That fun time of year has come for another half birthday celebration!
When Grey was just six months old (and I was a new mama itching to throw a party for her first baby!) I decided that I wanted to start a tradition then and there that would celebrate his half birthday each year.
That first year I whipped up a small batch of vanilla cupcakes with dye-free rainbow sprinkles (because he couldn't eat any yet, you know, no teeth and all) and we had a little celebration, just Doug, Grey and I in our kitchen in our first home as a family.
When he turned the ripe old age of 18 months, it was chocolate grain-free cupcakes with piped on vanilla frosting (that time he got to sample his first cupcake and looooooved it! And had his first dose of sugar.)
By the time he hit 2.5 he was as invested in this tradition as I was and chose his OWN cupcake flavor AND design. These Spider-Man cupcakes were not only a hit at home, Party City went on to use them in their advertising! (Still surreal that that happened!) They are pictured below followed by the cupcakes he chose this year.
Grey chose vanilla and lemon cupcakes this year because he "looooooves lemon".
And now my sweet little man is three and a half, and in true blog tradition of him hitting these milestones, an open letter to my little man along with some photos of my darling. For the full lemon cupcake recipe we enjoyed while celebrating this occasion, you can find the full recipe post here.
You are three and a half and I can't begin to tell you how MUCH I love and adore you. You. You are smarter than any child I've ever been blessed enough to know. You know all of your letters. Can count to 20. You LOVE to make people laugh and I swear you could act on television. This year you did just that as my co-star of our new show and you light up any room you enter.
You are compassionate and loving. You are thoughtful and care so much for me and your family. You have the biggest crush on your little friend Nora and think the world of your cousins Jillian and Jordan.
You do SO well in preschool at home with me. You LOVE science and animals and don't care so much for art or drawing. Though I ADORE your little people that look like potatoes. You love when I read you to sleep and your favorite books and movies are superhero anything (preferably Spider-Man or Iron Man), Star Wars, Disney movies, Daniel Tiger and our joint newfound love of Peppa Pig.
You are loving our new home, though you tell me your homesick for your old house sometimes. You grew in such HUGE ways once we moved in. You potty trained yourself, started sleeping in your own bed (half the night, but its a HUGE improvement, you weaned at three and stopped napping completely). That last one I wasn't crazy about, haha, but its just another way that shows me you are not my little baby anymore. You LOVE being outside, you are such a nature kid just like your dad and I love seeing you and the freedom you feel when you're playing on our new land.
You are my kid, no longer my baby, my kid. My sweet, adorable, darling, amazing, awe-inspiring kid who makes me want to be better every day.
I will celebrate you as many times and on as many days as we can, because there is nothing in this life that is worth celebrating more than you.
Grey chose vanilla and lemon cupcakes this year because he "looooooves lemon".
For more photos of his adorable Disney themed lemon treat, click here for a fullwww.noshandnurture.com/sweets/gluten-free-lemon-cupcakes recipe post on how to make your own vanilla lemon cupcakes that are allergen friendly right at home.
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Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #gardeinmeatlessmeats #lovesprouts #CollectiveBias
As the school year begins, and we prepare to move into our newly renovated modern farmhouse, #PimentalRanch, I am setting up all the easy solutions for our days to run smoothly. I call these solutions my daily rhythms.
One of them, even though we home school, or maybe especially because we home school, is having our meals prepped and ready to grab at mealtime. Having them prepped for the day or week ahead, helps me keep the meals on our school table nutritious and balanced.
As a nutritionist mama to a kiddo that loves veggies, (praise! Hoping all my littles share this love, haha), I love having vegan mealtime options. Your family needn't sacrifice taste or texture when opting for vegan entrees in a school lunch. You can parent young ones while leading a plant based life. Gardein offers a large selection of products to choose from for variety throughout the week.
Our favorites this week have been the Sweet and Sour Porkless Bites and the Seven-Grain Crispy Tenders that we picked up at Sprouts. I'm sharing a list of options below to accompany each entree for a well-rounded meal for your kids or yourself.
