Two Boys playing in a sanbox kiddie pool with sand toys

Mom Hack: Turn Your Kiddie Pool Into A Sandbox

The boys have been asking for a sandbox for quite a while. It’s been on our list of things to get them but we’ve just not gotten around to getting them one yet. So, when Ben came up to me the other day asking for a sandbox (yet again,) I thought… “Now why can’t we just turn the kiddie pool into one?” It’s not gonna get used this time of year and it only cost me like, what? $8? Heck yeah! My husband was all over it and pretty much immediately ran out to Home Depot to grab some Play Sand! I told him to get 1-2 bags and he came back with 4. He’s a good Dad : ). While we only ended up putting 2 bags in, it ended up getting packed down over the course of a couple days and I actually think I’ll ask him to add another bag today. So, I guess we were both right? Yeah, I’ll stick with that. Anyway, it was great! We had a sandbox ready in a matter of about 30 minutes! I ordered some sand toys through amazon that came the next day (thank God for Prime) and they’ve been having a blast out there multiple times a day since! Honestly, this sandbox isn’t just good for them…. it’s good for me too! I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time with my kids getting dirty. I know, I know… kids get dirty! It’s just a part of being a kid and having kids. But for some reason, my immediate reaction is “no” when they want to do anything that even has a chance at getting them too dirty. I really don’t want to be that way though! I want to give my kids everything they can possibly get to experience out of childhood and this sandbox is actually teaching me to let go. And ya know what? It’s refreshing! I may be finding sand in every crevice each night, but it’s worth it to see those little smiling, filthy faces making memories. SO, NOW I SAY, “LET THEM GET DIRTY!” Well, maybe not with that much enthusiasm… but I’m getting there! Baby Steps to the Sandbox Let me know how your Mom Hack: Kiddie Pool Sandbox turns out!

The Best Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice

Jump to Recipe·Print Recipe I blame it all on my roots. But unlike one of my favorite Garth Brooks songs, I showed up in Mardi Gras beads with these Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice! My mom was born in New Orleans and her Cajun roots run deep. She comes from a family of amazing cooks where recipes and food traditions were passed down through the family and taught to the next generation. As a matter of fact, my brothers and I each still make my Pop’s Gumbo from the turkey carcass the day after Thanksgiving and call my mom for tips or recipes we’ve forgotten. I definitely owe my love for cooking to my mom. Thanks mom! (She totally reads this) While this recipe doesn’t come from my mom, she definitely inspires my draw to Cajun and Creole cuisine. I can’t stay away! Guess it’s just in my blood. This recipe comes from my need to have dinner on the table quickly and not spend too much time slaving over the stove. Ain’t no mom got time for that… Amiright?? But I still don’t ever want to sacrifice flavor just because I have screaming kids at my feet since I guess they are starving even though they just got snacks 30 minutes ago and basically haven’t stopped eating since breakfast… But they’re really starving. So, in a traditional Red Beans and Rice, you would be soaking dry beans overnight and they’d be simmering on the stove for hours. This is not that recipe. I use canned red beans and I’m telling you, you won’t notice a difference. “Blasphemy!” you say? If you try this recipe, I’ll happily make room in my schedule to say, “I told you so.” Wanna know my secret? And this one I REALLY owe to my mom… it’s all about Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning! I’m telling you… this is NOT your average Cajun Seasoning. This stuff is THE BEST! A lot of Cajun seasonings can be too heavy on the heat. There will be a lot of cayenne, black pepper and white pepper and lacking in other seasonings for flavor… But not Tony’s! There’s still heat but not overwhelmingly so and it’s packed with other spices for flavor. I honestly put this stuff in everything I feel is lacking a little somethin’ somethin’. Pasta, quiches, burgers, meats, eggs, seafood, sandwiches…. the list is practically endless! Oh, Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning… How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… I’m just kidding. I’ll spare you. I think you get the picture. Another thing I love about this recipe is that it really checks all of the boxes for a busy weeknight dinner. It’s: Quick Easy Budget Friendly A Crowd Pleaser Delicious! And I usually have most of the ingredients on hand since I almost always have kielbasa in the freezer for last minute meals and rice is just one of those staple foods. Dave goes nuts for this meal too! He loves pretty much everything I make but he has about 5 all-time favorites and this is one of them. Do yourself a favor and make it tonight! This really is The Best Quick and Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe ever and I know you will think so too! Happy Eating!

