Family Night: Disconnecting to reconnect

Family time is different than it used to be, there’s no denying that. I remember, growing up, there was a weekly family time where everyone just relaxed and spent time together. No electronics. No distractions. Just us enjoying each other. In this modern world of technology, gadgets, and quick and easy entertainment, most families find it hard to meet up in passing. Kids have schedules that are busier than the adults (mine do at least), and lots of families find it hard to even sit down and enjoy a meal together, let alone family game night.

family game night

That’s why we’re taking things back to the basics, with family game night! Spending time together is great, but that alone isn’t good enough. We need to connect, and KFC is making it happen! KFC’s new promotion is great for making a family night come together, and you can implement it in your home too! With each purchase of a 12 piece tender meal or larger with 2 large sides, 4 biscuits and 4 sauces (complete with 2 large home-style sides and 4 biscuits), you will receive an “I Spy” game FREE! I Spy is one of the most fun games to play as a family, because it allows each and every member of your family to get excited and in on the action! All that is required is a pair of eyes and a voice to begin playing this game.


It’s hard to disconnect, I get it. There’s a chance you may miss out on seeing the latest Facebook meme first. You may not be able to respond to an inbox or email (maybe even until the next morning). You’ll do something far more important than any of these distractions, however. You’ll connect with your family. You’ll laugh at silly jokes (and in our family, things that probably wouldn’t be funny to anyone else). Your children will mesmerize you. And most importantly, you’ll establish a weekly routine that will have your children will remember for years to come!

What’s your favorite family night activity?

This is a sponsored conversation about family night. Opinions are my own. 

Date night at home with indulgences #GelatoLove

This post brought to you by Breyers Gelato Indulgences. All opinions are 100% mine.

We had the best- and worst- date night at home EVER this weekend.

I mean, it started out great. We had a nice dinner with the kiddos, got them in bed kind of early because they were exhausted…and decided we'd watch a movie and indulge in an adult treat.  I wasn't in the mood for sci-fi or action which is what hubby usually picks and yet somehow I left him in control of the remote….

So before I knew it, we were watching the movie "Bad Teacher" which has a whole lot of awesome actors but was just a painful movie to sit through. (Apologies to the stars of it, it was really just not great!!). Thankfully, that was the ONLY bad part of the date night.  Yet somehow, neither of us turned it off or looked for another movie. We had to see what happened.  Like the people who have to look at a train wreck, only it was a bad movie. Sigh. 

About half an hour into this movie, ,we decided the kids were "asleep enough" to get out some yummies that we were saving for US, not to share with the kids.  Judge if you want, but we think it's ok to have some stuff that's not shared with the kids.  They get EVERYTHING else in our lives, so we're ok with not sharing a tub or four of frozen goodness. In our defense, Breyers' Gelato Indulgences are indeed indulgences and have more adult flavor pairings.  These are a more sophisticated frozen treat, as implied by the name and packaging, and aren't really geared towards the kiddos. 

Our treat? The new Breyers Gelato Indulgences. I'm in love. I mean, I was already in love with my husband, and I've honestly never been head over heels with gelato before but holy WOW you guys.  

There are four kinds of Gelato Indulgences. Four. So there's kind of one for any flavor you may have a hunkering for. Feeling fruity? Check out the Raspberry Cheesecake.  The Tiramisu was an instant hit with my husband, although I was instantly smitten with Triple Chocolate (I can't help it, I'm a chocolate girl). There's also Vanilla Caramel but I haven't found it (yet) to sample… so we're just going to have to do another date night at home.  

LOOK at the frozen romance. Dark chocolate gelato, milk chocolate gelato, white chocolate sauce throughout, and pretty chocolate ribbons on top.  Or there were.  We might have devoured those instantly. 

Whatever you decide to do for date night at home, I have to suggest that you try some of these new gelato flavors.  They are out of this world good.  I think you'll end up like me and be unsure just which ones you want to have with your date and have a sampling of them at once!