Good for the body and the planet, it's choices we can feel good about. With a wide-variety of the products on a path to Non-GMO verified, Gardein doesn't use any artificial colors or flavors. This is HUGE on my mama radar - artificial coloring and flavor can cause so many problems in our bodies, that we want to protect our kids bodies from being exposed to things we can prevent.
For those of you with soy or gluten sensitive kiddos, the ones shown wouldn't be an option but they do offer gluten-free varieties!. For those who can enjoy these ingredients, these are a great option - good for little growing bodies.
Pack The Perfect Plant-Based School Lunch
To make well-rounded meals every day of the week, bookmark this list to check out some of our favorite sides to accompany the Gardein entrees. Easy to pack into lunch boxes, these are healthful hits with kids and adults alike.
To accompany the Gardein Seven-Grain Crispy Tenders
To accompany the Gardein Sweet and Sour Porkless Bites
To make it easy to implement plant-based lunches and go meatless at mealtime, you can find a "Buy 2 Get One Free" coupon below you can use at Sprouts. Click on the Sprouts Digital Coupon link to be taken to the coupon.
Coupon offer good 8/13/2019-11/09/2019. Buy 2 Gardein Meatless Meat products and Get 1 Free at any Sprouts Farmer’s Market Store.
What are some of your favorite plant based back-to-school lunch options? Share them in the comments below!
Our #NowMoreThanEver Playdate Party was graciously hosted by the wonderful Walt Disney company.
This past weekend we had the BEST time throwing a Lion Guard themed playdate birthday party in celebration of our sweet Grey turning THREE years old. THREE. Seriously mamas, where does time go? I know everyone says that - but, man.
Disney graciously provided what we needed for our festivities in support of their #NowMoreThanEver campaign with Disney World and they blessed us with the BEST party, along with their party sponsor partners Michael Angelos foods, Pillow Pet, Jakks Pacific Toys and Popped Passion.
Below I share all the magical details of the day, tips for throwing your own Disney playdate party and bring you up to date on what exciting things Disneyworld has in store for 2019!
Grey had recently gotten into watching the Lion Guard adventures so he was thrilled to see all of the decor. For a play date party you can keep it simple with plates, napkins and cups to have on hand for bite size snacks, a few party games and decor to liven up the play or party space. We added a few jungle elements to really bring the Lion Guard vision to life, as well as some large stuffed Lion King and Lion Guard stuffed animals we picked up to join in on the fun.
PLAYDATE TIP #1: Choose a theme that your little one will get excited about! Disney has SO many options that you can find at your local retailers or online.
To see all of the items Disney sent, you can watch our unboxing on my http://www.instagram.com/noshandnurture profile under my DISNEY highlight on my profile.
One of our Disney playdate sponsors, Jakks Toys gifted Grey the sweetest Ariel mermaid doll that has not left his side and provided a princess dress to his very best friend. Pillow Pets sent a Mickey Mouse pillow pet that will be PERFECT for all of our drives to Disneyland. Michael Angelo's supplied delicious Italian fare and Popped Passion gave the cutest, most unique addition to our dessert bar - a popcorn cake covered in candy and sprinkles, every kids dream!
In addition to our Disney partners, the lovely bakers at Let's Kiss and Cake Up! and Moffas Muffin Tops out of Peoria, AZ supplied the most amazing cake and cookies for the party.
PLAYDATE TIP #2: KEEP FOOD SIMPLE. A COUPLE DESSERT OPTIONS AND ONE OR TWO MEAL SELECTIONS SHOULD BE SUFFICIENT FOR A LUNCH TIME PLAYDATE.
We invited eight of Grey's best little friends to celebrate this joyous day with us. As it was a playdate party geared towards preschool aged little ones we aimed for simple activities that they would love but that was stress free on the parents - you can keep it simple!
I purchased Lion King color books and packs of crayons and made a coloring station. Disney provided Lion King masks for the kids to wear and I picked up some extra princess crowns for the girls who wanted to play Disney Princesses.
