Happier Holidays (and nights) #HappierHolidaysSweeps

It’s December.  Life is HECTIC for almost everyone.  Regular life activities, but also? Holiday shopping, baking, wrapping, gifting, visiting and celebrating on top of day to day activities.  It’s fun and it’s wonderful but it can also be oh so very stressful. Even finding places for friends and family to sleep when they come over the river and through the woods- what if Grandmother’s house doesn’t have enough beds?Thanks to Country Inns & Suites for sponsoring this post.  Horribly corny revisions of the beloved Christmas poem are my own.

christmas tree

The horse may know the way to carry the sleigh but if there aren’t beds to sleep in, Grandmother’s house may not be the best place to get a good night’s rest. That’s where Country Inns & Suites come in.  They want all of us to have Happier Holidays & Nights and they are offering a 4-night stay PLUS a $300 gift card to a lucky person who uses the #HappierHolidaySweeps on Instagram or Twitter. Actually, it’s to 25 lucky Grand Prize winners, but who’s counting? :) Thanks to Country Inns & Suites for sponsoring today’s post.

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Listen, we all want to have the ideal holiday memories. Life isn’t like the movies, and there aren’t always perfect arrangements.  When there aren’t- at least you have places like Country Inns & Suites to head to…unless you want Clement Clarke Moore’s works to be rewritten as follows:

The relatives were not quite nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of Sugarplums danced in their heads
And ‘Ma in (ust) her kerchief and I in (just) my cap
knew without help there’d be not a soul to nap…

christmas vacation

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
it was Aunt Bev yelling at John to pitch that tent flatter
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, in time to stop the crash…

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature Cabriolet and eight tiny horsepower-deer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his relatives they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now David! Now Dana!
Now, Parker and Vincent!
On, Carla! On, Cupid!
On, Donny and Franklin!
Don’t sleep on our porch!
Or lean against the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

clark griswold

As dry leaves that before the wild toddlers do fly,
when they meet with an argument, threw that last pie
so up to the Country Inns & Suites the relatives they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

american-girl-twinkle-party-dress

Don’t have unhappy holidays.  Book rooms at Country Inns & Suites and leave ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas the way it should be. If you and Grama don’t have room for people who come over the river and through the woods, book them at Country Inns & Suites.  Better still, enter to win the #HappierHolidaysSweeps and WIN that stay!

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How do you enter? Official stuff below

  • By posting #happierholidayssweeps hashtag on Twitter or Instagram- or via registration form– entrants will be entered for a chance to win. (Or all 3, each day, one per entry method (Reg. form, Instagram and Twitter)
  • Registration in specific states and/or countries: is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are at least twenty-one (21) years old at the time of entry.
  • Program Period: 12/1/2014 @ 12:00:00 P.M. CT – 12/22/14 @ 11:59:59 A.M. CT
  • Prize(s) and Values: There will be 25 Grand Prize Winners for the entire program period. Each Grand Prize Winner will four (4) free nights at a Country Inns & Suites location, and a $300 gift card.

 

Facebook.com/countryinns

Twitter.com/countryinns

 

 

 

Rudolph turns 50 #Rudolph50 #ShineBright #giveaway

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running and highest-rated holiday TV special of all time, and it is inarguably a beloved part of the American holiday tradition.

50YearsRudolph

 

This year is the 50th anniversary of the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Yes, the sort-of fuzzy and very dated little reindeer with the bright red nose who couldn’t join in any reindeer games. Fifty  years! Hard for me to believe that I’m only 10 years younger than Rudolph…. but really- so very many of my holiday memories are entwined with the story of Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey, and the friends from the Island of Misfit Toys. Books, toys, songs, quotes, stuffed animals… there are so many ways that I’ve had Rudolph as a part of my holiday life (and beyond) and I just love that I can continue sharing the love of Rudolph with my kids. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched Rudolph, read the books, or both every single Christmas season of my life.

