Snack and Meal Ideas | Tot School and Pre-K

It’s been an eventful week to say the least!

Winter snow has made way for Spring and we had just started our kids in twice a week school when bam! Schools around the globe are closing due to the COVID-19 virus epidemic and many of us are finding ourselves in new daily routines that often involve hands-on caring for our children while trying to maintain our usual money-making careers.

Even if you manage to come by the groceries and the energy and time, we often have no idea where to start, especially when it comes to feeding picky (ahem, particular) toddlers.

While many of us parents would be happy to take an opportunity to fast or diet, it’s important that young children continue to get the caloric needs that may have been provided by schools or daycares before all of these new arrangements.

In my household, we have a one and two year old who are very vocal about the things they don’t prefer to eat – a list that seems to be growing every day despite our best efforts!

Being creative with presentation, plating, variety, or mixing up the textures can make a big difference in “tricking” (convincing) a new food experience.

Trick 1: Same Foods, New Ways

This afternoon we sliced up hotdogs, speared a few noodles through the centers, and then cooked the whole lot in boiling water for about 11 minutes.

While we reserved a few and carefully diced them for the younger child to avoid choking, the older kid found it hilarious that his “big kid lunch” was so silly! I decided not to tell him it was the exact same package of dogs he refused to eat two days before, and spaghetti noodles he “didn’t like” last month – from the same box.

Trick 2: Templates or Placemats

I have already started curating Amazon gifts list for upcoming events with our kids. One thing we look forward to getting some day is educational or interactive placemats like these:

Until then, we’ve found a lot of success in creating fun templates based on popular kids snacks, and using them to teach all sorts of lessons during snack times, from counting to sorting to matching. These Teddy Graham ones were a hit, even though I didn’t realize that they have different arm positions (I just grabbed one and traced it onto my iPad Pro, so I made another sheet:

I’ve laminated a few of our favorite multi-purpose ones (such as the numbered circles) and enjoyed creating custom ones for “healthy” versions of snacks (like Annie’s Organic bunnies, etc.)

follow on Insta for more toddler food inspo

I’ll be sharing some of my snack and play ideas on Pinterest stories this week so make sure to follow! @brandi_n_hightower on Instagram @mommaamommab on Pinterest

Organize my Life – A Toddler Mom’s Self Improvement Journey

After the last video, I really took some time to reflect on not only where my YouTube channel is going, but to also take stock of the undone tasks that have been cluttering my mind; those “to-do’s” and “wish-I-could-do’s” that have been stagnant in the far recesses of my life, gathering dust and waiting for a moment of weakness. In that moment, some random appliance will spring out with a “Surprise, lady! Just when you thought you were in the clear, I’m going to break because you didn’t properly clean or maintain me as clearly indicated on the warranty card you threw out last week – ha!“.

I mean, the fact that my appliances scream at me in the first place is completely unreasonable. Maybe next time it will be a body part. The knee, instead (“shoulda stretched more, like I tried to tell you eighty thousand eleven times” my lateral collateral would scoff at me, as I wince and hobble around).

Don’t wait until a friend blows out a joint (in the painful way, not the medicinal way), before you get your own health under control.

Health also means MENTAL health. Your sanity. The thing that keeps you from going off the deep end.

Because, just when we think we aren’t doing enough and deserve a break – not a chance. There’s stuff to PREPARE for! To PREVENT! (So go clean those washing machine seals, and your toilet siphons – if you don’t know what that means, neither did I until I started watching ridiculous mommy cleaning channels like @bitsofbri (Brianna K on YouTube).

Bri also has awesome hack like toilet paper stamping – good for those who might have to display their inventory as part of their home decor due to space constraints. So basically go watch her channel, not mine!

It works! Instagram @brandi_n_hightower

So, how do we stay sane and try to manage it all?

Well, maybe we can’t. Maybe we embrace insanity!

Because when you’re hurting, the first thing you want to hear is SUCK IT UP.

Really, though. Maybe there’s a way to get more hours in the day without getting up earlier or staying up later. Because without sleep and water, you’re as good as worthless, IMHO.

PRODUCTIVITY. Aha! That’s where it’s at, for me. That or exercise.

For you, it might mean a day at the spa. Do you, and do it with conviction.

This week I’m rolling up my sleeves and digging into everything “icky”. The clutter. The negativity. All the things that don’t feel good.

Emotions. Yard-sale leftovers. The list goes on.

So bear with me as this channel takes yet another twist and turn. I think the resounding theme has continued to be:

Hang on for the ride, you never know what’s about to happen but at least we can be prepared. In theory.

