Books We Are Reading This Week – September 23, 2015

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Welcome back to another look at what we are reading this week! We were out of town the last half of last week and didn’t have a chance to get to the library so we have turned to our own books this week for story time and am looking forward to sharing some more of our favorites with you.

We really enjoy The Barefoot Book of Pirates by Richard Walker. This is a great collection of pirate stories from around the world. There are stories from Germany, Ireland and Japan just to name a few. They are full of swashbuckling adventure and my two pirate lovers loved reading these stories (I don’t think Soph has paid so much attention to a story in a long time but even with Jack jumping all over her while Dad was reading she was laser focused on the story). Kids will meet everyone from fierce characters to friendly and funny ones. These classic stories were specifically written for a younger audience and are perfect for reading aloud.

Gearing up for Halloween we pulled out Tales of Mystery and Magic. This is another collection of seven stories from around the world. There are Indian, Chilean, Inuit, Seneca, Scottish, Russian and West African stories included in this anthology of all things mysterious and spooky. I love this book because it is a safe way to introduce spooky stories to younger kids. I will say though that you need to know your kids for this one. If you have a child that is easily frightened I might hold off on this one, but it is a great way to open up a dialog about things that kids might find frightening.

The Real Princess: A Mathmagical Tale is one of my favorite books to read to the kids. It takes the classic “The Princess and the Pea” and adds a little math twist to it. The King, Queen and their three sons are in search of The “Real” Princess but there is a little secret that only the queen knows. This is another fun one we love rereading. There is also a fun little game in the back of the book that can test counting skills.

I am a big fan of the Ruby series and Ruby’s School Walk is no exception. Ruby is a young girl with quite the imagination! She imagines all sorts of trouble and scary things on her walk to school each day. Everything from a tiger ready to pounce to all sorts of creatures lurking in the shadows. It is a great way to start a conversation about being brave and overcoming your fears.

Star Seeker: A Journey to Outer Space is my favorite book that we read this week. I have always been a fan of space and this is a beautifully illustrated book that uses poetic rhyming text to give an introduction to outer space. We follow two children on a wonderful journey through the stars and planets. I especially love the end notes included in this book that have great facts about constellations, planets and many other things that can be found in space.

So those are the books we are reading this week. What are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter and Facebook.

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: I am an Independent Barefoot Books Ambassador and would make a commission on any books sold through the links in this post. 

It’s Fall!!!

Image courtesy of Dundee Photographics at

Image courtesy of Dundee Photographics at

I had mentioned in a previous post that I LOVE Fall (you can find said post right here)!! I love everything about it and seeing as it is Friday I thought I would round-up some of my favorite Fall activities, books and recipes to help you jump-start your weekend.

I love these great Leaf Lacing cards from Gift of Curiosity. Lacing cards are so great for developing fine motor skills and with the help of a laminator, hole punch and some yarn they are a super easy activity to put together for the kids.

I am a HUGE fan of pretty much anything 1+1+1=1 puts out! She is amazing! But for Fall I am loving these Fall Leaves and Trees Coloring Printables. Soph is on a major coloring kick right now so to have these for her to color and hang up have been great!

I am so grateful to The Measured Mom for the amazing Emergent Readers that she shares for FREE on her site. They are amazing and I love reading them with the kids. Her newest set is perfect for Fall and I am sure we will be reading these MANY, MANY times!

I loved doing leaf rubbings as a kid. There is just something about that instant picture that you get that I loved. I found a great tutorial over at Edventures with Kids that also has some great book recommendations and examples of using the leaf rubbings as a way to teach your kids about the different parts of a leaf!

Buggy and Buddy has a great Moon Journal printable to help the kiddos chart the many phases of the moon (I can’t help but think that I Took the Moon for a Walk would be a great tie in to this activity). This journal is such a fun way to introduce the kids to phases of the moon.

I also really love the Fall Bucket List of sorts over at Edventures with Kids with 40 great activities to do as a family this Fall! We are planning on checking off as many as we can.

Image courtesy of num_skyman at

Image courtesy of num_skyman at

Now let’s talk books, here are a few of my favorite Fall books:

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt

Leaf Man

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Let It Fall

Lastly, let’s talk about my favorite subject: FOOD!! Here are some of my favorite Fall inspired recipes (you will notice quite a few desserts, what can I say I like my dessert!)

I am pretty sure you can’t go wrong with Rice Krispie Treats and these ones from Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke are no exception and perfect for Fall.

