End Of Summer Road Trips from Kansas City

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil #CollectiveBias

Summer may be almost over, but there's still plenty of time to sneak in a little last-minute road trip. If you're from the Kansas City area, there are a ton of nearby options for places to travel, so you can sneak in that family bonding time before back to school hits. #RoadTripOil [ad]

I cannot even handle the fact that we’re over halfway through summer. I mean, I looked at the calendar, and we have like… 3 weeks left of the pool being open for the year. As much as I’m looking forward to my fall favorites returning in just a few short weeks, I also know that I want to squeeze out every last drop of summer I can. It’s about this time of year every year that I itch to take a little road trip, a short end-of-summer vacation, a last hurrah before the fall returns and we remember that school is just around the corner… and when you’re from the Kansas City area, you’re incredibly blessed with tons of nearby places that are really awesome to visit, without having to go too horribly far for a last-minute road trip. That means it’s not too late to visit them now… just hop in the car and enjoy!

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Chocolate Caramel Molten Lava Cakes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WhatMattersToU #CollectiveBias

Give into your chocolate cravings with these molten lava cakes... chocolate, caramel, more chocolate, it's sure to make you feel better anytime you need a chocolate fix (especially that time of the month!) #WhatMattersToU [ad]

Real talk… that time of the month SUCKS, doesn’t it? I mean, we’re basically walking around trying to pretend life is totally normal, taking care of the kids, spending time with friends, doing all of the normal life stuff, all the while our body is screaming at us, cramping, and generally making us feel sucky. It’s like the main event isn’t enough, we have to throw in soreness, crabbiness, and bloating… ughhhh.

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Upside Down Mini Ice Cream Cakes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SoHoppinGood #TopYourSummer #CollectiveBias

Ahh, summertime. There's nothing better than beating the heat with ice cream! But if you want to make your ice cream something extra special, you'll want to make these delicious upside down mini ice cream cakes! They're perfect for any summer soiree! | dessert | party food | #sohoppingood | #topyoursummer | ad | @walmart | @blue_bunny

Ahh, summertime. There’s nothing like ice cream to beat the heat in the summer, is there? Growing up, I looked forward to summer solely for the ice cream… for us, it was just a part of tradition. My great grandmother wouldn’t let an evening go by without a bowl of ice cream, and that’s a standard that I love to live up to, especially in the heat of summer… with heat indexes reaching 104 around here, you have to cool off somehow! And with these mini ice cream cakes that are upside down, you’ll have the whole family ready to cool off in no time!

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Simple Sweet Sun Tea

Nothing refreshes quite like sweet sun tea in the summer. It's SO easy to make-- with just 2 ingredients and some water! Make summer a little bit sweeter with this refreshing beverage.

One of my favorite things about summer in college was driving down south to visit my gram. While spending time with her is a treat in itself, I have fond memories of dinner and talks on the back patio with sweet sun tea. It’s simple to make– there’s only two ingredients!– and absolutely delicious.

Nothing refreshes quite like sweet sun tea in the summer. It's SO easy to make-- with just 2 ingredients and some water! Make summer a little bit sweeter with this refreshing beverage.

Start with a large pitcher that will hold at least a gallon. A glass pitcher works best, but if you don’t have one on hand (I didn’t!), you can use your favorite covered pitcher.

Place 5 bags of black tea in your pitcher. I use a little piece of tape to secure the bags so they don’t just go nuts in the container. Then, pour in 2 cups of sugar.

Fill the pitcher with a gallon of water.

Nothing refreshes quite like sweet sun tea in the summer. It's SO easy to make-- with just 2 ingredients and some water! Make summer a little bit sweeter with this refreshing beverage.

Then, place the pitcher outside in a sunny spot and let it steep for a few hours– I like to leave mine for 6 or so hours just to be sure it’s nice and steeped for some nice, rich flavor. The sunlight will help the sugar truly dissolve– it’ll heat up the water a bit and really help push it towards being nice and sweet without any gritty flavor you’d usually get from an iced sweet tea that didn’t get a chance to sit in the sun a bit.

Nothing refreshes quite like sweet sun tea in the summer. It's SO easy to make-- with just 2 ingredients and some water! Make summer a little bit sweeter with this refreshing beverage.

