Why I'm Removing My Kids From The Internet

Since my son was born, I've been blogging about him. I've always used his name, shared stories and photos about our life. When my daughter was born, the same thing happened. I thought parents who used code names for their kids were being a bit paranoid. And those who wouldn't share photos of their kids? Interesting, but certainly not for me.

Today, that all changed. I received a rather inappropriate comment about my 3-year-old daughter that has made me re-evaluate everything I've been sharing, both on this blog and on social media. So, I've decided to remove my kids from the internet. 

I know I have a huge task ahead of me, but I'm looking forward it. I also realize I've developed quite a few "friends" online that I'm simply unable to see out in the real world. Just send me an email... we'll work something out so you can continue to see my family grow. :)

I also realize now how this is a violation of their privacy. To be honest, I guess I've always known, I just decided to look the other way. There are so many bloggers who post photos of their kids online, it can be hard to see why it is "wrong". My new rule of thumb to ever post a photo of anyone without their express consent. If they are too young to consent, then don't I post their picture.

What are your thoughts about photos and names of children on the internet? Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

What We're Reading: Kindergarten Edition

Phoenix is in his 4th month of public school kindergarten. I'm so glad we made the switch from homeschooling. He finally has that social circle I think he really needed. His teacher is amazing, and really pushes him. We had a conference a few weeks ago, and she explained to me how she gives kids different work based on where they're at in the topic. Something that really surprised me was how much the teacher expects the kids to read in kindergarten. Phoenix is in the Pizza Hut Book-It program, and needed to read 20 minutes every day to reach his goal. We're actually a little bit behind here, which is why I'm writing this post.

I've noticed that there's a huge gap between what I thought he would be doing in kindergarten, and what he's actually doing. As Phoenix is starting to pick up on reading, I thought it might be useful for other parents to know what he's reading in kindergarten.

What He's Reading On His Own This Week

Quack Shack & Flip-A-Word Books by Harriet Ziefert
These are super-beginner books, with a lot of repetition, and very few words on each page. Some words include:
  • jack
  • sack
  • with
  • chick
  • lick
  • rock
  • sock

David Goes To School
A book about a trouble-maker and his adventures at school. This is another great beginner book. Some words include:
  • yelling
  • running
  • tardy
  • chew
  • raise
  • yourself
  • attention
  • started
  • recess
  • again
Sleepy Dog, Wake Up! (Step into Reading)
This book is a step up from the previous two, without being too challenging. It's broken up into chapters with about 6 pages in each chapter. Some words include:
  • time
  • sleepyhead
  • cat
  • dog
  • kiss
  • morning
  • turn
  • open
  • night-light
  • shade
  • window
  • drinking
  • spilled
  • happy
City Fun (Modern Curriculum Press Beginning to Read Series)
This book (published in 1980) uses small words & a lot of repetition. At 31 pages, it a longer book, but able to be read in one sitting. Some words include:
  • I
  • like
  • jump
  • up
  • down
  • away
  • ride
  • good
  • play
  • work

I Love Trees (Rookie Readers: Ready to Learn)
This book is a fun start to science literature. pages usually have one small sentence, making it an easy, fun read. Some words include:
  • I
  • trees
  • some
  • love
  • jump
  • big
  • are
  • have
  • needles
  • leaves
  • birds
  • bees
  • make
  • paper

The Cookie House (Modern Curriculum Press Beginning to Read)
This is the most challenging book he's read this week. The book is 29 pages long with 3 sentences on each page. This story is a re-telling of the Hansel & Gretel story, which may be frightening to some younger readers. Some words include:
  • get
  • come
  • you
  • work
  • something
  • little
  • here
  • who
  • want
  • down
  • look
  • house
  • father
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Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

#sponsored Our Cat Mieke's Rachael Ray Nutrish Journey #NutrishZeroGrain @Nutrish

I've been living with Ken & Lisa for 13 years. Guess how many times they've switched my food? Zero. But, today, something weird happened. We received a strange package in the mail that Lisa seemed to be particularity excited about. She kept on squealing, mentioned something about the adorable packaging, and snapped this picture.

I didn't so much care about the packaging... I wanted to know what was in that bag. I could smell it from a mile away. After a few more pictures and a bit of reading, Lisa headed over to the counter to grab a pair of scissors. I was right there next to her as the bag opened, unleashing the most fantastically-wonderful smell my little nose has ever met... and I knew exactly what the smells were from meals my owners have served themselves before. Yes, it was just like the food my humans eat... real whitefish, salmon meal, potatoes, peas, eggs, cranberries, and carrots.

Lisa placed a bowl of Zero Grain Whitefish Dry Cat Food on the counter. Although I had just eaten my lunch, I couldn't help but to take a few bites of this brand new cat food deliciousness.

