How to Plan a Perfect Day at Your Local AZA Zoo with Stonyfield

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission and coupons to purchase Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers. I am a part of the Yo-Getters Stonyfield Ambassador program. All opinions are my own.

AZA Matters

Since childhood, I've always considered zoo careers and animal-related work the best work in the world. It's not wonder the zoo is one of our favorite family outings! Being a wildlife professional today, I try to teach my kids about animal husbandry and ethical treatment of animals in captivity. For instance, we do NOT do circuses. So when I had the opportunity to learn more about AZA accreditation and the local zoos and aquariums in our area which were part of this recognition of positive efforts and practices, I had to take the opportunity to learn more. We had about six sites in our tri-state area which were listed by the AZA as accredited. We decided to venture out to the Minnesota Zoo, even though it was several hours away, because we'd never been there before as a family and they were also offering weekend "sneak peeks" at the new Kangaroo Crossing exhibit.

Zoo Days - A Family Favorite 

I lived in a town without a zoo. We'd have to plan a weekend outing or at least a long day trip to get to the nearest zoo, which was about three hours away. It was run by the city and it was okay, but not anything like some of the zoos we've now been fortunate to visit. It is only recently that I realized maybe the zoo was not great for many reasons, one of them being the lack of AZA accreditation. We've grown into a zoo and waterpark family. If either are in the mix, we're sure to have a good time. If BOTH are on our itinerary, we're stoked and everyone is happy and exhausted from fun by the end of the getaway! 

Our toddler stays happy because there are so many sounds, smells, and sights to keep him busy. Our older child, a Kindergartner is able to use concepts he's been learning to apply them to what he sees. Wild Kratts knowledge spills over like floodwaters at this point. Gotta love Wild Kratts! 

Planning for a Day Out

Even in the spring time, our crew needs to wear sunscreen -- perhaps especially in the spring time. We tote along our double stroller -- judge me if you want -- but our six year old gets tired and whiny and while he walks MOST of the time, we found out at Disney that it's just easier to bring the B.O.B. duallie and let him ride sometimes! 

Stonyfield Squeezers and Zoo-friendly Snacks

Eating at any zoo can be expensive. Before we leave home, we allow the kids to grab around $15 from their banks and use the "grandparents fun money" for a gift shop purchase after the day is through, as a last stop and only IF there was all-day good behavior. So that actually solves the "gimme" and "I want it" whining.

Next, to curb costs we try to pack at least a small cooler or bag with mostly healthy portable snacks just as we would for a hike or other outing. This is where Stonyfield really saves our bacon, everytime. The Squeezers freeze well and after a few hours of strolling make a fantastic treat, still cool and sometimes a tad slushy (which the kids love) inside the cooler. The healthy snack is a perfect pick-me-up and cool-me-down grab-and-go option. (How's that for hyphenation overload?!)

So, if you go to the zoo this summer, consider making it an AZA accredited zoo. Also, if you want to ensure a healthy, cool snack that packs up easy, go for the Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt Squeezers! Seriously! They are the best thing ever when you freeze them before a summer outing!

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission and coupons to purchase Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers. I am a part of the Yo-Getters Stonyfield Ambassador program. All opinions are my own.

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!]

Sustainable Style

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. 

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