Once you’ve got a nice, rich amber color, it’s time to pop your pitcher of sun sweet tea into the fridge until it’s chilled– I like to make mine the day before I’d like to serve it, but really, if you’re serving over ice it doesn’t matter too much! For me, it wasn’t a summer holiday without a little bit of sweet sun tea, and even now, I’ll enjoy some on the regular. It’s just simply so perfect– that little touch of summer charm that every family gathering needs.

Simple Sweet Sun Tea
Yields 1
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Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Prep Time
3 min
Cook Time
6 hr
Ingredients
  1. 5 black tea bags
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 1 gallon water
Instructions
  1. Place tea bags into glass pitcher (or any pitcher you have on hand).
  2. Add sugar, then fill with water.
  3. Stir, then set outside, covered, in sunlight for several hours.
  4. Serve chilled.
Notes
  1. Consider muddling in some mint or other herbs in it for a new twist on the flavor.
Mama Plus One http://www.mamaplusone.com/
Nothing refreshes quite like sweet sun tea in the summer. It's SO easy to make-- with just 2 ingredients and some water! Make summer a little bit sweeter with this refreshing beverage.

Cheers and have a great 4th of July, everyone! What’s your go-to summer drink? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Dino Dig Popcorn Mix

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® , Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Pop Secret, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Pop4LandB4time http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Want to shake up your movie night snack? This dino dig popcorn made with @popsecret is a hit for any kids' movie, but it's especially perfect when watching dinosaur favorites like the Land Before Time! Or, make this awesome popcorn mix for your next dinosaur party! Also-- check out the post for a great dinosaur print craft! #Pop4LandB4time #Pmedia #ad | dinosaur | dinosaur DIY | dinosaur food | kid-friendly snack |

It’s no secret… we’re big dinosaur fans around here! When we’re on the go, I have dinosaur toys in my bag to keep my kiddo entertained. But the real secret? I’m a big fan of dinosaurs, too. Growing up, I loved watching movies like The Land Before Time, and I remember in second grade when we got to pick a dinosaur to make a wire sculpture of (I picked a pterodactyl, by the way, which my son will remind me is not a dinosaur, but is actually a pterosaur). There’s just something so special about being able to share the love of Dinos with my little guy, meaning I’m always looking for a new, fun dinosaur craft or recipe to make with him!

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It Takes a Village… without Judgment

Can we all just stop judging each other and help each other instead? Parental judgment is everywhere today-- from the parents of the child in the Harambe the gorilla situation to the parents who had a son dragged away at Disney, can we just stop judging already?!

I was sitting at McDonalds, glancing up at Ketchup playing, and working on my laptop, when suddenly, all eyes turned to the top of the playset as a sudden shriek rang out. This was a small, young child’s wail, and you couldn’t block out the pain and fear in her cry. Her mother ran over in a panic. She had no clue that her little baby got up to the top, and wasn’t fully sure how she’d gotten there. In that moment, every other parent– and their children– sprang into action to get the young girl down.

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Why I tried to Stop Comparing Myself to Others and Stealing My Own Joy

When you play the comparison game, you ALWAYS lose. I finally found out that I needed to quit the comparison game and stop stealing my own joy!

I looked at her, sitting there on the park bench. Her kids were well behaved, using their kind words, and she was engaged, oohing and ahhing over every stick or leaf they brought her. With her foot, she rocked her baby stroller back and forth. She had what looked like a homemade protein shake with her, and was wearing workout clothes, clearly having walked here, but looked completely put together with a full face of makeup.

Then I thought about how I must have looked… the yoga pants I had on yesterday, a bottle of juice from the fridge, messy bun, no makeup, checking my phone once in awhile as my son ran from slide to swing and back again. I was engaged for the first 5 or 6 really awesome leafs he brought me, and after that, resorted to nodding and saying “Oh, that’s nice, Ketchup! I love it…”

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Crock Pot Chicken Street Tacos

These chicken street tacos are simple enough to make any night of the week, and are perfect for Taco Tuesday. They're so flavorful, and easy to make in your slow cooker. | slow cooker | chicken dinner | taco night | crock pot |

Hello, week… if you’re like me, you’re already looking for the perfect recipe for Taco Tuesday tomorrow and every week… and this one is SO simple that you won’t even have to worry about it. During the summer, I hate using my stove top to boil a chicken but I love chicken tacos year round… boiling a chicken just feels like it makes the whole house a little hot and sticky, which adds a nice warmth in the house in the winter, but is just WAY too hot in summer.

