Brunch Play Date sampling Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave

A couple of weeks ago we hosted our first EVER Brunch play date. But it wasn’t just any play date Brunch. This play date Brunch was made extra special because we were sampling Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave and all the amazing flavors of agave they offer, including, strawberry, vanilla, maple, and cinnamon!

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I was a little apprehensive at first just because I have never hosted a Brunch play date; I mean what kind of toddler does brunch? Then, after contemplating the concept for a while I had a classic Oprah ‘aha moment’, every toddler loves brunch! I mean, let’s face it what do you typically eat at brunch? French toast, waffles, breakfast casseroles, eggs, etc. we’re talking about breakfast food that you can eat with your fingers, who wouldn’t like that?

So the night before our brunch I prepared the French toast bake and breakfast casserole.  The kiddos and I sanitized the toys (vinegar, lemon, and water spray) and we cleaned out the couch, removed the cushions from the couch and vacuumed (I prefer to be traumatized by the random things located, lost, and growing under my cushions and not have my guest endure such a sight to memory).  The morning of the play date we set up the tables, put the food in the oven, and then threw all the crap that I didn’t want anyone to see in the bedrooms and shut the doors (though a clever move, make certain you set the ground rules before doing this…there is nothing worse than just having received numerous complements on the neatness of your home only to have the children expose your dirty secret when they flood the rooms to play).

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As our guests arrived the toddlers and kiddos played while the casserole and French toast bake cooled on the stove top. Then Brunch was served, or rather they served themselves but you get the gist. I had substituted the Wholesome organic blue agave in place of the sugar in the French toast bake so I was quite eager to bite into it and see if you can actually substitute agave in place of sugar. 

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In hindsight it probably would have been wise to test this method prior to the Brunch but I had so much faith in Wholesome sweeteners that I just knew it was going to be amazing, is what I would love to say but it is rubbish. Truth is I had no idea. So I did what any good host would do, I let my guest take a bite first and then carefully watched their reactions. There were no grim expressions on their faces, perhaps Wholesome sweeteners delivered on taste? But like any control freak I was going to be the judge of that one.

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So I took a bite and booyah went the agave on my taste buds! It tasted just as good, no, better than with the regular sugar. I kid you not. Cooking with agave instead of sugar is easy, it taste as good, if not better, and is low on the glycemic index (it is slowly absorbed into the body thus reducing spikes in blood sugar). Onto the next test, the packets of flavored agave, which the children clearly loved based upon the packets left behind.

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The maple that I drizzled over a waffle tasted just like maple syrup, the strawberry flavor was the perfect pairing with strawberries and Greek yogurt, and the cinnamon tasted superb over the breakfast casserole. Oh, and the best part, they came in little convenient packets that you can place in your car, purse, diaper bag, etc. I asked the other moms to share their thoughts and they also thought the flavors tasted delicious. The only thing myself and another mom detected was a slight after taste but that might just be because we added too much agave. Each individual’s taste buds are different so I suppose a case of trial and error is in order in order to receive the preferred amount of sweetness. Talking about sweet, isn’t he just the sweetest…he is clearly a fan.

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Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you the best part, Wholesome sweetener organic blue agave is the World’s first Fairtrade agave! Wholesome sweeteners have helped bring clean water, health clinics, and schools to villages in Brazil, Mexico, and Africa. How awesome is that!

Just to review, Wholesome Sweeteners organic blue agave is awesome because:

  • Low on the glycemic index
  • Worlds’ first Fairtrade Agave
  • Convenient, especially in those individually wrapped packet, genius!
  • Can easily be substituted in place of sugar, and use less
  • Flavors taste amazing

But don’t let me be the judge, grab your purse, buy a bottle, and you be the judge!  Or maybe you have tried it, what did you think? Got any great recipes to share?

I would like to send out a special thank you to all the moms that attended the Brunch as well as Moms Meet and Wholesome Sweeteners for allowing us to sample their products.

Disclosure: I was supplied with the package of items illustrated in the photo for sampling purposes. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

PinyPon Party (vlog)

Guess what we did? Here are a few hints….

