Travel: San Francisco with Kids

Hi, Renae again, sharing the ins and outs about traveling around San Francisco with kids in tow. We’ve been racking up airline miles and I’m learning all kinds of stuff shuffling around the country (especially in some big cities!), so I’m passing it along to you! Grab a cup of tea or coffee…I’ve got a lot of juicy travel tips intertwined! 

I had so many emotions on our San Francisco trip! We’d never spent much time in San Fran other than the hubs and I just passing through quickly en route to another gig so I was so looking forward to actually getting to spend a few days in such a notoriously cool city. Ya’ll, I had big plans and a list of places I wanted to see!

But I had some pretty terrible luck on our first day when my diamond fell out of my wedding band! I was really upset about it, but didn’t want our son to feel that energy. Our adventures on the road are where we actually get to spend time as a family and share some of our best memories so I certainly didn’t want it to keep us from enjoying our time together. (But believe me, I did zoom in on every picture I took and retraced my steps like a mad woman trying to find it.) This time Steve (my husband) was headlining the weekend at a club in downtown San Francisco in the financial district. Since I knew we’d be staying in the heart of the city and doing a lot of walking, I brought along a sturdy stroller.

I’ve gotten questions about what’s a good travel stroller and I can say we’ve gotten good use out of our Graco Breaze. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s compact, lightweight and inexpensive so it’s easy to travel with and I don’t mind so much if the airline throws it around. I loved the clip-in infant car seat option when Garrett was a baby and my back definitely appreciates the handles being higher than a typical umbrella stroller. I recommend traveling with a collapsible caddy with cupholders for things you want grab quickly like your phone.There’s lots of these on the market. They are super handy and hardly take up any space. This stroller passes the true test because with all the shoving, cramming and traveling it’s still holding up 2 years later.

I’m sure you’ve been on vacay and seen that family on the brink of a breakdown because they’ve tried to cram in every ride at the theme park and they’re hangry and exhausted. It’s a gift to get to experience all these cities and I want to be able to share all the best stuff with you so even though I should know better, I find myself making the same mistake. Life on the road can be exhausting if you don’t pace yourself.  I’m learning when traveling with kids it’s so much more enjoyable if you pick and choose just a few sites to hit. Instead of hitting the “best of” in each city, keep in mind your child’s age. And especially in bigger cities where you can spend lots of time in traffic, choose things near you so your time isn’t spent stuck in a car. This might mean being especially strategic about where you stay.

San Francisco offers so many amazing sites, I had a hard time choosing! But I found that focusing on places we could walk makes the experience so much more pleasant.

We actually spent our first day taking an easy morning stroll to the Ferry Building and picking up breakfast in the Ferry Marketplace. The farmers market and cuisine options at the Ferry Building are pretty top notch. You can get everything from flowers, to fresh baked bread, to mushroom gardens. On the weekends the market is massive, taking up all of the outside boardwalk as well. It’s a perfect activity for families

There were plenty of benches to eat outside while watching the Ferry boats come in -I was tempted to just hop on one and see where it took us.

Garrett preferred to feed his breakfast to the birds instead. And since I’m making an effort to let him lead the way instead of trying to hit every sight, that’s exactly what we did.

Across the street in Justin Herman Plaza local artisans had tents set up and we scooped up an adorable paper mache piggy bank decorated with comic cutouts. – I loved that it was hand made and such a fitting San Fran souvenir. I think we might have to start collecting piggy banks on our travels! Sue Bierman park is in the area too and offers a great playground that we enjoyed till nap time.

From the Financial District, Pier 39 is also within walking distance. Brace yourself for crowds, as it is a popular tourist destination even on a weekday. There’s a little something for everyone here with plenty of restaurants and sweet treat options. While you’re here, catch a glimpse of the Sea Lions that hang out on the north side of the pier. We hit up the carousel (of course!)

And we snagged a seat at an acrobatic show. The performer we saw, Orion Griffiths, was super talented and claimed to come from an actual British circus family. I was so impressed at the caliber of this street performance show. We didn’t stay here long because the crowds were a little too intense for me. But the show was definitely the highlight.

You can’t do San Francisco with a little one without getting on a trolley, so we got up early to catch one from Union Square (more on the amazing shopping here later)  to Fisherman’s Wharf. Some tips for the trolley: have cash, a compact stroller and go early because they get super crowded.

People say avoid Fisherman’s Wharf, but I’m glad we didn’t listen!

We grabbed coffee and a bite at Boudin Bakery and strolled Jefferson Street to Hyde Street Pier stopping to look at lobsters in tanks that would soon be in sandwiches. There’s tons to see and since we did it first thing in the morning it was a super pleasant stroll.

Hyde St Pier is home of the San Francisco Maritime Museum -the only National Park on water. We practically had the whole place to ourselves.

