Monday, August 31

Toddler Snacks!

Happy Monday!  In order to chase away the Monday blues, I thought it would be fun to talk about snacks!  Toddlers love snacks.  And mommies love snacks.  ;)  Dane is offered a snack mid-morning before lunch, and then when he wakes up from his afternoon nap.  Sometimes he eats it, sometimes he can't be bothered.  I mean - who refuses to eat a snack?? #toddlerprobs

We eat pretty healthy in the Carter house - or at least try to!  I would say that our meals throughout the week are usually on the healthier side, and then on the weekends we are a little more relaxed.  Dane has been an EXCELLENT eater so far, and I am really hoping that continues.  So with that, I try to offer healthy snack options...but keeping in mind that kids like kid food & sometimes Goldfish or a trip to DQ do the trick!

Below are some of our favorite toddler snacks.  Things that I know Dane will go for 80% of the time.  I would love to hear your favorite toddler snacks, too!  I am always on the lookout for variety.

Happy snacking!

If your toddler loves fruit, cha-ching!  My little D loves pretty much any kind of fruit, so I know he will always eat some diced apples, banana or clementine for a snack.  He loves peanut butter also, so sometimes I will add that to his apples or bananas for a yummy treat.  

I like the Sargento brand.  Dane is just now getting to be able to "string it" himself which he thinks is fun!

Kind of like a Fruit-Roll up, minus the 100+ grams of sugar.  Stretch Island is the brand, and there are a good variety of flavors found in the natural foods aisle of the grocery.  They are easy to throw in the diaper bag and perfect for a sweet treat!

I just started offering granola to Dane as a snack and so far he has approved!  Another mama friend posted that her tot likes granola with or without milk and I thought it sounded like a fun option.  This brand is called Love Grown & is gluten-free and non-GMO.  Of course there are a TON of granola options out there you can choose from!  I just give Dane a little bowl or cup of it and he goes to town.  I also like to make Chocolate Covered Katie's chewy granola bars for all of us good & you wouldn't know they are healthy!  

We love Stoneyfield Organic yogurt and have been buying it for meal times also.  But it is great for a snack alternative if you are in a bind.

Popcorn is one of mama's favorite types of snacks...and now Dane's as well!  I love the Skinnypop brand because it all natural - no butter, salt, etc!  It sounds gross when you have grown up on movie theatre popcorn, but it is actually really good!  Skinnypop now has several different kinds of popcorn out too.  It is great for movie theatre smuggling too - oops!

Veggie Stix are perfect for road trips, or just a quick snack when needed.  They are a better alternative than chips & Dane just loves them.  Found in the natural foods aisle in the grocery.  Veggie Stix also has an "Apple Stix" as well, which is yummy!  

What does your toddler love to snack on?  Please share!

Friday, August 21

Friday Favorites

Woohoo FRIDAY!  Here is what I am loving this week!

I mean, everyone loves Chick-Fil-A, right?!  #mypleasure  We really don't eat there much because it is expensive.  However, Dane and I stopped after a Children's Museum visit on Thursday and I was so impressed.  I was by myself with him, and after ordering I had about 3 workers follow me to the table, get a high chair, set out his placemat, put on his bib & deliver our food.  Definitely a Friday Favorites this week.

I snagged this little gem for Dane at Barnes & Noble the other day.  I was planning to wait and put it out with his Fall books, but I went ahead and gave it to him.  There is a series of these "First sports" books, and he LOVES this one.  The pages are simple with just one word and a photograph.  For example, "team" (picture), or "coach" (picture).  Currently Dane's favorite words to say are "huddle, coach, tackle, and I guess the book is helping.  I am excited to get the basketball, baseball, golf & soccer books soon!

I have been using this mascara since high school & it really is the best you could ever find.  I keep meaning to put it on the Friday Favorites list.  It makes my short, blonde eyelashes stand out.  I have gotten a few friends hooked on it as well, so Lancome can go ahead & cut me a check.

Fall is almost here.  I am just waiting on September 1st to come around, so I can throw pumpkins & leaves everywhere, light my Fall candles & turn on Hocus Pocus.  Love this quote about October!

What are your favorite things this week?

Tuesday, August 18

Show & Tell Tuesday....High School

A few of my favorite blogger moms, Andrea,  Shay & Erika, always do a Tuesday series called "Show & Tell" and they have a different topic to discuss every week.  Anyone can join and post the topic on their blog.  I have never done it until today, but thought this week's topic looked fun...and hilarious too!

What were you like in HIGH SCHOOL?

