Who Do You Serve?

OK- something new, just going a touch deeper than cleaning supplies today :)- hope it is a blessing to you- (you will see where my mind is at the end!)                                                                                                           

I have been thinking a lot about service lately, Joshua 24 says “then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. It seems that the Lord continues to work on me in two areas; service and humility (there are SO many others, but these are consistent)! The more he works on those virtues in me, the more I realize you cannot have one without the other. Until I became a wife and mother, I did not truly understand what it means to practice these virtues on a minute-by-minute basis. The minute I said "I do" all of the sudden, a Nuclear Bomb of humility and service exploded in my life and it is as if I have no choice but to be humble and serve my family. As I think about that verse, I get to wake up every day and choose THIS day whom I will serve. I have chosen to serve Jesus Christ and I have found so much freedom in serving my God alone. When I make this choice, I don’t have to worry about receiving earthly recognition for my service, the one whom I serve notices every detail of my service (folding towels, cooking, cleaning up SICK kid stuff, God knows it ALL!!).  I can freely serve others without the looming bitterness of needing my deeds to be noticed or appreciated.  Ephesians 6:7 says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men”, there is so much freedom in serving the One who will never take advantage of me, never ask too much of me and knows the condition of my heart and the intentions behind my service.  Serving God is also freedom from myself, I don’t have to take myself so seriously or worry about making myself “appear to be” someone who is worthy to be served. I have done a lot of “self serving” in the past and the only thing that leads to is disappointment and regret- I am so blessed to have received freedom from myself! The last part of that scripture in Joshua is “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”, we are called to raise our children to a life of service to the Lord. I want to teach my children to serve from the heart, to notice the needs of others and serve them as an “expression of thanks to God”. I love 2 Corinthians 9:12-13, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” I am excited to find little ways each day to teach my girls what service is and whom to serve! We are so abundantly blessed by God, I want to make sure I am serving with a grateful and joyful heart in all that I do, and choosing THIS day to serve the Lord. 
JM SIDE NOTE: I can say that I definitely do not make the right choice of whom to serve every day, I often forget who I am serving and the flesh wins, but I also know-when I choose correctly, the day is immeasurably better- Freedom! 

Behind the Scenes: As I sit here on my computer, I am preparing for the "worst snow storm of the year" apparently a blizzard is coming and we will be in the house for a while- and I am here with 5 kids- (5 years and under) + 1 large dog (2 nephews, 1 niece and 1 dog nephew are staying with me) and my husband has the flu- so as I get ready to settle in on my little couch to sleep (way to germ-a-phob for the bedroom tonight!)- I am thinking that I will have plenty of opportunities to serve wholeheartedly and find joy in serving others this week, dont you think?! I Love when I have the opportunity to practice what I preach! 


Delightful Cleaning!

Just a quick "nugget" today- I was cleaning and used Mrs. Meyers lavender window spray for the first time, it is amazing! I LOVE the smell so much I dont even care if it works, which it does! The pretty bottles are an added bonus as well. So excited to get all of the other products and try other smells! If you are a Mrs. Meyers fan, let me know what your favorite products are- I'm in love!


Let's Get Physical!

My girls are really loving this fun fitness equipment from W.C. Redmon Co., it is the perfect thing for them to do in the winter months to burn a little excess energy and have a blast indoors. There are several different options; a treadmill (which is tough for little ones to walk on, but would be good for 5yrs+), weight bench, a bike and the Air Walker-which is the favorite in our home (there are several other options coming soon). They are really well made, high quality and tons of fun! Another good find from Cici (my mom)!  Check it out: http://www.redmonusa.com/Results.cfm?category=12


Tea For Two!