Garrett enjoyed running through and climbing the collection of ships. You can also get a good view of Alcatraz from the deck of the ferry ship. If your kiddo can sit still long enough, they also have a great tour here around noon. And if you’re brave enough to dip your toes in the cold water, there is a small beach here perfect for a quick dip.

San Francisco is a city full of great food. The competition in the city is so fierce almost every restaurant is pretty great. Someone recommended we try Scoma’s for lunch. It’s just off the main strip but right by all the fishing boats. It’s a white table cloth kind of restaurant, but still had a great kids menu and we’re happy to have us with our little guy. I love when you find a nice restaurant that still feels welcoming to a family. Scoma’s has awesome views and you can even peek in the windows of their fish cleaning station right across the street. We had to call it after lunch, as our little guy needed to get back for naptime, but if you’ve got bigger kiddos who can hang longer the Musique Menifee, an old style arcade is nearby..

Some cities like NYC knock the big public parks out of the ball park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is another one. There’s so much you can do and see in the park including the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden. We ended up taking a cab, which from our hotel in the financial district with city traffic was pretty pricey. But we spent the afternoon on the carousel (yes, another one!) and the playground here is large and perfect for kids of all ages.

When Garrett got bored of the playground we strolled to the Botanical Gardens and ran around the grounds here.

I wish I could share with you more wonderful restaurants in San Fran, but truth is most of our days end with dinner in the green room, squeezing in more time with Dad at the comedy club before he starts work. Our kid doesn’t have a set routine, he doesn’t sleep well in his own bed, and potty training while traveling is a challenge (this trip Little Man pooped while sitting in my lap at dinner with work friends), but if it’s a choice between splitting up the circus or keeping us all together, for me moments like these make it pretty obvious.

A couple more tips when doing San Francisco.

It’s chilly pretty much all year long except for September. Even in July fireplaces are still being used Crazy, I know! Depending on what time of year you go, you’ll need a heavier layer. But even in the summer you’ll still need to pack a little something. –or don’t and go shopping in Union Square! Tons of great stores in the area – including a great big Macy’s!

Also, I know some people think the big city red bus tours are obnoxiously touristy, but I say, don’t judge! If you’ve got kiddos in car seats, and you’re visiting a big city it’s a great way to see a bunch of places without spending a ton on cabs. Many of them allow you to hop on and off at your own pace. If you decide to go this route, check Groupon or Living Social ahead of time for discounted tickets.  There are some amazing sites we passed up on because we didn’t want to make the trek in a cab and a city bus tour might have made it more manageable with our little guy. So definitely worth considering.

Despite losing my ring, we still got out and enjoyed the San Francisco sites. It’s an incredible place, and there is still so much we didn’t see this time around, like the Bay Area Discovery Museum. I’m looking forward to hitting San Diego which is one of my favorite cities that I think does a stellar job of catering to families. Until then, you can follow #ourtravelingcircus on Instagram!

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Travel: NYC with Kids

Hi, I’m back again with some tips on one of America’s greatest cities: New York City. We even got to explore a bit of upstate New York, so I’m giving you a taste of each and loading you up with helpful info. New York can be a tricky one, so hit me up with any questions.

I LOVE Manhattan. I moved there when I was 17 for college and I’ll snag any opportunity to go back. My NYU roommates are starting families and I love getting our kids together and seeing how we’re creative humans choosing to take on motherhood in different ways. It’s inspiring!

I’ve done New York twice with my traveling tot. Last year when he was 9 months and again at almost 2 and I can tell you that New York is not for the faint of heart.

If your family is looking for a chill, relaxing vacation, stay away from Manhattan! But, if you love the fast paced energy of a big city and you think your kids inherited that gene, then go for it!   New York is the adult version of Disneyland. It’s the Las Vegas strip on steroids minus the casinos, but with the best of everything at your finger tips. With that being said, its gonna cost you a pretty penny to play on this playground. Prepare and surrender yourself to that and you’ll enjoy yourself so much more. I constantly have to remind my hubs of this one! (Or read Kara’s post about how to do NYC in 1 day on a budget… otherwise plan to splurge a bit!)

Ideally we really try and pack efficiently on our NYC trips. A small suitcase & the super lightweight umbrella stroller.

Caption: See, I told you we’re efficient packers. –yeah right! The gray backpack with wheels is for the carseat (highly recommend if you are an avid traveler) and the cammo bag is loaded with Capt. Evil shirts Steve sells after his shows. And I obviously need a massive suitcase for potential shopping expeditions!

Quick TIP: if you’ve got a little one, always travel with a thin blanket rolled up in your bag. In NYC it’s great to block out over stimulation for stroller naps and nice to have handy for a diaper change emergency because bathrooms are hard to come by.  If your little one is still content to let you wear them, a baby backpack is definitely the easiest way to get around. As an added bonus, I think I sweat out five pounds walking around with my little guy strapped to me the 1st time.

Both times we’ve done NYC as a family it’s been in the sweltering heat of the summer!

