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You might notice a new trend this Halloween where people display teal colored pumpkins on their porch instead of the traditional orange pumpkins. You also might be wondering why?

Food Allergy Research & Education, also known as FARE is hoping to start a new trend in allergy awareness in the spririt of inclusion and safety. Teal is the color of food allergy awareness, and children with food allergies can feel safe knowing that houses with teal pumpkins will offer non-food treats like small toys.

According to FARE 1 out of 13 children suffer from food allergies of some kind. Some can be life threatening. My daughter is one of them. She is severely allergic to tree nuts, and every Halloween we have to sort through all the candy she can and can’t have. This new trend can help these children feel less left out and accepted.

If you would like to participate in the teal pumpkin project this Halloween, you can visit FARE’s website for more info and download a free poster to display.

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It’s that time of year when viruses are bound to hit your family at one point or another. Some viruses are impossible to avoid, between kids bringing home lovely germs from school, and flu season being at it’s peak, but there are some surprising origins of viruses that you can avoid. About 76 million people get sick each year because of food-borne illnesses. Most of these may be from restaurants and public restrooms, etc, but many are caused by culprits hanging in your own home.

 

 

According to the Center for Disease Control, kitchen and bathroom towels pose a big threat to you and your family. Most of us wash our bath towels and dish towels, but you may not be washing them often enough. Damp towels are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and if you’re using a used towel to dry off with or especially to dry your hands off on during meal prep or dish washing, your chances of getting sick go up tremendously. The CDC says food-borne diseases cause an estimated 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,200 deaths in the United States each year! So it’s something that should be taken seriously.

So, the simple way to keep the family more healthy? Just wash your towels, hand towels and dish towels/rags with hot water and soap. “If everyone is otherwise healthy, a few times a week for a kitchen towel and once or twice a week for a bathroom towel should suffice,” Dr. John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, told the Wall Street Journal. If you use kitchen towels for food prep or cleanup, don’t reuse them, wash them right away.

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If you’re like most moms, you’ve either already seen the new movie out called “Mean Moms”, or you’ve probably seen the trailers. It’s about a group of moms who have had enough with the demands of motherhood and decide to “go on strike” and become a little bit rebellious in the process. Not something we haven’t all thought of at one time or another, right? Because being a mom is hard work, and sometimes a very thankless job. Most of us don’t want to be the “mean mom” though, at least the kind that’s abusive, neglectful and belittling. We’re not talking about that kind of “mean”, obviously. But studies are showing that moms can definitely “up” the discipline factor, and in fact, being a little more “mean” with our kids can actually help them be more successful in life.

Which is great news, because this morning, my kids and I were in a rush to drop the three of them off to school when this conversation happened.

“Did you girls pack a lunch?” Nope.  

“Do you have lunch money?” Nope. We ran out and forgot to tell you.

Now, the nice mom in me quickly flirted with the idea of running home to get them some cash, or something to take for lunch, but then I thought nope. They are perfectly capable teenage girls, who need to learn to take responsibility for themselves, so today they will have no lunch, and tomorrow they will be better prepared because they’ll remember the discomfort of being hungry!

Sometimes it’s hard making those kinds of decisions, because it’s our natural instinct to take care of our kids and keep them comfortable and happy. But sometimes I have to remind myself that I am not raising children, I am raising adults. One day (and too soon for my liking) these kids of mine are going to be out in the world taking care of themselves, and hopefully being good people in the process. Coddling them, and doing things for them that they are capable of doing themselves won’t help them become the responsible adults they need to be.

One study done by the University of Essex showed that girls who have mothers who “nag” them, (or in other words regularly “remind” them of things they can be doing better) were more likely to go to college, get better-paying jobs, and avoid teen pregnancy than those with mothers who were more relaxed.

The study, led by researcher Ericka Rascon-Ramirez, followed the lives of over 15,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 14 from 2004 to 2010. Researchers found that high parental expectations played a role in some of the girls’ major life choices.