As I sit here drinking (now gulping since I have done this research) my Venti/Unsweetened/Green Iced Tea from Starbucks (of course wishing it was Trenta sized), I thought it would be nice to post a list of all of the benefits of green tea for you. When researching the health benefits, (of course the studies are not 100% conclusive) this list is pretty standard wherever you look. There is a bunch of boring language when you research why these benefits apply. I say, if there is a possibility it can do all of this- I will simply drink it, no need to dig into the medical studies and their validity.  One more thing, these benefits are based on 3 cups of green tea per day, and also talks about other teas (black and white) having amazing benefits as well- maybe a later blog entry! For me, I really like the mint flavored green tea at home in the afternoon and they make decaf green tea bags for evening which is a nice treat before bed. Here is where I found this list and a bunch of great information: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=146
(OH, and ladies, #18 is all I needed to know, AMEN?!)  Happy gulping!
1. Protects against Death from All Causes, Especially Cardiovascular Disease
2. Protects against Coronary Artery Disease
3. Inhibits Atherosclerosis
4. Special Benefits for Persons with High Triglycerides
5. Thins the Blood and Helps Prevent Blood Clots
6. Protects the Heart in Patients with Acute Cardiovascular Disease
7. Minimizes Damage and Speeds Recovery after a Heart Attack
8.Minimizes Damage to the Brain after a Stroke
9. Lowers Blood Pressure and Helps Prevent Hypertension
10. Protects against Cancer; especially Prostate, breast, Ovarian, Colorectal, Gallstones and Biliary Tract, Lung, Bladder Cancer
11. Brain Tumors in Children
12. Improves the Efficacy of Cancer Drugs While Lessening Their Negative Side-Effects
13. Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes
14. Protects against Kidney Disease
15. Builds Bone (Similar to Calcium or Exercise)
16. Prevents Osteoporosis and Periodontal diseases
17. Protects the Liver from Alcohol and Other Harmful Chemicals
18. Promotes Fat Loss
19. Increases Exercise Endurance
20. Protects against Cognitive Decline, Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease
21. Green Tea Fights the Flu
*Side note, if you eat Pepper (the spice) with green tea, apparently it increases the absorption of “the good stuff”, lets just say.
*AND...for those of you who need a little sweetness in your drink- my SIL loves the Green Tea Latte from Starbucks. 



There are few things more delightful than the sound of a familiar voice; your parents, your kids, your spouse, your grandparents, etc.. My mom gave my girls these precious, recordable storybooks for Christmas and birthdays this year. She was able to record my dad and herself reading the books to my girls; so when they turn the pages it is that sweet familiar voice reading the story to them. I don't know if this would have been as meaningful to me if we hadn't lost my husbands mother to cancer last year. I have thought a hundred times how bummed I am that we didn't record her voice for our kids, she had the most memorable, wonderful voice. That is something you just cant pass along with words or photographs. I am blessed to still have grandparents living in their 80's and with my dad 10 years out of Lymphoma and my husbands dad struggling with health issues, I am not going to take their lives or voices for granted! This is such a sweet way to enjoy those sweet voices in your life, the ones you want your children to cherish! And since my girls have "Goodnight Moon" memorized, I think I will have them record one so I can remember their sweet baby voices! Some books they have available: GoodNight Moon, Curious You On Your Way, The Night Before Christmas, Frosty, The Very First Christmas, All The Ways I Love You, My Little Princess, Twinkle Twinkly Little Star, Bright and Beautiful, Guess How Much I Love You, Counting Kisses (a FAV), On the Night You Were Born, I Love You, Grandma (since my 81 year old grandma reads this...be prepared to record this for my girls grandma!!), My Grandpa and Me, We're Not Scared of Anything, Hey Diddle,Diddle, Thank You, God, For Everything.  http://www.hallmark.com/online/in-stores/recordable-storybooks/
Search Amazon.com for hallmark recordable books



I love adding cinnamon to almost anything; apples, oatmeal, yogurt, banana bread, sweet potatoes, smoothies...you get the point! I was delighted when I found that it is so good for you, so I decided to share with you 10 benefits of cinnamon. I think you will be sprinkling away after reading this (and not feeling as guilty for feeding your kids cinnamon rolls!). This is a list from: http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/10-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html
1) Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.
2) Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
3) In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections. 
4) In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
5) It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
6) In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
7) When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
8) One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
9) Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
10) It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.


I Like to Move It!

This time of year is all about finding inside activities since it is so cold here, but we tend to get cabin fever really easily (I know my warm weather friends are playing at the park, but this could still apply to you!!). We do exercise time, art time, baking time, music time, movie time, even snow playing time, but nothing is as delightful as simply redecorating! When I notice the feeling that I am going to suffocate if I enter the playroom or the girls rooms one more time, I know it is time! Simply moving the location of the play kitchen or putting away some toys we haven't played with in a while does wonders.  My girls feel like it is a whole new place and rediscover toys they haven't played with in a while. I try to move things around in the play area once a month to make sure it stays "fresh" for them and for me! This is also a good opportunity to get rid of or store toys your kids have outgrown. So, if you are feeling stuffy or locked in, simply have a toy redesign day and it will make everyone feel so much better! 