These chicken street tacos are simple enough to make any night of the week, and are perfect for Taco Tuesday. They're so flavorful, and easy to make in your slow cooker. | slow cooker | chicken dinner | taco night | crock pot |

This recipe is SUPER simple… start by layering half of a small jar of your favorite picante sauce– any kind and any level of spice your family likes will work just fine!

Next, layer on 2 pounds of chicken breasts (or use your favorite chicken meat– thighs, legs, even a whole chicken will work since you will be removing it to shred later).

Top with a packet of chicken taco seasoning (or your favorite taco seasoning blend), and pour the remaining picante sauce on top.

The picante sauce will help keep the chicken from getting dry, while also enhancing the seasoning for extra flavor.

These chicken street tacos are simple enough to make any night of the week, and are perfect for Taco Tuesday. They're so flavorful, and easy to make in your slow cooker. | slow cooker | chicken dinner | taco night | crock pot |

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Remove from the slow cooker and shred the meat. Return the meat to the slow cooker and give it a good stir, then leave it on warm until you’re ready to serve, or serve it right away.

These chicken street tacos are simple enough to make any night of the week, and are perfect for Taco Tuesday. They're so flavorful, and easy to make in your slow cooker. | slow cooker | chicken dinner | taco night | crock pot |

Load up your tacos with all of your favorite fixin’s– I love a little bit of lettuce, tomato, and cheese on mine– and serve!

Crock Pot Chicken Street Tacos
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 small jar picante sauce
  2. 2 lbs chicken
  3. 1 packet chicken taco seasoning
Instructions
  1. In a crock pot, pour half of the jar of picante sauce.
  2. Place chicken on top of picante sauce.
  3. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning.
  4. Pour the remaining picante sauce on top of the chicken.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  6. Shred chicken and serve on tortillas with your favorite taco toppings.
Mama Plus One http://www.mamaplusone.com/
What’s your favorite Taco Tuesday recipe? If you’re looking for Tacos, definitely check out this recipe for Fajita-style beef tacos in the crock pot.

Effective Parenting during Your Child’s Meltdowns

I want to preface this post by saying I’m no expert in this category… while I’m sharing things that have helped my family to get my son to de-escalate during a meltdown, this does not necessarily make me an authority on the subject. Always discuss with your child’s doctor when you have questions and concerns about meltdowns or behavioral issues.

Meltdowns can be really hard, because they're just not the same as tantrums, so knowing how to treat it is nearly impossible at times. Here's what we've found to help meltdowns with my son who has an autism spectrum disorder. Whether your child is struggling with SPD, ASD, Asperger's, ADHD, or other conditions, this can be a good starting point to preventing and caring for those meltdowns.

I recently shared a post about my feelings that people shouldn’t apologize for my son’s Autism Spectrum Disorder. While I stand by that, I did want to share the biggest struggle I had with my son’s diagnosis with you. I firmly believe that my son’s ASD makes him who he is, in many ways for the good, but my biggest struggle was the realization that what I had passed off as terrible twos or terrible threes tantrums, were likely full-on sensory meltdowns… and when I was told his diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, it hit me hard… what I had spent 3 years thinking he would eventually just grow out of, I was realizing were a part of his life, and would continue to be a part of his life in coming years.

Even if we learned to manage his meltdown through various therapies that are available to children with Autism, it was very likely that to some degree, he would always struggle with outbursts of some degree or another when overstimulated or otherwise just really bothered by something.

That said, we’ve been working hard to find solutions that help to prevent, and later calm, his meltdowns. A meltdown is not the same thing as a tantrum– a tantrum will end when the desired result is achieved, but a meltdown will often continue. A tantrum will have a child avoiding anything that would bring pain to themselves, but a child having a meltdown will not notice or not care about the fact that they may be harming themselves in the process. When it comes to meltdowns, they need to be handled differently than tantrums, and here’s what I’ve personally found to be more effective.

Prevention is Key. If you see your child headed towards a meltdown, preventing it is a good way to start. If you’re at home, it may help to direct them to a quieter, darker room or activity. As I see my son headed towards a meltdown, I will often direct him towards a quieter, darker space in the home where he feels comfortable sitting alone with a book or his Kindle to unwind for a bit. When we are out and about, for example, running errands, it often just means a change of plans.