MommaAMommaB

If you’ve been following our YouTube channel, maybe you’ve seen some of our product unboxing and tutorials. While these have been so fun to make, and we’ve actually come across some amazing items we use all the time (like the cheapie handheld vacuum below, not sponsored), we also come across items that are interesting or useful – for someone else.

An unexpected “WIN” – One of our favorite review items

Most things we have managed to give to friends and family, with great pleasure. And some items have been resold or donated. Nothing has been trashed…

…except the alarming quantity of packaging that Amazon provides. Much of it non-recyclable or from overseas, which when compounded by millions of shoppers each year, takes a huge toll on our environment.

As items began to stack up, I am constantly forced to deal with it in some way: sort it, find a home for it, donate it. Which feels lovely when you get a smile and thank-you from the recipient, but not so lovely knowing the ecological impact as I wait for another package to arrive – most likely containing something neat, no doubt. But not necessary.

I have decided from this point, the only collabs we will be doing is with companies we truly value – regardless of how cool or trendy the item might be. I simply can’t handle the amount of waste, and I want to be a more responsible steward of this planet. Yes, this might mean we have to save up for more thoughtful purchases and it might mean I have to severely cut back my Target Dollar Spot purchases.

Wait. Now THAT’S crazy.

Still, I am trying to focus on the following before buying:

How will our lives benefit (or not) from this purchase?

Is there a more satisfying alternative?

Do we need it?

What sort of cleanses and purges are you up to this month? This week? Today?

What can you declutter – in your home or mind?

Until then,

B

Surviving a Day with Toddlers | Real SAHM | Mental Health Awareness

The day started off pretty promising: after regrettably having to skip yesterday’s workout I was a little nervous I was going to feel some backslide in progress (and scared my workout was going to hurt) but it wasn’t the case.

I have been trying to network a little bit more here in the valley and decided to head to Pybus marketplace to share some treats with The Littles.

That is: the one and two year olds.

After somewhat coaxing them to eat last nights dinner of a recent “hit” (a side of fresh blackberries plus tortillas with mozzarella, pepperoni and…ketchup), they’d both woken up starving like they’d not eaten in 46 days.

just why

If you see next weeks Vlog you’ll know that I’m not starving them; we have plenty of marinara sauce, yet they for some reason both think that it’s poison. So…ketchup.

After refusing the eggs I cooked and turning their nose up at the peanut butter toast, I gave in to cereal.

I’m not advocating for being a pushover parent but two days without my wife will do that to me. (I am so much looking forward to her return from overnight work travels this evening!)

Amos if you can read this: I love you!

But I digress as per usual.

For some reason I left the stroller at home thinking they were both old enough to walk 25 feet through the front doors and another 25 feet or so to the front counter and wait in line for about three minutes or so.

It was about as good idea as putting two unleashed rabbits on the floor.

Wild animals, I tell ya! This was before the chaos. More at MommaAMommaB on YouTube

Loud rabbits. Rabbits that wanted to touch the display case even though we talked about looking with our eyes at this EXACT CASE on the car ride and on the walk over to said display case.

As I try to corral them in the same general area, and yell loudly enough for the barista to get my order, also yelling BITE ME because my kid couldn’t make up his mind and that’s the first one I saw.

His increasingly-heavy-in-my-arms sibling was starting to arch her back and do tornado moves and scream. Boy, did she scream, demanding in her 17 month old way to also touch and possibly lick the cookie case.

Bite Me! Cookie

It was the first one that stood out to me, and I’ll admit it felt good to yell it. Only because I did it with a half smile on my face, and the barista smiled back. I think it made her day.

Instagram @cafecolumbiapybus

Or maybe I looked scary (I noticed smeared mascara when we fiiiiinally got back to the van – has it been there??!) and maybe she didn’t smile but grimace.

No, it was a smile. She was friendly. But gosh, I could hardly see anything through my embarrassment – parenting in public is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Menu @ #cafecolumbiapybus

Regardless, instead of me just sitting there like usual being too shy to reach out to people I actually had people offer to help – and struck up quite a few conversations with interesting folks which was the exact reason I went there: I had been hoping to bring my work from home mentality to the public realm, thinking just maybe my kids would sit and be distracted with beautiful cookies while I chatted and it would be chalked up as a business expense.

But, kids are unpredictable- especially young kids! Or maybe I am. I mean, they’re just doing what they do best. I was the foolish one thinking that pre-feeding, pre-watering, pre-entertaining, pre-napping them and bribing them majorly would buy me TEN MINUTES.

Nope!

But you know what? I embrace it. I didn’t have a choice in the moment.