I think we may stick with card games on our next date night at home.  With gelato of course! 


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Homemade Eczema Cream Recipe

Two of my kids have eczema. I have it myself on and off.  It’s itchy and uncomfortable.  We have tried a lot of products to help get some relief, but none seem to have a magical solution.  I decided to try to make my homemade eczema cream recently, and have been quite pleased with the results.  It works quite well, and especially for my son, he likes that there’s not a girlie scent to the cream I made.

Homemade Eczema Cream


First, you’ll want to gather your ingredients.

Coconut oil (Organic is preferred)

Tea Tree essential oil

Lavender essential oil


Container for your cream.  We had some Altoid tins that were almost empty so I just used one of those.  You can also purchase containers, but chances are that you have one in the house already that will do the job!)




Put 1/4 cup coconut oil into mixer  with whisk

Add 3-4 drops Lavender essential oil

Add 5-6 drops Tea Tree essential oil


Beat ingredients together until well blended (about 75-90 seconds) on low-medium speed

Spoon cream into container

Use as needed!


I help my four year old to apply this eczema remedy most of the time, but my 6 year old can usually apply it himself. I help with areas he can’t reach. I like knowing exactly what we’re putting onto their skin!

Homemade Eczema Cream Recipe
Homemade eczema remedy
Recipe type: Remedies
  • Coconut oil (Organic is preferred)
  • Tea Tree essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Mixer
  • Container for your cream. We had some Altoid tins that were almost empty so I just used one of those. You can also purchase containers, but chances are that you have one in the house already that will do the job!)
  1. Put ¼ cup coconut oil into mixer with whisk
  2. Add 3-4 drops Lavender essential oil
  3. Add 5-6 drops Tea Tree essential oil
  4. Beat ingredients together until well blended (about 75-90 seconds) on low-medium speed
  5. Spoon cream into container
  6. Use as needed



Trista Sutter on family, gratitude and the great outdoors

Earlier this week I had the chance to sit down (via Skype) and chat with Trista Sutter.  Yes, “that” Trista Sutter.  Which is kind of ironic, because I’m fairly certain I’ve never watched The Bachelor nor The Bachelorette. (I have no reason why, although if they are all like Trista, I would love to watch….) So for me, this was a way to connect with another mom, albeit a mom who has a lot more fame in her life than I ever will.  It was a lovely conversation (though brief) but there were a few things that she said that were so meaningful to me, that really have just given me a refreshed view this week. I needed it.  It was nice to hear so much “normal” from a celebrity- talking about her kids playing sports, planning camps, playing Minecraft, stuff that the “rest of us” chat about all the time.


I had the chance to ask Trista a few questions- I was curious to hear what activities the family likes to enjoy most outdoors together.  Biking, hiking, walks, playing… the Sutters just really seem to enjoy being outside all of the time. They even go camping- and yes, I asked. They do tent camping.  (Clearly she’s braver than I am, I’m an RV camping girl I think…but I can hang in a tent. I’d just prefer not to….) It was really clear that Trista really values family time, together time.  Being outdoors with the family is important and part of their family on a regular basis. :)


Given that Trista’s partnered with OFF! brand to help get everyone OUTDOORS and enjoying all that mother nature offers, together, with our families, we had to find out some information about what her favorite OFF! products are. The Botanical Wipes came up several times, as did clip on repellents.  I haven’t tried the wipes but we plan to get some this week- my kids are really fair skinned and that pale skin is very sensitive to insect bites.  We’re looking forward to trying some wipes to keep the bugs OFF! the kids!


I want to read Trista’s book: Happily Ever After: The Life-Changing Power of a Grateful Heart.  Why?

“The most important time to find gratitude is in those most difficult times because that’s how you get through them. Realize they are a blessing, even when it’s hard.” (Thank you for remembering that quote, Janel!)