I’ve heard stories about me singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer off-key for most of a year, I think when I was 4 or 5?  It’s kind of fun that my youngest spends a whole lot of time singing it as well (she’s just 5 herself).  Growing up, every year we would all watch when CBS aired Rudolph on TV, no matter how old we were, or what stage of life we were in. My husband thought I was so strange that I would not just watch, but would make sure to be ready to watch (popcorn, not multitasking) when Rudolph was on TV.  Trust me when I tell you, he’s a changed man. It’s taken 14 years but he’s turned into a Christmas guy, and loves watching all of our beloved holiday friends almost as much as I do.  He knew the holiday lineup of shows before I did last year.  I was VERY proud.

So naturally, when I heard there was a TO DO for Rudolph, the best reindeer ever, I had to be involved.  The anniversary celebration includes a major tie-in with the U.S. Postal Service, tribute promos from CBS, a collector’s edition DVD with new bonus material, a new stage musical, theme park and in-mall entertainment, and a social media campaign – #ShineBright – that celebrates uniqueness in association with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. (Note to self: go get Rudolph stamps ASAP for holiday cards!)

 

We received 6 Rudolph books in honor of the big anniversary to enjoy.  They go from toddler all the way up to a special anniversary edition- and several in between.  When I showed the kids the books, my son, age 7, sat down, opened the book, and emerged an hour later asking for book 2.  (Is there to be a Rudolph series?)

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Square Fish, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, is releasing 6 new Rudolph-themed books that span a variety of formats, including the first ever graphic novel starring Rudolph and company, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS, by Brendan Deneen. Other formats include a classic storybook, a picture book, slide-and-find and lift-the-flap board books, and a ‘My Reader’ edition specifically designed for beginning readers. There’s something for the whole family!

 rudolph-books

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Classic Story Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition for ages 4-8

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Slide and Find Board Book for ages 2-4

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Life-the-Flap Board Book for ages 2-4

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Rudolph Saves the Day Paperback picture book for ages 3-7

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: My Reader Level 2 Paperback Reader for ages 5-7

This is the stage my youngest is reading, and she was REALLY excited about this book.  She could read every word, with the exception of names and Christmastown.

rudolph-early-reader

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Island of Misfit Toys Middle-Grade Graphic Novel for ages 7-12

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Visit Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group Official Website

Follow Macmillan Kids on Twitter

RudolphBooks

One reader will win the 6 books pictured above to celebrate Rudolph’s 50th!

 

 

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

3 Simple Back to School Tips #HappyBalance

It’s amazing how fast the luxuries of summer can fade, only to be replaced by the sudden onslaught of organization and the need for structure. It seemed that the hours of the day were short enough during the summer, and now a majority of daylight hours are consumed at school for the kids and catching up on all of the projects I procrastinated around for the entire summer…and early fall.  Are you in the same boat? I’ve put together a few tips that have helped me to get back in the swing of things.

3 Simple Back to School Tips

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Organize a Command Center:

If you don’t already have one, this would be a great time to create it. A command center can look how ever your family would like, but the purpose is essentially the same across the board. It should be a central area where your family can pass notes, pass off papers, store keys, and have a collaborative calendar. The concept of this, and even the location, will be different for every family. Whatever works best for yours! Ours is below. We are actually adding a weekly calendar for each kid in the breezeway for them to remember library, gym, activities etc.

organization board

Have Quick Meals On Deck:

While it’s fun to spend a day in the kitchen whipping up some comfort food, it’s important to be realistic during the school year. Some days will call for a much quicker approach to nutrition, and it’s helpful to have some ideas in mind beforehand. My kids are very active so we love McDonald’s kids meals. I love they are adding healthy options for my kids that are quick and easy.

happy-meal-gogurt

Did you know that since July, kids can choose between a go-gurt and apple slices in their meal? There will even be clementines available later this fall. Ever since 2013, when they partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, McDonald’s has made a commitment to nutrition. The goal of the partnership is to increase access to fruit, veggies, and low-fat dairy.

Establish Morning and Bedtime Routines Early On:

How your day starts and ends plays a major factor in what happens between. Setting a schedule early is the best way to keep things flowing smoothly. It’s a great idea to have clothes, backups, lunches, and more in place the night before. Scrambling for things in the morning is not fun and puts everyone on edge.

