Encouraging an Active Family Lifestyle

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I’m excited to be over at the Tommy Nelson blog today sharing our journey to a more active lifestyle as a family! Tommy Nelson is getting ready to release a young reader’s version of Finding Gobi, as well a picture book version, featuring the adventure of an ultramarathoner and a dog. My son really enjoyed the young reader’s version and it reminded me that inspiration for active living can even come from reading a book!

Here’s a little bit of our story…

There was a time in our life as a family where our children didn’t want to play outside. They didn’t want to go for a run or walk or play backyard baseball. The boys preferred to stay inside to build with Legos, watch TV, and read. Building with Legos and reading are excellent activities, but kids have a lot of energy, and especially my boys. When they aren’t active, that energy can (and will) be spent in unproductive and destructive ways, such playing recklessly in the house and fighting with siblings.

I know, at the time, my husband and I weren’t great active examples for our kids. Exercise was low on our priority list for a long time, but five years ago, we both started to run and take better care of ourselves. Soon, we were running several days a week and training for races. Running improved our fitness level and gave us more energy to play with the kids. Instead of sitting around watching TV with the kids, we were inviting them to go for a walk or to go play tennis…

Head on over to Tommy Nelson to read more about how the kids responded to these changes and a few of my favorite tips for getting your family moving and healthy!

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USA All the Way!

I received these shirts to review from Cents of Style. This post contains affiliate links.

One of my favorite things about the summer is the Fourth of July – the lake, the family fun, the fireworks! Our Fourth of July celebrations usually include a trip to my uncle and aunt’s lake cabin in Minnesota. It’s one of my very favorite traditions from growing up and now we get to take our boys there! With tons of family around and tons of things to do, the day just flies by and lots of memories are made. After tubing, jet skis, water skiing, front yard football and baseball, backyard badminton, and fantastic food, everybody loves to settle in around the campfire for stories and s’mores. It really is the perfect summer day!

There are two holidays for which I buy everyone in the family new shirts every year – St. Patrick’s Day and Independence Day! I just can’t help myself when I see all the fun new red, white, and blue apparel appear in stores and online. With the boys growing so fast now, they definitely can’t fit into their shirts from the previous year!

This year, I picked out the boys’ Fourth of July shirts from Cents of Style!

I love these baseball raglan tees so much and so do my boys! While are July days are usually quite hot, the nights can get quite chilly, especially at the lake, so these are a great option for layering as we head to the campfire!

The classic baseball raglan tee is perfect for any age because it never goes out of style! And these lightweight tees let my boys still be active without getting too hot! They even wore them for our newest favorite activity: shooting hoops in our driveway!

Gosh, I love being a boy mom! This new basketball hoop by our driveway has been the BEST thing for our active boys – I can’t get them to come inside!

 

Now, about those shirts…

Cents of Style has all kinds of fun and festive kids’ shirts on sale this weekend only! Use the code KIDSTORY to get 50% off all kids’ shirts – some will be as low as $5! Shipping is free, too! This deal ends Sunday, June 18th, so don’t miss out!

Which shirts will your kid(s) be sporting from this awesome collection?!

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Supporting Your Kids During Standardized Tests

Oh, boy – it’s standardized testing time. Is it for your kids, too?

Our school puts a big emphasis on standardized tests, but they also do so much to ensure kids are prepared for them. While it’s a big deal, my kids have felt pretty calm and relaxed about the actual tests because they’ve been practicing and studying in class for so long.

I know every kid reacts differently to standardized tests, but every kid needs our prayer and support leading up to and during test week. They just need that support in unique ways!

I’m over at the Tommy Nelson blog talking about ways to get your kids through standardized testing, however they might feel about it!

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The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at The Rose!

I attended a complimentary preview of this show at The Rose Theater.

The Rose Theater is an Omaha treasure. The Rose puts on the most wonderful children’s theater performances and our family enjoyed everything about it last year! The talent is top notch, the stories are unique and fun, and the whole family can enjoy the music, humor, and beautiful theater atmosphere.

I really didn’t think I could love The Rose more, but then yesterday happened. They took one of my very favorite children’s books and performed as a musical. I died from happiness. And now I’m sharing it with you.