Thank you from the bottom of my soul to whomever made these cookies

I marched those sugar-laden children to the minivan and ate my cold tuna melt in the park. Well, near the park. With the window rolled down. While the kids slept.

My lunch from the park as experienced from inside the mom van

Oh, how I wish to have sat on a sunny bench – but there was no way I was waking up one sleeping soul. And what would I do with them once they were awake? No sunbathing was happening today. Or was it?

Since unattended children in running vehicles is frowned upon, I engaged the parking brake and kept the seatbelt on, then craned my neck until I needed two Tylenol, aiming my gaze out my van window and into the sunshine – and enjoyed the moment. Really. Someday they will be grown and I will look back at this and miss it immensely. Of course I will probably glorify it. And oh the advice I’ll have!

we arrived home and it’s been a nightmare ever since…

…but now my Mom#2 is finally back (!!!) and I can post this and give you all a look at my day as a stay at home mama trying to network and meet new professionals in the valley. Tough and very rewarding!

Thankful for my coworking days at Wenatchee WorkSpace – a time I get to truly maximize my productivity so I can be both “on” as a parent and “on” as a community member. When you start using a coworking space like mine, and begin growing your business…well, it’s hard to go back to the home office! Hats off to those who can pull it off. Mamas everywhere being SuperHuman!

Rainbows at yesterday’s lunch meeting @ #wenatcheeworkspace

Wenatchee WorkSpace is also located half a block from the Apple Capitol Loop Trail – Perfect for days when you need to blow off some steam or get creative energy flowing.

It’s all about work life balance.

Until next time!

Mama B

You may have noticed a lot of my recent posts and YouTube videos have focused on mental health. Even my most positive and chipper friends have thrown an occasional “…gee, February sure is a long month!” For those of us who got through a tough December, February is dragging on and on.

Can it be spring yet?

Or are there changes we can make now to improve productivity?

I’m talking, clear the clutter or rearrange your if need be. Shake things up! Try something new! Modify your routine if it isn’t working for you.

Stay positive and good things will come.

Until next time,

Mama B

xxxx

no filter day – love yourselves

Digital Closet: Grail or Fail? STYLEBOOK 2020| I Tried It for 30 Days – pt. 1

StyleBook touts itself as being an expert wardrobe organization and closet management tool created by a fashion industry insider, who got her start as an intern in the Vogue fashion closet and is an alum of Lucky magazine.

I tried using it for 30 days. You can see the full video soon at MommaAMommaB on YouTube.

Here are some highlights from the first two weeks:

Day 1 – This is the best idea ever. I’m a genius.

Day 4 – So, I guess I have to spend an entire Saturday taking photographs of every single item I own if I REALLY want to use this app as intended. No cheating. Goodie. (This is my first FAIL day. I wore sweats all day to take photos of everything I own, and didn’t backlog my outfit at the end of the night – because that’s cheating. And I’m committed, dammit).

Day 5 – Dang, perfect timing. I totally forgot about period week.

Day 13 – We had a lovely soul offer to babysit for us at the last minute – they were in route to our house just in case we answered the phone.

Amy and I were right in the middle of preparing tacos for family dinner – of course we said YES!

It was Day 13 when I finally hit my groove:

I threw some lipstick and blush in my purse, tidying the house as quickly as possible; serving up my kids’ plates and swooping up those small hot spots of clutter – INSTEAD OF FRANTICALLY FIGURING OUT WHAT TO WEAR!

The fact that I was already basically dressed enough for a casual date to our local market was such a win, I can’t even.

Petite Mama? Try Target’s Athletic clothes…from the kids section. These XL teal pants by all in motion fit LONGER than my usual women’s S/M version – Seven bucks saved! Top is simple and black with velvet collar and sleeve trim

Photo @ Pybus Market in Wenatchee WA

This may not seem like a big deal for most people, but with two toddlers at home and selling two homes and moving across state twice in three years, I have been living in “cleaning” and “work” and “mom” clothes. At many times, the good stuff was “packed” and “not quite unpacked”. Both of which mean in a box but I’m trying to make myself look organized not lazy.

Let’s get one thing straight – we all go through moments in life where we earn our badges, our rights to wear whatever the hell we want to. And I use the term “mom clothes” on purpose.

My intention is to break the norm of what we think about mom clothes. Do you conjure up thoughts of bathrobes and curlers? Accurate. Do you think of the new twin mom in a slinky black dress on a date sans kids, whom are with the nanny after a successful round or three of breastfeeding (don’t worry, she left fresh pressed quinoa juice just in case – and a recording of her voice in a teddy bear that can be warmed in the microwave to match mothers exact body temp. Which is the same as anyone else’s in case you’re wondering…)?

