Honoring Child Safety Week sponsored by Diono | AprilNoelle.com

Honoring Child Passenger Safety Week

Sometimes learning a new routine sucks, but sometimes it’s great.

At our new school, the teachers help my daughters in and out of their car seats. I love that I don’t have to get in and out of the car and that someone else has to buckle them.

One particular day, when a teacher was helping Butterfly out of the car, she mentioned that she was happy to see that “her precious girl” was strapped in properly.

I also see the issue clearly when others take my daughters for a ride. I always begin with a 10-minute tutorial on how to properly secure the car seat, then buckle in my daughters. Everyone rolls their eyes, but I take my daughters’ safety seriously, especially in thousand pound vehicles.

So when I found out that this week,September 18-24, 2016 is Child Passenger Safety Week, an annual event put together by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) to raise awareness for car seat safety, I had to spread the news.

Leading Death Among Children

Did you know that according to the CDC, accidents are the leading cause of death among children in the United States?

Seriously, this is something that can be prevented by parents just taking a few extra seconds tucking in their child into their car seat can save their life!

Are you harnessing your child into their seats correctly?

Harness 101

 

Diono teamed up with their Global Safety Advocate and Certified Child Passenger Safety Instructor, Allana Pinkerton, to gather her favorite car seat safety tips for Child Passenger Safety Week.


Why is car seat safety so important?

Here are the facts:

  • Car crashes are a leading cause of death among children in the United States.
  • Four out of five car seats are not properly installed.
  • Car seats reduce the risk of injury by 71-82% and reduce the risk of death by 28% in comparison to seat belts alone.

When it comes to car seat safety, there is no such thing as “overprotective.” Car seats save lives!

Here are ten safety tips to ensure your child is snug and safe in their car seat:

1. Read the manual:

Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. Luckily, your child’s car seat does. We know the manual can seem daunting, but it is detailed for a reason. You should always read both the car seat manual AND your vehicle manual, as both contain vital information about installation, seat belt function, seating positions and safety warnings. Before installing, allow yourself plenty of time to get to know your car seat. Store your manuals in a safe spot (like your glove box or storage compartment) so you can reference them later as your child grows.

2. Harnessing 101:

Is your child properly harnessed? Whether rear-facing or forward-facing, the chest clip on your child’s harness should always be placed at armpit level. This ensures the harness stays on the child’s shoulders for maximum safety. The 5-point harness should fit snug and comfortable. You should not be able to pinch the harness strap at the collar bone.


3. Rear-facing is 5X safer:

Rear-facing car seats offer maximum protection for your child’s head, neck and spinal cord, yet 77% of children are moved into a forward-facing seat too soon. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children stay rear-facing until at least two years of age. Don’t rush to move your child to the forward-facing position. Because every child develops at a different rate, age is not the only factor to consider. As best practice, we recommend keeping your child rear-facing to the maximum weight or height of their car seat.

4. Re-check the harness slot:

When was the last time you checked your child’s car seat for proper harness slot placement? When positioning a 5-point harness on your child, stick to this important rule. For rear-facing seats, the harness straps should be at or BELOW the child’s shoulders. For forward-facing seats, the harness straps should be at or ABOVE the child’s shoulders. Because your little one is constantly growing, check frequently for proper positioning.

childpassengersafetyweek-2016_blogimage_harnessslots


5. Don’t skip the booster:

Vehicles are equipped with seat belts meant for ADULTS. They do not fit children properly until they are between 9-12 years old. Once a child has outgrown their 5-point harness, they are ready for a booster seat. Boosters help ensure proper seat belt position and help reduce injury by 45% compared to a seat belt alone. To determine whether your child is ready to use a seat belt only, check out the 5-Step Test.

Honoring Child Safety Week sponsored by Diono | AprilNoelle.com6. Use the tether:

Are you using the top tether on your car seat? Head injury is one of the most common injuries for children in a car crash. The top tether provides additional safety for your child while forward-facing, keeping the head from hitting the seat in front and minimizing strain on the neck and spinal column during a crash. Refer to your car seat manual AND vehicle manual to determine proper tether installation.

7. Always buckle:

No matter how close to home or your destination, always buckle your child and yourself. Car crashes often happen close to home, and even a low-speed crash can cause serious injury. Take the time to properly fasten your children AND yourself each and every trip.

8. Proper belt path:

When using a seat belt to install a car seat, check to make sure you are using the proper belt path. Some car seats have two, one for rear-facing and one for forward-facing. Check your manual for more information.

9. Seat belt or LATCH, not both:

Never use the seat belt and lower anchor connectors at the same time, unless permitted by the car seat manufacturer and the vehicle manufacturer. Choose one or the other. Remember that some car seats have lower anchor weight limits, so check your car seat manual to make sure your child has not exceeded the LATCH limit.

10. The million-dollar question:

The number one question that parents like to ask a Child Passenger Safety Technician is “what is the best car seat?” When it comes to car seat safety, there is no one seat fits all. The right car seat is the one that fits your vehicle, fits your child, and the one you will use correctly every time you travel. Not every car seat will fit every vehicle or every child.  It’s best to try before you buy or purchase from a retailer with a convenient return policy. If you have friends with car seats, try theirs out too.

[tweetthis]It’s easy to protect my child with #DionoSafetyTips [/tweetthis]

Knowledge is power! Each and every day this week we will be sharing these tips on our social media channels. Follow along at #DionoSafetyTips and help us spread the importance of car seat safety by sharing our posts. Our number one goal is to get as many children traveling safely down the road as possible.

More Infographics (click to enlarge)

 

I want to thank Diono for providing these awesome infographics to drive home some safety points! Head over to their site in order to win a new car seat!