First, please tell me you and your children have read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. If not, I’ll wait while you go order it from Amazon or request it from your library. Go ahead. No, really. Do it.

I fell in love with this brilliant children’s book as a child and I still have so much of it memorized. Scieszka cleverly tells the the story of the three little pigs from the wolf’s perspective. It is just delightful.

Take that delightfully clever story, add 60s-style clothes and music, and involve the audience in the performance as the jury for the Big Bad Wolf’s trial, and that is the magic we witnessed at The Rose yesterday! The five-member ensemble cast took us on a captivating journey into the courtroom of Judge Juris Prudence (HA!) where the Mr. Wolf is getting a not-so-fair trial from the pig-biased judge and prosecutor.

The little man and I had so much fun following the story of Alexander T. Wolf (left) as told by courtroom reporter Lillian McGill (right). These two are rockstars, with amazing voices, great dance moves, and lots of hilarity! Lil McGill keeps the audience engaged and informed throughout so they can decide what will happen to Al in the end – is Mr. Wolf guilty or not guilty? The kids went crazy when they got to chime in and celebrated as the cast sang about their verdict – NOT GUILTY! The fun part – each show could end differently based on what the audience decides!

The show is recommended for families of children ages six and up, but my 4.5 year old loved it, too! The show is approximately 60 minutes long without an intermission.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at the Rose Theater runs January 27 through February 12, with performances on Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 5 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are $20. Discount ticket vouchers are available at all area Hy-Vee stores. Members of The Rose receive four free tickets to the production.

I have FOUR TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY today!

That’s right! One of you will win four tickets to the show of your choice (based on availability)! Just leave a comment below answering this question: Do you think Alexander T. Wolf, aka The Big Bad Wolf, is GUILTY or NOT GUILTY of intentionally killing the piggies? Do you think you’ll change your mind once you hear HIS side of the story?

You can also earn extra entries by sharing this post on Facebook and Twitter!

CLICK HERE TO TWEET THIS >> The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is at @RoseTheaterCo! Win 4 tickets from @homewiththeboys!

Just leave an extra comment for each way you share the post on social media! This giveaway runs through Monday, January 30th at 8PM CST. One winner will be chosen at random and notified via email.

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The True Story of The Three Little Pigs is sponsored by Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Baird Holm, the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Special opening night activities are sponsored by Kiewit Companies.

SPECIAL NOTE: The 2 pm show on Saturday, Feb. 4 will be interpreted for people who are deaf or hard of hearing; the 5 pm show on Saturday, Feb. 4 is designated as sensory-friendly, with special accommodations made for families attending with a child on the autism spectrum. The 2 pm show on Saturday, Feb. 11 will include audio description services for audience members who are blind. Contact The Rose Box Office at (402) 345-4849 for more information.

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Teaching Our Children to Respect Their Leaders

I hear the word respect used a lot. Professional athletes talk about having respect for their opponents who play well. Respecting boundaries is an important topic for both kids and adults. Students are asked to respect one another in the classroom and on the playground.

Most of these instances involve respecting people we come in direct contact with on a day-to-day basis. It is much easier to teach a child to respect someone they interact with often because they are able to practice what they learn immediately. This kind of respect is very tangible and real to them.

When we talk about respecting leaders with our children, things get a little more fuzzy. They have leaders in their everyday life, such as parents, teachers, coaches, and pastors. This is one level they can relate with because of the real-life interaction, but what about the levels above that? Leaders such as the superintendent, mayor, governor, congressmen, and president should be respected by our children, but what does that look like for them when they may never even meet these people?

I am over on the Tommy Nelson blog talk about the keys to teaching our children to respect their leaders – and I’m learning something in the process, as well. Come join me over there to hear my thoughts and what the Bible asks us to do!

 

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In Case Your Kids Want to Talk About the Election…

I have never wanted to NOT talk about an election more than this one, but because of the nature of our overly-connected, social media world, that seems to be ALL people are talking about right now. I’m thankful to have a four-year-old at home with me all day who wants to talk about Legos and coloring and Star Wars, but it’s different with the older kids. They hear things at school. They see political commercials. They overhear conversations between adults. They have questions.