Likewise, a consistent routine at bedtime is comforting and makes it much easier to fall asleep. Both for the kids, and the parents.

While I’m not COMPLETELY done pouting about the end of summer just yet; I do have to admit I’m quickly adapting to the sweaters, boots, fallen leaves and football!

What’s hardest for you to adjust during back-to-school season? You will be entered to win a $25 McDonald’s Arch Card by answering this question with a thoughtful response. Good luck!

 

I received compensation from McDonald’s in exchange for writing this review. Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Messes aren’t always a bad thing #HappiMess #DeltaFaucet

You know those days, when you look around your house and want to cry, because there’s just messes everywhere you turn? But then, when you take a step back, you realize, that a lot of that mess is actually a HappiMess, and a feeling of gratitude washes over you?

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I live with Lego bricks all over my living room.  Every flat surface is covered with Lego creations- done by my son, my daughters, my husband- or any combination of family members.  My kitchen currently looks like a packaging center, because the kids have been working hard after school to create their own Boxtrolls in celebration of the movie coming out in a few weeks. messes-arent-always-bad-thing Sometimes I look at kitchens (and baths) in magazines and sigh, wishing for such a pristine environment. But really, that’s not what I’d want. Yes, I like a clean house, but I’ve decided that some messes are meant to be embraced- because they are signs of life being lived. Yes, there’s a mess in my kitchen, there’s a project half completed. But it’s a sign of the kids and I doing crafts together, to go along with a book we’ve been reading together all summer…and we’re having FUN doing this together.  Those Lego brick creations that are everywhere are things made by my kids, my husband- even me. That puzzle sitting out on the table is 1,000 pieces. It’s the biggest one we’ve attempted. We’re all working on it together. Family time.  That’s what the happimesses are about for me.  Memories made, fun being had, life being lived. puzzle-happimess   The folks at Delta Faucet agree with me that messes aren’t always a bad thing- and they make products to help make the cleanup of our happimesses easier.  Share your own messy moments through the Delta #HappiMess social media sweepstakes, which kicked off August 11. You could win a Delta Faucet kitchen & bath prize pack worth over $2400! delta logo Why do people treat mess like it’s a bad thing? It’s actually the evidence of a life well lived. When you’re out there making, creating, doing and playing, embrace your #HappiMess and let Delta kitchen and bath innovations help clean up so you can do it all again tomorrow.”   Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Delta via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Delta.

5 ways to keep active kids healthy #HorizonB2S

My kids have spent the last few months swimming, diving, playing tennis and running around like crazy. Most of the time they are in the water, either here at home or at the swim club. The rest of the time? My girls can usually be found upside down, doing cartwheels, really, any gymnastics skills. My son and younger daughter love to play baseball and soccer, and both love to swing. My oldest will go across the monkey bars a dozen times a day- until she’s blistered and they start to pop… then she’ll stop. Summer for us means nonstop movement, and we love it. My only concern is keeping active kids healthy when they are that busy- although keeping them healthy while active is also key.

Five Ways to Keep Active Kids Healthy

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1. Nourish

Around here, we like to refer to foods that are good for our bodies as healthy grow food. Silly way to say it? Yes, perhaps. But the kids “get” the meaning and understand it. They know they can have all the healthy grow food they want, whenever they want. Balanced meals at home and on the go are essential.

I find, as many do, that if the snacks available are healthy, kids will eat them. We have a snack bin in the pantry and in the fridge that I try to stock up on Sundays, and the kids can choose from that for snacks, lunches, etc. They feel in control, I know they are having good for them foods.

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2. Plan Ahead

Plan out your week ahead of time. The first few years I had kids in activities, I didn’t “get” the planning thing and too often I was throwing a quick meal together last minute or, a few times, stopping for fast food in desperation to get them fed. Take that time to look at your week- use leftovers or a crock pot to make sure you are having a balanced meal no matter how busy your week is. I honestly ended up cooking dinner in the midmornings or early afternoons on many, many occasions last school year. I had to, or we’d be scrambling (more than eggs…) to figure out a balanced meal.

