Canyon’s Crates | PreK | Tot School | Home School Learning Kits

We made a few extra winter activity kits – available for purchase starting NEXT WEEK! 🥳

These kits reduce the need for a printer – everything you need is included…and reusable!

Customize your crate – every crate comes with enough materials to personalize your experience- or- I am happy to include the child’s name on a project for you if you add it to the notes and details section before final checkout.

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CanyonsCrates on IG

Crates start at $29.99 plus tax – $8.95 shipping

Priority Shipping available to WA, OR, ID.

Penguins or Polar Bears? Jury is still out!
Enough fun for two!
Look a little closer… 🔍
Do you get snow at your home?

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

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

ALL MOMS are WORKING MOMS | LGBTQA Family Vlogs | Day-in-the-Life of REAL PARENTS

Whew! We need to sit down and do an official follow up to last week’s “Bad Day” video. Today is a shortie, but as an early Valentine’s present we’ve skipped the video ads on this one, so it’s a two to four minute watch, depending on how much scrubbing (fast-forwarding) you do.

Highlights from today’s video that I didn’t talk about much on camera include:

Crying during last week’s workout

Getting stuck in the car wash

I put a brief clip from Gabrielle Union’s Instagram to showcase an example of this phenomenon and you can read the full article here:

https://www.elitedaily.com/p/gabrielle-unions-instagram-post-about-crying-during-a-workout-captured-how-therapeutic-exercise-can-be-16077552

This was such a crazy thing to experience! I have pushed my body to the point of physical exhaustion plenty of times, but emotional exhaustion? This was a first. Please let me know if you’ve ever heard of this phenom before, it was completely new to me and almost a bit unnerving when I originally viewed it as a point of weakness. (Wow, how unsettling that step aerobics make me bawl like a baby. I must be more unstable than I thought!)

As the days tick by, I’m able to see it with a bit more clarity and realize that I just seriously pushed myself – and that’s amazing and not weak at all.

So there you have it — sweat and cry it out, folx! It’s fine.

And about getting stuck in the car wash? My wife would tell you it’s because I didn’t drive in perfectly square. Still, she wasn’t there and I’ll go to my deathbed insisting that I drove in like any other normal human person going through the carwash.

If you’re cooler than both of us, you’ll say there’s no such thing as a normal human person.

And that’s exactly why I choose you to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss another post. We should be friends.

(No, seriously – say hi!)

If you want to cry too, try the following three workouts after a sugar free breve. I can’t guarantee tears, but you’ll be wet and soggy somewhere – for sure. Sound fun? CLICK NOW! (Not sponsored, I’m just obsessed):

Full Body
Full Body
Abdominals Routine

Next Week’s Video will include highlights from the BNCW Home Show 2020 Presented by Complete Design, Inc. – See you then! [Subscribe to our channel here]

Thanks for joining us on our parenting journey. Please share this video with someone who would enjoy it!

Tips for Staying Sane (Got Some?)

This week kicked my butt. I may have been a little too ambitious with my new workout routine, and then my wife left town for a work meeting and got snowed in – on top of it, the toddlers both decided to act a hot mess these last two days (poor Dakota is getting another two teeth and just wants to be held and loved on).

Don’t choose between picking up the mess or picking up your babies – get up earlier! 💪

While there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to make sure these kids are safe and happy and entertained and fed and rested and watered…I also would love the same opportunities to take care of myself. Parenting Anthem, am I right? I used to want a glass of wine, now there are days when I have to ask myself if I’ve had a glass of water all day. And I’m starting to feel like crap.

This week, the routines are changing! Life is calling us back to the drawing board, as it does.

As someone who lives and breathes by a daily schedule, changing up the routine that has worked so well for us for over two years gives me a little anxious pit in my stomach. It shouldn’t – but I like the comfort that comes complimentary with every pre-planned day and outfit.

Focus on the good – not the mess

Tuesdays are linen days. I know what to expect. If I miss linen day, I must prepare myself for a weeklong battle of trying to fit it in somewhere else. I like linen day.

Yes, I see the eye roll. Who likes linen day?

While my love of Tuesday has nothing to do with sheets and bedspreads (ugh, who enjoys putting heavy wet sheets into a dryer?) it has everything to do with routine. Tuesdays are usually one of our two preschool days. It means that while the laundry is washing I can watch Dr. Phil at full volume or spend some time catching up on personal care tasks (removing the crusty toenail polish, pulling items out of a cluttered cupboard or packing for a weekend trip without the kids pulling every item out or demanding to see every receipt and paperclip from the junk drawer…). Catching up on finances, making healthcare appointments or steam mopping.

Stay-at-Home Mama Life means wrangling two toddlers while my wife travels for work – sometimes gone days at a time. And we all know days with small children (like indoor baby pandas) are highly active and somewhat unpredictable. As we look forward to Amy’s busy season, I can expect her to travel weekly, and maybe even have a home away from home for extended periods of time.

The idea of it sounds exhausting, but we both know it’s for the greater good of our family. So – what can we do to help my sanity?

HYDRATE
FUEL
WORKOUT
CLEAN
ORGANIZE
PLAN

Amy’s recent travel was a bit unexpected and so I think I was feeling extra keyed-up from not getting my chores or meal prep work done (I exchanged that for a workout while the baby napped). Stuff starts to PILE.

Our days have been like finely oiled machines around here, but missing a meal prep and then getting burgers was not the best way to make up for an intense workout. Should I have not exercised and had a sensible meal instead?

WHY can’t I ever manage to do both? Exercise hasn’t been a set part of my days, so I’ve been trying to fit it in in any scheduling holes or gaps in my day. My “free time” so to speak. Which means it doesn’t happen, and instead gets pushed to the back burner to take care of smaller itemized tasks that I can check off my list.