Classic over-the-shoulder Senior pic.  Devin calls my bangs "wings" 

 I graduated from Danville High School in 2000.  I grew up in Danville (a small town in the west side of Indianapolis) and attended school there Kindergarten-High School.  My mom was a Special Education teacher in the district, and Danville is the type of town where everyone knew everyone.  I graduated with about 130 students - so pretty small!  I loved high school & still keep in contact with friends through Facebook & even went to college with my best friend from high school, which was pretty neat!

I don't think we went tanning enough??

I was a good student and hardly remember having much homework.  All of us girls would meet in the cafeteria before school and do our homework together in the mornings, and I don't remember having to do a lot at night.  I loved to read (and still do) and would always have a book in my hand as well.

However, my life in high school was CONSUMED by this:  cheerleading.  I grew up participating in dance, gymnastics and cheerleading so was hopeful I would make the team my freshmen year.  I made Junior Varsity as a freshman and then cheered for Varsity Sophomore-Senior year.  I was super close to the girls I cheered with (one of their moms even made all of our that is talent!)  Cheerleading was the thing to do in my county, and competition cheerleading in the summer was even bigger.  The summer competition squad was another separate team to try-out for, and I made it my freshmen year.  #toetouch #herkie  We competed in numerous competitions all over the state, and even out of state as well.  But the big win for us was taking the county trophy that summer and beating out a squad that had won for years.  Of course now it seems trivial, but we thought we were on top of the WORLD when they announced us as winners!  My husband went to a rival high school just a few miles away (we didn't know each other though) & was actually at that competition watching his high school's squad perform.  #webeatthem #sorelosers  It is crazy to think he was in the audience that night!  

big winners.  
Cheerleading took up a ton of my time, and we would often have practice before school and after school as well.  My first cheerleading coach, Michelle, was the meanest toughest person I have ever met.  Like Jillian Michaels times 1,000 tough.  She was married to a Colts player and had been a Pro cheerleader herself.  You could always bet on about half of the squad either bleeding from falls, or crying by the end of every practice.  But, we were dang good.  Of course Friday nights were spent cheering on the sidelines of football and basketball games...although I still know very little about either sport.  I blame it on not being able to see over the players!  Our football team made it to state my Senior year, which was a huge deal.  I still remember my last high school football game, which was in the RCA Dome for the State title, and wondering if I would cheer for football ever again.  (I ended up cheering in college too - so yay!  Not my last game).  Unfortunately we were killed in the State game #catholicschoolsrecruit so we went home pretty sad.  

Top Right "flyer" 

On my way down.  

Our "before we lost State" smiles.  
Other than cheerleading, I was involved in FCA (Fellowship Of Christian Athletes) & Student Council.  My senior year Danville hosted the State Student Council Convention.  Otherwise known as  a ton of work.  Basically any student council in the state could register, and it was a weekend-long convention/retreat where councils learned about different types of school leadership, did team building activities and just had fun.  We had almost 1,000 students registered for the convention and the theme was "W.O.W."...or We Own The World.  I was in charge of host families for the convention, which meant I had to find hundreds of families in our community to each host several students for the weekend.    They had to be willing to pick their students up Friday night, feed them dinner and breakfast on Saturday and then transport them back to school on Saturday and repeat that night.  It was a TON of work and I remember being excused during numerous classes that Fall so I could work on organizing all of the host families.   Aaaaaaand, I may or may not have chosen the cute boys (each registration packet came with a school picture) to stay at my house.  OOPS!  

I wore my W.O.W shirt OUT.  Just ask Devin.  I just threw it out a few months ago.  
I didn't have much time for an after school job in high school, but I did work at a local car dealership on Saturdays.  I made coffee, answered phones, made appointments for salesmen, and processed new paperwork when vehicles were purchased on Saturdays.  I still can't believe they allowed a high school student to do paperwork like that, but oh well!  It was a great job and I loved the guys I worked with.  This was the time before cell phones, Facebook & texting, so all of us just talked and goofed off during the day.  Some of the salesmen even came to my wedding!  The best part of that job though, was choosing any car to go pick up lunch.  I always chose well.  ;)

Most likely the first & last time I will ever drive a BMW convertible.  

My sales buddies always made me stop by for prom pictures.  

I also worked several class periods during the school day as an office helper and then graded papers for my biology teacher.  I'm not sure how I was able to manage missing several class periods in order to do that, but no one seemed to mind?  The typewriter I used in my office job was pretty sweet too.  