Did you learn anything new from these infographics?

 

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First Week of School is Done | AprilNoelle.com

What a Difference a School Makes

I know that until my girls were born, I was extremely active in my son’s school life. After having Bee, my first daughter, I slacked off. I did what I could from home, but it wasn’t much.

Day One

When I dropped off the children on the first day, I really expected to drop and go. Instead, it went like this: drop, drop, drop and stay, then take one back home.

I knew I would stay with my two-year-old for a bit and make sure that she was adjusted to the class before leaving. Butterfly did great. She rarely looked at me, except to give me a loving smile and then back to playing.

Around 10, the teacher rang a gentle bell and sang a cute little “goodbye” song.

At the time, I was under the impression that she was kicking out the adults, but asking all of us to go home. I had missed the memo that the first day was a short one. The benefit of taking the little ones home before they are tired and irritable means that they will be excited to return. Makes sense, right?

First Week of School is Done | AprilNoelle.comAs a parent, you have the option of doing this every day for the first week. Of course, my Butterfly didn’t need that at all.

Butterfly and I had a great day alone, watching movies, eating popcorn and most of all, for her, not being interrupted by her sister.

When I went to pick up Bunny, her brother, he was ecstatic. He told me all about his first day of school but most importantly working on ways to change. He gave me the list of things he needed for his locker so that he will be organized: a locker bin for important papers, a shelf, and a pencil holder.

This was great news. If I could show you his room, you would know why.

Day Two

I spent Wednesday buying additional school uniforms and locker supply shopping. Then, we prepped his locker for an hour so that he didn’t have to do it in the morning.

Day Three

Thursday, I spoke to teachers and the new head of school. At the of end the day at a New Parent Cocktail Party, where I met a lot of new parents, administration, and parent volunteers, without being surrounded by our kids. I met so many great people and made connections with those who had gone through this transition as I had.

Day Four

Friday was the best. On this day, the primary school has an assembly. After a few words from the administration, it’s practically run by the students. This particular one was run by 3rd graders with the theme of “Proud to be an American” in honor of 9/11.

Almost every kid had a turn at the mic and each one had to say something alone. Not a nervous nelly in the bunch. These kids were ready and on point. Watching them as they all had matching uniforms (the only day of the week that it was mandatory), this assembly finally made me comfortable to leave me children in this school’s hands.

How is the school year going for you?

 

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Cruising to a Life Together | #FTSF | AprilNoelle.com

Cruising to a Life Together | #FTSF

The Year 2007 was an eventful year for me.

Jeff and I got married.

We had our second son.

We went on our first vacation as a couple.

And much, much more.

Our first vacation together was a cruise to the Bahamas. I had never been on a cruise and was so excited to go.

At the time, our son spent a significant amount of the summer with his grandparents. Those grandparents are one of the reasons we moved to Florida.

Cruising to a Life Together | #FTSF | AprilNoelle.comWe dropped Bunny off with them and headed for the cruise.

Getting on was a breeze and our cabin was on the water.

We walked the ship quickly, then returned to our clean, kid-free, toy-free cabin.

When we landed in the Bahamas, we went on a whirlwind tour. We raced to the rental car agency. Had I known we were going on a jog, I would’ve opted to wear footwear other than flip flops. Since we had a lot of places to go and just the daylight hours to do it, we were on our way.

As he is a native and spent most of his youth there, he showed me his schools, introduced me to family, and at the local spots. The food was delicious and by the end of the day, he had me driving on the wrong side of the road. At least I didn’t have to drive on the wrong side of the car.

By the end of the night, I was exhausted yet exhilarated. I found out so much about him that day. I fell in love with him all over again – from learning his history to navigating his experiences to understanding who he is.

That evening after dinner, we walked up to the Sun Deck to talk. As we admired the beautiful Bahamian skyline and the sound of celebration below, I looked off into the distance, imagining our future.

As we were talking, he started telling me what I meant to him, what he saw in our future, and all of the feel-goods that I could even imagine.

Then he proposed.

Yep, my husband proposed after we were already married. Why? Because of me.

See, the first time he proposed (many months previously), out of excitement, I cut him off. I didn’t have the opportunity to say anything.

I think I was the girliest girl that I had ever been when I saw the box. And I ruined it. I was so excited, he couldn’t get a word out edgewise. I killed his groove and he wasn’t able to recover.

I was excited but disappointed. Not at him, but at myself that I would completely kill his groove and not shut my mouth long enough for him to tell me about how much he loved me.

So, also in my desire to control everything around me, I asked him to re-propose. I told him that I completely accepted the ring, but “if he would be so kind” to repeat the proposal, in a surprised way and I promised not to cut him off.

It took a while, tons of patience, as he waited until we were actually married to do it again.

But it was worth every minute I waited.

We will be married 10 years in January and I can’t imagine living life without him.

 

***

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “One of my favorite vacation memories is…”
Host: Kristi from http://www.findingninee.com

Finish-the-Sentence-Friday-New-Pin-720-FUN-250-x-250

Finish the Sentence Friday is a link-up where writers and bloggers come together to share their themselves with a particular sentence. If you’d like to stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our Facebook group.
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All Natural Fabric Softener | AprilNoelle.com

My All Natural Fabric Softener Solution

The essential oil revolution has brought out numerous claims. Some are completely legitimate, some are just sales tools and others are straight out lies.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a large variety of essential oils in my stash ready for many types of solutions.

One solution that has always struck me as questionable, at best, was the “a few drops of lavender oil on a washcloth is a perfect replacement for an all-natural fabric softener.”

