Play Like a Girl

I grew up playing sports and I always wanted my girls to play sports. While I would never force them to play something they didn’t enjoy, I wanted to give them the opportunity to be on a team, get exercise, and learn about winning and losing.

For our family the sport has always been soccer. It isn’t super expensive to play and since all the kids play I’m not running around town taking kids to practices or games, they all play in the same location.

My little girls have played soccer for several seasons. At first they were a little intimidated, but as they played they gained confidence and even scored a few goals! They played on coed teams, which for them wasn’t anything new since they’ve grown up playing soccer with their older brothers.

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I’ve always encouraged my girls that when they are on a team they not only do their best, but they do their best to help their teammates shine as well. I’m so proud of them because they were just as excited when their teammates made a great play as they were when they made one. They were cheering from the bench and on the field.

They worked hard at practice and were eager to go to their games. They were concerned when teammates were hurt and showed compassion for opposing teammates as well. We always taught them to play hard, but fair and that’s what they do.

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Sports had a huge impact on my life and I can see the impact it is having on my girls’ lives as well. They have learned so much playing soccer about friendships and teamwork as well as hard work and discipline. Playing soccer also gives them the opportunity to interact with other adults in authority (coaches and refs) since they don’t get much of that being homeschooled.

It also taught them a ton about winning and losing. Both girls have been on teams that won a lot, but lost a lot too. In fact my nine year old had a season where they lost every single game. It was hard for her to play her hardest and still not win a game, but it was a great life lesson and she learned how to lose graciously. While she was very sad about that losing season she came back the next season determined to practice and play harder.

Verizon wants you to share your daughter’s athletic achievements and they’re giving away a deluxe tech and entertainment package. One person will win:

  • One (1) Grand Prize consisting of the following will be awarded to the Winner:
  • Samsung Galaxy NX 20.3MP Camera with 18-55 Lens (ARV $1,699)
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2 – 128 GB (ARV $1,000)
  • Type Cover 2 for Surface Pro 2 (ARV $130)
  • HEX Surface Sleeve (ARV $40)
  • Surface Mini Display Port HD AV Adapter (AVR $40)
  • Monster iSport Victory In-Ear Headphones (AVR $150)
  • Apple iPod Nano (ARV $150)
  • Amazon Gift Card for Sports Equipment purchase (ARV $1,800)

You can find more details on their contest page.


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Verizon. The opinions and text are all mine.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Bringing Out the #SoftSide of Life

All of my kids have had their own “blankies” since they were born. One of my kids changed the name from “blankie” to “kiki” when they were little and we’ve called it kiki ever since.

Some children have been more attached to their kiki’s than others, and during our move to Maryland last year we managed to lose TWO of them. I’ve never been one of those smart moms that has a backup blankie hidden in my closet so we hoped for the best and then eventually ended up buying replacement kikis.

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Cora’s first kiki (bottom left photo) was actually my favorite. I purchased it right before my last doctor’s appointment. It was during that appointment that my blood pressure was so high I was sent immediately to the hospital to be induced. For those of you who have read my blog for a while, you know things got worse from there and we ended up with a NICU stay for her and extended hospital stay for me.

For some reason knowing her kiki was sitting in a Target bag in my car made me feel a little better. I knew she had to get better and come home so she could be the next Happy child to carry on the kiki tradition.

Four and a half years later kiki is still making Cora feel better. Even though we are on our second one (I’m still trying to find the original one – so if we left it at your house please send it back!!!) Cora loves her kiki.

I realized early on that because of our military lifestyle, my kids wouldn’t always have a consistent home to return to, so I focused on finding traditions and small items that would help make wherever we were feel like home.

My kids knew that no matter where they were sleeping, they had their kiki’s. Well one child had a Buzz Lightyear costume – but he’s our strange one. icon smile Bringing Out the #SoftSide of Life Kiki’s make scrapes hurt less, surgeries easier to recover from, and even make sleeping in the car tolerable. It’s a little thing, but it works.

“What would you like to see Downy turn soft? Leave a comment on your favorite Downy #softside Facebook post(s) and in the comments section below for a chance to have Downy re-create one of your #softside moments!

I’m giving away a $100 gift card to one reader when you share what brings out the softside in your life. Leave a comment on this post to win. Giveaway ends 10/29/2013.

Downy has asked me to participate in this program. I am being compensated for my participation in the program but all opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Downy or the Procter & Gamble Company.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Messy Baby = Happy Baby #hfbrightside

Cora was what the doctor’s liked to call a lazy feeder. Because she was a preemie she burned more calories trying to eat than she could consume and would often fall asleep halfway through a feeding.

Since she was so little, making sure she drank so many ounces a day was vital to her development. Feedings at our house became a production. Me, a seasoned mom of seven, became obsessed with feeding time.

