5 Essentials for Summer Road Trips

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on June 30, 2015

This last weekend we packed the kids up and headed to Fort Worth for a little road trip staycation. My cousin has been working on Oklahoma and we wanted to meet half way for some fun and sun. Before heading on the road, however, I made sure we had a few essentials. After all, almost three hours in the car with seven children can be challenging if not properly prepared!

Portable chargers - There are just not enough charger plugins in the car for everyone, but everyone has a device and you never know when one will die. Best be prepared, so everyone stays happy. You can find some at walmart.com for about $10.

Pocket Juice portable charger

Car Games – My kids only played on their devices for a bit this last trip before we whipped out a list of good old-fashioned car games. We played the alphabet game and the state license plate game, but there are many more that can keep the kiddos busy for hours. Check out these printable travel games – I’m using these for our next road trip!

Snacks – Pack up some goodies in the Igloo Quantum Cooler ($14.97 at Walmart), so as to avoid multiple stops when the kiddos begin complaining that they are hungry or thirsty. Bottles of water, boxes of juice, cheese sticks, and chips or crackers should keep their bellies full.

Pack a Cooler for the car ride

First Aid Kit – I put together our own and included band-aids, pain relievers, after sun care, hand sanitizer, and of course my essential oils (which are helpful in dealing with a multitude of problems).

Sunscreen – I know sunscreen isn’t exactly needed while in the car, but it certainly will be once you arrive at your destination. Our favorite is Banana Boat. I just love the scent and it’s not greasy or too thick.

Must haves on Road Trip

What would you add? Visit walmart.com to check out some more great ideas in the Walmart ad online!

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Freedom Pops

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on June 25, 2015

It’s almost Independence Day. It doesn’t matter what you believe or where in the U.S. you live, you will celebrate with the rest of our country with a huge party, right? After all, freedom deserves a celebration.

As part of our nation’s celebration, we will fly our nation’s flag and don our red, white, and blue. So, it shouldn’t be a bit of a surprise that everyone will be creating decorations and dishes that show our patriotic spirit.

Walmart asked me to show y’all how I plan to serve up some red, white, and blue for this special day. Since I am all about ease, and very little fluff, I decided I’d tell you how easy it is to make some tasty Patriotic Pops.

<make your own patriotic pops>

Here’s what you do:

  • Grab some of your favorite Gatorade flavors in red, white, and blue (of course).
  • Pick up some popsicle molds at Walmart (my kids love the Ice Pop Sippers – found only in stores, but similar to these).
  • Choose your favorite add-ins.
  • Freeze each layer until solid, before adding the next flavor.
  • Add diced strawberries to the last layer of red Gatorade before freezing.
  • When all layers are frozen solid, remove from molds and roll in Pop Rocks before serving.
  • Enjoy!

<freedom pops dipped in pop rocks>

Of course, you can make popsicles at home any time. The kids love to help, especially when it comes to choosing flavors and fun add-ins. The possibilities are endless and they are a refreshing treat on a hot day. Chocolate milk pops are a fun alternative to fudge pops, and any fruit juice tastes delish frozen, especially when loaded with fresh fruit.

<patriotic pops>

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Combat the “Summer Slide” with UMIGO

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on June 24, 2015

Summer time means no school and lots and lots of play. But, what would you say if I told you that you could combine the two to keep your elementary kids on their toes? It’s totally true with UMIGO (pronounced you-me-go).

UMIGO
About UMIGO:

UMIGO – You Make It Go – is a fun, vibrant world of adventure that uses the building blocks of math to engage early elementary age kids in narrative-driven “appisodes.” As best friends Bean, Bit and Dizzy save the day from broken roller coasters, ancient mummies and more, the hilarious, interactive UMIGO appisodes incorporate stories, music videos and games, getting children involved and helping them to become active learners. UMIGO helps children develop the math skills they need for effective reasoning and problem solving. UMIGO’s educational content is aligned with the Common Core Standards for Mathematics for first and second grades. 

