Activities & Crafts Homeschooling

A Review of Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit

May 28, 2022

We received Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit in exchange for an honest review. We LOVED this kit and it occupied my kids for quite some time. Read on to learn more about this air dough kit!

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.

We have officially embarked on our homeschooling journey! In my search for a curriculum that balanced my desire for a STEM-based curriculum that incorporated gameschooling, I found Timberdoodle. It is a faith-based organization that also offers secular curriculum options as well. Their curriculum is robust, creative, and seems to check all of our boxes. So, I joined their blogging team! Which means that I’ll be regularly reviewing products that Timberdoodle carries, as well as reviewing their Kindergarten curriculum kit. I’m incredibly excited about this and can’t wait for you all to learn about Timberdoodle as well!

Making Animals Air Dough Kit is included in Timberdoodle’s second grade curriculum kit.

Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit

Included in the Making Animals Air Dough Kit:

  • 60 individually packaged air dough packets (pretty small packets – about 2inx3in) – 6 packets are glow in the dark (and we tested them, they do lightly glow in the dark).
  • 13 different colors of air dough
  • 3 tools (that are mostly kid safe)
  • 5 sets of googly eyes
  • Two instruction booklets: one smaller booklet inside the kit, and another more robust book with 46 different animal creations

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed about the kit is that it’s pretty large. There are A LOT of colors, which are all individually wrapped in small packages. A very colorful, beautiful book was included that had instructions for how to create 46 different animals, all using the same techniques that they teach you at the beginning of the book.

How we used Making Animals Air Dough Kit

The first thing we did was go through the book, learn the techniques at the beginning (making a ball, teardrop and worm), and then select some animals we wanted to make. First we made penguins. My son had an easier time making a 2D shapes at first, but he eventually got the hang of it.

Timberdoodle Making Animals Air Dough Kit
My son making a flat penguin

After that, we tried our hand at making kangaroos, which was a little more complicated.

Making Animals Air Dough Kit: kangaroo
My blue kangaroo, next to the book’s kangaroo
Finn’s multi-colored kangaroo, which looked more like an alien than a kangaroo – but he was proud and had so much fun making it!

After this, I decided to let them have some open play with the air dough, to make whatever they wanted. Mostly they just wanted to squish it, make balls with it, combine colors, and make some monsters with lots of eyeballs. This was awesome! It’s rare that an activity will keep their attention for longer than 20-30 minutes, and they continued playing with the air dough for over an hour.

They returned to the kit the next day (at their request) and we made some really cute birds. My 5yo was more adept at the techniques the second day, and more capable of making his own creations with minimal help on my part. Our almost 3yo sat still long enough for us to make a chick together, which he was really proud of!

My (almost) 3yo with his baby chick

Again, I let them have some open play with the air dough and my 5yo made a snake, and then another monster. My youngest mostly liked combining different colors and making balls. I knew it was a real hit when a friend came over and they wanted him to play with the air dough, too.

I will note that the mini instruction book included in the kit was inside a plastic bag and it was damp and moldy. That went in the trash ASAP. So we didn’t do anything from that instruction book.

Another remark: the dough packets are small, so you might want to open multiple of the same color in order to make a bigger animal.

This really is the lightest, fluffiest dough and it’s VERY fun to play with! Definitely recommend for that reason alone.

Testing the claims on the box:

The box makes some claims about the dough, and I tested them: it didn’t stick to fabric or carpet, unless we got it wet. It really was pretty mess free. Occasionally some dots of dough would make it to the ground, but because they didn’t stick to anything, it was easy to clean up. Definitely easier than play dough! As I said before, we tested the glow-in-the-dark dough and it did lightly glow in our closed pantry. It also says its ages 3+ and my youngest is just under 3 years old, and I think he’s barely old enough to make creations, though I bet younger kids would still enjoy playing with it. The dough did dry overnight, but it still felt soft, though not pliable. It doesn’t harden into a hard clay, which is fine by me because that means the creations are less breakable.

My kids’ reactions:

Me: What did you think of the air dough kit?

Finn (5): It was awesome.
Me: What was your favorite part?

Finn: That I got to build with it.

Me: What was your favorite thing to build?

Finn: the kangaroos

Me: Was there anything you didn’t like about it?

Finn: No, not at all.

My almost 3yo said: (It was) “very special” and that he loved “mixing colors.”

Safe to say, the kids loved it!

Summary of Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit:

This light, airy dough is super fun to play with and kept my kids very engaged for a long time. Making the creations in the book was fun, though our versions didn’t come close to the real ones, but that was perfectly fine by us! My kids had a ton of fun with open play with this dough – just squishing and squashing it, mixing colors, making their own creations, etc. As far as we could test them, the claims on the box were true. For the price ($37.95) I would hope that this kit would give us multiple play sessions, and it certainly did. The book included is beautiful and will last for a long time after the dough is gone – we’ll be able to use it with other dough or even play dough.

This kit would be perfect as an art add-on to your homeschooling curriculum, or as a fun indoor activity for a super hot or rainy day! To learn more about the kit, or to purchase one, click here: Timberdoodle’s Making Animals Air Dough Kit.