Because showing gratitude every single day is immensely important.  It’s SO easy to get caught up in stuff- the big, the small, the daunting, the simple, and lose that gratitude.  But it matters. It’s important.  Trista shared with us that she committed to sharing gratitude on social media daily.  Every day. Part of being happy is choosing gratitude.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard that message many times in church sermons through the years.  I just have found times in my life where I almost forget to choose gratitude.  I’m recommitted to choosing happy…choosing gratitude…choosing positive.


One of the best ways I have found that helps me to choose positive, choose gratitude, IS to get outdoors and BE with my family.  I actually wrote a whole post about the last minute decision on Mother’s Day to head to the beach knowing it’d not be warm enough to swim but feeling that strong urge to just get AWAY from the every day and connect with the family outside, exploring, appreciating, finding gratitude.  Choosing in those moments, planned or unplanned- those are the moments that turn into reasons for gratitude. We had one of the best days we’ve had all year and my cup was just overflowing.

As a mom, hearing Trista share how she says Magic Words to her children every night and has them repeat them really touched my heart. The biggest?

You are important” (yes, from The Help). What a gift to give your kids to remind them every single night they are important to you. I’ve decided we need to start using Magic Words in our family too.


Oh, and one last thing? National Get Outdoors Day is June 14th. Cities all across the nation will be participating and you can join in on the fun or plan your own outdoor activities for that weekend. Check out to see what’s planned for your area. Whatever you decide, do it outdoors!!


One reader will  win a picnic basket, an outdoor blanket, a copy of Trista’s book and a bottle of OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent.

To enter, simple follow instructions on the Giveaway Tools form below.


This is a compensated post.  Opinions are my own.



Printable Preschool Chore Chart

My little one is allllllllllllllllllllllmost reading. She’s so close. She’s just not there.  But my little one, she’s a helper kid, and loves having a list of things to do just like her mama.  She’s also a big fan of crossing things off that list.  The apple didn’t go far…..

Anyway, I decided to go into Publisher on Office 365 and see if I could come up with some kind of printable preschool chore chart for my little one that can help her to have her own to-do list, but also have visual cues with the written words to help practice the reading. Our friends at Lunchbox had asked if I could share a little bit about how easy Office 365 is to use and I thought this would be a fun, simple project to do just that.

I was actually really (pleasantly) surprised at how much I could DO with the Publisher program (because usually I pester friends to walk me through it and/or beg them to help) all by my lonesome.

Making this Chore Chart was not so hard.

I made the title and started creating my chores.


Then I added in some clip art.  I think you can go simple like me or get crazy and add photos from your house.  That would mean you are less lazy than I am. :)

preschool chore chart in progress

That’s it.  We are going to be printing this and laminating it so it lasts longer.  Easy, peasy. I wonder if I can get the WHOLE family to follow chore charts?


You can download this Preschool-chore-Chart-printable-pdf file to print and save for your house free right here!
Over the weekend, I was talking to my niece and her fiance about how I loved their save the date cards, and they were happy to tell me they used Publisher to create them!!  Aren’t they fabulous? The happy couple is big into running and I thought these were the perfect save the dates for them.



You can find Office 365 at  It’s available for your laptop, desktop, tablet and/or phone, and can be purchased for a PC or MAC device.

office365 personal


I want to make some fun cards for my daughter’s preschool classmates- they graduate to Kindergarten next month and have all been together for 2 full years now.  We intend to send them out with a bang!

What have you made with Office 365?


Ad free searches + Free Surface Tablets for schools! #adfreesearch #bingclassroom

I have three kids who attend public school.  I have three kids who, like it or not, have the internet as part of their education.  The internet is here to stay.  It’s not going anywhere.  That said, when children are on the internet, it becomes a much scarier place than when we adults are on it.  Most places don’t just have a web page. There are advertisements that take many forms wherever you turn online, and THAT is something I don’t want my kids to see all the time.