What is an appisode?

Each “appisode” contains transmedia, meaning it is made up of different types of media to engage the kiddos. UMIGO’s appisodes consist of three types of media:

  1. a video containing a lesson through a story 
  2. a game, and
  3. a music video to reinforce the lesson learned

With vibrant online adventures, plus free downloadable offline at-home activities, UMIGO encourages parents and children to explore together for a fun, shared learning experience.

What we thought:

I set Timmy and Noah up with my laptop to see if they could navigate umigo.com on their own. They did okay, but I had to help them find the transmedia appisodes, since they got stuck on the videos. (I think the locks on the transmedia appisodes scared them away.) Once they knew they could open the appisodes and unlock them by clicking the green button, they were excited to open each one.

UMIGO home

While the educational video was not the favorite of the three, both Timmy and Noah watched all the way through and were more than eager to play the game at the end. I’ll tell you what, those songs in the music video sure are catchy. We were singing “line me up” for days!

Ben got in on the action tonight and all three of my youngest kiddos were quite upset that I had to use my laptop to write this post. I have promised each of them time on UMIGO tomorrow… Not a bad deal for a lazy summer day, if you ask me!

All in all, I would highly recommend UMIGO for any elementary aged child. I know it was officially created for second and third graders, but even Josh poked in and was interested for a bit. Try it out and let me know what your kids think!

UMIGO Group Shot

UMIGO kicked off their Summer of UMIGO on National Summer Learning Day (Friday, June 19th), in an effort to help combat the “summer slide.” In partnership with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), UMIGO brings its narrative-based appisodes, interactive games, activities, and educational resources to more than 70 communities around the country. You can find a location close to you by looking on the NSLA’s interactive map at SummerLearningDayMap.org.

Follow UMIGO:

This post is made possible by support from UMIGO. All opinions are my own.

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8 Things Our Teenagers Want Us to Know About Them

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on June 22, 2015

For me, it seems, this responsibility we’ve been given as parents only proves to become harder and harder as our children get older. To be quite honest, there are some times when I wish I could trade some of these tough moments with my teenagers for the hours I spent trying to get them to eat their vegetables as toddlers, or the long afternoons of potty training, or even the sleepless nights with them as newborns. With teenagers come a greater need for wisdom and understanding, grace to navigate the deep conversations and topics with them, and a willingness to truly listen to them.

I say all this in the wake of some pretty big conversations we have had with our teenagers. As they get older, we are no longer able to dictate what they do every waking moment, how they are to express their feelings, what to think, or with whom they interact. They have thoughts and opinions of their own, and I know that mine are not afraid to discuss them with us. Recognizing that our teenagers’ thoughts and opinions will sometimes differ from our own is part of the battle I face as their mother.

There have been many things I have learned from my children these past 15 years, but none seem as important as what I have learned about my older children this past week. I’m sure if you were to ask your teenagers, they may say the same. I can be certain, as my younger children grow, they will want for me to understand these things about them, as well.

8 Things Our Teenagers Want Us to Know About Them

1. They want to talk about the major stuff
Sex, drugs, religion, politics – these are the topics they want to discuss. They are curious about sex and drugs, They are eager to formulate their own thoughts about religion and politics. They are researching on their own, talking about these topics with friends and peers, and developing opinions based on their findings. They want to have conversations with us, too. As parents, we can only hope and pray that they will be just as receptive to our influence. After all, they truly want to know what we think, how we feel, and why we believe what we believe.

2. They want to be heard
Just as they desire to know our thoughts, opinions, and feelings, they want us to hear theirs. They want us to really listen to them. Close the laptop, put down the phone, turn off the radio, and really and truly listen. Don’t argue with them or belittle them; no insinuating that their opinions don’t matter; but hear them out.

3. They want us to be honest with them
My kids have always asked lots of questions, but as they get older the answers to their questions become less black and white. They don’t want cookie cutter answers, or answers that may make the conversation more comfortable for you; they want real and honest answers. And, boy, is that hard!

