Got Hearts? Our Valentine’s Day Decor – Just Add Candy! #ShareYourHeart

Valentine’s Day is only 10 days away and I’m pretty excited to be all about the hearts. The boys are {sort of} old enough to be able to enjoy this candy filled love day, and I’m more than happy to embrace it with them!

My mom always decorated for this February holiday and every year we always got a little Valentine’s Day treat – so I’m excited to continue the tradition with my little ones.

Since we live in the city {and are planning to move} we don’t have too much space for additional decor – but I love the wooden “XO” painted by Brooks when he was 2 and the multicolor print painted by both the boys {a team effort}, paired with this super fun countdown {that can be used for every holiday!} to Valentines Day!

This year I also added these amazing Heart Candy Boxes that the boys made over the weekend at the Home Depot Kids Workshop {which is once a month and free and EVERYONE should take their kids to this!}

Seriously, its so good and its completely FREE. The wooden candy boxes the boys made are amazing.

They are the perfect little thing to hide in some of Brach’s Tiny Conversation hearts. Talk about a throwback – who remembers these as a kid? They were always so much fun. I snuck some into the boys snack bags at school this week as a little pre-love day treat.

They were pretty excited about them!

Candy at snack time?! The luckiest kids ever!

Another look at their Candy Heart Boxes, seriously so cute right? The heart slides open for you to put candy in it!

And also my favorite Conversation Hearts – in tiny & large! Who DOESN’T love these, they are the best!

Thanks so much to my friends at Brach’s for sending us this amazing package of some of their seasonal treats for Valentine’s Day! I mixed it all together and made a little Valentine’s Candy bowl that the boys {and I!} love to sneak a treat every now and then.

The Cherry Hearts, Cinnamon Jelly Hearts and mini cinnamon imperial hearts are SUCH throwbacks for me. They are the sort of candy my mom would always have and the candy I still love!

I’m going to add some conversation hearts and a few other sweet treats to a basket I’m putting together for the boys for Valentine’s Day. Mainly some new arts & crafts supplies, books – nothing crazy exciting, but it’s nice to have any excuse to celebrate!

I’d love to know – Do you do anything special for your kiddos for Valentine’s Day?? And also – what Brach’s candy is your favorite?? Please share!

Our TV/Screen Free Transition + Favorite Toddler & Pre-K Morning Activities #BreakfastInvitations

About a week ago, I hit the breaking point with screens. I’ve been sharing a bit of our experience on Instagram {and in IG Stories!} most days, but I wanted to pop on the blog and share it with you here as well! After the holidays + all the craziness that surrounds it, my boys were having WAY too much television, iPad, just too much screen time in general. They TV was always on, they were constantly changing activities, shows or games every 5 seconds and not focusing or concentrating on anything they were doing. It was a bit of a haze where I lost the control of the screen time as a tool for me {when I needed to get something done} and they were overusing their devices to the point where it was affecting their behavior negatively.

So last Monday I decided to go screen free during the week.

And I think that even though it’s only been a few days, it might have been the best decision I’ve ever made.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an easy transition. Of course because this was a bit of a decision made on a whim, the boys weren’t prepared for it and didn’t understand the quick change of the removal of their favorite devices. But I armed myself with some educational, open ended things for them to play with, did my research on activities that encouraged learning for their ages {3 and 5} and we’ve been powering through ever since.

The Plus Plus might be one of our new favorite things!

Wanting this change just didn’t happen overnight. It was a combination of the fact that we are in the process of preparing to move {to the PA ‘burbs in the spring.summer!} so I have been tidying up, paring down and donating/selling what we aren’t using. I’ve done most of the house {a few times over} but the thing that gives me the most anxiety is the kids toys! They have so much and they weren’t enjoying much of any of their toys because all they wanted to do was play on their iPad, watch TV, or play video games. So part of the screen time removal was also to help see what they are actually playing with and what we can get rid of before our move.

But I also want to encourage MORE PLAY!