They are innundated around the clock, through each calendar year with advertising.  School is supposed to be where they learn and expand their minds, not get exposed to more advertising. I can take measures at home to limit what advertising they are exposed to. I cannot take measures to limit or restrict at school- or at least, I haven’t until now.  Bing in the Classroom removes ads and blocks searches from being used for personalized advertising for all Bing searches done through the school’s network, making Bing the only major search engine to provide a search offering tailored specifically for the classroom.


Now, I have mad love for Bing and have for a year now. I am not looking back. The fact that they are making ad free searches available to all schools and are even letting people earn free Surface Tablets for their local schools simply by using Bing to search is AMAZING. I puffy heart Bing.

And the puffy heart love grows again.


Anyone can earn credits just by searching the web with Bing—similar to a frequent flyer program. Credits can be donated to help get free Microsoft Surface tablets for schools. It’s easy! All you have to do is stay signed in as you search with Bing. . You can search for any school by ZIP code and see how many other people are contributing, how many Surface tablets the school has earned so far, and how many credits are needed to earn the next Surface. They’ll  also tell you if the school is registered for the search enhancements, so you can know if your kids are receiving ad-free, safer, more private search in the classroom when they choose Bing.

So without spending a dime, we can support our schools.  I search at least 20 times per day. Most of us search daily. Why not support a local school?  Or choose a school in a community that is in a very depressed area? This is a win-win.  Educated kids means a smarter generation to enter the work force.  We cannot do without them.

To begin supporting schools with Bing rewards, simply visit the campaign landing page and select “Find your school” map in the lower right corner of the page.

Next, enter your school’s zip code and select the name of your school via the dropdown menu and select “Find”.

From here, select the “Support Your School” section and click on the “Try it now, FREE!” section. You’ll be prompted to create a Microsoft account, or sign in with your Facebook account. All you have to do is stay signed in as you search with Bing to earn credits.




Many thanks to Bing for sponsoring today’s post, and inspiring me to share about their #adfreesearch classroom initiative.


Little Life Lessons from Mom #KeepGoodGoing

This post brought to you by New York Life. All opinions are 100% mine.

Did your mom have little bits of wisdom that seemed so small when she said them, but later in life you realized were just profound truths?


My mom did. 

Be the friend you want to have.

A smile can make a BIG difference.

There's always a way to help someone. 

Don't move the mess. 

You have two choices in this situation. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be unhappy.  (This was maybe not so "minor" but it's a biggie!)

Choose to see the bad or choose to see the good. Only you can make that choice for yourself. 

mom and me

I wish my mom was still alive. I wish I could hear her imparting her wisdom to her grandchildren. But she's not.  

I used to roll my eyes at my mom's little bits of wisdom she'd share. Life lessons, in teeny tiny doses.  I'm sure a lot of the stuff she said to us growing up was from what her parents said to her as she grew up….just like it's started to come out of my own mouth with my own children.

I've talked with my kids a lot about choices, and choosing happiness.  About being thankful for all that you have instead of what you don't have. I don't know if it's sinking in with my kids yet.  Probably not. But someday, hopefully, when they are older, maybe not even until they have little ones of their own, they'll realize just how much meaning was behind the small words I spoke to them all these years ago.  How I shared ways to Keep Good Going with them, and how my mom had shared those ways with me.  Celebrating Good sure is a lot more fun than wishing our lives away, don't you think? 

Little things I've shared with my kids? 

Hold the door for others.

Ask questions. Listen to the answers. 

Be the kind of friend you want someone to be to you.

Be thankful for what you have.  It's always a blessing.

Make the best of it all.  It makes a difference.

Help others. Hold that door, let them go ahead in line. Smile at them. Offer help. Bring them dinner. Pick up that prescription. 

Be kind. 

Be polite.

Be courteous. 

Really, when you get right down to it, most of the life lessons my mom shared with me and I share with my kids can almost boil down to one theme.  Keep good going.  

Being thankful= good

Choosing to help others= good

Being a good friend= Good

Ask questions, listen to answers= good

Keep good going.