If you’re looking for more summer activity ideas, check out these posts:

5 Tips for a Fun & Easy Summer Schedule

Our favorite Outer Space Activities

Tissue Paper Watermelon Craft for Little Ones

26 Summer Date Ideas

Parenting

Sex Trafficking: What it is, How to Help & How to Protect Your Kids

January 12, 2022
sex trafficking prevention

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Sex trafficking is one of the worst things that happens in our world today. And, I’m going to be honest, it’s very difficult to write about. But it’s so important that we are aware of what’s happening in our world so that we can prevent it and protect each other and our children.

What is sex trafficking?

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act – which was passed in 2000 in the U.S. and officially made trafficking illegal – defines sex trafficking as:

The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.

22 U.S.C. § 7102

So basically what this means is victims of sex trafficking are those who are forced to have sex (or any kind of sexual act) in exchange for money or something of value. The ‘something of value’ can be food, shelter, or other necessities. If the victim is under the age of 18, there does not need to be force, fraud or coercion for it to be considered sex trafficking.

The definition here clarifies something that’s very important: there is no such thing as a ‘child prostitute.’ Children who are used for sexual acts are victims 100% of the time. It doesn’t matter how they ended up there, children should never be used by adults for sex.

How prevalent is human trafficking?

Trafficking can feel like it’s not that common – especially if you don’t know of anyone who has been trafficked or you don’t see evidence of it in your day to day life. But human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, affecting nearly 25 million people across the globe. Approximately 4.8 million of those people are involved in sex trafficking. Of course, there isn’t a reliable way we can know the true number of victims.

It can be easy to assume that sex trafficking happens to other people in other countries. However, it is a huge problem right here in the United States – to U.S. citizens. According to a study of the U.S. Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims in the United States were U.S. citizens.

What’s worse is that more than 1 in 5 trafficking victims are children.

Source: International Labour Office. (2017). Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage. Geneva: International Labour Organization. Retrieved from https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf

What are signs of a trafficking victim?

The Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking created these fantastic graphics to help us raise awareness of common trafficking indicators:

Source: Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking

What can I do to help fight sex trafficking?

Source: Pasco County Commission on Human Trafficking and Fair Trade International

Stop watching pornography

Pornography and the sex trafficking industry are undeniably linked. For example, if a child (anyone under the age of 18) is being used in pornographic material, this is defined as sex trafficking. And one of the most common searches related to porn include the terms ‘youth’ or ‘teen.’ If you are watching pornography that involves a person under the age of 18, you are watching a victim of sex trafficking and thereby contributing to the demand for sex trafficking.

Even if you’re watching porn with only adults involved, there is no way to know if that person has been coerced (and therefore is a victim of sex trafficking). In one survey of underage sex trafficking victims, 63% said they were advertised or sold online (source).

Additionally, sex traffickers often use pornography to groom and desensitize their victims.

To read more about this, read: Porn and Human Trafficking and Is the Porn Industry Connected to Sex Trafficking?

Learn how porn is rewiring your brain: Covenant Eyes Your Brain on Porn

If you want help with ending an addiction to pornography, or if you want to protect those in your family from accessing pornography, check out Covenant Eyes. Sign up with promo code MAYHEM30 to receive 30 days FREE.

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Devotionals for Moms

Hot Mess Mom: I See You.

August 16, 2021
hot mess mom

Hey there, hot mess mama.

I see you.

I see you trying to wrestle your kids into their car seats while they writhe and scream and make you want to give up trying to go anywhere with them ever again.

I see you trying to put together a healthy meal for your kids to throw on the floor eat – only to pour yourself a bowl of cereal in exhaustion.

I feel your frustration as your child throws himself on the floor yet again while you try to get him dressed so that you can be late yet again.

I see you as you try to read your Bible during nap time, only to fall asleep in the pages of Leviticus once more.

I see you showing up with no makeup, oatmeal in your hair, spit up on your shirt, with the contents of your diaper bag strewn across your car as you search for THE ONLY TOY THAT MATTERS to your child. The one you left at home.

I see you as you scroll through Instagram looking at moms who have tighter bodies, better schedules, cleaner homes, happier kids, all while they make more money through their side hustles and plan elaborate educational activities for their kids.

You wonder if you’ll ever NOT feel tired again, if your body will ever look the same, if your family will ever appreciate your work, if you’ll ever make the money you want to make or accomplish any goals ever again.

You wonder if you’ll ever have it all together.

I’m with you, and I am you.

I am the hot mess mom who never has it all together – the one who makes the other moms feel like THEY have it more together than they originally thought.

I work and plan and hope and pray to one day have it all together. I print schedules, make chore charts, meal plan, set alarms, scour Pinterest, read all the books and all the articles and pray all the prayers.

And I just know that this is the week I will finally have it all together. This is the day.

And here’s the honest truth: I won’t.

Perfection is a lie perpetuated by our own guilty consciences, social media, and Satan.

The moment we feel like we have arrived and are finally perfect – that’s the moment when we disown the work of Jesus to save us from our imperfections.