It’s Vegetable Picking Day!

There’s just something special about Vegetable Picking Day. The satisfaction that comes in being able to go outside, pick the food that’s been growing with a little sunshine, water and TLC is so fulfilling! Also, the fact that picking their own veggies, for some reason, makes my kids want to eat more of them isn’t so bad either! Any other gardeners out there find the same thing with their kids? I guess, when they are able to see the end result and pick the food themselves, it makes them just want to dig in! This is huge for me! Especially because Ben is not much of a vegetable eater. So, any tricks that get him to eat more veggies… are two thumbs up in my book! Jack and Ben absolutely love going out to the garden to pull a beet from the ground or pop a cherry tomato off the vine. They get SO into it! I’ll never forget the first time they saw a carrot come out of the dirt. They were absolutely amazed! The excitement on their faces was simply priceless as they ran up to me with their freshly pulled carrots and Jack said “Mom! We just got this from the GROUND!” I realized right then, that they were totally right! It truly IS an amazing thing! What a beautiful design. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget about the little joys. It’s a part of what makes Parenthood so special for me. Being able to watch my kids discover and find excitement in the small things. It helps me slow down and let my heart be filled in an otherwise really busy and sometimes stressful day-to-day. I love letting my kids teach me all over again how amazing the simple things in life are. If I take a break to enjoy those little things… that’s ok. So, cooking and cleaning can wait… and pulling a carrot from the ground with my kids becomes a magical moment. Something I never want to forget, is that I never want to be above learning from my kids. I’m sure they don’t know they’re teaching me anything but they have so much to give. I’m so grateful for something as simple as Vegetable Picking Day to help remind me of these things and more grateful than they might ever know for my kids who continually teach me just as much as I teach them.

DIY Egg Cup Pin Cushions

Okay people, this is BIG! My very FIRST confession! After all, this is “Confessions Over Coffee,” right?? So here it goes……… drumroll please………. I don’t actually know how to use a sewing machine! Gah! Of course, I own one, but I don’t know how to work it. And here I am posting DIY Egg Cup Pin Cushions? The nerve. Honestly, it’s been on my list of things to learn for years but who has the time? I actually really like sewing by hand though. I sewed my first son’s entire cowboy costume by hand the night before Halloween when I was about 7 1/2 months pregnant with my second son. So, I’m not completely incompetent when it comes to sewing… just incompetent on a sewing machine. One thing’s for sure, whether you’re using a sewing machine or sewing by hand, these little pin cushions fit the bill! I mean, really… How adorable are they? They are so easy to put together and make great gifts or stocking stuffers too! DIY Egg Cup Pin Cushions Here’s what you’ll need: Fabric- You can even use an old shirt, baby swaddle, dish towel or anything you’d like! Egg Cups- I used these in white but they come in other colors that could be really cute too! E6000 Craft Adhesive– This stuff is great! Poly-Fil – You can buy it through this link but honestly its a lot cheaper at Hobby Lobby or any craft store if you have one nearby. A Needle and Thread Pencil or Pen Instructions: Start with using a ramekin or bowl of a similar size flipped upside down as a guide and trace a circle on the fabric of your choice. Then cut out the circle. 2. Then take your needle and thread (with a knot at the end) and stitch all the way around the outside of the circle. Make the stitches not too wide and not too small either. Somewhere in between is good. 3. Once you’re done sewing all the way around your circle, pull your thread until there is a small hole and it looks like a mushroom cap. 4. Fill your “mushroom cap” with the Poly-Fil and then pull the rest of your thread until the hole is closed. Then sew it shut. 5. Take your egg cup holder and squeeze a bead of glue all along the inside of the cup towards the top. Immediately put your “mushroom cap” on top and just slightly push it in around all sides. Only just enough for the glue to grab it. 6. Let it dry and stick some pins in it! Happy Sewing! Did you try these DIY Egg Cup Pin Cushions? What did you think?! I’d love to hear what fabric and color egg cups you used in the comments below!