My major question was: “How?” I wasn’t aware of softening properties of lavender.

Lavender Uses

These are the typical uses for lavender that I’ve heard over and over again (some of which I’ve used):

1. Calming
Rub 2-3 drops of lavender oil in your cupped palms, then use the inhalation method to draw the scent all the way into your amygdala gland (the emotional warehouse) in your brain to calm the mind. Then, rub on the feet, temples, wrists (or anywhere) for an immediate calming effect on the body. Great for use in crowded areas like planes or subways to carve out your own personal oasis.
2. Sleep aid
Again, use the cupping and inhalation method. Then, rub a drop of Lavender oil on your palms and smooth on your pillow to help you sleep.
3. Injuries/Wounds
 
Put a drop of Lavender oil to aid with the following:
  • Bee sting
  • Insect bite
  • Minor burn
  • Cuts
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Nausea or motion sickness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dry/Chapped Skin
  • Chapped or sunburned lips
  • Hay fever
  • Dandruff/Cradle cap
  • Cold sores

It just didn’t make sense. I could see how the lavender scent could compete with the fabric softening scent, but actually giving you softer clothes? This was not my solution for all-natural fabric softener.

I reached to several of the sites that made the claim, just asking them for clarification, but I never heard back.

Potential Fabric Softener Issues

Then I started to do research on traditional fabric softeners and I found something in particular that was disturbing. Fabric softeners may:

  • Stain your clothes
  • Seal in previous stains
  • Prevent laundry detergent and bleach from removing stains

The above would explain why my clothes had just started looking dingier since I started using them regularly (about three years ago). So I was in search of a real solution.

For the last few months, I’ve done these steps and have been very happy with the results.

1. In the wash, I add a cup of vinegar in addition to my regular laundry detergent to the load. Especially when you have someone that wets the bed, it’s essential to have something that completely removes the smell. When you’re washing soiled clothes or bedding, an extra cup will cut that smell out.

2. Then, in the dryer, I add two dryer balls with a few lavender essential oil drops. I do appreciate the smell of lavender, but the balls do the softening work.

The start-up cost for this solution was:

Costco-sized Vinegar:  $3.69
Lavender Essential Oil: $12.99
Wool Dryer balls: $12.95

Total: $30, but after 4 months, I have only needed to purchase new vinegar. I still have 3/4 of the bottle of essential oil and of course the dryer balls are in great shape!

I’ve been cleaning my laundry this way since May and everyone in the house has been happy.

Do you use any natural solutions for your laundry? I’d love to hear them.

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The Phone Call That Opened New Doors | AprilNoelle.com

The Phone Call that Opened New Doors

The phone call started a chain of events that no one could foresee.

Maybe it was fate, maybe it was God, but the phone call that my husband made to his parents changed this entire school year, opened new doors and our eyes.

After telling them what had happened at the other school, my husband’s dad responded, “Why didn’t you look at [my previous school]?”

See, he used to work at another private school and in the three years that we’ve been in Florida, he never mentioned sending our children there.

He sent us a contact at School B and we started asking questions.

A few days later, my husband was contacted completely randomly by someone who inquired about some community work he was doing. After some time, he realized that this person was going to be the new head of School B.

A few emails, phone calls, and visits later, we submitted an inquiry form. Conversations, meetings, and breakfasts later, the application.

Or I should say, the applications! Yes, somehow we were now in discussions to send ALL THREE of my children to this private school.

I had no idea that the discussion would turn this way.

I didn’t know that…

…our baby, at two years old, would start school.

…after much discussion to pull our son out of school, that we would, in turn, send him to another one.

…we would send our children to a private school, one that is attended by mainly rich, white people.

…we would pay to do all of this. Willingly.

Something in me felt the tides turning. I sensed it when I turned in their applications. To afford my children going to a private school, I have to return to work. We can’t afford it otherwise.

I didn’t know that I would go back to work and no longer be the primary caregiver for my children.

As a stay-at-home mom for almost five years, this is daunting. It’s surprisingly harder to think about returning than it was to decide to stay home. I haven’t been on a rigid schedule in some time.

But I’ve started to apply for 9-5, to reach out for more flexible positions, to open new doors, to dive further into my creativity to make an income on my terms.

These next few months are intimidating. I don’t know where this site is going or whether it will stay. I hope I can manage it.

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Class of 2030: The Search for the Perfect School

This story begins at the end of last school year.

For my son, Bunny, we decided to homeschool school him for the summer to see how he’d do. Traditional, public school wasn’t working and if I’m going to work this hard as a parent, I may as well do all of the work. We enrolled him in Florida Virtual School (FLVS) and got him started.

For my daughter, Bee, we were considering sending her to school for the first time.  At four, the state of Florida allows children to attend school, to a voluntary pre-kindergarten program, paid for by the state. Bee is four.

Bee has asked to attend school since she could understand that we were dropping Bunny off there every day. We explained that it was a place to learn, grow and make friends. I think it was the “friends” that attracted her most.

Now that it was time, I was excited to give her that opportunity. As we searched for a new school, I received advice from friends, reviews from colleagues, online information and websites were abundant. But where was the best place to send my precious little girl?

Private School?

A quick Google search showed me the opening of a new school. It was private, expensive and very cool. The foundation of the school is STEM (or STEAM): science, technology, engineering, (arts), mathematics. I’ll tell you more about the “cool factor” later.

I wasn’t sure how we would afford it, on one income and all. I mean, I make some cash from this blog, but for the most part, it pays for itself and gives me some spending cash, hardly enough to finance a private school education.