Here is the good news, my hot mess friend: you don’t have to be perfect, because God already is.

And here’s some more good news: God meets us where we are in our struggle to be more like Him.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11

This idea that God gently leads those who have young is almost startling to me. The powerful, awesome God who created the stars in the sky and conjured up such terrors as crocodiles, Great White Sharks and super volcanoes – this same God is also…gentle?

So I dug a little deeper into this verse. What does it mean for God to gently lead me?

The Hebrew term used for ‘He gently leads’ means ‘to lead or guide to a watering place, bring to a place of rest, refresh.’ This is the same terminology used in such verses as Exodus 15:13, Psalm 23:2, Psalm 31:3, Isaiah 49:10, 2 Chronicles 28:15, and 2 Chronicles 32:22.

I don’t know about you, but I adore the idea of rest and refreshment. I picture God leading me to a quiet place by the water where I can rest on a blanket in the shade. I can eat (without someone stealing my food or complaining about theirs), I can close my eyes and sleep (without listening to a monitor for a crying baby), I can read a book leisurely without interruption, and I can breathe.

This is my vision. What’s yours? Where is God leading you for your rest?

So if you’re feeling like a hot mess mom today, remember two things:

1. You are not alone.

2. God is gently leading you toward rest.

We can follow David’s example and pray for God to lead and guide us:

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Psalm 31:3

And lastly, let’s have faith and trust that God WILL lead us to a place of rest. In His timing, which is perfect.

In the meantime, know that you are not alone, hot mess mom – God is with you. And so am I!

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Recipes Chronic Pain Tips

Simple Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry

February 24, 2021
simple anti inflammatory stir fry

A simple anti-inflammatory stir fry that’s easy to make and filled with inflammation fighting foods!

If you’re looking for a go-to anti-inflammatory meal, this is mine. This simple stir fry is chock full of inflammation fighting foods, it’s easily customized and very versatile depending on what veggies you love in your stir fry. Also, it’s dairy-free, gluten free, sugar free and yet, it’s NOT taste-free!! 😉

For more anti-inflammatory meals that the entire family can enjoy, check out this post: Anti-Inflammatory Meals for the Whole Family.

There’s so many different ways to make this dish – and that’s what makes it my go-to weeknight meal that we don’t get tired of. You can swap out rice for rice noodles or even spaghetti squash as the base. You can utilize in-season vegetables along with tried-and-true veggies your family loves. I’ll also occasionally include chunks of pineapple or mango for a sweet surprise!

So, pick your family’s favorite veggies, throw them on the pan with some olive or coconut oil and stir fry away! You can easily make this a vegetarian dish or include shrimp, seared tuna or beef.

One way to make this dish even simpler is to purchase pre-chopped veggies in your produce department. Some stores even have a “stir fry” bag with fresh (not frozen) vegetables that are perfect for a weeknight stir fry. Alternatively, you could chop up your veggies in the morning or the night before so that you can throw them on the pan right when you get home. I’ve also been known to use kitchen shears to make my chopping and cutting even easier! 😉

So, what makes this stir fry “anti-inflammatory”?

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Activities & Crafts

Outer Space Activities for Your Future Astronaut

November 11, 2020
outer space activities for your future astronaut

If you’ve followed the blog at all, you know just how obsessed my son, Finn, is with outer space. He wears his astronaut costume ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, when we were trick-or-treating this year for Halloween, we overheard a neighbor we didn’t know point to Finn and say, “I see that astronaut in the neighborhood all the time!” Yep, that’s my son. So, if you have a similarly space-loving kid, here’s some fun outer space activities and experiments to do with them!

Also, don’t forget to check out this Astro-Mom’s Gift Guide for the Best Gifts to Buy on Amazon for Your Space Loving Kid as well as this week’s devotional on Lessons I’ve Learned About God From Space.

Space Activity #1: Marshmallow Constellations

Supplies: 

  • Mini marshmallows 
  • Toothpicks 
  • Black paper
  • Chalk
  • Scissors
  • Tape
Finn’s astronomical sign, Libra.

Instructions:

  • Find a constellation you want to re-create. Here’s a link with 15 simple constellations.
  • For younger children, you may want to trace the constellation first 
  • The marshmallows are each a star in the constellation and the toothpicks are the invisible lines that connect the stars to create the constellation
My attempt at my astronomical sign, Sagittarius.

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Chronic Pain Tips Devotionals for Moms

7 Scriptures for Finding Joy in Trials

October 5, 2020
Finding joy in difficulties

Our church is going through a Bible reading plan together this year and right now we are reading the book of James. A passage in James 1 resonated with me and challenged me to my core about finding joy in trials. It led me to this Bible study on more verses about trials and hardships.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

James 1:2-6

When I read this verse, one question kept coming to my mind:

Why on earth would I consider it joy to go through hardships?!

One of the first things I did was look up exactly what this word ‘joy‘ means. In this verse, joy is the Greek word charan which can be translated joy, gladness, a source of joy. My favorite definition was “a calm delight.”

Again, I wondered, why would I be delightfully calm during hardships?! And…how?