We hosted a Mommy Party! Sponsored by PinyPon and it was a blast! Watch the clip to learn more (oh, and just to warn you when I recorded this I was extremely tired so, enjoy!).

Here are a few pics of the masterpieces the girls made…

The girls had so much fun playing with the PinyPons. Each guest went home with their very own PinyPon, PinyPon and Nenuco coupons to give their parents, Fall Fashion show certificate of participation, and any jewelry that wasn’t eaten. And two lucky winners went home with an additional treat! We had a raffle and pulled two girls names, one for the Nenuco baby and one for the PinyPon Caravan (we also received each of these for hosting, talk about awesome!). It was a fabulous night, thank you MommyParties, PinyPon, and Nenuco!

For all you out there who are looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a little girl between 3 and 7 yrs old this is it! The Nenuco Baby was also a huge hit with our toddler, she is excited to start using the potty just like her Nenuco baby!

By publishing this post, I received free products as part of a promotional program with MomSelect. All opinions are my own.

Mega Bloks Lil’Princess Party (vlog)

The faux chandelier was hung from the dining room ceiling with delight. Our toddler was trying to hold in her excitement with all her might. She snuck a cookie, or two, but mommy did exclaim only have a few. She knew that before too long the tots would flock to play Mega Bloks.

Click on the video below….

Thank you Mommyparties and Mega Bloks!

 

Moms liked the Mega Bloks Lil’ Princess because they do not contain a lot of small pieces but just enough to keep the kiddos occupied, interested, and utilizing their imaginations.

The girls liked the Mega Blok Lil’ Princess because they have glitter and have pretty wings that are interchangeable. They also enjoyed rearranging the castle and taking turns having their ponies pull the carriage.

By publishing this post, I received free products as part of a promotional program with MomSelect. All opinions are my own

Splash Birthday Party!

The invitations went out over a month ago.

 

Then HFMD occurred and we had to postpone the party. There were a few tears but for the most part our little man understood. The day of his initial party past and the weather was gorgeous. Thus, we included the following in our evening prayers…that it wouldn’t rain on the postponed date of his party and that his friends would stay healthy and be able to attend.

 

Sure enough our prayers were answered all but one child was able to attend the party (the one was not due to illness but travels, thank GOD) and while it threatened rain it never actually rained. So, let the Splash Party Commence….

 

 

Given the fact that we had two extra weeks beyond the initial party date I found that I was adding things to the party. More time equals more stuff, right!?! Like our trip to Boyd’s Candy Store, the intricacy of the Happy Birthday banner I made, and the number of Chocolate Power Ranger suckers I made. Now that I think about it I might have been experiencing mommy guilt due to the fact that the party was postponed. Oh well, mommy guilt or not the kiddos seemed to have fun.

We started off the party with a game of Sink or Float…..

 

Each kiddo received a bag with 8 items in it and two signs, one stated Sink, and the other Float. They then each had a turn of deciding which item we would test.

 

Next we did gifts……

 

Any mother who has thrown a birthday party or has attended a young child’s birthday party can vouch for the fact that one of the main issues with opening birthday gifts is the crowding around the birthday child. They’re all so eager to see what the birthday child will open and of course the anticipation and excited is intensified when the birthday child is opening their gift.

 

So in an attempt to minimize the crowding, as to not resemble a mosh pit with the gifts surfing across the crowd of kiddos, we encouraged a circle formation with the birthday boy in the middle. We then had him stand with his eyes closed and arm extended while I spun him twice around the circle and whichever child his arm extended towards when he stopped was the child whose gift he would open next. He then opened that child’s gift and in return gave that child their goody bag.  It seemed to work nicely.

Time to sing Happy Birthday….and raid the food table. Again, this is another area where crowding can be anticipated.  So instead of allowing all the kiddos to get food at once we had them take turns two at a time. Those two kiddos at a time were determined by the first initial of their names. Again, it seemed to work nicely. I am not sure if it was the technique or the fact that the kiddos he invited exhibit such wonderful manners, I think it might be the latter. Next, outdoor activities….

Sidewalk Fizzy Paint….