But I was curious. Curious to see what they said, curious to see what the difference was from the traditional public school that we had utilized over the last several years. So, I submitted a request for the particulars. I signed up to go to their informational session. I even got my husband to buy in. We attended the session together.

What we saw was intriguing. The session itself was, well, a school informational session, all shiny and new. But for the kids, the kids played with robotics and technology while mom and dad were busy. The teachers sat down on the floor and walked my girls through how to use them. The teachers watched while my girls played.

By far, their favorite was this little robot that followed whatever line you drew. Bee had a blast drawing lines and then placing the robot down to follow. I know this because she spent a few minutes after the meeting telling me the ends and outs of how it works.

“We would like to see Bee again. When can you come in for an interview?” the administrator asked as we were leaving.

Until she asked, I don’t think the possibility of my daughter going to a private school was real.

My husband and I had a long discussion on the way home and I scheduled an interview the following Monday.

I was nervous. I had never put my children up for an interview or audition of any sort.

The Interview

The interview was fantastic. Bee’s knowledge, memory, and understanding rocked the tester. I was a proud momma. Then Butterfly started strutting her stuff (because where would I go without both of my girls?).

The second part of the interview was more of a robotics play session. Remember I told you about the “cool factor”, this was it. She went to another room and played with various robotics toys: a 3d printer (well, not played with, but watched it work), Google cardboard, and a whole lotta other stuff.

If you haven’t tried Google cardboard, you have to try it. It’s a 3D map rendition of the world. Once you download the app, this $15 device will help you see the world literally through new eyes. Virtual reality is at your fingertips and for cheap!

Anywho, my daughter got into the school. We were excited and my husband went to tell his family.

This fairly innocent phone call changed the rest of our summer and possibly the rest of our lives.

continued here…

 

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I Found A Neighborhood Hidden Gem: Gaines Park

Summertime is all about how to keep your kids occupied, still keep your sanity and your money.

I really wanted my children to take classes, but their ages range from 2 to 12 and I don’t have the time or the energy to run them to different places with possibly conflicting times. We decided that swim lessons would be a good start. We swam a little last year and I taught Bee to swim underwater, but nothing too complicated. Plus, she was too scared to go any significant distance. We went through our city’s Park and Recreation and found a class for them all.

Gaines Park is the closest park that offers swim lessons. For only $35 for 8 classes, you can’t beat it. I was excited to go as I was once on the swim team a long time ago. Because they are at different skill levels, each child has a different class, ranging from 5:30 to 7:20.

April and kids | Gaines Park Pool | AprilNoelle.com

Swim class is not news.

What’s NEWS:

  • You can swim while your kid is swimming
    • We practice with the other children while the one is in class.
    • At previous places, we had to sit in the hot sun and watch (still an option), but the water feels so much better.
  • There’s a baby pool
    • Butterfly really likes the baby pool instead of actually swimming. She’s pretty good in her class, she deserves a break. 🙂
  • There’s a small splash pad
  • The water is a comfortable temperature, I’m guessing between 75 and 80 degrees.
  • All of the above is FREE during swim class and only $2 (for adults) and $1 (for under 17) during the day.

I used to hate going to swim classes that I had to watch because of sheer boredom and now that we’re there for almost two hours, I was not looking forward to it.

Now, I sit, play, swim and teach.

Even better, the lifeguards see how I’m teaching my kids to swim and I get a little pat from the lifeguards from the good job that I’m doing.

 

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Visiting Midtown East, NYC Summer 2016

Midtown East, NYC {Summer 2016}

Have you ever had that weekend getaway that went exactly as planned… or unplanned? That was our Fourth of July weekend.

So soon after our little NYC getaway in December, a good friend of mine (and podcast co-host, Kweyah) chose Queens, NY to get married. Since it was already an extended weekend, we decided to get in on Thursday to leave on Monday, staying in Midtown East, NYC. The trip was magnificent.

Unlike our last trip in December, we didn’t overpack the trip. We took it easy. We “planned” something big for each day, deciding as the day progressed.

Thursday: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Friday: The Museum of Modern Art
Saturday: Rockefeller Center and walking the Queensboro bridge
Sunday: Church and Wedding
Monday: Home

 

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Getting into The Late Show was somewhat of a last-minute deal. We got to the Ed Sullivan Theater at 2:15 hoping to get a guaranteed spot. Although we didn’t actually get tickets, everyone ended up getting into that show. At first, I didn’t know the guests: Ellie Kemper, Patrick Fugit, and a musical performance by We Are Scientists. Then I saw the first clip, the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (a Netflix fave).

The theater had so much energy and lightheartedness. Hon Batiste and Stay Human has the place rocking the whole time. They played through each commercial break, even walking the aisles. This was a perfect way to kick off our trip.

The Museum of Modern Art

We designated Friday to see MoMA, having been told that it’s easily a four-hour visit. Jeff got the tickets at a place called Tiqets. The same price as a regular ticket, we were able to skip the line and were able to get into a preview of a new exhibit. We took advantage of the free audio tours, allowing us to get into the minds of the artists while looking at the art, hearing more about the history that the little placard told you. I also really liked the kid version of the audio tour, it was lighthearted and insightful. I really enjoyed the fifth and sixth floors the most, with the Degas exhibit: A Strange New Beauty headlining.

 

Rockefeller Center

In search for a Pret a Manger, we found ourselves downstairs in Rockefeller Center. I didn’t know that there was a mall or an observation deck. Bad tourist, tsk, tsk. So we walked around a bit and found a Pret and took a look around the mall. Pictures below.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@theaprilnoelle” hidden_hashtags=”#travel #vacation”]What do you do when you visit New York City? [/tweetthis]

 

Queensboro Bridge

We stayed in Midtown at a hotel called Fifty NYC, seemingly within a mile from most attractions. Jeff had this great idea that we should walk the Queensboro bridge. A sign said it was closed, but we found the entrance. That was a hard walk. The walk across the bridge was longer than getting to it. If I had known how long the walk actually was, I might have said no. I’m glad I didn’t. It was an adventure.

