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Go to Top Cashback and create an account.  Visit Kmart through TopCashback, purchase a 16″ Disney Frozen backpack priced at $15.29 and within seven days $17 cashback will have posted in your TopCashback account. One day only!

Free Frozen Backpack

 

Please note only NEW TopCashback members are eligible for this promotion.

Back To School: Immunizations at Walgreens

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

Back to SchoolWe are gearing up for the new school year in our home!  One 7th grader, one in Kindergarten, our nephew is going to preschool and the baby is on the wait list for preschool, too.  This might be the first year all the kids are go to school!  Let me take a minute because that is just CRAZY!  Whew. Ok, and I’m back! Of course there is tons of back to school shopping to be done, pencils, folders, backpacks etc. One very important aspect of back to school shopping includes immunizations!

Easy Immunizations for School

My own kiddos are very aware that shots help keep them safe and healthy.  We discuss it often and, although they don’t love getting them, they do know it is necessary.  Last year, after school has started, I got a call from my the oldest child’s nurses office.  Turns out she was missing an immunization from her records and we needed to get her up to date.  So I called the doctor’s office.  There were no openings until the next week.  I wish we had known about Walgreens Healthcare Clinics where no appointment is necessary, it’s quick and easy, most insurance is accepted (I checked, ours is) and they’ll report back to your primary care physician.  And the icing on the cake, in my opinion, is this program I recently learned about.  When your child gets their back-to-school immunization at Walgreens, they’ll provide a lifesaving vaccine to a child in a developing country through the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. #GiveaShot

Walgreens Shots

This program is aimed at school aged children 7 years and older.  I found this chart on the website really helpful and hopefully I won’t have any missed immunizations in the future.

Immunization Calendar

She’s got a few she needs before school starts in a couple weeks and you can bet you’ll catch us popping in to the Walgreens on the corner for school supplies and to update those immunizations.  She says if she has to get them anyway, she’d like to do them at Walgreens, where she can “Get a Shot, Give a Shot”.

Should I Send My Kid To Preschool?

K is about to start kindergarten.  In preparation for this day we started him last year in preschool in the out of district school we’d been hoping the kids could attend since purchasing a house in 2011.  Initially, we searched for homes in the school’s area but our budget and needs pushed us out of district.  We knew there was a high demand and found out that by enrolling K in preschool he’d be guaranteed a spot in kindergarten and from there would be able to remain at said school. What can I say?  I’m a planner.

Benefits of Preschool

So, although I am a stay at home mom, K went into half day preschool.  I wrestled with this internally.  How strange it seemed; to send my kid to school when state didn’t require it, it cost us money and he could just be home with me.  The pros out weighed the cons and in hind sight I can’t even believe I had any questions about sending him to preschool.

  1. Social Interaction.  We know that kids’ being around other kids is important to help our kids become social but I truly could not have imaged how amazing preschool was for K and learning how to appropriately interact with kids and adults (that aren’t mom and dad).  He forged some amazing friendships even at this young age.
  2. Academic Growth.  One of the most obvious reasons to proceed with preschool is academics.  Starting formal education early can help set your kiddos up for success later on in school and life in general.  (Plus, it’s really cool to see your 4 or 5 year old sound out words!)
  3. Respect for Education.  Starting schooling young can instill a love and respect for learning and education.  School becomes important to your child and this can stay with them through their whole life.
  4. Daily Structure.  Try as I might, I could never give my kids the daily schedule and structure preschool does.  Sure, we kinda, sorta stuck to a routine but in preschool kids learn to know what to expect and thrive on that structure.
  5. Independence.  With 20 kids in their class kids learn a bit of independence which is crucial for a well adjusted child.  Side note: prep your kids by letting them open their own snacks; I never thought about this and it was a shock to K when he was expected to be able to, or least attempt to, open his own.

BONUS: K’s time in preschool gave me some one on one time with my youngest child.  Before K started school it was an extremely rare occasion to be alone with Baby G.  While K was thriving and growing in school I was able to focus a bit on Baby G and really see his personality form.

1st Day of Preschool

We loved what we saw in this school and how K has blossomed so much that when we realized there was a 3 year old program at the same school we looked knew Baby G would benefit, too.  When he finally potty trained (that’s a whole other story!) we called to enroll him.  Remember how I mentioned this school is well rated and in high demand?  Well, unfortunately, Baby G is waitlisted for the one classroom of 3 year olds.  Luckily, we aren’t in a huge rush, so we are just waiting for a spot to open up.  When I spot opens up I know I’ll have the natural reaction to be torn- but I know it’s the right choice for us and good for the kids.