As I previously mentioned, their attention span was lacking because of the TV or something always on in the background. With that off, they are already doing more for longer, and I’m loving seeing that open-ended, imaginative play!

It’s been over a week and I am not the only one seeing the differences – one of my boys teachers sent me a note at the end of last week asking if we were doing anything different at home, because she saw that my son was so much calmer, more attentive and engaged in class! How amazing is that?! It was the best feeling in the world to get that gratification and I know we’ve got to continue on.

On the weekends, I’m prepared to be more relaxed – a family movie night, one show in the morning, playing a game together as a family – but it has to be earned during the week. We are using a sticker chart to track that – but trying to keep it as minimal as possible!

Another big driving force for starting this whole new way of life has been following along my new favorite IG obsessions: @dayswithgrey @busytoddler @littleoneslearn @teachingmyminis – They have daily activities and inspiration for you to do with your kids that I’ve been doing for the past week and its been great to see.

The #BreakfastInvitation is something you set up the night before, so the kiddos come downstairs and have something new to do. They do this activity and mama gets a few minutes to have her coffee, eat, whatever – because the kiddos are entertained {while secretly learning!} with their new morning game. It’s a win/win for everyone and my boys have been loving it.

Here are a few activities we’ve been enjoying this week !

Graham is working on the letters + his alphabet {he’s 3} and he loved matching up the letters on the refrigerator!

Brooks {is 5} and he can read + knows his letters, so I’ve been working on introducing more counting + numbers into his morning routine. These dominoes have been fun to play with + use for numbers and are under $8!

I’ve used them two separate mornings, the top one he flew through, so I changed it up again the next time.

The second version was a little challenging for him at first, because he had not done something like it before – but he was all about it at the end! I’ll be doing this at least once a week!

In my commitment to this project, I picked up a few supplies that have proven useful – this felt pack and these vehicles have been amazing! Graham has been loving sorting the colors and the types of vehicles, but he’s also used them with his slim, play doh and sand!

I would also suggest DOTS!

Dot Stickers + Dot Markers have been great for us.

I used this activity to help Graham learning to spell his name. It was the perfect challenge for him because he could totally do it.

Another favorite with the boys was this morning and the fun counting money. We chatted about dimes, nickels, quarters and adding up change. Lots of learning going on here, and I’m crossing my fingers I can scrub off the numbers in my cupcake tin!

So that’s what we’ve been up to lately! Its been a lot more work for me to keep everyone busy and engaged and happy while not being able to zone out in front of the TV, but I know it will continue to get easier and better. It already has in a short week and I can see the difference in my boys which feels amazing.

And as I was typing this article up, this popped up in my CNN feed that I thought was worth sharing!

I’m totally not trying to preach for anyone that is all about the TV. I get it! I was there too. We just needed a change and this is where we are right now and we are going to see what happens! Send me happy, productive, entertaining, open-ended imaginative play vibes!

Now I’d love to hear from you – do you do #breakfastinvitations ? What are your tv/screen time limits for your kiddos {if any!} I’d love to hear what you do that works for you – Please Share!

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5 Tips For Float Tank Beginners + My First Float Therapy Experience

Yesterday I got to enjoy a very fun morning as I treated my mom to a birthday FLOAT!

Yes, my mom and I went floating for the first time {for both of us!} and it was all sorts of awesome!

We set off in the morning and made our way over to Marlton, NJ to visit Float SNJ – a Flotation Therapy Center for Floating/Sensory Deprivation. You see, my mom is basically superwoman, she never stops moving. So this was my way to treat her to a morning where she was forced to relax. And I got to join in on the fun too, so everyone wins!

I’ve done a bit of research on all the benefits of a Float Tank and there are so many reasons why it’s something everyone should try! Floating helps with Blood Sugar Balance, Circulation, Blood Pressure, Calm the Nervous System, Muscle + Joint Pain, Sleep Patterns, Bone Density and so much more.

Floating in Epsom salts relieves pain and facilitates states of deep relaxation in which cortisol levels are reduced, epinephrine & adrenaline exit the blood stream, and the Mind/Body system is allowed to fully relax and decompress.

