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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Little Tikes Hide & Seek Climber & Swing Review

My kids love to play! My son Roo spends a great deal of time outdoors swinging and sliding on his swing set. His baby sister spends a lot of time watching him, getting excited and wishing she could play too... if she were only a little bit bigger!

Her dreams of swinging and sliding have come true thanks to Little Tikes Hide & Seek Climber & Swing. Made with little tikes in mind, this is the perfect play center for my little girl. Let me tell you a little about this super sweet toy and what we love about it.

The Little Tikes Hide & Seek Climber & Swing features a 3 point harness swing, a little climbing wall, a fun tunnel to crawl through and a slide. Sounds really fun right?! As my husband assembled the Hide & Seek Climber & Swing both of my kids watched with anticipation. My 4 year old was begging to "Play!Play!" My daughter bounced up and down with delight at the sight of her very own swing and slide.



We loved that it was easy to assemble. It took less than 15 minutes to come together. The play center is durable, it is easy to keep clean and it keeps kids busy and active. Roo has a big boy swing set, but he loves to play on this with his little sister. They spend hours a day climbing, swinging and sliding together, which makes this Mom very happy.



Retailing for $149.99, this is a really great investment. It is fun for kids to play on, it is nothing short of adorable, and it is built to last through multiple kids, {bonus!} We have been very impressed with the Little Tikes Hide & Seek Climber & Swing. This toy got the squeal of delight approval from both of my kids. I would recommend it to other parents looking for a great way to keep little kids active and playing. We set ours up inside for the time being so that the kids will have someplace to play when the weather turns cold. It is the perfect size for turning any room into a fun play place in a pinch.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

My Kids Ruined My Body

Hello world, my name is Sara and I have issues. Lots and lots of issues. Big ones, small ones, weird ones, sad ones.  Pick an issue and chances are I have it, or have had it, or I will develop it at sometime in the near future. What can I say? My life is filled with drama these days.

I am having an issue as I type this blog post. A part of me wants to curl up in a ball and sleep for a week, while a part of me wants to develop an eating disorder, another part of me wants to flip a certain finger in the direction of some people and let it go.


Do you know how it feels to be told your body is "disgusting" after having children? This is my current all consuming issue. Body shame. It is a big one to me, I dwell on those words. I get angry. I break down and cry, feeling utterly ugly and unlovable. I spend hours each week obsessing about what I ate, or what I didn't eat, how many walks I took, how my clothes fit me. Goodness, clothes are so important when you are as disgusting as I am. Trust me, no one wants to see me in my naked glory of stretch marks, saggy skin or fat.

At the age of 35 I have 2 children. My son is 4 and my daughter is 10 months old. Having these children has ruined my body according to some people. Yes, you read that right. My kids ruined my body.

Here is the thing, I did gain weight since I had children. A lot of it too. I have lost weight which just makes my skin look... saggy, stretched out, not magazine worthy at all. Places I didn't know could wiggle have more jiggle than I want to admit. My butt? Applying for statehood status. Yeah, I got booty to spare and share if anyone needs a little. I had 2 c section babies. So I have a big scar above my pubic hair line.

My ruined body.

A few weeks ago I had the nerve to go to the pool with my family. I wore a very modest tankini. I know no one wants to see me in a bikini. I wore something that would cover my body so no one had to see the mess that is my stomach. It is not flat, nor is it likely to ever be like a washboard. I tried my best to keep everything in place, constantly tugging my tankini to cover my belly and as much of anything else it could cover. I feel self conscious as it is. Being in a swimsuit is like... being in underwear that are wet ya know? I generally don't parade around in a bra and panties in front of my friends, family or neighbors, but I go to a pool to let the whole world judge me. I feel exposed. I feel like everyone is staring at me, are they? Who the heck knows, but I feel like they are. My husband hands me the baby and as I try to enjoy the moment, watching my son playing happily, looking at my beautiful daughter who is smiling and happy, the pool is new and exciting to her.

My husband wants a photo of the baby and I so I adjust to hold her at an angle that will allow him to capture both of our faces. As he is saying "Smile" I hear the laughter. I try to tell myself that people are having fun, it is a pool after all!  Then I hear it again, and again. I feel eyes on me. I know I must have blushed. I look up to see 2 teenage girls laughing at me and staring. I am the object of their amusement. Me and my ruined body. I feel the breeze on a strip of my stomach where my top has worked its way up. I feel like I could cry, or leave and vow to never go swimming again, unless it is in our backyard.

That was not a good feeling. It seriously impacted the day. The rest of the day every time those girls laughed, I knew they were laughing at me, or some other Mom with a ruined, gross body. When we got home I had a good long cry. I completely wallowed in self pity. I tucked the swim suit into the back of a drawer, or maybe it went to the attic... I won't be wearing it again probably.

