Kids’ Playroom Design Inspiration

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If you follow me on social media, you probably know that we moved to a new house a few weeks ago. We are so happy to be in our new house and starting a new chapter in our life. While we are still unpacking boxes and getting settled in, I have had the best time decorating our new space. One of the rooms I was the most excited about was the kids’ playroom. I scoured Pinterest and the web for inspiration and was able to pull together a room that I think is both beautiful and functional. The kids love it too!

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We started by installing built-in cabinets along the entire back wall. It is filled with toys, art supplies, puzzles, and books. The walls were painted with Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. This color is so popular on the web and I can totally see why! It is a gorgeous “greige” color that is neutral and warm. The color scheme in the room is bright and colorful with pops of yellow and blue.

The kids have an expansive art table with bright yellow chairs and lots of art supplies. They have spent countless hours creating works of art at this table already!

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We wanted the room to feel positive and inspire creativity and imagination so all of the artwork in the room has inspirational messages.

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Playroom Rules Canvas from Personal Creations

The comfy gray couch is also brimming with feel good messages via the throw pillows.

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Perfect Equation Throw Pillow from Personal Creations

Even though they have a couch, you can usually find Lucas and Amelia sitting in either the Takealong Chair or the Bean Bag though! Both have been personalized with inspirational messages too! The Chair says “Dream Big” and the Bean Bag says “Believe”.

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The room just makes you smile. It feels good to be in this room. 

 

Home Safety Tips for Kids

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There are a few things that truly scare me about being a parent. One of them is the kids getting into the medicine cabinet or household cleaning products. We had a frightening experience with Lucas two years ago. He was at my parents house and him and his cousin got into my mom’s medicine cabinet and took cough drops. They were only cough drops, but I thought Lucas knew better. He was 6 years old and he knew the dangers or…I thought he knew. It could have been a lot worse. We were very lucky, but after that I made sure that medicine and cleaning products were out of the kids reach not only at my house (which they already were) but also at any home that my kids regularly visited (i.e. the grandparents house). These kids are everything and I will do anything to protect them.

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Now that it’s summer and kids are home on a school break, it’s important that we go through our homes and ensure that everything is safe. The truth is that kids (no matter the age) will be kids. They will get curious and go through things and do things that you never thought they would do. Babies and toddlers, like Amelia like to taste and feel everything they can find to learn more about their environment – and this is absolutely normal, even beneficial, in a child’s development so while you shouldn’t try to get your little one to stop mouthing, you instead just need to be aware and on guard. So what can we do to protect our precious little ones?

Tide & Gain have partnered with Safe Kids Worldwide for the “Up, Up, & Away” campaign to remind parents/families to keep laundry products away from children’s reach.

With liquid laundry packets gaining in popularity, now used by 20 percent of U.S. households, parents need to be aware of this emerging risk for children. Between 2012 and 2013, more than 700 children 5 and under experienced serious effects as a result of liquid laundry packets, with the impact greatest among 1 and 2 year olds. In fact, the poison centers received more than 33,000 calls from 2012 through May 2015.

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Home Safety Tips for Kids

Whatever you do with your medicine and cleaning supplies, keep them very high up and behind a locked door.

Go through your home at your child’s level. Get down on the ground at try to look at your home from your child’s perspective and assess what could potentially be dangerous. Cover all electrical outlets and make sure that electrical cords aren’t loose or exposed. Keep small items out of reach of babies or toddlers.

Never leave a child unattended near or in water. This includes bathtubs, blow up kid pools, etc. Remember that drowning can occur in less than 1 inch of water.

One room that’s often overlooked is the laundry room and the new laundry pacs, those small, single use products. These powerful packets contain highly concentrated detergent and require the same discipline as common household cleaning products when it comes to safely using, handling and storing. They need to be kept Up, Up and Away – seal these pacs up, store pacs up, and keep them away. Much like many other household cleaning products, laundry pacs need to be handled with great care to prevent unintended exposure.

Always have the number to poison control and your pediatrician handy just in case your child manages to get into anything they shouldn’t.

 

For additional home safety tips, visit pgeveryday.com/tag/safe-home.

