When my first child, who is now four, was born - I had lofty visions of making all of my own baby food from scratch. Hand picking organic fruit from my garden that I would cook and puree and store myself, you know, along with all of the sleep I would be getting and time for pruning a garden.
Ah, first time mom Mandi was so cute.
Fast forward four years and another baby later, and I know a few things about motherhood. I also know you don't have to sacrifice quality when it's done for you if you know where to look.
Lucky for us busy moms, Smart & Final has launched their own Sun Harvest baby food brand this month that is organic, clean, GMO-free and made simply from fruits and vegetables. That's it!
Available in an array of delicious flavors and only $0.99 per ounce serving, the packaging is also BPA-free, which you know is a huge must for us and most mamas.
You can choose from Mixed Vegetables, Pear, Apple Mango, Pear & Banana, Carrot, Apple, Banana and Strawberry and Sweet Potato, giving your little one a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables to please their budding palate. Which you know I am a huge fan of. Diversity in a child's diet, from a very early age, helps them to like an array of vegetables and fruits as they grow.
For store locations and information on Sun Harvest, as well as other products offered at Smart & Final, you can visit their website here.
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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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!
One question we get asked a lot as Christian parents is how we handle the holidays. Do we celebrate with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus and all of the secular celebration activities that align with Christ centered holidays?
In truth, this was something I hadn't given much thought to pre-motherhood, as we as children did all of those things along with reading the word and going to church. In regards to Easter, we did make the decision to not shine a big light on those "other" things. We focus on Christ first, and our celebrations and gifts are centered there, yet we don't deny him Easter egg hunts or baking cookies on Christmas eve.
I did a big post on Easter baskets and gifts for children in general in a previous post, Gifted - An Essay On The Importance of Teaching Value, that you can read by clicking here.
Yet, I wanted to share something SUPER sweet and special we are gifting Grey this Easter and there is also info below on how you can get one for you as well below in my giveaway!
I've been wanting to graduate Grey out of his first infant bible and I was blessed by Front Gate Media to recieve a complimentary The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible and I FELL IN LOOOOOOVE. It is true to the bible, presented in a way that engages children. It allows children to discover WHO God is, who WE are to Him and what we were made for.
I love that it's larger format than his previous small bibles and the illustrations are adorable and helps bring each story to life so well.
I can't wait to see him dig into each story as he grows and I would love for one of you lovely readers win one for your little one!
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!
As you all know I am already a Pampers mama. I not only adore the actions they've taken to provide hypoallergenic options for sensitive babies, which if Baby P is anything like his or her mama, will be, but the customer service I've received in speaking directly with them has been phenomenal and makes me feel like a valued mama every time.
I get to share something special with you fellow Pampers mom's who currently use diapers or training pants. And if you're not currently a Pampers user, the coupon coming out this weekend will make it worth trying.
Since June is National Potty Training Month, I've partnered with Pampers to tell you about an offer you can find in your Sunday paper THIS WEEKEND, on June 12th, 2016.
There will be a coupon offer for $3 off two bags or one box of any Pampers Diapers or Pampers Training Pants. So put on a hot pot of coffee, feed the kiddos breakfast and get out the scissors as you kick back, relax and peruse the paper while getting your savings.
Being a manufacturers coupon, you can use the coupon at any grocery, mass retail or discount store where diapers are sold. If you are new to Pamper's there are many options to choose from in the Pamper's line -
Pampers Baby Dry
Pampers Easy Ups
Pampers Under Jams
For more information on Pampers diapers and training pants, visit http://www.pampers.com
Or visit Pamper's on social media -
Do you currently use Pampers? Which ones are your favorite? I stocked up on the Pampers Sensitive for when I bring Baby P home this summer but would love your feedback!
One of the many things I love about my husband is that he is a builder. Having gone to school to be an architect before switching to dental, he learned many valuable tools of the trade that have allowed him to make our lives and home more beautiful.
Having built our wedding alter and the dining table for our home, he surprised me this past week after building our soon to be son or daughter a cradle.
Major swoon moment. You can see the cradle here along with my #MothersPromise, diaper choicie & first letter to our future babe.
It was in this moment I thought about the natural touches one could add to make their nursery space more authentic and I have put together a little list of ideas & crafts that are easy to do.
|| WOODEN BLOCKS ||
There is just something about wooden blocks that I adore. Something so simplistic and educational about their innocent little ABCs and 123s that adorn them. These are simple to make and take minimal supplies.
1.) Head to your nearest craft store and purchase 2" square blocks or your nearest hardware store and get a 2" wooden beam to cut into blocks.
2.) Make sure they are sanded well, as to prevent any little hands from getting scraped or splintered.
3.) Get crafty! You can use wood glue to adhere small wooden letters or numbers from a craft store, or you can stencil or paint them on.
4.) You can leave them natural wood for a more rustic feel, or get creative and colorful with a paint palette of your choice.
5.) Make sure all surfaces of paint and glue are completely dry before allowing children to use.
|| CHEVRON NURSERY LETTERS ||
One of my favorite items for a nursery wall is the monogram. And chevron is still trending. Mr. Charming and I are unable to incorporate this as of yet, since we don't know if we are bringing home a boy or girl, but when we do, trust I will be making one of these.