7 Tips to Help Public Breastfeeding Anxiety

I love breastfeeding. I absolutely LOVE the bond that I’ve been able to build with all three of my babies through it, how they get everything they need from it for so long before they start solid foods and do SO much growth from my milk alone. It’s simply a beautiful thing. There is so much I love about breastfeeding but let’s not forget to mention how convenient it is! Being able to feed my little one anytime and anywhere is just a perfect design… BUT… there was a time with my first son when it wasn’t all roses. That’s where my past with public breastfeeding anxiety comes in and I’m here to share my 7 tips to help ease the stress! Honestly, I didn’t think too much about what it would be like to breastfeed before I became a Mom. I never sat around imagining myself doing it, I just knew I really wanted to do it! I couldn’t have foreseen that I would be breaking out in sweats at the thought of having to nurse my son anywhere other than in the comfort of my own home. At the thought of having to go somewhere for an extended period of time, I would just feel the anxiety building as my mind wrapped around not being able to get back home in time to nurse him before he would get hungry again. Even though I used a nursing cover, I still felt uncomfortable and extremely stressed! Have you ever felt like you could feel people’s eyes on you and practically hear what they were thinking in your head? I know it sounds weird but that’s how anxious I was about nursing in public! These were not the feelings I was supposed to be having while nursing my sweet baby boy… anywhere! I couldn’t stand it and decided I had had enough and started doing my research to help me get past this horrible anxiety. I didn’t want it taking anything else away from my son and I’s experience. The good news is… my research paid off! It took a little bit of time, but I was able to overcome my public breastfeeding anxiety and continue nursing my babies stress-free, anytime… anywhere! If you are currently going through what I went through, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You are not alone and I’m here to share the tips that helped ease my public breastfeeding anxiety. So, here’s my list! 7 Tips To Help Ease Public Breastfeeding Anxiety INVEST IN A GOOD NURSING COVER I highly recommend ones like these. The kind that covers all the way around you and your nursing baby. I made the mistake of starting with one that looked like an apron and I just didn’t feel comfortable! Shoot! A gust of wind could have blown that thing wide open for the world to view my milk maids! But then I got the gray striped one and it’s lasted through all 3 of my kids. It’s been great! And as you can see, this type also doubles as a car seat cover! Win. Win! 2. PRACTICE AT HOME Get comfortable with your nursing cover at home instead of juggling your crying, hungry baby and pulling the nursing cover down in public for the first time. The more you practice at home, the easier it will be. 3. DRESS ACCORDINGLY Wearing the right thing can make all the difference! You don’t want to be caught wearing something that’s not that easy to navigate when you have more important things to focus on. Nursing Camis are great because they are so versatile. Throw a sweater on top of that little beauty and you’re good to go. Dresses designed specifically for breastfeeding are awesome too… cause we all know it’s impossible to breastfeed in a regular dress… 4. BRING YOUR NURSING PILLOW Don’t be afraid to do this if you can! Reducing public breastfeeding anxiety is all about being comfortable. I love my tried and true Boppy pillow and I always bring it if I can. 5. REMIND YOURSELF EVERY DAY HOW AMAZING BREASTFEEDING YOUR BABY IS Okay, so this one may not seem like a “tip” but it really is! It helped me realize that I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to apologize for. Nursing your baby is THE most natural thing ever and you are providing nutrients to your baby for his growth and survival! You have every right to nurse him in public as your do in private. Babies need their lunch too! 6. WEAR THE RIGHT NURSING BRA Not only is this important for comfort and supports good breast health, but there is nothing worse than having to fumble when settling down to feed your baby. Find the right one for you! 7. PLAN AHEAD Give yourself plenty of time to prepare to go out for an extended period of time. Make sure you have everything you need to succeed and feel comfortable. Pack your bag like a pro and being mentally prepared is just as important too! I truly believe in these 7 Tips to Help Public Breastfeeding Anxiety. They helped me overcome my stress and have a more beautiful experience with my babies… the way it was MEANT to be! I hope they help you too, Mama! Now get some sleep… “A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.” -Grantly Dick-Read