The study also found that even when it seems our children are not listening (which never happens, of course) our words and “persistent encouragement” do seep into their brains, and cause them to think twice when faced with important life decisions.

So keep nagging, moms! We can be loving and kind, but also unleash our “mean streak” once in a while, that not only shows our children we mean business, but that we have high expectations of them not because we’re unrealistic, but because we know how awesome they are!!

Are you a “mean mom”? We’d love to hear from you!

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It’s “Pumpkin Everything” season, but call me crazy… I have never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie. However, I DO love me some other pumpkin desserts, so I’ve been on a quest find some of the very best! It’s the perfect weather and time of year to turn the oven on and fill your home with the scent of freshly baked goods.  Give some of these delicious pumpkin dessert recipes a try!  (Your family will thank you!)

 

 

 

 

 

1. One-Bowl Chocolate-Pumpkin Swirl Cake with Chocolate Ganache

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2. Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

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3. Pumpkin Delight Dessert

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4. Pumpkin Crumble Bars

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5. Double Pumpkin Poke Cake

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6. Easy Pumpkin Swirl Chocolate Brownies

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7. Pumpkin Roll

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8. Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

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9. Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

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It’s that time of year when we’re holding on to the last days of summer weather-wise, while also anticipating the beauty of Fall that is just around the corner!  Leaves are slowly changing, and there’s a new crispness in the air. Colorado is home to some of the most spectacular Fall leaf displays in the country, and there are some beautiful drives we’ve listed below that will give you front row seats.

Peak season in Colorado for Fall leaves usually starts mid-September and runs through mid-October.  Throw in an early cold spell and leaves can start changing in the first couple weeks of September. Pick a weekend and head out with the kids to experience colorful Colorado!

1. Trail Ridge Road – This drive takes you through (and over) stunning Rocky Mountain National Park. Take U.S. Highway 34 between Estes Park and Granby, and you’ll drive to 12,183 feet.  There are several scenic overlooks to take in the scenery.

2. Boreas Pass between Como and Breckenridge – This gravel road is an old railroad bed and offers amazing sightseeing opportunities. Take Boreas Pass Road off of U.S. Highway 285 in Park County. If you’re in Summit County, take Boreas Pass Road right off of Colorado Highway 9 on the south side of Breckenridge.

3. Kebler Pass from Crested Butte to Paonia State Park – This is a longer drive from the Front Range the huge Aspen grove is said to be worth the trip. Kebler Pass Road extends out of Crested Butte, but can also be traveled from Colorado Highway 133 by taking Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs, then south on Colorado 82 to Carbondale. Take Colorado 133 south out of Carbondale to Kebler Pass Road.

4. Peak to Peak Highway – Take Highways 119, 72, and 7 from Black Hawk to Estes Park. Discover the Peak to Peak Highway off of I-70 by taking the Highway 119 exit.

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5. The Maroon Bells – This may be the most photographed location in the state. Maroon Bells has many hiking trails and can be accessed from Aspen on Maroon Creek Road.

6. Divide to Cripple Creek – While on Colorado Highway 67 take Teller County 1 to Florissant. This is a great drive to catch some midseason color and to see some of Colorado’s mining history. The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is also on the way and worth a stop.

7. Kenosha Pass –  U.S. Highway 285, heading South from Denver has many beautiful summits and hiking trails to check out the stunning display of Fall foliage.

Learn how to preserve Fall leaves HERE. They make great crafts!! 

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Summers can be chaotic and busy with the kids home from school, and by the end of it most moms are pretty ready for them to go back.  However, every time that first day of school rolls around,  I am hit with that little twinge of sadness that we don’t get to share those long days together anymore! I really do love my kids, and I miss them when they go back to school. (I think most moms do, right??) So, sometimes I have to give myself a pep talk and remind myself of the things that I am “really” missing *insert sarcastic voice* about Summer…

 

Disclaimer: I know there are perfect moms out there who manage a strict schedule during the Summer, who have children who do all their chores, and who have wonderful manners. I am not a perfect mom, and my kids are not perfect. I try. They try. The examples below are memories of some of the harder days of Summer…

 

The Noise

Oh, how I miss that noise! The constant bickering, the constant pleas of “I’m bored!” and “I’m hungry” (5 minutes after lunch). The chasing each other around the house, and then the subsequent never ending screams of torture because they just ran into a wall. The cheers from the basement during particularly riveting sessions of Minecraft. The teenagers competing over music selections in the car. Yep, I miss that. So much.

