights with cream cheese.

Makes 2 Scooters

Follow Andrea's board Kids Need to Eat Too! & Drink! on Pinterest.

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Huggies Enjoy the Ride Rewards Program

Huggies Enjoy the Ride I absolutely love the Huggies Enjoy the Ride rewards program. You are constantly buying diapers from newborn through 2 - 3 years old at the minimum. The Huggies Enjoy the Ride program adds a little fun and excitement to buying diapers. The Huggies Enjoy the Ride rewards program allows you to earn points by entering special codes from various Huggies products, participating in polls, watching videos as well as other surprise codes. You then can use your points to enter sweepstakes, spend in the rewards catalog (fully loaded), instant win games (addicting) and more. They also offer the option to use your points to donate diapers to those in need through their Huggies Every Little Bottom program. Just 2 points equals one diaper or 16 points to diaper a child a day. What a great idea!

Unfortunately I haven't won any big sweepstakes yet but I have one a few of the instant win games. We've enjoyed gift cards from Subway and Dairy Queen so far as well as a diaper coupon. Right now there are instant win games for Crocs, an iPod Shuffle, diaper coupons and a gas card. Sweepstakes currently include a new minivan, $250 cash or Diapers for a Year. So they aren't boring prizes by any means!

So what are you waiting for? Go signup for the Huggies Enjoy the Ride program. Really, you have to buy diapers no matter what, so what's there to lose!!

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Professional Sports - The Ultimate Creator of Family Time

Sports are an integral part of my family. We are diehard Cheeseheads through and through. Packers are by far the most prominent sports figure within our household. Super Bowl Sunday happened to fall on the one weekend we went to Disney World (Was not the plan). So that Sunday we did a little Disney sight seeing but then we were all back in the hotel room for kickoff. We had our own little Super Bowl party in Florida. We wore green and gold practically all week. However, the highlight of our trip was getting to see Aaron Rodgers at Magic Kingdom on Monday. The kids had a blast waiting for the MVP parade to start and were amazed at all the Packer fans that were there. So even though we weren't in Green Bay for the homecoming parade, the MVP parade was really special.

Next we move on to baseball. I'm a devoted Yankees fan (how I became a Yankees fan in Wisconsin, I have no clue) whereas my husband is a loyal member of the Brew Crew. When it comes to baseball, the kids are somewhat split. They haven't gotten into watching baseball with us as much as football. Some days they are Yankee fans, some days Brewer fans. Chances are they will become Brewer fans as we watch the Brewers games every night they are on (downside of not living in the state where your team resides).

Lastly we have NASCAR. Here's where the family drama gets interesting. I follow Kyle Busch and Wisconsin native, Matt Kenseth, my husband is part of the hugely popular, Jr nation and our daughter is in love with and some days claims she's married to Kasey Kahne. My little man, who's 2 1/2 still hasn't really grabbed onto any single driver yet so time will tell. Raceday always is a fun time as a family. We all sit down, and no, the kids don't stare devotedly at the TV for 3 - 4 hours for the whole race, however are playing near by and do watch it in spurts. We have fun family debates on which driver is going to win, which one will hit the wall and what drivers we really don't like. Overall we are doing it all together.

Overall, we always are enjoying sports together ... as a family. The kids are right in the living room with us for a majority of the game, they are actively involved with cheering or booing the TV, having that special snack of chips and dip, just all around family fun.

Now before anyone jumps on my case, we play a lot of the same sports as well, with exception of NASCAR of course, although my daughter claims she wants to be a race car driver when she grows up. But by no means are we just a bunch of couch potatoes. There needs to be a balance. I just wanted to share one of the activities we do as a family that we all enjoy and have some fun with!


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Parenting Stress - There is Some Relief!

Every parent at some point becomes overwhelmed with stress. You have one of those days or week where you feel completely out of your mind. You're short with the kids, your spouse, everyone. You just want to get away to some deserted island or dream place and unwind for awhile. Then when the dust settles, you become filled with guilt. Not understanding how you could imagine being so frustrated or upset with your innocent children. Well, I'm here to tell you, you are by no means alone. Parenting stress is no different than stress from work or family or anything else. The one thing you do have control over is how you handle the stress. How you cope with stress and finding time to unwind to minimize, not eliminate, those out of control days all parents experience.

Below are some of the I ways I personally try to relieve the stress of parenting.

