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Monday, February 20, 2017

Life Lessons Kids Learn From Owning a Cat

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Thanks to Fresh Step® Compact Packs for sponsoring today’s post. All opinions are my own.


Jeremy and I got our first cat, Pun-kin, just a few weeks after we got married.  I have always loved cats and I really had to convince my only dog owning husband to adopt sweet Pun-kin.  Once the convincing was done, Jeremy quickly became a cat loving guy, too.  Since then, we adopted miss Sophie and had to say a tearful goodbye to our Pun-kin and in turn adopted our crazy Sundae cat.  Honestly, though, I don't think any of could ever imagine our family with out cats. They are a part of our little family.  

The kids have been around our cats from the day we brought them both home from the hospital.  As they grow older I am really happy with all of the lessons that I see our cats teaching our kids.  


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Life Lessons Kids Learn From Owning a Cat



Compassion: When you let a cat into your family he or she becomes a daily reminder of kindness and compassion. Jude and Teagan have learned to be kind and to take care of others’ basic needs. This also includes understanding and empathy.  The fact is; animals will get sick or hurt at some point.  Seeing this can be difficult on children but it allows them to see empathy and kindness as we take care of our cats.


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Respect: Owning a cat teaches kids how to respect others. They must learn to touch them gently, take care of their needs, and learn not to disturb or mess with them when they want to be left alone. Thankfully, we have been blessed with some very good and patient cats but we have always taught Jude and Teagan to be gentle and careful when interacting with the cats.  Often the kids will ask if the cats would bite - we simply say "of course, they have teeth."  We do not want to scare them but the fact is; cats or any pet can bite or scratch when anyone doesn't respect their space.


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Trust: Cats make wonderful trusted companions for kids and can be a first step to helping your kiddos build trust in other relationships as they grow older.  It can take a while for your cat to trust the little ones but with time and respect the friendship between the kids and cats are so perfect.  Pun-kin and Jude would read books together and snuggle on the chair when Jude was just a baby.  Both Jude and Teagan love to run into the house after we get home from work and check in on the cats. It's like they have to let Sophie and Sundae know how their day went. It is pretty adorable!


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Healthy Living: Properly caring for your cat means feeding them an appropriate diet and engaging them in regular exercise. Kids can learn healthy living habits for their cat as well as themselves by just being involved with these aspects of care.  As Jude gets older we are having him help with feeding and watering the cats and always encourage both of the kids to play with Sophie and Sundae.  The kids love it and the cats do too!


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Responsibility: Caring for a cat is a great way for kids to learn responsibility at any age. Cats require daily feeding, exercise, affection, and not to mention grooming and clean-up. Older kids can learn how to care for another living creature and even younger kids can help with feeding and playtime.  Just recently we have started introducing "chores" to our kids and caring for Sophie and Sundae are parts of those chores.  We do not want to give the kids too much to do but we are hoping to share these responsibilities with them so they can see how important it is to tend to our cats as they are a part of our family.  


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The one area that Jude does want to help with is the cat box department, however, I am not comfortable with him actually cleaning the box. We have started using the Fresh Step® Compact Packs of cat litter that allows him to help with this chore.
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I love these new packages. They are so convenient and clean. The Fresh Step® Compact Pack is the equivalent of a 34 or 38 lb. box packaged in four smaller resealable packs! The Compact Packs are better designed to store in and around the home, and easier to pour into the litter box.  Jude is able to pick one up out of the hall closet and bring it to the litter box and pour it into the box on his own.  What an accomplishment for him and help for us!  


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Behavior Awareness: It is super important for parents to teach kids to notice and pay attention to how their behavior affects their cats - like I said before; cats have teeth, they can bite! When kids learn this behavior awareness they will begin to be able to use that in the "real world". The way we behave affects everyone around us - humans and animals. It is very important for everyone to learn this and having a cat just helps kids see it first hand.