There is tons to do and public transportation can get you anywhere, but the subway is insanely hot and you are walking everywhere in some intense humidity, a sweaty mess lugging around all the crap you need for a toddler. I have no idea how NYC bloggers get beautiful photos of themselves and their families, because I’m pretty much a stinky hot mess the whole time! So my suggestions is go in the spring or fall if you can.

If you are up for the adventure, it’s an amazing city to explore and Central Park offers something for everyone. It’s home to the Central Park Zoo, several children’s playgrounds, rowboat rentals and horse drawn carriage rides. Central Park is huge so decide on what attractions you most want to hit and know where you are going (Google maps helps and if you’re walking, put it on walk mode). Our plan was to take Garrett for his first carousel ride. We caught a cab to the park, but got dropped off in the entirely wrong place and found ourselves walking for an hour, before we came to the Victorian Gardens Amusement Park. It’s a great option for preschoolers with smaller rides, but not the original carousel we were looking for.

When we finally found it we were soaked in sweat, but both agreed the expressions on Garrett’s face made it totally worth it. It started our love affair with carousels all over the country.  While your here you can check out Heckscher Playground and the zoo is close by too. We ended up using all our time trying to find the carousel!

It’s also fun sailing the remote controlled boats at Conservatory Water and grabbing a bite in the nearby boathouse cafe. If your child has a longer attention span, but you are not quite sure they are ready for a broadway show, try a puppet show at the Marionette Theater located in the Swedish Cottage. They offer affordably priced shows daily during the summer.

And if your family loves carousels as much as mine, by far one of the coolest I’ve ever come across is the Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park. It’s a work of art. My pictures don’t do it justice, but if your littles can stay up past dark, it’s magical. It’s definitely a New York site I’d hit again.

While you are hanging around Battery Park you can catch the Staten Island ferry. Insider TIP: it’s FREE and will get you a close view of the Statue of Liberty without the hefty tour boat price tag.

This time around, I wanted Garrett to be able to run around and explore but we needed to keep cool too. So he headed to Hudson River Park’s Pier 25. It’s got water, sand, swings and plenty to climb all gated in Tribeca. I also think I spotted some model moms here!

I’m always up for a children’s museum, so we had to hit Manhattan’s. I’ve gotten spoiled, getting to visit children’s museums all over the country and I had high expectations for this one. It’s good, but we visited on a rainy day so it was packed and I found the 5 floors with long elevator lines made scoping everything out a little trickier.  In my opinion the appeal of this museum is that it’s in the Upper West Side, which is a fabulous neighborhood to stroll. Within blocks of the museum you can have any kind of food your heart desires from Indian, to Thai, to Chinese, to Poke, to Ramen. You can even grab a sweet treat at Treat House and make a full afternoon of it.

No matter what age your children are, car seat or not, if you are sticking to the NYC metro area I’m going to strongly recommend NOT renting a car. Let me explain:

Rental Cars in NYC are way more expensive than lots of other cities. We rented a car because we would be traveling between Manhattan and Steve’s gigs in West Nyack. But the convenience of having a car is stressful. You are fighting traffic, street parking is often an issue, and garages are ridiculously expensive. And part of the New York City experience is taking public transportation.

You don’t need a car seat on subways, buses, cabs or most Ubers, depending on the driver’s discretion. If you’re traveling super light, there is even a train from the airport where you can then transfer to the subway to get to where your staying. That being said, a cab is pricier, but exponentially easier. I’d cab it to your landing pad, and then use the metro or a ride share app to avoid higher cab fair while your exploring.

A couple of Insider Tips here:  

Uber is usually nicer and less expensive than a cab and has replaced most cabs. But Via is a great option if you don’t mind sharing your ride. Rides in Manhattan anywhere south of 125th St will cost you $5 plus an additional fee per +1. The app just tells you what street corner near you to meet your driver. If your traveling on a budget, but want to avoid the sweltering heat of the subway or just prefer to experience the city above ground, this is an option worth considering.  

If you do decide to take a car into Manhattan, parking apps like ParkWhiz and SpotHero are super helpful in finding the best price near your destination. You can even reserve and pre-pay for your spot. All of these apps are constantly changing their pricing and technology, so do a little research to figure out which is best at the time of your trip.

 I’m obviously a strong proponent for family travel and taking your kids everywhere, but for me New York was easier when we could just strap Garrett to our stomach and didn’t have to worry about him darting into NYC traffic. At almost two, he’s too little to handle all the walking and too heavy to be carrying like a Sultan in his stroller up and down subway steps. He’s also not quite old enough to appreciate the amazing things NYC has to offer like the the Statue of Liberty or sit through a broadway show. -If he did, I’m dying to take him to the Gazillion Bubble Show! (Score discounted tickets at TKTS or TodayTix).

So we choose to spend a couple of days in Manhattan, then head to West Nyack for Steve’s shows in the countries 2nd largest shopping mall –You know I wasn’t gonna pass that up!