Energize Your Morning: Power Breakfast Ideas In a Jar

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I swear I thought things were going to slow down for summer, but no. We have been so incredibly busy since Lucas has been out of school on break. He was selected to be on the All-Star T-Ball Team, which is awesome of course! However, it’s also very time consuming. Not to mention that work has been pure chaos lately. Basically, we have been gogogo for weeks now. You know…the story of every mom’s life, right?! Amidst all of that chaos, we still have to hold it together. That means dinners on the table in the evening and breakfast in the morning, but I have to be honest it’s really difficult! That’s why I have to rely on simple, quick, and wholesome meals. For breakfast that means cereal + milk + fruit. It’s actually a great way to get in the benefits of whole grains (from the cereal), protein (from the milk), and all sorts of goodies from the fruit! One of our favorite things to do is to serve cereal in a jar.

Breakfast in a Jar

 

Cereal is already very portable, but when you put it in a jar? It’s the ultimate to-go breakfast! Here’s what we do…

Breakfast in a Jar Prep

Put cereal plus all toppings except milk in a mason jar and secure lid.  We like to add yummy good-for-you things like slivered almonds or nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, chia seeds, wheat germ, etc. In the morning, add milk, grab spoon and go!

Did you know? A satisfying breakfast, complete with energizing grains to refuel and protein to rebuild is a winning combination.

I actually went ahead and calculated the nutritional information for two of our favorite combos (see below). As you can see, cereal and milk plus a few quick toppings like fruit and nuts can pack quite a powerful nutritional punch in the morning! Low calorie, low fat, high fiber and high protein = WINNING BREAKFAST!

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (1 cup), Skim Milk (1/2 cup), Craisins (2Tbsp) & Slivered Almonds (2Tbsp) in a Jar

Rice Krispies in a Jar

 

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Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats (1cup), Skim Milk (1/2 cup), Raspberries (1/2 cup), & Chia Seeds in a Jar (1Tbsp)

Mini Wheats in a Jar

 

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Do you remember the “Cereal and Milk” jingle? Watch and enjoy a Kellogg’s moment while you reminisce!

 

Mom Tip #3: Family Scheduling Tips

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Lucas’ chore chart

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One of the most difficult parts of being a parent is juggling everything. By everything I mean the usual suspects. For us, that is sports (baseball and karate), being a team mom, hubby is the t-ball coach, school drop offs and pick ups, being a business owner, breakfast, packing lunches, cooking dinner, and so on. You know the drill. Organization is the key to keeping it all together…as much as possible, at least.

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Lucas on his way to a baseball game

Today, I want to share some of our go-to family organization tips. Hope that they help your family too!

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1. Plan your week ahead of time. Both Mike and I sit down every Sunday and talk about the upcoming week. We figure out who will be doing drop-offs and pick-ups, appointments, sports schedules, work schedules, etc. This helps our week run smoother because we work as a team and ensures that our week runs smoother. We then take our schedule and post it on the refrigerator. Yes, we also have it in our phones, but it helps when we can reference it throughout the day and the entire family can look at it too.

2. Get help. Whether it’s sharing carpool duties with another parent at your child’s school or enlisting your teen to help mow the grass or your preschooler to help load the dishwasher. At our house, Lucas has his own chore chart that we update with responsibilities weekly. The point is – don’t try to do it alone!

3. Make a menu. Plan breakfasts, lunches, and dinners ahead of time. Write it down and place it where it will be visible and top of mind (like on the refrigerator). This makes breakfasts easy and quick to prepare because I don’t have to scan my brain for ideas. Lunches are

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easy to pack because again – it’s already thought out for me. It’s especially helpful for dinners because I know when to pull out the chicken to thaw or what can be prepped ahead of time to ensure that dinner is on the table. I can also plan easier dinners for sports nights or nights when I may have to work later than usual.

4. Do as much as you can the night before. Pack lunches, lay out clothes, prep breakfast, make sure ingredients for the next night’s dinner are thawed, pack sports bags, etc.