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Leadership Skills:  Seeing Jude gain confidence in his abilities and him finding his sense of authority is great. While cats do not need to be given many commands nor do they want to do tricks for you, the cats do teach kids how to be a leader. When Jude calls the cats to eat their treats, food or water I see the leader in him bloom. Also, when he has to get the cats to stop taking his Lego pieces out of his room (yes this happens daily) the leader is there! I love seeing the confidence build!


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We want the absolute best for our cats because they are such an important piece of our family. As a family with multiple cats we want to make sure we keep our house smelling fresh and the cat box clean for our cats which is why we have been a Fresh Step® loving cat family for years! All Fresh Step® products support the brand’s mission to make the world a more welcoming place for cats and their families. Fresh Step® is celebrating that home is where is the cat is - goodness we know that!  These crazy cats rule the house!

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When you start using Fresh Step® Compact Packs make sure you take advantage of the Fresh Step® Paw Points® Rewards Program as well. When you join this rewards program you will begin earning points for free Fresh Step litter, coupons, toys and even help your local shelter! Pretty cool, especially because it is FREE to join!


Join the free Fresh Step® Paw Points® Rewards Program now at freshstep.com. You can also download the new Paw Points Rewards app by visiting the Apple App Store or Google Play to earn 50 points right away! Woohoo!


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All Fresh Step products are available at Walmart, Target and your favorite grocery store and I totally recommend these Fresh Step® Compact Packs, it will make the world of your cat box so much easier!  To try the Fresh Step® Compact Packs for FREE sign up for this coupon today.


For more information on the new products, visit freshstep.com.




What Life Lessons do you think your cats teach your kids?


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fresh Step® litter.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Making the Most of All Those Family Pictures




I think we are like the typical parents, obsessed with every moment with our kids and so blessed with the technology to get those great memories on "film".  Jeremy and I take a ton of pictures of our moments with the kids; two camera phones and the DSLR means photos like woah!  

So we do the typical thing that most parents do - post them to social media and save them to the cloud or drive.  But...no one ever sees them again.  How sad, these memories should be kept and available for people to see in print! 

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Remember the good old days when we would have to go to the photo counter to pick up our prints?  I kind of miss that.  I remember picking them up and putting them in to albums and share those memories with our family.  As we got older I found the prints less and less interesting but I did start making "Year in Review" photo books using Shutterfly.  I still try to do these books every year, though the last few years I have been a slacker - I call that MOM LIFE!  Shutterfly gets me and my Mom Life.  They have created a way to make our photo memories even easier to create - I know...how is that even possible?

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Making the Most of All Those Family Pictures:


Like I said, I have always enjoyed the hard covered photo books by Shutterfly but the hardest part of creating those books is the time it takes to place the pictures on each page. Shutterfly has made a NEW way to make photo books - they literally do it for you! This is a parenting secret we must all share! Shutterfly's Make-My-Book service is the secret and you need to add it to your to do list.  

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The whole process only took a few minutes of my day, again - Mom Life!  I really appreciate this Shutterfly!  Back before my mom life days I was a scrapbooking fool.  I have scrapbooks for every event of my life.  Unfortunately, I just do not have the time to do that anymore but now I know how I will get caught up on the many occasions and years of memories thanks to Shutterfly. 

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1.  Upload your photos.  I uploaded 112 pictures for our 2016 Year In Review. 

2. Choose the size of your book.

3. Choose your theme and template.  I did a very colorful yet a neutral theme to be able to incorporate the whole year of photos. 

4.  Order the book.  This does not cost you any money at this point. 

5.  A few days later, you will get a review email.  This gives you the opportunity to review every single page that the design specialists put together for you.  

6.  You can requests updates and changes before proceeding to the ordering. 

7.  Once pleased with the layout - ORDER! 

8.  A few days later your special book will be on its way!  

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Our 2016 Year in Review photo book is perfect.  The layouts were done with care; I trust those specialists.  What a great way to get those special photos into a shareable hard covered photo book in just minutes.  I will be working on our 2013, 2014, and 2015 Year in Reviews next.  Yes, I am that far behind!!  

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Are you ready to give the Make-My-Book service a try? It’s free to get started – you don’t pay unless you LOVE the book and you must approve it before the purchase! 