PLAYDATE TIP #3: MAX THE ACTIVITIES AT AROUND 3. TODDLERS WILL HAVE FUN JUST PLAYING WITH ONE ANOTHER AND TAKING IN THE SIGHTS AND THE FOOD. COLORING PAGES, A GAME AND A FEW TOYS WILL BE ALL THE ENTERTAINMENT YOU NEED.
Disney provided a couple of printable games as well as a "Pin the Badge on the Lion Guard", as well as a pinata. All in all, plenty of things to keep three year olds busy in between lunch and dessert.
Besides the opening of Galaxy's Edge in Disneyworld August 29th, you can visit the Walt Disney World website to see all of what's going on in the park this year. And while you're on the website, allow yourself to explore and dream a little. Maybe plan a trip for you and your family.
We will be visiting Disneyland in August and are headed to Disneyworld in the fall/winter season. We just can't get enough Disney.
All in all, the day was a HUGE success and keeping it simple was key. Thank again to Disney and all of the sponsors for all of the magic.
Leave your favorite Disney memory below and tell me what you're most looking forward to seeing this year or next!
Today you turned two and a half and it's been a while since I wrote you one of my open letters, so here it is.
You are pure magic my sweet boy, and today has been lovely. Our tradition of half birthday cupcake baking makes us both smile. You chose your own this year, with a trip to the party store, you decided on Spider Man cupcakes because he is clearly one of your favorite heroes of the moment. Along with Iron Man and anyone from Star Wars.
Each month with you, each milestone, each age, continues to be my very new favorite. Sure, we have our challenges because #toddlerhood and #firsttimemom, but you are something so special. Your daddy and I both know it to be true.
You're incredibly smart and can count to 20 and sing your ABC's. You know all of your colors, including dark and light, metallics and more which totally blows me away. Your concept knowledge astounds us daily, and you'll do anything to make us laugh.
Your favorite toys are doing puzzles, playing Legos, battling super heroes, playing board games with mom and dad and doing pretty much ANYTHING outside. You've been to Disneyland 4 times and you talk about it all the time. You also regularly ask to go to the beach and have an interesting fascination with knowing where things are and studying your USA map.
Your favorite movies right now are Spiderman 3, Spiderman Homecoming, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Peter Pan.
You're still a mommy's boy (and I pray you always will be), but you're starting to find special things you love to do with just your daddy. You also sleep SO much better when cuddled next to him. You're still nursing, and we are so blessed we've had this long of a journey. I never thought I'd be a mama who nursed into toddlerhood but I am so glad I've been able to give you that health boost and comfort when you've needed it.
I truly love you more everyday. Sometimes SO much it aches. When I'm bone tired, and you've fallen asleep next to me, I will stay awake a while and sit and watch you. Soaking this time in. Your long lashes, curly blonde hair and slow breaths in the night light's glow are something awe inspiring. It's all so perfect, and I know before long you'll grow from my toddler into my big kid. Just in the way you've grown from my sweet infant into my wonderful, wonderful two year old.
Loving you is the best adventure and I hope today was as wondrous, fun and magical for you as it was for me.
Here's to two and a half. To dress up and playing pretend.
To all your cute words and big vocabulary. Our late night chats and listening to you sing songs.
To learning your personality more everyday so I can be the best mommy I can be.
To watching you bond with your dad and our family and friends who love you so well.
Cheers my little chicken nugget, I love you and everything you are. Happy Half Birthday sweetie!
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my almost two years of motherhood is to never say never.
Before marriage, my anxiety told me I’d never want to carry or birth children. After marrying the man of my dreams I said I’d love to carry a child but that I’d never birth a child without drugs. Then once I was carrying my precious little man, after years of infertility, I did everything in my power to bring him into the world naturally, and I succeeded in my goal. After bringing him home, listening to outside advice, I uttered the words that I would never nurse past a year because of the judgment against moms that did. That was until I learned about all of the health and emotional benefits that come in the second year of life from a healthy nursing relationship. It was these large moments in my life, as well as many little instances peppered in between, that taught me to get my proverbial foot out of my own mouth and stop saying “I’ll never…”
Read the full story here on West Valley Moms Blog
Mamas, let’s talk about OUR gifts.
I’m not talking about our gifts by way of our talents.