Next time, she placed a bowl of Zero Grain Whitefish Dry Cat Food right next to my ordinary cat food. I've went for the Zero Grain Whitefish Dry Cat Food. She's repeated this "challenge" for me several times since then. Naturally, I eat the Rachael Ray Nutrish, and actually get a bit upset when she feeds me the old stuff... but she says she has to give me the old stuff still. Since Rachael Ray Nutrish has different ingredients than what I'm used to, it could take up to ten days for your my system to become acclimated to Nutrish. So, she slowly added some Nutrish next to my other food over a five-day period so my body would become used to eating Nutrish. 

Why To Choose Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Pet Food

Cats love Nutrish Zero Grain Whitefish & Potato Recipe. It is made with real white fish as the #1 ingredient — a tasty and highly digestible protein that helps to maintain strong muscles and helps minimize litter box odors. It also has zero grains, glutens or fillers... not to mention zero meat or poultry by-product meal. And, even better, Nutrish Zero Grain has no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.

About Rachael Ray Nutrish

In 2007, with help from pet nutrition experts, Rachael Ray created Nutrish ultra-premium food and treats for dogs. In 2014, they were very excited to grow the brand into the world of cat food. Whether intended for dogs or cats, Nutrish recipes are made with simple natural ingredients and do not contain meat or poultry by-product meal or fillers. Real meat is the #1 ingredient in our cat food and all recipes were inspired by Rachael’s kitchen.

Even more impressive than their formula or position, Rachael’s personal proceeds go to Rachael’s Rescue, created to help shelter pets. As of today, over $9 million has gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for animals in need.

This is the first zero grain dry cat formula from Rachael Ray Nutrish, who prides themselves on bringing pet specialty quality food to the masses. This is the first premium brand that is available in your local grocery store, as well as mass retailers like Target, Walmart and Amazon.

Ready to give Rachael Ray Nutrish a try? Perhaps you're already a loyal fan? Be sure to check out this coupon offer for $3 off Zero Grain Whitefish & Potato Recipe.

Want to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest from Rachael Ray Nutrish? Be sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Tips & Tricks To Keeping Your Pet Happy And Nourished

  • Play with your cat each day. Try different types of toys that allow your cat to stalk, chase, pounce and kick. 
  • Plant cat grass (available from pet supply stores) in indoor pots so your feline can graze.
  • Clean the litter box regularly.
  • Go grain-free! Grain free cat food is created without grains and is fed for health reasons or because of a personal preference. Some cats have allergies or sensitivity to grains that can result in itchy, dry skin and upset tummies. Grain free foods can help cats avoid these allergens, making for an equally happy cat and pet parent.
  • Switching cat foods can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be. Cats should gradually transition to a new cat food. Follow these tips to help ensure success. Begin the transition by mixing both the current food with her new cat food together. Gradually decrease the amount of the current cat food while increasing the amount of new cat food. Continue to do this over a 7-day period. Transitioning slowly can result in fewer digestive issues and better acceptance of the new cat food. Remember to be patient. For finicky, older, or cats with health conditions, the transition time could take 10 days or slightly longer.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

I'm Pregnant With Baby #3!

So, it's official! last week, I went to the doctor, who confirmed what we already pretty much darn know... I'm pregnant! Ariana accompanied me, and we were able to listen to the baby's heartbeat for the very first time. Here's a look at how things have been going so far. :)

8 Weeks Pregnant

10 Weeks Pregnant

10 weeks pregnant no baby bump
10 Weeks Pregnant - Baby Bump 
Maternity clothes: Not yet.

Sleep: Too excited with trying to sell the house to sleep!

Best moment of this week: Figuring chia seed pudding is great for heartburn.

Miss anything: Five days a week kickboxing. I've been too tired, and have only been going 3-4 days a week.

Movement: Not yet...

Food cravings: I'm not craving anything... I'm actually more not hungry than usual.

Anything making you queasy or sick: Everything I eat.

Have you started to show yet: A little...

Gender: Not sure.

Labor signs: Not even close.

Wedding rings on or off: On, I took off my elephant ring, because it kept on snagging on all of our towels.

Happy or moody most of the time: Neither. Tired & exhausted a lot.

Looking forward to: My first doctor's appointment at the end of March.

11 Weeks Pregnant

12 Weeks Pregnant

13 Weeks Pregnant

At 13 weeks pregnant, I got a horrible stomach flu. My appetite was non-existant, and as a result, I lost about 3 lbs that week.


14 Weeks Pregnant

15 Weeks Pregnant

Maternity clothes: Not yet.

Sleep: Not bad... I usually spend a few hours a night sleeping in Ariana's bed.

Best moment of this week: Hearing the baby's heartbeat and movement for the first time!

Miss anything: Food!  Practically nothing has sounded good this week. I pretty much force myself to eat three meals a day.

Movement: We heard movement on the heartbeat monitor at the doctor's office, but I haven't felt anything that was obviously the baby yet.