If you are an East Coaster, West Nyack is a great staycation that feels like a world away from NYC and it’s just a 45 minute drive. It’s lined with huge green trees, gorgeous old victorian coastal homes, and offers cool views of the Hudson River.

The comedy club is located in the massive Palisades Center which in addition to offering all the shopping my heart desires, it offers so much to keep families entertained. It houses a movie theater, a bowling alley, a go-cart race track, a carousel and there is even a ropes course in the mall that is noted as the world’s tallest but still offers a mommy and me ropes course for the younger set. My son’s absolute favorite was Billy Beez. This place is the Taj Mahal of indoor play spaces. We spent A LOT of time here before showtime. I know some folks find indoor play spaces kinda repulsive, but this one is pretty rad even for the naysayers. It has trampolines, slides galore, a sports court, and multiple spaces designated for the little ones.  

Of course, I couldn’t only show my child the inside of a shopping mall. (Or could I?)  We did a lot of swimming in the hotel pool and ventured out to explore quaint downtown Nyack and the playground in Village of Nyack Memorial Park. The playground here has sweet log cabins and super high slides. There’s also a water play area and skate park. From here you’re a stroll to Main St. lined with boutiques & restaurants.

If your kids are up for a hike, Nyack Beach State Park is great. While it’s not the most ideal beach to get in the water, it does offer a 2 mile riverfront pathway that takes you to the base of Hook Mountain and offers cool views. It’s a lovely spot for a picnic and you can fish here.

We’d planned to return to Manhattan for a few days before hopping on a plane, but we were already feeling like the city had kinda chewed us up and spit out. We were tired, it was really hot, and the hubs really needed some down time before his next gig. So with 2 days off and a car to get us anywhere, we packed our bags and hit the road. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post!

Continue following our traveling circus on Instagram too!

 

Teaching Kids How To Save

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Greenlight, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #GreenPMG  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Hello and Happy Friday, friends! We are really looking forward to the weekend and the weather cooling off. Of course only slightly, as Arizona is still pretty warm up until October or November. Either way we are celebrating temps that are below 100* with a trip to the farmer’s market. It’s one of our favorite weekend activities to do in the fall. This trip is a little more exciting for my daughter, as she will be using her very own debit card for the very first time, Greenlight, the smart debit card for kids. Talk about milestone! So today I thought I’d share some tips for Teaching Kids How To Save money.

If you’ve been around here before or follow me on social media, you probably know that we homeschool. We often incorporate learning into all facets of our daily life and often times we incorporate important life skills to make learning more relevant. For example, we are learning about spending and saving money for math. My daughter (age 9) has been learning about money, earning money, saving money, and spending money for the past 4 years. We started out with piggy banks and have advanced to Greenlight debit card to make it more relevant to her growth and development. 

Here are my top 4 tips or teaching young kids how to save money:

1) Talk about money with your children in regular everyday environments.

This tip encompasses a lot. I often talk to my daughter about money when we are in stores grocery shopping, when I am paying our monthly bills, and when I am taking a trip to the bank to deposit money. Because I am a work at home mom and because our family owns and operates a couple of different businesses, my daughter sees us working and earning/saving/spending money. We have open dialogues about all of these things and it gives her the opportunity to have real life experiences as well as ask questions. 

2) Talk about and model the importance of saving money and ways of doing so.

As I stated, we have been teaching this and expanding on the concept of saving money with my daughter for several years. We will continue to do so as she grows up. Greenlight debit card is a great option for kids! It’s not only exciting for kids, but Greenlight provides extra control and convenience for busy parents who don’t want to miss out on teachable moments. Plus, what child doesn’t want a plastic card like their parents?! 

3) Create opportunities for your child to earn, save, and spend their own money.

Once you have talked about and modeled money usage, it’s important to allow your children to participate in it too. Because we are a family of entrepreneurs, my daughter has participated in a couple of handmade craft fairs where she creates and sells her own products. She uses her own money to purchase the materials and then she collects funds and stashes it away for whatever she’s saving for (currently it’s a car…yes, she’s only 9 but we are planners and dreamers, people!). 

Once she has a certain amount of money, she asks me to put it onto her Greenlight card for saving. I love the convenience of Greenlight and the parental controls. I love that I can use their convenient automated allowance feature to “set it and forget it” because we all know busy moms can tend to do that. I also love that I can give my daughter independence to spend her money while I retain control over where her money is spent and how much she can spend in certain stores. For example, she is allowed to use her Greenlight card at the local craft store with a limit of $20 to spend, and I can set all that up through the Greenlight app on my phone. 

4) Teach your kids how to keep track of their money.

I think it’s important for my daughter to really be in tune with her own money… the spending and the saving. If she is hands on with it, I think it will be more meaningful to her. Therefore, I created a printable kids’ bank register where she can keep track of her deposits and withdrawals and I thought I’d share it with y’all!

Simply download the printable, print it out, cut into 3 pieces, cover with cute paper, and staple together. Go through the steps of adding and subtracting monies with your kids and remind them to use it every time they use their Greenlight card. 