When I tried to talk to someone about how I felt, it only made it worse. Foolish me picked the wrong person to go to for comfort or reassurance. I guess I wanted to hear that I was not gross. That I was okay, not inducing vomiting sessions or anything. But guess what I heard instead? "If you feel gross, do something about it. You can lose 20 pounds or maybe even 30. Stop eating, start working for results...." This made me cry harder. Much much harder. Little did I know how hard the next words would hit me. "I think your body is disguising since you had kids."

So, instead of having a friend say they liked me for me, I heard I should develop an eating disorder and work out until I see results that please others.

If there has ever been a day when I could fall apart completely, a day when I felt like maybe I was so gross that I could die and spare everyone I know from the pain and ickiness of looking at me, it was that day.
I spent a long time reflecting on that. I looked in the mirror. I searched to see signs of this hideous monster that I had become. I saw a 35 year old woman that looked tired. My hair is really cute in this style of pixie short. My outfit was good. A decent skirt and a casual yet nice top. I had on great shoes, pretty nail polish.... My butt is big! I know that, but I am okay with it. The last time I checked the booty size was not a factor in what was in my heart. My butt doesn't make me a monster. My belly is a belly. I wish it were flatter, smaller. But, really how many people are subjected to the scar, the stretch marks, the evidence that my body made not one, but two miracles happen? Not very many. My upper arms are a nightmare for me, but my kids seem to think these hideous monster-ish flabby arms give great hugs.

If I couldn't see these monstrosities that are worthy pointing and laughing and hurling harsh words about my disgusting body changes why were they so evident to other people? Why did it matter to anyone else what my body looks like?

My body changed. I may have "ruined" my body according to the standards of the general masses, but when it comes down to it, my body tells a story. A story of childhood, illnesses, accidents, drunken days of youth, adventures I am glad I took. Chances I gambled on. My body tells a story of loss, of love and of miracles. I made two little people in this body. Every stretch mark, flabby patch of skin, every jiggle, every inch of my booty was well earned. I don't regret one single imperfection. They have all been worth it.

So, to the teenage girls that laugh at me in a swimsuit, or to the "friend" that thinks I am disgusting now that I am a mother, I would like to say thank you. You have reminded me that I have to work harder to make my children realize we shouldn't measure a persons worth because of their looks or lack of looks. We shouldn't let someone else tell us we are gross because we have babies. We shouldn't tolerate that type of behavior. Anyone shallow enough to look at your beautiful miraculous body and point out your flaws isn't worthy of your time or your love. Your dress size doesn't determine what kind of person you are.

To my children, I want to say, you absolutely didn't ruin my body. You made it better than it ever was before. You have softened me in all the right ways. For that, I thank you.












Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Saturday #227

So, here I am technically about a month behind again...it is summer. Hubs is home and the family is restless. 2 months of daily outings, but really not doing anything have taken their toll on us. If my google calendar didn't keep me on my toes I would be lost.


Going on memory here....

On Saturday #227 I had the honor of sleeping in a little. We went to breakfast in near by Mt. Gilead Ohio and Harper was really into that. She prefers whatever we are eating to baby food these days, so she had eggs, biscuits, pancakes, bananas. She was a happy girl. Mr. Picky Roo had sausage, so he was happy.

After breakfast we took a walk down one of the few hills in our area. Walking up reminded me I haven't seen many hills, nor walked them since moving to our tiny, very flat, town. We found a baby toad on the uphill walk.

After that, a dash into Kroger.

We returned home to play outside until Roo could take no more, he wanted to play cars inside where it was cool.

Not a thrilling Saturday, but we had an awesome breakfast, experienced nature, took a walk and enjoyed the summer day. I hope you had the chance to enjoy your children over the weekend.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Banana Crunch Parfait

Does your family love parfaits? Mine does. I think the pineapple and banana in this parfait sounds amazing. This makes an amazing start to the day or a sweet treat without the guilt after dinner.


Banana Crunch Parfait



Ingredients
1 cup Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch cereal
1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1 cup honey
1 medium banana, sliced
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained

Directions
Spoon half of the yogurt evenly into six parfait glasses; top with layers of half each of the bananas, pineapple, cereal and remaining whipped topping. Repeat layers. Drizzle honey over final layer.

Makes 6 servings.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Thanks to my friends at Post for sharing with me and inspiring me to share with you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saving Money On Back To School Shopping


It is time to send the kids off for another year of school. As you prepare to purchase clothes and supplies I have a few back to school shopping tips to share with you.



Tips From the Experts
Offers.com Vice President Howard Schaffer offered some tips for saving money on back-to-school shopping.
If you need school uniforms, you'll save a lot by shopping online. Look for coupon codes that will give you extra savings on sales items from stores like JCPenney, Sears and Lands' End.