 

Church

We were invited to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem for a service. Our alarms didn’t go off, so we used Uber for the first time. Our driver was extremely kind and the car was comfy, without the glass divider between the driver and us. Well worth the extra cash, we arrived on time and not sweaty.

 

Wedding

There’s too much goodness for a quick paragraph here, so I’ll post it later.

Here are just some of the pictures from our trip:

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6 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables

 

I remember at one of Bunny’s first parties with his playgroup. He was about three and we were having a great time. One of the other moms asked him if he wanted some candy. He excitedly ran over to the vegetable platter and snacked on carrots and tomatoes. The moms all looked at me jaws dropped. My son had picked veggies over candy. By this time, he hadn’t had candy often, maybe 5 times in his life.

Now, that I have more children, the candy restrictions are not as strict, but I still have two of my three kids who will opt for vegetable over many other foods. The one, my eldest daughter, Bee, she’s a special case, with a story that goes all the way back into my womb. Even with Bee, she can eat her share of fruits and vegetables.

But how do I have three children who willing eat vegetables, even at young ages as 2 and 4? Here are my tips to get your kids to eat more vegetables.

Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables | AprilNoelle.com

Start Early

When introducing your children to foods, opt for the savory vegetables instead of the sweet fruit more often. They will like and appreciate the flavor of vegetables when their taste buds aren’t longing for the sweet.

Eat More Vegetables

You, yes, you. If you eat more vegetables, they will want to eat what you eat. Set the example for your children on what your vegetable eating expectations are and over time, they will understand and follow suit.

From Your Plate to Yours

I don’t have any problem with any baby food company. But their food doesn’t taste like your food. If you make green beans with a slice of bacon for flavor, then that’s a “new” flavor to them which they may or may not like as they make the move from pureed to solid foods. I always kept an individual serving sized blender on the counter and, before I added salt or hot spices, would toss in the veggies in the blender to serve the kids a pureed version of what we were eating. I would actually do this for all of our meals, but it was especially useful for vegetables.

Serve Often

We have vegetables at every meal after breakfast. Often, I will make a display where they will have various options to eat them. I have a three-part serving tray where I put one fruit and two vegetable options at least one snack a day. In the beginning, Bee would have nothing to do with it, or only eat the fruit. After about a week, she would scarf down all three choices without a second thought.

Creative Music Note Veggie Platter | Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables | AprilNoelle.com

Be Creative

As above, I try to incorporate vegetables however I can. The more fuss that they see you make, the more they want it. Bee rarely eats celery, but take time designing a music note and she couldn’t wait to dive in and eat all of the pieces. I think she just wanted to destroy my project. Whatever works.

Raw or Cooked?

For most of my youth, I did not like cooked vegetables. I would eat fresh carrots, celery, lettuce, etc. but wouldn’t touch a cooked broccoli floret. I thought they were mushy and relatively tasteless. I found out as I got older that people would often overcook their vegetables. When I learned to properly cook vegetables, I liked them a lot more. Try mixing up their options, cooked and raw.

When all else fails, be sneaky and trick them into eating their vegetables.

 

Try Sneakz Organic!

Sneakz dreamed up a way to make eating healthy fun for kids by adding 1/2 serving of daily vegetables to delicious organic milkshakes. I received these milkshakes in exchange for my honest review.

Get Your Kids to Eat More Vegetables | Sneakz | AprilNoelle.com

Why not combine the veggies with something they already like?

My kids really enjoyed these milkshakes. We started with the chocolate milkshake which I thought would be a favorite, but I quickly learned that they loved strawberry even more.

Bunny, my son, said he could taste the vegetables, but that didn’t stop him from drinking one of these every day until they were gone.

Remember Bee, my non-veggie eater? She was happy to opt to have this milkshake instead of eating the vegetables.

Butterfly could only finish about a half of a box (approx. 4 oz.) each time. She was excited to drink it, but couldn’t finish it.

Bunny Drinking Sneakz | AprilNoelle.com

What’s different about Sneakz Organic Yummy Veggie Nutrition?

1/2 Serving of Veggies

Each box has 1/2 serving of veggies, making it a delicious snack with nutritional benefits for a balanced diet.

Organic Dairy

Our Non-GMO and grass fed cows produce the highest quality organic milk which is healthy and safe for your little ones.

Natural Cane Sugar

Sneakz is sweetened with natural cane sugar and has fewer grams per ounce than flavored milks by Organic Valley and Horizon Milks.

Drawback

I only found one drawback for this delicious product… the name. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my children it was named “Sneakz”. Obviously, Bunny could just read the name, but I didn’t want to let my littles know about “sneaking”.

Sneakz | AprilNoelle.com

 

Now for a giveaway!

Four winners will win a free 4-pack of Sneakz Organic drinks in a flavor of your choice (chocolate, strawberry or vanilla). See the policy page for our Giveaway Policy.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Where to Buy Sneakz Organic

You can buy Sneakz at H-E-B, Albertson’s, Safeway, Wegmans, Sprouts, and coming soon to Wal-Mart.

Website | Store Finder | Amazon

 

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Summer Camp at Home: Music Theme {and many more themes}

Music

This summer, I am collaborating with a great group of women to bring your 7 Weeks of Summer Camp at Home. Each week, we will be bringing you new books, snacks, recipes and activities to enjoy with your children. I’m bringing to you a week’s worth of musical activities for your young ones.