The Best Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Averie Cooks are truly amazing and pretty easy to make as far as cinnamon rolls go.

This recipe for Apple Cinnamon Pancakes from Six Sisters Stuff are a great way to use up some of the apples you picked up at the apple orchard and makes for a perfect breakfast on a nice, crisp Fall morning.

Pumpkin + Cheesecake + Snickerdoodle! There is nothing wrong with those three words together, as a matter of fact I can’t think of anything better. You have to try these Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles from The Recipe Critic they are seriously AMAZING!

I love this recipe for Easy 15-Minute Maple Bars over at Butter with a Slice of Bread. These are so good and a great start to a Fall day!

Last but certainly not least you have to try these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Frosting from I Heart Naptime. You want to talk about Fall, I don’t think it gets much more Fall than this!

What fun things are you doing to celebrate the beginning of Fall? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook or Twitter!

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Books We Are Reading This Week – September 16, 2015

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Welcome back to another look at some of the great books we are reading this week. Hopefully you will find a few titles here that you can share with your family!

First up is Wingsby Christopher Myers, this is a beautiful story about a boy in a new school named Ikarus who is taunted for having wings. He decides to exile himself and a young girl goes on a search to find him. This story offers a great lesson to little ones on acceptance and individualism. This is a lesson I try to share with my children as much as possible and we really enjoyed sharing this story.

Secret Pizza Partyis the cute story of a raccoon who LOVES pizza (who doesn’t!). He spends most of his time outside a local pizza place much to the pizza man’s dismay. Raccoon devises a clever plan to have his own secret pizza party. Things don’t go exactly as planned and we get to follow Raccoon along on his adventure to have some yummy pizza! My pizza loving kids really liked this book!

Where’s the Pair?is a beautifully illustrated seek-and-find book filled with all sorts of animals and encourages kids to find the matching pair on each spread. There’s a good mix of difficulty levels that made it fun for both Soph & Jack. It also has great rhyming text that flows nicely and uses great vocabulary. We really had a great time with this book.

Silly Sallyis a cute, fun, short book all about being silly! We follow along as Sally walks through town (not quite in the way you might think). I love that is shows that it’s OK to be silly sometimes! It has great watercolor illustrations that made the kids laugh! It has a great rhythm to it that makes it a great read-aloud.

Finally, Rocks! Rocks! Rocks!is a great book about Buddy who loves collecting and examining rocks. His mother suggests that they head out to their local nature center. They meet up with a Ranger who teaches Buddy all about rocks. As a mom with a three-year-old who loves to collect rocks we really enjoyed the illustrations and learning all about rocks!

That’s all I have for this week. Please comment below, on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you are reading this week!

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Get Fit Journey Step 3 (Workouts)


If you have been following along on my journey that has led me to lose 100 pounds in a year we started out by talking about why I wanted to get fit, how I was going to measure my progress, and how I changed my eating habits. Next up I wanted to talk about some of the workouts that I have added to my daily routine.

I will state again that I am obviously not a doctor and what works for me may not necessarily work for you but I have truly fallen in love with the “programs” I have found and want to share them with you.

Let me start out by saying that when doing my research on the exercise portion of my journey I became VERY discouraged very quickly. I kept reading the same thing over and over: If you want to lose a significant amount of weight you have to work out for 60 minutes most days of the week. That one sentence alone kept me from moving forward for a long time. I am a mom of two young children and work a full-time job with a 45 minute commute each way. Where in the world was I going to find a 60 minute chunk of time for my self (I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself!)? To make things even more difficult I had promised myself that I wouldn’t take more time away from my kids. I don’t have enough time with them as it is so I wasn’t willing to lose even more of it. This all became very overwhelming for me and I started to think that this was too much, I couldn’t do this.

Then I started coming across some articles (like this one from SparkPeople) that explained that yes, 60 minutes a day, most days of the week is what you need BUT it can be done in several chunks as small at 10 minutes! This made things seem a little more possible. I knew I was in no shape to head straight into 60 minutes a day but this gave me somewhere to start.

So I started with 20 minutes a day. I work at a desk all day and had gotten in the habit of sitting at my desk until lunch, walking the 50 feet to the lunch room and sitting on my butt again until lunch was over and then head back to my desk and sit back down for the rest of the day. So, I decided to start taking walks on my lunch break. This was a way for me to ease into exercise and I didn’t have to take time away from my family. I found a great public trail not too far from my office and started heading there three days a week. As the weather started to change I knew that Wisconsin winter weather was not conducive to an outdoor walk on lunch so I decided to sign up at a local gym for $10 a month and use the treadmill on the days that I would have gone for my walk. I figured while I was at it I would try my hand a “running”. I downloaded the C25K app and successfully used that app to run my first 5K in March! I have since moved on to the 10KRunner app and am on track to run my first 10K in two weeks!

