Sunday, November 22, 2015

turkey crispy treats

thanksgiving is days away. amidst all the cooking and preparing, i wanted to make something special that my kids would love and enjoy for the holiday. let's be real, they are not going to love the green beans i am planning for thanksgiving day. these little turkey treats are a happy addition to our holiday table and the kids think i'm a rock star for making them. sometimes that's all the accolades i need.

thanksgiving turkey crispy treats

what you will need:

1/2 cup melted butter

8 cups cocoa krispies

1 bag (10 oz) mini marshmallows

candy corn (i could not find this in a store after halloween but, amazingly, amazon always has these and they can be sent via amazon prime)

vanilla frosting (not going to lie...i bought the stuff in the tub)

chocolate frosting (just buy the tub)

mini pretzels

pretzel sticks

constructing the turkeys

make the cocoa krispy treats:

in a large saucepan, melt the butter and the bag of mini marshmallows until they are smooth. add 8 cups of cocoa krispies until they are well coated.

spray a jelly roll pan with non-stick spray. using a piece of wax paper, press the krispy mixture firmly into the pan. (if you don't have wax paper, spray your hand with non-stick spray and use it to press the krispies firmly into place.) allow to cool.

using a donut cutter or a glass with approximately a 3 inch diameter, cut as many circles out of the krispies as is possible. use a much smaller circle (i used the inside circle of a donut cutter) to make smaller circles out of the krispy treats. these circles should be about 1 inch in diameter. place all the cut out circles on wax paper on top of a cookie sheet. 

using vanilla frosting, place a blot of frosting on the large circle at the bottom. 

add two pretzel rods pointing down as the turkey legs and then place some more frosting on the small circles and cover the turkey legs with the small circle of krispy treat.

cover the top of the turkey body with frosting and place the mini-pretzels around as the turkey feathers. add chocolate frosting to the small circle and add one candy corn as the turkey beak.

add more candy corn on top of the mini-pretzels to form colorful turkey feathers and wait for the frosting to harden slightly before serving. 

happy turkey day to kids of all ages!

Friday, November 20, 2015

celebrating adopt a senior pet month with nutrish

november is adopt a senior pet month! in honor of that, i took my boys to visit a local non-profit, no-kill animal shelter located in the suburbs of san diego. friends of cats is dedicated to providing shelter and medical care to abandoned cats and those whose owners are unable to care for them. once their health is assured, they work to find them good homes. they do not euthanize, except as a matter of compassion if a cat is terminally ill or suffering.

if you are looking to add a new furry friend to your home, we urge you to adopt from a shelter and consider a senior pet.

we planned our trip and made sure to first make a trip to the store to purchase food to donate to the shelter. we, of course, purchased nutrish zero grain, because it's a favorite of our own furry friends, but also because we believe in what rachael ray is doing with her brand. 

did you know that 100% of rachael's personal proceeds from sales of nutrish have gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for animals in need? every rachael ray nutrish food and treat recipe is made with simple ingredients like real meat and wholesome veggies, so they’re naturally delicious. as a busy mama, i also love how i can find all of my favorite nutrish recipes where i currently already shop for my groceries so there are no special trips for cat food.

on our trip to friends of cats, we had so much fun spending time playing with all the wonderful cats.

although we didn't end up with a new member of our family this time, we walked away with lots of smiles and the kiddos begging to come back again soon.

we encourage you to follow along with all of the wonderful things rachael's nutrish are doing. we know you will become a believer, as we did!

