Oct 6, 2015

3 Myths About Nutrisystem #NS Nation

So, I have a secret! For the past month and a half I have been on Nutrisystem! I'm sure you have heard of it, and I'm incredibly excited to share my journey with you as a #NSNation blogger. I never talk about weight loss and fitness on the blog, but lets face it. For the majority of us, weight is a constant struggle. A lot of people have preconceived notions about the Nutrisystem program, so I'm here to put your mind at ease and hopefully inspire you to start your own journey! 

The Skinny (aka the NOT so skinny...)

I have battled my weight for as long as I can remember. I like to think that I had a couple years as a toddler where I was average, but lets face it, I arrived at 9.6 lbs and it's been a struggle ever since! I have been on every diet under the sun, but the only one that I had some serious success with was Nutrisystem. I was on NS back in college for about 5 months. I lost 40 lbs, and felt the best I had felt in years, but money was tight and I couldn't afford to order anymore. Fast forward 4 years and two babies, and I am back to finish what I started! 

Before I tell you about my progress on the program thus far, I want to address a few common myths that surround the Nutrisystem program.


Ok, so this is a myth that I prescribed to at one point in time. I thought, "Nutrisystem is SO expensive. I know I could lose the weight, but at what cost?" That was my thought process before I discovered several things. The first thing that has DRASTICALLY reduced the cost of NS are Costco giftcards. Costco sells giftcards for the Nutrisystem program (they also sell the program itself, but that's another topic entirely). The giftcards themselves are $79.99 for a $100 giftcard. However, at certain times during the year, they go on sale for $59.99!! That is an amazing savings. STOCK UP! This will cut your cost incredibly. Another thing that helps save are the discounts that NS offers themselves. As you stay on the program and progress, they sometimes apply discounts to your order. Signing up for auto-delivery is another Nutrisystem based way to save. They also offer a program called Buddy Bucks which allows your friends to save money, as well as you! The last way you can save on NS is through your health insurance. This isn't necessarily available through every insurance, but a lot of insurance companies offer discounts for the program! Any little bit helps in saving money.

Myth 2 - It doesn't teach you anything.

This is simply not true. I have heard from lots of people, that "Nutrisystem doesn't teach you anything because you are not eating real food." Well, this is a falsehood. NS DOES teach you something. In fact, it teaches you many valuable behaviors that help change your eating habits in the long run. I've heard that it isn't "practical" because you are eating pre-packaged food, and that just isn't real life. Well what Nutrisystem does is teach you portion control. You are not only eating NS food either, you supplement with veggies, powerfuels (proteins) and smartcarbs (fruit and whole grains). You learn to eat 6 small meals a day, drink your water, and eat your veggies. Portion control is huge, and while you may not eat the NS food for your entire life, you will learn to eat smaller portions. Even if you do not eat Nutrisystem forever, you can still follow the program!

Myth 3 - The food is awful!

NOT TRUE NOT TRUE NOT TRUE!! Ok, let's be honest here. When I went on Nutrisystem in college, the food was not the best. I honestly lived off their tacos and pizzas every single night. I didn't like the majority of the shelf stable food. However, since then things have changed BIG TIME! They now offer frozen food in addition to their shelf stable items. I can't even begin to tell you how delicious their frozen food is! In fact, I look forward to having meals. I feel like I'm cheating constantly. Only on Nutrisystem can you eat sticky cinnamon buns for breakfast, cheeseburgers for lunch, pizza for dinner, and a chocolate cupcakes for dessert. I mean come ON! Is this even a DIET?! I am in love with ALL of their frozen food, and a lot of their shelf stable breakfast and dessert too. Everyone's tastes are different though, so you may like everything!

What can you expect in your box/boxes?

Your shipment will either come in one or two boxes depending on whether you ordered both frozen food and shelf stable or just shelf stable. Inside, the food will be color coded according to what meal it is. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert all have different colors to make it easy to sort and keep track of. You will also receive your daily tracker to keep track of all your meals. As you lose weight with Nutrisystem, you will also begin to receive Nutribears in your orders! For every 10 pounds lost, you will receive a different colored stuffed bear with that number on it. It's a fun little incentive to look forward to! 

My Journey

In the past month and a half, I have lost a whopping 18.8 lbs!! I will be weighing in every week and giving you an update on my losses as well as a rundown of how my week was, recipes, tips and tricks and more! I hope you will follow along with me! 

Don't forget to follow Nutrisystem on social media and be part of #NSNation

Disclosure: I have received the Nutrisystem program in exchange for blogging about my weight loss journey.

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Oct 2, 2015

Fine Motor Eyeball Transfer

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Happy Fine Motor Friday! This week in our preschool homeschool, we explored the human body. This fine motor eyeball transfer activity was perfect for that, and is also perfect for Halloween which is right around the corner. Even better, it was easily adapted for both my three year old AND my one year old! 
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Sep 29, 2015

In Defense of My Spirited Child

My child is in the middle of the playground screaming at all of the other kids who pass by him to "get away". He screams at another little boy in exasperation because he is too close to his body, and I can almost taste his frustration. I can see him escalating from zero to sixty, and a million feelings pass through me simultaneously.