Food cravings: I'll snack on Phoenix's school snacks... either fruit snacks or cheese & breadsticks..

Anything making you queasy or sick: Everything I eat.

Have you started to show yet: A little...

Gender: Not sure.

Labor signs: Not even close.

Wedding rings on or off: On.

Happy or moody most of the time: A mix of both. It was a rough week.

Looking forward to: My ultrasound appointment coming up in a few weeks.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

The Dovekeepers - Coming March 31 on CBS

This post was sponsored by Role Mommy Writer's Network.

I'm so excited to announce that CBS will be premiering THE DOVEKEEPERS, a four-hour limited event series from executive producers Roma Downey and multiple Emmy Award winner Mark Burnett (SURVIVOR, "The Voice"), the production team behind the Emmy-nominated 10-hour miniseries "The Bible," which scored big ratings for the History Channel in March 2013, and the feature "Son of God."

CBS will broadcast The Dovekeepers on Tuesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 1, 2015 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT).

Photo Credit: CBS Television Network

The series is based on the New York Times bestselling novel The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman which has recieved widespread critical acclaim, including being hailed by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison as "a major contribution to 21st century literature."  

Photo Credit: CBS Television Network

Set in ancient Israel, THE DOVEKEEPERS is based on the true events at Masada in 70 C.E. After being forced out of their home in Jerusalem by the Romans, 900 Jews were ensconced in a fortress at Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. Besieged at Masada, the Jews held out for months against the vast Roman armies. The project will recount the events from the perspective of a few extraordinary women who arrive at Masada with unique backstories, but a common bond for survival. Additionally, these women, who work together daily as dovekeepers, are all concealing substantial secrets.

Photo Credit: CBS Television Network

 My Review Of The Dovekeepers Series

As someone unfamiliar with the story of the events at Masada, I was able to watch The Dovekeepers and learn quite a bit. I think we tend to become so familiar with our comfortable, easy lives that we tend to forget the struggles others before us have endured.

The scenery in The Dovekeepers was absolutely breathtaking. I did some digging, and found out that it was filmed in Malta, a small island off the coast of Sicily, which has certainly made it one of the top places I'd like to visit.

The Dovekeepers made it clear how horrible women were treated back in biblical times.

  • I found it sad how often they were shunned for being intimate... but the adulterous men never were. 
  • Aziza even spent the first 15 years of her life living as a boy... for her own protection. 
  • Yael's very own father always told her, "she was nothing."
While the treatment of women was crazy to watch, it did make the mini-series very good to watch. I also loved that despite what the dovekeepers had gone through, they remained strong... certainly an inspiration for women today.

Photo Credit: CBS Television Network

Stay up-to-date on all of the latest and greatest from The Dovekeepers by following them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Photo Credit: CBS Television Network

What's your favorite work of historical fiction? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

An OshKosh B’Gosh Shopping Spree! (PLUS A 25% Off Coupon) #ImagineSpring #IC #Ad

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. One of those days where the birds were chirping, and there was no possible way we were going to stay cooped up in the house. We are so over winter here, and I knew just the right way to welcome in this beautiful spring weather... a shopping spree to buy the kids some clothes with lighter, brighter colors, fun patterns and prints.

I'm planning on having some new portraits of Phoenix & Ariana taken soon, and thought that would be a perfect excuse to get some fun, new spring clothes. We packed up the kids, and headed straight for OshKosh. I had been doing some browsing online, and I knew that from clothing to accessories, shoes and active wear, OshKosh is the place to go for a new spring looks.

Ariana and Phoenix had a blast exploring the OshKosh store, checking out all of the cool clothes and accessories!

I remember wearing OshKosh corduroys when I was a little kid. Now that I'm the parent, it feels like an awesome part of authentic American heritage that I'm able to pass down and share with my own kids. One of my favorite things about OshKosh is how the clothes are affordable, fun, and made to play in. These were made for kids who just have fun being kids.

For just over $100, I was able to buy Ariana and Phoenix each 4 new shirts and 2 pairs of shorts... certainly a deal in my book! This was my first time shopping at OshKosh as a parent, and while they did have the classic denim and World’s Best Overalls that I was expecting, their whole new assortment of fashionable looks for spring just blew me away.

Spring is full of reasons to get outside and enjoy the fresh, crisp air... between outdoor adventures, spring break, and Easter, we're planning on spending a lot of time outside this spring, and I hope you are too!

If there are any little ones in your life, I highly recommend checking out the adorable clothes over at Oshkosh. Not sure if there's one near you? Just check on this OshKosh Store Locator. And, before you go, make sure you download this coupon for 25% off when you go! If you know friends who would love this coupon, feel free to share this link with them. :)

What is your favorite memory of OshKosh B'Gosh? Did you wear OshKosh as a kid? Buy OshKosh for your own children? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)