3. Team and Organized Group Activities

As your kids find activities they are interested in, look for teams or groups to join. This way, they’ll be able to enjoy their activity with others who also enjoy it, but being part of a team or group also helps teach them a lot of life lessons. Coaches offer instruction to further their skills.

Make sure that your child has the proper equipment for whatever activity she or he is participating in. Footwear should fit properly, and they should wear the proper clothing/sports gear for that sport. If they are playing a sport that requires shinguards, make sure they always wear them, so that it becomes a habit to keep their shins protected.

4. Rest

No one can be truly healthy without proper rest. Set a bedtime and stick to it whenever possible. My oldest is in fourth grade this year- 10-11 hours of sleep is the recommended amount for her age. We try very hard to get that amount for her. We actually put our kids in bed at the same time, but the older two can read for a bit before they fall asleep.
This will be a challenge for my family this fall, as my oldest was invited to XCEL Team for gymnastics- practices are until 8:15 one night, and 9pm the next. My kids are normally in bed at 7:30, lights out by 8. We’ll have to figure out a way to adjust around those days to make sure she’s not getting too tired.

I also need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep. I’m working on it!

5. Unorganized Activities

These are some of my favorites. Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Make up a scavenger hunt for your family- grownups included- and have an adventure. Pick a local spot, pack a picnic, and play tourist in your own area. Some of my favorite family memories are from days we just decided to take a family walk, or visit a local state park- unplanned, unstructured, but very active. This way, in the off-season, you’re still keeping the kiddos busy and active. It’s great for us parents, as well!

How do you keep your active kids healthy?

This conversation is sponsored by Horizon Organic. The opinions and text are all mine.

Drive Safe Today Day #DriveSafeToday

Drive Safe Today Day is an event that shows Progressive’s human side — an observable pursuit outside of providing innovative insurance. The purpose is  to affect driving behavior and make the roads a little safer for everyone.

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I have 3 kids. If you’ve been around here at all, you’ve likely seen photos  of them.  They are my world, along with my husband.  My precious cargo, so to speak.  They motivate me to drive safer, slower, and more deliberately. I can’t imagine knowingly putting any of my little family in danger.

precious cargo

But what I realized years ago- not enough years ago, but better late than never, I suppose?!- what I realized was that even if *I* don’t have my precious cargo (family) in my car with me, someone else does.

 

That realization changed my driving habits years ago.

 

We all need to be more aware and take steps to be safer.  We all have family and friends who care about us.  Just because our precious cargo isn’t in the car with us doesn’t mean someone else’s isn’t.

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Drive Safe Today Day is a day meant for all of us to put down the lipstick, the coffee, the phones…the bagels, the pet boa constrictors… and whatever else strikes your fancy…

and take a pledge to make a big effort, for one day, to drive a little bit better.

So leave five minutes early. Keep those angry fingers DOWN if someone cuts you off. Drive the speed limit.

Put your makeup on at home, or at the office. Stop lights are for stopping 😉 and not for makeup application.

Let the person waiting to turn onto the road go.

Imagine what the roads would be like if we all took a pledge for Drive Safe Today Day?

#drivesafetoday-pledge

I’m officially inviting you to join me in pledging. Right here, right now.  The big day is 9/3. Chosen for a reason- having your hands at 10 and 2 while driving isn’t what’s recommended anymore.  Hands should be at 9 and 3. So…

let’s do this…

Let’s get our safety on and make the pledge to cap that lipstick, sip our coffee when the car is NOT moving, and use our fingers to help us steer, and not to send messages.

On 9-3, let’s turn the key on Drive Safe Today Day, invented by the folks at Progressive. Why? Because we could all do with a little reminder to drive a little safer.  Yes, even you. And me. Definitely that girl who’s always on her phone shaving on the highway…. and absolutely the guy applying lipstick and drinking coffee heading in to work.

 

Over 30,000 too-close-for-comfort-accidents occur every single day- often because of unsafe behaviors. WE can do something about that.  We- all of us- can do it.  Let’s start with one day. Just one. 

What will YOU pledge for Drive Safe Today Day?