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Activities & Crafts

Simple Seed Growing Experiment

July 22, 2020
seed growing experiment

This seed growing experiment is one of my favorites for so many reasons!

  1. It teaches kids about how plants grow.
  2. It gets them excited about vegetables (and fruit and flowers)!
  3. It’s simple and inexpensive.
  4. It’s genuinely incredible to watch these plants grow up close.

What you’ll need for this seed growing experiment:

  • Clear cups (glass or plastic)
  • Seeds of any kind
  • Paper towels (about 2-4 sheets, depending on the size of your cup)
  • Water
  • Dry erase marker or permanent marker (to indicate the seeds on the cup)
  • Patience

First, pick out your seeds. We did pea, green bean, cantaloupe, radish and an assortment of wildflower seeds – but you can use any seeds you want! It was fun to take Finn to Lowe’s and have him pick out which seeds he wanted to grow.

Next, take your paper towels, wrap them around your hand so they form a tight spiral (so they can fit in the cup in an organized manner). Then, wet the paper towels so that they are moist but not soaking wet. They need to maintain some structure inside the cup. Then, place them in the cup so that they are snug against the edge of the glass. If the paper towels are falling down, just reinforce them with more damp paper towels.

Finally, stick the seeds on the outside of the paper towel so that you can see them through the glass. You can use your finger (or a pen) to create a small tunnel on the side of the paper towel so they can slide down the glass. You want to paper towel to be snug against the seed so that the seed gets the moisture from the paper towel. This will help it to germinate!

Then, mark your seeds (so you can remember what they are) and place in a sunny spot in the house! A central windowsill is a great spot so your kids can check on them every day.

If you’d like to make this into more of a formal experiment, here’s what we did:

Question: which seed will germinate (grow) the fastest?

Finn guessed that the green bean would grow the fastest because it was the largest. I “guessed” that the radish would germinate quickly because it was the smallest. (Also because I read online that it would! Ha!)

Keep track of the results and once the seeds have sprouted, you can do some more research with your little one about why they sprouted at the rate that they did. You could also have a “competition” on which seeds will grow the tallest or test different hypotheses based on how much sunlight or water your seeds are receiving.

Watching these seeds germinate was really amazing! It took a little patience at first, but once they sprouted I was amazed by how quickly they grew.

After they outgrow your cup, you can (very carefully) remove them from the glass cup and replant them. Note: the roots will grow into the paper towel so you have to be careful to gently detangle them.

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Chronic Pain Tips COVID-19 Devotionals for Moms

When God Has Other Plans

May 4, 2020
When God has other plans
For the busy mom: listen to an audio recording of this post!

I’m a planner. Literally. My undergraduate degree was in Recreation, Parks & Tourism with a concentration in Event Planning. I enjoy planning things. In fact, one of my “hobbies” is planning vacations that I’ll (probably) never go on. 

The older I get, the more I bump up against this problem with planning: oftentimes, my plans don’t coincide with God’s plan. And it’s frustrating, and, at times, painful. 

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21

When God Had Different Plans for Me

At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.

With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).

Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband. This obviously wasn’t part of my plans.

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Activities & Crafts Marriage

30+ Bonding Fall Date Ideas for Couples & Kids

October 31, 2021
fall date ideas - biking

Fall is my favorite season! I love the crisp coolness and the anticipation of the holiday season. It’s the best time for outdoor activities. If you’re looking for some fun fall activities to do with your spouse or even for a special activity with your kiddos, here are some of my favorite fall ideas:

For more date night ideas, check out 52 Stay-at-Home Date Ideas!

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Recipes Chronic Pain Tips

4 Simple Lessons I Learned From a Detox Elimination Diet

October 18, 2021
detox elimination diet tips

If you’re considering trying a detox & elimination diet, I highly recommend it! I’ll tell you up front it won’t be easy and is best to do under the supervision of a doctor or dietitian.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed medical provider with any questions you may have before undertaking a new health care regimen. Please do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

What is a detox elimination diet?

Detoxify simply means to remove toxic substances. Our body does this naturally – no juicing required! 😆

When a substance enters our body, our digestive system filters out toxins using the liver and kidneys. You can read more about this process here: Information on Detoxification

When we partake in a detox diet, we’re simply supporting our body’s naturally occurring detoxification process by lessening the amount of toxins we consume. Additionally, we’re adding in foods that help our bodies optimize the naturally occurring detoxification process.

Detox diet: reducing toxins + increasing detoxifying foods = support your body’s natural detoxification process

An elimination diet is the process of removing common allergenic foods for a period of time and then adding them back in one at a time so you can rule out certain food sensitivities.

For example, to test if you’re sensitive to dairy, you can eliminate dairy for 10 days and then add it back into your diet to see how your body responds. An elimination diet is one of the most effective ways to test yourself for food sensitivities because you’re eliminating most allergenic foods (except fruits and vegetables) and testing them one at a time.

A detox elimination diet is the combination of the two at the same time – so you’re boosting your detox powers AND testing for food sensitivities all together!

Why should I do a detox elimination diet?