Incredible Things That You Can Do With Beef

Everyone loves a sumptuous piece of beef. While many people believe that chicken is the most versatile meat, they must not have discovered beef. A good cut of beef can be used in a wide variety of dishes. You can use beef in curries, kebabs, roast dinners, with chips. The list is seemingly endless. The great thing about beef is that it isn’t expensive, when compared with a cut of lamb.

For those who are yet to discover the awesome virtues of beef, let me take you on a journey of discovery.

The Background on Beef

To give you a sharper insight into the world of delicious beef, you need to be aware of its origins. Beef comes from bovine. Typically, in the UK, this is mainly taken from cattle and cows. In other parts of the world, beef can be taken from buffalo, steers and heifers. The cuts of meat can vary in quality, price and texture. In short, there is a lot of meat that can be sought from one cow. Most of the meat off the cow can be used in various forms. Even the bones of a cow can be used in stocks and gravies. Of course, not many people utilise the bones of cattle for this purpose in 2014, but it does give you an insight into how versatile beef is.

 

beef

Image courtesy of Jeremy Keith

Cuts of Beef

There are a plethora of different cuts of beef. There are some choices which are more economical than others. Of course, the less you pay for a cut of meat, the lesser the quality. While price is not a true indicator of the quality of all products, when it comes to meat matters, this is certainly true.

You can get the following cuts of beef:

Minced Beef

Diced Beef

Roasting Beef

Steak

Brisket

Tenderloin

 

Traditional Recipes

Beef is a much sought after meat in the UK. When it is cooked correctly, it can be a delicious hearty meal that melts in your mouth. Many people love to use beef in a traditional recipe.

A hearty meal of beef wellington is a firm favorite in many households and is an excellent way to encourage kids to eat beef. Sometimes, the texture of the meat can feel strange to small children. Introduce them to beef wellington, so that they can enjoy the meat but still have the flaky pastry to satisfy them. A child’s first foray into meat can be a daunting experience for them, so make it easier on their palette.

Filling beef casseroles are a great way to get your five a day. Of course, the thought of beef casserole in the middle of summer can be somewhat off-putting. A succulent beef casserole is the perfect winter warmer.

Many people love to roast a joint of beef and team it up with vegetables, roast potatoes and stuffing. The classic English Roast is a thing of beauty. If it is cooked correctly, the English Roast can be a delicious and filling dish. My grandma used to make the most amazing beef dinners. Her secret was to slowly cook the meat for a long time. She would get up at seven in the morning to put the beef in the oven, ready for Sunday lunch at two o’clock in the afternoon. Dinner was always a treat, and the beef was delightful.

Traditionally, beef should be cooked slowly for maximum flavour and texture. The longer the meat is cooked for, the more chance the fat has to breakdown. This means that you get a full, rich flavour as opposed to tasting chewy fat. This helps the meat become more supple and easier to chew. In short, it is the perfect way to enjoy beef.

 

Contemporary Cooking and Light Bites

If you are looking for delicious beef recipes that you can enjoy all year round, you are sure to be inspired.

Mongolian beef is an excellent meal to enjoy in the summer. Your Mongolian beef should be served on a bed of delicious noodles. The beef is cooked in a spicy sauce consisting of soy sauce. Serve with lashings of red pepper for a truly delicious, summery treat. This dish can be eaten in the winter but swap the noodles for rice.

Ox tongue on a thick wedge of tiger bread and served with a pile of horseradish and rocket can be a delicious way to enjoy beef in the summer. Ox tongue can be sourced from your local butchers. Supermarkets do not tend to stock this kind of meat.

You can create perfect bolognas dishes with minced beef. Minced beef can also be used in lasagna’s too. In fact, a lot of Italian cooking uses beef as its main meat. If you are keen to cook different foods from around the world, you need to start using beef. You will be amazed at the wide array of foods that you can cook using this succulent piece of meat.

 

Barbecue Season is Upon Us

Do not forgo beef in the summer. You can utilise it in many different lighter dishes. It is the perfect summer meat. Get out the BBQ and start throwing slabs of delicious beef onto the grill. You and your buddies will love it.