I’ve always dreamed of having a musical household. So I’m making it happen. My son playing piano and the rest of us singing loud and often. When the mood suits me to go all-in, I love to teach them some of the fundamentals of music. Not just for fun, students in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district. (Johnson, C. M. & Memmott, J. E. (2007))

Summer Camp at Home

This summer, create a home summer camp with a Music theme.  My kids are so musical and love singing, dancing and playing instruments. It’s part of our routine year round. Yet, thinking about this summer, I wanted to do a concentrated lesson plan.

Books

Music Theme Summer Camp at Home

For the really little (birth to 5 years old), I recommend the Sing Along With Me! series which has five slider mechanisms and a QR code inside that links to both an instrumental and vocal version of the nursery rhyme. Simply scan for little ones to listen and sing along!

Wheels on the Bus
Old McDonald Had a Farm
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
If You’re Happy and You Know it
Incy Wincy Spider

For the ones a little older (5+), I recommend getting more into the different genres of music:

Realistic Rock for Kids
Hip Hop Speaks to Children
Take-Off: American All-Girl Bands During World War II
Trombone Shorty
My First Orchestra Book

Snacks

Xylophone Tart | Guitar Deviled Eggs | Music Note Veggie Tray | Mini Drum Cakes | Microphone Cake Pops

Guitar Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

6 Eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1/2 tablespoon of dill relish
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of paprika
Celery or carrots for garnish

Directions:

Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan. Add water to depth of 3 inches. Bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 15 minutes.

Drain and fill the saucepan with cold water and ice. Tap each egg firmly on the counter until cracks form all over the shell. Peel under cold running water.

Slice eggs in half lengthwise, and carefully remove yolks. Mash yolks with mayonnaise. Add relish, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Spoon yolk mixture into egg whites. Dash of paprika to top.

Cut celery into 3-inch pieces and/or slice the baby carrots lengthwise and place on top.

Serve.

Music Note Veggie Tray

Music Theme- Summer Camp At Home SeriesThis super simple vegetable display gets the kiddos to eat their veggies while being fun and playful.

With just four ingredients, you can prepare this in just a few minutes.

Ingredients:

Baby Carrots
Grape Tomatoes
Celery
Dressing

 

 

 

 

Activities

Make your own instruments

Popsicle Stick Harmonica  |  Kazoo  |  Microphone  |  Bongo Shaker Güiro  |  Guitar

 

Make music everywhere

Take a drumstick or chopstick and let the kids bang on a bunch of different items, such as pots, pans, bowls, cabinets, boxes, etc. If you have a little time, make musical glasses.

 

Music Water Glasses Activities | AprilNoelle.com
Photo from: Connections Academy

 

This post is part of a HUGE resource for you!  We’re joining 13 other bloggers in 7 weeks of themed Summer Camp at Home activities.  These themed activities will fill the weeks of summer with learning, fun, and play.  Check out all of the Summer Camp at Home themes below:

Missed any of the Summer Camp at Home Series. Check them out here:

Week 1: Monday 5/30 – Self-Love ThemeOcean Theme 
Week 2: Monday 6/6 –  Saving Money ThemeGardening/Going Green Theme
Week 3: Monday 6/13 – Black History ThemeMusic Theme
Week 6: Monday 7/4 – Dinosaur ThemeCooking Theme
Week 7: Monday 7/11 – Astronomy Theme & Around the World Theme

7 Weeks of Summer Camp at Home | AprilNoelle.com

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Best Father’s Day Gifts for Men Who Mean Business 2016

In my house, Father’s Day gifts are the hardest to buy. My husband often just buys whatever he wants whenever he wants it. So, this year, I thought long and hard about things that would prove really useful in his daily life, but may not have known about.

If you’ve got a businessman at home, here are some of the best Father’s Day Gifts for businessmen!

 

**Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2016**

 

Make your businessman fall in love with your gift!

Father’s Day is around the corner and it’s time to put in the Father’s Day orders to get them in time. Make sure that they don’t feel forgotten with the perfect gift for your father, your partner, your father-in-law, your “I think of you as a father”, special man in your life.  To help inspire your gift giving, I’ve partnered with some of my favorite bloggers to put together a complete gift guide featuring Father’s Day gift ideas for all of those special guys!  View our complete Father’s Day Gift Guide HERE!

You can find a gift here for any dad in your life!

Tech Dads @ Headband for Today
Chef Dads @ Butter and Beats
Sports Dads @ Love, Peace & Tiny Feet
Healthy Dads @ OK, Dani
Complete Gift Guide @ The Crunchy Mommy

As for my husband, who spends most of his day in the office, I found that sometimes the best gift is that which helps them make his life easier on a day-to-day basis.

**The following may contain affiliate links,
the same great price for you, a little bit for me to keep this little blog running.**

Father's Day Guide for Men Who Mean

 

Businessmen’s Father’s Day Gifts 2016

Tie and Belt Rack | Father's Day Gift Guide 2016 | LINC | AprilNoelle.com

Tie and Belt Rack

Awhile ago, we inherited about 20 ties. Coming into a bunch of ties at one time means that you have to figure out where to put them and how to put them on display. I needed an easy system to store and reach all of the ties and belts we already owned. So, I bought this tie and belt rack. Since this machine is electronic, a simple push of a button turns the machine around to save space and keep everything neat. For under $20, this gift is a steal.