After about a month I was ready to add a little more. I got a text from one of my girlfriends one day that knew that I was trying to live healthier that she had found a workout that she thought I would really enjoy (I have the most amazing and supportive friends and coworkers a girl could ask for, but we will talk about that later!) and she thought I should give it a try!

This was when Briana Christine, the Bikini Body Mommy entered my life! Briana is known for her 90 day challenges. This was exactly the type of workout I needed and it continues to be a favorite of mine. I never miss a day (who would have ever thought I would look forward to working out?)! I love Bikini Body Mommy for so many reasons the first of which, it’s FREE (she has added a members only platform with bonus material that I have since joined but the 90 day challenges are free and amazing)!! Second, I don’t have to think about it. I wake up in the morning and open up my email and the workout for that day is there waiting for me. Third, It is truly for EVERYBODY!! Every age, shape, fitness level, everyone can do this. Why, because you can go at your own pace. Bikini Body Mommy workouts are done in a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) format, which basically means you work really, really hard for a specified amount of time and then take a break and keep repeating that pattern for the workout. This really allowed me to not pay so much attention to whether or not I could do as many reps as Briana but I could do what I could do. One of the things I love most about this program is Briana’s encouragement to keep track of your scores for each exercise. This was a great way for me to check in and see how much I was improving with each workout. In the beginning I don’t think I could do jumping jacks for 20 seconds forget about the minute that she wanted me to do them. Fast forward and now not only can I do them for the full minute but I make an effort to beat my previous score. While all these things are great the number one thing I love about Bikini Body Mommy is that IT IS REAL!! I turn on my computer and I see someone I can relate to. I see the kids running around, I see that some workouts are better than others, I see her struggle sometimes just like me.

All of the Bikini Body Mommy workouts are around 20 minutes long so I decided that I could take 20 minutes before I went to bed to eek out a workout so now I was up to 40 minutes a day and didn’t have to take any time away from my children. Now I just needed my last 20 minutes. Enter the 4:30 a.m. wake up call!! Yep that’s right! A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!

About 4 months into my journey I discovered Blogilates! I have switched things around these days and hang out with Bikini Body Mommy in the morning and Cassey over at Blogilates at night before bed. She posts a playlist of videos on YouTube everyday (again it’s super easy which I like) focusing on a different area of the body and the playlist usually takes 45 minutesish to complete and they will kick your butt in the best way!! She offers two beginner calendars (which I highly recommend) as well as her monthly workout calendar. The playlist is made up of several videos ranging from 3 minutes long to about 30 minutes long so it was very easy for me in the beginning to pick a few to get to my 20 minutes and just do those. I have since fallen in love with these workouts and now do the full playlist everyday! I love Cassey upbeat personality, she is so positive and pushes you in a really good way! You will be burning and you will be sore the next day but you will LOVE it!!

As I said before these are what I have found works for me. I am a firm believer that when it comes to working out you have to find something that you like to do. If something gets boring try something else and don’t be afraid to try new things!

What are some of your favorite workouts? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

Books We Are Reading This Week – September 9, 2015

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Welcome back!! I have 5 fantastic books to share with you this week. Hopefully you will find a few that your family will really enjoy.

I Dare You Not to Yawn is a very funny book structured as an instruction manual to help kids avoid being sent to bed early by their parents. There are lots of sound effects throughout the story which make it a great read aloud bedtime story. As a mom with two kids that have become increasingly anti-beditme this really hit home!

Dinosaur Rescue! is a beautiful picture book about the Dinosaur Rescue Team coming to the aid of a pickup truck that gets stuck on some railroad tracks. We see all the dinosaurs working together to make sure everyone is safe. Once all is right in their little dino world we get to see how they rest and play. There are also a ton of fun sound effects in this story and great end notes featuring the names of the dinosaurs and vehicles in the story.

The Story about Pingis the sweet story of Ping the duck who sets out for the day with his family on a boat and ends up getting left behind. We follow Ping as he sets out to find his family. Along the way he makes quite a few friends and finds his share of trouble. This book is another beautifully illustrated book perfect for reading aloud as a family.

