Grab & Go Snacks

Caden LOVES food…all of it! There have been a few times I’ve had my camera ready, just knowing he would make a hilarious, disgusted face when I introduced him to whatever new food it was (peas, green beans, sour apricots), but…nothin’! He’s enjoyed everything we’ve tried so far…smacking his little hands on the high chair tray for more and opening wide like a baby bird! We have pretty much gotten through the puree phase and we’re moving toward more solid foods! Watching him start to feed himself is so much fun…proud mama bird here!

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So even though we’re still a ways away from needing it yet, I wanted to create a list of (mostly) healthy, easy, on-the-go snacks that I can refer to when it’s time! I love the idea of having a basket in the pantry labeled “Caden’s Snacks” that we can easily grab from when we’re headed out (and eventually he choose from the snack basket himself too)!

Here’s a list of 30 “Grab-&-Go” Snacks for your little one…I hope you find it helpful!! Feel free to leave a comment and add to the list!! I would love to keep it going!

1. Cheese Sticks/String Cheese – cut into small pieces
2. Apple Chips (I love to eat the Snapz brand myself, yum!)
3. Veggie Chips/Straws
4. Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups

15. Wheat Thins with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge
6. Yogurt Melts
7. Granola Bars (Kashi, Cliff Z-Bars, Larabars, Nutrigrain)
8. Dried Fruit, coconut & yogurt covered raisins
9. Whole Grain Goldfish & pretzel pieces
10. Cheerio Necklace (make the necklace together…fine motor skill practice!)
11. Beef Jerky
12. Rice Cakes
13. Egg Muffins

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14. Nut Mix-Up (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, shelled pistachios, shelled sunflower seeds)
15. Puffs (I like the Happy Baby brand)
16. Baby Dill Pickles – low sodium
17. Hard Boiled Egg pieces
18. Granola Trail Mix (2 granola bars broken up, raisins, Craisins, pretzels, & marshmallows for fun)
19. Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks
20. Fruit/Veggie Pouches (Favorites: Happy Baby, Plum, Sprout, Ella’s, Peter Rabbit)
21. Bag of Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.)
22. Halo slices
23. Fig Newtons cut into pieces
24. Grapes & Cheese cubes (halved or quartered)
25. Applesauce Puffs (love this recipe!)

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26. Popcorn (throw in a few M&Ms for fun)
27. Olives
28. Veggies (steamed carrots, peeled cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, zucchini sticks, bell pepper sticks – orange/red/yellow)
29. Cheese slices with pieces of deli meat (turkey, ham, or chicken)
30. Kid’s Favorites Fun Mix (favorite pantry snacks all mixed together – animal crackers, teddy grahams, goldfish, pretzels, fruit loops, chex, etc.)

Now, go snack away…I hope your littles enjoy being on the go as much as this guy! 🙂

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Sun-Dried Tomato & Veggie Pasta

I don’t get to do it as often with an 8 month old crawling around, but I enjoy cooking! I love to find new recipes (via Pinterest most likely) and try them at home…bonus if my crock pot can do most of the work! This recipe is one of my favorite weekday meals…it’s SO easy and only has a few ingredients! My hubby isn’t a huge fan of pasta but he LOVES this dish and asks for it often! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

IMG_0810Seven ingredients…that’s it!! Start by cutting the chicken into small cubes & cook the chicken in a large skillet over medium heat. While the chicken is cooking, multi-task and cook your bow-tie pasta in a LARGE pot until al-dente.

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Season the chicken with your favorite seasoning (we love Tony’s Creole seasoning) and mix it all up!

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Cook the broccoli florets & asparagus cuts according to package directions (we buy the frozen veggies…so much faster) and dice up your sun-dried tomatoes! Drain your pasta then add the seasoned chicken, broccoli, tomatoes, and asparagus to the pot. Now pour the dressing (yes, the whole bottle) into the pot and toss it all together. Voila, you’re done!