I hope you find these tips useful! And I just know you are going to love the convenience and safety that Greenlight card offers to parents and kids. Be sure to download the app to your smart device (available for IOS and Android) and sign up for Greenlight before 10/30 and they will deposit a $20 bonus into your account after the 30-day free trial ends. *Deposit bonus made approximately two weeks after free trial ends.* Sounds like a good deal to me!

How do you help your kids learn about saving and spending money? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! 

Find Your Tribe + Grasshopper Point

The other day we packed up the car and headed to Sedona, Arizona, for a day trip with our homeschool group. We decided to celebrate NOT Back to School at Grasshopper Point, a shady water hole in the red rocks surrounded by big green trees and a stream. 

When I started this blog, I was a public school teacher. I taught 1st grade and 3rd grade. I LOVED teaching. About 6 years in, I decided to take a leave and stay home with my daughter and pursue some entrepreneurial dreams. When my daughter turned preschool age, I started homeschooling her and started a preschool co-op with other mommy friends. We have some of the best memories from those days. But eventually, all of our sweet friends went off to kindergarten and we needed a new plan. It was important for us to have a community. My daughter is an only child (read more about that here), and she’s extremely social and loves her friends. We tried out lots of different homeschool groups, and although we made lots of new friends, nothing felt like ‘home.’ 

Feeling discouraged and questioning my choice to homeschool, I prayed hard for an answer. Again… it was important for us to have a community… a tribe. And a few days after I broke down crying in prayer, I met my friend Mel. She was a mom of a sweet little girl in the PreK cooking class I was teaching. She mentioned that she had decided to homeschool and wanted to know if I wanted to get together weekly with our kids. Of course I agreed (you can tell a kind soul when you see one, am I right?) and soon thereafter we met a mutual friend of a friend, Nicole, and added to our group.

Now, 5 years later, we are 8 moms strong and 21 kids deep. We are all so alike, yet all so different. And each of our differences adds to our group. We collaborate, plan, laugh, educate, meditate, play, adventure, explore, share, make memories, learn, and love on each other’s kids.

I am so thankful for this tribe. They encourage me and support me. And not only am I am better homeschooler for it, I am a better mom, wife, and friend because of them. And my daughter has built some really awesome friendships and has learned a lot of really awesome things. 

I am so thankful life brought us all together… so we could travel this journey of homeschool and motherhood and celebrate milestones together. Plus, we have A TON of FUN! 

If you’re in Arizona, I highly recommend visiting Sedona. Your kids will LOVE Grasshopper Point. Be sure to bring $8 per car for parking. It’s an easy walk down to the water but there are lots of rocks and boulders so watch your step! Once down at the water, there are lots of places to have picnics, swim, hike, and explore. If you can go during the week, it’s even better because you avoid the crowds. It’s not a pet-friendly trail, so leave your furry friends at home. Be sure to bring sunscreen, towels, water shoes, and lots of H2O. And as always, don’t forget to hike out with your trash. 

Wild and Free with a LOVE for learning. Our party in nature has me pumped for another awesome school year full of new learning experiences and adventures. Luci and I are excited for fourth grade!

Are you a parent of a fourth grader or a fourth grade teacher? If so, you must check out Every Kid in a Park! It’s a program for fourth graders enabling them and encouraging them to visit national parks by making it a free and educational program! We are all signed up and can’t wait to take advantage of it. Let us know if you do too! 

Tips for the Busy Mom

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Sejoyia, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CocoRoonsAtWalmart  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

I don’t know about you, but I’m nearing my busiest time of the year. Getting ready for a move, the husband starting a new job, homeschooling a fourth grader, working from home, upcoming holidays and events approaching, plus tending to my everyday responsibilities can leave me feeling flustered and overwhelmed. I find that if I do a few key things to keep myself organized and healthy, I’m a much happier busy mom. I know I can’t be alone in this, so I thought I’d share some Tips for the Busy Mom.

Use a Day Planner or Calendar

I can’t live without my day planner. No joke. Everything from bills, work due dates, meal plans, appointments, extracurriculars, homeschool objectives, business meetings, vacations, reminders, etc goes into my planner. It holds me accountable and keeps me on track. I set aside time on Sunday evening to plan out the week. And let’s be honest, there’s no way I could remember it all and I don’t pretend to. My planner goes with me everywhere. 

Use a To Do or Check List

Again with accountability and keeping me focused and on task, a To Do List is essential for me. I make my daily To Do List each morning, or sometimes if I am really on top of my game, the night before. And I have to be honest, checking things off my To Do List is one of my favorite things ever. 

Stay Hydrated

From one coffee lover to another, I get you girl. But remember that it’s important to get in lots of H2O throughout your busy day. Not only is water intake healthy for your body, but it will also keep your energy up and help with lethargy. 