The office workers.  
High School prom.  Ahhh those were the days.  Prom just isn't the same anymore, from what I hear, and like half of the juniors/seniors don't even go I guess!  I went twice my Junior year and once my Senior year.  My junior year I went with a friend, and then again with a guy I worked with who went to another school.  That was a disaster though, and I think I burned those pictures.  My senior year I went with another friend, but I had just started dating my most serious boyfriend (haha, serious boyfriend), Kyle.  I was head.over.heels for him.  Sadly, he had already told someone else he would go to prom with them, so I went with a close guy friend.  BUT, Kyle redeemed himself by calling me one night and telling me to put my prom dress on because he was at my front door.  We took his dad's convertible and went out that night.  Ummm, boyfriend points.  Too bad we broke up right before I left for college & I cried myself to sleep for days.  I remember my dad telling me to get a hold of myself, I was graduating soon, and would find "The One" while in college.  I guess he was right.  ;)  The highlight of my senior Prom was my corsage though.  It was the talk of the night.  It had tiny little lights in it & lit up the dance floor when the lights were off.  Too bad the battery pack it was attached to was so heavy & made me have carpal tunnel by the end of the night.  #beautyispain

I doodled his last name as mine daily.  

Can you see the twinkle lights?  
High School was a fun time for me, and I have a lot of great memories from those four years.  I tell Devin all the time that kids are just different now.  I don't remember kids being mean or bullying others like they do now.  I'm sure it definitely happened, but I wasn't a part of it.  I remember at graduation wondering how college could ever top High School.  Boy, was I wrong.  I loved high school, but not the same kind of love that was given to college.  Maybe that will be another Tuesday topic soon!

Class of 2000

What were you like in High School?!  I would love to hear your stories! 


Thursday, August 13

Be Their Favorite Toy.

I think we have a cute house.  Not too big, not too small.  Of course there are things about every person's house that they wish they could change.  We would love to have a basement...maybe a one-story ranch with a basement.  And I would love to have a Carrie Bradshaw-sized closet.  #closetgoals  But, you make do with what you have & our house has been great for our little family of 3.  My beloved bright pink sunroom was one of my favorite parts of our house.  White leather couches, custom window treatments and no-boys allowed.  Not kidding.  But being that I live with one very tall boy, and one very small boy I knew deep down we needed a renovation.  A cute toy room for my little boy.  

So, the past 6 months were filled with Devin constructing a massive toy bench & custom bookshelves.  Because who wants to pay $30 for bookshelves when Daddy can make his own for a fraction of the cost?  #timthetoolman We decided to keep the bright pink walls & I think they work fine for now.  And who knows - maybe a little girl is in our future at some point?  :)

As we were putting everything together & moving toys over, I immediately thought of some recent advice I had been given.  My sweet kindergarten parents threw me a baby shower when Dane was born and they made a book of motherhood advice for me to read.  One note always sticks in my brain and I think about it all the time.  This mama's advice was to be my child's "favorite toy."  She went on to explain that when her son was in preschool they were asked by their teacher what their favorite toy was.  He said, "My mom is my favorite toy because she always plays with me."  Wow.  And I could just picture this mama doing that because she was that type of mom.  The lay-on-the-floor, play trains & dress-up type of mom.  The type of mom I want to be.  Sure - there are days when I check my phone too much & just want to sit & catch up with The Today Show, but then I always think about that note.  I want Dane to say that his mama is his favorite toy.

The days are long but the years are short, & before long the toys will be put away for good.  So let's read & dress-up & play trains & build blocks & color (in the lines, of course) while we can.  

Friday, July 31

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, party people!  Here is what I have been loving this week!

My hair looks & feels like a bird's nest. Curls on curls on frizz.  While in Florida this spring break, I decided to straighten it one night.  Big mistake.  Huge.  At one point my brother-in-law looked at me in horror (as my hair was getting bigger & bigger during our outdoor dinner) and said, "Um, are you ok?"  I have tried expensive hair products & I have tried cheap hair products.  And they do the same thing.  Which is nothing.  So, I might as well spend my money elsewhere & go with the cheap-o stuff.  Enter Suave Rosemary & Mint.  It smells SO good & makes my scalp all tingly with a mint feeling.  Definitely on the favorites list this week.

My sunroom has officially been transformed into Dane's playroom.  And, we both love it.  Still the perfect little nook for my morning now just includes trains, cars & any type of ball. #boymom

I try not to give Dane too many sweets.  He is such a great eater now & really loves a good variety of fruits & veggies, which I hope continues.  However, when I am in the mood for a healthier dessert option I always turn to CCK (Chocolate Covered Katie).  Her desserts are fabulous & really good for you!  I made her chewy granola bars last week & Dane gobbled them up.  He thinks they are cookies & I am not planning on correcting him anytime soon.  ;)

Snacks by the pool with my little D are definitely on the favorites list this week.  We have been almost every day.  And my new Kendra Scott earrings are a current fave also...thank you Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!