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Sun-Dried Tomato & Veggie Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts (cubed)
  • 1 box (14.5oz) Farfalle Whole Grain Pasta
  • 1/4 c. Sun Dried Tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 bag frozen Broccoli Florets
  • 1 bag frozen Asparagus Cuts & Tips
  • 1 bottle Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Dressing
  • Tony’s Creole Seasoning

Instructions:

1. Cube and cook your chicken breasts in a skillet on medium heat until cooked through and season with Tony’s Creole Seasoning.

2. As the chicken is cooking, boil farfalle pasta until al-dente in a large pot.

3. Cook the broccoli florets & asparagus cuts/tips according to package directions. As the veggies are cooking, dice the sun dried tomatoes.

4. Strain the pasta and return it to the large pot. Add chicken, broccoli, asparagus, and tomatoes to the pot.

5. Pour the entire bottle of salad dressing into the pot and mix everything together. Enjoy!

 

College Station Summer Fun

College Station may be small, but this area is jam packed with plenty of activities to keep your family busy this summer! No matter the ages of your children, there is something to do for everyone.

The City of College Station has outdone themselves this year. For a complete and detailed list of all events, summer camps, classes, and sports, download their 2015 summer event schedule here.

PLAYGROUNDS

College Station has about 25 playgrounds, but there are a few that have stood out to me. Sometimes we like to see how many different playgrounds we can visit during the summer!

Bee Creek Park is large and has plenty of grassy space for running and impromptu soccer games. A large portion of it is shaded which is a huge plus for those sunny summer days!

The playground portion of Central Park is also fairly shaded. There is also a fishing pond and a short walking and fitness trail.

Brother’s Pond Park is another one of our favorites. Although the playground is a bit smaller than some of the other parks, there is a large duck and turtle pond. Be sure to bring a snack for the ducks…they will be expecting it! And as a bonus, there is a great wooded area for lots of imaginary play!

POOLS and SPLASH PADS

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Adamson Pool is one of our favorites! It is an Olympic sized pool that features a diving and wading pool, two water slides, a smaller “tadpole” slide, water basketball, “Lilly Pad Walk” (rope obstacle course), and a separate baby pool.  There really is something for everyone here!

Cindy Hallaran Pool (often referred to as the “Rock Prairie Pool) is a great pool for families with toddlers and preschoolers or non-swimmers. It is a zero-depth pool with a beach entry in the shallow end and gently slopes to an overall depth of 4 feet in the deep end.

Thomas Pool has lap lanes, a small tube slide, and a diving board. Although this pool doesn’t get as much hype as the larger pools, it is a nice quiet pool with a pleasant atmosphere.

The city of College Station is finally recognizing the popularity of splash pads! There are three in Bryan: Tanglewood Park, Tiffany Park, and Gloria Stephan Sale Park.  Tarrow Splash Park, located at the Lincoln Recreation Center in College Station, is set to open sometime in June.

Be sure to check out the City of College Station’s website for pool promos!

MOVIES

If movies are your thing, there are a variety of free and low-cost options!

Free movies in the park are offered on select Fridays. Bring your own blankets, chairs, and food, however there will be concessions available for purchase. For dates and locations go here.

The George Bush Museum also offers “Free Movies By the Pond” on select dates during the summer. Again, bring your blankets and chairs, but games and refreshments will be provided free of charge! This one requires a reservation ahead of time. For their movie schedule as well as a listing of other events, go here.

Cinemark 18 has their summer kid’s $1 movies.  They show the same movie at 10am, Tuesday-Thursday, with a new movie each week. Click here to see what’s playing this week. Be sure to get there early enough to get tickets and get a good seat!

Premiere Cinema will once again have their Summer Kids Movie Fest starting on Wednesday June 10, and will continue each Wednesday until August 5. Show time is at 10am and ticket prices are only $1. Click here for movie schedule.