The kiddos really seemed to enjoy this activity. One of the moms reminded me that the children are old enough for us to incorporate the science behind this activity. Well, they might not be ready for, NaHCO3 + CH3COOH –> CO2 + H2O + CH3COONa.  But what they can comprehend is, mixing an acid and base equals a chemical reaction and a whole lot of fun!

Next….Water balloons…

The kiddos paired up and played catch with the water balloons.  They all seemed to enjoy the water balloons except for one poor little kiddo whose water balloon was impaled by the corner of their glasses and the water slashed in their face. I felt so horrible. But they recovered quickly once we moved onto the next and final activity, water slide!

It was unfortunate that the kiddos contracted HFMD and in a way I guess that was the lemons we were dealt.  As the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade”. And that is precisely what we did…..

Off to help our little man with his thank you notes. What is your rule when it comes to thank you notes? Do you enforce a hand written thank you note? Do you, as the parent send an email with a thank you enclosed? Do you not send thank you notes? Is it a dying practice? What is your thought on the thank you note?

4th of July Treats

Well, we weren’t able to see the fireworks this evening and hang out with extended family but we did make the most of our situation and had a nice buffet of 4th of July kiddo friendly treats at home together. And while we ate my hubby gave the kiddos a mini-history lesson on the significance of the 4th of July.  We are looking forward to our freedom from being quarantined; it seems rather apropos that it just so happens to be on the 4th of July.

 

 

 

The Declaration of Independence was the birth certificate of the United States of America. The words are still memorized by at least some of our schoolchildren and can bring a tear to the oldest American eye with little effort. The principles they communicate have informed our history as a free people and inspired our neighbors in other parts of the world to stand up against all forms of tyranny. As we reflect upon the text today we need to remember that our forebears were not declaring their independence from Divine Providence. Rather, they were trusting in the primacy of the Governance of God over their own lives and their noble undertaking.

They sought independence from a monarchy which had become tyrannical precisely because it had forgotten the implications of the primacy of Divine Providence. The principles set forth in that Declaration were a rallying cry which called forth extraordinary sacrifice. They were rooted in something much greater than political expediency. That is why those principles became a measuring stick against which all governments of men would be measured in the future.

The courageous men who signed this document were influenced by the great treasury brought to Western Civilization by the Christian Church. They believed there actually were truths to be held and that those truths are self-evident. Those truths include the existence of unalienable rights which are given to all men and women by a Creator. They believed that those truths and those rights can be discerned by all men and women because they are revealed by the Natural Law which is written on all human hearts and is a participation in God’s law. To read more http://www.alwayscatholic.com/?page_id=3916

God Bless America

Sleep Under Party

Okay, remember when you were a pre-teen and all the rage on the weekends was a sleep over at a friend’s house? You would pack your pjs, stuff to do, and grab a pillow and sleeping bag and rush to the car in anticipation. Or, if you were one of the fortunate souls you only lived a few houses down and you could just walk to your friend’s house. Then once you arrived the excitement would build….what to do first? Pizza, duh! Then it was off to dish about all the cute boys at school, while sporadically giving props and snubs on fashion as well as hair accessories/styles seen at school, the mall, magazines, Hollywood, etc.   Then the night would continue on with various activities like painting nails, looking through seventeen, playing games, and watching movies that our parents might not be too fond of, like Dirty Dancing and Tremors (that darn movie gave me nightmares, I guess I had it coming, serves me right for watching something I knew I shouldn’t have been). Oh, and remember the crazy games of truth or dare? If memory serves me correctly I think one game ended when a few girls started streaking down the street in the middle of the night.  Yep, now that’s a party, lol!  Ever wish you could go back to those days? Just relinquish your responsibility and obligations as a parent and be a teenager again? Well, you can!! Granted a sleep over is a tad ridiculous and not always practical at our age but a Sleep Under Party is totally feasible!

Invite a group of your closets friends over to your home for a Sleep Under Party. I know what you are thinking, I don’t want to clean, cook, hunt for the perfect outfit, and entertain but the best part is when you do it right you don’t have to do any of those (okay, well, maybe clean a little. I don’t advice inviting people over to see your dirty cloths sprawled across the floor and dinner for the night before still caked on pot, pans, and dishes throughout the kitchen. So, yes, some tidying might be in order, but nothing major.)