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While I don’t want to talk about the election, I am raising American citizens and I am also raising Christian young men. I put aside my distraught feelings for a while to write out a plan for talking to our children about the election through the eyes of my faith. You can read my thoughts over on the Tommy Nelson blog today.

Yes, I feel great despair about the direction of our country, but I also look to my children and to Jesus and find hope. Let us speak words of life to our children and lift up words of prayer to our God:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. -1 Timothy 2:1-4

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A Silly String + S’mores Party!

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I’ve been wanting to host this party for weeks, but sickness, travel, and busy schedules have prevented it from happening…until now! I’m so excited to finally share!

Believe it or not, when my oldest kids were younger, they did NOT like to get messy. Finger painting was not fun to them and any messy food made them uneasy. They outgrew this disdain for messes, then little brother came along who doesn’t mind messes at all, so I can either resist or embrace this new kind of fun. I’m choosing the latter!

I can’t say that I’m going to miss summer, but I do want to take advantage of these nice days as we transition into fall. A silly string + s’mores party is the perfect way to have some messy fun with those elementary age kids on a late summer/early fall day!

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You don’t need much to pull off this super fun playdate – just silly string and s’mores supplies!

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There is one other key to success when hosting a silly, sticky, chocolatey, marshmallowy party. You MUST have WaterWipes on hand! We even had some travel packs to send home with our guests! More about the wipes in a bit, but first back to the fun!

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We went with the silly string fight first so the kids could burn off some energy and work up an appetite.

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One great tip for clean-up – tell the kids to make the biggest silly string ball possible! It can be a competition or they can make one huge ball together. This was fun for them AND helpful for me!

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The kids (and adults) were definitely ready to chow down on some s’mores by the time all the silly string was gone! First, we had to get rid of the silly string from everyone’s hands – WaterWipes to the rescue! Having older kids is awesome because they can use the wipes to clean up after themselves!

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Now to the yummy stuff – I always thought s’mores had to be an evening activity, but why put limits on devouring this delicious gooey treat? With school nights and busy schedules, we opted for afternoon s’mores and enjoyed every single bite!

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We had an awesome mess with the warm temps, gooey marshmallows, and melted chocolate everywhere! FYI: peanut butter cup s’mores are where it’s at.

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I choose WaterWipes even though I don’t have babies anymore because chemical-free wipes are ALWAYS a good idea, no matter what the age of your children! WaterWipes are made with 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. I wasn’t sure how much I would like them after using traditional baby wipes for so many years, but they are the best, most durable wipes I’ve ever used.

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WaterWipes can even stand up to the mess of silly string and s’mores on a bunch of elementary kids! They had so much fun with this party and clean-up was a breeze thanks to WaterWipes! As I’ve said many times before, I may never stop using wipes in our house because they are so handy for messes of all kinds!

Would your kids enjoy a silly string and s’mores party?

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Think About Their Eyes!

This post was sponsored by Think About Your Eyes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

I remember our oldest son mentioning a few times here and there that he couldn’t see a clock that was far away, but he didn’t talk about it that much, so I didn’t do anything about it. As someone who has never had vision problems, it didn’t occur to me that he might be having trouble beyond what he said.

At his first yearly checkup at our pediatrician after the first mention of difficulty seeing, he was still able to pass the vision test, so I thought we were all good. We were also homeschooling at the time, so he wasn’t sitting in a classroom struggling to see things written on the board. As the next year went on, however, I heard him say, “I can’t see that,” more and more often. By the next year’s physical, it was confirmed that we needed to see an eye doctor.

As I said, I don’t wear glasses or contacts, so this was new territory for me. Thankfully, my husband has worn glasses since childhood, so he has been able to give Big J advice and support from another glasses-wearer. He was nine-years-old when he had his first eye doctor appointment and we found out he was quite far-sighted. A prescription was given and glasses were ordered.

I will never forget our oldest son’s reaction when he first put on those glasses. He could suddenly see so many things he had never seen before – the individual leaves on a tree, our kitchen clock from far away, and much more. He was so excited and I was so emotional! I thought glasses might bum him out a little, but it was the exact opposite – it was all joy!