My grocery bill

I don’t know about you, but I really miss those thoughts of considering taking out a second mortgage on the house to feed my three kids during the summer. Oh my word!  They all develop chronic hollow legs, and complain about starvation almost every waking moment of the day. Never do I ever spend as much on groceries during the year as I do those few months my kids are out of school.  Totally miss that strain on my budget!

The messes

Tripping over flips flops 187 times a day is my favorite. Wet bathing suits, wet towels, milk left out on the counter, juice stains on the couch (despite no juice on the couch rules), double the laundry because my kids insisted on wearing a minimum of 5 outfits a day in the summer time. Crumbs EVERYWHERE from the 10 snacks a day they stole from the kitchen. Yep, I totally miss getting after them all day long about cleaning up their messes and then doing it myself anyway…because, motherhood.

Being interrupted

I still have to work from home during the Summer, so I really miss trying to focus while being interrupted every 5 minutes to drive one kid here or there, to chase a dog down the street because a kid let it out (again), or to stop another argument while I am on the phone. I miss hearing “mom!!” every 45 seconds while I am in the bathroom too. Those are my favorite moments of Summer.

Having random kids in my house

Most of my kids “play dates” are planned, but I will never get used to extra kids running around my house, drinking my juice boxes and terrorizing my pets. It’s even more loud, more food gets eaten, someone almost always ends up crying and going home early, and something is always left behind which becomes an emergency to their parent.

“Omg, Chris left his broken Happy Meal toy from 3 years ago at your house, when can we come back to get it?!!”

I am trying to teach my kids that friendships are overrated, but they’re having none of it.  Sigh…

And so, despite missing my kids while they’re back at school, there are definitely some parts of Summer I won’t particularly miss! That is, until they’re off to College one day, and every single horrifying memory of Summer vacation magically turns sweet…

What do you “miss” about Summer time, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Having two teenage daughters in high school, there is no shortage of drama at our house! My girls are full of stories of peer pressure, bullying, and all the other normal (but emotionally draining) experiences that come with on again/off again friendships. One day they have a best friend of 3 years, and the next week they don’t. High school is full of friendship changes and feelings of belonging and then suddenly not belonging. And “belonging” at any stage of life is an important need, so for a teen who suddenly doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch, it can feel like a very lonely and isolating existence. Thankfully technology is catching up with this reality, and a teenager herself created a new app called “Sit With Us”. Her goal is to end those feelings of isolation and loneliness by helping teens find other teens who are willing to hang out with them and be their friend. It’s an amazing tool that will hopefully help so many youth feel like they have someone they can go to when they are feeling lonely or excluded.

 

The creator of the “Sit With Us” App is 16-year-old Natalie Hampton from Sherman Oaks, California. The app launched on September 9, and she says she was inspired to create it after she ate alone her entire seventh grade year, she told LA Daily News. The experience left Hampton feeling humiliated and vulnerable and also made her a target for bullying.

Hampton is now a junior, and thriving socially at a new school, however the memories of having to sit alone and being bullied as a consequence still haunt her, and she knows many other students face this battle on a daily basis.

“Hampton told Audie Cornish on NPR’s “All Things Considered” that the reason why she felt an app like this was necessary is because it prevents kids from being publicly rejected and being considered social outcasts by their peers.”

It’s a private app managed through a phone, so no one needs to know. There is also a sense of relief for the user knowing that once they get to the lunch table they won’t be rejected.

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The app allows any student to designate themselves as an “ambassador,” which enables them to invite others to join them for lunch. Ambassadors can post “open lunch” events, which invite anyone seeking a friend to sit with that they’re invited to join the ambassadors’ table.