 

 

USB Cufflinks | Father's Day Gift Guide 2016 | LINC | AprilNoelle.com

USB Cufflinks

USB drives are getting smaller and more convenient. My husband is constantly leaving things behind, including his keys and phone, so I can’t imagine that he would remember to take a USB drive even to a potential important meeting. Spare him the need to remember another item by combining the USB drive with a necessary accessory! These wifi enabled USB cufflinks will keep your husband on top of his business game while looking classy at the same time.

 

 

Coffee and espresso maker | Father's Day Gift Guide 2016 | LINC | AprilNoelle.com

Single Serving Coffee and Espresso Makers

With coffee being the businessman’s staple, don’t make him miss out on valuable work time searching for the perfect cup. These single serving coffee makers fit snugly in on your desk or in the corner. Not ready for an in office coffee and espresso maker? Grab a multi-cup coffee and espresso maker to make both of you the perfect cup of coffee in the morning.

 

 

coffee warmer

Car Coffee Cup Warmer

There’s nothing worse than making the perfect cup of coffee and when you’re ready to take a sip, it’s ice cold. Prevent bad, cold coffee with this car coffee cup warmer. Whether you make it at home or buy it at the local coffee place, this car coffee warmer keeps the coffee warm for whenever you’re ready to drink.

 

Lunch Bag | Father's Day Gift Guide 2016 | LINC | AprilNoelle.com

Lunch Bag

Don’t worry about his co-workers stealing your delicious meals from the work fridge again. With 10 hours of chilling time, your husband can keep his lunch on his desk until he’s ready to eat. This lunch bag will keep you and your man happy and most of all, full.

 

travel shaving kit

Art of Shaving’s 4 Elements of the Perfect Shave Travel Kit

When the man in your life is on the go, they still need to keep their facial hair in check. This Shave Travel Kit can stay packed away in his travel bag so that he will never be gone and need to figure out how to get a quick shave.

 

watch box

Watch Box

Over the years, I’ve gotten the men in my life various watches. Yet, sometimes, they disappear into the oblivion of a drawer. Stop that from happening to wonderful watches in your man’s life. Don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” plague him. Get this watch box to display all of the beautiful watches you’ve gotten him.

 

 

men's pajamas

Pajamas

What’s the best after a long day? Sleeping in comfortable pajamas and relaxing in a comfortable bed. A new bed might be out of the question, but for $35, you can sleep in peace and comfort in a variety of colors and styles. Dress the man in your life like a million dollars or just help him sleep like it.

 

headphones

B&O BeoPlay H8 Wireless Active Noise Cancellation Headphones

Whether at home or on the go, the perfect headphones can come in handy to keep the noise out and get the good stuff in. With these wireless headphones, he never needs to skip a beat when a call comes in. Compatible with most smartphone devices, answering a call in the midst of anything else has never been easier. Keep him on his game, get these headphones now.
audible

Audible

Who’s got time to ready books anymore? I have some friends that have that time, figure it out, but I have to listen to the best of the best instead. I know the busy man would love the option to listen, instead of read, too. Check out Audible to never miss a book beat.

 

You know that you’ve got the best list of Father’s Day Gift giving ideas. So, take the time to make brunch reservations and be prepared for the man in your life to be wowed!  Be sure to check out our FULL Father’s Day Gift Guide, brought to you by The Crunchy Mommy, Headband for Today, Butter and Beats, Love, Peace & Tiny Feet, OK, Dani, and yours truly!

 

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Turn It Up Tuesday | AprilNoelle.com

5 Ways “TweetThis” Increases Your Blog’s Exposure with Turn it Up Tuesday

Welcome to another week of Turn It Up Tuesday!!! Last week, we celebrated Memorial Day – and it’s great to recognize, remember, and honor those that have and are serving and their families.

We had an amazing week last week, and we thank you so much for joining in the fun! And if you’re new here…welcome! Feel free to share, share, share!

TUT newTurn It Up Tuesdays is all about being happy, excited, energetic…and having fun! Link up all of your favorite posts (old or new) and meet some awesome bloggers in return! Link up your funny stories, DIY posts, recipes, mommy moments — anything at all. We want to laugh, be entertained, be inspired, and have a good time! Thanks so much to everyone that joins us each week and makes this link party the best that it could be!

SPONSOR OF THE MONTH

Unfortunately, we don’t have a sponsor this month. But if you’re interested in being our sponsor for the remainder of the month, please sign up below!

We’re looking for sponsors for next month! Be sure to sign up, and sponsor us for a month!
Click here to sign up for a month, or two!

Welcome the lovely ladies of Turn It Up Tuesday!

12

(from the top – left to right)

Natasha from Epic Mommy Adventures | Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings | April from April Noelle | Tina from The Happy Creations | Tiffany from The Mrs Tee| Melissa from The Coupon Chronicles | Kelly from Making-More | Silvie from My Silly Little Gang | Mari from Living in Mommywood | Tenns from Bliss & Faith | Kimberly from Being a Wordsmith | Elaine from Ramblings of a Bad Domestic Goddess | Ginger from Does Your Sister Have Normal Hair | Bev from Eclectic Red Barn | Anuja from All I Do | Heather from Goodlicious

And welcome our awesome guest hosts for June!

TUT June 2016 (1)

Sarah from Roaring Mama Lion | Robin from Snippets of Faith | Lori from Saved by the Mommy | Jessica from Striving Towards Grace

Interested in being a guest host for the month or becoming a permanent co-host?

Complete the form here! Monthly guest hosts will be chosen on a first come first-serve basis.

Here are the Featured posts from last week!

herringbone-table-tsu

Mari chose DIY Herringbone Coffee Table from The Summery Umbrella. “I loved LZ’s table share it has beautiful color very rich and eye catching! The design was awesome too.”