What pictures of your family do you have waiting for a photo book?
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mommy and Son Date Night In

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and ConAgra Brands. All opinions are mine alone. #MangiaTonight #CollectiveBias


Today I am talking about parenting - the job I love and the job I feel like I fail at so often.  I would never consider myself the perfect mom, EVER.  I have my faults and but I also believe I have my triumphs however, so often I get caught up in the everyday busy life and forget to stop, reconnect and make memories with my kids. 

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Jude is just months away from turning 7, yes I know, that is shocking to me as well.  And over the last year he has really grown into such a mature, thoughtful, smart boy.  As those months passed us by are family has been on the go non stop.  Seriously, when I look at our planner I get overwhelmed with it all - LIFE!  We have also had our share of sickies this season which always seems to kick us into high stress mode.  Looking back at these last few months I could tell why Jude was feeling so needy for some one-on-one time.  We both needed it.  

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Date nights are important for all types of relationships and friendships, include the parent/child relationship.  Think about it - we try to make time for date nights with our best friends, parents and partners so we should also make time for one-on-one dates with our kids.  

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Because life is well...busy, I decided to set a special Jude and Mommy date night dinner in our living room last week.  This gave us time to just enjoy one another and have a fun "coffee table" picnic in the living room.  Free of distractions and electronics!  Love that!

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To create the perfect meal for 2 I picked up one of our favorite frozen pasta meals, some fresh produce to make a yummy side salad and a festive dessert from our local King Soopers store.  Jude calls the Bertolli® Chicken Parmigiana & Penne - soft chicken and pasta.  So silly but he loves it.  I love the Bertolli Frozen Meals because you can find so many different varieties and flavors to make an easy dinner with almost no planning!  Hey, I need that every once in a while!
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I decided to pick up some fresh broccoli and grapes to create a tangy side salad to enjoy with our Bertolli Chicken Parmigiana & Penne.  This salad is a family favorite and super easy to throw together for dinner on a weeknight.  

Broccoli and Grape Salad

Free printable recipe here. 


Ingredients:

1/4 cup red onion, diced
2 cups red grapes, halved
3 cups broccoli florets, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup mayo
2 TBSP sugar
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar 
pepper to taste

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Directions:

1.  Prepare all fresh produce. 

2.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine mayo, balsamic vinegar, sugar and pepper creating a nice dressing. 

3.  Add broccoli, grapes and onions to the dressing and mix well making sure to cover the produce with the dressing. 

4.  Add pecans and mix well. 

5.  Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.  Serve cold!  Enjoy!


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The Bertolli Meal for Two contains the perfect amount of food for a date night in.  Bertolli does also have family size options that we love to enjoy as a family too.  Great flavors and options for every picky eater in my house!  

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Once our meal was prepared we sat down together and started digging in.  It was such a fun experience for both Jude and me.  He really felt special to have mommy all to himself.  Jude loves to talk, especially about Pokemon, so our Mommy and Son Date Night was filled with stories from school and his Pokemon captures for the day.  

Sometimes, when you take time to just sit and leave the busy world out of your date night, you find joy in the memories being made.  Bertolli Frozen Meals for Two have opened my eyes to how important these dates are for me as a mother.  

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This boy!  I adore him.  Funny how much fun we had in our living room, a space we are in every day, just enjoying a nice plate of pasta.  It truly is the small things in life that matter. 

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One way that I found made our dinner date even more special for Jude was the addition of some fun napkins and replacing his kid plate with a grown up plate.  Like I said, it is the small things.  He felt very special and grown up with these simple notions.  

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Once we finished our salad and Bertolli Chicken Parmigiana & Penne we dug into our heart shaped cake.  What a great end to a perfect Mommy and Son Date Night In. Bertolli Frozen meals helped me create more than just a dinner for Jude, they let me create memories and moments with him as well.