The “The Happiest Daughter” video tells the story of how all families experience unexpected challenges, but what's important is making the most of it.  We can learn a lot from how little kids react and respond to challenges in life. They still find joy and things to laugh, smile and giggle at. 


Learn more about how New York Life can help you and your family Keep Good GoingThe Happiest DaughterCelebrating Good


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Shared moments with family and friends #nibblers

I’m feeling eleven kinds of nostalgic today. Maybe it’s the weather, Mother’s Day next week, turning 40, my baby finishing preschool next month.  Maybe I’m just sentimental. I don’t know. But so many moments are flooding into my memory, new moments, old moments, forgotten moments, treasured moments. The common theme to all of my moments is that they are all shared moments.  It’s never a moment when it’s just *me.*

My favorite shared moments?

When I’m laughing with my children

Going for rides on the boat with my dad

Sailing with my dad

Shopping with my sister

Visiting with my dad

Helping in the kids’ classrooms

Teaching Sunday School

Bringing a meal to a family

Watching a movie snuggled up with my family

Playing games with my mom

Discussing favorite books with my mom

Getting pedicures with friends

Road trips

Concerts and events with friends and my husband

Our wedding

Our childrens’ births

Our engagement


One way many of us connect is with food, and so many memories for us all include food and eating. We have a Friday night tradition of family movie or game night, depending on our moods.  We always make a fun snack.  Sometimes, it’s popcorn, sometimes popcorn with a chocolate surprise in it.  Other times, we’ve made ice cream sundaes with fun toppings.


We did ice cream with Mrs. Fields Nibblers recently and the kids just thought that was the best thing ever.  The small size of the Nibblers made for smaller portions, and the fun flavors added a new twist to their ice cream.



The Nibblers Cookies come in packages with just 15 cookies in them.  These are great for sharing with friends…other team parents…kids on a team, a fun treat after dinner.  The smaller size of the cookies and numbers in the box help folks like me to not eat too many cookies!  They are, as my 8 year old said, the perfect sharing cookies.

**Stay tuned, we’re bringing these to gymnastics to share with fellow parents there.  We got rained out of 2 soccer practices and 2 baseball games this week!

I’m participating in this sponsored campaign as an influencer in the Niche Parent Network & Conference community. All opinions are my own.



10 Reasons to stop drinking soda #goH20

I like the taste of most sodas. I won’t lie. I have a sweet tooth with a mind of it’s own. I love root beer.  Birch beer. Sasparilla.  So good. I am trying to stop drinking soda, though, for a plethora of reasons.  Really, it’s just not good for us. Recently, I was challenged to write a post about the benefits of drinking water vs. drinking soda.  That’s how I came up with these 10 reasons to stop drinking soda.

reasons to stop drinking soda

1. Many sodas contain brominated vegetable oil—a toxic flame retardant—to keep the artificial flavoring from separating from the rest of the liquid. Do you really want to ingest flame retardant?

2. Your teeth. I’m pretty sure you like yours. I like mine! The acidity in soda can eat away your tooth enamel. You can’t just replace enamel on your teeth.  I’ve lost a lot of my tooth enamel from grinding my teeth for decades… I don’t need any extra help in that department.

3. Weight gain- even diet soda can make you gain weight, long term.

4. Sodium- Soda usually has sodium  in it.  That’s not going to hydrate you, and it’s not going to quench your thirst.  Quite the opposite.

5. BPA- most soda in cans contains BPA. (bisphenol A)

6. Empty calories- there’s no nutritional value in sodas.  Drinking calories isn’t going to give your body fuel to keep going, and it won’t help boost your immune system.  It can help you gain weight, however, and put you at risk for health issues.

7. Diet Soda can cause problems too. Just because the calories are lower doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to consume it.  Diet sodas still have sodium and carbonation.  Studies are showing long term effects of diet soda consumption.

8. Your organs- sodas are high in sugars.  Excessive sugar intake can negatively impact your organs.  You know, your organs, that keep your body running?

9. You can clean a car battery and a toilet with soda.  Do you REALLY want to be drinking something you can also clean your toilet with?  Or a battery?