Scrub Scrub Scrub!

Just a quick little something for today- I was in the shower and thought, surely everyone knows about this wonderful tool, but JUST IN CASE, I will tell you!!! I read an article once about exfoliating your skin and they told "me" about using a body brush with my soap in the shower. Apparently it removes dead skin cells as well as stimulates blood circulation, so I headed out to snatch one up and I am in love! I have noticed a big difference in my skin since I have been using this. I use it in the shower then I immediately put lotion (the Trader Joe's lotion is AMAZING and cheap) mixed with a drop of vitamin E oil on my skin and it has done wonders! I am sure any brush is fine, I like the long handle so I can get my back! Happy scrubbing! The Body Shop Cactus Body Brush


Squeaky Clean!

 There is usually one morning a week we designate as "cleaning time" around the house. The girls usually don't get out of their Pj's and from the moment we wake up we are pumped to CLEAN (this picture is from this week's cleaning session)! There are two different themes when mentally preparing for cleaning day as a mom;  efficient use of time vs. life training. There are days when I simply do not have time to watch my two girls swiffer the same 2x2 square for 30 minutes, so I have to distract them with other activities. But most of the time, I block out the morning and we do a bit of life training and learn how to clean! Of course, they do not get to use any chemicals, but they can dry Swiffer and dust their little hearts out. They get to load things in the washer and dryer, they can wipe down the surfaces in their rooms, they can fold towels- it is amazing how much a 2 and 4 year old can do and how much they enjoy it! I also use this activity on airplanes, there is the period of time between "loading" and "electronic devices" on a flight and I use that time for my girls to wipe down the seats, tray tables and arm rests on the plane. People might look at me like I am pushing slave labor, but the girls ask to do it and absolutely LOVE it! Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I try to find as many "training"opportunities as possible throughout the day and try to teach my kids life skills or lessons through everyday activities. I simply write this as an encouragement, (especially for moms of boys- I know, easier said than done, but what I wouldn't give for my husband's mother to have trained him in the art of house cleaning!! Amen?), there are so many things we can teach our kids through the little activities, it does not have to be a fancy electronic lesson, it can simply be folding a towel or baking cookies! 


Best Toys Ever!

I know most people with kids are MORE than aware of wonderful kids toys. But in case you are new to the adventures in toy purchasing, I would like to tell you about my favorite toys, Melissa and Doug! My girls love these toys, they are high quality and amazing! If I could have a play room full of Melissa and Doug, I would love it! (they are a touch pricy but classic, beautiful and well made!)
Here are my Top 10 Melissa and Doug Toys! 
1) Wooden Food: Ice cream cones, cupcakes, doughnuts, cookies, sushi (pretty much ALL of it!)
2) Wooden Puzzles are all great
3) Check out the Trunki:  How nice to pull your kid through the airport! My girls love having their own luggage, they can pack it and take responsibility for their things. http://www.melissaanddoug.com/luggage-riding-toy
4) Games: The girls were given "Puppy Pursuit" this Christmas and they love it- such a fun kids game, they can play for hours. http://www.melissaanddoug.com/puppy-pursuit?97979675)
5) Dress Up: They have great dress up clothes, especially for boys Melissa & Doug Fire Chief Role Play Costume SetMelissa & Doug Police Officer Role Play Costume Set
6) Easel: the best easel for kids: one side paper/white board the other side chalk
7) Party Favors: You can decorate your own favors, how fun! http://www.melissaanddoug.com/decorate-your-own-party-favors
8) Wooden classics: They have a fun clock and so much more http://www.melissaanddoug.com/classic-wooden-favorite-toys
9) Magnetic Dress-up:  These are darling! http://www.melissaanddoug.com/dyn_prodlist.php?k=87166
10) Lacing: These are great! http://www.melissaanddoug.com/childrens-lacing-activities

I am sure everyone knows about all of this, but just in case...there you have it! (side note, you can get great deals on a lot of Melissa & Doug items from Amazon.com  Search Amazon.com for Melissa and Doug


Let's Do Lunch!