4. They want us to set boundaries and give consequences
Kids thrive best in environments that limit their freedom. They don’t want to have to keep themselves in check and create boundaries for themselves yet, no matter what they say. If all teenagers were honest with themselves (as mine were with me), they would recognize that rules are good for them. Among others, they need to know when and how it is appropriate to make plans, when they are to be home or check in, how they are to talk to us, and how they are to treat their siblings. They also need to be given proper consequences when they get out of line.

5. They want independence and freedom
On the flip side, and in appropriate circumstances, they do desire freedom. Freedom to make their own choices. Freedom to express themselves. Freedom to grow and mature. Independence should be allowed gradually and appropriately. This is certainly not easy, but if teens are treated like children as they grow and mature, they will act like children. Begin treating them like little adults, slowly and gradually, with appropriate responsibilities, and they will begin acting like adults.

6. They want our approval and praise
It is so easy to badger and nag our teens. Harping on them when they don’t do or act as expected can only alienate them. Alternately, if we praise them when they have exceeded our expectations – or even just done what was expected – will drive them to do more. They desire to be appreciated just as we do. Our approval and praise will go a long way to motivate excellence.

7. They want us to respect their privacy
As their bodies and minds grow and mature, so does their desire for privacy, both physically and emotionally.  Sometimes they just want to retreat and spend some time alone and they desire for us to understand that it is not personal. They also want to be able to have private conversations with each other and their friends. There are some things we are better off not knowing anyway!

8. They want us to be careful not to jump to conclusions and assume the worst
It is so easy to jump to the worst possible conclusion when you come across information, informed or discovered, that you were not expected to come across. My teens have always been very honest when approached with questionable information. They are more than willing to explain, discuss, or defend their actions, knowing there may be consequences. All they ask is that we keep a cool head and not assume the worst, but always ask before jumping to conclusions.

In short, our teenagers are growing up and deserve to be treated like the little adults they are becoming. Of course, they are still developing and growing, so they need us to continue guiding them, with a loving hand and a strong grip, ever so slowly releasing them so they may begin navigate this great big world on their own.

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How Do You Honor Your Dad on Father’s Day?

June 21, 2015

Father’s Day. A day to honor all the dads in our lives. The Great Grandfathers, the Grandfathers, and all those whom we, and those before us, call Daddy. This year I recognize many of the great fathers in my life: My Great Grandpa Les, who has gone home to be with the Lord. He was […]

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What Do Batman and Scooby Have in Common? {Giveaway}

May 28, 2015

Their own YouTube channels! With so many boys in my house, you can be sure that super heroes are a big part of our conversations and entertainment line up. We were eager to check out some of the fun new videos from DCKids & Warner Bros’ new YouTube channels – included are some of our favorites […]

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The Shea Moisture Baby Collection Helps Keep Skin Healthy

April 30, 2015

As some of you may know, I have been trying to replace all of our bath and shower products with those that are full of stuff that is actually good for you, as opposed to those that are full of toxins. Well, thanks to the Walmart Moms program, I was able to try a great […]

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Beauty Spotlight :: Spring Eye and Brow

April 28, 2015

I am always so excited about a new season for many reasons, but with the new season always comes new looks. There are new clothing styles, new hair colors and styles, old styles may even come back, but we all know that the right make-up can really complete the look. This is what I have […]

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Control Your Frizz With Schwarzkopf {Review}

April 25, 2015

My hair is a big frizz-ball of a mess most days. I find myself pulling it all back, either in a messy bun or a ponytail, quite often. I had been using coconut oil to help tame my tresses, after washing and drying, but I have been on the lookout for a good shampoo and […]

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Update Your Wardrobe for Summer

April 24, 2015

Here in Texas, summer seems to come pretty early. I’ve been wearing my beloved tanks for a while now, but just headed to Walmart to find some summer attire that included some shorts, since the temperatures promised to be in the upper 80s and low 90s this weekend. I was not disappointed… I found a couple […]