10. YOU. Aren’t you deserving of something that won’t harm your insides?  Or cause damage long term?

replace soda with brita

Brita’s new campaign is taking a direct stand against sugary beverages, including soda, sports drinks and juices, for better health. Because after all, “nothing is better” than clean, clear, refreshing water. 

According to the CDC, more than 40 percent of Americans drink less than half of the recommended amount of water daily, and approximately one fourth of children don’t drink any water on any given day. When you drink just one more glass of water you are keeping your body hydrated and giving it the energy it needs.

Brita is an official supporter of Drink Up, the effort from the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and its honorary chairperson, Michelle Obama, to get people to drink more water, more often.

Brita has also partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) to drive awareness of the dangers of sugary beverages and combat childhood obesity.

Check out Brita’s new commercial  that provides a clear visual on this very subject and to learn more about drinking Brita filtered water as a healthy beverage choice.

Do you drink soda?


This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Brita blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

LEGO Friends Building Toys for Girls #LEGOFriendsCGC #CleverGirls

We are a big fan of LEGO® as a brand in our family. We have spent many hours together building things together.  Every holiday we like to build something as a challenge that goes with the holiday. (Turkeys are really hard to make, FYI). When we were starting to look at what we wanted for a chicken coop, the first mockup was from LEGO® bricks.  When I say WE, I mean all five of us in our family.  Both of my girls LOVE to build creations with LEGO®  bricks- both the LEGO® Friends and regular bricks. We’ve been in love with the girls from Heartlake City since we first were introduced to them and our love has only grown.


The Heartlake News Van was sent to us as part of this review.  It’s meant for ages 6-12, although big sister let little help a lot when she was constructing the van.  The van was a quick build for the girls (mostly my 8 1/2 year old).  She loves the color change from the “regular” bricks, and how the sets serve to encourage creative play after the sets are completed.  The LEGO Lipstick was also a big hit.


The LEGO® Friends van sets up a scene for the kids to do news reports on things happening “around town.”  With sets like these, kids learn about following directions are able to follow guidelines to build things as they are, but then they can use the constructed sets to inspire imaginative and creative play.


My kids were using the news van to talk about a race track crash between a motor bike and a sports car (that their brother built, but this is for LEGO® Friends so we don’t have pics). They’ve been doing ‘newscasts’ all week even using the teeny tiny microphone that came with the set.



The kids had a blast building this set.  The girls have both requested that we get all of the REST of the LEGO® Friends sets we don’t already have, so we can build Heartlake City. In the meantime, they’ll have to settle for giving me news reports lamenting the fact that they don’t have all of the sets…



We also received a small container of  LEGO® bricks, with a note that our daughters were to build something of their own choosing.  Being Earth Week, my daughter wanted to build a  LEGO® Earth.



She was quite proud of her accomplishment, as was I. She did a pretty great job considering she had limited brick sizes and colors to work with!



I suggested she try to build a chicken coop and was met with eye  rolls.  But hey, that’s the awesome of  LEGO® Friends and  LEGO® in general- kids can build what they want, how they want to.  There are so many options and fun ways to create and design all kinds of creations and structures…. all while increasing spatial awareness, logic, problem solving and more. 

Got a girl in your life? Get her some  LEGO® Friends!


LEGO® Friends is a collection of building sets that blend the iconic LEGO construction experience with stories, settings and themes designed to meet children’s desire for creativity and a highly-detailed, character-based world. Since its launch in 2012, LEGO® Friends has dramatically increased the number of girls building with LEGO bricks and enjoying the benefits of construction play.


LEGO® Friends has teamed up with Girls on the Run® (GOTR), a physical activity-based positive youth development program to inspire girls everywhere to achieve their limitless potential. Girls are using  LEGO® Friends bricks and elements to tell stories, embrace their differences and find strength in their connectedness.

Have you done LEGO® Friends with your daughter? Does she like the sets, building freehand, or both?

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