Accept reality.
No matter what, as I mentioned above, you will still have those crazy, stress-filled days. The goals is to minimize and shorten them. Sorry, but you're not going to eliminate them completely. If your children are out of their mind crazy that day, put a movie on where they are safe and simply leave the room for a few minutes. I'm not saying leave the house, just walk into another room and take some deep breathes. They are still within hearing distance. Same is true for a baby. I remember those days when one of my children would just not stop crying. You're at the point where you are crying right along with them. Put your baby in their crib, swing or other safe place and walk into the other room. As long as you're positive they aren't in any danger, you can give yourself 5 minutes to regroup. It's amazing how 5 minutes can change you're mood and prepare you to take on the rest of the day.

No mother or father is superman. You sometimes just can't do everything. Don't be afraid or ashamed of asking for some help. Parenting is the hardest job anyone can have, so why not have a team to help you out. Spouse, friends, relatives, other parents; they're all there to support you. Grow friendships with other parents. Everything in your life changes the day your child is born. It's only natural to long for those days before kids when you're feeling stressed and pushed to your limit. It truly is amazing how much just talking on the phone with another parent who has experienced the same thing can relieve the stress from that day. As they always say, you'll feel so much better after you get it off your chest. Talking truly is one of the kings of relieving the stress of parenting. The funny thing is, typically when I call my best friend or mom and start talking about how stressed out I am, it's not long and you're laughing about something silly your child did that day. That little bit of talking helps you realize how much joy kids bring into your life. It's puts it all into perspective that this one stressful day or week doesn't compare to all the happiness your children have brought to you.

Me time.
Well, this is one I always include on my list, but really it's the hardest for me to do. Giving myself a couple hours seems next to impossible. Life is hectic and typically, not always, the mother takes the blunt of the parenting stress. In my household, I have a full-time marketing job, I have homework (I decided to go back and get another degree for some odd reason), I'm the head of the household, handling all the bills/family financials, grocery shopping, cleaning, making sure everything is in order, etc., the normal motherly duties and yeah, I blog. Time isn't something that I have much of at all. I know I need to give myself more time alone, but it's just not there. Now with that being said, I do try to get away once in awhile so I don't want people to feel hopeless. Once a year 3 girlfriends and I go to Mall of America in Minneapolis for our once a year get away. A weekend full of shopping, laughter and our favorite part, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company for dinner (All 4 of us, truly are in love with the I'm Stuffed Shrimp). It's amazing how much just looking forward to that weekend and actually experiencing the weekend rejuvenates us. By the end of the weekend, we're ready to get home and see our babies. So if you're like me and a once a week "me time" isn't an option, aim for a once a month or once a year break. It really does do wonders in relieving stress!

Give yourself a break.
Don't be so hard on yourself. No parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. The best part is though is that your kids are extremely forgiving. They love you unconditionally just as you do them. Apologize and all will be forgotten. You have to also remember to let the little things go sometimes. Oh well if the house isn't clean yet. So what if there's toys everywhere. Who cares about the dishes in the sink. That laundry will still be there in a couple hours or tomorrow. By letting the little things go, you'll be much more relaxed right away. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not encouraging you all to let your homes go wild, but for a day or so, sure why not? Lastly, and the hardest by far, don't expect yourself to be perfect. I'm guilty of this. More often I feel as I have not done my job as a mother right or that I'm failing as a parent when I can't keep up, or I do need help, but we just have to come to terms that we're not perfect. We're human beings who can't take on the world. So don't be so hard on yourself. The whole family will be happier if moms happy!

Remember, kids are only kids so long. They grow up way to fast. Enjoy them as much as you can now because before you know it, they'll be teenagers and we'll be trying to figure them out all over again!

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Trying to Lose Those Last 10 Pounds of Baby Weight

So many other mothers were right. For every child, you have 10lbs that you just can't get rid of. I have 2 children and I have 20lbs I'd LOVE to lose. And yes, the solution seems so simple to losing weight. Eat right and exercise. Well it really isn't that easy. Between a full time job, 2 kids, a house to run, my blogs, homework and oh yeah, somewhat of a life, exercise isn't something that easily fits in. However, I've taken the plunge and started making time to exercise.

I am on day 12 of walking 3 miles each night. Last night I even upped it and ran 1 mile of the 3. It takes me right around 40 minutes at this point which over time I'm aiming to shorten. Yes there are some who run 5+ miles everyday, but for someone like myself, who hasn't really exercised in probably 10 years, I'm pretty proud of myself.