 

LIBRARIES

Both libraries, Larry J. Ringer (College Station) and Clara B. Mounce (Bryan), have lots of summer events for kids, teens, and adults.  For the complete list go here. Both libraries will continue with a regular storytime, as well as additional weekly events and summer reading programs. Tuesdays for Larry J. Ringer (here) and Wednesdays for Clara B. Mounce (here). Although the events are free, most require a ticket (so get there early) and some have age restrictions.

Not a library, but related to literacy, Half Price Books also hosts a summer reading program. FEED YOUR BRAIN Summer Reading Program begins June 1 and ends July 31. Kids preschool through high school age can earn $5 HPB Bookworm Bucks as a reward for reading over the summer. Go here for the full scoop.

MUSEUMS

The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley has been completely updated since last year! It’s in a new building, with new exhibits and events. They offer summer camps and the last Sunday of every month is FREE!

Arts Council of the Brazos Valley hosts an extensive permanent collection of art featuring works from regional and Texas artists, sculpture, paintings and artifacts from around the world dating  from the 11th century to the present.

Brazos Valley African American Museum chronicles the tragedies and triumphs of African American life from ancient civilizations to the present day, while also focusing on local history’s of churches, families and schools. The museum strives to explore, develop, preserve and present the cultural heritage of African Americans.

Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History boasts a gallery with exhibits of fossils, sculptures, antique farming and survey equipment, a discovery room with more than 15 varieties of live animals, dozens of taxidermy mounts, educational resources and several exhibits. Admission to the Museum on the first Tuesday of each month is only $1.

George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum explores important issues and events of the Administration of President George W. Bush as framed by four themes: freedom, opportunity, compassion, and responsibility. If your children and family enjoy learning about the Presidency, American history and government, and traveling the nation, you might like to consider purchasing a Presidential Libraries Passport from NARA. Available for purchase at the admissions desk, the passports include information about each of the 13 Presidential Libraries and they allow you to collect passport stamps as you visit each facility.

SUMMER CAMPS

City of College Station offers summer camps for school-age children, with costs as low as $25/week.

The Children’s Museum of Brazos Valley

Arts Council of Brazos Valley

Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History

Spirit Ice Arena

MISCELLANEOUS

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G. Hysmith Skate Park

Grand Station Entertainment: Tuesdays (5-8pm) are half price arcade (laser tag, mini golf, and video games) and be sure to sign up for “kids bowl free.”

HEB Towerpoint Summer Kids Cooking Class: June 9th – August 11th; Tuesdays 10am-noon.

Lowe’s Build and Grow: Clinics are free to the public and occur select Saturdays at 10am.

Home Depot Kids Workshop: Select Saturdays from 9am-noon.

Spirit Ice Arena

Games of Texas: July 30th – August 3rd

Lick Creek Park for running and biking trails

Yogurtland (1800 S. Texas Avenue), BOGO every Monday night after 5pm (until school begins).

ATTRACTIONS NEAR BCS

Royal Oaks Alpacas

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Franklin Drive-thru Safari

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Royalty Pecan Farms

Lake Conroe

Great Texas Balloon Race (Longview): July 21st-26th

Navasota Blues Fest: August 14th and 15th

 

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

Admit it. When you read the title you started singing out loud to yourself that iconic song from “Sound of Music!”

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings.
These are a few of my favorite things.

It’s ok! We can sing at the top of our lungs and dance like crazy fools together! I won’t judge, if you won’t!

As I was trying to think of the top 5 things I absolutely can NOT live without, I’m not going to lie, it was tough! There are so many things that I LOVE and that make my life easier, but there are very few things that I absolutely, positively would die if I didn’t have! Ok, ok that’s a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean!

So without further ado, here are the top 5 things I can not live without, in no particular order, because seriously that’s asking way too much!

1. Coffee — At our first appointment after I found out I was pregnant, one of my first questions to my doctor was, “Can I still drink coffee?!” Dr. Rush reassured me that it was ok, but in moderation. Oh, thank you, God! I am a BEAR if I don’t have coffee! Just ask my husband! Every morning, Frank makes my coffee in our Keurig, adds a scoop of Cellucor Whey Protein Powder in Whipped Vanilla and leaves it on my nightstand for when I wake up!