Friday, November 13, 2015

the best advent calendars for grown-ups

i big, fluffy heart love advent calendars. christmas is my favorite time of the year and, ever since i was little, i loved counting down until the big day. the options of advent calendars for kiddos are endless (my boys have these awesome lego ones this year) but, did you know there were also awesome grown-up advent calendars, too!? who says kids get to have all the fun?! 

ciaté's mini mani month is the ultimate holiday beauty haul, packed with 17 mini paint pot polishes, three mini nail treatments to pamper nails for longer lasting manis and two decorative nail toppers to put you in the party mood! you'll also find ciaté's mini crystal nail file plus a full-size paint pot in an exclusive shade. shape, treat, paint and create endless nail looks—this mani-filled month is ciaté's favorite time of the year!

a starbucks advent calendar?! need i say more? a tree and ornament advent calendar with 25 reusable tin ornaments containing sweet treats. includes one $5 starbucks card.

featuring a selection of best sellers, this calendar is filled with 24 irresistible surprises from l'occitane.. a beautiful way to get excited for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

all because of a little red cup

photo credit: starbucks

a red cup. this week in our country, we have invested hours of time and energy in arguments about cups. precious minutes, passions and energy have been poured into a meaningless argument. for all the media and social media attention, i personally do not know one person in any of my circles who is actually offended by the simple red cup. i do know of many...many people who have filled up their facebook feeds with passionate arguments regarding the frivolity of it all...and yet they are still posting. there is only one very clear winner in all of this publicity...starbucks. whether intentional or not, (and i think this bit of marketing genius is incredibly intentional), starbucks has gotten free publicity from thousands upon thousands of us this week. as i have sat and read update after update about this topic, it dawned on me. what if while we are sipping our lattes or drinks of choice in our simple red cups, we invested our energies into something that is actually worthwhile? what if we ignored the cup debate, regardless of what side we stand on, and all stood together to do some collective good? can you even imagine if all of this passion and energy were focused elsewhere? imagine the impact we could make.

as we sit reading our facebook feed this week, let's take a moment and ponder some amazing ways we can all invest in something good.

ways to invest your energy for good

operation christmas child: the collection dates for operation christmas child are happening this month. there are countless videos out there of children joyfully opening their boxes each year. if you need some inspiration to do a little shopping and spread some cheer to children in need around the world, watch this.

to find a drop off location for your operation christmas child box, check this link:

national adoption day: november hosts "national adoption day." i am extremely passionate about adoptive families and people who are investing in these sweet children in need of a home. if you have considered adoption, take some time to investigate how you can be a part. if adoption is not for you, there are many "go fund me" accounts for parents working to raise the funds to adopt. the costs are extensive and many parents cannot do it without help. if you know someone in this process, consider investing in their journey. if you don't know of anyone who is moving in that direction, search for a "go fund me" account and give an anonymous donation. imagine if we all gave a little bit to a family in this process. it's staggering to think of the impact we could make on children right here in the united states.

local food pantries: the holiday months are huge months for local food pantries. they are collecting holiday meal items to distribute to families in need everywhere. find your local food pantry and buy double of some of the items you make for your holiday meals. donate them and let someone else enjoy the pleasures of a delicious holiday meal.

adopt families for christmas: regardless of whether or not you believe in christmas, no one can deny that there are families out there who want to celebrate the holiday but are unable to do so because of financial hardships. kindness has no religious affiliation. adopt a family and help to give them the christmas they dream of. join with some neighbors and work together to meet the needs of a larger group. 

bring gifts to a retirement home: one of my sweet neighbors organizes gift bags each december to take to a local retirement home to bless some of the residents there. oh my, the impact these simple bags make to an often forgotten demographic. there is such an opportunity for tremendous joy from these simple acts. get some friends together and make something special for people who are often overlooked.

bring someone a meal: heard your neighbor is sick or has a sick child? bring them a meal. someone you know recently had a baby? bring them a meal. someone had a medical procedure? bring them a meal. someone going through a difficult time? bring them a meal. someone had a rough day? bring them a meal. the simple act of making a meal for someone else can bring tremendous comfort. you have the chance to alter someone's day in one simple act. what if we all did this on a regular basis? 