Check out more information on the benefits of Floating here.

Alright – let’s go soak up 1,000 pounds of Epson Salt – {that’s 10x saltier than the ocean!}

So here’s what happens -> You get to the Float Therapy Center, check in and make your way to your room.

Inside you room there is a changing area, shower and the Floating Room. I was most excited about Float SNJ because the Float area was way more open than other pods I had seen. With a sliding door like a shower and a massive floating pool, I knew I wouldn’t have any issues with claustrophobia.

Here’s the shower area + a look into the Float Pool.

Aren’t you feeling more calm and relaxed just looking at this?!

Next to the shower in the room there is everything all set up for you.

Tip 1 – 100% wear the earplugs! You don’t want all that salt getting in your ears!

Tip 2 – If you have any open cuts, be sure to put some petroleum jelly on it, which is provided, so again – all the salt doesn’t sting it!

Tip 3 – Shower and wash yourself off BEFORE getting into the Float {this is a required step} BUT be sure to DRY YOUR FACE! If your face isn’t wet, when you get into the pool, you won’t want to touch it. And you REALLY don’t want to touch your face because you will get ALL.THE.SALT on it. No Bueno!

Tip 4 – Go Nude.

You have the whole room to yourself, so it’s suggested you go into the float naked. I brought a swimsuit with me, but it’s better to enjoy the weightlessness without clothes to maximize the feeling. Plus they said all the salt could destroy a swimsuit.

So in the buff we go!

I got into the pool and played around with the weightlessness a bit – and took a few snaps for the blog, obviously. Risking my phone falling into the salt water and dying, but it survived. Woo.

The weightless feeling inside the pool is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

You float. And it feels awesome.

Even leaning back into the water, your face is completely + comfortably out of the pool My feet were out, my legs + knees were out, the entire front of my body was above, it was crazy. And when I closed my eyes my feet kept feeling like they were being pulled down to the floor of the pool, but they weren’t. Just my brain playing tricks on me.

Another benefit of floating – there are no pressure points on your body in this state – which can provide 100% pain relief if you have any issues. Also the spine elongates + straightens and the body undergoes the same regeneration process that happens during sleep!

Tip 5 – Let go.

At this center when you get in the float, you have the option to 100% turn off the lights and/or the light music that is playing. This would be the sensory deprivation part of the float – where you are weightless in total darkness, floating in the water.

It’s as crazy as it sounds and something everyone should try – especially if you are working through an injury or a health issue! I listened to the music, did some calming breaths and counted in my mind. I could easily see myself falling asleep.

I spent most of my time floating with my eyes closed or watching the crazy light installation on the ceiling. It was 60 minutes of NOTHING and it was all sorts of amazing.

When your 60 minutes in the Float Pool is over, the music changes into a calming gong and you know it’s time to shower off all that salt. That shower felt amazing because my skin felt so silky and smooth!

I changed and met my mom in the post float area for a tea. We both had great experiences and 100% would do it again. The art of doing nothing + letting go is something I could use continued practice in, so I hope there are some more floats in my future!

Now I’d love to hear from you – Have you been Floating before? Is it on your wish list of something fun to do? What do you think about Float Therapy?

Let me know your thoughts! I had a great float! Thanks so much to my friends at Float SNJ for having us!

Whole30 Favorites: What I’ve been eating for Breakfast + Dinner

Hello Hello!

I’ve been having such an awesome time doing Whole30 this month that I thought it would be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite recipes. It’s been so fun to try so many new meals and it’s been great to be back in the kitchen cooking. Most of the meals are from the Whole30 Cookbook {which I highly recommend – it’s awesome!} and I’ve linked a few others I’ve tried from the internet as well!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing a 80/20 version of the Whole30 – cutting out carbs + dairy most days, but when we have events or date nights or birthdays out, I’m enjoying myself. And I’m cool with that! Now, onto the food!

First up – the most important meal of the day – BREAKFAST!

