Friday Raves & Faves

raves and faves

I love reading product, recipe, book and even activity recommendations from other bloggers, so I thought I’d take a stab at listing my raves and faves periodically. Many of these faves I’ve already posted on Instagram during the past couple weeks.

Kid Faves

water balloon fight

Water Balloon Fights

At the end of last summer, I purchased roughly 1,000 water balloons when I saw them on clearance at my local grocery store. My kids have been patiently waiting to pull them out, and this past weekend was perfect, with sunny skies and temps in the nineties. We filled up one pack of 100 self-sealing water balloons (so quick and easy!) and they went to town. I would estimate that only a third of the balloons actually popped on a body. The rest were misses and popped on the ground. But in a kid’s world, it was perfect, and that’s what matters. I’m splitting the rest of our stash and taking them to our upcoming beach weeks in Hilton Head Island, S.C. and Panama City Beach, Fl.

national geographic kids sight words books

National Geographic Kids Sight Words 12-Book Reading Program

Kindergarten has been an awesome year for my oldest son–especially attending a nature school. But it took us a couple months to get into the groove of learning sight words, which translates into being able to read sooner. But persistence and consistency have finally paid off, and he’s learned the Pre-K nad Kindergarten Dolch sight words and we’ve begun tip-toeing into the First Grade set. That being said, memorization via flash cards gets old. His teacher recommended a sight words book set from National Geographic since James Michael is so into nature, and it’s great. It’s a way for him to practice sight words and reading at the same time–in a more interesting and engaging way. He’ll choose one of the 12 books and read through it at night. My goal is to do this a few nights a week throughout the summer to keep him reading and practicing.

Outshine popsicles

Outshine Bars

Now that it’s popsicle weather, my kids have enjoyed a “popsicle a day” after James Michael gets home from school. Typically, I buy Outshine Bars via Kroger Clicklist when they are on sale and most recently Costco offered them with a manufacturer’s discount. Though there are quite a few fruit juice-based (non corn syrup) bars on the market, I seem to always buy Outshine and they are a great deal when they are on sale.

creek week

Creek Week at Nature School

Last week, my kindergartner had a ball during Creek Week at Elachee Nature Academy. Though they often venture near the creek on their daily hikes, last week was dedicated to spending all day at the creek, playing and exploring while still mixing in a little learning through experiments and nature journaling. He came home filthy and exhausted–a sign of a great day in boyhood terms.

Pregnancy Faves

Chiropractor visit

With my first three babies, I went to my chiropractor in Atlanta regularly. After having sciatica issues with my second pregnancy, I made a point to see my chiropractor twice a month. The visits helped so much and my chiropractor was great at unjamming my right hip, which tends to jam a lot, especially with exercise. Since we moved back to my hometown two years ago, I had yet to switch to a local chiropractor. But pregnancy seems to bring out all the aches and pains! So I finally got around to booking an appointment earlier this week at the beginning of my third trimester. Better late than never! I’m hoping that regular visits until delivery will help keep me in alignment and relieve some of the lower back, sacrum and sciatic nerve pressure I’ve been feeling.

Boppy Pregnancy Wedge

With my first pregnancy, I was forced to change from a stomach sleeper to a side sleeper. After delivery, I never went back to being a stomach sleeper. I bought a Boppy Pregnancy wedge when I was 6 months along and it worked well. During my second pregnancy, around the time I started having sciatic pain, I purchased a pregnancy body pillow to help relieve even more pressure. But with my third pregnancy, I went back to the wedge. Then I thought I was done having babies and gave them both away. Fast forward three years, and I was ready for a new pregnancy pillow for my fourth baby. I tried out the Boppy Side Sleeper Pillow, but just couldn’t get comfortable, especially since I constantly roll over and switch sides at night. So I returned it and bought another Boppy Pregnancy Wedge since it was tried and true. I’m 7 months along at this point and it’s been perfect. I still sleep with a regular pillow between my knees to help my back.

