Sunday, June 30, 2013


I totally forgot about posting this...
 Nathan made some twirling swirling ladybugs

They came out cute, I think.
He made red, yellow, blue and green.  The only differences were we used card stock, instead of construction paper and I didn't have enough google eyes, so he had to paint the eyes.  For directions check out the link above.

We also read a few ladybug books including
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Look Out, Ladybug by Jack Tickle
 Look Out, Ladybug follows the adventures of a cute little ladybug learning how to fly.  She zig zags along the way as she tumbles and bumps into several of her animal friends.  Eventually she learns to not only fly, but that perseverance pays off and practice makes perfect.  This is a cute little story for little ones about learning how to stick with it until you get it right.

For more summer fun crafts and activities see our Club Mom page.
*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes only.  The opinions herein are my own and were not influenced by Tiger Tales in anyway.

Five Tips for Traveling with Your Family

Make the Travel Easy with 5 Great Tips for your Family
*this is a guest post written by Kendra Thornton

It's no secret that traveling with children can be challenging. That said, there's no reason to feel overwhelmed. With these five tips moms can step forward boldly to take on the family vacation with panache and flair. With proper preparation, your dream of a great family vacation is easy.

Don't book accommodations without research

Pulling up to a hotel after a long day of travel and adventure and looking around at a dive you wouldn't wish upon anyone can really put a damper on the trip. Take the time to do research before you book a room. Hotel pools can vary from glistening water to virtually swampy. If you want to cut down on your event planning, find a hotel or resort that provides dining, entertainment and kid friendly amenities right at your doorstep.  My family’s last big trip to Hawaii wouldn’t have been the same without the top rated kids club available at our Honolulu hotel. If you will be camping, don't assume just any spot is a good spot. Most campsites have photos online. Some time spent surfing can save the hours that could be spent looking for a better site upon arrival.
(photo is from the personal collection of the Juliani family)

Break up activities to keep it fresh

No matter how excited kids say they are about a particular destination, spending the entire day sightseeing will be tiring. Incorporate breaks into your routine that include fun snacks and some downtime. If you are traveling by car, think about stopping at a park or visiting a monument to break up your trip. Slipping in some well-timed breaks will make everything else go smoother.

Toss aside the everyday but keep the routine

You want to ensure your vacation is something all of you will remember fondly. It should be different from everything you do at home. That said, you need to keep in touch with the routines of home life. You might be tempted to eat on the fly to keep your pace. Just remember the kids might not have the same game plan. Keep mealtimes as close to what they are used to as possible. Bedtime in a strange room should resemble going to sleep at home as closely as you can. Keep story time alive and don’t skip the naps. When everything around them is new, little familiar things can make a world of difference.
(photo is from the personal collection of the Juliani family)
Get a bang out of the Fourth of July without getting burned

Independence Day is integral to family summer fun and one of the most traveled weekends in the U.S. Amazing fireworks displays will take place across the country. Tying one in with a beach BBQ or a few hours at a water park or mountain lake is natural symmetry. Wherever your Fourth of July plans take your family this year, remember safety.  Sparklers can heat up to 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt certain metals.  Use caution at any fireworks show and be sure to set up your blanket a safe distance from the professionals. Being safe and healthy is absolutely essential for a great family trip.

Pack toys but leave most home

You don't want to add to your luggage count with piles of toys. Ask the kids what they want to take and make sure the choices are favorites. Pick a few that can be carried on a flight if traveling by air. An inevitable part of travel is occasional boredom. Having a small toy from home to ease the malaise will do wonders.

Bio: Kendra Thornton: Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I've found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have taken my excitement for travel and brought it to you with some of my favorite travel tips and tricks. Enjoy!

Thank you Kendra for the awesome travel trips !

Saturday, June 29, 2013

International Mud Day ~ June 29

So, today is International Mud Day
The idea is to encourage kids and adults alike to get out and play...specifically with mud.
Well...I couldn't let the day go by without celebrating in some form or another.  
Although there was no way I was going to play in the mud. 
I mean, I haven't done that since I was a kid. 
But, I realize that I'm not just a mother, but a mother of boys...and they LOVE mud.
So, I celebrated Mud Day my own way.
By making Chocolate Playdough and Mississippi Mud Cookies
Chocolate Playdough
10 oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup light corn syrup
Pour chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for a minute on high.
Stir the chocolate and microwave for another minute or until the chocolate is melted.
Stir in the corn syrup
Spread the mixture out on a sheet of waxed paper.
Let the chocolate set overnight.  It gets stiff and pliable.
Have fun!
when you are done playing, you get to eat a yummy treat.
It actually tastes like a tootsie roll.
Mississippi Mud Cookies
(recipe can be found here)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup of mini marshmallows

Microwave semisweet chocolate morsels in a small microwave-safe glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.
Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to chocolate mixture, beating until well blended.
Stir in chopped pecans and 1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
Press 3 marshmallows into each portion of dough.  
Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until set.
 These were delish!