You can prepare juicy skewers for your guests, using diced beef. You can add chunky hunks of red onion, wedges of pepper and lashings of salami as a contrast to the tender beef.

Steaks that have been cooked on the BBQ are increasingly popular. The flame-grilled taste is hard to master within the confines of our kitchens, so we have to use BBQ’s to obtain the flavours that are needed.

Beef can be used on a ‘grown up’ BBQ. Many people opt for sausages and burgers, but to be honest, this has become more than a little humdrum. Experiment with different meats on the BBQ and ensure that you develop your palette for the finer things in life. BBQ season is an excellent way to find foods that complement each other. Think about your favourite meats and consider teaming them up with pieces of beef. Chunky, seasonable vegetables can make a great accompaniment for your meats at your next soiree.

 

Top 6 DVDs On A Loop In Our Home

Top 6 Movies for Kids

 

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If your kids are anything like mine they have their favorite movies and they play them on a loop.  Over and over. And over.  We have about 6 regulars at the moment.  Of course, we try to limit screen time but when it’s movie time they seem to pick the same ones… Here’s what’s playing in our home this month.

1.  It’s no surprise. Disney’s Frozen has been the #1 played movie in our home since it came out on DVD.

2.  Megamind is an old favorite over here and the kids still request it regularly.

3. Disney/Pixar A Bugs Life is one I wasn’t sure if they’d like. They not only like it but one has decided he now wants a Bug themed birthday party!

4.  Monster House isn’t just for Halloween!  This one is fairly new on our rotation but has been playing non-stop for the last week.  My youngest LOVES it.  He was devastated when it broke this morning.

5.  Apparently they like monsters because Disney’s Monsters University seems to be always on…. at least it’s one I happily watch with them.

 

6. You thought Tangled was a ‘princess’ movie for little girls?  No way!  My three boys giggle continuously when watching this one!

What movies are your kiddos loving right now?  Leave a comment and let me know;maybe I can share some new movies with them and change things up a bit!

Keep Momming™

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Shire.   I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

As an actress, a public health advocate and former journalist, Holly Robinson Peete has seen it all. And as a mother of four, she’s encountered just about every parenting challenge you can imagine. One of her biggest challenges as mom is building and maintaining a close relationship with her teenage daughter, Ryan.

The mother-daughter relationship is a unique one, and that dynamic can be even trickier during the tween years. Yet sometimes, people dismiss certain behaviors as “typical tween girl behavior” when those behaviors can be symptoms of something more serious. Research suggests that girls are more likely than boys to report having mostly inattentive Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Since inattentive symptoms can be less noticeable than hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, it is important that moms know what to look for.

I’m proud to be joining forces with Shire, CHADD and Holly Robinson Peete to announce the launch of keep momming, a new public service initiative geared towards the moms of tween girls to raise awareness of ADHD. The campaign is anchored within a new digital hub, KeepMomming.com, where you’ll find tips, tools and other go-to resources for moms, including a checklist to help recognize the symptoms of ADHD – inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity – and then encourages moms to talk to their daughter’s doctor. The keep momming initiative can help moms learn about ADHD and provide ideas on how to spark a conversation and stay connected with their tween.

Don’t miss Holly’s message about the keep momming initiative, and be sure to check out the website at KeepMomming.com.

Healthy Chicken Wings

I love bar food.  Delicious fried goodness dipped in ranch?  Yes please.  I love a certain restaurant our husbands would deny visiting during their lunch hour, with their breaded and fried to perfection hot wings…you know the place I’m referring to, right?  But I’m not dumb.  I know just how bad for me all that stuff is.  So when I had a hankering for wings last weekend I asked my husband if he could maybe grill them.  If you follow me on social media you already know I think my husband is the Grill Master (though he tends to dirty every dish or pan possible in the process when he grills, but I digress).  I also put him in very high regard when it comes to sauces.  My mouth is watering just thinking about how the house smells when he is cooking up his wing sauce.

Healthy Chicken Wings

Being the grilling machine that he is he agreed, though he’d never grilled wings before.  He put them on the top rack  on med to high heat and check on them often.  He was looking for a nice golden brown and after about 25 minutes they were beautiful.  He whipped up a semi-homemade sauce in our favorite flavor for wing sauce: Honey Hot!  I tossed the grilled wings in the sauce and they were ready to be devoured eaten.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this healthy version but I was really pleased!  It had a nice crispy crust to bite into.  This will definitely be a go to when I have a hankering for some wings!