1.) Go to your local craft store and pick up a large wooden letter that is the first letter in your babies name.
2.) Make sure to purchase two wood-based paint colors that compliment your nursery palette, wood glue, craft tape and a roll of burlap ribbon.
3.) Once home, tape off a chevron pattern in the desired thickness and using one of your paint colors, fill in the first color. Once dry, repeat, this time painting the opposite of the chevron pattern.
4.) Once dry, tie a decorative burlap bow and adhere to the corner for a rustic & natural finishing touch.
|| MAKE OLD NEW AGAIN ||
If you're feeling adventurous you convert an old piece of furniture into something new for your baby or toddler. Some ideas include:
1.) Turn a thin nightstand into a wooden "refridgerator" converting the drawers into a "freezer" and "fridge" door.
2.) Turn a small desk or entertainment cabinet into a play kitchen. There are many tutorials online.
3.) Repurpose old wooden frames into chalkboards with a little chalkboard paint.
|| THE BIG BOY/GIRL STOOL ||
My neice adores helping in the kitchen, but little arms and little legs can get frustrating for little ones. revive an old wooden stool with a new finish or stain and paint. Paint their name or a fun nursery rhyme character. Or better yet, let them join in on the fun and make their own abstract art. They'll get to be creative and be mom's tall helper next time you're in the kitchen.
|| FURNITURE ||
If you're feeling adventurous like we were, or if you have a handy hubby too, below is a list of ideas for one-of-a-kind touches you can make on your own nursery.
Have you made any toys, crafts or special furniture pieces for your little one? I'd LOVE to hear your ideas. Share them in the comment below. Also, if you have any questions about our cradle or any of the projects, feel free to ask away!
Last night Mr. Charming & I went to start our registry.
Insert all the girlish, happy, blissed-out squeals here. We decided to do it earlier than later, because we are already to starting to make some of our own, larger purchases, and we wanted the amazing rewards from Babies R' Us that go along with it. (No, this is not a sponsored post. I just think their registry program is that awesome.)
Along with this post just being a super happy dance on paper, er screen, I also recommend my suggestions for where I think organic is best.
In almost two hours, we only made it through about a quarter of the store. Most of our time was spent choosing what we believe is the best stroller and car seat for us. I let Mr. Charming take the reigns on this, since I chose the crib. We found a perfect match for both of us and baby. It's sleek, streamline, lightweight for little ol' Mandi, comfortable, high safety ratings and converts to last until baby is 4 years old! Win. Win. Win.
And can I just say, seeing your husband testing out your first child's stroller? Priceless, endorphin surging, swoon moment of a lifetime. Seriously almost cried. Thank you Jesus for these moments.
It's an overwhelming selection of EVERYTHING when you go to register, and when ours is complete, I'll post what I believe we needed vs. what I felt we didn't. Doug's five sisters and my three sisters have had plenty of littles over the years, so we've got to learn a lot about need vs. want when it comes to infant gear.
Although, the wiper and bottle warmer were pretty cool. I mean, would you want a cold, wet rag on your behind in the middle of the night? Doesn't sound too pleasant. I try to put myself in their booties when weighing what's necessary.
Right now I'm researching some organic brands offered at Babies R' Us to see which we are going to go with. Burts Bees vs. Honest vs. BabyGanics Vs. Earths Best. I also like the attributes of Pampers Premium to protect my little baby's bum So far, Burt's Bees has the best lavender lotion, as I miss the old J&J lavender night lotion of the past. BabyGanics smelled too earthy for us and Earths Best seems to have a good selection. New waters to explore, and so many options. But happy there are so many organic options. With Johnson and Johnson and other popular baby companies coming under fire for so many harmful chemicals, it's good to know we can opt for better options for our developing little one.
The items below are where we are going organic or chemical-free in the nursery and our home, once completed I'll publish my faves, once I've tried them out.
All Bath & Diaper Products
Our Crib Mattress
Mittens and other items that touch the face
Toys (Eco Friendly and Chemical Free)
All Cleaners For Home & Baby Clothes
I'd love to hear your feedback on your favorite organic baby brands! Leave it in the comments below!
A guest post by Rebekah of My MSPI Baby
It’s that time of year again, kids and teachers are either already back at school or will be shortly. That means your family is going to be exposed to all sort of germy goodness in the weeks to come.
I don’t know about you, but keeping my family as healthy as possible is definitely at the top of my back to school list…even if it might not be printed on that lengthy list of supplies we all get from the kiddo’s schools!
There are many ways that you can help your kids and yourself to support strong immune systems. Here are some of my personal favorites, and many that we use in our house on a daily basis.
What are some of your tried and true ways of keeping your immune system healthy and strong? Make sure to share below in the comments section as I would love to hear about what’s working for you!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
Rebekah is foremost a Christian, wife, and mom to 3 amazing kids who range in age from 8 months to 14 years. She is a lover of all things healthy, especially for sensitive families. Swing on by her blog to find information on MSPI (Milk Soy Protein Sensitivity), allergy free recipes, tips for a chemical free home, and plenty of deals to keep your budget healthy too. - www.MyMSPIBaby.com