there are countless other opportunities for good. there are random acts of kindness, secret gifts, anonymous donations, meaningful cards, so many things. if you do something for others this week, let's all post those moments on facebook. wouldn't you love to see your wall fill up with those stories of goodness? let's all decide to do something...let's step away from the posts about a little red cup and let's take a step in a different direction....with our without our starbucks in hand. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

trying to make my son grow up

some decisions are hard. when you are a twelve year old, caught in the middle of childhood and the teen years, every decision seems hard. this month, my son has been faced with what to him seems the impossible choice. there is a church camp scheduled for the last weekend of october, a church camp with archery, laser tag, games, sports, friends...all amazing things. on the other hand, if he goes to the church retreat, he will miss halloween, dressing up, trick-or-treating with friends, and all the fun that includes. when i explained that the camp was over halloween weekend, my sons's entire countenance fell. "why would they do that? it is probably one of my last chances to ever dress up for halloween and get to trick or treat. why would they take that away from me?" it's a good question.

i can already hear the comments from people. "why is that a big deal?" "isn't he kind of big to be dressing up for halloween anyway?" "i think it's a no-brainer." "i know what i would do." and all of that is wonderful. sitting from an adult perspective and looking back, i know what i would do too. looking at it from the point of a 12 year old, i can understand the angst. everywhere my son goes, he is being told to grow up, be responsible, take control of his own school work, earn his own money, prepare for the future. he is being told to grow up, give up childish things, be as adult as possible. all the while, he is 12. twelve. years. old.

do you remember what it was like when we were twelve?  i realize we live in a different era but when i was 12, i was still playing tether ball. i didn't have pierced ears, or shave my legs or wear makeup. i still ran around outside and played hide-and-seek or wall ball or kick ball. i was still allowed to be a kid. now everywhere i turn, well meaning people are trying to get my child to act older, be older, grow up.

it seems the majority of those urging my son to grow up fall in two different categories. so, for those with babies not yet big enough to walk away or for those with grown kids already gone, let me just remind you of what it is like.

one day your sweet baby will walk into kindergarten orientation. they will let go of your hand they were holding and will look up full of bravery declaring, "you don't need to hold my hand anymore, mommy. i'm a big boy..." and you will struggle to breathe for the next several hours. one day that sweet infant that you hold in your arms will learn to walk and run. with that new found independence you will learn that they can walk away from you. that first realization is a sign of many moments of leaving to come. one day that sweet child you dress up as a princess or a dinosaur will look at costumes and declare themselves too old for halloween. you will see the sadness in their eyes with the realization and their own longing to still participate in the activities of childhood. one day that child that comes bounding off the bus with a huge smile and an even bigger hug for you will embarrassedly glance your way if he sees you in front of his friends. one day that sweet child who jumps up and down when you chaperone their field trips will ask you, politely, if you could not chaperone anymore. one day slobbery wet kisses on the lips will turn to forced pecks on the cheek. one day they will pile their belongings into a college dorm room and you will realize you won't see them everyday or live under the same roof ever again. one day they will be grown up and stay that way...and i for one am in no hurry to rush that.

so for today, i'm going to let my son be twelve. i'm going to encourage him to ride his bike or skateboard, to play tag and basketball. i'm going to encourage the watching of silly movies and the reading of adventure books. i'll laugh at his silly jokes and make time for fun and play every chance i get. i'm going to squeeze out hugs and kisses and giggles. i'm going to let him be twelve and enjoy the last years of childhood for my oldest. and i'd like to ask you to do the same. he will be grown up soon enough and will never be able to go back to childhood again. how about we all let him enjoy it?