 

Mama Faves

Steve Madden Women’s Elouise Fashion Sneaker

I will admit I’m far from a fashionista. I mean, I know what I like and what styles fit my body best (when I’m not pregnant), but I’m never the first to adopt new trends. Over the past couple years, I’ve turned to Toms shoes for not just comfort with their slip-ons, but to keep me somewhat on point with style when it comes to wedges and other heels (which are still comfortable, thankfully). But this year, I branched out from my usual Toms slip-ons and bought another pair of slip-ons from Amazon–because Mama doesn’t have time to go shoe shopping. I love these shoes and because they are neutral, I can wear them with most anything. I’m past the point where I can wear flip flops all summer–I’m too old and too pregnant. I need a little more support so these are perfect (and I reserve flip flops for the pool, beach or lake). Upon reading the reviews, I did order up a half size and they fit perfectly.

mother's day gifts

Homemade Mother’s Day Gifts

What mom doesn’t love cheesy pictures of her babies and to get a little glimpse of their perspective on her as a mom? There is always at least one answer on these questionnaires that makes me laugh. We watched about three episodes of Lost in Space, then realized it was a little too “ABC Family” for us. And yes, I love food shopping and it is one of our biggest expenses!

Less Laundry

This sounds so silly–unless you’re a mom of multiple kids. But one great perk of summertime is there’s less laundry to do. This is because my kids wear a lot less clothes in the summer–no socks and often no shirts for my boys. But I also do less laundry because tons of tank tops and tiny girl shorts fit in a single load. It’s great.

 

Food Faves

salmon burger pinch of yum

Salmon Burgers from Pinch of Yum

Salmon patties sound like some kind of dinner straight out of the seventies, but if you’re looking for a quick dinner, you need to make sure you stock up on the ingredients to make these Salmon Burgers. I buy a 6-pack of wild caught canned salmon from Costco every time I go to make sure the pantry is stocked. Then if I need a last-minute dinner, I can whip these up quickly. I often sub Ian’s Gluten Free Breadcrumbs for normal bread crumbs or use quick oats for my allergy kid. These are so simple and tasty, and even my picky 6 year old eats them. It’s just a great last-minute dinner idea without having to worry about defrosting meat.

hydroponics salad

Salads from Hydroponic Gardening

In case you’ve missed his posts (here and here), my husband is really into hydroponic gardening. Me? Well, I’m really into reaping the rewards of his hydroponics. When I told his mom I was heading downstairs to pick our salad for dinner one night while she was visiting, she laughed because it’s just such a crazy declaration. But it’s true. We just pick our greens right before it’s time to eat dinner and they are fresh and organic at a fraction of grocery store prices.

Presto Electric Tilt-N-Fold Griddle

This may seem like a weird thing to call a favorite, but we received our last griddle as a wedding gift more than 10 years ago. It was great and functional, but big and clunky and very hard to fit in our current 1966 kitchen. So once the non-stick surface gave out, I scoured Amazon and found this tilt-n-fold griddle. Not only is it much lighter than our last griddle, but the legs fold under, making the whole thing only a few inches wide so that it fits upright in our cabinet beside all my baking trays. And the bonus is it’s still big enough that it cooks nine pancakes at a time.

Other Faves

driveway dinner

Driveway Dinners

We currently live in my Grandma’s old house, built in 1966. Like many houses built decades ago, kitchens weren’t as spacious as they are today. When we moved in, we had to find a smaller kitchen table that would fit the smaller space. That’s one of the main reasons we don’t entertain often–even though we entertained a ton at our last house (open concept). But sometimes, I just get a hankering to host something. So this year, I hosted Mother’s Day dinner and affectionately categorized the gathering as a driveway dinner. We hosted a few driveway dinners last year and they are perfect. We simply set up tables in the carport, let the kids play in the yard and driveway, and grill out. The area is almost completely shaded and there is a slight breeze coming up from the lake. Seeing as how hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts, I love being able to host driveway dinners as a workaround to a small kitchen area.

magnolia table teacher gift

Magnolia Table

Last week, I posted 10 gift ideas for teachers, and included in my list was Magnolia Table. Not only was it the gift I chose for all my kids’ teachers, but apparently it made for a great Mother’s Day gift as well. After seeing my post about it on Instagram, my sister dropped hints to her husband that it’d be the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. But seriously, who doesn’t love Chip and Joanna. And I’m just happy that there’s someone out there who is older than me who is pregnant!

 

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