5. Don’t be afraid to let things go. What I mean is that oftentimes, we over schedule ourselves and our children. If you feel like your schedule is out of control then it may be time to drop or pause a few activities for a while. For example, now that Spring baseball season has started, Lucas has 3-4 baseball activities per week (including practices and games). I could see that between school, baseball, and karate (which is twice per wee), Lucas was getting burned out (as were we). As a result, we decided to pause karate until the summer when baseball is over. Now, we have freed up some time to…just breathe.

6. Schedule in some down time. Our schedules are way too hectic these days! We need to have time to unwind, relax, and bond as a family. So whether it’s planning a movie night, game night or going on a walk at the park – plan some downtime.

Goofing off at the park during some much-needed downtime after school

Goofing off at the park during some much-needed downtime after school

 

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For additional parenting tips and tricks, make sure to visit Playtex Baby Mom Trust!

What are your family scheduling tips?

Key to Morning Success is Preparation #GreatStarts

Mornings at our house are pure chaos. There’s a whole lot of rushing around trying to get stuff done in a very small window. Here’s what has to get done in the morning…

  • Wake up
  • Mike and I get ready for the day
  • Get baby Amelia ready for the day
  • Get Lucas ready for school
  • Eat breakfast
  • Lucas and Amelia leave with Mike to take Lucas to school
  • I go to gym and then come back home to work

Then, there’s a list of stuff that we can’t forget…lunches, schoolwork, etc. All of this has to get done very quickly since the drive to Lucas’ school is at least 30 minutes. That means they need to leave at 7:30am to make it school on time. We wake up at 6:00am and that’s already difficult enough – can’t image getting up any earlier.

The key to having a great morning and a great start to your day is to BE PREPARED.  We love this Night Before Checklist provided by Paralympic Alpine Skier, Heath Calhoun. We have it hung on our refrigerator and go through it every night to make sure that we are ready for the next morning. It’s been very helpful!

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Here’s what the night before looks like…

Prep for breakfast

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Lay clothes out the night before

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Pack Lucas’ lunch the night before

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Check that all bags are packed – especially my gym bag

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Get Lucas’ karate uniform ready for after school

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Set alarm

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Charge iPods, iPhones, iPads the night before – we take these to the gym and of course, use for work

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Getting all of these things done the night before tones down the morning routine chaos for us. That is so important because a good start to your day – to your children’s day – is really important. It sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Our breakfast SUCCESS!

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For additional Great Starts Tips, make sure to visit Kelloggs.com/GreatStartsTips!

Medicine Cabinet Safety Tips for Your Home

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Lucas is 6 years old. In all of his 6 years, he has never experienced curiosity about medicine. He is a good kid. He knows that medicine should only be given by adults. He knows that he should never take any medicine unless we give it to him. Or so I thought.  Around the holidays, Mike and I went to a movie – sans kids. We dropped the kiddos at my parents house. Lucas was excited because his cousin, Blanca (who is also 6) was also there with him. As soon as we dropped him off, he ran upstairs with Blanca.

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Now, let me backtrack a little bit. We were all sick with the flu just the week before so we all – Lucas included – had a lingering cough and sore throat. Now fast forward to my parents house. Mike and I arrive to pick the kids up and Lucas comes over to me and tells me about all of the fun he had. And then he says, “and I took some yellow pills.” My heart stopped.

“What pill? Show me.” I say to him. He immediately begins to cry as he realizes what he’s done. I tell him that he’s not in trouble, but that I need to know exactly what he took. He leads me upstairs into my parents bathroom. He gets out a step stool, carries it over to a tall cabinet, stands on the step stool, and proceeds to take out my moms medicine bag. My mom’s medicine bag, which has high blood pressure medicine and diabetes medicine and all sorts of medicine. I swear – I thought I was going to faint. Then, he pulls out a pack of cough drops from the bag and tells me that these were the yellow pills he took. For his cough and sore throat.

I was lucky. This time. This could have easily been a tragedy. So today, I want to share with you some medicine cabinet safety tips that hopefully will prevent this happening to you!