Beginning Our Homeschool Journey

This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. It may sound funny, but even before I had children I always knew I wanted to homeschool my kids someday. It was an opportunity I wish I had growing up. I struggled through school because I was insecure, afraid to ask questions , and if I couldn’t do something absolutely perfectly, I didn’t want to try at all. High School was just survival mode. I craved to have that one-on-one Homeschool environment and I didn’t even know it at the time. I feel so incredibly grateful that I get to give this opportunity to my kids and that I get to share with you as we are beginning our homeschool journey! Let’s get one thing clear- I’m no expert. As a matter of fact, I know a lot of other Moms who homeschool their kids and have for many years (quite successfully) who are totally killing it! Homeschooling is just something I am passionate about and I’m sharing in my journey to give my kids the best homeschool experience and education possible. I’ll be sharing my successes… and also my utter disasters! Here’s hoping there aren’t too many of the latter. So, Jack is my oldest. He’s 4 1/2 and the only one of my three that I’m homeschooling right now. And guess what? He absolutely LOVES it! He actually asks me, “Mom, can we do more learning?” It’s so sweet and I’ve seen so much growth in him already since we started!*PROUD MOM ALERT!* I know it’s just Pre-K but when your kid starts school for the first time (in any way they do it) it just feels like something HUGE. I’m not sure I’m ready for it, but I’m also the biggest cheerleader for this kid ever and love watching him grow. Isn’t Parenthood just the MOST bittersweet thing to ever exist? I could do a whole post on just that. I think I might have to. All. The. Feels. All. At. Once. Alright, alright… back to homeschooling now that I’m done sobbing about how quickly my kids are growing up… okay… One of the first things I’m learning about homeschool is how important it is to make it feel like “school” as much as possible so they aren’t missing out too much in that aspect. So, I got Jack some pencils, crayons, markers, paper, scissors, a pencil sharpener, and a really cute backpack to put everything in. His little brother wants that backpack so bad. Oh! And I can’t forget my favorite thing! These little beauties are so amazing for helping little hands learn to hold their pencils correctly. I LOVE them! As far as homeschool curriculum goes, there is just so much available these days even compared to just 10 years ago. It can be a bit overwhelming. So until I have the time to do all the research and really dive into everything available, I started with something simple. I got a Preschool Workbook and this thing is so awesome! It mainly covers shapes, letters, coloring, numbers, tracing, and matching. Tracing is Jack’s favorite! He’s now drawing shapes with his chalk all over the concrete outside and he’s so proud of himself! I just love seeing that little dude’s self-confidence grow! This book also has a big emphasis on following directions which is great. All of our kids could use that right? For Science, we are doing this Caterpillar to Butterfly Garden Kit that I will do a separate post on another day. So cool! Now THIS is the kind of stuff I get REALLY excited for! Getting to think outside of the box. Maybe we’ll take a picnic to the park to do homework and release our butterflies, or skip school altogether one day because it’s just too nice out and make it up later, or add something into the curriculum because one of them is going through a phase of being interested in something in particular… the list goes on! Oh! The possibilites! These are just some of the reasons I personally get excited about beginning our homeschool journey! So, here we go! Thanks for coming along with me and thanks for letting me share my passion! Do you homeschool your kids? What tips do you have? Any curriculum recommendations? Please feel free to share in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

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