Skechers Shape-UpsI went shopping and purchased a pair of Skechers Shape-Ups for low running. I can't find the particular pair I bought on their Website, but I am really happy with them. I definitely could feel the shoes working my calves and other parts of my legs that when compared to my old running shoes I didn't feel. They are extremely comfortable too! I will say, they do take a little bit to get used to. It's hard to describe but the shoes feel bouncy. Some more so than others. I had tried on a pair of their new resistance running shoes and those were a little too bouncy for my liking. When I was standing still I felt it was a balancing act to not tip over. The Shape-Ups I purchased so far are treating me just fine. We'll see how they last the test of time.

So, we'll see how this exercising thing goes. Winter will provide a whole new set of problems, as walking in Wisconsin on the back roads in the winter isn't always feasible.

Share some of your exercise tips. What worked for you? What are you trying now? What didn't work?

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Ear Infections - The Decision on Ear Tubes or Not

My son, who is now 2 1/2 years old has had his fair share of ear infections. During his teething months, every time he cut a new tooth, he got an ear infection. The doctor began pushing me to have tubes put in. I however, hesitated. I can't explain why, but my gut continued to tell me no, it's a phase. So after the teething subsided, things did settle down. He had gone almost a year without an ear infection so things were looking up.

However, this year, he has now had two ear infections already and the doctor again is bringing up having tubes put in. My gut is telling me no, but the more I read the more I think my gut may be wrong. As a mother, I have always went with my gut so the possibility that my gut is wrong is really becoming a struggle for me. In reading numerous forum boards, articles, etc. I find that my gut may be hindering his speech. My son talks, but not completely clear. Now I know boys tend to be slower than girls, but it just seems his speech should be clearer than it is. However, there are many little boys years older than my toddler who still don't speak clear.

Now on the flip side, I have also read that the procedure is controversial on whether it's necessary or not. Some say that if there is a delay in speech development, typically by 5 those with recurring ear infections and no tubes and those who got tubes, even out. I am torn!

So I need some help from my readers. Do you have any experiences with ear tubes? Would you recommend it? Are there any side effects to the ear tubes themselves? From one parent to another, I need your help on this decision. Typically I always go with my gut, but I would feel horrible if my gut caused problems for my son later on.

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Peanut Butter S'Mores

It was a gorgeous day in Wisconsin! The kids and I enjoyed playing outside, spending a couple hours at the pool and last but not least, a campfire and fireworks. The highlight of the night were the delicious peanut butter s'mores we made. A couple weeks ago I bought a Taste of Home Fun Food magazine that has the coolest creations of fun food for kids. Everything from snacks to cakes to lunch. Well tonight we tried out the Peanut Butter S'Mores and they were awesome! Below is the recipe.

Peanut Butter S'Mores

8 large chocolate chip cookies
4 teaspoons hot fudge ice cream topping
4 large marshmallows
4 peanut butter cups

1. Spread the bottoms of four cookies with fudge topping.

2. Using a long-handled fork, grill the marshmallows 6 in. from medium-hot heat until golden brown, turning occasionally.

3. Carefully place a marshmallow and a peanut butter cup on each fudge-topped cookie; top with remaining cookies. Serve immediately.


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Fireworks! It's the 4th of July After All!

It's that one weekend a year that if you have a child scared of fireworks, you dread like the plague seeing as every possible neighbor will light some off at some point this weekend.

Yeah, that was me last year. Fortunately, this year my 5 year old is excited for some smaller fireworks. She still has no interest in going to see the huge city displays but at least she is excited for me to light some fountains off at home.

So the other day while we are picking out some really small fireworks to light off, she begs and begs for sparklers. Personally, I HATE sparklers! I'm terrified to let my kids touch them yet many other parents are all about them. After debating with my daughter in the fireworks tent, I came to the conclusion that if she is fighting her fear of fireworks this year, maybe I should do the same with sparklers. We shall see.

With all of that in mind, here's some fireworks safety tips to keep in mind this holiday weekend!
  • Always have a bucket of water or hose nearby just in case!

  • Give yourself enough space and your neighbors. Fireworks don't always go straight up in the sky like you may like, be prepared in case one does decide to go horizontal and come at your or your neighbors.

  • Make sure you aren't shooting them towards your home or neighbors homes. Seems like a gimmie but you'd be surprised!!

  • Let the duds, be duds. Don't try relighting them.

  • When it comes to cleaning up your fireworks, don't let your kids help on this chore. Some pieces could still explode. Be sure to also soak all of the firework pieces in a bucket of water before throwing into your garbage.

Happy 4th of July!


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