Treat Yourself

I love to snack. Almost as much as I love my child. I often snack during the day while I’m working, schooling, or running errands. So finding healthy snacks options is a must for me. One of my favorite go-to snacks is  Sejoyia Coco-Roons from Walmart. These delicious superfood cookies are organic, gluten free, vegan, non-GMO, paleo, and made without refined sugar. Plus they are made with a handful of ingredients that you know, can pronounce and provide nutritional value. I literally have zero guilt snacking on these guys and they are delicious, y’all! With both Brownie and Lemon Pie Coco-Roons, you can’t go wrong. Brownie Coco-Roons are made with the finest raw, organic cocoa and has a delicious deep, rich flavor and Lemon Pie is light and refreshing. I keep them in my purse, at my desk, and they go with us on hikes and trips. 

Are you a snacker like me? Then get your Coco-Roons on, girl, and continue to slay your day.

Take advantage of the $0.75 off ibotta offer when you purchase one Sejoyia Coco-Roons (Brownie and Lemon Pie) at Walmart on the gluten free aisle, while supplies last! Also, get an additional $.50 for redeeming the rebate on 3 different shopping trips! 

There you have it… four Tips for the Busy Mom. I hope they help you!

What gets you through your busy day? What’s your favorite healthy snack you treat yourself to?

DIY Cleansing Facial Pads

Hello Mine for the Making readers! The Oily Bee here to share more healthy, chemical free goodness with y’all this month.

One thing I can’t stand is washing my face right before bed. Can you relate? The entire process makes me not want to do it, because really I just want to get into bed. Plus, the sink gets all messy, my shirt gets soaked, and I don’t like feel like cleaning the sink right before bed! LIGHT BULB! DIY cleansing facial pads! Yes!

I’ve tried to use the store bought cleansing pads, but I haven’t found one I super like. I also don’t feel like using chemicals on my face. NO THANKS!  So I decided to make my own, chemical free cleansing pads! It’s SUPER easy my friends! Lets get started.

You’ll need:
– 4oz glass container (I got mine at Target at the dollar wheel!)
– Small squirt of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Unscented Castile Soap (you can get at any Sprouts or Whole Foods store and Amazon)
– 1 tsp unscented or (MY FAVORITE) rose Witch Hazel
– 8 drops of Young Living Frankincense Essential Oil  
– 2-3 drops of Young Living Manuka Essential Oil  
– 1/4 cup of distilled water
– 15-20 exfoliating cotton rounds (purchased mine at Target)

Directions:

Mix everything together really well in a glass measuring cup. This makes it easier to pour in your jar after.  Fill your glass jar half way with the cotton rounds and slowly pour half of the mixture on top. Then add the rest of the rounds and continue to pour the rest of the mixture onto them as well. Seal your jar and let it sit for at least one hour before using. You want the mix to really soak into the rounds.

That’s it! Now you can make your own DIY Facial Cleansing Pads in just a few easy steps. No chemicals. No mess. I love the way Frankincense and Manuka work together to make my skin feel clean! And it makes washing your face before bed quick and easy…. perfect for the busy mom!

Until next time friends, stay happy, healthy, and chemical free!

The Oily Bee

Travel: Visiting Tacoma with Kids

Hi y’all! My name is Renae and I’ll be sharing traveling tips with you monthly here at MFTM! This month I am really excited to share tips for visiting Tacoma with kids. 

When Kara asked me if I’d be interested in regularly contributing to her blog I was thrilled. Since you probably don’t know me, I’ll tell you I often call myself an un-domesticated goddess because when you look up “domesticated” in the dictionary those adjectives frighten me! But truth be told, I’m a DIY, decor loving, homemaker and recently a stay at home mom – A title that’s sometimes hard for my independent spirit to own. And the ‘home’ part isn’t completely accurate. These days we’re a bit of a traveling circus. I’m the primary caretaker for our 1 1/2 year old son and I “run our household” whether it’s in an actual home or out of a suitcase. My situation is pretty relatable, I had a job I loved at an acting school where I felt creative, inspired, and independent — and then I got pregnant. I thought I’d be able to bring the baby to work with me and when that didn’t work out as planned along with the reality of an hour commute each way and high cost of childcare, things got challenging. Our situation gets a little more unique… my husband is a nationally touring stand-up comedian. INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG HERE He’s hilariously funny with a Netflix special to prove it.  I’m actually a producer on this special, and I work for my husband too! (yes, it gets tricky, but that’s a whole other thing!) We quickly learned with him working in a different city every week, we wouldn’t have much time as a family and I would have been single parenting a lot of the time without any family near to help. Something had to give. We decided what made the most sense was for me to quit my job and the baby and I would join Steve on tour as much as possible and #ourtravelingcircus was born.