Here are the rules for hosting a Mom’s Sleep Under Party:

1. Everyone must come dressed in their Pajamas. This keeps the dress code simple and comfortable.

2. Everyone brings one dish or beverage to share (funny thing, these are often something chocolate and wine). However if you don’t want to have duplicate dishes or a bunch of bottles of wine and no food I would advise posting a message on Facebook and have guest reply stating what they will be brining. Having guest bring a dish or beverage keep the hostess’ responsibilities to a minimum, makes everyone feel like an important part of the evening, and it is a great way to share new recipes.

3. Have a few activities planned and sitting out to play in case the conversation doesn’t flow as quickly as you would like. A game tends to get a party started. Though, I must admit, I have thrown a few sleep under parties and the conversation never lulls, in fact I often have to boot the ladies out when I start mumbling like an idiot after exhaustion takes control of me.

4.For added fun you could make it into a Spa Night. Have a Massage therapist on hand for massages, the ladies could make sugar scrubs, or have someone give pedicures, etc.

5.What happens at a Sleep Under Party stays at a Sleep Under Party, just kidding!! No weird stuff, just moms chilling and having a much deserving fun, relaxing evening with friends.

So, you might not be able to be a teenager again and chances are you will not be streaking down your street at midnight (unless you want to have that weird, extremely awkward conversation with your neighbor in the morning) but you can encompass the ambiance of the occasion in a more grown-up manner.

 

So, what do you think? Do you see yourself throwing a Sleep Under party anytime soon? Or, maybe you have thrown a similar party, how did it go?

Alleluia: We survived Easter! Mommy gets Starbucks!!

Got Easter baskets? Well we do, 9!  While the kiddos are sleeping off their chocolate hang overs (yep, we had chocolate bunny heads for breakfast with a side of Reece’s pieces.  I was tired and they were so convenient.  This is not something I am proud of but I am keeping it real) and our toddler is slowly remembering other words beside, “more bunny….more bunny….” I thought I might take a moment to share the past 48 hours. 

At the culmination of Easter Sunday mass the entire congregation joined the choir in singing Jesus Christ Has risen today Alleluia.  Since we do not sing Alleluia during Lent this song is quite a celebration.  On a personal note I felt it was also a celebration of the fact that I had survived Easter.  I belted out Alleluia at the top of my lungs (yes, out of tune, bad breath, and all).

For those of you not familiar with this song here ya go…..

 

 

My poor hubby did not have the best Easter. We had my family over to celebrate on Holy Saturday and then we were going to celebrate with his family on Easter Sunday.  After my family left Saturday evening he started to get sick. It was at that moment that I thought my worst nightmare was coming true.  I thought for sure I had given my family food poisoning on the first, and what would probably be the last time, I hosted a holiday celebration.  So, I did what any good hostess would do, I made a phone call to see if anyone else was puking.  As I listen to the ring tone my thoughts wandered.  It could have been the potato salad, I made a lot, and maybe the middle wasn’t cold or something?  Or was it the kielbasa? I didn’t eat the kielbasa but my hubby went to town on it and so did my uncles and grandpa.  Oh, God, my poor grandfather, he survived colorectal cancer and just celebrated his 80th birthday, and now it will be the kielbasa he had eaten my house that kills him. 

Is that Killer Potato Salad in the corner?
Is that Killer Kielbasa behind the Lamb butter?

Finally my mom picked up the phone.  Good news, no one else that attended our Easter celebration was sick, phew!!! So, my hubby went up to bed after helping me clean up from our celebration, how sweet is he?  He was feeling miserable but helped me clean up and rearrange the furniture.

While he was sick upstairs I, I mean the “Easter bunny”, put the kiddos Easter baskets together and hid the Easter Eggs for the Hunt in the morning.

I had to make our toddler’s hunt a little more obvious than the older kiddos.