Monday, October 19, 2015

ear infection? 5 tips from a pro.

we have received promotional consideration from kinsa, inc. as always, the opinions are our own. 

we are no strangers to fevers in our home. my eldest battled with severe ear infections and ended up with two sets of ear tubes (best thing we ever did) in addition to his adenoids being removed. ear infections combined with febrile seizures means i have had more battles with 104+ temps than i can count in my years as a mama. 

when up against middle of the night fevers, the following have been life savers for my family:

the hardest part of the entire process was having the mental capacity to track temperatures to log for visits to the the doctors or emergency room. if i had had a kinsa smart thermometer at the time, life would have been so much easier! 

the kinsa smart thermometers work seamlessly with your smart phone to give an accurate read out and automatically saves a record of the temps taken, times and symptoms so that you can easily show the doctor in your sleepless haze. in addition to their current model thermometer for oral, underarm and rectal temperature taking, kinsa has just released an ear thermometer to offer another alternative to temperature taking. it's honestly a genius product that both of us here at the third boob are *obsessed* with using for our own families. 

give it a try---you truly won't be sorry, no matter what the ages of your children. 

2.  a frozen washcloth

a frozen washcloth can be a great thing to help bring down fevers. my littles found it soothing and it really helped reduce fevers as well. (frozen washcloths also are great for teething). 

here are a few simple steps to freezing a washcloth:

step 1
saturate three-quarters of a clean washcloth with water.
step 2
wring the water out of the washcloth so it's not dripping wet. 
step 3
fold the washcloth into thirds and fourths and slip it inside a ziploc plastic bag. to keep the washcloth clean and prevent it from sticking to the shelves of your freezer.

step 4
place the washcloth in your freezer and leave it for an hour or two, or until needed.
step 5
remove the frozen washcloth from the plastic bag and use when needed. :-) 

a humidifier can really help with congestion. essential oils can work great in these as well. if you know someone who uses oils, have a talk with them about what the right combination can be to help. 

saline nose drops  can also help a lot with congestion and have worked wonders with my littles when colds and inevitable ear infections strike. 

5. pain relievers 

of course, consult your doctor for the correct amount of dosage and timing, but figuring out that i could alternate the usage of both tylenol and motrin and even use them at the same time was mind-blowing and drastically changed my fever battling odds for the better.

all of this being said, i am not a doctor. these are the things that worked best for us, but please consult with your doctor first, as we did ours. 

wishing your little one(s) feel better soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

is this the flu?

this is a sponsored post by the lovely people at minute clinic. as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

cold and flu season is upon us. i'm still in my summertime denial of any and all germs and am firmly believing that my kids will be healthy throughout the season. still, i live with five children, all in school with other children and i'm very aware that at this time of year, my house resembles a petri dish of infestations.

i've already had my one sweet girl out for the count this weekend. she was all set to go away to camp for the weekend and came home night one with a 102 degree temperature. lots of rest and some good medication and she was good to go by monday but i know that isn't always the case and we are not always so fortunate. she only had a bad cold this weekend and we were thankful there were no flu symptoms to make things worse.

pets make everyone feel better.

that got me thinking. what is the difference between the cold and the flu and how can we best prevent a flu outbreak in our own homes. here are some tips.

what is the flu?

the flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. it can develop very quickly and with the flu, you almost always have a fever. other common symptoms include headache, sore throat, dry cough, stuffy or runny nose and muscle aches. sounds awesome, doesn't it?

certain people are at a greater rise for complications with the flu. seniors, pregnant women, young children and those with health complications like asthma or diabetes are at a high risk for the flu. if you think you might have the flu, check with your doctor or a minute clinic practitioner to have a flu test done.

outbreaks of the flu can start as early as october and usually peak around january. the flu can spread before someone even realizes they are sick since most healthy adults can infect others one day before and up to five-seven days after becoming sick. for children and those with weakened immune systems, that period can be even longer. 

the flu vaccine

one key way to prevent the flu is with a flu vaccine. some of my kids got vaccinated at their yearly check up with their pediatrician and others had their flu shot at our local cvs minute clinic. most insurance covers the flu shot completely and ours were free at both locations. the bonus of getting a flu shot at minute clinic is that we got a 20% off shopping pass when we got our flu shot  there (disclaimer: not available in MA, RI, PA and NY). 

there is some key information to know about the flu shot. 