As a parent we need to remember that our kids need our one-on-one attention, something that I know I really need to work on.  I hope to incorporate these mommy and kiddo date nights even more now.  I know Teagan is so ready for her date night with mommy and she has already requested the Bertolli Chicken Alfredo & Penne Meal for Two! YUM!!

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Make sure you start planning your next Date Night In by heading to your local Kroger Banner store and pick up some of the yummy Bertolli Frozen meals. Lucky for you, during the month of February at all Kroger banner stores, Bertolli Meals for Two will be the lowest price of the year.  Perfect time to stock up on these great meal options!

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Who will you enjoy your Bertolli Meal for Two with?


Bertolli® is a registered trademark of R&B Foods, Inc., used under license.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hotel Indigo - Downtown Denver

Last weekend, we had an employee party to attend downtown.  This is our evening to leave the kids with grandma and grandpa (so blessed) and enjoy a nice Friday night out on the town.  Over the years we have decided to not only do the whole kid free night but we have been staying downtown overnight as well.  This means we get to literally enjoy a kid free, house free, parent life free night.  Love it.

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We are always anxious to pick our downtown hotel and love trying new places to stay.  As were were searching we found out about the new Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver.  The location was absolutely perfect as our party was a short 5 minute walk away from the hotel.  

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About Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver:

Just as prospectors discovered Colorado’s gold rush bonanza, Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown inspires modern day pioneers and urban explorers to discover their perfect Denver day. Combining the charm of a boutique hotel with the top-notch amenities of the Indigo brand, this LoDo hotel delights its globetrotting guests with rooms featuring sliding barn doors and spa-style bathrooms, and in-house access to local experts who happily share their intel on everything from craft beer to Rocky Mountain cuisine. All just steps from Union Station and other Mile High City landmarks.


1801 Wewatta Street , Denver, CO 80213
Phone: 303.416.8520 • Fax: 303.623.9988

Be Social with Hotel Indigo - Downtown Denver:
Hotel Indigo - Downtown Denver on Facebook
Hotel Indigo - Downtown Denver on Instagram
Hotel Indigo - Downtown Denver - Website 


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Our King room was pretty spacious.  A super soft and comfortable King Size bed was in the center of the room.  After being in the red painted and lighted lobby I was actually surprised that the room was all grey tones.  It was calming and modern.

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The TV space was nice as well.  Loved that there was a good sized refrigerator in the room as well.  That is a bonus for sure!  We were on the 5th floor so we did not have much of a view except for the many apartments being built.  This area is certainly up and coming in Denver.  

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The bathroom was very spa like.  While there was not a tub, this shower was amazing.  Jeremy often times feels like a giant in hotel showers due to low shower heads but this one was simply perfect. I loved the Aveda toiletries left for us to use as well.  

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Okay, probably the best part about this room was the sliding barn door for the bathroom door.  So modern and different.  Now, if you are not comfortable with the person sharing the room with you hearing "things" in the bathroom you might not enjoy this aspect of the decor.  I like it was kind of fun.  

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The room was not over-sized but it was big enough to feel the space.  Again, you can see the great decor and grey features. 

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The hallways brought a little of the grey room decor and mixed it with the bright colors of the lobby.  The geometrical designs on the walls were pretty eye catching. 

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The front of the Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver.  The construction in the area is a bit distracting but I know that after all of that is complete this area will be great.  Again, such a great area!  

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Besides the location being pretty amazing, the Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver was a beautiful hotel inside and out.  The customer service at the front desk was impeccable from check-in to check-out.  I loved the front desk vibe, great music playing, creative uniforms for the employees, trendy furniture and lighting.  We were pretty impressed with the lobby and hotel dinning area.  

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Union Station at night!  So beautiful.  I am glad we decided to stay at the Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver for our night off.  We woke up the following day rested and ready to tackle the world of parenting once again.  

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I would recommend the Hotel Indigo for anyone visiting Downtown Denver.  The location would be perfect but do keep in mind that the only con we had about this hotel was the valet parking - overnight cost us $42!  That would add up quickly for a long stay.  


Would the Hotel Indigo Downtown Denver but a hotel you could see yourself at while visiting Colorado?


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