As a mom, I really hope this app takes off and that students embrace it with open arms. This can be a saving grace for so many struggling teens who just need a friendly face to sit with at lunch! It can help eliminate so many feelings of isolation, prevent bullying, and create community within schools across the country. Please share this with others so they can be aware of the Sit With Us too!

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I have a confession. I really want my kids to help around the house, I really do! The problem for me has always been allowing and trusting them to do it! In the past I was such a perfectionist, that I became my own worst enemy in some ways. For example, I was the mom that would allow the kids to decorate the Christmas tree, and then when they were asleep I would fix all the ornaments so the tree looked pretty again. I would let my kids help fold towels, and then secretly refold them because they did it wrong. I would let my kids bake cookies, but insist on taking over when the batter wasn’t stirred correctly.

 

Sigh…

and the truth is many moms fall into this pattern. We have become a generation of “it’s ok, I’ll do it” moms, and our families are suffering.  It not only effects our kids and their own independence, but it typically extends to our spouse as well. How many times have you given your partner directions to do something, and after having to explain it for too long just gave in and said “never mind, I will do it”?

We think we can do it all, and honestly we probably can do it all, because let’s face it, we are superwomen! Unfortunately, doing it all does not teach our families to do things for themselves, and it can lead to resentment in our children and spouses because it tends to send the message that we don’t trust them to get the job done, or we don’t think they’re smart enough. Obviously we want to avoid those assumptions!

Here some signs you may be doing too much for your family…

You’re focused on doing things “right” all the time

If you’re obsessed with the dishes being stacked in the dishwasher right, and find yourself saying things like “nevermind, I will do it” out of exasperation…you’re doing too much for your family. It’s time to let go, and let your children (or partner) complete the task. There is nothing wrong with giving some guidance as to how it’s done properly, but doing it all yourself is not only adding to your own plate of chores, but taking responsibility away from other family members. Something everyone in the home should feel like they have.

You’re constantly questioning your family’s decisions and choices

Maybe your husband comes home with groceries after you’ve given him a list, and he buys the wrong brands. Do you say something or do you let it go? If you say something like “I usually get this brand of toilet paper instead” or “I really don’t like this brand of barbecue sauce”, guess what? After a while your husband is going to say “You know what? Do the shopping yourself!” Now that’s one less thing he’ll be helping with around the house. Learn to bite your tongue and choose your battles. Learn to allow your family to do things their way sometimes.

Picking fights

If you’re so bent on being right or doing things the “right” away around your house, this can lead to more than just resentment on your families behalf. This can start to change the entire tone of your household, with more arguments and fights over silly things. If you’re doing everything, there’s no doubt you will become resentful too and start blaming it on the fact that no one knows how to do anything right. This is a very dangerous pride cycle, and there needs to be balance. A family that’s united is much more important than how the beds are made or how dinner is prepared.

You’re always bringing up past mistakes

Maybe your spouse was late paying the mortgage two years ago, or your child put laundry soap in the dishwasher that one time… do you still belittle them for it, or have a habit of bringing up their past mistakes? And do you use those past mistakes to justify why “you’ll just do it yourself”? If this is the case, you are taking away valuable lessons from your family. Mistakes are part of learning. Allow them more opportunities to learn and grow and they may surprise you with how much they can handle! And you may just start breathing a sigh of relief that you actually don’t have to do it all…

I realize not all moms struggle with this idea of “having to do it all”, and that many families have a very healthy balance when it comes to chores, responsibilities and contributions. But if you are a mom who struggles with any of the feelings above, there is hope (and you’re not alone). It’s ok to take a look within ourselves sometimes and figure out how we can do better. Sometimes it’s not our family who needs to “see the light”, sometimes it’s us…

Do you find yourself struggling with the “have to do it all” mentality? Or maybe you have found some good balance in your family and can share some more advice. We’d love to hear your thoughts either way!