I don’t know about you mammas, but life after baby was a tough adjustment for me. I knew I had a pretty amazing opportunity to travel and spend this time with my baby and it was a blessing that we were able to do it, but I cried when I quit my job. When I was pregnant I felt like my body was taken over by an alien, and after I had him in the midst of all the hormone fluctuations I struggled to get back to being me. Work was the one place I felt like myself. Sure, an exhausted version of me. But it forced me to get dressed and I got to be creative, joke around with my co-workers, and have stimulating conversations that weren’t all about my new baby and being a mom. And when that was gone, I felt really lost.

But the last 20 months out on tour with Steve, we’ve made some pretty special family memories traveling across the country by plane, RV, & car. We took our first road trip when our son was less than 3 weeks old. -Not ideal for breastfeeding, but you manage.

And we’ve been able to catch up with friends up and down California, all over Texas, New York, Florida, Arizona and Vegas. And over time, I’ve been learning to embrace this time in my life even though its not what I imagined I’d be doing. It’s likely this won’t work for our family forever and he’s already growing so quickly so I’m trying to take every opportunity that allows me to better mom.

I’m really enjoying experiencing these cities through a child’s eyes, But Its challenging to carve out time for yourself when your sharing one room and balancing your husbands weird work hours which is not compatible with a baby’s sleep schedule. So when Kara asked me to contribute to the blog, I thought it was a great chance to take a moment for myself and get back to being creative. I figure it can only help me continue to discover who I am post baby. And I’ve got lots to share about the adventures of traveling with a little rugrat!

TACOMA
When we visit a city and where we stay is often determined by the comedy club. Lucky for me, most comedy clubs are usually located in busy city centers near nice hotels, shopping and restaurants! Tacoma didn’t disappoint.

Travel tip right off the bat here. Tacoma came at the end of a 2 week run for us, so we thought it would be easier not to drag around a car seat. Wrong! Renting one cost us $10 a day. So we ended up paying almost as much for the seat as we did the rental car. If you’ve got a big drawstring bag from your dry cleaner, just toss the seat in it and check it for free with your luggage.

We stayed at Hotel Murano in downtown Tacoma which has lots of cool glass art from the Museum of Glass down the street and the hotel restaurant was great too. Downtown Tacoma offers so much to explore within stroller walking distance. There are some hills, so in it’s worth traveling with a stroller that has some storage as opposed to a little umbrella stroller for this trip. Tacoma is beautiful and green and the cherry blossoms were in bloom when we visited. It didn’t rain, so we were able to go out and explore a lot.

If your little one is an early riser there is a Starbucks close by and the University of Washington has a bookstore attached with a quaint little kids area. We hung out there waiting for the museum to open so I could get my coffee fix and Dad could sneak in a little more sleep.

Our traveling circus has frequented several children’s museums and Tacoma has been one of our son’s favorite. It’s not the biggest, but it’s got plenty to keep kids entertained including a water play area and a really cool plane jungle gym structure to climb all over. We found ourselves strolling there one morning and then back again at the end of the day because he loved it so much.

You’ll have to get in the car and drive, but Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has been one of my favorite places to visit in Tacoma too. It’s one of the prettier zoos I’ve been to with interactive exhibits and a nice big playground. Point Defiance isn’t huge, and a lot of the animals were away sleeping, but we saw peacocks roaming and beautiful lions. I’m a fan of the zoo/aquarium combo. Plenty of grassy spaces too if you wanted to lay out a blanket and pack a lunch.

It’s a beautiful drive over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Gig Harbor to have a seaside lunch. We spent a relaxing afternoon doing some eating, bird watching and shopping.

And there is still so much more to do in the downtown area! We ran out of time so the Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum are on our list for next time. I loved Tacoma and hope we’re able to go back. It was one of the easier cities to adventure around with a tot and I totally recommend it.

Traveling Take-Aways:

  • Check in your carseat and use a large, drawstring laundry bag.
  • Stroller with storage room.
  • Check out the bookstores, museums, zoos, and parks in the city you’re visiting.

You can follow #ourtravelingcircus on my Instagram! I’ll be back next month with more traveling tips for you!

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Tips for Taking Kids Fishing

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PrepFreeProtein #CollectiveBias

Hi there makers! We had a great Memorial weekend as a family camping and fishing. My husband took my daughter fishing for the first time and she really enjoyed it. The place we camped at in our RV had a great catch and release pond for her to practice. While we were there, we came up with some great tips for taking kids fishing and thought we’d share with all of you!

1. Prepare your kids. Let them know that fishing takes time and patience. These are great lessons to learn as a child… and even as an adult (I speak for myself of course!). 

2. Get a good starter fishing pole (we got ours at Walmart for $8), bait, hooks, and bobbers. 

3. Bring water! You’ll be at the pond, lake, or river for a bit, so be sure to stay hydrated. 

4. Bring your phone or camera so you can take a picture of the fish you catch! You’ll want to remember your kid’s first catch and so will they. 

5. Pack snacks to bring with you, and preferably with protein. Lorissa’s Kitchen is our go-to when we are camping, hiking, road tripping, or standing in our favorite theme parks’ lines.