  • you need to get a flu vaccine every year. a new vaccine is developed yearly to fight the strains that are most likely to be prevalent for the season. 
  • the cold weather has little to do with when flu season starts. outbreaks can happen as early as september and october. it takes two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies from the shot to provide protection. it's never too early to get the vaccine but you want to make sure you have it two weeks before flu breaks out.
  • the vaccine is made from a dead virus so it cannot give you the flu. if you get flu-like symptoms after getting the flu shot, it is likely you were exposed to the flu after getting the vaccine but before the vaccine took effect. 
  • the only real side effect of the flu vaccine might be soreness or redness at the injection site.

cold vs. flu

to first determine if you have a cold or the flu, check the symptoms:

symptom: fever

cold:fevers are rare
flu: fevers are usually present

symptom: chills

cold: uncommon
flu: fairly common

symptom: tiredness

cold: mild
flu: moderate to severe

symptom: onset of symptoms

cold: appear gradually
flu: can appear within 3-6 hours

symptom: coughing

cold: common
flu: common

symptom: sneezing

cold: common
flu: uncommon

symptom: stuffy nose

cold: common
flu: uncommon

symptom: runny nose

cold: sometimes
flu: common

symptom: sore throat

cold: common
flu: uncommon

symptom: general aches/pains

cold: slight
flu: common, often severe

symptom: chest discomfort

cold: mild to moderate
flu: often severe

symptom: headache

cold: mild
flu: common

what can we do to prevent the flu?

vaccination is the first line of defense from the flu. again, we love the cvs minute clinic because it is close, convenient, takes our insurance and i can get in the same day. it's also great as it is connected to an in store pharmacy so any medication i need can be purchased quickly and painlessly. with five kids, you know that is a plus in my book! just sign in at the kiosk and wait for the nurse practitioner to see you. easy and painless!

beyond the vaccine, making sure you and your family are eating right, exercising regularly, washing your hands and getting enough sleep each night can also help. the cdc recommends the following: 

  • wash your hands with soap and water often, especially after you cough or sneeze. scrub your wet, soapy hands for at least 20 seconds. 
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze and discard of the tissue in the trash. sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not available.
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can spread easily that way.
  • avoid contact with those who are sick. flu is believed to be mainly spread from person-to-person contact (coughing and sneezing doesn't help).
  • if you are sick, stay home from work or school to keep others from getting infected.
  • disinfect surfaces: use a product that kills household germs and be sure to thoroughly wipe down handles, faucets, and all surfaces you touch often. don't forget your workspace and car. if you use public transportation, be sure to wash your hands as soon as you get to your destination.
  • if you think you might be sick, don't wait and see. get help right away. early flu treatment (within the first 72 hours of exposure to the virus) has been proven to reduce the length and severity of the illness. if you think you might have the flu or have been exposed to someone with the flu, see a health care professional right away.
i'm certainly hoping that with all our precautions, some help of some on guard essential oils, and a lot of germ killing we are going to bypass the flu completely this season. here's to hoping we all do the same!

Monday, October 12, 2015

legos: where to find the best deals, how to store them and awesome tables to build on

with two boys that are lego obsessed, i have become a mama lego ninja at finding the best deals, great lego tables, storage solutions and even how to build your own lego table on a budget. today, i pass on my research to all of you. with the holidays around the corner, these make *awesome* gifts. enjoy! xo 

if your kiddos are anything like mine, the *love* legos. lego storage has been a constant battle. they end up everywhere and hurt so dang much to step on! 

this storage chest was the perfect solution for us. the drawers are removable and i simply labeled each drawer with color names and then have a discard bin to sort through and put legos back into the chest at the end of the day. it took quite a bit of time to get them all sorted, but i am so happy i spent the time to do it! 

here are some other solutions and awesome ideas i found while researching that i had to pass along:

build your own lego or duplo lego table easily and on a budget:

i have found that you can find some great deals on lego pieces, if you are willing to shop in bulk instead of the sets. check out these great, huge lego education sets i found for a fraction of the cost of normal sets that are not even this large:

 lego duplo: