Be Here. Now. Finding #TheWholeYou (Again.)

It's no secret of motherhood -- sometimes you get lost in the pick-up/drop-off, make breakfast, wash clothes, plan vacations, keep the house reasonably clean... mode. It's mom mode. It's easy to forget about nurturing yourself. As I've been on a journey of self-improvement in 2017, I am devoting May to bettering myself for the sake of my kids and my own sanity.

Morning Meditation

In May, each morning I've started my day with amazing free trade, organic, sustainable shade grown coffee. I am a bit of a coffee snob, as you already know if you've been here before! I tiptoe out of the bedroom wing of the house and after I get my coffee, I venture out to the patio. (Now that it's spring. In the winter I'll have to tweak my routine just a bit!) I sit down and the paving stones under my bum have just begun to warm in the early morning sun. I set the coffee down, get into a Lotus position, and just try to enjoy the very moment I'm in. I think about my lungs filling with fresh air. The sun kissing my cheeks in the crisp morning air. I think about the stones. I think about the birds and frogs I hear. I sometimes think about what the day holds and what I need to do and it gets noisy in my head. Then I remember these precious few moments are MINE. For me. To ground myself and preserve a little bit of Amanda before I need to punch in as "mom." I quiet the noise and recenter my soul, just before I hear the pitter patter of little feet and sleepy requests for cereal and yogurt.

Simple Snacking

The yogurt part of the above makes the transition from being just ME to mom a little easier. I keep a drawer in the refrigerator FULL of Stonyfield YoKids Strawberry Organic Yogurt Squeezers for the kids to scavenge at will. I don't limit this yummy, healthy snack. If they eat 12 in a day (which has yet to happen) so be it. We try to keep fresh fruits and vegetables cleaned, cut and available for little hands too. The kids are able to independently get delicious, healthy food and I have no worries about added dyes or chemical mysteries when I know Stonyfield is what's in my fridge! [Incidentally, the Squeezers are MY personal favorite too -- so we always get a few boxes at a time!]

Stylish and Sustainable

My recent splurge in the self-care department which nourishes my soul in a different way than the yogurt is allowing a few fashion comforts each month. prAna is my latest favorite and is filling up my closet slowly, replacing fast fashion with earth-loving, comfortable hemp and other soft, sustainable fibers. 

My latest love is from the prAna Spring '17 collection of hemp clothing. I love the Chetan capri bottoms (I chose coal color - some may like the small patterned pair better) as they are form-fitting and cozy. They are rather warm -- though they are a spring item -- so I wouldn't recommend them for hot yoga or a summer afternoon run. However, they are perfect for my morning ritual and keep me comfortable through the task of morning drop-offs and errands. 

When I'm not worried about the little things in life, it's much easier to take care of me. To take care of what matters. When I'm centered and my whole self is taken care of, I'm a much better mom and citizen of the universe. 

Disclosure: This post was part of a partnership with Stonyfield Organics and prAna. All opinions are my own. 

Attention Minnesota Kids - The Best Twin Cities Summer Camp is here! [+ 50% off Discount Camp Code]

Summer camp time! An exciting time in your child's life, if you're like me and you remember a childhood of pouring over camp brochures and the flyers for community education, happily boarding the swimming bus each crisp morning and going to make bracelets at the local park in the afternoon with your local club.

So, when I had my first child, I REALLY wanted him to be in and experience everything. I impatiently wanted until he was able to go to a half day camp for one week of the summer when he was four. I was literally the first person signed up, to ensure one of 17 spots in the course. Overzealous? Yes. Regretful of my zeal? Never.

Summer camp experiences are some of the best moments you can give your kids outside the home if you are able. (Spoiler alert - below, you'll find a HALF OFF code to make it a little easier to make it happen!) I'm a huge supporter of letting them experience things they normally may not in school or at home. It's a way to have a taste of hobbies and interests kids haven't been exposed to OR a way to get them a little extra brain time during the summer holidays. It's never a bad thing to expose kids to new things. Robotics is a popular, modern option for kids which I never had access to as a kid. Perhaps, with one week of robotics camp your child might find interest in what could lead to a whole new outlook on life, careers, and their future. Profound, I know! 

First off -- Save by signing up with this code -- HALF OFF ya'll!!

My Readers SAVE 50% Off STEAM Science and Robotics Summer Camps
Use Code:  USFG1750 

Summer Day Camps - Where Fun, Thinking & Learning comes to Life


- Robot / Science / Engineering / Day Camp / Challenges

- Camps Girls and Boys - Aged 7 to 17

- Robot Camps offered during June, July and August

- Hands on Learning, First Time Beginners to Intermediate

- 1 week (5 days) long

- Days: Monday to Friday Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

- LUNCH: Campers bring own lunches and drinks

- CAMPERS RATIO: 1 Instructor to 11 participants

For The Current STEAM Science and Robotics Camp Special Offer Click on the Exclusive and see where this adventure could take your kids! Sign up today!

Disclosure: This post and exclusive offer is made possible by a partnership with US Family Guides and S.T.E.A.M. Camps. 

The Kitchen Gear That Proves Adulthood (What Mom Really Wants as a Gift)

When you're twenty-something, you don't usually dream of fine dishes, extra time to stretch in the morning, or a night serum. This all changes when thirty hits. Maybe not immediately, but in your thirties, you'll realize a few divine secrets of adulthood, as Gretchen Rubin terms them.

The Secret to Great Cooking

Here's one you know if you're a thirty something person or a foodie or groupie of the Julia Childs fan club..."Good food is made possible by using good cook ware." It's true. I must have spent a few years in college eating Teflon seasoned grilled cheese and I remember clearly macaroni and cheese with black flecks in it when I hadn't used pepper!

Even back then, I was vaguely aware that real adults didn't eat stuff like this. My mom had never served me food garnished this way. But on the list of things that I cared about at the time, my crappy pots and pans which I'd abused with metal utensils and scraped free week-old messes, cookware did not rate high on the list. 

Now that I have a family to feed and depending on genetics and fate could well be at my mid-life point, though I like to think I'm not there yet, I have different priorities. I'm sure you do too.

Advice from a World-Class Chef

While traveling in Florida, we had a rare luxury--an upscale dining establishment right on our resort property, which we'd been invited to check out as a family. I was writing about the resort for a national outlet and as such was invited to chat with the chef after we settled into our open-air seating. She told us what menu items she recommended and where some of the foods were sourced (locally.) She offered a tip as well, and to pare it down to the simplest terms: "good food is created using good tools." Chefs generally have access to some of the bells and whistles which you might not find in a household kitchen, sure. They have wide expanses to prepare and plate. They might have the coveted stainless steel sinks and counters and other kitchen amenities you'd flip for. However, bringing gourmet to your own table doesn't have to be a dream.

Pampered Chef Blues

I first found anodized aluminum and learned to love it when I was a consultant for Pampered Chef. I did truly feel like I was using some higher caliber cookware when I got my consultant kit, which included a good-sized hard anodized aluminum executive chef pan. Shiny new adulting toys! I would painstakingly put a flannel cloth between my pans as to not scratch them up in storage. My family was instructed that they were not to even glance at my new pans while holding a metal utensil.

However, I also found that to earn my "free" expensive executive fry pans, I was actually ordering a ton of other kitchen gadgets I "needed" and thrusting my new "business" on my family and friends. I didn't like me in that capacity. So I stopped. No longer a consultant, I simply couldn't justify the prices for things I'd lived without for so long. (Egg slicer? I can actually do it by hand, thanks!)

The Best Quality Cookware for an Affordable Price

Then, I found Revere pots and pans (again.) When I moved in with my fiance, his father had passed down some awesome (I mean awesome) stainless steel pots. They were rad. No more furry textured peeling, scratched Teflon to eat in my food. The copper bottoms were pretty but I really only noted them because I'd never seen bottoms of pots look like that. We also used a lot of cast iron at that time, in the pan department. It's worth noting we STILL have those Revere pots with the copper bottoms in perfect condition, NINE YEARS and 9,855 meals later!

After the longevity of my pots which still reside in my cupboard and grace my stovetop impressed me so, I decided to look to the World Kitchen umbrella of brands for our replacement pots and pans.

Revere® Clean Pan™ 10-pc Hard Anodized Aluminum Non-stick Cookware Set

This set retails for $199.99 -- and is 10 pieces! I love this option because it's the same great quality as what I first discovered with Pampered Chef, but with a manageable price tag for the everyday chef too! We've been enjoying our new pots and pans for a little over a month now. The large stock pot (6.5 quarts) is an especially surprising component I didn't know we needed until we started using it! We have a slightly smaller one (5 quarts) and having two is fantastic for chili night (chili in one pot, corn in the other) or for boiling crab, brats, really anything! Pasta galore! We had run into a handful of times when two stock pots would be nice and now we have that luxury.

Another great feature I didn't know I'd need until I had it is the elevated, ergonomic handles. The pots and pans both have handles which not only connect and nest but also are a few degrees higher than older standards and feel SO fantastic when you need to flip an egg or pour off water. I won't be able to happily go back to the "straight" handle! The interlocking handles elevate the pans to add a bit of safe space between the bottom of one and the bowl of the other -- for me, the neurotic perfectionist, this means I don't have to spend 25 minutes and half of my wash clothes lining each pan and placing them "just so" and ever so gently into my cupboards! Win!

I really like the angle and shape of the body of the pans too. They are slightly more well bowl shaped for better pouring and less "egg-overboard" accidents!

Still Going Strong!

We've tried meats, seafood, eggs, pancakes... pretty much all of our staples and have had great results with the pans and cook pots. As a stay-at-home-mom I spend SO much of my time cooking and cleaning up after cooking that I love having quality cookware. Revere has raised the bar and met my expectations again and really, being mom (or dad) in the kitchen, you deserve the best tools for the job, just like a carpenter and the coveted titanium hammer! (Or so I've heard!)

There are plenty of occasions to spoil mom with something she really wants -- Mother's Day gifts, Christmas shopping, birthdays... Or just a little gift from you to you! This is such a practical, long-lasting non-stick set, I don't know how we ever cooked with lesser tools! Cooking is enjoyable again when you start out on the right track with quality tools.

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary set of Revere cookware for the purposes of this article. As always, my opinions are my own. 

B Corporations and Healthy Families - What You Need to Know

You can already feel good about life as you're eating your Stonyfield 100% Grassfed Organic Yogurt each day. You know it's good for your kids when you give them the Squeezers they are requesting for their school lunches. But, did you know Stonyfield is a B Corporation? If you haven't heard of that designation before, you're sure to be interested in the implications of being labeled as such.

What is a B Corporation? 

Officially, "B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency."

This means you know the products are made in a sustainable way. You know the companies aren't labeling the product as organic only to find it chock-full of GMOs and pesticides. You can feel good about your family using and consuming these products AND you can feel good knowing the Earth is just a little better for it too! (What better time to do small things like purchase from B Corporations than now? Every little bit of effort we can make can combat changes to environmental policy and work toward greening our planet for our kids and the future!) 

B Corporations are growing in number--over 1000 and counting exist today! You can check out this site to learn more and find many B Corps businesses to proudly support. Here is a list of the B Corps we love and have had great experiences with:


King Arthur 
Pete and Gerry's
Purely Elizabeth
New Belgium Brewing

Disclosure: Some of the above brands provided a sample to try. I am part of the Stonyfield Yo-Getters and thereby was able to participate in this post. All opinions are my own. 

Making Saving for Travel A Little Easier with Groupon Coupons

This content is sponsored.

It probably does not come a s a big surprise to you that we are ALWAYS trying to cut corners and save money so that we might have a few extra dollars to put toward all of our roaming. Well, what I've found lately is by saving small (or big -- even better) on my day-to-day purchasing I am able to really sock it away for fun stuff.

The snippet above was simply taken from page one of MANY pages of the Groupon coupon site! You can search by store, so it makes the task really easy. Certainly I take advantages of in-store savings cards (not credit cards, just club cards) and I have the Target Cartwheel app on my phone. But did you know that Groupon can help you further, with coupons for Target too? Many of these offers can be accessed with your phone or printed and then used WITH other discounts (again I'll use Target) -- combine Groupon coupons with a Cartwheel offer AND your 5% Redcard discount? Well, you're checking out with some deep savings, my friend! 

Right now, even Saks Fifth Avenue has 42 coupons to save on the high end splurges you might be interested in! In case you missed it -- there are plenty of actual travel-related booking sites with coupons too. So, not only am I saving with 10-40% off coupons on many random day-to-day purchases, socking away those extra pennies and dollars, I can also save when I go to book a trip! CheapOAir and Priceline are just a two of the sites you can usually find on Groupon. In fact, just by signing up for CheapOAir email newsletters you can cash in on $20 when you book a flight! All of these seemingly small savings really add up big and lead to things like going to Disney World for spring break (and staying at the Grand Floridian) and even small allowances for things like the upcharge to hold an alligator or an extra ice cream bar during a particularly sunny day! Groupon gets the job done folks -- it's so easy to save every time you shop. Almost any store you patronize you will find can be the key to saving money for the best moments in life by simply saving on the things you buy regularly. 

This content is sponsored.

The Betty Rocker Make Fat Cry Challenge - Day Seven

I'm a week in and I have to say -- I haven't lost a thing. BUT I feel amazing. And I haven't been eating clean. In fact, it's likely the polar opposite. I MAY have discovered dark chocolate covered sea salt caramels at ALDI and well....

But the point is I feel great. It's so easy to fit this workout in my schedule.

Start Your Own FREE Challenge! 

I hope you out there will join me! It's FREE. Just based off of the first week I've had a better workout each day in 15 minutes than in 45 minutes with Turbo Jam or Zumba videos I've used in the past.

There is no money back guarantee, because there is no money exchanged! This is a legitimately free workout program! I LOVE IT. I'm not working with The Betty Rocker. She really doesn't know I exist, I'm sure. But, I think you'll love it because I do!

Here's Bree's site. Who is joining me? I'd love to have some accountability buddies or just folks to talk about the workouts with!

Go kick butt!

I'm hoping this week I'll eat better, maybe see the scale move a bit, and feel better in my day-to-day life.

The Betty Rocker 30 Day Make Fat Cry Challenge - Day One

Wow. So did Day One of The Betty Rocker 30 Day Challenge -- WHOA. I'm so out of shape. 15 minutes with Bree kicked my BUTT. It felt super good to be DONE with a crazy cardio (for me) workout without using anything but my special Ryka studio shoes (to save my feet on the carpet) and my computer. I guess technically I used my Roku TV to listen to a workout station on Pandora too.

Start Your Own FREE Challenge! 

I hope you out there will join me! It's FREE. Just based off of DAY ONE I've had a better workout in 15 minutes than in 45 minutes with Turbo Jam or Zumba videos I've used in the past.

There is no money back guarantee, because there is no money exchanged! This is a legitimately free workout program! I LOVE IT.

Here's Bree's site. Who is joining me? I think this might be what helps me kick the baby weight and get healthy. No resolutions. No New Years failures. Just motivation to use the body I have TODAY and make it better for TOMORROW! :)

Go kick butt!

PS -- I'm going to admit something horrific and I hope it will be different in 30 days----

I'm starting Day One at 191.7 lbs! Ack!

The Beginner's Bible - A Great Place to Start for Kids

I recently received the opportunity to check out a copy of The Beginner's Bible and I have to say -- I'm loving it even as an adult.

You see.....

We put our children in a private Christian preschool. If you were a germaphobe helicopter parent with control issues like I am, you'd know this was one of about three options for my family. If I could afford private education, I think I would given our locale and options. Alas, that's another post for another day. So, we had our first child in a Christian three year old room and then on to the four year old room. I had TWO gripes with the school, both were addressed in mediocre ways BUT it was a trade-off for being a text message away from my son at all times AND all the time and energy and love which the teacher devoted to the kids.

1) Not enough outdoors time. I reminded the teacher God's beauty can best be captured in the simple moments outdoors and the kids were outside the next afternoon.

2) Inappropriate (IMHO) Bible for the Kids Bible Stories and Verses. This will likely be met by much controversy and near-blaspheming by many out there. I *think* the kids Bible the teacher used followed the Awanas themes and verses -- though I cannot be sure, as we've never gone to Awanas. However, the Easter story was really disturbing for our child (lots of gore and blood and graphic thorny crown/cross pictures, etc.)

Seeing The Beginner's Bible made me cry out with joy. I wanted to reinforce LOVE as the main theme when teaching our kids about God, but it was hard for their little minds to break away from the graphic pictures to hear the message that was unlikely to hit home from the illustrations. This time around, each night we read together from The Beginner's Bible and the more difficult concepts are met head on much more appropriately for early learners and very eloquently explained.

The pictures are perfect for the preschool set and put things into simple terms which even reinforce the "meat and potatoes" of each lesson for adults too!

I couldn't be happier with this book. It's EXACTLY what we were looking for after our experiences the first time around! We're prepared now as our second child becomes aware of God's message.

To learn  more:

Official website:
Trailer / book trailer:
Link to Amazon (non-affiliate!) Simply for your purchasing ease! Currently $12.88 on Prime!

Disclosure: This post was made possible in partnership with FlyBy Promotions. Consideration was provided but all thoughts and stories are my own. 

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