Buy a quality backpack that will last through the whole year. Cheap backpacks are tempting, but if they aren't made well, you'll end up buying a new one before the school year's over. Spending a little more initially will save you money in the long run.

Do an inventory of the supplies you have at home before you shop. I'm always surprised at how many pens, pencils and folders my kids have lying around the house.

Always go to a coupon and deals site to find the best sales. You'll be surprised at how much you can save using a coupon code.


I also have an article on How to Save Money on Back to School Clothes that you won't want to miss.
Back to School doesn't have to cost a fortune, with planning and smart shopping you can get all of the supplies the kids need and great stylish clothes without going over budget.
Monday, August 11, 2014

Tell Me About It Tuesday

Welcome back to Tell Me About It Tuesday! We are glad to have you partying with us again this week!


In my world in the last week:


We took a little trip, we had relatives come to visit the day after we got back, and we hit up the Lincoln Highway yard sales. All in all it was a good week.


Make sure you hop over to see the features on Saving for My Family, Pin-n-Tell   and Woman of Many Roles. Be a dear and follow them or leave a comment if you would be so kind.

Among my favorites:

Deconstructed Smores by Our Mini Family


Haggling 101 by 702 Park Project


Let's Party!
Don't forget to visit the 2 links before yours in the party, just to keep it fair! Please visit and share as many as you can. We all love comments. {wink, hint, nudge} 
By linking up you acknowledge that the hostesses may feature your work in round ups, on pinterest or at the next party



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Saturday #226

On Saturday #226 (46 for Harper) we didn't have big plans, it is still summer here and we have been staying busy. The weekends haven't needed to be packed with activity. It has been kind of nice to rest a little on the weekends honestly.

So, instead of completely boring you with details of cleaning, backyard play sessions and books read, or worse yet, me droning on and on about what I worked on when I wasn't playing with the kids or cleaning, I will tell you about a random day from the week.

We are fortunate to live fairly close to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary. We love this place. We visit the birds, they have an impressive collection of hawks, owls, crows and even a Bald Eagle. We also enjoy walking the trails on the property. {I am nearly a month behind on this series time wise again...} At the time of our visit my foot was still pretty bad. It was swollen, bruised, painful and I was resorting to kinda dragging it, limping to get around without crutches. I tried my best to handle a short trail, but there is no going downhill when you are doing this weird shuffle of a walk. Instead Harper and I enjoyed the little enclosed building that houses small birds. Armed with a few cups of worms we wanted to feed the birds, but a noisy crowd had decided to sit and talk to each other- the birds were scared and did come up as they normally would.


Never one to let a change in plans ruin my day, Harper and I instead sat on a bench and took a ton of selfies.

We observed a bee on a flower in the garden area.



We had a nice time, Harper enjoyed herself, Roo was exhausted from his little hike and despite the whole foot thing I was glad to get out into the sun for a while in a place that I love.





Monday, August 4, 2014

Tell Me About It Tuesday

Welcome back to Tell Me About It Tuesday! We are glad to have you partying with us again this week!


Since last week, I celebrated a birthday. I am {ahem} 25 again this year! My family and I took a trip to the Our Lady of Consolation Shrine and I was in awe of the lovely church and statue. My mother in law surprised me with a little shopping spree at my favorite store {Old Navy}.  All in all it was a great day!

Make sure you hop over to see the features on Saving for My Family, Pin-n-Tell   and Woman of Many Roles. Be a dear and follow them or leave a comment if you would be so kind.

I am running late on posting this again! So there are no features this week.
Apologies!

Let's Party!
Don't forget to visit the 2 links before yours in the party, just to keep it fair! Please visit and share as many as you can. We all love comments. {wink, hint, nudge} 
By linking up you acknowledge that the hostesses may feature your work in round ups, on pinterest or at the next party




Sunday, August 3, 2014

Saturday #225

On Saturday #225 (45 for Miss Harper) we had plans to go to a festival, despite my inner groaning I went with as bright of a smile as I could muster. After numerous fairs and festivals I am growing tired of that scene, but I go with a smile for my kids. Roo can't get enough rides and excitement...



After watching a long parade and taking in the sights of a town we don't know much about we were off again, this time to an event that included all the fun stuff kids love, bounce houses, animals, cookies, funnel cakes... not quite a festival, but like a mini one.

The kids were again exhausted after another weekend in the sun, playing, riding rides and eating garbage. Harper had her first nibbles of a cookie and she was pleased with the experience, and considered it a win to get to munch a sweet treat.

We all got a little sun, everyone fell asleep easily that night, including me. Summer continues here for about another month, so every day seems like a weekend. I hope you have had a chance to enjoy your family this summer! Remember we only get 940 Saturdays from birth to departure for college. Thanks for stopping by the hear how we spent one of ours.