I did my detox elimination diet for many reasons. I suspected I had several food sensitivities but I wasn’t sure which foods were irritating me. The elimination diet allowed me to narrow that down.

I like to think of this as a “reset” time. A cleanse, but without all that annoying juicing. This can help give our bodies an extra boost, to re-energize us and get us focused on what we should be filling our bodies with.

I found that when I did my detox elimination diet, the foods I ate energized me more than the normally do. Perhaps because there wasn’t a bunch of toxins weighing it down or because I wasn’t consuming foods I was sensitive to!

Detox & Elimination Diet = food sensitivities FOUND + focus on energizing foods.

What should I eat on a detox elimination diet?

The short answer: lots of fruits and vegetables.

You should not consume foods that you KNOW you are allergic or sensitive to, or foods that you suspect you’re sensitive to. The whole point is to give your system a break from those foods, and then test them to confirm or rule out sensitivities.

There are lots of different ways to go about a detox or elimination diet, but I’ll share with you what I did:

During my detox elimination diet, I removed all meats, refined sugars, processed foods, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and known/suspected allergies or food sensitivities.

Throughout the 10-day detox, I removed one at a time – gluten, all grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes – until I was only consuming fruits and vegetables for a few days. Then, I tested each potential allergenic food group one at a time – first legumes, then nuts and seeds, then grains, gluten, and so on. I did not mix any of the allergenic foods with each other until I had completely reintroduced all of the foods.

For example, if I wanted to test out if I was sensitive to legumes AND gluten, I wouldn’t eat them both on the same day. I would eat legumes (and not gluten) for one to two days, and see how my body responded. Then, after I had finished that test, I would stop eating legumes and then reintroduce gluten for one or two days to see how my body responded. That way it’s clear which food groups my body is having sensitivities to.

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Parenting

8 Ways to Keep Your Kids Healthy During the Holidays

October 5, 2021
keeping kids healthy during holidays

If you’re concerned about how to keep your kids healthy during this holiday season, read this guest post by Leslie, the mom behind the keyboard at Super Mom Picks! Leslie loves to help moms in this amazing, yet scary journey of raising a successful family.

The holidays are a time of fun, love, and celebration, but they may also bring sniffles, sneezes, and stomachaches. It might be challenging to stay healthy during this season of cold weather, flu viruses, and sweet snacks. Luckily, you can do a few easy things this Holiday period to increase your chances of keeping your children (and yourself!) healthy. Engaging in healthy habits with your child over the holidays can help to ensure that your child’s health is in tip-top shape throughout the year.

Disclaimer: we are not medical professionals. The information in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice from a licensed medical professional. If you or your child have a medical problem, you should consult your physician or your child’s physician.

Free them from Gadgets

We frequently hear requests for gadgets from our children (ranging in age from babies to teenagers), mainly when we’re engaged in other activities. Our instinct is to either say a reluctant ‘YES’ to get them off our backs or a vehement ‘NO’ to show who’s boss. In any case, you, the parents, are the losers! Establish clear rules for the use of electronics with the children. Set a limit of 30 minutes to an hour in front of the television during the holidays. Make sure your kids understand the need for moderation.

For more on this, check out the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations on screen time: Children and Screen Time.

Keep them Moving

The holiday season can be an excellent time to spend with your children and perhaps even let your inner child loose. It’s a good idea to plan ahead of time for the holidays and develop a list of activities to keep the kids occupied. 

Check out my favorite activities to wear out your high energy kid!

activities for high energy kids

Set aside time each day to walk, ride bikes, play backyard tag, jump rope, play soccer, dance, or swim as a family. It all adds up to the 60 minutes of activity that children require every day, regardless of the season.

Get Enough Sleep

We all know how important sleep is, but it’s easy during the holidays to let that slide. According to studies, school-aged children (6 to 12 years old) need 9 to 12 hours per night. However, many children get only 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, and in some cases, even less.

When we’re not getting enough sleep, we become irritable and, over time, sick. It’s especially crucial for kids because the effects of sleep deprivation can last a lifetime.

For more science behind this, read this and and this.

So minimize those late-night sleepovers and stick to a strict bedtime schedule. To make things easier, consider the following: 

  • Maintain a consistent dinnertime schedule
  • Ensure that your kids get plenty of fresh air and activity throughout the day
  • Before going to bed, turn off all screens 1 hour before bedtime

Eat Healthily

Everyone enjoys the holidays because of the festive lights, time spent with family, and, of course, the delicious holiday feasts. When presented with tempting temptations, holidays such as Halloween and Christmas are an excellent time to teach children to make healthy choices. Given that Halloween is rapidly approaching, we must prepare nutritious Halloween treats for our children. Bring a healthy side dish to the dinner table to ensure that there are healthy foods available. Getting children involved in preparing a recipe is a great approach to encourage them to eat a healthy diet and nutritious foods.

Check out my favorite anti-inflammatory diet holiday side dishes for healthy holiday alternatives!

Prepare Healthy Snacks

Your child’s stomach is relatively small. They most likely consume less food at meals than you do. Smart snacks can help your child consume adequate calories and fluids throughout the day. Adults find it difficult to avoid favorite holiday dishes at classroom parties, visiting relatives, and home customs. It’s even more challenging for children! 