Because it’s prep-free, it’s so convenient to throw it into a fanny pack, backpack, or tote. Our favorite flavors are Korean Barbecue Beef and Sweet Chili Pork, but all of them are so delicious. Lorissa’s Kitchen is high in protein, low in carbs, low in fat, has no MSG, no preservatives and is gluten free. It’s a great on-the-go snack to have on hand. We buy ours from our local Kroger store in the snack aisle. 

You can save $1.00 off any Lorissa’s Kitchen product (2.25 oz.) with this coupon from June 1st – August 29th, 2017. There will be a one-day in-store sampling event mid-June at Ralph’s, Fred Meyer, and QFC stores on Friday, June 16th – Sunday, June 19th, 2017. 

Check out Lorissa’s Kitchen on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/YouTube too.  

 

Have you taken your kids fishing? What tips do you have to add to our list and what’s your favorite snack to bring along?

Once Upon a SNAP Conference

Once upon a SNAP Conference, there was a crafty mom who took a break from normal, everyday life and got on a plane to Salt Lake City, Utah, to learn and grow and create and to see some of her dearest friends from across the country. 

This crafty mom loves attending SNAP Conference every year and she swears it just gets better and better.

 

From the brands (I won a Silhouette Cameo!)…

To the awesome sponsor rooms (I met the number one LEGO master builder in the world!)…

To the fantastic classes (I stepped out of my comfort zone and sewed!) and speakers (as always, not a dry eye during Heidi Swapp’s talk)…

And everything in between like cocktail parties, unicorn dance parties, swag, chocolates, Swig drinks and cookies, and fantastic friendships…old and new! And I don’t know if y’all heard but… I have the best roomies ever. Viv and Bev (we missed you Michele!) make the experience even better… and oh the laughs!

After the conference was over, this crafty mom flew back home to Arizona totally rejuvenated to her family and lived happily ever after… until next year’s SNAP Conference! Now it’s time to crush goals!

 To see even more of SNAP Conference and to hear about my full experience, check out my video. 

SNAP Conference is my one guaranteed getaway each year where I can unwind and refresh all while learning and bonding and creating amazing relationships to further grow myself and my blog. Thank you to Tauni for creating a conference specifically for creative minds like me. I’m so grateful for the blogging community and the continued adventure it has me on. 

 

Tips for a Chemical-Free Clean Home

This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Please refer to the policy page.

Hey there Mine for the Making readers! Bernice here from The Oily Bee, and I want to share something pretty awesome with you. I’m all about cleaning out the chemicals in your home. A healthy home=healthy life. So today I’m going to share tips for a chemical-free, clean home.

Do me a HUGE favor. Download this free app. It’s called Think Dirty. Its FREE, and opens up your eyes! Ever wonder what exactly is in the everyday products you use? From shampoo, to dish soap, to your deodorant! Holy smokes, it’s actually kind of, well, really crazy. Even most of your “all natural” products contain high levels of toxins. So what in the world do we do??

It feels like a losing battle sometimes when we have companies feeding us lies in order to sell a product. Well I have some simple solutions! It doesn’t take much to start changing out some of the products you are using in your home I’m going to give you my ultimate favorite product I use in my home, that does not require you to spend an arm and a leg! Are you ready?

My favorite cleaner in the world… Theives cleaner and I get mine from Young Living.   

For years I have been using other cleaning products, and even attempted to use the “natural” labeled cleaners. This is where the app came in handy- Think Dirty rates products from 1-10. 1 being non-toxic, and 10 being toxic. Many of the natural products showed as being 8 or 9, so I decided that I needed to find something out there that would replace my original household cleaner, but also able to clean the germs. Try it out on your cleaners at home!

Thieves cleaner has been in our home for over 2 years now. I use it for ALL of my surfaces. Mopping the floors, cleaning my granite counters, stainless steal appliances, mirrors, and I use it in my bathrooms. #winning! One, safe cleaner for all of that! 

It is a 14.4 fl oz bottle, and one bottle of Thieves cleaner has last me a little over a year. Why and how does it last so long? Well, it’s because it is so concentrated and a little goes a long, LONG way. Now, how do I mix it? It’s super simple. The recommended ratios are also posted on the bottle, but what I do is get a spray bottle, fill it to about 32 oz of distilled water, and then add your capful size of Thieves cleaner! There ya go! Throw out that old cleaner, because this one is about to rock your socks off!!

Some questions you might be asking yourself…is it kid safe? pet safe? safe to use when pregnant? YES to all! I have a pup, I have a 3 year old boy, and I’m pregnant with baby number 2. I’ve never felt so safe and good about using this cleaner around my home.

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It’s the easiest and most effective household cleaner I have ever used. I can clean my home safely and efficiently. Having that control over what you use in your home is a beautiful feeling!

Thank you all for stopping by! I look forward to sharing more healthy living tips with you.

Bernice Parker, The Oily Bee

Follow me on Instagram for more healthy tips!