Eggs-in-Purgatory-10

Mari chose Eggs in Purgatory with Garlic Bread from The Kittchen. “Then Kit’s egg dish looked so wonderful I hope to try it this weekend! Purgatory, what a name for a dish lol great share.”

Pretty-Milk-Paint-Bench-Renovation

Bev chose Milk Paint Gossip Bench Refinish from Flamingo Toes. “How cute to update this gossip bench. Just makes you want to sit down and talk.”

Chocolate-Strawberry-Jam-Cake--1024x1024

Bev chose Chocolate Strawberry Jam Cake from Just A Mum. “How can you go wrong with chocolate cake? Add in jam and chocolate frosting and I am hooked.”

Tina also chose this post. “This cake looks super yummy,love the combination of strawberry and chocolate.I will definitely try making this beautiful cake, thanks so much for sharing this .recipe with us.”

Simple-Funnel-Cake-Recipe

Stacey chose Simple Funnel Cake Recipe {Maker’s Mix-Up} from Hello Nature. “We don’t often go to fairs and such, so I absolutely miss having yummy funnel cakes. I am definitely going to be making these and soon! Thank you so much for sharing!”

peanut-butter-jelly-thumbprints-12

Stacey chose Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints from The Gold Lining Girl. “These look wonderful and I know they would definitely be a hit with the kids. I can’t wait to make them. Thanks so much for sharing!”

Learning-To-Tell-Time-Has-Never-Been-So-Much-Fun-Fun-craft-project-and-additional-learn-to-tell-time-ideas

Tina chose Learning to Tell Time with a Rock Clock Mystery from The Jenny Evolution. “A creative way to help children learn to tell time. Lovely and fun learning activity.Thanks for sharing this creative idea with us.”

Little girl with balloons standing on the beach at the day time

Tiffany chose 50 Summer Boredom Busters for Kids from Penny Pincher Jenny. “Finding a way to keep the boredom monster at bay during the summer is not always easy but thanks to Jenny’s great ideas I can check that off my worry list!”

tweetthis-PIN

Kimberly chose 5 Ways “TweetThis” Increases Your Blog’s Exposure from TheMrsTee. “I use a tweet plugin, but now I can amp up the way that I do thanks to this post. Great tips!”

36-Healthy-BBQ-Recipes-For-Summer

Silvie chose 36 Healthy BBQ Recipes for Summer from Healthy Helper. “What a list of amazingly delicious recipes! I found some that I wouldn’t have even thought about. I can’t wait to try them out.”

chilled-cucumber-cilantro-soup

Silvie chose Chilled Cucumber Cilantro Soup from Little Miss Dexterous. “I love the flavors of both cucumber and cilantro. I can’t wait to try this soup! It looks and sounds so crisp and refreshing, perfect for these hot summer days.”

Patriotic-Popsicles-vertical

Heather chose Berry Cheesecake Recipes from The Kittchen. “My boys love popsicles, and have a great time making them at home. This looks like a fun variation for us to try.”

Ginger-Lime-Chicken-Recipe

Heather chose Ginger Lime Chicken from Bombshell Bling. “Lime is such a great addition to savory dishes. This looks like a delicious recipe for the grill.”

How-to

Natasha chose How to Stay Awake When You’re Really, Really Tired from Morgan Manages Mommyhood. “When you’re a momma, you stay tired. But you still have to figure out how to stay awake to take care of your kids. These are some great tips to staying awake! Thanks for sharing!”

Chewbacca-Mom-and-4-Viral-Lessons

Natasha chose Chewbacca Mom and 4 Viral Lessons from Earning & Saving with Sarah Fuller. “I absolutely love the Chewbacca Mom video! It’s amazing how videos or posts go viral. It’s unexpected, unpredictable, and amazing. These are some great lessons for viral success! Thanks so much for sharing with us!”

Kimberly also chose this post. “If you haven’t seen this video, you MUST watch it! Sarah points out why it (and so many others) went viral.”

sunkissesmoonhugs+quilt

The post with the most views is Life is Like a Patchwork Quilt…Love in Every Stitch! from Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs.

If you were featured above, feel free to share the badge below with pride on your blog or website!

Epic Mommy Adventures

And the Best of the Best goes to…

Chocolate-Strawberry-Jam-Cake--1024x1024

Chocolate Strawberry Jam Cake from Just A Mum

Chewbacca-Mom-and-4-Viral-Lessons

Chewbacca Mom and 4 Viral Lessons from Earning & Saving with Sarah Fuller

Show some love to our Best of the Best bloggers this week!!!!

Best of the Best Bloggers – make sure to showcase the button below on your blog!

Epic Mommy Adventures

So now that you’ve seen all that we have to offer in this week’s Turn It Up Tuesday,

let’s get started!

– Show some love to your hosts and co-hosts simply by following them on social media and leaving a comment so they can follow you back.

– Link up as many posts as you’d like! The more, the merrier!

– Check out some of the other posts and make some new friends!

– Grab the button below and showcase on your sidebar! Invite your fellow bloggers to join the fun!

Epic Mommy Adventures

Link up your posts, make some friends, and earn the chance to be featured or become the Best of the Best on Turn It Up Tuesday! We will feature the favorite posts each week!

**Disclaimer: Adding your link to this link party gives permission to Epic Mommy Adventures, along with co-hosts, guest hosts, and participants of Turn It Up Tuesday, to share your posts and pictures via social media and as features, roundups, etc. with an explicit link back to the original source.**



Interested in reading all of our favorite posts on Turn It Up Tuesdays – past or present? Or do want to know if your post was featured before we go live next week? Follow Natasha Peter’s board Featured on Turn It Up Tuesdays! on Pinterest.

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