I’m not talking about our knack to be able to DIY a palette into a bedroom set or our ability to meal plan like a champ.
I’m not talking about our gifts in the marketplace, or what we offer when it comes to our careers.
I’m talking about physical gifts. The material things we give. In particular, I’m speaking of the gifts that we give to our children.
Rewind to Spring when I was celebrating my baby’s first Easter. Now, as a Christian, Easter to me is of course first and foremost about Jesus and His sacrifice and His resurrection.
In celebration of this occasion, I put together a humble little box for my son. One that simply contained a baby Bible, a storybook for bedtime and a stuffed bunny...
Photography by Amy Termini Photography
One of lifes greatest treasures is being given a blessing we didn't even know to ask for.
A blessing that God knew our hearts needed long before we ever existed on this vast Earth.
My darling son Grey is one of those very good things.
Growing up in a family of girls, I wasn't exposed to brothers, male cousins nor did i have very many male friends. It was tea parties, princess dresses and spa days all around. When my sister and I would play house, our kids were always little girls, I nannied for little girls and as I grew older, I guess I just expected I'd also raise little Mini Mandi's.
When Doug and I spoke about children while we were dating we both expressed that we'd love to raise a daughter together. (He also comes from a family of 5 sisters, he is the only boy) and it just felt natural to both of us to assume that's what we'd be best at.
In truth I was scared to raise the sex I wasn't familiar with. I hate bugs. Neither Doug nor I watch any sport. I'm delicate and dainty. A girls girl. How would I raise a boy into a man that this world needs?
And then, God gave us a son. And from the moment they placed that little boy on my chest I knew. I just knew. He was meant for us. He would change our world for the better. He would stretch us. And grow us. Inspire us and move us to love so big and so wide, that any preconceptions of what we thought we "needed" flew right out the window.
And with that great, wide, deep love came the peace from our Lord that I cannot raise a boy into a Godly man alone. Only God can help me do that. Only can God can equip me for a role that heavy.
And it is He that placed a Godly, strong, kind, gentle, manly man in our home as husband and father. It is through Doug that Grey will learn what it means to be a good man. A good husband. A good brother. A good father. All the things that I've never been and can never be and therefor can never model. But Doug can. And I count myself blessed to have him as my partner, raising this little boy by my side.
I, as his mother, can show him how to nurture, care for his home, work hard, follow dreams and teach him lessons, big and small, day in and day out, all while modeling Christ to the best of my ability right here in these four walls. That's what I can do. By the help of our great God in heaven, that's what I can do.
As my fears started to fade away, carried into the distance by the ever present peace of God, room was made to dream of what I could share with our son. I've waited years to play cars with a little one. And now I get to do that every day. I'm learning about superheroes and Star Wars and bugs and dinosaurs. I do chores wearing super hero masks and get the tightest, squeeziest hugs from a little boy who loves me more than life.
And my breath catches, and I wonder, goodness how could I have EVER lived without this? Without you? YOU are our family Grey. My little boy. Our perfect little puzzle piece. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. We will spend our whole lives loving you the same way.
You Can Follow Me On Instagram To Watch Us Every Week
What Is It?
Tot School is a way to introduce your young toddler to structured learning and play time. It involves simple themes tailored to your child's abilities and interests.
I never force anything on Grey, as he is still so young I don't feel like any of this is a "necessity" right now as I follow much of the Montessori way. I let him lead and he seems to really enjoy it and thrive on a curriculum.
Why Tot School?
I introduced Tot School for three reasons.
1. As Grey got to be more active, I wanted a way to break up our day and give us, not only activities to bond us, but to grow his learning, while waiting for daddy to come home.
2. I saw that he naturally was progressing well with speaking, and picking up concepts, and I wanted to enhance his daily learning experiences with an actual lesson. And these lessons we work on all week.
3. Due to my view of the school system and our family's personal beliefs on certain topics, I very well may homeschool beyond preschool. Tot School is a good way to prepare me to work on curriculum, organization of a class environment for Grey and patience when it comes to teaching a younger mind.