I have received a request for a topic of discussion and I must say, I am pumped that someone would still like to hear from me after all of the blogging this past week! My friend wanted to discuss healthy lunch ideas...FOOD! How is it that something that is so essential is so difficult with kids? I struggle just like everyone else, but as I mentioned in a previous entry, I have received freedom from obsessing about my children’s eating. I am going to put healthy food in front of them (and in their lunch boxes) and when they eat, fabulous and when they dont, their loss! Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I am just taking one meal at a time, THIS is the day, THIS is the meal! 
My main goal (not always accomplished) with all of the food that I purchase is this: no added sugar (at least not in the first 3 ingredients), no high fructose corn syrup (this is in everything, even whole wheat bread), no artificial color (they do make Cheetos that are not orange), no partially hydrogenated oils and no bleached flour (I mean, they use actual bleach). When I look at a package, I make sure to look at the order in which the ingredients are in, they have to list them in order of quantity- so, if sugar is before chicken in soup you are not eating chicken soup but sugar soup- cereal is the worst at adding sugar. (I am sure everyone knows this stuff, but just in case- I watch a LOT of Dr. Oz!) Please know, when we eat out (which is probably once or twice a week) or eat at someone’s home, the girls get to have anything they want. Bring on the Corn Dogs and French Fries! But at home, we try to go natural! (I do also have to mention that my husband brings the girls doughnuts every Saturday morning- not just any doughnuts, strawberry sprinkled doughnuts: hello- artificial color, trans fat, sugar galore, bleached flour. Clearly it is an uphill battle!)
That being said, I have found some EASY, healthy staples that my kids love. Every child is different, so hopefully someone can receive good inspiration from this. If you have other healthy ideas, let me know, I am always looking for new ideas! 
School Lunch Ideas: (we are not good at going nut-free and my girls dont like lunch meat, so this is what I have come up with)
  1. Hummus and crackers- Costco (as well as most grocery stores) have bulk/individual Hummus containers. You can also make Hummus super easy and cheap (there are tons of recipes online). I just make sure I get whole grain or 100% whole wheat crackers, on occasion they can have pretzel chips with it. (this is another “kit” with all of the goodies together http://sabra.com/products/Classic-Hummus-with-Pretzels)
  2. Edamame- I buy this frozen in bulk from Costco or Sams, they come in individual packages so you can just heat up what you need. 
  3. Pirates Booty- I dont know if my girls like eating this as much as they like saying the name, either way- they nearly lick the bag. (it is just puffed rice and corn with seasoning, not too bad!) You can get this anywhere really; Whole Foods, Amazon, Target, etc.. Search Amazon.com for Pirates Booty
  4. Yogurt “tubes”- Whole Foods has fun probiotic yogurt drinks or smoothies, YoKids has fun ones too. 
  5. GoGo Squeeze- We like all of the varieties (mainly for my 2 year old), she doesn't have to spoon applesauce and it is 100% natural, no sugar added. Our Costco just started carrying this and my sister-in-law gets her’s on diapers.com.  Search Amazon.com for GoGo Squeeze
  6. Other Ideas: Cheese and Crackers, string cheese, cup of grapes, my 4 year old loves V8 in her lunch, dry pasta (with just a touch of EVOO or butter), Blueberry scones from Whole Foods, bagel and cream cheese
  7. Clif Bar Twisted Fruit: Sams has this in bulk, no added sugar and a lot better than fruit snacks. Clif Kid Twisted Fruit Ropes, Variety Pack, 8 Strawberry, 8 Mixed Berry, 8 Grape, Pack of 24
Would love your ideas too, I am definitely not an expert on this, so send them my way! One of these days I will post up our favorite staple meals, I have found a couple that work well! Promise my next post will be on something other than food! :) 


30 Healthiest Foods!

I love Real Simple magazine, I always learn something new when I read it! My favorite article from the February 2011 issue is “The 30 Healthiest Foods”, I just love check-lists and this is a good one to remind me why I eat certain foods and why i need to renew my relationship with others! 
Real Simple asked the country’s top dietitians and nutritionists to tell us which superpowered ingredients we should be incorporating into our diets regularly. Here are the combined picks, plus some simple and delicious preparation suggestions.” (Real Simple Magazine, February 2011) 

Here they are- (I simplified the info for you!)
1. Skim Milk (9 essential nutrients!)
2. Mushrooms (protect against breast cancer and can substitute for meat which can slash up to 400 cals per meal!)
3. Whole-Grain Pasta (three times the fiber of regular pasta)
4. Walnuts (Omega-3 fatty acids)
5. All-Natural Peanut and Almond Butters (Monounsaturated fats (heart healthy) and protein- just look for 2 ingredients, nuts and salt) *Jenica NOTE: I love Trader Joes salt-free Peanut Butter, just peanuts! 
6. Steel-cut or old fashioned Oatmeal (helps with cholesterol, fights against heart disease, soluble fiber keeps you full!) 
7. Barley (another high-fiber cholesterol fighter)
8. Quinoa (all 9 amino acids, protein) *Jenica NOTE: Costco and amazon have a big delicious bag of this and it is super easy to make, I serve it with some soy sauce and veggies and it is delicious- definitely a fav! 
9. Lentils (protein and folate- good for pregnancy since it may prevent certain birth defects)
10. Bulgur (fiber, potassium, B vitamins and calcium)
11. Almonds (monounsaturated fatty acids- keeps blood vessels healthy, help lower cholesterol)
12. Eggs (whites offer protein with minimal calories, yolks have vitamin B12 and vitamin A)
13. Nonfat Greek Yogurt (PROBIOTICS!!!, 8 grams more protein per serving than regular yogurt) *Jenica NOTE: I have tried them all, I like Fage with a touch of cinnamon! 
14. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (low fat, high protein)
15. Wild Salmon (omega-3 fatty acids- go with wild, fewer toxins) 
16. Sardines (protein, vitamins D and B12, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids) *Jenica NOTE: I will have to take a supplement, this is one of two foods I will not eat!!! 
17. Kale (loads of vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, and antioxidants. 
18. Kiwi (ounce for ounce 2x more vitamin C than an orange and almost as much potassium as a banana) 
19. Blueberries (fiber, one of the top antioxidant-rich pics)
20. Broccoli (tons of vitamin C, vitamin K- helps blood clot properly)
21. Avocados ( 20% of your daily dose of fiber in one serving, monounsaturated fats) *Jenica NOTE:  Fun fact, avocados are a fruit, not vegetable!
22. Black Beans (antioxidants and magnesium which maintain nerve and muscle function)
23. Sweet Potatoes (the darker the better- antioxidants, beta-carotene) *Jenica NOTE: Here is how I make them for the family- wash well, cover skin in olive oil, put in 350 oven for 1.5 hours, cut in half and sprinkle with cinnamon)
24. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (monounsaturated fats, might cut the risk of heart disease- use in moderation)
25. Edamame (fiber and protein) *Jenica NOTE: great for kids lunches! 
26. Chard (tons of nutrients, calcium, B vitamins, beta-carotene and fiber)
27. Kidney Beans (one of the most antioxidant-rich foods according to USDA study)
28. Oranges (vitamin C-helps body burn fat!)
29. Spinach (iron- healthy hair, folate and flavonoids- loaded with antioxidants)
30. Pumpkin (antioxidants, potassium) 


Brighten Up!

I absolutely love going to the mail box mid-month, especially when the box is crammed full with my magazine subscriptions! They are basically handing out subscriptions for free these days, I think Shape just sent me a deal, $14 for 3 years!  Anyway, that time of the month is here and I have been swamped with intense reading! I am going to do my best to update you on all of my favorite things I have found in my reading this month! I like to keep a file of pages I have ripped out of these beauties and as I run out of products, I try new ones to see if the hype is accurate. Here is my favorite article from InStyle, February 2011. 