  • Talk to your kids about medicine safety. It’s important for them to understand the danger.
  • Never refer to medicine as candy.
  • Clean out your medicine cabinet! Make sure to get rid of any old or expired medicines every year.
  • Create a child-proof area that can be locked and keep medication lids tightly closed. I would recommend a LOCKED medicine cabinet that is up high and out of the way.
  • Keep your medications in the container they come in – that way you always know the proper dosage and potential interactions.
  • To avoid double dosing your child with medicine, always make sure that you and your spouse communicate with one another about when medications were given to your child.
  • Be informed about what illness your child has and the proper medication that will alleviate symptoms. For instance, check out the PediaChat Blog post –  All About Fevers to learn more about when a parent should worry about a childhood fever.
  • Keep dosing cups or syringes with the medication it came with or keep it very simple with PediaCare® Infants Fever Reducer / Pain Reliever With Acetaminophen. This is pretty cool because the bottle has a flow restrictor, which helps to minimize dosing errors and is SAFE. Basically nothing comes out of the bottle unless you properly insert the syringe (think hospital syringes).

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New Year, New Home: Give Your Home a Cozy Makeover #BestFeelings

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One of my favorite things about a new year is the feeling of renewal. It’s the ideal time to not only set new goals for yourself and your family, but to also give your home a bit of a facelift. We kicked off this year with a clean home and even spruced up the areas with some cozy red accessories – perfect for the winter months!

Today, I want to share a few simple tips that will help give your home a new, cozy look to help you achieve your #bestfeelings in 2014.

1. Start with neutral furniture (if possible). This way, it is easy and affordable to quickly change out accessories for a new look.

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2. A cozy throw blanket slung over a chair adds warmth and a pop of color.

Home Decor Tips

3. Invest in a couple of new throw pillows to add comfort and color.

4. Think of out-of-the-box ways to use fabric to add color and warmth to a room. This sisal runner on the coffee table adds to our living room decor and continues the red color theme.

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5. All of the flooring in our home is hardwood. I love them, but it can be cold. We use area rugs throughout the house to add warmth and delineate the spaces.

6. Nothing says warmth like family pictures.

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7. Use accessories to tie your room’s theme together. They are also fun to change seasonally.

8. And, don’t forget a home fragrance scent too! I love Glade® Sense & Spray® Clean Linen for several reasons. First of all, look at it – it is beautifully designed.

Glade Sense & Spray

You don’t even notice that it’s an air freshener. It blends in with our home decor rather than being an eyesore.

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In addition, I love the Clean Linen scent – it is light, fresh and just like the name says – clean. What’s really cool about Glade® Sense & Spray® Automatic Freshener is that it detects when you pass by and instantly releases a burst of fragrance into the air. You can also press the boost button whenever you need a burst of freshener. It’s the perfect meeting of form and function! LOVE!

Visit Glade.com for more information and Like on Facebook and Follow on Twitter for all the latest news. What are your 2014 home design ideas that give you the #bestfeelings? Share your thoughts and ideas via Twitter and Facebook using #bestfeelings.

To help with your own cozy home makeover, Glade® is offering one lucky reader a fun prize package to keep warm and cozy this winter! Simply leave a comment on this post to enter to win Glade® Sense & Spray® Clean Linen, mug, hot chocolate kit, and blanket.

 

Contest ends on Friday, January 31st at midnight PST. Winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email. Best of luck!

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Boston Market 35 Ways in 35 Days – Week 2 Update! #BostonMarket

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As you guys know, we’re on a mission to try all 35 ways – or meal combinations under 550 calories – at Boston Market over the next several weeks. So far? We have tried eleven meals. Eleven delicious, satisfying meals. Eleven quick, convenient, perfect for busy weeknights when you don’t want or have time to cook dinner. The best part is that this is food that you can feel great about feeding your family! We’ve been loving it!

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I love that Boston Market rotisserie chickens are sourced locally and then slow roasted. Plus, they put chickens on the rotisserie every hour so that they are ALWAYS fresh. I especially love that Boston Market has made a real commitment to helping people meet their health and nutrition goals. Check it out!