At 6:30am our preschool was ready to hunt for some Easter Eggs, I did everything I could to stall. But by 7:30 I ran out of ideas and the kiddos sprang to action looking for Easter eggs like it was their JOB.  Then they went through their Easter baskets and started playing with and eating some of the goodies in their baskets. My poor hubby missed out on all the fun but I did record Easter morning for him to watch later.  At which time he can also play referee and determine if our daughter fouled and infringed on our son’s eggs. (Each kiddo hunts for different eggs; we learned this the hard way a few years ago.  So our 19 month-old hunted little animal characters, preschooler, sports balls, and our six-year-old, cupcake shaped eggs).

By this point of the weekend I was starting to lag a bit, from the lack of sleep, activities of the week, and festivities of weekend.  This mommy needed a break but I had to momup! for mass and the remainder of the day.  My in-laws had reservations at Maumee Bay State Park Lodge for brunch after mass.  Since by know it was apparent that my hubby had the stomach flu and head cold I would be putting in some parent overtime.

 

 

I managed to get all four of us dressed, diaper bag and church bags packed, and out the door to mass a ½ hour early, which is basically like being on time on Easter Sunday.  It seems like everyone is catholic on Easter Sunday. Seriously, where are all these people the rest of the year?  It was so crowded, a little claustrophobic.  But that just might have been because our 19 month old is going through a clingy phase. Have you ever gone to the zoo and seen the orangutan family? You know the baby that is always hanging off of the mom? That is precisely how my daughter and I looked during mass. I was getting warm, sweating, a little light-headed from the lack of oxygen since she was squeezing my neck, and during the quiet reflection portions of mass she managed to yell “Mama…mama..mama” like having my eyes closed meant I was miles away. Thus, by the end of mass, while the entire congregation joined the choir in singing the beautiful and celebratory song I belted out Alleluia.  Jesus Christ had risen and this mommy made it through the weekend and mass solo.

As I walked out of church I felt the warmth of the sunshine and a soft breeze, it was at that moment that it felt like God was speaking to me, telling me I had done good and I deserved a treat. I deserved a Grande iced hazelnut latte from Starbucks! That’s right baby, lent was over and it was time to celebrate and celebrate I did.

I buckled the kiddos in and the Yukon practically drove itself there, as if it too had missed that mommy friendly drive-thru that would bring peace, joy, and caffeine to its mom on the go driver.

Hello old friend….it has been so long….

Ahhh….

And the rest is history, a very messy history.  Where’s the vacuum??

So, how was your Easter? Did you survive? What did you give up for lent and have since been reunited with?

Easter Preparation Eggstravaganza

We have been busy preparing for Easter……
The kiddos had fun dying Easter eggs. Our son selected a fun space themed Easter egg kit from Target while our daughter opted for a 3D kit.

JELLO Eggs….

Easter Eggs Beverage Identifiers….

Crayons melted in Egg Molds ….

We placed these in the Easter basket to be blessed and our son will be taking them to Sunday School for the children to enjoy.

Our Easter Basket for the Blessing of the food…

Side Note: For those of you who have never attended the blessing of the food, it is a quick, very quick, 15 minute serve.  It is such a wonderful tradition. I always look forward to seeing everyone’s beautiful baskets, their food, and the aroma of the food is amazing.  I also like the fact that everyone is under dressed, you can tell all the moms, grandmas, and a few dads and grandpa’s have been busy at home preparing for Easter. They come in jeans, sweat pants, informal skits, and tennis shoes.  There is a sense of community, joy, and love in this tradition.

Kiddos Easter clothes, sat out ready for the big day. Huge thank you to Nana who purchased the girls’ dresses and our son’s vest.  I learned everything I know about clothes shopping, looking for the best bargain for your buck, complementing patterns and colors, shoes, etc. from her.  Get this, the most difficult item of clothing to locate, the sweater! I think I purchased the one and only girl’s white sweater in town. Seriously, that was the most difficult item of clothing to locate.  I findly found one at Sear’s Lands End department. Why are they making little girls clothing so complicated these days? Most contain crazy patterns, to tight clothing, to short shorts and skirts, I could go on but I won’t, back to Easter.