I had to work out a few kinks with how I was starting out my meals each day. Cutting out dairy and carbs first thing in the morning means you have to take a little more time in prepping what’s for breakfast. And after 2 days, I was over the basic scrambled eggs – SO OVER them. But that was a good thing because it forced me to get creative and try new things!

All of these things do take time – in terms of chopping, prepping or even just cooking {like potatoes!} The more planning ahead that goes into the meals, the better – sometimes I prep my breakfast veggies the night before so I’m ready to go! But here are a few of my favorite breakfast meals so far – most of which I’ve had more than once this month because I love them so much!

First up – Diner Breakfast – Eggs, Sausage and Home Fries.

This is the absolute best breakfast in the whole entire world. And no I’m not exaggerating. The sage in the sausage, the sweet potato with the runny egg, it is SO GOOD. My husband has requested this meal each weekend this month, he loves it as much as I do! It’s in the book and its amazing.

Twice Bakes Sweet Potato

This was one of those meals where I woke up, didn’t know what I wanted to make but realized I had some sweet potatoes to move. Toss them in the oven, add in a egg to bake and it was so yummy!

// recipe

Veggie Packed Breakfast Frittata

Another good one in the book that was delicious! Took a little bit of prep time with all the chopping and what not, but a great weekend breakfast that everyone can enjoy – because it’s definitely big enough for the whole family!

Brussels sprouts, Egg, Bacon + Avocado

This was just a random morning combination as well, but it turned out so good that I had to share. I had Brussels sprouts I needed to use and adding them in a combination with a runny egg, bacon and avocado – it was so yummy and kept me full FOREVER.

Now it’s time to look at what I’ve been making for dinner! The dinners have varied in things I make just for my husband and I or also for the kids to try as well. Some things are a little spicier than others so I keep that in mind if the kids are going to try them too, but my husband, Charles has been having all the dinners with me and he’s been loving them as much as I have!

My favorite dinner – Chimichurri Kebabs

These were in the book, but you can find them online as well. The Chimichurri sauce is outstanding. I can’t say enough good things about it, it’s so delicious! Go make these now!

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

The seasoning on this salmon plus the avocado salsa makes this meal so fresh, light and tasty. We’ve made this twice so far – whenever I have an avocado that needs to be cooked – and it’s delicious!

/ recipe

Meatballs!

This was an awesome dinner because I made 50 meatballs – from my own recipe – 30 to eat and enjoy over a few days and then 20 to store for later. The kiddos had spaghetti and meatballs {one of their favorite meals} and I just had them by themselves, which is perfectly fine with me! They are delicious any way you enjoy them! I’ll eat meatballs by themselves all day everyday!

Asian Chicken

I need to find the link to this one because it was INCREDIBLE. The sauce on it was insane – like a peanut pad Thai. It might not look pretty, but it was so tasty!

Stuffed Peppers

These are perfection. I’ve made these two or three times and I am committed to having them in the weekly rotation. I cut up the stuffed peppers and use them as a taco shell of sorts and its so filling and good. Now I want to make these again tonight!

Thai Cucumber Cups

ANOTHER WINNER! These were a little tough to make because they were intensive with lots of steps but another great meal. I made them for dinner and they were light and flavorful. Would be awesome for lunch as well!

Chili

It’s easy to make Chili Whole30 Compliant – just take out the beans, no cheese and always add guacamole for that creaminess. Boom.

Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

I made this last night and it was insane. I made my regular meat sauce and added the spaghetti squash and it totally took care of any carb craving. I can’t wait to eat leftovers later. So good!

// recipe

So those were just a few of my favorite meals so far in my Whole30 journey. I am usually so full from breakfast I don’t eat much lunch – or if I do, its celery with sunflower butter {which is awesome!} I can’t wait to eat and make some more from the amazing recipes!

If you have any awesome Whole30 recipes, I’d love to hear about them! Send them my way! And if you have done Whole30 before, I’d love to hear about your journey and what you think of it all! Please share!!

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