You can prepare some healthier versions like:

  • carrots or peppers with hummus
  • easy-to-peel clementines
  • 100% juice
  • grapes
  • string cheese
  • no sugar added yogurt topped with fresh fruit
  • whole grain crackers with goat cheese
  • peanut butter and apples or bananas
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • homemade smoothies with fresh greens and fruit

When you keep these foods on hand, it’s much easier to give healthier snacks when you’re in a rush rather than reaching for that plate of cookies on the counter.

If you need help getting your picky eater to eat healthy, check out these 10 tips for raising healthy eaters!

picky eaters healthy eating

Start the Day Right

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A well-balanced breakfast of protein and complex carbohydrates is beneficial to brain function and maintains a consistent energy level throughout the day. 

Children who eat breakfast daily are more likely to get essential nutrients and consume less fat and cholesterol. Similarly, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin D levels are 20 percent to 60 percent higher in kids who eat breakfast daily than those who don’t.

Focus on Food

Make the most of your children’s extra free time by involving them in preparing their meals. Plant a garden together or go to a farmers market to choose from all the fresh produce in season. Allow them to select tomatoes, melons, or peppers before preparing dinner together. According to studies, children who learn to grow and prepare their meals to eat more fruits and vegetables.

For more inspiration on healthful foods for the whole family to enjoy, check out Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meals for the Whole Family!

Visit Your Doctor 

Do you know that children should see a doctor at least once a year?

It is critical for children’s providers to keep track of their overall health as they get older. Annual wellness checks are essential for keeping your children healthy since they keep track of their vaccines, ensure healthy teeth, and monitor their physical development. It’s a chance to ask the doctor any issues that have arisen throughout the year and discuss health and school or learning concerns. It’s an opportunity for you as a parent to work with your doctor to reinforce your child’s good lifestyle choices. And if you have been busy the whole year, the holiday season is a good time to do so.

To read more about this, visit here.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to love about the holidays. Naturally, the same factors that make the holidays so joyful can also hurt your children’s health. But, the holiday season does not have to be a vacation from good health! I hope these tips will inspire and help you to make healthy choices this holiday season.  

Remember: It is critical to establish healthy behaviors at a young age. Most kids look up to their parents, so it’s best to lead by example. Maintaining a good attitude and being supportive can help kids gain confidence and build healthy habits for the rest of their lives.

Leslie, the mom behind the keyboard at Super Mom Picks!
Blogging Tools & Resources

Blogging Resources I Love & Live By

September 15, 2021
blogging resources and tools

If you’re curious about starting a blog or wonder what it will take to have a successful blog, here are some of the tools and resources I have used in my blogging journey. For my Christian motherhood blog, I’ve had to learn the hard way by making mistakes, doing TONS of ultimately pointless research and lots of trial and error. I’m hoping that this post with all of the blogging resources I love can help you with your Christian blog so that you won’t have to go through the same mistakes that I made!

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.

Udemy Blogging Masterclass Course

When I first had the idea to start a blog, I had no idea where to start. My husband did some research and purchased this course for me as a birthday present and it was invaluable. It’s easy to follow and saved me SO MUCH TIME in trying to figure out the logistics of starting a blog from web hosting, navigating WordPress, creating content that people actually want, building an email list, etc.

This is the basics, for beginners, starting from scratch. So, if that’s you, I highly recommend this course:

Blogging Masterclass: How To Build A Successful Blog In 2021

Canva Pro

I use Canva Pro for all my graphics and designs. They have thousands of excellent templates for every scenario. I use them the most for photos, Pinterest Pins, and Instagram posts. But I’ve also used them for creating my Simple 7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan ebook as well as invitations or really any kind of graphics I need for ANYTHING.

A few great aspects of the upgraded PRO version:

  • You have access to A LOT of photos you can use for your designs and blog posts (instead of having to pay for a separate photo library).
  • You have a ‘brand kit’ that keeps all of your brand’s fonts, colors, logos, etc. just a click away (rather than having to memorize the hex number of all of your brand colors!)
  • MAGIC RESIZE – this is worth every cent. You design a Pinterest Pin and with one click it is also an Instagram post, Facebook post, blog banner, or any other size you want. Like magic. It’s incredible and a HUGE time saver.
  • Publish social media content from Canva. Once you’ve designed your pin or instagram post, you can publish it or even schedule it to be published.

Here is my referral link, which I would really appreciate if you used because it gives me a small bonus at no extra cost to you! So, thank you in advance!! Click here for Canva Pro.

Tailwind for Pinterest & Instagram (& Facebook!)

Tailwind is such an incredible tool and resource. You can schedule in advance all of your Pinterest pins, Instagram posts and even cross-post to Facebook. They’ve even added a design element to Tailwind where you enter in the information for your pin and they create lots of different pin options for you to choose from.

The Tailwind Communities are also invaluable, and how I grew to the point where I am today.