The Seals on the Busis a fantastic take on the classic “Wheels on the Bus”! It is a great sing-along that is perfect for little animal lovers. My kids love anything that they can sing and dance along with and this was no exception. The bus is full of all kinds of animals and we honk, roar, eerp and so much more along with them on the bus.

Greenby Anita Loughrey is a great book to help little ones learn all about the color green. Anita Loughrey was a school teacher for 17 years before becoming a full-time writer. She has taken her knowledge from her many years teaching young children and mixed it with beautiful, bright and bold illustrations to help very young children start to understand the concept of the color green.

That’s it for this week! Please let me know below what you are reading this week or find me over on Facebook or Twitter!

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

Apples, Apples Everywhere!!

Apple Tree

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at

I LOVE Fall! It is by far my favorite season. I love the colors, the temperature, the fashion, I love it all! In our family we signal the start of Fall with a trip to the apple orchard. So in honor of our upcoming trip to the apple orchard I thought I would share with you a few of the fun apple activities we have planned to help us get geared up for the trip!

We are huge fans of Do-a-Dot Sheets at our house. They are great for using Dot Markers (which the kids love) or using stickers which are always a big hit. I love the ones I found in the A is for Apple Preschool Worksheets over at Crystal & Co.

I love the pattern template and cards found in A Teaching Mommy’s Apple Preschool Pack.

Since we have been all about the play dough lately we will be trying this homemade apple scented play dough recipe I found when visiting The Preschool Toolbox.

I love some good messy fun so I am super excited to pull out the paints and cinnamon and do some painting. I found this idea over at From ABCs to ACTs.

I am so excited to try the Erupting Apple experiment I found over at Little Bins for Little Hands! Everything you need for this fun example of a chemical reaction can probably be found in your home. It’s super simple, fun and easy to put together!

I love these Apple Number Puzzles from Totschooling. They are a super clever and cute way to work on counting, number recognition, and one-to-one correspondence.

Apple Stamping is a super easy and fun way to really spice up painting time. I found this idea over at Teaching Mama. The kids have such a good time using unconventional tools to paint! They love to paint anyway but when we can use something unique and that we already have around the house it is even better!


Image courtesy of tuelekza at

If you are looking for some great books that go with all things apples here are a few of our favorites:

Ten Apples Up On Top!

Apples for Everyone

Apple Farmer Annie

How Do Apples Grow?

Johnny Appleseed


I would love to know if you give any of these ideas a try! Let me know below or comment over on Facebook or Twitter!

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Books We Are Reading This Week – September 2, 2015

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Happy Wednesday!! Welcome back to another look at some of the books we have enjoyed this past week.

The Moon Book is a great non-fiction book that has a ton of information written at a first to second grade level all about the moon. I love introducing higher level non-fiction books to my kids. I am sure they don’t pick up on and understand all the information but building a foundation for these concepts is really important to my family. In this book we learn all about the phases of the moon, the moon’s role in Solar and Lunar eclipses, it’s effects on the world’s oceans and so much more. It also goes into moon folk-lore from around the world. At the end of the book there is a great lesson on making your own solar eclipse viewer.

Love Monsteris the story of Monster, a monster that is different from all the other monsters found in “Cutesville”. He is lonely and doesn’t have anyone to connect with because he is different. He heads out in search of someone who will love him just the way he is and finds it in an unexpected place. It’s a great lesson for the kids and the bright, bold illustrations really helped engage the kids in the story.

Have You Seen My Duckling? is a cute seek-and-find book that the kids really enjoyed. We follow mama duck and her seven ducklings as they search for their missing sibling. They explore the pond and try to get help from several other creatures that call the pond home. The fun part for the kids was realizing that the little missing duckling is never far away and in fact the kids can find him hiding on each page. It’s a fun little game watching Soph & Jack try to find the duckling in each picture.

It’s a Firefly Nightis a great summertime book that is beautifully illustrated using deep, rich colors. We follow a young girl around her yard as she chases and catches fireflies with her dad. After counting them she very sweetly releases them. This is a great story made even better by the awesome end notes with some great facts about fireflies!

A Camping Spree With Mr. Mageeis a fun read along all about Mr. Magee and his faithful pooch enjoying a nice, peaceful camping trip when all of a sudden they find themselves flying down a mountain and on the precipice of a waterfall. Follow along to see how they get themselves out of trouble this time.

As always let me know what you are reading in the comments below or over on Facebook or Twitter! I would love to know!!

Until next time!

Full Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

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