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2. Essential Oils  I’ve only recently started using doTerra essential oils, but I am obsessed! I started by buying the Family Physician Kit, but now have branched out to using other oils. I diffuse Purify, to eliminate odors and other contaminates, everyday. I mix Frankincense with coconut oil and rub it on Bruce’s gums to help with his teething. Lavender is amazing for headaches and I also mix Fennel oil and honey to help boost my milk supply! I add Melaleuca to Addison and Malcolm’s shampoo and conditioner to ward off creepy crawly head lice!

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3. Music — Listening to music has always been very therapeutic for me. I love how certain songs are always able to trigger memories, whether good or bad.  It can lift my spirits, make me feel reflective, make me want to dance, or sing at the top of my lungs! I couldn’t imagine life without music!

4. Cell Phone  You didn’t think I could have a Top 5 list without mentioning my cell phone did you?! I use my iPhone for everything, but most importantly I use it to take pictures and videos of Bruce!

5. Lip Balm  I am not a lipstick girl, but I NEVER leave home without lip balm. In fact, I usually have 3 or 4 different ones in my purse or diaper bag at any given time! My favorite these days is EOS Organic Lip Balm Sphere. It comes in many different yummy flavors and makes my lips feel silky smooth, because let’s be honest NO ONE likes dry, cracked lips! Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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What are some things you can NOT live without?!

Baby On-the-Go

I’m currently assisting a family with their nine month old baby boy and will be traveling (worldwide) with them from now until next Spring. This has had me thinking, “What gear do you need (and not need) when traveling with a baby?”

STROLLER

I’ve always known not all strollers were created equal, but some are just flat out a pain in the ass! Any stroller that requires you to set up, or break down, is NOT travel friendly. I prefer a 4Moms, BabyJogger, Stokke Xplory, or Orbit baby that allow for easy, one-hand folds. Plus, these all have PLENTY of space for your stuff so you don’t have to carry a purse, diaper bag, coats, blankets, and shopping bags. Boo to being a packhorse.

CARSEAT

The law states that a baby or toddler does NOT have to be in a carseat or carrier in pulic trasportation so…forgo the 30lb carrier and just leave it in your car. Get yourself a bomb-diggity baby carrier like the Baby K’tan or Happy Baby Wrap and just call it a day. When you’re wearing the baby on-the-go, there’s a 0% chance you’ll accidentally leave it on the subway or bus, lol. Keep it strapped to you.

BACKPACK

The mama I work for carries an Hermes Birkin and/or her Prada diaper bag on the daily; however, I’m sure she would opt for a backpack  or crossbody when we’re traveling because there’s no shame in her game and we both agree “comfort trumps style” when it comes to traveling with a baby. Diaper Dude has great backpack, Lily Jade has diaper bags/backpacks that double as purses, and SkipHop offers some crossbody options. The goal is to downsize, consolidate, and have all that you need.

Lily Jade ROCKS! (you heard it here first)

PATEMM PAD

You may think you have a portable diaper changing pad, but if you don’t have the PateMM, you ain’t got a clue how awesome life could be. The PateMM is circular, wipeable vinyl, packs up flat and quare, and is just sticky enough to hold your wee little gymnast in place during changing. You can whip this out of your pack for a quick diaper change on the airplane, the bus, the amusement park changing table…whatev.

COVERED GOODS

I think this is a must have! This lil feat of engineering is a nursing cover that doubles as a carseat cover, shopping cart cover, OR scarf! It provides 360 degree coverage, which is great to protect baby from sun, rain, stares, glare, germs, etc. while on the move!