10 Ways to Smile Brighter (Quoted from Instyle Magazine, February 2011)
  1. Get a Diamond Smile: A simple pair of sparkly earrings (CZ Studs work too) can make teeth appear whiter. 
  2. Whiten in the Shower: “Heat speeds up the effect of the hydrogen peroxide in a whitening formula so you can remove stains faster,” says N.Y.C dentist Jason Olitsky, co-author of The Naked Tooth (amazon.com) who prefers at-home bleaching trays because they protect lips and gums against irritation. 
  3. Bite Into a Green Apple: We’ve all heard it before: Brush after every meal to prevent stains. But according to N.Y.C dentist Pia Lieb, munching on this crunchy, low-sugar snack is just as effective, “Raw fruits and veggies are loaded with fiber, a natural abrasive that can help clean teeth,” she says. 
  4. Give Teeth a Pre-Bleach Treat: Worried that whitening will cause teeth to be more sensitive to hot of cold drinks? Try Go Smile’s potassium nitrate primer. “It reduces sensitivity by closing the pores of the tooth,” says Olitsky. (Go Smile Pre-Whitening Gel $36/8; at Ulta) Go Smile Go Whiter Pre-Whitening Gel
  5. Bronze Up: The more tan you are, the whiter your teeth will look,” says Scarlett Johansson’s makeup artist Gianpaolo Ceciliato, who suggests dabbing a brown-based bronzer on your face. If your skin is dark, opt for a pink highlighter. “Stay away from yellow or golden tones.”
  6. Pass the Cheese, Please:  The surest way to avoid Malbec mouth: Make a beeline for the cheese tray. “Calcium creates a film over teeth and protects them from the acid in wine that can stain them,” says N.Y.C. cosmetic dentist Laura Torrado. 
  7. Add a Subtle Slick of Color:  While a blue-based matte red lipstick is guaranteed to take your smile from dull to dazzling, “the look is dramatic and not for everyone-or for every occasion,” says Stiles. She recommends a cool pink or sheer cherry gloss for daily wear. 
  8. Sip Wisely: “Coffee is the No. 1 cause of yellowing,” says Olitsky. It’s not how much you drink but how long the coffee is in contact with teeth. so unless you plan on slamming your latte, he suggests sipping it through a straw to minimize contact with the tooth surface. 
  9. Floss Daily: Don’t expect wow whitening results without flossing. Teeth with plaque are more prone to stains (substances like wine and coffee stick to the buildup).
  10. Demand Imperfection: Take a close look- the sexiest smiles on the red carpet are not perfectly symmetrical. “No one wants a cookie-cutter look,” says Olitsky. If you’re going the veneers route, ask your dentist for a customized set with minor variations and translucent colors so they’re more realistic. 
Jenica’s Random Notes: 
1) UM, DAVE, bring on the diamonds!
2) I am totally going to up the apple intake for the girls 
3) Another good reason to adore Cheese! 
4) I discovered the most Delightful subtle “slick of color” stick: Tarte LipSurgence natural lip tint Search Amazon.com for Tarte LipSurgence natural lip tint (I dont love the matte one, but these are fantastic!) 
5) Finally, I don't think I can do coffee from a straw- unless it is iced, I will just have to have coffee with cheese or an apple! 



I know a lot of people with kids are frustrated with their eating. My kids change what they will eat every day, somedays I wonder if they can survive on two bites of food in an entire day. I have tried everything; the timer, bribing, sneaking, threatening, disciplining...you name it! Finally, I have come to the conclusion that I am going to start fresh each day (if the Lord's mercies are new every morning, surely mine can be too!) and do my best to put nutritious food in front of my family and not stress about eating any more! The one thing I know my girls will do is, drink, especially if it is yummy and pretty! So, here are my smoothies for the girls, of course they do not like the same one! (sheesh) My two-year-old sucks her "milkshake" down as if her life depends on it, so I can pretty much put ANYTHING in there, which is amazing! These are also great to throw in a sippy with straw cup and take on the road if you are running late.

These are what I use as a "base"- I add ground flaxseed, spinach, mango, kale...you name it- but these always the base!

The "Izzy"
*1 banana
*1 individual greek yogurt and/or 1 cup of Kefir (any flavor is fine)
*cover the ingredients with milk
mix and serve
(I sometimes add cinnamon, or do plain yogurt/Kefir with natural peanut butter and banana, you can really add anything to this!)

The "Ellie"
*1 individual greek yogurt and/or 1 cup of Kefir (any flavor is fine)
*handfull of frozen blueberries and strawberries (or any frozen fruit)
*cover with 100% pure Orange Juice
mix and serve
(optional to add 1 scoop of orange juice concentrate)

Bring on the Bacteria!