I also really love all of the education the Tailwind staff does – they offer so many classes, tools and resources for people to grow in their craft.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to blog without Tailwind. I tried to go without Tailwind for one month and my stats plummeted. It’s just an easy set it and forget it solution for busy moms who want to be present with their kids and not be addicted to social media!

I usually set aside some time at the beginning of each month to plan out all of my social media content and then it’s done for the entire month! I don’t even have to think about it.

And, if you have the time/energy/content, you can plan for even longer than a month.

How awesome is that?!?

When you use this link, you’ll get a $15 credit – and so will I! Win-win. Click here for Tailwind.

ConvertKit

I use ConvertKit for keeping up my email list as well as my sales pages, pop ups and other landing pages. You can see examples of really simple ones I’ve created here and here.

When I first started blogging, I used MailChimp and after several very frustrating sessions where I tried to figure out how to create landing pages and pop ups with them, I gave up and switched the ConvertKit. I can’t tell you what a time saver this has been!

It is SO MUCH EASIER to use ConvertKit than any other email subscription service I’ve worked with.

Occasionally I’ve had to contact their customer support about my pop ups not functioning the way I want them to, and they have always been able to fix them right away.

Here is my personalized referral link for ConvertKit, which gives me a little bonus at no cost to you: ConvertKit is awesome.

Start a Mom Blog

This is one of my favorite resources on this whole list. I LOVE SUZI!!! My husband and I joke that Suzi is my blogging crush. She’s awesome. I also love that she works with her husband and they seem to have a really great partnership.

I wish I would’ve known about Start a Mom Blog from the very beginning of my blogging journey, it would’ve saved me a lot of time and energy. However, I am grateful that I know about them now because they’ve helped me grow so much!

I did a 90-day challenge with Suzi to grow my email list. My list went from 30 subscribers (AKA my family and a handful of friends) to 1,100 subscribers and growing every single day.

I’ve done her course on printables as well as her course on course creation. She is incredibly practical, showing step-by-step details without bogging you down with too much information. I highly recommend all of her products!

Start a Mom Blog Printables by Number Course and Start a Mom Blog Course by Numbers

Mom to Mompreneur

This Facebook group by Twins Mommy creator Elna Cain has been invaluable. It is a very active group with a wide range of skills and abilities. I’ve asked this group SO many questions about blogging and have gotten immediate, helpful answers. Elna also does regular Facebook lives on particular blogging topics.

Themeforest Rosemary Theme

This is the theme that I use for my blog from Themeforest. Finding a blog theme can be so overwhelming! So feel free to use this one if you like it. 😉

Kingdom Bloggers

This is another Christian blogging resource that I LOVE. I’ve taken their free SEO course and it was simple yet effective. I love finding resources that are specific to Christian blogging and this is a fantastic resource if you are trying to use your blogging platform to spread the message of Christ.

By His Grace Bloggers

This is another Facebook group that has been ultra supportive and helpful on my blogging journey. This is specifically for Christian women bloggers and it’s where I’ve found a wonderful community of like-minded women! You can join this group and ask questions/advice and get lots of support.

BibleHub & Other Bible-Based Tools

This has been an invaluable resource for me as I’ve done more intensive Bible research for my blog. When you look up a verse, it offers parallel versions of that verse, related scriptures, commentary, the breakdown of the original language and more. If you want your blog to be Bible-based, this is an excellent tool.

I also recommend using Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible, and YouVersion – which will often have beautiful graphics of popular verses that you can use. Just make sure you tag or link them if you use their graphics!

bVerse Convert by Crossed Code

I use this plugin on my WordPress site to convert Bible verse references so that people can hover over the verse reference and see the actual scripture. This is such a helpful feature!

Support from Family & Friends

I am so incredibly blessed to have an ultra supportive husband and family! They have encouraged my dreams and been through all of the highs and lows of my writing career alongside of me. If you also have a supportive family, please be intentional about sharing your hopes and dreams with them and let them dream with you! And praise God for that.

If you don’t feel like your family is understanding or supportive of your dreams, I encourage you to sit down and talk with them. Explain to them your vision, goals, and how you plan to accomplish them. Tell them what their support would mean to you, and then tell them specifically HOW they can support you. Perhaps you need a beta reader for some of your posts, or would love it if they re-shared your links on social media. Or maybe you just need someone to cheer you on and give you high-fives when you have a great day! Whatever you need from your family, make sure to communicate clearly and intentionally.

No matter what your support from your family is like, I hope you will hear me when I tell you that God is with you and He believes in you. He created you to be exactly the way that you are and to utilize your unique strengths and talents to shine a light to those around!

Don’t cover up your light, my friend. Let it shine bright for the whole world to see.

I hope these resources are helpful to you as you start your journey of blogging!

Activities & Crafts Devotionals for Moms

Upbeat Praise & Worship Songs for Workouts, Dancing or Just Getting You in a Better Mood

June 10, 2021
Upbeat praise and worship songs

If you’re looking for contemporary Christian songs that are upbeat, this is the spot for you. These high-energy praise and worship songs are perfect for working out, running, dancing, or just getting you in a better mood!