More Kid-Approved Activities For Summer

Summer is not over yet and if you are like me you are running out of ideas and steam of how to keep your kiddos busy!  Last summer I posted a bunch of ideas called How to Keep Kids Busy This Summer Without Breaking The Bank.  And this summer I shared a free printable of a Summer Bucket List. I am, of course, using those old ideas along with new activities.  Thank goodness for Pinterest.  I’m scouring the site and pinning away.  Check it out my board and follow me.  Don’t forget to let me know if you try or come across any good pins!

 

Follow Nicole LLandLoL’s board Crafts and Activites for the Kiddos on Pinterest.

Planning and Saving for Disneyland

Disney on a BudgetI was recently invited to an amazing conference for Disney Social Media Moms (On the Road) #DisneySMMoms and got the inside scoop on Disney related stuff, as well as amazing info from some role-model worthy women (check out my social media for more on the conference).  This prompted me to really make a decision…it is time to seriously consider a family vacation to Disneyland!

We are big Disney fans in this house.  We show our DisneySide in some way everyday.  All six of us have our own Disney favorites; Jelly Bean, my red-headed 12 year old stepdaughter grew up loving Ariel and her resemblance to Merida is uncanny.  Seriously, people have stopped us and told us to seek out monetary compensation because clearly “Disney used her as a model!” My younger boys have watched all of the Toy Story movies over and over and most recently Frozen has been playing on a loop.  My husband’s favorite is by far The Sword in the Stone.  And I refuse to pick just one and since I am the writer of this article; I don’t have to!

Disney's Brave


Disney Snack

My oldest boy is now 5 and has been asking when he’ll get to visit the magical and mysterious land of Disney, or as you and I call it, Disneyland.  The younger two boys are blissfully unaware that there is a place, only 7 hours away, that houses all their favorite Disney characters, rides, food and magic.  Jelly Bean has been lucky enough in her short life of only 12 years to have visited Disneyland twice.  I have a burning desire to share the pixie dust with my kiddos and have become determined to take them in the next year.  It would be an especially amazing experience for my nephew (you can read about our Kinship Foster Care story here) who has never traveled and who’s future is somewhat uncertain and who might not get the chance to feel the Disney magic later in life.

We live on one income and our budget is very tight.  We don’t use credit cards so we’ll be saving old school for this trip; little by little.  I prefer this way because their is no debt involved and it gives our whole family something to work for and get excited about.  Would it be awesome to get some Disney instant gratification and go next month?  ABSOLUTELY!! Does that really work for my family of 6? Not really.

Photo Credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

Photo Credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

My first step in planning is to price out some trip prices.  Because I am hoping to take them around this time next year I can get a pretty good idea of how much a trip like this will cost.  Planning is half the fun (if you are new here let me introduce myself, “Hi, I am Nicole and I LOVE to plan and organize things…it’s kind of an obsession”) and I am getting really excited with all the amazing options and things to see while visiting Disneyland.  It’s been almost 10 years since I last went!

So,  I am putting our plan out into the world!  To make this work I’ll be working extra hard here on the blog and tightening up any extra spending for a while here!  I know we can do it, though and I am excited to see it all come together.  Of course, I’ll be sharing my saving and planning along the way.

Share some money-saving tips for Disney below!

 

 

Carnival, Fair or Circus Party Invite Ticket Printable

My youngest son is turning three in July (EEEEEK!!!) and around here birthdays are kind of a big deal.  I love a theme, I love a party and I love to plan parties.  I’ve planned many events, both personal and professionally, but I LOVE making my kids feel extra special for their birthdays.

The older kids pick their party themes, usually (or I help guide them to a theme).  This year I picked G’s theme and we are doing a Carnival/Fair Party!  There will be face painting (offered by the party location, DayDreams DropIn for no extra charge; which is part of the reason I ran with this theme), fair food and games.

I made up a ticket invite with all the info and a cute carnival party invitation wording:

Step Right Up And Join The Fun!

This Party Will Be The Best One!

Game, Face Painting and More!

Don’t Forget; Treats Galore!

Ticket Invitation

I have an empty ticket available for you to use and edit for your own party.   Download a ticket invitation free printable!

Free Printable Ticket Invitation

 

With four kids there are many parties to come; comment below with some party themes for me!

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