Last spring I came down with a nasty bug while in Nashville, I have never felt so nauseous (other than those glorious first 3 months of pregnancy and I knew that wasn't the case). I went to see my doctor and they told me I had an intestinal infection and to try Probiotics. I grabbed some at Walgreens, thinking it was a hoax, but willing to try anything, and it totally worked. I felt better almost immediately and continued to take them because they have so many positive benefits. I am not a doctor, but I do love to do a little research, so according to medicinenet.com “Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are also called "friendly bacteria" or "good bacteria." Apparently by taking these good bacteria it might help to fight off a host of things including: managing lactose intolerance, preventing colon cancer, lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, improving immune function and preventing infections, Helicobacter pylori, Antibiotic-associated diarrhea, reducing inflammation, improving mineral absorption, preventing harmful bacterial growth under stress, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis and managing urogenital health. (according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probiotic).
 I have no idea if this is the case, I know I haven’t been sick since taking them and many people I know have received amazing benefits from taking them. I started my girls on them at the recommendation on my girlfriend Heidi, who was told to try them for ear infections. The Doctor said Ellie needed tubes because all of her ear infections, so I am trying this first. So far so good, no infections since we started her on them. We have done a lot of traveling and been around a lot of sick kids this past month and no sickness yet, so hopefully this is the immune booster my kids need! I purchased the children’s daily probiotics at Whole Foods in the refrigerator section and they like the cherry flavor. I also use the yogurt with probiotic for their breakfast smoothies or with granola and they love it. Do your own research on this, I am a total believer and love that it is natural and works with our bodies natural functions. Bring on the Bacteria! Nature's Way - Primadophilus For Kids/Cherry, 80 mg, 30 chewable tablets
here is a good article: 

Hours of Fun!

Lately we have been spending a LOT of time at home since it is snowing and freezing cold and we have been spending a crazy amount of time on Jib Jab. My girls are obsessed, they can be anything they want to be and dance with whomever they want to dance with. It is $1/month to join and countless hours of fun for them. My Four-year-old likes to “cast” the videos and send them to people for them to enjoy. Some of the videos are totally inappropriate so I have to pre-screen, but overall it is a great $1 to spend and tons of fun! Check it out- this is their favorite one: http://sendables.jibjab.com/ 

Totally Addicted!

I do not have an addictive personality, I have a lot of issues but that is not one of them! I DO however, have an addiction to Starbucks, plain and simple. I am a chip off the block because my dad does too! We were elated when we arrived in Arizona over Christmas and discovered that they now have the Trenta size for cold drinks- I have no idea how many ounces this cup is, but it is big, beautiful and delicious..Lets just say DELIGHTFUL! I am a simple girl at my starbucks; nonfat unsweet Late, Iced unsweet coffee with 2% milk, unsweet Green Iced Tea or unsweet Black Iced Tea (to all of you Starbucks snobs, I realize that is not the proper order of things, but it gets me my drink at the window!!) I also found that the Arizona Starbucks has Blueberry Oat Bars, they are the most delicious little bars of yumminess and my girls LOVE them! We had three delightful weeks in Arizona, pulling up to the window ordering and enjoying our fabulous Trenta drinks and Oat Bars, then reality hit. I arrived back in KC and went to MY Starbucks and proceeded to order a Trenta drink and Blueberry Oat Bar and GASP...they are only in some “test” markets...not this one. I might have choked back a tear or two (probably not, but whatever) and returned to my usual drink and the girls returned to their usual Lemon Loaf (which they only eat the icing off of). So I say to you Starbucks, bring the Trenta and Oat Bars to all locations, test complete, we LOVE it...and frankly, we need it! If you happen to live in one of these delightful test markets, well, good for you, I might just come and visit! 


If You Teach Them..They Will Learn!

People are always surprised when they hang out with my girls (2 and 4) and notice that they know all of their letters (and their sounds), their numbers (how to add them and subtract them up to 10), their shapes, colors, sight words, etc... and I simply cannot take much credit for this training. Sure, we read books at home and teach them through everyday activities, however I never seem as effective as my handy assistant, the DVD player! We have a DVD player in the car and I decided that if we were going to treck around town with the "backseat babysitter"on, at least they would learn something! So I purchased all of the Preschool Prep Company Videos and through EXTREME repetition, my girls now know all there is to know about the basics! We also "treat" ourselves to the Leapfrog videos and explore with "Math Adventure to the Moon", "Math Circus", "Letter Factory", "Talking Words Factory" and "Let's Go To School". The girls love the videos and I have their captive audience while they are strapped to a car seat, makes learning pretty easy!  I encourage you to start these early if you choose to use this "assistant", my youngest has watched them her whole life with her big sister and she soaks it all up and loves it!
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