EZPZ PRODUCTS

When you’re away from home with your baby, you can’t bring your toddler meal set or placemat with you. The restaurant will likely bring you a glass dish, sharp silverware, and baby may not be able to reach their food. That is unless you pack an EZPZ Happy Mat or bowl! This is easy to drop into the diaper bag or backpack and super easy to clean up since it’s nonstick. Pull it out at the restaurant, chop up baby’s food and let them just go at it. It won’t slip off the table, they can’t move the placemat/dish, and when you’re done, you just have to rinse it off or wipe it out. DONE and DONE!
EzPz Fun Mat, Shop Whole Heart

What would you add to this list?

5 Reasons My Kids Have an Amazing Dad

My husband Eric and I have two little girls, Kinley, 4, and Khloe, 3.  Since the moment our first daughter was born, I saw a change in my husband that I could have never anticipated. As the years have passed with our daughters, he has transformed into the most incredible father I could have imagined for our children.

Father’s Day is fast approaching and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge all the ways that he is forever impacting our daughters and their image of a truly great dad.

1. He fills our home and their little hearts with laughter and fun.

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Laughter is the number one sound our household is bursting with.  During playtime, my husband is willing to be silly and crazy and the ladies think he is the funniest guy on Earth.

Eric teaches the girls knock-knock jokes and they practice them each night before bed.  They blow bubbles, draw silly pictures with sidewalk chalk, name bugs, pretend they are hunting for monsters, chase each other around the house, and build forts,  all while giggling and having fun.

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2. He shows patience and kindness.

Any time one of the girls gets fussy or throws a tantrum, my husband exudes the patience of Job.  While I instantly want to jump in and I get frustrated, Eric stays calm, relaxed and discusses the situation with them in a way that deescalates their tantrum and solves whatever problem caused the fussiness.  He is truly the toddler whisperer.

He shows our children how to be kind to one another, not only by how he treats them and myself, but when they are arguing he steps in and mediates the situation and teaches them that they will both feel better if they can be kind.

3. He gives them his time and is there for them daily.

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My husband is always there for our children.  It doesn’t matter what he is doing, if they ask him to play or they tell him they are hungry, he will drop what he’s doing in order to give them the attention they are craving.  I have seen him come home from work exhausted, and he still makes time to play and laugh with the girls.  He shows them each day that they are the most important aspect of his life, and that spending time with them is what he values.

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Eric takes turns taking each girl on a daddy-daughter date each weekend.  They will go see a movie, grab ice cream, go to the pet store to look at animals, sit on the town square and listen to music, go to the library, or whatever else the girls can think of that they’d like to do with him.  This time is truly special to the girls, where they get his full attention, and in turn he has developed stronger relationships with each of them, and this aspect of their relationship has made them fall even more in love with their daddy.

4. He educates our children.

Our children are always asking questions.  ALWAYS.  Eric and I are both educators, and from day one my husband has turned each experience he has with the girls into learning experiences.

He teaches them that every good thing is from God, and shows them how incredible life can be.

He shares music with them by playing guitar and singing with them, or turning on music so they can all let loose and dance.

He teaches them how to be kind to animals, and which animals are nice to look at but not touch.  Eric has investigated the wonders of insects with them by catching bugs, holding them, feeding them and discussing how they contribute to the world around us.

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He reads books and teaches them lessons and morals through stories he tells.

He has them eat different foods and has taught them how to get creative with food and make cooking fun,

5. The most important factor of a good dad – HE SHOWS THEM LOVE.

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My children are growing up understanding exactly what love is, and what true love looks like.  Eric shows the girls how a man is supposed to treat a woman through his relationship with me.  He shows the girls how a man should treat them by his interactions with them.

He hugs and snuggles with them each day and tells them how much he loves them. I’m not sure they will ever understand the depth of his love for them, but I think they have a good grasp on it even as toddlers.

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Each day I find myself falling more and more in love with my husband as I watch him raise our children with me.  I know that I am truly blessed to have married a man with such a big heart, and I am so pleased with the way he is with our daughters.

I know that having such a great father will mold them into great women, and I can’t wait to watch all the new adventures they will have with him as they grow older.

xoxoxo

thatKelligirl

 

Do you also have someone in your life that’s an amazing dad? What are some other qualities you see that make a father truly great?