Big J Glasses

All of this happened right before he started going to school and I am so grateful for that timing! As we’re starting a new school year, I know that he is not impeded by poor vision in the classroom. No child should worry about their education suffering because they cannot see. And eye doctor appointments are not only for kids with glasses or contacts as 50% of parents believe. That’s why this new program, Think About Your Eyes, is so important!

August is Eye Exam Awareness Month, so now is the time to prioritize your child’s eye health. I’m partnering with Think About Your Eyes this month because 25% of school-age children have vision problems and I don’t want you to miss them in your child like I almost did with my son! 24% of parents are like me and wait for their child to complain about vision trouble before getting an exam. He didn’t know what “normal” vision was, but one comprehensive eye exam showed us that he needed help. I really wish we would have had his vision checked sooner.

80% of what children learn comes through vision, so getting those eyes checked as school starts up this fall is crucial. You will help ensure there are no visual obstacles to learning and you could prevent more serious complications that could occur from untreated problems.

Check out this video from Think About Your Eyes:

Need some help scheduling those exams? Check out this doctor locator from Think About Your Eyes! They’ve got you covered for making this important task easy on you!

Let’s celebrate Eye Exam Awareness Month by scheduling eye exams for our kids!

Have you had your child’s vision checked lately?

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Why We’re Still Using Wipes In a Diaper-Less House

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

I really wish I would have know about WaterWipes when we had babies in diapers. With all three babies, we used wipes and detergent with no added fragrances because sensitive skin runs in our family. Our middle son still struggles with sensitive skin and eczema, so we’ve kept to fragrance-free as much as possible.

We’ve been done with diapers in our house for over a year now – HALLELUJAH! We had a bunch of wipes left over and, even without bottoms to wipe, I found myself still using those wipes for everything. Over the baby years, I didn’t even realize how handy and convenient they had become to me for all kinds of messes. Ice cream cones, sticky suckers, marker-covered hands, and more were no match for my stash of wipes!

WaterWipes Car

Fast forward to several months ago and my introduction to WaterWipes – the timing could not have been better as I was running out of my previous fragrance-free wipes and needed to restock. I’m so glad I didn’t buy more because WaterWipes were just the thing I had been hoping to find over all these years!

WaterWipes are a chemical free baby wipe with just two ingredients: 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. I feel great about using these for all sorts of messes with my family because there are no harmful chemicals! All of the usefulness of baby wipes with none of the extras – what’s not to love?!

Why we're still using wipes in aDiaper-less house

Why do I keep using wipes even though we are diaper-less? One word: convenience. My three boys are always getting dirty and I’ve been known to make a few messes, too. I keep a pack of WaterWipes in the minivan, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, and in my purse, so I am always ready when a mess pops up!

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I’m pretty sure our latest road trip to Colorado would have been a whole lot messier without WaterWipes! We used them on the car ride, for picnic lunches, and on our hikes. It was so handy to have them in my backpack to clean off hands before a mid-hike snack or clean up extra mud.

One more reason to love WaterWipesthis beautiful video on the importance of skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby!

My boys may be growing up fast, but this video has me fondly remembering those newborn skin-to-skin snuggles. Such a sweet time in motherhood! I love the emphasis on purity by WaterWipes, both in love and in the product!

How are you using wipes in your home?

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Ending the School Year Strong!

We did it! We made it through our first non-homeschooling year of school for the boys!

Last Day Mom Boys

It was an incredibly successful year of transition for us – not perfect by any means, but full of great learning experiences for education and life. Friends were made. Conflicts arose and were resolved. Homework was forgotten, but not much because that lesson was learned fast! They went on field trips, competed in the spelling bee, brought lunch from home (except for pizza days), celebrated birthdays, and so much more. They had wonderful teachers

We are all very pleased with how the year went and know God was with us every step of the way, as He always is. The kids loved school, but they are also equally ready for a summer break!

Whether your school year has ended yet or not, a lot about how the school year ends for our kids can be impacted by our behavior as parents. The way in which we end a school year can help our children see the big picture of how they grew over the past nine months as well as help them to actually look forward to the next school year, even if summer is all that is on their mind!

I have a few fun ideas for ending the school year strong as a family and you can use them whether your kids were out a few weeks ago or still have a few weeks left! Find three of my favorite ways to end the school year strong over on the Tommy Nelson blog!

How do you celebrate the end of the school year as a family?

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