I am embarrassed. Oh the embarrassment that is a tantrum in the middle of a group of calm children. I stand there watching my little buddy melt down while the other mothers and caregivers stare at us uncomfortably. I watch them exchange looks, and I can see it in their face. "I'm glad that's not my kid."

I am exhausted. Dealing with another meltdown on a beautiful day when I just really want it not to be happening is really not what I had hoped to do today.

But, most of all, my heart aches for my baby. My baby who is being stared at. My baby who is being judged. My baby whom other parents are feeling grateful isn't theirs. Because you know what? He is MINE. And it hurts so badly to see my little guy in such a state and to feel the judgment and assumptions other parents are making about him. And, while you are glad that he isn't yours, I AM glad that he is mine.

The truth is, my child is spirited. There I said it. And it feels good to say it aloud (or type it VERY LOUDLY) even if it is apparent to people who meet us. He is spirited through and through, and over the past three years this has manifested itself in different ways. He is intense, easily angered, and fiercely determined to get what he wants. I've had to at different times pull him from classes, stop having playdates with people, and wrack my brain trying to figure out how to diffuse certain situations that were triggers. On the flip side, he is incredibly loving to the ones he cares about, absolutely brilliant, and wildly creative. He feels everything so deeply. Whether his emotions are negative or positive, he feels them on a level that most children do not. When he is having a melt down in a public place, nobody sees him for who he is - a little boy who doesn't fit into the mold. They don't see what I see when I look at him. They don't see the little boy who tells me and his daddy that he loves us 100 times a day or the boy who cries at night because he is scared of the dark and always ends up in bed with us or the boy who is so intelligent and witty that he constantly has us in hysterics. All they see is his anger, and when they do, they make assumptions.

"What a bad kid."

"He must have horrible parents."

"He is SO spoiled."

Or worse, they think THEY can parent him better. The saying, "It takes a village." does NOT apply to spirited children. At least not to mine. While I would appreciate some mom to mom support, trying to address a situation directly with my child in which you know little about only makes it worse. Typically it is when another well-meaning parent tries to correct him or parent him that he loses it. I have seen it play out so many times that at this point, I am prepared just to leave when it happens. I wish we could all follow the code that unless a child is in danger or putting others in danger to just LEAVE IT ALONE. Spirited children aren't necessarily threatened by authority, but it's the way that the authority is communicated that can either make or break the situation. As the mother of a spirited child, I am a work in progress. Sometimes I lose my cool. Sometimes I make the situation worse. But 9 out of 10 times I can assure you that I will be able to diffuse the situation better than you can. After all, I have parented this child since birth. I understand him like no other.

I am not the only mother out there who is raising a spirited child. I know this, but it doesn't make it feel any less isolating. When 24 out of the 25 kids at a birthday are having fun, and my child is the one crying because someone told him something he didn't want to hear, it makes me feel sad, angry, and alone. If it makes ME feel that way, I can only imagine how HE feels.

So, here I am in defense of my spirited child. Because he doesn't deserve the stares. He doesn't deserve the judgement. He doesn't deserve to be treated like he's typical, because he isn't. He is extraordinary and he will change the world. Until then though, please respect his space and the fact that he needs some extra time to process all of the big thoughts and emotions flying around in his head. He IS spirited, and also only three after all.

And to all the other spirited children out there, and the parents who FIERCELY love them (because we all know that they can test you like no other!), I'm sending you a fist bump and a hug. You deserve it, and you are not alone.

Are you raising a spirited child? Here are some of our favorite resources:

Raising Your Spirited Child, Third Edition: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

3 Ways to Be Thankful for Your Spirited Child from Dirt and Boogers

Raising a Strong Willed Child from The Educators' Spin On It

Best Parenting Tips for Parenting an Angry Child from Lemon Lime Adventures

What You Don't Know About THAT Kid from Lemon Lime Adventures

Parenting Gifted and Intense Children from Raising Lifelong Learners

What is an Intense Child? from Raising Lifelong Learners

8 Signs You Have a Spirited Child from Scary Mommy

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Sep 28, 2015

Stellaluna Clothespin Bat Craft

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Welcome to another month of Book Club Play Dates! This month, we are sharing a craft based on the book Stellaluna. For the month of October, we will be studying Bats and Owls for our preschool Animal Science unit, so this was a perfect book to read to get us excited for that! 

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon is a heartwarming book about a bat who becomes separated from her mother and takes residence in a nest full of baby birds. During her time there, she is forced to adapt to her surroundings and behave like the baby birds. Eventually she is reunited with her mother and relearns how to be a bat! Kingston and I couldn't stop gushing over the adorable pictures of little Stellaluna. She is SO cute! We have bats in our backyard, so I foresee this turning into a really fun study!

The craft we made is awesome in it's simplicity. It is a perfect craft for preschoolers to put together almost entirely on their own!

I gave K (my newly 3 year old):
brown washable paint
brown construction paper (cut into freehanded bat wings)
two googly eyes

Kingston painted his clothespin light brown. We let it dry for several minutes, then K used his fine motor skills to squeeze a few drops of glue onto the clothespin. He attached the first wing, then squeezed more glue on top of that wing and attached the second one. Then we flipped our little Stellaluna over and glued her eyes on the front. 