How did you spend your "muddy" day....I think I might have rather enjoyed a "mud mask" at a spa, but, take what you can get, I suppose ;)

*Please don't forget to follow this blog on Bloglovin' or like us on facebook since our beloved Google Reader will be going away very, very soon.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Field Trip Friday

One of my plans this summer is to introduce the kids to some free (or cheap) fun and local experiences.  Even though we don't live in some exciting city with lots of entertainment, we do live in an area that actually has some pretty cool places to visit and some history as well.
Our first trip was to a place called Friendship Hill.
Friendship Hill is a National Historic Site.
It was the home of Albert Gallatin.
  If you are a history buff, then you probably know who he was, if not, then I can tell you that he was Secretary of the Treasury for Presidents Jefferson and Madison.  He helped draft the Pennsylvania constitution and was an assemblyman, briefly a U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, a U.S. Negotiator for the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812 with Great Britain and U.S. Minister to France and to Great Britain.  Gallatin planned the financing of the Louisiana Purchase from France (1803) and funded the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
You can read more about him on the website linked above.
On a more personal note, Gallatin was married twice, his first wife Sophia died within a few months of moving to the house on the hill.  She is said to be buried in the woods on the property.  He had 3 children with his second wife Hannah (I think they said he had 7 children, but only 3 survived through infancy).
There were several additions made to the house through the years by Gallatin and other owners.  Some parts had to be rebuilt due to fires.  The house is also surrounded by woods, which the kids were eager to explore, but we took a tour of the house first.  There is also a gazebo that overlooks the Monongahela River.
a look at the house as you come up the drive (there is a well to the right of the picture)
The kids were impressed by the history and the huge mansion, which boasts 35 rooms.  You can take a self guided tour, but we opted to take one with a volunteer.  The house is really cool, it is part stone house and part frame house.  The kitchen which is now connected was a separate building back in Gallatin's day.
the stone kitchen, you can see some of the original fire damage on the door frame

the massive kitchen fireplace
a look at some of the bedrooms



After we were done touring the house and looking at the grave marker...we were ready to explore the many trails and hiking paths that run past the river's edge and through the massive 661 acres of  woods.


the gazebo
me still smiling despite hiking through 4 miles of woods with cranky tired kids
a few more looks of the house

I guess if they are willing to hold hands and skip away after "dying of thirst and malnutrition" from such a long day,  then it was a pretty good adventure  ;)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Girl Talk

Just like any other mother, I bounce back and forth between loving my children to pieces to wondering how I made it through the day without causing bodily harm.
Being a mother of six makes it just that much harder.
Which is why I love my nightly walks, while I enjoy the solitude I get when I go by myself, I also enjoy the nights when one or two or three...of my children tag along.  It usually turns out to be the most fun.  They entertain me with their wild stories, we chat about what's going on at school or with their friends, etc.  And as much as I love it when my little guys go, I enjoy the time with my daughters the most.
Just the other night as we were walking Sarah and I had one of the best talks ever.
I wanted to cry when I came home.  You know those moments when you are just so over whelmed with pride about your children that the emotions tend to overflow...well, our children have those moments too, about us, who knew?
As we were walking and chatting,  Sarah broke down and almost started to cry while she was telling me how happy she was that I was her mother.  About how proud she was that I lost all that weight.  She said she was talking to her friend and telling her friend about me and she started to cry while sharing.  She said "mom I felt so weird crying while I was sharing and my friend said that it's ok to cry to your friends, especially about something like that."
Sarah shared that she had been praying for me for as long as she could remember.  She prayed I could lose weight, because she was worried about my breathing and my asthma.  She said then all that Nutrisystem happened and it was like God heard me.  I said he heard me too.
She said that she was so happy for me that I could breath better and she wasn't worried about me as much anymore, because she knew I would be ok.
As a mother, I'm a big believer in telling my kids that they can do anything....and for it to mean anything to them, it had to mean something to me as well.  How could I preach to them that they can do anything they put their minds to and doubt my own abilities?
Chasing away the boogie man for my children, while living in fear myself wasn't working....besides, kids are not stupid.  They can see for themselves and know what works and what doesn't.  If you show them fear, they will notice it.  But you know what, sometimes, you need to show them that vulnerability as well.  That it's ok to be fearful about some things, but to not let that fear rule over you. 
I remember several years ago when I was really put to the test.  We went to an amusement park that had a fun jungle kids section.  In that section there was a climbing net that was several feet high.  One of my biggest fears is heights.  All the kids and Rich climbed the net and I cowered in fear at the bottom watching them.  Then came the moment where the kids were begging me to climb too and Rich pulled me aside and said "what are you going to do? let your kids see you cry and give in or believe in yourself and try."   I did cry....I cried the whole way up that big ol' net.  And even more so when I got to the top and felt like I couldn't climb anymore.  But while I was clinging in fear to that net with Rich beside me, I heard my kids cheering for me.  "come on mom, you can do got this."  And while I cried and climbed with Rich by my side, I felt relief.  I no longer was crying tears of fear, but tears of joy.  I faced a huge fear, but I didn't face it alone.
People always ask me why I'm always smiling or why I seem so happy...don't I ever get upset or mad? And the answer is yes, I get mad, I get downright angry, I scream, I pout, I cry...and then I get over it.  I get over it, because I realize that God has blessed me with so many things that I can't possibly be upset.  I believe in a higher power and I believe in myself.
It's taken a long time for me to get to this point in my life, I can't turn back now.
I'm grateful for those nightly walks with my children....because as much as I believe in them and in means even more to me knowing that they believe in me too.

*You can read more about my successful weight loss story on my weight loss journey page