  • Boston Market offers more than 100 combinations of meals 550 calories or less.
  • Boston Market is a member of KIDS LIVEWELL – KIDS LIVEWELL choices emphasize lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy and meet stringent nutritional criteria.
  • In October 2010, as part of an overall initiative to provide healthier options for guests, Boston Market began a rollout of several enhancements, including reducing sodium in Boston Market’s signature rotisserie chicken by 20 percent and in their poultry gravy by 50 percent.
  • In 2012, they removed salt shakers from the tables in all their locations, which marked another important initiative: they committed to reducing sodium levels in all of our signature items by 20 percent.
  • An interactive Nutrition Calculator allows guests to custom-build Boston Market meals online and obtain their nutritional values.
  • An Allergen Menu feature helps guests with dietary restrictions (such as gluten intolerance) identify the menu items they can eat.

Without further ado, here are the meals that we tried this week!

Meal #8: Quarter White Chicken, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy & Fresh Steamed Vegetables: 550 Calories

Meal 8b

Meal #9: Turkey Breast with Steamed Vegetables & Garlic Dill New Potatoes Market Bowl: 380 Calories

Meal 9

Meal #10: Turkey with Sweet Corn and Garlic Dill New Potatoes: 500 Calories

Meal 10

Meal #11: Mediterranean Salad with Rotisserie Chicken: 550 Calories

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All of the meals that we had this week were good, but my personal favorite were the two turkey meals. O-M-G. Seriously, the turkey breast at Boston Market is so beyond good. It is moist and flavorful and…I just wanted to keep eating more of it LOL! I may or may not have stolen turkey from Mike’s plate! This was the first time that we tried their fresh steamed veggies and they were perfectly cooked. You know how steamed veggies at restaurants are usually soggy and tasteless? Not so at Boston Market. These were perfect!

Tune in next week as we continue trying the “35 Ways in 35 Days” meal options! In the meantime, follow Boston Market on Facebook and make sure to visit BostonMarket.com for additional meal ideas, nutritional information, and you can even print the “35 Ways in 35 Days” calendar.

 

Family Meals Under 550 Calories – 35 Ways To Eat Right In The New Year

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Yesterday I posted about our new year’s resolutions for 2014 and how I plan on keeping them. I think that one of the most important tips I shared is #6 (see below).

Tip #6

Anticipate obstacles. This is a big one. You need to figure out what normal, everyday occurrences are going to get in the way of you sticking to your resolutions and figure out solutions ahead of time. And, notice that I said ARE GOING because the reality is that life is full of curveballs.

For us, one of our biggest obstacles to most of our resolutions is that we’re busy. I know that you can relate because this is a problem that all families face. We are busy with work, carpool, sports practice, homework, life…the list goes on and on. All of these things are constantly throwing curve balls at us. For example, one of our resolutions is to eat healthy, but on a busy weeknight – this can be a huge challenge. I mean, seriously – trying to figure out how to get dinner on the table on Lucas’ karate nights is crazy. And, forget about it when T-Ball starts back up!

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This is the perfect storm of events that can derail us from eating healthy. Because what is the typical solution to not having enough time to cook dinner? Fast food. And, we all know that while fast food might be convenient – it usually equals junk food loaded with lots of calories and generally unhealthy stuff.

This is exactly why I am so excited to partner with Boston Market over the next several weeks to try out their “35 Ways in 35 Days” meal options. So, what is “35 Ways in 35 Days”? They are 35 meal options at Boston Market that are UNDER 550 calories. These are just the ones they are featuring over the next few weeks, because they actually have over 100 meal combinations that are under 550 calories. That is pretty impressive! You can see all 35 meal options HERE. What’s great is that these meal options are not only low-calorie, but it’s REAL FOOD. Rotisserie chicken, turkey, veggies – food that you can feel good about eating. While convenient, this is definitely not your typical “fast food”.

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Over the next five weeks, my family and I will be trying out all 35 ways and reporting back to you. We’ll let you know our thoughts on all of the meals plus share more info about Boston Market. We actually started this week and so far have tried seven of the meals so far. The first night was Lucas’ karate night so we decided to reduce our stress that night and eat Boston Market.

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Mike took Lucas to karate and picked up the food on their way home. I transferred the meals to real plates and we had a healthy family meal at the dinner table.