 

 

 I’ve teamed up with Progressive for their Drive Safe Today Day initiative. Although I’ve been compensated for my post, the thoughts and ideas are my own.

3 ways to enjoy Cheerios Protein #CheeriosProtein

There’s really two things I eat for breakfast regularly. I’m pretty boring and pretty basic. It’s almost always eggs or cereal with milk. Eggs are broken yolk, over hard- basically, cook ’em until they are rubbery and then I’m happy.  With cereal, plain is where it’s always been for me.  One of my favorite cereals since childhood and even today is Cheerios.  I eat them for breakfast and I eat them for snacks on the go.  I love them.  My family loves them too.  Some of them like Honey Nut Cheerios more than the classic version, but me? Original.  The classic. That ever familiar yellow box. When Cheerios reached out and asked if I’d like to try their new Cheerios Protein, I was willing, although the 5 year old deep inside my head was all “I’m not going to like it as much as my yellow box variety!”

Cheerios Protein. There are clusters of Oats & Honey, and Cinnamon Almond. Clusters of crunch.  Clusters of yum.

Move over, regular Cheerios. You’ve been replaced.

cheerios-protein

Who doesn’t want more protein for breakfast (ok maybe kids don’t, but adults, we have to pay attention to things like this!) ? We have a really busy schedule in the summer, with swim team practice, tennis lessons for the kids and then swim and dive lessons.  All daily.  We need a GREAT start to our day even in the summer to keep our energy up! During the school year, my kids are early risers, and they are done with breakfast by 6:30 am.  Their lunch waves aren’t until 11:40 and later at our school, so I really try to make sure they have a great breakfast every day.

 

Three ways to enjoy Cheerios Protein

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In a bowl with milk (Note: Tastes amazing with Silk Almond Milk!)

On top of a bowl of yogurt (Yogurt is all of our mid morning snack in this family, and the kids will be happy to have some of these to sprinkle on top for their snack at school.  We are all about the crunch in this house, and Cheerios Protein delivers on that).

Plain as a snack (My favorite. The kids and I have been packing these in our snack bags for the pool almost daily. So good).

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So why am I so excited about the new Cheerios Protein? Well, getting this family going in the morning means that I need to get going. I need the protein and energy as much as the kids.  We ALL need it.  More protein gives us the energy to do what we need to do and keep our bellies full! So many parents (even me, at times) don’t feel that their familygets enough protein in the morning. 2 out of every 5 see the time it takes to make a protein-rich breakfast as a barrier, making way for Cheerios Protein as the time-saving solution. Sure, a big spread would be nice, but it’s rare for anyone to have the time to make that kind of breakfast let alone sit down to eat it these days.

While 9 out of ten (89%) parents see the importance of starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast, half (51%) admit there isn’t time to prepare it. We all have places to be and things to do.  It’s how our society is.  Having cereal that’s giving me- and the family- an extra boost of protein in our cereal means we’re heading off to those places prepared for the day (at least, our bellies are) with enough fuel to last the morning.

Have you tried the new Cheerios Protein? Which is your favorite?

 

 

This post is brought to you by our friends at Cheerios.  Opinions are my own.

Where to Camp in Massachusetts

The good thing about Massachusetts is that it is close to some amazing camping spots. (And super close to Connecticut!) When you are ready to walk out of the office and sit next to a campfire making s’mores, Massachusetts’ outdoor playground doesn’t disappoint. Whether you want to camp near the dunes on the Cape or in the forest near a lake, you can find a great camping spot in MA. Where to camp in Massachusetts is as simple as deciding what you want to relax around and drive just a couple hours to get there.

Where to Camp in MA

Nickerson State Park, Brewster

Close to Cape Cod is one of the largest campgrounds at Nickerson State Park. There are over 400 campsites, yurts, and a group campsite is available. This camping mecca sits on 1900 acres of forested land and has eight kettle ponds where you can fish, canoe, or go swimming. One of the best things about the camping spots is that they are very large and have a lot of privacy with all the trees around. There are no hookups here but they do have flush toilets, showers, picnic tables with fire rings and dumping station available.