We were both in love with the outcome. Kingston used the clothespin bat to act out the story as I read to him. I can't wait to make more of these to decorate our homeschool room. 

Don't forget to check out what my fellow Book Club Play Date bloggers have been up to! Use all of our ideas together to host your very own Preschool Book Club:

Snack: Stellaluna Bat Trail Mix from Still Playing School
Sensory: Stellaluna Sensory Activity from Fun-A-Day
Craft: Stellaluna Clothespin Bat Craft from House of Burke (That's US!)
Busy Bag: Stellaluna Activity Busy Bag from Craftulate

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Sep 22, 2015

Books About Squirrels for Preschoolers

This month for our homeschool preschool Animal Science unit, we are studying squirrels! Squirrels are an amazing animal to investigate with your preschooler if you live in North America, because they are a common backyard staple. We see squirrels every time we look out the window, 3 seasons out of the year here. Interested in learning more about these cute woodland animals with your little one? These books are here to help introduce squirrels in both a fun and informational way!

Nuts to You! Squirrels and Their Nests (Animal Homes) - This informational text on squirrels is perfect for preschoolers (and even younger!) With just a sentence or two on each page, this book takes your child through the process of a squirrel building it's nest while also introducing them to the animal itself. The pictures are adorable too!

Squirrels & Chipmunks (Rookie Read-About Science) - We were able to pick up this great non-fiction squirrel book at our local library, and it is a great read for the preschool crowd. My 3 year old was riveted by the simple text and great pictures throughout. Though we were just focusing on learning about the squirrel, it was fun to also be able to learn about the chipmunk and compare the two!

The Secret Life of Squirrels this silly story by Nancy Rose will have you hooked on squirrels in no time! The story takes you through the daily life of Mr. Peanuts, a highly unusual squirrel! With real life pictures of this adorable squirrel doing funny things, like grilling hot dogs, there is no way that you can't become a squirrel fan.

Nuts to You! is a classic Fall book by Lois Ehlert! This squirrel is certainly curious, and enters a little boys apartment building. You won't want to miss the fun antics that ensue while learning about the squirrel and surrounding nature!

Earl the Squirrel is a fantastic book by Don Freeman, the author of Corduroy. This squirrel book is a fantastic one for also introducing certain character traits. In this tale, Earl's mother wants him to find his own acorns. It teaches both determination and responsibility as Earl embarks on a journey to gather them himself!

A Squirrel's Story: A True Tale - This fantastic story by Jana Bommersbach may be a little long for some preschoolers, but it is a great read!! Your little one will absorb all kinds of awesome facts about squirrels while learning an underlying lesson of courage. Plus, you can't beat the included curriculum guide! Even parents of younger learners can benefit. This is a squirrel tale that will grow with your child!

One More Acorn - If you loved the tale of Earl the Squirrel, you will LOVE this one too! In the sequel to the first one, Earl is off again on another adventure. A great story to tie into learning about Washington D.C. too!

Squirrels (Backyard Animals) - Another great in depth look at squirrels! 

The Busy Little Squirrel is a great read for younger preschoolers and toddlers. It is a board book following Squirrel as he prepares for Winter! The illustrations are lovely, and the charming story will captivate young readers.

Scaredy Squirrel - If you have a little one, chances are you've already heard of Scaredy Squirrel! There are tons of books in this adorable series that follow Scaredy Squirrel as he tries to break out of his same routine and discover the world. The original title in sure to please little ones and get a few laughs!

I See A Squirrel (In My Backyard) - Another age appropriate non-fiction text about squirrels! Perfect to take with you on the go while you observe squirrels in their natural habitats.

Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin is a funny tale about a squirrel-hating, bird-loving man who changes his tune! My three year old got a kick out of this book, and yours will too. It is a super cute story about some mischievous squirrels. There are several other "Those Darn Squirrels!" stories!

Erroll - This is certainly the SILLIEST squirrel book out there! We LOVED it! A story about a boy who finds a squirrel in his snack, it is a great book to kick off your squirrel unit and get the kiddos laughing! My son especially loved that he ate tons and tons of peanut butter sandwiches, because so does he!

Ol' Mama Squirrel - I am in LOVE with this squirrel book! I have a soft spot for fierce Mama squirrel, as she will do anything to protect her babies. This adorable tale is certainly more for the entertainment factor than educational, but it will not disappoint!

Rabbits, Squirrels and Chipmunks: Take-Along Guide - We really love these Take-Along Guides, and have been slowly collecting them as we come across them. The Rabbits, Squirrels, and Chipmunks guide is phenomenal! Your little one will learn how to identify the different types of animals, and learn all kinds of other awesome facts. There are also projects and activities at the back of each one. These are perfect for homeschool units and to build your science library.

A Squirrel's Tale by Richard Fowler is an interactive fine motor book from Usborne books. There is a detachable cardboard squirrel that your little one moves from page to page as the story progresses. Not only is this book chock-ful of fine motor practice, but the story itself is great! 

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