Keep consistency in scheduling, and plan ahead. In the past, I had often been shopping at one place and spontaneously remembered that we needed to pick something else up at a nearby place… and then suddenly the change of plans had Zack in meltdown mode. Changing plans can be very, very difficult for a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, so intense planning can be very helpful in meltdown prevention– if I said we were shopping at Target today, it doesn’t matter if I remember at Target that I needed to pick up something at the Walmart Neighborhood Market nearby… it’s often better to try to get that another time if possible, because if it wasn’t on the plans to begin with, it can cause trouble after.

Give your child plenty of rest and downtime. Zack seems to have meltdowns most during specific hours, so we ended up realizing that the naptime schedule he had when he was younger actually worked very well for him as he continued to get older– it meant working a new schedule around him waking up at a certain time, doing his morning routine and activities, having lunch, and then going to his room to watch a movie and rest, sometimes sleeping and sometimes not. Once the movie was over, he was free to go about his afternoon, but having that time to switch off completely is very beneficial for him.

Once your child is in the throes of a meltdown, it’s time to switch from prevention to safety mode.

If he’s not hurting anyone, give him space. Many kids are prone to self-harm or others-harm during a meltdown, but provided your child isn’t causing himself or others injury, it can be best to just stay back and let the child calm himself. This is what I struggle with the most as a parent– my instinct is to go to him and hold him, but often what he needs is space away from all touch and sound to calm himself down. As he gets older, he’s learning new techniques to calm himself, so if he isn’t hurting himself or others, I’ll stay in the room quietly and stay back so he can get to a place where I can step in to rock him as needed.

Find a focal point. The 3-2-1 breathing technique is very beneficial if you can get a child calm enough to try it. Sometimes, it takes working on this one before a meltdown so when they’re melting down, they can get themselves back to that point. The 3-2-1 technique starts with the child breathing while naming 3 things they see. Then, they name 2 things they can physically feel– not emotions, but physically touch or feel the sensation of. Finally, they name one thing they hear (others use smell here). I will touch Zack’s wrists so he will turn towards me, snapping him out just enough to listen and focus. I’ll then encourage him to name 3 things he sees. If he struggles to come up with them (sometimes they’re so overloaded that narrowing it to 3 is just impossible), I’ll start listing three things I see. “Zack, I can see your handsome face, the desk lamp, and our brown rocking chair. Can you tell me your three things now?” Often by the time he has reached 1, he will be calmer… but that’s if we can get to the start of 3-2-1 in the first place (it’s not always effective for younger children, children still learning to manage meltdowns, or children who are in the midst of some major overload). This is a grounding technique that brings them back to the room they’re in and out of the overwhelming nature of their head.

Juniper Berry essential oil works miracles. I promise you that I was a skeptic on this. How can an oil stop by child’s meltdowns? But when Zack is in the midst of a terrible meltdown, I will often grab my oil stick (I like Perfectly Posh’s Hipster Stick–that’s my consultant link– because it’s Juniper and other oils suspended in a shea butter carrier and can just be rubbed directly on) and rub it on any pulse point I can reach. If Zack is kicking, I may grab a foot and rub it on his sole, and if he’s hitting, I may snag a hand and rub it on his wrist. By the time I’ve gotten 3 or 4 pulse points, he’s started to relax and melt into my lap and is able to calm down a lot more… I’ve even found him go from meowing and yelling to being fully verbal with the use of essential oil, so that’s been a big one for me.

Limit input. In the middle of a meltdown, start limiting the input your child is getting. At home, this may mean darkening shades, turning off the TV, lowering voices to a quiet level just above a whisper (some children with ASD are not fond of actual whispering, as the sound it makes can be painful), and removing people from the room who don’t need to be there… if you can’t move your child to another room to limit the input it can be helpful just to politely ask others in the room to leave the room for a few minutes (like siblings).

Find a calming item. For my son, it’s a lambskin we bought at Ikea or a fuzzy blanket he got at his favorite soccer team’s soccer game. When he’s in the middle of a meltdown, handing him one of these items for him to pet can seriously soothe him. Find those attachment objects your child may have, and provided they’re on the softer side, try giving these items to them during a meltdown.

Wait it out. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do during a meltdown, no matter how hard you try. From there, the best thing to do is let your child wear themselves out.

After the meltdown, it can be a little bit of a whirlwind…

Take time to decompress. This applies to you AND your child. A meltdown is exhausting for both the parent and the child having the meltdown, so definitely take some time just to recoup from the meltdown. It may mean a snuggle, or it may mean going to another room, so follow your child’s cues there.