Recently I realized that most of the Christian worship music I listen to is slower and more soulful. This is perfect for prayer times or moments of reflection and communion with God. But sometimes I want to have fun, upbeat music in the house for myself and the kids to sing and dance to!

So that’s why I made this Spotify playlist of upbeat, fast-paced praise & worship songs that could be used for dance parties at home, working out, going for a run, or just to have an upbeat mood in the house.

I’m frequently adding to the list on Spotify, but I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here:

Echo (In Jesus’ Name) by People & Songs

There are so many awesome lines in this song, but I particularly love the third verse:

You crushed the darkness
Made a fool of death and grave
Oh, King Jesus
You make royals out of slaves
And now there’s breakthrough
Now there’s freedom in Your name
You gave us power
And the keys to do the same

Echo (In Jesus’ Name) by People & Songs

I also love the repetitive nature of the chorus. Kids could easily sing out “In Jesus’ Name!” I mean, what’s more powerful than that?!

Give Me Jesus by James Wilson

I love this high energy rendition of a powerful anthem. This is also a great one for kids because they can easily join into the chorus and all of the “hey, ey, ey’s”. The lyrics are also a potent reminder of what’s really important in this life:

This world is not my home
I am just passing through
Earthly treasure soon will fail
But I found my hope
You are the one I want
You are the one I need
This world can have it all
It can take everything …
But give me Jesus

Give Me Jesus by James Wilson

I can’t help but lift my hands during the chorus and sing at the top of my lungs: Give. Me. Jesus.

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Anti-Inflammatory Diet Recipes Chronic Pain Tips

11+ Best Kitchen Tools for EASY Healthy Eating in 2021

May 5, 2021
Amazon products for eating healthy

If you’re trying to eat a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet, but are overwhelmed by how difficult it can be, I’m here to help. These meal prep products are my must-haves for maintaining a consistent healthy lifestyle and eating healthy. So keep reading to find out what kitchen tools you can use to help make healthful meals more consistently! For an even easier way to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, don’t forget to check out my 7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan & Guide.

Are you looking for an easier way to make healthy meals? I’ve got several awesome kitchen tools for healthy eating. Keep reading…

I made this list because we all need more items on our Amazon wish list! 😉

I started following an anti-inflammatory diet after getting so fed up with my chronic joint pain and endometriosis pain. I had gone from doctor to doctor with no real answers and only solutions with boatloads of side effects. I was in debilitating pain and feeling helpless.

That’s when I decided to take my health care into my own hands. I’ve learned that you have to be your own best advocate for your health.

One of the things that has helped me recover my health is following this anti-inflammatory diet. It’s not a quick fix or a cure-all, but it has made a huge difference in my life.

However, when I first started it was HARD. I had a difficult time finding meals that my family would actually eat and most of the recipes I found were very complicated and took a ton of meal prep.

Through years of trial and error and a ton of research, I’ve formulated meals that work for my family and that are simple to make. If you’re interested in those meals, check out this post about The Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Meals for the Whole Family as well as my Simple 7-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan & Guide. I created these resources to help moms in chronic pain like me – but without all the frustration that I went through to find what worked for me and my family!

However, I would be remiss to tell you all about the recipes I use without giving credit to my amazing kitchen tools! This is what helps me actually follow through with making these meals without all of the daunting meal prep tasks.

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you buy through the links on this page.

Cutco Knives

Having good knives REALLY makes a difference in your cooking experience. Especially when you’re chopping lots of vegetables – it pays to have the right tools. My mother-in-law gifted us a set of Cutco knives for our wedding and they have been invaluable. I even bring them with us when we travel because I hate using dingy knives at vacation rentals!!

One of the nice perks about having a Cutco knife is that you can get it sharpened for free and their warranty is amazing – they really back these knives. Last year I sent in my knives and kitchen shears to be sharpened, and they replace the kitchen shears completely because they were slightly bent (I didn’t even notice!). That’s pretty amazing.

For an introductory knife, I recommend the trimmer, the shear utility set (which comes with the trimmer and the kitchen shears), and/or the hardy slicer.

My kitchen scissors are used for everything – from quickly chopping pasta or meat to kid-safe sizes to all of its ‘normal’ uses.

– Jenny, homeschooling mom of two

Instant Pot

I can’t describe to you what a game changer this thing is for a busy mom. I love that I can prep a meal when I have a few minutes of free time during naps and then set it and forget it. It’s has all of the benefits of a slow cooker sped up – and more.

We actually have TWO instant pots now – the larger 8 quart one and the smaller 3 quart one. I’ll often use the larger one to make a big batch of dinner and the smaller one to make farro, risotto, rice, oatmeal or other starches.

I’m working on adding Instant Pot instructions to all of my anti-inflammatory meals. Stay tuned!

My air fryer! I put salmon, broccoli and cauliflower in there and it’s an easy, healthy meal. 20 minutes and it’s done. The kids love it!

– Julianna, mom of two (and my neighbor!)

My air fryer is my new best friend. My favorite so far has been making chicken…it’s amazing, it cuts the cooking time in half. Helps so much when trying to get dinner on the table quickly after a long day.

– Clarice, boy mom of two

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