We rearranged our furniture in order to be able to accommodate 12 family members. We placed the living room furniture in the dinning room and the dinning room furniture in the living room. This is a small group, my mom’s home can accommodate the entire family which is usually 25-30 people.  unfortunately our home is smaller and we would have to have Easter in shifts in order to accommodate 30 family members.  I am praying that next year we will be in a larger home and we can host and celebrate Easter with the entire family.  Then we setup the tabel for Easter. 

I made some Easter Bunny cookies and carrots for dessert…..

Then it was time for the tired Easter Bunny to prepare the baskets and hide the eggs……..

I hope you have a very Hoppy …… 

Tuesday’s Treasure: Enchanted Princess and Knight Birthday Party

For our daughter’s birthday she decided that she would like to have a Princess and Knight theme.  So we set out for the party invitation supplies and began planning an Enchanted Party.  We purchased all the invitation supplies at Hobby Lobby, came home, printed off the essential information, and she helped cut and paste the invitations. It was fun sitting down, just the two of us; the younger kiddos went to bed early.

The day before her party she helped by cleaning her room, putting toys away in the family room, and decorated (the timing  worked out nicely because she is working on earning a Girl Scout badge that requires these tasks). The day of her party she was up at 6am and ecstatic, there was no containing her enthusiasm, which was expected but can wear on mommy after the 50th time of asking, “Is it time for the party yet?”

It was finally time for guest to arrive.  As the Knights and Princess entered the Royal Castle she greeted them and requested that they partake in the activities set up in the kitchen.  There was jewelry for the Princesses to decorate and masks for the Knights. Once everyone arrived and had a few minutes to decorate their activity we began the first game.

The first game was Princess and the Frog.  The princess stood in the middle with a blindfold on and a Hershey’s kiss in her hand.  Each child was given a card with an animal picture on it and one card had an image of a frog.  Once all the children had their cards they were then instructed to make their animal’s sound.  So the princess had to listen carefully, through the mooing, neighing, barking, meowing, clucking, baaing, oinking, and quaking to hear the ribbit of the frog.  Once the princess heard the ribbit she needed to walk carefully over to the person and place the Hershey’s kiss in their hand, thus kissing the frog.

After the game the kiddos had a snack and we sang happy birthday.  For the snack we made heart-shaped PB & J, Rice Krispies Star shaped wands, graham crackers with strawberry cream cheese and strawberries, Crescent rolls with strawberries and preserves, and the crème de la crème , Chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting, silver sprinkles, and magical wands.

I was surprised how long the children lingered at the table, at past birthday parties eating was a five-minute or less process, but, they are getting older. They actually talked and hanged out at the table. While they fished eating I explained that Cinderella has lost her glass slipper and would appreciate their help locating it and as a reward she would have a treat for each child once it was located.

So they began Cinderella’s Slipper search.

Clue 1- It’s a clue that you want, a clue you expect, so look by the steps that lead to the deck.

Clue 2-You’ll have a clue to keep and hold, if you go to the place where food is kept cold.

Clue 3- Now quick as a wink, look by the kitchen sink.

Clue 4- As fast as you can, there’s no time to slouch. You’ll find your next clue by the living room couch.

Clue 5- A clue, a clue, now where can one be? I think there’s one hidden near the TV.

Once they entered the family room, where our television is, they located the slipper as well as their goody bags. Each Princess received a magical pink Princess wand and tiara, stickers, chap sticks, and candy.  The Knights received a Knight helmet, sword, stickers, chap sticks, and candy.

Then she opened her gifts and after gifts we took a few photographs of the kiddos all dressed as Princesses and Knights.  It was such a fun party and it seemed like all the children had a wonderful time, but most importantly, my Princesses had a blast.

Our toddler had a blast!

When her last guest went home she came up to me, gave me a great big hug, and thanked me for the bestest party.  My heart melted.

Special thanks to all the moms online, in playgroup, and my life who have shared their advice and suggestions for birthday parties (especially my mom, the queen of birthday parties) To Betty Crocker for making those cake mixes from a box.  To Rice Krispies for making those treats so darn versatile, I love them!  To my sister for helping with the food, watch the kiddos, clean-up, and giving up her Saturday afternoon to help her family, you are amazing Cambra. Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to thank God for making us parents and allowing us to celebrate the joy that our daughter brings into our lives.