Talk about it… but don’t push. It’s okay to talk to your child about the emotions they were feeling during and just before a meltdown, and try to determine what triggered it, so you can help eliminate it in the future. That said, sometimes your child may not know. There have been many meltdowns where I’ll ask Zack what made him upset… and he will have NO idea. Sometimes the process of having the meltdown can cause a child to forget what even caused it in the first place, but if you can get your child to identify what triggered it, you can work on eliminating that in the future.

One recent meltdown of Zack’s was caused by a miscommunication– his Papa had said they would play after he finished a project. What Papa saw as a pause in the project to go get a tool he needed, Zack saw as Papa walking away from the project, and in Zack’s mind, it meant he was done. So, when Papa headed to the shed to get the other tool, Zack felt slighted– Papa wasn’t playing with him as promised! This led to Zack starting to melt down and hit Papa, which was not okay. Had any of us realized before the meltdown that Zack had interpreted Papa getting up as a the end of the project, we could have communicated to him that Papa was just getting another tool but that the project wasn’t done. Or, had we known that it might lead to a meltdown, Papa could have encouraged us to get him the tool he needed so he wouldn’t appear to be walking away from the project.

Another recent time, we were at a soccer game, and Zack had a meltdown. Nothing new had happened– no new sounds that we could hear, and the atmosphere was unchanged. After his meltdown, we asked what had upset him, and asked “Zack, is there a reason you were feeling upset at that time?” He could not identify what had bothered him. While more than likely it was just the buildup of crowd excitement over time, and may have been any other factors– like the extra sugar he may eat at a game because he loves sno cones so much– we truly don’t know what caused it. We can work to eliminate known triggers, and sometimes, that’s all you can do.

Take notes. When your child can’t identify why they melted down, over time, you might be able to. By taking notes of what was happening directly before the meltdown, you may be able to find a pattern to identify a trigger. We couldn’t figure out why Zack would often meltdown at the beginning of a soccer game– something he absolutely loves and looks forward to attending– because we knew we were eliminating known triggers by bringing his headphones, bringing a car to play with, and making sure he had plenty of water and snacks and his Hipster oil stick… but then we realized the fireworks they often brought out before the game would give him serious anxiety, even though it was quieted by his noise cancelling headphones. We finally began holding our hands over the headphones to keep him feeling more secure, and the pre-game meltdowns stopped. Had we not taken notes as to WHEN he was melting down prior to each game, we may have never identified the trigger, because he couldn’t tell us what it was.

Don’t beat yourself up. You’re not a bad parent because your child is melting down, and you’re going to get through it. Work with your child’s team– whether that’s family, friends, educators, therapists, doctors… whoever– and go over the information, like triggers, that you have. From there, work on formulating a plan, but know that not everything goes according to that plan. The more you allow yourself to feel like you’re at fault, the harder it will be to effectively parent your child through their meltdowns.

Give yourself that time to decompress, just like you give your child that time, and it will be better. I promise.

Like I said, I am NO expert on this. I just know what’s helped us with his meltdowns, and I know what I’ve learned from other moms who are also parenting children with Autism Spectrum Disorders… and this is a reflection of that as well. I’m not a doctor. But I am a mom who has seen meltdowns everyday and knows what works for my family. I encourage you to talk to your child’s doctor if you have concerns, and to connect with other moms who understand your particular journey.

Banana S’mores Pudding Cups with Homemade Agave Marshmallows

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnackPackNaturals #CollectiveBias

I'm all about snacks that are a total throwback to my childhood, like pudding, but I like providing my son with a more natural option and better choices. These banana s'mores pudding cups are the perfect choice, and when topped with homemade marshmallows made with agave nectar, they're sure to please while still being a smarter choice for snacktime. #SnackPackNaturals [ad]

Summertime as a child meant a few things… plenty of time to play outside and roll in the mud, summer rainstorms, the choice to stay up later than usual, and of course… delicious snacks! One of my favorite choices as a child was a delicious chocolate pudding cup, and the best part of pudding cups was finding all kinds of things to mix in! That’s why when summer rolls around now, I make sure to have pudding cups on hand for my son to enjoy… and the mix-ins he needs to enjoy it! But as my family works to take a more naturally-based approach, it’s important for me to make smarter choices, which is why I’ve made the switch to natural pudding and tried my hand at making my own homemade marshmallows– both of which have NO corn syrup at all!

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