This blog post . Oh my.  I can already see myself moving his backpack a million times to find the perfect spot.  It is that time of year when everyone is posting pictures of their babies heading off to kindergarten, dressed in new clothes with big toothy grins.  I love & hate these pictures.  I love them because it is fun to see how proud my friends are of their kids & how big they have grown.  I hate them because I know I will be posting these pictures soon enough.  I taught kindergarten for 9 years and always was baffled at the parents who were so concerned, upset, sad, distraught, etc over their children going to school.  I mean - the kids are fine.  And they are.  But, I get it now.  I simply can't imagine my little Dane getting on a school bus one day.  I totally get the "a child is your heart walking outside your body" quote.  Like whoa.  But it will be ok because I am already planning on staying in the adjoining dorm room next to him in college. #showershoesdane

What have been your favorite things this week?  Cheers to the weekend!

Monday, July 27

Nana's Cinnamon Toast

Growing up my mom (Dane's Nana) always broiled our cinnamon toast toast versus using the toaster.  Interesting, right?!  We had a toaster, so I'm guessing it was just her fancy way of doing things.  And I like fancy.  Dane loves his toast this way now.  Try it out with your Monday morning coffee, fruit or eggs!

Nana's Cinnamon Toast 
(serves 4...or double for more)

* 4 pieces of high quality bread
* cinnamon/sugar mix 
* butter

Directions: Turn broiler on.  Spray a cookie sheet with Pam.  Butter the bread and then sprinkle your cinnamon/sugar mix on top (I use a generous amount of butter & cinnamon/sugar).  Place on cookie sheet and put under broiler.  I usually crack the door open while broiling, because this does not take long at all.  Watch carefully to avoid burning.  Remove from oven when the edges are turning a slight brown.  The toast will be crispy on the outside & soft & gooey on the inside!
Serve immediately.  Enjoy!    

Friday, July 17

Friday Favorites...summer children's books!

Welcome, FRIDAY!  It's The Hubs' birthday today, so this post will be short in sweet.  Coffee & a family breakfast out are calling my name.

This edition of Friday Favorites will be about sharing my favorite children's books for summer!  Dane will be 20 months at the end of the month and one of his most favorite activities ever is listening to stories.  #raisingareader 

I started reading to him at a very young age & he just loves it.  Being a former kindergarten teacher, I know firsthand the importance of early literacy encouraged at home.  I am SO thankful that he loves books & can only hope that his love for reading grows.  I think the teacher heart in me also loves organized books, so all of his books are organized in themes based on the seasons.  Don't judge.  We are loving his summer books right now & I just added a few new ones to his bookshelves!  

ONE.  Sea Rex by Molly Idle
I read through this book while at Barnes & Noble the other day and had it ready to purchase when Dane threw a colossal fit upon being removed from the train table.  #toddlerprobs  So, I abandoned the book & purchased it on Amazon that night!  This is an adorable story with great illustrations.  It is about a dinosaur at the beach and learning the rules for swimming: wear sunblock, don't swim after eating, always jump in feet first, etc.  I think it will be one we can read again and again every summer because it is fun & also has great lessons for beginning swimmers. 

TWO.  Baby Loves Summer by Karen Katz
Oh gosh.  We own about 10 of Karen Katz' board books.  Great for infants/young toddlers, they are "lift the flap" books with different fun themes & colorful illustrations.  The summer themed one is perfect for right now and Dane will point out things like "towel" and "hat" that he notices we take to the pool also.  

THREE.  The Boy And The Ocean by Max Lucado 
The Boy And The Ocean is a Christian themed children's story with some of the most beautiful illustrations I have ever seen.  It is pretty lengthy, so geared toward older toddlers+ but tells the story of a boy and his dad near the ocean, with his dad explaining that God's love for us is deep and never-ending, much like the ocean.  We will definitely be keeping this book around for awhile.  

FOUR.  Hello by Highlights 
We all remember the Highlights magazines as kids, right?  They were always in my doctor's office & at the library.  One of Dane's Christmas gifts this year was a subscription to Highlights for babies/toddlers called Hello.  They are short books and include poems, a short story, hidden pictures to look for and other fun things!  The Hello books recently have all been spring/summer themed so it was the perfect edition to his summer bookshelf.  They are also easy to hold for little hands & can be thrown in a diaper bag for road trips!  

FIVE.  Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
I saved the best for last.  Dane requests that we read "Hoo Hoo Hat" at least 10 times.  An hour.  No joke. Sometimes it is the first word he says when waking up in the morning.  When I think of summer, I think of the zoo and this adorable book is about various zoo animals who are feeling grumpy and eventually cheer each other up by giving their friends a hat.  The text is simple and the animals are fun to identify.  I think it is so important to teach our children the importance of helping others and this book definitely helps teach that.  Add this to your summer bookshelf today!  

And there you have it.  What are your favorite summer children's books?  I would love to hear & add them to my list!  Happy Reading!