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Building a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime (from a not-so-perfect wife)

April 13, 2015

I remember my Grandmother telling me before my wedding, and just after she and my Grandfather celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, that I did not yet know true love. She explained that making it through hard times together would intensify my love for Ray, but ultimately loving him would be a daily choice. I couldn’t imagine then that […]

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Cheese and Olive Stuffed Chicken {Recipe}

April 7, 2015

As you may know, Ray loves to cook. He finds being in the kitchen very therapeutic and makes quite the production out of making us all a meal, be it breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. I, on the other hand, am always looking for ways to cut my time in the kitchen short… unless I […]

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6 Ways to Rediscover That Lovin’ Feeling

April 6, 2015

I’ve always loved Ray with a very sincere and passionate love, but it felt for a bit as though we had “lost that lovin’ feeling.” I suppose it could have been the fact that I was either pregnant or nursing for the majority of the first eight years of our mariage. Or, perhaps, it was stress […]

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Spring Refresh #WearWalmart

March 31, 2015

It’s been quite some time since I’ve worn a dress. I mean, I love to wear skirts, but my typical busy mom attire in the Spring is jeans or capris and a tank. So, I was excited to find some cute and flattering dresses on Walmart.com. So, I did what I needed to do and […]

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Easter Goodies at Walmart

March 27, 2015

My kids and I just had a fun little tasting… We are trying to guess the Mystery Flavored Peeps. Have you tried them? What did you think? Personally I thought they tasted like a tangy kiwi-strawberry. Yum! My kiddos were way in to this taste-testing session. There were many giggles, let me tell ya! They […]

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Family Movie Night :: Annie

March 17, 2015

Movie night is one of our favorite nights to spend as a family. We pop popcorn, make hot chocolate, and snuggle up on our much-to-small-for-us couches, eager to view a new story. Most often that story is fun and crazy; something we watch and enjoy, but we get much more from the movies that teach […]

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LUVS Super Absorbent Diapers {Review}

March 16, 2015

I was very particular about the diapers I used with each of my babies, but it differed with each one. Julia was my LUVS baby, and boy how I wish their Super Absorbent diapers were available to us then! They are up to 15% more absorbent than regular LUVS, have a contoured shape for a great fit, and have […]

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Easter Candy Baskets {DIY}

March 15, 2015

I have always been a sucker for sweets, especially sour gummies. They are my downfall, I must admit. In spite of trying hard not to have too many sweets in the house, I figured it IS Easter. And what makes a better basket than the goodies themselves? So, Julia and I set out to make […]

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Easy Easter Pudding Cups

March 14, 2015

My kids have always loved to play with me in the kitchen. With Easter coming up, I decided to let them help me create a special treat. They like to call them “dirt cups”, after a dessert served at their favorite restaurant, because that is exactly what they look like! They all helped me shop for […]

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5 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

March 5, 2015

As a mom of seven, I know how difficult it is to get a good night’s sleep. Trust me, I’ve had many sleepless nights. But, there is hope! It’s even possible to help promote a restful night’s sleep for your kiddos. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to try my 5 tips to a better night’s […]

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2015 Beauty Trend: Coconut Oil

February 28, 2015

Did you know that coconut oil has some pretty amazing uses? Not only is is great for cooking, but it is wonderful for skin, hair, and nails. I prefer to use unrefined, cold-pressed, organic, virgin coconut oil and Walmart carries one of my favorite brands – Nature’s Way. It’s nice and creamy and doesn’t taste too […]

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What’s in Your Closet? #WearWalmart

February 26, 2015

My wardrobe consists of a few basics that change as the seasons change. As we near Spring and warmer weather, I pull out my tank tops, basic tees, and maxi skirts. In addition to my favorite jeans that I wear all year ’round, I am set, but every now and then I like to add […]

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