No longer!

I’ll be working on a bit of organization and meal planning and pantry inventory in the next couple of days, and sharing any great recipes or tips I come across here on the blog (and the vlog at MommaAMommaB on YouTube).

For me, a clean workspace and home environment brings me peace – with a one and two year old, the house is often an eyesore and the garbage accumulates at an alarming rate. All things I need to just suck up and embrace as part of motherhood – or get out those gloves and get up an hour earlier!

Reorganization under way!

See today’s video for more – I truly have the best partner I could imagine. It’s important to take care of eachother, so if you see someone struggling try to offer to help – even just a couple hours of “me” time brought me back to reality. Step outside, get a breath of fresh air.

Or do what I did – fill your basket with organization and cleaning tools – plus a cute new workout bra.

You deserve to take care of you, even when you can convince yourself you’re not worth it.

Did I tally up every item in my cart and feel extreme guilt for spending over SIXTY dollars on organizing canisters? YEP. Did I buy them anyway. YEP. My wife had insisted and I needed to get over that block in my mind.

Clear canisters by Made By Design – Available at Target and Target.com

Does this scream privilege? YEP. But I bought the dang things and cleaned them and dried them and filled them with goods and for some reason this brought me a feeling of some type of control. Something other than just collapsing into bed and saying “today was too hard”.

Easier to see what’s on hand – SO clean looking!

Do you need to spend money to feel better? Goodness no. Feelings come and feelings go (Pete the Cat fans, WYA?).

Here I am raiding the dress-up bin, instead of doing my chores (this kid is on a nap strike!) NO REGRETS

If buying kitchen organization goods and an exercise bra is the worst damage I could do today, I guess I’ll forgive myself for the bank account hit. It’s not often we splurge on frivolous things – and is it totally frivolous if it brings some personal satisfaction? I may argue the case for my new haul! I hope this new kitchen system streamlines our meal prep and helps reduce food waste – I’ll keep you updated after we try it out for a bit!

TBH, I’ve never spent so much at once on organization tools: But I think today it was worth it. The kitchen organization project led to a full pantry itemization; now we actually know what we have on hand for meal planning.

Here’s to more organized days in 2020!

Love, Mama B

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!

My Spouse Quit Their Job (and I am a Stay-at-Home Parent)

Okay, I jokingly “gotcha” with click-bait titles in weeks past. But today it’s true: my wife just left her job of 15 years.

We made the decision together, and after a tremendous amount of soul searching and yes, even praying about it. There was no bright shining light beaming down, no pottery falling off the shelf when we asked for a sign, no…anything, really. No swelling music, no symbols, no premonitions or dreams. Not even really a “for sure” feeling.

I was on her side, ready to take on whatever the occasion called for. If she felt comfortable staying with a secure job, sure. If she made a change and the new job fell through, I could go back to work while she stayed home. We could both work at new jobs. Or, she could take on a new challenge and excel, getting the job title and the salary she felt she was ready for, when the opportunity presented itself.

Change is always uncertain; sometimes, so is the certain.

And then, it actually happened. A perfect position lined itself up and she decided she had found something worth taking the jump, she felt.

The day she called me after her official resignation papers had been typed up and printed and handed to her superior. That’s when “the feeling” came. Of knowing it’s the right thing to do (even though it was scary).

Instead of being as terrified as I am every single time I leave a job, she was shining and eager. I could see her virtually glowing in a sunlit photo she sent me on her long drive home (from an out of town meeting). She was feeling strange and excited at the same time, she told me.

While this remains her story to tell, it ultimately may upset our apple cart for a bit while we work out the moving parts that come along with making a big new transition. So I figured I’d mention it.

She sent a video to me on that drive home from her very last day of work, something she normally doesn’t do (record herself without my cajoling – ha!). She asked me if I’d gotten it when she arrived home and I said yes, and she said she wanted it to be posted because it’s how she feels and she wanted to keep you all updated.

“Are you sure? I mean, literally anyone can see it as they eat their popcorn.”

She nodded. “It’s not like I said anything I wouldn’t tell anyone who asked.”

It will be a couple of tough months as the growing pains settle in as Amy looks forward to joining a new team and the pain of leaving good people behind her (future editorial me confirms that yes, she had a couple of rough days in the days between transitions where she just “felt tired for no reason” and literally had to be reassured that there was in fact a reason. She just ran a mental marathon!).

I am confident that she will be amazing and that our family we will make it work no matter what.

For now, I’ll continue to stay at home with the kids – one of whom is nearly an official pre-schooler! It’s been one of my life’s greatest joys and biggest challenges to be away from the work force yet juggling a household full time and seemingly working on side hustles non-stop.

Like we always say: “Stay Positive and Good Things Will Happen.” We will remind ourselves that as we look forward to new challenges and adventures ahead.

It’s been fun sharing our story and we look forward to seeing where 2020 takes us!

Love,

Mama B

Date Night Makeup – Interrupted (…by kids and no real date planned, anyway!) | BOBBI BROWN Vitamin Enriched Face Base Review

I decided to do a date night makeup look at around 7 in the morning…

Why? Because why not?

…So when the children woke up at eight o’clock, after I had most of my face done and two curls in my hair, we had breakfast and played with a new sensory basket while I felt extra fancy and enjoyed a hot coffee. Thought I’d share because there’s something about watching makeup tutorials that is fascinating.

I had fun editing the footage – even though it’s not a completed look and it took me more time to edit these vlogs than it did to get ready and feed my children and go to the grocery store.

It was uploaded in two parts (thanks YouTube app) but I’ve posted both parts at the same time so make sure to click through if you want to see the final look!

Thanks as always for being part of our world. We love our online community!

Drop a comment if you want to know more about any of the products used 🙂

Mama B

FTC: The embedded videos feature sponsored products