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We live in a society that is plagued with debt, with 2015 statistics showing that the average family in America has $132,086 in debt, with $15,310 of it on credit cards.  Some debts are unavoidable for most, like mortgages and car loans, but we have definitely become a country with a “want it, need it now” mentality, and it’s showing. Many families are starting to realize the dangers and pitfalls associated with debt and managing to sacrifice, save, and be diligent with finances to become debt free. It’s always smart to become as self sufficient as possible, and it’s a lesson we can teach our children from a young age. Teaching them now can save them years of becoming a slave to debt in the future. Here are some important lessons we can teach our children now to help them become money wise.

 

It’s ok to wait to buy something you want

Saving up to buy something seems to be a lost art these days. With credit cards at our finger tips we buy what we want, when we want it, with little thought and whether or not we have the money. We are living on borrowed money, and it’s not a wise lesson to teach our children. Patience is a valuable virtue!

Next time your child has to wait in line for their turn on the swing, or a ride, or an ice cream cone…be sure to remind them that sometimes we have to be patient and wait for things we really want. And then when the experience is over ask them “wasn’t that worth waiting for?!” Most likely they will say yes. This is so important for raising children who don’t feel entitled…

From a young age, my children have had to earn money from simple household chores in order to save up for toys or experiences they wanted. This can be taught from as young as three-years-old. Children are always stating their wish lists, which I try not to blow off because I think it’s important to have goals and dreams, and we can nurture those goals and dreams in our kids by encouraging them to work for them. If there’s a specific toy your child would really love to have, make a chart showing how much it costs, and how they can earn that money. Maybe they can earn $1/day by pulling weeds or helping out with household chores. You decide on the jobs, but more importantly keep marking their progress on the chart. Help them to see that hard work and patience pays off!

 

Making choices on how to spend money

My daughter will be 18 next year, and I am realizing how very quickly these formative years pass by and questioning ALL THE TIME if I have taught her everything she needs to know to be on her own soon. She recently started her first “real” job this past year, and although that first paycheck was super tempting for her to spend on clothes and make up…she was (to my surprise) very wise about saving some, spending some, and giving some away.

These are three important lessons to teach from a young age.  Give each child three jars marked “Save. Spend. Share.” and whenever your child earns money or gets birthday money,  teach them how to divide up their money appropriately between the jars. Teaching children that earning money isn’t just for spending, but also for saving and sharing are important life lessons, and will serve them well as they get older.

 

Managing a budgeting and credit cards

As children grow older they should be well versed in budgeting before they leave the house for their college years. This is something I wish schools would help teach, but it falls on parents shoulders to make sure they understand the phrase “living within your means”… Planning the monthly family budget with your teens present can help them visually understand what is coming in, what goes out and how much is left. Teach them that credit is important to build for future purchases like a home or a car, but to build it responsibly. If they abuse their credit cards by paying them late, or racking them up, it can have devastating consequences on their future financial security. They should only have a credit card if they can pay it off monthly. Also be sure their first credit card is low interest and has a manageable balance.

 

 

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This recipe came on a King Soopers flyer in the mail, and it’s a winner! I love sweet and salty snack combinations, and if you do too, you will love this game-day-great! It’s super easy (so the kids can help make them) there’s no stove required, and it’s only 3 ingredients! Everyone will be cheering for more!

 

 

 

Pringles Haystacks

Ingredients

1/2 tube (5.6 oz) Original Pringles Chips

1 bag (11.5 oz.) butterscotch baking chips (you can also substitute for chocolate or peanut butter chips if that’s your thing)

1 cup chow mein noodles

 

Directions

  1. Place the Pringles in a mixing bowl and break them up into large pieces with a spoon or fork. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butterscotch chips in a microwave on high, stopping the microwave and stirring every 20 seconds or so until they’re nearly melted. Remove the bowl from the microwave and continue stirring vigorously until it’s completely melted.
  3. Stir in the chow mein noodles and broken Pringles. Scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, working quickly before it cools and sets. You should have 20-30 “haystacks” depending on how large you make them.
  4. Leave the haystacks at room temperature until they set. Then, carefully pack them into a container and take them to your tailgate party!