We would try every trick in the book to keep Cora awake through her feeding. From turning on all the lights in the room at 3am, to taking off all her clothes, I felt like feeding time was a major production. And the best part, we did this every hour and forty-five minutes, twenty four hours a day.

Of course it was all worth it to see our little preemie gain weight every week, but I couldn’t wait until she was big enough to sit in a high chair and eat!

Wouldn’t you know that Cora expended so much energy as a baby that she would often fall asleep in her high chair too!

Feedings would start out great as she gobbled the food off the spoon. But after a few minutes she would settle back into the high chair and with each bite slowly drift off into dreamland. It became a race to see how much food we could shovel in her mouth before she totally fell asleep and dinner would be over.

No matter how loud our dinners were or how many people were over, Cora could fall asleep in her high chair.

I’m convinced that Cora got most of her early nutrition from Puffs, because she could eat them on the go. In fact she loved those little snacks so much I took them everywhere with us because I knew an offering of Puffs could convince her to sit still a little longer, stay happy in the car seat for a few more miles, or make it through a family movie night.

Those Puffs were so popular I would have to hide them from my other young children, so I wouldn’t run out. I would often buy five and six containers at the store prompting “the look” from the cashier. I wanted to say I had twins or even triplets, but really I just had a child who loved to eat on the go!

Even to this day if Cora sees a baby with Puffs she wants them.

Now our baby feeding days our over. I’m sad that those awesome Happy Baby baby food pouches weren’t invented when my kids were young. I remember traveling with glass baby food jars and having one shatter in the bottom of the diaper bag!

If I hadn’t been traveling overseas I might have just thrown the diaper bag away! It was nearly impossible to clean up pears mixed with shards of glass in the bottom of the bag! But those days are behind me and now I have a sweet little niece that I get to feed every once in awhile.

happy baby Messy Baby = Happy Baby #hfbrightside

She’s still in the more food on the face than in the mouth phase of eating but she sure looks cute doing it!

To learn more about their complete line of products for your little one, visit their website or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I participated in this post on behalf of Burst Media. I was compensated for my time and commitment, but all opinions are my own.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Family Movie Night Fun

My family loves movies. I mean really loves them. They quote lines, act them out, reference them, and talk about them. My older kids have even started to stay up until midnight so they can see the movie as soon as it comes out, so we are really looking forward to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball 2 (in theaters on September 27).

They get this from their father of course, because everyone knows when a mom sits down she immediately falls asleep from exhaustion and could never make it through a two hour movie. I’m kidding, sort of.

Since taking all nine of us to the theater is not something we can afford on a regular basis we’ve started having family movie nights at home.

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Movie nights at home a great way to spend time together as a family without spending a lot of money. You can have an awesome family movie night for less than $20 which is cheaper than a fast food meal.

There are several must haves for our family movie night.

A good movie that everyone will like.

Fortunately, we’ve been able to find movies that keep everyone from the four year old to the forty-four year old entertained.

Popcorn (and lots of it)

We prefer the air popped stuff, and my eleven year old has become the master at adding the right amount of salt and butter to make you think are you sitting inside a theater. We even have special popcorn containers that look like movie theater popcorn boxes which the kids love!

Root Beer or Lemonade

We don’t usually have soda in our house, but I’ll pick up some root beer at the store for our movie nights. The kids love drinking it straight from the can. If we’re feeling really crazy we’ll make root beer floats.

Pillows and Blankets

We have a big basket of blankets and throws next to the television in our basement. Since we don’t have room for everyone on the couches and chairs the kids make their own comfy spots on the floor with their pillows and lots of blankets.

Those are our movie night basics, but there are lots of other fun things you can do to make movie night extra special.

Make a theme night

To make movie night even more fun plan your food and activities around the movie you are watching. If it is a movie set in England only speak with British accents during the evening. If you are watching a movie about superheroes, have everyone dress up as their favorite hero or villain.

If your movie has a food theme, make one of the foods for dinner or to snack on during the movie.

Premier the movie at home.

Roll out the red carpet (aka blanket) and have your kids dress up and walk down it on their way to the theater (aka couch). You can take pictures and conduct mock interviews.

Make movie posters.

Have the kids make their own movie posters. All you need is some poster board and markers. They can hang/tape the posters to the wall on the big day.

Borrow a projector and watch the movie outside.

When the weather starts to cool off create your own drive-in and set up chairs in your lawn. Use a projector to show the movie on the side of your house (or a large screen if you have one).

We’ve done this a few times and even had a bonfire and roasted marshmallows. My kids loved it!

However your family does movie night, your kids will sure to love spending time with you watching their favorite characters on screen.

I’ve included more fun movie night ideas and printables below.

*I was thrilled to work on this post for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was sponsored by Sony. All opinions and ideas are my own.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.