Curriculum + Themes
Currently on Week 19, we have been having fun mixing it up week by week. Now that I see that Grey is grasping concepts easier and easier, and as his attention span increases, we now do TWO themes most weeks, breaking it up into one activity in the AM around 10, and the other around 3-4 after nap. I primarily search for craft ideas on Pinterest, books from Amazon and the library and more educational based activities from the local teacher resource store and choose our themes based on what I feel like he's about to really take off with or may need help with. Read below to see the themes we've already worked with and what we have coming up this Spring.
Themes And Activities Weeks 1-19
What We Have Planned For Spring 2018
Themes to watch for this Spring/Summer! Also, moving forward, more of the crafts, books and activities will be linked to printables, how-to's and more.
Arctic animals, Ocean, Weather, Emotions and Feelings, Spring, Gardening, Farming, Bugs, Alphabet, Easter, Summer, St. Patricks Day, Jungle Animals, Farm Animals and so much more!
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM AND SEE OUR TOT SCHOOL LIVE IN ACTION EACH WEEK!
I don't think I've ever felt the Christmas spirit as much as I have this year at Christmastime.
Christmas with our almost one and a half year old is one of the most joyous, expectant, beautiful things I've ever experienced. Each morning, in his Christmas themed jammies (you know I bought them all), we sip tea and eat muffins at Grey plays with the "choo choo" grandpa brought him early and it feels like Christmas morning. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
In addition to the joy of our sweet boy, we have so many blessings to be thankful for. A roof over our heads. Warm clothing. Healthy food in our bellies. Clean water. Friends and family we adore. Some of our best friends are to be married soon. And Mr. Charming and I recently sponsored two children, in Indonesia and Mexico respectively, who we plan, pray and hope to sponsor through high school. They are currently 3 and 4 years old, and are beyond adorable. We will be helping them go to school, get medical care, attend a church and Bible school, get nutritious food and supplements and let them know there are people in this world, in addition to their parents who are working so hard but who are victims are poverty, who love them and are praying for them.
I hope that these actions will deliver an example of eternal serving that Greyson can grow up with. I pray that these decisions his father and I make, especially at a time of year that is so muddled with materialism, will plant seeds in his heart that will help grow roots that will keep him on a firm foundation of faith, servanthood and loving Christ.
Before we had Grey, and through our struggle with infertility, God put it on my heart to care for a child that wasn't biologically mine. I really struggled with what that meant for a long time, as we so badly wanted a baby that was a piece of my husband and I. I think I had started looking at other options (foster care, adoption) before Mr. Charming, but I'm so glad we kept trying. God's plan is so, so good.
And with his blessing of provision, we weren't able to help just one more child, but two. And maybe, down the road it will look different, or another child will share our roof, but for now this is the way we feel called to love on "siblings" around the world for our little man.
I pray, as you count down these 14 days left until Christmas, that you can truly soak in the magic of the season. And that you too, will follow your heart and Christ's calling for how you can be a blessing to "the least of these."
For more information on how we got involved, www.compassion.com is who we went through through our church home, CCV, www.ccv.church.
And P.S. LOOOOOOK at our nugget LAST Christmas. He's growing so fast.
This month has brought on A LOT of new tastes to little man's palette and many more opportunities for him to sample foods outside of the house. This has made going out, and bringing him along on our date nights, much more fun and easy.
Not having to bring so much external food from home makes it easier to be spontaneous and I'm thankful he is eating so many fruits, vegetables, healthy oils and meats now because we can order something for him at almost any restaurant I can eat at.
He's moved to having lunches and dinners that are unique to what we are having, so moving forward you will see separate breakfast, lunch and dinner sections for even more meal ideas.
We also introduced, GLUTEN. (insert shocked gasps here), for many reasons, that I will talk about in next months post, but you will see some bread included in the meals below.
*Note that these are the meals he's served from breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also gets two-three snacks a day. Snacks include apple slices, pear slices, organic teething cookies, organic puffs and vegetable based baby food purees
Banana Bread, Strawberries and Egg Yolk
Turkey Lunch Meat, Avocado, Freeze Dried Berries
Leftover rice from Chipotle, Shredded Chicken and Peaches