Both images are accurate, and moms are also everywhere in between.

But I digress – I’m starting to feel like a human that is capable of daily showers (if I so choose) and an occasional opportunity to plug in a hot tool or use enough makeup to require a fixing spray. Man, I feel like a woman!

As parents, especially moms, we can often feel like we are under the microscope, expected to stand up to the ideals of the Instagram “norm”. I embraced this time to stay at home and raise my babies, and I was incredibly fortunate to have been able to make that choice. But I’m not going to pretend it was a walk in the park!

By “embracing this time,” I low-key mean “went without harsh baby-damaging hair dyes or nail polishes, the fumes of which could leave my kid with crossed purple eyes and a limp on three sides and a lifetime curse of driving an old Chevy Malibu with a bad fuel pump. Or something.

Basically, sacrificing for the greater good. Drinking all the water, cutting back on pepsi with quad shots. I kid…sort of. I’m an “all-in” kind of gal, which is exactly why I stay away from casinos or anywhere with a mechanical bull and redbull. So to me, sacrificing meant living in pea-stained sweats, scrubbing pee-stained onesies and being okay with that.

And I still am! I loved every second. But now, I realize that my maternity clothes truly don’t fit any longer, which is a sad day. I loved what they symbolized, and that stage of my life. Also, I could eat a second slice without having to undo buttons and ALL dresses had snack holes [pockets]. Winning.

Me trying too hard to match (it looked good on the app!)
Shop my INSTA @ brandi_n_hightower

Don’t worry, guys. There’s a version for you, too. My inner wanna-be feminist is wondering “why the dichotomy” – but I’ll admit it’s a nice looking alternative.

I wish there was an option to just buy ONE stylebook and update the layout and user preferences to your liking, but perhaps this is their roadblock to preventing adults from sharing at home. We happen to be a home with two adult women Head Of Households so ideally we’d share a closet. But in real life we don’t, and our styles are similar but different enough. So we didn’t choose to share the Stylebook for Women app across our devices, as Amy chose the Men’s version.

Also, in this day and age, nothing gets under the digital radar! I was contacted within two hours of this post with some helpful advice from Stylebook App itself:

via Instagram

I’ll admit I jumped the gun by not giving a full 30 day try before this post – I would have likely uncovered this feature in the near future. Maybe it was a shameless self plug 🔌 for a future Apple Scripting tutorial. The world may never know.

So, there you have it! Download the version if your preference, know there are options! And set a timer for notifications…

…in-app.

See something in this video you can’t live without?
Shop Our Life:

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Digital Closet: Grail or Fail? STYLEBOOK 2020 | I Tried It for 30 Days – pt. 2 Coming Soon!

Morning Motivational – Yeah? Nah?

Youtubers have been doing popular Monday Motivational videos – so I filmed my morning, too!

I like to try to prepare all my lists in my planner and go through things each Sunday evening.

Monday always starts early so I have time to tackle some small side project – today it’s cleaning and sanitizing my makeup bins and assembling products for Amazon review videos.

Join me!

00:00:00 – If I don’t shower first thing, I don’t shower…
00:00:07 – Clean wet hair pinned up and yoga clothes on (set out previous eve)
00:00:12 Cleaning any clutter I didn’t clear last night and disassembling a balloon stand which I was product testing/filming for another video
00:00:26 DIY room spray (vodka + essential oils)
00:00:31 Yoga / Stretching for half hour
00:00:42 Cleaning my gross bedroom mirror (because kids)
00:00:45 Today’s motivation: CLEAN / SANITIZE MY MAKEUP *My brushes and blenders have their own cleaning routine so I just organized these today
00:02:25 I almost give away some of our Unicorn Party secrets – Stay tuned!
00:03:41 This is postpartum hair loss
00:03:45 How I get my kid to STAY IN BED in the morning
00:05:27 Good morning, Canyon James (another bloody nose, poor fella)
00:05:46 Making pancakes because HOT BREAKFASTS!
00:06:59 That’s one buttery pancake
00:07:24 Getting dinner protein thawing first thing in the morning
00:07:19 Weekly sweep of kids rooms – vacuum / sheets / sanitize / air freshen
00:07:26 Daily Tot School / PreK worksheet
07:30:00 If you watch nothing else, watch this epic PINTEREST BABY RECIPE FAIL
09:16:00 Someone’s always getting hurt around here
10:15:00 Going to Library Story Hour at NCRL
11:19:00 HAPPY NATIONAL BURGER DAY
13:54:00 I need to get Amy the biggest baddest wife award for killing this black widow (sorry spider lovers)

PART TWO: COMING SOON!