Wompatuck State Park, Hingham

Just 35 minutes outside of Boston is a great campsite that can accommodate both tents and RVs. Bring your bicycle and hiking boots and have fun on both the paved and hiking trails. You can fish at Cohasset Reservoir and have fun kayaking there too. Bring your water jugs and fill up on the fresh drinking water at Mt. Blue Spring – a true treat to do on a hot summer day. The campsite offers electric hookups, a dumping station, and potable water.

Shawme-Crowell State Park, Sandwich

When you want to camp near the beach out at the Cape, this is the campsite you want to head to. It has 285 sites in a wooded area and it even has yurts to rent. You can bring your horses and ride them on 15 miles of roads and trails. It has full hookups and a dumping station for your RVs.

Can’t stand to fully unplug from social media? Bring along a solar battery pack!

Where do you like to camp?

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.

mrs-fields-nibblers-cookies

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.

mrs-fields-nibblers-ice-cream-topping

mrs-fields-nibblers-on-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.

 

 

8 Reasons to Garden

 

Growing up, my dad had a garden. I can’t remember anything he grew in that garden except for rhubarb, I guess because we used to munch on the rhubarb while catching fireflies in our Underoos.  As I got older, I was away at summer camp for 8+ weeks each year, and wasn’t really around for gardening season…and then we got a house on Lake Winnipesauke and weekends and vacations were spent there so the garden kind of went by the wayside.  We even have some rhubarb plants here, that we’d gotten from a neighbor, so we could bring it to my mom and dad up in New Hampshire.

My husband’s family has always gardened.  For him, having a yard that could fit a garden was a part of house hunting. I didn’t really have a preference to garden or not, at least where food was concerned. I just wanted to have roses where I lived. Oh, and peonies.

When we bought our current home in 2005, I was really pregnant with our oldest daughter.  We chose this house for many reasons, but a big reason is the yard.  Our backyard is large, with lots of room for a garden, flower beds, flowering trees, shade trees, and it had 2 huge apple trees and 2 8 foot tall blueberry bushes that were well established when we moved in.

Here are 8 reasons to garden:

1. Food- There’s not much that tastes better than something you planted, tended and grew yourself.

2. Earth- The cycle of plant life is good for the earth.  It’s good for the air and its good for the soil.  We use pine needles that fall from our trees to mulch beds, or we use pine cones.

3. Family- Gardening is something we can do as a family. Every step can include all of us.

4. Learning- The process of prepping, planting, tending and harvesting a garden teaches a lot to our children.  It also helps them develop an understanding and appreciation for growing our own food.  My kids have all said at different times how much better even our salsa tastes when it’s stuff we brought up from the garden.

5. Money- I’m pretty sure we’ve all bought fresh produce at the grocery store.  It’s expensive…. and that’s not even talking about selecting organic fruits and vegetables.  By planting our own fruits, vegetables and herbs and using an organic Miracle-Gro product for seed starting and/or amending the soil with our compost, we know just what’s going into the soil with our seeds…and we are able to save a lot of money that we would have otherwise spent on organic produce.

6. Fun- It’s really kind of fun to just dig in and garden.  It’s not only a fun way to be together as a family, but it’s also a source of stress relief.

7. Fragrance and beauty- while we are not big flower gardeners, we do have a dozen peonies around our property (and I’m sure we will keep adding, as they are my favorites), as well as other perennial flowers… which we can cut as we wish and put around the house to brighten rooms and enjoy the fragrance of.  We can also cut flowers to brighten someone else’s day.

8. Learning- I’ve learned so much over the years of gardening.  The kids have too.  From carpentry skills in building raised beds or our compost bin, to figuring out when to plant seeds in winter so they’ll be ready for the ground after the last frost….row spacing…timing… there’s a lot that gardening can teach all of us.

 Everyone grows for a reason. Some people grow to spend time with their family, or to beautify their community. Some people grow because they love cooking with home-grown ingredients, or because it’s a skill and tradition passed down from generations. Other people grow for personal relaxation, or because they love decorating their homes with freshly cut flowers. Whatever the reason, Miracle-Gro wants to know why we all grow- why we strive to Gro Something Greater.

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