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Here’s what we had…

Meal #1: 3 Piece Dark (without skin), Garlic Dill New Potatoes, and Sweet Corn: 500 Calories

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Meal #2: 1/4 White Chicken (with skin), Garlic Dill New Potatoes, and Sweet Corn: 540 Calories

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Meal #3: Boneless Chicken Breast, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Corn & Gravy Market Bowl: 500 Calories

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Our thoughts after our first meal? Delicious. Truly. It really felt like we were eating a home cooked meal. The rotisserie chicken is amazing – so juicy and flavorful. The Garlic Dill New Potatoes are probably one of my favorite sides so far. They are comfort food, but without all of the calories.

Then, on Wednesday evening we had planned on going for a family walk at the park. We were supposed to go early (by 4pm) so that we could get back in time to cook and eat dinner. Unfortunately, work got in the way and we weren’t able to head to the park until 5:30pm. We almost canceled our walk due to dinner, but then decided that we would eat Boston Market instead. It was great – we got to spend some quality family time together and stick one of our family resolutions of being more active…

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and, Amelia got to have her first swing ride!

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Here are the meals we tried…

Meal #4: BBQ Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Corn Market Bowl: 540 Calories

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The Market Bowls with mashed potatoes are Mike’s favorite! These are very filling and satisfying – so much so that it is hard to believe that they are low in calories. Delish!

Meal #5: Chicken Caesar Salad: 440 Calories

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Meal #6: Southwest Santa Fe Salad with Rotisserie Chicken: 530 Calories

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BOTH of the salads were very fresh. The portions were huge so both made excellent meal choices for dinner. Out of the two – the Southwest Santa Fe Salad was our favorite though. It has so many goodies like fire-roasted corn, poblano pepper and black bean relish, tomatoes, onions, tortilla strips, shredded cheddar and chipotle cheddar dressing. Believe it or not, this was Lucas’ dinner and he picked it and LOVED it!

Meal #7: Mediterranean Chicken Carver on Multigrain Artisan Roll (no dressing): 490 Calories

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I had the sandwich for dinner and it was outstanding. It was also filled with yummy ingredients like cucumbers, tomato, feta cheese, and rotisserie chicken. Honestly, the fact that Boston Market uses rotisserie chicken in their salads and sandwiches takes their food up a notch!

Tune in next week as we continue trying the “35 Ways in 35 Days” meal options! In the meantime, please visit BostonMarket.com for additional meal ideas, nutritional information, and you can even print the “35 Ways in 35 Days” calendar.

 

Holiday Travel Tips for Families

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The holiday season is all about spending time with loved ones, but for some of us – that can mean travel. Traveling during the holidays can definitely be a bit stressful. There’s the packing and crowds and expenses – it can be so overwhelming! So today, I thought I’d share some Holiday Travel Tips for Families – enjoy!

Lucas on a family road trip

Lucas on a family road trip

Holiday Travel Tips for Families

  • Plan and plan some more! Traveling always has some bumps along the way, but one way to reduce the number of mishaps is to plan ahead.
  • Ship gifts to your destination. Instead of lugging gifts and stressing about luggage space, bag check fees, and potentially lost items – ship them in advance. It’s so much easier!
  • Make sure that you’re ready for security at the airport. Read TSA Rules beforehand so you can sail through the long security lines.
  • Bring entertainment for kids. Whether it’s a handheld gaming device, portable DVD player, coloring books, small toys – it’s a good idea to be prepared with a few small items that your kids enjoy. Make sure that they are easy to access!
  • Bring small snack in your carry-on. It’s amazing how a snack can keep kids happy – pack a few!
  • Avoid peak travel days. This way you’ll avoid the large crowds and you can probably save on travel costs.
  • Breathe. Remember that it’s the holidays and keep calm. You will get through this!
  • Stay healthy! Bring sanitizer and wipes to battle germs. However, make sure that you have medicine just in case! PediaCare® Children’s Fever Reducer Plus Cough & Runny Nose With Acetaminophen is perfect for travel because it attacks several symptoms thereby eliminating the need to pack several different medicines.

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Fever Myth #2 – A fever can hurt my child